Sorry about the long wait. It took me a lot longer to handle that 11,000 word oneshot than I thought it would.
Section 6: Quiet Conversation About Jewelry Part 1
*Chirp Chirp. Cheep Cheep Cheep Cheep*
I opened my eyes today to the sound of a bird’s song.
There was a small layer of dirt coating the other side of my window from the thawing snow. The fact that migratory birds are already returning to their homes in the solretta trees is evidence enough that spring is rolling in quick…….with that being said,
*Chirp Chirp. Chirp Chirp Chirp Chirp Chirp*
Huh? But this song……it sounds like it’s closeby.
I stirred from my slumber and forced open my heavy eyelids to find a small, vividly crimson bird lit by the light filtering through my window.
The bird was staring at me with its rear end plopped down on my pillow as if it were warming an egg. I stopped for a moment wondering if maybe I wasn’t really awake at all and this was still a dream.
But I could feel a chill in the air, and there was a lingering warmth and aroma from the spot in bed next to me where Saluena would have been. All of this added up together told me that this scene was unmistakably reality.
My windows are shut tight. My house does have a bit of a draft because of how old it is, but it doesn’t have any holes in it large enough for a bird to fit through though.
Completely oblivious to my confusion, the little bird that looked like it took a quick dip in red paint was happily chirping away.
“Just where did you come from…….”
There’s no way I’d get a response even if I ask. The crimson bird simply continued singing with its cute voice.
“We’re heading out.”
“Right, have fun. You too Rose-san. Take care.”
Today is Rose-san and Saluena’s date. Well, even if we’re calling it a date, it’s a date between sisters which means it isn’t any different from the kinds of dates I go on with Sarah……is how I’m choosing to think of it.
For some reason that small bird from this morning has attached itself to me, settling itself on either my shoulder or the top of my head ever since we got out of bed.
At the moment she is sitting on my head, cheerfully chirping away as if to welcome the bright morning sun.
“Y-Yes…….see you later.”
Rose-san’s gaze was affixed to the top of my head for a while.
I understand. You’re curious about the bird right? But sorry. I don’t know either. Honestly, what is up with this child?
I waved my hand while seeing the two of them off, but when I set my hand down……I felt a little muddy.
I was the one who suggested Rose-san and Saluena go out together. I still think it’s a good idea, and I’m glad the both of them are taking my advice.
We will be going to Osnell-Tari in a few days. I heard before that it takes almost two weeks to get to the capitol by carriage. During that time we won’t have anything to do other than sit back and relax.
Rose-san needs someone she can rely on.
Someone she can pass the time with instead of withering away on her own.
Saluena is the only one who can fill that role. On that day, she was the only one who noticed Rose-san’s subtle mood change at the church, and the current Rose-san needs that.
But, it really is a bit unamusing to think about Rose-san being alone with someone else……
And that is the current state of my mind at the moment. It’s that kind of hazy feeling you get when you see a good friend hanging out with other people…….? The other person is Saluena, so it’s still fine but…….
Whether she understood my feelings or not, the little bird continued chirping away with an uplifting voice.
“Ah? What’s with that guy? That’s my special seat!!”
“Wa, you surprised me!”
I was in the middle of packing a suitcase with some spring clothes and other necessities for the trip in a few days when Lapris came in while straddling Uni and suddenly started shouting. As always this girl has something against flying herself.
“Hold on a minute. My head isn’t a seat?”
Lapris jumped from Unicorn’s back at my question. Her wings fluttered for a bit, just long enough for her to be able to grab my hair before climbing the rest of the way up.
Surprised by the sudden invader, the little bird gave a short squeak before retreating to my bed for safety.
“Hold on, you’re messing up my hair, so stop that.”
“What’s up with this bird? Is it a pet? If it’s a pet, discipline it properly.”
“You’re first in line in need of disciplining. Things get complicated when you randomly start talking belligerently.”
“Ah? Oh……really? But, that thing was in my spot……”
Lapris snapped her finger towards the small bird. I could tell by her voice she was getting frustrated.
“That’s why I told you my head isn’t a seat.”
Yosh, my clothes should be good like this. I can’t bring my entire wardrobe with me, so I stuck with whatever looked durable while also being cute. We will be going to the royal capitol after this after all. I will surely end up standing out if I’m careless.
“No, huh? This thing’s no ordinary bird. It has a little magic power to it.”
While I was tightly stuffing my bag together like a sandwich to try and get everything to fit, Lapris spoke up again.
“Heh? Magic power?”
“This thing here. It’s the phoenix.”
Lapris once again pointed at the small bird. Certainly when you think of a phoenix you picture a reddish, burning image. And the little bird’s wings are red.
“…..Oh. Ooooooh!? I can’t believe I didn’t realize.”
“No really, how didn’t you? You’re this thing’s master.”
Even if you ask me how, I don’t remember ever summoning her.
Ah, but Saluena came out on her own, and I suppose Unicorn usually walks around as a stuffed animal.
I guess it’s the same way for Phoenix, and this small bird is her usual form.
“Oh, so that’s why she keeps sticking so close to me.”
“Is it putting on airs and acting like your knight or something? Impertinent. I wonder if it’ll understand that it’s no better than a henchman after I make it realize I’m the senior here.”
“Henchman……what should I do with her?”
“Well you…….should build an army. We could have the strongest army ever.”
An army…… It’s not the kind of answer you’d expect to get back, and it’s certainly not the kind of answer you would think to cause a girl’s eyes to sparkle.
“Lapris, you’re like a boy in how you think about things. And with how you talk too I suppose.”
“Hah? I’m a woman though.”
Lapris slid down to my shoulder and glared at me.
“I know. You wear such cute panties after all.”
“…….Hah? H-Hah!? W-What are you looking at you pervert!”
She slapped my cheek. But it didn’t hurt at all.
“N-No but, when you wander around like you do, of course I’m going to end up seeing them right!?”
Lapris turned a much brighter shade of red than I had expected making me feel embarrassed as well.
After an awkward air hung around us for a moment, our gazes naturally turned towards the small bird on my bed who was curiously looking back at us.
“S-So about this thing then.”
I see, it’s Phoenix. I haven’t seen her since I summoned her to save Carol at St. Noglint.
“I thought after that……”
Lapris was making a rare, troubled face.
“This thing might be the original dweller of that gem.”
That ‘gem’ is the dream gem from the pedestal that was now fitted into the ring I’m wearing on my right index finger.
“Before the carbuncle?”
“Yeah, carbuncles aren’t the only type of spirits that live in jewels. And sometimes those spirits will fight each other over a spot in those stones. It seems like Phoenix was a spirit on Illya’s side like Unicorn, but after it lost to the carbuncle, its power was added to the stone.”
“……so when the carbuncle was weakened and disappeared, Phoenix was able to come back to life?”
“Something like that. Which makes you this thing’s lifesaver. Which is probably why it’s so attached to you.”
“I-Is that so……”
The small bird-sized Phoenix flapped its wings and perched itself on my right hand before starting to chirp away once again. The longer I listen to its refreshing, cute voice, the happier I get. I rub my fingers against its cheek because it’s just too cute.
“Uhu, cute ♪”
“…..you’re making a pudding face.”
“S-Shut up, leave me alone.”
“Well, you managed to score two spirits that sided with the hyurians in the Illyarian War by chance. Quite the accomplishment.”
“Y-Yeah, I suppose it is.”
I never could have gone out to help Rose-san without Unicorn. And without Phoenix, Coral couldn’t have been saved.
Doesn’t that make Unicorn and Phoenix my benefactors?
“Oh yeah, you said this child had some magic power in her when you looked at her. You were able to detect that I had some too when we first met……”
As I continued stroking Phoenix’s cheek with my finger, Lapris proudly stuck out her chest from where she had perched herself on my shoulder.
“Yeah, we fairies can see that kind of a thing. We can see not just living organisms, but the magic power that lives inside them as well. It’s why I’ve heard that there are some fairies who appraise magic items in the capitol.”
“Heh, in that case, can you see what my magic power is right now? I didn’t faint when I summoned Saluena’s full power the other day. I was wondering what that means for me.”
Lapris opened her eyes wide and started looking at me seriously. For a short while my face was reflected in her beautiful, emerald-like eyes.
“You’re a completely different person compared to what you were like before. So I figure you would be fine summoning Anego now. Although you’ll probably collapse if you do it for too long.”
“So it really is increasing. Is it because I defeated the dragon?”
“Maybe it is? Everything that lives in this world is under the Goddess’s spell……oh, I guess it’s called the hymn now? It suppresses the power of the Primordial World when you hear it.”
A thousand years ago, before the Goddess’s wish came about. It seems like the world was filled with violence under the will of the Evil Dragon Osnell. Hyurians were no exception, constantly fighting among themselves with the strong prospering as the weak were culled. But, that was when the Goddess came forth, preaching creation instead of destruction. Harmony rather than conflict. Those who were tired of violence listened to her words and worked towards ending Osnell’s rule and the world where they needed to kill one another.
That is the general history of this world before the Illyarian War, but if this was all true, it means that the blood of the Primordial World flows through our bodies.
“The chains tying you down were bound to get broken when you fought that dragon and touched the dense primordial energy it carried. So you’ve gotten stronger, and your magic power increased accordingly. Well but, of course something like that is going to happen when you beat a dragon. Otherwise, perhaps it’s the Goddess’s blessing at work?”
Lapris stared at me as she talked.
“I knew there was theory about that out there, but that means if my level continues to rise…….does that mean I’m going to become like a dragon?”
“No, there’s no way. You are who you are, for better or worse. Have you ever thought about blowing everything up since becoming a red rank?”
“See? The effect of the chant only applies to people’s physical bodies, not their souls. If that were the case, we would have seen the second Illyarian War ages ago.”
“I-I suppose so……”
“That’s how it is.”
Lapris jumped off my shoulder and landed on my left hand. With Phoenix still perched on my right, I became incapable of moving either of my arms.
“Anego already reserved your left ring finger as her sanctuary.”
Lapris tapped the dark violet ring with her foot. It was the beautiful dark silver ring that served as the proof of the contract I made with Saluena.
“Yes, she said something like that when I first read the grimoire, but what does it being her sanctuary mean?”
“A sanctuary is literally their holy place. It means their affinity with you will be higher, and your magic efficiency will increase whenever you summon her. Anego is trying to reduce the burden on you as much as possible by designating the finger where you wear this ring as a sanctuary.”
“S-So that’s what it was.”
I figured it had some kind of meaning since Saluena was the one who was saying it, but it was a lot more important than I thought it would be.
“Well, it’s something only a high level magician could ever do.”
“Eh, so Saluena is a magician?”
“No, Anego has zero magic powers.”
Hm? If Lapris is the one saying it, it’s probably true. She’s not the type of child to start randomly telling lies. But what she’s saying now isn’t matching up with what she was saying before.
“It’s not like I know everything you know? But well, it’s probably that right? You said you’d make a contract with the Goddess, and the Goddess made you two a sanctuary. I can’t know for sure though.”
There was a glossed over part there at the end, but I feel like everything else has firmly settled in my brain.
“Lapris really does know a lot. Thanks for telling me everything.”
Tired of just sitting there on my hand, Phoenix flew over to my window. So I had a free hand available to pat Lapris’s head in thanks.
“Ah? Y-Yeah…….! W-Well!? The great me really is smart!? The last hundred years of my life haven’t all been sugar and rainbows you know.”
I thought she was going to get annoyed with me, but she suddenly started looking happy with herself instead.
“Hoh……..a hundred years? You’re a hundred years old? Lapris is a grandma…….”
“Hey you, don’t go thinking your hyurian measurements apply to us fairies. We fairies are a long-lived race that don’t die unless we’re killed.”
“So that’s how it is. I’m jealous.”
“Well, I’ve spent more than half my life inside the village, so it’s not like I know that much.”
“But you know enough. I’ll have to rethink how I see Lapris.”
“R-Really? Then could you subtly pass that along to Anego when you get a chance?”
It looks like Lapris is still busy trying to earn points with Saluena.
She’s still a little uncomfortable around her since their reunion wasn’t that great.
I don’t think Saluena has anything against Lapris though. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure Saluena already sees her as a comrade since we fought against the carbuncle together.
“Ah, it looks like Phoenix wants to head out for a bit.”
“Huh? Then let’s go for a walk! We’ve got ourselves a long vacation, and it’d be unhealthy to stay in our room like this the whole time.”
Lapris quickly jumped up to the top of my head as she spoke.
“If that’s really how you think, then how about flying by yourself every once in a while.”
I think Lapris is developing a rivalry with Phoenix.
She was tightly hanging on to my hair like she refused to hand her special seat on top of my head to anyone.