Chapter 138: Because swimming is faster than rowing
Half a month later. Zoltan’s Harbor District.
Zoltan’s harbor was built near the mouth of the river and was smaller compared to other cities.
While small cargo ships could dock close to the piers that extend from the harbor, large ships and military ships that carry hundreds of soldiers have to stay offshore without having the option to enter the river.
Many small rowboats loaded with materials were moving toward Ririnrara’s military galley which was floating even further away on sea from the mouth of the river.
“It looks like a serious hassle.”
“It’s an arduous task every single time. Looking at it as a spectator really makes me admire how I can work like that.”
Ririnrara answered my remark.
“They’re doing a good job servicing the ship on the sea without using magic.”
“That said, it would be great if we could repair the ship at any time using magic and skills.”
Ririnrara’s ship was a galley powered not by humans but by firewood. Its draft was shallow and it was vulnerable to rough seas.
As the ship had sailed continually from Veronia to Zoltan, it had to be properly maintained before returning home.
“So, normally you should be there giving orders with sweat on your head together with Prince Sarius but why are you taking it easy fishing here?”
Ririnrara was at a corner of the harbor a distance away from the Veronia soldiers going about their work busily while she was taking it easy with a hook and a fishing line … or more like she was absentmindedly fishing.
“All the knowledge I have as a ship captain has already been knocked into Sarius. He should be able to become a great pirate that has his name recorded in history. There won’t be any issues.”
“The prince becomes a pirate? Geyserik was the reverse.”
“Haha, reverse huh. That’s true.”
“Moving back to the topic, why do you have such a listless expression?”
Ririnrara slowly turned toward me.
With an eye-patch covering the large wound that runs across one of her eye, Ririnrara’s face normally gives off a powerful impression but only a lifeless expression could be seen on her now.
The current Ririnrara seemed even more unreliable as compared to Oparara from the oden stall.
“Did you come all the way here to tell me that?”
“You’re such a nosy person.”
She openly showed a disgusted face.
“I am also a bit tired of trying to comfort a legendary pirate, who has lived many times longer than me, saddened by something. After all, you basically tried to kill me.”
“I only tried to capture you. Sheesh, you’re an interesting person. In that case, you could have just left me alone.”
“I wouldn’t say anything if you guys plan to live a slow life in some other town without returning to Veronia but you guys plan to return to Veronia to defend Prince Sarius’s position after losing his position for the throne. Moreover, you plan to change the Veronia Kingdom which has been infiltrated by the Demon Lord Army, in other words, it will become a civil war. An unfavorable war with high prospects of losing and a civil war fighting against compatriots are wars that wear down on the heart.”
“You speak as though you experienced it yourself. Just how much experience have you amassed at that young age.”
“You don’t need to bother about my circumstances.”
“No, I am interested.”
I saw that Ririnrara’s single eye seemed to have regained its strength slightly.
I had a premonition that I did something unnecessary.
“I don’t intend to use your identity as a card for negotiation or tell anybody. This is just my personal interest.”
Ririnrara grabbed my arm and forcefully pulled me toward her.
“In the first place, Red. Are you even human?”
“Why does a man like you have such a calm face. A Hero will always be chasing an impossible dream and always show a tensed expression. Is the divine protection in you one that continually pours and replenish the endless spring of ambition of the heroes?”
“I won’t say anything even if you try to guess. Spare a thread and fishhook for me.”
“I don’t mind but I didn’t prepare any fishing rods.”
I sat down beside Ririnrara, unsheathed my copper sword, and tied the thread and fishhook to the hole at the end of the sheath.
“No, such a sword sheath that can’t even bend can’t replace a fishing rod.”
“It might not be suitable for fishing but it is sufficient if I just want to spend time while staring at the river leisurely.”
“Human life is short. That’s why we perceive humans as a race that burns their life in order to accomplish the same feat as a High-Elf in that short lifespan.”
“Not everyone lives for the sake of achievements. There are also some who only want themselves and their loved ones to be happy.”
“And you are one of them?”
“It’s not bad to wait for fish that I can’t catch while leisurely watching the river flow. While fishing won’t net great achievements, it doesn’t change the fact that time spent fishing is enjoyable.”
Ririnrara shrugged her shoulders.
I smiled wryly and pointed at the tip of Ririnrara’s fishing line.
“In that case, what about you? How long do you plan to keep the fishing line submerged when the bait has already been taken.”
Ririnrara lifted the rod and the fishing hook that had its bait snatched away swayed in the air.
Ririnrara frowned and pierced another earthworm on the hook as fresh bait.
“To think that the great pirate representing the pirate era from 50 years back would get her bait stolen.”
“It’s biased to expect all pirates to be good at fishing. That is only reserved for people who have divine blessings that favor naval battles and have greater underwater vision. Those with Pirate divine protection like myself need both combat skills and skills to manipulate the ship so there’s no leeway to get skills such as ‘Fishing’.”
Ririnrara’s hook dropped into the river with a plop.
The fishhook gently swayed in the river.
We idly started at the river with our fishing rods extend out side-by-side without catching anything.
Eventually, Ririnrara murmured.
“If, at that time, I confessed everything, I wonder if it would not turn out this way.”
“You mean the time before Misufia left Veronia?”
“If I did that, Misufia might accept Sarius and Leonor’s plot would never have succeeded. Now when it is too late, I think if it might have turned out better that way.”
“And now you are worried if the choice to return to Veronia to fight is the right choice.”
“That’s right. I can’t help but think about it but I do not intend to flee either. When I think that it is something I will regret once more, I want to look away from the future no matter what.”
“Well, there’s no way to select the right choices for everything but … just because Misufia accepts it now doesn’t mean that Misufia would have accepted it in the past.”
A long time has passed for the current Misufia since the despair she felt in the past.
She changed her name to Mistome in Zoltan, became an adventurer, became the leader of the Magician’s Guild, earned wealth and fame as mayor … of course that is in Zoltan’s standards but she has experienced quite a lot.
Ririnrara hid the fact that Misufia could not give birth to children due to poison. When she entrusted Sarius to her, she conveyed that it must be done to prepare for succession before Leonor gives birth to children and gave her hope that there is a possibility she might give birth in the future.
If it was Misufia in the past that was feeling cornered, if she was told the truth and asked to raise Ririnrara and Geyserik’s child as her own, I wonder if she would be able to accept it.
“I believe there would have been a high chance of an irreparable rift between Misufia and yourself.”
” … That might be true.”
“More importantly, King Geyserik is the problem.”
“Geyserik is an 『Emperor』. I can’t say for certain as there is not much information on rare Divine Protections but he probably wouldn’t have accepted Prince Sarius 40 years ago.”
“How can you say for certain even though you’ve never met Geyserik.”
“At that time, what he needed was an heir with the blood of royalty. Not Geyserik’s blood. If Geyserik knew Prince Sarius’ origin, he would definitely prioritize Leonor’s child.”
“Geyserik is an affectionate man. There would not be an issue if Geyserik kept it a secret. There should be no reason for Geyserik to choose Leonor.”
“『Emperor』would not allow that. The only precedence of an 『Emperor』divine protection holder was King Robert who founded the Kingdom of Avalonia but during his later years, he was but a shadow of the wise hero he was, expelling or executing his retainers and sons due to suspicions. 『Emperor』probably has impulses to prioritize maintaining their own position as king over anything else.”
“Geyserik is not like that.”
“There might be a difference in extent but Geyserik must have succumbed to his impulses as well.”
Ririnrara frowned and glared at me.
“This is nothing but conjecture … but if he could suppress the impulses from his divine protection, he would probably not start a relationship with Leonor.”
” …… ”
Ririnrara showed a glum expression but she did not object.
I sighed softly and continued with words as encouraging as possible.
“Well, there’s no helping feeling regret for the past. Even if your hands were tied, you chose the choice that you believed was the best, right? That is life.”
“Only God Demis knows if it was right or wrong … you’re right, I shouldn’t brood over it.”
Ririnrara swiftly lifted her fishing rod.
The fished up carp twisted its body as it wriggled.
“Kuku, I fished one up first.”
“I guess you are fine now since you can joke around.”
“From now on, please discuss with Prince Sarius. You guys are probably leaving Zoltan soon anyway.”
“Did Sarius ask you to do this?”
Just like Ririnrara guessed, last night, Prince Sarius requested that I took a look at Ririnrara’s condition.
At the moment, Prince Sarius probably still didn’t know how to look after Ririnrara’s sufferings and hesitations as he has been protected by her all this time.
The only people Prince Sarius knew that he could turn to were only Ririnrara’s subordinates. But although they idolize Ririnrara, they were either soldiers or pirates who have been imprinted with the notion that it is natural to obey Ririnrara.
As such, I was supposed to encourage her.
Well, that was fine in itself but Ririnrara and even Prince Sarius were many years my senior.
“Red, are you actually …”
Ririnrara muttered as she stared at my face.
“Some Fey or something who is older than me?”
“Of course not.”
High-Elves could live many times longer than humans and furthermore, Ririnrara was probably no longer young even as a High-Elf. Although her appearance never changed.
To be suspected of being older than Ririnrara was no longer at the level of being mature.
“Kuku, just kidding.”
Ririnrara laughed happily. Her behavior was unthinkable given that we were fighting to the death as enemies just half a month ago.
High-Elves would change their attitude when they know the person is reliable.
It looked like I actually exceeded her trust baseline.
“Sarius seem to have grown fond of you too … what say you, our ship may sink if it encounters a storm but if it does survive the storm, you’ll have fame and treasure. Your reach may extend even to the King’s seat in the Principality … do you want to join my fleet?”
“I’ll refrain from that. I like my life in Zoltan.”
“An instantaneous answer huh, a pity … oh, your fishing line is getting pulled.”
“Ah, I seem to have caught something big … guh, it’s heavy.”
The fishing line tied to my sword sheath was pulled taut.
Since the sheath doesn’t bend, the fishing line would snap as soon as the fish struggles as the shock can’t be mitigated.
I will manipulate the rod according to the movements … well, in this case, I was manipulating the sheath.
“That’s why I told you to use a proper fishing rod!”
Just as I thought that I should have listened to Ririnrara’s words, I saw a blue shadow in the river.
Eh, that is.
” … Well, here.”
I tensed and lifted both my arms.
It was a young girl who emerged on the surface of the water with a slight smile and somewhat of a pose.
Even Ririnrara was genuinely surprised as her mouth opened and closed repeatedly.
Well, it’s true, since she doesn’t have any skills to handle ships, it is faster for her to swim.
“Do you need a towel?”
The girl shook her head to my offer.
The blue-haired young girl who seemed satisfied for some reason after seeing Ririnrara’s surprised and confused look was … my younger sister Ruti.
After coming up to shore, Ruti breathed in and focused her strength into her body.
Along with the sound of something bursting, the water on her turned into fine steam and disappeared.
“I’m good now.”
Ruti made sure her clothes and body were completely dry before turning to Ririnrara who had completely stopped thinking.
“The Veronia Navy is coming. They will reach Zoltan in about 16 hours.”
She told her indifferently.