Content Warning: This chapter is slightly…lewd?
“…C-Captain…do your best…” (Jean)
Jean who is floating on the hot spring was cheering for me in a low voice. Good grief, with a body like yours, you wouldn’t die from damage in your body.
It is more like, he was scared by the pain and received damage in his spirit.
But I am grateful that he is still cheering for me even in that state.
“Understood. Watch over there, my victory!!” (Solje)
Jean grew silent as if he is dead.
It is okay. He may be like that, but he is strong. He won’t die.
That’s why I won’t turn around. It is because I trust in you, Jean, that I can continue watching ahead. That’s the bond of us mercenaries.
Trust in your comrades and open a path. That’s the way we Banjar Mercenaries live!
I am done with doing something like a stealth mission!! Ain’t that right, Mother?! The Strauss man you gave birth to wouldn’t use petty means!
The strategy that the Strauss love the most is break through the front!
“Claws of fire!! Arms of lightning!! Grant me the strength for revenge! [Hands of Variant]!!” (Solje)
Watch closely. This is the technique that us Strauss use at the end. When our arrows run out, our spears are smashed, and our swords are broken.
The last technique to use when all our weapons are gone and you still wish to stand against the enemy in front of you. Clad fire on your fingers turning into claws that can cut even iron, the power of lightning that can break through even armor like a dragon.
You will continue rampaging till your life runs out.
That’s the kind of spell this is used for… This technique is incredibly draining. It consumes both mana and stamina to achieve the most powerful output.
…There’s no time, and thus, I will be going!!
“Wait there, Riel Harveld!!” (Solje)
With a loud shout, I run.
I dash at full power to the wall!! When I was about to crash onto it…I jump with all my power!!
My throat was trembling as I hit the hard wall with my Hands of Variant.
With that sound and impact, I was sure now.
“Okay! My fingers have gone through the rocks!!” (Solje)
I heard the scream of Riel from above. For Riel-chan, this must have been an unexpected development. She must have been sure of her victory. Don’t underestimate me. Do you think your man was born as such a weakling?!
“Oshaaa!! Let’s go!!” (Solje)
*Bam! Bam! Bam!*
I stabbed the burning claws to the rock wall to climb. I feel like I am crawling. I was ‘swimming’ vertically on the rock wall.
What do I do about the magic landmines, you say? Aah, those kinds of things, just don’t care about them and advance straight!!
It is simply something that blows you away with a blast, you know? If I am stabbed this deeply into the rocks, I can create enough power to endure the blast!!
*BOOM!! BOOM!! BOOM!!*
“Waaa?! Even though it is exploding, he is approaching straight on?!” (Riel)
“That’s right…just a bit more!!” (Solje)
I ignore Riel who is panicking and finally finished climbing the rock wall and step into the female bath.
Riel had fallen into a panic and fallen on her butt towards the hot spring. She has a bath towel on. Damn it, it is kinda erotic. Her long silver hair was tied in a ponytail and her nape was visible. Her normally pure white skin was slightly red from having been warmed up by the warm water.
Her eyes were watery from surprise and confusion. Those jade pupils that were beautiful like gems were trembling, and that helpless figure of hers was exciting me.
I love you so much to the point I want to attack you right now.
But…But my Hands of Variant is going to run out of mana.
With my stamina and mana having run out, even when I am wrapped in this sense of accomplishment, I fell flat towards the hot springs of the female bath right in sight of Riel.
My consciousness is growing faint… Mana exhaustion…
“…O-Oi, Solje, are you okay? Oooi~.”
The voice calling to me was growing further and further away. Where is my body heading to? I don’t care where. With my strength now gone, I lost consciousness just like that.
Hands of Variant is indeed a last resort technique.
Being able to cut through even iron with your bare hands —the price of that is that, when the time is over, you will collapse.
I eventually wake up. I don’t remember what happened, but I am inside the hot spring. Fumu…the quality of the water is different from that of the men’s one. I spin my head around and enjoy the 30m altitude.
I can enjoy the view of the urban areas in the west Zakuroa at night which is pretty great. If this was at a time when war is not approaching, the bars visible from here would be filled up with people too.
In this Zakuroa where snow dances, those old style brick-made houses -maybe through several centuries of adjustments- were really pleasing to watch in this silent grey view.
Old, silent, snow, and grey; they mixed as if they sought each other, creating an old style of art.
“…This is a nice bath. It is totally different from the men’s one. This is a feminist hot spring inn.” (Solje)
“Isn’t it great?”
Might be for the women.
My tsundere elf, Riel-chan, was there. She was standing at the side of the hot spring.
“Oh? You are not running away?” (Solje)
“Hmph. I lost the match after all.” (Riel)
“I see. As expected of a mercenary. True to her word.” (Solje)
Kukuku, I love those kind of values.
It looks like Riel is mortified by her losing, she was pouting. With a big towel wrapped around her body, she is hiding her body. She really is a good woman.
“O-Oi, you are staring too much.” (Riel)
“Yeah, I know. If you stay standing there, you will catch a cold.” (Solje)
“…I-I know. I just have to get in together with you, I know.” (Riel)
“Yeah. Aah, also, some drinks, okay?” (Solje)
“Gunuuu. Getting it over your head…!” (Riel)
She may be complaining, but Riel-chan, who thinks being sportsmanlike is a virtue, was obeying my order. That’s right, you should have just been honest from the beginning.
Even though you already had the drinks and the tray right by your feet.
…Well, she goes ‘tsun’ before she does the ‘dere’ after all. That’s what makes a tsundere. It can’t be helped.
Riel enters the hot spring. With bath towel on? …Well, fine. I will allow it for now. For now.
“Where are the other two?” (Solje)
“In the time when you were unconscious, Mia was swimming in the hot spring like crazy, and got dizzy. Loroka carried Mia to the room.” (Riel)
“I see, sounds like the usual.” (Solje)
“Yeah, just like Mia.” (Riel)
“And so, you will be pouring me some drinks, right? I am thirsty here.” (Solje)
“Kuh…! Can’t be helped. That was the deal.” (Riel)
Riel holds the wine bottle in an inexperienced manner. She was slowly and clumsily pouring it.
“W-What’s with this small cup? It makes it unnecessarily difficult to pour.” (Riel)
“Isn’t it because it is a strong wine? Also, if you were to gulp down alcohol inside the warm water, you will soon fall dead drunk and that would be a waste, right? That’s why there’s no need for much.” (Solje)
“I-Is that how it works? I don’t understand it well. Hm, I did it! Here you go, Solje!!” (Riel)
“Yeah, thanks.” (Solje)
In the end, Riel-chan is a tsundere elf. She is happy when she makes me happy, and she doesn’t hate this kind of married couple kind of interactions either.
For now, I enjoy the taste of the drink that Riel poured me and indulge on the taste of victory as well.
“Kuku, this is nice. Not bad wine.” (Solje)
“…I am impressed that you can enjoy drinking such a liquid that smells the same as medicine.” (Riel)
“Wanna try?” (Solje)
“No. My tribe’s law is that I can’t drink until 20.” (Riel)
“Until 16…” (Riel)
“What, so you are at an age where you can. Being 17 and all.” (Solje)
“I-I mean, I got it wrong! That’s also at 20!!” (Riel)
“It is okay, it is okay.” (Solje)
“What’s okay?! Hey, don’t get closer!” (Riel)
“But you are running away.” (Solje)
“Because you are getting closer.” (Riel)
“If I don’t approach you, I won’t be able to touch you.” (Solje)
“Y-You can’t touch me!” (Riel)
“I can’t?” (Solje)
“Uuuh…Uhm…if you are not too rough…!” (Riel)
Here comes the ‘dere’. Her ‘tsun’ today was hard after all. I was thrown down a cliff, you know? That was high enough to kill a normal person.
That’s why, give me an extra large of your ‘dere’ too, Riel!
I jumped to Riel who had lowered her guard and steal her towel!! Fufufu! How’s that, Riel?! My sleight of hand!!
“T-That startled me… W-What are you doing all of a sudden?!” (Riel)
Riel-chan…is wearing a swimsuit below her bath towel…
“How is it? I have already seen through your shallow sexual harassment, you perverted Captain.” (Riel)
“No, this is nice in itself.” (Solje)
“It is cute and suits you.” (Solje)
“D-Don’t say that…you idiot!” (Riel)
The tsundere is getting redder than the time when she was in a towel. Well, when pushing doesn’t work, pull. Also, this swimsuit is white and frilly. It is true that it looks good on my Riel Harveld.
“Now, you have something like that on, so there’s no need to be embarrassed. Come closer.” (Solje)
“…W-What’s that logic?” (Riel)
“You are not completely naked, so come to my side. Or what? Are you embarrassed?” (Solje)
“I-I am not…!” (Riel)
Does this forest elf princess think acting tough is also a virtue? Easy.
Riel went to my side with a beet red face and sits.
“…Don’t look at me too much.” (Riel)
“Common sense.” (Riel)
“I am a dragon knight and us Strauss are also a weird family. We don’t work on the banner of common sense.” (Solje)
“Don’t boast about your lack of common sense, you idiot.” (Riel)
“You love me even though you know I am like that.” (Solje)
“…T-That’s uhm…!” (Riel)
Now then, with the tsundere being pretty dere already…I slowly move to the back of Riel. And then, slowly and gently move my arms. She is looking intently at my face, but doesn’t show any signs of escaping.
I hug Riel from the back.
“Do you love this kind of soft hug?” (Solje)
“D-Don’t say love. I am not a perverted girl…!” (Riel)
“Yeah, my Riel is a pure girl.” (Solje)
“‘’M-My Riel’, you say…” (Riel)
“I can’t say that?” (Solje)
After a while of silence, Riel turns her head back towards me. Her jade eyes were piercing me as her pink lips move.
“…Only when it is us two alone… You can’t say that when everyone is around.” (Riel)
“Yeah, I will do that…my Riel.” (Solje)
She is pretty deep in the dere now.
How about stepping into the next phase? …Well, suddenly attacking her will scare her, so first, a little bit of skinship.
With my elf-san turning pretty docile now, my desire as an adult man raised. Ah, sorry, I am not talking about my lower half. My fingers lightly touched her leg.
“…I-I knew it…You were planning on doing something like this…” (Riel)
“Kinda. Don’t want to?” (Solje)
Her silence was long. That’s why I ignore it.
I am a carnivore after all. I pinch her ankle. Riel’s body twitches in response.
“…That’s sexual harassment.” (Riel)
“If you aren’t against it, it doesn’t fall in that category, right?” (Solje)
“…I-I am against it…?” (Riel)
“Really? Escape then.” (Solje)
“I…I belong to Solje…after all.” (Riel)
My tsundere elf-san can’t be this cute.
I hug her tightly, but she doesn’t struggle at all. Not only that, that white hand of hers touches my scar-filled arm.
Rather than lust, I feel affection from that touch.
I am a failure of a carnivore. I am not attacking her but hugging her, and am being enveloped by a sense of bliss.
Riel might be feeling the same way. It would be nice if she is.
…After a kind time passed by…
I really am a man. I want more than that. I will try asking Riel. My reward for the victory was ‘being naked’ after all.
“I want to see you naked, Riel.” (Solje)
I speak this desire of mine in the long ears of the tsundere elf. I was waiting in anticipation at what answer Riel would give.
That’s why I wait within that silence of hers. I could feel that Riel was being conflicted by a variety of things through my arms after all.
The silence was long…but it wasn’t an unpleasant one.
In time, Riel gives me her answer.
“…Taking it off myself…” (Riel)
“…Is embarrassing, so…if you take it off for me…I am fine with it.” (Riel)
“I see. Thanks.” (Solje)
“S-Slowly, okay? You sometimes are too aggressive and it startles me.” (Riel)
“Yeah, got it. I will be gentle, so stay still, okay?” (Solje)
A loving time that was not considered sexual harassment began.
I stretch my fingers towards Riel-chan, who is in dere mode in between my arms and legs, and slowly pull the string of her swimsuit to undo it.
I repeat that a number of times, and each time one binding of the string was undone, her body quivered slightly. Half in surprise, half in embarrassment. Even so, she didn’t reject me.
“I am done. I will be taking it off now.” (Solje)
Receiving the permission of Riel, I take that swimsuit off. With this, Riel who is between my arms and legs is not wearing anything.
“…It is embarrassing, Solje.” (Riel)
Riel muttered this as she places her head on my chest. She herself probably didn’t know where she should move her head. What’s this, it is so unbearably cute.
Aah, my sanity…!
- Chapter 64
The song of Zephyr stops our lovely time.
I move my arm that was around Riel and protect her as if holding her head.
Zephyr had come at high speed and was spitting out fire from above us. Because it is quite close, it is hot. That’s why I protected Riel. It would be terrible if her beautiful face and hair were to burn.
“Heh? Zephyr? With what is he fighting?” (Riel)
“Reis, Wind of Death.” (Solje)
I point up.
In the sky, there were inferior monsters, a flock of Reis. Quite the number. 30? No, there might be 40.
Riel had grasped the situation and chased after Zephyr, dancing in the sky, with her eyes. In the face of the skilled bow princess’s eyes, even the evil spirits blending in the darkness were visible. The sight of them being burned by the dragon’s fire, that is.
“…No way, what’s with these numbers? …We fought with a group of skeletons not that long ago, you know?” (Riel)
“Today must be that kind of day. Encountering undead like crazy.” (Solje)
Reis are also monsters born from the traces of a Zeruaga. The corpses that have died on the road, when hit by the curse wind that blows in the world as if playing in it, these monsters are created.
Their characteristic trait is their skeletal body and the black wings coming out from their back. In other words, creepy. Using those bony wings, they dance in the night sky like bats.
They normally fly around the sky and get carried somewhere…they are pretty harmless. Well, there are times when they attack travellers and people who go out at midnight. Looks like we, who were indulging in the outdoor hot springs, fell in that same category.
But well, it wouldn’t be much talk anyways. They aren’t strong monsters by any means.
They are weaklings that you can clean up just by using magic.
Even so…these numbers are abnormal.
These guys wander the skies of the world, and fly around riding in the season winds like merchant ships. After a certain amount of time, they return to the same place.
That’s why the Reis that died in the battlefield would return to that same battlefield several times. Wind travels the whole world after all. They make round trips. Maybe these Reis were also greedy adventurers who were victims to that forest?
Was tonight that kind of day? The day when they return to their dying place after a while. What timing.
The romantic mood is completely in shambles and it is now overflowing with the screams of the dead being sent to hell. The corpses of the burned undead were falling here and there.
Aah, this really throws off my mood.
“…It is great that we have Zephyr.” (Riel)
“Yeah, they will finally be freed from the curse of the Zeruaga and can die… The Reis Legions have to continue flying on for decades and decades after their deaths.” (Solje)
Zephyr continued burning these undead that are leaking out a wicked presence. He has overwhelming speed and firepower.
I don’t see a single reason we would need to help him. There’s way too much of a difference in power between a dragon and a Reis. A weakling and a monarch. There’s a difference that they simply won’t be able to conquer.
“…But Captain, this land is strange.” (Riel)
“Yeah, you are right. It is definitely warped in a way.” (Solje)
A pack of skeletons, an Agarm, and a Legion of Reis? This is the first time I have encountered these many undead in a single day.
“I have heard stories about how the number of undead increases the further north you go, but a parade on this level is abnormal.” (Solje)
“…Is there a Zeruaga?” (Riel)
Yeah, that’s the conclusion one would reach. Since the time an Agarm appeared, that thought must have been in the mind of Riel. But the problematic part of Zeruagas is that they are unpredictable.
It is difficult for someone to perceive them.
Maybe because they normally don’t exist in this world. They cross the boundaries of worlds and come to this side, and just at that time you can encounter them, but…as long as you don’t encounter that moment, you can’t notice a hidden Zeruaga.
“There’s no point in thinking about it. There’s the chance that it is simply a coincidence.” (Solje)
“That sounds like Gandalla.” (Riel)
“It is true that there’s no point thinking about it. If they really were planning on eroding the world, they wouldn’t do something as plain as calling the Reis with the wind.” (Riel)
“Right. Even if they were to call weaklings like these, the most you would get is scaring the children.” (Solje)
‘If you don’t help out, you will be carried away by a Reis, you know?’ is the kind of thing a parent would say to a child to discipline them after all. No, it is not a simple threat, Reis actually do kidnap children. Maybe the undead are attracted to children overflowing with life force?
Then, maybe my heated interaction with Riel overflowing with life force was what called them? …I would like to say this to someone, but if I said this to Riel, she would just call me an idiot.
But…Reis can indeed be called by people.
Could it be a plan of the Faris Empire’s army? Haha, no way. They also hate heretic beings like this.
Also General Klain is supposed to be a man that takes safe strategies. I can’t deny strategies that veterans would use to catch the other party by surprise, but using undead against the northern people who are used to them wouldn’t prove much effective.
But is this a coincidence? This is simply my instinct as a mercenary, but I feel like that’s not the case. That’s why Riel must have spoken about the possibility of a Zeruaga, which would be the worst.
“…There really is no point in thinking about it. We don’t have the information necessary to piece a conclusion.” (Solje)
“Right. Now then…I will be leaving.” (Riel)
“You won’t be watching Zephyr’s fight? It looks like it will be ending soon… When that’s over, we could continue…” (Solje)
“In this night where damn undead are flying and their remnants are burning on the floor?” (Riel)
Of course, with such a wild spectacle, the romance has been wiped out too.
Riel’s cool jade eyes were staring straight at me. Her expression was as cold as those eyes of hers. It looks like this is not the ideal night for her. Well, I do feel the same way after seeing the burning corpses.
“No way indeed.” (Solje)
“Yeah, let’s continue in a better night. Also, I would prefer it to be on a bed than outdoors.” (Riel)
“I will remember that.” (Solje)
“Then, can you move already? I am happy that you are protecting me, but I can’t move.” (Riel)
This is a pity, so I at least look at her naked body to my heart’s content. Soft, smooth, flexible, and that beautiful skin that only my fingers know of.
I don’t have a boob fetish, but I end up gravitating towards her breasts. Riel tried to hide them with her arm, but I could still see the pink of it. Hm? Looks like I am an indiscriminate man that can get excited even in this night where undead are raining from the sky.
“…Hey, doing it in a night where monsters are exploding sounds mercenary-li—” (Solje)
Right. When the dere is over, she enters the tsun phase. That’s how our tsundere elf, Riel-san, operates.
Her alluring elbow hit right into my face. I won’t be dying from it, but it does hurt a lot.
“…See ya. The timing is long gone. Any more demands will only be sexual harassment.” (Riel)
After saying this, Riel leaves the hot spring… I enjoy the view as much as possible.
“D-Don’t look!!” (Riel)
“This much should be fine… You are incredibly beautiful.” (Solje)
“…A-As I said, don’t look…” (Riel)
Was Riel angry or embarrassed?
With her face still red, she leaves from my sight at a fast pace.
What a waste. Ruined by mere Reis.
I look up. Most of the Reis were burned by Zephyr already. Even if I were to try to vent with the Reis, they are being one-sidedly destroyed by the power of Zephyr.
It is a pitiful difference in power.
I don’t even feel like cheering at Zephyr to go at it harder.
I decide to just enjoy the hot spring.
It is true that the view of this female bath hot spring 30m up is the best. The night view of this old style and meaningful townscape. In the sky, there’s a dragon wiping out Reis with raging fire. Seriously, it really is the best view.
I place my back inside the water. Stretch my legs, and watch the stars, the undead, and my dragon dancing in the sky. A mysterious night in the north. For some strange reason…it feels like this kind of spectacle fits us Banjar Mercenaries.
I grab a bottle of sake and drink it. Not a small cup, but directly from the bottle. Uncouth? But the Strauss men are crude, so it can’t be helped.
Ah, right. I should have asked Riel to pour more for me. Watch the battle while drinking, buy time, and when the tsun goes in cooldown and the dere comes out, we could have continued.
“…Well, that’s fine. Tonight was fun too. Oi, Zephyr!! Sing!!” (Solje)
Zephyr, who had burned all the Reis, sang a song of victory that resonated in the starry sky of Zakuroa.
——-The people of the town were gossiping about the night the dragon sung.
The dragon knight has returned!!
The Wing Commander’s fourth son, Solje Strauss!!
The fearsome Demon Lord that defeated the Empire in Ludo!!
——Two men were looking at the spectacle of Reis being burned to death.
The man called Julian Laichi who was at the east side of the town.
Vashiri Nova who was inspecting the bulwark that protects the town.
What do the two think about the power of the dragon, and the visit of the Demon Lord…
——The night of the undead in Zakuroa was passing.
The dragon knight raises his bottle to celebrate the victory of the dragon.
It was the same with the bars at the town.
Because that singing was nostalgic for the people there.