Izumi had a headache.
Left in the changing room, the alarm clock with the broken bell indicated that the time was 1 in the afternoon.
Izumi sluggishly removed her clothes, before opening the door to the bathroom.
After inhaling the white steam, like a receding wave, for a moment the pain seemed to recede, but then it immediately returned.
Izumi was in the middle of a hangover.
She had overcome the peak when it felt like her head was going to split, but the dull pain still remained. It was like a massive temple bell was being struck inside her head.
She twisted the tap and turned on a hot shower.
Usually the hot droplets would feel gentle, but today they felt like a shower of pebbles.
Frowning and reaching out to her facial cleanser, Izumi spotted something that shone silver, and withdrew her hand in a panic.
That was dangerous.
A mist seemed to clear from her hazy head. Now that her head was thinking properly, the headache became sharper too, but quite a lot of the fault might have been because of that silver object.
Izumi looked at the silver thing――――the sword with the sharp blade, stuck in the bucket, and let out a huge sigh.
It was last night that they had appeared outside the bathroom; the woman on the verge of suicide, and the stern man who you could tell was thick-headed at a glance.
Without catching up to what was going on, she had just saved the two, and through some strange turn of events, they had ended up having a drinking party in the bathroom.
The man whose head seemed as thick as reinforced concrete, Sentoor, had broken into sobs after just one cup, and the woman who had already emptied three of them, Yunoha, had begun lecturing Sentoor.
Apparently, “It’s all well and fine to be loyal, but there are limits to everything in the world.” “Why do you think that I’m still single at this age?” “I’ve been waiting forever for a certain someone.” “Yes, it’s the person right in front of me, you know.” “But when it comes to you, all you talk about is swords and my brother.”
Before anyone knew it, the lecture had turned into a confession, and Izumi watched this scene that unfolded thanks to the alcohol.
With Sentoor being told this much, and still having no signs of realising Yunoha’s feelings, even Izumi was beginning to feel irritated, when a cheer came from beyond the window.
“Setsugen-sama has returned!”
The moment that they heard that voice, Sentoor who had been on the verge of falling asleep immediately sprung up, and cried “Setsugen-sama~!” as he left through the window.
After cleaning up the cups, empty sake bottle, and the towels and cushions that had been sprawled across the floor, Yunoha bowed with her fingers on the floor. The whole time, she had been silent. That silent rage had given Izumi a cold sweat.
“Mystic-sama, the favour that you have shown us on this occasion, I will remember my whole life. We have been in your care.”
After giving a bow so deep that her forehead almost touched the floor, she waved the sleeves of her long clothes, and leapt through the window frame with surprising agility, leaving just like Sentoor had.
At first, Izumi had thought that Yunoha wanted to quickly check that her younger brother Setsugen was all right, but she immediately got the feeling that Yunoha had gone off to give the dullard Sentoor a good kick in the back.
Closing the window while listening to the distant cheers, Izumi only then noticed the thing that they had left behind.
It was the sword that was currently stuck through the bucket on the floor.
“What do I do.”
If she brought the sword through the door, it would probably disappear.
But the hole in the bucket wouldn’t.
The sword was sharp enough that it had stabbed through the bucket in one thrust. Would it really be alright for such a sword to vanish because she felt it was a nuisance?
Izumi looked at the window.
Would it link to Sentoor again? Or would it linked to somebody who needed the sword?
Crossing her arms in thought, outside the window became dyed in red like the setting sun.
A red light swayed before the wide-eyed Izumi. She had seen something like this before.
It was the red of a dancing blaze.
Forgetting the pain in her head, Izumi opened the window.
There was a set of western armour, dirtied with soot and ash.
“…Ahhh, so that’s what happened.”
Feeling tired, she placed a hand to the window frame.
The place with the western armour was a dim place covered in earthen walls. Apparently this was the inside of a cave.
“I do not know what it is you are assenting to on your own, but would you not happen to have a weapon of some sort, O Angel?”
Izumi raised her face and looked at the armour.
“As you can see, my spear is being used as a fence, and won’t be of any use.”
Izumi bent forward through the window, and looked in the direction that the armour had indicated.
Not even a few steps away from the armour was a crack in the cave through which bright line was shining in from. And as though blocking off this entrance, a spear was stabbed into the ground. No, it wasn’t just a spear; even arrows and a bow had been used to form a barrier. Beyond the barricade in the light, was some kind of creature that dragged its heavy-looking body along the ground as it slowly walked. Seeing this caused Izumi to widen her eyes.
“What the heck is that…?”
“A trangorn; a type of dragon.”
Izumi stared straight at the grey creature that crawled along the ground. After getting the feeling that she had seen something similar before, Izumi realised that it was just like a Komodo monitor.
“More than a dragon, it’s more like a monitor lizard, isn’t it.”
“Can a lizard breathe fire?”
Izumi was shocked. So the flames she had seen through the glass were blown by that lizard?
“Wow, that thing can breathe fire? …Seems like you’d get forest fires all the time.”
There was nothing in the cave but mud, but she could see trees growing thickly behind the trangorn.
“Only the males breathe fire, and they can only do it once in their lifetime when their life is being threatened. Forest fires will not happen so casually.”
So that’s how it was.
The trangorn that was prowling slowly around the cave entrance suddenly turned its back to them. Izumi was wondering what it planned to do, but the answer immediately came.
The trangorn whipped its long tail against the weapons that served as a barricade.
It made a worrying sound.
“It seems that it will not hold for long.”
The armour was probably right.
With just the one strike, the bow had cracked, and a number of arrows had broken.
“At this point, anything will do. If you have anything that seems like I could use to oppose the trangorn, could you not lend it to me?”
Hearing the armour’s tense words, Izumi looked about the bathroom in a panic.
What came into her sight was Sentoor’s sword. It was stuck through a bucket, but it could probably be used.
“If you’re fine with the Keropii Sword, then…”
Seeing the sword that was being timidly offered, “What a creative design.” commented the armour.
When the armoured hand reached for the sword, the armour clicked his tongue.
“The spear has broken.”
The armour that had been sitting on the ground stood up, and holding the sword in a grip, he charged out.
A high-pitched sound resounded. The armour had used the Keropii Sword to deflect the sharp claws of the trangorn.
The armour flashed the sword in his hand, and raised it overhead, before bringing it down upon the trangorn’s neck with fluid movements.
A nimble sound, like a fork entering a cake.
The trangorn had thrown its head back due to the slash it had received on its back, and the sword thrust into its neck. After throwing up blood just once, the monitor-like dragon stopped moving.
When the armour gave the withdrawn sword a swing, it made the sound of cutting through wind.
Just a single swing had cleaned the blade of its blood, and the Keropii Sword returned to its original gleam.
With the sword in hand, the armour returned.
“What terrifying sharpness. Because of that, I narrowly escaped death.”
The armour sat heavily onto the cave floor.
“Angel. I apologise, but may I borrow this sword for a while longer?”
“If you’re fine with it, I’ll give it to you.”
Although the blood had been flung off, Izumi still didn’t want to touch the sword.
The armour raised his face. The blue eyes widened in joy.
“To be bestowed a sword by an angel. What fortune.”
Seeing the armour tremble in joy, Izumi knit her eyebrows before speaking.
“Umm, if you still need the sword, does it mean there are more trangorns?”
The armour crossed his arms.
“Indeed. There is one more. They hold territory in pairs after all. The female will probably come due to the scent of the male’s blood.”
Izumi ran her eyes over the soot-covered armour.
“But only the male breathes fire, right?”
As if she could stand fire outside her window again.
The armour nodded.
“But the truly troublesome one is the female.”
“The cries of the female entice humans into sleep. In accordance to the books say, I brought an orchestra so that we won’t heart the cries.”
Izumi looked here and there.
“There’s no one here you know?”
The armour let out a deep sigh.
“On the way here, there was a suspension bridge you see.”
Izumi brought her palm to her forehead. Without hearing anything else, she knew why the orchestra wasn’t here.
“The bridge couldn’t withstand the weight of the instruments, and fell.”
Just as she thought. A silence filled the dark cave.
“…So what are you going to do now? Wouldn’t it be better to escape before the female comes?”
The armour shook his head at Izumi’s suggestion.
“I was ordered by the King to bring back the heart of a female trangorn. Even if I lose my life, I cannot run.”
She thought that everything else only mattered because you were alive, but that was her opinion as somebody who lived in Japan.
The armour probably had his own armour-ey circumstances.
“Hey, wait there a moment.”
Izumi stood up.
She quickly dried her body and left the bathroom, before looking through the bag that she had left in the living room.
With goal in hand, she wrapped a bath towel around herself before returning to the bathroom.
She presented the thing in hand to the armour that had been gazing at the Keropii Sword.
“A portable music player. Put this and this into your ears.”
Although he made a puzzled expression, he obediently removed his helmet.
Silky golden hair spilled out.
He looked different to both the people of Yohk’Zai and Triht.
The white-skinned Armour with his unshaven face did as he was told, and put the earphones into his ears before looking at Izumi.
“Earplugs? But I can still hear with these.”
“No. I’ll be putting the volume up to max, so although it’ll be noisy, bear with it, okay?”
After Izumi messed with the device in her hands, Armour literally jumped up.
“What is this!?”
Seeing the earphones fall out of Armour’s ears from his shock, Izumi sighed ‘my, my’.
“Didn’t I tell you to bear with it?”
“No, but, what is this!?”
Seeing Armour stare at the music player in apparent fear, Izumi wondered about how to reply.
To begin with, Izumi didn’t know the details about how it worked either.
“It’s a tool of Heaven. The singing voices of God and angels are packed into it.”
Izumi decided to make use of Armour’s misunderstanding that she was an angel.
“If you listen to it for a long time, your ears will go bad, but it’s better than being put to sleep by the trangorn, right? This part is the main body, so keep it tucked in by your chest.”
After looking repeatedly back and forth between Izumi and the player, Armour timidly took the earphones into his hands.
“With this, I will certainly not hear the cries of the trangorn.”
Looking at the earphones with a frown, Armour seemed to close his eyes in determination, before putting them into his ears.
“Angel. I shall return shortly.”
Izumi waved her hand at Armour who had run out of the cave.
Just how long did his ‘shortly’ mean?
Izumi waited pointlessly in the bath for almost an hour.
The headache that she had forgotten while speaking to Armour had returned.
She wanted to leave the bath and rest already. But she wanted to get the music player back. Recently she had been buying replacements for too many things.
Picking up a book that she had been in the middle of reading from the changing room, she returned to the bath. After thirty minutes of looking at the book without reading absorbing anything, she heard the sound of scraping armour from beyond the window.
“I am late.”
With the colour of blood mixed into the soot and mud, in the recently returned Armour’s hand was the Keropii Sword, and a bright red sack.
Seeing a liquid drip from the sack, “Hiii!” cried Izumi pathetically.
“W-, What is that!?”
She screamed, and then held her head. Her own loud voice had aggravated the pain in her head.
“Angel!? Are you all right? Are you unwell somewhere?”
Armour peered in on Izumi’s face as he knelt before the window.
“I’m just a little hung over.”
Hahahahaha! rang a cheerful laugh.
“So angels get hung over as well.”
Perhaps released from the burden due to completing his mission, Armour was in good spirits.
“Angel. Please bring that here.”
Armour pointed to the cup that came with a tooth brushing set.
What does he need it for? Handing the cup over while tilting her head, of all things, Armour held the cup under the dripping sack.
Each time the liquid dripped, the inside of the cup was dyed with red.
As Izumi’s cheek cramped, Armour held the cup out in front of her nose.
“Blood from the heart of the female. It is said to cure all ails.”
Said to be…? An oral tradition?
“No, I’ll be fine after I sleep. I don’t really need to drink it.”
When Izumi pushed the cup back, Armour began to insist ever more strongly.
“I suppose you doubt its efficacy. I was the same. I gave it a try on the way back. The burns from before healed, you know.”
Armour held out his chest proudly, before bringing his eyebrows together and smiling.
“Because of you, Angel, I was able to defeat the trangorn. No matter how small it may be, I wish to return the favour.”
Seeing his sad smile and having all that said to her, Izumi couldn’t refuse.
She took the cup and brought it near her face. With just a sniff, she felt like she was going to puke, but she held her breath and drank.
Just one sip.
That was her limit.
With watery eyes, she left the cup on the rim of the bathtub, and rinsed her mouth out with the shower.
After gargling countless times, Izumi noticed; the pain in her head had disappeared. Not just that, her body felt strangely light.
When she turned back to the window, Armour broke into a grin.
“Of course. …Speaking of which, Angel, could you spare me just a little water? I want to return your “Portable Music Player” but my hands are dirty.”
Izumi splashed the hot water in the bucket over Armour’s arms. After doing it a second, and then a third time, the blood finally came off, and Armour reached into his breast and brought out the player.
“You have truly helped me. With this, I am a hero.”
Armour muttered this sadly, after dropping the white device into Izumi’s palm.
It was a voice much too unsuited to a person who had carried out his mission, and had a bright future as a hero awaiting him.
“Aren’t you happy?”
“I am happy. …Only, if the wife that I left in my hometown congratulated me as well, just how much happier would I be, I wonder.”
What a strange man. Izumi frowned.
“Can’t you just get congratulated after you return there?”
“I can no longer return.”
“When I return with the lifeblood of the trangorn, I am to become the chief of the capital’s knights.”
Izumi looked at Armour coldly.
“In other words, you chose status over your wife? It’s your life, so I’m not going to reproach you or anything, but isn’t it too shameless for you to lament then?”
At this point, Izumi tilted her head in wonder.
“Or rather, can’t you just call your wife to the capital?”
A beloved wife, and an honourable position. Wouldn’t he have everything?
Armour dropped his shoulders and sighed. His large body seemed shockingly little.
“It won’t work. My wife became fed up with me, and I was driven from home.”
Izumi thought that he had become fixated on honour and abandoned his wife, but apparently that wasn’t the case.
“I was originally the leader of a poor knight brigade in my hometown in the countryside. I may be saying this myself, but I was known as the most skilled person in the frontiers, and my knights idolised me. I took a girl that was my childhood friend as my wife, and we lived a meagre but happy life. At that point, a message came from the capital. I was told to become the captain of a trangorn subjugation squad.”
“Mn mn.” hummed Izumi to prompt his next words, as she quietly lent him and ear.
“I refused. My wife does not have a strong body. I did not want to leave her behind and go on a dangerous trangorn subjugation mission. Although my heart was shaken by the position of Knight Captain in the capital, it was nothing compared to the modest life with my wife. The messengers pretend to give up, and held me a feast. They said things about celebrating my normal work, and skilful excuses like that, you see. And I completely bought into it.”
Armour covered his face with armoured hand, before hanging his head.
“Before I knew it, I was sleeping in a brothel. …Completely nude.”
“My wife wouldn’t forgive me. I was driven out with only the clothes on my back, and arrived where I am right now.”
“We hadn’t even been married for three months. Even though we were newlyweds…” muttered Armour dejectedly. He didn’t look anything like a warrior skilled enough to lead a knight brigade, but that was probably how much he loved his wife. It sounded like an idiot story from an outsider’s point of view, but it was probably nothing but a tragedy for the person himself.
“I found out later, but apparently I was a distant relative of the King. Because of that, they were fixated on me. Apparently it would be convenient for them if a relative of the King returned with a trangorn heart as a hero.”
Armour’s gloomy sigh resounded through the cave.
Izumi hesitantly opened her mouth.
“If I, just an ‘if’, okay? But, if I happen to meet your wife, I’ll try speaking to her. It was the King’s messenger, so you couldn’t help it, right? And as for the brothel, that couldn’t be helped, or rather, you fell into a trap. Well, I don’t know who this window will link to, so don’t hope for too much though.”
Armour feebly raised his head.
“No, I was in the wrong for lowering my guard… Thank you, O Angel.”
Standing up with the sword, and the sack that apparently had a heart in it, Armour forced a smile.
“I feel better now that I’ve told my story. From now on, I shall climb the ranks as far as I can climb.”
“I have been in your care.” said Armour, before turning and leaving, but his retreating back seemed brimmed with grief.