Chapter 61: Hero talks about bath memories
A drop of water fell from the ceiling.
As I looked at the ripple that was steadily radiating outward, I somehow felt chilly even though I was currently in a warm bath.
I am Tise.
Possessor of the Divine Protection of the Assassin and Hero Ruti-sama’s friend.
I was currently in a bathtub.
As a matter of fact, among my assassin friends, I am called the Bath Reviewer Tise, a bath lover.
My review book recorded with the public baths in various towns, hot springs, and bathing facilities of post towns which I visited between my work was now regarded as a must-have when our Assassin’s Guild members plan for an outing.
Warmth was needed in our assassination occupation which called for a hardened heart.
Well, even if getting naked and taking a bath was an excellent way to have a great time, it was also a proper book written with the purpose of detailing locations to store weapons as well as escape routes.
In my eyes, the eyes of a bath lover who even wrote a book about them, this bath would score … very high.
Firstly, having two bathtubs even though it was for home use gave it high points.
The pot-type bathtub I was currently in was a bath that allowed one to cherish their own personal space.
The society out there was a world that required communication. Even an assassin was not exempted. On the contrary, assassins which have to portray a different persona every time they enter a city actually have a job that stresses more on communication.
We are forbidden from speaking without reserve at any given time or place. We always have to keep in mind the influence of our words and must control our communications.
That is extremely tiring.
Among the assassins, there were many seniors who fail to be promoted even though they had the skills in assassination precisely because they had difficulty in their communication ability.
My master hammered the art of wearing a mask into me so I was capable of becoming any persona.
But that does not mean that I liked to pretend in particular.
In short, I feel a surprising sense of happiness when I, Tise‧Garland, submerge inside a personal bathtub like this, inside the threshold of a pot.
Warming up the water with a pipe was also a good idea.
I would inevitably be conscious of it if there was a person outside stoking the fire for the bath.
In contrast, for this bath, the temperature of the bath could be adjusted just by using the valve a short distance away from the bathtub.
“Four ☆. It is a pity that this bath is quite deep so the water reaches until my mouth if I sit down.”
My words bubbled on the surface of the water so it was not conveyed to anybody.
I’m short. Instead of relying on overwhelming power, my fighting style involved utilizing a sharp thrust from behind at a vital spot so having a small body had its advantages but it also had many inconveniences in my daily life.
Ugeuge-san was having a meal of an insect that was attracted to the moisture from the bath.
I felt warm and fluffy as I looked at Ugeuge-san holding onto its prey with its front legs and eating it deliciously.
Hah, I better stop running from reality and face the situation in front of me.
Well, it was not as if something actually happened.
It was just that Hero Ruti-sama and Lit-san were inside a bathtub together.
I thought that I had finally seen Ruti-sama up close after all this while but … Ruti-sama loves her brother Gideon-san. And it was even at the level of having fallen deeply in love.
But Gideon-san and Lit-san were mutually in love. Just a single glance was enough to let me know that they were totally in love with each other.
And to Gideon-san, Ruti-sama was nothing more than a beloved younger sister. I believe it’s a different kind of love compared to his love for Lit-san.
“It’s a great bath right?”
The conversation between the two people facing each other wasn’t kicking off.
Ruti-sama has been looking directly at Lit-san all this time and has been responding to Lit-san with brief replies.
I’m impressed that Lit-san could endure such a situation.
Even if Ruti-sama does not harbor ill will, a person with ordinary courage will not be able to endure facing the hero directly.
Even I, as Ruti-sama’s friend, find it a lot easier to stand beside her compared to in front of her.
Furthermore, I can’t say for sure that Ruti-sama does not harbor a single shred of ill will toward Lit-san at the moment.
I chose to enter the bath as well just in case the unlikely event that trouble broke out.
Ruti-sama has finally spoken first!
My heart pounded as I prepared myself to leap forward at any time.
Just in case!
“What is it?”
“Has Lit-san already entered the bath with Onii-chan?”
She jumped straight into it! Terrifying!
“Yeah, we have.”
She shot back mercilessly! Terrifying!
I didn’t sense any turbulent atmosphere between the two of them.
Even though there wasn’t any, as an Assassin, I have seen how love could become the motive for murder, for a person to wish for another person’s death, more than enough times to know it very well.
“I entered together too. Although it was a very long time ago.”
“What was Red … Gideon like when he was young?”
“He hasn’t changed at all.”
“You mean he never grew up?”
“Not that. Onii-chan has always been cool.”
Ruti-sama cast her eyes down slightly.
Upon closer inspection, her cheeks were dyed red.
“I was weak in the past.”
“Really? I can’t believe that when I look at Ruti now.”
“Yes. My very first fight was against a raiding party of Orcs that assaulted the village, wrong. My very first fight was when I went to search for the child who lost her way in the nearby mountain.”
“A lost child?”
“I was five years old. I was a young child too. But I could not ignore her as a Hero.”
“The impulses of your Divine Protection huh …”
Lit-san muttered seriously.
The Divine Protection impulses were a common worry for everyone living in this world.
To live your life as willed by your Divine Protection or to defy your Divine Protection and live your own life.
Most people live their lives as desired by their Divine Protection. Continuously defying your Divine Protection would be tough after all and the Divine Protection will confer skills that aid with living the life as desired by the Divine Protection.
But that was not limited to lifestyles that the person wished for.
Incidentally, I probably wouldn’t have become a murderer if not for my Divine Protection of the Assassin but on the flipside, I did not suffer a terrible life as a slave so I actually don’t hate my Divine Protection.
While I was lost in that train of thought, Ruti-sama was unusually talkative as she started narrating about her first adventure.
That day, a child who was not even my friend entered and got lost in a mountain where the animals had just woken up from hibernation and were looking for food with empty stomachs.
Fundamentally, children were forbidden from going to the mountain to play.
But as there were lots of tree fruits and such which could be eaten as snacks, there was an unending number of obsessed children who see the mountain purely as a playground and slip past the adults’ eyes to enter.
Nevertheless, most children had enough discretion to know not to enter when the seasons change from winter to early spring because they knew that it was dangerous.
That girl did not have that discretion.
And my Divine Protection also did not have the discretion to wait and survey the situation until the adults gathered after their work to set off in search of the lost child.
Onii-chan was away somewhere on that day.
I didn’t have anybody else to rely on.
My father and mother were also not strong enough to enter the mountain during that season.
Even though I knew that it was dangerous, my Divine Protection urged me to set forth.
Slight signs of white snow still remained in the mountain.
The rushing sound of water from the river was probably due to the water coming from the melted snow.
As a five-year-old, both monsters and animals would be deadly foes to me.
I only had a single knife in my hand.
As dusk approached, I called out that child’s name as I remained on the move so that I would not be surrounded by the threats on the mountain.
I heard the howl of a wolf in the distance. Something rustled in the bush nearby.
Suddenly, I sensed a large presence and turned back to see a magical beast called an Amphisbaena, a snake with a large body about the size of a horses’ torso at a total length of 14 meters and a snake head at the tip of its tail as well, staring at me with its four golden pupils.
However, perhaps it didn’t consider a small animal like myself as prey as it disinterestedly averted its gaze and left with ripple-like movements that didn’t make a single sound.
An ordinary child, even those with a courage of iron, would have dissolved into screams and tears and fled. That would be normal.
However, I did not feel fear.
I merely acknowledged that the threat had left and there was no other option other than to continue that dangerous adventure.
I probably searched for about two hours.
And I finally found that child after the surroundings had completely turned dark.
That child could not find her way home so she found a warm cave and was weeping inside it.
There were claw marks on the nearby trees which indicated that this was the territory of a being that would not hesitate to attack any intruders unconditionally.
There was also a strong beast stench coming from the cave.
If a person had the perception skill, they would notice the huge presence lurking in the depths.
The magical beast ‘Owlbear’ already considered that child as feed.
An Owlbear is a monster with the body of a grizzly bear and the head of an owl, a monster that stood at the pinnacle of the food chain in the mountain.
Even the two-headed Amphisbaena just now couldn’t win against the Owlbear.
It probably didn’t kill the child even though it could eat it at any time because it just finished a meal recently somewhere else. It might have been thinking of eating her when it was feeling a little peckish.
That child was not bound by any rope. However, if she ever tried to leave the cave, the Owlbear would probably immediately charge out and break the child’s legs.
It did not do so now because it knew that human children died easily.
So it left the child alone for now because it wanted to keep her in a fresh condition as long as possible before consuming her.
The Owlbear likely possessed an uncommon Divine Protection.
It was a lot more cunning and cruel compared to an ordinary Owlbear. It had probably consumed human children before.
Even though I possessed the Divine Protection of the Hero, it was still at level 1 and my body was that of a child.
The opponent was an Owlbear said to be undefeatable unless your Divine Protection level was around level 15.
The difference in power was apparent.
However, I could not abandon that child. That was probably the flaw of the Divine Protection of the Hero.
The Divine Protection did not fear death and prioritized the act of being a hero over survival.
If I had a huge goal ahead such as subjugating the Demon Lord, I would have the option to abandon the person in front of me but … at that time, saving that girl was my top goal and I had to help her even if it cost me my life.
Furthermore, in the first place, I didn’t even have the time to have such thoughts.
Upon seeing my figure, the child loudly cried out my name and rushed out in tears, alerting the Owlbear in the cave.
The Owlbear howled and charged out.
I drew my knife and held it in a reverse grip.
The chances of winning were even thinner than thin ice. But only death awaited if I did not win.
I only had one chance.
The Owlbear charging at me swiped at me with its claws.
The Owlbear would rip through its opponent with its claws, hold it down and deliver the fatal blow with its beak.
That was the typical fighting style of the Owlbear.
The speed of its attack was way higher than my dodging capabilities.
However, I held my left hand in front of my chest and waited for that single moment.
The child older than I was screamed as she saw me get torn.
However, I was unharmed even though I should have been torn to shreds.
I healed my body with the Skill: Healing Hands the instant my body was shredded.
At my level, I would use pretty much all my healing power in just one cast.
However, that was my only chance.
Seeing the opponent it attacked remain unharmed was unexpected for the Owlbear.
Having caught it off guard, I thrust my reverse grip knife into the left eye of the Owlbear.
The Owlbear screamed out in pain.
But my knife only pierced through its eyeball.
It was a deep wound that would eventually cause the Owlbear to die.
However, the knife had to reach the brain if I were to inflict a fatal wound to the Owlbear such that it would not be able to move at that very moment.
My body flew into the air with the sound of a slam.
I was hit by the Owlbear’s arm that it swung out.
However, the claws did not strike me so I escaped from instant death.
My body tumbled and rolled across the ground before I finally stopped.
Just that strike alone was enough to cause injury to my entire body and I could no longer even stand up.
(This is as far as I go.)
I did my best. There was no helping it.
My Divine Protection did not insist that I stand and struggle to the end as if having acknowledged that fact. It apparently showed mercy to allow me to die while lying in the end.
Even if I lived, I would be subjected to such pain for the sake of people that I was not close to.
Even if I lived, I would be called a creepy child behind my back by those who cause me such pain.
Even if I lived, they would seek my help, the help of a creepy child, only when it was convenient for them and not repay any favor once it was over.
I had enough. Living for five years.
It was even shorter if I counted from when I started being aware of my surroundings.
That time, when I still did not possess the Resistance toward despair, was the time I felt plenty hopelessness in humanity.
However, there was one.
A person who did not seek my help.
A person who would always help me when I sought for help.
A person who loved me as his beloved younger sister.
I would not regret discarding anything else. My parents, my home, even the world.
But the thought of not being able to see Onii-chan … I hated it.
The moment I had that thought, the words came out from my mouth naturally even before it passed through my mind.
“Onii-chan, help me!!”
The drawn blade flashed like a lightning bolt.
The sword that came from the blind spot on the left side of the single-eyed Owlbear pierced through its thick armor of muscles to reach its heart and the 700-kilogram monster was slain with a single stroke of the blade.
“Ruti! Are you all right!”
That person did not boast his defeat of the Owlbear and did not spare a glimpse at his feat as he showed an expression that was even sadder than my own as he looked at my injured body.
“I am fine, after all, Onii-chan came to save me.”
But I did not care about the pain I was feeling.
Since the person in front of me was always there at my side when I was suffering.
After that, I was carried on Onii-chan’s shoulder and we safely descended the mountain.
I only found out long after that that the reason Onii-chan acquired the mastery of his common skills was that he prioritized raising his Swift Skill so that he could raise the speed he could rush to me whenever he needed to.