Section 10: Friends
[Ashel]: “I heard from Yuhanna. You’re the Dark Violet Knight, Hadion correct?”
Ashel-sama’s back straightened in her seat as she turned towards Saluena.
[Saluena]: “Indeed. But that was a thousand years ago. Now I wield my sword for the Goddess’s promised one, Iris. And you may call Iris and the others heroes, but one of the dragon’s eyes had already been taken when they arrived, and that is not including the numerous other wounds the dragon had already suffered through. I assume that was your doing was it not? You were capable of weakening a dragon to that point, an act worthy of praise, so why are you so filled with regret?”
Ashel-sama’s posture stiffened all the more beneath Saluena’s sharp gaze. I could see her hands tighten into balls on top of her lap from my seat as she bit her bottom lip.
[Ashel]: “…..I was supposed to slay that dragon. At that time, at that place. If I had been able to accomplish that simple directive, nobody else need have suffered……”
Each word that passed through Ashel-sama’s quivering lips was smeared in her agony-inducing remorse.
[Carol]: “I don’t think it’s anything you need to bother yourself over. I mean, I did wonder why you couldn’t kill that thing right away. But Toslin told me that was incredibly slanderous of me.”
But what ended up coming out in response to that remorse was Carol’s energetic yet sluggish voice.
[Toslin]: “Cripes! Stop that! Are you trying to bring ruin to me and my house!? Do you even know who you’re talking to!?”
[Carol]: “Huh? Of course I know. It’s this country’s pri-…….prince right?”
…….were you about to say princess just now Carol?
[Carol]: “But, whether you’re a hero or not, it’s impossible for anybody to be able to take care of everything.”
[Saluena]: “That’s right. Thinking that everything that goes wrong is your fault is only arrogance. If you continue to trouble yourself like this, the only thing you will accomplish is crushing yourself with that remorse of yours.”
Saluena was talking with a much more serious look than usual.
(…..I see, even someone as powerful as Saluena wasn’t able to beat Oshunel.)
Nobody is all-powerful. It’s because Saluena knows that better than anyone else that she can’t stay quiet here.
[Saluena]: “And besides……I should be thanking you. It’s because you failed to slay the dragon that I can be here together with Iris like this.”
[Iris]: “Ah, yes. That’s right. We were all shocked, and it was a hard fight, but nobody died……”
[Lapris]: “Even though Iris almost killed me.”
[Iris]: “A-And Relton’s villagers seemed pleased with how things turned out. I heard them talking about how much money they would make from selling the dragon’s meat and its scales.”
[Carol]: “Ah, that reminds me, the dismantling of that dragon should be starting around now. We should be able to pick up our share of the materials if we head over in the summer. It should be lots of fun!!”
[Toslin]: “And I hear the hot springs that open up during the summer are nice and refined.”
[Rose]: “Fufu, indeed.”
[Lapris]: “Oi, don’t just ignore me.”
Ashel-sama’s expression softened a bit as she watched all of us laugh over our cups of tea.
[Ashel]: “……if that’s all true, then it’s a relief. And at the same time, I will be counting on you……”
[Carol]: “If there’s ever a monster you want us to beat, just say the word no matter what the time. As long as you have the gold for it, we’ll go anywhere to fight anything.”
[Ashel]: “Ahaha, I appreciate that.”
[Rose]: “Carol-san, we are not mercenaries.”
[Carol]: “I know. We’re adventurers.”
[Rose]: “No, please keep in mind that before even that, you are a member of a knight order.”
[Carol]: “Hiii!? Rose is angry!? Help me Toslin. She’s going to beat my butt again!”
[Rose]: “I-I would not do something like that! I was merely trying to warn you……”
Carol is making merry while Rose-san tries to rebuke her. I opened my mouth wide and laughed hard while watching a scene that seemed so natural despite it rarely ever happening before.
Ah, isn’t that a little improper of me though? That’s when I noticed Ashel-sama’s incessant blinking with her gaze locked on me.
[Ashel]: “…..is it always like this between you?”
[Iris]: “Eh, y-yes. That’s right. Eat together, raise a racket together, and sleep together. It’s just like that.”
[Ashel]: “It’s nice. It looks really…….fun.”
Ashel-sama turned an admiring look back towards Carol and the others while thinking aloud to herself.
[Iris]: “Does the Prince not have any comrades?”
[Ashel]: “Comrades…..comrades? If you mean a companion who will stick by me, traveling on multiple adventures together, then I suppose no, I don’t. But depending on the occasion, I will recruit others to aid me in a fight.”
[Lapris]: “Hmph, as the hero shouldn’t you have your pick of the litter for comrades?”
[Ashel]: “…..haha, I’m afraid that isn’t quite the case for me…..”
A bitter smile spread across Ashel-sama’s face in response to Lapris’s words.
[Toslin]: “What are you, drunk or something? Why not head out and cool your head for a bit?”
And in response to that, Toslin opened up a window and threw Lapris out of it.
[Lapris]: “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!? What are you, I’ll fall, I’ll fall, what floor do you think we’re on!?”
[Toslin]: “Then just fly.”
Lock the windows closed and then pull the curtains shut.
There were a couple bangs on the glass for a moment, but everything went quiet after that. Hey, you didn’t actually fall right?
[Ashel]: “I-Is that really okay?”
Ashel-sama was clearly worried, alternating her gaze between the window and Toslin again and again.
[Toslin]: “It’s fine. That cockroach won’t die even if you kill her.”
[Ashel]: “I-Is that so……honestly, that makes me even more jealous. You all trust each other that much.”
[Toslin]: “……um, well……I suppose that’s one way of looking at it.”
Toslin turned a shade of red. Seeing those blushed cheeks, Ashel-sama started looking a little lonely…..so maybe that’s why I called out to her without thinking.
[Iris]: “Um, if it’s not a bother”
[Iris]: “How about we continue to meet up and have some tea together in the future as well?”
Ashel-sama blinked a couple times, clearly confused by what I was asking.
[Ashel]: “…..me? With you all?”
[Iris]: “Oh, I’m sorry. I’m not too knowledgeable on etiquette inside a castle, so if I said anything impolite……”
[Ashel]: “No, it’s not that. But…..I was just wondering if it’s really okay. I’m a man after all.”
Oh, right. I completely forgot since she doesn’t really look the part. Certainly, a ton of rumors would be sure to quickly spread if Ashel-sama, someone everyone believes to be a man, continuously comes to visit a room filled with ladies.
[Toslin]: “In that case, how about meeting at the church instead of here. If anyone asks, oh yeah. We can just say it is for sword practice.”
[Iris]: “Oh, that might work. How about it Ashel-sama?”
[Ashel]: “I-If it’s sword practice……then rather than just an excuse, I would like to ask you for some serious instruction as well.”
Looking first at me and then at Saluena, Ashel-sama put forward a serious request.
[Saluena]: “Other than Rosalith, the only people I instruct in the ways of the sword are my subordinates.”
[Saluena]: “…..however, I would make my sister angry with me if I were to simply reject you for that reason. So I shall agree on one condition.”
[Ashel]: “So long as it is within my power, I shall see it done. Some form of compensation is expected if I wish to gain the guidance of the founder of modern swordplay and who is said to be, even to this day, the strongest warrior the world has ever seen.”
Don’t tell me. Saluena, you’re not about to tell her to join our knight order are you? You know I would reject that proposal no matter what don’t you?
[Saluena]: “In that case, I wish for you to become Iris’s friend. At the moment, the only allies she has in the capital are the Shirayuri Knights led by Yuhanna and the church.”
I don’t know if she was able to decipher the heartfelt prayers I was transmitting to her through my eyes, but the proposal Saluena eventually handed out wasn’t that outlandish.
No wait, having a hero for a friend is a tremendous honor.
[Ashel]: “Are you sure you’re satisfied with something like that? I had originally intended on becoming friends anyway, so if there’s something else……”
[Saluena]: “This is all I shall request. However, it is precisely because this is the only requirement that this promise carries such a weight to it. As long as you agree, I shall agree to teach you the sword.”
[Ashel]: “……I understand.”
Ashel-sama turned and gave me a big, almost comical grin.
[Ashel]: “So with that said, I know it might sound a bit selfish on my part, but would you be my friend?”
I remember the first time my parents brought me to the park so I could play with another child. The person at that time was, of course, Mycena.
[Iris]: “Y-Yes…… I would be delighted.”
Recalling those days long gone, I accepted the hand Ashel-sama offered me.
And just like that, under the gaze of a priestess and a knight, we became friends.
And then, the next day.
It was the morning before we were to have our audience with the king, and I was waiting for Rose-san at the castle’s front entrance.
I had been waiting for about five minutes with my back leaning against a stone column beneath the suspicious gazes of the patrolmen who would walk past.
[Rose]: “I-I am sorry to have kept you waiting.”
Rose-san walked down the castle’s front steps not wearing her usual armor and robe. Instead she had on a pure white dress with a comfy-looking cardigan and a light green stole. As well as a pair of enamel pumps.
[Iris]: “Wow, that dress……it’s incredibly cute.”
[Rose]: “D-Do you think so? Oh, Iris-san too, is very cute.”
No no, compared to Rose-san’s cuteness, I am but a pebble you’d find alongside the road. The fact is that Rose-san in plain clothes is almost criminally cute.
So I’m sure you’re wondering why it is that we’re meeting here, almost like we are about to go out on a date.
[Rose]: “W-Well then, shall we be off?”
[Iris]: “Yes, on my date with Rose-san. I’ve been looking forward to it.”
That’s because it’s not like anything. We really are going on a date together.