Chapter 21 – Quickly, Quickly


“I-I see it…!”

The previously hungry duo was now energetic after eating meat.

After that, I was the only one desperately searching through several cliffs and rocky areas. But finally, I found a colony of Aryma that I had longed for.

How I longed to see the beautiful, pure white flowers blooming between the steep cliffs…!

It was a good thing I kept my physical strength up! I wouldn’t have made it this far had I been a shut-in for three weeks and turned into a sprout.

I looked up at the flowers with sparkling eyes and commended the usual workout that had become part of my daily routine.

“Alright, I’ll go get them.”

“Are you an idiot? You’ll fall to your death before you could even get to a place like that. I ain’t gonna let you do that with your wounded, soft hands.”

“I’m pretty sure most hands are soft compared to that of a dragon’s.”

Gard changed his perception of me as someone weak as a hamster into something worse—a child he couldn’t take his eyes off from.

He looked at me, worried, to the point where I wondered if he was making fun of me. But he was probably serious. That was what made me even more frustrated.

Gard placed his hand on the cliff and said, “I’ll get it for you,” so I tried my best to hold him off and dissuade him.

“I’ll be a total coward if I just left it all up to you. I wanted to make up with him, so if I just left it to another person… or dragon, then my pride will lament it.”

“Then, let it lament as much as it would like~ In the first place, when you asked me for a favor for the Demon Lord, you were already acting on behalf of him, right? And you found that all by yourself, didn’t you? I’ve just been playing  tag with grasshoppers, after all.”

“With pillbugs, too. …But even so, I still feel that if I’m not willing to put up the effort to get the Aryma, my true intentions won’t be conveyed.”

I intently stared at him, expressing my resolution.

If I didn’t try as hard as I could after making Azel angry, then our misunderstanding yesterday wouldn’t mean much now, would it?

I would tell him of my reasons with a bouquet of Aryma and sincerely apologize.

If I held a bouquet that had been offered to me by a friend, I wouldn’t be able to say with pride that I wanted to return the favor to Azel.

Gard saw how earnest I was and faltered. However, he wagged his tail and abruptly turned his head away.

“Then, I’ll tell him how serious you are. That’s fine, isn’t it?”

“Take this! Hero’s resistance: two-handed finger flick! Ow!”

“You broke your finger?”

“I didn’t…”

I blew on my slightly sore finger. 

Damn it. I got damaged for nothing.

His base defense was amazing as ever.

But I thought I should give Gard a lesson using my hero finger flick resistance technique since he said I was being really stupid.

Though he was probably too overprotective since I was a bit groggy when we first met. But if I wanted to prove my feelings, it should be accompanied by actions from the heart.

Alright!

I fired myself up. Then, I placed one foot on both cliffs and jumped lightly, trying to climb between the narrow cliffs with the force of my legs.

“Auu…”

Gard let out a disheartened voice and extended his arms towards me as I jumped without touching me.

I could tell that he was so worried about me, so I also started to feel down. Even so, I had to keep going.

“If you fall and die, who’s going to pet me?”

“If I fall, then you can catch me. If you do, I won’t die, and I could climb as many times as I wanted.”

“! Yeah, sounds like a plan!”

Though we were disheartened, we easily came to a compromise, and I started to climb up the cliff with a smile.

Heheh. Here we see the bond between the two hungry duo who ventured out together all day.

Besides, I used to climb castle walls and cliffs when I was doing my job as a hero, so honestly, I was pretty used to it.

In order to dispel Gard’s uneasiness, I climbed up the cliff smoothly and put all my strength in my arms to reach my goal.

There were a few rocks that jutted out a bit, so I used them as starting points and advanced while making sure I had good footholds.

Even though it was a tall cliff, there was nothing particularly dangerous as long as you proceed carefully.

I climbed safely and peacefully on the cliff where the Aryma was in full bloom.

Gard had been on the edge below, but he was finally relieved to see me arrive there so easily. Hmm… I hope this could be used as an opportunity to dispel the stigma of young children.

“…It’s beautiful.”

I could see a lot of Aryma up close.

It had its eight pure white petals opened proudly. It was a flower so beautiful that it felt out of place in this wasteland.

It was so short that its stem didn’t stick out below my hand when I held it.

But its stem was firm, probably to prevent them from being blown away by the wind.

With a pitiful sound, a thin, transparent film of floral juice spread out from the cut stem of the flower I plucked.

I see… They store water to survive in the wasteland.

As Maruo had mentioned, it was a flower with strong vitality. Both the flowers and the floral juice had a cool, refreshing scent that cleared my head.

“How’s it going—?”

“I’m fine—!”

Although relieved, Gard felt impatient, and asked me how it was going, so I held up the Aryma I plucked in one hand.

He gave me a thumbs up, and I returned the same. Mission complete. Congratulations. 

So as not to eradicate this cluster, I only plucked out the ones within reach.

I made my way down the cliff while carrying a bouquet as large as I could hold with one hand.

As I landed on the ground, relieved that I had achieved my goal, I realized that the sun was about to set.

I couldn’t believe that it was already this late… I was so focused on finding the flowers that I didn’t bother looking up at the sky.

Once the sun went down, I wouldn’t be able to keep my promise to visit Azel in his office today.

No, he was working with such intensity that he might’ve finished long before the sun went down. He might not be in the office anymore.

A seething sense of restlessness grew in my chest.

I quickly turned to Gard and performed a forty-five degree bow that I had trained myself to do as a salaryman.

“Gard, thank you for cooperating with me today. Thanks to you, I was able to get my hands on this. I really appreciate it… There’s not much I can do, but when you’re in trouble, I swear I’ll be there for you.”

“Huh… Uh, heheh. It’s not like I move just for the sake of my favorites. It’s fine. But, yeah… I’ll take that privilege to ask for your cooperation.”

“Ahh, thank you…!”

Gard smiled when I thanked him.

The redness in his cheeks was probably not just due to the sunset.

After I smiled back at him, I quickly turned apologetic.

From what I could see, Gard wasn’t the least bit exhausted, but he had to keep me company until this hour. I was pretty sure he was tired.

I felt reluctant to ask him for another favor, but I still firmly looked towards him.

I divided half of the bouquet of Aryma in my hand and timidly offered it to Gard as compensation.

“I’d like to request an express delivery of a hero to the demon lord’s castle…”

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