It was none other than the maid unit of Earthgand.
“Head Maid, that’s so unfair!”
“Getting ahead of us is unforgivable!”
“What’s with this good vibe between you two!”
“You were aiming for this, weren’t you!?”
“So cunning, so cunning, indeed!”
The voices of resentful women cried out at them from every direction, and the boy couldn’t help but be confused.
Of course, he knew these people all too well, but the air about them was just too strange.
“Huh?” He said.
“What are you even saying?” Stella said.
“It’s unfair, Head Maid!” A maid said.
The maids had appeared out of nowhere, then started complaining, so Stella couldn’t be faulted for being confused as well.
They even used teleportation magic, a spell often meant for surprise attacks, just to take them by surprise and insist that she alone shouldn’t be given special treatment.
“Yeah! We may not have taken care of him as much as you did, head maid, but we nursed him too!”
“But it is true that you nursed him the most.”
“So it’s fine if there’s a difference between us, but we deserve to have the opportunity as well!”
“You can’t keep him all to yourself, head maid!”
“You need to let us take care of him as well!”
That’s right, that’s right, the maids said like a group of protesters on strike for better work conditions, though in their case, they demanded neither gratitude nor work, but equal opportunities.
Meanwhile, however, before such an expressive group of maids, the boy’s eyes have already turned into dots.
“…Huh? Is this how they usually are?”
“Please excuse my noisy sisters, though I must say I’m surprised that you didn’t notice
“It’s true that you can tell a person’s character and preferences in half a month, but… These sisters of yours have been wearing masks even thicker than mine.”
“…Masks? That’s physical, though, were we not discussing my sisters’ expressions?”
“Can you not take a jab at something so obviously figurative?”
“I’m saying that your so-called figurative expression is wrong.”
“So fastidious,” the boy glared at her with eyes half-closed, and she retorted with a prim expression, “I’m just saying.”
「「「「Don’t start flirting so naturally!!」」」」
As one might expect of long-time sisters or peers, despite already having surrounded the head maid and the boy, the maids still simultaneously pointed at them and protested.
The head maid and the boy wanted to argue that they have done no such thing, but it was all too clear that doing so would cause an even bigger commotion, so they just kept quiet.
“Umm… So basically, you wanted me to thank you for nursing me, right? But actually, that’s exactly what I meant with that ice cream earlier.”
“Oh, that ice cream was certainly delicious!”
“By all means, we would love to have it again some day!”
“But we want something we can hold onto as remembrance!”
“Besides, we had to clean up after you, so that cancels out the gratitude from the ice cream!”
“Of course, it doesn’t have to be anything expensive!”
“It would be best if it were something we could wear!”
“All of it should be the same and worn on the right!”
“That’s all we want!”
As the maids fluently listed their requests, the boy found himself pressing down on his aching head.
Their request wasn’t unreasonable, and it was true that he did mess up, but…
“I can’t argue when you bring up having to clean up after me, but… Why is Lilisha and Youko with you as well!?”
The fact that their master and his own servant had so naturally joined them and started voicing out their own requests, made his head ache even more.
Moreover, Youko had actually assumed her human form despite warning her not to use it.
“I supplied the facilities and the mana for healing!” Lilisha said.
“I stood watch beside you the whole time too!” Youko said.
But servant and princess alike pressed him with dazzling eyes and insisted that they had just as much right as the others to receive his favor.
Seeing that, the maids too followed suit, and pressed him with upturned eyes.
By this point, just who between them was truly the cunning one?
“…Sigh, well you did take care of me every day, and making you ice cream did just make more work for you. If something from a store from around here is fine, then I’ll repay you guys as much as you want.”
“Yes, thank you very much!”
“As expected of my master, so generous!”
“Alright, in that case, everyone gets 2 hours each!”
“…Hey, you planned this beforehand didn’t you? And what’s with the time? I’m just buying something, right? Right!?”
Shinichi felt something was off and sensed he was in danger, but no one lent an ear to his screams.
Not a hint of the relationship between master and servant could be seen as all the people other than Shinichi started high-fiving each other, then another boy’s laughter resounded.
“Ahaha, I figured it would turn out like this.”
“…Oh, hey, Kite. Did you come here to tease me too?”
The boy knew that he’s been here since the maids appeared, so he looked at him reproachfully for just watching.
Kite pretended not to see that and just smiled.
“Of course not! But I did help out too, so I was hoping to get something as well.”
“Hmph, I have no presents or money to give to a man.”
“Uwaah, what a resolute sexist remark!”
Shinichi didn’t even waste a moment to drop that line so curtly, causing Kite’s smile to break.
“Come on, don’t say that. Help me find a new weapon, Shinichi! My old weapon is too scary after that incident! I don’t want to use it anymore!”
“Shut up, I don’t care! In the first place, you ought to train your eyes yourself! And the one you should really be demanding a new weapon from is the Kingdom of Earthgand!”
“Ah, actually, can you not do that? The last incident caused our expenses to pile up, so the kingdom actually doesn’t have a lot of money to spare right now…”
Shinichi shot down Kite’s request, but the princess interjected.
As expected, something pertaining to an expense did not escape her notice despite being in the middle of a celebration herself.
“You fool! It’s a necessary expense! How could the greatest or second greatest power of Falandia not even be able to afford that much!? If it’s really impossible, then go and get that shota grandpa to cough up as much as he can!”
Her interjection only earned her an indignant rebuke from the boy, and for a moment, her whole body quivered, but that quickly transformed into a look of ecstasy.
“Hau, I was scolded! B-But, now my heart won’t stop throbbing!!!”
This princess of a great power in Falandia twisted and turned as she cried.
For some strange reason, the boy’s rebukes would always bring so much joy to her.
“Achaa, the princess is saying something strange again…”
“It’s a serious illness. At this rate, I don’t think she can be healed anymore.”
“Hey, don’t look at me like it’s my fault! Fine, maybe it’s my fault, but still!” The boy said.
Though he couldn’t deny his responsibility in the matter, he couldn’t accept it either. It was then that Youko, with her world-toppling beauty, kept the maids in check.
“Alright, ladies, that’s enough prattling now. The master is still injured, so it’s about time you hushed yourselves.”
Youko laughed when she saw the maids immediately reign themselves in due to the spirit of service that has been ingrained in them, but then she herself snuggled up to the boy and pushed her exposed white cleavage against him.
“Ufufu, hey, Master! Instead of an M-Princess like that, how about you come to my room? We can use my two hours to release all your pent-up lust from these past four days – we can do it as much as you want— Oww!?!?”
A sweet, seductive voice that could melt any man whispered by his ears, but the only thing Youko got in return was a karate chop.
“Is that all your head is filled with? You perverted fox! How could you even ask for that after saying I’m still injured!”
“Huh? Oh, so you mean we can do it after you’re healed!?”
Youko held her head because of the pain, but when she heard that, she started jumping in excitement along with her fox ears.
Unfortunately, the moment she did that, veins popped on the boy’s forehead.
“Are those ears of yours just for show!? How could you have possibly interpreted my words to mean that!?”
And again, a chop came down at her; the divine beast of Falandia could only sink into the ground, not a hint of the nobleness or beauty spoken of in legends could be found on her.
“Tch, hey, Stella! Don’t just nonchalantly go back to work when the situation is like this!”
With that maid-exclusive ability to make their presence meld into the background, Stella had quietly distanced herself from the clamor and started working again, but she still did not escape the boy’s notice, who – relatively seriously – asked her for help.
“Are you seriously planning on having me deal with all these girls on my own!? You did so much to save me, but at this rate, I’ll have to throw so much tsukkomis I’ll die from overwork!!”
“Fret not, there are no problems here at all.”
“You don’t have to do anything, you know. You can just rest.”
But the maids suddenly surrounded the boy, and while they were all smiles, there was hidden behind their gazes an incomprehensible passion.
“It’s our turn from here on out!”
“We allowed the head maid to monopolize you for four days!”
“So from now on, you should leave everything to us!”
“From morning ’till morning, Earthgand’s strongest maid unit shall take care of you.”
“Wouldn’t that be 24 hours!? Seriously, what are you girls planning on doing to me!!?”
The boy was seriously starting to worry for his worry, so he screamed, but the maids did not appear concerned.
And despite his cries and the maids’ commotion, Stella just quietly returned to her work.
Someone had interfered with her work, so she still had work to do; hence, it was only normal for her to return to it.
She stood before the white sheets and looked down at the item in her hand.
It was an inexpensive ribbon all too common, yet Stella looked at it intently, then as though to hide it, she lovingly brought that present of his to her chest and hugged it tightly.
Under the veil of the sheets, no one could see the smile her lips drew────
────The boy suddenly got up from his bed.
“…Huh, so in the end, that’s what it was?”
That was the first thing to come out of his mouth the moment he woke up.
Just like yesterday, he saw a different dream from his usual nightmares. Though the order was chronologically reversed, the people involved were the same, so it was easy to understand, but that was also why Shinichi was so confused.
“I’m in Earth, though. Even if something happened to them, what am I supposed to do?”
Even if a problem was about to occur around them, there was nothing he could do.
But he still found it strange since the dreams until now showed him relevant memories because of what might happen to him.
“…Is it telling me to go back? But that’s just not possible right now.”
With the way the world as it was, he couldn’t afford to leave now.
Not only was the world watching Masquerade, if he were to irresponsibly travel between worlds, he might very well slip through time again and be treated as a missing person.
He had to fix the problems in this world first before even thinking of returning to Falandia.
In the first place, there were sirens blaring at the back of his head, telling him that he might have been wrong about ‘something’.
But he couldn’t figure out what that ‘something’ was. The troublesome part about his prophetic dreams were that they were never straight to the point.
Because of their ambiguity and abstractness, they were harder to understand than the usual foresights or prophecies.
At most, he could tell that ‘something’ related to them was happening, but with them being in a different world, he could neither warn them nor talk to them. And even if he wanted to think about it, he didn’t have enough material to speculate, so he had no choice but to put the matter aside.
With that, he renewed his focus and opened the curtains.
He could see the sky just starting to become bright, so it was clear that the sun had yet to rise.
“I don’t feel like sleeping again… Okay, let’s go knock those guys awake!”
Shinichi smiled like a kid about to visit his neighbors to play, but he was actually planning on waking his disciples from dreamland despite just coming back from wonderland.
He insisted that they didn’t need to train last night since they could just train early in the morning.
It was an absurd reason, but they had no power to overturn his decision.
Youko had been keeping watch during her master’s sleep. When she saw him leave, she dropped her shoulders and prayed for those two’s safety, then she took her master’s place in bed and curled herself up to sleep.