After being led into the room, we first sat down around the table and had some tea.
When you invite people, you treat them to something.
Whether in Japan or in another world, that doesn't change, does it.
"Once more, I am the one who accepted your request at the guild, my name is Alice. This is my companion, Ilya."
"It is a pleasure to meet you."
"And this is the letter of introduction from the guild."
When I was done introducing us and handed over the sealed letter of introduction, Cira did open her eyes wide in surprise.
She had probably thought we were some representatives or errand girls to hear her story.
We're not though, not that.
"You're so young, but already adventurers..."
Her hat twitched once.
Frankly, I couldn't help but be intrigued by that more than anything else.
Take it off.
I want to take it off!!
What's hidden below there!?
While Cyla had lowered her head to read the letter of introduction——I had unconsciously reached for the hat.
Before Cira raised her head again, I was drinking tea again, okay?
I was holding the cup in my hand acting thus.
"Is there a problem?"
"No, this tea, it's delicious."
"You're exaggerating, it's not that ameow... amazing."
I'm not going to point that out or anything, okay?
Ahh, I'm making a pointless fuss.
Time for reflection.
Oh, and Ilya?
That smile, it's scary.
"Ehem. So, about the request: If you are uneasy with us taking it on, we will of course accept a cancellation."
Because of the circumstances of escort missions, cancellations are possible if the client feels uneasy.
It's even written among the main points.
"No, if you are adventurers, then you've gone into Ruins before, right? Besides... personally, ehm, I can trust Alice-san, or should I say..."
For some reason she was looking at me with a blushing face.
"Last night, I was also in the bar. I remember you really well, Alice-san."
"I-is that so."
I on the other hand remember hardly anything~
Worrying won't help you any if you can't remember.
If it doesn't turn into a problem, it's all right.
It won't turn into a problem... will it?
"We can depart any time, so once you are ready, Cira, give us a call any time."
"I'll also be ready right away! I'll change into some other clothes, so please wait a moment," Cira said and hurriedly disappeared into a room further into the house.
In the room next to ours... or rather, in the smithing area I could catch glances of, there was a big furnace with a fire burning inside.
We've been hearing louding noises of iron being hit for a while. Was somebody working there?
The owner, maybe?
"Sorry I took so long. Let's go."
Before enough time to call it "waiting" had passed, Cira had returned.
Even after changing clothes, you're not going to take off that hat, are you?
Cira was a level 10 Apprentice Smith.
We formed a party and headed to the town's Ruins under Cira's guidance.
While chatting about this and that, we found out Cira's business there was the same as ours.
Hearing about it, it was obvious. In this world, there were classes suited to combat and those that were not. Smithes and Tailors and classes like them didn't earn experience and level up by defeating enemies, but by improving their skills.
In other words, Cira had practiced enough and reached the level to become a proper smith, but because she couldn't fight, she had made a request at the guild.
"Heh? So after you become a proper smith, you want to have your own store in the royal capital?"
"Yes, I cannot rely on my teacher's kindness forever after all."
"Eh? He's not your father?"
"No... I was a refugee."
Cira smiled dejectedly.
Damn my insensitivity.
I really should abandon my peace-addled thought processes, I think.
"...I'm sorry, Cira-san."
"Ah, no! My teacher has been really good to me... it's embarrassing, but, like you said, Alice-san, I think of him as a father just a little meowt... bit."
Is that how it meows...?
"But if you're aiming for the royal capital, then you're going to the same place I am."
"Eh? You want to go there, too, Alice-san?"
"Yes, we will only stay in this town until tomorrow before we head on to the capital."
"That's so nice... I know I keep talking about it, but I don't know when my dream will ever come true."
A smith, huh.
A connection to a smith.
Shouldn't I treasure this?
"Cira-san, do you have regular customers?"
"Y-yes. In this town, there is someone I'm receiving some favors from. But as I'm only my teacher's assistant, the inscriptions are all in his name."
Her embarrassed actions are so cute.
Maybe I should use her as a reference?
Anyhow, that aside it means she's a good smith, doesn't it?
"Unless there is a problem with it, you could ask Cira-sama to show you her Attributes?" Ilya suggested from behind us.
Does looking at her Attributes tell us something about her skills as a smith?
"Ah, yes. I don't mind."
"Really? Thank you. Could you show me, then?"
Strength 1, Endurance 1, Protection 1, Agility 2, Smithing 5
"Until my teacher picked me up, I had no idea I had a talent for smithing... embarrassingmeow... -ly."
That... what is that all ameowt?
"That is a wonderful talent."
I'm a little lost as to what it exactly means, but I understand that much.
I'll just ask Ilya the rest later.
But with an Attribute at 5, as far as I know that makes her a monster!
Well, maybe I should use another word.
Genius should work better.
Be it Onee-chan, be it Ilya, Till... I haven't asked Till, but I guess that goes without asking.
I... might not be able to let Cira go.
"... do you have connections in the capital?"
"None at all..."
"I might become your patron in the capital."
Cira looked at me with sparkling eyes.
"I'm an adventurer, so I'd be really glad about being close with a good smith. And if it's a golden egg like you, I think that's something to look forward to."
If she won't have a place to live in the capital, I won't mind offering her one.
Of course first I'll have to get my own livelihood in the capital going.
"A golden egg, you're embarrassing meow... me."
Even if you say that, I won't let you escape, you kmeow?
This girl might be a good enough smith to cause rumors even if I leave her alone.
That I've met her now while she's still an apprentice could be my luck.
Her inscriptions haven't started circulating, either.
If possible, I want to monopolize her.
And I want her to produce order-made equipment for me.
"My dream is to open a shop in the capital, or rather, to find one, right person among the many people there and become that person's exclusive smith. Becoming exclusive is every smith's dream!"
"Mine! Become my smith!"
Ah, I didn't mean to say that out loud...
"I-I couldn't... Alice-san... embarrassingmeow..."
This cuteness that makes me writhe inside, is it that kind?
The cuteness of animals?
I'm also certain what's hidden under that hat, Cira.
"Sorry, I got ahead of myself. If I don't show power worthy of you, there's no point talking about it, is there? Please use this escort mission to judge meow skills."
I don't mind.
Who would willingly become the personal smith of someone weak?
Cira must also have the pride of a craftsman.
I'll have to show her my power.
Enough power to shock her heart.
——I'll show her my new magic.
Level 5 Petite Panther
On a hill outside town, on the way to the Ruins, we encountered a formidable foe.
Ahh, I see.
Outside town, the enemies don't suddenly become strong.
I mean, no beginning adventurers would go to such ruins.
I agilely avoided the formidable foe's charge.
"Alice-sama? You're not going to blow it away?"
Blow it away?
Ilya, who I had asked to protect Cira, was curiously cocking her head.
Monsters are monsters, so having her switch from protecting me to protecting Cira didn't need much persuasion.
"...where I am from, there were people who could communicate with monsters. That's what I want to try right now. That's how I feel."
"You can do that? That's amazing, Alice-sama."
"Do your best!"
With their encouragement, I kept sidestepping the formidable foe's charges like a matador.
Heh, I've already seen through your attacks.
They won't work on me!
I took a deep breath.
This animal is attacking me because it's scared.
They are scared, those animals.
That misunderstanding is the tragedy here.
Can we allow that to go on?
When we give up because we can't understand each other, that is the real end.
Even if everyone else gives up, I won't!
"See... I'm not scary."
I crouched down and stretched out my hand towards the growling formidable foe.
I could tell Ilya and Cira were watching over me with bated breath.
The formidable foe looked at me with its round, adorable eyes.
It looked at me somewhat dubiously.
"I'm not scary..."
The formidable foe and I stared at each other, and when my hand was finally about to touch its——
The moment I was about to get bitten, I pulled back my hand.
"How is this possible... It was still scared of me."
I quickly built up some distant.
The formidable foe looked straight at me.
What indomitable will rested in those cute, adorable eyes!
"...I see. It is my duty to answer that will, is it."
I formed the image of my magic activating.
My body became hot.
"——Blade of Light descending from the Heavens, become my Sword and split the Darkness! ——Lightning!"
The middle-class magic I had recently learned mercilessly pierced the formidable foe.
The formidable foe... quietly fell forward.
I walked up to it and embraced the fallen formidable foe.
"This is the only way..."
While the soft body in my arms faded, I shed a tear.
"Just now, was that magic necessary?"
A lion uses its full strength even to hunt a rabbit, they say.
You're still too naive, Ilya.
Today the sky is so clouded, it looked to be almost crying.
The sky is crying for you, too.
Rest in peace, my friend.