The monster army has been annihilated, the Greed-Gore is defeated and the Sloth-Gil that was controlling all of them is dead. The danger has finally passed.
「Oh, it’s stopped raining.」
It was pouring down so heavily, but now that the battle is over, it’s mysteriously stopped.
Rays of sunlight begin to pierce the thick, dark clouds and shine brightly on the hills of Iskia.
But my clothes that were exposed to that torrential downpour aren’t going to dry all of a sudden.
「I want to get back quickly and take a nice, hot bath...」
Whispering this earnest wish of mine, I stand alone on the walls of Iskia Fortress, looking down over the hills.
Right after I killed the Sloth-Gil, the students realized that the battle was finally over and gave a loud cheer of victory. But they won’t be celebrating forever.
Now that there are no more enemies, there’s no reason to stay at this fortress. Everyone is fatigued from defending the fortress for days on end. There’s no doubt that they want to get back and rest even more desperately than I do.
「Listen up! We’re definitely taking this Greed-Gore’s body with us back to Spada!」
「It’s impossible for us to carry this massive thing with us! I’m telling you, we should leave it to the Knights’ Order or the Guild!」
Will is the only one who still has an incredible amount of energy.
He’s clambering over the Greed-Gore’s corpse and desperately trying to convince the students to take it back with them.
The one reprimanding him for making such a ridiculous request is... oh, isn’t that Eddy? Next to him is his childhood friend Shenna, wearing an exasperated expression. It’s good to see that they’re doing well.
Ah, I really managed to save everyone this time – I truly begin to feel that.
「I cannot allow that! We must make a triumphant return with this beast and write another page in the new legend of the Nightmare Berserker!」
Will’s nonchalant words dampen my happy mood. I suppose I should tell him later that my real class is Black Magic User.
Giving a small sigh, I watch from on top of the fortress walls as the students make their preparations to go home.
I did offer my help, but as I’m tired from defeating the two bosses, I was politely refused and told to rest. I’m sure that it’s not like they’re scared of me and don’t want me coming near them.
And so I’m the only one who’s allowed to stand here and give my body the rest that it needs.
The Dragon carriages have already been prepared outside the fortress gates and the students are busily running back and forth, putting their luggage inside. It seems difficult for them because their bodies are tired, but there are bright smiles on their faces.
The fact that they won this battle is giving them more strength than anything else.
I suddenly hear a gentle voice calling my name.
Lifting my head up, I see a beautiful princess standing there, her long black hair fluttering in the soft breeze.
「Nell, have you finished treating everyone?」
Seeing her nod with a smile, I can tell that all of the injured are now safe.
There were already monsters inside the fortress by the time I arrived, so I’m sure that there were a lot of students injured in close-quarters battle.
Like me, Nell is also quite fatigued from battle. But even so, it’s times like these when a Priest’s abilities are needed the most.
But even if her mana was reaching its limits, she wouldn’t hesitate to keep casting healing magic on the injured.
「Your older brother, err, Nero, is he alright?」
「Eh? Yes, only his legs and arms were paralyzed a little.」
Was it so unexpected for me to ask about Nero? Nell was a little surprised, or more like, her reaction was as if she didn’t know who I was talking about at first.
I suppose it’s not that surprising; Nero and I aren’t really acquainted and the one point of contact that we did have was under the worst possible circumstances. To him, I remain the villainous Tentacle Man.
Still, even though it’s just a slight paralysis, I’d thought that Nell would be more distressed that her beloved, respected older brother is injured... Well, they’re in the same party; I’m sure she’s used to Nero being injured. Considering all of this, there’s no doubt that she has absolute trust in her brother.
「I’m glad it wasn’t anything serious. If Prince Nero didn’t arrive right when he did, I would have died.」
I think it was really lucky. He didn’t offer me kind words or healing magic like Nell would, but his appearance there is enough to deserve my thanks.
「Sorry Nell, getting defeated once like that worried you, huh. But I didn’t expect that you’d fly down to save me.」
Nero cornered the Greed-Gore to the point of defeat, but Nell flying down allowed the Greed-Gore to turn the tables on him.
Because I collapsed in that situation, I’m the reason Nell took that kind of action, but I’m sure even she is looking back on her actions as rash and careless.
Nell is wearing an expression of sorrow, as if tears will spill from her big blue eyes at any moment, so I can’t reprimand her any further. If I make Nell cry here, I get the feeling that I’ll really get killed by Nero this time.
「But I... no matter what, I wanted to help you, Kurono-kun...」
「Thanks. But putting your older brother in danger is –」
「I don’t care about Onii-sama!」
I’m surprised to hear Nell raise her voice. But what surprises me even more is the way she approaches me quickly, as if she’s going to throw herself into my arms.
Her faint, flower-like fragrance reaches me.
「I don’t care about Onii-sama... I wanted to save you, Kurono-kun.」
Her upturned eyes are moist, as if begging me for something. The upwards gaze of her blue eyes pierces straight through me.
I’m shocked by her earnestness and beauty; it’s just like when I was alone with her in the infirmary after my battle with Saeed.
Doing my best not to have weird thoughts, I somehow manage to form words into a response.
「Do you really not trust me that much?」
「Kurono-kun, you always push yourself too hard. In that fighting tournament, and again in this battle... I’m always worried...」
I’m really fed up with how pathetic I am.
I have an absolute goal that I can’t give up on, the goal of overcoming the trials and defeating the Apostles. But that task is so dangerous that there is someone who worries about me to the point that she loses control of herself.
That’s why I need more strength. I need to be strong like Nell’s older brother, so that she can watch over me without worrying.
「No, it’s fine. You have a reason you need to become stronger, don’t you, Kurono-kun? I won’t do anything to stop you.」
Nell isn’t touching me. It looks like my feelings are being leaked even without telepathy.
Now that I think about it, it hasn’t been long since I became good friends with her, but I feel like she’s already learned a lot about me.
I wonder if I understand Nell as well as she understands me.
「That’s why I will help you from now on as well, Kurono-kun.」
That’s exactly why I feel uneasy. I’m afraid that I’m always dependent on Nell regardless of what I do.
「I will heal whatever injuries you sustain. I fully blocked the Breath in this battle, and I’m going to improve myself in order to keep providing you support with more strengthening spells.」
But even so, Nell says that she will help me as if it’s the obvious thing for her to do. Not because it’s her duty or obligation to do so, but because she believes that it is what she should do from the bottom of her heart.
「That’s why, Kurono-kun, you should make me –」
At this moment, a gust of wind blows across the top of the fortress walls.
The wind is stronger than I expected, and both my and Nell’s black hair flutter in the wind. It easily blows the hair around our faces.
Nell’s words were interrupted in a weird spot, and I kind of feel like there’s this atmosphere where I can’t really tell her to continue. I instinctively shift my gaze away over the fortress walls.
I see shadows beyond the green hills, heading this way. There are three silhouettes of people on horseback.
「Hey Nell, are those –」
I’m about to ask her if the Knights’ Order or adventurers have arrived, but I hold back the ending to my question.
「Ah, those are the members of Wing Road and... err, one more person that I don’t know.」
With my sharp eyes, I can see the girl with red twin-tails that I stopped with my tentacles in the dining hall, Charlotte – Will’s younger sister and Third Princess of Spada.
She’s riding on the same eight-legged horse as a bespectacled girl with purple hair. The girl with the glasses is holding the reins, and I assume that she’s the daughter of the Hydra house, Safiel.
Next to them is a young man with blonde hair and a greatsword on his back, riding on a Bicorn. He’s the swordsman named Kai, huh.
It’s my first time seeing the two of them, but their appearance is just as the rumors say, and Nell herself is saying that they’re her party members so there’s no mistaking who they are.
「No, that’s not one more person... it’s two more people.」
「Ah, now that I look more closely, there is one more, a small child... Eh, are those... wings?」
There is a young woman and a little girl riding on a magnificent, large black horse. If there’s anyone who wouldn’t fail to recognize who they are, it’s me.
「Yeah, those are Fairy wings. Nell, I’ll introduce them to you later; they’re members of my party,『Element Masters.』」
Nell opens her eyes wide; she looks incredibly surprised. I suppose it is really unexpected for my party members to turn up with this timing together with the Wing Road members.
But rather than trying to guess and explain the situation, quickly, ah, I really want to see Lily and Fiona.
「Well then, Nell, I’m going to go ahead and meet up with those two.」
「Eh, ah, Kurono-kun?! Wait, Kurono-kun!」
As I leap off the fortress walls, Nell’s surprised voice reaches my ears. Sorry for surprising you so much, but I have Hitsugi, so I’m fine jumping off high places!
Deciding to leave that explanation for later, I run as fast as I can to reunite with my party members.