(Make it in time…!)
That was her only wish as she threw the seed directly below them.
Cordelia and Mick were diving onto a thick grass cushion. The unripe smell of the leaves reached her nose.
“… I made it on time.”
I had a second and little more to spare. I felt a strong wind resistance, as we were falling, so Ronnie may have used some kind of magic to help us. So, I had about two seconds? She thought as she looked up at the cliff from where they’d fallen. It looked to be the same height as falling from a second floor.
“I’m fine, Ronnie! I’m not hurt.”
I can’t actually check, so I’m probably not.
She added in her mind as she narrowed her eyes. Ronnie had a light, so his surroundings were bright, but she could only see his pitch-black silhouette because he was backlit. However, she could guess his complexion by the tone of his voice.
“I’m angry too! Wait there for me and don’t move. I’ll go down when I’m ready!”
He sounded worried instead of angry. Ronnie looked at the cliff and pulled his face back.
(When he’s ready? What does he need to get ready?)
I wonder if we should do something here as well, while we wait… She thought, but her body felt heavy, so she didn’t ask. She laid down on the grass, with bad manners, and thought, is this sluggishness the result of me channelling all my magic?
“Mick-kun, are you hurt anywhere else besides your leg?”
“Ah, no. Are you ok?”
“I’m not hurt.”
It was troublesome to move even a finger, even though she could speak. But she didn’t feel any pain from being injured. It wasn’t impossible for her to move her body, just because it was troublesome, but she was exhausted from feeling relieved and didn’t feel like moving at all.
(… But I can’t let Mick-kun get anxious because of the dark.)
Cordelia thought, as she took out her flashlight magic tool. It was small, so she could light it somehow, even though her magic had almost been exhausted.
“Your hair looks horrible. It’s stuck.”
Mick reported the situation to her when she lit the flashlight. She couldn’t see it herself, but she was somewhat aware that he was right. But it would be nice if I don’t have to cut it short, she thought, but still didn’t move.
Mick sighed and bend down next to Cordelia’s head. Then, she heard the sound of leaves rustling.
“Oh my, are you removing them for me?”
Mick didn’t say anything, but that was probably the answer. She moved her heavy neck a little and looked at him.
“Mick-kun, you said you weren’t injured anywhere else, but you have a wound on your body. Did you get stabbed by a twig? Or were you cut?”
He may have been unharmed had he been dressed, but there is a small injury on his body.
“It won’t go into this wound.”
“Yes, but you have to disinfect it when you get back. And you have to get your left leg examined.”
His silence this time was accompanied by a disgusted expression.
Cordelia resisted the urge to spurt out and turned her head back, so she was facing upwards. She slowly closed her eyes as she looked up at the starry night sky…
“Don’t close your eyes!”
She opened her eyes when she heard Mick’s loud voice.
“I don’t like it. You made me remember something unpleasant because you’re pale.”
Is he talking about the colour of my skin? It may look that way from the light, but Mick also looks pale to me. However, she thought a little on the word 『unpleasant』and was able to come to an educated guess on what that was referring to. So, she didn’t close her eyes.
“… Why did you jump out?”
Mick’s small voice reached Cordelia’s ears between the sounds of the insects and the sound of leaves rustling.
“Why…? It would be weird to watch someone fall. So, I jumped out, and it would have been fine if I could pull you back.”
“There’s no reason for you to save me!”
“Is it not enough that I just wanted to save you?”
Cordelia muttered as she looked up at the sky and she heard him suck his breath in. Cordelia continued.
“You don’t have to worry. I don’t plan on dying. And Mick-kun, you may hate me, but I don’t know you well enough to hate you.”
“I don’t get what you mean.”
“Then, shall we talk until you understand?”
“… You’re definitely an oddball.”
“I don’t think I am, but my friend do tell me I’m weird sometimes.”
“I’m not your friend!”
“Oh my, that’s too bad.”
Cordelia slowly moved her neck as she laughed at Mick’s sudden flustered tone. There weren’t any more sounds of the leaves rustling. But Mick, who was next to Cordelia, sat down and turned away. But he didn’t look like he was going to run off.
“… Are you a magician?”
“It’s not that big of a deal, but I can use a little bit of magic.”
“… I don’t mind listening to stories about magic.”
I can think of many things, but Mick will get angry no matter what I say… No, he might already be mad. However, he probably won’t run away anymore.
“Oh yes, I said a little too much during class. I’m sorry.”
“… You don’t have to apologise.”
“Well, then… Do you need to apologise to Toto-chan?”
Cordelia was relieved to see that Mick didn’t refuse, even though he had been a little rude. She was relieved that Mick knew that and that he had told her that she hadn’t been wrong.
Then, they heard the sound of the ground being disturbed while they were talking. Cordelia slowly turned her head towards the sound and Ronnie was standing there while pressing his temple.
“Jeez, I’m glad you’re having fun, but I wish you would understand how I feel.”
“I’ve caused you trouble, haven’t I? Thanks.”
Ronnie used a nearby vine and made an impromptu rope with it. He had tied the vine to a tree on the cliff. The vine was thick and braided, and she could strongly feel Ronnie’s magic from the vines. He had used his magic to make the vines stronger.
“Uh… Mick, can you climb up the cliff while holding this? You can grab onto my back if your leg is hurt and you can’t climb.”
Ronnie said, as he leaned down. But Mick shook his head and looked at Cordelia.
“I can do that… but she’s…”
“Oh, it’s fine. Don’t worry. Nothing horrible will happen to you if you leave us and go home.”
“Then, I’ll climb.”
Mick grabbed the rope and slowly climbed up the cliff. Cordelia watched in suspense as she wondered whether his leg hurt.
Ronnie muttered when Mick got half-way up the cliff.
“I’m a little angry.”
“I’m sorry, I know. But I didn’t have any time to tell you.”
“I guessed as much… Well, get up for now and climb onto my back. Please bear with the sweat smell.”
Cordelia somehow got up slowly when Ronnie told her that. But she couldn’t get on his back right away. It wasn’t because she was hesitant to ride on someone’s back, but she just didn’t have any energy to do so.
Ronnie seemed to have understood that by the way she was acting and didn’t pamper her.
“Please do your best to get on. It’s impossible for me to carry you in a princess hold.”
Of course, it’s impossible, she thought as she adjusted her breathing and slowly got onto Ronnie’s back. Ronnie held the rope with both hands, so he couldn’t support her. Therefore, she clung to him, and Ronnie’s face turned pale.
“Gah, you’re strangling me! Ojou-sama, put your hands somewhere else!”
Cordelia felt bad for Ronnie, who looked to be in a lot of pain, but she was desperate. She didn’t know how to make it better. Therefore, Ronnie eventually created a gentle breeze with his magic and supported Cordelia while climbing up the cliff.
On the cliff, Mick was tense, as he waited for the two to climb up.
Cordelia looked at Mick’s leg. She could see it better than before, thanks to Ronnie’s light, and it looked painful.
“Ronnie, could you carry Mick-kun?”
“Well, I can. But then, how are you planning to walk Ojo… ah, sorry, Dilly?”
Of course, that reason wasn’t enough for him to agree. Ronnie looked at her in amazement, but she couldn’t back down now that she’d seen Mick’s injury. So, she made up her mind and got down to stand, but her legs were trembling.
“It doesn’t seem like you can walk.”
It was a bluff, but it wasn’t impossible. Ronnie sighed for the millionth time today when he looked at Cordelia.
“… Just for today.”
Ronnie muttered a chant and lifted Cordelia with his right hand and Mick with his left. At the same time, Cordelia felt wind pushing her up. I don’t think Ronnie is that strong. So, he probably used the same wind magic as the one I felt earlier.
“Yeah, yeah. But, I’m taking the day off tomorrow. My muscles seem like they’ll ache.”
Then, he collected Mick’s top, which had been left on the side of the spring, and went back down the road they had come here through. Ronnie questioned Mick when they were close to the tunnel entrance.
“Say, did you come through here, Mick?”
It also sounded as if he was worried about how to pass through the tunnel. He certainly couldn’t bend over while still holding onto us.
But Mick answered quickly.
“I came here through there. I came through the grass over there.”
Mick pointed to what looked like a dead-end to Cordelia. Ronnie parted the grass with his feet, and another wall of grass appeared before them. It happened several times and was actually somewhere you could walk through.
“… I’m surprised you went through here.”
“Am I amazing?”
“Yeah, you’re an evil brat. However, I’m glad that we can pass through here without going through the tunnel. I was wondering what I should do since I can’t carry you both while crawling through the scrubs. At least it would be easier for me if Dilly walked.”
Ronnie’s words were attacking her for jumping off the cliff rather than her current situation.
Cordelia obediently apologised because she knew that she had worried him.
“I know I did something wrong and I’m sorry.”
“Obviously. Well, I knew that you would have been alright, but it’s bad for my heart.”
Mick’s dissatisfied voice interrupted.
“She didn’t really do anything wrong.”
He had spoken fast, but he also sounded grumpy. Ronnie widened his eyes.
“You’ve become friendly enough to cover for her.”
“I… I’m not covering for her!”
“No well… It doesn’t matter to me.”
Ronnie didn’t say anything else because he thought it was better to not question Mick. However, he looked like he was having fun, even though he said it didn’t matter. But Mick didn’t realise that because he was glaring at the ground.
The road that Mick had taken was a rather steep road with a rock that they had to climb up, but the roots of the tree made a stairway. Ronnie said in amazement, every time they came across an obstacle, “I’m surprised you went through here,” and Mick looked proud.
They finally got out of the forest when Ronnie’s breathing got rougher. They arrived at the back of a hut where farm equipment was kept, near the poorhouse. Part of the fence was broken.
“… Did you go into the forest through here?”
“Yeah. I can climb over it if the fence isn’t broken, but it makes you want to go if it’s broken, right?”
“There’s a fence there so that you don’t go through, so you can’t.”
Cordelia retorted the proud Mick and the three visited the chief’s house, which was located in front of the poorhouse, first. The director had said that she was going there before Cordelia and Ronnie went into the forest, so that was probably their base for their search for Mick.
The chief’s house looked long and was built a little larger than the other houses. The chief was extremely surprised by their sudden appearance.
“This… I’m sorry guests. Mick, you apologise too.”
“I already did.”
“Chief, Mick injured his leg. Can you take care of him?”
Cordelia didn’t remember Mick apologising, but Mick, who had turned away, needed treatment first. However, the action which the chief took when he’d heard that was to hit Mick’s head with his fist.
“That’s why I always told you that! You’re too naughty!”
“Guests, I’m sorry, but I’m going to take Mick back to the poorhouse and get him treatment. I also have to tell the villagers that we’ve found him. Could you wait here?”
The chief said as he pulled Mick’s arm and put him on his back. Mick was still holding a hand to his head, but he closed the door when the mayor went outside and looked back at Cordelia and Ronnie.
The word that he had spoken while looking sulky and embarrassed seemed to have vanished, but Cordelia had heard it clearly.
The chief returned shortly after.
“The Witch is treating him. It seems like his bones are fine.”
“Were the children at the poorhouse worried?”
“No, none of them were. They were all saying, 『Mick wouldn’t get lost in the forest, he probably just overslept』. So, Mick also acted as if he had.”
“Well, for the time being, you could say that Mick overslept.”
The chief joked a little, but he immediately returned to his calm manner.
“Thanks, guests. I was surprised to see that Mick warmed up to you two. He was abandoned by his dad after his mum passed away. So he’s timid about uncertain connections because of those circumstances… Did you already know about that?”
Cordelia remembered what the director had said as she listened to the chief.
『He’s keeping his distance because he’s a bit sensitive to separation. He’s afraid of suddenly not being able to see someone again, so he keeps people away.』
If that’s because he had been abandoned, then it’s difficult for me to put my thoughts into words. On the other hand, I also feel like our connection isn’t uncertain.
“Of course, we’re already friends.”
“I see. That’s promising. Anyway, do you like tea, Ojou-san?”
“Then, I’ll go make some. Of course, I’ll make some for you Onii-san too.”
Cordelia watched as the chief laughed and withdrew to the back before slowly approaching the window. Her legs still felt paralysed, but she felt a little better.
She looked at her reflection through the glass. She had a few scratches, but they had already stopped bleeding. Luckily, she could cover them up with her hair, so it wasn’t a problem.
Now, all we have to do is go back to the royal capital… She remembered about the Witch when she thought that.
“Say, Ronnie. Can you go ask Sensei if she wants to come back to the royal capital with us? I think we can send her back.”
“I’ll go ask her.”
Ronnie nodded to Cordelia and was about to go to the poorhouse, but he turned back and looked at her.
“Ojou-sama, you can’t leave here.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t move.”
“It would be nice if you were someone who would make me feel relieved.”
Ronnie said. He probably thought that nothing else would happen to worry him. He reminded her again before walking to where the Witch was at a quick pace.
“Oh? Did your Onii-san go outside?”
“I hope he gets back before it gets cold.”
The chief came back with tea not long after Ronnie had left. The tea that he had prepared was very warm. She stared outside while drinking her tea as she waited for Ronnie to return. Today will end once the carriage comes to pick us up. She relaxed more once she thought that.
Therefore, she couldn’t imagine that she would feel nervous again in the next second.
“Excuse me for visiting you at night.”
Cordelia understood straight away that this voice was directed at her.
However, she also thought, no way. There weren’t many people who had a low voice that she was used to hearing.
“Don’t tell me…?”
There’s no way I misheard it. But it was hard to believe it when he’s here so suddenly.
But she couldn’t think of it as a mistake when she saw him.
She had asked someone from home to pick her up, but she couldn’t have imagined that Elvis, the Earl, would come in person.