Yuuto’s call to attention and the mighty yell Longmann offers in return echo throughout the forest. A goblin swings its shabby blade against Longmann’s enormous shield, the impact letting loose a fleeting burst of noise.
The goblin goes rigid upon having its attack warded off, and Longmann seizes the moment, his sword cutting into it with commendable force.
Maho flings the mage-crafted earth straight into a goblin that had decided to charge Mary’s way.
“Longmann! Allow me to heal you!”
Mary, in the meantime, attends to her comrades’ wounds.
A good old-fashioned party of heroes, I’d say.
Each and every one of them moves in tandem with one another, and they have yet to show the smallest crack their foes might exploit. With run-of-the-mill goblins as their opponents, they’re sure to make it through without issue.
“Fuwah… This is so boring…”
On the other hand, Laladi and I just sort of stand around idly with blank faces while the others keep us out of harm’s way. I guess that Laladi’s had her fill of walking for the day, seeing that she’s now perfectly content with clinging to me and just yawning without a care in the world.
Oh, come on now. There’s a fight going on right next to us; we can at least stand to look a little nervous. Then again, Laladi’s her own powerhouse. Regular old goblins probably aren’t enough to keep her vigilant.
I also have to admit that I agree with her on the ‘boring’ part. They don’t have to go out of their way to protect us from goblins, of all things. We were strong enough to cope with them.
But if a dragon, demon, or any other incredibly powerful monster chooses to swing by, then they’re absolutely welcome to protect us. But as much as I’d love to carry on that message, I realize that I’d be doing it as nothing more than a humble scholar.
It would be strange enough if I wind up showing them that I have the power to defend myself in some capacity, just imagine how it’d look like if I have to fight tooth and nail. I’m not saying that I’m so capable that I don’t need to worry, mind you. It’s just that that Maho girl’s been staring at me, clearly not willing to let up. It’s probably better for everyone if I keep myself in check.
“Oh. That one’s in trouble.”
Laladi cuts through my musings with a very flat, uncaring tone.
I don’t have to think about it for too long, however, largely thanks to the loud shriek that just about drills into my ears. It’s Maho. She’s about to be attacked by a goblin.
Laladi, come on! We’re part of a party now, the least you can do is feel a little concerned!
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Well, I think that. I don’t say it, and my smile hasn’t even left my face.
…I can’t apologize enough. I always try to keep that smile going, so it stays even when my feathers get ruffled. You’ll have to forgive this old man; he’s a total sucker for his little girl.
I turn my attention to blowing the charging goblin away from Maho with a magic bullet. Well… that’s what I tried to do, at least…
In practice, the goblin’s whole body is blown to pieces, and the sound of exploding flesh accompanies the act.
…Damn it. I’d messed up when I’d tried to use just the right amount of power. W-Well… what’s done is done. What can I say, it’s been a very long time since I was last involved in a fight.
Nowadays I just lock myself up in my guild and do paperwork. Putting a little too much power into it is, let’s face it, a pretty easy mistake to make.
So please, Maho. Stop looking at me like that; it’s really nothing to be amazed about.
Luckily for me, Yuuto and Longmann are far too busy keeping the other goblins company to have noticed anything out of the ordinary. As long as you can find it in yourself to keep quiet about this, Maho, there won’t be any hiccups when it’s time to part ways.
“This is taking too long. Can’t Lala just take care of them? All of them?”
Please, Laladi. Stop looking at me with that cute an expression if you’re going to say something that creepy. Also, ‘take care’? You mean ‘kill them,’ right?
You know what happens when you kill a whole party of heroes? All-out war, that’s what. You can only get involved if we’re completely out of options.
Both Laladi and I can’t do much to hide our surprise when Maho thanks us, albeit quietly.
By the way, Laladi, you totally sounded like some random street thug when you said that.
When I look back to Maho, she’s already turned her eyes away from us in favor of bombarding goblins with magic.
Well, it looks like she’s decent enough to keep quiet about what happened. Thank goodness. I have absolutely no doubt that things wouldn’t turn out well if the magician of the hero party just disappeared, after all.
The rest of the fight goes on without any hitches, and the group successfully defeats the rest of the goblins.
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“Let’s spend the night here, then. Sir Master, Laladi? Are you alright with that?”
“Why’s Lala not getting any respect? Hey.”
I nod my head and make it clear to Yuuto that we are. It helps that doing so spares them from Laladi’s little diatribe.
Please. It won’t be long now, just please be patient.
I look up at the sky, still smiling, and realize that the sun’s already set. It’s getting pretty dark.
…In all honesty, I hadn’t thought that the village Yuuto and his company are heading to would be this far away. Or that I’d find myself in a mess where I had to spent a whole night away from the guild, for that matter.
Are the others worried about me? Well, I can’t say for certain, but they have to be worried about Laladi. I have to find a way to contact them right away.
“Well, you’re certainly in high spirits, Miss Laladi!”
“No, not really. Lala wouldn’t say that.”
‘Heheh. Lala gets to spend even more time with the Master!’
Laladi outwardly denies Mary’s comments. She’s lying, of course.
She’s happy and smiling so much. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her like this. I wonder why. Is she around that age where camping outside for the night gets you all giddy? Well, I can’t say I don’t get where she’s coming from.
“Well then, why don’t we eat?”
At Yuuto’s invitation, we gather around a campfire and dig into our meals. Yuuto had been nice enough to offer sharing their rations with us, but I really think that’d be too much imposition on our accounts.
Besides, that Longmann fellow fixated on me – just me, not Laladi – with a very unwilling glare when Yuuto said that. I can’t say I care all that much if he thinks ill of me. We’re going to split up sometime tomorrow anyway, and that was about the extent of our relationship with each other.
Laladi, how many times do I have to tell you? Stop trying to summon some man-eating plant.
I decide to make due with the delicious fruits Laladi had conjured up and fill up my stomach. From what I know, these types of fruit are hardly ever found growing wild these days, and are considered a really rare find. They’re all unbelievably succulent to boot.
“Is… is that…?”
And since Mary’s clearly overcome by shock and surprise, it holds true that they’re hard to come by. My thanks go out to Laladi and the wide grin she’d given me when I’d taken her fruits. They’re definitely delicious; I’ll give them that. Still, they don’t quite trump Laladi’s nectar…
“Oh… If you want Lala to pour it out, just say so…!”
“Whoa there! What kind of thing do you two even have going?!”
Laladi’s cheeks go dark, and her eyes are cloudy while she wriggles her body to and fro, speaking with the utmost glee.
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Still caught up in her own joy, Laladi decides that she wants to be spoiled by me, opens her mouth wide and goes, ‘Aaaah….’ Yuuto and Mary look over, clearly warmed by the spectacle, and Longmann stares at us with a fair amount of jealousy mixed into his eyes.
…Yeah, no. That Longmann’s a no-go. It’s not just a matter of age, either. Even if we go by looks alone, there’s too much of a gap between him and Laladi. It’s concerning, really.
Well, be that as it may, I do have to note that this is the first time in a long while that I’ve been able to enjoy a good meal with people who aren’t just members of Yelquchira.
“I’m starting to get tired…”
“Well then, let’s take turns keeping watch while the others sleep.”
Mary rubs her eyes as she speaks, and Yuuto nods in acknowledgment. I speak up, telling them that if that’s how things are done, then I’d like to be included in their rotating watch. I just have a feeling that if I don’t make that clear, they won’t even bother including me.
Yuuto doesn’t look all too convinced that he should allow that. So, I just tell him that it’s really no trouble at all, especially since they’ve been protecting us this whole time.
I’d just have to keep watch, after all. Even someone like me – remember, I’m just a regular scholar – can handle that.
“Come on, Yuuto, what’s the problem? No point in declining if he’s the one offering.”
Thankfully, Longmann comes to my support. I’ve never been so thankful for your brash nature. But that doesn’t change that Laladi, clearly not one to hold him in her good graces, looks on with a bit of a warped expression.
“…Well, if you’re sure, then please do so. If you notice anything, please call for us immediately.”
Alright, I got them to agree. I nod my head at Yuuto, who still seems a bit apologetic.
Hm… While we do have the option of just high-tailing it when they all fall asleep, and while I’m not entirely certain how Longmann and Maho might react, Yuuto seems like the type to wreck himself worrying about us. I suppose tagging along until we reach the village really is our best option.
“Lala’s coming too.”
No, Laladi, you don’t have to. You can take the time to rest up with Yuuto and the rest. It’s not that I’m not flattered that you’d say that, but I’m pretty sure that all the walk-training has you beat.
“Lala’s not tired at all! She spent like half the time hanging on to you, Master!”
Well, true… I guess if you’re that insistent, you might as well come along.
Laladi looks up at me with a wide smile. And that’s how it was decided that both Laladi and I got to cover for watch duty.
The unwavering stares of Maho, however, completely fly over my head.
“Oh come on, lil’ Laladi! Why don’t you forget about this whole watch thing and snuggle up in my bed?”