My Battle Against the Balloon
After the Two-Headed Black Dog’s defeat, I steeled my resolve to continue the arduous journey with Naofumi-sama, training and preparing for the battle against the waves.
My role in battle is to strike at the monster while Naofumi-sama is keeping its attention occupied by receiving its attacks.
I was afraid of fighting in the beginning, terrified of the blood that would be spilled upon cutting a flesh wound… I eventually got used to it.
Nowadays, I just pray that I am getting stronger as I fight.
“Well, time to return to the inn….” (Naofumi)
And so, several days after my first experience in combat:
“Before going back… Raphtalia, don’t intervene.” (Naofumi)
Naofumi-sama slowly walked through the grass plains towards a balloon, purposefully getting bitten by it. He then shifts the balloon to his back, hiding it under his mantle.
It doesn’t hurt even though it is constantly biting, he says.
Come to think of it, when I was first given a weapon, he did pull out a balloon that I would finish off later from within his mantle…
So that’s how he replenishes them.
The insides of Naofumi-sama’s mantle… to be covered in his warmth.
I’m envious of it… just a little bit.
“Let’s get going.” (Naofumi)
I feel that I’m getting used to this kind of interaction.
Being bathed in the blood of the monsters I’ve defeated no longer bothers me that much these days.
These common occurrences in battles will happen regardless of my wishes, I won’t be able to move forward if I let this affect me.
It’ll be okay once I wash this off afterward.
Anyway, we headed towards the base of our operations, returning to the inn within Lute Village.
“….as usual, you can spend the rest of the day as you please.” (Naofumi)
The Naofumi-sama who was very gentle towards me, catering to my meals and even free time for myself, went back into the inn to work on mixing the herbs found earlier in the day.
He would occasionally go barter with either mister apothecary or the traveling merchants.
“Ha! Toh!” (Raphtalia)
Lately, I have been spending my break time doing image training, practicing the motions of swinging a sword against the ball.
I need to be quick in responding to the moments when Naofumi-sama successfully pins the monster in place, move in swiftly and striking at its vitals!
Whilst recalling the experience I’ve had against the monsters today, I continued practicing so that I can be prepared for similar situations in the future.
Speaking of monsters… That monster from the wave which took the lives of Father, Mother, and all the other villagers… I also go over my footwork against that monster so as to not lose more than I already did.
Even if my current abilities cannot match the might of those monsters, I will overcome them… someday……
I should also train myself to avoid getting caught by splatters of blood.
I have learned that I should not just focus on only thrusting the blade, the way you withdraw can adversely affect the opponent.
…… I also do push-ups, endurance runs and the like to increase my fitness.
Stronger, I need to become even stronger to fight the waves.
Otherwise…… That time will just repeat itself once more, woth me being incapable of doing anything but see more victims get sacrificed.
Naofumi-sama being present doesn’t change the fact that the same could still happen.
“Ohh. You are putting in a lot of effort… making such a small girl go through this much, did the Lord of Spiciness order you to do so?”
The landlady of the inn called out to me.
Lord of Spiciness is a nickname for Naofumi-sama that has recently caught on in Lute Village.
“No, I have been doing this training voluntarily because I want to become stronger.” (Raphtalia)
“Wow… such diligence. Can I ask you to chop the firewood along the way?” (Landlady)
“Ah, sure. In exchange for the lodging fees… ” (Raphtalia)
“Okay, okay~ I’ll waiver it as thanks.” (Landlady)
Well, I have been training while helping around with various tasks along the way.
Back then, the landlady did many things for us like giving me suitable second-hand clothes, and so I assisted her with simple tasks in order to repay the favor.
I do remember helping with similar tasks back in my hometown, Lurolona Village, so doing them in these parts isn’t too much of a problem.
The firewood tends not to crack open unless I repeatedly chop at it… though I am doing this by only imitating what I saw.
It would be easier if I were able to chop it open in one smooth motion. I will bear with using this small axe since it is what I’m given to work with.
“I’m done.” (Raphtalia)
“Oh, thank you for your help.” (Landlady)
“Sigh…I feel so sluggish…”
The landlady’s husband walks over speaking in a tiresome tone.
“Would you look at that, strolling in at the right time… What were you doing the entire day while she was doing all the work?” (Landlady)
“Isn’t it fine for me to go hang out with the others if she is going to do all the work in my stead…” (Landlady’s Husband)
Just as he finished saying, the landlady seized her husband’s head with an iron grip looking at him condescendingly as though he were prey, followed by.a voice filled with menace.
Looking at this somehow sent a shiver down my spine. She’s scary.
“Ahh… Since I have time, how about I split this worthless head of yours open? The superficial thoughts in there would surely burn up nicely.” (Landlady)
“Wha, you can’t be serious!” (Landlady’s Husband)
“Quit complaining and get your ass to draw some water from the well!” (Landlady)
“Damn it! So unfair!” (Landlady’s Husband)
“Whose the one being unfair here! Jeez… that lazy ass…” (Landlady)
All I could do is laugh awkwardly while watching all this unfold…
And so I continued training in the open area behind the inn until the sky turned dark.
My stomach rumbled audibly as I began to finish up.
I seem to have been getting hungrier and hungrier more often as of late… to the point where Naofumi-sama gives me an allowance so I can eat at my own convenience.
It should be about time to go remind Naofumi-sama to eat… He tends to have the habit of skipping meals when he’s focused on something, so I have to make him eat by all means for the sake of his health.
I then returned to our room in the inn to call Naofumi-sama.
“Naofumi-sama, it’s about time for dinner.” (Raphtalia)
“Hm. It’s already that time, huh?” (Naofumi)
Naofumi-sama spoke as he looked out the window with an unpleasant face.
“Let’s go get some food then.” (Naofumi)
“Where should we eat today… I wonder if the eatery is still open…” (Naofumi)
“About that…” (Raphtalia)
It is about eating together.
Even though Naofumi-sama knows that I am a slave, he seems to not mind that fact and has his meal sitting with me.
Well, the eatery in Lute Village is very well known for its ultra-spicy dishes.
It has been said that the cost of the meal would be on the house if they were to somehow finish the ultra-spicy dish within the time limit.
My nose would itch from the strength of the spices even from a considerable distance away.
There was a time when Naofumi-sama took the challenge and successfully finished the dish within the time limit, only for him to suffer from stomach ache and fever later in the night.
It is Naofumi-sama after all so I wouldn’t be too surprised to see him challenge it once more.
“…… It would be better if we ate at the tavern today.” (Naofumi)
Naofumi-sama suggested eating at another place, rubbing his belly as he said it… seemingly managing to see my concerns.
So I nodded back.
“I think that’s a good choice.” (Raphtalia)
Though it doesn’t seem to be the case as Naofumi-sama tilts his head to the side for a moment and then starts walking to the tavern.
I figured to ask some questions regarding tomorrow’s battle as we ate.
“About the monsters that we fought today, where do you think I should target if we were to focus on gathering materials tomorrow?” (Raphtalia)
“I will give appropriate instructions if we want meat. The materials required in compounding tend to use the innards of monsters at times but we’ll be focusing on monster hides and bones so there’s no need to take extra care when attacking, just target wherever seems tender.” (Naofumi)
I turned to look at the other adventurers and then back to Naofumi-sama.
Honestly speaking, if I were to consider our future endeavors… we should think about buying a set of armor for Naofumi-sama soon since Naofumi-sama’s current attire is no different from an average villager’s casual outfit with a shield slapped onto it.
I know Naofumi-sama is robust and all that, but he will eventually reach his limit. I would, without a doubt, want him to wear a set of armor soon.
We left the tavern after finishing our food uneventfully.
While walking back, I saw Naofumi-sama’s mantle was rustling unnaturally as some roundish silhouette jumped out.
That roundish figure then went into the trash pile at the back of the tavern as quickly as it disappeared into his mantle.
Back at the inn, I took a short brea-…… No, I continued the training regiment, returning to my room after finishing.
“Time to sleep.” (Naofumi)
Naofumi-sama mumbles as he lays down onto the bed.
I followed suit, laying down.
Naofumi-sama usually has issues sleeping comfortably as shown by his unnatural sleeping posture.
Though he does ease into sleep after a while.
Surely today’s the day I…… After confirming that Naofumi-sama is in deep sleep, I slowly got up from the bed and carefully crept into his bed.
Naofumi-sama has begun to distance himself when he sleeps these days, ever since I resolved to fight and overcome my nightmares.
I was thinking of the possible reasons why the nightmares ceased and before I knew it, Naofumi-sama no longer sleeped in bed with me.
There’s no doubt that Naofumi-sama gave me a tight hug when I was suffering from my nightmares.
One more time…… To be enveloped in that warm and calming feeling.
And so, I slipped into his bedsheets, moving towards his embrace to see his…
I desperately covered my mouth just before my scream of surprise came out.
That very surprise shows up right in front of me, the Orange Balloon.
It is a monster that Naofumi-sama carries around for self-defense.
Usually biting somewhere on his back, hidden under the mantle.
I only remembered it because Naofumi-sama had recently replenished his supply of them.
It is a monster that I could deal with nowadays but I shouldn’t, Naofumi-sama does rely on it to go through his everyday life.
We are technically companions if you think about it that way…
“GAR, GAR, GAR!” (Orange Balloon)
Bearing its fangs right at my face, trying to threaten me from moving anywhere nearer to Naofumi-sama.
Such a hindrance.
Why are you lingering around his chest area today? Weren’t you sticking to his back all the time?…
I then grabbed the balloon and tried to push it back to where it belongs.
“GAARRRR!” (Orange Balloon)
It jumped straight into my face, destroying my attempts to sleep ever so closer to Naofumi-sama.
So that Naofumi-sama wouldn’t be woken up by my screams, I retreated out of his bed while stifling my voice as best as I could.
I somehow managed to fight back against the balloon that stubbornly continued its assault towards me.
What should I do… If I just kill the balloon and cause a ruckus, Naofumi-sama will end up waking to the noise.
But I can’t just leave it alone since it will just jump at me again if given the chance.
I can’t afford to ignore it biting at me like how Naofumi-sama does so unharmed. Those attempts will just give me multiple injuries.
Seemingly realizing that I could not harm it, it smirks at me and returns to biting Naofumi-sama.
[Ahh… I like this tough human being, it’s so chewy~ I want to continue biting him forever~] (Orange Balloon)
Is what I think the balloon is feeling based on its current expression.
That look of someone that hasn’t had enough lunch and is biting down on the remains of his food, reminds me of Keel-kun.
Naofumi-sama isn’t someone that you can treat like your own personal dog bone!
I reflexively threw a punch right at the balloon.
“Ga- GAR!?” (Orange Balloon)
The balloon flew off into the wall and ricocheted off towards the opposite side of the room, carrying the blanket with it as well.
Realizing what I did, I immediately turned towards Naofumi-sama.
Naofumi-sama will likely be woken up if we make too much noise after all.
Naofumi-sama is in a deeper sleep than I thought he would be, thankfully.
No time for a breather, this has only been round 1.
“GAAR!” (Orange Balloon)
The balloon unleashes its unrelenting rage, bouncing off the wall in an attempt to get back at me for sucker-punching it.
This situation has gone too far, time to bring the fight outside of the bed.
I rushed forward, pinning that balloon on to the wall and sent out a flurry of punches towards it while also being careful to not use lethal force.
Two round shadows suddenly popped into my vision, appearing from Naofumi-sama’s back.
It is a Red Balloon and another Orange Balloon.
All three of the balloons bearing animosity towards me lunged forward to attack.
As expected, there were more balloons that Naofumi-sama regularly carried around.
The ruckus we were causing a while ago was not to the extent that it was disturbing so they remained asleep all this time.
As proof of my training, I managed to dodge the balloon jumping at me with finesse.
I was surprisingly able to see even though the room was in the darkness of the night.
This could be the effects of leveling up or the result of my training.
And so begins the intense exchange of blows between the balloons and me.
It is quite hard to not make much noise when there is a brawl going on.
“Urgh… what’s with the commotion… go play outside if you haven’t had enough already…” (Naofumi)
It seems that we have made such a racket that Naofumi-sama has woken up.
The balloons, moving as though having been instructed, went back to biting Naofumi-sama who slowly got up from his bed, scratching his head.
“I, I just wanted to go to the toilet…” (Raphtalia)
“Is that so? Well, at least you didn’t wet the bed.” (Naofumi)
“I know it happened back then but I’m different now!” (Raphtalia)
“Okay, okay.” (Naofumi)
When I glanced towards the balloons…
It somehow feels like they were snickering at me.
And so, that night’s battle ended with my loss.
Grr… I may have lost today but I will not give up.
The night of the next day has me going for that desirable place once more, but the balloons retaliate to keep their monopoly.
Using what I’ve learned from fighting with Naofumi-sama, striking by moving in without making a sound.
Having gone through all the image training that I did, I will not be losing this time.
I easily dodged the balloon’s attack, expecting another attack but the balloon that I first hit was nowhere to be seen.
Surveying the area for its whereabouts led to me realizing that the balloon had already gone back to biting Naofumi-sama.
“GA!” (Orange Balloon)
[Come and kill me if you can. You can’t do as you like if this guy were to wake up, right?]
Something along the lines of that went through my mind while looking at that ball taunting me.
That somehow got on my nerves.
How should I describe this feeling…
I reached out to the balloon that was currently busy with biting into Naofumi-sama.
“GA, GAR!” (Orange Balloon)
The balloon seemed to be waiting for this moment when it charged towards me, though an attack of this level can be dealt with easily.
A swift side step to avoid the attack and position myself behind the balloon, allowing myself to easily grasp it within an iron grip.
I then shifted my orientation slightly looking towards the remaining balloons, clearly showing the level of irritation in my face.
Hmm… it is an oddly wondrous feeling.
I wanted to release it out of my body, drowning those balloons in whatever it was, that kind of feeling.
“GA… aaah…Ga…” (Orange Balloon)
The balloon within my grip was whimpering in such a weird way…
I should carefully increase my grip strength, holding back enough so that it would not die immediately.
Then I bash and bash into the balloon, unable to resist while its strength whittles bit by bit.
Anyway, I have been smacking this balloon numerous times as if it were the ball that Naofumi-sama gave me.
“GAR! GA-!? GAAAAHH!” (Orange Balloon)
“GA-, GA-, GA-!?” (Orange Balloon)
“GA-,GA-,GAAAR!?” (Orange Balloon)
This balloon… Didn’t Naofumi-sama use to threaten people with it, like the peddler who treated him with contempt earlier in the day?
So this should be how Naofumi-sama or the Landlady did with their targets… the way to bleed out murderous intent, assert pressure.
And it bounces once, twice, and thrice.
Sigh, I would have liked to carry on with hitting it against the wall if only we were not indoors.
I will be scolded if I repeatedly bounce the balloon against the walls in the middle of the night, I will just go ahead with squeezing the life out of it while denying the early release of death.
This surge of something nice… I feel like I have gotten the gist of it.
And then I chucked the exhausted balloon towards the other balloons.
The balloon got sent rolling away upon crashing into its friends.
“Who is next…” (Raphtalia)
Looking towards the remaining two balloons.
I will make sure every one of them gets the same treatment if they still have the intent to fight.
“GA! GAAAR!” (Red Balloon)
“GAAR!” (Other Orange Balloon)
The balloons immediately retreated into Naofumi-sama’s back and legs, seemingly giving up on fighting.
They have apparently left the chest and the stomach unoccupied.
Finally, I win.
I slipped into the bed, laying down by the sleeping Naofumi-sama… and rested my head against his chest.
This inexplicable warmth that Naofumi-sama emanates, feels similar to Father’s and yet also similar to Mother’s…
I will be able to sleep well today, I’m sure of it.
Besides that, I can get a close look at Naofumi-sama’s face when he sleeps.
Not a hint of displeasure that he usually has, a sleeping face full of gentleness.
Would there come a day where I can see Naofumi-sama retain that gentle look even when he wakes up?
My heart is fluttering… I wonder why.
Anyway, I should fully make use of this time.
As I was being comfortable with the warmth within his embrace…
“Nnn… ” (Naofumi)
Naofumi-sama slowly raised his body off the bed.
“… Well then” (Naofumi)
Thinking that he was getting up for the toilet but he sat down on the chair and started to grind some herbs.
I tried to release some tension in my body to retain my act of being asleep.
Naofumi-sama, you sleep in such short periods.
I never realized it until now but, Naofumi-sama… every day you continue to make potions until that late in the night and yet wake up that early in the morning.
“Gaaa…” (Orange Balloon)
The balloons that were biting on Naofumi-sama looked over to me, speechless at my results.
Such a miscalculation, I have always come back tired after finishing my training and went to sleep straight away.
“… I should probably replace these, their bites have already gotten weaker.” (Naofumi)
Naofumi-sama mumbled as he glanced towards the balloons.
That’s not it, the reason was all the torture that I put them through which caused them to weaken.
Whether Naofumi is aware of it or not, the balloons will leave at certain times to eat trash that is around the village.
They do return after a short while though.
It’s not that they have gotten weaker, they would even eat the food that I have dropped onto the ground.
The balloons are very lively, they still are.
Naofumi-sama… I wouldn’t be surprised to think of you as a balloon tamer if you were not the Shield Hero.
By the way, the reason for the nickname “Lord of Spiciness” was because rumors of Naofumi-sama being able to finish the famous ultra-spicy food floating around.
But still… today ended up being a failure as well.
I swore to one day be able to sleep together with Naofumi-sama, even if for a short moment.
I began to start falling asleep right on the bed with tiredness and drowsiness pushing me further into sleep.
Afterward, we headed towards the castle town in Melromarc to pay a visit to the weapon shop’s boss.
“Well, what do you need today?” (Boss)
“Ah, we are here to buy new equipment.” (Naofumi)
Naofumi-sama pointed right at me as he said that.
I think that you should care about improving your equipment first though…
It was quite recent when Naofumi-sama suffered an attack surpassing his defenses, getting an injury in the process.
Seriously, I have to get him to graduate from wearing the usual cheap linen clothing.
The time of the next wave is getting closer, after all. Naofumi-sama needs to buy new equipment for himself no matter what.
I grabbed onto Naofumi-sama’s shoulder.
I tried to suggest buying a new set of armor to Naofumi-sama while exerting pressure using what I have picked up when dealing with the balloons that night.
“We were thinking about buying new equipment for Naofumi-sama.” (Raphtalia)
“I get it already, why are you getting so pushy about it?” (Naofumi)
I thought it would only have affected the balloons but it seems like it affected Naofumi-sama, that’s good.
Recently… I have been able to get a better look at Naofumi-sama’s face without needing to tilt my head up that much.
My height has grown considerably… I would wager my outer appearance is like an adult’s already.
“I think you should consider what has transpired so far.” (Raphtalia)
It is nice that you are thinking about my safety, but with you still wearing that…
“Hmm~… To prepare for the waves?” (Naofumi)
“I can clearly understand what the missus is trying to say and yet… I can’t see what you are thinking.” (Boss)
The weapon shop boss seems to have even understood the situation.
In any way, threats and pressure are convenient skills to have. I’m glad that I learned to use them.
Though sleeping together with Naofumi-sama is becoming harder as it is embarrassing to do so in recent days.
There is no longer a need… to fear the balloons.
Even if they do come back, I will be able to fight back now.