After finishing our meeting with Max and Melissa, we returned to Crane’s mansion.
“Do you want to go tell Sophia?”
“I probably should. I’m sure she’s worried about what happened.”
“Yep, and she wouldn’t have to be had you just given your name to the Guild, otouto-kun.”
She’s right though. I refrained from arguing with her and turned to go find Sophia.
“Ah, Leon onii-chan! Oh, Claire onee-chan too!”
Sophia’s voice caught me off-guard as she came running down the hall towards us.
She leapt into my arms and embraced me. A smell like sweet milk spread out before me.
“Sophia, we got it. You don’t need to worry.”
“Of course. Claire onee-chan was the benefactor.”
“Eh? Why do you know that?”
“After you left Crane told me.”
“Oh, of course….”
He didn’t bother to tell me but he did tell Sophia. Well, Crane does like big-breasted lolis. I doubt he could stand seeing her be worried.
“Hey, Leon onii-chan, we have everything we need now, right?”
“Yeah, that’s right. We’ll get the claw from Crane and collect some leaves from the World Tree when we return to Muhle. Elyse will be okay.”
“Thank goodness…. Thank you, Leon onii-chan.”
I was worried when Max and Melissa captured the Lyk Skull Bear…but now I know I won’t have to see Sophia grieve.
I felt an indescribable relief as I gently stroked Sophia’s golden hair.
After receiving the claw from Crane and skinning the Lyk Skull Bear, we safely froze the meat and liver and travelled back to Muhle. After three days spent in a carriage, we arrived back in Muhle without incident.
I was a bit exhausted after completing the long trip, but Sophia and I went straight to the World Tree when we arrived and picked off a few leaves.
It just felt like we were pruning a tree on the school grounds. Yet, these leaves are used in a valuable medicine.
“…we’ll be able to save Mother with these.”
Whether it’s growing behind the school or in a sacred elven village, it doesn’t matter to Sophia.
She was staring at the few leaves she held in her hand.
“Hey, Sophia, are you feeling okay? If so, we could probably make it to the Sfir mansion today. What do you want to do?”
To be honest, I wanted to take a day to allow Sophia to rest. She didn’t seem to sleep much while we were at Crane’s mansion and she’s been worrying nonstop. So I thought she might need some sleep.
But I can also understand why she wouldn’t want to wait. She might not feel at ease until she knows her mother has been given the cure.
“If you’re okay with it, I’d like to go there today.”
That’s what I expected.
“I understand. We’ll depart just before sunset.”
“Eh, why can’t we go now?”
“I can understand your feelings but you don’t want to be exhausted and dirty when we see Eric and Elyse. Why don’t you take a bath first?”
It’s not like she’s completely filthy. There were plenty of towns we were able to stay in between Crane’s mansion and Muhle, so we weren’t forced to camp outside. But she is dirtier than when she’s staying in the mansion in Muhle.
So that’s why I thought it best she take a bath before meeting her mother.
There was also something I wanted to do before leaving.
“Hmm~, okay. Let’s take a bath together, Leon onii-chan.”
“Oh, sure let’s go — wait, I never said anything about us taking one together.”
“Eh~? But we’re finally back in Muhle and I’ve never got to take a bath with you.”
“Oi, stop making it seem like I take baths with other girls.”
“So you don’t?”
“But when I read Alice onee-chan’s feelings, the day before we left to the Marquis of Gramp’s territory, you two –”
“You’re right. I was wrong, so please stop talking about that.”
Seriously Alice…. Does she not know how to show any self-restraint?
“Hey, Leon onii-chan, will you take a bath with me?”
“Let’s wait until you’ve grown a little more.”
I gently stroked Sophia’s cheek as she pouted.
Footbaths are one thing but an actual bath is a mountain I’m not yet ready to climb. Still, I can’t deny that the relationship between Sophia and I has changed from step brother and sister to lovers.
I have a desire to do more with Sophia…but right now I need to hold off. I tried to talk her into going in alone this time.
After that, I took a quick bath, alone, before going up to my room without speaking to anyone else. After waiting in my room for a while, Tina arrived to welcome me back.
“It’s been a while, Leon-sama.”
“About a month now. Has anything changed that I need to know about?”
“Domestic affairs are going well as expected. I think we’ve become the richest territory on this continent.”
“Well, I don’t know about that….”
Then, I recalled Crane calling Claire the ‘Shadow Ruler’ and couldn’t help but smile.
“Umm, because of this…well, we’ve also received many requests for formal marriage interviews.”
“Eh, for me?”
“They’re mostly for Claire-sama. In general, Claire handles most business involving the Grances family, so she’s more well known…are you listening, Leon-sama.?”
“Eh? Oh, yeah….”
I was kind of lost in my own thoughts after hearing about Claire’s potential marriage interviews.
“You’re refusing all of them, right?”
“Of course, I’m politely declining, but there are many that won’t give up.”
“Of course not….”
Even without Claire’s high position, she’s still a beautiful woman. I’m not surprised to hear that they won’t give up.
…it’s nice that so many people realize how amazing she is, and I know I should feel happy for her, but it just makes me feel uneasy.
I still haven’t properly told her how I feel…. It’ll have to wait until this issue with Elyse is resolved.
I gave myself a light pat on the cheek to clear my mind.
“Do you have anything to report on the matter we discussed before?”
“I’m very sorry but I’ll need more time to research past cases before I’ll have anything to report.”
Before leaving to Crane’s territory, I asked her to look into the disease affecting Elyse.
The doctor at the Sfir mansion called it tuberculosis, but it’s impossible for me to confirm that using the technology of this world.
I have some medical knowledge that I’m trying to put into use by learning about her symptoms but…I still can’t confirm if that’s actually what she has.
Still, I was told that the doctor has been treating members of the Sfir family for years, so I feel like I can trust him. Regardless of whether it’s actually tuberculosis, her symptoms are very real.
Anyone can tell just by looking at her.
Alice and I were fortunate enough to be born into healthy bodies in this world, but, just like Elyse, I can’t know if we’ll eventually contract a serious disease in the future.
I hope by learning about this disease it may be possible to find a way to treat other serious diseases.
“It’s no rush. Take your time and learn everything you can.”
“Thank you for saying that, but there are some things that are worrying me.”
“Ah, it may be nothing. Allow me to look into it some more before I worry you over it.”
“Well, if you say so, I’ll leave it to you, Tina.”
I said this and stood up.
Anyway, we’ve managed to collect all the necessary ingredients for the medicine. I was worried when we were trying to get the liver, but it seems like everything will be fine.
We’ll be able to cure Elyse soon.
“Sophia should be getting out of the bath soon. I don’t want to make her wait long. Can you get everything ready for our departure?”
“Yes, I’ll make the arrangements right away.”