In the end, we decided on the date we'd head out for the imperial capital. It turned out that I did get summoned.
It even called for someone not in the subjugation group, why... oh, right. Rokuko's name was in that list as if it were the most natural thing in the world. This is definitely Haku-san's doing, I can't see it being anyone else's.
And then the next day came. Shikina and Maidence came out to meet Meat and I when we turned up at the inn.
"Master Kehma! Thank you for your hard work!"
"Kuro-sama! Um, Kehma-sama, could we have a talk? As expected of my fiancé... err-"
For some reason, I just can't seem to feel calm whenever I see the no good elf and miss ringlets here.
And I dunno when, but Maidence seemed to fall head over heels for Meat at some point.... Meat, what did you do to her? Hm? You don't remember doing anything?
Oh really? Well, then maybe it has something to do with the aristocratic mating cycle? Like just being near your fiancé causes feelings of love. Or something. Someone needs to announce this to the academy-generations of nobles living with nothing to look forward to but arranged marriages have changed their innate instincts!
"So, I heard Wataru-sensei say that you will be taking a trip to the imperial capital! I would like you to allow me to accompany you as well!"
"... Eh, why?"
"The reason is obvious: I have already paid for this month's tuition costs... it will take you at least a month to reach the capital, correct? I would naturally be accompanying you as well, in that case!"
Geh! A legitimate reason! But really, I haven't exactly taught her anything proper enough to call it a tuition. But still, I guess Ichika and Meat-the ones handling all of the common-sense and battle-related stuff-are coming with me too, so oh well.
What am I teaching this elf? I guess math at most?
"I'm looking forward to seeing the imperial capital, Kuro-sama."
"Oh, Mai-sama, wouldn't you be taking care of the place in our absence? Of course, you could also take a return trip to Tsuia."
"Of course I couldn't, Kehma-sama! I know how I look, but I am accustomed to travel."
"I couldn't take responsibility if something were to happen to you, please understand."
"Muuu... responsibility, duty. Adults always say the same thing."
Saying that, Maidence took Meat by the arm and hugged it. One might say that she was simply acting as a child at a convenient time is just like what an aristocrat would do.
"Kuro-sama, you would protect me, right?"
"No. I will be protecting Goshujin-sama, please do not get in my way."
".... Kuro-sama, your faithfulness to your duty is wonderful!"
This is going nowhere. It's the same thing that happened with Wataru.
"... Oh, Maid-san. Err, while we are away..."
"I understand, I will return her to the Tsuia residence, so rest assured."
Maid-san responded so perfunctorily, it helped ease me.
"Village Chief Kehma-! Fight me! I'ma beat up Village Chief Kehma, the Dragonslayer~!"
Just then, our part-time worker, Setsuna, came running, her chest and doggy ears bouncing. Yep, let's not have that fight.
"Village Chief! While you're gone at the capital, I'll be defending the villagehouse-sitting, so let me fight you first!"
"... How about you fight Wataru instead?"
"Nerune was all, ahem: [Wataru's a guest~, bothering him is off-limits~] though!"
Nerune? Are you really someone in a place to say that? And what's with calling him Wataru? That's cold! Oh, how the hero has fallen! Gah, I want to feel sympathy for him. I don't, though.
"... Haaaah. I'll allow you to practice with him. In exchange, you can't fight me."
"Booya, our Village Chief is reasonable as heck! Understooooood!"
Saying that, Setsuna left with a pep in her step.
"Wait, what? Defense? ... Right. Gozoh and Roppu are coming with us, huh."
Setting aside Meat, Gozoh's party is this village's representative adventurers. I can't deny that the village's defense will drop without us all here.
... Well, I guess the village will be fine with Setsuna here, even if it's attacked. Probably.
I don't think people would want to attack the village in the first place, what with there being an adventurer's guild branch being here and all.
Or maybe it's the fear of monsters coming out of the dungeon and overrunning the town if its defenses are lowered too much? I can guarantee that won't be an issue, at least.
Hah... guess I'll have make preparations. I'll do what Wataru suggested for now and stock up on food. Anything put inside of my [Storage] has its time stopped, so we'll be able to eat freshly-prepared meals whenever.
I can't take Kinue-san with us, after all... I mean, she's basically the inn's key person at this point.
I knocked on the door to Rokuko's room.
"Hey, Rokuko. Are you done preparing?"
"Oh, Kehma. I just finished. Kehma, between red, black, and white, which do you prefer?"
"Hm? ... Black, I guess."
"... Isn't that too bold?"
What's she on about...? Well, I'll have lost if I think about it too hard. As a man, that is.
"Am I good to come in?"
Entering only after getting confirmation, I saw Rokuko looking at a memo book after gathering her luggage.
She had [Storage] as well, but it seemed like she'd packed various traveling bags in addition.
... We both have [Cleanup], so it's not like we really need to bring many changes of clothes though?
"What's with the memo book?"
"It's for the DP I've gotten from Haku Ane-sama. From what I was told, I can only use the DP I have at the time I leave the dungeon."
Ah, I guess Haku-san told her through the [White Beach] hotline? When though?
"... I wonder what DP really is? And only being able to use DP you have at the time you leave a dungeon... what does it mean to have DP? It's that sort of thing. Like I can do it, but I don't get it."
"If you can use DP elsewhere, you're definitely bringing it with you. It's not like it'll disappear if you don't use it, so you don't need to go out of your way to."
"I guess. It doesn't exactly have mass... so maybe it's similar to magical power?"
Rokuko wouldn't know, but I just figured it worked similar to how digital currency did in my world.
"The dungeon will use a certain amount as well, but it'll replenish if I leave the core here, so... alright, let's bring around 500,000 DP."
"Oh yeah... come to think of it, about how far can we go until we can't use the DP we leave in the dungeon? Is it within the range between here an Tsuia?"
"I don't really know, but it can change depending on the situation, like if there were any other dungeons in-between.
Well, I don't think there'll be anything 500,000 DP can't handle... Fufufufu, I've saved up enough DP to have this kind of conversation. I'm growing up~"
I nodded in agreement. It's true, she's very different compared to back when I was summoned, both in brains and DP.
"We'll be heading out tomorrow, so make sure you don't leave anything behind. Well, we'll have DP so it'd probably be fine either way."
"Yeah. Oh, where do you think I should put the Dungeon Core? In the dungeon, right?"
... Oh, she's talking about the main corelight orb? I thought Rokuko was saying she wouldn't be coming for a sec there.
She's definitely afraid to keep the Dungeon Core in the inn, like what if there was a thief?
"Right. Let's hide it before we head out."
While saying that, Rokuko put the Beddhism holy seal into her bag.
... Do I have some of them stocked away too? Yep.
"Hey Kehma, between the inn and the church, do you think we're leaving enough manpower behind?"
"The church should be fine because of all the succubi. As for the inn... well, the inn and church worked out with just us before the succubi, so even without the four of us now, it'll be fine."
"Oh, yeah. It should be enough with the succubi huh?"
"Actually, wouldn't it be great if we could get the succubi to help out here at the inn too? We could say the Beddhism Sisters are volunteering. I mean, I'd still pay them, but yeah."
"In that case, let's ask Rei and Kinue to join us as well."
As for why she didn't include Nerune there, well, yeah. The girl's immersed in her research.
It should work out alright as long as I let Suira know about it.
I guess I should go confirm our route to the imperial capital... come to think of it, what direction is it? Wataru said he came on a carriage...