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KENS Chapter 26

Chapter 26 Road to the Capital (3) 

(T/N: I just realized I had been translating the chapter titles for the past 2 as ‘Road to the kingdom’ for some reason when it was ‘road to the capital’. Why? I don’t fcking know! Probably because there’s a WN with a similar name and I got that mixed up. I swear I’m always in some kind of a daze when I’m translating this stuff. :P)

While attaching our luggage to the Horses’ saddle, I yawned when my eyes met Miss Francesca’s. Feeling embarrassed, I tried to hide it by concentrating on arranging our luggage.

Early mornings during the fall season were chilly and the sky was still dim and gloomy.

“Renji-san, do you need help somewhere?”

While I was preparing near the city gate, the girl behind me asked me that.

“No, I’m fine. Or rather, me and Feirona are enough for the preparations so you can rest some more, you know?” (T/N: Faylona = Feirona now as per the official english in the illustrations.)

“No……I’m fine. Even I have gotten somewhat used to travelling now.”

“Well, I know that.”

While answering her, I wondered why did it end up like this for nth time. Even though I actually know the reason as well.

I looked at the girl behind me who was crouching and packing things in a bag right now; Fuyou Aya. One of the 13 Heroes, the genius known as the [Grand Magus].

………Why did she accept such a request which has basically zero reward?

Well, I can somehow guess the reason but I’m not really sure. That’s why I end up hesitating to ask her directly as well. Because I know Aya herself would be troubled on how to answer that if I asked her something like that. What does the girl Fuyou Aya expect from the man called Yamada Renji? Neither I nor Aya herself have yet to settle on an answer to that.

It’s weird that we’re still travelling together even though its like that. I did try to persuade her otherwise as well. There would be no reward, she’d miss her classes as well and there’s even the job of transporting that Demon to the capital 1 week later. I don’t think she’d have the time to stick with us, but…

“Still, you’re ready to come with us?”(renji)

“Yes.”

It was an instant answer. I could only sigh. It’d be useless to say anything more so I gave up. I already tried enough. She won’t listen to me even if I asked her not to now anyway. Not to mention, I’d make her mood worse as well. If that happened, worse case, I’d end up in a hole in the middle of the city…….I believe she wouldn’t do that to me but since there have been past cases of multiple men who have suffered that so I can’t be certain.

I felt like Ermenhilde was laughing inside my pocket. Must be my imagination.

“After all, you took a request with Souichi and Yayoi but……..It’s not fair.(aya)

“Even if you tell me that..”

They were there so it had ended up like that. It’s not like I was biased in any way, and if the chance had appeared I would have done a quest with Aya as well. Well, it’s true that I didn’t invite her though. Her pouting appearance looked really cute but if I knew things would end up like this, I would have invited her back then.

Well, even in that case, she would have probably joined us with a different excuse. It’s a fact though that her coming with us will be a really great help to be honest. Leaving mine and Aya’s circumstances aside, her ability is the real thing. Much greater than me or Miss Francesca. You could say that she was in a different level.

[At times like these, you should just be honest you know?]

“The fact that I can’t is one of the pains that come with being an adult.”

“What the heck does that even mean?”(aya)

Saying that, Aya giggled.

Seeing her like that, I could only sigh while drooping my shoulders.

“I don’t want you to do dangerous stuff and as a student I want you to be studying at school, is what I mean.”

“It’s fine. I’m actually pretty smart you know?”

Lifting her bag on her shoulders, she looked at me with a serene smile. Trust—I can feel her trust in me from her gaze. I’ve seen that gaze countless times during our journey. That’s why I can’t reject it now either. But I still questioned whether I actually had enough strength to be called worthy of receiving that smile. I, can only work hard and try my best to answer her smile, her trust. But the gap between our powers wouldn’t disappear.

“My studies will also be fine. Also……if I get into trouble, help me again alright?”(aya)

But Aya still said something like that to me with a smile. Those words were definitely said because she remembers the promise I once made to her long back.

Rustling my hair, I averted my gaze. That was embarrassing. In fact, I want you to help me…….But I can’t say that since I’m the guy and the adult here. I can’t ask a girl younger than me to protect me after all.

“………..”

“……..um, your reply?”(aya)

Now then, how should I answer that? Thinking, I looked towards Miss Francesca who was glancing towards us. Feirona and Mururu didn’t care about us and were busy doing their packing. I’m thankful for that. Miss Francesca must be wondering why a hero like Aya chose to accept such a request I guess. Well, the reason’s nothing more than the fact that I and Aya know each other.

The meeting place I had put in the request was the city’s east gate but when I got there, I really was surprised since Aya was there waiting for us. Apparently, even Souichi was perfectly okay with Aya coming with us. Well, that guy is Aya’s ally before anything…….though there’s also the part where he really can’t go against Aya as well. Please try to be a bit more stronger, Souichi.

Well, certainly this is a great help for us but how am I supposed to explain why a Hero was taking part in this quest to others? I wonder how much would it normally cost to hire a Hero to do your request?

I wasn’t even expecting anyone. Worst case we three, Feirona, me and Mururu, alone would be journeying alone or so I thought. It was already a great surprise when Miss Francesca decided to accept that request. Though that itself was pretty weird. Why would she even accept such a dangerous request?

According to the person herself, she just wants to have an adventure. But the details were even more interesting.

Soon, Miss Francesca would graduate from school. As a noble daughter, she’d have very less freedom after that. After all, nobles have various duties of their own. After she graduates she won’t get any chance to go on something like an adventure. I doubt her family would even allow something like that.

I have quite a few nobles in my list of acquaintances as well. I remember that they didn’t have much freedom either. Thinking that way, Miss Francesca has actually received quite a lot freedom. I guess there’d be quite a lot of nobles who wouldn’t see that as good but that’s her problem to deal with. I can’t help with that.

This journey would be dangerous, it could even be fatal for her. While understanding that, she still wants to come with us so I can’t really refuse her. It’s better to have as much firepower as possible after all.

“I’m done with the preparations. What about you?”

“Yeah, I’m done as well.”

I called Feirona and it seems they’re done with prep as well and were walking towards us. Aya’s gaze felt like it became stronger towards me but I didn’t pay it any heed. Unfortunately, I’ve decided to stop saying extremely embarrassing phrases from now on. In the first place, only heroes have the right to say those kinds of lines. They’re too heavy for me.

We had bought 3 horses. Feirona on one horse, Mururu and Miss Francesca on one and me and Aya on the last. I would have preferred to have Miss Francesca behind me but if I had said that, let alone falling in a hole, I feel like I would’ve been burnt to death.

Thinking such stuff, I turned towards Mururu. She’s making a somewhat sleepy face probably because she’s not a morning person. Even though we’re leaving on a difficult journey, I felt calming down a bit seeing her face.

“Wake up, Mururu. It’s to depart.”

“Un—-I’m fine.”

You definitely don’t look fine at all though. Miss Francesca shook her by her shoulders to wake her up but that only made her head to sway front and back. Her ponytail also swayed along with it making it look amusing.

When I looked towards Feirona, he shrugged his shoulders as if troubled. I’m not really minding it since I only feel calmer due to her.

“Leaving the sleepy girl aside, I look forward to working with you, Aya-dono.”(elf)

“Yes, same here.”

Like that, Feirona and Aya did a formal introduction to each other. But even though it didn’t feel very stiff probably because of their personalities.

While I was thinking that, I felt something pull my mantle. On looking, it was Mururu.

“What is it?”(renji)

“Who?”

She asked that while pointing towards Aya………So she really doesn’t know. I am one thing but it was surprising that she didn’t recognise even Aya. At that Miss Francesca panicked and hurriedly explained her about Aya. Well, it’s not like Aya’d get angry just because Mururu didn’t recognise her you know? She’s not that narrow minded. In fact Aya would find it better to be honest.

It’s really tiresome to be treated as a Hero constantly. Mentally, that is. I think Aya is of the same opinion since she looked at Mururu and Francesca with a troubled expression.

“……..a Hero chosen by the Goddess.”

I don’t know how Miss Francesca explained her but that was how Mururu described Aya now.

“Nice to meet you, um…..”(aya)

“Mururu.”

“I see. Nice to meet you, Mururu.”

“Likewise.”

While smiling wryly, Aya greeted Mururu. Mururu didn’t seem to be on guard against Aya either and greeted her back as well.

“So we’re done with the pleasantries?”(renji)

“Yeah. Let’s depart quickly.”(elf)

“un.”(mururu)

Mururu nodded at Feirona’s words and we split in our respective groups.

Originally, Mururu was supposed to be with me and Aya with Miss Francesca but Aya changed that. The reason…….as an adult I shouldn’t pry too deeply into that. But I should say that even I wouldn’t get feelings for a child like Mururu in any case.

The horses in this world were more robust and strong-built ones like in armies ratehr than the racehorses we see normally. They were strong enough to carry two grown humans along with luggage and still have enough stamina to run. But in exchange, they weren’t that fast though still much faster than walking. Sitting on the saddle made for two first, I extended my hand towards Aya.

Taking my hand, and using that as a fulcrum, she skilfully sat on the saddle. When someone has good looks, they sure look beautiful even while doing the most mundane of actions.

On glancing towards miss Francesca and Mururu, they had also climbed on their horse. Miss Francesca was in her usual travel clothes along with her leather breastplate and Mururu was wrapped in her white cloak. But since she was on a horse, her volptuous thighs were visible to the eye from under the cloak.

While I was looking at that, Aya suddenly pinched me from behind. It actually hurt a bit.

“I leave the horse riding to you.”(aya)

“Hm, yeah.”

Giving a short reply, I made the horse start running. If I were to give some excuse, I’d only be dragged deeper into the swamp after all. I know that from my own life experience. A good man doesn’t make the mistake twice. Probably.

The guard on the gate was surprised by my and Aya’s appearance but I decided to ignore him. After I’m done with this request, I should probably retire to some rural village once again. I don’t want to stand out like this any longer after all.

[What were you doing?]

“Nothing weird, really.”

When I said that, I heard a sigh from inside my pocket. I really am not trusted at all.

“Souichi looks at Francesca-senpai’s chest a lot as well……..are all men like that?”(aya)

“………”

That’s really difficult to answer. Not to mention, that the person herself seems to have heard the question since I felt that her horse slightly moved away a bit from us. Must be my imagination.

But really there is no way to answer this question. At least not for a 28yr old man to a 18yr old girl. Somehow I could only apologise to Souichi in my head. It seems Miss Francesca’s affection points for him instantly dropped even though he wasn’t even here.

As the horse swayed while running, Aya hugged me tightly from behind so as to not fall off. Right now she wasn’t in her uniform but was in a light, scarlet robe with silver embroidery which could make one feel the sensation of her skin almost directly. Though her height has grown, she hasn’t really grown. Obviously, I can’t say that out loud. Well, I was also wearing a robe over my tunic so what I felt wasn’t really that much.

These clothes of her were made out of holy silver thread taken from a special bug/crawler then had the protection of the Fire spirit Salamander applied on it turning it into a scarlet colour. Above that, the embroidery was made out of mithril as well. The robe she wore above it was also made out of the skin of a water dragon. On her waist was a mithril short sword with an emerald embedded at the end of the handle; and a magicians short rod with an almost transparent amethyst like gem embedded on top.

It’s the same equipment as when she had fought against the Demon God. All of it were so valuable that they were essentially priceless. It could make one think that she was leaving to maybe start a war all on her own. Well, when you’re on a journey, actually it might be better to be well equipped like her. You don’t know what could happen after all so its better to be at top equipment always. I, who buys no new equipment due to lack of money is actually the one who does it wrong.

“But still, when we’re on horses like this, you end up thinking back of times when we travelled together right?”(renji)

“…….haah.”(aya)

She gave a sigh seeing that I had dodged her question but she didn’t pursue any further. Thank god for that.

“That’s true. After Yui-chan contracted with that Dragon, we started to always use that dragon to travel.”(aya)

Hiyuu Yui. One of the heroes known as the Monster User/Tamer. She was the youngest among us 13. I wonder how she’s doing these days. All of the monsters she contracted were famous ones. A Fairy who was a master in spirit magic. A Ghost Knight that was immortal and a master swordsman. And an ancient dragon that called itself a king. I think they should be at the Elfreim continent right now. That place might be better to live in right now.

“Do you know what Yui’s doing nowadays——?”(renji)

“I wonder. Maybe Yuuko-san knows about it.”

Utano-san eh. I wonder what that person is doing right now as well. But considering it’s her, she must have taken a lot of workload on herself and working hard right now, I guess. That’s the kind of person she is. She can be scary at times too though.

“Renji, let’s head straight towards the Forest of Rotting Souls.”(elf)

“Sure! We’ll go till the entrance and spend the night there. ”

Making the horse run by our side, Feirona told us about our current destination. Forest of Rotting Souls. As it name suggests, it’s a place where the dead walk and ghosts appear and the living rarely enter. The highway to the capital is made going around this forest but if we break through it directly, we’ll be able to reduce a lot of time. Last night, me and Feirona decided to break through it while planning our routes to take.

Zombies are pretty tough but they have dull movement. Ghosts are harmless as long as you have a strong spirit/will. If we wanted to kill them we’d need silver-made equipment but if it was just to pass through, it was pretty easy.

Well, originally only me, Feirona and Mururu were going to be travelling but now that we have Aya and Miss Francesca with us as well, we could kill them with magic too. Zombie’s could be killed with physical weapons but ghosts were completely spirit types. Either magic or silver was compulsory. At first we could only ignore them and rush through the forest but now we would be pretty safe while going through it.

The only problem left is to make sure that we don’t get lost. But with Feirona, the elf, with us, we should be fine with that as well.

[Journeying with Aya. How nostalgic.]

“Yes, that’s true. I’ll be in your care as well, Eru.”(aya)

[Yeah, I leave Renji to you Aya.]

“…….why me?”

I could only sigh. It’s true though so I couldn’t really refute it either.

It’s been one year since I travelled with Aya, with one of my comrades.

While running through the early morning, misty highway, I felt myself getting a bit excited. Aya must be the same as well. Thinking that, I became a bit happier.

 

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