What Kind of Teenager Doesn’t Think of Running Away From Home?
The addition of a new resident had led to a dungeon-wide wave of excitement. As I didn’t want to spoil the mood, I waited until it receded before addressing the next issue on my agenda: Lyuu.
“Hello, I’m looking for a Miss Lyuuine Gyroll?” I took on a formal tone as I called for her.
“W-what is it, Master?” She stuttered. If the stark contrast between the professional front and my usual behaviour wasn’t enough to unnerve her, addressing her by her full name evidently was.
I did as any traditional, high-class, Japanese official would do and placed myself onto a cushion with my legs under my rear.
“Please, have a seat.” After taking my place, I gestured for her to do the same.
She was too nervous not to comply. The wolf-girl timidly obeyed and sat across from me.
“You see, Ms. Gyroll, there happens to be a particular issue I would like to address.”
“A-and what would that be, Master?”
“I suppose I might as well begin with a question of my own,” I said. “Are you hiding anything from me?”
“H-hidin’ anything!? I’m sorry! I wasn’t tryin’ not to tell you! I just forgot! I’m real sorry about the plate! I didn’t think it was gonna brea—” She didn’t catch onto the fact that her words would reveal the truth until they had already left her mouth, but she tried to silence herself regardless by sealing her lips with her palms.
…Well then. I mean, that wasn’t exactly what I was looking to hear, but uh, good to know. I’mma probably have a word with Leila once we’re done here so I can make sure Lyuu gets the good old fashioned stern lecture she deserves.
“This isn’t about the plates, Ms. Gyroll. I was speaking in reference to your family situation.”
She finally seemed to have come to realize where I was about to take the conversation, as she reacted with an immediate, audible gulp.
“You see, Ms. Gyroll, there have been a few unpleasant rumours flying around the dungeon about your origins. One of your coworkers recently filed a report and informed me that you happened to be a runaway.”
“It was Leila, wasn’t it!? I bet it totally was!”
“That is correct,” I said. “She explained that you were keeping it from me despite it being something you should have made me aware of.”
“I uhm… I’m sorry, Master.” Nervous, cold sweat dripped down her brow as she apologized in a quiet voice.
I started to feel just a tiny bit bad for her, so I sighed, shrugged, and dropped the formalities.
“I mean, don’t get me wrong. I like having you around, and I’m glad you like it here. I just think you should probably let everyone else in your life know that you’re still alive and kicking, especially since they’ll probably find out you got kidnapped. I mean, you’re not the only one to blame. I really should’ve asked you, all of you, about this kinda stuff before you settled in.”
Learning more about each resident’s past was one of the few things I had effectively soldered to the backburner. It was in part because I didn’t feel the need to know about their families and in part because it was a touchy subject. The former of my two excuses stemmed from the fact that I more or less saw the dungeon as one big family. I simply never felt the need to ask. On the other hand, the latter stemmed from Illuna’s situation; I had avoided bringing up any potentially touchy subjects in order to avoid digging up the various residents’ unpleasant memories.
My adventures in the demon realm had led me to learn a lot more about Leila. She had been captured whilst out on a journey. And while her situation was by no means a good one, it was still better than Lyuu’s. Her family had at least known that she was going to set out on a trip from which she may never return. Lyuu’s, on the other hand, was left in the dark. Unlike Leila’s family, they wouldn’t know where she was headed or what they needed to do to find her. They would be left in the dark until they uncovered the truth behind her kidnapping. Plus, we’ve already resolved the Leila situation since we met her sister in the demon realm.
If I was Lyuu’s dad, I would’ve totally lost my shit. I know I’d do exactly that if Illuna ever went missing again. I’d definitely end up bulldozing right through everything in my way until I finally found her. Lyuu’s status made the situation even worse. She was the daughter of her people’s leader.
I know you’re thinking that Lyuu can’t possibly be a princess because she’s too derpy. I totally get it. But if you think about it, it kinda makes sense. Like, what if she’s only a clumsy idiot because she’s always just had other people take care of her?
There was no doubt that her father was searching for her. And that his men were doing the same. I knew that his mind would most likely turn to thoughts of vengeance the moment he learned of her kidnapping. And since she’s ended up as one of my maids, he’ll probably end up turning his ire on me. Greaaaaaaat. I mean, I can totally tell him that she literally asked for it, but I doubt he’ll believe me.
“Uhmmm… I’m real sorry, Master…” She spoke in a hesitant, awkward tone. “Me and my dad, we never really saw eye to eye, so I don’t really wanna go home.”
“Look…” I sighed. “You don’t have to stay, but I really think you should at least pay them a visit and tell all your friends and relatives that you’re still doing alright. I know you really don’t want to go, and that they’ll probably be against you leaving. So how about this? What if I come with you? If they start trying to force you to stay against your will, then I’ll step in and make sure you get right back to the dungeon. Even if I have to be a little… less than cordial.”
“W-wow Master! You’d really do all that just for me!?” The eyes she turned upon me were like that of a lost puppy’s: teary, desperate for salvation, and full of hope.
“Yeah, I would,” I laughed. “I’d definitely miss you. Things just wouldn’t be the same without you.”
“W-wow. Thanks, Master,” She said, bashfully, “I never knew you thought that much of me.”
“Why wouldn’t I? You’re the best comic relief there is.”
“Yeah. You are pretty much always the butt of the joke, after all. And that’s pretty much why the dungeon needs you, why I need you.”
“What the heck, Master!? You’re terrible! You really need to stop makin’ fun of me! I’m not just here for comic relief!”
I couldn’t help but cackle as she lightly pounded me with her fists in protest.
The original plan was for us to set out for Lyuu’s hometown the next day, but the warwolf in question had ended up refusing under the pretense that she still had a few things to think about before she was ready to leave. That was why I instead found myself out hunting with all five of my combat-capable pets in tow.
“Hm…?” My eyes flickered to the dungeon’s map, which had suddenly popped open in the middle of the outing for the same reason as usual. Intruders.
“Oh boy… here we go…”
“What’s wrong, Yuki?” Nell, who had tagged along because she wanted to check out the forest, turned her eyes on me curiously.
“Eh, nothing special. Just another group of intruders.”
“Intruders? You mean someone’s invading the dungeon?”
“Right. I just realized I never told you this, but I can basically tell whenever anyone steps into my territory. It’s just how the demon lord-dungeon relationship works.”
“Oh… So does that mean you knew right away when I attacked too?”
“Pretty much, yeah.”
I opened up a second window and had it switch to the live footage I was getting from the Evil Eyes I had scattered all over my domain. Through it, I confirmed that, this time, the intruders weren’t humans or demons.
They were beastkin.
Just like Lyuu.