Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 30: I Was Purified1
Once upon a time, a young girl was summoned to another world.
It happened on her way back from shopping on a day off. Her body was enveloped by white light, and she was nearly swallowed up by the ground. Desperately, she resisted and shouted to somebody, anybody, for help. But despite all the efforts of a seemingly old office worker who tried to grab her hand and pull her out, both he and Shiraishi Yua were dragged into the unknown future of the other world.
When she finally came to her senses, Yua found herself inside a giant fairy tale-like castle, similar to the ones a person might see in theme parks back in Tokyo. The next thing she noticed was that she was surrounded by countless unknown people.
As she sat there, unaware of just what was going on, a handsome silver-haired prince, who looked like the main lead out of a manga, kindly reached out his hand to her. He then led Yua away to a quiet place where he told her that she was this world’s Saint.
That kind of news was definitely like something out of a video game or novel, but Yua only nodded her head in understanding as some of the more sombre-looking adults told her that this particular country was in danger of being overrun by miasma. This same event happened once every one hundred years, which was why they needed the power of a Saint to cleanse it.
Whenever the miasma overflowed this way, many people became terribly sick. After being told that she was the only one capable of saving them, Yua felt she had no choice but to accept the responsibility and title of this world’s Saint. It was only natural, she thought, that if she could, she should help those who were in need.
Straight away, she was told that the miasma was not yet powerful enough to harm anyone and that she should take time to first learn about the country and practice strengthening her magical powers as a Saint. Each day, she was presented with beautiful dresses and equally beautiful accessories. Even the room she was given to live in was a fit for a princess. Well, Yua really was living in a palace, so it might actually have been a real princess’ room.
The silver-haired young man that had first offered her his hand, who was in fact an actual prince—the crown prince—and his name was Julius. He was incredibly generous and gave Yua plenty of gifts every day.
The food she was served was delicious, there were knights assigned to protect her and maids to serve her, and Yua studied about the kingdom, the country, and magic each day from morning until night.
After a little time passed, she was introduced to some of the kingdom’s top officials, including Sir Aresh.
Just by glancing at him, Yua had felt a sudden wave of nostalgia at the sight of his pitch-black hair. He held a very different aura than Prince Julius, a certain type of aloof charm, and he introduced himself as the Commander of the Third Knight Order.
In addition to being extremely cool, he was also unbelievably strong. Despite all of Yua’s best attempts to talk to him, he never once changed his expression and said very little in return. 2
But instead of discouraging her, it only made Yua want to know more about him, and soon after she learned that Sir Aresh was a genius at using magic, she requested that he be the one to teach her about magic. As the Saint, her wish was fulfilled, but he only came to tutor her twice a week. 3
Studying long hours every day was hard. It was similar to when Yua was in school, but now everyone praised her endlessly for being so clever and valuable. That alone was enough to make her want to save this nation full of kind people.
Shiraishi Yua promised to give them all her very best.
Rattle! Clatter!! ROAR!!!
On the third day of the purification expedition, Yua’s carriage, which was supposedly protected by magic, began to shake at an alarming rate. The resulting noise from outside the vehicle caused Yua to cower in fear.
Julius, who sat beside her, wrapped Yua up in his arms in an effort to soothe her panic.
“It’s fine,” he explained, “we were just out of formation for a little bit.”
“But… didn’t that sound like an animal?” Yua squeaked, her voice trembling as she spoke.
In addition to being protected, the carriage was also supposed to be soundproof. No sound should be heard from outside of it unless the window was open. If there were a real emergency, the coachman would have used that to contact the passengers within.
“It is all right, Your Holiness,” one of her guards said. “Even though the source of the miasma is getting closer and the creatures nearby may sound ferocious, you need not fear. In addition to the kingdom’s elite Second Knight Order, you also have the Third Knight Order here to protect you! There is no way any of us will be defeated by a mere beast of the forest.”
After hearing her guardian knight tell her this, Yua’s eyes opened wide in shock.
“A b-beast!?” she stuttered. “A wild beast has appeared!?”
It was no secret that the miasma killed all of the surrounding plants first and then affected the local animals next. These poor afflicted beasts typically turned aggressive and would indiscriminately attack any unsuspecting creature or person that dared set foot into their territory.
“Is it really all right? Uhm, but maybe I can use recovery magic to help those who are fighting…!”
Back when Yua had started training for the purification ritual, she had heard that recovery magic was used by very few practitioners in the kingdom. If someone got hurt, she thought she might be able to care for them.
“Your Holiness, it is dangerous out here, so it is better for you to not to set foot outside your carriage,” her guardian advised.
The knight’s refusal, however polite, was enough to depress her mood further. The crown prince must have noticed because he instantly attempted to cheer her back up.
“Don’t worry, Yua,” he said. “The medical staff will be there if necessary, so you should just focus on the purification ritual you came here to perform.”
The world that Yua had come to know in the past few months had been a peaceful and kind one, one where no dangers existed for her. But this one she was living in now, it felt totally different. Thinking about it like that made her recall the words Kondou-san had spoken to her the day before.
‘In fact, I’ve almost died twice already since we came to this world’
Her heart thumped loudly in her chest at the sudden realisation.
Since her arrival, Yua had been surrounded by the prince and his knights, as well as her maids and tutors, and she had spent all of her time here quietly protected as the Saint.
But what about someone like Kondou-san, who was not given the same accommodations as a Saint?
‘This isn’t a world where you can just continue blindly doing as you’re told and living out the rest of your days in blissful ignorance.’
Now it was starting to make a little sense.
As their party drew closer to the source of the miasma within the Forest of Magic, they were suddenly attacked by a sabre-toothed tiger-like beast with sharp long fangs. Fortunately, the knight orders were strong and were able to defeat it without much effort.
“They don’t usually attack people who are carrying weapons, so they’re weak.”
Seiichirou nodded at Aresh’s words, taking note of them in his mind as another quantifiable form of damage caused by the miasma.
If that was the case, he thought it only fair that the kingdom offer a tax abatement to the neighbouring towns and villages while also promising to pay for their defence costs. Seeing Seiichirou take out his magic pen and abacus to begin working on those new calculations, the knight who had just come back from battle gave him a dirty look, but Seiichirou paid him no mind.
At the beginning of the journey, there had been a great number of people accompanying them along the way. But so far, the only ones entering the Forest of Magic now were the knights, the Saint, the prince, a few people from the medical department, and a handful of the court’s best mages.
“You should stay back, too.”
Seiichirou hesitated a little, but after being told to do so by Aresh, he nodded. Perhaps he was more willing to listen this time because he had personally requested East help him earlier. He took a moment to look over at the mage, but it made Seiichirou uneasy that the other man refused to meet his eyes at all.
“Wait,” a voice called out. “We’ll be taking him along, too.”
That was the crown prince, taking the opportunity to throw an unexpected spanner in the works. 4
Slowly, Aresh turned towards Prince Julius, wondering silently if the man’s true intention was to put Seiichirou in danger all along, no matter the cost. But upon seeing an uneasy Yua shielding herself behind him, looking over at Seiichirou with a wary expression, Aresh reconsidered his initial assessment. The pale look on her face did not seem to be caused by the eerie atmosphere being given off by the Forest of Magic. No, that was something else.
“Your Highness, pardon my impudence,” the knight tried for an attempt at reason, “but a civil official will be nothing more than a burden from this point onward. It would be best if he stayed back with the others.”
On one hand, Aresh wanted to keep Seiichirou out of harm’s way as much as possible by objecting to the prince’s sudden demand, but on the other hand, it was obvious that if this was test of power between a direct request from the Saint and a civil official’s personal safety, the former would always be prioritized over the latter.
Slipping past the gazes of those clamouring about in the surroundings, unconcerned, Seiichirou approached East and leaned forward to whisper into the mage’s ear.
“Mr. East,” he said quietly, “Mr. East, do you remember what I asked you to do yesterday?”
“Hm~? What was it?” the mage drawled.
With a flippant smile now plastered on his face, Seiichirou turned to look back at the hustle and bustle of those around him with an unwavering look of determination and opened his mouth to speak.
“As you wish, Your Highness. I’ll go with.”
Aresh was beside himself with rage, but the others around him still did their best to pacify him, albeit confusedly. Despite all that, Yua appeared to be more relaxed. Seeing her at ease now seemed to give Prince Julius a sense of relief, too. 5
It was the aim of this expedition to complete “The Saint’s Purification Ritual” after all. If the Saint’s spirit became unstable at any point and caused her to fail her holiest of missions, it would be a great loss for everyone in the kingdom to see no results after spending so much time and effort and money on the expedition in the first place.
Furthermore, as a person from another world himself, Seiichirou would have felt uneasy if he had not seen the exchange happen himself with his own two eyes.
Leaving the horses and carriages behind with the civil servants and a few of the lesser knights for protection, the rest of the party finally entered the forest on foot.
The sturdy boots that Aresh had prepared for Seiichirou were easy enough to walk in without getting sucked into the mud. The knight had even given him a poncho-like jacket to wrap tightly around his nose, and Seiichirou had been told to try not to breathe the tainted air here as deeply if he could help it.
Still, Seiichirou could feel the humidity building up under the material from the damp air all around. Truly, he was convinced that this was the result of miasma.
If not for the protective barrier Aresh had been steadily casting on him each day, Seiichirou doubted he would even have been able to breathe through the cloth of his makeshift mask.
Somewhere along the way, Yua had been picked up and carried on the back of one of her guardian knights. Even Aresh had turned to Seiichirou and offered him a similar arrangement, but somehow the royal official managed to walk safely on his own for the two hours it took them to reach the source of the miasma.
A giant tree towered over the place where it originated. The tree’s branches ought to have spread out majestically and been covered in lush, vibrant greenery. Instead, it was bare and stood out eerily against the dark deadwood forest.
“Yua… Can you do it?” Prince Julius called out to her, and the knight who had carried her on his back set her down. Despite the pallid look on her face, there was a resolute determination that still resided in her eyes.
“I’ll do it…”
Hearing Yua, all of the knights took their places to stay alert of the surroundings as the Saint moved into position. Even the court mages and the medical officers stood beside her, to aid in case of an emergency.
Seeing everyone perfectly arranged and waiting on her, Yua spread her arms wide and began to sing.
No, it was not really a song, but words of magic, something Seiichirou had often heard coming from Aresh whenever he cast spells. This was music from another world.
Amidst the oppressive atmosphere, a gust of fresh air seemed to pass through out of nowhere6.
Just as Seiichirou had thought some colour was beginning to return to the blackened trees in the surrounding forest, Yua’s voice stopped and Julius shouted.
When Seiichirou returned his gaze to the young Saint, she was being held up in Prince Julius’ arms, her breath heavy. He had not noticed the physical toll the ritual had taken on her, instead only paying attention to the changing appearance of the forest all around. It would seem that she had succeeded in performing the ritual, but only a small part of it.
Seiichirou had taken some time to read up on the purification ceremonies of the past and knew that fixing everything in one go was impossible, so he was not surprised and wandered over to East’s side.
“Mr. East,” he said, giving the man a level look. “How much has been cleared? I’m referring to the miasma.”
“Hm? Let me see,” the mage wondered aloud as he took in their surroundings. “Around 30%, perhaps?”
In that case, Seiichirou’s mind worked, they would need three more expeditions before the forest was completely cleared of miasma. The cost of a single expedition was ridiculous as is, but to consider additional trips back and forth when they were already here was absolutely ludicrous. That same notion had prompted Seiichirou to suggest they either finish the expedition here and now, in one go, using the supplemental recovery potion, or go back to the town they had stayed in the day before to rest and recover before coming back to the forest the next day to repeat the process until it was done. Sadly, both of his ideas had been rejected because the Saint’s purification ritual was somehow different from ordinary magic.
“Well done, Yua. You really earned your title as the Saint!” the prince loudly exclaimed.
“Was I… really… of help to everyone?”
“You were splendid, Your Holiness,” someone else chimed in.
Now away from the tree, Seiichirou was checking the arrangements for the rest of the day with East. This was not the time to pay attention to the people who were taking care of Yua.
A large hand grabbed Seiichirou by the upper arm, stopping him in the middle of his work.
“I told you not to leave my side. What do you think you’re doing?”
When he looked up, Seiichirou saw the handsome young face of the Third Knight Commander with his brow wrinkled in obvious frustration.
“I’ve made a request of the court mages, starting with Mr. East here,” Seiichirou began to explain, but the wrinkles between the knight commander’s brows became even more severe at hearing such an honest answer.
“Why are you consulting with the Court’s Magic Department? If this is about magic, my Third Order knights have a better track record than them.”
I see, if that is the norm in this country, the court mages must feel very uncomfortable, Seiichirou thought to himself.
But was it all right for Aresh to say something so slanderous and not outside of his own personal capacity, but on behalf of all members of the Third Knight Order? Was it really okay for him to say such an insulting thing at all? It sure seemed a little too pompous, even for someone like Aresh.
After taking a moment to gather his thoughts, Seiichirou answered back with a fake plastic smile on his face and his eyes pleasantly shut in high crescent arcs.
“In that case, Sir Aresh, you’ll have to excuse us then because we have a lot of work to do.”7
Hasr: *Grabs pitchfork* ITS TIME TO BURN SOME HEATHENS!!!