Arc 03: Betrothal, and a manuscript of olden gods.
Chapter 36: From Nagi to Cecyl, a modest wish
Iris…. it doesn’t look like she’s joking alright.
The girl was bowing very deeply form atop her chair.
“…us becoming the pivot?”
“Yes, we would like you to become the last line of defense that protects Iris”
“As you know already, our magician comrade is in poor condition right now thus our fighting strength is extremely low. I believe we wouldn’t be able to contribute much even if we agreed. There are more than thirty adventurers who are already tasked with protecting Iris-sama, after all”
“Even so, I would like to request this of you”
Iris didn’t yield.
“May I know the reason?”
“Iris [cannot comprehend] you”
“There is a proverb in the port city Irgafar. [One should be prepared to cast aside luggage or two if they wish to save a drowning person] — it means that unless there is merit to saving someone’s life, they shouldn’t offer help”
What an amazing rationale.
“In spite of that, the Souma-sama requested a truly meager reward for saving Iris. So Iris was unable to comprehend you”
I probably wouldn’t be able to explain that even if I tried.
The reason Rita suggested saving Iris was that she couldn’t ignore her love for little girls, and the reason why I allowed her was that I felt anger towards the guy who made even the dead do such black labor. There was also that the view of the senseless Iris overlapped with the image of Cecyl ridden with fever inside my head.
“However, it might exactly be Souma-sama who will be able to oppose the [opponent] whom I similarly cannot comprehend”
Having finished her speech with those words, Iris once again slightly lowered her head.
“There is something I have to address first” — I said.
“At that time, it was only us who could provide help to Iris-sama, and we did. Now Iris-sama will be protected by lots of adventurers, so I would want to put my comrades’ safety first. They will take precedence, is what I am saying”
“In that case, how would you like to be our guest?”
“There is no need to do a [Contract]. As a friend of equal standpoint, please stay at the place Iris would run to in case something happened. I wouldn’t mind you using that detached villa house for that purpose”
“Iris-sama… going that far is…”
“My esteemed father used to say to me: ‘Do not make friends on your journey’, Matilda”
Iris shook off the hand of her maid and smiled.
“The feudal lord was speaking about [Choosing one’s friends], Iris-sama”
“I remember. ‘Consider how much Arusha you may earn by spending time with that friend’ — right?”
Where did the feudal lord learn about being a day trader?
“However, he also told to ‘hold onto assets that you cannot touch until the very end for they will come to your rescue’. Iris would be relieved to have a place she could run away if such need arose. How does that sound, Nagi-sama?”
“Yes, if it’s only this much… I agree”
More than thirty adventurers, and even an army corp. In addition to that, the port city Irgafar has a fortune, personal connections, and many other things.
Being protected to this extent, there was probably nothing that Iris would have to rely on us for.
“Thank you very much, Souma-sama” — Iris picked up the hem of her dress and bowed gracefully.
“With this, Iris and Nagi-sama are friends. It is such a rare occasion, so why don’t we do a proper [Contract] about us [becoming friends]?”
The parlor room, after Souma Nagi and Rita Melpehus left.
“Iris-sama, did you not consider the possibility that it was them who were pulling strings behind the [Living Mail]?” — while reheating the completely cool tea, Matilda asked Iris.
“It’s a well-known move, they save Iris-sama in the attempt to get closer to you”
“Maybe so. They were aware that we have our suspicions about them. It is the reason they came here, isn’t it?”
Iris replied while swaying her legs from atop the chair.
“If they really are the masterminds, they would’ve left one of their party members at the inn, so that they could secure an escape route and get in contact with the outside. All of them coming to the detached residence carries the declaration that they are ready to be put under the surveillance of our family”
“And what if their party has more than just five people?”
“You know this proverb, don’t you Matilda? ‘One cannot conclude their observation of the sea only be reading the wind and the waves’. I will resign to my fate for not being able to predict that outcome if that’s the case”
“Even so, Iris-sama! You went as far as naming that strange— that person whom you met for the first time your friend”
“I won’t allow you to speak badly of Iris’ friends” — Iris unintentionally shouted.
Souma-sama was the first friend to this girl. She had no one like that until now, there was hardly a chance to make any in the first place. Souma-sama properly responded to this chance that was held valuable by Iris. Although he didn’t accept to do the [Contract], he did agree to become her friend.
“Listen to me, Matilda. If they were our enemies, it would’ve been natural for them to try and get closer to Iris in hopes to get employed, right? However, those people have refuted the commission with the pretext that their party member is in bad condition. Furthermore, they even insisted that [their own power was nothing special]. I am asking you, have you ever seen such strange enemies before?”
Matilda was at loss for words. Very much so.
Matilda was a maid assigned to Iris by her father. Although she wasn’t a bad person, for as long as she could remember Iris took great offense when someone tried to control her. Even the grave visiting this time was finally allowed after persuading Matilda for several hours. It was strange to make this much deal out of visiting the grave of Iris’ birth mother, so Iris felt irritation at being accosted “See, that’s what happens” after being attacked.
Iris was quite aware of her own position. She properly performed her duty as a shrine maiden. She didn’t even dislike doing the work related to maritime trade. However, Iris was tired of thinking whether she should really continue offering her whole life for the sake of Irgafar.
“Should it happen, I can run away to that place— ”
Just by remembering that she had a place like that, the girl’s food got a little lighter.
This much alone was already enough of the worth in talking with Souma-sama, wasn’t it?
Be happy on your trip. I pray that our paths cross again.
Now then, I should peruse through one more escape route.
Iris ordered Matilda to bring her a book. It was the love story of a human boy and a daughter of the sea dragon. Amongst the multitude of legends, this one was said to be the closest to being the truth.
Iris already memorized the contents of this book letter by letter.
Even so, it was only she was reading this story that she was free.
[The souls of two engaged people resonate with each other. The boy recovers his physical strength and obtains new skills, to be then faced with the new trials bestowed by the sea dragon.
The condition to allow the [Engagement] was the subjugation of its natural enemy.
Such being was a giant fish wandering through many lakes. Covered in scales of pearl gray color and growing a huge number of tentacles, this mysterious fish had the name of — ]
“…… Is there really be no hero who will come for me as well after overcoming such trials…?”
The borrowed residence was located across a river from Iris’ mansion.
It was a brickwork building with a chimney on the roof and completed water well in the garden. Each of us got their own room, and there was even a clawfoot bathtub. Sadly, the water wasn’t being drawn from the hot springs.
Rita and I returned right around the time when Cecyl’s group just finished eating the stew prepared by Aine. Once I explained the news to them, each of us started doing their own thing. Rita was on a lookout, Aine was tidying up, and Leticia was helping her. As for Cecyl, her job was to sleep.
In my room, I checked the articles that I had received from Iris.
The number of skill crystals that I procured at their cost price was four.
The healer would be coming around tomorrow noon.
And then there was a book with writings about [Spiritual Connection] and [Engagement].
[Spiritual Connection — Engagement.
The oath ritual to tie one’s fate so that their destiny would continue even in next life.
The way of doing it depends on the race, but “the two who are tied deeply as if they are a single being” complete it through vowing to uphold the pledge for all eternity. If the other party is already tied by such fate, performing multiple [Engagements] becomes possible.
The ritual itself exists to bring the magic power, breathing, and other of the two into one.
Once [Engagement] is done, the soul starts to resonate, spill forth great recovery effects and awaken new skills]
The Engagement System was simple.
However, it apparently was terribly hard to do the synchronization with each other.
The ritual served the purpose of syncing magic power and breathing of the people doing [Engagement]. There were almost no tangible records left behind, given how many great the number of rituals there were and their complexity.
“…. Even my former world seemed to regard marriage as a complex procedure. I guess it can’t be helped if this upper version of it is even more difficult”
The lamplight was shining on the book. The only audible voices belonged to Aine and Leticia. In comparison to inns, it was much quieter.
This should help Cecyl calm down and rest —
………. Cecyl, is she okay, I wonder?
It would’ve been nice if there was the magic that could raise one’s physical capabilities.
Like divine protection… even the ritual would do.
[The two who are tied deeply as if they are a single being]
[Great recovery effects]
…. I know.
I exited the room.
Cecyl’s room was next to mine. I knocked on the door and entered the room after waiting for the reply.
“Did I wake you up, Cecyl?”
“…. I am, fine…… I have slept a lot”
Beneath the moonlight, Cecyl propped her body up. She was wearing pajamas that happened to be in the residence, which accidentally looked like yukata from my former world. It looked good on Cecyl’s well-proportioned, slender body.
“How are you feeling? Should I bring you some water?”
“I am, fine…” — Cecyl replied despite her drowsy eyes.
“I feel better than during the day… I am getting well. Tomorrow, I will be able to work”
“…. B-but, if I don’t, then… I won’t be able to calm down”
Cecyl wiped her sweaty brow and mumbled vaguely.
“Nagi-sama, even everyone else, we have our duty, and yet… only I am like this”
“In that case, why don’t you listen to my request?”
“Yeah” — I said.
“I want Cecyl to do the [Engagement] with me”
“…. Ah, yes, I understand. W-wai. Together with Nagi-sama — eh? e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-eh?!”
Cecyl flapped her mouth open and close as she was looking at me with red eyes.
[Spiritual Connection] — [Engagement]
One of the rituals that tie souls together.
[The two people with a profound connection to each other] come into existence through the vow of eternal bonds. The legends say that once the [Engagement] is done, the two souls start resonating, produce great recovery effect, and awaken new skills. But, due to the ritual being too bothersomely complex in order to establish the synchronization, it ended up becoming obsolete at this age.
Since it’s impossible to ascertain which world the souls are reborn into, it cannot be verified whether souls of the dead migrate together. Such was one more reason as to why the ritual became obsolete.