The night of the ball passed , and only two days remain until the 『Fighting Tournament』.
I learned many things during the ball last night. First, the image I had of the holder of the title 『Hero』 was completely turned around. The face of the 『Strongest』 『Hero』 was awfully worn out. The bags under his eyes showed just how many troubles he faced through the years and he even went to the extent of saying 「I want to die」.
Also, I came to understand that Snow was driven further into a wall than I thought. Having learned of one of the reasons that causes her suffering, I now came to hate the ones known as nobles. Honestly, I never want to go to a ball like that ever again. It was a dazzling world, but what lies beneath is something completely different.
The people there all have 『Honor』. If I remember correctly, Lowen said he wants 『Honor』 and 『Glory』. If Lowen’s 『Regret』 is that he didn’t reach the world that was in that hall, then it’s a bit questionable.
I learned a lot, and gained many more questions.
And, even now I still haven’t managed to touch the 『Bracelet』. There’s no doubt that the 『Bracelet』 that Palinchlon prepared is important. It’s possible that removing it would return my memories. However, the possibility that removing it can bring 『Unhappiness』 causes my body to freeze. If it were only me then it’d be fine…… but the fact that it can bring 『Unhappiness』 to Maria and Snow, I can’t afford to be careless.
As I walk through 『Epic Seeker』, I think of my memories, of Lowen, and of Snow. With only two days remaining until the 『Fighting Tournament』, I head to the office in order to think about what I need to do.
It’s early in the morning right now. There probably won’t be anyone in the office. I can use that time while waiting for Snow, Lowen, and Reaper to ――
「Kanami, good morning! Let’s do our best today too!」
Snow greeted me with an energetic voice.
「Go, good morning……. You’re pretty motivated, did something happen……?」
Not only is she here early, but the energy she has bewildered me.
「Am I? I’m the same as always?」
It really looks like that’s what Snow thinks, but seeing that only causes me to feel something’s off. For that representation of laziness that is Snow to be waiting thirty minutes before our scheduled time…….
And with that same energy, Snow continues speaking.
「Hey, will we search the labyrinth today? Or, will we do work for Lauravia?」
「No, I’m still thinking about it……」
「I want to do a quest. Look, I brought a lot. Pick whichever you want」
She spreads out many documents on top of the desk with a smile. It seems like they’re all quests Lauravia assigned to the guilds. I lightly look over the documents, and then, the level of difficulty of those quests shock me. They’re all quests that need a top class searcher to stake their life on, it isn’t something that can be done in a handful of time.
「Ahh, this one’s good. Subjugation of the monsters living on the developing land to the west. It seems like a dragon appeared in the western mountains. It’s worth doing」
Snow ignored my comment and with an unfitting line hands over a document.
「Dragon subjugation……? If possible, I don’t want to do something so important」
「But if you don’t do anything important, you won’t gain any 『Honor』……」
「H, 『Honor』……? It’s not like I……」
Snow wasn’t someone who cared about 『Honor』. Something is obviously off.
「Lowen Araith’s objective is 『Honor』 and 『Glory』. In that case the honor of 『Dragon Slaying』 will be great. And it’d also help 『Epic Seeker』」
Snow is smiling. It’s as if she truly believes this proposal will benefit everyone. Certainly, it does fit the criteria for canceling Lowen’s regrets. If I ask him, then he’ll definitely lend a hand.
However, right now I’m focusing on something else ―― the issue with my memories and the 『Fighting Tournament』.
「…… In that case, I should think about it with Lowen. I’ll go call him」
I make an excuse in order to buy time to think of a reason to refuse.
「That’s true. Call Lowen Araith. Kanami, I’ll wait here」
Snow agrees with a smile.
I immediately spread out 《Dimension》 and look for Lowen. I leave the office and the door closes. The moment after, Snow’s voice reaches my ears. It was a very quiet voice, but I was able to clearly hear it.
「Un. If Kanami is a 『Dragon Slayer』 , then it’ll definitely……. Definitely――」
Snow’s voice was lively. It’s good that she’s showing motivation for her work, but it also feels dangerous. Her vision has narrowed and she’s only seeing what’s in front of her. That’s the impression I’m getting.
And as for 『What’s in front of her』 ―― It’s surely, my reputation.
Is that for 『Epic Seeker’s』 sake, my own, or herself…….
I don’t think that’s a bad thing……, but I don’t think it’s a good thing either…….
While holding some worries, I continue searching for Lowen. It didn’t take too long before I found him with 《Dimension》 . Right now he’s at an orphanage at the outskirts of the town playing with the children. If I remember correctly, I heard that he ended up getting along with them while helping with Lauravia’s security. Since Lowen is acting like a hero of justice whenever he doesn’t have any work, he’s very popular to the citizens ―― and especially the children.
I walk through Lauravia greeting the people I pass by and head to the orphanage.
At the garden of that orphanage I see Lowen using a stick to teach the kids the sword.
「―― Ou, you’re a quick learner. Alright, keep swinging your sword like that!」
The Araith’s sword technique was on open display. Even in the eyes of children Lowen’s technique will still look amazing. With gleeful eyes, the kids imitate that sword technique.
「Umu. That is the foundation of the Araith style swordsmanship. Repeat that and have your body remember it」
Lowen is cheerfully teaching a part of his godly technique to the children.
「Master. Hurry, please teach the next technique!」
「A cool one!」
「Are there any secret techniques!?」
In response to the children’s voices, with a 「It can’t be helped」, Lowen readies his wooden stick.
「Then, it’s a little early but I’ll teach you the secret technique. If you acquire this you will be able to understand the 「Natural Law of the World」 and you will be able to see through your opponent’s movements, it’s an amazing secret technique! To put it bluntly, you won’t be able to lose if you have this! I call it, Araith Style secret sword technique 『Sensitivity』!」
…… No, wait a moment.
「What a weird nameー」
「How do you do it, Master!」
The children’s eyes sparkle with curiosity once they hear the name of the technique.
I immediately attack Lowen’s back.
「Stupid Lowen! Just hearing it sounds dangerous!!」
「―― Whoa! what are you doing, Kanami!」
Lowen managed to dodge my full strength drop kick with only a graze.
As always, the strength of the skill 『Sensitivity』 is amazing. Amazing, but it shouldn’t be something so easily taught to children. From what I just heard, a serious 『Compensation』 is necessary.
「No, that’s my line. What are you doing, Lowen……」
「What am I doing, I’m only teaching the sword? Since you spend most of the day as the Guild Master, I’ve been looking for another disciple」
「If you’re going to teach children, then only do the basics. It’s way too early for kids to learn the skill 『Sensitivity』……」
「…… But I acquired the skill 『Sensitivity』 when I was around these kids age?」
「Even then you shouldn’t」
It seems like Lowen was able to acquire a skill that requires one to kill oneself when he was a child.
As always, he has an unnecessarily sorrowful past…….
「Fumu, it can’t be helped. If my number one disciple Kanami is saying that, then I’ll do so」
「Honestly this should be something that you yourself should realize」
「So, Kanami, do you need anything? You came all the way out to a place like this, there has to be something?」
「A, aah, that’s right. I forgot. Snow said she wants to do a big quest, so I thought I should get your opinion」
「Mu, a big quest……. Sounds interesting」
「The documents are in the office, come with me」
Lowen turns back to the children and begins giving instructions.
「Forgive me, everyone! Some business came up so this will be all for today! Make sure to master the swing I taught you for next time!」
The children looked disappointed.
Now it looks like I’m the one who snatched the fun from these children. I want to run away.
「I’m busy for the sake of Lauravia’s peace. Then until next time」
Lowen gives a forceful farewell and turns his back.
However, even then the children see Lowen off with a smile.
「No helping it if it’s for the sake of peace」
「Come again, Master!」
「Thank you very much, Master」
They probably trust Lowen from the bottom of their hearts. Once they heard that it was work, the children didn’t do a thing to try and stop him.
「Alright, Kanami. Let’s go」
「Aah, let’s go」
While holding respect towards Lowen who is more of a 『Hero』 than me, I begin leading the way. But it’s then that Lowen stops.
「Aah, forgive me. Before going to the office would you mind stopping by the workshop? Alibaazu should have finished the sword I requested yesterday」
「Hee……, a sword? Un, that’s fine」
Accepting Lowen’s request, I changed our direction to Alibaazu-san’s workshop.
We walk to the edge of 『Epic Seeker』 and enter the soot covered workshop.
Ever since I requested the sword, Alibaazu-san’s workshop has been roaring with business. I do come every now and then to repair some things, and it seems like the amount of customers have increased after they saw my sword.
I shout into the heat filled workshop.
「…… Oh, Master and Lowen. Welcome to this filthy place」
Covered in sweat, Alibaazu-san comes to greet us from deep inside the workshop.
Lowen quickly gets to the main topic.
「Alibaazu, did you finish my sword?」
「Lowen is it. Aah, of course. I’ll prepare it immediately」
And so, he spreads out equipment on the usual workbench. Among them are the items that I requested to be repaired.
「Let’s see, this is Master’s……. This one is Lowen’s……」
I take a glance at Lowen’s sword. It isn’t that special a sword. It’s a sword forged in mythril which is popular with searchers. If there’s something different about it, then it’d be the useless ornaments on the scabbard.
「Thank you Alibaazu. It wouldn’t look good as a swordsman if I keep borrowing swords from Kanami」
Like a child who received a present, Lowen happily takes the sword.
「I could have given you anyone of my swords if you wanted it……」
「No, for this type of thing it’d be best to buy it with the money I earn myself. Because…… this gives the feeling of being 『My Sword』」
I listen to Lowen’s thoughts as I look at my repaired sword. It’s then that Alibaazu-san points at two swords leaning on the wall.
「Aah, also…… forgive me, Master. Those two swords over there, I couldn’t repair them」
It’s the swords I entrusted to him hoping there was a way to repair them. In the end, he wasn’t able to acquire the particularly special materials needed. Lowen sees that sword and his eyes and mouth open wide.
「Wha, that sword is――」
It looks like seeing the 『Treasured Sword of the Araith Family』 and 『Ruf Bringer』 shocked him.
Lowen’s surname should be 『Araith』. He might know something about it.
「Ha, hahahaa. It’s like a 『Curse』 ―― no, is it an inseparable relationship……」
With a bitter smile and in a nostalgic manner, Lowen goes to grab the two swords.
In a panic Alibaazu-san tries to stop him from taking the sword.
「Wa, wait, Lowen! That black sword is ――」
「It’s fine. 『Sensitivity』 is able to nullify something to this degree」
As if it were nothing, Lowen takes the 『Ruf Bringer』 in hand and traces that broken blade with his finger. A miasma is oozing out of the sword, but it has no effect on him whatsoever
「You’re all worn out……. You two……」
He accepts the mental contamination with a bitter smile. Having an idea of what’s happening, I ask a question.
「Did you know about those swords when you were alive……?」
「Aah, that’s right. I know of both. It’s nostalgic, I was in a bit of a daze」
Placing the swords back, he begins reminiscing.
「This treasured sword, I used it when I was alive. There’s no way I’d mistake it. And also, this one, it should be the 『Ruf Bringer』. And this sword, how many times was it swung. What a nostalgic memory. Kanami, just where were they」
「Eh, umm, the labyrinth I believe……」
I had no confidence in my answer. The 『Ruf Bringer』 is fresh in my mind, but I have no idea where the 『Treasured Sword of the Araith Family』 was.
「I see. What a strange fate. To once again meet with this sword……」
「If you want that sword, I’ll give it to you……」
I gave the suggestion after sensing the attachment in Lowen’s words.
「Is it fine?」
「Of course. But, it can’t be repaired, it’ll be worse than a blunt weapon……」
「That’s only if you don’t know how. This should be a place for blacksmiths shouldn’t it. ――Alibaazu, I have something to say」
With a sparkling face, Lowen calls Alibaazu-san.
「Oh, what is it?」
「It’s a secret so lend me your ear for a bit」
And so, the secret talk beings. Since he went out of his way to say 「secret」, probably shouldn’t use 《Dimension》. Responding to the trust of my close friend, I cancel my magic.
Once he senses that, with a grin Lowen begins whispering into Alibaazu-san’s ear.
「―― Eh, eh? Lowen, is it really fine with only that?」
Alibaazu-san raised his voice in surprise. It seems like it’s something unthinkable for a blacksmith.
「Aah, do that with the 『Treasured Sword of the Araith Family』. About the『Ruf Bringer』, the scabbard might be odd but do your best 」
「No, the scabbard shouldn’t be a problem. If that’s what you’re fine with, then I’ll do it……」
「Great, the contract is formed. I’ll bring the money later」
「Come back tomorrow, the order shouldn’t take more than a day」
It seems like it’s been decided, and in a voice that I could hear, the day of its retrieval has also been decided.
「I kept you waiting, Kanami. Then, let’s return to the office」
「What did you say……」
「That’s a secret. I want it to be a surprise」
Lowen enjoyably smiles.
「I see. Then, I’ll look forward to it」
Not probing too deeply, I also respond with a smile.
And so, we return to the office that Snow is waiting in. Although some time passed because of our detour, Snow was still waiting in a good mood.
Snow opens her mouth as soon as she sees us.
「―― Welcome back. So Lowen Araith, do you have any interest in being a 『Dragon Slayer』?」
「I do. Let’s do it」
「Nn, it’s decided. I thought you’d say that, I already finished preparing the documents」
Lowen immediately replied without any hesitation, and Snow shows the dragon subjugation document on top of the desk.
「I see, a stray dragon attacked a remote village. We have to go as soon as we can……」
「I thought you’d say that, I already finished the preparations to depart. The Walker house’s carriage is waiting outside」
「Aah, let’s go……. Dragon extermination…… it isn’t a bad epic!」
Like that, Snow and Lowen move to the door.
「Wa, wait! Wait! That was too fast! Did you two plan this before hand!?」
I freeze the entrance using 《Di Winter Frost》 and stop the two from leaving.
「Nn……? Uun. But I expected this glory seeking idiot would do this」
「There’s no reason to refuse. Wouldn’t 『Dragon Slayer』 be the highest 『Honor』. It’s regrettable, but there’s no downside to Snow-kun’s proposal 」
They answered my question, but I can’t tell if the two get along or not.
But still, Lowen……. for you to say there’s no downside to her proposal with only that explanation…….
「You two might be fine with that but I’m different. If possible, I’d like an easier quest」
「But Kanami. It’s 『Dragon Slayer』, 『Dragon Slayer』」
「Un, I understand that you’re enchanted by those words, but calm down……」
Lowen is persisting. When I picked him up I sensed something when I watched his back as he was teaching the children.
「Lowen. Recently, haven’t you become quite weak? Would you be fine, taking a dragon as your opponent?」
「Uu……. It’s true that I have weakened. However, that’s has nothing to do with becoming a 『Dragon Slayer』……」
The activities Lowen’s been doing on the surface have weakened him. His magic has thinned to the point that it’s incomparable to when we met on the thirtieth floor.
However, even then Lowen still wants to be a 『Dragon Slayer』. He was more enchanted by the bait Snow hung than I thought. But if he’s enjoying himself this much, I don’t feel like I can stop him. After all, Lowen disappearing is one of my current objectives.
「Is it really fine? You won’t lose?」
「Aah, it’s fine. Let me do it. An Araith swordsman won’t lose to a dragon」
Lowen nods with an earnest expression. If he shows me a face like that, there’s no longer anything I can do.
On the other hand, behind him I hear Snow say 「I did it!」.
「And, Snow……. Why did you ask this all of a sudden……?」
「Nn……. Because, right now the only one with the title of 『Dragon Slayer』 in Lauravia is Glen Nii-san. I thought it’d be necessary to you. If you kill this dragon, you will instantly become a celebrity」
「No, like I said, for me being famous is……」
I know that it’s wrong as the Guild Master of a guild, but I don’t believe this is something I need to do right now. Out of options I call out to the last of my roommates.
「Tha, that’s right. Speaking of which, what’s Reaper doing. If you leave her out of the group then things will become complicated, I’ll go call her!」
「Nnー……, Reaper? There’s no helping it if it’s Reaper……」
If Reaper opposes, then I’ll be able to change our current course.
Honestly, rather than fame what I want right now is time to think. I see Snow nod and I immediately spread 《Dimension》 throughout the town. I point my awareness to the establishment Reaper usually visits and confirm that she isn’t inside eating the usual sweets. The only other option would be the places where children of the same age hang out. Since she ended up acting as the kids leader, I check the empty lots and river.
However, I can’t find her. With no other choice, I forcefully spread 《Dimension Multiple》――
―― I find Reaper crouching on the roof of an isolated house.
She’s shaking. In pain, Reaper shakes as she presses down on her neck.
The moment I say her name, Reaper notices my magic power.
Noticing from kilometers away ―― with numerous buildings in between, Reaper’s eyes meet with my own, and she grins. And then, after wiping away the abnormal amount of sweat on her forehead, she uses that teleportation from before many times and appears in the office.
「Sorry to disturb!」
Together with a block fog, Reappear appears from a place with nothing in it.
There was no trace of that agony that was on her face. It was the same pure smile as always.
Lowen is the first to speak to the newly appeared Reaper.
「Ou. You came, Reaper. We’ll be going to subjugate a dragon right now, do you want to come? It’ll be a good warm up before the 『Fighting Tournament』. Perhaps a dragon might even appear in the 『Fighting Tournament』」
「Dragon? Oou, sounds good! They’re the ones who appear in picture books a lot!」
「Aah, that dragon. There shouldn’t be any danger as long as Kanami and I are there. How about it?」
「I’ll go! It sound fun!」
Reaper jumps onto Snow’s back at the same time as she answered.
Snow acknowledges Reapers participation with a smile. However, I ――
「Re, Reaper? Is that really fine?」
I asked with a double meaning underneath.
「Un, it’s fine」
In response, with a smile Reaper reverses the current of the magic power flowing through the 『Link』.
The magic power flowing into the pattern in my neck informs me. It was a warm magic power. And, it held a kind emotion, as if saying 「Don’t worry」.
「Wou, wouldn’t it be better to not……? At least I don’t feel like going……」
After all, Reaper was in so much pain…….
I don’t know the reason for it. I don’t know, but I thought I shouldn’t leave it alone.
「Kanami you really aren’t motivated are you…… In that case, it’d be fine if Reaper, Snow, and I go……」
Lowen sensed the seriousness in my expression and removed me from the party.
It’s then that Snow objects in a panic.
「――N, no! This is a quest for Kanami’s sake. Trust is needed to undertake this. We won’t be able to receive it without Kanami」
「Can’t we do something as long as you’re there Snow-kun?」
「It’s not that it can’t, but……――」
The two continue talking to each other…… Reaper looks on at them with warm eyes.
And then, she points those eyes towards me. Those eyes ask me to forget about what I had just seen. Maybe, she doesn’t want to worry Lowen.
After some hesitation, I decide to sympathize with her and do what she wants.
But it’s because I sympathize, that I can’t leave Reaper alone.
「No, I’ll go. We finally have a chance to go out together」
As long as I don’t leave Reapers side, I might be able to hear the reason for that pained expression.
There’s no helping it, I’ll take on the dragon subjugation quest.
「Thank goodness. Thank you, Kanami」
The happiest among us was Snow. She grabs my hand with a smile filling her face.
「Mu, it’s great that Kanami is coming. With this there’s no more problems」
「The dragonー, is it bigー? Can I eat itー?」
I carefully keep watch over the lively Reaper. However, even while using 《Dimension》 I still didn’t feel anything off. As expected, I have to hear it straight from her.
As I concentrate on Reaper, Snow puts more strength into her hand.
「Kanami, let’s hurry! ―― Ah, don’t forget to leave a 《Connection》 in the room. We can rely on your dimension magic to return」
「Ah, un. Okay……」
Just as she told me I set a 《Connection》 inside the office, and like that I’m pulled outside by the hand. Lowen and Reaper follow behind.
Several luxurious carriages wait outside 『Epic Seeker』. Because of the time we used a carriage to go to the ball I could tell that these belong to the Walker house.
Snow hates it when her house gets involved in her own work. No it annoys her. However, now she’s actively using the power of her house.
Snow has a smile and is full of motivation, but that only serves to hide the selfishness underneath.
Not putting any resistance in my hand, I continue being pulled by Snow, and we head to the dragon subjugation.
While holding onto many worries…….
Snow had already finished all the procedures. No, it’d be better to say that the work was allocated to the people of the Walker house. Everything was settled in the blink of an eye, and we left for the village west of Lauravia while it was still morning.
Now that I think about it, this is my first time leaving the Allied Nations. I gaze at the scenery on the other side of the carriage’s window. At a distance, I can see a white mountain with a fresh green plain at its base. I heard that the land outside of the Allied Nations was being developed, but there really is nothing here. Although there is a simple road, it’s one that was made naturally and not by human hands.
As the carriage shakes, I speak out to Reaper who is also looking out at the scenery with me. I make sure to do it in a quiet voice that no one else could hear.
「Oi, Reaper. What was that before……?」
「It looked like you were in pain……」
「Nnー, you meant that. That is, ummー……」
Reaper is also holding her voice back. And then, she answers in a very quiet voice.
「How do I put it……. The 『Urge to Kill』 towards Lowen? Whenever I forcefully hold back that 『Urge to Kill』……, I get like that……」
「U, 『Urge to Kill』? Is holding it in that difficult…..?」
「It feels like my body is being twisted……. Is it because I’m opposing the reason of my existence?」
Reaper is magic. And it’s likely that she’s a magic that was made solely to kill Lowen Araith. Opposing that magic art must be the same as opposing 『Grim Rim Reaper』. It’s difficult to even imagine the pain she must be feeling.
But even then, Reaper bravely puts on a smile.
「It’s fine……, I won’t lose……. ―― I won’t lose to this mission that was given to me of 『Killing Lowen』. No one can play with my own fate. I’ll continue fighting against these false emotions. Because I am me……!!」
It was a small voice, but a strong oath. One that says, I will oppose my reason for being and choose my own path. That was something unimaginable from a child who is not even a year old.
「A, amazing……. Reaper……」
Words of praise naturally spilled out of me. For some reason, Repairs oath resounded deep inside of me.
「…… Nnー, no, it isn’t so amazing. This, it probably came from you Onii-chan」
Her unexpected words bewildered me.
Even if she says it came from me, I don’t remember ever saying those things to Reaper.
「The words weren’t exactly clear, but they poured in from the 『Link』. A vague voice that said 『Don’t play with another’s fate』『Lies are unforgivable』『I won’t mistake my own wish』…… so, I decided to believe in that voice」
「Poured in……? What’s linked isn’t just magic power……」
I move my hand to the pattern on my neck. If emotions really are passed through this 『Link』, then I feel like I understand the meaning of Reaper’s words a little.
「That’s why, the things that I am saying, are also the words of Onii-chan……」
With that marking the end, Reaper turns back to the outside scenery. The emotions that I’ve been sensing have disappeared and she goes back to her age appropriate atmosphere.
―― Reaper’s words are my words.
I can’t imagine that those words from before were something she found on her own. If it’s mixed with the words of my past self, then it’d make a lot more sense.
To put it bluntly, the current me doesn’t have as strong a conviction as Reaper. It’s true that I hate lies and disorder. But, my will isn’t strong enough. In that case, what led to that point, how did I gain such conviction, what happened for me to say those words.
『Don’t play with another’s fate』! 『Lies are unforgivable』! 『I won’t mistake my own wish』!
I continue repeating those words in my head.
And so time passes, and the carriage arrives at the western village.