Agate’s silence continued for a while, until she finally re-emerged.
There were many rumors about her mysterious disappearance, and some nasty gossip as well, but few fans left her.
Her fans were ecstatic when a schedule was posted in a park’s notice board, and it listed a solo live event from Agate. There were even rumors that she had retired, so it came completely out of left field. Obviously, Nick was one of said fans, and he spent all night in line to purchase a ticket alongside Willy, a fellow adventurer and fan.
Seeing people line up in the middle of the night waiting for tickets to go on sale was unusual, and even a stray dog that wandered in, fled the scene. Eventually, the sun came up, and Karan passed by on her way to go have breakfast. She was a little shocked to see that Nick spend the night there, but was still concerned, and brought him coffee and told him not to catch a cold. Nick was thankful, but felt awkward when people around him gave him very sharp stares, thinking Karan was his girlfriend.
Still, it was almost over. The tickets would go on sale soon.
Willy suddenly spoke.
“…There’s rumors of guys that make their girlfriends lineup because they can’t be bothered, and guys that make their girlfriends work as idols so they can sponge off them, so don’t worry.”
“Don’t just toss my name into the bad idol otaku boyfriend championship like that. And she’s not even my girlfriend anyway.”
“Sorry sorry, just kidding. By the way, do you know that people are saying that the legendary paladin that protects the Labyrinth city has appeared?”
Nick had no idea what he was talking about, and twisted his head.”
“Apparently there was a time when the city was much more dangerous. Thefts and muggings were common, and people had to be careful when they walked around, even in broad daylight.”
“But then, a legendary S rank adventurer started taking down thieves with bounties on their heads left and right. Even though he or she had a pretty face he’d show up, save people, and leave without even saying his name. That person came to be known as the ‘Lovely Paladin’.”
“What, aren’t you interested?”
“No, it’s just that it’s so sudden that I don’t know what you’re getting at, and I’m way more interested in Agate’s live event.”
“It’s all related. Remember the casino that was attacked the other day? They say the Lovely Paladin was there and saved Agate!”
“Hn? What’s wrong Nick?”
“It doesn’t look like nothing…”
“…A-anyway, isn’t that Lovely Paladin from a long time ago? Isn’t that weird?”
Willy smiled as he nodded.
“I dunno, maybe the legendary paladin lives a long time like a high elf or a dark elf.”
“Well, I don’t think it’s true either, it can’t be the real one. But that person has become pretty popular after saving people. To leave the scene without saying their name and not even bothering to receive the casino and chivalric order’s gratitude.”
“Also, like I mentioned, no one even knows if it’s a man or a woman, but Agate says she thinks it’s a woman.”
“Hn? She does?”
“It’s just a rumor. People also say that person’s really beautiful, but no one knows for sure.”
Said Willy with a puzzling tone.
Nick was going to ask more about it, but the place where the tickets would be sold opened.
Staying there all night paid off, and they managed to secure seats in the front row.
Nick felt very relieved as he looked at his ticket. He wondered if Agate had been hurt during the battle, or if witnessing such an intense battle up close had scared her.
Basically, he feared that Agate could have stopped her activities as an idol because of him, but now, he was holding a ticket with her name and date.
Surely she would be as lively as ever, and Nick could not wait for the event.
In the end, Nick’s fears were unfounded, in fact, things were moving in the complete opposite direction.
“Good evening everyone!!! Thank you for coming!!!”
The men in the audience responded with their deep voices. Nick knew he was but one of them, but he felt strangely proud to be here.
No one was more worried about her than him, and even though he was a huge fan of hers, his eyes resembled those of a boyfriend.
“I had some little things to take care of in my private life. There were rumors that I had gotten hurt and retired, but as you can see, I’m better than ever!!!”
“I was worried!”
“Keep doing your best!”
Agate waved. The shadow that loomed over her in the casino was gone, and she was so full of energy that she looked as though she would burst.
“Thank you! But it’s true that I got roped into some trouble… One wrong move and I could’ve died.”
Everyone in the venue started murmuring, worried about Agate.
“But I was saved by a girl, and thanks to her, I am alive and well.”
Her voice was soft and mellow, and had a different kind of charm than her usual stoic aura.
“She was such a noble person, just like the paladin heard about in legends. It made me want to help and encourage people like that too… That’s why I’m going to sing a song extolling those virtues, not as an idol, but as a troubadour. A new song of course!”
The sudden announcement of a brand new song piqued the audience’s excitement, but Nick looked at Willy before raising his voice in support.
The way he was smiling led Nick to believe that he heard about this new song somewhere. Nick felt a mixture of surprise and jealousy, but what Agate said next would surprise him even more.
“This song includes my heartfelt thank you! ‘The lovely paladin’!”
Belle took a break from her regular activities after breaking up with Donny.
She did not state publicly why she canceled her upcoming live events, which she knew very well would arouse suspicion. People would wonder if she got seriously hurt in the casino, or why she was even there to begin with. She was ready for scandalous speculation to start being fired at her.
She concentrated fully on songwriting, musical composition, and training.
The finished song was wonderful, and completely devoid of noise, but its quality was what sparked debated in the office.
The problem was more than just the quality, but also its theme and direction.
Singing ‘this’ carried a lot of responsibility for troubadours. You could even call it duty. It was very risky for an idol.
It was an epic.
Basically, a glorification of a specific person. For idols, who were supposed to convey their love to thousands of fans, this was close to being considered a taboo, even if she was originally a troubadour.
Some said she should stop, some said the opposite. Many meetings were held, and people with contrasting views debated, but in the end, the president had the final word.
“I think it’s fine, it’s just Yuri.”
And then, the office purposefully started spreading a rumor.
“Apparently there’s a ‘Lovely Paladin‘’ that protects the citizens of this city from the shadows.”
“And it’s a beautiful woman that can charm anyone.”
“Apparently she saved an idol named Agate.”
These rumors spread among idol otaku, just like the office expected. If a man saved Agate, it would bring about jealousy and envy, so they pushed the idea that it was a woman. As a result, both the new song and the existence of this paladin were well received among idol otaku.
Agate rewrote the song many times until she was satisfied, and picked her phrases very carefully. The first half was about the strength and beauty of the paladin, but the second half was made to encourage and excited people by saying that all those that fight for justice are paladins. The last part in particular struck a chord with adventurers. It was a song that made people want to be respected by Agate in the same way she respected the paladin.
“This type of song is good too, isn’t it?”
“I’m full of energy.”
“Put your manuscript up for auction. I’ll pay whatever it takes.”
“Let’s go take down bad guys!”
Was the sort of reception it received from idol otaku.
This live event was her biggest success to date, and idol otaku went home more satisfied than ever before.
Except for Nick.
Nick went back to his inn filled with grief, and sat down holding his knees.
“It’s fine isn’t it? She was complimenting you.”
“Yes yes. Having a troubadour sing about your deeds is an honor for an adventurer.”
Karan and Bonds, worried, shrugged.
“It was more about Tianna…! It’s not like I’m not happy but… It’s complicated…!”
“Well, yeah, Tianna is cool.”
“That is true.”
Both agreed, and Nick sunk his face even deeper.
Nick’s anguish could not reach Agate, because the Lovely Paladin’s true identity was a secret.
Today, Agate encouraged and fascinated another person, somewhere.