Section 6: Oath, Recognition, And…..
[Iris]: “Until a short time ago…..I was just a storekeeper for a bookstore.”
Even though there are supposed to be thousands of people inside the cathedral, it was utterly silent.
[Iris]: “Our family’s home is a second-hand bookshop, and I was asked to deliver a book from Soletta to Rifront. When I arrived, snowfall blocked the road and a dragon even appeared, so I was unable to return home for almost half a year.”
Other than the occasional crackling of a torch or some candlesticks, there was nothing else. Nothing besides the sound of my voice.
[Iris]: “But in that half a year, a new path presented itself to me.”
The smell of oil and fire danced across my nose. The flickering flames reflected off Rose-san, Toslin, Lanselva-sama, and all the other knights’ armor, shining brightly in the darkness.
[Iris]: “I met Toslin, an elf adventurer, in the inn’s dining room, and she introduced me to the werewolf Carol. And then….”
My gaze slowly shifted towards Rose-san.
[Iris]: “…..we met Rose-san as well. She had come over and asked if she could sit with us.”
From that moment on, another path opened in front of me. A way to become an adventurer, an existence I had always longed for.
[Iris]: “At that time, at that place, we were accidentally stuck in place by the snow and gathered together at that table…..and little by little, we became friends. Before we knew it, we were even sleeping together in the same room…..”
Remembering that time made me laugh. Carol and Toslin would run outside every single day and come home covered in sweat because snow was so rare for them. Rose-san would sit next to me, reading whatever book I recommended for her while I read my own copy.
We would share our impressions together once we were finished, and in turn, Rose-san would recommend the next book for us to read together…..I remember us having a lot of fun like that.
A series of encounters I would never have experienced if I had lived my life like always. The first day was like a dream, and yet that dream became my every day.
What woke me up from that dream, would obviously have to be that.
[Iris]: “…..and after a few times playing at being an adventurer with everyone like that……I came to a village ignited by an attacking dragon…..”
When I looked up, I could see the face of one of the attendees. A woman somewhere in her forties or fifties, probably older than my mother. She seemed to be a noble and was wearing a beautiful dress.
Such a person was intently listening to my words right now.
[Iris]: “In order to save the people of that village, Rose-san was the first to charge forward to confront that dragon. Toslin and Carol followed, and I…..chased after them.”
Remembering the sunset of that day still bring a cold sweat to my back.
[Iris]: “At the time, I was incredibly scared. Because the truth is, back then I…..was just an ordinary girl who loved reading books.”
There are all kinds of people out there even if we try to group them all together in that single, ‘adventurer,’ word. An adventurer could be someone who dives into dungeons in search of treasure. They could be someone who hunts down monsters, someone who acts as a bodyguard to protect people, or even someone who is only looking to make themselves famous.
When I decided to become an adventurer, what ideal would I have strove for? Whenever I ask myself that question now, I think about Rose-san’s back from that time.
I want to be like Rose-san. Since that day, I’ve always been following her back.
That’s probably why I said what I did when Sanz Wanz fled above ground.
[Iris]: “The dragon was powerful. All three of my friends fought with all their might, but their power wasn’t enough. I was grasping at straws, so I opened Hadion…..Saluena’s grimoire which I had in my hand at the time.”
I looked towards Saluena. She returned my gaze with her usual calm gaze. No, did she seem a little happy right now? Is it because I’m talking about her? I can’t tell for sure.
[Iris]: “Saluena answered my call, slew the dragon, and…..the village was saved. Everyone was able to survive.”
Speaking so quickly, I took a deep breath to quell the heat in my chest. I’m able to feel comfortable right now because despite it already being past spring, the air inside the stone church feels cold.
[Iris]: “As you have probably already figured out by listening to this, I…..am unable to do anything by myself.”
I shrugged my shoulders and forced out a smile.
[Iris]: “Even during the battle with Sanz Wanz. I had everyone there, plus the Goddess Knights, and they simply listened to my request….”
My gaze swept from the right to the left.
These are the people I love. The people I rely on.
[Iris]: “I am able to stand here before you thanks to the help of Yuhanna-sama, Grides, and the members of the Shirayuri Knights.”
I suddenly felt a gaze coming from my feet, so I looked down and found Mippo and Moppo there.
I barely managed to keep myself from giggling. When I quietly answered with a “No,” they looked relieved and returned to Linzflare-san.
[Iris]: “So, Saluena, Lanselva-sama, and the other knights refer to me as ‘Princess’…..though they might not necessarily be wrong referring to me like that.”
My nervousness was eased thanks to those two’s innocence. My voice lost some of its trembling and was a little louder than before…..I think.
[Iris]: “I still do not understand what the Goddess means when she says I am the ‘hope’. Nor do I understand why I was the one chosen. But with all due respect…..I hope I can meet her expectations. To return the favor for the grace I have received from the Goddess.”
What was it like for the Hero Ranroot? I wonder if he would be able to tell me why he was chosen by the Goddess. I have poured myself over the heroic tale, but the answer was nowhere written.
[Iris]: “I have been speaking for a long time now, but this is the kind of person I am. Like most people I get scared, angry, and even jealous…..”
A fleeting glance flew towards Rose-san. Rose-san looked towards me at that very moment, and our gazes met again.
[Iris]: “I am…..a very normal human. So if you wouldn’t mind, I would appreciate it if you could watch over me from now on.”
There was an accident there at the end that involved me hurriedly turning my eyes away from everyone, but I think I managed to say what I wanted to say.
This might be too lackadaisical a way to wrap things up, but I did my best and those are my honest feelings.
My gaze once again fell on that elderly lady.
Thereupon she removed her gloves, and she began to clap. A gentle smile spread across her face as she looked back at me.
After that, the applause quickly grew and spread. Although I’d never seen the real thing myself, I thought it looked like a rising ocean wave.
[Saluena]: “That was a good story.”
I turned around when I felt a sudden tapping on my shoulder. Saluena was there, and she moved her mouth close to my ear.
[Saluena]: “Especially the part where you didn’t forget about me.”
She moved her hand across my shoulder and stroked my cheek with the back of her hand.
(Ah, so that happy look at the time really was about that after all.)
You might not be able to tell usually, but Saluena often feels lonely. I’ve known that since she often slept with me when we were staying at my parents house in Soletta Ritta.
[Saluena]: “Our princess is truly humble.”
Saluena took my place on stage and laughed.
[Saluena]: “But that’s what makes you worth protecting. Isn’t that right, Goddess Knights!?”
[Knights]: “”OH!! We all offer our eternal loyalty to you!!””
The Goddess Knights each focused their gaze on me and proclaimed thusly as they raised their shields.
In the midst of thunderous applause and their thunderous voices…..
Rose-san stepped in front of me.
Rose-san, who had become a high priestess and received the title of holy knight.
That Rose-san had now, gone down on one knee in front of me.
My face stiffened, and my shoulders trembled. This is the second time Rose-san has called me by my last name while adding a sama to the end of it. The first was when we were in Marie-sama’s room together. I remember feeling just as lonely then as I do now.
[Rose]: “I do solemnly vow…..to dedicate my strength and being to you.”
Rose-san respectfully took my left hand and kissed my ring finger. On Saluena’s sanctuary, where the dark violet ring is fitted.
[Marie]: “In this, the oath has been made. Many blessings to the princess and our holy knight.”
Marie-sama cut a mark on us with her finger. It is a standard ritual priests, priestesses, and bishops perform do confer a blessing.
I know brides and grooms have it performed on them several times throughout their wedding.
[Marie]: “Fufu, I am not sure it is appropriate for the person herself to say it, but giving a blessing to two people on a stage in front of such a large crowd truly makes it look like a wedding ceremony.”
Marie-sama covered her mouth with her hand and laughed.
Naturally Rose-san and I were surprised at her words and shared a look with each other.
[Marie]: “Now that the ceremony is finished, let’s have the sisters sing a congratulatory song for some entertainment.”
[Rose]: “M-Marie Arone-sama!? Please keep the jokes in moderation”
Rose-san panicked and tried to stop Marie-sama, so I……almost opened my mouth to say something as well. But before I could, a flash of inspiration ran through my brain….
[Iris]: “That sounds great! Please do!!”
Those were the words to come out of my mouth instead.
As I grabbed onto Rose-san’s arm.