This is the epilogue for chapter 4.
In the end, the turmoil created by the Phantom Thief’s attack came to an end without any news of the strife leaking outside the capital except in the form of a few rumors circulating in the surrounding neighborhoods and a full report delivered to the demon nation.
Shirley and her friends, who were the driving force behind this case’s clean resolution, managed to successfully complete their request by removing the immediate crisis. After being safely dismissed, they all immersed themselves into the festival music.
The Summer Solstice Festival was able to begin safely without delay, and the demon princess Grimhilda was left feeling overwhelmed. Compared to her usual gatherings with royal dignitaries and guests from foreign countries, this festival was loud and vibrant, dozens of times greater than what the city would normally be during the average ordinary day. And she was getting to enjoy this fresh experience with the first friends she had ever made.
Much of this was true for the young adventurers Kyle, Cudd, and Leia as well who were still young boys and girls in their own right. The Summer Solstice Festival is an event only made possible thanks to several large monetary contributions and the hard work of an overwhelming number of people. No matter your age, when you come from a frontier town that never sees any visitors like the three of them did, all of this would be sure to overwhelm and captivate you.
The royal capital’s Summer Solstice Festival is a week long event, and it is on such a grand scale that three days have already passed, and they still had not experienced everything the festival had to offer. It is already the fourth day of the festival, halfway through the week, and the city has only gotten busier as time’s gone on.
“It would be bad if the two of you were to get separated from me. Come hold my hands.”
“Yeah, we’ll get swept away immediately with this many people.”
Kyle and the others were living it up each and every day, and Hilda was being escorted by representatives from the demon nation since she no longer needed special protection because of the Phantom Thief’s capture. And so it was just the mother and her two daughters, skirting the edge of the city’s main street jam packed with a torrent of people while holding each others’ hands.
“Uwaa! Look at that Mama! Today’s parade is amazing!”
“Mm…….! It looks like it’s made of magic, but how does it work?”
The daily parades are a cornerstone of the capital’s Summer Solstice Festival with tens of thousands of people making the trip just to have their eyes dazzled with the party floats that are always decorated differently on each day of the festival.
Today’s design had flames dancing through the air, spelling out different letters overtop a huge stage constructed of water and ice. A choir consisting of nothing but cute stuffed animals whistled a tune from on top of that stage with a troupe of semi-transparent fairies performing a dance with a bright green shine radiating from their bodies. Seeing a stage with such an elaborate design and colored with fantastical magic was truly a sight to behold, and the float itself carved into the shape of a giant dragon carrying all this on its back turned it all into a work of art.
“Only during a festival can you see humanity’s deadliest enemy dancing through the city like this.”
“Mm! Yesterday’s was a big tomato monster, and all the other floats have been completely different too. I thought I would get bored watching a parade every day, but I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ll do next.”
Magic was the reason why the dragon could look up and breath fire into the air before belching a mighty roar, but Shirley didn’t dare break the illusion. As she watched the parade pass by, she also offered a sideways glance towards Sophie and Tio. Seeing the two of them happily leaning forward, marveling at what they saw was the true thrill of the festival for her.
“Where should we go next?
“Then, let’s go to that block there. There’s still a lot we haven’t seen, so I’m a little worried.”
“Mm. Let’s go.”
If you were to wander around normally, you would never see everything the Summer Solstice Festival has to offer even if you were there for the whole week. Each of the stalls and games Sophie and Tio passed were new and exciting, so they pulled on their mother’s hands, ignoring the wry smile that seemed to say, “I’m tired of playing and want to take a nap,” that was spread across her face.
“Ehh!? That one would be good! Look, we can rent costumes for the festival from that shop! Wouldn’t it be fun to wear a bunch of clothes we can’t usually wear?”
“…….it’d be more fun to crush those golems. I think we get a prize if we get the high score.”
And because of all the different events, a disagreement on what they should do cropped up. Sophie wanted to head to one of the major clothing stores in the capital where they were renting out costumes to wear during the festival. Meanwhile Tio’s attention was grabbed by a booth for adventurers to test out their strength where you see how many rock golems you can break before time runs out.
Despite both of them having the same dream to be adventurers in the future, they had conflicting personalities and opposite hobbies. It’s only inevitable they would encounter a bit of conflict. ……..Shirley’s feelings were a little complicated since she knew the reason why attending both attractions wasn’t an option was because of how she taught both of them to not waste any money.
“We have plenty of time. Why not do both?”
“Hmm…….we could, but”
“…….is that okay? Isn’t it overkill?”
“It’s fine during times like this.”
But this was an extended vacation. And a special festival. Shirley wasn’t so small-minded as to keep a lock on her wallet during a time like this.
“Since we’re only renting the costumes, we should do the golem game first to not get our clothes dirty.”
“In that case, this way.”
A little off main street where the parade passed by was the capital’s adventurer guild’s exercise area. This spot, normally off limits to the general public, has been opened up for the Summer Solstice Festival and is now crowded adventurers and young boys alike.
“And so it begins, the capital guild’s annual golem crushing event! Festival goers get a voucher for every golem they beat! Adventurers will get one for every three they beat! Participation fee is a measly silver coin!”
“A really easy to understand prize. A voucher is worth several copper coins at any food stalls.”
A man in a robe who appeared to be an adventurer was moving the earth around him to create golems as receptionists circled around loudly promoting the attraction. The mother and her two daughters were impressed by the simple, clear, easy to understand prizes that anyone participating in the Summer Solstice Festival would want and didn’t rely on cold hard cash. A confident adventurer or a naive child would be roped in like this.
The target golems were also detailed and delicate. None of them were meant to attack, but in return, they were built with a focus on defense and evasion. Their movements were smooth enough that they could be mistaken for a real person. Furthermore, it looks like the durability and size of each golem is changed depending on the participant. Large men who were clearly adventurers faced large rock golems while small boys got to face golems made from loose soil that shared their height.
“There are so many people! Do you think it would be fine for me to summon Beryl and use him to fight?”
“…….doesn’t look like it. The sign says no magic is allowed, and we can only use the weapons they give us.”
“Well, I’ll go first.”
“Ah, no fair!”
Contrary to her personality and general demeanor, Tio loved this kind of event, so she confidently strove towards the receptionist. However she stopped and turned towards Shirley along the way.
“Do you want to do it with me Mom?”
“Me? ……well, it should be fun.”
Shirley didn’t hold much interest in the game because of the golem’s restricted properties and behavior, but if Tio is going to ask, then Shirley had no other option than to respond. After walking over to the receptionist and showing off her adventurer ID tag, she picked up the weapon the organizers had prepared for her.
Numerous aged weapons were lined up in front of her. None of them had an edge that would normally be able to cut a person, and there were a few nicks on the blades showing off how often they’ve been used. There were various kinds of spears, axes, hammers, and claws, but Shirley naturally went with one of the swords.
“Now for our next challenger――――oh ho!? It’s a woman! Our next participant is an amazingly beautiful female adventurer!”
A round of cheers exploded from the surrounding crowd as Shirley stepped in front of the man in charge of making the golems. People out in the more remote areas have already become accustomed to Shirley’s beauty, but someone on her level rarely ever visits the capital. Shirley’s mysterious beauty got a rise from all the male adventurers, but even the women were captivated by her appearance.
Shirley tilted her head, confused by all the excitement growing around her, but in the end she decided to ignore them and take a spot in front of the freshly built golem.
……..She didn’t intend on showing off here or anything. She aimed at wrecking enough golems to impress her daughters but no so many that it makes the organizers look bad. She didn’t have a hobby of harassing stalls and stealing all their prizes.
As it is the surrounding crowd didn’t look very expectant. Shirley didn’t look like she would be able to put up much of a fight, so they were all underestimating her and assuming she wouldn’t be able to get a very high score.
“Mama~! Do your best~!”
However, just as the game began, Shirley heard the cheers of her daughter and unconsciously released the shackles holding her back. Using a sword lacking any kind of edge, she reduced the golem into a mound of fine sand with a speed nobody in the audience could follow. It didn’t look like she had moved her body at all let alone her sword. It was finished in less than a second after Sophie’s cheer.
Everyone’s jaws dropped. That included the magician who was in charge of creating the golems as well. As for Shirley, she had completely lost any level of maturity, her expressionless gaze boring into the magician’s forehead in response to her daughter’s expectant gaze.
“Come, quickly with the next golem.”
There is a three minute time limit for each person, and that includes the amount of time it takes to make a golem. In the end, Shirley had cut down nearly a hundred golems, and she was banned from ever participating again.
“Well then, next is the costume shop!”
Shirley and her daughters kindly returned half the tickets they had won, leaving the area with the guild receptionists seeing them off with a bow. A “Please don’t come again,” coming at their backs. Tio received the highest score among all the children who participated as well. The receptionist had a cramped expression after that and was clearly eager to drive them away.
“……fuu, the store has a cafe with it.”
“Hmm…….it doesn’t look like the stores have anything in common. Is it the same owner for both?”
They took a look at the large map set up on a signboard set up for the Summer Solstice Festival. For now they decided to head straight to their main destination where a couple of women were already peeping at some of the costumes displayed in the shop’s window.
“……unique designs, but they look good.”
Shirley’s favorite design was light and refreshing with a graceful impression coming from the cloth it was made from. It was also a cool green and blue, so it would be perfect for her to wear while still enjoying the hot midsummer day.
“These ones are matching! Tio, should we wear them together?”
Shirley immediately reached into the Hero’s Toolbox to grab her camera. It is a parent’s duty to record their children’s moments of preciousness and leave photographs behind for future posterity. That was what Shirley was thinking as they entered the store, but as she locked eyes with the clerk inside…….
“Welcome dear guaaaaaaaaaaasa!? Y-You’re really here!?”
“Huh? Huh!? W-What is this!?”
“…….I’m not sure.”
Sophie and Tio’s eyes were swimming as the clerk hurriedly approached them. Shirley didn’t have any idea on what was going on either, but the clerk ignored their confusion and motioned towards the store’s attached cafe.
“We’ve been waiting all week! I was starting to wonder if you were really coming!”
“Come come, this way!”
What in the world is going on? The clerk was already leading Shirley and her daughters to the cafe before they had time to ask. Inside there were several waitresses serving a room full of men all while wearing various different costumes and outfits you wouldn’t normally see someone wearing out in public.
“Whoa!? They really came!? The phantom waitress.”
“No way! She really exists!? I didn’t think the phantom waitress was actually going to show up!”
“I’m sorry, but could I have those little girls serve me instead!?”
Shirley involuntarily cringed when the whole cafe suddenly grew noisy after seeing her while Sophie and Tio clung to their mother’s hips out of fear. None of them had any idea who any of these people were, and the enthusiastic looks from the male customers were not normal.
“…….??? What are you talking about?”
“The phantom waitresses…….are you talking about us? But, I don’t remember ever working at a place like this……..?”
“……..what is the meaning of this? I demand an explanation.”
“Huh? Explanation? Aren’t you here today for the Summer Solstice Festival’s limited time event?”
Shirley’s voice was so low it crawled across the ground. Despite that, her menacing attitude rolled right off the clerk who calmly pointed towards the wall. There was an advertisement hanging there with a big photo on the front.
The advertisement itself said that each of the waitresses would be wearing various costumes different from their uniforms as they worked throughout the Summer Solstice Festival. That in and of itself wasn’t much of a problem, and just from looking around it became clear that the men were practically salivating over the beautiful shop assistants.
The problem lie in the photo that came with the advertisement. It showed two cute little girls with white hair dressed in two familiar looking outfits along with an older woman in her own outfit that showed off a lot more skin. The third woman had a bright red face and was trying desperately to hide her chest and thighs with her arms.
It was unmistakably Shirley and her two daughters. They were dressed up in those embarrassing maid outfits Canary had them put on after that incident with the dragon kings during the spring.
“Oh man, the owner has been using that photo to gather customers since the day we opened, so when it came out that you might be working during the Summer Solstice Festival, a huge crowd including our regulars stopped by. I was worrying over what I was going to do if this was just the owner running her mouth again.”
The clerk’s voice was running through one ear and out the other. The girls just stared at the advertisement, ignoring the clerk as he fussed over what kind of outfits they should wear and the male customers who were already giving them requests. And then the sound of a doorbell rang through the room signalling another customer had come in.
“Ah, owner. Welcome. Is it your lunch break?”
“Yep! I had to go through a lot of trouble to get away! My brain needs to replenish its intake of sugar with some sweet sweets~……..hm?”
The cafe’s owner had arrived…….and Canary quickly noticed them. Shirley and her daughters quickly noticed her as well.
A few seconds of stillness and silence passed as they all stared at each other. Then Canary tilted her head slightly, forming her hand into a fist, and tapped the top of her head with a truly adorable, yet frustrating full-body smile.
“It was me. Teehee.”
“Ku……that witch…….! Manipulating people wherever she goes…….! And dredging up that black moment and spreading it across the capital…….I’m going to seriously kill her the next time we meet.”
The sun had passed and night had rolled in. Shirley was resting on the balcony of her room, clenching the two black horns she had cut off Canary’s head. Shirley had managed to cut her several times, but in the end the little imp was eventually able to escape.
“H-Hahah. But Mama looked great, so I think it’s okay.”
“You didn’t look weird at all, and I was happy to hear other people compliment you.”
“But, I’m already thirty. A woman my age wearing something like that……”
Sophie and Tio were both rubbing their mother’s back to try and calm her down, but Shirley’s face had been red with anger and shame since she first saw that photo. It had dealt an enormous amount of mental damage to her.
“I never even knew there was a shameless photo of me circulating through the capital, and I know it’s because of my own carelessness, but looking at my appearance in that photo objectively again, I can only say how ashamed I am because of how unbecoming I look…….haa, I want to just crawl into a hole and hide. I can never go out into the capital ever again. ……Sophie, Tio……are you disappointed in your mother?”
“Jeez, of course not.”
“You care too much Mama.”
Remembering what had happened during the day, both of the girls gave their mother a wry smile as she continued shrinking down with a bright red face. Physically speaking there was nothing wrong with a young mother wearing an outfit like that, but it was apparently quite traumatic for her.
“But I had a lot of fun. The parade was wonderful, the food was delicious, and the outfits were all cute.”
“Right. …..although I never thought we would help out a stall during the festival.”
“But they gave us these clothes as thanks, so it worked out right?”
After that, the three of them felt a bit guilty for destroying the atmosphere inside the store, so they decided to throw on some traditional clothing and do a little customer service. As payment, they were given the costumes they used to service customers to keep. Sophie and Tio had liked them and were still wearing them even now. They were light, easy to move in, and looked great.
Shirley actually felt the same way. In her case she was still wearing her outfit because she didn’t have time to change, but that didn’t mean there was anything wrong with the clothes themselves. They didn’t expose much, and she liked the design a bit.
(…..not that I would ever admit it though.)
There was one part of her that wanted to thank Canary for giving her this opportunity to visit the capital’s Summer Solstice Festival. The week was only a little over half over, and her daughters had already had so much fun.
But take into account Raccoon and that cafe incident and Shilrey had officially run out of patience. It seems like the liability issue had been cleared up after the incident this afternoon, so Shirley made a solemn vow in her heart that Canary’s head would roll the next time they saw each other.
“We still have the frontier’s festival when we get home, so we can enjoy it twice as much fun as we did last year. Maybe we should wear these then too.”
“For the dance? I think it’d be fine. We were too small last year.”
Sophie and Tio spun in place with their arms stretched out. Shirley rapidly pressed the shutter button of her camera ten times in a row while using the spell 《Silence》 to kill off any noise.
A decent harvest. She used her extreme speed to take some photos of her daughters in these fresh new outfits, but she ran out of film before she could take enough to satisfy her. She had already taken hundreds of photos while the three of them were helping out at that cafe, but it still wasn’t enough.
(…….this past month has been difficult, but all’s well that ends well……..I suppose?)
Once again she was able to protect her daughters from the clutches of evil. As Shirley commended herself for that fact, a fireball shot off the ground, soaring through the night sky while making a sound she had never heard before.
“Mom, could that be it?”
“Eh? It’s about to start!?”
“Come you two, it’s dangerous to lean off the railing like that.”
Pop…….! and then a large flower bloomed up in the air. The girls froze in place while leaning over the balustrade of their balcony, their still expressions dyed with a bright light. After that first one, fireworks continued to be fired off into the air one after another, illuminating the capital at night.
“……..ah, I see. This is certainly…….”
nice. ……such a simple word got caught in Shirley’s throat as she watched her two girls reach their hands out towards the flowers blooming amongst the stars with amazement on their faces.
Red, blue, green, yellow……fireworks of every color continued to burst up in the night sky as cheers and cries rose up from all over the capital. The brilliance of these blossoms over the royal capital were like wishes for the fruits of autumn and comforted all those below who had no idea about the battle that had unfolded.