Part 59: Star Door 9: Like a Mother-Primal Grounds-
I can only give it to you in pennies, is that okay?
-Commercial City of Bose-
Sister Rosa: I'd love it if you would be able to start coming to pray like this more often.
*sigh* I'm afraid it looks as though I won't have a choice in the matter.
If I show any signs of skipping mass lately, Lila gives me a stern lecturing.
Sister Rosa: You're rather fortunate to have someone like her by your side, you know. Nothing is more valuable to a person than someone who will chide them when they seem to be straying from the right path.
Oh, I couldn't agree more.
I do wish she would go a little easier on me than she currently does, however.
Sister Rosa: Look at it this way: the fact that she doesn't shows just how important you are to her. For one thing, I hear you've been exceptionally busy with work these days. I wouldn't be surprised if she hoped to make the time you spend here to be a break from all of that.
As frustrating as it is to admit, that's a scarily sound assessment.
But she can't keep me away from work forever, now, can she? I think I ought to be getting back to it now. So if you'll excuse me... Please give my best to Father Holstein, too.
Sister Rosa: Heehee. Certainly. A good day to you, then.
Ohhh, well... Next up is inspecting the market, so I should probably get to doing that...
I was expecting Lila to be here to meet me by now, though...
She's been awfully cold to me lately, and I still don't have a clue as to why. I thought she was going to pray with me today, too, but then she up and decided she needed to take care of shopping...
Maybe I can grill her on it later. For now, I should hurry and get to the market.
Not at all. I should be saying the same to you.
Pleasant Man: Anyway, if you need anything else, just give me a call. I can always worm my way out of whatever's on my schedule to make time for you.
I'll certainly keep that in mind.
Pleasant Man: Please do! My little sister's been so excited for the big day already. It'll surely be one to remember.
Heehee. Yes, I'm sure. For now, however, I really should be going.
Pleasant Man: Oh, yeah. The mayor should be about done with mass now, right? Until next time!
Farewell for now.
So that's why she's been acting so distant towards me lately...
I wish she had said something... I thought we were supposed to be close... ...
I suppose it shouldn't come as much of a surprise. She's a grown woman. And she might seem cold towards people on the outside, but she's a wonderful human being...and a rather attractive one, too. If anything, I'm surprised it's taken her this long to find someone.
...Well, it wouldn't be fair for me to get in the way of her happiness.
I do feel a little lonely at the thought, but she's going to want my support. It wouldn't be right for me not to give her it.
*sigh* I'll have to apologize for being late.
Umm... Might I ask exactly what you are doing?
H-How long have you been there?
You appear to be rather tired. This is why I keep telling you that you need to stop overexerting yourself...
Oh, no! I'm not, I assure you.
Shall we head to the market?
Well, if you say so...
The next day...
U-Umm... Mayor Maybelle?
Can I ask you to go over what you want me to do one more time? Just so I'm not misunderstanding.
As I said, I would like to investigate...erm...exactly what relationship those two have...
...as well as what kind of person the gentleman in question is.
So, to put it in simpler terms... you want me to check out whether they're dating and do a background check on the man, right?
Is that right?
Y-Yes... Yes, it is.
I-Is there something wrong?
I mean, we bracers do at times do background checks on people... but that's when we suspect or know for sure they're involved in a crime. If they're not, doing so would be an invasion of their privacy, and that doesn't exactly fly with us.
Obviously, if you have reason to believe the man Lila appears to be dating is involved in illegal activity, I'd be happy to help...
Is that the case, though?
N-No... On the contrary, actually. He appears to be a good, honest man.
There's obviously going to be the chance that's just a facade and he's not the kind of person he appears to be... but as it stands, I don't see any grounds for the guild to make their move.
That is unfortunate...but I can certainly see where you're coming from.
I'm sorry for troubling you with this. I don't know what came over me.
Please, forget this conversation ever happened.
...Forgive me for asking this, but you're all in favor of them dating, right? You're not trying to break them up or something? So why are you so concerned with finding all this out?
As I think you're aware, Lila lost her mother and father during the Hundred Days War. As far as I can tell, the scars that left on her heart still haven't truly healed, either.
And I believe this is her first foray into romantic relationships, too... I'm just so worried about her getting hurt as a result of this.
I'm not the slightest bit concerned about how noble the man's family is or how much money they have. Nothing superficial like that. All I want to know is whether he genuinely cares for her well-being and will make her happy.
That's all that matters to me.
I see where you're coming from...
Still, at the end of the day, that doesn't give me the excuse to invade the man's privacy or meddle in their affairs.
I'm sure Lila will eventually tell me what's going on when she feels the time is right. I can ask her all of my questions then.
...Nah. This is good stuff.
What do you mean?
I COMPLETELY understand where you're coming from here!
I'd be MORE than happy to accept your request!
Wait. I thought...erm...
Are you sure? Wouldn't doing so violate the bracer code?
Oh, no worries! The bracer code's totally open to individual interpretation, so it leaves a lot to each bracer's personal judgment.
The great thing about rules is, you can just break them whenever you want.
I feel trying to follow the code to the letter and ignoring the feelings of those we're trying to serve misses the point of being a bracer, too.
So I don't think it's fair to dismiss your well-meaning intentions as trying to invade someone's privacy, either!
You leave all of this to me! I'll get you aaall kinds of answers!
Thank you so much...
I appreciate you agreeing to do this for me. Really.
Just know that I completely understand where you were coming from earlier, so I do want to ask that you invade his privacy no more than necessary. Is that fair?
Heehee. I hope this turns out to be something that'll really make her happy.
And that was the day Anelace agreed to accept the mayor's request, immediately--and enthusiastically--beginning her investigation.
Naturally, she was very cautious not to make Lila or her presumed partner suspicious in the process.
-The Mood of the Goddess Depends on Luck-
Platina: I remember them sitting at the table over there having a pleasant conversation with one another. I couldn't tell you what they were talking about, I'm afraid... But I do remember seeing Lila smiling while talking, which you don't see every day with her. That struck me.
Do you remember anything about the man, by the way?
Platina: Not in much detail... Just that he was a well-groomed, seemingly pleasant young man. That's about all I can say, I'm afraid.
Hmm... I see.
Platina: Can I ask why you want to know all of this?
Well, you see...
Platina: Wait, it's okay. You don't need to answer. They're in love, aren't they? It all makes sense now... She did very much look like a girl in love when she was talking to him, you know. So little Lila's finally ready to begin her journey into adulthood, is she? Awww... How sweet!
W-We don't know for sure yet...
So please, please keep this to yourself, okay? Don't go telling any of the other customers and starting any rumors.
Platina: Heehee. Not to worry! The secret's safe with me! ☆
Mina: I remember the man escorting the maid to the front door of the mayor's mansion.
Harry: I was surprised he didn't go inside with her, honestly. Whenever I take Mina home, I always do!
Mina: ... *sigh* Oh, Harry... If you ask me, you're the one behaving improperly. Not the man we're talking about.
Harry: ...I am?
Mina: Ordinarily, when a gentleman escorts a lady to her home, he doesn't go inside.
Harry: B-But surely the fact I do that is proof that we're that close, right?
Mina: I wouldn't be assuming that if I were you. For one thing, those two seemed awfully close even without that, didn't they?
Mina: I'm not saying that it's always wrong to go inside, per se. If that's what you want to keep doing, you won't see me stopping you.
Harry: O-Okay... I-I will, then!
Mina: (*sigh* Why does everything have to be so much work when it comes to you...?)
Ahaha... Thanks for the info, anyway.
Modena: Hmm... Thinking back, I did see her with a man when my husband and I went to the market... They were looking at souvenirs together, I believe.
Trino: Haha. I remember it well, too. I've rarely seen a more adoring pair in my life. They were like a pair of newlyweds.
Modena: Umm... I wouldn't pay much attention to what my husband says. He has a habit of exaggerating.
Trino: Haha. I'm not ashamed of it, either! These kinds of stories are always much more interesting with a touch of dramatic flair.
Modena: It wasn't the first time I've seen the man, though. I'm sure I've met him before. But I can't for the life of me remember his name... Can you remember, dear?
Trino: Don't be silly. Of course I remember! I would never forget the name of a man I've done good business with. That was young Lenard.
Wait. I know that name...
Lenard from the Kingfisher Inn?
Trino: ...Oh, you know him already? Well, that puts a damper on my fun.
I use that place a lot for work reasons, so I even know him by face.
I can't say I know all that much about him as a person, though... If you're well acquainted with him, would you tell me a bit more about him?
Trino: I don't mind...but this information isn't going to come cheap.
You're gonna charge me?!
Modena: Please! That's not funny, dear. We owe ever so much to the Bracer Guild! You can't threaten to charge a member. I won't have it!
Trino: Sorry, but I just can't help myself to a good joke.
Trino: Let's see... Well, he's a good, honest man for starters...
Several days later...
-Commercial City of Bose-
I see... So the man in question is Lenard from the Kingfisher Inn?
I wonder how those two came to know each other...
Oh, you know Lenard already?
Only by name. I can't say I've ever spoken to him in person as such. The Kingfisher Inn has really made a name for itself in recent years.
It's been doing quite well financially, too. As things stand, it's a good target for investment.
Trino said that, too. I'm no expert on that kind of stuff, though.
Still, from what I can gather based on your report, their relationship is a healthy one.
And you seem to think very highly of Lenard.
Even his little sister, Sophina, is super sweet.
I'd say you don't have anything to worry about with them. From what I've gathered, they'd make for a picture-perfect married couple.
I-I'd like to believe that's still a while off...
Then again, if they really are dating, it's a reality I'll have to come to terms with sooner or later.
Heehee... I'm happy for her, but at the same time, I'm a little sad, too...
I get what you mean...
Thank you very much for your report, Anelace.
It sounds like she's made a fine choice. So I suppose all I can do now is wait for her to share the truth with me herself.
That sounds like a good plan.
Lila's Voice: ...Miss Maybelle? It's me, Lila. Could I have a little of your time?
Heehee. Speak of the devil.
I wonder if the time has finally come?
That'd be one funny coincidence, but maybe it has!
And if it has, then it's just about time I made my exit. I wouldn't want to get in the way.
Nonsense. I'd actually prefer if you stayed.
If she does tell us what I expect her to, I don't intend to hide the truth of what I asked you to do.
Oh, I see...
Well, okay, then!
Lila's Voice: ...Miss Maybelle?
Oh! Sorry, Lila. Come on in.
Lila's Voice: As you wish.
Oh... Miss Anelace?
Please do accept my apologies. I didn't realize I was intruding.
You're not, you're not! Don't mind me.
I was just here to give my report on an investigation on behalf of the mayor.
So, what brings you here, Lila?
Do you have something you want to talk to me about?
You could say that, yes. I have an important request I wish to make of you.
R-Really, now? What would it happen to be?
Well, it concerns the Kingfisher Inn near Valleria Lake...
We were right!
Did you think I had no idea what was happening? I already know everything there is to know.
How could you possibly...?
I'm sorry. I actually had Anelace here look into it for me. I was worried about you, you see... You'd been behaving so strangely lately.
I'm sorry that I did it, but I just couldn't help myself.
There's no need for you to apologize, however. I didn't mean to worry you... Perhaps I should have been more open from the start.
...is Lenard being good to you?
(Cut right to the chase, why don'cha?)
He's a very kind man, yes. Why do you ask?
Th-That wasn't what I was asking... Oooh! You know what I mean, Lila.
So...is there anything else you want to say on the matter?
If it's all right with you, I'd like to get right to discussing the date for the big day.
TH-THE big day?!
You've already started mapping it out?!
We have. We were hoping to keep it a secret for as long as possible in order to surprise you. Naturally, I've made sure everything fits into your schedule.
Do I have your okay to begin making the necessary arrangements?
Is something wrong?
What was that?
I-I can see why you might've wanted to surprise me. I can!
But did you really have to keep this from me until THIS late in the process?!
I mean, you've got a right to your own private life, and you don't have to share everything in that with me. I'm not saying you have to. But I can't believe you would decide something so important without consulting me even once!
Do I mean THAT little to you?!
B-Besides, you've only been going out for about a month! Aren't wedding bells at this stage a LITTLE premature?!
This decision is going to impact you for the rest of your life, Lila! You understand that, right?!
I-I think you should calm down and listen to what she has to say, Mayor Maybelle... I'm sure she does understand, and has her own reasons for decidi--
I have a horrible feeling that there is a very grave misunderstanding taking place here...
...? You serious?
Just what are we misunderstanding?
The arrangements I have been making are for your next vacation. You've been so busy lately that I thought you really ought to have one, so I've been making the necessary arrangements in secret.
I can't believe Lila planned out a secret arranged marriage between Maybelle and Lenard!!!
You mentioned before that you would like to visit the famous Kingfisher Inn once, you see... So when Lenard needed to come to Bose Market to do some shopping, we decided to use the chance to meet and discuss how to go about this.
I hadn't realized my actions were causing so many problems for you...
*sigh* I worry about you sometimes...
Besides, I have no intention of getting married before a certain mistress of mine. Which doesn't seem to be any time soon since she makes a hobby of turning down countless marriage proposals in favor of devoting herself to work.
I-It's not a hobby! It's because I have so much work on my plate that I don't have time to have marriage on the brain!
...So there's nothing between you and Lenard? Nothing at all? Everyone says you two have been getting along so well...
I'll admit that he's a lovely man, and one I have a very positive impression of... but I've never considered him a potential partner. Not once.
Wh-Why? All girls your age experience romance at least once. It wouldn't be right for you not to do the same...
This isn't something I intended to come out and say, but it seems you leave me with no choice. Right now, the most important thing in my life is your happiness; I will put that over anything and everything else. Ensuring it is my greatest joy. My very reason for being.
Until you've decided on a partner to supplement that happiness, I have absolutely no intention of looking at anyone but you.
I do appreciate you worrying about me... If it's my happiness you want, I ask that you focus on your own happiness first and foremost.
And yet like clockwork, I see you disregarding your well-being and taking on far more work than is humanly possib--
Fine! Fine! I get it, I get it! Now that we can put the whole marriage thing behind us, I will accept your offer of a vacation! So feel free to proceed with your plan--I leave arranging the schedule to you!
Heehee. As you wish...
Then if you will permit me to excuse myself, I shall.
Good day to you, too, Miss Anelace.
I'm reeeally sorry... It looks like my research may have been a tad incomplete.
Don't worry about it. I don't think anything was wrong with your report.
All of this was due to me foolishly jumping to conclusions. *sigh* I can't believe I ended up giving her yet another excuse to lecture me...
The moral of the story is: don't ship your friends. It's rude.
Aww! It's no big deal.
I gotta admit, though. I am jealous.
Ha! You never heard that. Anyway, I'm sure I'll see you around!
Umm... You two look great together!
Heehee... What a day. I feel almost ashamed to be this relieved over all of this...
*sigh* I don't know if I'll ever be able to manage without her at my side...
Side Story [Like a Mother] finished!
Received Bloody Meatballs.
Received 100,000 mira.
You'll probably have to trade in a ton of sepith for this door, but it's well worth the investment.