“…Thanking you was…not really an excuse, but I thought that I would be able to meet you again if I had a reason…” (Rifreya)
“W-Wa…What are you saying?” (Hikaru)
“Rifreya. Call me that please.” (Rifreya)
She goes ‘ehehe’ and laughs as if she were embarrassed. It was as if she could only see me.
The black market old man was looking at me with a grin on his face, as if it were an amusing watch.
“W-Wait, let’s change locations.” (Hikaru)
“Don’t let out a weird voice.” (Hikaru)
I pull her arm forcefully and move to an unpopulated location.
I didn’t expect a beautiful person like this would fall so easily in love.
Or is she making fun of me here?
…No, I find it hard to believe that this is an act.
“And so…the reason why you were chasing me around was because, uhm…you fell in love with me…?” (Hikaru)
“I wanted to meet you no matter what. I myself understand that I am being weird here, but…I couldn’t stop myself.” (Rifreya)
The sight of her stealing glances at me was really like that of a girl in love, and my heart was shaken.
If I were asked whether I am happy or not about being loved, I would say I am happy.
I have never been loved by someone as beautiful as this…no, I have never had a person of the opposite sex fall in love with me.
It would be a lie to say I am not happy.
I was disgusted by that simple minded side of me.
But I have no intentions of accepting her.
“I don’t know why you are so interested in me, but…I am like the mold sticking to this dungeon city. It is true that I saved you there at that time, but that was just on the spur of the moment. You shouldn’t make a strange misunderstanding just because of that… Also, you are a way too dazzling person for me.” (Hikaru)
We are polar opposites in every sense of the word, so just like how I view her with admiration, she might have begun to take interest in me as someone that’s so different from her.
But there’s no doubt that’s just an illusion of the moment.
Her brain is misrepresenting things temporarily because I saved her.
“It is not a misunderstanding. This is the first time I have felt like this… Also…I have to leave this city already, so I simply wanted to give you my thanks at the end, at the very least.” (Rifreya)
I was jumping to conclusions here.
She probably was thinking about thanking me without having to tell me about her feelings. I was the one who was stubborn here and made her speak it out.
This is not a romance manga, so it is not like it will always be a development where you have to go out with them if you fall in love. I just ended up imagining that.
I am instead embarrassed at myself.
“…Got it. Then, I just have to accept that reward for your gratitude, right?” (Hikaru)
“Are you going to receive it?” (Rifreya)
“…Yeah, I was being strangely stubborn here too. I am sorry.” (Hikaru)
“Then, first…let’s go eat! Do you have anything you don’t like?” (Rifreya)
It was an unexpected invitation.
She was talking about thanking me, so I thought she would be giving me something, but it looks like that isn’t the case.
If it is just a meal, then it should be done with soon.
It is already evening. We shouldn’t be standing out with this much darkness.
Also, denying her feelings more than this would pain my heart.
I may have my circumstances, but it is also true that she has been waiting the whole time in front of the dungeon and in the black market.
I don’t know much about the common sense of this world. There might be a custom that you must return a debt of gratitude no matter what. Rifreya has been postponing her leaving the city because of this, so her plans must have been delayed because of my stubbornness.
I suddenly think about the viewers.
However, no matter how beautiful Rifreya is, there’s no way viewers will increase just because we had a meal together. Even if it increases slightly, thinking about it as a temporary increase will make me feel more at ease.
“If you don’t have anything you hate, please leave it to me. I know a great place.” (Rifreya)
She pushed her chest out proudly and pulled my hand cheerfully.
I walk as if being dragged by this.
I was watching that platinum blonde hair of hers, which I have only seen in TV or photos before, diagonally behind her.
I have black hair, cheap black clothes, dirty boots, and I am not that tall. We were completely mismatched.
(We look like a princess and her servant.) (Hikaru)
She had such trascendental beauty it made me think that way.
No, it might be compounded even more because I am japanese. How many men are there that wouldn’t feel a sense of inferiority when by the side of someone like her that’s like a main character in a fantasy game?
There’s no way I would feel a sense of superiority by walking by the side of a beauty.
The only thing I felt was discomfort.
(She said she loved me… Is that really true…?) (Hikaru)
I faintly thought that while watching the waving hair of Rifreya.
As someone whose years without a girlfriend are equal to how old I am, this really is a shocking revelation.
This situation feels as unrealistic as coming to a parallel world.
…Leaving aside the situation, she is saying she will be leaving the city.
In that case, this connection with her will only last for today.
The establishment Rifreya brought me to wasn’t a fancy restaurant but a normal one.
A building made of stone, rustic wooden tables, a snugly diner that feels as if it were run by only a husband and wife.
Rifreya, who I thought was some sort of princess, was bringing me to an establishment, so I thought she would be bringing me to a fancy restaurant. I am honestly relieved by this.
“Please sit there… Don’t go running away anymore, okay?” (Rifreya)
“I won’t be running away after coming this far.” (Hikaru)
Rifreya finally released my hand.
I rub my hand that still has her warmth remaining and take a seat.
Rifreya begins ordering a lot of things in a familiar manner from the lady that came to take our orders.
(Now that I think about it, this is my first time entering an eatery.) (Hikaru)
I ate only fruits in the forest, and I have been dealing with all my food necessities from food carts.
The inn doesn’t provide meals, but I didn’t have the courage to enter a diner in a parallel world on my own.
The inside of the store was only illuminated by the light of candles, so it was pretty dark, and the customers were looking at me and Rifreya…no, mostly at Rifreya, and then they would look at me, but I could take those kinds of gazes.
After a while, the drinks were brought over.
I didn’t really tell her what I liked, but it looks like she ordered for me regardless.
Well, I did tell her I would leave it to her, and this must be how it works in this world.
“Now then, once again, thanks for saving me. Cheers!” (Rifreya)
I clink glasses awkwardly with her, and drink what looks like orange juice.
- Chapter 044: Toast and the Door to the Night
Sour and sweet, and more importantly, a distinctive scent.
“Is this alcohol?” (Hikaru)
“Eh? Was that not good? The one here is tasty, right?” (Rifreya)
“Yeah, it is, but…yeah…” (Hikaru)
No, it is not like I am going to refuse an alcoholic drink at this point in time, but… Is it okay?
Now that I am in this world, I guess I should be following the rules here?
I try taking one more sip.
It is sweet and easy to drink.
I don’t think it is that strong of a drink.
In the first place, I haven’t drunk any before, so I can’t really tell…
“Uhm…last time, I didn’t get to ask your name properly. Can you please tell me your name…?” (Rifreya)
“Hikaru. Kurose Hikaru.” (Hikaru)
Eh? Would it have been better to not tell her my name?
…No, it should be fine to tell her that much.
“Hikaru… It is a good name.” (Rifreya)
“Really? It is a girly name, so I don’t really like it that much.” (Hikaru)
My physique isn’t that good to begin with and I am slender, so I didn’t like that my name was girlish.
Well, it is better than getting named after cars like my little sisters though. <TLN: Celica and Karen are based on the Celica and Curren cars.>
“You are not from around here, right, Hikaru? I am from Siltion… Ah, maybe it would be better to say the Great Light Church.” (Rifreya)
I don’t know about it at all, but it is most likely a place where they worship the Great Light Spirit.
“I see, that’s why you use Light Spirit Abilities.” (Hikaru)
“That’s right. I’ll have you know, despite my looks, I am a Templar Apprentice.” (Rifreya)
She pushed her chest out proudly and went ‘hmhm’, but I don’t know if that’s impressive or not.
“You are an apprentice despite being that strong?” (Hikaru)
“Yeah, you need to be good with Spirit Abilities or in the templar exam you will just…” (Rifreya)
They are knights protecting the Great Light Church, so maybe it is compulsory for everyone to be able to use Light Spirit Abilities.
In that case, I might be able to become a Dark Templar.
No, if it is darkness, it won’t be a church? So maybe a dark knight.
“Wait, why are you laughing? It is true that I am a bit old to still be an apprentice, and it is true that if I don’t pass the templar exam, I won’t have a future!” (Rifreya)
“Ah, sorry. I wasn’t really laughing at you. I was thinking about something else.” (Hikaru)
My head is feeling nice and light.
The things about Earth, the gazes, the laughs; I wasn’t bothered by any of those.
Is it because I am together with a person that’s like the personification of light?
Is it because someone like that has told me she likes me?
After a while, the dishes were brought over.
Meat! Vegetables! Bread! All on big plates!
All of them seemed as if they had been in an oven, and the fragrant smell was stimulating my appetite.
“What an impressive amount. It does look tasty though.” (Hikaru)
“Eeh~? Don’t you eat quite a lot too, Hikaru? Your tier is high, right?” (Rifreya)
“What’s a tier?” (Hikaru)
“Why don’t you know? You are one big mystery, Hikaru. Even though just being a Dark Spirit User is already rare.” (Rifreya)
According to what she said while I was munching on the vegetables and the meat, Tier is the degree of the strengthening you have gotten from defeating the monsters and taking in their Spirit Energy.
“Something like levels, then? In that case, I am really low. I have almost no experience defeating monsters.” (Hikaru)
“I don’t know what’s this level you mention, but it is a lie that you have a low tier. You killed that mantis in an instant. I was moved by that, you know?” (Rifreya)
“That’s because you weakened it. I was also lucky.” (Hikaru)
“You can’t beat a mantis with luck. It is far stronger than an ogre, you know? It is a monster that would normally show up in the 4th Floor.” (Rifreya)
“Then, I had a good affinity against it.” (Hikaru)
As expected from recommended dishes, they were all good.
The fruity sweet and sour sauce and that meat of something was juicy. The vegetables were flavorful too.
I have only been eating cheap skewers, meat bun-looking food, and stuff like that, so this feels really tasty.
My little sisters said ‘the parallel world doesn’t have selective bred food, so there’s no doubt it is full of bad tasting food -exempting marine products’, but it looks like that wasn’t the case.
“…It has been a while since I have been able to eat something this proper.” (Hikaru)
“Really? This isn’t that expensive of a place, you know?” (Rifreya)
“It is in part because I didn’t have the money, but…I was alone. I see, eating with someone else…I haven’t done that since coming here.” (Hikaru)
Having a meal with someone.
That was a given when I was in Japan.
My little sisters were always arguing about difficult topics and were noisy.
My mom and dad weren’t home often, but there were times when Nanami would come to our house to eat with us.
My meals have always been alone since coming here.
Not a single person to have casual talks with either.
The gazes from Earth were filled with animosity, and I am always being laughed at.
Rifreya, who is sitting opposite of me and has slightly flushed cheeks most likely because of the alcohol, smiled gently and tilted her head.
That gaze of hers which I can’t feel a single shred of animosity, and instead felt deep affection…
“W-Wait, Hikaru?! Why are you crying?! E-Eh?” (Rifreya)
“Crying? Ah…sorry. That’s true. Haha, I wonder why.” (Hikaru)
I had unknowingly begun crying.
Crying in this way in front of a person I barely know… I feel pathetic.
But the tears were already flowing, and they weren’t listening to me.
“Sorry. It really has been a while since I have eaten with someone… The food was also tasty… I think I was really happy that you invited me. It is weird coming from me who wanted to run away at first though.” (Hikaru)
“Eh, yeah, I don’t really mind that… I am the one who was saved after all… I am happy to see that this much has brought you that much happiness.” (Rifreya)
“At first, I thought a reward wasn’t needed, but…thanks. I am happy.” (Hikaru)
A smile spilled out from my face.
I felt at ease like the time when I was in Japan.
“A-Ahaha… That’s great to hear. This place is a bit hot, isn’t it?” (Rifreya)
Rifreya fans her face with her hands.
It really is a bit hot. Is it because I drank alcohol?
After that, we continued talking while we ate.
The drinks were good, and I ended up having a few more glasses.
It is a time that really made me feel as if I am back to being a human.
By the time we left the establishment, the curtains of the night had already fallen, and the people around had grown sparse.
I would usually be in the dungeon around this time, but I was feeling fluffy and nice. Looks like I am drunk.
I see, I kinda get why adults like to drink alcohol.
It lets me forget about the bad things and have fun.
“Well then, Rifreya, I doubt we will be seeing each other again, but I was truly happy today. A templar, was it? Do your best in the exams.” (Hikaru)
I gave my farewells to Rifreya and began walking.
I don’t think I will be able to have a meal with a beauty like that ever again.
She said she loved someone like me.
Even if I saved her on the spur of the moment, once we go our separate ways here, I will still remember this forever.
My days of diving into the dark dungeon will begin again tomorrow, but I made a good memory here.
“W-Wait wait, Hikaru. I still haven’t finished thanking you. Or more like, it begins from here. From here on, from here on.” (Rifreya)
She pulled my hand and I was about to fall forward.
When I look back, I saw that she was smiling awkwardly, all tipsy as if she were drunk, but also as if she were forcing herself from being nervous.
She seems to be pretty drunk, she was red all the way to her ears.
“I have received plenty enough. I can’t receive any more.” (Hikaru)
“No no, the family precept of my Ashbird household is ‘Always repay a favor’. There’s no way a meal alone will be enough to repay you for having saved my life.” (Rifreya)
“Even if you tell me that…” (Hikaru)
While we were talking about this, she was still forcefully pulling my hand, and was trying to bring me somewhere.
For a second there, the thought about her lowering my guard with a meal and then handing me to the authorities crossed my mind…but I felt like I didn’t mind whatever happened here with her.
However, the place she brought me to was a place beyond my expectations.