Chapter 10 Celebration for the Exam
The royal capital Chloe is dyed madder red at the day's end.
I walked back to the inn after passing the exam.
Then I noticed a signboard [Reserved Today] put in the front.
I thought it was strange, when I went inside, it had become a party venue.
Tables are put in the center of the tavern forming a big one.
Many dishes on large platters are put on them. A one meter long fish, butter roasted shellfish, chicken karage, unknown meat on skewers with vegetables.
Appetizing steams are rising from every one of them.
The tavern old man who came out bringing a large platter filled with meatballs glazed with sweet sauce laughed heartily when he saw me.
"Oh, you're back! Everyone, here comes the leading actor!"
"Welcome back, Keika-sama."
"Keika Onii-chan... welcome back."
Minya was expressionless, but I'd like to think that she was smiling in her heart.
The other guests also congratulated me. A pair of man and woman who look like adventurers approach.
"Coming at third, you're amazing."
For some reason being congratulated by people who don't know the truth feel embarrassing.
Celica comes to my side while swaying her hair. A white blouse and a red skirt. Since she's not wearing her armor, her breasts shake just from her walking.
She puts her hands on her big breast and sighs in admiration.
"Keika-sama is really amazing to come in third for the written exam."
Celica's smile was full of sense of respect.
The third place is a result of a fixed exam though, I thought as I scratched my head.
"It's thanks to Celica's support."
"No such thing, I only helped a little. The actual study time was only two days."
I wonder what my actual ranking is.
When I have some free time someday, I'll threaten the bald old man to tell me.
Celica's sparkling blue eyes are looking straight at me.
"Let's keep this up. I will lend Keika-sama as much power as possible."
"You've been quite the help already. Thank you."
I pat her head. Feeling her pleasant blond hair.
She smiled like she was about to cry, 'hauu', her whole face to her ears is red in embarrassment.
The old man raises his voice while smiling broadly.
"Now, eat eat! We still have many dishes! Drink all you want!"
WAAA~, the tavern is full of shouts of joy.
The old man goes in and out of the kitchen busily. I want to talk to him, but it seems he can't afford to.
I call the old man when he passes me once.
"Let's have a talk later."
After affirming that, the old man went into the kitchen once again.
In his place, Minya came out with some fruits and went to my side. She presents a red fruit that looks like plum to me.
"This... tasty. For onii-chan."
"Thanks. --Hm, is this sweet?"
Minya nodded. Her ears are standing upright, paying attention.
I took a bite. Fruit juice overflows. It's sweet yet the citrus-like fragrance that spreads in my mouth quenches my throat.
"It's really tasty."
"Red juice, stain on cloth is bad.... watch out."
"Got it. It tastes good, but the color sure looks odious."
According to Truth Sight, this seems to be 【Rubera Fruit】. There's no particular effect. Besides its producing area and price, it's only written that it's tasty and juicy.
I bite it once again in relief. While being careful with the red juice.
"Hm? What is it?"
Minya stares up with her big black eyes while keeping silent. Her ears twitched. Her black tail is shaking like it's undulating.
And then she speaks up.
"Become a hero, beat, bad people."
"Is that your wish?"
Her tail flexibly stood up. As if showing her determination, it's slightly shaking.
"Understood. In my name, I will grant thee thine wish."
"....Thank you, onii-chan."
With slightly reddened cheeks, she went back to the kitchen with her tail still standing up.
And the buffet party continued.
The other guests are eating and drinking while having pleasant chats. I listened to various useful stories about monsters, dungeons and the hero exams that come after this from many adventurers.
The sweet fruit wine I drink at times pleasantly pervades my body.
Celica keeps accompanying me and diligently brings me alcohol and dishes.
"I've brought some Fido Grill."
"Oh. Thanks. ....Om...yup, this nostalgic taste is good. --Rather, Celica, you won't be able to eat if you keep serving me."
"It's alright, there's so much food, I can eat later...."
"These Takoyaki and Fido Grill won't taste as good when they're cold--here."
I push the bitten Fido grill in front of Celica.
Her eyes are wide open.
"What's wrong? Look, the inside is the tastiest."
"No, well... um."
Her shapely eyebrows are lowered, she looks troubled.
I move the Fido Grill closer to her cute mouth.
She closes her eyes with the long eyelashes.
She opens her red lips elegantly and takes a bite.
And then, her moist blue eyes look up at me while her small mouth is chewing.
The gently-sloping cheeks are tinged with red as if she's just taken a bath.
....I wonder why.
It felt like I was bullying her even though I was just feeding her.
But, since I want her to eat them before they're cold, I push another dish after tasting it once. She groaned, "Uu", like she was about to cry.
We ate one Fido Grill together alternately.
However, she declined the last bite shaking her head and crouched down on the floor. Her blond hair is spread on her thin back.
"Mou, I can't believe you Keika-sama."
I activate <<Truth Sight>> in a hurry and look at my own palm.
Name: Keika Hiko-no-Mikoto
Race: All Gods
Class: Master Swordsman God Monk
Element: 【Noble Wind】 【Clear Stream】 【Faint Gleam】
Good, my believers haven't decreased.... don't tease me.
Rather, it's increased!?
1110 Strength, 1000 is from a chaste holy elemental girl, Celica, and for the remaining 110, 100 is from a chaste girl who is not of light elemental Minya, and the old man gives 10.
Umu, do it. Respect me more.
For now, I'll apologize to Celica since she looks troubled.
I like Celica's smiles, I'll be at a loss if I can't protect it anymore.
I pat her head as she's crouched down.
"I'm sorry, Celica. I won't do it again."
"You're terrible.... When it's just the two of us.... More--"
The last of her words were too quiet I couldn't hear it.
And then she looks down with a red face. Her face is covered by her blond hair.
I don't really understand what's going on, but since she looks okay now, I'll let it go.
Still, Celica's face tends to become red, does she have blushing syndrome. Or is it an illness?
It'll be troubling if she collapses.
I should use the <<Complete Recovery>> magic later.
The party continues until midnight, more and more people get back to their rooms.
Since Celica also looks sleepy, I ask her to go back.
Only me and the tavern old man remain.
In the unpopulated tavern. The room after the party is over seems lonely somehow.
There's no pedestrian, it's very quiet.
The wind rattles the windows sometimes.
The old man and I are sitting side by side on the counter.
Drinking while snacking on the cold Fido Grills.
I ask him about the question I have in mind.
"Still, old man. Isn't it too pompous for just passing an exam?"
"Being one of the 32 people is already splendid in itself... It was also an apology y'see."
His later words were quieter.
Apology.... In other words, he couldn't assemble the party members huh.
"It can't be helped. Unlike the usual year, they accelerated the schedule."
"I'm ashamed. I couldn't contact half of them, and the remaining ones had already been hired for large amount of money."
"Well, I probably can clear it alone...."
I wonder if I could escape the instant death trap while protecting Celica.
Moreover, I can't use Senrigan since it would make me see the inside of the stone coffin. Not being able to go straight to the maze's exit will be hard.
However, since I can use the Truth Sight, I can detect all the traps, hidden doors and treasures.
....I feel this is already cheat enough.
The old man drank the alcohol in one gulp.
"However, a promise is a promise. It's a shame for a man if he can't keep his promise. Besides, you'll have a tough time in the Tower of Trial if you don't have anyone with Thief skills."
"Do you have someone in mind?"
The old man points at himself.
"Wha! Old man!?"
"I was a bandit leader in the past you know."
"Many things happened.... I started a business here 13 years ago."
"Looks like it's related to Minya."
Minya is 13 year old.
The old man's eyes are warped in agony.
"....It was the last will of my wife.... Raise this child at somewhere decent, she asked."
"So it's like that--don't tell me, those bandits are."
A filthy unshaven face that I saw just recently flashed in my mind.
The old man gulped the alcohol and sighed.
"That's why I couldn't refuse that Gaff. He threatened he'd expose my past."
"I see. I guess you couldn't do anything about that."
The old man shook his head when I cheered him. His short hair swayed, and he drank the alcohol in one gulp. He flung the cup on the counter.
"That's wrong Keika! I was taken aback by what you said! I noticed my mistake when you told me 『do you still call yourself a father then?』! That's right, I'm Minya's father before this tavern's owner! I shouldn't have been afraid of losing my business, I should have fought to protect my daughter! It really opened my eyes. For the past decade, I had forgotten the most important thing cause I was desperately trying to run this shop."
"I see.... I'm glad for you."
When I agreed with him, the old man stared at me with slightly drunk eyes.
"That's why take me along. I'll definitely remove the traps."
"--Understood. I'm counting on you."
The old man pour alcohol in two cups.
We toasted without minding which started it.