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KENS Chapter 23

Chapter 23 The Heroes and thereafter

Finishing shaving with my iron knife, I washed my face. Looking at the mirror, my old man face was clean.

It’s a face that doesn’t give birth to any kind of emotion, a very normal face you can find anywhere.

“My face feels weird.”

I mumbled but there was no reply. Oh right, I had left Ermenhilde in the custody of Souichi. I’m not really lonely but feeling this lack of something, I sighed.

Quickly changing my clothes, I left the room. While playing with my iron knife instead of my partner Ermenhilde, I quickly finished my meal on the first floor.

In this world, bread is the staple food. I wish I could eat rice once in a while as well. It’s impossible though.

I’m not an expert in agriculture but I know that to grow rice you at least need seeds to plant. We had searched for it even during our journey but didn’t find any at all. Maybe it doesn’t even exist in this world. Or maybe they are simply referred to differently than just ‘rice seed’.

While thinking that, I put a the freshly baked bread, the vegetable stew and a slice of ham in my mouth. It’s pretty heavy for breakfast but this is normal for this world. In turn they spend those calories while farming and other jobs. The people in bureaucratic jobs or nobles tend to be fatter as a result. It must be due to this kind of diet, I think.

While taking water  from the landlady, I started thinking about how to spend the day.

Should I go to Souichi and other’s dorms to get Ermenhilde now or should I wait and spend time gathering herbs till their classes end.

“…….For the time being, let’s go to the guild.”

I only had to think about that for a moment.

The deciding factor was that the guild was closer than the dorms. I definitely wasn’t thinking of something like enjoying my time while the noisy sister-in-law like Ermenhilde is not with me.

As I decided, I left the inn after finishing my meal.

I should move away from this place pretty soon as well, I thought while walking. I met Souichi and others and was able to talk to them like before as well………I think.

Now that I have completed my objective here, I should travel to my next destination—the royal capital to meet my comrades there and talk to them about these descendants of the Demon God.

My wallet has become pretty filled as well after all.

While thinking that, I reached the guild while swiftly avoiding the way of people leaving for their work.

“Ah, I’m tired……”

While sighing like that, I opened the guild’s door. The double swing door made a noise in the lobby as I entered……….and for some reason everyone’s gaze gathered at me.

No, well, I do know the reason. It’s because I overdid it against the goblins. With the jade sword Ermenhilde in my hands, I fought together with Souichi and others. My identity is probably known by them.

While ignoring the uncomfortable gazes, I took a memo from the request counter. While doing that, my hand touched the girl’s hand beside me.

“oh, sorry.”

“Ah, don’t worry.”

We both apologised and looked at each other. I recognised this girl’s face.

“Oh, well if it isn’t Miss Francesca.”

“Ah, Renji-sama.”

“…….please stop with ‘-sama’ suffix really.”

Saying that, I gave a sigh.

Transparent honey coloured hair, green eyes. Since she was in her school uniform right now, her plentiful chest non-existent with Aya or Yayoi-chan was a feast for eyes.

Her white blouse stuck out contrary to her own personality and the golden embroidered blue robe only made it’s presence more prominent.

“How come you’re here?

“No, well……..”

She’s being unusually unclear.

Going by the fact that we went for the same memo, I guess she’s also after the herb gathering quest.

“Gathering materials for magic or alchemy?”

“Ah, eh? Why…….”

“Well, you were trying to take a herb gathering quest after all. Was I wrong?”

When I swung the memo in front of her, she finally realized as well.

Well, anyone could do that much, I whispered to myself.

“Well, you’re just in time.”

“Yes?”

“I want to contact Souichi but——–”

While I was speaking, it became slightly noisy inside the guild.

When I looked to see what was going on, Souichi and Yayoi in the same uniform as Miss Francesca—-the Albana academy uniform, entered the guild.

“Oh.”

“Ah.”

We both raised our voices at the same time. It seems I’m lucky today, I thought that to myself as I raised my hand.

“Yo. What happened? Why here?”(renji)

“We came to look for Renji-niichan. Here.”(souichi)

[………]

“Oh, thanks.”

Taking back Ermenhilde from him, I put it back inside my pocket.

“As expected.”

“Hm?”

“The beard. You look cooler without it.”

“Well thanks.”

I can’t really be honestly happy at that.

Did it really not suit me that much? I actually liked it a bit. As if to once again check the now non-existent beard, I ended up rubbing my chin with my hand.

“Leaving that aside, Renji-niichan, I waited for quite a while yesterday you know?”

“…….that was my bad. After dropping off Aya home, I just returned back.”

[To the bar again?]

“……….”

[Rather than taking me back……you went to a bar.]

“It’s fine right, once in a while? There are times when I feel like drinking alone as well.”

“[hou.]

It seems I have angered it quite a bit.

What should I do, I started thinking. Well, it’s mood will get better soon enough though. If it kept on sulking like that, I’d start feeling bad as well. Well, it was actually my fault though.

Well I feel like being alone sometimes as well so it should be fine, right? It would be fine in villages but if I let Ermenhilde alone somewhere in an inn like that with so many people, I afraid it would get stolen instantly.

Yesterday, since I gave it to Souichi coincidentally, I just went to the bar……..maybe because I felt a bit too relaxed after talking to Aya.

While giving excuses inside my head, I thought about how to improve its mood.

“Did you guys come just to give Ermenhilde back only?”(renji)

The noise of the adventurers around us was getting irritating.

This is why I hate being famous. No matter where you go you become the centre of attention. You can’t even talk while standing somewhere normally.

“I’ll come back after accepting a request so can you wait for a bit?”

“Sure, I’ll be over there.”

Saying that, I pushed through the adventurers surrounding us and left there. Ah, irritating. I’ll have to go seclude myself in some rural village again.

[You adulterer.]

“Where the hell are you learning these words?……”

Who the hell was it that taught it these words? Souichi doesn’t seem like he’d say such thing. Was it either Aya or Yayoi-chan?

I can’t really imagine either of them doing so but it should be one of them.

[Anyway, Renji.]

“Your attitude changed suddenly…..so, what is it?”

[They seem to have decided to send the captured demon to the Royal Capital.]

“Well, sounds obvious.”

[…….You aren’t surprised by that?]

Anyone would get to that conclusion if he were to think even a bit.

The royal capital has 4 knight orders that specialise against monsters, even demons. It’s natural to give something troublesome like a demon to their hands. Those idiots at Strategy(tactics) city would probably get all riled up saying that demons have attacked, so its time to get revenge but the guys in Magic city are slow to act so would definitely hand over something troublesome like this to others.

“And the ones meant to escort it to the capital are Souichi and others, right?”

[Muu, you’re no fun Renji.]

“It’s a serious thing like a demon after all. They’d obviously make them move to be absolutely sure.”

And that demon used summoning skills. Goblins—-and he also summoned that black ogre.

It would be one thing if it was just goblins but that black ogre would be too much for normal adventurers. Well I doubt that demon would be able to summon monsters like that so easily either though. Rather than that, if Souichi and others are going to the capital, I can also stick with those guys. If they’re transporting a demon, it’ll probably be carried in a carriage with barriers set around it. Then the escort will also be either on horses or in a carriage.

If I go with these guys, the travel would also be easier for me. If I were to walk, it’d take at least 20 days to get to the capital. It’ll take half the time in a carriage.

While gazing at the crowd of people going by in front of the guild, I thought about what could be done. If I couldn’t go with them, I’ll just have to walk though. That or I’ll have to take the escort quest from the guild.

“Ah, Renji-sama.”

“I don’t think I have become great enough to need a ‘-sama’ suffix but, what is it Miss Francesca?”

While I was thinking such things, Miss Francesca came out.

I sighed at the usual call of ‘-sama’. I just defeated a few goblins and one ogre in that fight. Aya, who took doubt countless goblins with just one magic spell is more worthy of being called like that in my opinion. Well, it’s her freedom how she calls anybody.

“So, did you take a request?”

“Yes. To collect materials for alchemy at the Forest of Magical Energy.”

“Hmmm.”

Rather than the request itself, I’m more worried about her getting lost while in the forest.

She did fight Orcs with me back then but somehow she still gives this unreliable, dangerous image. Just like a noble, she has that atmosphere.

“Are you alone?”

“No. I hired a guide just now.”

“Then it should be fine.”

For the time being, she should at least not get lost inside the forest now. Probably.

As long as that guide is not someone who does something weird. While I was thinking that, another one left the guild.

Gold hair and pointed ears. His sour looking face that I’d become used to seeing still looked handsome.

“Yo.”(renji)

“mu, You are…….”(T/N: Elf guy uses ‘anata-sama’ here for ‘you’ which is very honorific than normal)

His way of speaking changed.

I could only drop my shoulders at that and sigh.

“Please talk like usual. Frankly, the curious gazes alone are killing me already.”(renji)

“Fu……I thought you’d be laughing inside while hiding your true identity. So you just find it a pain, eh.”(elf)

“Obviously. Trouble is the nemesis of free journeys.”

[Without money, even that’s just a pipe dream though.]

” You sure say some dreamless things.”(renji)

Saying that, I flicked Ermenhilde in the air with my thumb.

As it twirled in the air, I caught it. On opening my hand, it was Heads. Yeah. I have good luck.

“Oh right what happened to your exam?”(renji)

“Ah, yes, I hadn’t told you…..very sorry.”(fran)

“No, no need to apologise. Well, it’s good you passed.”

“Yes…..though, I’ll be troubling you once again I think though.”(fran)

Huh? Why would you cause trouble now? I tilted my head in confusion.

In the first place, the Orc hunting helped me in earning a lot so it wasn’t really troublesome for me either.

When I was about to say that, Souichi and Yayoi appeared from the guild as well.

“Sorry to have made you wait.”(yayoi)

“Sorry, Renji-niichan.”

“Nah, it’s fine. I haven’t taken any request anyway.”

[If I hadn’t come, you were thinking of taking it easy again weren’t you?]

“No way. I woke today with the will to work Ermenhilde.  Look, I even shaved.”

[That’s nothing special.]

As usual, my partner continues nagging me.

As I shrugged, Souichi and Yayoi started laughing. Miss Francesca and others can’t hear Ermenhilde so they were making a confused face.

“Did you guys also accept a request?”(renji)

“Nope, we were giving out one.”

“I see. The escorting of the demon to the capital eh?”

When I said that, they both got very surprised.

“Ah, did Eru-san tell you?”

[Yeah but I couldn’t surprise him……..boring.]

“What kind of expectations do you have of me?”

Saying that I put the medal back inside my pocket.

“Maybe I should also take up some request…….”

.

.

.

Now how did it end up like this? I tilted my head in confusion.

Since I had finally met her again I decided to take the same quest as Miss Francesca to gather herbs but for some reason, Souichi and Yayoi-chan are also together with us. When I asked if it’d be fine with the school, the answered ‘yes’ with a smile. It was a smile I couldn’t really trust though. Especially Souichi’s. Later on, I’ll make sure to ask either Aya or Yayoi-chan about his grades at school.

But still, with this over powered force with us, I started feeling sad for the goblins we occasionally met.

After all, those goblins get torn apart along with their weapons and armor altogether. As expected of the Brave who has already defeated the last boss. As expected of the one who, in a sense, has the strongest cheat.

He also held the holy sword with a faint blue magical energy in his hands. Along with the cheat abilities, let alone me, not even the Elf guy got any chance to do something before the battle ended. It didn’t matter whether our opponent was just one or many.

For the time being, we left the fighting completely to Souichi. That was more effective than us doing it after all.

“…….this is the power of a Hero, eh?”(elf)

“Don’t put me in the same category, okay? I don’t even have half the strength Souichi has.”(renji)

“Again saying things like that…….”(yayoi)

It’s true though. I shrugged my shoulders at Yayoi-chan’s words.

In truth, though I have never fought against Souichi, I’m sure I’d lose against him in a one-on-one battle. Even if all 7 of Ermenhilde’s covenants were released, I won’t be able to beat him.

I can only bring out my full strength against the Demon God but Souichi, as long as his will is not broken, can use his full strength against anyone.

His cheat is an extraordinary one even among us 13. Because he’s called a Brave, Souichi is that strong. Because he himself wishes to be and live like that.

Though I think it’d be better if he’d just live like a kid his age rather than with some heavy title like that. But he’s free to live as he likes. If he himself wishes it, I won’t go against it.

“I think Renji-sama is also strong enough to not lose against Souichi-sama though?”(fran)

“No way. If I was fighting alone on the front like that, I can at most take on 2 goblins at the same time.”

If I could ambush them, maybe I could take a few more but I can’t charge head-on and unmatched like Souichi does. In the first place, it’s weird to go and fight monsters alone.

[Renji, I want to cut something too.]

“Why did you say something so violent out of nowhere?”

“??”

Please don’t give into your instincts. It’s troubleome.

Also, since she couldn’t hear Ermenhilde’s voice, Miss Francesca looked cute as she tilted her head in confusion as I talked to myself.

“By the way, Aya wasn’t with you guys?”(renji)

“Aya-chan had classes…….of right, Renji-oniisan.”(yayoi)

“Hm?”

I always treat Souichi and Aya as a set so it simply felt unusual for them to not be together which is why I asked. But for some reason, Yayoi-chan suddenly asked in a somewhat angry manner. Did I do something? I tried to remember yesterday but couldn’t find any problem.

“Aya-chan was in an extremely good mood but, did you say something to her?”(yayoi)

“Well, we just chatted idly though.”(renji)

“fuuun”

Clearly she doesn’t believe me.

But well, it really was like that. We did just talked about the past and also, I made her worry about me and that’s it.

[So, after dropping Aya off at her dorm, you nonchalantly went to a bar, eh?]

Don’t hold a grudge for that.

There had been times when I left Ermenhilde in my room and went drinking alone while we 2 travelled as well. I don’t think it’s that unusual.

“Aya-sama did seem to be in a good mood from early morning.”(fran)

“fuun, by the way, what kind of ‘good mood’ was she in?”(renji)

“Skipping around, and humming etc, basically.”(fran)

That’s it?

“Aya’s usually like that whenever she is even slightly happy.”

[umu. She’s a cute one after all.]

Leaving aside whether that’s cute or not, during our journey she’d be like that whenever something good happened I think.

On improving her magic or finding a rare item etc.

Was it really as special as Miss francesca or Yayoi-chan say?

“waa.”(yayoi)

“Nothing happened that should make you sigh nor did I do anything like that you know?”(renji)

Saying that, I kneeled on the ground. I found some the herbs we were looking for. It’s still far from the amount needed to finish our job but it’s still important spirit grass. I carefully plucked it out.

“A crime of conscience is it? Renji-oniisan.”(yayoi)

“Well, for a man like me, I don’t understand even a fragment of a woman’s heart.”(renji)

“Hm? What are you guys talking about?”(souichi)

After defeating all the goblins and still not being even short on breath, Souichi came back. Behind him was the Elf guy with bow in his hands. Seeing two handsome men walk together sure is picturesque.

“We’re talking about how men can’t understand the heart of women.”

“Ah, true, Aya gets angry at me a lot for the same reason.”(souichi)

“What kind of conversation are you guys having while in between completing a request?”(elf)

[Seriously.]

The serious Elf and Ermenhilde seemed to be amazed at us. He even shrugged his shoulders and sighed. In his hands was Spirit grass multiple times more than mine. He really is one serious guy.

“Since it’s Brother, it can’t be helped.”(yayoi)

“…….That’s very hurting to hear on its own you know?”(souichi)

Well, it is Souichi we’re talking about. He’s the type that always gets too close. So much that you have to push him away a bit.

Although its nice to be honest to what you’re thinking, but it’s troublesome if you’re too honest. Though he seems to have matured a bit from that.

“It’s fine. Brother, you have me after all.”(yayoi)

“Well what can I do with that………”(souichi)

“………”

Really, Souichi has no understanding of women at all.

Well, Yayoi-chan is unique on her own as well though. It seems as usual, someone will have to tell them to be relieved and stuff. (T/N: I kinda took liberty with this sentence since the actual line makes no real sense in english. It’s weird in jap as well tho. Just ignore. Not really important)

I’ll leave these things to Utano-san. She’s a woman as well after all. I have no idea what I should say after all.

“You two really do get along.”(renji)

“Yes!”(yayoi)

“Really?(souichi)

When Souichi said that, Yayoi-chan’s smile cramped. Miss Francesca was also giving a troubled smile.

What is this? Though I had been talking till now as well but somehow this feels more like a picnic instead.

Though the main reason is Souichi being here. After all, there’s no danger. Goblins aren’t even a danger anymore. Other wild beasts also stay away due to the Holy Sword’s aura.

While collecting Spirit Grass with the Elf, I sighed. It’s good to be living like children. Yeah.

“Say, during the journey for the Demon God’s subjugation..”(elf)

“Hm?

On Elf guy’s question, I nodded him to continue after a second.

“Were you guys like this even that time?”

“Ahh.”

No matter how low the danger on this request may be, this kind of carefree atmosphere was not normal.

In the first place, it was weird to be carefree even while goblins come attacking.

“No. That time, we didn’t have such leisure.”(renji)

I remembered the journey which was painful, agonizing and made me cry so many times.

Now, it only feels nostalgic—–it has become a precious memory of mine.

“That makes me relieved.”(elf)

“Relieved?”(renji)

When I questioned, this time the Elf shrugged his shoulders.

“If you said that you travelled with this mood and had killed the Demon God…….I would have been at a loss for words.”

“Well, that’s true.”

At that time, we were at our limits every day. We had never done such journeys, we weren’t even used to walking for long times.

After being summoned to this world, we were trained by the Knight Orders and were entrusted with the hopes and expectations of everyone.

“But, it’s fine now.”(renji)

“Is that how it is?”(elf)

“To laugh happily, for such a world, we had worked so hard after all.”

After saying, even I felt that it was a foolish line to say. If my former comrades were here, they’d all say that it doesn’t suit me saying that at all. I realise that.

I know that there are still many that still cannot laugh.

There are too many orphans in this world.  Too many who have lost their loved ones. We saved the world but there are still people that have not been saved yet. But still.

“—–I see.”(elf)

[umu. That’s right.]

On Ermenhilde’s words, I started laughing.

Yeah, that’s right. That’s exactly how it is.

Right now, at this moment, finally, I felt that it was great that I came to Magic City. I was glad to have met Souichi and others. I felt that from the bottom of my heart.

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