Arc 02.5: Extra Volume #1 – Nagi, Cecyl, and a white knot festival.
Chapter 32: Nagi, Cecyl, and a white knot festival. Latter Part
The kelpana was held between my index finger and thumb.
Cecyl placed in on her teeth, so gently as to not injure my fingers. She bit on it carefully while looking up at me with red eyes and gulped down. After taking a look at the piece of kelpana still in my hand —
“…Excuse me, Nagi-sama”
Cecyl placed my thumb and index finger into her mouth. Her small tongue began to lick the piece of kelpana. Once she cleaned up everything, Cecyl took my hand and put lips on my palm and thumb. She licked and sucked up both the sauce and the remaining pieces of crepe. It looked like she was a small bird, pecking at my hand. Cecyl pressed her small faces towards my hand with her utmost effort while she moved her silver hair out of the way with one hand.
I beg your pardon, I have no idea what’s going on here anymore.
“S-so your slave-wife is into this?!”
“Do not shout all of sudden, man of the Iturna cult!”
“S-she is a wife? A slave wife? What’s the meaning of this?!”
“Did she really accept that life?!”
“Such play… so he’s making this tiny girl do this every day from morning till night…”
“I am not making her do it! Today it just happened”
“There is no mistake. Your bastard soul has already been dirtied down to the depths of abyss!”
“There is nothing dirty here. Speaking of which, isn’t it just a part of the festival ritual?”
“Festival? Don’t tell me… Do you mean [White knot festival]?” — The man from Iturna cult made a face like he was looking at something unbelievable.
“Are you saying that you’re currently following the formal rituals of [White knot festival]?”
“You aren’t using the power of the ring?”
“If I did, I wouldn’t be able to reward my slave, would I?”
“… Unbelievable. A human boy and a dark elf girl… I am so jealou— no, it’s dirty— no, I am still jealous — no, that’s wrong. Umm, hey, umm”
“Please, tell me so I could understand, preferably in twenty words or less”
“… You heretics, you will burn in the exploding flames of netherrealm togethe-e-e-e-r!”
The man from Iturna cult suddenly started running away from us before he disappeared from sight in a blink of an eye.
What the heck was that?
The priest stopped and breathed out.
He couldn’t believe it. The reason [White knot festival] wasn’t held anymore was because the difficulty to perform it to the very end was extremely high. There was no master who could build up a relationship of trust with their slave to such a level. And even if there was someone like that, conducting this ritual was connected to a relationship that would go deeper than trust. For example —
Aa-aah! Stop it, stop it! I am a priest in service of goddess Iturna. This jealousy — I should forget about that dirty boy! Let’s go the cult branch at once. I have to report about the us being attacked by the mysterious fish and further treatment of Rita Melphus.
“…Why did you do that, Cecyl?!”
“It was… unintentional, I flared up… uu-u-uh”
It didn’t look like she was reflecting on it. I wish she didn’t become so beet red though.
[Third ritual: Master and Slave are to thank each other for being with them in front of the temple dedicated to the goddess of contracts]
So it’s like visiting a Shinto temple during a company picnic, huh?
I matched the walking pace of Cecyl and headed to the [Temple of Contracts].
The temple resembled churches from my world, and everyone was able to enter it. There was only a large statue of the goddess inside of the sprawling room. The depicted young woman was kindly smiling, in her hands were a bunch of keys and a lock.
“This is where people usually express their wishes, Nagi-sama”
“Even if they aren’t related to [Contracts]?”
“Yes. the [Goddess of Contracts] is also referred to as [Binding Goddess]
[Contracts] were something tied people together through promises. Shifting its meaning, it also meant there was a benefit to have the current me be tied with the future me who made the dream come true. For now, I wished for [Being able to live without having the need to work].
Cecyl was next to me, I had a feeling she was saying “the blood of demonkins— towards the future — with Nagi-sama”, but I couldn’t hear it very well. Say, listening to other people’s wishes is a breach of etiquette so I should stop.
In the temple, there was a sheet of copper where the origins of [Contracts] was written.
It was out of the goodwill that [Goddess of Contracts] formed the rules of [Contracts] on this land.
Human desires had no limits. In order to restrain them, the goddess created demihumans, like elves and dwarves, to be their peers.
However, that still wasn’t sufficient to stop the appetite of humankind. So the [Goddess of Contracts] created a compelling force, the [Contracts].
One was free to satisfy their desires with as many [Contracts] as they wanted. That should’ve satisfied humans, she assumed.
It was impossible to hold back the desires of man. That’s why the [goddess of contracts] decided to limit the release —
So there were such rules in place… they didn’t play a large role though. But it’s not my duty as the otherworlder to raise a complaint about it.
Even so my world had the employment contracts written on documents, one could be made to work purely based on someone’s goodwill without properly drafting their contract.
Oh [Goddess of Contracts] I will be treating my slaves as dearly as I can. Please, allow me to live in this world comfortably. clap-clap.
After all, I didn’t want to become a black employer.
“How rare it is to see a master and slave making a pilgrimage together to the temple of contracts” — an old man, dressed in robes, appeared from the inner parts of the temple. He was sporting a long beard.
So he’s a priest of this temple, huh?
“Indeed, there were cases where masters dragged the slaves here against their will. Are you doing the same in front of the entrance?”
“We are on company outing”
“It’s to reward Cecyl once in a while — hm, huh?”
The old priest drew back.
“You’re doing it today? Don’t tell me, is it for [White Knot Festival] ?!”
It’s been bothering me for some time. Why does everyone have this reaction? It’s getting more and more uncomfortable. Let’s just stop it here, alright?
“You don’t have any issue with us taking part in this festival, do you?”
“Unless your intentions differ”
“Could it be… does the ritual involve magic?”
“I don’t know, but it’s said that this ritual was first started by demonkins”
Cecyl moved ears with a twitch. She was silently looking at me and the old man having the talk and trying not to bother us.
“It’s told that the rituals were born when demonkins made a research into the rules of the [Goddess of Contracts]. The reason it became obsolete is that no one could perform it until the very end. However, there were stories left behind that the bond between master and slave will get stronger if it’s performed completely”
“In what manner does the bond ‘get stronger’?”
“They say you will be able to get an answer to the question of whether your bonds are really built on mutual trust”
“Is there anything else?”
“The effects and so forth of the demonkin rituals wasn’t something that could be understood in detail, so I may not know”
Such differentiation isn’t good, the cultural heritage is important.
“…Nagi-sama” — cecyl pulled my sleeve lightly.
“I… I want to participate in this festival until the end”
As for me, I would be fine stopping at this point. The story was getting gradually more dubious.
“Let’s investigate it a bit more, it’s not like there won’t be the next time, right?”
“Nagi-sama… If that’s what you say”
C’mon, please don’t make this sobby face.
I understood her feelings though. Cecyl held something special towards things related to demonkins.
In any case… the information we have so far is just “This ritual serves to strongly connect master and slave, deepening their bond”. If it’s done through the [Contracts], I should be able to have a final say in canceling it out.
“I understand, let’s do it until the end, Cecyl” — I placed my hand on Cecyl’s head. I gently brushed her silver hair, and Cecyl finally smiled at me. [White Knot Festival] was like an outing aimed to reward Cecyl.
Let’s go along with her wish. Still… the last ritual does have quite a high hurdle.
The old priest run his pen on parchment in his room.
Today he was something unusual. A slave came to this temple together with her master. Furthermore, the slave wished it herself. Was such a thing even possible? No, it must’ve been a joke. The slave offered a prayer to the goddess of contracts who was binding her…
[White Knot Festival] was said to first appear when the goddess of contracts descended onto this land and came into contact with demonkins.
The [Contracts] were said to be something one wished for, not something used to tie down another and make them obey.
This man heard that a strong bond between master and slave would exhibit a new strength — something that was produced alongside the wish to open up the way to the future that was impossible to reach by themselves.
“However… the legends say this connection exceeded the one between mere master and slave… What on earth… No…. I mustn’t think of this, this is heresy”
The old man breathed a sigh and threw the unfinished letter into a fireplace.
shining floating shining
It wasn’t an illusion.
shining floating shining
Since a while ago, Cecyl and I were being followed by a small ball of light. My hand went through when I tried touching it. Other people showed no reaction to it either.
“Cecyl, can you see it?”
“It looks like a lump of magic power”
This thing looked like a golden soap bubble. It didn’t look malicious, so we left it be.
“How about we do the last ritual around here, Nagi-sama?” — Cecyl was single-minded in her goal.
Being following by a ball of light, we went around the inn. Not a single person in sight. There only short stone walls and some thick plants.
Walking up in front of me, Cecyl shook her silver hair and turned around.
“Today was like a dream come true. It was so enjoyable that I felt like I was born anew”
“Is that so?”
If that’s what she was feeling, then it was worth it.
[Last ritual: To thank them for expressing the gratitude for the whole day, the slave is to kiss their master on the forehead”
I got on my knees in front of Cecyl. After all, she wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise.
The sphere of white magic power was circling around us. Like it was trying to address Cecyl, it just floated softly.
Cecyl combed her silver hair. Exposing the long ears, she seemed to be hearing a voice from the globe. I couldn’t hear this voice, but Cecyl probably could, due to her being a demonkin.
“I, Cecyl Phierott, thank Souma Nagi-sama for everything he gave me” — Cecyl began to talk as if she was performing a chant.
“Nagi-sama agreed to wash my body. Thanks to him, I’ve come to like my skin. I could no longer hate something that was even said to be beautiful by Nagi-sama”
“Nagi-sama let me eat food from his hands. I feel like I managed to take in Nagi-sama into my body a little”
“Nagi-sama prayed with me at the temple. I became connected with Nagi-sama in the deepest parts of my heart”
Wait a minute. Cecyl, how can you this stuff so nonchalantly?! Don’t tell me, did she know what sort of ritual this was even before we came here?
I pulled out [Ancient Language Chanting] that was passed as handed down memory from within Cecyl. It wouldn’t be strange for the same thing to occur during the ritual.
“Stop, Cecyl. This ritual is really — “
“That’s why I, Cecyl Phierott, desire for a far more stronger bond with Nagi-sama. By means of the ritual of this [White Knot Festival]”
Cecyl lodged the white light into her pretty silver hair, closed her eyes and slowly approached me.
What am I going to do? Is it really fine to just let the ritual be completed like this?
“Oi-i, Landlady, was really okay to hand over the parchment just like this?”
“I’ve told you this many times already, haven’t I? The ritual itself isn’t such a tightly held secret. The boy is young, it was necessary to make him understand”
Suddenly, we heard the inn landlady coming from above.
“People would say ‘this guy just binds the dark elf girl with the ring power’. The first ritual splashes hot water in his face, that’s all. One really need to think about how they appear in their slave’s eyes“
“That one I can understand”
“He has some nerve to want to do [White Knot Festival] after buying this small girl and making her do whatever he likes… If that’s what this girl thinks from the bottom of her heart, he would surely be misunderstood. He would only look terrible in her eyes”
“But on the off-chance that they succeed in the ritual, what would happen?”
“I’ve told you already that it’s impossible. You really are obstinate, aren’t you?”
“A slave kissing their master in the forehead and wishing with their heart and soul that they [want to belong to them in the next world as well] would mean they want the [goddess of contracts] to bind them as master and slave in the next world, and the one after that… for all eternity. Do you really believe such a ritual would succeed? Assuming that it does, it would surely be in a realm of miracles— “
Wait a minute.
“Cecyl, stop it. Let’s revalidate the ritual”
“I won’t stop, Nagi-sama! Please, accept me for all eterni— ”
Cecyl kicked the ground and jump at the same time I tried to stand up. Her slender arms coiled around my neck. She was holding onto me for dear life. And then…
It was the cheek.
The white globe around us burst and vanished in a single moment.
Looks like the ritual ended in failure.
“… Nagi-sama… you meanie”
“Just how much did Cecyl really know about this ritual after all?”
“It was after I came in contact with lots of magic power that I came to understand the minute details”
With our partial success of the ritual, the magic power in ground and air took form and materialized. Then it conveyed the details to Cecyl. Apparently, it was done so that the slave could confirm their intention one last time.
— No matter how many lives you may go through, do you want to belong to this person? —
The answer that Cecyl gave was… Well, I can understand, looking at her bright face right now. Although she is pouting now as well. Still, she should’ve told me the moment she knew. I would’ve liked to have a say in this.
Being made [Master and Slave] for all eternity would probably be no good. If it was only while we were tied with [contract], even I wouldn’t have phrased a word of complain.
“But Nagi-sama, why do you not let me repay our favor?”
No, this staring won’t help your case either.
“I have nothing but my heart, soul, and body to give to Nagi-sama, you know?”
“I already said that I won’t need a repayment. The fact that I can rely on Cecyl is enough”
“… I wonder when Nagi-sama finally realizes his position as my master”
“Say, why are you looking at me from above now?!”
“Thus far I hated myself — for being a demonkin” — suddenly, Cecyl was next to me as she looked up. The last part was, naturally, said in a whisper.
“But then I met Nagi-sama and came to be able to like myself, you know? The skill that gave birth to my blood was created with the help of Nagi-sama”
“Aren’t we equal then? I am always being helped by Cecyl”
“This again~! Nagi-sama is so-o, so-o~!”
Why are you getting angry again?! Still, it’s sure handy to be able to have such delighted anger!
“Hey, so you’ve come back?” — the landlady greeted us. The ringleader who set up this trap for me.
“Here, I am returning this parchment”
She snached it. Then the landlady peeked at Cecyl with worry.
“Were you alright?”
“Eh? Ah, Yes. Of course, I am fine. Still… the outcome was unfulfilling”
“So you did it with impact?”
“Hm? It was on the cheek, so just barely, I guess?”
“I see. Still, this guy should’ve realised it by now”
“….?? …. I would certainly want Nagi-sama to recognize my feelings a bit more though….?”
Such terrible words.
Apparently, this landlady seemed to think that I was ruling over Cecyl against her will. That’s why she used [White Knot Festival] and had me seal the power of the ring. By making the two of us do the rituals that would test our bonds, she aimed to test whether Cecyl hated me and her own feelings. All so that she could take revenge on me for making her do black work as my slave (or so it would seem to the landlady).
…. Oh well, if one was accompanied by Cecyl, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to appear this way in other people’s eyes.
By the way, all four rituals had a real meaning.
Washing the slave — it meant purifying the body at the hands of the master for the ritual.
Sharing food — it meant the vow to eat it together from henceforth.
Visit to the temple — It meant to report to [Goddess of Contracts] about the completion of the third ritual.
Kiss — it was proof that all rituals were completed.
She probably didn’t expect us to clear all rituals.
The landlady then turned to Cecyl.
“… Don’t throw away your hopes, okay?”
“The me right now has only hope. The future will hold even more nice things”
“Such spirit in you, heh?”
Cecyl took the hands of the landlady, who was groaning and nodded with teary eyes. However, when she looked at me, Cecyl had bright, red eyes. She looked only at my forehead though.
“Once I wait five more years and grow a little bit taller, I will reach it at the next festival”
So Cecyl declared with some hidden determination.