Tomoe and Ryou were taken by the three girls to a detached house that was added to the main building.
The main building had retained the aspect of a traditional Japanese house, but this detached house was took after a modern Japanese style.
Or at least, that’s how the three girls explained it to them while hosting them in their own room meant for live-in servants.
“Mikoto-sama has actually been searching for you for many years now.”
Said Sayaka who was the calmest of the three.
“But she just couldn’t find you, and when she finally did, you’d already taken the entrance exam of the academy, so she panicked.”
Said Miki who was in the best shape out of the three.
“So she picked us out since we were around your age and looked like we could make it into the academy… There wasn’t enough time, so our education was really rushed.”
Said Sachiko who was the meekest of the three.
These girls were originally survivors or illegitimate descendants of families that came to ruin for various reasons.
Those with nowhere to go could be picked up by the other families if talented, but if not, then their only fate would was to be expelled… Fortunately, Mikoto picked them up as her servants.
As convenient as shikis were, the manor was big, and there were many people that visited for various reasons; hence, there was no such thing as having too many hands.
It was also difficult to hire normal people, so theirs was really a symbiotic relationship.
“Our spiritual power was stronger than that of normal people, though not by much, and you didn’t know our names or faces, so we would be able to watch over you in secret.”
“Also, you didn’t seem to have much information about the clan, while we knew most of the people including their aura because of our time working as Mikoto-sama’s attendants.”
“It was really in that regard that we were your escorts.”
It was evident from the start that they would not be able to be their match in ability or talent, so what was demanded of them was the knowledge and experience to notice when a clansman might approach, and to contact Mikoto and act appropriately should anything happen.
“…Is that really what you would call an escort?”
Ryou was leaning against the wall near the doorway when he muttered that.
Everyone else was sitting where they pleased, so it was somewhat strange to see him standing so far away.
But then again, this was a room shared by three girls, and everyone else was a girl, so perhaps this was actually the most appropriate distance for him to take..
“Isn’t that more like a canary?”
A messenger to warn their master when the target’s life was in danger.
These three girls were essentially devices that gauged the threat level of the people that approached them.
A conclusion that Tomoe too arrived at, causing her to make an unhappy face.
But the girls themselves did not appear bothered.
“But even then… We were fine with that.”
“We were grateful to Mikoto-sama for picking us up, and we’ve come to like Tomoe-sama too regardless of our mission, but…”
“But that thing was just too dangerous…”
On their face full of resolve was cast a shadow.
They seemed to be remembering something, as the three of them repeatedly trembled with a grim expression.
“Ahh… Umm, so… Who did what to you?”
Tomoe was strangely embarrassed to see them so determined.
Of course, she didn’t miss the hint of who the culprit behind this was, but she decided nonetheless to ask them that question straight.
“Uu, it was scary, so scary.”
“I thought I was going to die. Just what was up with that kid?”
“J-Just thinking back to it is enough to give me chills and nausea.”
But as though that question was a trigger of some sort, the trembling of their body worsened.
It was so intense that it was almost audible, not to mention how abnormally pale their faces were.
For a moment, the three girls remained in that state no matter how many times Tomoe or Ryou called out to them.
Well, if the culprit was indeed who they thought it was, then their reaction was understandable.
“Ryou, what do you think?” Tomoe said.
“You’re not asking about him but their story, right? It’s fishy. I’d understand if someone stronger was chosen, but in their case, didn’t grandma just scheme to get them out?” Ryou said.
“Right, it wouldn’t be strange for Mikoto-sama to have thought that. They would be in great demand if they could graduate from the academy, after all.”
Tomoe knew the fate of those from ruined households, but some of them were able to enter the workforce through Mikoto and were able to quietly leave the clan to start their own families.
Tomoe and Ryou speculated that such women must have been sent away by Mikoto under the pretense of a mission.
In fact, these girls were admitted into the academy through proper means and were able to maintain their position in B Class.
Though they lacked spiritual talent, they were definitely more competent in that area compared to the average person.
Or perhaps, Mikoto sent them precisely because she knew that.
“Either way, neither side was able to help you when you were embroiled in that incident,” Ryou said.
“I don’t really mind… Though if
They turned to the three girls trembling under a shadow.
Were they afraid? Depressed? Or perhaps, both?
For some reason, the sight of them gave Tomoe and Ryou deja vu, and they found themselves palming their face.
“…This is terrible,” Tomoe said.
“Yeah, but now there’s no mistaking who’s responsible for this,” Ryou said.
──Shinichi must’ve done something.
It was a strange feeling wherein they understood yet could not admit it, though it definitely made sense when that name was brought up.
Regardless, they needed to wait awhile before the three girls would be able to regain their calm.
It would not be until some time later before they would learn that it was because they feared him so greatly that they lost control, as well as the conclusion that they would draw from that.
As such, what concerned them now was something else.
“Is he really going to handle this matter carefully?”
“Well… Let’s just pray that grandma and the others come out of this safe.”
The boy and the girl could only laugh helplessly.