Raldine was crying with half-sobs after having her lunch stolen and being trampled by sheep. But finally, she regained her smile when I bought her a freshly squeezed milk and newly laid egg custard pudding that was sold on the ranch.
Meanwhile, Belle disappeared into the cowshed, thrilled.
I sat on the grass in the shade and fed Raldine the custard pudding. I couldn’t help but notice her delicate collarbone peeking through the gap in her blouse.
No, stop it! I shook my head vigorously. She still looks like my sister, no matter how different she is on the inside!
What am I thinking?!
“Big brother, are you cold?”
“N-No, I’m fine.”
“Now, here,” she said, taking off the scarf on her head and putting it over my shoulder.
After finishing the pudding, I lay down next to Raldine. I had spent the day with her and worked as a day laborer at night, so it was nice to be able to relax like this.
“What kind of girl is Lady Geraldine, the friend who gave you a letter the other day?”
Suddenly, those words escaped my lips, and I berated myself for letting them slip out.
“I’ve got nothing interesting to say. I’m just a dull and useless person…”
Raldine spoke after a brief pause.
“I always manage to mess up at the academy, dragging everyone down with me. Once, instead of brewing a healing potion for our herbology class, I accidentally made an elixir. Another time, I summoned a toad but ended up calling forth a two-headed giant snake…”
I gasped in shock, “Y-You can accidentally conjure an elixir and summon a giant snake?”
“It just happens for some reason. But even if I attempt to brew something intentionally, it never goes as planned. If I try making an elixir, it turns out toxic. And instead of summoning a snake, a bunch of yamabiru (Japanese mountain leeches) might come raining down from the sky… it’s caused a lot of frustration among my classmates.”
That’s why I can’t get anyone to partner up with me during practical lessons. Of course, it’s understandable.
Except for Stella. She always finds me hilarious and willingly partners up with me
…Ever since elementary school at the magic academy, I had been friendless. However, the three years I spent with Stella in high school were the most blissful days of my life.
Suddenly, Raldine clutched her mouth in panic, and I feigned sleep to avoid suspicion.
“Big brother, are you asleep?” she questioned, pinching my nose hard enough to rouse me from slumber.
“Big brother…” Raldine nestled her head on my chest.
My body tensed, and my heart raced. To mask my unease from Raldine, I pictured myself fleeing from a swarm of Yamabiru.
Once, during a visit to the library with Raldine, I covertly browsed through a book called “Royal Journal.” In its latest issue, I came across an article titled “[Geraldine, the Duke’s daughter, who graduated with top marks from the magic academy’s home economics department and is also a fellow student, is preparing to wed the neighboring country’s second prince, Henry].”
The illustration of Lady Geraldine, with her serene expression and gentle smile, surrounded by her luscious golden locks and long, dark lashes, captured my attention. Her piercing blue eyes stole my gaze, and I couldn’t look away.
The warriors tasked with protecting the border hold the Saint-sama of the Holy City in high esteem, revering her as their beloved leader as they carry out their grueling duties. Although no one has ever seen the Saint-sama in person, everyone holds their own image of her in their hearts.
To me, Lady Geraldine embodied the very image of the Saint-sama I had envisioned.
It’s hard to fathom that someone so beautiful and noble is lying by my side, sharing my bed and meals.
It’s a surreal tale.
I never would have guessed that the same unfortunate girl who was being lectured by the librarian while flipping through books over there was actually Lady Geraldine.
That was my initial thought.
I gently shook Raldine, who had dozed off and drooled on my shirt.
“Yes, big brother…”
Raldine rubbed her eyes and wiped the drool from my shirt.
“It’s time to head back. If we miss sunset, we won’t be able to use teleportation magic to enter the town…”
As Raldine hesitated outside the souvenir shop of the ranch, I urged us to check it out. Suddenly, her eyes lit up as she eagerly piled eggs, milk, cheese, and more into our shopping cart.
“Are you sure you can eat all of that?”
“Yes, big brother…”
Though crestfallen, Raldine reluctantly put back the yogurt, sausages, ham, and salami. However, she stealthily added the sausages back to the cart when I wasn’t looking.
“I heard you caught a notorious magician in no time,” the shopkeeper chimed in.
“Well, yes,” I replied modestly.
“Urban warriors are truly remarkable. Our village could use someone like you as a bodyguard. We’ve been having problems with thieves who steal livestock and crops to sell on the black market. They seem to be organized,” the shopkeeper confided.
“Sounds like a tough situation…”
I replied noncommittally.
“Monsters, on the other hand, are adorable. They only take what they need to survive. Unfortunately, we can’t offer much in terms of salary here in the countryside, but our food is exquisite…”
The shop owner let out a sigh when he said that without asking anyone.
“You’re mistaken if you thought this was foreshadowing. What I desire is a steady and stable job. If I wanted to be a bodyguard, I would have knocked on the door of a bar in town long ago. Besides, I haven’t given up on my hope of joining the Holy City yet.”
“The bouncers and crooks are tearing each other apart, leaving the villagers to have the last laugh…” Belle, who had slipped back unnoticed, taunted with a wicked flutter of her wings. She had a glossy appearance that repelled me, making me want to keep my distance.
Raldine gazed at the sheep and cows grazing on the ranch lovingly as we departed from the village.
“It’s fun to live in such a tranquil place, surrounded by animals.”
“But you were trampled by a sheep, weren’t you?”
“Big brother is mean…”
Raldine puffed out her cheek.
She looked adorable, and I couldn’t help but think so, despite knowing it was inappropriate to have such feelings for my sister or for the Duke’s daughter.
With a skilled hand, Raldine drew the magic circle, and we vanished into the blue light once again.
In an instant, we were transported to the middle of the town’s sewage river.
I should have been more cautious of the familiar sensation. Whether it’s wielding a sword or harnessing magic, those who are inexperienced tend to slip up once they start to feel comfortable and behave like seasoned experts.
“Ahaha, ufufu…” Only Belle twirls around like a playful fairy amongst the morning dew.
“…Don’t you ever climb on my shoulder again…”
As expected, I’m more of a scavenger than a bouncer. Maintaining infrastructure is a crucial job, I realized.
“Waaaah, big brother, it’s all dirty and gross!”
Coated in mud and slime, reeking of a putrid scent, and whimpering, I felt somewhat relieved upon seeing Raldine.
She doesn’t need to be as stunning as Saint-sama, but it would be problematic if she was too adorable like an ordinary girl.
If I’m going to coexist with her as her brother, it’s better to have a disappointing little sister like this.
Furthermore, she managed to safeguard the souvenir food even while drenched in muck. Demonstrating resilience in an unremarkable manner is also preferable as her brother.
“Don’t cry anymore. When we get home, I’ll make the spaghetti with sausages that you worked so hard to bring back, so cheer up…”
“Yay♪ Dinner is♪ Big~ big♪ Sausages♪ Pork~ meat~♪”
As we trudged homeward through the dusky hours, sticky and disheveled, Raldine’s off-tune and underwhelming crooning filled the air.
“Big brother’s dinner~♪, Big brother’s sausages ~♪, Meaty, porky goodness is what you’ll find~♪”
“Don’t sing such a song!!”
Upon being scolded, Raldine’s tears flowed once more, her nose running in despair.