After returning home, I laid the girl I’d been carrying in the bedroom.
She still seemed to be barely conscious, and she was letting out painful groans while breathing violently.
Both today and the next day, the girl kept sleeping while in pain.
I’d occasionally come in the room to change the wet towel I left on her head or apply a water-filled sponge to her lips, and so on.
Something unusual happened two days later, in the morning.
While I was eating my breakfast in the room next to hers, I heard a quiet rustling sound from the bedroom.
Did she wake up…?
Leaving my breakfast half-eaten, I opened the door to the bedroom.
…By the way, I forgot to knock. I’d been living alone for so long that I hadn’t even considered it.
There was no longer anyone on the bed.
Only the disheveled bedsheets remained, where someone was lying down just a little while ago.
The voice of a girl came from the side of the room.
When I looked in its direction, the 15-year-old or so young traveler girl I saved with pure-white hair was standing in front of the bookshelf.
Her eyes were trembling in fear, and her mouth was tightly shut. Her stiffened body was exuding caution in full force.
I guess anyone would freeze up in fear after waking up in a foreign house and some guy ten years older than you barged in the room…
“How’s your body holding up? I found you lying on the road, so I got worried and nursed you in my house.”
She seemed to understand what I said. With a look of realization, she panicked and bowed her head.
“Sorry! To think I acted like that to the person who saved me! Thank you very much!”
“No, it’s alright. I don’t mind.”
I waved my hands back and forth.
“Leaving that aside, aren’t you feeling hungry? You were asleep this entire time. I was just eating breakfast, so I can make your share as well if you’d like.”
“I-I couldn’t! You’ve already done plenty enough for me…!”
When the girl shook her head in a panic, the fragrance of the soup I was eating earlier wafted into the room. It was a pleasant, gentle fragrance. As if detonated by the smell—
—her stomach growled out.
Blushing in embarrassment, the girl clutched her stomach.
I gave a small laugh.
“There’s no need to be so modest. Pushing yourself is bad for your health.”
I guided the girl to the dining table and placed chicken bone broth soup and bread in front of her.
“I made this soup with a bird I shot down. It’s delicious.”
“Thank you for the meal!”
After giving her thanks, the girl completely devoured her food. She must’ve been pretty hungry…
After she made quick work of her food, I asked her if she wanted more.
After making a surprised face, she timidly agreed.
Once she finished eating, she faced me and bowed her head with a snap.
“Thank you for treating me to this meal.”
“It’s fine, don’t worry about it. Was it good?”
The girl began acting bashful.
“Ah, excuse me. Even though you’ve done all this for me, I haven’t even introduced myself yet. My name is Laura.”
“Laura, huh. My name is Albert—”
You’re banished. Never call yourself by the Luminous family name ever again.
After that exchange, I asked Laura some questions.
“That road you collapsed in connects to the royal capital, but… Were you headed there?”
“Yes. I was just on my way to take the entrance exam for the Royal Magic Academy.”
“…Do you have an interest in magic?”
“Why do you ask?”
“Um, I’m sorry for looking without permission, but the other room had a lot of spellbooks, so I…”
I remember now; She was standing in front of the bookshelf earlier. That’s probably where she saw it—the broken remnants of my dreams brought from my old house, which I couldn’t let go of.
“Only an interest, nothing more. I dabbled a bit in magic, and I even aimed at the Royal Magic Academy at one point. I gave up in the end… since I had no talent.”
After saying that, I gave a weak laugh.
I lied. Though I did enroll in the Royal Magic Academy, my bitter past isn’t something I want to tell strangers.
The instant I said that, Laura visibly began trembling.
“U-um, I’m sorry! For saying something so careless to someone who had already given up!”
She bowed her head over and over, to the point where even I started feeling sorry.
I should be the one feeling sorry—I lied, after all.
“…Don’t worry about it. I’ve already come to terms with it.”
“Oh, t-t-t-t-that’s a huge relief!”
Laura was in a panic, so I changed the topic for her sake.
“So then why’d you collapse in the middle of your travels?”
“I walked here from my hometown, so it seems like I accumulated some fatigue…”
“Must’ve been tough.”
“If it weren’t for you nursing me, I don’t think I would have recovered this fast. I was on the verge of missing my exam date…”
“That close, huh. When’s your exam?”
“It starts tomorrow at noon, on February 17th.”
“Tomorrow as in, February 17th?”
Laura looked at me with a puzzled expression.
I audibly swallowed my spit.
Feeling like I was about to announce her death sentence, I began speaking.
“About that… February 17th is today.”
Laura absentmindedly stared at me with her mouth open.
Little by little, she realized the gravity of her situation and began panicking.
“H-h-huuh?! Today is the test!? I-I was only asleep for a single day, right!?”
“No, you were out cold for 2 entire days.”
Laura was speechless.
I looked out the window. The warm light of the morning sun was shining inside.
The test had yet to start.
But after a mere 4 hours, it would end up starting without her.
No matter how fast we walk from here, we’d reach the capital by around dusk—not to mention Laura is still recovering.
It’s highly unlikely we’d make it in time.
Laura was having a meltdown.
“Mayoruncleauntmotherfatherandeveryonefromthevillageeeeeee, please forgive me! Even though you cheered and cheered for me and sent me off, I…! I couldn’t meet your expectations…!”
I stood up.
“Don’t beat yourself up like that. We still have four hours, right? We’ll make it.”
“W-What do you mean? There’s no way we—”
“We still have around an hour of leeway. Your things are in the bedroom so get ready. Ah, you should tidy up your appearance as well—this is an important day for you, after all. Use the water bucket however you like.
She probably had no clue what I was saying.
She looked at me with a bewildered expression.
“C’mon, we’ll make it. Get ready at your own leisure, then come outside. I’ll be waiting.”
After saying that, I went outside the house.
C’mon, we’ll make it. Get ready at your own leisure, then come outside. I’ll be waiting.
After saying all that, the man in front of me—Albert, headed outside.
I couldn’t comprehend what he said in the slightest.
We’ll make it?
There’s absolutely no way we’d make it—He’s probably just trying to make me feel better. But Albert had no reason to lie like that.
I had a lot of doubts on my mind, but I stopped suspecting him.
I had no other choice but to rely on him.
The slim thread that Albert had dangled—I had no choice but to cling onto it.
Albert acted as if he actually had an hour to spare, but I got dressed in less than 30 minutes.
When I exited the house, Albert was waiting outside.
Brown hair and black eyes—he was decently good-looking. He was ten years older than me and gave out a calm atmosphere.
Having noticed me, Albert stood up from the tree stump he was sitting on.
“That was quick. Are you doing preparing?”
“Yes… I don’t want to waste any more time. But are we really going to make it in time…?”
Albert stood next to me.
“I’ll use my spell—Magic Arrow—to take you there.”
My head became even more jumbled up.
Magic Arrow is a beginner—no, a newbie-level spell. Practically all magicians learn it first.
All it does is shoot its target with a white arrow.
How could it possibly be useful in a situation like this?
“If I remember correctly, the royal capital was in this direction.”
Albert lifted his hand diagonally upwards.
“Sorry if it’s embarrassing, but hold onto my body. It’ll be dangerous otherwise.”
I was embarrassed, but I followed his instructions. It was already past the point of needless grumbling.
I recalled something I saw earlier.
The image of the place I was resting at earlier floated into my head. While I was taking a break, a bird fell from the sky and crashed into the ground.
I made this soup with a bird I shot down.
That’s what Albert said.
Albert most likely shot that bird down with magic.
That would make things strange, though.
There are slight differences depending on the spellcaster’s skill, but Magic Arrow’s firing distance is 50 meters at best.
Shooting down a bird flying in the sky would be difficult unless you were right under it.
However, Albert wasn’t anywhere nearby when the bird fell.
“What is it?”
“How far is the firing range of your Magic Arrow?”
I thought I misheard him.
I heard Albert’s indifferent voice the moment after.
The instant he spoke, my field of vision was rapidly swept away.
EDIT: Polished up some mistakes I forgot to fix.