It was around half-past noon when I woke up. I got up and returned to the village.
“YOU DID IT! SIR ALBERT!”
The mayor welcomed me with a loud voice.
Young villagers were dispatched as scouts to report on my battle between the Hydra.
The mayor must’ve gotten their reports already.
Other villagers surrounded me and sang my praises as well.
“Way to go! I never expected less from the son of the feudal lord!”
“You’re the hero!”
“Thanks to you, the village was saved!”
There was joy on their faces; there were smiles.
Seeing their faces, I felt like I was rewarded for my efforts. They didn’t need to have any depressing talks about offering someone as a sacrifice anymore.
Just then, someone approached me.
“…Thank you very much…”
It was the sacrificial woman I saved at the lake. Her eyes glistened with tears. The moment she clutched my hand, those tears poured like a river.
“Thank you very much! Thank you for saving my life! Because you came to this village, I… I—!”
She hung her head downwards.
The tears spilling from her eyes dropped to her hand.
“…But… Was it alright for me to be the only survivor…? I feel like it’s unfair to the sacrifices that died until now, or something…”
I shook my head.
“…You don’t need to worry about that… If you were swapped with the other sacrificial women, would you feel resentful?”
“I…believe I wouldn’t…”
“I’m sure they would’ve said this: Good for you. The important thing is to never forget about them, right?”
It was because of the women who sacrificed themselves until now that peace was able to be kept to this day. They minimized the sacrifices to this village only.
We mustn’t forget about their sacrifice.
…I want to construct a cenotaph in this village—as proof of the sacrifices’ existence, and as proof of the peace that this village upheld for the Luminous territory.
I thought it wasn’t all too bad of an idea.
The woman let go of my hand and bowed her head.
“Thank you very much… I’ll never forget this act of good will.”
The villagers continued to speak.
However, something else weighed on my mind, and I couldn’t concentrate.
I defeated the Hydra and returned.
Such was well known throughout the village. In that case, there was someone who should’ve shown up immediately. And yet, that person was nowhere to be found.
“Sorry, but where’s Laura?”
The villagers exchanged glances, like they had just remembered about her.
“Huh? I don’t see her anywhere.”
“I haven’t seen her today…”
The villagers looked all around their surroundings.
Why was she gone…?
Gripped by anxiety, I headed toward the house allotted to us.
It was completely deserted.
I was at a loss for words. Why was Laura gone? Was she scared of the Hydra and ran? No, that couldn’t be the case. Laura wasn’t that type of person.
I spontaneously began shouting.
“LAURA! LAURA! WHERE ARE YOU!?”
As I did so, the villagers who had been following me began calling out Laura’s name in a panic.
“I’ll go and see if Laura’s over there!”
Right when one of the more attentive villagers said that—
I heard a familiar voice.
I turned around in a panic. There stood a white-haired girl.
“Are you, by any chance, searching for me?”
The villagers made way for Laura.
She walked in front of me with an apologetic look on her face.
“What happened, Laura? Where did you go?”
“Ah… About that…”
After falling into thought for a short moment with a troubled look—
“Actually, I was worried for you, so I went to see your battle. I was relieved when I saw that you won, and I ended up falling asleep just like that—”
She then sharply bowed her head.
“I’m sorry for not keeping my word.”
“No, it’s alright… you don’t need to worry about it.”
I breathed a sigh of relief.
“I don’t mind as long as you’re safe.”
“…You won, huh. Against the Hydra.”
“See, I told you, didn’t I? That you could win.”
Then, she gave me a gentle smile.
“Good work, Albert!”
Those words had a very comfortable ring to it.
With just those words alone, it felt like the fatigue in my body was blown away.
I must’ve persevered until the very end because I wanted to hear those words—to hear them from Laura. I’m sure of it.
I finally felt like this entire fiasco came to an end.
“Thank you, Laura.”
The next day, Laura and I left the village and headed toward the Luminous capital by flying with my Magic Arrow.
It was almost dusk. Nighttime wasn’t a good time to fly with Magic Arrow, so we needed to descend before long.
“Summer break is almost over, huh.”
Laura cheerfully replied.
“What did you think of this summer break, Albert?”
“There were way too many things going on…”
A lot has really happened.
I reconciled with Father and became the successor to the Luminous household, traveled to all sorts of places to learn about this territory, then I even fought with a dragon at the end of it all. What a ride.
“This summer break was really lively, but I had fun.”
That was likely due to someone being by my side.
That was likely due to the person by my side being Laura.
“What about you, Laura?”
“It was just… amazing! That’s all I can say!”
Then, she continued.
“But I had fun, too!”
“I see. That’s good then.”
I was glad Laura said that.
Just then, Laura raised her voice.
“It’s amazing, Albert! It’s beautiful over there!”
We had just passed through a part of the land that was surrounded by mountains. In an instant, a wide prairie that extended as far as the eye could see jumped into view.
I could see the scarlet sun of the evening sink beyond the horizon, which cast its red sunlight upon the meadow below.
It was certainly beautiful.
The sunset was a common sight when I flew with Magic Arrow, but today, it looked more beautiful than usual.
The level of humidity and cloudiness and whatnot must’ve been miraculously lined up to create this scenery.
“It really is pretty.”
The scenery spoke for itself.
“Yes. It’s super pretty! I wanted to see this kind of scenery with you! I made some good memories today!”
Laura happily laughed.
“I’m sure I’ll never forget about this summer day! So please remember it too, alright, Albert?”
“Of course. I’ll never forget about this summer day or about you.”
Laura responded with a joyful look on her face.
The story of our summer ended.
Today’s chap. Could only get one today, but I shouldn’t be busy next week. See you guys Monday.