Chapter 11: Royal Academy
Section 8: Battle on the Bridge Part 2
“Now, release the bonds of this world!!”
Plumseed-san already proved with her magic that fire is an effective weapon against the slimes. In that case, there’s something I can do too.
“The Goddess Illya overwrites reason as commanded by Iris Calvafon!”
I’ve been learning the basics of magic from Grandpa Ferdinand since I was young. So I know how to picture the flow of magic power and how to alter that stream.
I set my lips upon my ruby, pouring magic power into the ring through my kiss. And so my ring instantly transformed into a grimoire.
“Absolute law established in the name of the Almighty. Long forgotten tower perched atop the solitary island of a distant sea. Princess of Life who illuminates the world, spread your wings to the summit!!”
Their numbers had been reduced, but there were still a few cavalry fish that remained, and all of them turned their attention towards me. They were hungry after a long winter, and so now that fresh prey had finally shown itself with the advent of spring, they charged forward to ensure it would not get away.
However with their reduced numbers and sporadic attacks, it was impossible for them to get past the twenty barriers I had set up. Whether they were throwing their spears or their own bodies, it was all repelled by my magic circles.
“W-What is this……. Magic, shields?”
“Oi, don’t move from that spot. And shut your mouth. Iris will protect you.”
Lapris cut Plumseed-san off before she could cast another spell, letting me continue my aria uninterrupted.
“Subjugate those who would disrupt the peace with your sweltering flames! Grant us the divine protection of rekindled ash!!”
As I continued to recite the words that swam across the grimoire’s pages, a brilliant second sun began to form overtop our heads.
“My life, my name as a step, come forward…….Phoenix!!”
At the call of her name, Phoenix’s temporarily tiny body morphed into something with the solemn grace worthy of a princess. Elegant and refined, she calmly hovered up in the air, waiting for my command.
So I turned my eyes downwards and pointed my finger.
“……Iris Calvafon commands my winged one. Reduce it to embers.”
The target was the exceptionally large water slime. It was an especially greedy specimen, having already swallowed dozens of boxes of food and was still making its way over to the next carriage.
Phoenix’s cry shook the air as she spread out her wings. Waves of heat reached us all the way down here, toasting the surface of our skin.
The massive water slime also noticed the intense heat and switched its focus away from the carriage. The top of the slime began to swirl and open up like a flower in bloom before several ivy-like tentacles shot out from the top in an attempt to snatch Phoenix out from the air.
But the heat wore away at the tentacles as they extended farther and farther into the air, thinning them out more and more as the liquid they were made up of evaporated away. Ultimately, what was left burned up, reduced to white charcoal before crumbling away in the wind.
Victory between Phoenix and the slime was decided the moment the battle began.
Phoenix swooped down, finishing the fight as soon as her sharp claws broke through the slime’s outer membrane. The burning hot scales around her legs protected her from harm as the radiating flames burned away the acid in the blink of the eye.
“A-Amaz……. That huge slime, in an instant……”
“Hehehe, yep yep yep. This is how things turn out when Iris gets serious.”
“Lapris, it’s still not over. We have to remain diligent.”
I could imagine Lapris lying on her back, cockily making a smug grin on top of my head, but as I was giving her a warning, I heard the sound of hoofsteps making their way towards us. Moreover, there were a lot of them.
“No, it’s already over. Iris dealt with the big guy, so you can leave the clean-up to the knights.”
“Right right. Besides, I’m going to catch a cold if I don’t change out of these wet clothes.”
Shoving her dagger into one of the few remaining cavalry fish, Carol called back to us while simultaneous kicking off the fish’s shell and somersaulting through the air. As she came back down, her feet touched ground as her dagger dug itself into another cavalry fish’s head. I was fascinated by her elegant movements that made it feel like I was watching an acrobat at work.
“Hoh, impressive. Just what I should expect from an orange rank adventurer.”
“You think so? My body’s felt light ever since that fight with the dragon. Well, I’m soaked with water right now, so I am feeling a little heavier.”
It was true. Carol’s normally poofy tail had lost most its volume, her fur so soaked with water that it was completely matted down.
“Knights…..hey, when we were leaving Soletta, weren’t the Shirayuri Knights just getting to town?”
Peachseed-san’s face was a strange mixture of fatigue and wonder. Litzreich answered her question while once again mounting Unicorn.
“Indeed. I am Litzreich, deputy commander of the Shirayuri Knights. We have taken upon ourselves a mission to escort the hero Iris Calvafon to the royal capitol. And then per the hero’s request, we came to help.”
“It seems the worst of it is already finished.”
Almost as if on cue, the rest of the knights arrived at the bridge with Rose-san and Saluena at the front of the line. Their horses and armor were caked in mud after rushing down the road like they did.
“Everyone stay alert!! This is still a battlefield!! We’re going to cross over to the other shore! Spread out, keep Iris-chan and the injured between us, and protect them with your lives!!”
Once the tension in the air had dissipated after we had safely crossed the bridge, Toslin let out all the laughter she had been holding back.
“Hey, hey now Toslin. Is now the time to be laughing like that? I mean, I went and did my best this time. Isn’t this usually the part where you’re supposed to praise me?”
Toslin had broken down after meeting Carol’s gaze, so Carol was making an extremely dissatisfied face as a result.
“Ahaha, my bad. Sorry. It’s just…….you’re really……so puny when you’re wet!”
Right now I’m trying to light a fire using some of the wood a couple of knights had gotten me. Obviously it was for the sake of drying off our wet bodies.
I gently set the miniature Phoenix into the center of the stacked wood, and at my request, a powerful flame shot up, marking the start of a roaring bonfire. Oh jeez, this is amazing Phoenix. We’ll never need a pilot light as long as we have you. I might even go so far as to say we won’t need to make a bonfire at all. Her body alone is enough to make the area around us nice and toasty.
After confirming that the fire was all set to go, I turned around and walked away for a moment. We had put up our carriage’s canopy before this, turning it into a makeshift changing room.
“Hey Lapris. Shouldn’t you be getting angry right alongside me?”
“Hmm, it’s fine isn’t it? I’ll wait to see what Toslin does to you first.”
I took off my wet clothes, listening to Lapris and Carol go at it outside the carriage while putting on a fresh shirt.
“I’ve finished changing~. You should hurry up and change too Carol. You’ll need to wring out your tail while you’re at it.”
With no allies on her side, Carol ran up to me as soon as I jumped down from the carriage.
“Iris!! Toslin took one look at me and started laughing”
“Yeah, I heard.”
But now that I’m getting a closer look at her, it’s not just her tail. All of her hair is matted down with water, greatly reducing her overall volume. Seeing as Carol is usually really fluffy fluffy like cotton candy, if feels out of place having her like this. And that out of place feeling slowly turned to laughter inside my mind, but I tried my hardest to hold that in.
“She’s terrible right? Toslin didn’t do anything at all, and she’s laughing at all my hard work”
“Hey now, who are you calling terrible? Get over here. Even you’ll catch a cold if you stay like this too much longer.”
Toslin picked Carol up, carrying her away under one arm while gathering up a towel and a change of clothes. Carol had a dissatisfied look on her face from beginning to end but, she let her arms and legs hang limply in the air without bothering to put up a fight. Between the dissatisfaction at being laughed at and the joy of being with Toslin, it looks like the latter won out.
“I’m back. Are you hurt anywhere Iris-san?”
Rose-san was the only priestess here with the ability to use a healing miracle, so it was all up to her to treat the wounded. But after doing all that work herself, she still had the energy to immediate worry about me upon returning.
“Yes, I’m fine. I just got a little wet.”
“That’s good then. You surprised me when you suddenly ran off like that. I know somebody you know was in danger and you wanted to rush to their side as quickly as possible, but next time, please take one of us with you. You should never go off alone.”
“O-Okay…… I’m sorry. Carol told me the same thing, and……I’ll reflect. I’m terribly sorry for any worry I caused you.”
Rose-san’s worry came through loud and clear, so I bowed my head and apologized.
“Ah, um…..I’m not mad at you. It’s just, we are, companions…….right? You can’t forget to rely on us as well.”
“Yes, I understand.”
“W-Well……I know I don’t sound very convincing considering I ran off on my own during the battle with the dragon…….”
“No, not at all! Rose-san looked really cool back then, like a warrior priestess straight from a storybook!”
“I-Is that so……? Thank you. I personally think I used poor judgement there…… But, hearing Iris-san say that…….makes me feel a sense of pride. And a little embarrassed.”
Rose-san with a honey sweet smile and a shy voice that trails off as she speaks. Just seeing her like that is enough to wake up the mischievous Iris-san in my heart and coax her out of bed. She’s usually comfortably sleeping away, but during times like this, all she wants to do is tease Rose-san with all her might. Honestly, Rose-san’s cuteness is not good for my social well-being. It’s really not.
While I was preoccupied with all that, the fire I had started picked up, producing some comfortable and pleasnat flames. Rose-san and I gathered around the fire just as Saluena came back after talking with Yuhanna-sama about what we would be doing from now on.
“Oh, welcome back Saluena. What’s the plan starting tomorrow?”
“Before that, there are some people here who have some business with you.”
Saluena pointed towards someone standing on the other side of the bonfire. I could tell who it was when I looked through the flames.
Because I don’t know any other dark skinned women who would be in this region.
“S-Sorry to bother you. It’s just, um……there’s something I have to say.”
Looking down on me as I sat by the fire, Peachseed-san started talking for the first time since we reunited at the bridge.