101: Maiden voyage


The sunlight falls onto the harbor in the morning.
The paddle steamer was landed at the quay and goods were carried inside.

I met with Driad while the sea breeze toyed with everyone's hair.
"How's business, Driad?"
"It's going very well. The Naga have increased and I'm thinking about expanding to escorts for ships in addition to the high speed ships. --Ah, here's this month's share, 15 big gold coins."
"Oh? The remaining money for the slaves still has to be paid, is this alright?"
"That money has already been deduced from it. The actual income was 25. Everything should be paid back to you in ten months."
"Does it yield such a high profit?"
"Yes, the local transportation is doing very well and the number of customers steadily increases."
"It's the Hero Keika Transportation after all. The name seems to sell quite well."


Then Driad introduced a girl whose upper half of her body could be seen next to him. She's a little girl of about eight years.
"This is Nana, the Naga who will accompany you on your trip this time."
"I'll be in your care, Hero-sama."
The girl lowered her head. Her voice was high but soft.
She has brown hair, a tanned skin and few scales. Her lower body is - of course - that of a snake. She's still very young and has a length of about 2.5 meters. She wears a breastplate and a skirt.

"Yes, I'll be counting on you as a lookout... but, is it really okay for a young child like you?"
"E-Ehm... I-If it's just watch-keeping, it's fine. I'm of the Naga race after all."
"Is that so?"
"Yes! As for us Naga, the younger we are the less we are sleeping. The sleeping time increases when we grow into adults."
"Oh, then it's the opposite of humans? Humans are sleeping the most when they are babies and then the sleeping time decreases as they become adults."

"I think that humans are illogical. It's strange that children who have to learn all kinds of things need so much sleep."
"That makes sense from that point of view. By the way, Nana, how long can you stay up?"
"I'm awake for two to three weeks."
"That's plenty. I'll rely on you to keep watch."
"Yes! I'll work hard!"
Nana's shoulder-long brown hair swayed when she braced herself.
"Well then, I guess it's time to go on board."
I said goodbye to Driad and climbed the ramp. Nana follows by swiftly wriggling her snake-body.


I introduced Nana to the about 15 sailors after we had boarded.
After that I went to Celica who was at the bow of the ship. She pressed her blond hair down that was being disheveled by the wind and gazed at the harbor and the ocean.
"Is anything wrong, Celica?"
"No, it's just that I'd never have imagined to ever head to the neighboring continent. I'm a little nervous."
--She was probably barely able to go outside as a princess.

"Aren't you happy, Celica?"
"It's only possible because I was able to meet you, Keika-sama."
"I'll definitely protect you, so don't worry."
"Yes~!"
She squeezed her blue eyes as she smiled.


The captain shouts from the stern.
"Alright, is everything ready!? Depart!"
The ramp is lifted and the sailors are busily moving around.

Making the sound of *saasaa*, the paddle wheels start to spin.

Celica mutters.
"So we departed, huh... we're separating from the shore."
"Everything seems to work well."
When I leaned out from the side of the boat and looked at the wharf, I could see Ieturia with her white body and three men who were wearing masks.
Leo will go to the Sugar Archipelago next.

I lightly waved my hand.
"See you!"
I couldn't hear their voices but they responded by waving their hands in the same way.

======

Several days after departure.
The sea wind blows at dusk and no matter in which direction you look, there's only the blue ocean.
The voyage progressed smoothly.
The sound of *basha basha* resounds from the paddle wheels.

On the way we were attacked by flying fish with blade-like fins and squid-like demons with spears, but thanks to the Naga Nana, who informed us of them before they approached, we were able to easily repulse them. Thanks to that we had a surplus of food.

By the way, we've erected one mast for the lookout.
At its highest spot, Nana has coiled her serpent body around the mast.
The scene resembled a green boa that is coiled around a twig that I've seen a long time ago.

Probably because the sailors have gotten used to the Naga, they didn't avoid her.
The sailors climbed the mast like monkeys to deliver her meals to her.


Seeing that everything was alright on deck, I returned back to my room.
I shared a double room with Celica. Even though it was small, it was furnished with a bed and a table.
Celica was absent. It seems that she went to dinner.

I lie down on the bed.
I was relieved that we weren't attacked by any large monsters that could have destroyed the ship.
They are most likely involved in the battle for supremacy in the ocean.


--Then.
I suddenly heard the sound of clanking money close to my ear.
I take a breath. I look at the floor but I didn't drop any money.
I looked into the direction of Keika Village with "Clairvoyance".

There were a parent and a child who were praying in front of the front shrine with their hands put together. A father who seemed to be a farmer and a young girl.
--Oh! The first visitors to my shrine!

I soon heard their wishes.
"Please give us a good harvest next year as well. Please let my family grow up healthy."
Yeah. Your wish has reached me.
The girl also desperately wishes.
"Please make me smarter."

Maybe I should take a look with "Truth Sight" first before making any promises. I'd be disqualified as a god to accept that wish if she'd be a genuine idiot.
--------------------
[Status]
Name: Lala
Gender: Female
Age: 9
Race: Human
Job: Villager
Class: Healer Lv1 Farmer Lv5 Grazing Lv3
Attributes: "Grace"

Physical Strength: 4 (+1) Max 30
Agility: 5 (+1) Max 40
Magical Strength: 7 (+2) Max 65
Wisdom: 15 (+6) Max 91
Luck: 6 (+1) Max 30
--------------------
Wisdom growth +6!?
She'll certainly become smart even if I don't do anything. It's just that her main class is Healer and unless she won't go into that direction the level won't rise.
I wonder how far it would rise with only leveling as a Farmer? There don't seem to be any places to study... I guess I should start with the construction of a school soon.
--*Ehem*, in my name of Keika Hiko-no-Mikoto, I clearly heard your wish.
I'll keep it in the back of my mind.


After that, they went to the shop that was tended to by Fal and bought talismans.
Moreover a large quantity. They've probably bought about 30.
Listening to them with "Attentive Ears", they seem to come from a village in the west of the kingdom and they bought them for everyone in the village. Apparently they have some time to spare after the harvest.
I'm happy because my believers are likely to increase.

After that, Celica returned and I embraced her.
Since I was happy I didn't feel like sleeping alone.
Hence I went to sleep, not minding the embarrassed Celica, who exclaimed "Ah, Keika-samaaa" within my arms.
The softness of her slender limbs and plump breasts felt pleasant.

======

Morning.
I awoke from the sound of scratching on glass.
It's the sound that's used by the Naga as alarm.
Nana, who's on lookout might have found something.

I jumped up and headed to the deck.
Celica, Minya and Lapisia followed behind.


The sun rises in the eastern sky.
A refreshing wind blew on deck.
I shout as I look up at the mast.
"Nana, what's wrong?"
"There are demons! I can see three! They are heading here to surround us!"
--Tsk. I clicked my tongue.
It'd be troublesome if a group of huge demons would attack the ship.

"How large are they!?"
"Let's see, about a human, they're smaller than me!"
"Hm? About a human?"
"A little bit smaller!"
I unsheathed my Tachi while I felt relieved that they weren't huge enemies.


I shout at the sailors.
"The same as usual, you'll only concentrate on defending yourself! I'll defeat the demons!"
"Yes!" "We'll leave it to you!" "Be careful!"
I approach the side of the ship and look down at the ocean's surface.

White lines could be seen as they swam at the surface. The child-like shadows approached with an amazing speed.
--Oh, it might be troubling if they'd attack the paddle wheels.


While I was pondering whether I should shoot some magic, a small shadow clung to a paddle wheel and came upwards.
Then, it jumped into my direction. Red hair flutters behind it.
It's a girl. She's almost nude, having only seaweed wrapped around her chest and hips. Her head is covered by a red, transparent jellyfish like a helmet.
She held a knife in her hand that seemed to have been carved out of a shellfish and was releasing a dull, rainbow-like color.
Even without looking at her status, it was clear that she was an insignificant demon.

I lifted my Tachi and took a stance.
I could defeat her with one strike.
I cited a spell and bestowed "Wind Blade Grant" to the Tachi.


I was waiting. I was sure that I could easily turn the tables on her.
However, just before the girl entered my reach, she shouted with her face distorted from anger.
"Take this, Heeero! I'll avenge my father!!"
"Eh!?"

I had a bad premonition and ended up not doing anything.
Her knife hit my neck.

"No!! Ke-Keika-samaaaaa~!"
Celica's scream resounded above the deck under the endless, blue sky.