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Chapter 5

Wolf Rit and a Moonlit Night

On the morning of the following day, we left the secluded village.

Three of the riding drakes were gone, so Bishop Shien took the one left, Rit and Tisse rode the spirit dire wolf that Rit summoned, and I ran alongside.

I didn’t want people to see me moving this swiftly, so Rit used her Aspect of Wolf to confirm there was no one else nearby.

We reached Zoltan before noon. Rit and I stopped at home to change out of our dirty clothes and then went to see Ruti.

“Welcome back, Big Brother.”

For some reason, Ruti was sitting in the mayor’s seat. The actual mayor, Tornado, was beside her, where the secretary would normally be, quietly going through paperwork.

What’s going on?

“I had to ask Ms. Ruhr for instructions on so many things that it was easier for her to deal with issues first while I followed up and verified things afterward,” Mayor Tornado explained with a smile.

“You didn’t have to change seats, though,” I said.

“This building has been designed to run with the person in the mayor’s chair at its heart. The secretary’s seat and the mayor’s are beside each other, but it makes the most sense that I sit here for now.” Tornado gathered up his paperwork and stood.

“I imagine you’ve got something private to discuss. I can step out.”

“No, I’d like you to be here for it as well,” Ruti stated, stopping the mayor.

“I see. In that case, I’ll join you,” Tornado replied before sitting down again.

He was clearly doing his best to make it easier for Ruti to act, but he wasn’t blindly entrusting everything to her, either. Mayor Tornado was considering what was best while supporting Ruti.

My respect for him grew a little when I realized that. In terms of political ability, Tornado was undoubtedly not as skilled as Prince Salius or Lilinrala, but he was honest with himself about what he could and couldn’t do and always gave careful thought to what was necessary.

If you asked me, the fact that he was mayor was as much a blessing as Ruti’s presence in Zoltan. And Ruti appeared to agree.

Zoltan was a small frontier region without any military or economic might, but there were all sorts of people here.

“Prince Salius is looking for Mistorm…,” Rit divulged.

Ruti nodded quietly. The mayor’s face turned red and then paled in shock. He wiped the sweat that was forming on his brow with his handkerchief.

He certainly gave the impression of being unreliable. Still, he remained where he was and listened to the end.

It was natural for strong people not to run, but the mayor was a small-time, backwater politician. This was a battle far beyond his capabilities, yet he held his ground.

Zoltan was a good place. It was fortunate I’d chosen to settle down here.

“What do you think we should do, Big Brother?” Ruti asked once she’d heard everything.

“About that… If Zoltan is going to protect Mistorm, then I think it would be best to negotiate with Lilinrala,” I responded.

“Mhm. I agree. Lilinrala aims to keep Prince Salius and Mistorm from meeting, which is at odds with the prince’s goal of taking Mistorm back to Veronia,” said Ruti.

I nodded. “If negotiations proceed smoothly, it should be possible to keep both sides from getting hurt.”

“But it will be hard to move quickly. If the secret gets out, Lilinrala will move to get rid of everyone with any connection to it,” my sister remarked.

“Yeah, that’s pretty likely… In that case, why not just wait and watch for a little longer?” I suggested.

“Having lost her subordinates and the stray assassins, she should be getting impatient. It won’t be long before she makes a move herself,” Ruti stated.

“Let her take her best shot if she wants,” Rit declared.

The first lesson of the sword was not to fear being cut—to have the will to take a hit and still win.

“Mistorm’s existence isn’t a weakness for Zoltan; it’s a strength. Both Prince Salius and Lilinrala are bound by her being here. So if we wait, they’ll have to make a move,” I said.

“Mhm, let’s do that.” Ruti bobbed her head in agreement, apparently pleased that I was thinking along the same lines as her.

“So we won’t be handing Master Mistorm over, then… Thank goodness…” Mayor Tornado looked relieved after hearing Ruti’s verdict.

An emergency the following morning had Ruti hurrying to see me.

I quickly changed, and we took off together toward her farm.

“Red,” Tisse called, waving from beside their greenhouse.

It was clear from her eyes that the situation wasn’t a pleasant one. Ruti and I went into the greenhouse.

“What should we do, Big Brother…?”

She grabbed my sleeve anxiously. There was no trace of the girl fortified by the Hero’s immunities. She was just Ruti, a normal young woman fretting over the scene before us.


I looked closely at the tiny buds of gray starfish grass lying limply on the ground. Ruti and Tisse were growing the herb in one corner of the greenhouse. The sprouts were visibly weakened. Typically, gray starfish grass had firm roots, and the seedlings sprang up straight. Yet these ones were wilted.

“Why?” Ruti asked.

“Mold,” I answered, using a trowel to scoop up some of the soil to show her. Careful examination revealed that the dirt a few centimeters below the surface had started to turn a yellow shade. “The soil’s color has changed.”

Ruti and Tisse stared at the soil there on the trowel.

“It’s cold mold. It absorbs heat from its surroundings to grow,” I explained.

“I’ve seen it in caves and ruins, but it was bigger then,” Ruti commented.

“It’s only an issue out adventuring when it’s thriving in large colonies.”

Cold mold was one of the many types of fungi that grew throughout the continent. It was a unique specimen that absorbed the warmth of its surroundings to reproduce. When its radius extended past half a meter, it was called a colony, and when the radius reached ten meters, it was referred to as a territory. At that size, any source of heat—including living creatures—that drew near experienced sudden heat loss. It was enough that, for people who had a low blessing level, thirty seconds of exposure could make them faint.

So long as you moved away quickly to get warm, you’d be fine. However, if you were injured and unable to escape, it could be lethal.

Examining the soil, I said, “It will hardly ever grow into a colony in civilized places, but it can reproduce in small quantities in warm soil like this.”

The cold mold was lowering the temperature of the dirt, causing the gray starfish grass to weaken.

“How did cold mold…,” Ruti muttered.

“It was probably dormant in the soil. Normally, it hibernates during winter, and only a small amount remains. The greenhouse must have revitalized it,” I surmised.

I guess you could say Ruti and Tisse had been unlucky. But it was almost a given that something unforeseen would happen during the process of changing the land over to a new crop. Undoubtedly, a few more problems would also arise during the first year.

“…” Ruti slumped over sadly.

“Since you noticed it so quickly, there might still be time to take some countermeasures,” I encouraged.

“Countermeasures? The plants can be saved?”

“Yeah, though there’s no guarantee.”

Cold mold was dangerous, but from what I observed, it hadn’t spread too much. Unlike molds that directly parasitized plants, if you removed the cold mold and then raised the temperature of the soil again, the crops had a chance at survival.

Because Ruti had recognized the issue this morning and come to me immediately, I believed there was enough time to rescue the herbs.

“We’ve gotta strike quickly. I’ll prepare something to kill off the cold mold,” I said.


Leaving the farm to Tisse, Ruti and I quickly went to buy the ingredients I needed.

After diluting the necessary chemical several times over, we carefully spread it around the plot and then checked the condition below the surface. Things appeared to be going our way. Fortunately, cold mold was not especially resilient. If all went well, it would be gone by the next morning.

“After making sure the mold is dead from the soil tomorrow, you should lay out coarse fabric over the ground to warm it up some,” I advised.

“Got it.” Ruti clenched her fists in front of her chest as she answered. There was a powerful determination in her eyes. She wanted to save those medicinal herb sprouts.

Ironically, she’d never displayed that kind of conviction while she was the Hero.

“You did well to notice it.”


I started to reach my hand out to pat her head.


I stopped myself, though. My hand was dirty from working with the soil. I couldn’t mess up my sister’s clean blue locks.

Ruti pouted when she saw me stop. “Mrgh.” She grabbed my hand with both of hers, pulling it over and placing it on her head.

“You’ll get dirty.”

“I’ll take a bath after, so it’s fine.”

She pressed her head against my palm, as if to confirm the feel of it. I couldn’t help smiling at that.

“Fine, I get it. You did great, Ruti. That’s my little sister for you,” I praised her while petting her head gently, hoping not to get her too messy.

“Mhm, I’m your little sister.”

The corners of Ruti’s mouth curved slightly as she smiled happily.

I was hit by the urge to wrap her in a big hug when I saw her cute little gesture. However, I managed to contain myself.

When I departed the greenhouse, I saw Tisse sitting down to feed Mister Crawly Wawly an insect after she had finished taking care of the other herbs she and Ruti were raising.

“Thanks for your help… Is everything all right?”

“Yeah. Good thing you two caught the problem so quickly. Some of the sprouts are probably going to go bad, but the majority will recover.”

“That’s good.” Tisse breathed a sigh of relief.

Mister Crawly Wawly spread his legs, slumping his stomach to the ground in apparent relief. I grinned at the sight.

“Mister Crawly Wawly felt guilty that he didn’t notice the cold mold sooner. He said he would’ve recognized it immediately had he walked over the soil,” Tisse explained.

He did seem to be a bit down. Almost sad.

“I see. Getting his help with managing things might be a good idea going forward,” I replied.

There probably weren’t many farmers who could sense the dirt’s condition as well as he could.

In apparent response to what I said, Mister Crawly Wawly spun his front legs as if to declare, “I’ll do my best!”

“Red.” Tisse stood up, looking me straight in the eye. “Before I met all of you, I would never have imagined such a tranquil daily life working the land. The old me wouldn’t have been comfortable spending time like this with an enemy ship so close by. Truthfully, I may have simply assassinated Prince Salius.”

The words were in jest, but if Tisse ever got serious, that would likely be a simple feat for her. Her eyes narrowed ever so slightly; the changes in her expression were as minor as always.

“I like this, though.”

“I see.”

Seeing the barely recognizable smile on her face, I grinned, too.

Tisse was a precious friend.

At noon, I left the shop to Rit and went over to see Yarandrala.

“Red!” Spotting me from far away, she ran straight over instead of just waving. “You came!”

She didn’t bother to slow down at all, charging straight into a big hug. I smiled awkwardly as I supported her weight.

“Tch… Red, you jerk…”

The workers nearby glared at me with scary looks in their eyes!

You’ve got it wrong! High elves just get overly touchy with friends! It isn’t what you think!

My mental excuses floated into the Zoltan sky without reaching anyone, however.

I finally peeled Yarandrala away and managed to get a look at how the work was proceeding.

“How are the coconut trees?” I inquired.

“They’re fine,” Yarandrala responded, puffing out her chest. “Each is brimming with vitality. We’re only harvesting the coconuts to make a couple of months’ worth of oil. I know the people in Zoltan like to take it easy, but they’re listening to my instructions and taking proper care of the plants. So I’ve got no complaints!”

“Great! Thank you, Yarandrala!”

“You’re welcome. I’m glad I could help!”

When it came to caring for the trees we were using to harvest coconuts for oil, Yarandrala was more knowledgeable and skilled than the botanists in Central. She had researched how much would be best to gather from how many trees and had drawn up a plan that anyone could comprehend.

“Heh-heh,” Yarandrala chuckled happily. “This is the first time you’ve come to ask me for assistance with plants instead of something connected to fighting or adventures.”

“Only because my life was nonstop combat until I came here.”

“I’m glad. Really I am. I always wanted to try growing things with you.”

She wrapped her arms around my neck, gazed into my eyes, and beamed.

“When the stuff with Lilinrala is cleared up, let’s raise some flowers together. I’m sure the ones we grow will bloom beautifully.”

Yarandrala kissed my cheek and then returned to the workers.

“Growing flowers, huh? Seems she’s taken a liking to Zoltan, too.” I smiled while watching her go.

Being inundated by hateful glares was getting frightening, however, so I decided to make for the oil refinery.

Despite the name, it was only a gazebo that kept out the sun. Laborers were extracting oil from the coconuts. They were using the recipe I had designed, so I looked around and gave a few people some advice.

“It doesn’t look like there are any problems here.”

Everyone was working hard, even in the chilly air of winter. It was a rather un-Zoltan-like show of effort.

“If only they were so serious all the time… Nah, that would get too stressful, I guess.”

“Yes, I agree,” came a familiar voice. Turning around, I saw the trader I had spoken to at the Merchants Guild. Apparently, the guild had tasked him with observing the operation. “Folks are working diligently because the job’s only just begun. Once they get used to it, they’ll remember to slack off here and there.

Scratching my cheek, I responded, “Ha-ha, that’s a bit of a problem, though I guess it fits for Zoltan.”

“We’ve already distributed several barrels, and the response has been favorable. It doesn’t have the odor of fish oil, so there were some who wanted to make the switch to coconut oil going forward.”

“That’s good to hear.”

“Thankfully, it doesn’t seem as though we’ll have an issue with supplies, despite that Veronian ship’s best efforts. It would be deadly for business if the market stagnated, but as long as there is still something to move, we’ll get by.”

“Income will drop, though,” I commented.

“The guild will manage things with subsidies to keep people from going under completely,” the merchant assured. The incident had likely hit him harder than anyone, yet his face remained bright. “This is all because of you and Rit. You have my gratitude.”

Appreciation for Red the apothecary instead of Gideon and his sword—I couldn’t explain it, but it made me very happy.

After that, I went back to the shop.

The customers were sparse, so I chatted casually while selling them whatever medicine they required.

Although worried about the Veronian battleship, the people of Zoltan retained their “it will figure itself out tomorrow” personalities and went about their daily lives.

After closing up in the evening, Rit and I had a nice dinner with Ruti, Tisse, and Yarandrala, and after the three of them left, Rit and I got into the bath together to wash.

We took our time to get warm, and I made some hot milk while Rit cared for her hair.

It was just our normal, everyday life.

After the sun had gone down, I sat under the moonlight and took care of my sword. The bronze blade was resistant to rust, unlike steel ones. Most of the time, all it really needed was a quick wiping with a cloth.

“I just bought a new one, but it’s already nicked.” It had gotten pretty beat up from the fights with the gem beast and the stray assassins. Recently, it seemed we’d been up against quite a few powerful opponents, and the stuff with Veronia hadn’t been resolved yet. “The core still seems all right, though.”

I wanted to show the sword a little more appreciation, so I pulled out some whetstones and got a bucket of water. I sharpened the blade using two whetstones with different coarsenesses.

Tisse’s shortsword was sharp enough that just touching its blade was enough to cut skin, but my sword didn’t have nearly as keen an edge. Honing it was really only a minor touch-up.

The process didn’t take long. I rinsed the blade off when I was done, polished it with the cloth, and then held it beneath the moonlight.

“I’m sure you never imagined going up against enemies like those.”

A weapon like this was meant for rookies just getting started. It was to be used against goblins and lesser slimes. After half a year, it would be traded in for a better weapon and then purchased secondhand by another novice, becoming their first partner…

Sitting there, I swung the sword down once. It cut through the air with a whistle and caught the pale light from outside.

“It’s not like I’ve gone out looking for battles…but not fighting for my friends just because I want to live freely feels limiting. Sorry, but I’m probably going to need you again sometime.”

“Very well. If thou wouldst wield us in a battle that thou dost desire, we wouldst wish no more,” an echoing voice replied.

I chuckled at that. “Oh? Who might you be, one who answers my request?”

“Hah-hah-hah. I am the spirit that dwellest in this sword of bronze. I recognize thou hast cherished me. Be it for the sake of thy sister and her companion, thy friends in Zoltan, or for thy most beloved, if I am of service in protection of them, then use us as thou wouldst.”

“Thank you very much, Sir Spirit.”

The spirit laughed again.

“I have one final counsel for thee.”

“What is it?”

The self-proclaimed spirit of the bronze sword standing behind me wrapped my head in a big hug.

“Thou shouldst be true to thy desires towards thy beloved!”

Rit squeezed me tight.

“What do you mean ‘desires’…? Huh? Something feels different.”


Rit felt odd, almost fluffy…

“Are you using Aspect of Wolf?”

“Bingo. Come on. I know you’ve wanted to pet me since the moment you saw me like this! Or, more precisely, you wanted to get all lovey-dovey!”

There were bushy wolf ears on Rit’s head, and a fluffy tail was peeking out from her skirt.

How does that work with her underwear? I wondered. Shape spells temporarily subsumed the user’s clothes into their body while transformed, but aspects spells were supposed to leave the clothes unchanged. It was too embarrassing to ask, of course, but I couldn’t help speculating.

“Why don’t you feel for yourself.” Rit grinned as she slipped onto my lap.

“E-even if you say that…”

Rit wriggled her tail, enjoying my agitation. For some reason, it felt like she was being particularly aggressive today.

“You’ve been troubled about things a bit lately, haven’t you?”

“…You noticed?”

“Nothing gets past Wolf Rit’s nose.”

Rit turned, her knees pressing against my stomach as she sat facing me on my lap.

“I don’t have an answer for your worries about the world or Divine Blessings. All I can do is tell you that you’ve made the right decision.” She smiled before pressing her forehead against mine. “I’m glad you’re here, so this can’t be wrong.”

“I guess so…”

Rit and I were happy.

No matter what life we lived, staying true to that was the right answer for us.

“So pamper me more now!”

Rit kissed my cheek… Her tongue felt different.

I was a little surprised.

“Uh, ummm…”

“Come on already. You wanted to pet me like this, right?”

Rit looked down, slightly pointing the top of her head toward me as her wolf ears twitched.

“You’re coming on pretty strong tonight…” Despite what I said, I was enjoying things, too. I was working hard to restrain myself, however, because my love was threatening to go wild.

I started out patting Rit’s head gently, taking care not to mess up her blond locks. However, judging by her expression, that wasn’t enough, so I stroked her more firmly, like playing with a dog. Rit’s tail wagged in response. Her eyes narrowed, and her lips spread into a little smile.

Aspect of Wolf was magic for battle. It granted a wolf’s enhanced senses and physical abilities to gain an edge in combat. The assassins from before had employed Aspect of Riding Drake to fight, too. The vast majority of magic and skills were for combat.

Yet Rit was using it to cheer me up—to acquire a wolf’s cool, charming appearance and personality instead of its physical capabilities. I doubt whatever great mage who first developed that spell in the distant past envisioned it being utilized this way. That brought me joy. It was like magic that Rit had created for me alone.

No longer satisfied with just being pet, Rit wrapped her arms around me, hugging me and rubbing her cheek against mine.

Sitting there hugging each other like that… The sense of closeness was incredible. I couldn’t begin to describe the swell of emotions, but it was a wonderful sensation.

All of my worries about fighting seemed tiny by comparison. It felt like Rit’s body was a bit hotter than usual in Aspect of Wolf mode. That warmth was pleasant on a cool winter’s night.

“Why not feel how the tail works?” Rit suggested, twisting her tail in my lap.

“If you’re going to insist, then I guess I have to.”

“Eh-heh-heh. Be my guest!”

Rit clung tighter to me. Looking over her shoulder, I could see the beautiful curve of her back down to her bottom, and her tail sticking out from below her skirt. I couldn’t see from my position, but with the hem raised that much, her underwear had to be showing.

Aspect of Wolf was truly glorious magic, but maybe it was too much for humans. It was only the two of us, however.

“It’s okay, I have a wolf’s ears and nose. I’ll know if anyone comes by,” Rit assured before kissing my cheek over and over.

I couldn’t hold it in anymore and squeezed Rit tight. She returned the gesture just as powerfully.

It was a wonderful moment.

I reached my hand down to Rit’s tail. My heart started beating faster. The only way to know how the tail worked was to reach into her skirt.

How (swish) did (swish) her (swish, swish) tail (swish, swish, swish, swish, swish)…



“Your tail is wagging too hard. I can’t get any closer.”

It was moving so much that I feared it might break. Rit’s face turned bright red.

“No fair!” she cried, and she pushed me down. “It’s not fair. I made sure you couldn’t see my face, but my tail betrayed me.”

She was rubbing her face against my cheek and jaw. I guess her emotions were getting a bit wolf-like. The power of the magic must have been why she was acting forward today.

Rit finally stopped rubbing against my chest and face and pulled back slightly. She was on top of my chest as I lay down on the ground, her cheeks flushed. The sight of her there was too cute for me to handle.

“You know, I’ll probably lock myself away in the bedroom from embarrassment tomorrow,” she admitted.

“Yeah, I can see that happening,” I agreed.


“Uh huh?”

“I want to cuddle with you extra today to make up for it,” Rit said, grinning.

Her altered appearance was truly too exciting.

“As long as you’re with me, I couldn’t be happier,” I confessed, letting my feelings spill out offhandedly. That was just how riled up I was.

Rit beamed, and her tail moved slowly in a wide arc.

“I love you,” Rit whispered.

I couldn’t take it anymore.

Maybe I should ask her if she can use Aspect of Cat some other time…

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