Translator(s): Yomigaeru Editor(s): Yuzuha Proofreader(s): Yomigaeru
We’re in the hospital’s exam room. Sitting on a chair, facing Ruruka. Obviously somewhat nervous, Ruruka keeps adjusting her posture on her chair as she observes me. Even though this is a scene I’ve experienced plenty of times before, just having her tell me she loves me somehow makes it look extremely different.
「A-Ahaha… l-long time no see!」
Ruruka shyly wraps her hand around the back of her neck and averts her gaze as she speaks. It’s not like it’s been that long since we talked. Just a few days.
「S-Sure. What’s the matter, this late at night? Need treatment?」
Perhaps she’s becoming conscious of it. When she misunderstood that she was dying after the beauty contest, she confessed, and on top of that she even kissed me. At the time, there was the tension that she might die from petrification, and a sense of liberation when that went away. It was an extraordinary situation. Precisely because of that, she likely got caught up in the momentum and went so far as to kiss me.
But now it’s different. We’ve had some time, and both of us have calmed down. Facing each other in such a manner, she must be thinking about that time.
It’s kinda awkward… besides, I’m becoming a little conscious of it too.
About how she had me rub her breasts using the treatment fee discount as an excuse. About how she was eager to enter the labyrinth together as adventurers. Moreover, about those magic tool earrings and how she came running right for me when I got lost in the forest.
After being told she loves me, I ended up thinking about it in relation to this and that.
Ruruka is cute. Her features are well-ordered, and I think her red hair is pretty. Her tits are big, too. I saw her in a swimsuit at the beauty contest, and even though she’s big-breasted, the places you’d expect to be firm on an adventurer are tightened up, and have a healthy eroticism to them. Plus her personality is light-hearted and she’s easy to talk to.
And unlike Yuel, she’s at an age where I can put my hands on her. If I tell her that I love her too right here, I wonder what will happen? Just thinking about it is making me restless.
–But, I can’t do that.
Putting aside how I feel about Ruruka, at the very least, I can’t do it now.
Yuel is sitting on my lap.
I don’t mean she’s just sitting on my lap. I’m sitting in the chair, and Yuel is sitting facing me so she can cling to me. I can see Ruruka over Yuel’s head, but it’s covering the lower half of my field of view.
At that point-blank range, Yuel is staring right into my eyes. I don’t have the courage to say something like that to Ruruka in this situation.
「I-It’s not like I’m particularly hurt or anything… I don’t need treatment… D-Does that mean that unless it’s for treatment, I… can’t come here?」
At the same time that Ruruka blushes shyly and asks that, I feel Yuel’s hands clutch my clothes. It’s no good. I don’t mean that it’s no good for her to come to the hospital if it’s not for treatment, but that I can’t speak with Ruruka honestly when Yuel is this close.
I thought about having Yuel go brew some tea for me or something, but from the look on her face, that seems impossible as well. The dams of Yuel’s eyes are about to burst from just that single bashful line from Ruruka. Trembling as if to implore me, those blue eyes are earnestly fixed on me alone.
…I can’t burden Yuel’s mental state any further.
With Yuel being so obedient, if I told her to go brew some tea she would leave, but if I do that then without a doubt Yuel will cry. I don’t want to drink tea that Yuel brewed while crying; sorrowful tea with a hint of salt.
For the time being, I’ll handle it by tenderly petting Yuel’s head.
When I do, Yuel nuzzles her head against my neck. At the same time, at a volume that I almost don’t hear it, she unintentionally chokes out a tiny sob.
…Hopefully petting her head makes her feel a little relieved. As if reassuring herself of my warmth, she wraps her hands around my neck and rubs her head into it.
「A-Ahhhh!? W-Wait, Shiki!?」
When Ruruka sees that she cries out, but I can’t stop Yuel at this point. If she were only trying to provoke Ruruka as a woman then I would put a stop to this kind of behavior, but for Yuel that’s most likely not the case.
…Yuel is just plain insecure.
Yuel isn’t paying attention to Ruruka, but simply gazing into my eyes. So as to avoid missing the slightest change, simply continuing to peer earnestly into my eyes alone. In other words, what Yuel is worried about isn’t Ruruka getting closer in and of itself, but a change in my heart because of that.
Like if I ended up thinking “I want to be alone with Ruruka”.
Would Yuel, a slave, still have a place at my side?
Slaves are beings bought and sold with money. The moment I saw her as a hindrance, Yuel would be put up for sale in the slave market once again. Well, I would never do such a thing to Yuel, but in this world the common sense is unquestionably that slaves are that kind of existence.
Right now, the existence that Yuel depends on the most is without a doubt me. Perhaps it’s natural for her to think that if I get close to Ruruka, I’ll see the slave at my side as a hindrance. That she won’t be able to stay by the side of the only person she can depend on.
Just how deeply disheartening would that be?
Yuel is still young. Besides, as someone with no relatives, the bond between Yuel and me is just a one-sided master and slave relationship. Considering Yuel’s circumstances as well as her present mental state, it feels rather pitiful. We’re in front of Ruruka, but I’ll try petting Yuel’s head one more time.
「Y-You’re petting her again!?」
–The very instant that Ruruka protests.
At the nape of my neck, there’s a lukewarm sensation. The location of that sensation was about where Yuel’s mouth is.
She licked me. No mistaking it, Yuel just licked the base of my neck.
…N-No, perhaps Yuel’s tears ended up hitting the base of my neck, and she was just licking those off. There shouldn’t be any deeper meaning behind it.
And it doesn’t seem like Ruruka has noticed, so I’ll ignore it for the time being.
…Well, let’s leave the matter of Yuel aside.
The fact that Ruruka didn’t come here for treatment means that she came to see me. And furthermore, the fact that she specifically came this late at night…
Now I get it.
「Ruruka, I get that you want to pick up where we left off at that inn, but you should really pick a more appropriate time…」
In other words, a “night visit”. Ruruka came for a night visit. Right now she must want to do what we couldn’t do that day due to the inn being full.
But of course, that’s impossible in this situation since Yuel is here now. She would cry, and even if she didn’t cry she would probably want to join in. As a slave, it’s extremely likely that she would assist me. And for some reason she’s still continuing to lick around my neck.
「Inn? …Ah, t-that’s not it! I-I came here this late ’cause I had to sneak out of Lord-sama’s place… Lord-sama was concerned because of the latest monster incident, so he said not to leave the mansion…! S-See, Fran invited me as well so I’m staying with her right now! Just earlier, I finally slipped past the watch of the knights on guard duty!」
「…What, so that’s what it was?」
I see, so that’s why she came here at such a time? Sheesh, I wish she wouldn’t mislead me so much. In this situation with Yuel riding on me, letting my delusions grow out of control would be extremely awkward.
「Y-Yeah! Especially Fran, Lord-sama ordered her not to go outside under any circumstances!」
Well, that middle-aged lord does seem excessively doting. I guess that’s how he’d be when monsters run riot within the city.
…Wait, Ruruka is currently living at the lord’s mansion? I was wondering where she was staying, but to think it was the lord’s mansion of all places. Nah, she did join Fran’s party, so I guess it’s not such an odd story.
And I feel like I heard that the lord prohibited Fran from entering the labyrinth recently, so as her party member, Ruruka probably has no source of income either. Perhaps that’s why they’re taking care of her in the meantime.
「What’s Lord-sama so wary of, that there could still be monsters hidden in the city like the ones from the beauty contest? Some fiendish ones like that dragon?」
「Mmmm, I don’t really know. But seems like the knights are investigating, and they’re giving Lord-sama a bunch of reports all the time.
…Ah, now that you mention it, that dragon, I’m keeping it in the garden at the lord’s mansion.」
Is it me or did Ruruka just say something incredible?
「J-Just now, did you just say that you’re keeping that dragon?」
「Yeah, I’m taking care of it. I feed it every day, y’know?」
Apparently she’s raising it as a pet.
Can you keep a monster like that as a pet? It’s not just a large-scale carnivore, that dragon breathes petrifying breath. I don’t think that someone with normal nerves would want to get anywhere near it.
Wait a minute, didn’t Ruruka almost get petrified by it? Something like that should be enough to make her hate even the dragon that she claimed to be fond of, though.
「I-It doesn’t act out? Besides, your legs were even petrified by that dragon… is it really okay?」
「It’s fiiine. Dragons are really smart, y’know? The fact that it attacked people was entirely that collar’s fault.
…Huh? But Shiki, do you mean I was hit by that petrifying breath too after all?」
Whoops, I misspoke. I was hiding the fact that I can use EX Heal from Ruruka. Well, this girl does seem like she’d carelessly let it slip to someone like Fran and all. And I did end up telling Yuel that my healing magic was my secret with her.
「A-Ahhh… I-I wonder what happened.」
But Ruruka doesn’t seem to care that much either way about the petrification,
「…B-Besides, because that dragon was there, I was able to… e-ehehe.」
and she starts fidgeting as she says that. Her words cut off, and she gives me a look full of meaning. When our eyes meet, Ruruka lowers her face as it reddens slightly.
–My heart skips a beat.
Ruruka has shown me gestures of goodwill before. Though until now, I thought she was just acting in order for the price reductions to go well.
But there was a good reason behind her goodwill. It wasn’t acting. It was merely a simple reaction. That in itself makes Ruruka look all the more cute.
–And yet, I mustn’t forget that Yuel is here too right now.
I wonder what expression Yuel is making now? Ruruka’s last line was dripping with meaning. At the previous point she was already about to cry, so it wouldn’t be odd for Yuel to have broken down sobbing. I should check up on her.
However, I can’t see Yuel’s face very well.
But she’s probably not crying. Or rather, she’s most likely not listening to the conversation between me and Ruruka anymore.
…She’s licking me. For some reason, Yuel is licking me around my collarbone.
Even when I stop the conversation to look at Yuel, she shows no signs of stopping her licking. I can’t see her face due to the angle, but the sensation of being licked itself is constantly coming across, no doubt about it. She’s licking me with her undivided attention.
…Is it that? When children are anxious and they suck their thumb – has she developed that sort of mentality? That’s probably it. I’m sure that’s it.
「W-Well, if it’s fine then that’s all well and good, but…」
「E-Errr, besides, it’s gotten really attached to me, y’know. Even though it never lets anyone else ride it, for some reason it lets me sit on its back! It’s sooooo cute!」
Ruruka exclaims delightedly.
Oh yeah, I remember. During the raid, Ruruka tried to protect that dragon. She tried to convince the saint’s group to spare it somehow when they were going to shoot it down. The saint instantly rejected her, though.
And dragons can comprehend human speech. If it still retains its memory from when it was wearing that monster-manipulating collar, it’s only natural that the dragon would feel an attachment towards the sole person who voluntarily tried to protect it. If Ruruka hadn’t remained in that spot to stick up for the dragon, I probably wouldn’t have told Yuel to destroy the collar, at least. I would’ve taken Ruruka and ran away from the targeted saint at full speed.
…The saint. That’s right. I remembered something else that’s really important.
「Well, that’s great. Oh right… that reminds me, is the saint at the lord’s mansion right now?」
That saint should currently be staying at the same mansion as Ruruka. I’m worried. The “found you” was my misunderstanding, that’s the conclusion that I’ve reached, but in the end something’s still bothering me. I want to try investigating the saint indirectly through Ruruka.
「Saint-sama? Yeah. Seems like she’s talking with Lord-sama every day?」
「Huh, with that middle-aged lord… I feel like she was saying something or other about donations, but do you know what they talk about?」
「…Are you interested in Saint-sama, Shiki?」
Ruruka seems to have misunderstood something; she’s giving me a disapproving look, but I don’t have that kind of interest in the saint at present. She’s flat and all.
「N-No, nothing like that. Look, this monster raid stuff isn’t somebody else’s problem. For the sake of our own safety, I want to have you find out what kind of things that saint and the lord are discussing.」
「…Hmmm, well, I guess I can. Fran and I heard a bit of their talk, so I know a little? Let’s see, apparently the Saint-sama shows her face at the festival every year, only this year she had a separate goal, and that’s why she was consulting with Lord-sama.」
When I give her an adequate excuse, Ruruka makes a reluctant face but explains anyway.
「And, that goal is?」
「She came to search for something.」
–Searching for something. Time to resurrect that “found you” lip movement theory.
Was my healing magic discovered after all? But wait, there hasn’t been any action towards me from the saint’s side for a few days now…
No, I see.
I get it. The middle-aged lord sees me quite favorably, since I saved Fran and all. If the saint was marking all the excellent healers in this city for the sake of the Krankheit Turtle incident investigation, it wouldn’t be weird if she asked around beforehand.
She’d want me, who saved the citizens with my incredible ability, to accept a suitable position within the church. But since she knew of the connection between me and the lord, she went to negotiate with him first.
However, the lord was trying to hook me up with Fran. The lord couldn’t let the church take away his heir candidate, so the negotiations were going rough. And a few days ended up passing in that manner. It may be something like that.
…No, I give up.
I don’t want to stand out very much. But if the church does end up presenting me with a suitable position, I’m sure I’d have a handful of young priestesses following me around and fussing over me all like “Kyaaa, you saved the city, my hero!”. I truly am reluctant, honest. But oh well, if I got discovered then there’s really nothing I can do about it. Developing connections with that middle-aged lord doesn’t seem too bad either; if I told him I absolutely needed an important office then, well, something tells me he’d be willing to cough one up.
「O-Ohhh. So then, what was she looking for?」
「Hmmm, that’s the thing. Apparently it’s something she didn’t really want us to hear, so… well, Fran and I were only eavesdropping from across the wall so I couldn’t hear it very well.」
「…You heard what you heard, but you were eavesdropping?」
Ruruka aside, Fran does seem like the type to eavesdrop if she was excluded from such an important-sounding conversation. It’s likely that she made Ruruka help her.
…Well, if that lord is involved then I shouldn’t need to worry that much about it. That middle-aged lord would speak well about me to the saint, and if something were to happen I get the feeling he would accomodate me.
「What’s the matter, Shiki?」
…Between the lord of a regional city and the Saint-sama of the church, which one is more important?
Religions often have strong clout in politics. Furthermore, in this world the Church of Medine is the headquarters that controls the genuine miracle that is healing magic. Thinking about it that way, the title of regional lord starts to look a little overshadowed. It starts to seem distinctly like a dead-end middle-management position.
I get the feeling he told me previously that I could rely on him if I had any issues, but I wonder if that guy is actually dependable.
「Ah, now that I think about it, I do remember!」
As I’m thinking about it, Ruruka suddenly cries out.
「Errr, to purge someone? Saint-sama said something about that too. Sounds dangerous, huh…」
I heard a term I shouldn’t be hearing.
Did she say purge just now? As in the meaning of an organization erasing an inconvenient existence, that kind of purge?
N-No, it’s too early to freak out. Maybe I misheard, or maybe it wasn’t 粛清 but some other ‘shukusei‘.
shukusei, shukusei, 宿星. That’s it, the star of fate. She’s something like my fated person, so she very much wants us to get along. Maybe that’s what it means. And she did hit on me, saying my black hair was beautiful.
「Yeah, something about making the person who brought about an unfavorable situation for the church atone for their sins. That’s what she was saying.」
Nope. It’s a purge. No doubt about it, a purge.
Wait, that shouldn’t be referring to me. Something disadvantageous to the church, I’ve never done anythi…
I have, huh. Something huge.
That Krankheit Turtle incident. By enveloping the entire city with Area Heal, I treated every little wound and illness in the city. Although people get injured a lot since it’s a labyrinth city, for a few days the people who make their living through healing magic were no doubt out of work. And the biggest organization in this city that depends on healing magic for its income is, you guessed it, the church.
…Now that I think about it, that female knight who invited me to join the Krankheit Turtle subjugation unit. I forgot her name, but I get the feeling that she was complaining about how none of the eminent members of the church would come with the subjugation unit back then.
–Something tells me there’s a connection there.
The spectacle I saw before crosses my mind. The image of the saint, using shills in order to improve her healing magic ability.
…Putting on a charade.
What if, by some chance, the people of the Church of Medine brought that Krankheit Turtle to the city in order to reap the rewards from using their healing magic? What if the church orchestrated that entire incident to secure profits for themselves? If that’s the case, and they went out of their way to prepare that large-scale monster to take advantage of the huge business opportunity, didn’t I end up making it all go to waste?
I have a bad feeling about this. An unbelievably bad feeling.
If the church is already hostile towards me, even if that middle-aged lord supports me, the odds that the negotiation over my rights will go well are extremely low. If making an enemy of the church isn’t worth it in the first place, the lord may not support me at all.
And there are things such as slave crests in this world. With enough authority, it’s a simple matter to make someone submit unconditionally. The second an authority on the scale of a nation declares you an enemy, there’s no way for you to oppose them as a private citizen.
…I should run. I should run away with all my strength, right now, to some country where the Church of Medine has no influence.
She might not have discovered where I’m staying yet, but there aren’t exactly that many black-haired healers in this city. Make it a black-haired healer accompanied by a dark elf girl and you can pretty much narrow it down to one. With just a little questioning of the knights and adventurers I’ve interacted with, she’d quickly find out that I’m here.
…That’s it, I’ll do a night flight.
「What’s wrong, Shiki? You’re really sweating.」
「I-I’m fine. No problems.」
This is unrelated, but Yuel is still continuing to lick around my neck. I’m sure she’s wiping my sweat or something. I can’t pay attention to the fact that her ears are turning slightly red for some reason, or that she’s starting to breathe heavily. At the moment I have no leeway to consider any other problems.
「Err, and then, after we eavesdropped, Fran asked Lord-sama what kinds of things they were talking about, but in the end he wouldn’t tell her.」
…Talking with the lord. Ah, something major was escaping my mind. I may be jumping to conclusions a bit.
「Hey, just making sure, what you heard was a conversation between Saint-sama and that middle-aged lord, right? You’re completely sure about that?」
「Y-Yeah. That’s right…? What’s the matter?」
That’s right. Stay calm. What Ruruka heard was a conversation between the lord and the saint.
There’s no way that the saint would be having a conversation like “when we were about to have the city be assaulted for financial gain, somebody interfered so we want to purge him” with the lord who’s charged with protecting the city. If the lord and the church have financial connections then I guess it’s possible, but at the very least the lord has been having everyone under his command in the knight brigade protect the city with all their power. I feel like that’s a very unlikely scenario.
This is getting kinda confusing. In the first place, Ruruka said that the saint’s goal was to search for something. If she was searching for a person, that “something” choice of expression doesn’t feel quite right.
…It’s good that I tried asking various things, but supposedly finding out the saint’s purpose just leaves me with more questions. What I understand is that she’s searching for something, and she’s going to purge someone. I also get the feeling that it’s not related to me.
Or rather, if she really was going to purge me, it would’ve been appropriate for her to detain me within these past few days. Leaving me alone with no surveillance, even though there’s a chance that I could escape, is clearly strange.
「Ah… S-Shiki, w-well, it’s getting late, so I should return soon. I-I’ll be back!」
As I’m thinking it over, Ruruka hurriedly stands. While looking behind me, she exits the hospital as if she’s running away. I take a look behind me to see what’s up… and Eris is standing in the hallway outside the room.
Her hair is wet. It gives off a feeling like she just climbed out of the bath.
I wonder if Ruruka ran because of her habit of negotiating treatment cost discounts? By some chance, maybe she’s bad at dealing with Eris since she’s aware that Eris is angry over all the discount negotiations. Yuel as well, perhaps because Ruruka left, got off my lap before I noticed.
And now Eris is looking at me slack-jawed for some reason.
I wonder what’s wrong? Whether or not Eris feels any goodwill towards me, I get the feeling that if she thought Ruruka just came for treatment she wouldn’t be that dumbfounded.
「That mark at the base of your neck, don’t tell me… after all… you’ve gone that far with that girl…」
As she inspects my neck, Eris’ makes a shocked face and speaks. Her voice is trembling. It’s conveying a feeling like she doesn’t want to believe what she’s seeing.
「…The base of my neck?」
I try touching it, but there doesn’t especially seem to be anything there. No, there does seem to be something like saliva stuck to it, but there shouldn’t be anything in particular.
No, wait, Eris was saying something about a mark. Tentatively, I check the silver mirror decorating the room, and…
–one spot at the base of my neck has turned slightly red.
This is a mark from internal bleeding caused by sucking on the skin… the so-called ‘hickey’. And there’s a bit of saliva stuck there. I don’t even have to think whose it is.
「N-No! This isn’t from Ruruka! It’s from Yuel! I-It’s a misunderstanding!」
I was too focused on the saint’s objective, so I didn’t notice at all. I take a look at Yuel, and she’s hanging her head in shame. And, poking out from that silver hair, her long ears are tinged bright red.
I wasn’t able to discern the saint’s purpose in the end, but I did determine one thing. I thought that perhaps she wasn’t bothered that much about the matter of Ruruka kissing me. It turns out Yuel-san is ridiculously worried about it.