Chapter 27 Road to the capital (4)
The view from the back of the horse felt nostalgic and it cheered me up. I felt it was unbecoming of my age.
Riding horses required stamina of a different kind than walking. What I want to say is, my whole body hurts.
“…….. I’m tired.”
[Again you’re talking like that.]
I had heard Ermenhilde’s fed up voice countless times already.
But I really am tired. Even though a year ago I used to work hard, fight during the day and be on guard duty during the night. I wonder is it the one-year blank or have I just got too old for this.
While thinking about that I threw wood into the fire in front of me.
“Shouldn’t you sleep for a while?”
“Yeah. Switch with me later.”
Feirona asked me that worriedly, but the order for night duty had already been decided. Well, I’ll switch with him after a few hours I just work hard till then.
They must have been tired from the journey because Ms Francesca and Mururu at already gone to sleep on the soft grass. Since we did not prepare anything comfortable like a tent, they were sleeping with just a blanket covering the whole body.
Only me and Feirona and Aya one awake right now. We had surrounding the bonfire but there was barely any conversation. In the darkness of the night only the sound of the fire crackling could be heard.
“Then, I’ll go to sleep first.”
“Please do. I’ll wake you up when it’s time.”
“……Then, take your time.”
what the hell does he mean by that. Giving a scornful laugh I broke another piece of wood for the fire.
Giving me a suggestive look by, he also went to sleep. Only me and Aya remained. Also Ermenhilde.
“Is it fine not to go to sleep?”
I see. I threw more wood into the fire.
I did not say it out loud but I once again felt nostalgic.
During the journey to kill the Demon God we often spent time like this. I wonder how long has it been……
At first she was cautious of me and barely talked. After that incident with the Ogre, she began talking. I recall the reason but cannot remember exactly how long ago it was. Probably, Aya remembers though. Realising that I felt a bit apologetic.
“It feels nostalgic right?”
After a long silence, she spoke up.
“Yeah, that’s right. Back then we used to spend lot of time like this.”
When I said she replied in a happy manner. Was she happy that I remembered it was it simply because she could start a conversation. It was probably the former.
Her face shining from the fire looked more mature than those times.
“What is it?”
“How is your life in the Academy? Is it fun?”
When I asked that she looked at me and started laughing. She was trying to restrain herself apparently it was too funny.
Did I ask something weird? I tilted my head in confusion.
“Renji-san asks questions like an actual father would.”
That was not really my intention. I could only scratch my head. That must have been funny as well because she started laughing again.
[Why not ask something more romantic instead?]
What kind of question is that?
“fufu, what is it this time?”
I tried to think of a topic but nothing came to my mind. Questions regarding romance came to mind but if asked her “do you have a boyfriend?” I know exactly what would happen to me……..
Yayoi-chan probably would not have gotten a boyfriend and Souichi had not gotten a girlfriend when I asked him the last time. That guy is awkward and sucks it lying so it’s probably true.
Somehow I feel that the difficulty of asking questions suddenly increased due to what Ermenhilde said to me.
As I spent time just looking at her, Aya sighed somewhat fed up yet somewhat enjoying this. To be unable to even hold a proper conversation, I really am an useless adult.
As I dropped my shoulders, Aya threw more wood into the fire while showing a gentle smile.
While looking at her smile, I once again felt that she had become more mature. Back then she had a childish side to her and a cute one as well. Though sometimes she would surprise me by suddenly acting like an adult as well.
But her current smile held a womanly charm that could captivate anyone. Feeling a bit weird, I averted my gaze from her to the fire. What am I thinking of a child 10 years younger than me? I sighed again. I, myself, feel more childish than her. It was both pathetic and embarrassing.
“The Magic Academy, it’s fun. I made a lot of friends and could also read lots of magic documents as well.”
[Friends? If it’s Aya, you must have a lot of many friends as well?]
Don’t ask that. As usual, I could only hope that my partner would learn to read the mood.
I don’t know how she took that question, but she was now looking shyly towards the fire. She really has grown a lot this past one year. I had never seen smile like this before.
For the time being, let’s just hit Ermenhilde inside my pocket and hope it tries to read the mood more.
“Well, as long as you’re having fun, it’s fine. It’s important for classmates to have fun with each other.”
Once again I averted the topic. Though it must be like Ermenhilde had said. I am also a man after all, whether it be my comrade or someone younger than me, I end up seeing them in that way anyway. Right now, we were talking like it’s normal but we had not been summoned, we would never had even made contact.
And now she even had the title of a hero. It’s normal to have the attention of guys.
“…….. Is that it?”
Apparently she was not happy with my words because she was now pouting and I also felt that her gaze had become sharper as well. Pretending to have not noticed that I threw more wood into the fire.
“I just want Aya to simply enjoy a normal life as a student.”
Probably, Utano-san had the same reason to send these kids to the magic Academy. They were 15 years old. Normally one would spent time playing with their friends at this age.
“Renji-san always runs away like that.”
“I’m an adult after all.”
“It’s not fair.”
“Adults are never fair, Aya.”
When I shrugged my shoulders saying that, I only got a sigh in response. Ermenhilde was the same.
If I had to answer honestly, I’ll have to take a step forward. I’ll have no choice but to clearly understand what she expects from me.
And I don’t think even she wants that. As a result, even though she would show discontentment when I ‘run away’ like this, she never gets truly angry. I think she enjoys my playing with words.
We were silent for a while after that. Once again, only the sound of the crackling fire, the swaying of grass doing and sleeping sounds of Ms Francesca came to our ears.
“It really is nostalgic, right?”
“It truly is.”
I feel we’ve had this same kind of conversation a long time before.
I would be unfair and she would be direct and honest.
What is it that she expects from me I wonder.
During the journey, both Utano-san and Toudo would often scold me. But even so, we have yet to find the answer. And even if we did I wonder if I could see that out loud.
[You 2 seriously……. Don’t make any progress at all.]
“You just keep your mouth shut.”
This bastard, I really will throw away.
“Eru has also changed.”
“You have become more human-like.”
[…… I am a weapon though.]
I silently laughed at Aya’s words. When I did, I could feel Ermenhilde’s atmosphere become disappointed.
It can’t be helped, after all, I see you as my partner and not just a weapon. That’s why I felt happy when Aya said that. And it’s amusing to see you get disappointed at that in such a human like way.
“So she says.”
[Why do both of you don’t treat me like a weapon…….. No, all of you 13 summoned ones are like that.]
It even started grumbling like that.
That was even more amusing as me and Aya started laughing again. It’s your fault for saying something so strange.
“You really should go to sleep now.”
“I will go to sleep when it’s your turn to sleep as well.”
There’s deep meaning behind what she said, but depending on how you look at it, one could really take it the wrong way.
“I hope you don’t say that to someone else as well?”
“I don’t. Only to you, Renji-san.”
She started giggling. I thought of answering in an amusing way but gave up in the end simply scratched my head.
I wonder serious or just messing with me. Must be the latter. Cause that would be better for my heart.
I could reply like that only and she as well replied with just one word.
I think that’s fine to be honest.
While we gazed at the bonfire in front of us, I gave a sigh. Even after one year we haven’t changed. I wonder if that’s good or bad. If I were to use Ermenhilde’s words, there is no progress.
When I was thinking like that, Aya silently stood up. And came and sat beside me just like that.
“You did this when we were travelling as well back then a lot.”
But I feel that the distance between us is shorter than what it was back then. Would this be called as progress I wonder.
Also, it’s troublesome that I don’t have anyone to entrust Ermenhilde with like I had back then.
Normally I would leave it with Souichi or Utano-san. I should think about maybe giving it to Ms Francesca or Feirona the next time we camp. Well, it’s not like this party would continue for ever. I would probably not travel with Aya after this.
In the end after that we barely talked any more. The fact that I had stayed on night duty more than required and forgot to wake up Feirona till much later, I’ll just consider this that we were serious in our duty. I guess I must have been affected too much by my nostalgia.
The fact that the we have made no progress, means that our relationship has not changed in any year. That in turn means that my position inside Aya’s heart has not changed even though I had disappeared so selfishly. I should be happy for that——- right?
After switching with Feirona, I positioned myself so. Giving a wry smile, I closed my eyes.
[Yes. Sleep well, Renji.]
Tomorrow, we will be going through a forest filled with ghosts and undead. I won’t have the time to think of such useless things.
I hated that part of myself that ran away from my own thoughts.
Adults really are dirty. They only run away all the time.