Chapter 27 – Return
You may have forgotten, but my full name is Hiroki Sakurai. In other words, that message for “Sakurai” was addressed to me.
「Lusha, give me the message for that Sakurai.」
「It’s addressed to me.」
「Is it your family name or something? For the time being, I should read it, right?」
I asked Lusha to read the message for me since I can’t read it myself.
「Um, It’s been a long time, it’s me Watanabe. My level has risen now, and in two days, we’re heading to the Demon Continent. I’d like to meet up with you before I leave, so can you wait a while for me at the big rock outside the town gate tomorrow morning? That’s what was written, but… your acquaintance?」
「Yeah, it’s an acquaintance, I mean…」
Thinking it while crossed my arms.
Before this when Ruri contacted me, she properly addressed me as Hiroki, but this message from Ren addressed me as Sakurai. I wondered if he might have made a mistake――wait, that can’t be the case.
I had to tell Lusha some extent of my situation.
We were now a party, a duo, and I’d feel bad for getting her involved with my personal problems later. Regarding the possibility that the King hates me… how might she react when I tell her?
「It’s kind of hard to explain here, so let’s go back to the inn.」
Maybe my expression gave it away, but Lusha didn’t pressure me to tell her any more. It was a relief when I heard Harla-san call out to us that the counter had just opened.
「Thank you for your good work! Hiroki-san, Lusha-san. Did you want to sell some materials?」
When I handed them over to Harla-san, she said “It’s a lot!” and asked for assistance from the back room. Because there’s so much, she’d apparently have a hard time determining the value by herself.
「I’ll have to have some folks in the back make the estimate, so please wait a minute.」
When I was thinking about how to kill time, Harla-san broke the silence, saying “Come to think of it…”
「There’s a Hero in this city, and it seems he’ll be going to the Demon Continent to subjugate the Demon King. So we’re gonna have a parade before he leaves.」
「Huh, a Hero, and the Demon King!? I mean, the Hero really exists?」
I quickly covered my mouth before I blurted something out.
A parade of departure!! I didn’t know that such an event would be held, and if I had to be a part of it, I might have run away in embarrassment.
It’s a different story if Ren’s going to be there.
「We have to go see it!」
When I told her we have to see it, Lusha, who seemed interested in the Hero, said “Yeah!” and agreed with me. Hence, I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
「Hiroki-san seemed like a calm person, so I’m surprised you were also into that kind of thing. Anyway, the parade should be held tomorrow afternoon.」
「Well, it’s limited to only the Hero, though.」
「Really? Adventurers always yearn to meet the strong, after all!」
Someone came over to Harla-san with a tray of money, and she handed it to us with a smile. The value assessment had been completed, and that was our payment.
Lusha and I went back to the inn after putting away the cash.
◆ ◆ ◆
At the inn, I told Lusha everything that happened before we met.
「What! Hiroki and the Hero are from the same hometown?」
「Yeah, we came here from a distant country. Don’t you believe me?」
「…No, I believe you. You’re such an unusual person, and you can avoid my arrows. I actually feel pretty good about being a Hero’s companion after all.」
She accepted my story more gracefully than I thought.
We came to this country together, and then because I was the only one to receive the King’s wrath, I was driven out of the castle.
I didn’t tell her I was from a different world, I just explained I didn’t know much about this country because I came from one that was far away.
「Ahh, that’s why you can’t read. I understand! If you have any questions, don’t ever hesitate to ask me.」
「Thanks, but… it’s not too late, you know? If you’re going to leave, now is the best time…」
Lusha was completely bewildered by what I said. It was as if I’d been speaking a different language, that’s the kind of look her beautiful face gave me.
I sighed while scratching my head.
「I mean, it’d be more troublesome for you if you’re still with me, right? Being hated by the King is usually something no one would want…」
「It’s not your fault, right Hiroki? I’ll always be on your side.」
I was deeply touched that Lusha could say that with a smile. I couldn’t thank her enough for being such a good partner.
「Mhm! Anyway, so, it was actually the King who sent you that letter, right?」
「Probably. I don’t know his intentions, though. If I’d gotten in his way, it’d be better if he just sent soldiers directly to me… could it be wants to capture and use me?」
The Hero, Ren, will go to the Demon Continent and leave the King’s direct control. Under those circumstances, it’s possible he wants to use me as a replacement.
「Anyway, it’s still not happening until tomorrow.」
「Hey, aren’t we going to plan or something?」
「Planning… we don’t need that.」
With a nice smile while holding the spare bow, Lusha was apparently willing to defeat whoever would come tomorrow. She really is an incredibly reliable partner.
「…If Lusha’s there with me, we can beat anyone who shows up.」
◆ ◆ ◆
The next morning.
After rubbing my sleepy eyes and washing my face with cold water, I met up with Lusha and went directly to rendezvous with the fake Ren who called me “Sakurai”.
Once out of the city, we separated, leaving me to go alone to the meeting place at the big rock. I knew I’d be able to avoid injury if I was attacked, but Lusha could get hurt if she was there with me.
However, there was no one in front of the big rock.
―― As expected, it’s a trap, huh?
There was a Hero parade later that day, so if I really thought about it, I could imagine Ren wouldn’t be able to spare any time to come here.
Now, what should I do about this?
While I was thinking that, an arrow flew directly at my face.
The sudden attack startled me, but the arrows were nothing compared to Lusha’s, so I didn’t have any problem avoiding them. The direction that arrow came from was diagonally to the right, opposite to where Lusha was watching from.
「That’s not Watanabe, right…!?」
When I called Ren’s name, several more arrows flew at me.
They can’t hit me at all.
When I laughed at the thought, three knights with swords appeared, along with the *gashan* sound from a bow being thrown to the ground.
It looks like the arrows fired at me had been dipped in paralytic poison. They must be knights of that King, and they were approaching me with frivolous laughter.
「…I came here because Watanabe called me, you know?」
「This has nothing to do with Watanabe-sama, we’re the ones who called you.」
「Hey now, is there something I can do for you? Isn’t it rude to point a sword at me?」
A man with short amber hair stepped forward, sword in hand.
「Watanabe-sama is about to go to the Demon’s Continent! It’s an eyesore for an incompetent person like you to be hanging around here.」
「We don’t want you bothering Watanabe-sama. If we don’t shut you up now, we’ll be in trouble.」
Ooh, they spoke their true intentions so quickly.
Indeed, it was true. So long as Ren and Ruri were still in this country, they couldn’t get rid of me because those two would quickly find out.
But if they leave, they’ll be too far away to find out whether I’m safe or not. What short-sighted thinking.
Ren even tried to protect me by signing that contract, yet they’re still treating me like this.
Really now, that’s unacceptable.
「So how are you going to keep me quiet?」
I said it sarcastically――I mean, they can’t even hit me with an arrow.
These knights were so enraged they immediately went on the offensive and slashed at me with their swords. I don’t think a slow weapon like that can ever hit me.
*miss* *miss* *miss*
The three knights’ attacks could only cut air.
「Isn’t he is just a stupid Healer who raised his evasion!? How is this…!」
They attacked me over and over again, but never landed a hit.
Eventually, they were too exhausted to attack properly. This knighthood is embarrassing.
I let out a taunt without even thinking.
「I can’t believe you’re incapable of even scratching a Healer.」
The closest knight’s face completely distorted with anger.
It would have been obvious to anyone that I was trying not to laugh as I looked at him.
「Even so, you won’t be able to fight back!!」
「Uh, but I can, you know?」
「What? Do it if you ca――」
The moment the knight gave the provocative voice, a blade of wind cut his arm immediately.
「W-wh-what is that ?! You used wind magic!?」
The knight shouted, bewildered, from the sudden attack.
「Shit, I thought he was just a Healer! Oof!」
This time, his belly was cut, and he let out a groan.
The three knights staring at me dropped their swords, the weapon which was supposed to be their pride. Seeing that, I let out a dry laugh, and retorted with a smile.
「Of course I’m a Healer… and you’re elite knights of this kingdom, directly serving the crown, right? Shouldn’t you know how to hold a sword?」
The knights shouted, “Don’t mess with us!” and quickly picked up their swords to attack again――and this time their entire bodies were hit by the wind blade.
Cheeks, arms, torso, legs… all covered in cuts.
「Damn, we’re pulling out for now!」
「God damn it!!」
After the knights ran away, Lusha came out.
「Hoo~, how is it? Witness the power of my new skills!」
What made me look like I was using wind magic was the effect of Lusha’s new skill, 【Wind Blade】.
Lusha still has no accuracy at all, but she can aim in a general direction. This time she aimed for an area far behind me, so the arrows wouldn’t hit the knights directly.
That skill covered her arrows in wind-attribute magic, increasing their speed remarkably, and even cutting their immediate surroundings from the wind pressure.
Those dumb knights probably didn’t have sharp enough vision to see what was really happening, even without me getting them too angry to think.
So, not only were the arrows themselves enhanced, the blade of wind that attacked the knights was actually an additional effect emitted from the arrow.
If an arrow hit them directly, they would have been killed outright, but Lusha’s accuracy was low enough that they were only hit by the wind blades. That was the only reason they survived.
「That takes care of that, doesn’t it? Let’s go have breakfast.」
Lusha, holding her spare bow, was all smiles as we went back into the city.