98-98 Reunion

 When I rode back to the ground with Ines on the back of Lara, we saw a terrible scene. Buildings had collapsed as far as the eye could see, and the corpses of a great number of demons that seemed to have sprung up from the labyrinth were piled up like a mountain.
 There was no sign of movement anywhere, and it seemed as if the once beautiful city of Mithra had been reduced to ruins.

 However, we found Lean and Astira waving at us from the ground, and asked Lara to land right beside them.
 We left her in the care of Lolo, who came to pick her up, and tried to exchange words of reunion with Lean and the others, but...

"──── Mr. Linneburg, we are back.
Inez, thank you so much for your help. Inez, thank you very much for all your hard work. Dr. Noll, are you hurt?
Yes. I'm fine.

 As he approached, he looked at Leanne and became a little worried about her.  

Leanne, are you okay? ...... You look pretty pale.

 There were no scars on her face or arms, but her white dress was torn in places and she had what looked like burn marks around her hands.
 Her face also looked tired after a while.

Yes, I was a little reckless and ...... got a little injured. But thanks to Astila, it's already healed, so don't worry about it.
...... Is that so?

 I looked at Astila's face as she stood beside Lean, and she shook her head quietly.

No. ...... Not at all! It wasn't a little (...) at all, was it? It was not a little(ish) at all, was it? I managed to get myself patched up in a hurry, but ...... that was a pretty close call, to be honest.
Yes, I'm really sorry for the trouble I caused you ...... and I'm afraid I put you all in danger.

 Astira shook her head again when she heard Lean's words.

"Really, what are you talking about ...... at all! We all owe you our lives, you know. You should be more proud and proud of yourself. You don't have to say it like that. ...... Well, that last one was a little scary.
...... I'm sorry I didn't inform you about that beforehand, too.
No! It saved everyone's life. No! It saved everyone's lives, and it's a small price to pay for being surprised!  ...... Thank you so much for all your hard work.
"Yes, ...... thank you very much, Astila.
That's what I'm talking about, Mr. Lean!

 Astila and Leanne looked into each other's eyes and laughed for a while.
 Astila and Leanne looked at each other and laughed for a while, wondering when they had become such good friends.
 I'm still a little worried about Leanne, but ...... she's laughing like that, so I guess she's fine.

 As I was taking a break from watching the two of them, I heard a voice behind me.

"Your Eminence.

 It was Sigil.

 He's got those five guys behind him.

I'm not sure what to make of it, but I think it's a good idea. Fortunately, most of the citizens have taken refuge outside the city, and there is no threat of demons, but ...... there may be many people trapped under the rubble.
"...... I see.
"Therefore, I would like to request that we, the Twelve Saints, once again go to the rescue of the citizens.
Yes, I think so.  Please hurry, Mr. Sigil!
"Thank you for your understanding, ────.

 "Thank you for your understanding." Sigil just said that and immediately ran off with the others.

"Mr. Linneburg. I'm going to make sure our luggage is safe. ...... Please wait until then to change your clothes.
"Yes, please, Inez.

 Then Ines also walked away.

 But I suddenly had a question.
 Earlier, Sigil seemed to have reported something to Astira and left.  
 Is she (Astira) really that great of a person ......?
 I've heard that she's just an adventurer.

Astila, what was that? I was told she was a ...... adventurer.
"Well, yes, but there are some circumstances. Now, I'm the mother (・・・・) of that boy ────, the prince of this country, Tirens-kun.
"Yes. It's funny how you suddenly feel like you've become a big deal, isn't it? I've never done anything like this before, but I think I'm going to be hooked.

 Astila seems to be enjoying the conversation, but I'm not really following it.
 As I was puzzled, a familiar boy who had been busily discussing something with a bunch of soldiers finished his story and walked straight towards me.  
 That's ────

──── Are you sure you are Lord Noor?
"Yes, I am.

 I believe he is the prince of this land.
 Yes, Prince Tirens, I believe.

"Lord Noor. I'm sure you're displeased with the rude ──── behavior of our people towards you.
"......? ...... No, ......?
"As the representative of the current regent, I would like to offer my sincerest apologies.

 He stood in front of me, said so, and suddenly bowed deeply.

 ...... Wait a minute, please.
 I have no idea what you're talking about.

 As for me, all I remember is being entertained by Sigil and the others.

 I'm not sure if it's a good idea, but it's a good idea.
 ...... Or maybe it was three times.
 It's a good idea to take a look at the website and see if you can find anything that might help you.

 This is a great way to make sure that you are getting the most out of your money.

I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that I'm not the only one. It is because of you that this country has been saved. I can never thank you enough or apologize enough, Mr. Noll. I'm sure I'll make it up to you in time.

 He looked me straight in the eye and said.

"...... Really?

 ...... I was kind of speechless from his energy.
 I'm not sure what to say.
 ...... I don't want that, okay?

 I don't know, this boy.
 I've been thinking that he looks much better than when I met him yesterday,────, but I may have let my guard down.
 Now he smells somewhat like Leanne and her family ......, especially that father (・・・・・・).

 The vague response I just gave might ...... have been a bad idea.
 No,......, if you don't clear up this misunderstanding as soon as possible, you might be in real trouble ...... later on.

  I'm sure you'll be able to understand what I mean.

You can call me Astila-sama (・・・・・・), if you like.

 The prince said, examining her (Astira's) face carefully.

Yes, there's no need to be so formal, you know. You can simply call me Astila. ...... Or should I be the one who needs to be dressed up? ......?
I'm sure you'll be able to figure out what I'm talking about. So you're the real ......?
I'm the only one, really. I'm Astila, of the one and only adventuring party, the Cup of Wisdom. I'm sure the party has already been disbanded. ...... ......It looks like a lot of time has passed. ......?

 Astila said and looked around.
 There was no longer a decent building in sight, just rubble, but she looked at it as if it were a curiosity.
 As I recall, she said she had been in that strange place in the Blue Stone for a long time.

...... Speaking of which, how long was Astira in that place? You said she was locked up.
I don't know, I don't know anything about that. ...... It's hard to keep track of time there, there was nothing to do, I was usually asleep. But it looks like it's probably been at least a couple of decades. ......?
No. ...... I think it's probably not decades.

 The prince interrupted, as if to confirm something.

It may surprise you, but I think it's definitely more than two hundred years old.

"What, ──── two hundred years?

 Astira's expression hardened in surprise at the Prince's words.
 I'm a little surprised, too.
 ...... She didn't look like such an old woman to me.

"...... Two hundred years, is it ......?
Yes. In the history books of our country, it is written that it was more than two hundred years ago that the labyrinth was broken through (・・・・・) by the Pope and the Holy Mithraic State was founded. It's a good idea to have a good idea of what you're going to do when you're in a situation like this.
"Oh, ...... two hundred years, huh?

 Astila sighed and looked up at the sky.

"I ...... have become a great grandmother without ...... knowing it, haven't I ......?
Is ...... that what you're worried about?
No, I think there's a lot more to say, but that's about it for now.

 Well, that's about it.
 I don't know, I've never experienced anything like that.
 I don't know, because I've never experienced anything like that, and I don't think I'll be alive in 200 years.

I don't know. ......? But ...... Oaken is alive, isn't he?
Yeah, he's alive.
So could it be that ...... is a different person?
No, I think the person you are referring to, Astira, is definitely Dr. Oaken.

 Lean, who had been quietly listening to us earlier, opened his mouth.

He's already over 200 years old.

 Leanne's words startled Astila and me, and we looked at her face.

"What ......? Oaken is over two hundred years old. ......?
...... Is that old man that old already?

Yes. He doesn't talk about it publicly, but I've heard that he's about two hundred and eighty.
...... I wonder why Oken is still alive. I thought he was human.
...... Yes, that's true. That's what I wonder every time I see him. ...... If you see him and ask him, you'll know, won't you?
Yes, ...... yes, indeed, I do.

 I'm not sure what to make of this.

...... So, I guess I know where I'm going next.
"What are you going to do?
You know where I'm going! I'm going to the Kingdom of Crais.

 Astila smiled at me and gave me a thumbs up.

 I'm sure you'll have a great time. ...... Is that something you have to do?

"......, but isn't Astira playing some kind of role (...) here right now? Pretending to be the mother of the prince, or something.
Yes, ......, but I don't think I can stay here forever, pretending to be someone else. I'm proud to say that I'm a pretty good actor,......, but I'm sure they'll find out sooner or later. So, fortunately, it seems that there are still acquaintances to rely on. ...... At this time, I think it is not a bad idea to go to the kingdom of Crais and live in the royal capital.
It's not a bad idea. So you're coming with us? We have a carriage.
Can I ride in it?
Yeah. Maybe you can. Hey, Leanne?

 I looked at Lean's face to ask for a decision.
 I looked at Lean's face to ask for a decision, but Lean thought about something hesitantly, then looked at Prince Tyrence and said.

Yes, I think it's okay. Inez is looking for the carriage right now, so if it's not damaged, you should be able to ride in it. But ...... about that...
...... I'll tell you about it. Thank you, Leanne.

 Prince Tirens stepped forward in front of Astira again, and the two were now facing each other.

In fact, as the Prince of Mithra, I have a favor to ask of you. ──── Of course, only if you agree.
"Yes, what is it? You can say anything you want!

 I'm not sure what to do, but I'm sure you'll understand.

If you are willing, you can stay in the ──── Mithraic State.
"...... in this country?
Yes. I'm sorry to ask you to do this, as you should have nothing to do with my country,......, but this country, Mithra, is really a country that has been organized around the Pope. No, it is no exaggeration to say that she alone has created it. The people of Mithra are very exhausted from the recent battle. If the Pope, who is now the core of the country, is gone, the country will ...... surely not be able to hold together. 
"...... I see? I see. ......? ......

 It's a good idea to have a good idea of what you're looking for.
 I don't understand what the prince was talking about either, but I could tell he was serious.

...... Well... That is, in short. Does that mean you want me to continue pretending to be your mother (・・・・)?
To put it simply, yes. I'd like you to continue to act as the mother of my country, the Mithraic Church, the Pope. You can find a lot more information on this website at ...... I know I'm asking a lot, but this country really needs you right now.

I'm not sure I understand ...... at all. I'm not sure I understand ...... the situation at all.

 I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to do it.

I'm sure you're right, I understand. Noll. I'll stay here after all! Please give my regards to Oaken.
"Okay. Okay. I'll let him know when I see him.
...... Hey. That's a much simpler response than I was expecting. ......? Well, anyway. I'm counting on you.
"......? Yeah, I'll tell you.

 I'm not sure what to say, but I'm going to say it.
 It's not my place to tell you what to do.
 But the prince seemed to be a little surprised.

"...... Are you sure you want to stay?
Yes. But I don't know anything about politics or anything like that. ...... Is it okay if I don't have any experience in that kind of thing ......?
"Yes, the Steward and I will handle most of the practical work. In addition, the people around you will support you in all aspects of your life, and it will be sufficient if you occasionally show your face to the people. That's all it takes to save ...... this country.
"......What ......? Just show your face ......? Will ...... that be enough to feed us?
Of course.
You have a place to live, don't you, ......?
Yes, there are several imperial palaces, so you can use the one you like.
...... I can go shopping or out for a change once in a while, can't I?
Yes, except for important ceremonies and diplomatic rituals, you are free to come and go as you please.
"I see. ──── I see. ......!

 After asking a number of questions, Astira nodded broadly with a satisfied expression.

There is no reason for me not to stay here, then! I'd rather have you here too!
"...... Are you sure you want to do this? You'll be depriving yourself of a lot of freedom that ...... should be irrelevant.
Hmmm, irrelevant. ...... No. In fact, I'm not so sure about that. ......?

"What kind of ...... is that?

 Prince Tirens waited for her next words, a question on his face.

"...... perhaps, but... I think the reason why the monster came out to the world was because we, the Cup of Wisdom, went into the depths of the Labyrinth of Sorrow,......, or maybe it was absolutely true. I'm sure that it was us who triggered it to go out. So it's not unrelated at all.
 Well, after that, I was trapped, so I don't know what happened next, and when I came out, I found myself in such a big city? I don't know what happened after that. It's a good idea to have a good idea of what you're doing.

It's ...... true, you may be right.

 In the event that you have any kind of questions concerning where and how to use the internet, you can call us at the web site.

And one more thing. And there's one more reason that's definitely not irrelevant. That is, you.
Yes. You're a half-elf, aren't you, ・・・・・・?
...... is right.

As far as I know, I've never met a ...... half-elf before. I've never met or even heard of any other Elf(s) since I left the forest.
"...... Yes, that's true. Not that I know of.
Right? That's why I don't feel like a stranger to you. Well, that's all I'm saying. There is definitely a connection. ...... In fact, from the first moment I saw you, I felt a kinship with you, as if you were my own family, separated from me.

──── I think so too, actually.
"I think so, too. That's right!

 The two faced each other head-on and looked into each other's eyes.
 It was true that they looked exactly alike.
 I'm sure you'll be able to tell the difference between the two of them.

...... So I really wanted to be with you, but... But if I stay here too long, will it bother you? I can't help but think, "......". I'm the one who let that monster out, you know? I'm not sure what to do.
...... No. That's nothing to worry about. In fact, if what you've just said is true, then you really are the one who started the founding of this country. If that is the case, then I believe that you should truly be at the center of this nation.

...... So I can stay here after all, right?
Yes, of course. As the prince of the Mithraic Kingdom, I would like to ask you a favor.
"That means I'll be your mother (・・・・)──── for the rest of your life?
Yes, that's right.
I see. ──── By the way, can I ask you a favor? ...... It's not really a condition of exchange, but...
"...... Yes. Anything you want.
"Hmm, anything you want? Then I'll do it without reservation.

 Astila smiled wryly and suddenly opened her arms wide.

──── Yes, please ...... do not hesitate.

 When Prince Tirens saw this, he froze with a strange expression.
 I looked at Leanne next to me, not understanding what she meant, but she didn't seem to understand either.

"...... is that ......?

"...... Oh, you don't know what that is, do you? You know, ...... is often seen in plays. It's the kind of thing you see in plays where families who have been separated from each other get together for a touching reunion scene. ...... That was my dream. In fact, I thought I would never be able to have children (・・・・). I never thought I'd have a family again. ──── I've always wanted that.

 In the event that you've got any questions regarding where by and how to use the internet, you can call us at our own web site.

'──── That, and from now on, I can't believe such a fine, smart-looking boy is my son! Then now is the time to do it, right? As for me, there's no way I'm going to let this opportunity pass me by. ...... Come on, don't be shy! I'm your mother! I'll hug you. Just jump into my chest. ...... Yes! Go ahead!

 And so Astila posed with her legs slightly spread and her arms lowered, like a mother bear guarding her den.


 I'm sure you'll be able to understand why.

 ...... Well, I think you'll be in trouble if you suddenly say something like that.
 To be honest, the people around me and I are a little confused.

 And so, for a while, the area was silent.
 Prince Tirens also remained silent, staring at her face.


 In the event that you have any questions regarding where and how to use the internet, you can call us at the web site.

I'm sure you'll be able to understand why. I'm not sure what to make of this, but I think it's a good idea. ...... That's right. It's not like you're a little kid anymore. I was a little overexcited. ...... Please forget about that. ......?

 Astila turned over, blushing, and scratched her cheek in embarrassment.

"──── mother(...)

 But the prince remained silent as he approached Astila and quietly buried his face in her chest.

I think I've ...... always wanted to meet you too. I think I've been wanting to meet you ...... ever since I was a little girl, ever since.

 Then Astira hugged the prince's head, which was buried in her chest, tightly. ────

──── Of course I'm with you, Mr. Tyrence! I'll be counting on you from now on, forever and ever.

 For a while, someone's sobbing voice could be heard.