Section 5: To the Front Stage
[Iris]: “E-EH!? Wait, what’s with this timing!? Please tell me it’s a lie!”
Before Rose-san’s investiture ceremony began, I greeted Marie-sama, and she said something along these lines to me:
[Marie]: “Ah, welcome Iris-chan. There are a few people I would like to introduce you to after the ceremony, so would you mind waiting for me in this room for now~?”
She sounded innocent enough, so I came here without thinking much about it. If anything, I was excited that I would get to watch Rose-san’s ceremony from my own special seat.
But when I first came here, I noticed there were no windows in the room from which I could conveniently watch over the cathedral.
That was the moment I should have checked with the sisters. But Lapris and the others were there, so I once again shrugged my shoulders and let it go without thinking about it.
——I have made a terrible mistake.
[Lapris]: “All right then. Shall we get to work?”
[Iris]: “W-Work!? What work!?”
[Lapris]: “What, if there’s a fairy in a church, that should be obvious. Putting on a production. Don’t you remember us doing it in Soletta’s church too?”
Lapris answered while doing warm up stretches on Unicorn’s head. She didn’t look surprised about this turn in the slightest.
[Iris]: “…..Don’t tell me! You knew this was going to happen from the beginning?”
[Lapris]: “Hah? Obviously. We’ve already decided on payment and everything.”
[Iris]: “You should have told me!!”
Ah, I can hear them. Singing something with a nice rhythm different from their hymn.
Each word of that exultant melody, is a kick thrown against my back and butt. A silent pressure to have me hurry up and come out is bearing down on my shoulders.
[Lapris]: “I was told not to by Anego and Marie. Stopping you from escaping out of this room until this exact moment. That was also part of my job.”
[Iris]: “Y-You traitor!! I always thought Lapris would take my side!! Are you telling me that time we exchanged friendships was all a lie!?”
[Lapris]: “How pitiful. The only side I take is the side of the strong and those with sweets! I’ll wag my tail with all my strength for Saluena-anego who falls into both!! Enough talk!! Quit stalling and throw yourself to the masses!! For the sake of my sweets!!”
Throwing out those refreshingly honest yet horrible parting words, Lapris flew away.
Even though she usually hates flying herself, she is able to glide through the air as if gravity were a foreign concept.
Ugh, the cheers got louder. With the sun mostly down, the mystical light given off by a lone fairy would be an eye-catching mystery in a chapel faintly illuminated with only a few candles and torches.
[Iris]: “Uuu….if it’s like this…..”
The thought that I shouldn’t have ever come here crossed my mind. But if I had never come, I would have never gotten to see Rose-san’s sublime appearance from my special seat…..
If I think about it like that, I could think of this situation as a sort of admissions fee.
[Iris]: “Y-Yosh….. It’s not like I’m out to fight anything….. I’m okay, I’m okay…..”
There were three, no, five times the number of people here compared to my audience with the king.
All those eyes are going to be focused on me alone from this point forward. That thought alone is enough to overwhelm me.
But Rose-san is out there as well. I would get to congratulate her with my own words.
[Iris]: “Well then, everyone…..let’s go”
If you give yourself a goal, your way of thinking can change.
I addressed everyone that was with me.
[Linzflare]: “A lot of work went into this, so have fun”
The three sisters were dancing around in a circle to the light song flowing into the room.
Plushy Unicorn was also stepping in time to the rhythm with her short legs.
Then, Phoeniko released a short chirp before flapping her wings in front of my face as if to lead the way.
[Iris]: “Aha♪ Yeah, I understand. I don’t know much about etiquette, but if nobody’s taught me it, I guess I don’t really need it.”
This music might be Marie-sama doing her best to relieve my tension.
The gnome sisters flung open the curtains. They’re velvet, like a curtain hanging across a stage. Then the three of them danced down the stairs, one step at a time.
As if she were trying to act as my escort, Plushy Unicorn stood at my side, stepping in rhythm with the music.
[Iris]: “Yosh, there’s no glossing over my faults, so I might as well be cheerful going out!!”
And so I walked out right alongside Plushy Unicorn.
Phoeniko shone brightly above my head.
Plushy Unicorn’s mane released its own bright white light, putting in the care to ensure I could see the stairs as I walked down.
A little ways in front of us, the gnome sisters were still dancing round and round.
Watching them made me feel as if I were participating in a parade.
That feeling swept through the room, and everyone who saw them, including myself, seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Saluena and Marie-sama were the first to greet me as I descended down with my procession of miniature girls.
I whispered to Saluena with a large smile on my face.
[Iris]: “We’ll speak about this later, Saluena. Remember that♪”
The hymn coninued, and the gnome sisters continued their dance along with it.
Aristocrats and priests alike watched them curiously.
Even if I raised my voice a little, nobody would be able to overhear me with all the noise and music resonating off the walls in here.
[Saluena]: “If you wish to ask someone out for a date, perhaps avoid sounding so murderous.”
[Marie]: “My apologies, Iris-chan. It was important those involved got to know you as soon as possible.”
[Saluena]: “But with this many people, I knew you’d feel nervous. So I gave Marie a bit of advice. Feed Rosa as bait, and you’d jump.”
[Iris]: “You……I can’t deny any of that, but you still should have told me. I was shocked. I’m not a child who needs things hidden from her.”
I straightened my back and poked a finger into Saluena’s chest.
[Saluena]: “Fu, is that so? Then I’ll make sure to keep that in mind for next time.”
[Iris]: “…..um, what? By any chance, are you saying I’m going to have to keep doing stuff like this from now on?”
Saluena raised her hand without answering my question. Then, the hymn being played until now suddenly came to an end all at once.
Too suddenly in fact as Mippo fell over onto her face because she wasn’t expecting it.
Just like with the audience room, the area near the altar where I am standing is raised up several steps so everyone in the chapel can see.
Standing in the middle there was Rose-san with Toslin and Carol, who Lapris had just described as devils, standing a step below. Besides them…..
Saluena barked a sharp command. There, at the bottom of the steps, fifty knights including Lanselva-sama and the others stood fully armed in line with their backs to us.
They used both their hands to lift up their shields and hit them against the ground all together.
*Gagoon* The hard sound of iron bouncing off stone resounded in the now silent church.
[Marie]: “This girl is our little hero, Iris Calvafon-sama. Our Goddess Illya has positioned her as our hope.”
Marie-sama guided me to the center and introduced me to all those gathered here.
[Lapris]: “Ha~, I’m tired.”
After flying around the cathedral, Lapris landed on my shoulder.
(Why don’t you sit on Saluena’s shoulder since you two get along so well?)
As I tried appealing to the traitor with my eyes, she simply tilted her head.
[Lapris]: “I was worried you might lose your footing, so I’m glad you didn’t end up tripping down the steps.”
And she smiled. Without any idea over what I’m thinking……
[Iris]: “Thank you. Good job Lapris.”
Seeing that kind of smile on her face just makes me feel like an idiot for being angry at her.
I stroked the top of Lapris’s head gently this time.
She looked somewhat confused, but since it wasn’t anything bad, she didn’t mind it.
[Marie]: “Calvafon-sama. These people before you are those who deeply worship the Goddess and will make for reassuring allies. They are the ones who will support you, in the sun or from the shadows. And so, please offer a few words to them.”
That’s what Marie-sama said to me. Making unreasonable requests seems to be her specialty. But Saluena didn’t stop her, nor did she offer me a lifeboat.
Rose-san only gave me a smile when I looked at her. Toslin and Carol were smirking as if they were about to watch something interesting. This must be their revenge for what happened before the investiture ceremony.
This is how deeply I’m trusted. They all seem to think it will all work out somehow or another.
They are all making a terrible mistake. Until very recently, I was just an ordinary commoner. Have they all forgotten I’m just the daughter of a bookshop owner? To say something in front of so many people……
[Iris]: “I understand”
But I swallowed the word impossible before it could leave my lips. And instead, I kept murmuring inside my heart that I want to respond. Marie-sama and Saluena both thought of me and prepared this stage.
This place, this performance, this moment, is what is needed from now on.
I don’t know why or what good will come from it.
But if someone I trust and love feels that way and makes the decision, then there’s no place for doubt in my mind.
I took a deep breath.
My body was still trembling……but I forced myself to speak loud enough that everyone here could my voice.