Section 2: Approaching Farewell
Evening. The hot water rose all the way up to my shoulders, and I stretched out my legs as far as they’d go. This stone bathtub is huge, big enough to fit maybe twenty people, but right now it’s just me and Rose-san. White, murky hot water is supposed to be a special product of Relton village and can make your skin silky smooth. Some slipperiness aside though I can say I haven’t felt any changes.
It’s probably bad manners, but I dipped down even further into the hot water and started blowing bubbles with my mouth. With how tired I am and how good this water feels, I might just end up falling asleep if I relax too much.
“Indeed. However everyone really was worried for Iris-san.”
Rose-san was looking westward at the setting sun with her back resting against the edge of the stone tub. Even as another woman I have to say that the way the red light repels off the beads of water sticking to her skin appears truly divine. It’s almost exactly like the portrait of the Goddess hanging in my hometown’s church.
“Uuu, I know that. And I’m really grateful…….I’m just not used to that sort of thing.”
I pick myself back up to the surface, water dripping off my face as I make a bitter smile. Up til now, I was surrounded by the clamorous revelry of the villagers who had prepared a feast out of the goodness of their hearts. Merchants and adventurers who visited the village crowded around me wanting to hear details about how I defeated the dragon. Since I had gotten out of bed, I was surrounded by people for nearly three hours all while I had completely forgotten about the dismantling of the ice golem.
“Looking at me, I’m plain, and not the type of character who likes to take the initiative…….so I’ve always been more suitable for a supporting role……..”
Rose-san calmly listened as I continued to monologue.
“Back home I’d always stick behind someone and walk……..so being the center of attention like that…….I don’t know how I’m supposed to act.”
“What do you have to worry about? No matter when or where you are, if you simply act normally and make the face you always show me, you will be just fine.”
Roes-san tenderly touched my wet hair.
“Is……..that how it is………”
“Yes, that is exactly how it is. No matter what kind of face Iris-san makes, you are always so cute and I love it.”
Uwa…..jeez, just how is she able to say something like that so boldly? I’m getting embarrassed and I didn’t even say it.
I could feel my face turning a bright shade of crimson, so I was about to hide my face beneath the water’s surface and hope the hot water might be able to cool my face down a bit when I saw something that made me pause.
Through the billowing steam, I could just make out Toslin’s form coming forward. Since I’ve gotten so used to seeing her in armor, her being naked feels really strange. No, it is really strange. Now that I think of it, until now Toslin’s never taken a bath with me before.
“My, how unusual.”
Rose-san apparently thought the same as Toslin shyly hid herself behind a towel while we stared.
“Wh-What? Quit your staring before I start feeling embarrassed.”
“Oops, sorry sorry. I didn’t mean to.”
I diverted my gaze away as Toslin dipped her foot into the tub. But, she kind of just kept standing there at the tub’s edge, and I started to get curious.
“What’s wrong? Can’t enter? Is it too hot?”
“N-Not at all. It’s really……not like that.”
Toslin then walked around to where we were. She had asked us not to watch, but my eyes naturally followed her. She had a well-balanced and beautiful body that made me wonder why she wanted to hide it. If she has to hide her body, then what should I be doing with mine?
But as she got closer, the reason why Toslin was so hesitant crossed my gaze. Numerous small scars were lined up on her thin, white neck. Not only that, but there were clear cuts running up her arms to her shoulders………like someone had started low and dragged a blade upwards.
Toslin pulled off her towel and submerged herself into the hot water. As she dipped down, I saw the scars running this way and that lined up all over her back. All of them looked like old wounds that I wouldn’t think were made over the last couple days.
“Even a bundle of curiosity like you can’t find the words at a time like this. Well, it’s fine though.”
After exposing her body to us, Toslin stretched out her limbs and put on her usual bright smile.
“S-Something like this……..but……..”
“That, I did it.”
To my surprise, Carol walked in with a wisp of a smile, only calming down when she took a seat next to Toslin.
“I told you before right Iris? How I’m okay when I look at the moon?”
Carol looked up, staring at the lightless moon hanging above. It still wasn’t quite full yet, but once the sun goes down completely, it’ll certainly light up the night sky.
“The truth is I’m not fine at all. Other werewolves are apparently okay with it, but for some reason I’m not and I end up hurting people.”
Carol brushed her hand against Toslin’s arm. Hot water improves blood circulation, so the blood vessels started to swell making the old wounds even more pronounced.
“Here, and here too…….. This one, and this one……. I did all of these. That night, the moon was as big in the sky as it is tonight.”
【Carol’s story…….or events of the past?】
“Be quiet. You’re growling like a dog.”
Toslin made a fist and punched Carol in the face with all her strength. Carol somersaulted through the air, but Carol staggered back to her feet with deep, anguished breaths.
The moon glowed gold over Carol as she held back her own trembling body and drool dribbled down her chin.
“Kill……I told you to kill me!”
Carol’s hair was messy and disheveled from her shaking body, and her shouts showed off how her canines had grown long enough to be called fangs.
“And I told you to shut up.”
However, Toslin remained calm, once again punching Carol in the face without concern.
Carol dexterously twisted her body mid-air to land on her feet, and with a mighty growl, pounced on Toslin. It was at this moment that Carol’s long, extended claws burrowed themselves into Toslin’s neck. It was by Carol’s own hand that the damage wasn’t more sever.
“G………GYAaaaaaaaaa! R, run away………please………….”
Her left hand tightly grasped around her right, Carol gathered together the last dregs of reason left in her to try and suppress the primordial blood that ran through her veins.
“Does it hurt?”
Toslin’s voice was calm and steady as she looked down on the trembling Carol. Carol nodded her head over and over again. Tears and spit continued to drip down and began to pool at her feet.
“So……k-kill me……..Toslin…….please……. Like this, Toslin I’ll………”
“What do you know? If you don’t want to kill anyone, endure.”
With words like ice, Toslin started removing her armor. With every heavy piece she pulled off, more of her milky white skin became exposed. Mystical limbs that dance in the moonlight with nary a scratch on them. Eventually Toslin was completely naked, and then she hugged Carol tight.
A set of fangs stabbed shallowly into her defenseless neck. And then a row of claws dug themselves into her back.
“Ku, I……..I’ll put up with you. So you do your best to endure a little.”
Toslin bore the pain, showing a confident smile. Carol’s lips were trembling, terrified of turning into a mindless beast, so Toslin plugged them up with her own. That night, Carol straddled the line between man and beast, but by the time morning had come, her feet were firmly planted. And Toslin had dozens of scars carved into her body.
“And ever since that night, I’ve felt a little funny looking at the moon, but my body has been all right………”
“Oi hold on! What was with that ending! When exactly did I take your lips!?”
Toslin grabbed Carol by the neck and started to shake her.
“Huh? You didn’t? Well, ever since that day I’ve thought about how cute Toslin is when I have a moment to myself. Even now fragments of back then still…….gah, glubglubglubglubglub”
“Enough already. You don’t need to talk anymore.”
Toslin pushed Carol’s head under the hot water to keep her quiet. For a while Carol quietly took it, but as you’d expect, she eventually needed to breath and started splashing around in the hot water.
“Puhahah! You, stupid Toslin! I almost died!”
“You were trying to take my life, so that’s natural.”
Rose-san and I watched as the usual scene developed and the two of them started splashing each other with the hot water. A werewolf girl and an elf woman. I had always figured they were good friends, but both of them would trust the other with their life. I suppose that makes them extremely good friends. The light from the sunset sparkled in the water spray as the two of them kept playing in the bath and caused a smile to naturally cross my face. As far back as I can remember, whether it be the two of them or Rose-san, they always have a smile on their face. And more than anything, they’re always full of energy as well.
“I think they’re beautiful.”
I like adventures. But that’s not all. I’m having fun because everyone’s here. I’m laughing like this because everyone is with me.
“Huh? What is?”
I stared directly at Toslin who had stopped trying to hide her scars.
“Toslin is. I think you’re very beautiful.”
I felt that way from the bottom of my heart. The people who are willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of another person, Toslin, Rose-san, and Carol, they’re all very beautiful. Mm. There’s no doubting that. I wonder if this was how Rose-san felt a little while ago. If she was looking at me and felt that way, I’d be overjoyed.
“O-Oh……. Thanks…….. If, if you suddenly say something like that, I’m going to start feeling shy…….”
“T-There it is! I’ve been looking for this bashful smile ever since that day!”
Carol gave a thumbs up as Toslin’s cheeks turned the same color as the sunset.
“Shut up. And keep quiet.”
Really, it would’ve been fine if she’d kept quiet, but this is Carol after all…….. Once again her head was pushed underneath the water, but I figured it couldn’t be helped. But at the same time, I also couldn’t help but figure that it was only a little longer before my time with these three was done.