The next day.
Feeling the touch of the cold morning air, I opened my eyes.
“Good morning.” [Ryouma]
“Good morning, Ryouma-kun.” [Kai]
“You’re awake, I see. Yesterday sure was tough.” [Kei]
When I went to the washroom, I happened into Kai-san and Kei-san. They probably also came here to prepare themselves for the day. They still looked sleepy, though.
As expected, they talked about the events last night.
After I left Niki-kun’s secret base, we suffered no more difficulties and the conversations went by smoothly.
Niki-kun followed right behind me. He became nervous as we approached the village, but he didn’t get cold feet and say something like ‘I don’t think I can go home after all!’ No. He properly went back with his own two legs.
Also, Shin-san, Peiron-san, and Kai-san were the only ones waiting outside the secret base. Sein-san and Kei-san had gone back ahead to the village to inform the others that Niki-kun was safe. I think that played a huge part too.
Nothing out of the ordinary really happened other than Niki-kun’s dad trying to hit him as soon as he got back. They spoke calmly and normally.
“By the way, Ryouma-kun. How’s your face?” [Kai]
“Oh, it’s perfectly fine.” [Ryouma]
“That’s good to hear. I was so shocked when you suddenly jumped in and took that punch.” [Kai]
“Yeah, yeah. I heard you promised to protect Niki, but still…” [Kei]
“When I thought of how Niki-kun’s dad was worrying over him too, I felt it wouldn’t be good if he just subdued him like that.” [Ryouma]
“Even then I don’t think there was any need for you to take that punch with your face.” [Kai]
“Ha ha ha…” [Ryouma]
Well, at least everything ended well.
As we laughed like that, we finished readying ourselves for the day and headed to work while it was still dark.
Along the way we happened upon a couple of familiar faces.
“Huh? Hey, you two. Are those Niki-kun and his parents?” [Ryouma]
“Looks like it.” [Kai]
“What are they doing?” [Kei]
While we were talking, Niki-kun and his parents noticed us.
Niki-kun waved his hands at us and approached us with his parents.
“Onii-chan, good morning!” [Niki]
“Good morning, Niki-kun.” [Ryouma]
I greeted his parents too, and they bowed their heads deeply toward us.
“Thank you very much for finding our son yesterday. We couldn’t thank you properly yesterday, so we thought we’d offer our thanks today.” [Mother]
“Ahh… Well, it was already dark by the time we got back to the village. It can’t be helped.” [Kai]
“We talked too, so the night grew even later.” [Kei]
“Even then I still have to give our thanks or I won’t be satisfied.” [Dad]
“In that case, thank you very much.” [Ryouma]
“Wait, why are you the one thanking them?” [Kai]
Kai-san said and the place turned into laughter.
“Anyway, onii-san. Are you going to be working at the processing plant today too?” [Niki]
“The processing plant? Why do you ask?” [Ryouma]
When I asked that, the ones to answer my question were the parents.
“We troubled everyone in the village because of this incident, so both as an apology and as punishment, we decided to have Niki-kun help out until this noon.” [Mother]
“I thought my son had grown a little, but it turns out he’s still too lively for his own good. He should at least be able to help out with drawing water or carrying things.” [Dad]
“That’s a pretty harsh punishment you’ve gotten yourself into, Niki.” [Kai]
“And why is that?” [Ryouma]
“Water is normally drawn from the well, but the processing plant uses a lot of water, so even several hundred buckets of water won’t be enough. Of course, the adults will be helping in turns too, but it’s a lot of physical work, so normally kids only help out when they’ve gotten a little bigger.” [Kai]
“I see… Good luck, Niki-kun.” [Ryouma]
“You too, Onii-chan!” [Niki]
We both laughed and then made our way to the beach.
Niki-kun happily walked the whole way while holding his parents’ hands.
…Maybe they talked again after coming back yesterday.
Right now, they look like a really happy family.
“See you later, Onii-chan! When you’re done with your work, tell me about your slimes, okay!?” [Niki]
“Sure. You work hard now, Niki-kun.” [Ryouma]
When we arrived at the beach, we parted ways with Niki-kun and began our preparations to fight the mud salamanders.
That being said, it wasn’t as if I did anything that taxing since all I really had to do was summon the slimes and have them take their positions as planned.
Because of that I made double sure that they had taken their place around the processing plant properly.
“The wave is here!!” [Leader]
When the leader yelled that, the beach immediately became noisy.
The ‘wave’ here means that a maelstrom of mud salamanders have begun to push in.
“Ryouma! Are you ready!?” [Sein]
We had already rendezvoused with Sein-san and the others. Sein-san yelled that to ensure that we wouldn’t lose to our surroundings.
“I’m ready anytime!” [Ryouma]
At that, he took his position. Likewise I too hurried to my position.
With the processing plant behind me, I watched over the slimes that have expanded over the beach.
…At a glance, the place seemed calm, but I could feel the strong fighting spirit of the slimes that have prepared themselves to fight.