Chapter 13: The Lack of Sleep, Encounter, and Reflection

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Author: Himezaki Shiu Original Source: Syosetu
Translator: PunishedLyly English Source: Re:Library

In the end, night watch ended with Ciel not having a wink of sleep. Her tenacity is a sight to behold but Ciel’s movements being dull right as she started walking after breakfast is worrying me.
Now that I think about it, since sleep was practically the only thing we had the freedom to decide on, this might be the first time Ciel lacked any sleep.
I’m also at fault for allowing this, so I put all my focus on detection to at least reduce our chance to come across monsters as much as I can.

『Are you sleepy?』
「Not really sleepy, but it’s a bit hard to move my body.」
『Resting without pushing yourself for today is an option as well, alright?
     The food supply is a bit concerning but I don’t think there’s much distance left until we reach a village or a town.』
「But if we stop here, then staying up last night wouldn’t have any meaning, right?
     Just being a day longer in this forest will only increase the burden on Ain, after all.」

I’m happy about Ciel’s concern for me but I wish she would worry more about herself.
Nonetheless, I have a feeling that thoughtlessly rejecting Ciel might be bad for her growth, so I’m stumped. Right now, Ciel is using her own head and acting on what she thinks is good for me, after all.

If it was someone with a certain extent of life experience, persuading them with a proper explanation might be the correct thing to do; however, since Ciel is as blank as a sheet, I believe it’s best for me to watch over the course of events to let her gain experience.

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And if that choice was a mistake, then we’ll just think about what went wrong together.
Well, seeing that her body’s currently in a bad condition, it might already be considered a mistake but Ciel is still full of energy. I think I’ll have a talk with her the next time she’s about to push herself.
I planned on doing so, but there was an unpleasant reaction from detection.

『Ciel, would you mind stopping?』
「There’s something, right?」

Perhaps the tone of my voice conveyed the severity, because Ciel obediently followed.
Even while telling her so, I’m still observing the reaction caught by my detection but I just can’t wipe off this bad feeling. Why, why is it staying absolutely still? And of all places, why there?
Unable to nod in confirmation, I answered『Yes.』for now and started explaining。

『If we continue onward on this path, we’ll encounter with what’s most likely the same monster as the one that attacked the caravan.』
「In that case, might it perhaps be best to stay here and wait for it to leave?」
『I agree with that decision, however it’s definitely acting strange, don’t you think?
     Slightly off the path, it feels like it’s waiting for something there.』
「Then, that means that it’s aiming for us, right?」
『There’s a high possibility. Come to think of it, Ciel read a lot of books in that mansion.
     We can only believe the information from the books so it might lack some certainty, but I can say that documents there that are more than what’s commonly known by society, those might even be the results of Duke Respelgia’s research.
     And those documents might have been read by you, Ciel. However, if you’re not worth keeping, then killing you would be the best option. Either being killed or being kept by the pig man until you die was probably good enough for him.』
「So in that case, is that man perhaps capable of controlling monsters?」
『Possible by use of magic. Still, this is nothing more than our guesswork so it might just be there by coincidence.』

We’re free to do as much guesswork as we want and we can base our next course of action on multiple inferences; but since we can only try once, then I think that it might not be bad to go in without a plan and just leave things to chance.
After all, if we decide on what to do then we might fall behind on reacting when the unexpected happens.

「Ain, do you think that it’s best to just wait like this?」
『If we could go without any incident, then I think that it would be best.
     However, if we continue on waiting out like this, then we might get surrounded in the event that a pursuer comes from behind. Most likely, there aren’t any pursuers; but if we continue waiting for days, then we’ll run out of food supplies.
     As another plan, we could get off the path and try to cut through the forest. In doing this, we do have the risk of possibly being unable to escape the forest.
     Finally, we could choose to defeat the monster as well. It’s likely the most simple of them and since we can continue following the path, it’s the most certain way of going to a populated place. However, it goes without saying that you might get hurt, and in the worst case, you might lose your life.』
「Still, defeating it is the easy one to do, right? I also won yesterday, after all.」

I’ve thought much about it but I do think that Ciel’s answer is reasonable.
Since she won with quite the ease, she should be able to win even if she’s a bit out of form.

Thinking about the future, both waiting here and finding a different path is just a temporary solution. I do think that I might have become too cowardly so I replied to her『Then let’s do it.』

Now that we’ve decided, we once again continue on our path. This time, to reduce the risk, we go full force from the start.
Last time, if I had also supported her from the beginning, it would have ended in an instant. So this time, we should be able to settle this before she pushes herself as well.
As soon as we can see the place where the monster will be ambushing us, after telling Ciel『Just outside your vision, the monster is there.』I began to sing.

Long before we noticed the monster, each and every one of Ciel’s movements have been refined and she’s always ready to jump into battle as well. After all, if you know that an ambush is coming then it’s not difficult to avoid the first attack; and after that, an all-out attack with sorcery would finish it. It might seem cowardly, but it doesn’t make it less safe.

Rather, if the opponents are humans or weak monsters then we could just stealthily approach and stab them with a knife, so we’re still acting fair and square.
Still, even if the opponents are humans, then I don’t really think we need to fight fair and square.

Also, the fact that the other party is hiding in the forest makes it difficult. If we ignore the collateral damage then we could drive them away with Sorcery from here, but doing that with Ciel’s full power would risk the trees suddenly setting on fire. 

Thinking on a larger scale, it’s not funny if we get discovered as well, so we can’t fight unless it comes out on this reasonably open road without any trees nearby. For that reason, it’s going to be problematic if it doesn’t come to ambush us as well.

Step by step, we approach the place where the monster is and just as it’s directly horizontal from us, we hear a loud sound combing through the grass. 
Immediately our gaze shifts to its origin and the figure of a one-eyed giant raising a club overhead enters our sights.
If you’re not aware of the other party’s existence, then it’s impossible to avoid. That one blow is approaching imminently.

However, if you’re aware of it, then it’s easy to dodge…… It should have been.

Thud. As Ciel was about to leap backwards, her legs got tangled up.
I realize from Ciel’s surprised look, as well as from the transmitted sensation, that there’s a disparity between how Ciel expected to move and how she actually moved.

By all rights, it’s only a small insignificant difference; but in the middle of a dance, which demands precise movements, it becomes a fatal mistake. Even still, Ciel would usually be capable of correcting herself with ease.

However, Ciel just currently experienced her first all-nighter. There’s absolutely no way that she could correct herself as the club is swung down.

As the club comes down right before my eyes, I instinctively screamed『Ciel!』but she was unable to avoid the attack that has enough power to easily crush a person and ended up she taking the full brunt of the blow.

I feel a sensation similar to having my head pressed down and, before I notice it, our body was blown away after getting exposed to an impact.
We were hurled at speeds that made it feel like we’re riding on a roller coaster and we stopped as we slammed into a tree.
My back feels a bit painful. Huh? Why is my back in pain? And why just a bit?

「Ain, can you sing?」

While I was confused, I hear Ciel’s voice.
Just by the feel of it, there’s probably no fatal injury to the body. The feeling of pain is already settling down and the pain from being cut in the mansion was much worse than this as well.
For the meantime, Ciel’s requesting for my song, so I start singing while organizing what happened. 

The monster was definitely waiting for us — or maybe for anybody that follows this path, I’m not sure — and went for an ambush.
We were going to dodge it and counter as planned, but we failed and should have been crushed.
But in reality, we were just blown away. Did it do so because it couldn’t crush us?

And right now, a cluster of ice made by Ciel pierces through the giant. The sharp tipped ice, reminiscent of an icicle, freezes the giant from where it pierced through.
And from there, an ice sculpture of a tree gradually forms over it and, crack, the monster shatters along with it into tiny pieces.

The scene of the girl displaying that fantastic phenomenon and a gracefully flowing dance was likely more than enough to fascinate people.

Leaving it at that, it might be best to have a proper discussion with Ciel here and now. 
After all, it all ended before I even realized it happening but it’s hard to call this a success.
Rather, there’s much for Ciel to reflect on, but there’s much more for me as well.

『Good work. You did very well.』

After this, I have no choice but to have a very unenjoyable talk with her but it doesn’t change that fact that Ciel did her best.
This is definitely something that I should praise and I even want her to be happy as well. Even if depending on how the conversation goes, scolding Ciel becomes unavoidable.

Why must I scold Ciel even though this was my fault? Just thinking about it almost spirals me back to self-hatred. But, to make sure that these kinds of mistakes don’t happen again, there are situations where I need to turn blind to my own faults.

Or so I thought, but to my words, Ciel listlessly replied「Right. Thank you, Ain.」with a forced smile, so it seems like there will be no scolding this time.
Rather, it might be better to give her some encouragement.

『In the meantime, shall we move from here and talk somewhere we can rest?』
「Of course, I’ll do as you ask, Ain.」

Disheartened, Ciel walks forth totteringly. It might be the fatigue from the earlier battle, as well as from her becoming discouraged, showing.
I want to let her rest as soon as possible, so a short distance away from where we defeated the monster, I had her go off the road and sit hiding among the trees.

「Say, Ain. Will you perhaps still stay with me even in the future?
     Is it really fine that I, always being protected by you and always being useless, stay together with you, Ain?」
『I want to stay with you always as well, even in the future.
『Besides, you’re not even the slightest bit of useless, Ciel.
     If you’re worrying about what just happened, it was my fault anyways.』
「No, no. Ain did nothing wrong. Even though Ain was worrying about me yesterday, you got in danger because I was being selfish.
     So it’s my fault. I’m a bad girl, I’m a naughty girl.」

Ciel seems as though she is about to break into tears at any moment now; even so, she’s doing her best to stop herself from crying.
What would be best to say to her? I don’t have any parenting experience nor have I ever been in this kind of situation in Japan, so I’m stumped. Ciel’s a good girl, so I hope she’ll be able to forgive herself and find a good compromise for herself.

『You’re talking about when volunteering to keep watch for me, right Ciel?』
「Right, that’s right. Even though Ain told me not to push myself, I didn’t even realize if I was pushing myself or not.」
『Still, you were doing your best to take some load off of me, right Ciel?』
「Even so, in the end, I only troubled Ain even more…… 」
『Rather, I think that the one that was more burdened here is you, Ciel. Besides, you didn’t only increase your own load. Because you kept me company last night, I was able to notice the difference of the night sky from when I was alive.
     Up until yesterday, I was so on the edge that I didn’t even notice it before. All I thought about was how to run away as quick as possible.
     So thanks to you, I was able to relax myself, Ciel.』
「But that doesn’t change that, because of me, Ain was exposed to danger.
     Even though I want to protect Ain, I always need protection, I’m useless.」
『If you say that, then it’s also my fault for having so much fun yesterday that I didn’t tell you to go to sleep, Ciel.
     Besides, giving me a chance to relax is the opposite of useless, don’t you agree Ciel?』

Seeing Ciel reluctantly nod, I continue speaking.
I feel our whole conversation from earlier had hit my conscience back like a boomerang, I just want to run away.

『However, it is true that Ciel might have done things wrong this time.
     Ciel, do you know what I can do?』
Umm, barrier and detection sorcery, right? After that, Ain can sing. Of course, I enjoy it when you sing to support me as a Song Princess as well, but I love it when Ain sings even without any reason.」
『I love seeing Ciel dance as well.
     Also, another thing I can do is to be restlessly on the lookout.
     Then on the other hand, what are the things I can’t do?』
「Ain can’t use combat sorcery, right? But that’s……」
『Alright, we don’t need to talk about that right now.
     I can’t use combat sorcery, so it’s safe to say that I practically can’t fight.
     To be honest, I can’t do the dirty work. I’m quite relieved about that fact, but it’s also something I’m extremely ashamed of.』
「No, don’t. It’s not something to be ashamed of. After all, Ain has always, always protected me.
     If you don’t at least let me fight, then I won’t have anything to pay you back with, you know?」

Noticing myself being relieved that Ciel is desperately rejecting my words, I hate myself more. It’s because I’m aware that I’m saying an awfully terrible thing and that the conversation is going in a way that’s convenient for me.

I’m sure that in the future, there will be a time that we will need to kill not only monsters, but people as well. And I’m certain that at that time, I would advise her that it would be best to kill them. However, no matter how much I advise and no matter how much I justify it, since I myself can’t fight, the one that will execute it will always be Ciel.

Compared to that, what I’m doing is nothing special. In actuality, I practically don’t have any burden on me. If I’m forced to say it, I’m just bored without anything to do at night.
Still, I think it’s for the best. If I was able to do everything, Ciel would become a dependent child unable to do anything and even presently, I can proudly say that I did my best for Ciel. For now, just ignore this mistake for a bit, please.

『I understand how you feel as well, Ciel. However, just as you want to do your best for me, I also want to do something for you, Ciel.』
「You too, Ain?」
『That’s right, it’s because I wanted to protect Ciel that I was able to protect you up until now. There were also times I’ve failed to do so, but I would be troubled if Ciel wants to take this away from me.
     After all, I can’t defeat monsters for you, Ciel.』
「So then I can fight, right? But, I don’t want to just fight.」
『Then in my case, I’m only protecting.
     I’m happy that you’re concerned about me, Ciel; but as I said earlier, fighting is very difficult for me to do. Therefore, I want Ciel to first be capable at combat. In other words, we distribute our roles. I’ll defend, you’ll attack. I’ll sing and you’ll dance. There might be other things we want to do for each other, but first we need to settle firmly into these roles. Ciel, your role is to stay in good condition until when we need to fight, so you can go with all your strength.』
「…… Understood.」
『Once we’ve settled into our roles, we’ll likely have more leeway.
     I’m sure that as you live on, time will come that just one sleepless night would no longer be a problem.
     When that time comes, let’s keep watch together again. I look forward to chatting with you after all, Ciel.』
「Absolutely. It’s a promise, alright?」
『Of course. Promise.』

Finally, it seems that I’ve convinced Ciel, so I breathe a sigh of relief in my mind.
I’ve said a lot of different things, but I really don’t want Ciel to push herself too much and I hope she grows healthy as well.
She doesn’t have to live fast and recklessly, so gradually learning to do things one by one is fine. I hope I was able to convey this to her even just a bit.  
In the first place, it might have been best if I was able to tell this to her yesterday, but it’s too much to expect from me.

「Say, Ain?」

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Now wearing a cheerful expression, like she has been freed of some evil spirit, Ciel calls my name.

『What is it?』
「I exposed Ain to danger but to be honest, I believed that Ain would be able to defend against that giant’s attack, you know?
     So when it actually protected me, I was really proud.
     It doesn’t change the fact that I was pathetic but you’re really amazing Ain. Remember this, okay?」

Being praised so frankly, I think of how incomprehensible my barrier’s defensive capability have become as an escape. Though, that in itself is a fact that I want to escape from as well.



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