TWEM Vol. 1 Chapter 14

 

Chapter 14 – Maid and Princess

 

The next morning, I was eating breakfast with Finne when Ryan and his party came up to us.

“Morning, Haruto, Finne. We found an escort request to Vaana, so we’re leaving town today…by the way, did you two form a party?”

“Yeah, we just registered yesterday…thank you for coming to say goodbye, Ryan. I’m glad I could get to know you guys.”

After me, Finne said her goodbyes too.

“Sir Ryan, sir Nathan, lady Anita, lady Iraly. Thank you for everything.”

Finne then bowed her head to them, but for some reason, Ryan and the others were grinning.

“I see, I see…hey Haruto! Finne’s a girl after all, you better make sure you keep her safe!”

“What’s with you guys? Of course I will! You better stay alive too!”

Ryan and Nathan thrust their fists forward.

“Sure thing, we aren’t gonna die anytime soon! See you, man!”

“Yeah, no way I’m kicking the bucket just yet! Stay strong!”

“You said it!”

Thus we bumped fists and our ways parted.

Finne too said her final goodbyes to Anita and Iraly, while blushing fiercely.

We looked at the merry group leave the inn, then discussed our plans for the day.

“I was thinking of visiting the places I couldn’t see yesterday…what about you, Finne?”

“Well, I thought about going to the guild and seeing if there were any requests we could take…actually I took a look yesterday, but also because of the gap in our ranks, there weren’t many good requests…”

Finne looked a bit down as she finished her sentence.

Hmm, what should I do here…?

“Okay then, how about this: we’ll go sightseeing in the morning, then check again the guild in the afternoon. What do you think?”

Finne smiled and wholeheartedly accepted my proposal.

Seeing a smile like that, how could I not feel happy too?

I said we should finish our breakfast and go — also as a means to hide my blushing cheeks — and swallowed my remaining food.

~

After leaving the inn we started walking around town.

“This looks so delicious!”

“Let’s try some then. Give us two of what you’re cooking, please.”

“Here you go. It’s 200 Gould total.”

I paid and took the two skewers. After a bit more walking around, I noticed that two presences were following us.

Hmm? What’s going here? …I guess I could try luring them out?

I whispered to Finne about the uninvited guests.

“Finne, looks like someone’s following us.”

“Eh!? W-who could it be?”

“Be quiet, they’ll find out we know if we act weird.”

“B-but…”

“It’s okay, I have an idea…come with me.”

We then turned a corner in a smaller alley, making sure to be clearly seen while doing so. I told Finne to hide, then activated Conceal Presence.

“I’m sure they came in here…? Where did they go!?”

Two hooded individuals came into the alley and started looking for us. I took the opportunity to sneak behind them.

“May I help you?”

“Aaah!!”

The two mysterious figures let out relatively cute voices as they embraced each other.

I asked another question, keeping alert about anything they could do.

“Why were you following us?”

“I was looking for you, sir Haruto!”

One of the two hooded figures revealed herself as Asha, the girl I met the day before.

“….Asha? What are you doing?”

“I told you I would come visit you with my master, didn’t I? I was waiting for the right timing, but…I apologize for troubling you.”

“I see, sorry for surprising you then…wait, your master?”

“Yes, my master.”

The other person with Asha removed the hood, showing her face.

She looked 13 or 14 years old, about 150 cm tall, with pearl white skin. Her blond waist-length hair was tied in two pigtails, her eyes bright red like rubies.

So this is what people mean when they say a girl is as pretty as a doll.

The young girl then introduced herself. She was full of energy but also had a sort of class about her.

“Please let me thank you for helping my servant…no, my friend. I am this kingdom’s first princess, Iris Arclaidh Perdis! I am presently incognito, so address me normally!”

“Please keep your voice low, Princess.”

“My, I’m sorry!”

Iris introduced herself in a rather grandiose manner, then Asha urged her to be careful.

I realized I hadn’t introduced myself yet, so I did.

“My name is Haruto, I’m an adventurer…is it okay to say you’re the first princess so casually?”

“You don’t seem to be nervous at all when facing a kingdom’s first princess, though? You saved my friend, it is only natural for me to thank you….besides, Asha said that you refused any reward, is that true? I could offer you a considerable amount of money or authority.”

Iris then tilted her head to the side and looked at me curiously.

Hmm, I already have enough money in the guild account, and I don’t really need any authority…

“You’re incognito, so I should treat you normally, right? I don’t need any money or authority, really.”

“What a bold fellow…and generous too. Whenever people learn I am the princess, they do everything to get in my good graces, you know?”

For some reason, Iris looked very pleased with herself. Asha then came up with a proposal.

“It wouldn’t do to just stand around talking, how about we have a cup of tea? By the way…sir Haruto, what happened to your companion?”

“Oh yeah…Finne, it’s safe, you can come out.”

I called Finne, to introduce her to the other two.

“O-okay.”

Finne came out of her hiding place and nervously introduced herself.

“M-my name is Finne, I am an adventurer too…Sir Haruto and I are in a party together.”

“Is that so, very nice to meet you. You too may address me casually, Finne! Oh yes, one of the cafes I often frequent happens to be near here. Let us go.”

A princess “often frequents” a cafe around here?…oh well, whatever.

We thus went to the cafe and sat down at a table in the back, partly hidden from view.

Iris then told the cafe’s owner to bring her “the usual”.

Finne and I were both perplexed, but Iris grinned.

“The fruit juice here is truly delicious. Let me offer it to you too.”

I see, well that was something I could accept.

The owner quickly brought us glasses.

“Your fruit juice, ma’am.”

“Thank you.”

Iris thanked the owner, who placed a glass in front of each of us.

“Please, go ahead and drink.”

Iris encouraged us to drink with emphasis.

The fruit juice looked and smelled very similar to orange juice…

One sip revealed that the juice did not have only the sweet and sour flavor of citrus, but also sweetness reminiscent of apples and the astringency of grapes, all in perfect balance. It wasn’t too sweet, so the flavor never became tiring.

“Pretty good.”

“Yes, this sweetness is simply perfect…”

Both Finne and I praised the juice, so Iris looked at us proudly, then enjoyed the juice herself.

She then asked us to talk about our adventures, so we complied.

Looking at Iris thoroughly enjoying listening to us talk, I felt like smiling too.

I guess this is what having a little sister feels like…?

But I don’t want to be seen smiling like this while looking at her…so I was thinking that, the usual robotic voice resounded in my head.

<<Skill “Poker Face” acquired. Skill added to Martial Unification.>>  

Oh, this new skill should be useful in various situations…and the timing is perfect too!

 — and so, after arriving in this city we formed a party together.”

“I see…how long will you stay in this country?”

Iris looked a bit lonely.

“Well, I was thinking about a week, but we aren’t in a rush to go anywhere, so we might stay longer.”

Iris smiled: relief was written all over her face.

“Why do you look so happy?”

“Your stories contain so many things I never heard of, so they’re really interesting. If you will stay here a bit longer, we might meet again too. Other people always try to appease me, and I hate it…”

“I see…well, we can talk again anytime if you want.”

“Really!?”

Iris’ smile was as precious as a flower in full bloom.

“Yeah, when we have time.”

“Thank you!!”

Iris seemed really overjoyed.

I felt my heart skip a beat and my lips curve into a smile, but Poker Face let me hide it all.

I only showed a natural-looking smile.

Asha and Finne joined in and we continued chatting for a bit, then noticed that it was turning dark outside.

It was about time to go back, so I told Asha and Iris that we would accompany them to the castle.

They both shook their heads, however.

“It’s okay, sir Haruto, this town is pretty safe.”

“That might be, but you’re both really cute, so you might attract unwanted attention… as what happened to Asha just yesterday.”

Asha probably recalled the previous day’s events and let out a pained sigh.

“T-that’s…you’re right. Please come with us, then.”

~

Thus we started walking towards the royal castle. Asha and Iris wore their hoods, but they may have recalled that I called them cute. I noticed them blushing all the way back to the castle.

I was thinking they looked even cuter when blushing, then suddenly realized there was no one else around us: the surroundings were eerily quiet.

My Detect Presence then picked up something: 10 armed men appeared out of a back alley.

The one closest to us, probably the group’s leader, spoke while staring fixedly at us.

“…you’re Princess Iris, yes? I’m sad to say your life ends today.”

The bad feeling I had turned out to be true: they were assassins targeting Iris’ life. Good thing I proposed to accompany them…

Such thoughts were running in my head when Asha stepped forward and shouted.

“Do you think you can get away with something like this!? The guards will come here any minute!!”

The leader did not falter an inch, however, and smiled menacingly.

“Hahaha…no guards are coming, missy. The area is sealed…you can’t see anyone other than us around here, right? That’s the proof.”

“I-It can’t be…”

Asha realized it and fell down on her knees, trembling.

“Don’t even think of putting up resistance…your life is ours for the taking.”

After the leader finished talking, Iris removed her hood.

“I-I am this kingdom’s first princess, Iris Arclaidh Perdis. Don’t lay a hand on them!” 

Her words were proud, but her legs were shaking.

“Hmm…too bad, but we can’t have that. All witnesses must be eliminated…do it, men.”

“No….!”

Following the leader’s orders, the other nine men shot arrows at us, all at the same time.

The arrow tips were coated in something…probably a lethal kind of poison.

Tch, you guys got guts, ignoring me like that.

So I whispered to myself as I activated my barrier magic.

The barrier was created instantly and repelled the arrows, knocking them on the ground.

“You really thought we’d just stand by and let you kill us?”

“What!?”

The men reacted with shock after seeing the arrows being blocked by apparently nothing.

The next instant, Iris let out a desperate scream.

“Haruto, Finne, run away!! Now!!”

“Eh? I don’t wanna.”

My immediate refusal sent Iris in a daze.

“…eh? Why not!?”

“Shit!! Deal with the man first!!”

The assassins shot their arrows again, but the barrier blocked them as before.

Ignoring the ruckus outside the barrier, I smiled at Iris.

“We’re friends, aren’t we? Let’s chat again in that cafe next time.”

“That kind of reason…please, run— ”

“Calm down, calm down. Finne, I think we’ll be all right, but watch over them just in case. Don’t go out of the barrier.”

“Understood.”

Finne nodded and Iris looked intently at me, without a word.

I walked out of the barrier and approached the assassins, as Asha and Iris’ voices reached my ears.

“Tch! Kill him!!”

After the leader’s order, some of the other assassins tossed their bows and drew out swords. The blades were probably coated with poison too.

I dodged the attacks of the three assassins who attacked me first and circled behind them.

At the same time, I unsheathed my Black Katana via Quickdraw Arts.

The three assassins collapsed before they could even turn towards me, as their heads rolled away from their necks.

I swung my Black Katana to get rid of the blood and more arrows came flying.

I sliced my blade through midair, then used Ground Shrink to instantly approach the shooter and thrust my katana in his throat.

There was another shooter close by, so I used Ground Shrink again and stabbed my blade into his heart.

“Amazing…he killed five people by himself so easily…”

“In-incredible…”

I heard Asha and Iris’ surprised voices behind me.

The assassins were shocked to see five of their comrades go down so quickly. I activated Intimidation and approached them.

“What’s wrong, you guys won’t attack me? I’ll go first then.”

I just sounded like I was the bad guy, but they were the real evil ones, I was on the side of justice here…more or less.

“D-don’t lose in spirit! Attack him all at once!! Let’s go!!”

After the leader’s order, the five remaining assassins attacked me at the same time.

I first quickly dealt with the two closest to me with my Black Katana, then struck another one who approached me with the hilt of the katana, right into his solar plexus.

The fourth one tried jumping away, so I used Magic Power Manipulation to create a magic bullet and shot his chest with it.

The leader was probably undecided between fight or flight after seeing his lackeys go down one by one, as he was frozen for an instant.

I took advantage of the opening to quickly approach him and cut off his right arm.

“KWAAAAAGGGHH!! My arm..!! Shit..!!”

I used fire magic to immediately stop the blood loss, but the pain made him shout even more, so I used recovery magic to stop only the pain.

When the leader finally went quiet, I made sure there were no more enemies around, then brought him in front of the barrier.

Iris looked at the leader in the eyes and asked him a question, in a very calm tone.

“Can you tell me who you are and who put you up to this?”

“Ugh…you really expect me…to talk…?”

The man then clenched his teeth and slumped down.

…he had poison in his mouth, ready for a situation like this.

I sighed and piled the assassins’ corpsed in one spot.

…I guess cutting off their heads was going too far. I glanced at Asha and Iris, but they were putting up a brave front.

I tied up the only assassin I had knocked out and removed the barrier once the surroundings were safe.

Iris and Asha then ran up to me.

“Thank you, you saved us.”

“Thank you so much, sir Haruto…what will you do with the man you tied up?”

I replied to the two girls, who still seemed to be shaking a bit.

“I just did what I felt like doing…and I left this guy alive to make him talk. Are you two okay?”

“Yes, you may bring him to the castle like that, then.”

Iris nodded, so I decided to do as she said.

Finne too approached me and thanked me, so I smiled at her.

We thus accompanied Iris and Asha to the royal castle, dragging the unconscious assassin with us.

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