The Red Puppy and the Moon Goddess Final Part
Having finished her second bath at the lodging house, Locke and Shin awaited Chloe at the table. Locke was covering his face, and his head also hanged low. Shin was looking down on him as he fiddled around the recording brooch. The puppy Melampus was at their foot sleeping peacefully.
“What is this about?”
“We were waiting here for Chaco to decide for the punishment for what he did.”
“I’m really sorry!”
Locke vigorously bowed his head, hitting the table and emitting a crashing sound. It appears that Shin is completely intent on reporting this matter to the observers but, doing that would trouble Chloe instead. She sat at the opposite seat of Locke and bows her head as well.
“I want to apologize for surprising you too. I was warned by Shin numerous times, but hearing about onsens made me too enthusiastic about it. Let’s just put this case under the table with this. Is that okay, Shin?”
“If Chaco is satisfied with that.”
“Huh….. Are you not angry?”
Shin put the brooch back in his pocket, seeing that there’s no need to use it anymore. Locke turns his attention to Chloe instead. It’s not that Chloe didn’t mind it at all. However, there were just some things she was too curious about and would rather have the conversation proceed there. Hence, she chose to brush it off with a joke.
“I mean, I’m just too beautiful so I guess it can’t be helped if it got you so fascinated.”
“You’re really gonna say that yourself… huh”
Locke’s vacant face suddenly turned to a wry smile. Chloe, hearing his response, crossed her arms and peered into him.
“Oh? It didn’t fascinate Locke at all. Was my naked body just that lackluster? I’m truly sorry for having shown you such a horrible sight.”
“You didn’t have to go that far… Scary! That’s scary! I’m sorry! I was truly fascinated! I almost mistook you for the moon goddess herself!”
The pressure was too heavy to let him avert his gaze, Locke, utterly defeated, desperately apologizes. Shin felt repulsive, remembering their past in the capital. The old Chloe pre-condemned would not let this matter slide so easily.
“That’s practically coercion, Chaco.”
“Yeah, let’s leave this at that… what’s that ‘Moon Goddess’ though?”
After being let off, Locke cleared his throat with a cough. It appears that this was his way of hiding his blushing. Chloe thought that it would be too pitiful to tease Locke more than this, so she decided to stop with this.
After having calmed down, Locke placed a white stone on the table. It was an odd shape. Chloe remembered the perfume bottle which she received from the tutor of the ducal house having a similar shape.
“This is called ‘moonstone,’ one of the treasures that Garm was protecting. I was requested by the one who bestowed me the divine blessing to find this.”
“Moonstone!? This… was the one you threw on the onsen earlier right? It made the onsen shine bright for a moment and negated all my sacred mana instantly.”
“Didn’t it just synchronized with it rather than negated? If your sacred mana was negated, it would have had some sort of effects on the barrier.”
What piqued Chloe’s curiosity the most was the onsen that shone. If she scooped its waters, it was not white but transparent. Chloe thought that her black-colored sacred mana turning transparent was it, being ‘negated’ but, she found Locke’s conjecture more convincing.
“We don’t know for sure though. So, what was that for?”
It couldn’t be something used to just illuminate the hot springs. Asking Locke, the man scratched his cheeks, seemingly finding it hard to explain.
“As I was saying earlier, the client who requested for the stone said that if you throw the moonstone in sacred spring, the moon goddess will show herself…”
Which means that he went there to test whether that was true or not. Although Chloe found it questionable whether a hot spring could be considered as a sacred spring, in actuality, the onsen indeed, did not have miasma, and monsters did not approach it either.
“So you were really trying to there to peek at something.”
“I mean that’s the adventurer’s dream. So.., I guess it was pretty much half-half.”
“But Locke, you said that you mistook me for that Moon Goddess, right?”
When Chloe pointed that out, Locke turned red and cast his eyes downwards. She was not really trying to tease him, although her past self would’ve kept driving him into a corner.
“I didn’t realize it was you, Chaco… I mean, I was expecting the hair color but that was still my first time seeing you with that wig off.”
“But, I’m short-haired so I shouldn’t be so much of a goddess.”
In the Coloflare Kingdom, short-haired women are either clergywomen or criminals, but Locke only shook his head in response to her.
“There are many short-haired women in the Corundum Kingdom, you know? Particularly, the Moon Goddess herself was in her myth. She was considered as the patron of hunters so she’s portrayed as having a valiant image.”
(Patron of hunters, huh? That’s quite an ironic story for “Chloe” who couldn’t even pull up a bow’s string to the fullest.)
Chloe had a self-deprecating smile, which Locke misunderstood as he bowed his head once more.
“…I guess I really won’t be satisfied even if you forgive me, yourself like this. How about I do something for you to make up for it. I’ll do anything I can…”
“I don’t really mi— Did you just said that you’ll do anything?”
Locke admirably apologizes but was taken aback by the suspicious glitter in Chloe’s eyes. She went over the table as if saying that she will not let him take it back.
“You said that you’d do anything, right?”
“W-Well… as long as it’s something I can do…”
“Chaco, get off the table. That’s disgraceful.”
Chloe pretended not to hear Shin’s reproach and held both Locke’s hands, who drew away from her sudden approach. She might have asked him for help in taking revenge against Momo or assist in having her reconcile with the prince before, but the current Chloe does not care about such things. More than that, she’d rather—
“Then, show me your transformation.”
“Wha!? …No, that’s a little too much.”
“Why? You said that you’d do anything? Was that a lie? You were able to do it in front of Kisara and the others. Rather, you saw my everything, so it’s only natural that I see yours too, am I wrong?”
She may have claimed that but she was still hiding a lot of things from him so Chloe was aware that her request was odd. As she kept her pursuit on him, Locke, teary-eyed, turned his gaze to Shin, asking for his help.
“Oi, stop this lady. Is this really alright? The first prince will…”
“Isn’t that great? If Chaco was truly mad she’ll have you hanged upside down stark naked and struck a thousand times.”
Shin responded to him with a devilish smile on his face. Abandoned, he turned his gaze back to Chloe who got too close and their eyes met. He inadvertently swallowed his breath.
“….Didn’t you just said you didn’t mind?”
“It’s important to settle your issues.”
“Right, I forgot that’s also exactly the reason why you’re here… ah, damn it!!”
He kept his distance from Chloe then crumpled his own hair seemingly in conflict with something. He then took Melampus by the collar and threw it towards Chloe. The puppy was surprised, having suddenly woken up, but upon discovering that it was within Chloe’s arms, it pleasantly licked her cheeks.
“Hahaha, that tickles… wait, Locke!”
“No, I can’t say it! If you laughed as much as Kisara did, I won’t be able to recover from it… I’d rather have myself hanging upside down!!”
“You’re willing to go that far!?”
Still hesitating, Locke decided to run away instead. Chloe was about to follow him with Melampus’ distraction, the young man already climbed upstairs. Chloe could only puff her cheeks in frustration at the sight of him.
(Well, I do have a guess what it is. It’s probably ‘that,’ isn’t it?)
Locke’s elusiveness about it, and the term “transformation” misled her at first but, Chloe was able to roughly guess what it was. However, it was something that “Chloe”, shouldn’t know about so she was pretending that she had no idea.
The truth is that she wanted to have the same friendly relationship with Lucky and the others too but, she thought that perhaps, that would be too greedy for the sinner who wounded Locke’s most precious person. She was aware that she has gotten too much spoiled by his kindness to the point of dependence on him so she warned herself anew not to forget who she really was.
As Chloe looked at the room where Locke escaped into, Shin approached her close. Melampus was considerably familiar with the butler but it let out a threatening growl against him.
“By the way, lady, how did you come to the conclusion that Locke turned into that deer? Even if he could, he wouldn’t have transformed into one in such a place full of monsters.”
“Because I suddenly remembered the myth that I coined Melampus’ name from. The story goes about a huntsman who went to the woods to hunt but stumbled upon the bathing of a moon goddess. The goddess was outraged by his peeking and turned him into a deer, and the dogs of the huntsman who did not recognize him had attacked him and devour him to shreds.”
“So the Toilet Goddess herself, milady, is knowledgeable about other kingdom’s myths. Still, wasn’t Melampus1Basically, Melampus is associated with Canis Minor (Lesser Dog). Honestly, I can’t find a good article in English that correlates the two. supposed to be a puppy’s name?”
“That’s right. I don’t know why they call refer to him as a puppy either.”
(Nor do I have any means to look it up now.)
Thinking about her past that she could never hope to return to, she took Melampus to the dog house outside the lodging house and linked his collar to a chain. Although Garm, could easily break off them if it felt like it, it chose to listen to Chloe and Locke, so it obediently presented its collar to her. A monster put into submission by both strength and contract is much more obedient than a human servant.
(Maybe that’s why it also took the ‘witch’ with it… Becoming allies with Locke and having bound me by contract through giving it a name… I feel like there’s destiny in the works behind it.)
As she looks up to the sky, the moon was so beautiful to the point of being unpleasant. It made Chloe felt as though it was sneering at her fate. She bit her lips tight and swore to herself.
“I… am not the moon goddess. Nor will I become the witch, and neither will I become the V—— too.”
“Let’s go back, Shin.”
Shin called out to her, trying to make sense of her words. Chloe merely took him by the hand and smiled at him slightly shivering by the cold night.
MV: That was the final part of the side story. We’ll go back to the main one starting the next update, which is likely tomorrow, I think?
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- 1Basically, Melampus is associated with Canis Minor (Lesser Dog). Honestly, I can’t find a good article in English that correlates the two.