Translator(s): Yomigaeru Editor(s): Yuzuha Proofreader(s): Yomigaeru
As I fiddle with the earring that Ruruka attached to my ear in a peculiar mood, Marietta, Fran, and Sera come walking over while discussing something. Marietta is making a troubled face, while Fran looks somehow satisfied, and meanwhile Sera is sighing at her.
「Ah, Shiki-san, thank you for coming. Errr, we’ll be moving soon, so please make your way to the gates.」
When Marietta finds me, she makes that announcement. It seems we’ll be departing soon.
Then, when I turn to Yuel to tell her “let’s move”–
Yuel is staring steadily at my ear. Keenly, intently staring at my ear. Now that I take a good look, she’s clutching her sleeves slightly too.
…I can’t read her expression. What could be on her mind?
No, I can guess if I give it some thought. She’s most likely feeling jealous towards Ruruka. That might have put a damper on her delight over the fact that we had matching bracelets.
…Do I need to follow up with her somehow? But it’s not like I can say “the bracelet Yuel gave me is way more important than Ruruka’s earring” right in front of Ruruka either. First of all, if I said something like that to Ruruka she would be pissed. Even if she doesn’t hold any romantic feelings for me, she would definitely be pissed. And she’d probably be convinced “that guy is totally a lolicon”.
What should I do? Guess I’ll just pat Yuel’s head until she’s satisfied.
Nah, that’s not a good way to handle her. Children are sensitive to that kind of treatment. If by chance Yuel was feeling a special connection because of the matching accessories, it’s not impossible that tears could start steadily welling up in her adorable eyes. I need to think this over seriously. Should I promise to go shopping for something with Yuel next time? But, if that means every time we go outside the city from now on…
Wait, is Yuel really jealous of Ruruka in the first place? I don’t sense any jealousy or grief in her expression. She’s just… staring at the earring. Maybe unexpectedly she’s thinking “I want an earring too”. No, but–
「U-Um, Shiki-san? You and Yuel-chan are w-within your rights to stare at each other all you want. But, um, please quickly make your way to the gates…」
As we walk towards the gate, Sera interrupts her conversation with Fran and greets me.
「Umm, I was informed that you went out of your way to give us medical treatment in the middle of the night. I would like to express my gratitude. You truly saved us.」
How exceptionally polite.
「Nah, don’t worry about it. Ruruka properly compensated me.」
When I say that, Sera lifts her head and smiles sweetly. It feels like an adult smile.
When I treated them, I thought for sure that the two of them were asleep at the time, but they must have heard about it from Ruruka.
…I can’t sense any hidden meaning in Sera’s attitude.
I look at Ruruka. She makes a bit of an embarrassed face and averts her gaze from Fran and Sera.
…It seems that Ruruka kept quiet about the things I was doing when I gave them treatment.
Though at the time I said it was a medical procedure, to be honest I just couldn’t suppress my impulses when faced with two defenseless girls lying in bed. Being so courteously thanked makes me feel somewhat conflicted, like it makes my own sleaziness stand out. I kinda feel like a piece of garbage. If someone ever calls me that I can’t deny it, either.
As I’m ruminating, Sera nudges Fran with her elbow.
Fran slumps a bit and knits her brows, showing some hesitation. Then for some reason she glances in Marietta’s direction.
Huh, now that I think about it Marietta is really shy, but she was speaking normally with Fran and Sera earlier. Perhaps they already knew each other.
「…W-Well… t-thank you.」
Then, Fran mumbles that in a barely audible voice.
What’s with that? She actually thanked me normally. I thought she was the prudish, man-hating type. Was it that? Did she become strangely meek after her illness?
But there’s still a bit of a conflicted feeling. As for the fact that I flipped her skirt and saw her panties, that was half due to her disparaging attitude towards me up until that point, but half because I was honestly concerned about the rash on her thighs.
Being treated normally after all that, how do I say this, I’m troubled. I feel distinctly guilty in retrospect. Not that I have any regrets.
But, I’m probably making a pretty unpleasant face right now.
I quickly avert my gaze, and there’s Ruruka silently flapping her mouth, trying to tell me something.
When I tilt my head, Ruruka gets annoyed and starts moving her mouth again. That’s–
「R-E-S-T-R-O-O-M? What, we’re about to leave, go take care of it quickly.」
「N-No! It’s that, the haras… no, nevermind! E-Errr… I’m trying to tell you not to do that anymore!」
I get it. Ruruka must be a bit angry after all. Ruruka allowed me to see her underwear and massage her, but that wasn’t the case for her companions. Or wait, maybe she means that I shouldn’t do those things with anyone but her.
「…? What do you mean?」
Watching the exchange between me and Ruruka, Sera tilts her head curiously.
We’re outside the city. Flanked by the knights, we advance down the highway. I was sure we would be riding in a carriage or something, but apparently we’re going on foot. Well, since we have item boxes there’s no need to use a carriage to transport our luggage, and they said it’ll only take about an hour on foot to reach the forest in the first place. Besides, horses probably won’t enter the forest, either. It might be too much effort to specifically bring horses for such a short distance and then have to post them outside the forest or send them back to the city.
As we walk, I watch the city of Merhatz gradually disappear into the distance. The weather is unfortunately cloudy, but the high stone wall surrounding the labyrinth city looks quite splendid.
Now that I think about it, this is my first time going outside the city. I’ve spent my days almost entirely in the hospital, the tavern, or the labyrinth. Even though it’s the city I’ve always been living in, just seeing it from the outside makes me feel like a tourist.
「I never realized this until now, but the city is pretty huge, huh.」
「That’s right. It’s such an impressive city, isn’t it?」
Yuel backs me up in a voice full of admiration. That reminds me, back when I bought Yuel she wasn’t able to see anything with her eyes. This might be her first time seeing the city from the outside, too.
「My, so you do understand.」
An arrogant voice. I recognize it as Fran’s in an instant. She has a boastful expression, snickering with her hand on her hip.
What strange wind is blowing? I certainly didn’t think she was the type to ever strike up a conversation with a man. She must be overflowing with patriotism.
「You’ve good eyes for such a young one; Father would surely be delighted.」
Of course. She was talking to Yuel, of course. Wait, what does she mean by “Father would be delighted”? Was her father the construction foreman or something?
…I have a feeling I’m way off the mark on that one.
Noticing my bewilderment, Ruruka comes up beside me and whispers.
「…Y’know, Fran is actually the daughter of the lord of this city.」
Ruruka moves a little further away from Fran and occasionally gestures at her.
「Fran’s real name is Fran Luluna Meirhartz. She’s a noble daughter of the family that’s ruled over this city for generations. It’s not like she’s particularly hiding it, but I thought I should let you know, Shiki. If you get in trouble for sexually harassing her, I won’t defend you, got it?」
「H-Hold on a minute. Why is someone like that acting as an adventurer of all things?」
You’ll freak me out if you suddenly tell me such a thing. What’s that all about?
「…E-Err, that’s, you see, how do I say this… In the past, Fran’s father… the lord, arranged a marriage interview for her. But Fran hated the idea of getting married to a man, and her marriage candidate… well, apparently she rejected him by firing a magic attack into his nether regions. So that her father would never bring up the topic of marriage interviews again.」
Whoa. I knew she hated men, but that’s being way too harsh on them. No matter how much healing magic exists, that’s not something you should ever do. Oh, maybe that’s why Ruruka kept her mouth shut about the details from the time I healed Fran. I can’t thank her enough.
That explains the thing about Marietta talking with her earlier. It’s no surprise that the lord’s daughter would have connections within the knight brigade.
No, but even if she’s acquainted with Marietta or the other knights, is it alright for them to bring the lord’s daughter outside the safety of the city walls? Fran is strong-willed, so maybe she demanded for them to bring her along. There’s also the fact that they needed her as a guide for this particular mission.
「But apparently, Fran was driven out of the house because of that incident. “If you’re that against him, I don’t care if it’s a commoner or whoever but go find some man you’d rather be with, or go fix your misandry, and don’t come back until you do!”. Well, I say she was driven out, but he was still worried after all. She had always gotten along well with Sera, so he had Sera go with her as her attendant. Seems that Fran still wants to inherit the title herself someday, so she’s trying to win her father’s approval by stacking up enough achievements to overshadow her man-hating. And trying her hardest not to reveal her man-hating in front of her father’s acquaintances and so on.」
Learn about the outside world and beat your personality into shape by yourself, something like that? Even if Fran’s father tried to fix her man-hating by setting up marriage interviews and soirées and whatnot, I doubt there’s any nobleman who’d want to go anywhere near a girl who might shoot magic attacks at his crotch. Her father might have had his hands tied.
When I take a peek in Fran’s direction, she’s earnestly telling Yuel about something. I try to listen in, and it seems like it has something to do with the construction of Merhatz’s city walls. That sounds terribly boring, but Yuel is listening intently. Fran seems like she’s kinda enjoying it too. Perhaps the two of them have something in common to commiserate over? Their chests, for instance.
By the time I finish my conversation with Ruruka and return to Yuel’s side, Yuel has gone on the offensive. She’s going on and on about “Master is amazing!”, “He’s an honest, respectable person!” and the rest of my wonderful qualities, which Fran is listening to with a bored expression. I wonder why she’s humoring Yuel at all when it’s about a man she hates, but I suppose even for Fran, ignoring that joyful face would pain her conscience.
It seems that in my absence, Yuel has been proselytizing about my greatness. That reminds me, Eris also told me, “I heard that Yuel’s master was a wonderful person”. I see, so that’s how these misunderstandings have been spreading. I’m in a good mood, though, so I don’t think I’ll stop her.
And then, as Yuel’s monologue is coming to a close, we arrive at the forest.
1. Her family name is written as メイルハルツ instead of the usual メルハーツ.↩