Translator(s): Yomigaeru Editor(s): Yuzuha Proofreader(s): Yomigaeru TLC(s): Lox
Behind Ruruka’s back, Yuel has returned from the bathroom and is staring at us in shock. Her eyes are vacant and her mouth is slightly agape. It’s as if she can’t understand the scene in front of her eyes.
This is bad. Extraordinarily bad.
Right now, my hands are stretched out to grab hold of Ruruka’s plentiful peaks, and Ruruka herself is opening her shirt far enough to expose her shoulders and a great deal of skin.
…The circumstantial evidence is all here.
Yuel is standing on the other side of Ruruka, so she can’t exactly see if I’m actually rubbing her breasts.
But with my outstretched arms, Ruruka’s state of undress, and the distance between us…
Of course Yuel will assume we’re doing something indecent. After all, we are.
If I had to put it into words, I was rubbing Ruruka’s breasts in lieu of a treatment fee.
…I can’t let Yuel find out about that.
If I told the trusting-to-a-fault Yuel, my carefully constructed image as a respectable master will come crumbling down in an instant. I can’t let that happen. That star-struck admiration reflected in Yuel’s eyes is one of my greatest pleasures. I can’t make any mistakes at a time like this.
Think. Think, dammit.
This is the turning point that will decide whether or not I remain a master worthy of Yuel’s respect. This is my Battle of Mt. Tennou.
–There’s no choice but to deceive her.
「Man, that sure was a tough wound to treat. Right, Ruruka?」
I remove my hands from Ruruka’s chest and give her a look that says to play along. Ruruka has good judgment. She’ll probably respond with something like “That’s why you had to cast the healing magic carefully with direct skin contact! Thanks for going to the trouble!”
I look into Ruruka’s eyes expectantly. In response, Ruruka stares back with an intense expression.
Our gazes remain locked for a good 2 or 3 seconds. Did she get my message? A grin floats up on Ruruka’s face–
–and she grabs my right arm.
With one hand, Ruruka deftly unfastens the remaining shirt button and fully reveals the delicate undergarment. Then she takes the hand she grabbed and starts to forcefully knead it into her breast over her underwear. Ahh, it’s soft.
「Mmh… so, how is it?」
…still want to continue our price negotiation?
This development is bad. I won’t be able to convince Yuel at this rate. Does Ruruka not realize that Yuel is here?
…No, that can’t be. True, she can’t see Yuel behind her, but she must have heard Yuel’s voice.
Even if she somehow failed to hear it, she should at least question my sudden change in attitude.
But now what? This is a bad situation. It’s getting worse. So soft. What do I do? She’s moving my arm back and forth. I can feel the elasticity of her breast. What should I do? Her skin is sticking to me. Those frills on her white undergarment are cute. Ohhh it’s soft. My hand runs over the soft-as-silk cloth and I feel the swell of her even softer flesh. I want to squeeze them. To topple those twin peaks. To feel them squish and spring back.
When my hands brush over the parts of her breasts that aren’t covered by the undergarment, the sensation of them gently clinging to my fingers is–
…How long have I been fondling Ruruka’s breasts with both hands?
Ruruka’s face is flushed bright red and her breath is getting ragged. Her exposed chest and stomach are tinged cherry pink. It’s quite a turn-on. At this rate, she might even let me go all the wa–
「A-Ah, M-Mas…ter was…」
–A trembling voice breaks me out of my animal fervor.
…Right, it’s Yuel’s voice.
I rapidly return to my senses. Bad, bad, bad! Alarm bells are going off in my head.
I tear my eyes away from Ruruka’s chest and look behind her–
–Yuel’s anguished face is on the verge of tears.
「s-stole…nnn… uuuh, uhuuu…」
When our eyes meet, Yuel’s mouth hardens into a grimace and her clenched fists tremble as she looks on. Those eyes are full of sorrow. Enough tears are gathered in them to overflow at any second.
「Uuh, uehh, ueeeeeeeeeeeh, uwaaahh」
She breaks down. She’s not just sobbing, she’s bawling. Trying but failing to hold back her tears.
「Ah, um, Yuel, this is, well…」
Oh no. This has turned into a disaster. Yuel is crying. I have to do something to fix this.
I have to do something, but… but the words won’t come out. Even if it was just for a moment, what could I possibly say to Yuel when I forgot about her and let myself get completely swallowed up by lust.
W-What should I do――
「Ah, eh, n-no way!? S-Sorry, I’m so sorry, Yuel-chan!」
Ruruka spins around at the sound of Yuel crying and hastily tries to calm her down.
「I-I’m really sorry, ok? I didn’t mean to make you sad… Um, uh, I was just borrowing him for a bit, I did…didn’t steal Shiki from you, ok? Uhhh… hey, see, it was treatment! Yeah, it was a serious case, so I was just having Shiki check that it was really healed! That’s all it was, r-right, Shiki?」
Ruruka takes on a gentle tone to comfort Yuel. And, probably unable to bear Yuel’s sobbing, she twists the facts. A fine performance.
「T-That’s right! That was “palpation”, a traditional medical technique. It was such a tough injury, even after casting healing magic I needed to make sure there weren’t any abnormalities!」
It’s a flimsy excuse, though. No matter how trusting Yuel is, this might be hopeless.
「…I-Is that really… true?」
Yuel’s head snaps back up. Tears are still clinging to her bloodshot eyes.
But, she stops crying.
…This might just work. I have mixed feelings about her being so easy to fool, though.
「O-Of course it’s true, Yuel-chan!」
「I-I wouldn’t lie to you!」
But the only option here is to lie.
「…R-really, do you really mean it?」
Hearing our words, Yuel looks at me with pleading eyes. I can tell from her expression that she wants to know the truth.
I feel so guilty…
But I don’t know what it would do to Yuel’s mental state if I told her “The truth is I gave in to my lust and fondled Ruruka’s breasts.”
Right, this is a white lie.
A lie in order to avoid hurting Yuel. I suppress my feelings of guilt and desperately resist the urge to look away. And then, with no hint of shame and the sweetest tone possible, I speak.
「Look, Yuel. Take a good look at Ruruka’s chest. There’s no wound anymore, right? That’s because I just healed it, see?」
The injury was on Ruruka’s shoulder rather than her chest, though. Besides, it’s not like the fact that there’s no injury proves anything about how tough it was to heal.
But between Yuel’s gullible personality, the trust I’ve built up with her so far, and my co-conspirator Ruruka backing up my alibi…
With any luck…
「…! T-Thank goodness… oh thank goodness…」
As I sit down, Yuel rushes over and hugs my chest.
We pulled it off. Turned it around by the skin of our teeth. We managed to trick Yuel.
She’s still sniffling, but these are surely tears of relief. It’s gonna be okay.
「Don’t worry about the fee, Ruruka. We’re going home now.」
The sun is still up. It’s a little early, but I’m not in the mood to get drunk. It’s better to send Yuel straight to bed. I’m sure the usual energetic Yuel will be back after a good night’s sleep.
By the time we reach the inn, Yuel has completely stopped crying. However–
「Let’s try to make it to the 8th floor of the labyrinth tomorrow, Yuel.」
「O-Ohh, or we could find some more party members and try going to the boss room. Its rare drop is supposedly pretty valuable. Maybe Eight and Geyser can introduce us to the other adventurers they know.」
「Is that so…」
The cheap inn is located far from the labyrinth. There aren’t many customers, so it’s dead quiet even though it’s still early. The light from the setting sun streams in through the wooden window and tinges Yuel’s face red.
Yuel’s expression is… gloomy.
For a long time, Yuel seems to be lost in thought. Has my lie been exposed? It was a pretty flimsy excuse. Has she started to see through it now that she’s calmed down?
…Better test the waters.
「Yuel, what’s the matter?」
A vague question. But it gets a response out of Yuel.
「…It still hurts.」
Yuel mutters softly.
「It hurts? Oh no! EX Heal!」
The light of my healing magic envelops Yuel’s entire body. I go all out, putting a great deal of MP into the spell. Enough to instantly fix any incurable disease out there.
「…That didn’t help. Ever since I saw Master and Ruruka together, it’s been painful. I know that it was just for the sake of treatment, but my chest has been hurting since then.」
…Ah, that’s not something that can be cured with healing magic.
Even so, it looks like she bought the lie. I’m worried for her future after all.
Is it jealousy? Or rather, insecurity? It’s obvious that Yuel has strong feelings for me. Whether that’s as a parent or as a man, the sight of the person she cherishes rubbing another woman’s breasts must have had a serious impact.
「Master, won’t you do that palpation thing for me too?」
Yuel blurts that out and starts to peel off her shirt.
「Is it… no good?」
She begs me with upturned eyes. Yuel raises the shirt over her chest and exposes her light brown skin. There’s nothing left to cover that skin but her long silver hair.
I have no idea how to respond to her request. Since Yuel’s problem is emotional rather than physical, touching her chest won’t resolve the issue.
Yeah, that won’t solve anything. However,
Yuel’s eyes are clearly trembling with anxiety.
Mixed in with that, is a sense that Yuel feels insecure about her appeal. If I reject her now, it’s going to end up being a severe blow to her ego. That’s the feeling I get from her look.
…I have no choice.
Right, this is a medical procedure. Okay even if it isn’t, it’s a therapy of sorts for Yuel’s troubled mind.
There’s nothing questionable about it. Nothing questionable at all.
It has to be done in order to protect Yuel’s peace of mind. Then, as I reach out to Yuel’s chest–
–a certain phrase crosses my mind.
Suddenly, something in my head clears up, and I see myself from an outside perspective.
It’s back when I was in kindergarten, and I’m playing doctor with a neighborhood girl named Eri-chan. It seems harmless when it’s two innocent kids, but if I swap my adult self into the scene, the atmosphere turns seriously immoral.
There’s Yuel’s petite figure standing before me. And reaching toward it are the large hands of an adult. If I keep going, it will probably placate her for the time being.
But, I can’t do it after all. I can’t go through with it.
…I feel like it would be crossing a line as a human being.
Besides, I don’t know how long my reason can hold out if she keeps coming to me for palpations from now on. The current Yuel is still developing. I’m happy just to receive her bashful smile; it’s not like I want it to turn into that kind of relationship at this point.
I have to draw the line.
Besides, Yuel is still a child. She can’t make a distinction between dependence and love at this age. If it’s just dependence, all I have to do is relieve her worries. If it’s love… no, it’s still too early for that.
Let’s think of an alternative.
I wrap the hand that was reaching towards Yuel’s chest around her back instead. Instead of palpation, I’ll cuddle her and pet her head. The things I always do when we explore the labyrinth.
「What I said before about wanting us to be together forever, is the truth. I don’t want you to worry about that.」
Yuel is silent. Now that I’m holding her I can no longer see her expression. She isn’t reacting at all.
Even so, I keep petting her. This has always worked in the past. It should work out this time too.
…As I continue to pet her, Yuel abruptly speaks.
「…Master said he would buy me a present because I worked hard, right? If I work even harder, then… will Master give me a reward?」
I’m a bit concerned about what kind of reward she means, but I can’t refuse at this point.
I give her a nod. I’ll gladly put it off for some other time.
Accepting my words, Yuel lets go of me…
「I’m… fine now. Good night, Master.」
She says with a bashful smile.
My eyes snap open.
My surroundings are still dark, illuminated only by the moonlight streaming in through the window.
It’s probably closer to midnight than morning. I must have woken up at a strange time thanks to going to bed so early yesterday.
Guess I’ll go to the bathroom.
I lift up my body, and then it hits me.
Yuel is gone.