Chapter 7: The Princess who couldn’t become the Hero’s companion
I asked Gonz and Tanta to return home.
The two of them were shocked when they faced the strongest Adventurer in Zoltan and they were fairly suspicious of our relationship but I convinced them that we were discussing medicine and got them to leave.
Then, we switched location to the living room table and had a seat.
“Ah—, how do I start, here I’m known as Red.”
“I’ve heard you call yourself that here.”
In the past, Lislet called herself Lit and participated incognito in a coliseum and also joined the fight against the Demon Lord Army as a mercenary.
We met her at a lodging during our journey and, at first, we were at odds with each other but after saving her from a predicament once and extracting her from an encirclement from her enemies, she joined us on our adventure to find reinforcements.
She did consider the decision to join our party but in the end, we parted ways and she remained behind to defend the Principality of Logavia.
It turned out that way but I had a feeling she might have become Ruti’s companion if there was a slight difference in the words chosen.
“I was a little too active so there were voices that started nominating me as the Queen instead of my younger brother, the Crown Prince, so I absconded to the frontier before it formed a rift in the household and thus I’m here to play until the matter calms down.”
Lit and Albert do most of the high difficulty requests in Zoltan. compared to Albert who prioritizes requests from influential people and avoids requests that are not profitable, Lit takes the initiative to do tough requests so Lit had greater popularity among the masses.
But I see, with that reason she can accept worthwhile high difficulty requests and also not be troubled with money since she possesses sufficient funding from home …
“By the way, Red … Lit and Red sounds kind of close.”
“I, I guess, actually I couldn’t think of anything so I used it as a reference.”
” … Hmm~ so you used me as reference huh?”
“Sorry that it might cause confusion. But it’s a little too late to change it now so … please allow it.”
” … I’m glad!”
Lit lifted the bandana wrapped around her neck to conceal the grin on her face. Now that I think about it, when we first met, she had the habit of hiding her mouth when laughing so we started to suspect that she belonged to the upper class. But we never imagined that she would actually be a Princess.
“So you actually remember me.”
“Of course, even though it was short, Lit was our companion so of course, I remember.”
Furthermore, it’s a given that it would leave an impression, seeing how she was an unprecedented princess inclined towards fighting.
“Companion … so you’ll call me one.”
Lit looked down slightly and fell silent.
When we parted, Lit said that, to her, we were ‘true companions’ and her first party.
In the first party she formed, in front of a powerful monster, the Scissorhand Demon, her party left her and ran away.
At that time, she met up with us who were chasing the same demon and cooperated with us to defeat it but from then on her attitude softened considerably … but not really by much as she hid her embarrassment and clung to us excessively.
Ruti found it troublesome but I found talking with Lit interesting like interacting with a small animal so I often chatted with her.
“So, Gideon … or it should be Red here, why are you here?”
“About that …”
To be honest, I didn’t really want to talk about how I was a burden and chased out but … I was confident that she wouldn’t be satisfied if I didn’t explain. And I’ll have to get her to keep quiet about me too.
There’s no helping it.
“It’s an embarrassing matter but …”
I steeled myself and said it all in one go.
“What’s with that!”
After confiding to her, Lit snapped for some reason.
“Even though you’ve been fighting alongside them the whole time! That’s way too strange!”
“Even though you say that, Ares did have a point. It’s a fact that I was a burden.”
“That’s not a fact, Gideon had always been mindful to make sure the party runs smoothly!”
Well, I realized that my combat ability wasn’t up to par so I made sure to be useful for everything else.
Matters such as cooking, managing the party member’s health, gathering information for new towns, procuring consumables, managing the budget, planning the interaction with powerful authorities who wish to meet the heroes …
“Weren’t you working excessively hard!?”
“That’s true now that you mention it.”
It didn’t seem like I convinced her as Lit was growling in anger.
“Don’t get so worked up. There’s a possibility that I might not be able to keep up and die in the middle of battle. So it might be a blessing that I retired here in Zoltan and opened an Apothecary Shop before that happened.”
“Actually, since Red who did all kinds of matters for them isn’t there now, are Ruti and the others all right?”
“They should be fine, they seem to have defeated Wind from the Four Heavenly Kings after all.”
Nevertheless, as Zoltan was quite distant from the frontlines, that information was likely passed through the word of mouth of a ton of people.
Of course, the fact that they defeated Wind from the Four Heavenly Kings shouldn’t be false but I shouldn’t expect any accuracy in terms of how they defeated it.
I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t worried …
“Well, since I’ve been kicked out, I can’t do anything even if I worry. Even though Ruti had been traveling with me the whole time, that Ares guy is there. They’ll make it through somehow.”
I don’t deny that a part of my sentence was meant to persuade myself.
However, I was no longer Ruti’s companion. With regard to my precious younger sister, I, as the elder brother … was no longer able to help her with anything.
“Let’s put this conversation aside. No matter what we say here, it’s not going to reach Ares’ ears.”
“Uu~ I guess that’s true.”
While pacifying Lit who still didn’t seem like she was convinced, I suddenly looked at the cups placed on the table.
“The tea is already cold, I’ll make it again.”
“Eh, no, it’s fine.”
“It’s our reunion after all. Unlike in the past where we drank whatever we had on hand, I want to let you drink the tea I brew properly.”
In the past, because we usually camp out of out or at the frontlines, I cooked with whatever I had on hand and brewed herbal tea using the scant few types of roadside grass that can be utilized as tea leaves so it wasn’t the ideal situation.
But it was different now. I researched the plants on the mountain and chose those that were not inferior to the tea commercially available at the market and instead of magically created water that tasted inorganic, I used proper clean water.
Intercepting Lit who wanted to quickly take the cup, I returned to the kitchen to brew the tea once again.
I started a fire and raised the temperature of the water in the pot until steam eventually emerged.
It was my pet theory that these tea leaves were best suited to be brewed using water that was just before its boiling point so I waited and watched the swaying water in order to not miss that moment.
I suddenly recalled my childhood memory of making hot milk for the young Ruti. As we didn’t have sugar, I dripped honey collected from the forest, causing the always frowning Ruti to show a surprised expression; she looked at me and drank half the cup in an instant, and upon realizing that there was only half remaining inside the cup, she sipped little by little reluctantly … and after she finished drinking, she gave one long satisfied sigh.
Having received the Divine Protection of the Hero since birth, Ruti had always held a farsighted view of the world but I always remember her cute child-like gesture of drinking milk.
I removed the pot from the fire and poured the water into the teapot with tea leaves in it.
A nice scent drifted over and I gave a small nod.
“It’s delicious …”
Lit sighed in content.
Her gesture was completely different compared to what Ruti did that time but it still gave me a slight sense of satisfaction.
“Even at that time, I was secretly shocked that the heroes could eat such tasty food even when camping but now when you use proper ingredients, isn’t this even more delicious than the tea from the royal court?”
“That’s flattering me too much. My Cooking skill is only 1. There might be some ability correction but I can never beat those who do this as their main job.”
Lit picked up her cup once again and drank a sip.
” … So the tea you brew for my sake is this delicious.”
She muttered softly and laughed with a red face.
Lit and the Adventurers were supposed to poke the rear of the enemy formation.
The raiders of the Demon Lord Army was approaching. The commander belonged to the same race as the Demon Lord and formed the main body of the Demon Lord Army, the Asura Demon, an upper-rank demon called Shisandan who possessed six arms.
It was an unfavorable situation with many Principality forts, towns and settlements already conquered by them. It was a bold strategy aimed to turn the tides.
In charge of diverting the attention of the enemy was, Lit’s swordsmanship master, the Imperial Guard Captain Gaius and the Imperial Guard.
Lit had left the castle and was rampaging out in the territory but returned to the castle in fear that it would fall to the enemy and we defended the castle with her during her predicament. However, many knights rejected her diversionary strategy. The danger was too great.
Only a single person, only Gaius supported her strategy and agreed to mobilize his own troops.
However, at that time, the real Gaius had already been killed and was replaced by Shisandan who transformed himself using magic.
Even the elite Imperial Guards couldn’t match the commander and was completely annihilated.
Even though the plan was to hit the unsuspecting enemy rear, Lit’s squad was instead surrounded by a fully prepared Demon Lord Army and fell into a situation where they were about to face total annihilation.
“Gaius … what have you done to my master!”
“I ate him, I needed his memories after all, ‘My beloved disciple’.”
Shisandan spoke using her master’s voice. Lit raised a cry and charged at him. But she was overpowered by countless soldiers and held down.
“If I use your identity endeared by the people as a hero, I think I will be able to take over this country a lot easier but what do you think?”
Seeing Shisandan say that with Gaius’s face and laugh, Lit finally broke down and cried.
A special person to her was killed. And soon, many more people dear to her would be killed because of her.
Lit confided to me after the battle ended that that was the reason why she cried.
At that time, Lit said she heard the shrill sound of something cutting through the wind.
The next moment, my sword was stabbed in the shoulder of Shisandan.
“Hey, Gideon! That’s earlier than planned!”
Ares complained. It was 20 seconds before our companions reached their position in the encirclement. As I was swifter compared to my companions, I went in advance to check the condition of the enemy but I dashed out ahead of the planned timing.
I estimated that the confusion would take 10 seconds and the enemy would protect Shisandan during the remaining 10 seconds. I was separated from my companions so it became somewhat difficult to subdue Shisandan.
“There’s no way I can leave Lit like that! She’s our companion!”
I cried out and began cutting down the monsters that were holding down Lit.
The sword was once the favorite sword of a Specter Knight that protected an underground tomb, a treasured sword that was said to call lightning when swung.
The blade of the drawn Thunder Waker shone in the sunset and the monsters trembled in fear and retreated just like children afraid of thunder.
We found out at the last moment that Gaius was already killed and chased after Lit.
“Don’t cry, Lit! If you are the companion of heroes, instead of tears, you should face your enemies with your sword!”
Lit wiped her tears with the sleeve of her muddied clothes and, with the face of a warrior, picked up her sword that had fallen on the ground.
“It should take Ruti and the others about one minute to arrive so until then, our task is to prevent Gaius … the astral demon from escaping, can you do it?”
“Very well then!”
We started slashing Shisandan who was still panicking.
Shisandan cried as he saw Ruti running over.
Even though she had not reached our side, the aura of the hero probably already blunt Shisandan’s swordsmanship.
While protecting each other’s back, we barked at the countless Demon Lord Army troops approaching from all sides and brandished our swords.