The next day, the three of us headed back home to Sistina. As we boarded a ship that was heading back, Koujiro and his entourage came to see us off at the entry port. For some reason, Koujiro looked quite exhausted. It was probably for the best that I didn’t ask what happened to him after I left. At least, the girls were in a good mood, so it couldn’t have been all bad.
However, I noticed that two of them were carrying a large sack over their shoulder.
“Merona, Lyucel, the two of them will be boarding as well,” Liruru said. “As the representatives of our country, we’ll have to scout the prospects of our potential new ally, so I leave the arrangements to them.”
“Aye-aye, Liruru.” The two of them cheered as they looked excited to be going on a trip.
Eryn walked up to them with a concerned face. “Is that really alright? Aren’t you two-?”
“It’ll be months before I’ll have to worry about that as an inconvenience. We’ll be fine. Have to get my traveling in while I can!” Lyucel gave a reassuring smile. “Besides, we’ll be back as soon as things are set up.”
Somehow, I felt like I was the only one within the group that was totally lost. Why wouldn’t she be able to travel?
Regardless, we soon boarded the ship and were off.
Knowing that our vacation was over, the trip back wasn’t nearly as exciting. Like children realizing that they were going back to school the next day after visiting a theme park, we seemed to have trouble finding the motivation to do anything. Katsys had secluded herself in her room, but Eryn and I were slumped against one wall staring forward.
However, that wasn’t the case for our two new travel companions. They were currently in a heated battle on the ship deck. The sound of metal claws and knives impacted each other as they dashed into each other repeatedly, a blur of movement casting afterimages in their wake.
Likely due to their high-class equips, they would be a match for even the greatest fighters in Sistina. Moreover, the rocking of the ship apparently had no impact on their balance. Their stability in this kind of setting was a clear advantage over Eryn and I, who had never fought on shaky ground.
Idly watching the sparring for tens of minutes, Merona finally dislodge one of Lyucel’s knives from her hand. With a look of panic, Lyucel naturally eyed the knife flying out of her hand, which was just the opening needed for Merona to sweep her off her feet and pin her to the deck.
“Got you~~.” Merona gave a smile of victory before drawing her lips to Lyucel’s neck and nibbling the soft skin there.
“Awawahhh! That tickles! Stop that! I give! I give!” Lyucel tried to pull Merona off her without success.
That was quite the way of declaring victory after a practice bout. I looked over at Eryn while rubbing my chin, only to receive a dirty look from her. I had been joking, of course. There was no chance that I could beat Eryn in a clean fight anyways.
“Those girls seem to be quite close,” I commented to change the topic.
“We chatted quite a bit in the evenings, about various things.”
Oh, so that was what she had been up to after we split off for the night. The girls apparently had slumber parties together.
“It would seem that they are closer with each other than their king, surprisingly.”
“Wow, that explains why I didn’t feel any jealousy or animosity between them. What a strange arrangement.”
By this time, Merona and Lyucel had finished with their play date and were heading towards us. Their eyes beckoned us forward with a hint of anticipation.
“We’re bored. Want to have a turn with us?” The two of them brandished their weapons.
“Are you kidding me? There’s no way I can keep up with that. Not without causing collateral damage.” I pointed at their armor, reminding them of my ability.
“Ah, that’s true! Then… should we fight naked?” Lyucel started undoing the clasps on her upper armor. The bikini-like section started dropping, nothing holding it up against gravity.
“NO!” Eryn immediately got up and shouted.
The armor fell to the ground with a metallic clunk, revealing a binding around her modest chest.
“Oh, by ‘naked,’ I’m guessing you meant with your stat-boosting armor removed?” I questioned the two.
Given their current appearance, if I had fought those girls back then, they wouldn’t have become fully exposed. I felt less bad that I considered ‘Dress Break’-ing them.
“Of course, we had to give ourselves some insurance since Chef Strippy Pants over here exists. Still, this kind of underlayer is a bit stifling….”
Wait, they didn’t have anything underneath after all!
“Fine, I’ll have a bout with the two of you. Just keep your clothes on.” Eryn got up from her position. “This trip has made me realize how rusty I’ve become.”
I hadn’t noticed anything strange about her before. Why the sudden spark of interest?
Watching her give a go at Lyucel, it was clear to me that she was at a disadvantage. It was as I predicted. However, she seemed to be taking the practice quite seriously. With the three of them off in their own little world, I went off to see what Katsys was up to.
Minutes later, I knocked on the door to the room she stayed in.
Giving the knob a turn, the door creaked open. Rather than the fancy travel clothes she had on before, Katsys was wearing simple clothing that was expected to get dirty. She was busy examining an object in her hand. Tools had been strewn about. Various parts littered the floor. She was back to her same old inventor self. It seems like the gravity of this trip had been lifted off her shoulders.
“What do you have there?”
“Oh, it’s you, Claude. Perfect timing. I have something that I wanted to test.”
She extended her palm which held a small black object. A magic stone was embedded on either side of it, and two buttons were placed on top. I had no idea what the heck it could be.
As Katsys held down one of the buttons, a swirling portal extended from it and slowly separated from the object. The diameter of it was about the same as a person’s head. When she released the button, the portal stopped moving away. I stepped in front of it and looked into the swirling mass, but I couldn’t see anything due to its opaqueness.
“Huh? What are you supposed to do with this?” I wondered out loud.
“Just wait. I have to connect it.”
Katsys pushed the other button, and a second swirling portal moved out from the other side. After moving a distance away, she released that button. As soon as the second portal stopped moving, the opaqueness started to clear away, producing a clear image. At first, it looked like a mirrored image of Katsys’s hand and the object, but then, I realized that the image wasn’t flipped like how it should have been.
I stuck my hand out in front and saw my hand in the distance, rather than it being right in front of the portal, like how a mirror should behave. My suspicions of what this led to made my heart skip a beat.
“Try to chuck something in,” Katsys suggested.
I took a coin from my pocket and did as she said. The sound of a coin falling to the ground clinked behind me. Looking back, I verified that the coin I that left my hand had ended up coming out of the other side.
I took another coin and tossed it into the first portal, while watching the second one. Sure enough, the coin materialized out of the second one and dropped onto the ground near the first coin. This time, I pulled out my knife and stuck it through the portal. It was amusing to see only a part of the blade suddenly appear at the other end.
“Looks like you figured it out. Using the technology from the teleportation devices in Macali, I was able to create teleportation portals that can be moved at will. There isn’t any need to tie it to a set object anymore. I had thought it would be useful if we could have teleportation devices in Sistina, but the mana usage would be simply too much for a normal person, so I tried to make it portable instead-“
Realizing what Katsys had created, I reached over and placed my hands on Katsys’s shoulders.
“Do you realize what you’ve done?”
Surprised by how I was acting suddenly, Katsys made a slight ‘eep’ and dropped the portal-creating object. Having been disconnected from its mana source, the portals shut off and disappeared.
“How much can you improve the design?” I asked her with a slight tremble.
“Uhhhh… as much as you want me to, I think… Why are you acting so strangely?”
“Then, a gun! Please make it into a gun which can shoot the portals a certain distance!” At that point, I was practically drooling.
“Umm… okay… that shouldn’t be a problem….” Katsys nervously backed away from me.
“Then please,… in the name of science!”
Several minutes later, after I had the chance to calm down, I apologized for my weird behavior.
“Sorry for acting the way I did. I just saw the makings of a highly-coveted fictional item from my old world.”
“I figured as much. You always seem to draw interesting inspiration from that world. It’s a shame that I wouldn’t be able to go visit it like the magically advanced Macali.”
“Who knows? One day, you might invent a portal to another world. I could certainly see it happening.”
“If I did, would you go back home?”
“Hmm… I’d certainly go back to let my parents and friends know that I was doing fine. I’m enjoying life over here a lot more, so I would only be taking short trips there, maybe to catch up on my hobbies.”
I wonder how many cycles of console wars would pass by before that happened.
“Good. Cause if you had said that you’d return home permanently, then even if I could make it, I would smash it up and eradicate all the evidence,” Katsys said with a glint in her eye. I could tell that she was being 100% serious. I guess anyone would be mad if I suddenly disappeared on them, especially after all we had been through.
The two of us had left her room and were walking back up to the deck. I no longer heard the sounds of fighting, so it seemed like the sparring practice was over.
“Oh my….” Katsys was the first to comment on the scene in front of us.
Eryn was currently sprawled on the ground, still clutching her sword in one hand. I could almost imagine the birds chirping over her head as she struggled to lift her head up, only for it to fall back down. Lyucel was poking her in the back, which caused her to twitch with every touch.
“Um… Katsys. If you could….” I turned to her and pleaded lightly.
Katsys walked over and cast a Mid-heal spell, which appeared to restore the fallen girl’s vitality. Soon, she started getting up.
“But I went easy on you too….” Lyucel scratched her cheek.
“Failure… utter, complete failure,” Eryn said with a sullen expression.
“What happened?” I asked.
“Miss Faulkner got a bit nauseous during our fight.” Merona pointed over to the side, where there was a patch of vomit on the ground.
“I’m not even the one that’s-“ Eryn tried to finish her sentence but paused to run over to the side of the ship.
A wretched sound came from her as she expelled more into the seas below.
Looks like Eryn got seasick too. With such a difficult opponent, she probably couldn’t maintain her focus on the magic that stabilized her senses. After getting seasick once, the magic that I had subconsciously activated afterward seemed to help me get through it. I guess there would be no more fighting from us until after we arrive on dry land.