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Vol 6: Chapter 19 (2)

Steam was rising in a dim tent.

A strong herbal scent wafted in the air. The body felt refreshed when breathing it in.

There were only two people in the steam bath at this time.

「Do you think Eva-sama should have done that?」

The smooth white skin on her slender arms was wet from the steam. Anastasia asked Mimino, the shorter woman next to her. Mimino turned to look at Anastasia. Her usually tied hair was untied and hung down, moist and wet.

「No. Eva-sama is obviously the one who wants to return to the Holy Kingdom the most.」

「Despite that, she said she wouldn’t return because of her responsibility…」

「Huh… yes…」

「Do you think the knights will return?」

Mimino shook her head in response. It means “I don’t know.”

「But I’m sure Dante will do something about it.」Mimino said.

「Eh?」

「The look Eva-sama had just now, was very similar to the one Non had a few years back. Dante will surely not ignore this.」

When the petrification symptom was worsening, Non had an occasional brooding face. Because her father was slowly dying.

However, Dante couldn’t help or listen to Non’s worries. The cause of her worries was none other than himself, after all.

「You know, when people realize their powerlessness, they become kind to others.」

Mimino was also someone who felt powerless. If she hadn’t met Reiji at that time, a sad ending would have awaited everyone.

「Mimino-san…」

Anastasia called.

「Sometimes you feel much older.」

「Huh? I am much older than you! How old did you think I was!?」

**

Although it was late at night, the magic lamp was lit inside the tent.

Eva stared at the letter delivered today. She already knows every word written on it, and the contents do not change even when she continues to stare at them.

Yet Eva still kept staring at it.

「Lady Eva.」

Eva turned her unconcentrated gaze to the big man who approached her.

「Ah… Dante-san.」

「Do you have a moment?」

Although he is a close acquaintance of Reiji, there is a big difference in status between a noble and an adventurer.

Dante stopped a few steps before Eva, who was sitting down.

「——The fight against monsters is certainly improving, but it doesn’t mean that it will end anytime soon. Rather, I think that the situation could even get worse if a powerful giant monster appears.」Dante said.

「Is that so?」

「Yes. In other words, even if you remain here, you will just spend your days in vain.」

「…………」

Eva is wise. She seems to have understood what Dante meant by that alone.

「You are advising me to leave the Empire?」

「That is right. However, if there is something to be done, it should be done.」

「…………」

Eva closed her eyes and clasped her hands tightly.

「Dante-san, what would you do in this situation?」

「When the situation was beyond my power… nothing.」

「……Nothing?」

「I did nothing. I simply waited for the day when the candle of my life would go out.」

Eva had heard of it before. Dante was petrified, and Reiji had cured it, which forced Reiji to go on the run.

Affected by petrification poison, he did “nothing” — the fact that even this brave adventurer who has lived through many battles did “nothing”, weighed heavy on Eva’s heart.

The logical part of herself whispered that it is futile to return to the Holy Kingdom. Now that she is cut off from getting information, it’s almost guaranteed that she can’t do anything. Rather, it would put her at a big disadvantage if caught by the enemy. Thus, it would be logical enough to suppress her feelings.

「——But that was a mistake.」

「!」

Dante’s words surprised Eva.

「Living only in search of a place to die… that is not any way to live your life. Now I know how much I have hurt the people around me. Similarly… you seem to be in pain trying to bury your feelings.」

「Do I… look to be in pain?」

「Yes, in so much pain. Your heart is crying out, but your cheeks are dry. Young lady, you are a noble. The person Reiji protected even while putting himself on the line, with pride. But you are currently misjudging what you truly have to do.」

「However…」

As Eva stood up, the cheap chair she sat on collapsed, making a noise.

Her voice was trembling, but no tears spilled from her eyes.

(She is in so much pain. This girl is stubbornly and forcefully holding back her tears due to her dignity and duty.)

Eva strained her voice out.

「Even if I go, there is nothing I can do. A little girl is of no use whatsoever in this emergency.」

「That is why you have your companions.」

「Companions… yes, but Maxim and the knights went to the Holy Kingdom first. They should be more useful to my father than I am. I should remain here……」

「Ah, the knight captain? He’s almost here.」

「……Huh?」

Eva then heard the footsteps of several people.

「My lady!」

Maxim and the knights appeared at the entrance of the tent.

「Why are you all here? I thought you had returned to the Holy Kingdom first.」

「Oh? No, that’s not true– More importantly, we succeeded in the negotiation.」

「Negotiation?」

「With the Lev Magic Empire. I was able to borrow an Imperial Magic Airship. Now we can fly straight to the Holy City.」

「————」

Eva was speechless.

「It means that we can sneak into the regular goods exchange ship between our country and the Empire. We should be able to land without raising any suspicions.」

「Duke Grenjido will not shoot down an airship from another country.」

「Going by land will take many days…」

「First, let’s go over there and collect information.」

The other knights said.

From the beginning, they didn’t even think about leaving Eva and returning to the Holy Kingdom.

「My lady. You stated that you wouldn’t return to the Holy City, but I think we should. The lord’s orders are absolute, but if your judgment is incorrect, it is also a knight’s duty to advise. If you still think we are mistaken, please give us an order.」

Starting with Maxim, the knights started kneeling on the spot.

「Shouldn’t you say something to your loyal knights, young lady?」Dante grinned.

「A……」

Eva returned to her senses.

「It is a daughter’s duty to save her father.」

「It is a wise decision, my lady.」

「Thank you… everyone. I was mistaken.」

Maxim and others raised their heads, with smiles of relief.

「Dante-san.」

「Yes.」

「…Umm, I… uhh…」

Dante smiled, looking at Eva who was hesitant.

「Young lady, I think you should be more selfish. Please say this–”I want you to follow me”.」

「…You have seen through me, right?」

Eva gave a bitter smile.

「Dante-san, no, I have a request for the adventurer party “Silver Balance”. Would you please accompany Eva Sillys, the daughter of the Earl of the Holy Kingdom, to the Holy CIty?」

「We happily accept your request.」

When Dante responded, Maxim and the knights were incredibly delighted. Because they know firsthand Dante’s prowess.

「Mimino and Anastasia have gone out to bring Zerry back. We can head out right away after joining them. Zerry is an expert in collecting information, so she would be very useful.」

「That is reassuring.」

The knights left the tent to prepare for the departure, followed by Dante and Eva.

In the canvas of the starry night sky, several magic airships were anchored in the sky like black silhouettes.

「Reiji, I am sorry. I wanted to look for you, but now I have to go back again.」

Dante looked confused, as he heard Eva mutter under her breath.

「Dante-san.」

「Yes, what is it?」

「——Thank you very much. I felt like Reiji himself had advised me.」

「Reiji himself…?」

「Yes, but… Reiji is still different from Dante-san because there were words that he wouldn’t have said.」

Eva recalled the boy who was by her side and who did anything for her — literally “anything”, fulfilling her wish to climb a tree or to go downtown and such.

「Reiji wouldn’t tell me “I should be more selfish.” Haha, he would never say that again.」