The Sword Demon’s Weakness
After being rescued himself by Leia and Cudd, Kyle sat on the shore with his eyes firmly on the ground, twisted tissue paper in both his nostrils.
“I’m sorry about that. We caused you a lot of trouble.”
“No, it’s nothing.”
On that once peaceful shore were now a veritable mountain of monster corpses which had rushed to the lake at the overwhelming smell of blood from the nosebleed. As she had been busy trying to turn the lake water muddied by the colour of blood back to normal, it was Shirley, who now sat atop a rock, who had fought off the tidal wave of monsters.
But, she seems to be in a foul mood. Keenly aware of their gaze, she had swiftly taken out a one-piece dress from her Hero’s Toolbox and worn it over her swimsuit earlier. Even more than that, she had covered herself completely under her towel, hiding her bright red face.
Since she usually herself had a very dim view of how female adventurers typically dressed, showing their stomachs and thighs with extremely revealing armour, the former noblewoman Shirley who rarely exposed any of her skin at all was close to tears at the thought of being seen in broad daylight wearing a bikini that she thought was little better than underwear.
“Getting back to before, Shirley-san, by any chance…”
“I can swim.”
Shirley’s ridiculous answer came out quite swiftly.
“No, I didn’t say anything yet, you know?”
She clicked her tongue as her words betrayed her feelings and she went back to her usual silence. She knows that her silence is basically the same as confirming their suspicions, but Shirley isn’t the type to admit something like that easily.
“So, you really can’t swim after all?”
“…I can swim.”
“You don’t have to be stubborn. Everyone has one or two things they’re not good at――――”
“I told you that I can swim. Stop being so persistent.”
Unable to bear the gaze of that inquisitive boy and girl Shirley turned her head to the side, feeling a cold sweat begin to run down her back as she thought about what was going to happen the day after tomorrow.
“Hmmm, well, why don’t you swim then. You’re already wearing a swimsuit, right?”
Her mischievous spirit not passing up the opportunity to tease this beautiful older woman who is usually so cool and collected, Leia gestured towards the lake with an evil grin. Whether it was caused or coincidence, the sweat trickling down Shirley’s forehead intensified.
“If you say so, then, of course, you can swim, right? I really want to see Shirley-san’s elegant swimming form.”
“Ummm… Shirley-san? You don’t have to overdo it now…”
Although Kyle tried to calm Shirley down, she was wearing an expression that seemed to say that retreat meant defeat. Words said that stubbornly are hard to take back, but as Shirley was about to take off her dress, she realized the eyes of two boys were on her and let go of the hem of her skirt.
“Oi oi, you don’t have to listen to what this little idiot says――――!”
Ignoring their cries, Shirley plunged into the lake with a splash, still wearing her clothes. Before the two boys could do anything, she had already dove, her whole body submerged underwater.
” ” “………..” ” ”
As those three people watched with bated breath, the surface of the water settled, then air bubbles began to float to the surface. The bubbles that floated up in a stream before gradually began to slow down, until only one or two bubbles floated up at a time.
“…Hey, can she not even float?”
“…Actually, is she drowning?”
Next to Shirley who was splayed out on the shore catching her breath, her rescuer Kyle was the same way, his clothes completely soaked again.
“Ahh… So you couldn’t swim after all.”
“Umm, I’m sorry for riling you up?”
“Rather, don’t you think it was a bit too stubborn forcing yourself like that?”
Shirley’s face was as red as a ripened apple. Completely unable to escape reality anymore, Shirley spoke with obvious displeasure.
“I-I was born as a noblewoman, I never had the chance to learn how to swim, even after my daughters were born.”
‘Ah, I get it’, all three of them had that thought simultaneously. Even though the three of them as commoners couldn’t fully understand it, what they did know is that when they think of a noblewoman, the image of one playing in a stream or a lake doesn’t come to mind. They should have been convinced that she had never swum before, not having the time to after Shirley and Tio were born, but ――――
“But, Shirley-san, you’ve been an adventurer for ten years, right? How did you manage when you had to swim? Like retrieving things from underwater or fighting sea monsters?”
“Actually, I heard that Shirley-san took a request to retrieve a spirit herb that was growing in the Southeastern Islands last year…?”
One of the most dangerous areas in the Kingdom where even the bravest adventurers fear to tread, it’s a land inhospitable to human beings with deadly monsters roaming freely. Although the islands themselves are dangerous, the seas surrounding them are treacherous and deadly, not to mention teeming with sea monsters, just making it there by ship is near impossible.
Adventurers who have never been would propose to simply fly there on dragonback, but one of the most numerous monsters on the island are a species called rockbirds. A low dragon wouldn’t stand a chance against a flock of them.
In response to Kyle’s questions, Shirley responded as if provoked.
“At that time, I parted the sea using the pressure from a sword swing and ran along the surface to retrieve it and get back before the waves came back down. If I use my eyes, I can see where all the sea monsters are as well.”
“Of course… You would just solve it in some unimaginable way instead…!”
“So, after all, you don’t have any reason to swim, right?”
“If you can do that, it’s obviously quicker than swimming… I wish I could do that.”
The Southeastern Islands are separated from the continent’s coast by several kilometres. Thinking about that, they once again realized that the half-drowned woman in front of them is truly the Demonic White Sword.
“But, why were you trying to swim all of a sudden? And in such an isolated spot?”
For some reason… Shirley looks like she doesn’t want to say the reason. Being looked at in silence by those three, the woman feared and respected as the Demonic White Sword reluctantly spoke.
“…M-My daughters… Are having swimming lessons at school…”
“Ah, got it.”
They understand without her having to say anymore. It seems like she wants to teach them as much as she could herself before the real swimming classes began. So, even though she can’t swim at all, Shirley was desperately practising in this out of the way lake.
“Actually, I didn’t know they taught that at school now.”
“They didn’t do it when I went there.”
“It was Canary. It’s always some conspiracy by that witch.”
The number of children playing in lakes and rivers in the summer months always increases, but so too does the number of accidents. So Canary, deciding to do something about it, had a swimming facility built on the school grounds.
Running bath water and refrigeration. From cleaning to cooking. Canary had created and patented a vast number of magical tools that had become indispensable to many people’s daily lives, even including air conditioning and heating, now she had created a magic tool that, with a simple input, could create a large quantity of water instantly.
By making use of it, the teachers can create replica rivers and lakes, bringing in experienced people such as fishermen to teach the children about water safety.
“But, why not just tell them that you can’t swim?”
“…..That’s because my dignity as a mother would be…”
The suffering of a doting parent… Under no circumstances would she want to show a weak side of herself to her beloved daughters. Frankly, it’s incredibly hard to imagine that Sophie and Tio would think any less of their mother for not being able to swim, but it would be equally hard to convince Shirley of that.
“I’ve done everything I can to be a good mother up until now… I don’t think I’ll be able to live if my daughters are disappointed in me if I tell them I can’t swim after saying I would help…”
As Shirley looked listless and glum, Leia looked at the beautiful woman who was twice her age. Even though she’s thirty years old, when she acted this way with that youthful body, it was possible to see her as something much more approachable, like an older sister.
“Well, I understand why you’d want to swim in such an out of the way place, but it sure is surprising. Shirley-san wearing a bikini, I mean.”
Realizing that the soaked through one piece was revealing everything beneath, Shirley wrapped her towel around herself tightly, hugging her body. Cudd had averted his gaze tactfully, not sure if he could bear the sight, whilst Kyle only stole a single glance as he covered his beet red face.
“To be honest, I thought you’d wear a something a bit less risqué. You know, like one of those ones that go down to the knees.”
“…Actually, Yumina gave me this bathing suit, and I didn’t actually have anything else to wear…”
“Oh, then why didn’t you just buy a new one…?”
Shirley flatly rejected this rather reasonable suggestion.
“I tried to buy the least exposed bathing suit I could at the beginning… But, there was nothing that fit my size…”
As Shirley’s arms shifted, her bosom that took shape even though it was hidden by the bathing towel moved in response. As he remembered the sensation of those bountiful hills pressing against him, Kyle fought hard to suppress the nosebleed he felt coming, as Cudd thoughtfully offered a handkerchief to his beleaguered party member.
“I would have to get one tailored just for me… And since that would take time, if Canary somehow heard about it…!”
“That would be… A big problem, huh…?”
That was Shirley’s real biggest weakness. If that malicious Golden Witch ever found out about this, she would be teased for all eternity.
“But, what are you going to do? There’s not long until the class, right?”
“That is… I-I’ll just have to do my best.”
The woman who has received two or three blessings from heaven shouldn’t expect to receive a fourth or a fifth. No matter how hard she worked, it was hard to believe that this woman who sank like a stone just before was suddenly going to be able to learn how to swim.
Although the two of them were usually completely at odds, Cudd and Leia looked at each other and nodded, then put their hands on Kyle’s shoulders.
“If that’s how it is,”
“Wouldn’t it be fine to have Kyle here teach you how to swim?”
” “…..Huh?” ”
Kyle looked confusedly back and forth at the two people who grinned either side of him. As if it wasn’t hot enough already, his summer was about to heat up even more.
Next chapter: A POV from everyone’s absolute favourite character.