(251) What you wish to protect and what you must protect
Naturally, I couldn’t just leave her in the middle of the desert so I laid her on a deck chair and set up parasols.
(As expected of Miri’s item bag ― this place looks like a resort beach now.)
There was a mountain full of ‘Made in Earth’ items inside my item bag. I kept all the items that Miri brought over inside my item bag. Originally, item bags have contract magic so only the contractor is able to open it but there was a spell within Darkness Magic capable of dispelling that particular magic so Miri made it such that anybody could use her item bag.
As such, I transferred all the contents of Miri’s item bag into my own item bag and Haru and party were currently using Miri’s item bag.
I created a tornado with my sword art ― shit it’s huge!
A tornado larger than the Sandwyrm carved the ice into pieces.
I currently had a balanced mix of Sword Saint, Samurai, Dark Magician and Light Magician as my jobs. However, the Tornado Slicer’s power was proportional to my offensive strength so I wondered how would it be like if I switched jobs entirely to those that focus on physical attack? It would be terrifying.
【Ichinojo leveled up】
【Samurai skill: 「Horseback Archery」acquired】
【Dark Magician skill: 「Magic Attack Correction (Monarch)」has skilled up to「Magic Attack Correction (King)」】
【Job: Ice Magician is now available】
【Light Magician skill: 「Magic Attack Correction (King)」has skilled up to「Magic Attack Correction (Emperor)」】
【Job: Lightning Magician is now available】
All right, all my jobs leveled up.
Sword Saint didn’t get any skills huh?
But gaining further power up to my Magic Attack Correction was huge.
Monarch, King, and Emperor, was that the correct sequence? Well, I wouldn’t know even if it was wrong.
I gained excellent new jobs as well. I assumed that Ice and Lightning Magic would come before Light and Dark Magic but their jobs were, in fact, acquired later. I planned to level those two jobs up once I mastered Light and Dark Magic.
Speaking of jobs … I looked at the young girl’s job once more.
Sheesh, saving a noble girl the moment I enter the desert, am I a protagonist from some hero novel? I am truly glad that it was not a princess abducted by a dragon.
I felt that this would be troublesome ― well, speaking of trouble, I’ve been continuously dragged into troublesome issues since I came to this country.
I shifted the angle of the parasol according to the movement of the sun. The surrounding temperature had decreased significantly due to the Sandwyrm ice fragments. If I allowed it to melt like that, it would become a splatter scene from a grotesque movie so I covered it with sand before the young girl woke up.
She could avoid heat stroke if I could get her to drink water but I feared that the girl might swallow the water down the wrong pipe if I forced her to drink and since she didn’t seem to be in critical condition judging from her complexion, I decided to wait until she woke up.
“Hn … this place is …”
The girl said the template phrase. She seemed to have regained consciousness.
The girl slowly got up and hit my face twice.
” …… It doesn’t hurt, so this is a dream.”
“My cheeks are hurting though.”
“It’s not a dream if it hurts then.”
The girl placed both her hands on my cheeks with hollow eyes.
The atmosphere seemed as though it would end with a kiss if it continued any further but the girl’s eyes gradually regained consciousness.
After one point, she finally realized what she was doing.
She quickly removed both her hands.
“I-I’m sorry. Erm … where am I?”
“This is the center of the desert. You were chased by bandits, do you recall?”
“Th-that’s right … eh? But where are the bandits? What about the Sandwyrm?”
She asked with a cocked head.
It seemed that she was missing her memory from directly before she lost consciousness.
“I’m sorry for the late introduction. I am Shumei‧Yu‧Harrier. I seemed to have been ambushed by the bandits hanging around the desert ruins on my way to the town of Gagaria to the northwest.”
“So courteous. My name is Ichinojo. My job ― please call me a traveling swordsman.”
The other party was a noble so I answered a little more politely.
I have the job certificate of the swordsman in my item bag so I typically introduce myself as one.
In the end, I never found out how Miri actually prepared this fake identification card.
“Please cease the formalities. Ichinojo-sama is my elder and my lifesaver. Furthermore, I am not from a pedigree which requires you to use a courteous tone.”
Shumei said with a slight smile. But her job was noble though?
I was technically a Quasi-Baron but I was not considered a noble. In that case, I should be using a courteous tone but it seemed that she has special circumstances which required her to hide her identity.
I replied and extended my hand to her. She glanced at my hand and shook it with a smile.
“I am actually on my way to the town of Gagaria as well so would you like to travel together?”
“Would that be okay with you?”
I whistled and the desert runner ran over. It had an ice fragment of the Sandwyrm I defeated just now.
(Quickly swallow it!)
I whispered to the desert runner and it quickly swallowed it.
It was seriously a glutton ― but that trait helped.
“Ichinojo-sama, is something the matter?”
“Nope, it’s nothing. We’ll depart immediately.”
If we don’t leave soon, the Sandwyrm fragments would dissolve. The smell would still be released even if I covered it with sand.
I wiped the mouth of the desert runner that finally finished its meal and kept the parasol and deck chairs in my item bag.
Then, I leaped onto the desert runner and extended my arm to Shumei.
Shumei grabbed my hand and got on behind me.
“This desert runner is strong.”
“Yeah, it’s a glutton because of that. The seller couldn’t find a buyer so I was able to buy it for a cheap price.”
“What business do you have in the town of Gagaria.”
“There’s a labyrinth within the town of Gagaria. I heard that I could acquire a job that would make crossing the desert easier if I defeat the training monster Sand Scorpion.”
Crossing the desert would be difficult.
First would be the heat. The ambient temperatures in the South continent was high as a whole but the temperature in the desert was even higher.
Furthermore, carriages can’t be used. The wheels would get caught in the sand and increase the burden on the horses.
“Er … erm. Ichinojo-sama, I wish to ask. Was it Ichinojo-sama who defeated the bandits and Sandwyrm ― ”
“Ah … Er, about that ―”
“Was it your companions?”
Why was it that in these circumstances, she assumed that it was my companions that defeated the Sandwyrms and not me?
“I remembered what happened before and I noticed that the Sandwyrms were defeated by Ice Magic ― but Ichinojo-sama is a Swordsman, right? In that case ―”
Ah, I see.
I defeated the Sandwyrms with magic but I introduced myself as a Swordsman. That would certainly be unnatural.
“Furthermore, Sandwyrm scales are extremely tough and I believe it would be exceedingly difficult to defeat them with that sword ―”
“No, my companions did not defeat them. A passing Magician defeated them. Amazing right?”
I said with a smile.
Would there ever be such a perfect coincidence? I said to myself but it seemed that Shumei was convinced for now.
“I … see.”
Shumei said with a slight hint of regret for some reason.
Did she feel that I was unreliable as a guard?
“Well, don’t worry. Although not to the extent of that Magician, I am confident in my sword arm.”
“Yes, please take care of me.”
Shumei said with a lively voice.
She seemed to have special circumstances but I was the same as well so I did not press her for details.
Using her identity, we would probably be able to enter the town of Gagaria in an instant so she would be helping me too.
(Moreover, I have been traveling solo without Haru and the others so I was feeling a little lonely.)
I urged the desert runner forward as I reminisced on Haru, Carol, and Malina who were still at the West Continent.
Nevertheless, how did things turn out this way?
“Shumei, I heard from the Magician that you wish to deliver a letter?”
“Ah, erm, could you please forget that?”
“I don’t mind but didn’t you mention something about the Demon Lord? I heard about it from the Magician.”
” … Please forget that.”
Shumei’s words and her stance made it such that I could not ask any further.
But I won’t back down because of that.
It was a thin lead but I might be able to acquire information on the current Demon Lord Army, in other words, information on Miri.
Well, I have a week.
I could take my time to talk to her.
“Where is Shumei’s home?”
“I live in the Prince City Koron.”
Prince City Koron was to the northeast of Hanmuno and was a city near the desert. It was directly governed by the Prince and was the largest city in this country.
Even though it was located near the desert, it was also called the City of Water and the beauty of its palace was said to be the top five in the world.
“Prince city huh? So you are a city child.”
“No, that is not true. My original home is a small town near the great forest.”
“Near the great forest? It sounds like a nice town.”
I recalled Rarael.
The great forest governed by Dark-Elves would definitely be a good forest. A town near that forest would definitely have an abundance of nature.
“Yes, it’s a wonderful town … a very wonderful town.”
“Ichino-sama. If Ichino-sama was asked to choose between something you wish to protect or something you must protect, which would you choose?”
“That’s a very sudden abstract topic.”
“No, it’s fine.”
Something I wish to protect or something I must protect huh?
In my case, the ones I wish to protect would be Haru, Carol and Miri.
The things I must protect, in other words, the things I am obligated to protect would be my promise with the Goddess-sama and, since I am technically a quasi-noble of the Shiraraki Kingdom and the subordinate of Earl Paul, I probably have to protect the Shiraraki Kingdom as well.
The choice is obvious.
“Something I wish to protect.”
“An immediate answer.”
“Well, I am a carefree traveler. I do not have that many obligations. Furthermore, if there is no way to tell which is the correct choice then all the more I would prefer to protect the things I wish to protect.”
“Things that must be protected are not done because you want to but because somebody imposed that obligation on you. Choosing that would mean pushing the responsibility of the choice to somebody else. Protecting something you wish to protect will be something you decided to protect through your own will. Even if you make a mistake, everything is your responsibility and you won’t be able to blame anybody. Well, the best would be to protect both though.”
Well, the answer would likely be different if the choice was between protecting the world or protecting an important person but a small character like myself won’t have to make such a choice.
” … I see … thank you very much.”
Shumei smiled modestly and thanked me.