Chapter 16 Hero and the City of Magicians (5)
By the time I returned to the Magic City, the Sun had already begun to set.
While holding the bag filled with the gold and silver coins, the reward I got from the guild, I breathed a sigh.
I really worked too much today. To think that I’d be able to earn a gold coin in a single day! The reward for 12 goblins was really big. I also sold the equipment I had recovered from them so I would get 1 gold coin even after dividing the reward in two. Let’s have a luxurious dinner for tonight, I ended up smiling while thinking that. Well, I had my fare share of life threatening experience as a result as well though.
I really don’t wan to go through something like that ever again. Earning a lot isn’t bad but, I really want to avoid putting my life at risk everytime.
“What will you do now?”(renji)
“I’ll go back to my forest now.”(elf)
“I see. If something comes up, I’ll be counting on you again.”
With just that, we decided to split for today.
The city at dusk, families buying ingredients for dinner, people returning from their jobs.
Getting mixed in that same crowd, the beautiful Elf man disappeared from my vision. Even the way he leaves is cool. His back looks really manly in my opinion.
Somehow I feel a bit envious of that. While feeling such slight jealousy inside, I sighed again.
“Now then, what to do next.”
Returning back to the inn to have dinner, have a drink and going to sleep doesn’t sound bad at all. It’s a bit early though.
This world has too few ways for amusement. My old comrades have been trying to make chess and trump cards popular but that has yet to spread to the massess.
The main reason behind that is that they lack the means to manufacture such things in bulk easily. After they can’t depend on machines like in modern japan and to make such things by hand, they’ll need lot of free labour.
For a country that had been living in the fear of the Demon God till the past 1 year, that would be impossible. Young ones were enlisted in the army or working in repairing and restoring towns destroyed by demons. Elders and children were involved in farmwork or household chores.
They rarely think of indulging in amusement and their thinking is basically, it’s better to work and earn money than have fun. I guess this will continue for some more time. It’s not like the threat of monsters has completely disappeared so it’s only obvious.
That’s why at night, drinking, exchanging info with strangers and adventurers, fighting each other; that’s basically what most people did.
[Isn’t it about time for the Magic Academy to close for the day as well?]
I turned my gaze towards the setting sun. Well, I guess it’s around time for school to end I guess.
I once again pondered over what to do.
[Oh c’mon. Can you not move forward till someone pushes your back?]
Now how should I answer Ermenhilde’s question resounding inside my head?
I want to meet them, I think. There’s no reason for me not to do so. I haven’t met them for one whole year. The feeling of seeing those children having grown up now is strong.
At the same time, what should I talk about when I actually meet them? I end up thinking like that.
Anxiety. If I were to put it in words, it was only that. I want to meet them but I don’t know what I should say to them.
Considering that I’m supposed to be the elder here, this isn’t laughable. ‘It’s been a long time!’ even though I know that all I have to do is just say that much..
[Don’t you want to meet them?]
On hearing that, I raised my head.
[Then do so. You don’t have any reason not to, so isn’t it simple?]
As usual, Ermenhilde’s straightforward, or should I say simple.
I ended up feeling envious of my partner. Though I know I’m simply being irresolute and overthinking things too much. this can’t even be called an actual problem.
Being pushed by Ermenhilde’s words, I began walking as I mixed into the crowd.
Albana Magic Academy. It’s oldest academy in the Magic City Ofan.
Only nobles and those with great talent can attend that place though nowadays, only nobles or children with similar backing are attending that place.
Basically, rather than a place to learn and gain knowledge, it has simply become a place to earn a degree from a prestigious school.
Well not all are like that but according to the citizens of this city, majority of the students belong to that category. Though that’s info I gained while only drinking, but then again, a man’s true feelings come out only when he’s drinking.
[Going by the rumours, the place Souichi and the others are going isn’t exactly a great place, eh.]
“Belonging to a high lineage or pedigree means the more oblingations you have as well after all.”
Well, it’s not like I have any such experience though. Thinking till that, I sensed a gaze and I turned around.
Though I’m in such a crowd but our eyes definitely intersected. A man in a worn-out robe. What reason could it be? To be targeted by a mysterious man?….I could think of way too many.
For example, something related to religion. Though he was the Demon God, there were people who’d still call ‘GodSlaying’ as a grave sin. Well, it’s not like I can’t understand them.
Our powers are too great. There are people who fear that we can also kill the Goddess of the humans or the Spirit God of the Demihumans as well. Truly, it’s not really difficult to understand.
A power too strong will always be hated. These kind of things shown in mangas and movies, are actually very true in this actual different world as well.
Nevertheless, I neither want to create more enemies nor do I want to indulge in more bloodshed. What will I get from all that? Rather than hating us, spen this energy in recovering from the after effects left by the Demon God.
There are others who simply hate us other world heroes, now that the Demon God is dead, we are not needed here, or something like that.
Though they are an extreme minority, they do exist. I wonder if Utano-san and Kuuki who are actually at the core of the Kingdom are gathering too much attention to themselves.
While I was thinking that, the owner of that gaze disappeared in the crowd.
I wonder what all that was about? Well considering he didn’t come to talk, I doubt he has any sort of good will towards me.
“Someone was looking atme.”
[Did he realize that it was Renji and me?]
I really had enough of this.
I simply want to live leisurely as an adventurer.
Also, I doubt that that robed man was simply someone normal.
It’s only my wild intution though.
“…I really am not good with places with too many people.”
[That’s a first I’m hearing something like that.]
That’s because it’s the first time I’m saying that. In fact, places with more people are better than less. The man known as Yamada Renji can easily mix and hide inside a crowd after all.
Thinking till that, rather than hiding my status it feels more like something a guy with chuunibyou or a hikkikomori would think like.
In front of me was a giant gate….It really is huge.
The stone gate gave off a sense of pressure and gives an image of blocking anything coming towards it. It was wide enough for 3 carriages to pass through easily alongside each other, and was so tall that I had to raise my head to see its top.
On both sides of this gate were armoured guards with spears, 2 on each side, making a total of 4 guards.
Behind them was a small iron door probably for these guards and students to pass through the gate. It’d be a pain to open that giant gate each and every time I guess.
Do these guys get salary just for standing there whole day?…I ended up thinking like that.
“How did they even build this thing?”
[Well, wouldn’t it be made by humans carrying stones, shaping them and then combining them together normally?]
Well, that may be so but it really looks amazing. The Imnesia’s royal castle was also amazing but this Magic Academy’s gate is also incredible. You might call it ‘the potential of human beings’ but it’s really amazing how people actually carried so many stones to here. Even though it wasn’t like only one man was doing it but still.
The stones have been shaped equally in the form of ingots and hundreds and thousands of such ingots have been brought together to make this gate.
The door was of silver. It’s useful in driving away demons and is used quite a lot in the royal castle and other such old buildings.
In fact, Ghosts and undeads can’t even touch such doors at all. In front of such a big gate, I think low level ghosts won’t even be able to come closer to this. Though it’s completely possible to break and enter through the stone parts.
“Is something the matter?”
“Ah, no. I was just thinking how amazing this gate is.”(renji)
“What, is this your first time in Ofan? Albana Magic academy’s front gate is really famous but even then it’s your first time seeing it?”
[Oi, now we’re being treated like we’re some country bumpkins.]
Since I was looking curiously at the huge gate, I was misunderstood as such. Answering the guard, I agreed to Ermenhilde’s words inside my mind. Well, it’s not exactly incorrect to say that I’m from some rural place. I did spend the past 1 year in exactly the remotest of villages.
Also, it’d be helpful for me too if I was misunderstood like this. It’d be a pain if they get uselessly suspicious of me after all.
“I’d been living a life not related to a place like schools, you see.”(renji)
“I see. Well, only rich ones can afford to go to such place after all.”
“Yes. Unfortunately, I have been living my life as an adventurer to meet my daily needs.”(renji)
“Ah, I guess that makes sense.”
From my outfit he seems to have judged me as an adventurer—a weak one that is.
I don’t know whether I should be happy or sad about it.
For the time being, my partner was deeply sighing inside my pocket.
“If you’re looking for a job, then you should go to the guild.”
“Yes, well, I have something to do at the academy.”
His gaze turned towards me as if looking at someone suspicious.
Well, I do look the part. My equipment was just a tunic and trousers. And just a mantle over it. I totally do not look like someone who’d have something to do at a place where nobles go.
Rather than equipment, what I’m wearing is more similar to casual wear. Rather than an adventurer, it’d be easier to believe that I was a normal citizen.
The only thing that was something like a proof of me being an adventurer would be the iron knife hanging by my waist. If even that was a long sword, the impression would have been much better.
My mantle was stained with the blood of goblins so I might look slightly more adventurer-like I hope.
“Is it a request?”
“No. An acquaintance of mine attends this school so I thought I sgould show my face since I came to Ofan during my journey.”(renji)
[Wouldn’t it be fine if you just used the name ‘Renji’?]
Then, I’ll definitely be treated like some sort of fraud/swindler. That would definitely lead to them becoming overly suspicious leading to me being interrogated.
The result would probably be the same if I used the name of Souichi or the others, I can totally imagine it.
A nameless adventurer trying to get close to heroes. Maybe even a normal citizen. These dutiful guards would probably see it like that.
“So, will it be fine if I wait in front of the gate for a while?”(renji)
“….What, so you don’t want to go inside?”
“It’s a school for nobles right? It’ll only end up troublesome for me.”
As I shrugged my shoulders, I felt the guards relaxing a bit.
“So you understand that much.”
“I do have certain years of experience with my age after all.”(renji)
“Then, I don’t really have anything special to say to you. Just don’t cause a scene.”
Saying that, the guard returned to his station. ‘Sorry for the trouble’ I sent him away with a smile.
Seemed like a pretty frank guy to me.
[….I just can’t understand.]
“Get used to it. Unfortunately, I do not hold a special title like a Hero.”
There were very few people around the academy.
There were a few who were looking at the gate like me, and that was all.
Rest were the guards on duty. The giant stone wall dyed by the setting sun gave off a feeling of loneliness as well.
On looking closely, there were no weeds growing on the wall. I guess it’s being properly maintained.
[No matter how many times I hear it, I can’t get used to Renji’s formal way of speaking.]
“You’re being rude, as usual.”
Even like this, I do intend to maintain the least amount of formality necessary.
In fact, among the ones that traveled with me, wasn’t I the one tended to be the most wary of such things?
Even the youths, though they were cautious at first, but after getting used to us, lost all kinds of formality in their speech.
Only the guys in the age group of me and Utano-san kept this sort of decency in our way of speech.
The ones who didn’t mind it all were the school going children group. Getting excited due to going through something like getting summoned to another world, they were super happy.
At first, they even thought they were some special humans or something. Though that all disappeared after the journey actually started.
Journeys are meant to be tiring. Walking, riding horses, swaying in carriages, etc.
There was nothing as great as cars here. Feet hurt after walking, horses would sway, and carriages were hard to sit in.
They’d soon start complaining. And when they finally started getting used to it, we had to climb mountains, entering forests. The enjoyment of getting summoned to another world disappeared very quickly, and living became desperate, fighting after getting frustrated, and then laughing after making up.
[I wonder if Souichi and the others are healthy.]
“They probably are. Though Souichi and Aya are probably still fighting a lot.”
I ended up laughing imagining those scenes from an year ago.
Close childhood friends…in fact one could say that they got along well a bit too much. ALways fighting and then quickly making up again.
On being reckless while fighting monsters, on their food habits, on every small and important topic, they’d argue with each other.
But, I guess they’d still be like that. I can easily imagine them like that.
While I was reminiscing about the past, a heavy sound of bell resounded in the world at dusk.
My consciousness came back to reality.
That did sound like the bell of ending classes but how is it actually?
For some time, I focused towards the academy.
At that, the guard I had been talking to came towards me again.
“Classes ended just now. The dorms are that way but will you wait near the gate here?”
With his finger, he pointed towards the dorms. Or rather, is that how the dorms are. It’s meant for nobles so the bulding are completely different from where a normal would live.
They sure are living in an amazing place. As I said that, the guard laughed.
“I’ll wait here. It seems even the dorms would be uncomfortable for me.”
For a medal, you sure are impatient.
As I gave a wry smile at the unexpected words, the guard laughed again.
“If the nobles lived a bit more modestly, the lives of the commoners would also have gotten better.”
It seems he misunderstood my reply to Ermenhilde and continued the conversation.
Well it is boring just waiting like this. And I have to be careful of the surroundings when talking to Ermenhilde. That’s tiring in its own way.
“That’s true. Money gathers with those who already have it whereas goes away from those who don’t after all.”
“It’s a harsh world. Even I’d like to have an extravagant dinner sometimes.”
Shrugging my shoulders, I agreed with him.
Well, that isn’t really necessary though. Living modestly is good in its own way.
Even without luxury, humans will live on. In fact getting too used to luxury, and becoming unable to live modestly is pathetic in my opinion.
Though there are a lot of people here, what about actually socializing?
For me, I prefer the relaxed and warm atmosphere of villages. But I guess people will always prefer luxury to that.
While I talked like that with guard for some time, the silver door opened, and students began to leave.
It seems there are people on the other side of the gate as well who opened it.
There were men whose muscles could be seen from above their clothes—So it’s human powered eh? There were 6 of them and all of them were skinheads. I wonder if there’s some meaning behind it. I doubt it though.
“Then, good luck with your job.”
“Ou. It’d be good if you can also meet with the one you want.”
“Thank you very much.”
One again sending the guard off, I brought out Ermenhilde from my pocket.
“Well then, will I really meet them?”
[It’s been an year after all. I’m excited to see how much they’ve grown.]
I flicked the medal with a *ping*. Heads.
fuu, breathing a sigh, I returned Ermenhilde into my pocket.
“I feel nervous.”
Stop that. I’m not at an age where I’ll get happy if you say that. In the first place, the word ‘cute’ isn’t a compliment for guys.
The students also realized of my presence and were glancing at me.
Well, I do realize that my clothes really don’t match the place.
I should have paid a little more attention to my attire maybe? Well, not that it would have changed much. My sense in clothing is average.
At least I’ll be able to talk properly to Souichi and others on these clothes.
While I was appraising my clothes, I heard a somewhat recognisable voice.
On turning towards it, a single girl was standing there.
A high class golden embroidered blue robe. A red ribbon and white blouse. A blue skirt that reached till the thighs. A beret like hat on the head. It was the uniform of the academy.
And above all, black hair and black eyes. Hair that reached the waist.
Glossy, well-maintained straight hair. Slightly drooping big eyes.
I ended up staring at that recognisable face for some time.
We both called each other’s names.
For a second I thought it’d be Aya but I was totally wrong.
In just a year, Aya would not be able to give off such a calm and gentle presence, I’d definitely not recognise her if that was really the case.
“Renji-oniisan has…..grown out his beard.”
At that, she started chuckling at me.
[That is why I said. Shave! It doesn’t suit you, a beard that is. Looks untidy…]
Such harsh remarks. It seems to have gotten even more unforgiving due to finding someone with a similar opinion, I guess.
There’s no such thing, I rubbed my chin. I don’t find that slightly prickly sensation to be bad.
“Eru-san as well, it’s been a long time.”(yayoi)
[Ah, long time no see Yayoi. You’ve gotten prettier.]
“Thank you very much.”
I see, so that’s what I should’ve said.
—-nope, not going to say that actually though. There’s no way I can say that to someone who feels like a daughter.
“Also, I have the same opinion as Eru-san.”
“The beard, it doesn’t suit you.”
I ended up averting my gaze at that.
I see, so it doesn’t suit me.
Being told that by a girl with a smile sure has an effect. It felt like a knife just stabbed through my chest.
[Say it more. Renji doesn’t listen to what I say after all.]
“Really? I don’t think so though?”(yayoi)
“That’s because Ermenhilde started nagging too much in past one year.”(renji)
[I have to say something if Renji is being lazy.]
As we continued our usual banter, she gave a small chuckle again.
As she laughed while hiding her mouth with her hand, she looked even more prettier than her age.
“Both Renji-oniisan and Eru-san haven’t changed much.”(yayoi)
[Is that so? Renji’s lifestyle has become extremely dull and lazy in my opinion.]
“Oi stop. It hasn’t become that bad.”
As I quarreled with Ermenhilde, Yayoi-chan laughed at us.
“Really, you both haven’t changed.”
“Yayoi-chan has gotten bigger though.”
“….Telling a girl that she’s gotten bigger might not really be a compliment though?”
Is that so?
Her height’s grown, and her atmosphere has become calmer. It was like that a year back as well but now it has become more adult like.
I guess it’s true when they say that children grow fast. Even though her height was barely till my chest back then, now she’s as tall as my shoulders.
Her height that was taller than the normal girl her age made her feel even more mature.
Her long hair and robe gently swayed with the wind. Yayoi-chan standing in the sunset looked extremely precious and my chest became warm inside.
My worries regarding what I should say to them completely disappeared. From the bottom of my heart, I felt glad that I decided to meet them again.
[We seem to be standing out. How about moving to a place where we can talk with ease?]
On Ermenhilde’s words, Yayoi-chan turned towards the surroundings.
I too, at that, finally felt the need to pay attention to my surroundings.
She must be famous at the academy. Now that the classes were over, a huge crowd of students were accumulated in this area.
“This is troublesome…”(yayoi-chan)
“There’s a park a little walk away from here. How about going there to talk?”
Saying that, she grabbed my hand.
I flinched a little from the sensation of that small and gentle hand.
Wouldn’t this make us stand out even more? was what I wanted to say but the person herself kept smiling widely and led me by the hand.
“Isn’t this much fine? It’s been an year, let me spoil myself at least now.”(yayoi)
“Such things, please do with your boyfriend.”
The answer to my words was a happy voice and a wide smile.
…Now I feel like an idiot to be worrying over what to do. No, I really might be an idiot.
[That’s why I said, just go and meet them.]
“‘Tis as you said.”
Just because of my useless inferiority complex, I went into hiding for a whole year.
I thought that was for the best, I still think that way. An existence like mine will only become a burden for the other God Slayers.
An existence that can only kill gods. An existence that can’t fight without getting others into trouble first. The weakest among us all.
But even so, if a reunion was such a happy thing, it’s a good thing I met them.
I thought that way while looking at the happy Yayoi-chan leading me.
“umm so, it’s been a while. Have you been doing well?”(renji)
“Yes. Me, nii-chan, and Aya-chan, all of us are doing well.”
“I see. That’s good.”
Since I had no idea what I should talk about, only weird things came out of my mouth when I actually did speak. Sitting on the bench of the park, we talked about a lot of things.
About school, friends, Souichi, Aya, Yayoi. And a little about myself. It’s embarrassing after all. Saying that I have been lazying around in a rural village. It’s not something worth talking about.
Children were frolicking around in the park and after some time, their parents came to pick them up.
In this world, Yayoi-chan and the others don’t have their parents. Utano-san or Kuuki-san had been acting as their guardians. And, I as well had been acting like a counsellor or something.
Remembering that, I started feeling nostalgic again.
Though there’s a kind of lonely feeling thinking that now we don’t need to act as their guardians.
As I turned towards Yayoi-chan, her face didn’t have that loneliness of the past and was happily laughing.
Her face looked really pretty. It showed that the past 1 year, her school life had been really fun for her.
“After getting summoned to this world,”(yayoi)
“I was scared, lonely, and sad….I only had onii-chan and Aya-chan.”
Slowly, she continued speaking.
But her voice seemed bright and her face seemed happy.
That’s why I as well, brought out Ermenhilde and gently rubbed the rim of the medal.
“But now, Yuuko-san and the others let us go to school, I made lots of friends, and the other comrades of ours send us letters regularly.”
“I see. Then–”
“And today, I was able to meet Renji-oniisan as well.”
‘You aren’t lonely anymore’. My words coincided with Yayoi’s.
Our gazes met.
“I really think that we 13 should always be together.”
“From hereon, there will be very few times all 13 of us will meet or so Yuuko-san had said but I, want to meet everyone again.”
I made her feel lonely, I did something bad, I made her worry.
My chest grew a bit tighter on seeing the emotions in her eyes. But I was unable to avert my gaze from her serious expression.
“Please don’t disappear so selfishly ever again.”
As I nodded, her serious expression became gentler.
“Will you promise?”
“n, I get it. I promise…I won’t disappear like that. I’ll first properly tell you before doing so.”
“No, don’t disappear in the first place….”
She sighed while saying that.
But with a smile…..I scratched my cheek thinking that I ended up promising something to her.
Promises are heavy. Even the easiest of things….I’d want to make sure to protect that promise. I think that I must protect my promise no matter what.
[It’s tough to be an adult, eh?]
“It can’t be helped. Renji-oniisan is everyone’s father after all.”
“I’m not at that age yet. Utano-san may seem like a mother but I’m more closer to an elder brother at most.”
“Mouu…Renji-oniisan is the same as usual I guess.”
[Really. How deplorable..]
For some reason, these 2 seemed to be amazed at me.
A father….That’s not in my character. If Utano-san were to hear that, I can imagine her roaring in laughter.
“Also, renji-oniisan, Aya-chan had been really wanting to meet you, you know?”
[Yeah. Enough to put out requests at the guild for him.]
“That Aya. Or rather, 55 copper for herb gathering…It’d be suspicious so I’d not take up the request instead, normally.”
Saying that, I brought out the memo from my pocket.
Client: Fuyou Aya. Reward: 55 coppers. 10 times the normal reward for such a request.
Such a request, everyone’d end up wondering what kind of monster will you have to fight for this.
“Also, magic has been applied on that.”(yayoi)
[…I don’t sense any magical energy though?]
Or rather, what’s up with putting ‘magic’ on the memo? If it’s Aya, shouldn’t it be ‘magecraft’? [T/N: this is a little difficult to explain. It seems they are differentiating ‘Mahou’ and ‘Majutsu’ on the way of use similar to how it’s done in Type-moon/Nasuverse for those who know that. This wasn’t really explained well earlier so I had been suing ‘Magic’ for ‘Majutsu’ as well but I think I’ll change it to ‘Magecraft’ depending on the context.]
This doubt must have appeared on my face since Yayoi started giggling while hiding her mouth.
“Aya-chan wished for that memo to be noticed only by Renji-oniisan. She put out that request while ferverently wishing for that.”
I ended up tilting my head on Yayoi-chan’s words.
What kind of magic is that?
“Wishes are also a type of imagination. A strong wish can manifest as a true miracle.”
“And her wish did manifest as a miracle? Is that what you’re saying?”
Aren’t miracles supposed to be the work of Gods?
But I don’t think it’s impossible for human wishes to manifest as a miracle.
I saw such miracles many times during our journey to subjugate the Demon God so I cannot refute it. But isn’t this miracle a bit too specific?
[fumu, somehow it’s quite the romantic type of magecraft.]
“….for you to speak of words like ‘romantic’, Ermenhilde you’ve also matured/grown.”
Yayoi-chan giggled as Ermenhilde clicked its tongue.
“Be sure to meet Aya-chan as well, alright?”(yayoi)
“Yeah. Also Souichi as well.”
Saying that, I stood up from the bench.
We’ve talked for quite a while. Also, it’s staring to get darker as well.
The street lights running on magical energy were shimmering faintly.
“I’ll see you off till your dorm.”
“Thank you very much.”
The cold wind made my mantle sway.
Looking at the sky, the stars were twinkling and the faint red moon was in the air.
“It’s good that you didn’t change.”
Not understanding what Yayoi-chan meant I tilted my head in confusion.
Seeing me like that, she started chuckling again.
“Day after tomorrow, we have a holiday. How about all 4 of us meet on that day?”
[Sounds good to me.]
After that, I’ll head to the capital. I thought that in my head.
If I stay too long, I’ll start getting too attached. I’ll start thinking to stay ‘a little more, a little more time.’
That’s why, I’ll leave this city soon as well. I won’t say that out loud though.
“It’s a promise alright?”(yayoi)
“Too bad. My promises are one per person only.”
[….You are such a..]
I got a sigh from my partner but this alone I won’t change.
“It’s difficult to keep promises after all.”
But the person herself seems to be nodding happily.
“Renji-oniisan is a person that always keeps his promise after all.”
That level of trust makes me feel itchy.
It’s not really that great of a thing. I protect my promises. That’s only obvious. Very normal. That’s why, it’s not something on which you should base your trust on someone.
My promise with Aya. That I’ll protect her. That I’ll protect my comrade who was even stronger than me.
I have made a promise to Utano-san as well. And with my other comrades as well.
And now, my promise with Yayoi-chan also increased.
[It’s tough being an Onii-chan eh?]
“Well what can I say, being called that by you is, how should I say, it doesn’t fit, no, interesting/funny…”
It really is fun. To be with your ‘comrades’.