The reward for the hero!
Editing: Adam, Cannongerbil, Xenthur
When the teleportation magic circle conjured by Rain disappeared, the surroundings became silent.
Just the absence of a few made such a huge difference. That was amazing.
“Your Highness Iris… Please don’t be too sad…”
Claire said to me as I stared at the place where the magic circle was.
“I understand that Your Highness had a happy and wonderful time when that guy came here. But… That guy lives in a different world from nobles, after all. If you invest too much emotionally in a man, you’ll feel devastated when the time comes for you to marry. If you wish to scold me, please feel free to do so. But Princess, you have to understand…”
Claire then lowered her head deeply. I couldn’t see her eyes.
Next to her, Rain also lowered her head.
“I’m fine, please raise your heads.”
The two of them lifted their heads slowly when they heard that.
Just from the pained expressions on their faces, I understood how worried they were for me, and their resolve when they made their decision.
I didn’t hate them at all.
There was no reason to.
Lifting my hand into the air, I stared at my left fingers.
Only a part of the skin on my left ring finger was paler than the others.
Because I’ve worn this ring on my finger for a long time, and because I stayed under the sun for so long.
“…! M-My deep apologies! Because of my incompetence, your precious ring’s…!”
“I’m ready to take any punishment to make up for this mistake…!”
Seeing me looking at the mark where my ring used to be, the two of them were overcome with guilt.
However, I wasn’t feeling sad about my ring being stolen…
“The two of you have done your best. The thief managed to escape despite the congregation of powerful adventurers here, so no one could’ve stopped the ring from being stolen. When my father returns, I’ll ask him not to punish you two. So don’t treat this matter too seriously, all right?”
When she heard that, Claire shrank her body further.
Claire was really competent, but too serious sometimes.
I think she should spend some time with him and learn how to be more flexible.
That’s right, just like Lalatina.
“Thank you for your clemency, princess… Not only did you lose your important ring, but you also have to be apart from that person… Your Highness Iris, if that guy manages to vanquish one of the Demon King’s Generals again, you can meet with him once more…”
Claire consoled me with a complicated expression.
– Vanquishing one of the Demon King’s Generals.
This was a demanding task, but to him, it was just a walk in the park.
“You’re right; I think that I’ll meet him again soon.”
After replying with a smile, Claire’s expression twisted in pain.
At this moment, Rain said in a very cheerful voice to encourage me:
“By the way, after seeing how Princess Iris was acting, I thought you would’ve said something willful when you parted with Kazuma-sama, and had steeled myself for that… But you handled it smoothly. I was worried about Kazuma-sama’s negative influence, but thankfully, you didn’t behave that way.”
The atmosphere lightened in an instant.
“After all, I already made a promise with onii-sama.”
I said to the two of them with a smile.
“Promise…? Ah, you mean the part about settling the match next time? Your Highness, you must defeat that man, all right?”
Claire remembered another promise, but…
– Since ancient times, this kingdom had a custom.
The hero who defeated the Demon King and returned victoriously will earn the right to take the Princess as his wife–
… I looked at the mark where my ring was once again and said in a volume they couldn’t hear.
“I hope… Onii-sama keeps that ring carefully.”
The dream reposed in the ring!
With Rain’s teleport, we returned to Axel, our home.
I pounced onto the couch and screamed as I rolled around.
Darkness took a glance at me, then sat on the chair beside the couch and started sipping tea.
“Hey, you’re noisy. You’ll disturb the neighbors, go to the suburbs if you want to shout.”
“Stop joking with me, bitch! You’re always getting in my way during the crucial moments! If you didn’t bring up something stupid like the ‘Demon King’, Iris would’ve requested for something else! Like wanting to be together with onii-sama, wanting to date onii-sama, wanting to sleep with onii-sama or something!”
“You just said something incredible! Don’t forget that Princess Iris is just twelve!! And she wouldn’t make those requests! At the very most, she would ask you to be the official court jester. Also, you only lived together with Her Highness for just a week! Why are you so confident that you’ve won her heart in such a short time? Face reality… Here, I made some tea for you, drink it and calm down.”
“Don’t pull me away from my fantasy life with the princess so suddenly! I don’t want to hear your logic! We just bid farewell, give me some buffer time to get over it!”
Megumin glanced sideways at our bickering and sat down on my other side.
“You too, Megumin? I know you’ve got a short temper, but that last quarrel wasn’t necessary, right?”
“That was just an unavoidable battle between fellow little sister type characters, and I don’t want to lose either. Actually, things were going fine when I went out on a trip with the princess. However, we didn’t finish the task we set out to do because she picked a fight with ruffians. That’s a farewell gift that fits my style, right?”
I wanted to retort with: ‘You’re the loli type, not the little sister type’, and ‘Don’t teach the princess weird things’. Still, she had grown really close to Iris before I realized it.
They were almost the same age, so they should be something like friends.
It was probably painful for her to bid farewell to her friend.
I took the tea Darkness offered me as I thought. Right then, Megumin took out a piece of paper and started writing quickly.
I took a look and it seemed to be a letter for someone.
It must be for Iris.
As I drank my tea, I smiled wryly at her actions that weren’t honest at all.
Aqua couldn’t wait a moment longer as she took some wine glasses from the kitchen, placed the bottle and glasses on the table, and sat down on the couch.
“Megumin, what are you writing? … I know, it must be a letter to the princess, huh? After the party ended last night, you even went to her room and chatted with her a while. She even addressed you as Megumin-nee; I think you two are really close.”
In response, Megumin continued writing with a serious face.
“Wrong, this is a fan letter, so I can give it to that masked chivalrous thief if I ever meet him in the future.”
Darkness and I sprayed the tea in our mouths out.
“Hack…! Cough…! M-Megumin, just what do you like about that masked thief? A fan mail isn’t appropriate, right? That guy’s a criminal.”
Seemed like Darkness wasn’t planning to tell her the true identity of that chivalrous thief.
“I really like him though. After all, not many people have such good taste in this day and age. Even in the eyes of the Crimson Demons, that strange attire was out of this world. And they were invincible in their rampage through the castle, even though there were just the two of them. I even thought of standing on their side. This isn’t a love for the opposite sex, but the feeling of wanting to cheer for a hero I looked up to.”
… Oh no, now I don’t dare to say that chivalrous thief was me.
With a crisp ‘pop’, the living room was filled with a mild fragrance.
Aqua seemed to have opened the bottle.
“Hey, that smells nice, give me some too.”
“… You mean: ‘Aqua-sama, please spare a little wine for this humble one’– Right?”
… I decided, I’ll take it from her.
As I stood up to take the bottle from her, Aqua cocked it in a panic and hugged it tightly, balling herself up like a hedgehog.
“Hey, stop your futile resistance! Just give in!”
“No! Please! Spare me! Please, I’ll do anything!”
From the viewpoint of the bystanders, Aqua was acting as if I was going to do something cruel to her.
I violently shook the shoulders of the balled up Aqua. At this moment, Darkness rubbed the insides of her thighs together as she tapped my shoulder with a flushed face.
“… I’m willing to play, let me enjoy that kind of play…”
“Play your ass! You were so cool in the castle and now you’ve become like this? … Damn, hey Aqua!”
I offered a compromise to the stubborn Aqua.
“I’ll go find the delicious wine from Michael-san that’s even praised by the capital. Then we’ll make a bet with our wines. You did well for this incident too, so I’ll give you a handicap on how we’ll bet.”
When Aqua heard that, she lifted her head in a hurry and stared at my face.
“… Really? Kazuma’s so eager to have a bet with me on who to buy the wine? There must be something up your sleeve.”
It seemed that she could still learn from her mistakes.
But at this rate, I’ll still win. I came prepared.
“Look, no matter what you say, we still resolved a crisis in the capital, right? And we made it back home safely, which is cause for celebration. After all, one bottle isn’t enough for the three of us.”
“Wait a minute, you said bottle for three, so you are planning to let me drink juice alone? And what do you mean by return safely, didn’t Kazuma die to kobolds?”
“S-Shut up, you! In the end I’m still alive, and that’s good enough! And it’s still too early for Megumin to drink! I’ll buy some nice ice cold Neroid, so just make do with that.”
When Megumin’s age was mentioned, she smacked at her half-written letter.
“I’m old enough to marry! What’s wrong with drinking a little wine? Want to have a match to see who can drink more?”
As expected of a different world. Yeah, Megumin was old enough to wed.
“Hey, hey, Megumin, it’s better not to drink… But a celebration… Indeed, we stopped the conspiracy of some schemer out there. All right, I’ll cook up some snacks. It’s not a bad idea to host a victory party to celebrate our safe return.”
Darkness got up after saying that and went to the kitchen.
Aqua started fidgeting when she heard the term ‘party’.
“… Hey, Kazuma hasn’t been back for more than a week, so forget about betting. I’ll bring some of my wine out and share it with everyone.”
Aqua placed the bottle on the table again after saying that.
‘You got away this time’– I thought about saying that, but endured it. It was a rare occasion for everyone to be in the mood for a drink.
It was just a short time, but many things happened. I met a cute younger sister and had to bid her farewell. Today, I’ll…
“Well then, I’ll buy the wine. If I let Kazuma go, I think I’ll end up drinking Neroid.”
Megumin said, and then rushed out of the room.
Shortly later, the fragrance of dishes came out from the kitchen.
“The snacks are ready; we just need some tricks to hype up the mood…”
After returning to our normal life, the days I spent in the castle seemed to feel like a dream.
Did I really live for some time together with the princess…?
And she called me onii-sama, and even looked up to me…
To prove to myself that that wasn’t a dream, I took out the ring and stared at it with deep emotions–
At this moment, Aqua, who was looking for things to perform her tricks with, noticed the ring.
“Ah, hey Kazuma, may I borrow that ring for a moment? I’ll show you an amazing trick.”
Seeing Aqua reaching for the ring, I put it away in a hurry–!