Translator(s): Yomigaeru Editor(s): Yuzuha Proofreader(s): Yomigaeru
Eris and Ruruka.
Ruruka is waving at me.
…No, that part is fine. But there’s one minor discrepancy there.
Ruruka is walking over here along with Eris.
Picture this, Ruruka and Eris, together voluntarily. This is pretty unusual. Due to the matter of Ruruka getting under-the-table discounts at Eris’ hospital, Ruruka feels self-conscious around Eris, and Eris likely doesn’t think very highly of Ruruka.
I wonder why they’re together?
「Y’see, Shiki, Saint-sama came and told me… you were about to fall into a completely obvious honey trap first thing in the morning, so since it can’t be helped, I should stay together with you. Who knows what you’ll get up to if I let you out of my sight, so she told me to keep an eye on you at all times.」
Now I get it.
「That is what she told me, but I don’t think she was talking to you.」
「S-She glanced over at me too!」
…I pretty much get the idea.
Most likely, as an urgent countermeasure against the succubus, the saint was trying to get Eris to stay by my side. And, at the time, Ruruka happened to be nearby as well. She felt a sense of impending doom from the idea of Eris remaining beside me 24/7, so she followed her all the way here. Is that about how it went?
Ruruka gets closer and whispers into my ear.
「We’ve already… kissed, right?」
Then her face turns red and she immediately moves away. Is she talking about that, the one on the cheek back at the beauty contest? Ruruka looks bashfully at me for a moment, then glances in Eris’ direction with a hint of superiority permeating her expression. As if she’s asserting her ownership over me, before I know it she’s holding my arm between her breasts. So soft.
…Now that I think about it, back when I was tempted by the succubus, Ruruka wasn’t there, huh. Ruruka only got back from the royal capital after I had returned to my senses. Which means that Ruruka has no idea what Eris and I were doing back then.
And yet Ruruka keeps sending Eris a look of superiority.
…I notice Eris’ expression become openly irritated by the way Ruruka is looking at her.
「Hey Shiki, hey. Let’s go see Dra-chan. She’s in the courtyard. Wanna feed her together? She’s so cute when she’s crunching up Goblins, y’know?」
「O-Oi, Ruruka, wait a m……」
Ruruka pulls on my arm that’s wedged between her breasts and tries to take me somewhere. I get the feeling she’s gonna show me a repulsive scene, so I kinda don’t want to go, but with my arm caught in her ravine like this, my body ends up moving on its own. I can’t help but go.
–However, my feet are brought to a halt.
There’s a force that’s enough to stop me in my tracks.
「I see… when Shiki gets tempted like this, I need to stop him, right?」
My opposite arm from the one Ruruka is holding… it’s being held between Eris’ giant tits, with their overwhelming presence. My arm gets lodged deep between Eris’ breasts as she pulls me towards her.
It’s no good. I can’t move like this. I don’t feel like I can take a single step from this spot.
「…I’m not a honey trap, though. I just wanna go see Dra-chan with Shiki.」
「Do you now… but I was told by Saint-sama to remain together with Shiki.」
Eris glares at Ruruka, and Ruruka glares back at her. Hold on, what’s with this situation? The atmosphere is terribly volatile. I feel like I need to do something about it, but the abundant sensation I can feel on both arms is severely interfering with my thought process. A flower on both hands. Big breasts on both arms. So very soft. I’m starting to feel like it’s fine for me not to do anything.
「I wanna go over to where Dra-chan is with Shiki, “just the two of us”, though.」
「Sorry, but I can’t possibly throw out my promise with Saint-sama. Also… there’s a little something I want to discuss with Shiki.」
「If you have something to say, can’t you just say it here?」
「I wish to speak with Shiki alone as well.」
「T-That’s…. o-out of the question! That’s absolutely not okay!」
Eris and Ruruka are arguing back and forth for some reason. The two of them staring seriously at each other is simply frightening. No, it’s not like they ever got along in the first place, though. And I’ve never seen them having a proper talk before.
…At any rate, even though usually Ruruka flees immediately when she sees Eris, today she’s stubbornly refusing to withdraw. Resistance to the bitter end, she’s got that kind of air to her. Wait, what is it that Eris wants to talk about?
I wonder if I should intervene somehow, and break apart this tempestuous atmosphere? But with both of them being so stubborn, if I prioritize Eris or Ruruka, my relationship with the other one will no doubt be fractured. I’m starting to feel like I should change the subject here, and suggest a third option for the three of us to all watch over Yuel’s growth together.
As I’m considering it, suddenly I meet eyes with Yuel. Somehow, it seems like Yuel has been watching the three of us the entire time. She’s making a curious face, like “Why are they arguing?”. The reason we’re bickering is just that Ruruka is having a crisis over me and Eris being close, though…
–I just remembered something huge.
「Eris-san, Ruruka-san, are you okay? You don’t have to fight. Master’s hare-」「A-Aaaalriiight, we haven’t had breakfast yet!! Eris, Ruruka, let’s go eat together!! C’mon, let’s go!!」
I make an on-the-spot decision and insist in a loud voice, to drown out Yuel’s. That was close. The third option was the most dangerous one. Just a bit further, and the fact that I’m planning to make a harem would’ve been exposed to Eris and Ruruka. Yuel aside, those two wouldn’t so easily accept polygamy. In their present condition, Eris and Ruruka are hostile to each other, but they were in danger of both turning against me.
「C-C’mon, aren’t you hungry? Let’s go, right away! And it’d be bad if we disturbed Astel and Yuel while they’re studying!!」
It’s regrettable in this situation with bosoms on both arms, but if I don’t get moving immediately here, my reputation will hit rock bottom. Once I get away from Ruruka and Eris, I retreat inside the mansion at full speed.
Though it’s great that we got away from Yuel, the cause of the conflict between Eris and Ruruka hasn’t been resolved. You could say that the two of them have been hostile from the start, over the treatment fees.
…It’s an explosive situation to begin with, and now it’s time for breakfast in this volatile atmosphere. I resign myself to that as we head to the mansion’s dining hall… but fortunately, nothing that I imagined happens on the way there.
We’re seated at the dining hall. Eris, sitting across from me, is looking straight down to hide her face, which is blushing and making an expression like she’s been trying to endure something for a while. She’s silently trembling in apparent embarrassment. Since we arrived at the dining hall, Eris has been in this mood the entire time. What made Eris get like this, you ask? The cause was the crowd of knights here in the dining hall.
Currently, the mansion is on high alert. Within the mansion alone, no less than several dozen knights are stationed. That battle of temptation between Eris and the succubus during the succubus’ siege, multiple knights witnessed it firsthand.
…And, it would seem that those eyewitnesses are among the knights here in the dining hall.
「When Sage-sama was lured by the succubus, that’s the one who supposedly got him to come back with only her body.」
「She has to remain together with Sage-sama as a counter to the succubus, apparently.」
「Compared to that chopping board succubus, she’s definitely way more succubus-like…」
–Gossip about Eris is spreading like wildfire.
Hanging her head in shame, the fork that Eris was using to restlessly pick at her meal falls from her hand. Looks like she couldn’t let that last line go. Eris hangs her head even further and starts trying to hide her body that’s covered in her demure monastic habit by hunching over. She’s blushing bright red all the way to her ears.
I can tell from a glance that her head is brimming with shame. Doesn’t look like I have room to be worried about Ruruka anymore. Speaking of Ruruka, she seems concerned about the knights’ gossip too; she’s ignoring Eris and straining her ears. Right now, there’s more attention on Eris in this dining hall than on me, the Sage.
…That’s not how it started. In the beginning,
「So that’s Sage-sama…? He was the one who cast those maximum Area Heals when we were fighting the succubus!」
「The Area Heals back at the time of the Krankheit Turtle were from that Sage-sama too, apparently.」
with that kind of feeling, the knights were gossiping about me and the superhuman healing magic I used in the succubus battle. Talking about how awesome my healing magic was, about the title of Sage, all of their attention was on me. But knights won’t talk about the same thing forever.
「Speaking of the Krankheit Turtle, back then, didn’t they say he risked his life to protect Fran-sama? C’mon, you saw it too, right? Him getting all those medals from Lord-sama.」
「Now that you mention it, I heard he beat an Armor Ogre variant to death by himself.」
Gradually, the stories got slightly twisted around,
「He doesn’t look that strong, but people aren’t always what they seem… the only info I got was that he’s extremely fond of women, though.」
「Yeah, he was getting manipulated by the succubus, I saw it too.」
developed this way,
「That reminds me, look, next to Sage-sama… that blondie… she and the succubus both tempted Sage-sama, and she won.」
「She beat the succubus at seducing a man!?」
and ended up like that. Most likely, many knights read the Bible as part of their education. “She beat the succubus at seducing a man”, that one line by a single knight, was apparently utterly unbelievable. Since then, the whole time the knights have been eating breakfast, a conversation has been unfolding around the succubus and Eris.
…It’s not particularly like the knights have also been sending vulgar glances to Eris, or talking dirty. Rather than calling it trivial gossip, it’s more like they’re confirming the details of their protection target with one another, so that doesn’t mean I should stop their conversations either.
Well, it’s not like they’re doing any real harm, so if I had to decide, I’d say I don’t really mind. And speaking of that, having them be able to share information with their fellow knights is connected to my own safety. Plus, there’s also been a strange rumor floating around that I even cut one of the knights’ pay or something.
Disregarding the knights’ conversation and continuing my meal, I reach towards the food with my fork.
「Oh yeah, what kind of relationship do those two have with Sage-sama?」
「Yeah, I saw that redheaded adventurer confessing to Sage-sama.」
「Does that mean we should recognize her as Sage-sama’s lover? In that case, she should have a pretty high priority as a protection target, huh.」
Abruptly, I hear the conversation between a few of the knights sitting nearby take a strange turn.
「H-Hey, Shiki… they said we’re l-lovers!」
Ruruka twists her body happily in the seat next to me. Looks like she heard it too. Her face reddens a little, and she prods my side.
「No no, back with the succubus, isn’t that blondie the one who was all glued to him, even hugging and kissing him? Ain’t she his real lover?」
「That was so intense, it looked like she even used her tongue.」
–This time, the fork falls out of Ruruka’s hand.
…Oh no. At once, I avert my eyes from Ruruka. Oh man, if I get cross-examined here it’s gonna be about that subject.
「G-Glued to him… h-hugging and kissing!? T-Tongue!? W-What do they mean tongue!?」
However, my feeble resistance is futile, and Ruruka questions me in a loud voice.
「H-Hey, Shiki, what are they talking about? Y-You and Eris kissed!? S-She used her tongue!?」
「N-No, Ruruka, that was…」
I don’t remember whether tongue was involved or not. A lot went on while I was being manipulated by the succubus. I meet eyes with Eris, but her face tells me she can’t endure it all and she hides it. She clutches her arms against her chest and curls up even further into a ball, resulting in her voluptuous breasts being squeezed precariously.
「Ahh, oh wow, so one of them is his mistress?」
I can hear the knights muttering something in a whisper. Not good. That term is a land mine.
Ruruka’s voice is quivering; did it trigger her trauma? Her eyes are wide open, and she keeps opening and closing her mouth.
As for the knights, they’re making faces like “Oh boy, Sage-sama’s got love troubles”, as if they had nothing to do with it. These bastards.
…Guess I should’ve put a stop to it on the way over after all. Let’s ask the lord to cut their pay later.
But, regretting it now won’t turn back time.
「Sage-sama ain’t doing too bad for himself. Wonder which one is his favorite?」
The phrase “which one is his favorite?”, grumbled by a knight. With those words as the trigger, Ruruka and Eris both look at me at the same time.
Oh crap. A decisive crack is about to form in my harem plan. The mood in the room is telling me to choose which one is my favorite, to clearly declare which one I love.
But there’s no way I can choose one or the other. Given my personality, if the one I didn’t choose solicits me afterwards, I’ll be tempted and the relationship with the one I chose previously will no doubt break down. The fact that I was easily lured by the succubus reaffirmed it. In the end, a harem is the only choice for me.
And, as I’m worrying over how to respond,
「…Shiki… I, there’s something I have to say to you.」
Eris opens her mouth first. She has a serious expression, like she’s troubled by my inability to choose.
「…I really wanted to tell you this when it was just the two of us. But I don’t want to regret not saying it later on.」
…That reminds me, she did tell me she had something to talk about. I wonder what it’s about? Well, at this point I don’t care what it is as long as it changes the subject. I’ll listen to whatever she has to say.
「W-What is it? What’s the matter?」
「I… that side of you that’s promiscuous with women, I really, truly despise it.」
–I don’t want to listen anymore.
「…Selfishly giving price discounts at the hospital, touching girls’ breasts the second I take my eyes off of you, and giving me those same looks every day.」
…No doubt about it. This is a sermon. It’s like Eris is thinking back on the old days, that’s the kind of distant look she’s making. Seeing my present love snafu must have ended up reminding her of the troubles that got between us in the past.
「Especially back then; to be completely honest, just remembering it now makes me quite irritated.」
Eris breathes out a small sigh. “Back then” most likely refers to around the time right before she threw me out of the hospital.
…Wait, isn’t this really bad? The way this conversation is headed, with Eris lecturing me, means…
「Oi, ain’t she gonna dump Sage-sama?」
「Does he cheat on her all the time? Well yeah, no wonder she’s telling him off.」
The conversation between the knights reaches my ears.
…Is that what it means after all? Am I gonna end up getting dumped?
–N-No, it’s not like that’s decided yet. Giving up on Eris is not an option for me. I should still be able to avert it.
「T-Time out! Let’s have this conversation later! L-Look, didn’t you want to talk about this when it’s just the two of us?」
I can’t let Eris continue her speech. I absolutely can’t let her make that declaration. And at some point, maybe Eris will re-examine me and there will be a chance for recovery. I need to buy time somehow until then. That’s all I can do.
「I’m not stopping.」
However, Eris makes a resolutely determined expression and cuts me off. I’ve only ever seen her make an expression like this once before. It was back when she threw me out of the hospital.
…When Eris’ eyes get like this, there’s absolutely no changing her mind.
「H-Hold on, Eris! If we just have a calm and composed discussion, I’m sure we can」
「…But you know, it’s different now.」
「reach an understanding, so…! Wait… eh?….?」
What did she just say? It’s different now? Does that mean…
「I… love you. Even now, I can’t stand the side of you that’s indiscriminate with women. But even though there’s that part of you, I’m in love with you.」
My head goes pure white in an instant as Eris’ words reverberate through it. As soon as I comprehend the meaning of her words, my heart thumps and I feel it leap in my chest.
When I look at Eris’ face once again, her cheeks redden slightly as she looks back at me unflinchingly. Looking into her eyes, my heart leaps again. I notice her face gradually grow redder and redder.
One of the nearby knights whistles.
「Since I’ve thrown you out of the hospital once before, you may not believe me, but…」
As our eyes meet again, Eris’ body shivers, and she lowers her reddened face to hide it. And, maintaining that position, she squeezes out her voice.
「When you bought back the hospital for me, I was incredibly grateful to you. When I heard that you were going deep into the forest with the knights, I felt so worried. Having another girl confess her love to you made me terribly jealous. And when you used Area Heal on the city and EX Heal for Farah-chan at the orphanage, you chose saving others over having your true ability discovered. I came to care so much for you.」
With each continued statement from Eris, the nearby knights raise up a “So nice!” jeer. Despite blushing again from the heckling, Eris doesn’t stop weaving her words.
「Moreover, when you saved me at the church… you got so battered, but you kept standing up time after time. Even though you could have run away by yourself. But you didn’t show the slightest sign of trying to escape. You protected me to the bitter end.」
After saying all that, Eris raises her head.
「That is why I love you. I want to marry you. I want you to choose me, not anyone else.」
And, looking into my eyes, she says that. It’s not just her, all of the surrounding knights are looking at me.
I want to accept. The words “Let’s get married, right now.” are right on the tip of my tongue. To marry Eris, and build a happy family. I can picture the scene clearly in my mind.
–But, it’s impossible.
If I accept here, invariably I’ll be seeing Eris’ saddened face in the future. From the worst side of me, my unfaithfulness. Besides, I already ended up telling Yuel not to worry on account of the harem. Yuel will cry too.
「N-Not okay… that’s not okay!」
From the side, I hear a shout. Ruruka is staring at Eris with her lips drawn tight, trembling.
「You say something too, Shiki! That it’s not okay! Because, because if you don’t…!」
Irritation. Ruruka’s expression is full of it. She might possibly have sensed that my feelings are leaning towards Eris in one way or another. She clutches at her chest as if she’s in pain, then slams both hands on the table to vent her emotions that have no outlet.
My eyes flinch shut from the sound and the impact.
And, when I open them again–
a stew dish is right in front of my eyes. It’s at a 90º angle to the ground, approaching my face from 30cm away. Ah, now it’s more like 25cm away.
Sensing the impending crisis, my brain starts to turn my head at high speed. Why is there a stew dish right in front of my face? I only closed my eyes for a moment.
–The scene right before I closed my eyes flashes back in my mind.
Ahh, it’s that. When Ruruka slammed her hands on the table, one of them hit the edge of this stew dish. And, in the moment my eyes were closed, the other side of the dish was launched up from the force of it, and came towards me at a 90º angle.
That’s as far as my understanding gets before the hot stew hits me directly in the face.
「Ah, sorry, Shiki.」
It comes out of her mouth by reflex. That’s the type of apology I get from Ruruka.
「Ah… a-are you alright!?」
A few seconds pass after that, and as if she fully realized the situation, I hear a more emotional voice from Ruruka. Maybe she encountered an unexpected situation when the stew hit me square in the face, and it took a moment for her thoughts to reset.
「W-Wait a minute… are you hurt?」
Eris’ voice comes to me from the other side of the stew dish as well. Thankfully, it wasn’t hot enough to scald me.
「If I had to say one way or the other, I guess I’m fine, but…」
I peel the stew dish off of my face, but I can’t open my eyes. After wiping the area around my eyes thoroughly with my hands, I’m finally able to open them. When I look at my hands, they’re filthy to the point that it’s hard to find a spot that’s not covered in stew. The same probably goes for my face and the rest of my head. Clumps of stew are clinging to my clothes as well, and I can sense the moisture from it seeping into the fabric as time passes.
「I-I’m so sorry, Shiki! I-It wasn’t on purpose… my hand, um, hit the edge of the stew dish… um, I-I’m really sorry okay!?」
Do I look that terrible? Ruruka is apologizing profusely. And yet… this could be convenient. A confession from Eris. And on top of that, Ruruka already told me she loves me. I want to give it some proper thought, but I can’t do that in this situation, surrounded by Ruruka and the other knights. It’s a good chance to get some time to myself for once.
「Don’t worry about it… for the time being, I’ll go take a bath and change my clothes.」
That’s it, a temporary withdrawal. What I want more than anything right now is time to reflect. I want to leisurely soak up to my shoulders in a bathtub, and think slowly and carefully about Eris and Ruruka.
「…M-Me too… I’ll get in with you!」
However, unexpectedly, I hear such a voice from beside me. It’s Ruruka. Ruruka is saying those things with a reddened face.
「…!? H-How can you…」
「S-Since I got you dirty, Shiki, I’ll wash you!」
Eris’ eyes snap wide open, but Ruruka declares that in a strong voice. I wanna go. I wanna go take a bath with Ruruka. I really wanna go. But now is not the best time.
Right now I want to ruminate over Eris and Ruruka. I can’t let myself get carried away by “bath time with Ruruka❤” and leave the things I need to think about unsettled.
And Eris is watching me, like she’s waiting to see how I’ll respond. If I get into the bath together with Ruruka, it’s obvious how Eris will feel about that. I need to properly do some rational thinking now more than ever.
See, even now Eris is opening her mouth to tell me something. I bet she’s about to give me a warning.
「I-In that case… I-I will… j-join you as well…」
No friggin’ way.