To the Earldom (2)
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After the toilet break, I went into one of the guest rooms to find Gabriel rolling around the bed. One room, 4 white linen beds, so 8 in total. A large acrylic painting of some past figurehead hung on the wall. The anatomy of the eyes are slightly off, but it’s quite a minor error.

Huh.. I’m an artist aren’t I? 

Shit. I forgot that I need to continue drawing. Crap, If I don’t do something about this, my art skills will deteriorate.

“Gabriel-chan, where’s Jennifer-chan and Liliath?”

“Hm? They probably left with Miss Margrett to who knows where. So to be safe, I decided to just stay here.”

“Okay..”
Their markers weren’t anywhere here in the overworld.

“Hm…”

I turned to my right, at the cream coloured wall. Hm.. nah. I’ll just wait.

I pulled up my UI.

Request, digital painting widget with proper pens and software. And send.

Then I laid on the bed, staring at the ceiling.

“I wonder where they went..” Gabriel kicked her legs on the bed.

“Hey, Gabriel-chan, are you going to sleep in this room or the other room?”

“I’ll sleep wherever Jennifer-chan goes.”

“Okay.”

There were many things wrong with her statement.
A minute.

Two minutes.

Slam. 

Jennifer-chan who had one hand holding the door open, looked at me.

“Noel-san, there’s a washroom here too. Why did you use the one outside?” 

“What the?!”

“Oh yeah.. I forgot about that..”

There’s a washroom in the apartment ten times better than the one in the mansion and I didn’t think of using that? Am I dumb or what?

“So..”
“Uh-oh..”
“W-what’s beyond there I wonder?” Gabriel got up and bounced over.

“Noel-san.. I..”
“Just close the door.”

“Roger!”
“Not on my watch!”
Slam!

Can’t she be more gentle? That’s Prune’s property you know?

“Hey… I can’t open it..”

“Of course you can’t.”
What to do with this now? Gabriel found out. I’m surprisingly calm. I wonder why?

‘Discussion time. To let Gabriel in or not?’

‘There’s no other option isn’t there?’ said Nine.

‘Just let her in then,’ said Prune.

“Yeah.. I suppose so..”

‘Let’s pull a prank!’

I got up, slid over and gently tilted the doorknob. Gabriel’s eyes were wide like saucers.

“Please,” I said with the most servile tone I could muster, holding the door open to milady.

“What are you..”

Same apartment, but eerily quiet. Nobody anywhere to be found.

“Please enter.”
“Where did Jennifer-chan go..”
“She’s inside, trust me.”
“Y-You’re coming in too right?”
“Yup.”

“Why are there shoes here?” she looked at the slippers and boots arranged at the doorstep.

Yeah, pretty suspicious if you ask me.

“Are you entering or what?” I prodeed.

“Fine, fine! Don’t push me.”

“Take off your shoes.”

“Fine. Fine.”
She entered, I closed the door. I made sure to properly dissolve the door on the other side.

“W-What is this place..” 

Gabriel scanned her gaze over the kitchen table, the counter with Liliath’s tea collection, the sofa and coffee table. After that she made her way over to the sink.. and then she saw the fridge and..

“Don’t tell me they actually have this  artifact here?!” Gabriel gasped.. and threw the door open. “It’s cold! It’s actually cold! There’s actually food stuff inside?! What’s this?! This is a refidera-toe right Noel-san?! Why do you not look surprised..” her tone fell like a bird that had just been shot down.

“Nevermind,” I decided not to ask how Gabriel came up with the name refidera-toe. Jennifer-chan never asked about the name.. I think. I remembered that she was amazed by the eggs though.

“It’s called a refidera-towe right? Or something like that?”

“It’s a fridge.”

“Fridge?”

“Shouldn’t you be trying to find Jennifer-chan by this time?”

“You said she’s safe right?”
“Well.. I mean, aren’t you worried?”
“Your tricks won’t fool someone like me. So what else is there to this place..” Gabriel ignored me and went elsewhere. Wow, she actually thinks this is part of the mansion?

“This is the sky? There’s clouds..” she pulled open the sliding door. “AHHH?!”

“What?”

“WhAT iS ThIS?! What happened to the ground?!”
I started into the abyss below.

“Dunno.”
“Where is this?!” Gabriel retreated back into the living room. “Why aren’t you surprised? You’re being really suspicious here Noel-san. It’s like you know this place..?”

“And if I did?”

“Then that’s why you’re not worried.. I didn’t know you had connections to the Earl. Amazing! I think I want to stay here. The design of the place is comfy good. I just don’t know why there’s nothing there,” pointing at the void.

I had nothing to say past this, holding back the urge to kick her out, dematerialize the door and leave her outside the rest of the afternoon.

‘Is it just me or is Noel a tour guide now?’

‘/{cry},’ emoted Jennifer-chan.

My gosh.

Gabriel had a nice expedition. She came to the bathroom asking what this stick was. I said it was a toothbrush. She asked about the toilet bowl… with a reaction of amazement. Honestly, I wonder what Her Highness Siesta’s reaction would be if she saw a toilet. Are palaces installed with toilets? I sincerely wonder…

She pressed her fingers on the glass of the shower, played around with the knobs of the sink, washed her hands with a bar soap, wiped her hands on the hand towel hanging to the side.

“There’s even a bath here,” she muttered. Licking her lips, she stared at the tub from top to bottom. I shivered.

And then we left the bathroom and finally stood in front of the room with a closed door.

“Jennifer-chan must be here correct?” 

“Yeah..”

I’m brain dead. Just open the door yourself please..

Creak.

Which reminds me that this door needs oiling soon-- Gabriel peeked into the room.

“Huh? Hah? HAAAHH?!”

“What is it?”

“Why is Nine-san and Prune-san here?!”
“There there..” Liliath stroked Jennifer’s head. She looked visibly sad and disappointed that her friend blatantly ignored her up till this point. I guess that’s what best friends are for huh?

“You still don’t know?” Nine questioned.

“Is this a secret room?”
“I don’t know how I should explain this anymore..”
“Gabriel-chan. I trust that you keep everything you see here an absolute secret, understood?”
“Why? Isn’t this.. oh, I see. So it’s the mansion’s secret. Okay, I understand.”
Jennifer-chan stared at Gabriel’s astute expression with a look of utter amazement.

\\

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A large courtyard overlooking the shimmering lake. Floor tiled with square bricks and gazebos every few stops. Trees planted in specific places together with the square outdoor lamps. 

“So this is the place we have to decorate..” Nine said.

“I’ll be troubling the four of you to help me with this, is that alright?”

“That’s part of the deal right?”

“It’s a nice place to have a wedding,” Prune muttered.

Nine and Prune were ‘brought over’ from the guild. Their hangover condition was better now. Prune had trouble holding in her stomach this morning while Nine was so out of it, he couldn’t get off the couch. Liliath’s hangover spell was actually just an intermediate purify spell. It helped a little, but they still had to rest.

“But we only have flowers right? I don’t know how weddings here work but shouldn’t there be.. more?”

“Oh, that would be covered by the other team. We’ve come only to arrange the flowers. First thing in the morning tomorrow when the structures are in place, we have to get to work, understand?” Miss Margrett explained.

“Okay,” Nine said.
“Understood,” Prune nodded.

Liliath looked at me.

“Yes?”
“Nothing..” her tone faded. 

Longing.

That was the emotion I felt from her eyes.

I stroked her hair with my free hands. She snuggled up to me.

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