Chapter 70 A Small, Small Step
That house looked so worn out that it felt like a strong wind alone could blow it away. At the edge of Merdiore, it was built on a cliffside with sea nearby so the wind felt really pleasant. The view from here was also great and if not for the graveyard so nearby, it would be a perfect location. Just from the looks f it, it felt like a punch alone could open a hole in the wall of the house and , it really felt like the quality of the house didn’t matter much to its inhabitants. Well, it could be that I am simply not aware of some great aspect to this house as well though.
This house is where Yuuichirou was currently living. Or rather, it’s a place that has been used by the gravekeepers as a home for many generations. Since he told that himself, it shouldn’t be wrong but because it looked like this I still was left really surprised.
If he were to ask the country……..no, if he had even asked Dagram, they would have prepared a much better house for him though.
Or perhaps there was some personal attachment to this house? While thinking, I lightly knocked on the worn out door which had clearly seen many years pass by. I was almost afraid that I might break it down if I used to much strength.
“Ah, welcome Yamada-san.”
“Yo, Yuuichirou, mind if I come in for a while?”
The owner of this house, Enomiya Yuuichirou opened the door.
Gray hair, tanned skin, and dark purple eyes. He was tall, and though he didn’t look much like a japanese person, this wasn’t because he wished to change his appearance to Astraera like Koutarou did. He himself doesn’t pay much attention to it anymore but long back he was very conscious of his looks. Back in our world, apparently he had also been bullied due to it or so I have heard.
His clothes were also simple old looking clothes, and he looked more like a commoner than even me. Well, it’s not like we’re competing for it or anything though.
“Sure but……It’s a pretty small house though.”(yuu)
“I don’t mind.”
Saying that, he let me inside. From outside, the place seemed to be in tatters but inside, it was well kept and the place was tidy. I didn’t feel the cold breeze I was feeling inside either so they must have properly taken measures against wind coming as well it seems. And the house didn’t even make creaking noises from the strong wind either so it seems the house is more well maintained that I first thought.
The furniture was minimalistic, a lamp, tableware and some cooking tools could be seen.
As I observed the house without making it seem rude, Seravi-san, whom we met a few days ago, came out from an inner room. Wearing just a simple cotton tunic and a long skirt, she totally looked like a normal town girl but unlike her older sister, she had a more calm atmosphere around her which suited her more.
Looks like she came out from the bedroom just now. Judging by how she was putting her hair in order with her fingers, she must have woken up just now. Even though it’s noon already. To be asleep till so late, what have they been doing till late last night? Should I be delighted for my comrade’s happiness or should I be jealous of it?
“Welcome Renji Yamada-sama.”(sera)
“Hello, Seravi-san. Also, I dislike being referred to with a ‘-sama’ honorific so please call me in some other way if possible.”
As I said that while greeting her, she made a troubled look and turned towards Yuuichirou. And he just gave a small laugh and nodded in reply.
Wow, they can communicate through just their gazes. Realizing my gaze, Yuuichirou scratched his cheek embarrassedly and averted his eyes. It doesn’t look cute at all when a guy does that.
“Yamada-san, please sit down, there’s no need to stand as we talk right?”(yuu)
As he spoke that quickly trying to hide his embarrassment, I took a seat. Realizing that I could totally see through him, he also gave a wry smile and sat down.
From back then, Yuuichirou had been bad at hiding his own feelings. Even if he remained silent, the movements of his body or slight change in expression would totally give it away. Now I can’t exactly guess what he’s always thinking but I can tell when he’s panicking or when he’s having fun.
It becomes even more obvious when you get close to him and it was also proof that he didn’t have his guard up around me which made me happy.
“Will you be fine with tea?”(sera)
“Ah, please don’t worry too much about it. I came empty handed as well after all.”(renji)
When I raised my hands saying that, she gave a laugh. Yeah, she definitely is Celestia’s sister. Her laughing face did seem similar to Celestia.
“So? Yuuichirou, when and how did you become so close with Seravi-san?”(renji)
Putting my elbow on the table, I asked Yuuichirou about his romantic life with a teasing smile. Realizing my intentions, Yuuichirou made a troubled yet somewhat happy face and looked outside the window.
“You’re asking that again……..I haven’t really done anything special you know?”(yuu)
“What’s with that smile of yours?”
“I was born with it, don’t worry.”
Ad, he sighed. But seeing as his cheeks were light, it wasn’t like he didn’t want to talk about it either. I guess most people do enjoy proudly telling others how their romance started with their lover.
“After Yamada-san disappeared from the capital, I came to this area. Because I had heard that Celestia-san was a resident of this place.”(yuu)
I don’t know if his feelings have been already resolved or still in the process of it, but from the way he was able to easily say her name, it looks like he has gotten over Celestia-san’s death. Compared to me who still can’t come to talk about Eru’s death, this 18yr old sitting in front of me looked more mature than me.
Do children really mature this fast? Or am I still just a child? Thinking that, I breathed out.
“Nothing. So, did you look for Celestia-san’s house after coming here?”
“Yes. That said, her family was already—-”
Saying till there, he looked towards Seravi-san. She had her back towards us and was preparing some tea. And she was lightly humming as well. When I met her a few days ago, I thought she might be the gloomy type but this should be her actual personality I think. So was she just get too anxious around strangers?
And the meaning behind Yuuichirou’s gaze, it hit on me, and I just muttered ‘I see.’
It seems Celestia only had her younger sister in the family. I don’t know what happened to her parents but back then, monsters were far more aggressive. And considering how she was the vice commander of a mostly male knight order, I understood what that meant even if I didn’t want to.
“So that’s how you met eh?”(renji)
I’m sure they probably didn’t get along much when they first met. Having lost her only family, blood relative, sister; how many would allow a man who just travelled with her sister for a while into their lives?
Yuuichirou didn’t talk much about it but I can imagine.
“She seems like a really good person.”(renji)
“Really. In fact, I feel like she’s too good for me.”(yuu)
“No such thing. You’re a good guy as well. Have more confidence in yourself.”
When I replied that instantly, he looked at me surprised then averted his eyes and scratched his cheeks in embarrassment.
Crying for others and putting your own life on the line for others. It only sounds easy but Yuuichirou, who actually did it, I know he’s a good guy. For that reason, he even lost an arm and Celestia-san lost her life. But still, he’s can smile like this right now. I was very surprised yesterday, but really, this is a delightful thing. When I laughed, he shook in his seat uncomfortably.
“And your job as a gravekeeper?…..”(renji)
“It’s for Celestia-san’s grave. After all, in the end we were unable to bring her body back.”
Talking till that, hmm, I stretched my body a bit.
“But still. Isn’t this place a bit too dangerous to live for two people?”(renji)
Raising a different topic I implicitly told that the gloomy talk was over.
Looking towards the ceiling, though it might survive the wind and rain, I could clearly see some parts of the wood really worn out. I feel bad to say this, but really it looks like it might fall down any second.
“Once we’ve saved up a bit more money, we plan to renovate the place.”(yuu)
“I see. Though couldn’t you just ask Dagram or someone to lend you money?”(renji)
When I named my dwarven friend, Yuuichirou gave a wry smile saying ‘that might be so’.
The receptionist-cum-adventurer Dagram has a lot of savings, and he also has a strong sense of feeling of moral obligation. If Yuuichirou asked even once, he’d give him money instantly.
“Well, this house has its own good parts as well.”(yuu)
“Yeah. Since it’s so small, you can always tell where the other person is and even speaking in a small voice reaches the other person.”
Fumu, I nodded.
“And above all, since the winter nights are cold, you have to stick really close with each other at night when sleeping.”
The moment Yuuichirou said that, with a loud *kacha* a teacup was placed in front of him.
Her gaze was incredibly cold and you couldn’t tell that these two were lover living together. The person who had been pleasantly humming just a moment ago seemed like a completely different person.
After a moment’s gap, a teacup was placed in front of me as well without making even a single sound.
Feeling the difference, I ended up laughing out.
“I hope it suits your tastes.”(sera)
“Thank you very much.”(renji)
To me, she spoke with her eyes down looking shy. Well she actually is embarrassed I think. After all, in front of a man she barely knows, he just talked openly about such things.
Acting like I didn’t notice it all, I simply gave my thanks.
“Mouu, please don’t talk about such weird things.”(sera)
Without swaying even a bit from her gaze, Yuuichirou took a sip from the steamy tea.
Let alone look discomposed, he seemed to be in fact enjoying her reactions. Even though he was always cowering back then, he really has gotten strong. While admiring him, I took a sip from the tea as well.
“..we’re so happy right now. I just end up telling everyone.”(yuu)
“yeah yeah, go explode you goddamn riajuu!”(renji ) (T/N:google riajuu if unaware)
Or rather, his character was way too different from what I remember. Is this the power of love? I ended up thinking of such stupid things.
Or maybe, this was his true nature. Being bullied in our world, and going through such a brutal journey in this world. He was always depressed. That was the Yuuichirou I knew.
It’s been a little more than two years since Celestia died. I can’t tell exactly how long but it should be around that much. There’s also the saying that time heals the wounds of your heart as well I guess. But it was nothing more than words. The person himself must try to overcome those wounds, in fact sometimes time only makes those wounds deeper.
At least Yuuichirou was the latter. After Celestia died, he became the [Avenger]. To Yuuichirou whose power comes from anger and the wounds on his body, his current situation is what he wishes for yet at the same time that also becomes the restraint to his full power.
I also understood why Dagram and the others had victims in their subjugation group against the griffins as well as why they haven’t been able to completely kill them all. That’s because Yuuichirou never took part in the subjugation in the first place. That’s because he won’t be of any use right now. It’s something to be glad of yet also slightly complicated seeing that the threat of monsters was still present in this world.
“Well, even Yamada-san has been living a fulfilling life everyday, right?”(yuu)
“You think so?”
“Well, you’re even travelling together with Aya right?”
I ended up vaguely replying to that. Averting my gaze from him, I looked outside the widow. The weather was as clear as it could be but right now, shining sun almost felt hateful.
Even though when he was travelling with us he was a silent and docile boy, now he’s become able to talk back like this, joke like this and laugh from the bottom of his heart.
……….he’s completely changed, but right now he’s much more lively. I felt so.
“Oh right, where’s Eru-san?”(yuu)
“I didn’t bring her. She’s been scolding me more and more lately.”
“Well that’s because you do things that invite scolding after all.”
I don’t think that a person’s personality is decided the moment he’s born. It’s slowly formed as he/she lives on.
Then, the existence called Ermenhilde. Her personality was also created through the one year she has been living with me and the fact that she scolds so much is because I have been lazing around that much I guess.
“As usual, you two get along so well.”(yuu)
“Not really. I have to deal with her tiring scolding everyday you know?”
“If you two weren’t close, she wouldn’t be scolding you in the first place though.”
“I guess, that’s true as well.”
Well, it’s troubling to think that the amount of scolding is a measure to judge how close you are to someone though. But let’s leave that aside for now.
“How rare. Back then, you would always be together with Eru-san.”(yuu)
“I don’t think so……..probably.”
I replied instantly to Yuuichirou’s comment but I myself felt that I lacked persuasiveness. That’s because I know the truth very well.
Yeah, that’s right. I was always with her. Recalling that, I smiled wryly. Whether in a city, travelling or fighting, it was normal for us to be together and though this might just be my own personal impression but……..I felt that her connection to me was even stronger than Astraera’s. I really think so.
But that was that. Right now, I’ve gotten used to moving around alone without Ermenhilde as well.
Should I be happy that my private time has increased or should I be sad that I’ve started to be away from Ermenhilde at times? No matter how much I think about it, I won’t get an answer. That’s because my own self is resisting finding the answer to that.
“Did something happen?”(yuu)
“……..You can tell?”
I muttered. I didn’t think I let it show on my face but maybe I am the only one who thinks that.
I took a deep breath and strength left my body.
When I said that, I felt more strength leave my body. As if these arms weren’t my own, I put down the still half filled teacup on the table.
“Is that why, you left alone on a journey back then?”(yuu)
Yuuichirou said that, and at the same time he gave an eye signal to Seravi san. She , reading the mood, quickly left the room.
“then, the one who was with you was……..”(yuu)
“What I revived by begging to Astraera—–I’m calling her Ermenhilde now.”
“I see. Yes, true. Back then, Yamada-san, you always called her ‘Eru’ after all.”
We were silent for a while.
What the hell am I saying? I questioned myself. I didn’t come to Yuuichirou’s home to talk about this. The subjugation of griffins. I came here to ask for his help, then why am I talking about myself here.
I’m sure when I saw Yuuichirou and Seravi-san so happily living like this, I couldn’t hold myself back. The reality of Eru’s death that I’ve been keeping to myself. They say time heals the wounds of the heart. I guess it is true………..As long as there’s someone who’d support you during the time, those wounds will heal one day.
But………I was a fool, trying to carry that burden alone. But that only made the wound deeper as it gouged into my heart. Yet, time keeps on stealing away my memories of people dear to me, of Eru. Even though I clearly remember I lost her, I still can’t remember much about her anymore. That reality would one day become unbearable to me.
And when I finally do become unable to bear it, what would happen? Will I go on a rampage like Yuuichirou did back then? Or would I get over it?
“Shit! Don’t tell anyone else, okay? Other than you, only Utano-san and Koutarou know of this.”(renji)
“Haa? Then why did you tell me?”
“I don’t know! Because you seemed so happy, my tongue just slipped.”
“Normally, shouldn’t you tell Aya before me? If we’re speaking of priority, that is.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?……….”
Covering my face with my right hand, I gave a deep sigh. Seriously, what the hell am I doing?
Even though I never wanted to tell this to him, I couldn’t even control my emotions and ended up saying it all. The phrase ‘there’s no use crying over spilt milk’ sure is apt.
“I’ll see you later. Right now, I’m very busy with the request from Astraera. I’ll come meet again once I’m done.”(renji)
“……….No, why did you come here in the first place then?”(yuu)
“Forget about it!”
Getting up from my seat, I left Yuuichirou’s ‘love nest’. No, it should be better to say that I ran away. When, Yuuichirou came after me out of the house as well. His left sleeve swayed emptily in the air.
“What you just told me, have you really not told that to even Aya?”(yuu)
“Yeah. I still haven’t told her. I haven’t even told Ermenhilde either. She, remembers that we journeyed together but she doesn’t remember anything that happened between me and her.”
His shoulder dropped down. Was I because he understood that one of his former comrades had completely changed?
We, have become too used to death. Too many people died, comrades died, friends died. We saw that reality too many times. And, Eru’s death was also nothing more than just one of those. I should have also treated it like that as well. There was never a reason to hide Eru’s death in the first place. I should’ve just shared it with everyone and supported each other.
But, I took it all on myself and disappeared from their side. Eru’s death, and her will as Ermenhilde. I just couldn’t endure it all. That’s why, I raged. So much that I almost died multiple times in just half a year.
I don’t understand. Back then, why did I keep Eru’s death just to myself? Why did I hide it from everyone?
I wished to be a Hero. But I never could become one. I sacrificed so many people, I let so many people dear to me die, and only then was I able to fight a God. And that me………still couldn’t protect the one thing I really wanted to protect. How could I ever become a Hero like that?
I justed wanted to look away from that reality. Or maybe I just didn’t want to accept that Eru was dead.
“But, ‘still’ means that you do plan on telling them one day right?”(yuu)
“……….Yeah. Once this journey ends, I will.”
“I see. Then, I’ll keep quiet as well.”
Seriously. What am I saying to a kid who’s ten years younger than me? I scratched my head and tried to change my thoughts. Seeing others’ happiness, to start talking about my own true feelings. It’s really not how an adult should act. I felt disgusted just from all the self-hate.
“Well then, please come to visit us again. There’s nothing much to do here though.”(yuu)
“That’s not true. I never thought one day you’d be bragging about your wife to me. It was fun.”
“I wasn’t really doing that though………”
Saying that, Yuuichirou gave an embarrassed smile making me sigh. It’s too late for that you know.
Well, but still I never expected to be able to talk like this with Yuuichirou and rather than surprise, the feeling of happiness was more. As expected, I really do love to feel others’ happiness.
“Yeah, I’ll come show up again. Stay healthy and safe. And do your best with your work, okay?”(renji)
I decided not to tell him about the griffins. Since he’s finally living his life happily, I don’t want to invite him to danger again.
I have Aya with me and trustworthy comrades as well. Then, we will be the ones who take on the troublesome things. For Yuuichirou to fight, he needs to get wounded first. That’ll make Seravi-san worry for him. I don’t want to make him fight so much that’d I make someone else worry or cry.
“See you later.”
Saying that, I walked away.
Now then, I’ll have to work hard enough for his part as well. I don’t really specialise in fighting too willingly though.
“Yamada-san, do your best.”(yuu)
That voice was too low and though it was meant for me, it wasn’t loud enough to actually let me hear it properly. That’s why, I also went along and acted like I didn’t hear it and continued walking forward.
Those words went deep into my heart. I felt neither objection nor embarrassment to it. Probably because those words came from Yuuichirou who had overcome his pain.
I’ll do my best. Saying that in my mind, I took a small, small, really, very small step ahead.