I was taken to a warm room with a fireplace.
The young man urged us to sit down, before he himself sat down opposite us.
"My name is Itsuki. I am the chief of this village."
"We are the Manyu Brigade, my name is Toru, and these are Kaede, Frau and Panda."
"A White-haired Fox type? No way."
Itsuki looked at Kaede carefully and then shook his head as if denying the idea.
Kaede, however, had a frightened expression on her face.
''Ah, um, Master, actually...''
''Why are you looking for the white wolf?''
Itsuki interrupts Kaede's words with a question.
For a moment, my attention was directed to Kaede, but then I changed my mind, thinking that I should first give a him a proper explanation, what with him being cautious and all.
"I seek my mother's hometown. Elohim, the Spirit Queen, told me that the White Wolf would know.
"The Spirit Queen said that? She did a very unwise thing."
"Can I meet the White Wolf?
He outright denies my request, not even hesitating.
"You show up here suddenly, and you ask to see our God? Don't be foolish. THE white wolf clan is a race that rules these mountains, and even we are allowed to meet a limited group of them. It is absolutely impossible for outsiders to meet them."
I could feel how determined he was to refuse my request.
At least I now know the white wolves exist.
"Hmph, You guys are stingy."
"What, how dare you mock the proud people of Lowa!"
"It's the white wolf clan that grants permission to meet them, not the people of this town. Honestly, it's unnecessary for us to even ask permission from you to meet them."
"That's not...! Aaaah!"
Itsuki had lost his mind after hearing Frau's words.
At that moment, Kaede put something on the table.
"My brave wolf kin, whose proud and majestic appearance has been heard of in distant lands. This is my apology for leaving without notice. I beg you to grant me a visit from the White Wolf God."
They were two bundles wrapped in white paper. They contained fine meat and gold.
When did you get that?
Kaede also opened her iron fan, which is a memento of her mother.
The emblem imitating a fox appeared.
"That familiar emblem, could it be.... No, it is you!"
"I am Kaede Tamamo of the White Fox Clan, descendant of the great Nine Tail."
"Tamamo of the Nine-Tails! Forgive my rudeness!"
Itsuki bowed down on the ground and lowered his head.
Frau and I were taken aback at the village chief's sudden change of attitude.
Kaede, for her part, looks at me with an apologetic face.
"Please inform the White Wolf God of my request to visit."
"Of course, but you must understand that permission cannot always be granted."
Itsuki bowed deeply again.
"This place looks surprisingly cozy."
"All thanks to Kaede."
Frau shifts on Panda next to the fireplace, which is lit.
We were allowed to stay in the village until we heard back from the White Wolf tribe.
Besides, Itsuki had offered to rent us a house and even prepare a meal for us.
It is too extreme a welcoming gesture for someone who showed such a hostile attitude upon first meeting us.
After that, I sat down in a chair to listen to what Kaede had to say.
"I'm sorry for hiding my identity until now."
"Can you tell us who you are?"
"I'm a member of the White Fox celestial beast clan, who lives far away from here. Actually, I wasn't trying to hide it, I just couldn't find the right time to tell you, Master. I really wanted to tell you."
Kaede gazed down, looking very sad for some reason.
"As I told you before, my hometown was in danger. Only I, being a little girl, escaped from a group of pursuing magicians."
"Yes, but you didn't tell me what happened."
"My home, which was in a hidden area, was attacked by someone. I went into territory inaccessible to people, and members of my clan, who sensed the danger helped, me escape. The last thing I saw was my home engulfed in flames."
Kaede began to cry.
Kaede has always focused on healing me from my wounds and pain, as well as many other people. And yet, I never thought about healing her.
How insensitive can I be?
Why did I never notice the pain that Kaede carried with her?
"The reason I couldn't tell you is because I was afraid you might become implicated in this ordeal, Master. The enemy is equal to or even stronger than the celestial beast, the white fox, and might possibly be stronger than you, Master."
"Stronger than me?!"
Who the hell is this person? No wonder Kaede wanted to keep it a secret.
She probably didn't want to say it because I'm an idiot. Because I'm a moron who will always try to involve himself.
And she's right to think so.
"I'd like to help Kaede find her home."
I pat her on the head.
"I am your master. My slaves' problems are my problems too. Or is it strange for a master to care about his slave?"
Kaede shook her head.
"Those are the same words you said to me back then."
"I know. You've helped me so much, it's time for me to do the same for you."
"Fufu, that's very nice of you, Master."
"It's because I'm a fool."
"No, it's because you're kind."
I got up from my seat and held her in my arms as she cried.
The anxiety that weighed on her from this situation must have been great. She must have thought she would never see her family again.
I still don't know how to help her. And I can't say anything concrete until I go to her hometown.
But I'm sure her family is still alive.
The celestial beasts are very strong. So they must have survived somehow.
I had already been aiming to head there. This just makes it a higher priority.
"By the way, will the white foxes know anything about my mother?"
"I don't know, maybe the wise old lady knows something..."
Makes sense. There's no choice but to ask the White Wolf tribe about it.
Suddenly, I notice that there is a strange smell.
I looked in the direction of the fireplace and saw that Frau's dress was on the floor.
"How about this taste, is it bad?"
"Why are you making that face, is it too salty? Hmmm, let's dilute it with water."
We rushed to the kitchen and saw Frau human size, wearing only an apron.
Moreover, the frying pan she was holding in her hand had caught fire.
This girl had poured in oil instead of water.
Frau and Panda watched in dismay as their food turned to ashes.
Thinking quickly, Kaede freezes the pan in ice.
"Aah~, Frau-San, if you're going to cook, you'd better tell me."
"I'm so sorry. I've been watching you for days and I thought I could do it just like you..."
Frau drops her shoulders dejectedly.
But what's with that outfit? You're naked with nothing but an apron on, are you trying to catch a cold?
Kaede, who has also noticed, says something about it.
"Why are you naked save for an apron?"
"Oh, this? It was part of Soara's unfounded wisdom! She recommended that I wear only an apron when I'm cooking. Though I couldn't make dinner properly, I'm sure this will be enough to whet the Lord's appetite."
Frau turned around and showed off her back while not wearing any underwear.
Her breasts were slightly visible through the gap.
"You can't do that in front of Master, Frau-San!"
"That's easy for you to say! Kaede will be the Master's first wife, so I have to aspire to be the second wife. If I don't achieve that task, everyone in the village will be angry with me and say things like; [We shouldn't have trusted this washboard.] while throwing stones at me!"
"What's with this obsession you have with breasts?"
Kaede snorted at her response.
"Go put your clothes on!"
"I can't. Even if it's too cold and I'm almost naked, Soara said this attire is a favorite of men, especially my Lord."
After those words, Frau was pulled by the arm into the room.
I must admit, that outfit of Frau's got me a little excited.
Being naked with only an apron on is clearly one of my favorites.
I can see Soara knows me very well.
Although if it had been Kaede in that outfit, my heart would have stopped for the gap between the eroticism and tenderness.
I'd better get rid of this charred food.
"Master, Itsuki-Sama has arrived."
I head to the front door and see Itsuki.
He looked at me and bowed.
"I have received word from the White Wolf God that your request has been granted, provided you meet certain conditions."
"And what are those conditions?"
"That the messenger be recognized for his performance."
Itsuki grabbed the instrument that had been slung on his shoulder and plucked the strings with his fingers to make a tune.
"Music is a wolf's life!"