|Author: Kobayashi Homare||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 4525 characters|
|Translator: Nomad||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1468 words|
That sounded like a rather poor excuse, but when I thought about it a bit more…I realized it. When I was a small child, there was a time when I also spoke with a more masculine voice, due to my neighbor’s son who I looked up to. Lapis was probably still stuck with that mentality and kept looking up to men like that. But she’s so cute so that’s a bit of a bummer. But the realization also made me feel bad for her, so I gently hugged her from the side.
“Wha-what happened, Camille?”
“Don’t worry, everyone goes through a phase like that. You don’t need to be embarrassed about it.”
“…I feel like you’re really misunderstanding something…”
“I’m telling you it’s okay! You can be how you want until you grow out of it!”
It was funny seeing Lapis act so confused all the time, but break time was sadly over. The two of us promptly returned to the front desk. As we kept attending the flood of adventurers, time flew past quickly and it was already getting dark outside. When I was thinking it was about time to start wrapping things up, a wounded adventurer entered the guild.
He had probably just returned from a quest in that horrible state. He was covered in blood —though it was hard to tell if it was his or someone else’s— as well as traces of monster innards. His elegant armor was now in shambles, and he had lost the scabbard of his sword seeing as how the naked blade was dangling on his back.
When the other adventurers saw him, they gasped and lowered their gazes in silence, adopting a mourning expression. I felt the same way as them, but I could not let it show on my face. After being in this line of work for so many years I already knew that was the look of an adventurer that failed at their quest and lost their companions. His face showed the despair he felt at being the sole survivor.
He walked closer to the counter with unsteady steps. But he was not too aware of his surroundings, so he almost walked straight into one of the columns erected at the sides of the counter.
“You’re going the wrong way, the counter is over here.”
Lapis had gotten up and walked to his side while I was not paying attention to her. She took the wounded adventurer’s hand and guided him to the right place. There she took her own seat and let the man sit on it, then, in a reassuring and calming tone, she asked him to tell what happened to him.
“…Can you tell me what happened to you?”
“…My friends were…”
As soon as those words trickled out of his mouth, he lowered his face as his shoulders began shaking. As he looked down in regret, tears began falling off his face. It was a really pitiful sight, but there was nothing out of the ordinary in it. Adventuring and danger always went hand-in-hand. It was easy to conclude he was the only one left alive from his group, but depending on the quests, sometimes there would be no one at all left alive… So in a way, it was better that at least he was able to survive.
I had noticed before, but Lapis really was a sharp girl. She probably already knew exactly what had happened to him, but she still waited patiently until the man calmed down, not saying anything until the man spoke again. She knew that if handled badly, sympathy or consolation could have the opposite effect on his mental state.
“Don’t worry, I don’t mind.”
When he calmed down, he began speaking about what happened to his party while wiping away his tears. Just as I had already guessed, his party had been wiped out after an encounter with monsters. They were on a hunting quest, and had already dealt with the monsters they were asked for, but on their trip back, a pack of monsters that far surpassed their strength ambushed them. At first, they tried to fight back, but one adventurer was struck down with a single attack, which prompted everyone else to start running away. He also ran with all his strength and barely managed to escape alive.
“…As I ran I could hear my friends screaming. Asking for help, telling me to not abandon them…but I was afraid…and ran away selfishly. I’m just a coward! I only wanted to save myself so I let my friends die!”
“That’s not true.”
As the man began raising his voice, Lapis’ soothing tone calmed him down. I remained silent, watching how she would deal with this situation. If she was going to stay in the guild for a long time, she would have to deal with situations like these in a somewhat frequent manner. So it was better if she learned how to take care of them now.
“Were your friends the type of person to blame you for saving your own life? Were they the type of person to resent you for not saving them?”
“No! They weren’t people like that at all!”
His face reddened in anger as he shouted back, clearly agitated and with almost murderous eyes, Lapis just kept speaking calmly.
“Then I’m sure that they are glad you’re still alive. They probably think it’s good that at least one of you managed to survive, isn’t that right?”
When he heard that, he gritted his teeth and looked up in silence, his shoulders shaking slightly. He was probably thinking of his lost friends, though there was no way to tell his true thoughts. After some time like that, his expression finally relaxed as if whatever had been haunting him was gone now.
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“…You’re right. They would probably think that way… I’m sorry for the mess I made. Can I finish the paperwork now?”
“Of course you can.”
A quest was a quest, even if party members perished. If the conditions were met, the payment would be issued, if they were not, a penalty was issued. That was the guild’s policy. So the man took out his plate from his pocket as well as the quest flier, then unloaded the monster pieces he carried in a leather bag on his back and handed it all to Lapis. She received it and continued working without saying anything.
“…The quest is complete. Here’s your payment of ten gold coins, please take it.”
“Thank you very much.”
He received the money and tucked it into his pocket while handling it with much care. It was the last payment he earned together with his friends.
The man was about to leave when Lapis called him. He was still facing the door as she gently lifted her hand towards his back.
“…What is it?”
“I’m not obligated to do this, but good luck.”
Her hands lighted up for an instant and then the man’s wounds were all completely healed. Seeing that was a bit too much for me and the man, as well as all the other adventurers there, staying still in shock. She had just used healing magic. A curing miracle only devout priests that received a blessing could employ. Not only that, but an average priest would also need to go through a long chant before being able to use it, but she did it in an instant and without any chanting. She really had incredibly amazing magic power.
“It’s the least I can do. And next time we meet I hope you can look more cheerful.”
Hearing her encourage him like that, his face relaxed from the earlier shock. His current gentle expression was probably how he normally looked.
“Thank you. I promise you I’ll get back on my feet and come back here. When that happens, I’ll let you take care of my paperwork.”
“I’ll be waiting for that.”
She waved as she saw him off. When he was out of sight, I spoke to Lapis in a low voice only she could hear.
“Lapis, how do you feel after your first day at work today?”
She rummaged on her thoughts for a moment before she spoke with a beaming smile.
“It’s hard work actually, but it’s also really rewarding. I hope I can continue working alongside you.”
“Of course you can! I’ll be waiting for you tomorrow as well.”
With that, the first day with my weird, cute and terrifying junior came to an end. She might still encounter a lot of problems going forward, but I’m sure she can overcome anything, I believe that from the bottom of my heart.