Side Story: A Seaside Summer Vacation — Part 4
The evening tides crashed against the shore as dusk fell. The sun slowly sank below the horizon, its fading light dyeing the sea in an orange-red glow. Its glow was joined by that of the charcoal-fueled oven, enhanced further by several orbs, faint balls of light Lefi had conjured to make it easier for us to see. I was smiling, happily enjoying the outlandish atmosphere and basking in the gentle but salty sea breeze as it blew past.
I wasn’t the only one with a broad grin on my face. Everyone was. We were all happily chatting away, lounging in comfort as we enjoyed the various grilled meats and vegetables.
“Uhm, Yuki? The fish bones are a little hard to see…” The vampire looked up at me with a troubled gaze.
I was a bit surprised to hear Illuna make a complaint about her meal, even if it was a viable one. Being incredibly mature for her age, the vampire wasn’t what one could call a picky eater. Totally makes sense though. I wouldn’t want to choke on a bone either, and it’s kinda too dark for her to see them.
“I’ll get them for you. One sec.”
Fortunately, my handy dandy Demon Lord Super Vision came to the rescue. I was able to see just fine even with nothing but the occasional bit of starlight. Deboning the fish would be an easy task.
The fish in question was actually one that Enne had harpooned. Seeing it led Leila to mention that it was actually a rather high class good, one that would have cost a pretty penny even if we were to visit a local fishmonger. And I was inclined to agree. It was de-fucking-licious.
According to the fisherman responsible for its capture, she could somehow tell that it was different from everything else simply by looking at it. Yeah uhhhhh, pretty sure Enne’s the kinda kid that’s good at everything she does. Pretty much bound to wind up successful on any given career path too.
“Annnnd done,” I said, as I removed the last bone.
“Thank you!” She picked up a piece of meat and presented it to me. “Here’s to make up for your time!”
“Thanks,” I said, accepting it.
Needless to say, it was delicious. Very, very delicious.
“I remain well aware of Illuna’s charm, Yuki, but the grin you wear now is in excess. It is slovenly and nothing but.” She sighed an exaggerated manner to convey her exasperation.
“Say what you want, Lefi, but that meat was tasty as hell. You’d do the exact same thing if you were me.”
“I have a piece for you too, Lefi!”
Illuna worked to prove my point by offering a piece of meat as well. The dragon was oddly flustered, but opened her mouth and consumed it regardless.
“Woooow, Lefi, would you look at that? Now who’s got a slovenly ass look on their face? What happened to keeping your shit together?” I smirked. Evidently, she took offense, as she dug her elbow into my ribs. Ow. Pain.
“That looks fun. I should join in,” said Nell, who had been stuck to me like glue all evening. “Here you go, Yuki, open wide!”
I looked at her as I chewed on the food I was offered. Her face was flushed in an obvious display of drunkenness.
“Nell, I have thought this many times before, and I find now the need to inform you of it. You do not hold your liquor well. It would be best for you to refrain from drinking excessively whilst you are away from home.”
“Oh, Lefi! Are you worrying about it?” Nell switched targets. She got off me and wrapped her arms around the dragon instead. She even started to rub their cheeks together for effect. “Thanks! I love you too.”
“C-cease that immediately!” said Lefi.
“Wow… your skin’s so smooth! It feels great. From now on, I’m going to hug you to sleep every night, so be my bride instead, okay? I’m sure we’ll be happy together.”
“I am not sure I understand what it is you are even suggesting!” shouted Lefi.
“I’m saying I want you.”
She tried to squirm her way out of the hero’s embrace, but Nell refused to let go. The holy knight’s expression even turned serious, albeit in a drunk-as-shit sort of way.
Honestly? Having my wives NTR each other sounds fucking great. I’m totally down.
I looked away from the scene that the two were causing and directed my attention to the maids, one of which was complaining loudly.
“It ain’t fair, Leila! Your breasts are perky even though they’re huge, you’re good at anythin’ you try, you’re super pretty, and you’re smart! Even Master comes knockin’ on your door when he needs advice!,” said a certain wolf girl. “And your chest is freakin’ huuuuuuge! Why do you gotta be so appealin’ in so many different’ ways? I’m so jealous of how nice ‘n full your chest is that I ain’t even sure what I’m supposed to be thinkin’ anymore!”
“It’s a little bit embarrassing for you to keep bringing up my chest like that…” said the sheep girl.
While I wasn’t so sure about the smarter of the two maids, I knew that the less functional one was most certainly inebriated.
“I’m rather envious of you as well, Lyuu. I’m not nearly as charming, nor am I able to make the others smile the way you are. I’m just… boring.”
“B-borin’!? That ain’t true at all, Leila! I’ve always been thinkin’ that you’re the ideal girl ‘n that the rest of us should be tryin’ to be more like you! Havin’ you as a friend and coworker has been makin’ my days since we met! You ain’t anythin’ even close to borin’!”
Alright uhm. What the fuck is going on over there, you ask? I don’t fucking know either. I could see that the two were gazing into each other’s eyes and baring their hearts as they exchanged a handshake, but I wasn’t really able to make sense of the situation as a whole. Pretty sure that this is just because they’re both drunk as shit, and it’s kinda funny to watch, even if I don’t really get it, so whatever. Fuck it.
It was rare for Leila to be as emotional as she was today. Her defenses rarely seemed anything but impenetrable. Guess getting plastered is making her let her guard down or something.
“Is this the fish you caught, Enne? It’s really really reaaaaaaaaaally tasty!” said Shii.
“Mhm. Caught it. With Rei, Rui, and Lowe,” replied the sword.
“I was watching you fish. You were super cool! It was like you were a real fisherman!” said Illuna.
The kids had formed their own group, away from the adults who had all gotten drunk as sailors. Even Illuna had run off. When the hell did that happen? I could’ve sworn she was literally right beside me a second ago.
“That’s amazing! Now we’ll be A-okay, even if we get stranded on an island all by ourselves!” said Shii.,
“Yup yup! We won’t ever have to worry about going hungry!”
“Mhm. We’ll hunt. And get all our food.”
The compliments coming from the vampire and slime made the sword and her ghostly companions swell with pride. It was cute, and incredibly so, but I wasn’t quite sure I followed the premise. The hell is up with them and uninhabited islands anyway? Pretty sure this isn’t the first time they’ve talked about it, but I have absolutely no fucking clue where it even came from. Oh well, whatever.
Once it seemed like everyone was more or less done eating, I set down my chopsticks and took a few steps away from the dinner table.
“Alright girls, you ready for some fireworks?”
“Fire works?” said Illuna.
“Work fires?” echoed Shii incorrectly.
“What’s a work fire?” asked Enne. “Is it a small fire?”
“A small fire would be really sparkly!” said Illuna.
A quick, unintentional game of broken telephone led the children to pretend to be sparks, for whatever reason. It was a bit odd, but I didn’t mind. Their adorable smiles did wonders for my corrupted soul. Evidently, I was one of the only ones that felt that way, as Nell ended up scolding them for swinging their arms around while they were still holding skewers. Riiiight. That was pretty dangerous, wasn’t it?
“Fireworks are fun. You’ll see, once you’re done eating.”
I grabbed the assortment of pyrotechnic playthings from my inventory and dropped them on the beach. I had all three notable types, the sparklers that one could hold, the fountains that spewed sparks everywhere, and several smaller rocket variants. Unfortunately, the catalog didn’t have any of the really fancy ones. Only fireworks that could be acquired from supermarkets and other similar non-specialty stores were available. Thanks catalog. Thanks dungeon. And you too world. ‘Cause this is fucking great.
“I’m stuffed! That was really tasty!” Illuna put down the skewer, whose meat and vegetables she had consumed in a hurry, and ran over to curiously examine the items I’d retrieved. She wasn’t the only one. The slime and wraith girls had followed right after.
The only kid whose appetite was yet to be sated was Enne. She was still eating, but that wasn’t to say she was disinterested. She was still looking over at us, just from the table instead of from up close.
“I guess we can start with a fountain…” I said to myself, under my breath. “Take a few steps back. Something awesome’s about to happen.”
After making sure they were a safe distance away, I magically lit one of the fuses. It took a few seconds for the flame to reach the firework, but once it did, multicoloured sparks began spewing energetically from its tip.
“Wooaaaaaahhhh…” Illuna opened her eyes wide.
“It’s so pretty!” said Shii.
“Wow…” said Enne.
All three had their mouths wide open in wonder. Hey, Enne? You’re kinda getting sauce everywhere… It’s literally dripping down the side of your face.
“Wow, Master! That’s amazin’!” said Lyuu.
“It’s really pretty,” agreed Nell. “How are you making it change colours like that?”
“I believe that is likely because several different substances are being used as fuel and each burns a different colour,” said Leila.
“Yup, you nailed it,” I said. “Alright everyone, take a sparkler. There are more than enough to go around, so pick whichever one you like best. Just keep in mind that we’re playing with fire, so make sure you don’t get burnt, okay?”
“Okay!” agreed the kids. Illuna and Shii were in sync, but Enne, who had just wrapped up her meal, had her response come after a brief delay.
They each chose their sparklers, which I lit in turn. As to not lose out on the experience, the wraith girls repossessed their dolls and made them pick up the fireworks in their incorporeal places. They’re surprisingly dextrous considering they’re literally not even using their own bodies. Hell, I’m pretty sure they’ve been getting better and better at using them lately.
Though they weren’t as quick to finish their meals as the kids were, the adults soon wrapped up and joined in on the fun as well. While Lyuu and Nell were both gung ho about it because of how the fireworks looked, Leila seemed to be much more excited about determining and documenting their structures and the manners in which they operated. To her, the main feature that was the sight to be appreciated came second. To each her own, I guess. Not like there’s anything wrong with it, since she’s still having fun.
It was then that I realized that the sheep-horned demon wasn’t the only exception. Lefi hadn’t reached for any of the fireworks. She was simply sitting off to the side, watching as everyone else enjoyed themselves.
“Something up?” I asked, as I placed myself beside her.
“You have put even the primordial flame to good use” she muttered. “But I suppose I should have expected nothing less.”
I took a moment to think before handing her a sparkler.
“You see how there’s a red thing at the tip?”
“Setting that on fire is how you light it.”
She made a small flame appear at her fingertip, which she used to light both my sparkler and hers. The fireworks began sparkling, releasing transient flickers as their crackling filled the night. The light they gave lit our faces, leaving them illuminated with a faint glow.
“Pretty, huh?” I asked. “I dunno about you, Lefi, but I’d say you’re making pretty good use of the primordial flame right now too.”
“I suppose I am,” she chuckled.
Our pinkies grazed each other. Without tearing our eyes from the sparklers or speaking a word, we linked them, intertwined them. And together, in silence, we gazed upon the flames until they faded.