Just in Time
“Pardon me, there’s an emergency, so I’ll be excusing myself.”
Pweeeeee, pweeeeee, such a strange sound rang from the pocket watch that Shirley had stored in her bosom.
She stood from the sofa and, after bowing her head quickly to the assembled royalty in the room, pressed a button on the pocket watch and disappeared as if she were never there in the first place.
Whenever Shirley partied with other adventurers, she made one condition absolutely crystal clear to them.
――”No matter what sort of situation we’re in, there’s the possibility I might have to leave the party temporarily without warning, is that fine?”
Many adventurers were confused when she said that, but after thinking about it for a while they agreed. It makes sense, after all, considering who the Demonic White Sword was.
――”Well, although the people in town can be crude at times, the Kingdom’s law still applies and there haven’t been any incidents yet. So it’s quite unlikely that it will happen. You shouldn’t expect me to suddenly disappear.”
She had received many party invitations since the Dragon War and Shirley was able to deepen her bonds with the adventurers in the town, but she always held fast to that golden rule.
“Um… Where did my sis- I mean, Shirley-sama go?”
Philia stood shocked when Shirley left the guild, as did everyone else present, except for Canary. She hadn’t simply become invisible or something like that, she really had disappeared.
That pocket watch might be some kind of magical tool, but as far as Philia and Lumiliana know there’s no such tool in the Empire that can instantly teleport people.
The two who came from the Empire shuddered at the thought of such powerful magic, but Edward who was somewhat more familiar turned to Canary.
“Was that a spatial magic tool that you created? Just where exactly has she gone?”
“Someplace in this town.”
“She said there was an emergency… Is there some kind of incident going on in town!?”
“Incident, you say? I suppose that for Shirley, this would be a rather big incident. You see…”
Canary laughed, then spoke a sentence no one present really understood.
“That thing is, how should I say it, something like a safety alarm.”
Before this all happened.
As bell for the end of the day rang, throngs of noisy children poured out the front gate of the school and started to make their way home.
The boys who run off to play with their friends and the girls who diligently go home to study, although both have different circumstances and plans the thing that binds them all together as they walk home and chat is that they’ve been released from the clutches of the school day.
“Mmmmー! School’s finally oveeeer…”
“It doesn’t really feel like it since we have homework.”
“Mm, I agree. All the homework in the world should be destroyed.”
The two girls that stood out with their white hair, Sophie and Tio, were walking home along with their three friends.
Chelsea who walked next to Tio immediately agreed with her, walking next to them was Lisa, a tall girl who was arching her back as if tired.
“Umm, can we not even talk about homework? Do you remember how much homework we got during vacation last summer? What are we going to do if it’s that bad again?”
“Ahaha… You three really had a hard time during summer.”
Walking next to Sophie was Mira, the girl with the rare black hair and black eyes, who smiled wryly as she remembered how much the other three girls struggled last summer.
“But, you know…”
“I want to play when we have days off…”
“Isn’t it weird that they make us study even on our days off?”
“It’s because you have a day off that you shouldn’t forget to study.”
Two diligent students and three lackadaisies. Although there seems to be a bit of an imbalance, these five girls have been friends since they started school.
Despite being so young, Sophie and Tio’s looks catch the eye of anyone who sees them. Usually, you’d expect this to earn them the ugly envy of every girl in the school, but because the boys are kept at bay and they’re so easily likeable, it seems that their relationships with the girls in class have only deepened.
“…Well, you should at least try to get your homework done for tomorrow. By the way, what are you three doing today?”
“Ah, my dad wanted me to help in the shop today… Even if I didn’t have homework, I have no freedom…”
“My bro is coming back from adventuring today and he’ll probably be all tired, so I guess I have to take care of the younger kids.”
“My brother is also returning today. Father and mother are at work, so I’ll have to prepare dinner.”
She was hoping to invite them around to play, but since Lisa’s family runs a tavern and Chelsea helps out at the orphanage she lives in, there are times like this when they’re busy.
“By the way, are Chelsea and Mira’s brothers in the same adventurer party?”
“I think so? I’ve never met her bro though.”
“Maybe they were in Shirley-san’s party? Since they’re in the same guild.”
“Ahaha! I don’t think so? There was that time she said she was going to join a party not that long ago, but mama always prefers to adventure by herself.”
As Sophie said that, Chelsea started off a sentence with ‘that reminds me’,
“My bro recently told me about an adventurer in his party… What did he say again? Some weird person? In any case, it was a strange story.”
“…Mum said something like this before, but sometimes parties don’t always work out.”
“Yeah… I hope nothing happens.”
They gossiped about their family, their hobbies and their other classmates. As they swapped topics between classes and teachers and things coming up later in the year, one by one the group got smaller as the girls peeled off in different directions until only Sophie and Tio were left.
When they were almost back to the Deficit House, talking about whether they should play or do homework when they got back, they saw a single gold coin rolled out from a side alley.
“What’s a gold coin doing here?”
“Did someone lose it?”
Thinking like that, someone with common decency would always think of returning it to its owner. They picked it up and walked into the alley to find its owner and as they did they saw a man with fine black hair, dressed head to toe in magnificently tailored similarly coloured clothing.
“Um… Did this belong to you, mister?”
“Yes, that’s right. Thank you very much for returning it to me… To tell the truth, I feared that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to talk privately with the two of you in a town filled with such barbarity.”
“…? What do you mean…?”
The man who looked to be in his late twenties with a fairly handsome face and, although the twins had never seen him before, he swept his coat tails aside and knelt down on one knee, looking up at them earnestly.
“I have come to retrieve you, Your Highness, Crown Princess Sophilea. And Your Highness, Princess Tionissia.
” “…….Who?” ”
Sophie and Tio are completely confused as the smiling man addressed them with names they had never heard before.
“This is the first time I’ve had the pleasure of meeting you. My name is Leblanc, I am in the service of Her Imperial Highness, Empress Alice. From this day forth, I hope we can be sincere acquaintances.”
It was Sophie who reacted first to the word ‘Empire’. They had been taught at school that it was the largest nation on the continent, laying to the north of the Kingdom and that it was hostile to the smaller nation.
“…I think you’ve got the wrong people. Those aren’t our names.”
“It is only natural that you be confused. You grew up in the cradle of humility, surrounded by such crude and lowborn adventurers from birth.”
Leblanc continues on at such a tempo it’s doubtful he really heard what Sophie said at all.
“However, the blood of the noblest lineage in the world runs through your veins. I endeavour to retrieve you at the behest of your father, His Majesty the Emperor, as well as your aunt, Her Majesty Empress Alice.”
“N-no, I don’t understand… Why does an Emperor want with us!? We don’t want to go anywhere, this town is our home!”
Both of them didn’t understand what Leblanc was saying at all. However, they have an unmistakable feeling that something is deeply wrong and they started to back away.
“Have you not heard from your mother, Shirley-sama? You are the only two daughters conceived between Shirley-sama, the eldest daughter of the powerful Earlgrey house and His Imperial Majesty Emperor Albert?”
At the sudden reveal of their father’s name, Sophie and Tio stopped dead in their tracks.
――――Hey, do we have a dad, or a grandad and grandma?
The two had once asked their mother that. When they did, their mother looked like she was about to burst into tears and hugged the two of them tightly without saying a word.
After that, the twins had never asked again. If their father could make that strong mother of theirs so upset with just a mention of him, then they don’t care to know him at all.
“As a result of a tragic misunderstanding, Shirley-sama left the Empire and is now taking up such base work as an adventurer in the Kingdom.”
Leblanc spoke as if he knew all about them.
“But, that ends today. It is time for you to return to where you truly belong. Now, let’s go home.”
The devil’s hand reached out to them. Even if she couldn’t keep up with the situation, Tio instinctively knew to resist and smacked Leblanc’s hand away strongly.
“…We’re children of an adventurer and grew up in a town of adventurers. I don’t know anything about an Empire.”
The twins turned around and ran away as fast as they could. But as soon as Leblanc saw that, he sighed and clapped his hands together twice.
“I did not wish to be rough, but I’m left with little choice… Apprehend the Imperial princesses!”
Five men rounded the corner from the main street and blocked Sophie and Tio’s escape. Stuck between a rock and a hard place the two young girls have nowhere to go and are easily lifted off their feet.
“S-stop! Let me go!”
They swung their fists and kicked with all their might, but it was impossible for such young children to do anything against adult men.
“Don’t worry. Eventually, you’ll both deeply appreciate the work I went through to retrieve you. Because as they say, families should stick together.”
Magic sigils slowly began to form in the palms of Leblanc’s hands. Despite not knowing exactly what kind of magic he was about to cast, Sophie instinctually knew that it was something she desperately didn’t want and shut her eyes tightly as if trying to escape it.
“Wha!? Who the hell is this kid!?”
At that moment, Sophie and Tio heard a yell, then as the sounds of two loud thwacks echoing through the alleyway, they suddenly felt themselves falling to the ground. But just before they hit the pavement, landed in the arms of a boy who looked like he was just on the verge of adulthood.
“Um, you guys are Shirley-san’s daughters, right? These guys seemed like baddies so I kind of just got involved, but what exactly is going on here?”
That boy… the young adventurer Kyle who had no idea what was happening stood opposed to Leblanc, who muttered a curse under his breath.
Since Volume 1 came out today in Japan, I thought I’d do a double release to celebrate.
Remember that if you enjoy this story, feel free to support the author by buying a copy. If you don’t want to pay shipping costs, I get that (it’s damn pricey), but you can always buy the epub version instead.