The adventure was going well, and the party's rank had risen from Lower-Intermediate to Intermediate-Intermediate. And taking advantage of this, the party was visiting a new dungeon.
「I'll lead the way, Al and Mil in the middle. And Shinji will be at the back」
Renka started leading the way. Shinji also calls Freri, his contracted flower's spirit, on his shoulder and entrusts her to guard the rear. Alvin and Milis also started walking with a nervous look on their faces.
When the monsters in the dungeon are defeated, they disappear and drop an energy crystal called “Magic Stones”. The stronger the monster, the more energy it will drop, but the weight tends to increase in proportion. If the stones are exposed to the open air for too long, the energy will drain out, so a special bag is provided for collecting them, and only one person can carry them. Therefore, it is important to decide who will carry the magic stone.
「Shinji, are you sure you want to handle this?」
「I don't mind. I mean, it's more reasonable for a ranger to move quickly than a wizard on the battle」
When Renka is about to take the bag, Shinji stopped her. After Shinji explained his logic, Renka decided to leave the bag to him.
Until now, when Shinji was not around, Renka had been carrying the bag. If she gives it to Alvin, who is in the vanguard, the weight of the bag will interfere with his movements, and Renka herself has rejected the idea of letting the younger Milis carry it.
「Honestly, it's a big help. After all, it was a hindrance when shooting」
「Really, Renka? If you don't mind, I'll carry it too」
「Thank you, Renka-chan... I'm sorry I didn’t considerate you」
「You're the vanguard, Al, you can't be too heavy! And Mil, it's okay, I didn't want you to carry it」
Shinji's impression after spending a week with her was that Renka often took the initiative, partly because she was older than Alvin and Milis. He guessed that she wasn’t used to relying on others.
「From now on, as friends, you can rely on me. Of course, I'm counting on you too」
Renka stopped and looked back at Shinji, who spoke in a light tone. Renka's expression was one of embarrassment and happiness, a smile that was hard to describe.
「You're right, we are friends. I'm counting on you, too」
With that, she turned and started walking forward again. Her pace slightly quickened.
「She is embarassed」
「Renka-chan... you're so cute」
「Come on, you two. It's not good to get too far apart. Let's move on」
Shinji urged Alvin and Milis to move on, who were whispering to each other. Their response is calm, and even Alvin, who was trying to make fun of Renka, calmed down. Milis felt that it was very mature of him to say something that made people embarrassed in a normal state of mind.
* * *
「Let's take a break」
When the monsters had been defeated to some extent, Alvin said so, and all three replied in agreement, gathering in a corner of the room.
「Shinji-san, how deep are we in the dungeon?」
「It's about 60% of the way there. I don't think there's anything wrong with the pace if nothing happens. I will check the bag」
「I see... Al, here's your water and food」
「Thank you! Mil」
Shinji placed the bag in the middle of the gathered people. Alvin rechecked the contents of the bag, while Milis prepared water and portable food for everyone. Alvin took the bag and quickly drank it up and ate it. Renka, on the other hand, did not accept the food, but continued to look around. So what does Shinji do?
「Renka, you rest first. I'll be on the watch」
Shinji says that but when he was to take over the watch, Renka couldn't help but argue with him.
「No. I'll do it」
「You've been moving around more than I have, haven't you? So, leave it to me」
Renka looked at Shinji, suspecting that he was just trying to look good. But Shinji is still very normal and natural. He's not wrong, and Renka's body needs to rest. So, after a few moments of silence, Renka agreed.
「Then, I'll do it later」
With that, Shinji left the corner of the room alone.
* * *
「I'm sorry, Renka-chan. I've been relying on you all this time and I didn't even realize it until now」
When Shinji had left and finished eating, Milis turned to Renka and apologized. Renka was panicked by this.
「No, it's okay Mil! I was doing it on my own!」
In fact, without consulting Alvin and Milis, Renka took the initiative to do the tasks that were hard to notice. Alvin, too, was unable to use his usual light tone and looked apologetic.
「No, I should have known. I didn't think anything of it because Renka took it voluntery, I'm sorry」
「Even Al... That's enough! Shinji said he would do it for me from now on!」
The two of them nodded in agreement to the words that came out of the panicked Renka.
「Well, I'll do what I can to help」
「Shinji-san, you're an adult. You're very caring... thanks to you, I realized that I've left a burden to Renka-chan」
「Well... yeah. But, you're not wrong either」
Sigh… Renka turned away from them. Seeing that, Alvin felt that Renka had accepted Shinji as a friend from the bottom of her heart.
- Revised on 29/01/2022 -> Fix some sentence, etc.