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I thought it was unusual to find a hot spring in a provincial city, but it seems to be commonplace in cities around here. In fact, it seems to be cheaper than getting drinking water, since it comes out even if you dig for a regular well.
This is why hot spring lodges and greenhouse cultivation using hot springs are so popular in this area.
“I guess it’s thanks to this town that we can eat delicious vegetables in winter.” (Sicily)
This is Princess Sicily eating a delicious hot spring egg.
We bought some at a shop with a hot spring, and after she ate the egg, she said,
“I’ve never been to hot springs.” (Sicily)
“I see, yeah.”
The only reason I could not say anything else was that the ticket Chloe had given me said “family bath”.
“…That maid.” (Chloe)
But then I heard from an employee that there are only mixed baths and family baths at this hot spring inn. In other words, if I give up the family bath, Sicily will have to go to a mixed bath.
A princess of a country, and a beautiful girl like her, would surely cause an uproar if she was allowed to take a mixed bath. It wouldn’t be good for my mental health either. I didn’t want the princess to see my naked body, so I bought a bathing suit from the store and asked her to wear it.
The princess was puzzled.
“Do you wear a bathing suit in hot springs?” (Sicily)
“It’s common knowledge among the masses.”
I assure her that it is common knowledge among the general public. The princess, who is not familiar with worldly affairs, believes me immediately and puts on her bathing suit.
The two of us then go into the family bath together.
“—ka-pon!” [T/N: The sound of those bamboo water clocks in manga and anime.]
And then, an indescribable sound echoed through the air.
We were both silent, but the silence was of different kinds. I was silent out of embarrassment, and she was silent out of comfort. In other words, the princess was enjoying the hot spring.
I think it’s good, it’s good—then for some reason, the princess said she was having trouble with her eyes.
“… Would you come closer?” (Sicily)
I was thrown for a loop, but I knew immediately that it was not a sexual invitation. The princess’s expression was serious.
I listen to her with a serious expression.
“Thank you. Leon-sama. Actually, it’s about Chloe.” (Sicily)
“Chloe… I think I know what you mean. Is it about her brother?”
“Yes. Chloe’s older brother, the one you mentioned in the forest.” (Sicily)
“Did you know about Chloe’s brother?”
“Yes. Vaguely. She sometimes mentioned him. He was a very kind and strong man.” (Sicily)
“Like in the past?”
“Yes. When I asked her what he was doing right now and she didn’t answer.” (Sicily)
“He was banished as a Doll warrior after being branded as a disgrace. She became a warrior to erase that stigma, and I’m sure she has a lot of emotions.”
“Yes. But those emotions are about to explode. I feel like she’s going to break.” (Sicily)
“I feel like she’s the same as usual.”
“It’s a feeling I know because I’ve lived with her for so many years.” (Sicily)
“I see. Probably no, you’re certain.”
“Leon-sama, can you somehow save her?” (Sicily)
“…I don’t mind. No, I want to save Chloe too.”
The princess’s face lights up, but I avoid answering immediately. And then I tell her.
“I’ll help you, but in return, I have a request. Can you please leave this bath and go to the store and drink some coffee milk?”
“……coffee milk?” (Sicily)
“Yes. It’s a drink we don’t drink in the palace. But it’s the best drink after a bath.”
“If Leon-sama says, I will, but why don’t you come and drink with me?” (Sicily)
“I’m taking a long bath. I need a little more time.”
Then, after I persuade Sicily, I send her to the store.
I waited for her to disappear from the family bath as I glanced at her *ss through her bathing suit, and then I called out to someone outside the window.
“… Kokui, I know you’re there.”
I whispered, and before I knew it, he was in the bathhouse.
It would have been surreal to take a bath with him there, but I called out to him from outside the tub.
“…I’m surprised you noticed.” (Kokui)
“Well, I’ve been paying attention to the ones gazing at the princess.”
“I see, that’s reassuring for an escort.” (Kokui)
“Thanks to that, I noticed your existence. Well, I’d like to ask you who you are, can you tell me? Voluntarily, of course.”
I said lightly, and he nodded.
“I didn’t mean to hide it.”
Then he took off his mask and showed me his face.
What was under the mask was a beautiful face. I was expecting to see a craggy man because of his densely muscled body, but he was quite a beautiful young man.
“You’re a man…”
There was a reason why I stopped mid-sentence.
I thought I had seen his face somewhere before.
I searched my memory, but I didn’t recognize him. It wasn’t someone I knew from the past. Rather, it was someone I had met recently. And it was recent, just a few moments ago–
When I was organizing my memory, Chloe’s face came to my mind.
The man chuckled.
“You are correct, Master Strategist. I’m Chloe’s brother. My name is Volks.” (Kokui => Volks)
He took off the hood of his black robe. He takes off the hood of his black robe and there are Oni horns.
“You are Chloe’s brother? You were branded as a disgrace.”
“That’s right.” (Volks)
“Why did you appear here now, and why did you leave Chloe in the forest?”
“It’s a long story. Will you listen?” (Volks)
“Of course, please let me know.”
When I said that, Chloe’s brother Volks began to speak.
Chloe’s brother, Volks, was a gentle Doll, but he was very strong and carried the expectations of his clan and tribe. Eventually, he became a commander, will then take Lululucca as his wife, and was even touted as the next Chief, but his future was cut short.
However, his future was cut short because he abandoned the warrior ritual of the Doll tribe and ran away. For the Dolls, running away from the warrior ritual is the highest level of cowardice.
“Why did you run away? I heard it was a ritual to hunt a Blue Doe.”
Volks tells me plainly, without concealing anything.
“The day before the ritual, my sister Chloe developed a high fever. It’s an infectious disease. I took part in the ceremony. It was not to become a warrior. It was to get the liver of the White Stag.” (Volks)
“White stag liver…”
“The white stag’s liver was a cure for the disease. It was a powerful antipyretic. That’s why I didn’t hunt the blue doe, I hunted the white stag.” (Volks)
“Is it an act to save Chloe?”
“Why don’t you tell Chloe about that?”
“She’d be sad to hear it. She’d feel responsible for me being branded a disgrace. That’s why I didn’t say anything to my sister. I asked my parents to do the same. The only people who know about this are me, my parents, and you.”(Volks)
“…does that mean that no one else knows about it?”
“Oh, yes. Keep this in your heart. Tell Chloe that I’m dead. Tell Chloe not to worry about me anymore.” (Volks)
I couldn’t say that I couldn’t because it was obvious that this man had trusted me with this secret. I don’t think I can betray his trust. It was also obvious that he was going to take this secret to his grave for the sake of his sister.
Telling Chloe about this from now on will not cleanse her sorrow. Rather, she’ll be more burdened.
When I came to this conclusion, Chloe’s brother said.
“I see you’re not going to say anything.” (Volks)
He smiles as if he had read my heart.
“I will pay your kindness back. You are going to defeat the giant, and I will accompany you.” (Volks)
With a grin, Volks disappeared from the bathroom with the speed of the wind.
I left the bathroom, wiped myself off, and put on a bathrobe. I went straight to the front of the store and spoke to the princess who was drinking her second cup of coffee milk.
“Strawberry milk is also delicious.” (Sicily)
“I can’t drink that much.”
This girl smiled shyly at me.
Looking at her smile, I felt as if everything would be completely resolved.
I made a certain decision and renewed my determination to head to the battlefield.
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