Sitting in my chair, I was alone, taking a food break.
Today's dinner was even better. After all, Mom's mushroom gratin was the best. The problem is that I ate so much that my stomach was upset, but the feeling of being full made me feel good.
Everyone else is in the workshop. When my father found out that Ray was interested in sword making, he took the initiative to go with him. Together with him, Sasha, Misa and the others went to check it out. It's been a while, but there's no sign of his return. The occasional sound of laughter suggests that they are engaged in a lively conversation.
I was leaning back in my chair in a daze when I heard a noise in the kitchen.
Is it Mom?
I casually decided to take a peek at it.
Inside was Misha.
What are you doing here?
Misha turned around and said with a blank expression.
The stone oven seems to be on fire. I guess that means they are making gratin.
It's odd that we just finished dinner a few minutes ago.
What's up with that?
I'm making it.
She nodded, nodding.
'Anos's mother wants it.'
Well, I don't blame you, but why?
Then Misha blinked twice.
'I was taught,'
Come to think of it, Sasha and I were helping to make gratin when we were preparing dinner. I guess that's when he taught me how to make it.
"Practice making it alone.
'You wanted to practice your gratin?'
'My mom makes a mushroom gratin that tastes supreme, to say the least.
Nodding, Misha says.
"...Does that mean you're practicing because it's my favorite thing?
Misha scowled. It was only slightly, but she seemed embarrassed.
'I like the look on Anos' face when he's happy.
It's a pretty thing to say.
'I'm happy for you,'
Misha's eyes narrowed as she said this.
'Anos is good friends with Sasha.
Sasha's emotions are laid bare and she talks to me incessantly. I'm not sure I'm going to be able to get away with it, because two thousand years ago, there was no one in charge like that, so I can't help but be amused and meddle with them.
What's wrong with that?
A good thing.
Misha stares into my eyes.
'But I do miss you a little.'
'I see. You feel like you've lost your sister.
Misha's eyes widened slightly and he shook his head bobbing.
'It was taken, backwards.'
Quickly, Misha's little fingertips pointed at me.
'Me? For Sasha?
Slightly, Misha nods.
Then she gives me an upward glance, as if to assert something, as if she hadn't been at any time.
'I became your friend first.
In a thin voice, she says.
''But right now Sasha's a better friend of mine...''
I let out a chuckle.
'Even Misha feels that way, doesn't she?
She turns over and says in a small voice.
He seemed unable to handle his own emotions.
'It's not that Sasha's not a better friend than me, though.
Misha looks at me with just a hint of suspicion.
'He just talks too much, that's all.
"...I'm not much...
Misha's voice sinks slightly.
'That's what I like about Misha.
Her cheeks relax slightly as she utters this.
Yeah, talking about it makes me feel calm.
Hmmm, Misha scowled.
Hmm. Glad to see we're on the same page.
Misha opened the stoneware oven as if she had noticed, put her mittens on her hands and took out a gratin dish.
The delicious aroma of white sauce and cheese wafted through the air.
Delighted, Misha put it on the table.
She got a wooden spoon and scooped out a mushroom gratin. Then, with a whoosh, whoosh, and a whiff of breath, he ate it with a bite.
Misha nodded his head as he tasted the gratin to see if it was well done.
'Is it good?'
I ask, and Misha turns around with a blank expression on her face.
Then, once again, she spooned the gratin and pointed it at me.
'Do you want some?'
Yeah, no. I ate a lot of food earlier.
Misha stares at the gratin on the spoon.
Somehow, she looks lonely.
Come to think of it, she practiced it just to see my happy face.
Then I can't stop eating it, even if I'm bloated.
Hmm. But I think I'm just getting a little hungry. Can I have it?
Then Misha smiled happily and nodded her head in a way that made me smile.
The gratin on a spoon, woof, woof, cools and brings it to my mouth.
And Misha demands to open her mouth.
She's not a baby, though, so she can eat herself.
When I didn't open my mouth, she nodded her head.
Misha demands that he open his mouth again, as if he thought his intentions hadn't been conveyed.
Well, okay. I'll let her do what she wants.
When I open my mouth, Misha brings the gratin inside.
I munch on it. Mmm, it's excellent. Since I learned it directly from her, it perfectly replicates the taste of my mother's gratin.
Hmmm, Misha laughed aloud.
Let's get it.
Again Misha brings the gratin to her mouth.
As if she thought I wouldn't open my mouth if I didn't say so, Misha did the same and let me eat the gratin.
My belly was already full, but I ended up finishing the plate of gratin I made for practice.
'It was delicious. 'Misha's a good cook, isn't she?'
She says, just a little embarrassed.
'I'll make it again.'
'Don't be so hard on yourself. Just because you didn't make it doesn't mean you're going to get along with Misha.
Misha falls silent, as if troubled.
Apparently, it was an unwanted concern?
If you want to make one, you're more than welcome to do so.
I love to cook.
Come to think of it, his signature magic is also called Ibis.
Then can you feed me again?
Yeah, I'm looking forward to it.
I flick my fingers at the plate and spoon. The magic kicks in. After quickly washing the two, I let them float in the air and return them to the cupboard.
'Have you been to the workshop?'
Okay, let's go.
Misha and I headed to the workshop.
When I walked in, I saw my mom. But there didn't seem to be anyone else there.
'What happened to Ray and the others?'
Then Mom held up her index finger and said, "Shh.
I looked over and saw Sasha right there, wrapped in her blanket, asleep.
Sasha," she said, "you look so tired.
Come to think of it, you used quite a bit of magic in the intergroup exam.
''Ray, you guys went over to the garden where you said you were going to get hit by the night wind.
Mom says in a whisper.
'The garden. Let's go.
We left the workshop and went outside the house.
It's already dark, but with the moonlight rising, it's not so dark. This area is densely populated with houses, so there was light leaking in from the houses as well.
'But thank you for your time today,'
I heard Mass's voice from the yard of the house.
I looked over and saw her sitting on a tree root. Ray was standing beside her.
'What is it?'
''Hmmm, you invited me. If Ray-san hadn't said that to me, I don't think Anos-sama would have let me join the group. So, its a thank you.
Ray smiled thinly.
'I didn't mean to, though.'
Oh, that's so sweet of you not to thank me.
When those two are lined up, they're just laughing at each other.
''........I've never met anyone like Rei-san before.......''
''Well, I mean, how can I say that I don't care about being a member of the royal family at all...''
Ray laughs with a huff and a refreshing smile.
'I'm sure the two Necrons do, too.
Haha.... but it's not quite the same thing. Sasha-san and Misha-san knew all about the meaning of royalty and other things, and yet they were still under the control of Anos-sama, I think.
Do I look different?
''That's right. To be honest, you don't seem to be interested in the imperial family, or mixed blood, or the primordial blood itself. I don't mean to be rude, but it seems like you don't give a d*mn, do you?
Giggling, Ray lets out a laugh.
'Maybe so. Like I said on the intergroup exam, I'm not very good at that sort of thing.'
Ray took his gaze off of Mass and stared off into the distance.
'Truth be told, I just want to think about the sword. How can I swing my sword faster? How can I learn to cut what I couldn't cut? I can't bear to do anything else.
Is there any circumstance in which you can't think only of the sword?
Mass asks, as if it were a simple question.
'There's a lot of things in life. For example, you have to eat your food.
Pouting, Missa gushed.
'You're such a pain in the ass, Ray.
I'm a laid-back guy at heart.
Ray turns his gaze to Mass again.
'So I'm not going to join the Unificationists. Not that the royal family is right, though.
Oh, no, no, I didn't mean that.
Misa waved her hand in a hurry.
Then, with a serious face, she said
''I've been thinking. I thought that someone like Ray-san might be the ideal for us Unificationists. As soon as you say that you are a member of the royal family or not, you are dividing the demon race in two. I felt that the person who can say that such a thing is a bother and is not important is the person who does not discriminate in any way.
'I don't want you to be lifted up so much. When you say that, Anos really doesn't seem to care about anything, does he?
I'm trying to carry you on my back, so can't you just keep your cool?
Mass looks at Ray in surprise.
'You're being honest,'
Ray didn't return the words, just looked back at Mass.
She awkwardly averted her gaze.
''........There's no way for us to do anything but trust Anos-sama anymore, but I know that might not be a good thing for Anos-sama......''
I think it's fine.
When Ray answered immediately, Mass looked at him again with a surprised look on his face.
''I don't think that no matter what Mass and the others have done, it's unlikely to have even the slightest effect on him.
Missa buried her face in her lap, as if she was having trouble answering.
'I'm not trying to be cautious, it's just a fact. I'm not in that dimension of being used and cheated on, bad or not so bad, Anos is not in that dimension. If you cover him with a bucket of water, he wouldn't cause a single wave on the ocean. That's how transcendent he seems to be. To me.
How can you be so sure of that when you've only just met him?
Ray laughs briskly.
'It's just a hunch. I'm not very good at thinking about hard things.'
Huffing, Missa laughed.
'It kind of makes me feel a little better.
Can I ask you one question, too?
Misa gives him a curious look.
Mass, you're half-spirit, half-demon, right?
Do you ever get sick?
Missa twisted her head as if she had no idea what to expect.
I'm sure you'll be able to find a way to make it work. Why is that?''
Ray closed his mouth for a moment.
Then he said with an unusually serious expression.
''I heard that half-spirit half-demons can't live for long, so...''
'But as far as I know, there's no half-spirit, half-demon that's pinned down, even using spirit magic. Missa-san must be special.
'Yes, what is it? I don't know for myself...
Ray reaches out to Mass.
'Let's go back. I'm getting cold.
Taking her hand, Mass stood up.
I'd like to thank you so much for today. I will do my best to create a society where people like Ray-san can become normal, right?
I'm sorry. It was annoying to hear you say that, wasn't it?
'I do have your support. I'm honestly sick of being forced into a lot of things just because I'm royal and we're a generation of chaos.'
Mass looks happy and clenches her fists gingerly.
''Leave it to me. I'll do my best to make the day come when Ray-san can relax.