32. The Beginning of the Journey
In the rest spot before us is a bench occupied by a mother and daughter.
A mother, huh. A closer look reveals that she’s a beautiful woman with beautiful blond hair. Her slit like pupils are engulfed within deep emerald irises. She watches us with an upright posture.
By her side is her cute daughter. From appearances, she seems to be around five years old. A fluffy hat covers half of her head, but hair the same brown color as mine can be clearly seen flowing down her back. Her eyes are similar to cat’s, a big and round. She happily and innocently swings her stretches out legs from the bench.
On the girl’s lap is a kitten. The cat also wears a fluffy hat, one matching the girl’s. It also wears a cute costume, one similar to a dragon due to its wings. Its fur comes off as white, but the tips are pink. Its tail is also surprisingly long, making it an unusual kitten.
A dry laugh escapes my throat.
Ruiseine looks at me with concern.
The beautiful woman before my eyes stands up. The little girl follows and stands up too.
The girl suddenly runs towards me.
Ruiseine’s scream overlaps with my own.
This girl is…. No no no, that’s not right! No matter how I look at it, the girl who ran up to hug me after blurting out something unthinkable is Priscilla-chan,.
Wh-why did I become her dad!?
Ruiseine’s eyes widen as she freezes in place.
This time, Priscilla-chan runs towards her mother and hugs the beautiful woman……. No matter how I look at it, it’s Mistral, though!
“W-what is happening here?”
Facing this situation, my mind falls into absolute chaos.
“E-Ernea-kun. What does this mean?”
Ruiseine grabs my collar and shakes my trembling body.
“I-I’m also confused here!”
Why did the situation turn out like this…
Priscilla-chan comes hug me again.
Seeing that, Ruiseine’s lips quiver as she looked at me with eyes full of reproach.
“Y-you’re wrong. It’s a misunderstanding, Ruiseine. P-Priscilla-chan too, please stop creating weird misunderstandings.”
As I desperately try to think up an excuse, Ruiseine’s notices my panic and begins to turn red and blue.
“M-Mistral, help me–“
I don’t have the strength to overcome this situation. As such, I have no choice but to ask Mistral, who stares at us from just a bit away, for help.
“Oh my. Well then, Priscilla. The playtime is over.”
“Nnmtto, it was fun.”
At Mistral’s words, Priscilla releases me and returns to Mistral’s side with a smiling face.
“Um, this is…”
“A-are the two of you Ernea’s wife and child?”
While I’m still grasping at the situation, Ruiseine totally misunderstands it.
“T-that is wrong. For Priscilla-chan…. uhm, that girl to be my daughter, the age gap is off, yeah?”
“That’s right, but…”
Ruiseine’s eyes are still full of doubt and also carry a tint of reproach.
“Umm, Priscilla-chan, and also Mistral, please explain what just happened. Ruiseine is making a huge misunderstanding, you see?”
This was definitely old Sleigstar’s idea, wasn’t it? I don’t believe Mistral is someone to start something like this. Therefore, it’s definitely old Sleigstar who encouraged Priscilla-chan to put on this act.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t expect Priscilla to cause this much mischief…”
“But you didn’t stop her either, right?”
Mistral gives a wry smile towards at retort.
I wonder if she is only half tolerating me.
“Err, then, what happened just now is only teasing?”
Ruiseine, who appears unsettled, asks me apologetically.
“Y-yeah, you can say that.”
I feel very sorry to Ruiseine for getting her involved in such a chaotic situation. I should properly explain it to her. But, right as I tried to do so…
“Nice to meet you. You must be Ruiseine, right? I often hear of you from Ernea. My name is Mistral. I am his fiancee.”
Ruiseine stares at me with uneasiness and asks me whether this is another joke or not. I tell her the truth.
Ruiseine’s face pales and she faints. I quickly catch her as she falls down.
“W-what should we do, Mistral?”
I stare at Ruiseine who lost her consciousness and frown. I really feel like crying now!
“I’m sorry, I didn’t think it would turn like this…”
Mistral’s shoulders droop as she reflects upon her actions. She helps me bring Ruiseine to the bench where we lay her down.
Priscilla-chan and Nymia, happy at having been able to successfully tease Ruiseine, squeal as they jump up and down.
Ruiseine awakens as soon as her body is laid on the bench. As I give her water, we apologize.
“I’m sorry. They were just playing a prank.”
“I’m so sorry. I went too far with the teasing. Please forgive Priscilla and me. We’ve reflected upon our actions.”
Mistral bows her head down.
Priscilla-chan doesn’t seem to be reflecting, though. She’s happily playing with Nymia.
“Etto, yes. I was surprised, but now I’m okay. Now then, what is the true relationship between the both of you?”
Ruiseine, having calmed down after drinking some water, looks at Mistral and I.
“It’s just like as I said before, I’m Ernea’s fiance.”
“Err, a lot of things happened, and it becomes like that.”
As I explain the situation together with Mistral, Ruiseine faints again.
“I-in other words, both of you are engaged because of family matters, right?”
Once Ruiseine regains her consciousness again, we slowly explain our relation as we walk. Mistral currently explains about the dragon tribe and dragon’s forest in detail.
We had arranged what to say to Ruiseine while she was still unconsciousness. As such, we’re currently explaining the underlining details in order to clear away the misunderstandings, but Ruiseine is already starting to understand.
“Correct, hence I came to see him because I’m worried about if the unreliable Ernea is suitable for guiding a shrine maiden.”
“Am I really that unreliable…”
“Fufufu, you still have a long way to go.”
I might still be weak compared to Mistral, but even so, I think I am already much stronger than before. Old Sleigstar also said that my dragon’s power has been increasing quite recently.
I puff my cheeks in dissatisfaction.
“Looks like both of you are really close.”
“Nnmtto, he is closer to Priscilla!”
“Oh my, is that so?”
Ruiseine, having regained her composure, caress Priscilla-chan’s head with a tender smile.
Priscilla-chan hides her ears underneath a fluffy, long, lop-eared, hat to keep from revealing she’s of the Long Eared Tribe. Nymia wears the same fluffy hat to hide her horns while also disguising her wings to look like a costume.
I see, so their garments are for disguise.
I’m reluctant about deceiving a shrine maiden like Ruiseine, but I’m positive she will faint again if we tell her the truth.
Since we have no choice, I leave the talking to Mistral who insist on traveling to the vice capital with us. Truthfully speaking, I think it would be better if I do the talking, but Mistral obstinately said that she will do all the explaining herself.
Up until now, Priscilla-chan has always been living in the dragon’s forest. Therefore, the outside world is new to her. She recently left the village of the Long Eared Tribe and moved into the moss-covered plaza. Still, being inside the forest is completely different from being outside it.
If she keeps up this energy, I get the feeling she will get tired soon…
Even though noon hasn’t yet arrived, Mistral is already burdened.
Furthermore, Nymia having been banned from flying, got tired from walking. She now lays stretched out on Priscilla-chan’s head with her tongue sticking out.
Ruiseine can’t help but smile at such a cute scene.
We draw the attention of many who pass by. Ruiseine, a shrine maiden carrying a massive sword is naturally very beautiful. That beauty, however, come nowhere close to Mistral’s who even walks carrying a cute child on her back.
Then comes me, the only male. Heaps of men glare at me with jealously.
However, as expected from walking alongside a shrine maiden, we’re spared from having to deal with frivolous men with bad intentions. It’s all thanks to Ruiseine.
Having resolved the morning chaos, we continue walking forward. No demons have appeared, and the relationship between Mistral and Ruiseine’s isn’t that bad.
Ruiseine has a good personality, and Mistral, with her big sister trait of looking after others, immediately opens her heart. I’m glad.
I was afraid that if sparks started to fly, I would be able to be here. Even so, Mistral sure is kind to come after worrying about me.
Eh, wait a minute.
Didn’t she come because I’m unreliable? Or did she come here because she had something else in her mind?
Some troubles might occur on this journey. That thought makes me nervous…
Even though Mistral and Ruiseine gets along very well, I wonder why chills are running through my body.
Once lunchtime arrives we search for a nearby restaurant.
I wonder if they calculated our journey’s walking speed? Right when I was thinking it was time to eat, we arrived at a place where restaurants and rest areas are scattered all over the side of the highway.
We don’t know any reputable restaurants, so we just pick a suitable one and go inside. The restaurant we choose is a three-story building. It’s an often seen one where the first floor is dining room while the upper floors are an inn.
Since it’s a big and easily spotted building, we play it safe and choose it.
Right at lunchtime, there are a lot of customers in the dining room on the first floor.
We’re still half a day’s walk from the capital, and since there is only one big highway, a lot of people are coming and going. Naturally, a lot of people are looking for similar places to eat.
We are guided into a crowded dining hall by a cheerful woman serving as the shop’s waitress. Being able to have a meal is good enough for us, so we’re not picky about seating. As such, we sit right we’re guided to.
Beside me within the booth is Priscilla-chan. On the outside of the table sits Ruiseine with Mistral by her side. Nymia is treated as a pet cat and quietly rests on Priscilla-chan’s lap.
Priscilla-chan gets a children’s meal while the rest of us order the daily special.
The waitress quickly takes our order and returns to the kitchen.
Well, what kind of food will come? To be honest, I ordered the daily special without checking the contents because it’s cheap. That said, there is now something else that makes me anxious, money.
My family isn’t wealthy. Hence, my mother and I were troubled about the money for travel expenses. However, since I was to be an errand boy for the temple, Ruiseine is the one in charge of covering all travel expenses. Yet, when I thought I was saved from paying expenses, Mistral and Priscilla-chan suddenly tagged along. Simply put, the number of travelers doubled.
Is letting Ruiseine pay for everything really alright? Even if she’s covered by the temple, won’t she get scolded if the expenses increase?
While I was worried about that kind of thing, our meals arrive. Also, for some reason, noise is coming from the entrance.
“Oi, don’t mess with me. Why are there only small seats for us!?”
The man who yelled from the restaurant’s entrance is gigantic. Only half of his body is protected by armor, the rest exposes his brown skin. His hair is the color of rusty iron, and his unshaven face looks dirty. On his back is a large and fine sword.
Another person is with him. That man also wears a worn leather armor and has the same brown skin. He is bald and has no eyebrows. He looks bigger and stronger than the giant man. In his left hand is a round shield and he carries an enormous axe on his back.
“Come on, you, quickly, open up a space for me!”
“Dear customer, please stop.”
The reception woman tries to stop him, but she is frightened by the big man’s glare.
The giant man with the unshaven face kicks out the seat near us and forcibly makes room.
Screams and shouts echo throughout the restaurant.
Uwah, we happen to meet such strange people. The uproar from the entrance of the restaurant makes me feel unpleasant. Mistral isn’t interested and pretends to be ignorant of the event unfolding. As for Priscilla-chan, she’s curious and keeps looking at the entrance. Finally is the shrine maiden Ruiseine. She stands up with a complicated expression, but Mistral tries to stop her.
“For a maiden to arbitrate over such a thing is…”
“While it’s true that I’m a shrine maiden, this is getting dangerous!”
As Mistral and Ruiseine argue back and forth, a great noise comes from around the entrance. An adventurer tries to stop them, but he’s sent flying into the wall by the big bald man.
“Oi, oi, do you not know who we are? We’re from the dragon tribe!”
The big man’s comment sends a shiver through everyone in the restaurant.