Chiharu, the Night Before
Said a stunned Adventurer. Indeed, they had not told the leader’s of every territory about the dungeon yet. And so the humans here did not know about it.
“It was discovered recently. And while the news hasn’t been made public yet, we know that there are gazers there.”
Zynis explained calmly.
“Ridiculous. In the human territories! If it was left alone without anyone noticing, then civilians would get hurt!”
“We know that there is a dungeon inland now, but we don’t know how big it is, and what they are doing about it. After all, they seem to be keeping it a secret.”
The human Adventurers looked like they could not believe it.
“They are the farthest country from the Shadow World. So even if there is a cave, I don’t know why there would be any monsters.”
“But it’s the truth. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.”
Zynis folded his arms and looked towards the sea. It was the direction of the human lands.
“They don’t know how fond we are of the Saintesses, who have gone through the trouble of visiting the dwarf, elf, and beast lands.”
“Maki. If something happens to Chiharu, our territories will never forgive the inland people. Even if Midland and Lowland do.”
In spite of the royal family, the people in the town where Maki had sold the oranges were all friendly. She just hoped that Chiharu was alright. That nothing had happened to her. As she stood next to Zynis and gazed at the sea, Maki could do nothing but pray.
☆ ☆ ☆
The day before. Chiharu watched Maki walk away with the beastkin with a slight feeling of longing, and then slowly headed to the inn.
Maki was always the center of attention. It didn’t matter if she was around men or women. This was because Maki wasn’t the kind of person to build up walls, and also because she didn’t look very girly. But Chiharu was a little withdrawn, and even when she tried her hardest, she was always treated like a lady. And so she couldn’t help but feel jealous.
Men and women should be able to be friends. Even now, while Chiharu and Maki were busy working as Saintesses, they had a number of people that they could call friends. It was so wonderful to be able to live without everything being immediately connected to romance.
When she had almost reached the inn, Chiharu turned back one last time to look in Maki’s direction.
Yes. She will continue to work hard tomorrow.
Just then, she thought she heard the beating of wings. But when she turned to see what it was, something like cloth came over her head. The first thought that came to her was that it was similar to the water spider cloth that the merfolk had given her. Before she understood what was happening, something else was wrapped around her over the cloth.
She shouted out in surprise, but she was then picked up and held vertically.
Well, that was a new one. Chiharu thought for a second. It was probably because the fever hadn’t gone away completely. If there was one thing she should have been doing now, it was to scream at the top of her lungs.
Chiharu finally started flailing her arms and grunted and groaned, but the person carrying her ignored all of this as they continued to carry her away.
The voice was quiet, but she had heard it before. She was gently placed down in a sitting position, but for a long while, the person did not let go of her. Once Chiharu had calmed down, a voice whispered to her.
“You had a fever yesterday? And yet they still made you work so late? I used to think Sauro was a good, free person. But now he only cares about making you both work. It’s not right.”
Yes, that voice. It was that brown-feathered birdfolk. Nemo. And Moa. The ones who came to the hotspring!
It’s not right? But if they didn’t do that, the gazers would have flooded into the beast lands.
“We will set you free. Just wait a little while longer.”
The voice moved away from Chiharu, and just as she started to struggle again, she heard the sound of a lock clicking shut, and then she felt that she was floating. Floating?
“Is this the box we rode when coming here? Damn it. Am I being abducted?”
Chiharu finally realized it. Indeed, this had happened often enough since coming to this world. Still, she had not expected it to happen again.
“Maki-chan. Help me! Maki-chan!”
However, the cloth muffled her voice, and she could not get out. Not only that, but since she was wrapped up tightly, it was difficult to move her arms. In the meantime, she could sense that she was being carried up into the air. But the box did not let any of the wind get through, and so she was not cold, at the very least. However…
“Let me say this…”
Even though she was wrapped up and in a box with no one else, Chiharu grumbled to herself.
“You guys are terrible at flying! It’s shaking so much, and you keep going up and down. If you want to abduct someone, how about you practice first!”
However, her mutterings were not audible to the birdfolk, and it wouldn’t help them fly better anyway.
“I know. There must be something that I can do. Last time, I dropped the merfolk scales, but I can’t even move my arms now. Besides, I sold most of them, and I don’t even have the pouch with me. And the last time I was wrapped up, Maki-chan was with me. Maki-chan. That’s it! The gazers!”
Now that she had finally thought of it, Chiharu closed her eyes and concentrated.
“Damn it. I feel sick if I close my eyes and look down. Uhh, alright. I have to look up and…”
She looked up underneath the cloth and then closed her eyes before calling out to the gazers.
There! Behind? To the side? Did the gazers follow me while I was frantic and couldn’t do anything?
She wasn’t sure if they even called her precious child. But Chiharu was sure that they were trying to call her.
“Gazers. Gazers. I am… Currently wrapped up in a cloth and flying in the sky. Can you see what is happening from the outside?”
Two large shapes, like birdfolk. And two others on the side. But the moonlight is not bright enough to make out their faces. They are flying over the dark forest.
She could hear the frantic voices of the gazers. We’re not fast enough to keep up with the birdfolk. We’ll be left behind. Precious child. Should we weaken the birdfolk? The gazer’s emotions came to her like this. She could feel their anger.
“Weaken? No. No, you can’t do that.”
While Chiharu was happy to know that the gazers were following, she also felt a chill go down her spine. If I just gave the word, the gazers would surround the birdfolk and suck the life out of them. No, that’s not it. They would invelop them in miasma and weaken them. She could not allow it.
We’ll follow for as long as we can. But if we get separated, call the gazers near your destination…
There had been many gazers at first, but one by one, they grew farther and farther away. While Chiharu continued to be connected to them, she was still tired from her fever, and from being wrapped up. And so she eventually fell asleep.
Precious child. You just have to say one word…
The birdfolk let down the box once they reached the beach. When they saw that Chiharu was sleeping, they rewrapped her and then traded places before flying out over the sea. They didn’t even see the gazers that were following them. They only felt a sense of elation at being able to free the Saintess.