By the time Jin and Elsa reached the edge of River Torres, dawn was finally breaking.
“Ah, I’m tired.”
Jin said and sat on top of a rock that was up on the riverbank. Elsa also sat down.
“You must be tired too?”
Jin said and Elsa nodded to confirm.
“Mm. A little.”
Judging from her expression in this poor light, she wasn’t just tired but also was hiding some more complex emotion.
“Is something on your mind?”
Jin asked, and Elsa spoke a few words with a sad look on her face.
“I wish Mine was here.”
Hearing that, Jin asked Elsa.
“Are you worried even though after running away with you she exposed you to danger?”
“Yes, because it was my wish to run away. I also think I was to blame too for getting into danger. More importantly, Mine protected me and…She may have died.”
Elsa said and cast her eyes down. Tears began to gather in those eyes. Jin comforted Elsa,
“I found Mine who had drifted along the stream, then I began looking for you, Elsa. She had serious wounds, but she’s fine now. She’s in the care of a reliable healing clinic. After she improves a bit more I can have you two meet.”
Jin briefly explained Mine’s circumstances, and this time tears of joy spilled from Elsa’s eyes.
Looking at Elsa who happily muttered a few words, Jin was glad that she could be saved.
After resting for a while, Jin and Elsa once more began to walk. It was already considerably bright. River mist enveloped the surroundings.
They moved for quite a time, until they arrived at a wide and flat location.
It was around six meters wide, vast enough to park two carriages in side-by-side.
“Maybe they can land here.”
Jin surveyed the area and muttered. Reiko caught that and,
“It is fine.”
She said and looked up at the skies.
Jin said a brief word, and Reiko gave orders through her ManaCom.
“Pelican-1, come here.”
“Eh? Not just the Raptors, you also called in the Pelicans?”
To the surprised Jin Reiko said,
“Yes, Laozi said to prepare them for the unlikely event that they are needed.”
Jin nodded and,
“I see, as expected of him. In that case, Elsa. Go over there by the edge for a bit. …Like that.”
While Elsa didn’t know what was going on, she still moved to the edge of the riverbank as Jin said. There a black shadow swooped down from the skies.
Elsa was surprised and put herself on guard. Jin told her,
“It’s fine. That’s an airplane I built.”
Elsa looked at Jin seemingly astonished.
Before Jin could say something in reply to that, Pelican-1 cleaved apart the mist and landed down on the riverbank where there was barely enough space. Afterwards the landing gears protruded a little bit out from the riverbank.
“This is…an airplane?”
“Yeah, it’s transportation model Pelican-1. Come on, get in.”
Jin said, went ahead up the airstair, then turned around to face Elsa and held out his hand to her.
Seeing an airplane for the first time, Elsa timidly took Jin’s hand and ascended the airstair.
From Elsa’s viewpoint, the plane’s inside wasn’t much different from Jin’s carriage’s. And that’s how she was able to calm down a little.
“Come on, have a seat, and please buckle your belt.”
Jin had Elsa sit on the window seat, and buckled her seatbelt.
“It’s a safety belt so that you won’t get thrown off your seat in case the fuselage shakes.”
Jin said and sat down on the seat in front of Elsa, then secured his belt.
“All good, please take off.”
The pilot, Sky-1, was the top Air Force golem.
With a whooooshing sound as if the plane was sucking in air, Pelican-1 started moving.
“Ah, um, wha–”
Elsa was bewildered by Pelican-1 suddenly starting and the G-forces of the takeoff.
Jin faced Elsa and said a few words to her. Elsa was calmed down by Jin’s words, enough to make her able to calmly look out of the window.
After a short run, Pelican-1 gently took off. At that moment they felt as if they were floating.
Then Pelican-1 raised its nose and steadily climbed in altitude. Tearing the river mist to pieces, in a moment it had flown out into the clear sky.
Elsa’s body was shivering a little. She was flying for the first time in her life, moreover she had boarded the vehicle without thinking.
“I told you, just relax. I’m with you.”
Jin loosened his seatbelt and stroked Elsa’s hair. Elsa made an embarassed face, but her shivering seemed to lessen.
Pelican-1 rose up to an altitude of about 3000 meters, and headed east. Under them were white clouds. Mountains and rivers, forests and lakes, cities and villages all appeared tiny.
Once Elsa was used to the sensation of flying, she couldn’t get her eyes off the spectacle.
“Amazing. This is what the world looks like from the sky.”
Pushing against the window frame, she looked at the world. Pelican-1 going at over 300 kilometers per hour was above the sea in two hours.
“T-that, could it be Elias Peninsula? If that’s the case, is that Io island?”
Looking at the unusually high-spirited Elsa, even Jin’s heart was warmed. Even if for a moment, he had made her forget about the shock of being kidnapped. That’s what he was thinking about.
Then at the end of the sea spanning as far as the eye can see, a large island came into sight.
“That’s Hourai Island.”
“It’s the place where my real home is, and it’s my base.”
“Hourai Island…Jin-kun’s, home.”
Elsa stared at it with intense concentration.
Pelican-1 began to gradually descend.
“Elsa, the time of the landing will be a little shaky, so please sit down properly.”
Elsa obediently did as Jin told her to.
Then Pelican-1 landed on the runway in front of the research laboratory.
“Welcome, to Hourai Island.”
Jin who went down first, turned towards Elsa who was coming down the airstair and held out his hand while speaking.
Elsa replied and she blushed a little.
“Welcome back, My Lord. Welcome, Elsa-sama.”
Laozi’s terminal came to greet them. The perfect butler.
Elsa asked Jin. Before Jin could reply Laozi introduced himself.
“Excuse me my manners. I am Laozi, and I’ve been entrusted with managing this island, pleased to make your acquaintance.”
He said and bowed neatly. Even Jin who was the source of Laozi’s information couldn’t bow so splendidly.
“You must be tired, please first take a bath and then have a meal.”
Just like Laozi suggested they went to take a bath. Jin didn’t even know there was a thing like this, but the bathrooms’ gender-segregation was already completed. As expected of Laozi, he thought.
Jin was attended by Reiko, and Elsa by Soleil and Luna.
＊ ＊ ＊
Jin who had been moving around all night since yesterday stretched while submerged in the warm hot spring water.
“Reiko, good work.”
He spoke words of gratitude to Reiko who was bathing together with him.
“No, this time I didn’t do much of anything.”
“That’s not true at all. I had Reiko as a mediator and as my support. If you weren’t there, there surely would’ve been more difficulties throughout the whole deal.”
“Yes, thank you very much.”
“Elsa seems to have had a hard time, so please look after her kindly.”
“…Yes, I will endeavour to do so.”
＊ ＊ ＊
“Elsa-sama, how is the water temperature?”
“Ah, it’s fine. Just perfect.”
“Elsa-sama, I shall wash your back.”
Elsa received a warm welcome from Soleil and Luna.
Despite the designs of the Unifilers, and despite the nobles greedy for getting ahead in life, the skies of Hourai Island were blue and clear.