Chapter 8 – Friendship
While I was talking with Kennel, Ashley and Beline came out of the Guild together.
“Ashley-sama…! For them to have made you run around like this…!”
Kennel unintentionally rose to his feet, but he restrained himself when he noticed Ashley’s behavior as she trotted over. It seemed like he did not notice Beline beside her.
These two had generally interacted carefully around each other, just like this, until now. If it was like this everyday, surely he would be labeled as being overprotective.
“No, old geezer. Right now, my body’s condition feels really great. In fact, Theodore-sama–”
And with that, Ashley relayed to him about the Circulation Refinement that was performed.
“What did you say…Is this true?”
“Yeah, well, it’s just temporary you know?”
“But still. I have never seen Ashley-sama in such good health. I would like to express my thanks.”
Since he, himself, was satisfied with that, he probably had good intentions. Still, I’ll handle it with a vague reply.
Lucian had also returned…Somehow a group of people has gathered.
Since Forest Bird had good manners, their reputation would probably never be tarnished, even if they appeared in front of Kennel.
“Is it about time to depart?”
“No, it’s not done yet. You see, the truth is that everyone’s gear consolidation isn’t finished.”
“Because of the Killer Ants, huh?”
“That’s right. Somehow, the carriage’s attachments rattle and it’s useless to attempt to sharpen our swords, since there are no whetstones. It might be impossible for us to leave by tomorrow.”
It looked like they had abused their weapons too much when they had fought the ants. Since the ants’ exoskeletons were solid, their weapons had been damaged. Formic Acid, was it? Though, I’m glad that the acid didn’t become a problem. The acid wasn’t too strong, since its species wasn’t that high up on the food chain.
Anyways, it was more than the equipment entrusting its life to you. One had to adapt and get used to using them. It wasn’t good to just replace them.
“Well, it looks like we’ll have to go rent a room.”
“If it’s like that, why not come and stay at my house?”
Somehow, there didn’t seem to be a proper way to answer..
“Is it no good?”
“Rather than that, there isn’t a reason to receive your help like that.”
Ashley inclined her small head in curiousity. I wondered if she understood the importance of what I said. It was something like Beline’s give-and-take. In Ashley’s case, it was hard for her to do so, since there was no bargain.
No…It wasn’t like that. I should just be reasonable and acknowledge it.
I had various experiences that were similar to Ashley’s circumstances. If my dad had passed away five years ago, instead of my mom, the situation wouldn’t have felt the same.
That was why I wanted to help her, while leaving out things like personal interest and give-and-take.
That was all. It was likely that I would go too far with this and that. If the me of five years ago had the strength of my current self, I would have regretted what had happened to mom to the extent of wishing for the impossible.
In return for this, should I be especially kind to Ashley?…It’s unproductive.
As for me, I had no kindness towards those who lived while going around helping others without discrimination, like my mom had done. I, too, have limits.
That’s why, even if something was done, I thought that she would want to move on after securing motives that we could agree upon.
Generally, as for Ashley…surely there was no reason to impart her feelings to me.
Although it appeared that she strangely trusted me, due to me restoring her condition, even if you considered that, letting us stay in her house was merely out of kindness.
“I wonder if it’s also fine to have you do me a favor?”
“I have to at least tell you that I will depart early tomorrow, you know?”
“I understand that.”
Kennel nodded in regret.
When Ashley called my name, I turned to her. She seemed slightly embarrassed as she spoke.
“I’m just…Well. I want to become friends with Theodore-sama.”
As that was said, things came to a slight standstill.
Friends, you say?
If I thought about it…She wasn’t a companion I would have had a relation with, until she had called out to me like that.
It was far from acting as a Count. If people like Byron and Daryl had influence with their authority, no one would go near them.
Although Grace trusted me, rather than being my friend, she was more of a sister. Servants normally adhere to their position after all.
Ashley was waiting for my response. I took in a deep breath before I answered.
“I understand, Ashley-sama. Let’s become friends.”
So…Well, it was fine, right? As for the other people, it was fine to say that they were slightly different. How to describe it…I’m rather alone.
“Though I’m going to Termuilles, I’ll send you letters.”
“Yes, I will write them as well.”
“It’s normal for staying at a friend’s house overnight to be a bit of a burden.”
Well, if it was a friend, wasn’t it normal…to teach her Beginner Healing Magic chants? I knew that Ashley had talent. I didn’t think that I could teach her everything before leaving, so I decided to write an introductory memo on the process of magic and leave it with her for now.
When our conversation settled down, Kennel and Beline were talking with each other.
“Kennel-sama, to tell the truth, I have thought of something good.”
As Beline finished speaking to Kennel, she gave him a business smile. Kennel sighed from the bottom of his heart.
“What is it, fox girl?”
Beline completely ignored his remark.
“This time, as part of Ashley’s health rehabilitation, Oslo should no longer be under Kennel-sama’s surveillance. In addition to your work as a butler, you do things like the territory management and business all by yourself, right?”
“Therefore, I have a proposal. Please lend me your ear for a bit.”
When she whispered something into Kennel’s ear, his face became red and he got angry.
“No, no. Please listen to what I want to ask you until the end–”
However, Beline muttered something else, without looking worried at all. Kennel’s face calmed down.
…Well. What kind of killer phrase did she say to him, I wonder? Beline was smiling from beginning to end. Although I had already known it…her soul was quite dark.
“How about it? I can also introduce her to a doctor that you can rely on. Besides, Kennel-sama surely knows what’s best given the current situation, since you aren’t getting around to it. For nobles, what’s important is a person’s connections. Rather than the current situation, he would be very beneficial for Ashley’s future. As for that–”
As Beline showered him with her flowing eloquence, Kennel interrupted her with his hand.
“I get it! I get it! I’ll ask Ashley-sama about it later! Is that fine with you!? I’ll think about the things that will come in the future!”
“Of course. It’s more than me coming here as a supporter. As incompetent as I am, I will use all of my power to cooperate with you.”
Beline smiled. It seemed that the winner had been decided.
“All of you are good-for-nothings.”
“Well then, we will go ahead and look for an inn.”
“No, you guys come with me. Fox girl, you come too.”
Kennel stopped Lucian from trying to stand up and leave.
Lucian turned towards Beline, who shrugged.
“He will judge both of you based on what he sees, since it’s better that way. I also advised Kennel-sama to do this, as well as to all of you. The point is that Forest Bird’s mannerisms are good enough to be trustworthy.”
Though, that wasn’t the case when it was said that Forest Bird was a good example.
There were also adventurers who disgraced the Guild, but since there weren’t many of them, those who worked with Kennel might just improve his impression of them.
“By the way, what did you say to Kennel-san?”
“Well, it’s better to remain silent, since it was annoying. If it’s Theodore-san, I’m sure that you will understand, right?”
“What is it?”
“I’m not really plotting anything bad, ok? I won’t be doing anything that will be bad for your plans. It’s a principle of mine after all.”
…What the hell did that mean?
Setting aside Beline’s true intentions, I made my first 「Friend」since coming to this world, amongst various other things.