The Leisure City Dulac was a city unaffiliated with either the Empire or the Nebulis Household Agency and was known as a high-class resort with the world’s largest casino.
And in the corner of that casino were three reels rumbling around and spinning in a slot machine in front of Iska as he steadily watched their rotation.
Iska nimbly hit the three buttons.
The reels stopped with a quiver, halting on ‘7’, ‘7’, with the final when finishing as a ‘7’ too — or so it had appeared, but for some reason, the reel seemed to slip, showing a duck instead.
“No way!? That was definitely a seven!” Iska lost the last coin his month’s wages had been exchanged for and cried in lament. “It’s a fraud…”
Iska was a seventeen-year-old boy with blackish-brown hair. He was born in the Empire and belonged to their military. His affiliation was formally to the 901st Unit of the third division of the Humanity Defence Force of the Empire.
He studied under the strongest swordsman in the Empire and inherited the only star swords in the world. The young swordsman was also the youngest to be selected for the Holy Apostles that came under the direct control of the Emperor. You may ask why such a youth was amusing himself with gambling.
“Ah, there you are! How are you doing?” A petite girl came running through the neon bordered passageways of the casino. She had features overflowing with a childish charm. Her blue hair reached her shoulders and spread out in waves and her dainty pink lips matched her pretty appearance well. “How’s it going? We’ll hit the jackpot and be rich!”
“Did you already hit it!?”
“No. I just finished my coins.”
The girl let out a pitiful noise and looked to the heavens.
“What about you, Captain Mismis?”
“I got nothing but losses too. I needed one more card! One more card of the same suit and I’d have thirty times the amount in winnings.”
The girl huffed a sigh of disappointment and folded her arms.
Mismis Klass, who looked at best in her late teens, was actually twenty-two. She was affiliated with the Empire, and was the Captain of the 901st Unit. In other words, Iska’s superior. And it was she that had brought Iska here.
“You can’t get down, Iska-kun!” Mismis cried out from amongst the other players. “We can make this back with the jackpot! Casinos hold the dream for us normal people to become rich in a single night, right? And so…”
“I’m going to convert more! Next time for sure!”
“Captain!? That’s how you go bankrupt gambling!”
Mismis ran off towards the exchange counter with paper notes clutched in her hand. She tried to at least, before she slipped on the polished floor and tumbled over with a yelp like a puppy. Looking idly at her, Iska let out a long sigh.
“Should we really be doing this? Even if it is a holiday.”
“It’s Operation No Regrets. There’s no choice, a subordinate’s duty is to follow their boss’ orders,” came a new voice.
“…Even if they’re to gamble?” Asked Iska in turn.
“Impulsive orders are no different than any other.”
Iska looked over his shoulder towards the voice. Behind where he sat at the slot machine was a silver-haired sniper, surveying the roulette board, Jhin Syulargun, his colleague with spiked back silver hair and sharp grey eyes and fearless features.
He was only a year older than Iska, but his sharp features and rough leather jacket that he was currently wearing made him seem a little more adult than Iska.
He didn’t move his gaze from the roulette, the ‘Queen’ of the casino, and with an obviously serious motion, placed his coins on a section of the table.
“A lifetime’s worth of playing with no regrets… Jeez, I wonder who got to her this time. Did she get caught up with some religion saying the world will end next week?”
The ball tumbled around the plate when the dealer slid it on. It stopped two places to the left of Jhin’s bet and his expression didn’t even falter as he lost a veritable mountain of coins at once.
“You seem kind of relaxed about it?”
The plate is divided into a hundred and thirty sections, so the jackpot is divided into a hundred and twenty-eight. It’s a way for the house to profit, even trying seriously would see me lose.”
“Ah, so that’s why you’re so calm…”
Each player visiting the casino was dreaming of a windfall. But Jhin was an exception and didn’t really seem to have much impetus to actually gamble.
“Jhin-kun!” Mis, now finished with her exchange, ran up to her unmotivated subordinate, “Well, well? Did you hit the jackpot?”
“More importantly than that, I’d rather have an explanation,” Jhin spoke as he stood and moved away from the crowds. The players around them were all engrossed in gambling and didn’t seem to even be able to hear their conversation, but he still moved towards the walls just in case. “Bringing us to a resort like this and then saying ‘now, play until you have no regrets’ would obviously be ominous.”
Mismis let out an aborted exclamation of shock.
“What brought this on?”
“W-well…” The captain nervously kept glancing around. Her adorable face was scrunched up and she seemed on the verge of tears. “Lisha-chan told us we might not come back alive, right!? We can’t have any regrets.”
“…Ahh,” Iska said in understanding.
“…Honestly, that of all things?” Jhin continued, catching Iska’s eye from the side as they responded to Mismis’ faint voice.
This had started around two weeks ago.
“For your next mission, your unit will be working under me, Mismis.
“We’ll assemble next week, and we’ll be doing group training next month.”
It would be a special duty under the command of Lisha Ein Empire of the Holy Apostles and Iska’s unit, the 901st had been chosen. This was because Lisha and Mismis were classmates, and Iska and Jhin had studied under the Empire’s strongest swordsman.
Going further into the reasoning, it would probably be that they had the misfortune to be caught in Lisha’s whims.
It sounded good to be told you had been selected by the Emperor’s staff directly, but they couldn’t be happy about being selected for a mission under Lisha’s direct command.
Not even the Captain has been briefed.
It must be an outrageously high-risk high-reward operation.
Hostilities between the Empire and the Nebulis Imperial Household Agency had been ongoing for a century. This would undoubtedly be something that upset the power balance between the two countries that even now repeatedly invaded each other and grew more and more hateful of the other.
Failure would result in being killed in action or taken as a prisoner of war, the risks were all too high.
“Five days left, right?” Asked Jhin.
“No, it’s four. Lisha-chan contacted me saying that we’d be starting a day early,” the captain held up four fingers towards them, “and then, she said ‘Enjoy your last holiday.’ And the other units are being sent to other resorts, so…”
“How blunt does she want to be?” The silver-haired sniper didn’t even attempt to hide his sigh. “She knew you’d panic if you heard that, Boss. Think about it, it’s nothing big.”
“We could die in any operation.”
“That’s no comfort at all!?”
“I don’t care. Special duty or otherwise, we should be training as much as we can rather than getting soft playing around.”
“…Auuu. T-that’s true… but…”
Mismis slumped uncomfortably, the coins she had just exchanged in her hand.
Jhin’s right though.
But even if we were going to play, there are lots of other towns that the Captain would like.
The Leisure City Dulac was a city frequented by nobles and merchants and it was the first time that both Iska and Mismis had visited. It was somehow not ‘like’ her. Even if she were resigning herself to this being her last holiday, he thought that she would choose somewhere else.
“Captain. What made you choose here by the way?”
“…The Melcab MI62 Franchek Model.”
“It’s the latest tank model,” the Captain was saying something far beyond what they expected as she gave repeated tiny glances up at them, “Y…you know? I thought we could buy a new tank with the jackpot. Then if anything happened we could get in and still come home alive.”
He hadn’t thought of that. Next to him, Jhin was also half aghast, half impressed.
“A genius with lateral thinking as always. Well, I’ll commend you for having a reason other than playing.”
“The chance of us becoming millionaires left aside that is.”
“Not at all, Jhin-kun! This casino has lots of tales about ordinary people like us becoming multimillionaires!” She seemed to have her energy back and lifted her hands in the air, holding her coins. “We’ll get rich here and become aristocrats! We’ll have our land and castle! A wonderful home and car, a mansion and a butler!”
“You’ve lost the purpose haven’t you!?”
“Leave her alone, Iska, she’s not going to win in the first—”
Just as he was about to say ‘place’, a ponytailed girl came running up from behind him.
“Iska-nii, Jhin-niichan, Captain Mismis! Hey, hey, it’s amazing!” This was Nene Alkastone. She was a fifteen-year-old girl with a voluminous ponytail, large blue eyes, and a lively smile. Her slender limbs were complimented well by the light shirt and tight shorts she was wearing. She was the communications officer of Mismis’ unit. She had made a name for herself in the capital as a capable engineer despite her youth. “Iska-nii, look at this!”
She showed him the coins overflowing from her hands. Iska, Mismis, and Jhin all went wide-eyed at the sight.
“Nene-chan, you gambled as a minor!? Y-you can’t do that, you’ll get arrested!”
“Mhh? Didn’t they think you were underage and ask for ID? I wanna play too!… Kidding,” Nene winked playfully, “I got them as part of spreading the joy.”
“…Spreading the joy?”
“Yeah. That slot machine over there paid out and they shared the winnings.”
There certainly was a huge crowd of people in the direction Nene indicated with her eyes. There were around thirty or forty people crowding around. The players were a given, but the dealers were taking glances at the slots to see what was happening as well.
“See, Jhin-kun? See? The jackpot really does exist, doesn’t it?”
“Why are you boasting, Boss? You can say that when you win it yourself,” said Jhin as he elbowed her in the side. His expression remained aghast, but he still gave a curious sidelong glance to the slots.
“I can’t play, so you can all have these.”
“Nene-chan…! You’re so kind! I won’t waste these coins! We’ll get rich and then go for a grill!” Mismis received the coins, overcome with emotion.
And, watching her from the side…
“What’s up, Iska-nii? Don’t you want the coins?” Nene asked.
“Hm. Ah, nah… thanks.”
Iska looked around the casino, filled with players gambling and dealers, with the cries of joy and sorrow filling the air.
It’s too noisy.
He really wanted to escape the clamour, at least for his holidays. Iska’s normal habit would be to go to a much calmer art museum and enjoy his favourite artists’ paintings.
And there was one other he knew of. One other with the same pastime as him.
Even if this is a resort for nobles, Alice wouldn’t come here.
The Ice Witch of Calamity, Aliceliese Lou Nebulis IX. She was in the line of succession as Queen Nebulis’ daughter, and a girl with some of the strongest Star Spirit in history, and a Star Mage.
They had met by chance on the battlefield. Iska was an imperial soldier, and she was a Star Mage. Being part of two warring nations, you could say that meeting was only natural, the problem…
The problem was the coincidental meetings away from the battlefield.
“Why are you here!?”
They had sat next to each other at the opera. They had shared a table at a restaurant, and even ordered the same meal.
They both had a hobby of appreciating art, and they even liked the same artist.
Just what unfortunate star had they been born under.
“…But of course, she wouldn’t be here,” he said, unable to see her through his survey.
This was the end of their coincidences.
He felt relief at that because they were enemies. With their mutual declaration of enmity, meeting would be awkward.
But… what is this slight sense of loss?
There was no doubt they were enemies.
On both the battlefield and within the neutral city, he had been filled with feelings he had never felt before.
Why had they filled his heart?
He couldn’t put those feelings into words, and still not understanding it himself—
“Iska-kun, come on! There’s a space at the roulette, come play with me!”
Iska was lead by Mismis and looked down at the roulette wheel in front of him.
One hour prior:
Two girls were looking up at the gate into the town of Dulac.
“We have arrived, Alice-sama! This is the Leisure City of Dulac. It has long been known as a place frequented by novels and the resort has the perfect pedigree for yourself,” spoke the girl holding a parasol to shade her master. Her bright brown hair was tied on both sides of her head, and she seemed to be sixteen or seventeen.
Compared to the tourists in their finery, her clothes were like an attendant’s, with a plain white top and a single-coloured skirt that reached her ankles.
She had no accessories.
Actually, throughout her clothes there were short swords, needles, wires, and other hidden weapons for her position as both attendant and guard. This was Rin Vispose.
“Look, Alice-sama,” she said, “along that street is the hotel ‘Zelnatza A’, it’s the symbol of the city. It’s thirty storeys tall, and it has the world’s largest casino, taking up from the second floor of the basement to the fifth floor above ground. It’s amazing.”
Alice remained silent and Rin continued.
“That dome to the left is the Colosseum. Well-known swordsmen would fight for pride and fame, the nobles watching them would bet on the outcome, which is said to be the origin of gambling. It is still a valuable cultural—”
Alice had still not spoken.
“Alice-sama?” Rin shifted the parasol and looked at her mistress’ expression. “Is something wrong?”
“…Not in the slightest,” Said Alice, as she put her hands on her hips in the sunlight.
This was Aliceliese Lou Nebulis IX, the daughter of the current Nebulis VIII, and a strong Star Mage of seventeen years.
Her blonde hair shone in the sunlight and her ruby-coloured eyes were filled with an elegant refinement.
Her features were beautiful and charming. Her red lips had an air of dignity about them and though her dress could by no means be called gaudy in order to hide her identity, everything together was enough that the tourists would stop and look.
Her childish pout ruined that graceful image.
“Hey, Rin, I finished my work for the week and said I wanted to relax.”
“You did, Alice-sama. Spread your wings to your heart’s content.”
“…I don’t have any interest in gambling,” her pout deepened as she shook her head. She liked appreciating the arts, relaxing somewhere quiet and looking at pictures or listening to music. She had no intention whatsoever to throw herself into gambling. She was the princess of one of the two largest countries in the world so she didn’t see the need to make a profit by gambling. “Even though I said I wanted to go to Aiyin the Arts City…”
“Why? I want to go and see the pa-” Alice began.
“You want to run into that imperial soldier again?” Alice’s jaw snapped shut with a click and the excellent attendant didn’t miss her freeze with her hands still on her hips. “See, you did.”
“I-it’s fine! My goal is right and just! As the Princess-”
“Alice-sama, you’re being too loud.”
“…As the Princess Nebulis, I have committed no wrongs,” they were in the middle of the street, which was thronged with pedestrians, so she moved in close to Rin and whispered, “Next time, I will certainly settle things with-”
“Feel free to do so… on the battlefield. There is no need to meet in the neutral city.”
“There is. I… I want to settle things with him alone.”
Indeed. There was another reason Alice was dissatisfied with coming to this city. That she wouldn’t be able to meet with Iska here.
I’ve always met with him in Aiyin. I wouldn’t come across him in a place like this.
Iska was a former Holy Apostle of the Empire. His goal on the battlefield was to capture a pureblood, but…
Alice knew that that was really to guide the Empire and the Nebulis Imperial Household Agency to peace.
That boy named Iska was the first imperial soldier that Alice had found worthy of conversation.
They may be able to accomplish their shared dream.
Alice held him in such high esteem that she thought that they may be able to make her dream of a unified world.
“Give yourself to me. You are not someone that should remain with the Empire.”
“I cannot, I cannot walk with you.”
They walked distant paths.
An imperial soldier and a witch of Nebulis were truly irreconcilable existences. And so she wished to settle their dispute alone with him. She didn’t care what the conclusion was.
I… I want to be with Iska again.
She wanted to forget their countries’ quarrels, and just spend time alone with him.
“Absolutely not.” But Rin obstinately refused to allow this to happen. “You cannot deny the possibility that he would take advantage of your lowered guard and kill you.”
“He wouldn’t do that, Iska’s!”
“Iska is what?”
She narrowly avoided saying that Iska was someone she had admired art with. That was a secret from Rin. If it became known that the Princess of Nebulis and an imperial soldier had stood side by side admiring the same art, it would become a big problem for the Agency.
“A-anyway, I’ll settle things with Iska someday.”
“Of course. If you could keep in mind a suitable place and time.”
“I intend to,” she nodded and took out her appointment diary from her handbag, “that’s why I need to choose a date.”
“Yes. I wonder when’s good for Iska. I’m free next Wednesday… Ah, but my forecast is ‘bad luck’ for that day, so it’s not suitable for something important. Let’s go with the next public holiday. I’ll need to make a reservation.”
“…Alice-sama,” Rin was looking flatly at her for some reason, “you’re not planning your marriage.”
“M-m-m-marriage!? To Iska!?”
“It was an example.” There was a pregnant pause. “Alice-sama, why is your face red?”
“Because you were saying bizarre things!”
She kept it a secret that she had instantly imagined doing so for real.
Ah, geez, I got my planner out to look at, but Rin said things she shouldn’t have, so I couldn’t put anything in!
“…Ahem,” she cleared her throat to get her thoughts back in order, “regardless, that will be in the future, I doubt I’ll meet Iska here.”
“I chose a city where you wouldn’t be able to.”
“It’s my first time in a casino. Rin, I don’t really know how to gamble.”
“That’s all for the better,” said Rin as she adjusted the parasol for Alice, “studying the rules will only drag you in further. Enjoying yourself in moderation and losing a moderate amount is how you should spend your time in a casino.”
“…Losing doesn’t really agree with me though.”
“Of course not. But even you will struggle to win against those sly old dealers. I shall of course offer my assistance though.”
“I’ll win. That’s what it means to be a princess.”
“I wonder how long that confidence will last.”
The continued their meaningless chatter as they headed for the world’s largest casino.
Half an hour later:
“Huh? Is the machine broken?”
The reels had stopped on ‘7’, ‘7’, ‘7’.
All of the lights on the machine were flashing and the grand sounds announcing the jackpot were sounding as coins poured from the machine like a waterfall. In an instant, the coins had formed a small mountain.
“That’s strange,” Alice tilted her head in consideration, “hey, Rin. It looks like the machine is broken. It just started haemorrhaging coins.”
“…Alice-sama, that isn’t the machine breaking.”
“It’s not? Then what is it?”
“It’s the jackpot, Alice-sama!”
The probability was one in several hundred thousand. Even as thousands of players spent their evenings gambling, it took several years on average for the jackpot to be one. It was common for it to take more than a decade.
Even Rin let her control over her voice slip slightly at the monumental scene.
“Alice-sama, be more… uhh, happy! See, there’s a crowd gathering!”
“Even if you say that…” all she had done was chosen a machine, put coins in and pressed a button. She didn’t feel any sense of ‘accomplishment’ even with the clamour. Of course, she was happy that Rin said it was amazing, and it wasn’t an unpleasant feeling at all to have the other players be so excited for her. “But I can’t carry this many.”
“Let’s call a dealer. We can exchange it for a cheque, so wait a while.
“I’ll take a break then.”
When she looked across the floor again, she could see that her machine was the only one lit up, which drove home how rare it was.
She heard a groan from the machine opposite her, someone had probably lost on the slots.
“Ahh… That’s the last of last year’s bonus.”
“What are you doing, Captain!?”
“Of course, you’re a bookmaker. Look Nene, remember the Boss’ losing streak. This is what becomes of people who get addicted to gambling. This is what we call a worthless adult.”
“Right, got it, Jhin-niichan.”
“You’re both awful!”
They were probably a group of players. It was hard to hear over the noise of the slots, but they must have lost.
“Next! Let’s do that card game next! Jhin-kun, you’re on the roulette.”
“…Changing the game won’t help.”
“That’s not true. I’m a good girl, so I’ll win!”
“It’s probabilities, it has nothing to do with your behaviour.”
The voices grew distant.
I see, they’ll try and win back what they lost on the other games.
As Alice watched them, a red-haired girl passed by with a bored expression. She was probably part of the group on the other machine. The girl saw the coins piled in front of Alice and her eyes shone.
“Wah, amazing! Did you win!?”
It took a moment for Alice to realise that she was addressing her, but there was no mistaking the direction of her gaze.
“…Thank you? Sorry, it doesn’t really feel it to me.”
“It’s amazing! With this many coins, you can do anything! You can buy sweets and clothes or anything!”
Sweets and clothes. They were just a part of life when you were brought up in a palace. Alice already knew how far removed her common sense was from the masses’
“Hold out your hand.”
“I’ll give you some. I don’t really need it.”
Alice scooped up some coins in both hands and then tipped them into the girl’s.
“Wah!? Are you sure?”
“I am. This must be fate, use it as you wish.”
The girl dashed away, leaving behind her thanks, passing the dealer and Rin on her way.
“I apologise for the delay,” said Rin.
“Rin, cancel the exchange.”
“And do what?”
“If I have good luck, it would bring disrepute to the royal family’s name to monopolise it. And so, Dealer, please distribute this to the people nearby.”
“…What!?” Rin wasn’t the one to shout, it was the elderly dealer at hearing Alice’s words. “Every coin?”
“Indeed. Every coin. I have no need of it.”
The Nebulis Imperial Household Agency’s budget was public. Even with her personal effects as royalty, Alice was not allowed a large bank account in exchange for her life as a princess, free of discomfort. If she were to take the jackpot home, it would be seized by financial corporations.
In which case, there was no harm in sharing her good fortune here as charity.
“…I have worked as a dealer here for thirty years, but you are the first to say such a thing.”
“Oh, that’s wonderful, I like records like that.”
“Beautiful young lady, please, tell me your name,” asked the dealer.
“You’ll know,” Alice answered with a reserved smile.
“You’ll know, when I unify the world.”
She took Rin and left the casino behind.
Behind them, they could hear the cheers of joy of players that wanted Alice’s coins.
After they had fully left the casino, Alice spoke.
“…Maybe I put on too many airs. I didn’t even name myself and just left.”
“Not at all. It would have ended badly had you named yourself there. It was a prudent judgement,” Rin nodded respectfully as she spread the parasol, “Alice-sama, what do you wish to do? Shall we go to a tea shop?”
“Let’s. I’m parched, I hope there are still some with space though.”
She looked around the packed street. As would be expected from Dulac, being a resort for nobles and merchants, each storefront was a display in itself. There were jewellers and high-class boutiques. There were many tea shops too, each of them elaborate and it was hard to choose.
And amongst them, something caught her attention, a small, dingy shop between the gaudy displays.
“Hey, Rin, what’s that shop? They don’t seem to be displaying anything for sale, but the lights are on so it must be open?”
“It seems to be a fortune teller. They do astrology as well,” Rin pointed at the small sign she had spotted.
“Hmm… ‘Come before you gamble’, ‘You who are about to embark upon the challenge of a lifetime, come for advice from this veteran fortune teller’. I see, so they’re a wicked store aiming at tourists heading for the casino.”
“It’s a rare sight nowadays.”
“It is. I’ve seen the trade in the Agency, but there are too many astrologers to count.”
The reason was simple, people didn’t rely on something as vague and imprecise as ‘divination’ nowadays.
Though I’ve heard there something like that among Star Spirits. Though they weren’t exactly the ability to predict the future.
In the end, they were ‘gene carriers’.
“That’s all the more interesting.”
“Wait here, Rin. I’m getting my fortune told.”
“Eh!? What do you mean!? Fortune telling… If you want your fortune told we can return and call an astrologer to your room!”
“No. If we return and I’m seen having my fortune told, it will start all sorts of rumours.”
“…You are correct.”
“It’s all an experience. I’ll be back soon.”
Before Rin could ask what she would have divined, Alice had entered the store.
The interior was split into small rooms with partitions so no one could watch people’s fortunes be tolled.
“…Should I just enter one?”
Rooms with the curtain down must have a customer in. She searched for an empty room and suddenly met the eyes of a fortune teller sitting in an inner room.
“Oh my, you are an adorable young lady. It is rare to see one as young as you here.”
They were an old woman with a veiled face. She wore a deep purple robe to conceal her figure, and was holding a deck of fortune-telling cards in her hand.
“Now, let us begin,” she spoke once more.
Alice faced her across a small table. She saw her mother Nebulis VIII go to astrologers yearly as part of a ceremony, but it had been many years since she herself had had her fortune told.
“So, adorable young lady, what shall I foretell?”
“…Eh, umm… I know,” Alice pretended to think, but she had of course chosen what she would ask before she entered, but she felt strangely embarrassed to say it, “I’m looking for someone.”
“Oh, a lover?”
“L-lover!? N-n-no, that’s not it! Isk-”
She couldn’t help but rise from her chair, and just barely stopped before blurting Iska’s name.
“Oh, it is not?”
“That does not appear to be entirely true. Most young children seem to worry over,” the old woman cackled.
“Can you foretell about someone I’m waiting for?”
The woman nodded deeply.
“I want to know when we can meet alone, the place as well if possible,” Alice requested.
“Of course, leave it to me.”
The astrologer answered as if it was a simple question, and asked Alice to choose from dozens of cards with the constellations drawn on them in order.
“What is it?”
“This is an interesting star,” they said, looking at the card Alice had chosen, and at the face-down card in front of them, “these cards are both together yet separate. If you place the card you chose on the card that I chose then they create a single constellation.”
The astrologer stared intently at the connected cards. And then.
“The one you seek seems close.”
“Eh?” Without knowing it herself, Alice’s hand had found its way to her chest, “Really…!?”
“Truly. He is always near you. You seem to be bound together by a strong fate that will lose to nothing. If you are searching for him, this is the best time.” Alice fell silent at her words. “Would you like more detail?”
“…No, that’s enough.”
Alice remembered Rin waiting for her outside and shook her head and exited the store, leaving the money to pay on the table.
“How was it, Alice-sama?”
“It seemed plausible, but…” in the bright sunlight outside the shop, her mind calmed down. Iska was nearby? She should search for him now? Her heart had raced at that, but she hadn’t said anything concrete. She might use the same for a noble looking for a distant relative. “…Ah, I think I may have been tricked.”
With Rin at her side with the parasol, Alice walked through the town.
It can’t be… Iska can’t have been around.
She looked carefully at every passer-by’s face, but perhaps exactly as she had expected, none of them were the imperial soldier she was looking for.
“Ah, geez, you really can’t rely on fortune tellers. What’s with that ‘the one you seek is close’? I can’t see hide nor hair of him!”
Soon after the Nebulis Princess and her attendant had left the astrology store.
“Ahh… I feel like I got hoodwinked.”
Iska let out a sigh just outside the store entrance.
It was good he’d been seen to so quickly… but he had a feeling that what they said and reality didn’t quite match.
“Even if they say that I have the chance to meet the one I’m seeking… Alice wouldn’t be at a place like that. That’s not fair, they put it so vaguely, it could be anyone.”
That was what fortune tellers were like.
It sounded like they knew, but when your fortune was told, it was human nature to pay attention for the results.
“It was packed, I guess a lot of people wanted their fortunes told.”
When Iska had entered, every room but the one next to his had been occupied. Even that final room had been filled by the inexhaustible demand while he was having his fortune told.
I wonder if it was a girl next door. Her voice sounded about as young as me.
Because of everyone in the shop he could barely hear, but the customer next to him seemed to be a girl of about the same age as him.
And then the Captain appeared with Jhin and Nene.
“Ah, Captain, are you finished buying souvenirs?”
“I am! Look, it’s a ‘Fortune Beckoning Cat’! Next time I’ll get the jackpot for sure!”
“…You haven’t given up?”
Iska slumped slightly at the Captain’s happy figure with the statue in hand.
Now that I think about it…
Nene had received coins from someone that hit the jackpot on the slots, they should have stopped there.
“We used the coins Nene gave us as well, we’re well in the red…”
“It’s okay! We can win it back!”
“That’s just what everyone that loses says. Come on, we’re going home.”
“No no no, let me go, Iska-kun.”
“I will not.”
Iska left the neutral city, dragging Mismis along as she sulked childishly.