It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (104/116), enjoy~
Chapter 3 – Preparation For The Journey
The most important thing about going to Sith Mill is to work in secret. In particular, they must be very careful when leaving the capital. In order to achieve these various conditions, a certain person was mentioned as a possible collaborator.
The morning after the day Ain decided to go to Sith Mill, he arrived──.
Graff Auguste, Krone’s grandfather and chairman of the Auguste Trading Company, had been summoned to the royal castle.
He was standing in front of Prime Minister Warren in one of the many offices in the castle.
“You want my help?”
Warren’s words caused Graff to stop thinking for a moment. He couldn’t help but tilt his head to the side.
“First of all, I need you to tell me. What do you want from me?”
“Excuse me. Actually, I would like you to take Ain-sama with you to the frontier city near Sith Mill.”
It’s hard to grasp what’s happening when he’s suddenly told just that. But Graff didn’t shake his head.
“Krone and I are very indebted to His Highness and, by extension, to the royal family of Ishtalika. We will spare no effort to help you for whatever reason.”
“Thank you. Then, I would like to discuss some matters with you.”
Warren explained the plan.
First of all, as part of the Auguste Trading Company’s business, Graff himself will be leaving the capital. He is often away from the capital on business, so he would not attract any suspicion. And when he does, the main thing is that he should take Ain and the others with him.
He would also help disguise the knights who would be accompanying them as members of the Trading Company.
Of course, he also needs to wait for Ain’s return.
It’s a lot to ask, and he will be tied up for days, so Warren says he’ll pay for it.
“No, thank you. I’ve always planned to go to that city.”
“Prime Minister, I owe you a great debt of gratitude. Would you please make me look good for a change?”
“But, Graff-dono, that would be disgraceful to His Majesty.”
“Mmm, that’s a problem… So let’s do this. If you really want to thank me, could you please lend me Krone, so I could have more time in town? It would be nice to have help with my work.”
Warren nodded his head in agreement. This is probably the best way to go.
Even Ain, who was forced to work separately, would feel a little better if Krone was with her grandfather, Graff.
◇ ◇ ◇
Ain was visiting Chris’s room.
It would be an after-the-fact report, but it was to tell her that they were going to the Sith Mill.
The person who knocked on Chris’s door was not Ain, but Martha, the first-class servant, and Dill’s mother.
But there was no answer at all.
“I wonder if she’s not there.”
Ain was about to turn on his heel, thinking that maybe she wasn’t there and he should come back later.
“I saw that Chris-sama returned from training earlier.”
Once again, Martha knocked on the door.
Although the voice didn’t sound very clear, it definitely sounded like a reply.
“Maybe she was working.”
“But I thought it would be no problem for Ain-sama. Since she answered, why don’t you go in and talk to her?”
“Hmm, I’ll try that.”
“Well, I’ll take my leave. Please call me if you need anything else.”
After parting ways with Martha, Ain put his hand on the door and went inside.
The impression of the room was one of simplicity. The furniture is minimal and lacks ornamentation. There are a few documents on the work desk, but that’s about the extent of the disarray.
“…Where is she?”
For the moment, he couldn’t see Chris. He was standing in the room, near the entrance.
He heard Chris’s voice.
No, it didn’t matter that he heard a voice. What mattered was the direction it came from, not from the bedroom or the balcony.
So there was only one place remaining to look.
“Sorry to keep you waiting ── A-Ain-sama!”
Yes, the bathroom. She appeared with her entire body wrapped in a bath towel.
Ain could clearly see the steam rising from the water, which proves that the water is still fresh from the bath, as well as the hair that has not been fully dried and is clinging to her neck.
He hurriedly averted his gaze, but it was burned into the back of his eyes and would not leave.
“I’m sorry! I’ll be back!”
“I-it’s okay… isn’t it!? But to make Ain-sama wait is also ── No! If you don’t mind, then you can just ── N-no! That’s too embarrassing…!”
“I can’t do that; I’ll just come back later!”
Ain is also losing his cool, and this is for the best.
But when Ain hurriedly turned on his heel and tightened his grip on the doorknob, his hand was wrapped in Chris’s at almost the same time.
“W-wait, please! I’m going to change my clothes right away…!”
“I’ll be waiting outside either way!”
“You can’t! I can’t make Ain-sama wait outside! So I’m sorry, can you please wait on the sofa…?”
He didn’t feel that it would make any difference whether it was outside or on the sofa, but he didn’t want to disregard the kindness, even though it was a situation.
“I’ll wait here for now, and when Chris is no longer in sight, I’ll sit on the sofa.”
“Yes! I’ll go change my clothes right away!”
Her body heat and presence quickly faded away after her cheerful reply.
Earlier, he said he would wait for her…
As expected, it felt bad to be alone with Chris in this situation.
The room was filled with the scent of a floral oil-based soap and slight dampness from the steam. Her hair was wet and had a different scent from the soap, that of shampoo.
(I’ve done something wrong, haven’t I?)
After all this time, maybe he should have come back.
Chris had just relieved herself in the bathroom provided in the room, and Ain had come in after her bath.
──In any case, he should sit down and wait for Chris.
It was only a few seconds after he sat down on the sofa.
“S-sorry to keep you waiting!”
Chris came hurriedly in front of Ain and adjusted her breathing. Her hair was still damp compared to usual, and the scent of shampoo was still wafting from it. Her skin also had a different kind of moisture than it did after training.
Perhaps it was because she was wearing only a shirt on top and short pants on the bottom, but she looked particularly radiant.
She could have sat directly in front of Ain, but this time she sat next to him, probably because she was too care-free in her room.
“Why did you hold your head?”
Next to Ain, who held his head and turned his head down, there is a large exposed white leg of hers.
Again and again, Ain thought that the decision to stay in her room might have been a mistake.
“No, it’s just personal, don’t worry about it. I was just feeling a bit sorry for myself.”
Outside the window, the royal capital was still majestic and beautiful today.
Ain has grown since he arrived in Ishtalika, so he can’t help but look forward to the future.
Whether or not it was something to think about at this moment was unclear, but it was helping to maintain Ain’s mental health.
“Did you regret it?”
Chris asked Ain, who looked puzzled.
“Don’t worry about it. I came here because I had something important to discuss.”
“What’s so important at this time… could it be that you’re going to attack Roundheart──?”
“That’s not it. I wouldn’t want to touch it at all.”
Ain wanted to ask her why she was so shocked. But that’s for another time.
“I’ve decided to go to Sith Mill for various reasons. I wanted to ask Chris to be my guide and guard.”
When Chris heard that, her expression instantly changed; she closed the distance between her and Ain, following her cheerful, joyful heart.
“──I’m so glad!”
The impatient girl revealed her joy as she clung to Ain’s arm.
“I never dreamed that what I said at the time would come true.”
It’s impossible to forget. On the way back from the Magic City of Ist, after the fight with Viscount Sage, Chris said:
“Let’s travel together again.”
The time will come when this will come true.
Chris let out a sneeze, probably because she had relaxed after being happy.
She had been talking to him since the bath. Maybe it was because of her wet hair, or perhaps because her body was getting cold.
It was about time.
Because of Chris’s agitated appearance, and to prevent her from getting a cold, he should leave soon. He had finished what he had to say, and it would not be wrong to leave the room at this time.
“I wanted to talk to you for a while longer.”
On the other hand, Chris didn’t seem to be satisfied enough.
“If you catch a cold before we get to Sith Mill, you’ll have to stay home.”
“──That would be a disaster!”
“Well, in that case, I’ll be the one to blame. So, it may be too late now, but you should go rest so that you don’t catch a cold. I’ll call you when the date is set.”
As he left, Ain patted Chris on the head.
She put her hand on the place where it was stroked and narrowed her eyes. On the other hand, Ain was relieved that she didn’t feel repelled by his unconscious act.
His feet began to move toward the door, and as he stepped out into the hallway, he thought of Sierra.
“Maybe it’s about time for her to go back.”
Today was the day the Elves would be leaving the royal capital, and they should be getting ready by now.
Ain didn’t know if he should tell them he was going to Sith Mill when he went to see them off or not.
…It would be rude to go without contacting them.
He’ll have to ask Sylvird just in case, but it shouldn’t be a problem.
After deciding on the purpose of the journey, he proceeded to his private office.
Then Ain turned his attention to the scene outside the window. He looked up at the azure sky without a cloud in the sky and let out a small sigh, “It looks like another beautiful day.”