The sun which glared down on us in the day now concealed itself making way for the moon to watch the sky instead.
Only that fantastic scenery spread out in front of me.
I saw the moonlight reflecting on this water. One could identify it as hot water as the moonlight and steam were mixing together in a fantastical dance.
“It’s the first time in years I enter a hot spring. It’s been such a long time since I saw something this splendid.”
The so-called hot spring.
They are bathing facilities built around naturally formed or man-made pools of hot water.
In my previous life, when I was still a human my Master often took me with him when he visited them.
As I went again and again I came to enjoy that thing called hot spring.
Now that I think about it, one could say visiting them is my hobby. That’s why I’m in high spirits right now.
–After the fight I went to this nameless hot spring on Sonia’s recommendation.
My physical wounds mostly got healed with healing magic but the exhaustion stayed and still had to be cured. Then when Sonia suggested me to go relax while taking a hot bath I jumped at that suggestion leading to the current situation.
It’s said that this is an undiscovered hot spring not even the locals knew about but with Sonia’s power to detecting its smell and heat finding it was easy.
That’s how I got this hot water.
This sulfuric fragrance is just right. I must know it, I went around several hot springs together with Master after all. This water is of good quality!
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“–Ups, don’t get impatient, don’t get impatient”
That cold wind blowing around my body made me want to quickly enter the bath but I was able to control myself through much effort.
A hot spring is a place where you can wash away your fatigue and enjoy yourselves but even taking a bath has its etiquette.
I slowly approached the bath and carefully checked its temperature.
Fumu, the water’s fine. I wonder from where the water influx is controlled –Is what I thought while feeling the water’s warmth. I heard this place was amazing because it’s naturally formed.
After I checked the temperature I filled the wooden bucket Sonia lent me with the muddy, hot water and calmly poured it over my body.
This not only washes off the body’s dirt but also lets it get used to the hot water’s temperature.
After my body was properly adjusted to the water I could enter the bath at last.
I let my body slowly sink into it starting with my feet. The stone inside the hot spring felt slightly slimy, probably caused by the precipitation of its components, and stuck to the skin.
“Tsu, ah~……This is, irresistible……”
As if having been pushed out by this hot water this hoarse voice left my mouth while I let my body sink further.
That chilly temperature outside paired with this water’s warmth. My body seemed to just melt away……
In addition, the moonlight shining through the trees gave this scene a certain beauty. Being able to view a perfect, picturesque scenery while soaking in perfectly heated water. There’s no other hot spring like this. I would have liked to visit it together with Master.
While feeling exalted I began to sing a song. No, accurately speaking, I was singing melodies without actually knowing if it was a song or not.
As I was mimicking the thing Master always sang, I didn’t even know if these were the lyrics of the song or not either. However, it kept pouring out of this mouth, how weird.
I was told this song was about a good-natured lumberjack…… I want to hear that tasteful singing voice once again.
I stopped singing after some time.
Now that I think about it, I really received a lot from Master.
The Shijima style’s techniques, my morals, this hobby.
He was such an important existence.……I wanted to pay him back for at least one of those favours. I wasn’t able to repay anything while receiving so much.
I rubbed some hot water on my face and then looked up at the sky.
……That’s no good, no good. Don’t I feel too depressed for soaking in this kind of first rate bath after so much effort?
Even though I didn’t tell anything to Alma, but I might not have been able to overcome my own Master’s death.
“Oh my, you’ve got quite the gloomy face there, don’t you?”
It was in the midst of that. When I saw the shadow of my Master floating on the full moon I heard a bell-like voice.
A familiar, clear voice. It probably belonged to Sonia.
Did I look that gloomy for her to say that? While laughing a little I turned my head towards the voice which sounded like it was dancing in the moonlight.
Then, when I did that–
Sonia together with Cheryl stood there with her beautiful, lascivious skin exposed, making me think the Moon Goddess has descended before me.
……Those two only warped in a thin cloth made me uneasy.
“Wha, wha wha wha……”
The shock was so great I even forgot that Cheryl stood next to her for an instant.
In short, two girls only covering themselves with a single towel stood before me.
“Pu, put on some clothes, clothes I say! A girl of marriageable age looking like that……”
I don’t know about the elven culture, but as a human being, I know that a girl of marriageable age shouldn’t expose herself in public like that.
Thus, I half-anxiously, half-amazed remonstrated Sonia, but–
“Hm? What a weird thing to say. To enter the hot spring one has to take off one’s clothes. Right, Cheryl-chan?”
“Hot spring, I want to enter, too……”
Am I the only one who felt this urgency? Those two started to pour water over their bodies as if it’s natural.
……U, umu, is this normal in the elven country?
Certainly, my body looks like that of a 10 year old boy but my mind is that of an over 100 year old man.
Both of them should now that……
“Cheryl aside– Sonia’s and my actual age are pretty close, right? Don’t you feel ashamed?”
Cheryl and I would be grandfather and grandchild in human terms. Even in elven terms, our relationship would be something like an older brother and younger sister, well, I’m not completely sure.
But there’s hardly any age difference between me and Sonia. Although this body’s age is far from her’s, but a maiden exposing herself in front of a man of similar age is just unacceptable.
“Feeling ashamed……I do. But I don’t particularly mind if it’s Slava-kun”
“Is it because this body looks young? But I’m actually–”
“I know. It’s just something I deemed to be right or something.
I usually don’t even take off my mask in public. Though it’s a different matter when I have to eat but it’s unusual for me to eat together with someone.
However, you took off my mask with your own power”
Sonia put up her index finger while holding her towel.
Even among elves who usually are beautiful, Sonia who did that gesture with that kind of beauty gave off an especially strong radiance which made my heart roar so unlike my age.
“To be honest, I fell in love with you. It’s not only because you are strong but it’s also that attitude and way of thinking I like. You’re as composed as the calm sea and yet you also possess the ingenuousness to make your heart just like the raging sea when it comes to battle.”
Sonia gently put her finger under my chin.
……What’s this? Am I being courted, me?!
The me who never was in such a relationship unintentionally flinched.
Or is she teasing me? Either way, this situation was rather stimulating for me who led a single life up until now.
“……Oh? You’re quite upset”
My heart was beating violently, one could see me fret more than enough as well, and then there it came…
While still having the innocence of a girl her bewitchingly glittering lips shook with a smile.
“Could it be you unexpectedly aren’t used to this kind of thing?……Don’t worry. This would be my first time as well–”
I was tempted to ask if that was really the case.
Sonia’s tension got transmitted from her ever approaching lips.
I didn’t know what to do so my body solidified pitifully. This childish appearance might actually fit me, huh?
I neither accepted nor rejected her. When Sonia’s lips overlapped with my tense ones– just at that moment.
Sonia reversed her movements and separated from me.
Part of me was relieved she changed her mind the other part felt it was a shame. Although I felt strangely relieved I was finally able to understand the present situation.
After I somewhat regained my composure I looked back, what made Sonia change her mind– was Cheryl.
Cheryl firmly grabbed Sonia’s hand. Looking at that situation, she probably grabbed Sonia’s hand and pulled it away from me.
“……What’s wrong, Cheryl-chan?”
Cheryl pointed her deep red eyes to the ground as if she wanted to glare at Sonia.
I don’t feel any murderous intent but her eyes were very similar to the ones she had at that time. Sonia’s tone while asking such a thing in that kind of situation had a certain sharpness to it.
To that voice which still retained its gentleness Cheryl glanced at her from the corner of her eyes.
“I don’t want that……Though I don’t know why but I don’t want that”
Cheryl closed her eyes and swung her head to show her disapproval.
……Fumu, does the person herself not understand the reason behind her actions either?
But I could see Alma’s figure overlapping with her’s.
Jealousy– it’s similar to that and yet it’s slightly different. It’s a feeling like the fear of parents and brothers leaving you behind.
I was able to completely regain my composure.
I smiled at Cheryl.
“Cheryl, don’t worry. I won’t leave you. Did you do up your hair?”
I didn’t notice before as I lacked composure but Cheryl’s long hair looked like it was done up.
I guess they tied it up before they got here because it might get into the water.
Usually, it was soft and long and would flutter in the wind but now it was put up like the hair of a noble princess.
“Ah……Yup. Sonia did it up……”
“It looks really good. You look like a princess.”
Cheryl, having been praised and put in a good mood, smiled innocently and blushed.
It’s good one could understand her mood without her saying anything. At that moment the moon in the sky seemed as bright as the sun.
I somewhat calmed down. As I thought, that child’s smile is worthy to be called a treasure.
“If you two stay like that you’ll catch a cold. How about you warm up first?”
After I calmed down a little I remembered that it was cold around the mountain top.
It can’t be helped, so that their bodies won’t cool off they entered the hot spring.
“Hot spring……My first time. Excited”
“Fumu, quickly settle down……Are you done?”
In contrast to Cheryl whose mood made a full recovery Sonia’s face was coloured in regret.
Both of them let their body sink into the hot water, letting out a long sigh. Umu, hot springs are a place of relaxation after all.
However, there’s no way that a woman like Sonia would whisper words of love to me.
……If this isn’t just a fleeting emotion I have to think about countermeasures.
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There are many things I have to think about but right now it’s more important to thoroughly enjoy this bath.
Cheryl, whose voice sounded a little more lively than usual, and Sonia happily chatted with each other. And then there was me who talked a little slower than usual.
We who crossed fists just a while ago were now happily laughing together illuminated by this dim moonlight.