TWEM Vol. 5 Chapter 17 Part 2
Upon returning to the cathedral, I found Gawain, the Holy Knights, and Kuzel training with Zero in a corner of the garden.
What on earth were they doing?
Finne, who noticed me and Ilmina, approached us.
“Haruto, you’re back earlier than I thought.”
“As you can see.”
I glanced at Ilmina, who had been smiling at her ring since we arrived.
“Ilmina must be really happy with the present from you, Haruto.”
“It seems so. Anyway, what’s going on here? I didn’t expect to see Finne here.”
“Apparently, Zero and Kuzel ran into Gawain while they were in town, and that led to this training session… I was participating too.”
Finne looked at the fallen Holy Knights, including Gawain.
“I tried fighting Gawain, but I lost,” she said, laughing.
“How did it go?”
“I think I did well, but I still have a long way to go.”
Gawain had been no match for Schwartz, but he was still the strongest Holy Knight. If Finne could hold her own against him, she must have become incredibly strong.
“Is Sir Gawain, the leader of the Holy Knights, okay?”
Ilmina, who was watching the training session with Zero, asked, and I thought for a moment before answering.
“He should be… probably.”
“I’m sure Zero was holding back.”
We watched for a while, and eventually, the training ended, and Gawain collapsed. As expected, he was battered when I rushed over to check on him.
“Hey, Gawain, are you okay?”
“Haruto? Is your date with Lady Ilmina over?”
“We just got back, actually. I came to drop off Ilmina.”
Gawain looked at Ilmina, who was wearing a happy expression.
“I see. It’s good to see that you enjoyed yourselves…”
“…Do you want me to cast healing magic?”
Gawain replied with a “please,” so I cast healing magic on everyone present. Gawain, borrowing my hand, stood up.
“Thank you, you saved me.”
“So, how was it? Fighting against Zero?”
“Well, he’s just too strong…”
The other Holy Knights nodded in agreement with Gawain’s words. Meanwhile, Kuzel was looking satisfied and chatting with Finne and Ilmina.
“You fought Finne and Kuzel too, right?”
“Yes, I did… but aren’t they both too strong? I had quite a tough time.”
“That’s good to hear. I think they should’ve beaten you up more, though.”
“Hey, have some sympathy for your fellow man.”
“What are you talking about? Of course, I’ll side with my friends.”
“I suppose so… Anyway, even if all of us Holy Knights teamed up, we wouldn’t stand a chance against Master Zero. It’s a cruel joke that he’s not an adventurer or a knight but a butler.”
“Gawain, what do you mean by ‘Master’?”
As I looked puzzled, I received an immediate explanation.
“Well, actually, as we practiced together, I realized there was so much to learn. I couldn’t help but ask if I could call him my master,” said Gawain, with Zero standing behind him.
“Welcome back, Lord Haruto. I had a good workout—now, Gawain, please become a bit stronger by the time we meet again. That goes for all of you too, okay?”
Upon hearing Zero’s words, Gawain and the other knights responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!” I wondered if that was really okay, but I guess it was up to them, so there wasn’t a problem. As we chatted, news of our return must have reached Liebert, who came to see us. Apparently, while we were out, a new Cardinal had been chosen and there had been some personnel reviews. They said they had chosen carefully this time, so there was no need to worry about incidents like before. Still, it was important not to get complacent… As we discussed this, dusk approached, so we decided to return to our lodgings.
Upon returning, I saw Iris and the other three engaged in a lively conversation.
“Haruto, you’re back already!”
Iris called out as if nothing had happened, so I gave her a suspicious glare.
“Let me ask you one thing, what were you guys up to today?”
At my question, Iris averted her gaze, while Suzuno, Asha, and Ephyr began to sweat nervously.
“Wh-what do you mean?”
“Yeah, we were just hanging out together, right?”
“I was with Iris and the others, as well.”
Iris, Suzuno, Asha, and Ephyr replied, but their eyes wandered evasively.
“I know what you’ve been up to, you know? Don’t think you can escape my senses.”
“We’re so sorry!!”
The apologies of the four echoed throughout the inn.
The next day, we arrived at the northern gate of the divine capital. It would take about two weeks to reach our next destination, the capital of the Galzio Empire, departing from this gate. Many people had come to see us off at the gate, including Gawain and the other Holy knights, Liebert the Pope, and Ilmina, who had become my fiancée. First, Gawain stepped forward.
“Haruto, we owe you. If it weren’t for you, not only the divine capital but our entire nation might have been doomed.”
“Don’t say that, Gawain. Thanks to the efforts of you and the other knights, I was able to make it in time. Be proud.”
“…Thank you. With your words, the souls of those who have died can rest in peace. I’ll use this life, saved by their sacrifice, for the sake of our country.”
Next to speak was Liebert.
“Lord Haruto, we are grateful for your help. Even though you saved the divine capital, we have not been able to express our gratitude properly…”
“Don’t say that. I didn’t do it for a reward… Besides, just meeting Ilmina is enough for me.”
With that, I placed my hand on Ilmina’s head, who was standing nearby.
The person in question blushed furiously at my sudden gesture. Liebert smiled at my words.
“I won’t forgive you if you bring misfortune or sadness to her, alright?”
“Are you saying that as the Pope? That’s not it, is it?”
Liebert smiled at my words.
“Yes, as a father.”
I smiled at his answer.
“Leave it to me. I’ll make her happy.”
“There’s no one more reliable than you.”
Liebert smiled again.
“Well then, let’s go.”
Just as I was about to leave, Ilmina grabbed my sleeve.
“Um… there’s some dust on your head.”
I hadn’t noticed.
“I’ll get it, just bend down a little.”
I bent down as she requested.
Just as I was about to ask if she got it, I felt a soft touch on my cheek and heard a cute smooching sound. Finne and the others gasped, and I quickly raised my head. Ilmina’s face turned even redder than before.
“Th-that was for good luck!!”
Ilmina hugged me and buried her face in my chest.
“Please, promise me.”
I stroked her head as I responded to the words she had whispered.
“Yeah, I’ll be back.”
Ilmina looked up at me with pleading eyes.
“…I understand. Please be careful, but I guess you don’t need me to tell you that.”
Ilmina took a deep breath and smiled broadly.
“Please enjoy your journey. I’ll be waiting for your return.”
“Alright, I’ll enjoy it to the fullest. Look forward to listening to my stories.”
Ilmina stepped away from me, stood next to Liebert, and waved goodbye. I turned to Finne and the others and called out.
“Alright, let’s go!”
We boarded the carriage and left the Holy Capital. Our next destination was the Galzio Empire, a country we had never been involved with before. My heart raced, anticipating what awaited us in this new land.