Chapter 11: Royal Academy
Section 4: While Drinking Warm Milk
After rushing through supper a little bit, taking a bath, and talking with Meltaria-san about what are plans are going forward, it was time for my sleepover with Charlie.
“I was surprised when I heard there were a bunch of knights passing through town. But I was shocked when they told me their job was escorting Iris to the capitol.”
“Yes, I didn’t know what to think about it when I heard it either.”
Slipping into our pajamas and preparing some hot milk, we both slid into bed. Obviously we weren’t going to be going to sleep just yet though. We still had a lot to talk about.
“Iris is the hero who slew the dragon……”
“You didn’t believe me?”
“No, but well, believe is a strong word, but I didn’t think you would lie to me either. I just found it hard to imagine. Because the only thing the Iris I know does is eat, sleep, and read.”
“That’s how you see me? No, well…..you’re not wrong?”
I suppose when I was living here my life was a bit cyclical. I only ever went outside to visit the village’s library, so I rarely ever left the inn.
“So I doubted my ears when I heard you were coming back to town alongside some knights. By the way, I heard a rumor that you blew open a huge hole out the side of St. Noglint. Is that true?”
Charlie and I were sitting on the same bed, carefully holding our cups of warm milk in both hands while facing each other.
“No it wasn’t a big hole. It was a tree. It’s hard to explain, but basically there was a solretta tree that grew under special circumstances inside the mountain. I just caused it to grow even more until it ended up breaking through the side of the mountain.”
“What the? I don’t get it.”
I came by myself to Charlie’s room since she invited me over. She said there was something she wanted to give me. There was something I wanted to give her as well though, so things worked out quite nicely. I decided to go first.
“Here, I wrote about everything I could think of.”
“What? Is this, a letter? Isn’t it kind of thick?”
“I was thinking about sending it out, but when I heard we were going to be passing through town anyway, I figured I could just hand it over in person.”
“I love that off the handle way of thinking you have.”
Charlie got out of bed for a moment and pulled out a stack of papers from her desk drawer.
“Here. Your return letter. I’ve never written a letter before though, so it might be hard to read.”
“Wow, Yay! Thank you Charlie.”
“Your welcome. Now, let’s read ’em.”
“Eh? Right now? In front of each other?”
“You already gave it to me, so of course I’m going to read it. Now let’s see. ‘Dear, Charlie-sama. How do you do?'”¹
“Hold-, you’re actually reading it!? Stop reading aloud!”
“Ahahaha, Iris’s letter is so stiff! You sound like my mother!”
“So you’re going to laugh at me? Fine, I’ll get started on your letter then.”
“Eh~, stop stop! I’ll die from embarrassment!”
“Hi~, Iris. How are you doing? I’m doing great. I’m not sure how you’re supposed to write a letter though, so I’ll do this like I’m writing a diary.”
“Hold on…….seriously stop!!”
“Heh, this’ll be good. Now I can find out what Meltaria-san is getting angry at Charlie for every day.”
“Yeah, she gets mad at me every day, but there’s no way I would write about that.”
“Is that so? Then what did you write about…….”
“And—That’s—Why—! You can’t read it right now. I’ll end up dying. Seriously!”
And just like that, the two of us were able to come together and enjoy our reunion after such a long absence.
“……but……it really is amazing. A whole bunch of knights dispatched from the royal capitol all for the sake of escorting Iris.”
Two hours after we made the sacred pact to not read our letters in front of each other, Charlie and I had started to get a little worn-out from talking and were now staring up at the ceiling with each of our heads taking up one half of a pillow.
“Tomorrow those knights will be taking you down Origin Highway towards the capitol? Aren’t you just like Ranroot then?”
The road that extends from Rifront to the royal capitol is known as Origin Highway.
It is said it gained that name a thousand years ago, when the Hero marched down this very road with his comrades at his side to confront the Primordial Dragon King Osnell during the Illyarian War, subjugating him and bringing forth our current world.
To think that request we took at the guild to check the delivery status of those drowsy shrooms would be the turning point of my life. Back then, it was just the four of us.
But now we have the reliable knight Saluena with us, making it five. After that we gained the fairy Lapris, Phoenix, and Unicorn making every day a noisy one for me.
And then, we added on all one hundred members of the Shirayuri Knights.
Picturing it……it sounds like something straight out of an epic. And the knowledge that that very scene would be unfolding for me starting tomorrow has left me shocked beyond words.
“Haa. For some reason, it feels like Iris is going somewhere far away from me.”
“Huh? Don’t say that. A single day hasn’t gone by where I haven’t thought about you Charlie.”
“Eh~, really? I mean, stop. You almost sound like you’re confessing, and it’s making me feel a little self-conscious.”
“What, confessing……Oh, Ooh………Oh, so that’s it.”
Now that she mentions it, I suppose it does sound like that.
“But it’s true. Isn’t it the same for you Charlie?”
I set the letter from Charlie down near the bed.
I haven’t ready everything yet, but it looks like it really is made up of the normal things she did every day. Which means, even if it was only for a few minutes, Charlie thought about me every day I was gone. It makes me feel very fortunate, and awfully happy.
“So I’ll never be very far away. No matter how great the distance, I will always be there for you.”
I clasped Charlie’s hand as I spoke and stared directly into her surprised eyes.
“…..okay. I…..want to be with you too. If it’s Iris……I want that kind of relationship.”
Charlie smiled as she squeezed my hand back.
“Thank you for hearing my selfish request and staying the night with me. And, be sure to come back again Iris. I’ll be waiting.”
“Of course I’ll come back. And I’ll write you another letter. This time I’ll be sure to properly send it though.”
“Yeah……I’ll be looking forward to it. Well then, good night Iris.”
For a moment, Charlie looked different than how she normally does. More grown up.
“Good night Charlie.”
But even after we turned off all the lights, Charlie continued staring at my face using the light from the moon that shone through the window.
I was curious if there was something wrong, but there was a moment where Charlie didn’t say anything, instead running her fingers through my hair.
“No, I was just thinking about how lovely your hair is.”
“You think? Charlie’s hair is much prettier.”
“……this is why Iris is so popular with women.”
“What? Where did that come from?”
“Nowhere? Just a passing thought.”
Charlie’s head sank into the pillow as if that was the end of it and shut her eyes.
“Eh, Ehh……..seriously, what? Why?”
I still have no idea why she would suddenly say something like that though and tried prodding her for an answer. Unfortunately Charlie just kept lying there with a smile on her face and refused to answer me.
“Ah jeez……..now Charlie feels like the one who has gone far away……..”
“Haha, let’s go to sleep already. You have to get up early tomorrow.”
“Uuu……can you tell me why next time?”
“…….yeah, sure. I’ll tell you next time.”
“I see, in that case……fuwa…….that’s good enough. Good night…..”
This time, we really did fall asleep. And when tomorrow comes, we’ll have to head our separate ways once again.
But that night…….I had a kind of peculiar dream.
1. Anything is italics is them reading from the other person’s letter.