Section 7: Quiet Conversation About Jewelry Part 2
Phoenix flew above the city’s morning streets as if she were leading us along.
Lapris hitched a ride on top of my head, and Unicorn trotted along at me feet.
Needless to say, the gazes of people walking to work, shopping, and various others all gathered on us as we continued through the city.
“Thinking about it, was there something Lapris wanted?”
But lately, I’ve gotten used to being stared at, so I don’t mind it as much anymore.
“Hm? Nothing really.”
“What, am I not allowed to come without a reason?”
I could hear a frustrated voice coming from the top of my head. Oh, did she misunderstand something?
“No, that’s not what I meant. I’m happy to have you along if you have the time. I just thought I’d ask if there was anywhere you wanted to go before I forget.”
“I see,” Lapris murmured. Apparently the misunderstanding was solved.
“This town is close to the fairy village, so I thought maybe some of my friends might have made their way here. It doesn’t seem like it though.”
“Ah, I’m……sorry to hear that.”
Lapris’s hometown is the fairy village in the middle of the Swansea Forest which was destroyed by a dark elf looking to resurrect the evil dragon Osnell. She originally went to the capitol Osnell in hope of finding her friends who dispersed after the attack, but she was brought to this town instead as soon as she arrived there.
“Sorry, it’s my fault. You might have already found your friends by now if it wasn’t for me.”
“What? N-Nah, it’s nothing you need to apologize about specifically. I can always see my friends when we end up in Osnell later. Besides……”
Lapris’s grip around my hair suddenly tightened.
“Getting to see you again made me happy…….”
Oh my. I never thought words like that would pop out from Lapris’s mouth. I can’t tease her if this is how she’s going to be.
“Yeah, I’m happy I got to see Lapris again too.”
“R-Really? Really? Hehe…….well the great me is pretty cute, and I am a relatively rare fairy. It only makes sense you would feel that way.”
I can’t see her face, but I can imagine what it looks like from the sound of her voice. Right now Lapris is probably lying on her back, hands behind her head, with a nose a meter long.
But it isn’t a bother. I already know she’s that kind of girl, and honestly, these days it’s starting to become pretty cute when she acts like this.
“Anyway, just how far is that thing planning to go?”
That ‘thing’ is her referring to Phoenix who is still flying through the air just ahead of us.
She occasionally turns her head back to make sure we’re still following behind her. The gesture is so cute I can feel my cheeks loosen whenever she does it.
This birdie really is too adorable.
We continued walking while absentmindedly thinking about things like that for a while. Phoenix did eventually stop. Right outside of Solretta Litta’s protective wall.
We were at the entrance to the forest, a little ways off from the highway where the snow was still in the process of melting, but tufts of lush, green grass were starting to poke through.
Phoenix was happily singing away, perched on top of a branch where the snow had slipped off and green leaves were growing back in.
“We’re a pretty long way from the city.”
“I know it was my idea for you to go for a walk, but is it really okay for us to be here? You’re supposed to be a super important person to the church now right?”
“Hm~, you’re probably right, but Unicorn is with us, so it’ll be fine. The soldiers never said anything in particular when we came out here either.”
Oh, but the soldiers are dispatched from the country and not the church, so maybe that’s why they never said anything? Now that i’m thinking about it, they did look a bit troubled when I told them I was heading outside.
“More importantly, is there something over on that branch next to Phoenix’s?”
I pointed to a branch slightly further into the forest, where the trees grew so thickly together that there was still some snow mixed together with the canopy.
“Hmm, is that a ribbon? But why is it in a place like this?”
I had to squint my eyes to get a good look at it–probably because of how many books I read–but it certainly did look like a ribbon. It was the same light green as Lapris’s clothes and gently swung with the wind blowing through.
“Huh, did the wind carry it here?”
We’re quite a distance away from the city at this point, but I suppose it’s not so far that it’d be impossible.
“Hmm? Hold on a minute. That ribbon is filled with magic power.”
“Eh, you’re sure? You mean it’s a magic item? But why is something like that in a place like this……”
“You already asked that. And I have no idea.”
“Hey, big sister. Are you looking to take that ribbon?”
Agreeing with Lapris’s words and continuing to wonder what the answer could be in my head, a voice suddenly calling out from behind me caused me to spin around.
A girl had come up to us without us ever noticing. She looked like a proper aristocrat wearing leather boots, a shirt, skirt, and a thick coat overtop it all. But that’s weird. Why is a girl like this standing here by herself in a place where nobody should be?
(Eh, no way, it can’t be……)
My mind immediately jumped to the very real possibility that this girl was a ghost. But when I looked, her feet were definitely firmly rooted to the ground. And taking a glance behind her, I could make out some footprints carved through the leftover snow that proved she had indeed walked this way.
Although as far as I can tell, she came from a completely different direction than where we had.
“Um……is that, yours?”
We’re not going to get anywhere if I stay perpetually surprised. I forced the gears in my head to start turning once again and forced out an, albeit trivial, question.
“Yep. That’s Litzreich’s important ribbon. It came untied, and the wind carried it away.”
“Oh, so that’s how it happened.”
I guess this ribbon belongs to this sleepy-looking little girl called Litzreich.
There’s a purplish tint here and there to her otherwise glossy white hair that extends down her back. I heard from Carol that werewolf pups have this kind of hair when they’re young, but this girl doesn’t have the ears or tail that a werewolf would.
“Lapris, can you grab it for her?”
“Ah? Why me?”
“It’d be easy for you since you can fly right? Come come, do it quickly. Her parents might get worried if she doesn’t get back soon.”
“Wow, a fairy…… Cute. I’ve never seen one up close before.”
“Fua. Oi, did you hear that? She called me cute. She’s pretty honest for a brat.”
Pleased at being called cute, Lapris’s wings lightly fluttered as she glid over towards the branch.
It was a simple task for Lapris to fetch the ribbon, and she quickly floated back down with it in her hands.
“Here you are. Be sure to use a tighter knot this time.”
“Thank you Miss Fairy. Big Sister too, thanks.”
Litzreich-chan gave us a big smile as Lapris returned her ribbon and thanked us both.
“No no, it was our pleasure. Do you want me to tie it for you?”
I’ve been tying Sarah’s hair since we were little, so I’m pretty good at it. That’s why I offered to help, but Litzreich-chan shook her head no.
“No, I’m good. Here, Big Sister can have it.”
She then presented the ribbon to me.
“Eh……are you sure? Didn’t you say it was important to you?”
“Big Sister is kind. So, here you go.”
“Oi oi, aren’t I the one who got it for you?”
“Yep. Miss Fairy is nice too. Usually you’d be more cautious if you suddenly met a girl in an out of the way place like this.”
At that moment, Litzreich’s smile morphed into something ominous, like foam bubbling out of a swamp.
“Besides, there’s that ruby sitting on Big Sister’s finger. It’s very beautiful. I……want it.”
“O-Oi. Isn’t this girl…..kind of dangerous?”
I threw up my guard without even having to hear Lapris’s warning. Unicorn must have felt something ominous coming off of her as well because she jumped in front of my legs as if to guard me.
“So, with this ribbon…….let’s trade?”
But Litzreich-chan took another step forward, her foot sinking into the snow as if completely ignorant to our concern.
“N-No deal. This is very important to me.”
I covered my right hand with my left, and Phoenix let out her own sharp cry as if to object to the offer as well.
Eh, whose laughter was that just now?
I was left dumbfounded hearing laughter that was just much too out of place considering who it was coming from. But there’s no doubt that it really was the small girl standing in front of me who had started laughing.
“I had heard there was a fine quality ruby sleeping here, but I thought I had gone and wasted my time when I found it wasn’t there anymore…….I never thought I’d stumble upon it in a place like this.”
Her voice still sounds like that of a little girl. But but, the tone was that of some wise, old woman.
“My ribbon was taken away by the wind only for your bird to find it and lead you here. Feels like destiny no?¹”
A strong feeling of discomfort crawled its way down my back.
“That jewel on your right hand……tis the dream ruby yes? If you please…….hand it over to me!!”
Litzreich-chan……..no, Litzreich reached her hand out towards me.
But before her hand could reach me, Unicorn’s barrier shot up and repelled her touch.
“Nu? A barrier is it?”
“T-Thank you Unicorn!!”
Unicorn recognized Litzreich as an enemy and automatically switched from defense to offense. A disk-shaped barrier with an edge sharp enough to easily chop down an ent went flying towards Litzreich.
“Hoh? I assumed it was no ordinary plush toy…….”
Litzreich pulled back the hand she had stretched out towards me and threw her arms in front of her body.
But this time, Litzreich managed to repel Unicorn’s attack.
“Geh, what just happened!?”
“Kukuku…….that’s my line. That unicorn, is it the real deal?”
Litzreich stood straight up, laughing fearlessly as some kind of black shadow squirmed and wriggled at her back. Just as I noticed it, it began twisting and morphing into a brand new shape……..
The shadow transformed into a piece of massive metal armor. If we’re talking about golems, the ice golem we encountered outside of Relton Village would be the example freshest in my mind. But this thing has no legs. Nor does it seem to be able to move on its own. Its huge arms, thicker than tree trunks, appear to be moving alongside Litzreich’s own hands. As she unfolds her arms out from in front of her chest, the golem’s arms move in the exact same way.
“Kuhihi, my masterpiece. I would have been in trouble if my Magic Shell was cobbled together with mere scrap iron no?”
This is what had actually repelled Unicorn’s attack.
The bulky, dark grey lump of metal doesn’t look like it’d be torn apart that easily.
“Bringing out something like this makes you a coward!!”
“Coward? What are you saying? What difference is there in being either fair or dastardly in combat? Kukuku, with that ruby in my grasp, I will become even closer to completing my Magic Shell. Now, hand it over. Give it to me!!”
“T-There…….is no way I’m doing that!!”
The ring on my right index finger has already become part of my collection. And after being locked away for the past thousand years, I want to show Phoenix everything the present has to offer.
“Unicorn, please protect us for a short while!!”
Unicorn is still in her stuffed toy state, but she is still able to create a single defensive barrier for us. So long as she can maintain that one barrier, there is no way for us to lose in a one-on-one fight.
So what I should release right now isn’t Unicorn……
1. Litzreich uses some older pronouns like washi which is usually only used by the elderly along with a couple other words not really used anymore.