It’s Ko-Fi’s Supporters’ chapter (113/121), enjoy~
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The journey to the top level was especially uplifting.
Perhaps because of the terrain on which the shrine was built, this area was like a castle floating in the sky, and just walking through it made Ain feel excited.
He was especially excited when he thought of the door that awaited him ahead.
Upon arriving at the shrine, Ain looked around.
When he looked up, he saw a spherical roof with evenly spaced pillars supporting the perimeter along the roof.
The other two features were the stone pavement patterned toward the center and a stone gateway with a bundle of pillars and arches. The gate has no door but a staircase leading down.
“The shining pillars and the door are at the bottom of that staircase.”
Chris pointed to the staircase Ain was looking at and said, and the two quickly stepped forward.
A short distance down the stairs was a dead end, and they were greeted by a huge door and two towering pillars supporting both sides of it.
The pillars were unremarkable in appearance. If anything, the only thing that stood out was the carved design.
“How do they glow?”
“Look at the ground where the pillars are. There’s a picture.”
Although he had only seen the pillar and did not notice it, the cobblestone pavement in front of the pillar was different from the other cobblestone pavement.
There is a white cobblestone pavement in front of the pillar on the left side, depicting a building that looks like a castle. On the other hand, there was a black cobblestone pavement in front of the pillar on the opposite right side, which also depicted a castle-like building.
“So, that painting is──.”
“Let’s step on it.”
“Eh, are you going to step on it?”
“I’ll rephrase it this way. All we have to do is stand on top of that picture.”
Then, he said, that is all it takes to make the pillar glow.
It was a bit of a letdown because he thought there would be more complicated tricks to it.
“Is that really all?”
“Yes, but it only glows on the left side, so I’m not sure what to do from there.”
“I understand. I’ll stand on the painting for now.”
They walked over without warning and, without hesitation, stood on top of the painting. He touched the pillar but felt nothing but stone.
He continued to look up at the towering pillar, waiting for it to glow.
“It doesn’t glow.”
Chris, who was watching the scene, tilted her head slightly.
“H-huh, why doesn’t it glow? Can you switch places with me to try it out?”
“Okay, let’s switch, shall we?”
When Ain retreated, and Chris stood on the painting, the change came immediately.
The way the pillars glowed was surprisingly illusory.
The material of the stone itself changed as if it had been changed to, for example, crystal, for example, ice, and repeatedly glowed bluish-white from the bottom to the top and from top to bottom.
The interior of the sanctuary should have been monochrome, but only this light was colored.
“Couldn’t we make the pillar on the right glow now, too?”
“Let me try. I’ll move.”
He said this completely out of the blue, and the result was nil.
Eventually, the light on the pillar on the left side just went out.
“Chris is left-handed, right?”
“I’m ambidextrous, you know? Um, what does it matter?”
“No, I just wondered if it had anything to do with it.”
“I’m sorry. I was joking.”
When Chris looked at him as if to say something, Ain shrugged his shoulders and walked to the pillar where Chris was standing.
“I wonder if this pillar is made of a different material.”
He touched the pillar but could not find anything noteworthy.
Why doesn’t this one shine?
He closed his eyes, furrowed his brow, crossed his arms, and pondered. After a few seconds, Chris grabbed the sleeve of his dress and tugged on it.
A moment after, Ain looked up and was about to turn his attention to her.
Ain caught sight of the glowing pillar, and his eyes darted around.
It seemed that a change had come while his eyes were closed.
“Ha ── yes!”
“Can you go stand over there?”
Although she was slightly distracted, Chris quickly regained her senses and ran out.
Standing on top of the painting on the left side, she looked up at the pillar with a panicked expression on her face, and as before, it easily glowed. What followed was just as they had imagined.
The central door began to move gently with a slight dusting of dirt and then opened to the left and right with a heavy bass sound of stones rubbing against each other. The door reflected in their eyes was filled with a polarized color reminiscent of the aurora borealis of the Adventurer’s Town of Baltic, suggesting to them that they were in a different and special space than they had ever known before.
“For now, anyway.”
Ain opened his mouth to suggest, scratching his temples.
“It’s almost evening, so let’s go back to Chris’s house.”
Hearing his suggestion, Chris nodded with resignation.
That’s when it happened.
Suddenly, a loud tremor hit the area.
Ain, who immediately supported Chris, looked around. It seemed to be just an earthquake, and nothing out of the ordinary could be seen.
However, he somehow found himself looking toward the door.
(Is there anyone in there?)
He had a feeling that this was the case, but it was just his imagination.
He tried to be vigilant for a little while, but there was nothing.
“Um… Ain-sama? I am very sorry that you moved before me, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting my body. But I’m embarrassed by how close things are to…!”
“Oops, sorry, sorry.”
Perhaps it was because he had his hands around her slender waist that he was forcefully holding her. Their faces were close enough to feel each other’s breath.
When Ain moved away after apologizing, Chris was relieved but secretly regretted it.
“Let’s go home this time, shall we?”
“Yes, and it might shake out again.”
By the way, Ain was so focused on the pillars at this time that he overlooked something. The castles depicted on the cobblestone pavement on either side were the two castles in Ishtalika that he was familiar with.
◇ ◇ ◇
By the time they left the sanctuary and returned to Chris’ house, it was already dinner time. They had finished dinner early, too, and were taking an after-dinner break on the sofa.
Suddenly, there was a knock at the door of Chris’ house. After all this time, Ain realized that there was no doorbell at her house.
“I’ll go check it out.”
When Chris stood up from her chair and went to open the door, it was Sierra who was outside.
“I have a message for His Highness from the chief. May I come in?”
At one point, Chris looked at Ain to make sure it was okay, and Ain nodded back without hesitation.
Thus, Sierra stepped into the house and came to the side of the sofa where Ain was sitting.
“I’m going to go make some tea, so make sure you don’t be rude to Ain-sama.”
“Don’t worry. I’m not like the old Chris, who would suddenly pull out a sword.”
“Eh, what’s that?”
“──Y-you can’t! Don’t tell Ain-sama!”
“Yes, yes, I know.”
“You too, Ain-sama! Don’t ever ask anything about it!”
After strongly reminding them, she disappeared into the kitchen.
When she left, she was very fidgety and seemed to want to get back as soon as possible. Ain and Sierra looked at each other, exchanged glances, and relaxed their cheeks at the hustle and bustle.
“Chris once pulled out her sword without saying a word when she saw an adventurer coming in.”
Sierra said simply.
“She was so young that it was no wonder she was crying her eyelids out that day after being scolded so strongly by the chief.”
“Was it right for you to say that?”
“It’s okay. I won’t say anything that she really doesn’t want me to say. I just want to share with Your Highness that Chris is cute.”
“──Here you go! Sierra! You didn’t say anything, did you?”
Chris then put the tea she had brought on the table and hurriedly looked at Sierra.
“It’s a delicious tea. Did you bring this from the royal capital too?”
“Geez! You’re so quick to divert the subject!”
“I wasn’t trying to divert anything. It was really delicious. I’ve never had tea that smelled so good. Or maybe Chris was just good at it.”
“Is… is that so?”
“Even the best tea leaves will go to waste if the brewer is too rough. I think this one tastes better because Chris brewed it.”
“…You can get some refills.”
Ain, watching from the sidelines, was at a loss for words.
Should this be a compliment to the unique rhythm Sierra displayed? Looking at his own escort, who was easily subdued, just one good word did not come to mind.
Ain gazes out the window at the night view of the forest and drinks his own tea, which had been prepared before Sierra’s arrival.
It certainly tastes good. That’s not a lie…
“Huh… I’ve been working hard for this, after all.”
Ain guessed when he saw Chris mutter something that sounded like she had no choice with a calm face.
Chris was a good friend of Sierra’s, too, and she knew Sierra’s personality. They had a relationship similar to that of sworn friends who could talk lightly to each other.
“By the way, Sierra, what did you want to say to me?”
“Oh, yes. Actually, the chief suggested that we have lunch together tomorrow.”
“That’s fine with me.”
Since they’re here. Tomorrow he wants to talk about the door that was in the shrine.
There was no option not to tell the chief about the matter of the sanctuary, an important place.