Just to make sure the enemy doesn’t attack, Naga left Ixine, Selena, and Elysione behind to keep watch, and then, returned back with others to Fort Ein.
The reason for that was because Selena’s Heaven’s Eyes would be the fastest way to detect an approaching enemy. Ixine’s horse riding skill was good enough for her to be placed first or second among the witches in regards to horsemanship, whereas, Elysione could teleport instantly in case of emergency. Because of that, Naga appointed those two to protect Selena.
Once they returned home, the witches held a victory banquet after preparing grape wine and simple snacks.
There wasn’t much wine inside the fort. What’s more, Naga and the rest had only recently captured the fort, so the witches had no time to carry in that much wine. Therefore, nobody could get heavily drunk. However, Naga felt relieved as they were able to prevent Ais from getting violent, as a result of getting drunk.
The witches drank, ate, and danced lively.
Since none of them was able to get drunk, no witches would dance naked this time.
Sitting on the wooden floor, in the corner of a spacious room inside a residential building, Naga was eating snacks and tasting wine while starting at the dancing witches.
Next to him, there was Raibach.
As usual, the witches were dancing in their ultrathin and small clothes. Apart from those dancing, there were also those that played flutes and drums, however, the fact that all of them were wearing little clothing wouldn’t change.
“As usual, these are some terrific scenes.”
Raibach said in a whispering manner.
“Aren’t they wearing even more risqué clothes than those female dancers from an itinerant group? With such dancing and jumping, they would become fine dancers, I’d say.”
“Well, for them, it’s the usual thi….. no…. hm?”
Naga faced toward Raibach.
“What did you just say?”
“Yes? No, that’s why I said they’re wearing risqué clothes….”
“Ummm…. you mean that they’re wearing even more risqué clothes than those female dancers?”
“Eh? What about that?”
Not replying to Raibach, who asked suspiciously, Naga stared back with a passionate look at the dancing witches.
“What’s that? Aren’t you gazing at them quite intensely?”
Vita, who held her wine cup, approached them with a slight stagger. As one would expect, Harrigan was next to her as well, holding her wine cup.
(As usual, these two look like parent and child when standing next to each other.)
– Is what Naga’s impression was toward these two. Nevertheless, he wouldn’t let them know by any means.
Naga replied with a feigned ignorance.
“Well, I’ve just hit upon something, you see.”
“We won’t undress? No matter how passionately you stare at us, we aren’t going to undress, you know?”
“Nobody said so, Harrigan.”
“Even if you don’t say it, I can understand from your eyes telling us to undress.”
“No, I ‘m not!”
“Then, what were you going to tell us?”
“I was told by Raibach your clothes look even more risqué than those of female dancers. And then, I was struck with an idea.”
Because Harrigan and Vita glared at Raibach, the latter shook his head from side to side firmly.
“So, what idea has come into your mind?”
Harrigan, who shifted her eyes back, asked Naga.
“Wouldn’t it be a good idea to have you dress up as female dancers when infiltrating the city for information?”
Both Harrigan and Vita opened their eyes widely and clapped their hands.
Raibach also looked at Naga with an astonished face.
“At first, I had thought it would be better to form a caravan of merchants and sneak in, but, neither I nor you have traded with anyone before.”
“I guess, we also haven’t used any money recently.”
“Despite saying so, wouldn’t it be impossible for us to visit that place merely as a group travelers during these hectic times?”
“Certainly, it isn’t the kind of place you could visit for no reason.”
“Still, wouldn’t it work if we were a group of itinerant entertainers from far away? It wouldn’t be strange for us to say we came there to make a name for ourselves, since we know nothing about that place and its locals. Not to mention, there would be a reason as to why you are dressed as female dancers. On top of being a group of young beauties, you would also dance and look like female dancers. From what I can see, aren’t you pretty skillful in both dancing and playing instruments?”
“Let me see, a group of young beauties? Indeed, Naga is a straight person.”
(Mother is in high spirits.)
(As long she can lighten herself with that magic, even rising high is an easy thing for her, righttt?)
As soon as Dora and Lily put their heads together and whispered to each other,
“Is there something you want to say? Dora? Lily? How about you tell me?”
“Nothing at allll.”
“Well, whether all of us are young or not, let’s leave that aside.”
Once Harrigan said so, Vita directed a stern look at her. However, before Vita could say anything, Kay cut in.
“I guess Hari-nee, too, is sensitive when it comes to talking about age.”
‘Kyahaha’ – Yuuki clapped her hands and laughed, whereas, Vita nodded down deeply while saying. ‘True, true’.
“Hey there, don’t laugh! And you too, don’t agree!”
Harrigan, who had snapped, pointed at Vita and Yuuki while retorting.
And then, Ais butted in while laughing.
“That’s right, Kay-chan. It’s no good if you talk about Ane-sama as if she’s a middle-aged woman.”
(((Uwa, Ais is being the cruelest one here.)))
The witches in the background threw their heads back profoundly.
“Heh? Kay, so this is how you regards me?”
“I-I-I don’t? Speaking of which, I haven’t mentioned such thing at all, right?”
Bending her legs while shivering, Kay put her hands in front of Harrigan.
“Wanna try and see if you can stop my hair blow?”
Harrigan’s abundant bluish black hair floated in the air and turned into a big mallet.
“If I receive Hari-nee’s blow, my insides are going to break. I, even if I can harden my skin, it’s not like my insides will remain intact, so…”
“That’s okay. You’ll be able to endure my attack.”
Harrigan’s mallet shaped hair began to swing above Kay’s head.
“Waiiiiiiii, please, somebody save meeee!”
“Kay, do your best, okay?”
“This what you get when poking into somebody else’s problem!”
“Do your best, Kay. Don’t lose, Kay!”
“Yuuki, don’t cheer me on!”
Kay looked around for a help, but,
“Lela?! Nonoel?! Cu?! Why are you averting your eyes?! Harlequin, don’t say things like ‘go away’!”
(Ah…. good grief. Like always, it won’t stop once our conversation goes off topic)
‘It can’t be helped.’ – Naga thought so and stood up.
“This much should be enough for your family dissension. Harrigan, let’s hasten with a progressive talk.”
As soon as Harrigan came back to her senses, her hair, which floated above her head, dangled gently.
“What’s a progressive talk?”
“That’s why, I’m telling you we need to infiltrate the royal capital and acquire information on Kasandora Kingdom’s state of affairs. There’s a heap of things we need to decide on, in advance, such as, whom we should choose for this trip, from where we should enter and what dance should we decide on. There might be many of them, but, our future will depend on the enemy’s actions from now on, so you could say our role this time is very important. Somehow, we need to find out more about our them.”
“Um….. I guess you’re right. Understood….”
“Then, we shall discuss in more detail about our group that will set off once the banquet settles down.”
Harrigan breathed a sigh and looked around at everyone.
“Shall we end the banquet soon and began with our talk?”
‘That’s true.’ – Ais nodded.
“Not to mention, we’re already running out of wine and snacks this time, so all the more the reason to.”
“You bet. It’s not the right time for a drinking bout when we’re more concerned about Kasandora Kingdom’s army possibly striking again.”
(Still, you were able to drink casually, weren’t you?)
“Is there something you want to tell us, Naga? Why not speak your mind?”
“No, not like there’s anything in particular.”
The moment Naga denied while averting his eyes, he looked around at all present.
“Then, shall we hold a strategic meeting?”
Following his words, the witches brought out folding stools.
Naga sat on his folding stool with his back leaning against the wall, whereas, the witches and Raibach took up their positions as if surrounding Naga in a half-circle.
“First, there’s something I’d like to ask you, Raibach, but…”
Naga started their conversation.
“Itinerant entertainers aren’t that uncommon here, right?”
“I think so. Depending on their size, there are large and small groups, but, they come to the city relatively often. Those groups won’t just bring out their female dancers, but also do stunts and acrobatics. There are also instances in which they will display their swordsmanship and archery.”
“Do you need some sort of permission for that?”
“If we’re going to do a large-scale performance, then yes, but I don’t think we need any for performing dances on a street corner.”
“Open air performances are also included, right?”
“Rather, they would be much more reasonable in our case. Only big groups would have to set up a circus tent and house guests.”
Naga showed a bit of a pondering attitude toward Raibach’s reply, but then, he quickly returned his face back to normal.
“In other words, it’s possible for us to form such a group, go to the city as if it’s nothing, gather spectators in the right place and perform…. the dances?”
“I believe it’s highly possible. Since all the witches are beauties, there’s no doubt that spectators will gather. And no, I’m not flattering you at all.”
“Is that so, is that so? Raibach, I had thought you’re a man with points worthy of note, but, it doesn’t seem you’re head over heels for me.”
Vita laughed as if being in a good mood.
(Mother, just how easily can you be stirred?)
Dora and Lily made dejected faces.
“What should be the right scope for our group?”
Raibach groaned after being asked by Naga.
“That’s right. With Naga-sama being the leader of our troupe, it would be five to 6 female dancers and three or four musicians. Also, dancers and musicians can shift with each other when it’s appropriate. Wouldn’t our group become complete with ten people? A four to five person group is too small, which might not be enough to convince others about us coming from far away, and reversely, if the group is too big, it will stand out.”
“I see, so it’s ten, right? Provided that’s the final number, the next thing would be…. Lela.”
“Ye, s? What is, it?
“Can you think of an origin for our group and a route which it will go through?”
“……That’s, right. I wonder if it’s fine to tell them we come from the middle of the continent, since Naga-san looks like a foreigner. As for the origin and the route, I’ve thought about something, but, how do we explain to them we were able to enter the westernmost peninsu, la?
Naga recalled the map of the surroundings, which he had been shown before.
“If I remember correctly, the peninsula can only be accessed from its entrance. True, we would have to enter the royal capital from somewhere in north, otherwise, wouldn’t they become suspicious of us? *Tch* It’s indeed troublesome.”
“Ah, I think there should be no concern about that.”
At Raibach’s voice, everyone shifted their gaze in his direction at once.
“Ummm, Lela-san, do you still have the map?”
“I’ll bring i,t.”
Lela, who stood up, dashed out of the room and returned back immediately.
“I’ve brought the ma,p. Is this fi,ne?
As soon as Lela spread out a large piece of cloth, on which the map was drawn, on top of the floor, everyone leaned forward.
“Here. If my memory serves me right, shouldn’t there be the port city of Lancel located at this point?”
Raibach, who had stepped forward and bent his legs, pressed with his finger a certain point on the map.
“If we cross the western part of the inland sea and arrive at the port city of Lancel, we can rush off from one place to another without the need of stopping in cities along the way. If we are asked about the route, which we had gone through, we can easily deceive the people in Kasandora by telling them there’s a road along the Schweiz River running from the city of Lancel, and that we arrived at the Kingdom from the south. The road is old, and since not many people have been using it recently, it’s become rough, but….”
Naga followed Raibach’s finger with his eyes. Once his finger tapped the capital on the map, Naga lifted up his head while saying ‘I see’.
“Having that route, we can pass near this fort’s surroundings without any concern. If that’s the case, I guess this excuse may come in handy when needed. Excellent. Then, shall we go with that setting?”
“Naga-sa, n. I think it’s a good idea to reach Kasandora Kingdom’s capital through Lancel City, bu, t, it will look unnatural if we don’t bring a cart and camping tents with us, since we’re going to become a troupe of entertainers. What should we, do?
“Can’t we prepare those things once we return back to the black forest?”
Naga directed his gaze at Harrigan and asked that question.
“We can somehow manage the tents, but, a cart will be impossible, I guess.”
“Well, is that so?”
“In that case, what should we do after we arrive at Lancel City?”
Everyone shifted their attention to Raibach’s questioning voice.
“Wouldn’t it be okay for us to prepare the necessary things and dress up ourselves there? I think it’s a good idea to reach that city on foot, along the Schweiz river, and then aim for the capital. If by any chance, they ask us about the route, we can simply answer them we came on foot.”
“Oh, that’s it!”
Naga clapped his hands together.
“Is there something wrong, Lela?”
“We need money to supply ourselves with necessary thing, s.”
“A….Ah, so it’s about money?
Naga looked at Harrigan and Vita alternately.
“Ummm, what about that? Harrigan? Vita?”
Harrigan and Vita stuck out their extra-large and flat chests, respectively, and stated:
“We have, no money, you see.”
“Not in the slightest.”
“It won’t do, even if you stick out your chests and act big.”
Naga dropped his shoulders dejectedly.
“What is it, Ais?”
“How about we sell out the jewels, ornaments and small tools at our warehouse? ”
“Ah, those? Still, we don’t know how much they’re worth, and nobody from us is acquainted with humans’ sense of values. It may also be possible for those items to be sold dirt cheap if we try to sell them.”
“I don’t think they’re that cheap, but, how about we carry them here and have Raibach-san take a look? Maybe, we’ll able to more or less grasp their value?”
“You’ve got a point. We can’t assess the items in practice, but, at least…. we should be able to tell their approximate worth.”
“Fumu, I guess you’re right. Then shall we do it? Yuuki, I might be troubling you, but, can you return back to the fort inside the black forest together with Lela? We need you to select and bring us worthy-looking items among the used goods inside the warehouse.”
“That’s fine, but, wouldn’t it be much faster for me to fly there alone?”
“If it’s just you, there’s a risk you might bring us nothing but useless junk.”
Yuuki bent backward with all her might.
“Hari-nee, you’re cruelll”
(She’s right about Yuuki.)
(She’s right, she’s right.)
Because Kay and Nonoel nodded in agreement, Yuuki suspended her eyes and stared at both of them.
The two of them quickly averted their eyes.
“If there are items you can’t carry with, leave them to Ixine. It should be fine for her to transport them using a horse. That being said, you will depart at dawn, tomorrow.”
“Yes, Ane-sa, ma.”
Lela nodded down straightforwardly; nevertheless, Yuuki had a discontent expression.
“Even though I could do it alone.”
Yuuki kept complaining like that.
“After that, we shall call back Ixine and sent her as a substitute.”
“With this, the next thing we have to do is to dress our female dancers and sneak into the royal capital, I guess.”
Soon after Naga said so, Kay raised her hand first.
“Me, me! I’ll do it, I’ll do it!”
“Areee? What’s the meaning behind those doubtful eyes of yours, Naga-san?”
“No, wouldn’t it be meaningless for you to dance? To begin with, will any spectator come and watch you? Is what I mean.”
“I’ve been told something rude just now!”
“Isn’t it? With Kay, it won’t be possible for us gather spectators. It can’t be helped. In that case, should I be the one to undress?”
“I don’t understand at all what you’re talking about, Vita-san.”
“Haaah? What do you mean to say, Kay?
“N…….No, nothing in particular….”
“Probably, only those with special preferences will gather around Kay, Vita, and Nonoel. As one would expect, it won’t do as long it’s not someone, like Ais, Cu, or myself, right?”
Saying that, Harrigan leaned her upper body forward.
“Uwaa, if it’s against those three, then it’ll be no conteeeest.”
Kay’s eyes became teary as if from vexation.
“Speaking of which, I too was smoothly put into the same group as you, Kay?”
Nonoel bent slightly backward.
“Eh? I didn’t plan to be in the same group with you, Nonoel.”
Nonoel dropped her shoulders down dejectedly.
It seemed as though their discussion entered a topic which shouldn’t be touched. ‘Let’s leave that aside.’ – Not feeling like he could avert his eyes again, Naga hurriedly steered the topic back onto the right track.
“Then, we’ll be recruiting volunteers. Those, who want to join as female dancers, put up your hands.”
“”””Me, Me, Me!””””
“Everyone except Yuuki is volunteering?!”
“I guess that was to be expected.”
The witches looked at each other faces and nodded.
“I really want try to visit a human city.”
Kay put her hand up once more.
“True. I too haven’t walked around human cities for a long time.”
“Honestly, mother has already been there before, so give us a chance this time.”
Once Lily said so, Vita snorted with laughter.
“It seems that Lily will be withdrawing, Naga.”
“That’s crueell. I want to go there as well~”
“…..So does everyone, want the same?”
Everyone nodded down deeply at once.
*Sigh* – Naga breathed a sigh and looked up.
“If that’s the case, we can only decide with casting lots, so as to avoid any unfairness.”
Kay raised her hand overhead.
“I’m quite confident when it comes to drawing lots!”
“Fuun. Just like Kay, I’m not going to lose.”
Harrigan stood up while feeling relaxed. Vita too rose up with an indomitable spirit.
“I’ll show you, the strength of my draws blessed by the goddess of luck.”
(Was that so?)
Once Lily turned her look next to her, there was Dora shaking her head from side to side.
(It’s just a saying, a saying.)
“I’m going to say this, but, even if both Harrigan and Vita draw winning lots, I’ll still have one of you stay here.”
(Honestly, those girls….)
“Provided I’m absent, one of you will need to stay behind and take care of this fort, so…”
“…..And what if you’re the one staying, Naga?”
As soon as Harrigan said so with a wry face, Vita clapped her hands together.
“Ohh! that’s an idea!”
“As if!? What is this troupe going to do without me?!”
“N….No, I was just making an assumption.”
“D…Don’t mind that.”
“I do?! By the way, doesn’t it feel like you want to go there just to have fun? This infiltration is of great importance to our surveillance, you know?”
“T, That’s why, we’re telling you we got that. Right, Harrigan?”
“C, Clearly and loudly.”
Naga stared at them with reproachful eyes.
“H, Hey, Naga, aren’t we going to do the draw quickly?”
“Well, I guess that’s fine. Then, Raibach can you prepare lots? Also, it’s already been decided that you will come with us.”
“You’re the only one who’s familiar with human society. We won’t be able to sell our goods if you aren’t with us.”
“You’ve got a point.”
“Well, but still, you’ll act as our troupe’s guard. Just to make sure, I think it’s better to change your outfit when we enter the city.”
“……That’s right. Yes, understood. Even if I don’t talk directly to anyone, there’s a chance my identity might be revealed.”
“And then, by virtue of one’s office, Linne and Linna will join us as well.”
There was a reason for that. Thanks to their magic, both Linne and Linna could increase their sensitivity to the surroundings. In other words, if they increase their hearing ability, they could gather information even from passerby’s gossip.
“Right, isn’t it?”
The twin sisters clapped their hands together and jumped up in joy.
The remaining witches looked at them with envious and scornful eyes.”
“Well, then, I’ll be making the lots. Do you have any unnecessary cloth?”
Raibach, who received an old rag, tore it into reasonable pieces and added markings on a few of them.
“Then, I guess… it should be fine for us to go with ten people as female dancers and players?
“Yes, that’s a good number. There will be a total of ten female dancers and players, excluding Linne and Linna, who will act separately as information gatherers…. No, wait. In that case, we would have to prepare at least two carts. I’ll have Raibach operate one of them, and Ixine, the other.”
Just as Naga said, currently, Ixine was the only one who excelled in horse riding among all the witches.
“With that, Ixine will tag along with us too. Guess the remaining 9 will be decided by lots.”
“Damn. I should’ve practiced more horse riding!”
Kay held her head in her hands, but it was too late now.
“By the way, nobody here can use magic to peek through cloth, right?”
Raibach directed that question at Harrigan, but she denied it by waving her hands from side to side.
“There isn’t, so don’t fret.”
“In that case, please choose your lot.”
Raibach lined up the torn cloth pieces on the floor. As he did so, the witches reached out their hands and snatched their lots.
“I did it!”
“Gyaaa, it’s a miss!”
Screams and voices of joy mixed with each other inside the room.
In the end, those who got lucky were:
Together with Ixine, the total number of dancers would be ten.
In addition to that, Linne and Linna would act as a separate group.
With Naga being the leader and Raibach, his bodyguard, the lineup had been decided.