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The next day. The moment that we arrived in Balzac, something extraordinary happened.
「Douglas!? Hey, isn’t that Douglas!!! 」
「Eh!? Really!? He came back!? 」
「Hey hey, Douglas Ford came back!!!! 」
Suddenly a huge ruckus was raised, and crowds started forming. The surprised me met Ravi’s eyes. What is this. What is happening. In just a few moments, the surroundings became packed to the brim. I hugged up Ravi hurriedly so that she wouldn’t get pushed around in the waves of people.
「He’s the Douglas Ford that defeated the Dark Demonic Dragon!? 」
「The one that got rid of the thuggish nobles in Milton!? 」
「Hello, remember me!? I was your drinking buddy in the bar that time! 」
「To think that someone from Balzac would have fame matching that of the Hero’s! 」
He spoke with friendliness, and excitement in his tone. What is this ruckus. It’s a scenery unthinkable for me who left this city a few months ago. In the middle of the ruckus, a young man split apart the human wall.
「『The strongest adventurer with a child, Douglas Ford! 』What’s your opinion after looking at our article!? 」
Our article? I turned around confused, and the young man holding a notepad drew nearer to me. The predatory eyes are almost like a snake’s.
「What are you――」
「I’m a journalist from Kashmesh Magic Printing Firm. How is it! Because of the article we wrote, you’ve become the trend of the talks now! 」
「No, I’m actually troubled because of that……」
「Tomorrow’s 『Downtown News』first page will be like this! 『The return of the strongest adventurer with his child!! 』, how about that!? It will definitely sell like hot cakes again! 」
I was stunned. Even though now is still a risky time for my whereabouts to be exposed.
「More importantly, Douglas-san! Let me have your sign! My son is a big fan of yours! 」
「I also want that!! 」
「Hey! Let us hear about your journey! 」
「Is she the Ravi-chan who are the reason of『With a Child』!? 」
「She’s so cute! 」
「Such a pretty golden hair, you can’t find those easily! 」
The shy Ravi clung onto me afraid as usual.
It became a big fuss more than that when we were in Milton. Hearing about the fuss, the military polices came running.
「Hey, you all! What’s the fuss! 」
「So noisy! That Douglas had come back!! 」
「What did you say!!? 」
I didn’t think that the military polices would be asking for a handshake in the end. What was surprising is that isn’t the end.
I realized there were stores visible just after entering the city had mysterious souvenirs like 『Douglas Cookie』, or 『Douglas Candy』 and the sorts. Because the cookies are seemingly shaped after my face, I felt the despair creeping up on me.
「Daddy’s face on a cookie―……Pretty……」
Somehow, Ravi seemed to like it a lot, I panickily held her back with 「That can’t do……! 」. But come to think of it…….
I looked around, and exhaled a heavy sigh. For the time being, I have understood that it had somehow become a huge matter.
Having no choice, I carried Ravi with me, and dived into the alleys. The map of the alleys that are like a labyrinth is already imprinted in my brain. After running around for a little while, I’ve lost the crowd somehow. But if I come out to the streets again, the same thing would definitely happen again.
「I didn’t think that it would become like such……」
But the people in Balzac was also unusually enthusiastic……. No, it would be seriously huge trouble for me if that happens……
In any case, they will probably settle down after the day passes. But the problem is what should we do until then.
I guess we would have to shut away in an inn until the heat goes away. However, during dining time, there’s definitely a need to go to the dining hall. In the first place, it would be a sorry for Ravi to stay in the inn for a long time.
「……Should I disguise myself so that I’m not recognizable. 」
Muttering out what came into my mind, Ravi’s eyes became round.
「Daddy, transforming? 」
Children likes these sorts of stuff. Ravi’s eyes shone with excitement at the proposal. The moment I saw her expression, I came to realize that my idea was the best one.
「Yeah, lets gather some materials immediately. 」
Let’s find something to disguise to what Ravi likes. And it’s going to mask my identity as well, it’s killing two birds with one stone.
The commercial area of Balzac is spread out in the southern area of the city. Leading Ravi by the hand, we moved towards the area. To be sure, I wore a hooded coat but, it doesn’t seem much effective.
As usual, the people that seemed to have too much free time appeared again. Amongst them, there were also those that chased me around earlier.
This is really annoying……. Once, I tried stopping down to tell them stop chasing after me. But the reverse happened, they came in encirclement in just a few moments.
「Douglas-san! Hey, how about dining in our restaurant? I want to advertise our store as a place you visited. 」
「If that’s that, can you please come to my store as well? We won’t charge any money! Of course, don’t hold back and bring your child as well! 」
While sighing, I looked at the two that loudly offered such. I recognize both of the shops they are inviting me to. They are known for the taste, but the price is too expensive, so I’ve never went before.
In other words, it’s a store catered to those with high standards. Even when I was young and had leftover money, there wasn’t really a reason for me to visit such places.
「Sorry, but I’ll hold back. 」
Just saying that made their shoulders droop.
「Now Ravi, let’s go. 」
I took Ravi’s hand, and started walking again. There were all kinds of invitation on the road until we arrived in a familiar convenience store. Everything was different than the day I left Balzac.
Even though me myself hasn’t changed. The world around me had changed drastically.
The bell that exists in any kind of convenience store rang as I entered. Even for the people that chased all around me, I wouldn’t expect them to come into this convenience store.
「Welcome―……Wait, Douglas-san!? 」
The clerk that came out from the back, Laura raised such voice. She was surprised that her shoulders jumped, knocking the round glasses she wore a little off. Laura is a female in her early 20s, her bright red hair is always tied up on her head. She had received the store from her aunt who was the owner.
She’s a kind girl that would even offer discounts to poor adventurer like me. There’re many other such stores in Balzac. But I’ve frequented Laura’s shop for three years.
「Ah―really, it’s been such a long time!! I’m glad that you are doing fine……!! I’ve heard many rumors about you, but how was your travel? ……Nn? 」
She shook my hand with excitement as she said that. But following Laura’s gaze, she had discovered Ravi who was hiding behind me as usual.
「She’s the rumored!! 」
It seems that the news of I’m together with Ravi had even reached Laura’s ears.
「She’s such a cute child! Is she Douglas-san’s new companion? 」
「She’s Ravi. My daughter. 」
My daughter. Saying that, it caused a fuzzy feeling appearing deep in my chest. Somehow, I felt really joyous. If I don’t control my face properly, I felt like a smile would come out at any moment.
Even though there’s several occasion that I’ve introduced Ravi as my daughter. But it’s totally different from those times. A real family. The joy of this fact encompassed my whole body with warmth.
Ravi who’s peeking out from my back might be feeling like me too. She looked at me with a happy face and made a smile. She’s really cute. The cutest in the world.
I couldn’t bear it anymore and carried her up with my arms. Ravi raised a soft surprised voice before clinging on me.
Laura looked at such exchanges of us and let out a light laughter.
「It seems like all sorts of things happened but, it’s good that you’re happy! 」
「Yeah. Overly happy. I could even say that it’s the greatest joy of my life. 」
「Why did you say it’s the peak for you now! Isn’t your happiness just starting now? 」
Laura hit my shoulders while saying so. It was unexpectedly strong. I smiled wryly as I returned a nod.
「So? What have you come for today? 」
I’ve explained what had happened, and asked if there’s anything that’s useful for my disguise.
「I see……. I guess I will put the stuff that seems usable on the counter first! 」
「Sorry. And thanks. 」
And so, I tested out various tools that Laura had gathered all around.
「Daddy, moustache……! 」
「Isn’t it nice? Ravi-chan! The white moustache really is the best! 」
「Daddy, the hair is curly too……! 」
「Nice, Ravi-chan! With this exploded hair, you will definitely give the perfect impression of a foreign musician! 」
Wig, fake moustache, hat, cane――. The result of just trying on everything that Laura and Ravi brought……
「Oi oi, what is this exactly……? 」
Looking at the reflection on the mirror Laura prepared, there was an old gentleman with a blonde curly hair, long white beard, and a silk hat along with a cane. I look back at the two while feeling confused――.
「It’s not daddy……」
「Amazing! You really look like some big-shot musician right now! 」
The Ravi who seem to have a hesitation, and the Laura who was beaming side to side.
I’m sure I wouldn’t be recognized in such disguise, but is it really fine to go out in such outfit……