Omake Special: Kouen and Hakuei

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After Kouen arrived to help Hakuei finish dealing with the aftermath of Ryosai's betrayal...

"My deepest apologies," Hakuei said as she and Seisyun bowed their heads to her cousin/stepbrother, "for you, our army's General Commander, to have to come here in person because of my failure to maintain control over the command given to me..."

"It's fine," Kouen said dismissively as he continued to review the logs and reports on the incident. He had to send someone to update the magicians at this base on their new message system anyway. The rest he would leave up to Koumei to supervise. "These men are veteran soldiers. They should have known better." For them to even think that they could lay a hand on a member of the royal family and get away with it was... "Twins," he said suddenly, straightening up when he reached the part where Faith and Hope were mentioned. Hope had mentioned something about her sister 'having the same face'. It couldn't be...

"Oh, that's right!" Hakuei said, perking up. She quickly got up and retrieved a bundle from a chest beside the desk. "One of those girls, Hope, gave me something for you. She said she knew you?" Hakuei  said with a curious glance as she placed the bundle in front of him.

"Yes. I found her in a dungeon, and we cleared it together with my household," Kouen replied while he opened it. "Due to certain circumstances, I was holding her for information, but... she escaped using these," he said, nodding at the spoon and carpet, while he ran his fingers over the pearls.

"A spoon...?" Hakuei and Seisyun said curiously. The hint of a smirk played upon Kouen's lips as he continued to examine the pearls. They were definitely hers. Hope Dupont had managed to stay a step ahead of him again, and now that she had her sister, where she would go next was anyone's guess. For someone who ran away so shamelessly, it was awfully conscientious of her to return all of the items that she had gone through the trouble of 'borrowing' without his permission. Were these pearls supposed to be some token of apology?

"I see... So that's what happened," said Seisyun thoughtfully. So that's how she had gotten her Djinn...

"What sort of information? Should I have held them?" Hakuei asked, concerned. Whatever Hope knew, it must have been important to Kouen for him to hold her like that. Kouen smirked.

"When you met those twins, what did you think of them?" he asked.

"Well, I remember thinking they were dressed rather strangely..." said Hakuei thoughtfully. For two girls with such fine jewelry they had awfully little clothing on. "But they were both skilled fighters and very insightful... I think they sensed Ryosai's betrayal before I did. However, it was their friend and traveling companion who really captured my attention. His name is Aladdin, and he is a gentleman with mysterious powers and a heart of justice. The twins also came to my aid, but it was largely thanks to him that I was able to escape with only this level of injury. It must have been a fated encounter," she said, blushing.

"Oh? To be praised by you to such an extent... He must be a great man," said Kouen, a bit surprised. He had never before heard her speak of a man with such ecstasy.

"Yes!" Hakuei said brightly with a dreamy look on her face. "I can remember it even now... that manly body that wore only a loincloth. And his strong yet gentle hands that he reached toward me... I will never forget it."

"..." Kouen stared blankly at her for a moment. What?

"Princess, aren't you talking about Master Aladdin's Djinn? After all, Master Aladdin himself is a very small boy," Seisyun reminded her.

"Djinn?" Kouen asked, glancing back down at the report. Sure enough, there it was on paper. He could see now that Hakuei had clearly been referring to the instant when Aladdin had his Djinn slap Ryosai away from her. "Is this boy also a dungeon capturer?"

"About that..." Hakuei said, sobering up. "It seems he's actually a magi," she finished with a knowing smile. Kouen's eyes widened slightly in surprise.

"... Is that so?" he said, stroking his goatee. In other words, Hope and her sister had somehow managed to find their own magi... Interesting. This girl had a real talent for surpassing expectations. "You said they were traveling together. You wouldn't happen to know where they are headed, would you?"

"As a matter of fact, Aladdin said he wished to travel to the oasis city of Qishan to search for a friend, and the twins decided to go with him," Hakuei replied dutifully.

"Qishan... I  see," Kouen said. His smirk returned as he looked up at her. "Who are  your fastest riders?" Seisyun shuddered slightly at the intense possessive look in his eyes, and suddenly became very concerned for their new friends.

"... I shall find out," Hakuei said with a smile, turning on her heel as she immediately moved to do just that. She hadn't seen Kouen look this excited in a long time. He was positively sparkling. He must really like Hope... or whatever information she was supposed to have...

Unfortunately for Kouen, as he would later find out, he was already too late. The twins and Aladdin only stayed one night in Qishan with their caravan once they heard Alibaba wasn't there anymore. And during that time, Hope and Faith had begun using a temporary homemade hair dye to darken their hair to a sort of brownish color, so the detailed description of the girls he gave their pursuers ended up back-firing on him, because they were too focused on finding a set of matching gingers and completely overlooked the brunettes. It would be a long time before he saw Hope again.

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