Chapter 50 Footsteps of Disasters and Troublesome Things
As I took off the heavy and difficult to move in armour, I ended up leaking a sigh in relief.
Toudou beside me seemed to be the same as he also breathed a truly tired sounding sigh. The brown haired Head Maid—-Angela-san looked at him with a smile as she helped Toudou in removing his armour.
Wearing a black one piece dress with a white apron above, and her semi-long hair tied behind her head and the iconic headband on her head, she had the perfect look of a maid. Even her tight atmosphere had not changed making others focus on their tasks as well………..but today, or rather, right now, this Head maid, who is famous for being always strict and harsh, seemed to have a gentle expression as she interacted with Toudou. At least, compared to the time when I was in the castle back an year ago, her atmosphere seems completely different. She looks like someone dealing with her troublesome younger brother, or child maybe; close yet maintained some distance between them.
I am definitely not imagining this. Even like the way I am, I am pretty confident of my ability to gauge women.
“Hm, What is it?”
“Do you show up at the castle quite a lot or something?”
When I asked that, he looked at me with puzzled face having not understood why I was asking that.
“No, not really, Why?”(toudou)
“No, you seemed pretty close to Angela-san so I thought so…….”
“It’s probably your imagination?”(Angela)
[Why, what’s the matter?]
It seems he really didn’t understand what I was implying as toudou tilted his head in confusion. And Angela-san as well, answered without showing any expression on her face.
What is this? How should I say it, I feel like there’s a wall in between. It might just be my imagination but I’m pretty sensitive to such changes you know?………I’m sure there’s a difference between how she acts with me and him.
“…….What’s up with that, you’re making me curious now.”(toudou)
“Don’t mind it.”
[You’re making a weird face, Renji.]
Drop it, will you partner? I was born with this weird face okay? While feeling a bit sad inside, I replied that.
Unlike Ermenhilde and Toudou, Angela-san did realize something……but she continued to briskly help Toudou remove his armour. She truly is the model maid, I can’t find a way to tease her. Well I’d probably get scolded if I go too far as well so I can’t tell how much far I can go with it. After neatly placing the removed armour on the table, I was thinking of how to tease Toudou when Angela-san gave a glance towards me. There, underneath the cold eyes that resembled Utano-san’s, I felt I also saw a slight bit of shyness.
“As usual, your habits of teasing have not gone it seems.”(angela)
“Even like this, I feel like I’m am actually being quite considerate you know?”
Was her sigh meant for me or towards Toudou? Or maybe it was meant for herself.
Toudou’s denseness is definitely a problem but Angela-san not letting her shyness show at all is a problem as well. She must not feel very good to show such a side of her personality.
Maids are beings that kill their personal desires to work solely for their masters apparently. She must feel that it would be a mistake to let such a side of her personality to be shown. She seemed quite similar to the early Utano-san making me feel a bit nostalgic. Well, she’s still not the type who expresses much emotion easily though.
While giving a sidelong glance at those two who seemed to be ‘flirting’ while removing his armour, I gently stroked the armour set I kept on the table. A full mithril armour set. I wonder how many silver coins were spent to buy all this. (T/N: reminder, silver >gold in this world)
[What are you doing?]
“no, just, you know.”
[That doesn’t really tell me anything.]
Normally I don’t treat Ermenhilde as preciously as I am treating this armour set, it’s more like flicking her with my fingers or hitting her while in pocket etc after all. Her voice seemed to be a bit irritated. Her reaction was so amusing that I teased her only to get a more sulky reply from her. I, who was really enjoying her irritated voice, might not have a very good personality after all.
“To me, yamada-san and Eru-san seem to be on better terms though?”(toudou)
He seemed to be grinning thinking that he was teasing me as payback but it’s a true fact though. Something like that isn’t going to trouble me.
Ermenhilde answered that in an irritated voice but her tone turned for the better at the end hearing that. She’s so easy to understand. So when I agreed without any hesitation, all of her bad mood disappeared instantly.
“Really, you two get along so well.”
“But who did she take it after, she’s started scolding me recently.”(renji)
[That’s because you’re always being so undisciplined.]
As Toudou spoke that, Ermenhilde replied in a loud voice as if I had said something false. But still, her voice still seemed more happier than normal. I guess her mood really must have gotten better.
Probably because I didn’t pay her much attention recently. Or maybe because I had been holding that mithril sword instead of her for the past few days.
“So, how’s it been for you recently, Angela-san?”
“I’m talking about you, Toudou.”(renji)
When I said that while laughing, Toudou simply tilted his head in confusion and behind him, Angela-san narrowed her eyes without letting Toudou realize.
Even her cold strong eyes now only seemed like a way to hide her embarrassment.
“I’ll leave it to your imagination, Renji-sama.”(angela)
Even while listening to our conversation, she continued to remove Toudou’s armour skilfully. As expecetd of the Head Maid, I guess. Maybe she had realized my intention, she did not let any emotion flow into her words, let alone her expression.
As expected, I could definitely feel this wall of difference between me and Toudou.
I’m not really feeling sad about it, in fact that’s what makes this so amusing.
[You’re making a mean teasing face again, Renji.]
“What do you mean by, ‘again’?”
I don’t recall making such a face before.
And Toudou as usual made a confused face not really understanding what was going on…….This guy is so dense!
Does he not even realize that even I got no help from a single maid since the preparations for the tournament were so hectic?
“That aside, what are you going to do about the bet?”(toudou)
“Didn’t we bet that the winner will be treated to a meal?”
“What are you ‘oh yeah’-ing for? You were the first one to lose, Ermenhilde.”(renji)
So she goes silent when it’s against her eh?
Well, it’s not like Ermenhilde could cook anyway. Or rather, I doubt anyone would have guessed that among the teams we chose, Souichi’s team would be the first one to lose.
If I had to say, we all thought the adventurer team from the Commerce City that Toudou bet on would be out the first. After all, even if they had good equipment, they were still amateurs……..well, maybe that would be saying too much but it’s true that they were low on experience. Though the reason maybe because there aren’t much monsters near there. That might be the effect of a demon god’s descendant as well but let’s leave that aside for now.
More important was Souichi and Masaki-chan’s duel. I didn’t expect Souichi to lose due to violation of rules. Well, that was fun to watch on its own and it really excited the audience as well so it’s fine though.
Souichi’s transformation. He possesses not just goddess Astraera’s but also the Spirit God Zwenelia’s divine protection as well. That was the special characteristic of the Brave only and also the proof that he was the wielder of the Holy Sword as well. Among all of us 13, only he is the one who has received the divine protection of 2 gods.
When used, his hair turn silver and eyes turn golden. It’s not as much as Koutarou but his appearance changes quite a bit. On top of being child faced as well, Souichi ends up looking even more girl-like. If he was a bit more taller, he really would look like Astraera like the people say.
“Well in the end, the one who won the bet was Kuuki though.”(renji)
“yeah. I’ll prepare the place and ingredients so at least help me with the cooking okay?”(toudou)
“Sure. Well, even I’d feel bad if I didn’t help even that much.”
[What should I do?]
“Cheer and encourage us as we work or something.”
“No, wait, that’d be way too uncharacteristic of her to do something like that or rather, how should I say this………”(toudou)
Seeing our talk, Toudou spoke in a troubled tone. He must be really worried about how to react.
Certainly, even if Ermenhilde cheered for us like [Do your best!~] even I wouldn’t know what kind of face to make afterwards.
AS we continued such chatter, Angela-san finished taking off the armour off Toudou. Why did it take more time than me to take his armour off when I was doing it alone? I doubt I’ll get the answer even if I ask though.
“Well, the treat will be after the tournament is fully over though.”(renji)
“Somehow, that sounds like you just raised a flag to be honest.”(toudou)
“oi, you idiot, shut up. Don’t jinx it.”
Seriously why would he say something like that.
“I don’t intend to raise any flags right now.
Saying that, I loosened the collar of the shirt I was wearing underneath the armour.
His collar must have been tight as well as he moved around his neck and shoulders with a smile.
“now then, I’ll take your armours for safekeeping.”(angela)
Saying that, she clapped her hands when a few maids, they were probably waiting behind the door, came in.
Wait if so many were available, couldn’t one of these have helped me with taking off the armour as well? I don’t really find it to be unreasonable but somehow, I felt a bit unconvinced, making me feel a bit strange.
Giving a word of thanks to the maids, I started to leave the room.
But, while I was leaving, one of them said “Please learn to read the mood more.” in reply.
[So Renji is bad at reading the mood eh?]
“Not as much as you.”
Giving a curt reply, I gave a sigh.
But c’mon, I couldn’t help but tease them. A straight-laced maid and a dense cook. I’m sure even the maids, who seem to be carefully watching over their progress, should have enjoyed this as well.
Maybe because I wasn’t in the armour anymore, my body felt cold as I walked through the stone corridor along with Toudou. We didn’t pass by anyone else probably because everyone’s out watching the tournament. Only maids and guards in steel armour were left. All would bow as they’d pass us but their minds didn’t seem to be here though. I’m sure they wanted to go watch the tournament as well.
“Nah, just thinking how nice and peaceful it is right now.”
“Yeah. It’s nice.”
Both me and Toudou muttered the same thing.
It might feel like we were old men when saying that though. While thinking that, I turned left at the crossroads.
There, I recalled something and raised my voice and looked towards Toudou. While looking at me who stopped suddenly, Toudou stopped as well.
“I forgot to say something to Angela-san.”(renji)
“no, I need to talk to Utano-san later so I wanted to tell her to send some alcohol to her room later but I forgot.”(renji)
“…………….is that so?”(toudou)
What’s with that fed up gaze? While faced with Toudou’s disgusted gaze, I put a hand on his shoulder.
“Go ask her for me.”(renji)
“Well, if I went, she’d definitely start scolding me.”
“If you know that then just endure it…….”
[In the first place, all will be better if Renji stopped drinking so much.]
“Don’t say that.”(renji)
Bring Ermenhilde out of my pocket, I stroked the rim of the medal gently.
Or rather, I’m acting as the cupid between you and Angela-san okay? It’s not like I was hurt when the maids told me to read the mood or anything, alright?
“But, wouldn’t Angela-san be mad?”
“Don’t worry. In fact, she’d be happy.”
[In fact, she’d be fed up of you to be honest.]
Well, can’t deny that. Even Ermenhilde was speaking in tired voice right now. While saying that as I walked away leaving Toudou behind, I heard a sigh from behind. And then I heard his footsteps go the other way.
[Even I feel bad for Hiiragi right now…….]
“Yeah, I’ll make it up to him later in some way.”
Well if this results in some progress in those two, he’ll be the one to thank me instead.
…………I’ll probably have to make it up to him, I guess.
It’s been an year since I left on my journey. They might have made some progress from when they met in the meantime but they definitely cannot be called a couple. Then something like this will probably not result in any progress at all…………well, it’ll be a satisfactory result if they could at least enjoy sometime with each other while in the festive mood.
Maybe I alone have not realized and they’re actually closer than I thought? Then that’d be great as well. It’s always nice to see your own comrade’s receive happiness after all.
“Now then, what to do next?”
[How about going to Souichi and others?]
“They’re probably with their school friends.”
I’m not going to interrupt them there. I’m sure they want to spend time with their friends with whom they fought together. I was thinking of making fun of Souichi for going all out in front of the audience but I’ll leave it for later. Utano-san and Kuuki seem busy with work as well and I have no idea where Kudou or Yui-chan are.
Deciding to go back to my room in the end, I went back the way I came. I did say something about going to Utano-san’s room later but actually I have no such plans and that was just an excuse so I was totally free right now.
I could go to meet Feirona and the others but it’s already getting dark outside. It’d be unrealistic to go looking for someone in the capital so late.
“I guess, I should get changed first.”
Even though I had taken off the armour, I’m still wearing high quality expensive fabric clothes that nobles would wear. It could get torn just by moving a bit roughly or so it made me feel when I wore it making me feel nervous.
Being too used to adventuring, I prefer practicality focused clothes above these. Now whether that’s a good thing or bad is questionable.
While thinking of that, I reached room and felt a presence already inside my room.
I thought it might be Kudou or Yui-chan but I still got a bit cautious seeing someone already inside my room. Holding the doorknob with my left hand, I held Ermenhilde in my right.
[Yeah, I know.”
A jade coloured magical energy leaked and a single edged short knife appeared in my hands.
As I opened the door cautiously——-
The intruder in my room raised a hand and greeted me with a smile. Sitting on the chair near the centre table, the table already had two cups of tea with steam coming out of it already prepared.
With curly silver hair, one red eye and one gold, and with looks that could make one mistake him for a beauty, he smiled and looked directly at me.
Even though the sun had set, he hadn’t bothered lighting the lamp either. Only the red moon’s faint light shined inside the room. But still the fact that it felt bright inside must be because of some magic was used.
Looking at him, I felt stupid to have become cautious and I leaked a sigh. At the same time, the knife disappeared by turning into jade green coloured magical energy.
“Why are you getting all relaxed inside someone else’s room, Koutarou?”
“I can’t help it Renji-dono. It’s troublesome if people see me after all.”
You’re just bad at being secretive and also get caught by Utano-san that’s all. Nobody would bother you if you just got to the gist of it and honestly told everyone what that future seeing eye saw.
While thinking that, I closed the door behind me.
“Well great timing. I was getting bored anyway.”(renji)
“Splendid. It’s a delightful thing if we have nothing to do.”(kou)
“But still, you seem to be getting involved into some trouble again, eh?”
“If you know about it then help me damnit.”
Sitting opposite of him, I spoke while giving a wry smile.
I recalled the events at the [Forest of Rotting Souls] and became unable to say anything else. I can’t understand why he contacted Yui-chan to help me when he foresaw my death instead of taking action himself directly. I know that he saved me but still I can’t understand what this chunnibyou wannabe wizard is thinking.
I wonder what he was thinking as he said nothing and took a sip from his tea.
[You seem energetic as usual.]
“You as well, Ermenhilde.”(kou)
The way he spoke made me feel as if my heart had been grabbed.
“Yeah, both me and Ermenhilde are fine.”(renji)
“That’s great. I was really worried about both of you, you know?”
While feeling a bit lost for words, I spoke that.
Back when we were on the journey to subjugate the Demon God, all of my comrades called Ermenhilde as Eru.
That’s because that’s how I called her once.
After all, isn’t Ermenhilde such a long name? So I gave her something like a nickname. I used a more easy to speak, friendly name.
And——-If Ermenhilde was born as the God Slaying Weapon, as a tool of the Goddess………I wanted to call her by a name that was different, that would not refer to her as a tool or a weapon. I feel like that was the reason at first….
……….to call her, Eru.
[What happened, Renji?]
“No, it’s nothing.”
Overcome with immense nostalgia for a moment, I quickly shook my head to forget it.
And then, I looked towards Koutarou.
I don’t know why he’s in my room but there must be a reason if he has appeared in front of me. Well, to be honest, I’ll be happier if he came just to have some fun with me.
“Going by the looks of it, it seems you haven’t told her yet.”(kou)
“Well yeah. I am a coward after all.”
“I see. Certainly, it is as you say.”
How can I explain it to Ermenhilde?
That you died once, and then was revived. That you have lost a major part of your memories and the original you is already……..
……..if I could just say that, how much more at peace would I be? If I had told that just when she had been revived, it would have been so much easier but even after an year has passed, I still don’t know how to tell her that. And above all, our relationship right now isn’t bad either. She’s not Eru now but Ermenhilde but still, my journey with her is………..
[What are you two talking about?]
“I’ll……explain it to you sometime soon.”
After I said that to her, thought still reluctant, she seemed to have understood for now.
“Let’s hope that ‘soon’ of yours comes actually soon.”(kou)
He talked as if he understood everything about me but it did not irritate me at all.
This is the kind of guy he is. He acts as if his future sight tells him everything and will always talk in a roundabout manner but will often end up making mistakes due to that.
And it’ll be the rest of us who’d have to clean up after his mess. His future sight is certainly convenient but it’s definitely not omnipotent. The future is spread infinitely and Koutarou’s eye can only see one of the possible future events out of countless. Whether his ability turns out to be convenient or not depends on how you act on it.
And right now, Koutarou was talking about how I had still not told Ermenhilde, Souichi and the others……..about Eru.
When Eru died, only Utano-san and Koutarou were there after all. Well, fafnir seems to have somewhat realized what has happened as well though.
“You shouldn’t keep so many secrets or you’ll end up like me, someone that makes others unnecessarily cautious around you.”(kou)
“if you know that then fix that personality of yours, you stupid fool.”
“What, but mine is just for fun, Renji-dono.”
Like hell it is, idiot.
I looked at him with a fed up gaze but as if it didn’t concern him, he continued sipping his tea normally.
“Seriously……..did you come all the way just to say that to me?”(renji)
“Of course not.”
Giving a stifled laughter, he placed the cup back to the table.
And his heterochromatic eyes looked directly at me.
“It is truly a disappointing thing, Renji-dono, but–.”(kou)
“The only thing disappointing is what’s inside that head of yours.”(renji)
“And your face as well.”(kou)
“Shut up, you fake beauty.”
[Are you two actually kids?]
“Men are always kids Ermenhilde, especially at their heart.”(kou)
“Don’t lump me in together with you.”(renji)
Giving a sigh, I was about to sip my tea………realizing that the cup had become empty, I placed it back on the table.
“So, what do you want to say.”(renji)
[As usual, when it’s you two, the conversation simply doesn’t proceed, does it?]
“That’s true. I, for one, do not mind such banter but Yuuko-dono is so short tempered that it’s troublesome.”(kou)
“Utano-san is, well, yeah.”
In fact, it’s great that she at least puts up with your talk even a bit. If it’s Aya, there’s a danger that she might start firing magic.
“In fact, the last time, I panicked a bit when she actually teleported me away all the way to the Elfreim continent.”
“It’s amazing that all you did was panic a bit at that actually.”
If it was me, I’d probably get attacked by some monsters and would be close to dying.
The monsters there are much more specialised with the forest they live in and are filled with creatures that fire things that cause abnormalities like poisoning, paralysis, etc.
If you enter those forests without any preparation, even I, who is used to travelling anywhere, would have no confidence in returning back safely.
“But still, I was quite surprised Renji-dono.”
“Yes, thanks to you, it seems you will now be responsible for all troublesome things happening here.”
What is he saying so suddenly?
You can’t blame to sound stupid like that, can you?
[Don’t make such stupid noises. How pathetic……..]
Oh right, I forgot there is one who’d blame me for it, right beside me.
“Well it’s the usual for you I guess.”(kou)
“Could you not make it sound like it is completely normal that I have to take care of every troublesome thing?”(renji)
In the first place, I hate trouble. Isn’t those things the Brave’s duties?
Yet, Koutarou continued to chuckle at me. Since he has an androgynous looking face, you might mistake him for a girl. Of course, I wouldn’t.
“So, what made you surprised?”(renji)
“Your comrade, Renji-dono, the one you’re travelling with right now, that’s all.”(kou)
When he said that, the first face that came to me was of Ms Francesca and others but……..I don’t really see how they could be involved with some trouble that Koutarou is talking about.
Ms Francesca is a daughter of a noble house but she’s just a human. As for Feirona and Mururu, well it’s not like I know everything about those two but, I doubt they’re someone special.
As if he had sensed my emotions, Koutarou stood up from his chair.
“If you’re curious, go and meet Astraera.”(kou)
“Yes. She seems to be wanting to talk to you as well for a while.”
Unable to reply, I scratched my cheek.
Now that I think about it, for the past one year, after I killed the Demon god……..I haven’t met her at all. I was a bit worried about it but at the same time, somehow I found it hard to meet her again.
We have a bit of our own circumstances as well, you see.
“Renji-dono, you will soon have to face Astraera.”(kou)
“It’s not like I have been avoiding her or anything though?”
“Yeah, that’s right, you ex-NEET(hikikomori).”
“Th, that’s not related to our conversation right now, is it!?”
Seeing him loose all his façade so easily, as usual, he’s super weak to jabs and insults. He hasn’t changed, seriously.
But still——Astraera, eh? Trying to recall her, somehow, I couldn’t even remember what she looked like properly. Well, I guess after not seeing her for a whole year, it’s normal that her face would start to fade away from my memories I guess. It’s a bit of sad case to be honest.
She’s a beautiful woman with silver hair. Has a bit of bad personality but maybe that’s why, I also held some affinity for her……..but, that’s all I could remember.
“Well, I’ll think about it.”(renji)
But still, there is a bit of awkward feeling in me.
When we were reviving Eru, Ermenhilde, I can still remember what she said. I feel like I should have listened to what she was saying properly.
That’s why……….it felt a bit awkward to go and meet her after all this time.
It’s not about what she’d say to me. She would simply feel sad seeing me and Ermenhilde right now.
“A disaster will occur.”
Saying just those words, Koutarou walked towards the window.
As I looked at his back, petite for a man, walk away, the faint red moonlight shone on his beautiful hair.
“As usual, you can’t talk straight can you?”(renji)
“That’s just my nature after all.”
“So? A disaster, doesn’t sound very gentle.”
“Well ask about it from her. From the woman who knows and understands the abnormality occurring in this world.”
One of the three pillars that created this world and the being worshipped as the Goddess—-Astraera.
Speaking of abnormality, I recalled my talk with Utano-san the other day. The changes and stimulation in the movement of monsters. And the fact that the descendants of the Demon God were on the move.
It seems Koutarou really wanted me to meet Astraera. Should I consider him to be just meddlesome or reject him saying that it was none of his concern?
………a small, really small, I took small sigh that even Ermenhilde wouldn’t notice.
“Renji-dono, I’ll be waiting for you at Elfreim.”
And without even waiting for my answer, Koutarou’s figure slowly started to fade away…….and soon completely disappeared.
Teleportation magic. In this whole world, only he and Utano-san are able to use it.
Elfreim continent, it’s the continent where Demi-humans like Elves and Beastmen live——-and the country that is watched over by the Spirit God Zwenelia.
Resting my back completely on the chair, I stared at the ceiling.
Why does the world always have to involve me in its troubles? I have had enough of fighting already. Living as an adventurer alone is more than enough for me.
No more——I don’t want to put her in any more danger.
I don’t know how long I kept on staring at the ceiling.
After a while, the door was slightly knocked. On speaking up, a single maid quietly came in. It was Angela-san.
“Pardon the intrusion.”(angela)
“No, you were the one who……..”
In her hands was a silver tray. And above it was a bottle full of wine along with two glasses.
Oh right, I did say something random like that to send Toudou back to Angela-san, didn’t I? Remembering that, as if she had seen through me having forgotten about it, her eyes narrowed.
“Will be you be drinking alone?”(angela)
“No, well, I was thinking of probably inviting someone later.”
Saying that, without making any noise, she placed the wine bottle on the table, Of course, with just one glass.
Seeing the two teacups above the table, she voiced her surprise. She must be aware that no one brought in tea to this room I guess. Above all, there was no teapot. Just two random cups.
“These cups are……..?”(angela)
“A friend of mine was here, just a while ago.”(renji)
Her face showed that she wasn’t satisfied with that answer but she didn’t ask anything else and quietly cleared the cups away.
It’s really great that she doesn’t try to pry in at all. And just as she was exiting the room,
Not with her usual formal way of talking, she spoke in a tone that seemed more gentle.
“Thank you very much.”(angela)
Inside the dark room with only moonlight seeping in , the usual stiff Angela-san gave her thanks with a gentle smile.
And making almost no noise at all, she left after closing the door.
“It’s seems it went well for them, good good.”
[is that so?]
………Well, this is the same as always. Certainly.
Recalling Koutarou’s words, I thought while musing over it.
Troublesome things, difficult things, it’s all the usual stuff for me.
Souichi ,Utano-san, Toudou and everyone else seemed to be working hard in their own way and enjoying this world. I can’t let anything destroy that.
I opened the wine bottle. As I poured it into the glass, a rich smell came to me.
“It’s pretty lonely to drink alone, seriously.”(renji)
[That’s because you act pretentious for no reason. Since Yuuko and others would be busy with tomorrow’s preparations, want to invite Hiiragi maybe?]
“If I did that, I’ll get kicked not by a horse but by Angela-san directly to hell.”
[Huh, what does that mean?]
“Who knows.” (T/N: I have no idea either :P.)