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A small lord and their much-larger vassal walked along a ridge in Hiraizumi. Shanao breathed in deeply and stretched her arms out in front of her.
"I feel so refreshed, sometimes it's nice to take a walk like this. Good idea, Benkei!"
"Of course! There's no better way to clear your head."
Benkei smiled happily at his lord, who seemed to be feeling much better than before.
Since they all had arrived in Hiraizumi, Shanao had been focusing all her time and energy on figuring out what to do next. Seeing her rising anxiety, Benkei suggested that the two of them get out for some fresh air.
The two of them continued their leisurely walk for some time.
"Hm? My lord, please wait a moment."
Stopping his lord, Benkei quickly ran up to a nearby tree, and closely examined the bush that was growing at the base of the tree, quietly muttering to himself.
"What is it?"
Shanao peered out from behind Benkei's shoulder to get a better look at the bush. Inside was a small, huddled creature crying out for help.
"It's a little bird, still too young to fly."
"It must have fallen from a nearby nest. Up there! Look!"
Looking up, the two of them spied a nest on a far up branch.。
"I can't reach the nest, but if we don't get it back there it will die soon..."
The chick was still alive but it was clear it wouldn't last long, it would either die of exhaustion or be eaten by a some kind of predator. Benkei's face clouded in frustration.
"Don't worry, it will be fine."
"My lord?"
"I will save it, Benkei, wait here!"
Shanao gently picked up the chick with both hands and placed it in her jacket pocket. Then she began climbing up the tree.
"My lord, it's dangerous!"
"This is nothing, I grew up in Kurama, remember? I've been climbing trees all my life!"
Shanao smiled down at Benkei, before refocusing her attention on climbing. In the blink of an eye she reached the nest, pulled the bird out of her pocket, and gently returned it to its nest.
"You'll be alright. Be careful not to fall down again, okay?"
The chick happily peeped a reply of gratitude and understanding. Shanao gave the bird a quick smile and jumped back down to the ground.
"All done! Hm? What's wrong, Benkei?"
Shanao stared at Benkei who stared silently at her.
"I'm just impressed... I never knew my lord was so wonderful!"
"Oh please, that was nothing."
"No, it wasn't nothing! You climbed that tree so quickly and jumped down without a scratch! It was so impressive!"
A brilliant smile creeped its way to Benkei's face.
"But more than that, your desire to help such a creature without hesitation was truly something to behold. You really are special, my lord!"
Benkei's lovely words made their way right into Shanao's heart, and she took in a sharp breath after hearing them.
"It's you who's special, Benkei. You were the one to notice the little bird, and you're always taking such good care of me. I'm so grateful for all you did to help us get to Hiraizumi."
"My lord, your words are far too kind."
By this point Shanao's cheeks had flushed red with embarrassment, and Benkei's face too was beginning to blush. The two stared at each other for a beat before both averting their gaze from the other.
"It's getting dark, we should probably head back..."
"Yeah...but promise me we can do this again sometime! "
"Of course, whenever you want, my lord."
"Thank you, Benkei. I'm really glad you decided to join us. "
A gentle calm came over the two of them as they made their way back to the estate.
The small lord and much-larger vassal walked along the road, their shadows looming large against the backdrop of the setting sun.

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