Side Chapter 1: An uneventful rainy day
Slightly before Ruti came to Zoltan.
I was manning the counter for my shop.
It was raining outside. I rested my chin on the palm of my hand on the countertop as I listened to the pitter-patter of the rain and felt time pass by.
It was a peaceful afternoon. The air was slightly chilly.
A voice that I was very familiar with called out my name from behind me.
Naturally, Lit was standing there when I looked back.
In her hands were two cups of hot coffee with white steam drifting up.
“Customers aren’t coming in huh?”
Lit sat down beside me. She presented the cup of coffee to me without saying a word.
I accepted it with a word of appreciation.
The coffee was diluted. With no milk or sugar.
The Principality of Logavia, Lit’s hometown, had harsh winters.
Because of that, they often drank hot drinks to warm themselves and had the practice of making their coffee and tea diluted so that they could drink them in large quantities.
As I brought my mouth closer to the cup, the amber liquid surface shook and released a nice aroma.
“It’s a little chilly today.”
Although it could not compare to Logavia, the sudden chilly temperature after Zoltan’s long sweltering summer might have felt a lot colder due to the drastic change in temperature.
I nodded and took a sip of the coffee that Lit brewed.
It was warm.
“There’s more if you want more.”
“Thanks, it’s delicious.”
We sat side-by-side at the counter as we drank our coffee.
There would be very little customers on a rainy day. Even more so when it was cold winter rain.
“Customers aren’t coming in huh?”
“It’s raining after all~”
Sales have been steadily increasing ever since Lit came.
I originally planned to earn just enough to live happily so I would be content if I could maintain the current income.
I enjoyed listening to the sound of the rain as we both spend the languid afternoon time doing nothing.
Somehow it was very comfortable with just the two of us alone in that space.
More importantly, I somehow knew that Lit also felt the same way. That was happiness.
Lit entwined her fingers with the fingers of my hand that was resting on the counter.
When I gripped her hand back in return, Lit grinned and smiled happily before she hid her red-faced embarrassed expression behind the bandana wrapped around her neck.
Lit said with her mouth hidden behind her bandana. While still holding my hand.
“I feel that this current moment is happiness.”
“I feel the same too.”
It looked like Lit’s face turned redder.
My face probably turned red as well.
“When I first met Red in Logavia, I never imagined that I would be living together with you like this.”
“Well, of course.”
“During that time, I told myself to be content with what I had but I always felt as though I was missing something.”
Despite being a princess, Lit snuck out from the castle countless times and ended up becoming a famous heroic adventurer in Logavia with two swords in her hand.
She earned her alias the Hero Lit around that time. It was written in the Adventurers Guild documents but the residents in Zoltan directly used that alias too.
“My Divine Protection is Spirit Scout. I can hear the voices of spirits and can protect my friends and companions with that ability. I hated being protected inside the castle.”
“Yeah, I know.”
I had confidence in my knowledge of Divine Protections.
From the time I heard that Lit was a Logavia princess, I was the first to guess that she began acting as an adventurer in public because of her Divine Protection.
Lit suddenly jumped at me.
I frantically took my hand off the cup and received Lit.
“Even now, my Divine Protection whispers to me to not stand idle and to fight for the sake of protecting my companions.”
“Is that so?”
Lit continued talking as she buried her face in my chest.
“But after meeting you in Logavia and having had various discussions with you until today, I understand now … just following what your Divine Protection tells you to will not bring you happiness. The lack of contentment I felt at that time and how I didn’t feel anything stir in my heart after fighting according to what my Divine Protection whispered to me all that time in Zoltan before I met you, I knew that I could not find happiness there.”
Lit tightened her hug.
She pressed her face tightly against my chest as if trying to hide her reddening ears.
“Red. I wish to do my best to protect this small shop. That action alone can mostly satisfy my Divine Protection impulses. Nevertheless, my heart still itches a little. But I feel a lot more satisfaction, a lot more contentment than before. I would never be able to achieve it no matter how much I obeyed the impulses from my Divine Protection. My Divine Protection does not think of my happiness.”
“Lit … ”
“I am happy! I am very happy right now! Exchanging words with you like this, having physical contact with you, spending our time together, these all make me so happy that I feel like I am dreaming! I am happy every day regardless of the tingling of my Divine Protection! Ahh, I like you, I like you, I like Red so much, I like you so much that I can’t help it!”
Lit suddenly raised her head after her outburst.
Her expression showed that she was feeling refreshed from finally saying what she was holding in.
“Ah, that was refreshing. Somehow I feel like I’m overflowing with so much happiness just by being with you like this today that I might be going crazy.”
“What’s with that logic.”
“Hehe, Red’s face is turning red.”
Of course it would turn red.
Sheesh, I have to retaliate a little.
I stopped Lit who was trying to turn around to face the coffee placed on the counter.
I replied her as I stared directly into Lit’s beautiful blue eyes.
“I’ll say it because I also feel like I’m overflowing with happiness from Lit’s words. Lit, I like you, I love you, let’s live together forever.”
” …. Fue.”
I broke into an embarrassed smile but Lit turned completely red and even forgot to cover her mouth.
Then, she hugged me tightly.
“Hmph, it’s all Red’s fault that I’m overflowing with happiness again. Take responsibility and let me stay like this for a while longer.”
“Sure but I’ll, in turn, be overflowing with happiness if you hug me like this. I might say such words again.”
“In that case, we can just stay like this forever.”
” … That might be nice.”
The sound of the rain continued.
The customers will probably not come in for some time.