Chapter 34: Anxiety


 

The next morning, I learned from Mil, who had woken up before me, that she hadn’t shown up for dinner yesterday and had returned to the room after I had gone to bed.

 

I decided to talk about it, as I had heard from Mil in the morning.
It seemed that the subjugation request had dragged on yesterday, and she ended up coming back late at night.

 

Part of me wanted to complain about how she made me feel lonely, but instead, I played it safe and said, “Good job” to her.

 

I also decided to tell her what I had heard from Maron-san yesterday.

 

“Um, am I the subject of rumors…?”

 

“Yeah, that’s right.
It seems that there are people spreading false rumors about Mil because they can’t stand that she’s taking on the requests they couldn’t accomplish.
I wanted to let you know before it reaches your ears directly…”

 

Telling her directly might be less shocking than hearing it firsthand.

 

Although I wasn’t sure if it made any difference, Mil nodded calmly.

 

“Taking over the requests that others have failed… Well, I can see why it might look that way.”

 

“But Mil, you’re just helping with the requests at the request of the school director.
Failed requests are generally not allowed to be retried, so someone else ends up doing them anyway.”

 

I wished I could directly confront the people spreading the rumors.

 

Since I had no idea where the rumors originated, I had no way of dealing with them.

 

I briefly considered stopping the rumors themselves, but that would be even more unrealistic.

 

Mil let out a self-deprecating smile and spoke in a downcast voice.

 

“If it were not a commoner like me but another exemplary noble student who was helping with the requests, would such rumors have spread?”

 

“Well, I mean…!”

 

I couldn’t deny it.

 

If it were another student doing the request assistance, say, Maron-san from the Melange family, this situation probably wouldn’t have happened.

 

It’s easier to accept that it’s because Mil is a commoner that she’s being attacked with even more envy.

 

“But it’s their own responsibility for failing the requests, so it’s wrong to resent Mil, who is taking over for them.
If they want to resent someone, they should resent their own immaturity.”

 

“…”

 

Even though I spoke logically, Mil’s cloudy expression still didn’t clear up.

 

Well, it would be strange to remain calm when you know that there are rumors about you circulating within the school.

 

Suddenly, as if the malice directed at Mil took shape and attacked, I found myself trembling unconsciously.

 

“Hey, maybe I should help with the requests too?”

 

“Huh?”

 

“I think I might be overthinking it, but there might come a time when those who don’t like Mil might directly attack her.
And even if it doesn’t go that far, they might indirectly harass her or something…”

 


And if she were to be harassed, it would be highly likely to happen when she’s alone during a request.
No matter how capable Mil is, I have no idea what would happen if someone bothered her during a monster subjugation.
It could result in the worst-case scenario of a serious injury, or even life-threatening situations.

 

To prevent that from happening, I suggested that I accompany her during the requests.

 

“But, I still want to try to accomplish this on my own.
If I rely on you, Sachi-san…”

 

She showed signs of not wanting my help.

 

Ideally, I wanted to be by Mil’s side, keeping an eye on her to prevent any mischief from those mean-spirited individuals.

 

In an instant, a brilliant idea struck me.

 

“Oh, I’ve got it!”

 

“Huh?”

 

“I won’t assist with the requests as you wish, Mil.
But how about I go along with you as a mere companion?”

 

Upon hearing that suggestion, Mil widened her eyes in surprise.

 

It seems that she strongly desires to accomplish this particular request on her own.

 

So, while she might resist having me assist her, if I were just accompanying her without interfering with her goal, it wouldn’t hinder her determination.

 

It might sound like a flimsy excuse, but after a brief hesitation, Mil nodded slowly in response.

 

“W-Well, if that’s the case…”

 

“Great! Then it’s settled.
I’ll join you starting from tomorrow.”

 

With this, I can watch over Mil and ensure she doesn’t face any danger.

 

Additionally, I’ll have the opportunity to observe how Mil handles the subjugation requests.

 

Looks like I won’t have much free time from now on.

 

There is a grassland spreading to the west of the capital city Blossom.
In the southwestern part of the grassland, there is a place where a lot of water bubble flowers bloom (T/N: called “Suibousou” in Japanese).
Occasionally, bubbles the size of a person’s head would emerge from the tips of the flowers and float in the air without bursting for a while.

 

Due to this unique sight, this particular area is named the “Water Bubble Grassland,” distinguishing it from the ordinary grasslands.

 

Mil and I had come to this water bubble grassland for a subjugation request.
As we heard, the place was filled with hundreds of transparent bubbles floating gently, creating a lovely view.

 

Then, one bubble floated softly towards us, so I lightly touched it with my fingertip.
Instantly, with a satisfying snap, a faint smoke emerged from within the bubble, tickling my nostrils with a refreshing scent.

 

“Oh, it smells nice! If we pluck some and decorate the room with them, the whole room will have a pleasant fragrance, don’t you think?”

 

“There are rare cases where the bubbles cause small explosions, so it would be dangerous to display them in a room.
Also, it’s better not to touch them indiscriminately.”

 

“…I wish I had known that before coming here.”

 

Feeling a shiver run down my spine, I moved away from the softly floating bubbles.
However, with their sheer number, it would be difficult to avoid all of them.
I could only hope that the bubbles I touched wouldn’t explode.

 

“So, what are we going to do here for this request?”

 


“We have to subjugate a magical beast called Espuma, which is a life-draining spirit that claims territory in this area.
It seems their numbers have increased recently, and they have become more aggressive, prompting the request for their subjugation.”

 

Espuma is a small humanoid creature with fairy-like wings growing on its back.
It latches onto people attracted by the scent of water bubble flowers and drains their vitality.
As Mil explained this to me, I became even more vigilant of our surroundings.

 

“The water bubble flowers blooming in the water bubble grassland are also used as ingredients for perfumes and deodorants.
Perfumers often come here to pick the flowers.
However, with the large number of aggressive Espumas present, flower picking has become difficult.
They urgently requested assistance to deal with the situation.”

 

“And our students failed to complete that subjugation request…”

 

At that moment, as we were discussing the matter, a group of palm-sized winged creatures emerged from behind the water bubbles.
Not just one, but over a dozen of them.
They had vibrant hair and eyes in colors like red, blue, and green, and their cheeks were adorned with twisted, eerie smiles.

 

They possess the ability to drain vitality from people with just a touch, so it’s best to defeat them without allowing them to get close.

 

“In that case, I’ll stay towards the back and watch over you, Mil.”

 

“Y-Yes.”

 

Mil’s face tensed up, likely due to the pressure of being observed by me.
However, she tightened her expression with determination and stood before the Espumas.

 

“W-Well then, here I go!”

 

Mil’s determination was evident.

 

Although she wasn’t initially enthusiastic about me accompanying her, it seemed she was now full of enthusiasm.
I hope she doesn’t get too carried away and waste her efforts.
For now, I’ll observe Mil’s skills.

 

She poised her right hand as she faced the scene of the Espumas pouncing.

 

“Winter’s Arrival—Transparent ice pillars—Guided by heat…”

 

Smooth incantation.

 

It was a flawless high-speed recitation without any mistakes.

 

However, just before she finished the incantation, a floating bubble gently touched Mil’s shoulder, and as expected, it burst.

 

In an instant, instead of a refreshing smoke, a slight blast and explosion sound struck Mil.

 

“Ah!”

 

Pushed by the blast, Mil was slightly propelled forward, interrupting her incantation.

 

The explosion itself didn’t seem to have much power, but there was a considerable blast and sound.

 

Getting up quickly from falling on the grassland, Mil once again began reciting.

 

“A-And Winter’s Arrival—Transparent…”

 

But once again, a bubble floated from behind her.

 

As soon as it touched Mil’s back, it burst violently with a bang, blowing her delicate body away once again.

 

And where she flew, another bubble floated, producing the same sound when touched.

 

Bang, bang, bang…

 

Before I knew it, Mil was being blown away in various directions by exploding bubbles.

 


“W-Why is it only around me?!”

 

“What is she doing…?”

 

The situation had become far from a magical beast subjugation.

 

The Espumas themselves seemed perplexed, watching Mil being toyed with by the exploding bubbles.

 

But seriously, why are there so many exploding bubbles only around her?

 

Just out of curiosity, I tried touching a nearby bubble, but all that came out was a refreshing smoke, no matter how much I poked it.

 

Well, that makes sense.
After all, they did say that the bubbles that explode are “rare.”

 

Perhaps this is a stunt caused by Mil’s unfortunate nature.

 

If the exploding bubbles are attracted to her only because of her unlucky disposition, it oddly makes a lot of sense.

 

Mil, who was full of enthusiasm, was now blushing, unable to carry out the magical beast subjugation satisfactorily.

 

Not missing that opportunity, the Espumas once again jumped at Mil, who was trembling.

 

I was about to intervene instinctively, but Mil managed to position her right hand and began her incantation, determined to fend them off.

 

“【Winter’s Arrival—Transparent Ice Pillars—Pierce the Fools Guided by Heat】—【Cold-Blooded Ice Spear Chandel Glace】!”

 

In an instant, multiple large ice pillars formed around her, their sharp tips aimed towards the approaching Espumas.

 

Immediately, the ice pillars were rapidly launched to intercept the attacking Espumas.

 

The fairies, pierced through by the sharp ice spears, met their demise with just one strike, disappearing as if melting into thin air.

 

What remained were only shining feathers, seemingly grown on their backs.

 

“…As expected, with a magic power value of 350.”

 

The Espumas appeared to be swift opponents with small targets to hit.

 

Defeating them was not an easy task for an average mage.

 

But utilizing her exceptional magical talent, Mil hunted down most of the Espumas with a single strike.

 

The destructive power, speed, and accuracy of her ice magic were unparalleled among other mages.

 

In addition, I noticed a certain fact and unintentionally let out an impressed sigh.

 

The ice pillars she unleashed had fulfilled their purpose and were now impaled in the ground, yet not a single water bubble flower, blooming beautifully, had been harmed.

 

“Mil, you’re amazing.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“I thought again that it’s only natural for you to be selected as a special student.
Although there are many students who don’t think highly of you, you’re undoubtedly the best in our year.”

 

“…”


 

As I honestly praised her, Mil seemed to have a complex expression and lowered her head.

 

Eventually, she brushed off the dirt from her uniform and wore a self-deprecating smile.

 

“I’m still far from being any good.
I can’t do things as cool as you, Sachi-san, and there always seems to be some kind of trouble…”

 

“Well, that’s probably because your luck value is zero.
But in the end, you’re achieving the requests properly, so I don’t think you should worry…”

 

It seemed that Mil wasn’t particularly satisfied with the results of this mission.

 

She aspired to perform more brilliant magical beast subjugations.

 

Rather than being tossed around and fighting while covered in mud, her goal was to complete the job in a smart and efficient manner.

 

Well, it’s good to have high ideals, but for now, she should be happy that everything ended safely, I think.

 

In any case, since we were able to defeat the target number of Espumas, we collected the feathers as proof of subjugation and decided to head back.

 

Just after collecting the feathers, I suddenly tilted my head as if I remembered something.

 

“Come to think of it, why couldn’t the previous students who accepted this request defeat the Espumas? Did they also get rolled around by exploding bubbles like Mil?”

 

“W-Well, I think it’s absolutely just me who ends up like that.
Please don’t remind me of embarrassing things!”

 

Well, that’s true.

 

I don’t think there’s anyone else in the world who ends up in such a situation as Mil does.

 

So why couldn’t they achieve the Espuma subjugation?

 

They may be troublesome magical beasts, but these were students from the world’s top mage training institution, the Magic Academy.

 

“Well, I heard that the students who failed the request couldn’t activate their magic, or their destructive power was weaker than usual, something like that.”

 

“It sounds similar to what we heard before.
I wonder if there’s any connection?”

 

“I-I’m not sure…”

 

In our previous Golem subjugation request, the previous students failed due to their magic not functioning properly.

 

If we consider it as a lousy excuse, then so be it.
But would the other students also come up with such obvious excuses?

 

“Is there anything strange about this?”

 

“Other than the misfortune of continuously attracting exploding bubbles miraculously, there’s nothing… My magic worked normally, and the power wasn’t any different.”

 

“That’s right.
From what I observed, there wasn’t anything strange either.”

 

Well, there is a possibility that the failed students just happened to be in poor condition.

 

There’s no point in thinking too deeply about it.

 

Feeling lazy to contemplate further, I lightly poked a bubble that came before me, enveloped in a refreshing scent, and left the Water Bubble grassland behind.

 

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