Chapter 11: Royal Academy
Section 6: Attack, Rescue
It’s been four days since we left Rifront. That means a whole week has passed since leaving Soletta Ritta meaning we are officially halfway to Oshunel-Tari.
“Oh jeez, the road’s a mess.”
And it must have rained last night while we were sleeping last night because puddles of water had pooled together all over the road.
Goldmund’s hooves are larger than a horse’s, so he is less likely to get stuck in the quagmire. But while our carriage can continue on with relative ease, the other carriages with their heavy loads cannot.
The poor condition of the road slowed our entire caravan down, forcing us to take detours around the worst areas.
If things continue on like this, we might not be able to make it to the village we were planning to stay at before night falls. Yuhanna-sama was grumbling about it when she came to see how we were doing.
“Something like this is no problem for Unicorn. She can remain nimble no matter the terrain.”
Toslin was manning the coachman’s seat with Carol on her lap when she glanced over at me and said so.
No matter how powerful Goldmund is, it’s going to be hard for him to pull all of us through the mud all day long. That’s what Saluena thought a little bit ago at least, so she recommended that I get off the carriage.
“Yep, and her nimbleness is a huge help. Thanks to her, I only have to ride along.”
Is she asking me to get down and trudge through the mud on foot? That’s what I thought she was telling me to do at first, but I soon realized she was telling me to summon Unicorn and ride alongside the carriage.
So right now I’m straddling Unicorn. She is forming barriers on top of the ground and using those as stepping stones to prevent her hooves from sinking into the mud just as she had done when we rode through snow. So no matter how much of a swamp the road becomes, Unicorn can effortlessly pass across.
Lapris and Saluena both think we can use this technique to gallop through the air, but Unicorn has a fear of heights, so we have yet to test it out.
I’d like to give it a whirl if we ever find a place where we can practice safely, but right now that seems like something far off in the distance.
“Unicorn. The Virgin Guardian. Thinking about it, that means Iris is…….”
“Stop asking stupid questions you dirty old man.”
Did Carol look happy when she received that chop to the head? Despite the scream.
The interaction itself is no different from that snowball fight they had outside of Relton. Back then Carol was making fun of Toslin for being unable to read a map, so Toslin buried her in the snow.
But right now Carol is between Toslin’s arms, happily humming to herself after eating that chop to the top of her head. There are times where she’ll repeat her little antics with Toslin, but she’s always in high spirits afterwards.
The two of them were always super close to each other to the point where their fights never really even felt like fights.
But as they are now…….
“Hm? What’s up Iris?”
Toslin turned her head towards me having felt me staring at her.
“Um, no, nothing really.”
“Are you feeling cold or something? Are you looking to request this Carol-san to warm you up?”
“Oh? That’s a rather rare and fancy word for you to be using Carol.”
It’s certainly true that Carol’s body is warm. How many times was I saved by that over the winter?
“You really want to use this thing?”
Toslin suddenly picked Carol up by the scruff of her neck. For someone like Toslin who wields a behemoth of a sword with one hand, lifting up someone as small as Carol is no problem at all.
“What’d you say!? What’s the ‘this thing?’ supposed to mean!! You should treat this Carol-san with more respect!!”
Naturally Carol took offense and started wildly swinging her limbs around in the air. But what stood out the most had to be her tail. It was like a fluffy broom, happily swinging to the left and right behind her. Too cute.
“Ahaha, I’m fine if it’s just this. I grew up in a snowy region, so I’m pretty resistant to the cold.”
“Really? Well then, I won’t force you.”
Toslin plopped Carol back down onto her lap after just lifting her up.
“Hmph, are you sure it’s fine to leave me like this after just ruining my good mood?”
“Ah, my bad my bad. I’ll give you one of my side dishes at dinner, so cheer up.”
“Do you think I’ll be satisfied with just one?”
“I forgive you.”
“You’re too easy. So easy it makes me worry. If someone offers you food, you know not to follow after them right?”
The two of them are always having fun with each other, but things feel different from how they were.
They feel closer than ever before.
Toslin looks happy hugging Carol, and Carol looks happy being hugged by Toslin.
“They call it the Origin Highway, but I am willing to bet it is a lot bigger than what it was back then.”
While I was watching these two go at it, Rose-san and Saluena were riding a couple of horses slightly behind the carriage.
The two horses are ones we borrowed to help lighten the load on Goldmund even more.
“I heard about it from Rosa before. This is apparently the road that Ranroot and his comrades took in their quest to slay Oshunel.”
“……yes, that’s true, but……”
Saluena challenged Oshunel a thousand years ago. But she wasn’t strong enough and was ultimately defeated. That was when she was subjected to the evil dragon’s malefic aura and driven insane.
Saluena became like a puppet, betraying mankind and becoming known as the Dark Violet Knight to the Goddess’s forces.
We’ve never talked too much about her past before……
“Has Oneesama never been here before?”
While I was too preoccupied with my own worries, Rose-san readily hopped in.
“No, I was defeated by Oshunel in a land far to the west of here. And of course that’s also the place where I became the Dark Violet Knight and turned my back on the Goddess. It was only afterwards that Oshunel traveled to this land and settled here. That is why I never had the pleasure of meeting this Ranroot.”
“……so that’s how it is.”
Rose-san’s smile didn’t change despite touching on what I would call a sore subject.
It was more like she was curious, and her question was just a way of satiating that curiosity. That was it. I couldn’t feel any kind of reluctance from Saluena for her part, but she did seem a little, no, very surprised.
“Then, just like Iris-san, this will be your first time visiting the capitol.”
“I suppose so. It’s always exciting when it feels like you’re stepping into a new land.”
“Ranroot. The great hero who slew Oshunel and laid the groundwork for the nation as we know it today. As a fellow dragon slaying hero, how miraculous that Iris-chan is following in that very same Ranroot’s footsteps.”
Yuhanna-sama came up behind Rose-san and Saluena. Litzreich was seated right behind her, her eyes focused on me like always with obvious interest.
“Are you really a dragon slayer? The title doesn’t quite match up to your appearance.”
“T-That’s……I already know that even if you don’t say anything…….”
“No no, I’m trying to praise you. I like strong people, especially when they’re beautiful women to boot. It makes me want to discover the strength held within your weak body. Iris. You truly have captured my interest. Just watching you piques me inquisitive mind. Won’t you become mine from now on?”
“No, even if you ask……..”
“That voice, definitely belongs to a perverted bastard!!”
Since I always have trouble responding to situations like this, Lapris activated her automatic defense mode, popping her head out from my hair and immediately beginning her verbal assault.
“I am in no way a bastard. My age may not quite match up with my appearance, but I am a respectable girl at my center.”
“Shut up! Don’t you get any closer to Iris!! Anego won’t hesitate to kick your ass!!”
“Me? Well, Iris is my lord. I’d certainly be troubled if someone were to try and arbitrarily do something to her of their own accord.”
Litzreich brought her hand to her chin, making a troubled face as Saluena smiled at her.
“Hmm, the Dark Violet Knight as my opponent…….a poor match no matter how I think of it. It can’t be helped. I will have to ensnare Iris at a later date.”
“It ain’t happening in the future either!! Iris belongs to me, so don’t think you can make a pass at her whenever you damn well please!!”
No no, I don’t remember ever becoming yours either?
Lapris’s fists were wrapped tightly around two bundles of my hair, locking her firmly in place. Honestly though, she’s capable of making such a loud fuss despite her size to the point where it’s honestly impressive. I can only imagine what kind of damage I’d receive if she were yelling right next to my ear.
It was right when I was starting to get a headache from the buzzing in my ears that another, different noise made its way to me.
It sounded like the short chirping of a bird, and when I blinked, I was able to see something.
I shouldn’t have been able to see anything since my eyes were closed, but, I’m certain……
“L-Lapris, keep quiet for a minute!”
“Hah? But that girl……”
“Yes, I appreciate your help! But for just a moment please……..I can…….hear something……..”
Closing my eyes again, I listen carefully while focusing on the back of my eyelids.
Then I heard it again. More clearly this time. It was the sound of a bird all right. As a matter of fact…….
An image floated across my still closed eyes. It took me a moment to realize what it was, but I eventually understood I was looking down at the ground from somewhere high up in the air.
Right now I was seeing whatever Phoenix could see.
And this image, it must be coming from further up the road, a couple kilometres away from here. It looks like a merchant caravan is getting attacked by a group of monsters.
“There are a bunch of monsters ahead of us!! A merchant caravan is getting attacked!!”
“What’d you say?”
There is an escort for the caravan that is bravely pushing back against the swarm of monsters. But they’re vastly outnumbered. Everyone’s going to be killed if things keep up like they are. And, and, I recognize one of the people there.
It was Peachseed-san from the Soletta Ritta guild building.
My eyes shot open as soon as Phoenix had caught sight of her.
“I have to save them!!”
With no time to waste, Unicorn shot down the road like an arrow.