Side Story: Leila’s Little Sister — Part 2
It was getting a bit late, so Enne, Leila, her sister, and I decided to grab a bite as we talked. We found ourselves a table at a nice, outdoor, patio-like picnic area as soon as we finished raiding the area’s stalls and buying everything we felt the urge to consume. Naturally, what followed was an overdue explanation. Leila briefly went over her experiences outside the demon realm as the other girl nibbled at this world’s equivalent of grilled corn on the cob.
“So that’s what happened…” Emyu’s eyes opened wide as her beloved “sister” wrapped up her tale.
“I’m sorry I didn’t get in touch. You must have been terribly worried,” said Leila.
“T-that’s okay! I know that what you went through was much, much worse…” stuttered the younger demon. “Does that mean you won’t be coming back to the institution anymore?”
“I will not. The institution is too bor—stagnant. The institution is too much of a self-contained environment. There are not enough chances for us to gain new experiences or learn new things. It is not the type of place that will inspire you to come up with any sort of breakthrough. That would be why I’m planning to stay with My Lord for the foreseeable future.”
I heard that. She tried to cover it up, but I heard her loud and clear. She totally just complained that it was boring. You know, that’s actually pretty rare. Leila isn’t usually the type to let her thoughts leak like that. Though, now that I think about it, she’s actually pretty bold and assertive. I can’t believe I never actually noticed.
“Okay! I’ll save you the trouble of visiting and make sure I tell the naggy old hag that you’re not coming back!”
”Thank you very much, Emyu,” giggled Leila. A warm, affectionate expression surfaced as she gently ran her fingers through the other girl’s hair. Observing their interactions led me to understand why Leila had always seemed so good at looking after the dungeon’s younger residents. Taking care of Emyu had given her plenty of experience with kids.
“Wait, so you’re not even going back to visit? You sure?” I asked. “Don’t you need to see your family and whatnot? I’m sure they’re worried about you.”
We never really spoke about it, so I didn’t know much about Leila’s family situation, but I felt that there had to have been someone that had lost sleep over her sudden disappearance, even if said person wasn’t related to her by blood. Her interactions with Emyu led me to believe that her people were a part of a tight-knit community. Yeahhhh… They’d probably really appreciate if she stopped by, even if just to say hi.
“There’s really no need,” said Leila. “Since time immemorial, we sheep-horned demons have always gone wherever our interests have taken us. We are driven to explore the world by none other than our own thirst for knowledge.”
“So what you’re saying is that it’s normal for people to just suddenly poof one day and never come back?”
“Precisely, My Lord. Emyu is still quite young, so she will likely remain in the village for several years to come, but I expect that she too will likely set out once she comes of age,” said Leila. “Besides, if there is anyone that needs to visit their homes, it would be Lyuu.”
“Wait, what?” Why’d she suddenly bring up Ms. Useless?
“I believe she was captured the moment she ran away from home. Her parents must be terribly worried.”
“Seriously? She ran away from home? I had no idea…”
“…Right. I just remembered that I promised her I wouldn’t tell you.” Leila averted her gaze and brought a hand to her mouth. She clearly recognized that she had messed up.
Dude. Seriously!? Lyuu ran away from home!? Actually, now that she mentions it, I do vaguely recall her saying something about people telling her not to leave… Hmmm…
“Yeah, uh yeah… I guess I should probably have her head home for a bit, huh?”
“She told me not to tell you, so I don’t think she wants to, but I do agree that speaking to her about it would be for the best.”
“Yeah, I’mma do just that once we get home.”
Like, let’s just consider how her parents feel for a moment. Their daughter ran away from home and totally vanished, only to end up working as a maid for some random guy they know nothing about. Yeaaaaahhhh… If I was her dad, I’d probably want to strangle me. She should probably go home and tell them that she’s okay before time makes things even worse.
“Okay, fine! You may be a demon lord, but I’ll still at least acknowledge the fact that you saved Leila! Thank you very much for that! But don’t let me thanking you get to your head! You’re not off the hook just yet! I swear, if you ever break her heart, I’m going to murder you in your sleep! Don’t ever forget that!”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. But uh, more importantly, I think you might want to mind your hands. The sauce on your skewer is kinda dripping all over the place.”
“It is…? Oh no, it is! My robe! My robe!! It’s gotten so filthy!”
The sauce her corncob was covered in had begun dribbling all over the place the moment she stopped paying attention to it.
“Oh Emyu, you never change,” said Leila. “Hold still.”
The older sheep-horned girl began wiping off her younger counterpart with a handkerchief as she sighed in a clear expression of exasperation.
“I can wipe it off myself! I’m not that much of a kid anymore!”
“Actions speak louder than words, Emyu. If you would like me not to fuss over you, then you will have to make it such that I no longer need to.”
I couldn’t help but break into a hearty laugh. Leila had a point, and a pretty good one at that.
“Curse you, Demon Lord!”
“Don’t be so rude, Emyu. He has a name,” scolded Leila. “It would be best for you to refer to him as Lord Yuki.”
“Ugh… fine. I’ll use his stupid name!” she groaned as she spun between Leila and I. “Cut that out, Yuki! What are you even laughing at!?”
It went without saying that the brat didn’t respect me, not even in the slightest, so she immediately dropped the title Leila had suggested and referred to me with just my name.
“Nothing special. Just that you two get along really well,” I chuckled. “Right, Enne?”
“Mhm. They’re just like us.”
“Yeah! Pretty much.”
Did she really just say that? Hnnnng. Enne really is just the sweetest little thing, ain’t she? I immediately decided to give the adorable creature sitting next to me a series of headpats.
“So just what are you doing in the capital, Emyu?” asked Leila.
“Watching the tournament, of course! This year’s tournament looks like it’s shaping up to be even more impressive than usual! One of the contestants blew away everyone else in his preliminary round with just a roar! It was so incredible! I couldn’t really get a good look at him because I was seated really far away, and because he had a mask on, but I’m sure he’s got to be someone amazing! I really respect him!”
I twitched a few times as I forced a smile. The girl’s eyes were sparkling. I wonder how she’d react if I told her that I was the guy under the mask the whole time. Heh.
“Did you come all this way by yourself?”
“I did, but it’s okay! The old crow made me a couple talismans before sending me on my way.”
Emyu rummaged through her robes, produced a series of paper tags, and showed them to her worried-sounding sister. I let my curiosity get the better of me and analyzed them immediately.
Name: Talisman of Retaliation
Description: This item will automatically initiate a counterattack that inflicts twice the amount of damage inflicted upon its bearer if its bearer is subject to an attack. This item is owned by Emyu. If any other individual attempts to touch it, they will be dealt a fatal wound.
Name: Talisman of Detection
Description: This item automatically informs its bearer in the case that a hostile entity appears within a certain distance. This item is owned by Emyu. If any other individual attempts to touch it, they will be dealt a fatal wound.
Name: Scapegoat Talisman
Description: This talisman nullifies up to three instances of fatal damage. This item is owned by Emyu. If any other individual attempts to touch it, they will be dealt a fatal wound.
Wow. Uh, just, wow. Looking at her gear, I understood that it certainly was relatively safe for her to go out on a journey, even without a chaperone or guardian.
“Seeing that you have the headmistress’ talismans certainly does give me peace of mind,” said Leila. “We will be staying in the castle for the next few days. If anything happens, make sure you look for us immediately.”
“The castle? Okay. Wait, the castle!? The castle that the king lives in!?”
“Precisely. My Lord is here in the capital at the king’s request, and as such we’ve been staying in his castle.”
“Y-Yuki’s important enough to be summoned by the king!?”
“Finally ready to see me in a different light?”
I flashed a boyish grin, one she didn’t react well to. The sheep-horned child immediately humphed and turned to face away from me.
“G-Getting summoned by the king doesn’t really mean all that much at all! It doesn’t change the fact that you’re not worthy of Leila! If you really want her, then you’ll have to get at least as strong as the guy with the mask!”
“Sounds tough,” I chuckled and played along as I took another bite out of a skewer of meat. “I guess I’ve gotta make sure I put more effort into my training.”
Dinner continued to play out in a similar vein. We chatted and ate and ate and chatted the night away. Until we were interrupted, of course.
“Hey Furrend! I didn’t think I would be seeing mew around here!”
I turned in the direction that the familiar-sounding voice had come from—only to spot a pair of cat-like ears, ears that belonged to an adventurer we had shared a ride with.
“Oh, hey Naiya. What’s up?” I asked. “And what happened to the two buddies you were with?”
“We’re taking a bit of a paws from work today so we can attend to our purrsonal business. We may be good friends, but that doesn’t mean we have to stick together litterally all the time.”
“Did you ever end up going to the guild? I told the staff to let me know if a guy like mew ever showed up, but every time I asked, they said that they were absolutely pawsitive that they had never seen you, or any other guy with a kit.” She wrapped her arms around my neck and leaned into the back of my head as she spoke.
Though a sweet, feminine scent wafted off her body, I managed to stay firm and unaffected by temptation. Naiya was like Lefi and Lyuu in the sense that she was about as flat as a board, so I had no problem keeping myself in check. I know what you’re thinking, but p l s. I’m not about to lose to temptation *every* time. Though I probably would’ve if she used her ears instead. Hnnng. Those ears. That’s why you gotta stop glaring at me like that, Enne! It’s okay! Just chill, I got this.
As Naiya had mentioned it, my thoughts ended up drifting towards the demon realm’s adventurers’ guild. Honestly, it was a pretty nice place. The building was fairly large, and it had been bustling with noise and energy. But that was it. There was nothing special about it. It had been no different from any other client-facing government office. The humans’ guild had been so much more interesting than the demons’ that I ended up turning tail and leaving the moment I stepped into the latter.
“Yeaahhh… I went, but I basically ended up ditching the moment I stepped inside. It was so plain and boring that I couldn’t stand it.”
“Fur real!? I can totally see mew doing just that!” She broke into a fit of hearty laughter. “It certainly is a bit of a bore. How about this, if you want to have fun? What do you say that mew and I spent some clawlity time alone together?”
“No! Bad!” Enne latched onto my arm before I could even reply.
“H-How dare you! You’re such a jerk! You can’t just cheat on Leila like that!” Next to speak was Emyu, whose face had turned as red as a tomato. Hahaha. She’s so innocent.
“That’s right, Master. You have me, too. No cheating. Bad.”
“Uhh… Enne, I’m pretty sure that doesn’t mean what you think it does. Because what you just said has some uh, crazy implications. Plus, this is all just a misunderstanding. I have no intention of being unfaithful.”
“But you looked like you were going to grin,” protested Enne.
“N-Now hold up, I can tell you that is definitely not the case! At least not this time around!”
Evidently, Naiya found the way I panicked hilarious, as she immediately broke into yet another roaring cackle.
“It looks like you’re just as pawpular as usual, huh? You’ve got girls furmidably glaring at mew from all directions!”
“You say that, but this whole situation is entirely your fault.”
I gave her a bit of an indignant stare before coughing and bringing the conversation back on track.
“Right, anyway, sorry. I really appreciate the invitation, but I don’t really have the time for anything like that. And I’d probably still say no even if I did. My wife would literally murder me if she ever found out, and she’s got an abnormally sharp nose, so she’ll find out right away.”
“Aww, that’s too bad. Oh well, you can furget about it. It was just a joke anyway, since I don’t really have all that time on my paws either.”
“…Can you not? That kinda joke’ll end up getting me lynched one day.”
“Nope! Teasing mew is really fun, Yuki. The way mew react is always just hissterical!”
I’m pretty sure that’s the first time anyone’s ever told me that… That can’t be right. Can it…?
“No. Bad Naiya. I won’t give you Master.”
“That’s too bad,” she said with a laugh. “Well, I’ve really gotta go now! See ya later, Catanova!”
The cat girl let go of my neck, gave Enne a couple pats on the head, and winked at me one last time before vanishing into the crowd.
“Man… that chick came and went like a friggin’ storm.” I said.
“She certainly does do wonders for the mood. The atmosphere appears much more relaxing with her around,” said Leila.
“Uhhhh… relaxing? Really…? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure that isn’t what I’d call that.”
“Geez, Master. You always cheat. Right when I take my eyes off you,” said Enne.
“What an unfaithful man!” shouted Emyu. “I knew demon lords were driven by their loins! There’s no way I could possibly leave Leila in the hands of a sex offender like him!”
“You guys have given me so much to say that I don’t even know where I’m supposed to start,” I grumbled. “But most importantly, dinner’s going to get cold if you guys spend all your time chatting, so how about we focus on that for now?”
Once we finished our meal, we escorted Leila’s sister back to the inn she was staying at and said our goodbyes. At that particular moment, I had no idea that she and I would end up reuniting at the most unexpected of times.