It was a summer day when I was 10 years old.
“El, are you going somewhere today?”
“I’m planning to go to the church with Marl for a food distribution.”
“If you’re going, I want to go too.”
“We should check with Roland first…”
“I’m coming too.”
“I’ll ask Roland about it.”
I went to find Roland and approached the living room.
“Roland, I want to go to the church with El.”
“I’m planning to go too.”
“Both of us will be going.”
“Al, Ashera-sama, the two of you, right? Let me check if we have enough guards, please wait a moment.”
I and Ashera got a cup of tea while waiting for Roland.
“Mmm… it’s delicious.”
“It smells like an old man’s tea.”
“Isn’t it good?”
“It’s good isn’t it?”
My words were met with an indifferent response.
“Well, never mind. It’s been a while since I’ve been to the church.”
“Yeah, I wonder if everyone there is doing well.”
“If they’re not well, I can’t imagine.”
“I’m actually quite calm.”
“You’re the one who’s the most unsettled.”
Ashera and I continued our usual conversation until Roland returned.
“Arrangements have been made, so everything is fine.”
“Thank you, Roland.”
Roland nodded in acknowledgment.
As we were about to move to the church, I noticed that Garl and an unfamiliar man were standing in the foyer.
“Al-boy, let me introduce him. He’s Tamei, one of the guards.”
“The name is Tamei, pleased to meet you.”
“My name is Aldo. I don’t like overly formal language, so just be yourself.”
“Alright, it’s not easy for me to use polite language.”
“Elphus, here. Nice to meet you.”
“I’m Ashera, nice to meet you.”
“Tamei. Pleased to meet you.”
After the introductions, the carriage arrived, but I wanted to explore the town on foot.
“El, Ashera, I’m going to walk and see the town.”
“Alright, Nii-sama. I’ll take the carriage first.”
“I’ll walk with Aldo.”
El and Garl got into the carriage, eager to meet Marl. As Ashera and I were about to leave the estate, we noticed Clara watching us.
“Clara, we’re going now.”
Clara just stared at us, seemingly wanting to say something.
“What’s wrong, Clara?”
“Can I come too?”
I looked at Clara’s mother, who had a troubled expression.
“Al, Ashera, can you take care of Clara?”
“Of course, no problem.”
“We’ve got it.”
“Clara, listen to Al and Ashera, okay?”
So, Clara joined us on our trip to the church.
(Seems like a little sister outing, looking forward to it a bit.)
“Alright, Ashera, Clara, let’s go.”
“Yes, Al Nii-sama.”
With Clara in the middle, holding our hands, we started walking, and Tamei followed behind, keeping an eye on our surroundings.
We chose a slightly longer route to the church, passing by a street filled with street vendors.
“Al Nii-sama, what’s that over there?”
“That’s a stall selling Apo Fruit juice.”
Clara was staring at the juice intently.
“Clara, do you want some juice?”
“Ashera Nee-sama, I’m just curious about what it is…”
“Let’s go buy some.”
“Is that okay?”
“Leave it to me.”
We approached the stall selling Apo Fruit juice.
“Three juices, and could you lend us some cups?”
“Sure thing, just use those cups over there.”
Ashera handed over the money and took a cup from the stack. She pulled a lever on a barrel, and the juice poured out smoothly into the cup.
She used magic to chill the juice and then handed it to us. It was still morning, but the temperature was rising. Honestly, a cold drink was much appreciated.
“Thank you, Ashera Nee-sama!”
Ashera nodded with a smile.
While sipping the cold juice, the stall owner struck up a conversation.
“Young lady, are you a mage?”
“Yes, I’m an apprentice to the Ice Witch.”
“An apprentice to the Ice Witch, that’s amazing!”
She responded with a V-sign to the man’s admiration.
“Young lady, can you cool down this barrel?”
“If you can chill it, I’ll pay you back the money from earlier.”
“I’ll cool it down right away.”
Ashera touched the barrel and activated her magic.
“It’s cold now.”
“Wow, thanks. Here’s the money from earlier.”
Ashera accepted the money, and we moved to a corner to enjoy our cold juice without bothering the vendor.
“We made a profit.”
“You’re amazing, Ashera Nee-sama.”
Ashera spoke with a radiant smile. Despite the scorching heat, the juice from the vendor’s stall was selling like hotcakes.
We continued our journey toward the church, making sure to take breaks and rest if Clara got tired.
“Clara, if you get tired, be sure to let us know.”
“Yes, Al Nii-sama.”
“Clara, don’t push yourself.”
We explored the street vendors and admired the cityscape along the way to our destination, the church.
In front of the church, everyone seemed busy preparing for the charity event.
“Uwa, there are so many people here.”
“Yeah, be sure to stay close to me or Ashera so you don’t get lost.”
We joined the bustling crowd and looked around for familiar faces.
“Oh, there’s Yamato!”
I spotted Yamato and called out to him.
“Hmm? Aldo, long time no see.”
“Yeah, it’s been a while! Ashera is here too, and this is my little sister, Clara.”
“Oh, Ashera… long time no see. Nice to meet you, Clara.”
“Nice to meet you, I’m Clara.”
Yamato’s behavior seemed a bit strange, especially when he talked to Ashera.
“Yamato, do you need any help with something?”
“How about looking after the kids for me?”
“Leave it to me.”
We entered the church together.
Inside the church, children were running around.
“All right, you brats! I’ll play with you.”
“It’s Aldo! Make a light ball, Aldo!”
“Carry me, Aldo!”
“Wait, kids, wait. Ashera is here too, and my little sister, Clara. Be nice to them.”
“I’ll play with you.”
“My name is Clara. Nice to meet you.”
“Okay, Ashera will do pretend play. I’ll play hide and seek. Kids, choose which game you want to play.”
The children moved according to my instructions.
Clara joined Ashera’s group to play pretend.
While in the middle of a game of hide and seek, I peeked at Clara, and she was laughing and playing with a child her age.
I made sure not to interrupt and quietly returned to my hide-and-seek game.
In the evening…
“All right, El, Ashera, Clara, let’s go back!”
The carriage was meant for four people, so even with our guards, there were two extra spaces.
“Can we go back without the guards in the carriage?”
“No, you can’t. Just because we’re in a carriage doesn’t mean we won’t be attacked.”
Garl disapproved of the idea.
“Okay, Garl, sorry, but I’ll walk with you.”
“Understood. Tamei, we’re leaving the carriage’s protection to you.”
Once the carriage departed, Garl and I began walking at a leisurely pace.
As on our way there in the morning, I couldn’t help but notice some unfriendly glances from the locals.
“Garl, Blue Ring is not exactly a safe place…”
“It’s not as bad as you think. This city actually has pretty good security.”
“Is that so…”
“What’s wrong? Is something bothering you?”
“It’s not just today; I felt those unfriendly stares during the previous kidnapping incident as well.”
“Oh, that’s only natural.”
“Why is that?”
“It’s because of your appearance. Dressing like an obvious noble’s child makes you an easy target for people like that.”
“I see… but why?”
“That’s just how it is. Maintaining the dignity of a noble is important. It wouldn’t be right for the direct heir like you to dress like some common kid when you go out.”
“But it’s hard to know that from the outside.”
As we talked, we continued walking back to the estate.
During dinner, we shared our stories from the church visit. Clara had made a new friend, and her excitement was contagious.
“Please take me out again, Al Nii-sama!”
“Leave it to me. But El frequents the church more.”
“El Nii-sama, please take me too.”
“Of course, but it’s just because I have no choice…”
Laughter filled the room.
And so, Clara’s first outing came to a successful end.