Chapter 5: Solretta
Section 3: Knight Order?
The inn Carol found was a little bigger than Rifront’s Shining Hen and was designed more for caravans.
“Before the sun sets, I’d like to see everyone’s skills.”
And then just when we finally made it to our room and were able to take a breath…….Hadion said something like that. She then lowered the sword she had just bought from the blacksmith at her waist.
“Hm? So you want to fight us?”
This village did have a blacksmith, but in the end, they couldn’t fix Toslin’s armor. The village’s reconstruction had just begun, so they didn’t have much ore to spare. In addition, Toslin’s armor was apparently specially crafted, so they didn’t have the equipment to process it anyway.
“That’s how it is. We will be traveling together for at least the next few days, and I’ll be leaving my back to you in the meantime. Once I understand your abilities, I can know just how much I can leave to you.”
“I mean…….can’t we just tell you our levels?”
The leveling system that adventurers use to measure each other’s strength only started about a hundred years ago, so the thousand year old Hadion wouldn’t know about that.
“Yes, such a system wasn’t around back in my era. Besides if I don’t directly see how you handle a sword, I’ll never be able to accurately understand you exact ability.”
“U-Um Hadion. Everyone is strong enough to beat a golem…….”
Toslin and the others had fallen silent. Somehow I started to feel the air start getting tense, so I tried giving an answer that would help her understand everyone’s true abilities. But my words were meaningless. I couldn’t make her relent as she insisted that she needed to fight them to best understand.
“I also wanted all of you to join our knight order and help guard Iris. For that I need a firm understanding of your abilities. Your weaknesses as well as your strengths.”
“……..Hm? Guard? Knight order? Um, what do you…….”
A frightfully fresh word reached my ear, and not just me, but everyone else’s eyes were also as round as saucers.
“Just now, did you say guarding Iris as a knight order?”
“I did half-wolf maiden.”
“Uh, um…….so, Hadion? This is the first time I’m hearing anything about making a knight order…….”
Moreover a knight order for the express purpose of guarding me. What’s with that? I believe this is what they call, a bolt from the blue.
“I am a knight. And do knights not wield their swords for the sake of guarding their masters?”
“Um, well……I guess so.”
Toslin nodded her head when suddenly asked a question with an obvious answer.
“But when protecting someone, there are limits to what a person can do on their own. Even in the battle a thousand years ago, I was cut down and suffered defeat. Therefore this time I wish for companions who can protect my master alongside me. People who share my will…….”
Today during lunch. I had thought there was something about Hadion that made her like a prince. But that was wrong. She is a knight, through and through.
“T-That’s not really necessary……”
But this and that are two completely different things. What exactly is she going to be protecting me from? Monsters? But even then I wouldn’t think a large knight order would be called for…….
“……..Do you really think that true?”
……..but, Hadion firmly denied my thoughts with a serious face.
“Even now I am not fully separated from my dark prison. My soul, my power is still locked there. I still require Iris’s help in order to utilize my full strength. In order to open the gate that leads to that side, you must literally become the bridge.”
“Is that power really necessary to protect Iris? What a dilemma.”
“That’s why, as long as I’m unable to utilize my full strength, I must take appropriate measures to ensure you are not harmed.”
Hadion took my hands as if it were the natural move. She’s already done this several times in the last half day, so while I am surprised, my voice doesn’t leak out……or at least it wasn’t supposed to.
“Ah, uwa!? Wai-, Hadion!?”
“My dear lord, my princess. Please leave everything to me.”
But this time Hadion didn’t stop at just grabbing my hand, instead also pulling me close and hugging me. She then lifted my chin up with her finger…….while bringing her own face closer…….. Eh? Eh? This is……hey, right now I………no matter how I consider it…….she’s………
“Perhaps it is best to let the games end there?”
Hadion’s lips were getting dangerously close to my own mouth. At that very instant, Rose-san’s hand shot forward between us.
“There are no games here. I am always serious, o gallant maiden.”
“Then that is even more of a problem. Please try and keep the time and place in mind.”
“Hmm, certainly. Sorry Iris. We can continue this at another time.”
“Fue? Ah, okay………okay?”
I nodded without thinking, but what exactly would we be continuing? That was a kiss right? And a serious one too……..um, so that is to say that Hadion seriously wanted to kiss me? No, I must be jumping to the wrong conclusion. It wasn’t a kiss. No, it might’ve been a kiss, but a thousand years ago that could have been a custom with a different meaning like a small greeting……. Something like what my sister always does to me.
“Well, if that’s how it is, then a bout may be in order.”
“Yeah. I’m hungry, so let’s end this lickety-split.”
While my head had fallen into a light panic, Toslin and the others had started leaving the room.
“………I shall be sure to use everything I have.”
While following after the other two, Rose-san suddenly stopped, turned her head, and said that. So……..why does she seem really angry? Her usual cheerful smile had vanished, and her expression suddenly turned as grim as when she had been fighting that dragon………
“Of course. There’s no point in holding this bout otherwise.”
Giving her response, Hadion looked like she was staring down a mortal enemy as well.
All I could do was watch as my mind raced around in circles not understanding what in the world just happened.