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Interlude: Hot Spring and Bath (Part 2) ※Multiple POV

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

It’s mildly warm and slightly cloudy, so it might be a sulfur hot spring?
Anyway, since it passed through my barrier, I believe it should be safe.

「So this is a hot spring? Having a bath outside certainly feels weird, but can I go inside?」
『Tur is the only one around, so if you don’t mind that, it should be alright.』
「You’re going in?」
「We’re already here, so I want to try.」

Saying so, Ciel undressed with no hesitation.
The unrefined, rocky mountain face contrasts greatly with Ciel’s bare body, which paints a picturesque scene.
One with an air of immorality… Actually, not really. Open-air baths are commonplace in my old world, so a scene like this could probably be seen here and there.

Though there probably won’t be any with a view this high up back there.

Again, the water is mildly warm, and I feel like I can stay here all day.
Even if that isn’t the case, the parts of Ciel’s body remaining unsubmerged are only slightly chilly, so the temperature difference shouldn’t cause her dizziness.

『How is it? How is it? I’ve grown a lot, haven’t I?』

Ciel stretched out her arm, scooping up some water, as she cheerfully asked.

『Back then, you were so small that I could probably carry you in my arms.』
『Isn’t that a bit too far back in the past?』
『That’s true. You certainly have grown considerably taller since the last seasonal cycle.
You no longer need to tiptoe at the guild’s reception counter, after all.』
『And my chest has gotten bigger too!』

Saying so, Ciel’s eyes turn to the body part in question.
The mounds do seem larger, but since it’s practically my body as well, I don’t really feel much difference. Still, considering that we now use a bustier, which was unneeded when she was 10, it has undoubtedly grown bigger.

That aside, I didn’t think of Ciel as the type to be concerned about her appearance, so why is she so particular about her chest size?
I could try asking her directly, but I feel like that would set off something, so it’s hard to ask.
But I don’t believe the reason is as simple as wanting to look more adult.

「So humans soak in hot water like this.」
「That’s right. According to Ain, it’s to clean off filth and also makes it harder to get sick.」

Tur spoke to Ciel while curled up into a ball at a place of higher elevation than the hot spring, so Ciel replied.

「Both are unnecessary to me. I don’t catch illnesses and the like.」
「I’ve never gotten sick either. Still, doesn’t your body get dirty?」
「That can be removed with sorcery. And while it isn’t specifically with hot water, I do bathe in water sometimes.」
「Dragon bodies are so sturdy.」
「I don’t want to hear that from you.」
「In my case, my body isn’t sturdy; it’s Ain’s barrier that’s sturdy. Without the barrier, even a small knife can cut me easily, you know?」

As powerful as she is, Ciel is a young sorcerer girl.
She’s not that physically strong. Besides, it’s not like people with melee-based Jobs have hardened skin that protects them from monster attacks; they seem to generally dodge attacks or defend with shields.

Otherwise, armor shops would have gone out of business.
Still, there might be Jobs that could actually make one’s body tougher. Maybe there are S-rank hunters capable of blocking a metal sword with their bare hands?

「Still, being able to deploy a barrier of that scale without pause is astounding.」
「Well, that’s because Ain is amazing!」
「That certainly seems to be the case. So, how is the water? I don’t understand the difference, but it isn’t the same in your case, no?」
「It feels great. My body feels so warm inside, and I love the scenery, too.」
「I see. You love this scenery, eh?」
「Yeah, it’s like I’m flying in the sky.」
「You can actually fly, you know?」
「Fufufu, that is true.」

After giggling up at Tur, Ciel moved to the water’s edge and gazed at the expansive sky.


(※Sumiaria POV)

The den’s innermost stratum. An uncharted frontier that appears not even in fairy tales.
However, the young ladies—specifically the black-haired Lady Ainsel right now—speak of visiting it as though they only went out for a stroll.
I have heard stories of their might, and I have also witnessed a glimpse of their strength in person, but I didn’t realize that they were this powerful.

「And so, do you have any knowledge of naturally occurring hot springs or outdoor baths?」
「I have heard that hot water gushes from the ground at a group of small nations west of Ostente.」

While answering Lady Ainsel’s question, I gently wiped off the bubbles from her arm.
With the inclusion of bathing, Miss Mohsa and Miss Saueluna are generally in charge of taking care of the two ladies’ needs.
However, these days, they would occasionally task me with taking care of them on my own.

This is because there may be times when I will be the only one present to assist them in the future. However, the ladies are capable of taking a bath without external assistance to begin with.
They’re frankly capable of changing and even cleaning and cooking by themselves if needed. However, as they are Mistress Fiiyanamia’s children, they must grow accustomed to being served by people. Which is apparently the reason they were assigned personal servants.

While Lady Cielmer has clear white skin, Lady Ainsel’s skin has a warmer color.
Neither of which can be seen among regular hunters.
Their skin is so smooth, the touch feels like that of a baby’s.

Many ladies of the upper class pay extra attention to their beauty.
In fact, I was quite attentive to my appearance as well. However, I am no match for the young ladies.
I feel no envy; rather, I feel quite fortunate to be able to touch such beautiful skin, even if it’s merely for work.
There is no unnecessary meat, yet it’s soft to the touch. If they continue maturing as they are now, I’m sure they will grow into extremely attractive ladies.

They’re already captivating as they are now, but due to their petite build, they’re more adorable than they are beautiful.
While they are enrolling a year later than their contemporaries, I suspect that they’ll be shorter than those a year below them.

「Just as I thought, there really are some around. Have you ever gone there, Mia?」
「Unfortunately, I have never gone outside of Central.
As for outdoor baths, I have never heard about those.」
「As expected, is there a major hesitance to taking a bath outdoors?」
「It would be a lie to say there is none, but as long as there are strict lookouts, I wouldn’t call it implausible.」
「Is that so?」
「There are occasions, like long travels on carriages, for example, where even nobles have to camp out for days, you see?」
「Certainly, in those cases, even a cold soak would be nice to have.」

As we converse, I continue rinsing Lady Ainsel’s body.
This ongoing conversation also serves to loosen up the tension, but Lady Ainsel still can’t seem to help being on guard.
Even now, her body feels vaguely tensed up, but it’s apparently grown better than it was previously. Which is precisely why it’s Lady Ainsel who’s outside this time.

If this were Lady Cielmer, she would have her guard lowered completely.
But rather than this being due to her trust in us, my senior maids are of the belief that it is because she wholly trusts that Lady Ainsel will protect her.
The senior maids hold hope that the young ladies may eventually find this manor to be a true place of comfort, and I completely understand their sentiments.

And that ends this interlude! A bucket of cold water from Sumiaria to wash away the warm fuzzies from Ciel’s first hot spring experience…

I honestly like how Ain’s facade is generally seen through by a lot of characters. Even in the earliest chapters, it was Ciel witnessing Ain’s vulnerability that humanized and grounded Ain for her. With it, Ain would have been an infallible savior in her eyes. And for this time, it was Sumiaria’s time to ground and humanize her image of Ain, since she (and Ciel) probably is twisted into a perfect divine being in her mind with how much revelations she’s been exposed to in such a short amount of time, lol.

Ain is someone who tries her best towards perfection of her ideals (may it be about being a good role model or improving her barrier) and has failed and was burned many times in her journey, yet continues striving for it as much as she can. The stress of it clearly did a number to Ain’s mental health (and her main reason for trying to be perfect being partially due to guilt didn’t help), but her trying to navigate between pragmatism, pessimism, and optimism for the sake of a selfless purpose (being a good model and guardian for Ciel) is one of my favorite part of this story. Of course, all of this is just my opinion, I might be (and most likely am) just reading too much into it. But that’s the beauty of reading. And why there are so many fanfics in general as well…

Now then, I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please feel free to comment. Stay healthy, stay safe, and have a nice day~!

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