That was a territory in the western part of the Kingdom of Earthgant under its direct management.
One with a rich, natural, tranquil environment and a climate that did not fluctuate greatly throughout the year.
As such, it has often been used as a summer resort exclusively for the royalty for generations, and they even constructed a villa in it.
But of course, even with the common sensibility of this world, that western-style house was simply too big to be described merely as a villa.
One could easily imagine just how big it was from how easily it could accommodate a hundred guests on short notice.
Though the villa was rarely used in the off-season, a count has been entrusted with its regular maintenance.
That’s why it could accommodate this off-season visit of theirs.
And since they were living in it now, it was only natural that their maids take over those duties until they left.
───But there was one room that they couldn’t quite maintain.
“Just what did you do for this room to end up like this?”
Restlessly working in one of the guest rooms were three expressionless maids dressed in the same maid’s uniform.
Despite their complaints, they briskly cleaned the room and put everything in order.
It was a given for them to clean regularly, even if it meant cleaning for someone they disliked. It didn’t even matter if the room belonged to a political enemy or a sworn enemy of their master. So long as it was a guest, they would properly carry out their duties.
They have been raised as maids since young, and the pride stemming from that did not allow them to cut corners.
Alas, the devastation in this room was simply too great, such that they had no choice but to give voice to their complaints and close their eyes.
“It’s not as if you invited anyone in or brought something in.”
“How is it possible for the objects in here to increase just by you sleeping?”
“Even when the princess messes up an experiment with a new magic formula, the situation doesn’t get this bad.”
It was curious if they were genuinely asking him or merely expressing their inability to comprehend.
The maids were beautiful, and they glared at him coldly with a blank expression, while he could only chuckle dryly in response.
“Ha ha, a ha ha ha ha… I’d like to know that too.”
The dark-haired guest in question tilted his head with a troubled smile.
But a dangerous glint appeared in the maids’ eyes, and the boy found himself faltering.
When they saw how he reacted, however, confusion quickly took the place of that glint.
“Why does it look like a storm passed here when all you did was sleep?”
They were still in the process of cleaning the rooms, so at most they were expecting this room to be so full of clutter that there was no room to step on.
But despite having made their resolve early this morning, the sight that greeted them upon opening that door was not something they could have imagined.
Indeed, this was not a room that a person could have stayed in.
It was so terrible that it could no longer be described as a bedroom but a garbage room.
“T-That’s… If I knew what the reason was, it wouldn’t have ended like this!”
“You’re really going to say that with that look on your face?”
“Please don’t become defiant.”
“There’s something else you should say, right?”
When they pointed out that he was just being sulky, he immediately bowed his head.
When he apologized so meekly, a ripple momentarily appeared on the girls’ expressionless face.
These women would never complain if it were just the usual daily cleaning, but even they can’t help but grumble when they had to put in as much effort in a single room as they would for the year-end cleaning.
“Umm… If it’s a problem, you could just leave this room like this until it’s time to leave…”
“We still have a few days before we are scheduled to leave here. We don’t have so many people that we clean up just before then.”
There is no telling what kind of deplorable state this room would end up in if they left it be.
It was still somewhat easier to clean up every day knowing the extent of the mess than to be surprised just before it was time to leave.
It was akin to doing summer homework every day instead of on the last day of summer vacation, but Shinichi knew they wouldn’t understand that reference, so he kept it to himself.
“…Okay, in that case, I can only leave it in your hands. I dirtied the room again, so please clean it again.”
So he just bowed his head and meekly asked the maids to clean it.
Once again, a moment of bewilderment surfaced on the maids as they glanced at each other.
But after a few moments of silence, the girls nodded their heads as if this was a given.
“It can’t be helped.”
“Leave it to us.”
They seemed pleased by his response, but that might have just been his imagination.
The second princess was taking advantage of a custom in the royal family to treat herself to a self-indulgent trip.
However, due to certain circumstances, they had no choice but to go back and ended up here.
They were headed back to the royal capital, so they had to retrace about half of what they’ve already traveled.
Still, no one complained because it was a certain information that the princess and hero received that led them to make this decision.
No one could possibly be unhappy with that.
Regardless, they stopped by this villa because unlike the maids, who were accustomed to daily labor, and the boy, who has been traveling for a long time, the princess and the hero were inexperienced.
They came back as quickly as they could despite that and ended up being exhausted mentally and physically, so the head maid had to make the call and rest here for the time being.
Presently, both the hero and the princess were resting.
There was nothing to do, so the boy would occasionally train his servant, Youko, or the hero, Kite.
He would also occasionally accompany Princess Lilisha in her magic research, but he was usually free.
He would ‘disappear’ from time to time too, but he knew he had no official standing, so he would spend most of his time in his room, causing it to be messy enough to leave even the maids with all their experience speechless.
To his credit, he wasn’t trying to make a mess.
If anything, he was actually trying to keep things clean.
Feeling responsible for that, the dark-haired boy sat in a corner of the room in the seiza-position and shrunk.
Beside him was Youko in her animal form, who too tried to sit in the seiza position.
Unfortunately for her, perhaps due to the difference in body structure or her inexperience, she just kept failing and trying.
Despite that she accompanied her master in his reflection because she too felt responsible.
“M-master! Please forgive me! If only I specialized at cleaning, then this wouldn’t have happened!”
“Even if you were, you couldn’t have been able to do anything about this on your own. I don’t understand. Why? Why does it always end up like this? This is just too terrible.”
She felt responsible in her own way as his servant.
And the maids too strongly sympathized with her as servants themselves.
The sight of Shinichi’s dejected appearance with his shoulders slumped greatly puzzled them.
Was he really the man who almost killed them just half a month ago?
The way he was now, he was just like a normal boy. But they were more confused by that than disappointed.
They found it surprising to see him so timid and reserved.
He had been so over-bearing until it was decided that he would be accompanying them, but as soon as the decision was made, he became quiet, and his moody arrogance was subdued.
That attitude that drew a line between approaching and asking for something yet not actively making contact.
That attitude that reeked of shyness… It was truly a mystery that bewildered the girls.
It just didn’t make sense how this shy boy could be the same man they met that day.