Chapter 11: Royal Academy
Section 9: Return it Back When I Can
“I never thought we’d see each other again so soon”
I’m relieved I could help…….did it sound arrogant when I said that?
But I was so happy to see Peachseed-san standing in front of me when I got there I wasn’t thinking about what was coming out of my mouth.
“R-Right. I wouldn’t have had to act so awkwardly back at the guild if I had known.”
Peachseed-san’s hair was still wet. I’m sure she would have had plenty of time to dry out her clothes after getting her wounds treated though.
“Here, use this if you want. It’s still mostly dry.”
I tried giving Peachseed-san the towel I had taken with me from the carriage……
and she nodded once, applying it to her hair. Almost immediately afterwards though, she shook her head and brought the towel back down.
“N-No, that’s not what I came over here for. I wanted to……you know, say thanks.”
Between how wet and cold I was currently feeling, my blood circulation wasn’t the best, and my head had a hard time processing words. So while I stupidly repeated what she just said back to her like a parrot, Kutuna-san and Plumseed-san walked over and took a stand beside Peachseed-san.
“We heard about it from the knight commander. Iris-san was the one who found us.”
“I think if Iris-san had never come to rescue us, we would certainly have all died. My magic power…….was almost completely gone.”
“So, thank you. We will definitely return the favor someday.”
“N-No, there’s no need for you to bother. I, I mean we, only did what anybody else would’ve done in our position.”
“……that might be true for you, but it’s most certainly not the case for everyone.”
“That’s right……it’s normal to hesitate if you’re faced with a monster attack of that scale.”
“There were actually other adventurers hired as escorts as well…….but everyone else ran away. If you hadn’t come, we would……..definitely……..”
Plumseed-san leaked out a weak sob as she crouched down where she stood. Thinking about it, I always think of Plumseed-san and Peachseed-san as twins, but they aren’t.
Plumseed-san is the same age as me. That difficult age where you’re overcoming your childishness but are still not at the level to be called an adult.
Scary things are scary whether you’re an adventurer or not. So of course you’d feel like crying if you are a hair’s breadth away from death.
“So it might not be a big thing to you, but it is for us. You saved us, and we will return this favor without fail. I swear by my sword.”
“A swordswoman who has sworn by their sword has made a promise that cannot be broken. Iris. You should accept their feelings.”
Saluena set her hand on Peachseed-san’s shoulder and nodded. She’s making a face like a just and righteous knight, but I know better.
Whenever Saluena makes a face like that, it’s because she’s thinking about something no good.
“Modesty is a virtue, but it can also be a blade that hurts those close to you. Saving their lives and then refusing to let them pay you back would be a huge blow to these girls’ pride.”
Saluena can be set aside, but Rose-san’s words took me aback.
Certainly, if somebody had saved my life and then called it “no big deal”, I might feel like my life wasn’t worth that much.
“I-I understand. I will happily accept Peachseed-san, Kutuna-san, and Plumseed-san’s gratitude.”
I straightened my back to make myself seem more formal as I answered, and a relieved look spread across their faces.
“Thank you very much. From now on we have a clear goal ahead of us.”
“Didn’t you two say you were going to make a grand, triumphant return home when you reached level ten?”
“Y-Yes. But since Iris-san is a red rank, yellow…….no, we’ll have to keep working until we become at least orange rank adventurers.”
The nearby fire is devouring the food we fed into it, growing to a roaring flame that felt great on our cold, wet bodies.
“It’s okay for you to call me just Iris. Actually Plumseed-san, since we’re the same age, maybe you’d prefer if neither of us used any honorifics?”
I smiled and told Plumseed-san we could be a little less formal with each other, but she immediately flew backwards faster than I thought possible for her. She ducked back behind Kutuna-san, peeking out only a small part of her head.
“There’s no way I could do something that discourteous!”
I know I’m not a beautiful woman like Rose-san, nor do I have a handsome face that can instantly melt a maiden’s heart like Saluena.
So I understand there’s always a chance somebody would refuse to become friends with me.
But, to be refused because it’d be too rude? Nobody’s ever said that to me before.
“I-I-I don’t have a beautiful heart like Iris-san does. I have an abject, pitch black, quick to anger, deeply envious heart!”
“I s-s-simply can’t, addressing an angel like Iris-san without an honorific……or casually speaking with you is i-impossible. Absolutely super duper mega impossible! I should just die! I have no choice but to look directly at my filthy self and die of despair!”¹
“H-Huh…….? This is……”
I turned towards her sister Peachseed-san for help, but instead of an explanation, she simply shook her head.
“Oh it’s just her usual fit. Don’t worry about it.”
No no, even if you tell me not to worry about it, that’s kind of impossible in a situation like this.
“It’s just how this girl gets when she’s too nervous.”
“S-S-Someone like me…….a rotten sludge woman like me, aah, talk, talking to Iris-san……..oh, OHH!? Corrupting, polluting Iris-san! I need to stop breathing!! Yeah, die, I’ll just do that!”
Plumseed-san squatted down behind Kutuna-san and tightly wrapped her hands over her mouth.
“Hoh, she’s even more talented than I had expected.”
“Hold on? What did you say Saluena?”
“Sorry. I’m just a little excited to be meeting a race I never encountered a thousand years ago.”
“Don’t just stand there and watch! I mean Peachseed-san! Your younger sister is dying!?”
This is how the life I just saved gets used up? Didn’t you just say you were going to pay me back for saving you!?
That’s what was running through my mind as I tried prying Plumseed-san’s hands away from her mouth by myself…….but seriously, wow…….Plumseed-san is way stronger than she looks! I’m putting my back into it, but nothing’s happening!
“She doesn’t have the courage to go through with it. She’ll become submissive if you leave her alone for a bit.”
“It’s just like Peachseed said. Plumseed gets like this sometimes when she sees me. It’ll be fine if it’s still only at this level.”
No, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be okay at all……hold on what? She can get worse than this? What, What’s that like?
“Looks like something interesting is going on.”
“She looked like an ordinary girl back at the inn, but I guess I never really talked to her much.”
Toslin and Carol came back from the carriage now that Carol had changed her clothes and her tail had regained most of its fluffiness. Why is it the one time Lapris isn’t on top of my head, I’m the one having to make a bunch of noise.
It took a long time after Plumseed-san shook me off of her before she quieted down and stopped trying to hold her breath back with her hands.
This person, might be the most dangerous woman I have ever met…….
I silently changed my perception of Plumseed-san as I watched her stare into the bonfire’s flames.
A man came over to us as the bonfire began to die down.
It was the merchant whose leg had been injured on the bridge. Since Peachseed-san was protecting him, he must be one of the members of the caravan.
“Yes. I wanted to thank you all for saving me. My name is Gorby, a merchant.”
“Oh, um, I’m Iris Calvafon. Has your leg been healed?”
Gorby-san was wearing a coat overtop a loose shirt with a bag draped over his left shoulder. He looked like a merchant in almost every way with the exception of the few bloodstains splattered across his clothes from his previous injuries.
“Yes. The priestess healed my injuries with her divine miracle, and I can already walk on my own just fine. It’s thanks to her making the rounds to all of us who were injured in that attack that everyone was able to make it out alive. Honestly, thank you.”
Gorby-san continued to thank each of us again and again before eventually pivoting on with a, “however……”
“Goodness me, for us to be attacked by that many monsters at once on a main highway…….I never would have thought it possible.”
According to Gorby-san, the vast number of slimes there was most likely because the nearby villagers weren’t able to thin out the herd during the winter. The same conclusion I had come up with.
But the real mystery here is why there was such a large outbreak of cavalry fish.
“Moreover, each of them were ridiculously large. It’s because of that and their repeated charges that they were able to get past my shield and injure Gorby-san…….”
“N-No no no. You shouldn’t worry about that Peachseed-san. Unlike those other adventurers, you continued to protect me and my cargo until the very end. You did everything you could.”
Peachseed-san’s group apparently received the escort request from Gorby-san directly when they were passing through Dragon Ritta, a town between Soletta Ritta and Rifront. Then they were attacked not too long afterwards. Moreover by a large number of frenzied monsters.
(…..is it because of the stolen Grief Sphere fragment again?)
The carbuncle was able to reawaken because of the Goddess’s diminishing power in the region after the Grief Sphere shard was stolen. If something as big as that could happen, it’s no wonder that other areas are being affected as well.
My brain thought he might’ve been talking to someone else since he suddenly started using -sama.
“I spoke a bit with the knight commander. You’re on your way to the capital to have an audience with the king.”
“Y-Yes. That’s right.”
“If it’s the dragon slaying hero who rescued me, it’s only proper that I thank you accordingly. So when you arrive in the capital, how about stopping by my store for a visit?”
T-This is just like before right? I’m in the wrong if I tell him not to worry about it right?
When I looked over towards Saluena and Rose-san, the both of them nodded their heads with a look that made it seem like they were parents watching over their child’s growth.
Apparently my answer is the correct one. So with newfound confidence, I smiled as brightly as I could and responded.
“Yes. I understand. We will definitely stop by.”
After that, Yuhanna-sama decided it was too dangerous to camp out where we were, so following her instructions, we decided to spend the rest of the day at a nearby hilly area.
The remains of Gorby-san’s caravan and Kutuna-san’s escort group were integrated into the Shirayuri Knights’ convoy, and our groups together continued on towards the royal capital.
— —And then a week later
We arrived at Oshunel-Tari, capital of the country of Oshunel.
1. We have a Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei fan here.