I am now in the living room of the Freyhart Residence. A silence reigns the area as the two people inside, me and Ethan, stay sitting opposite to each other without saying a word.
Right now the only ones in this house are me and Ethan. Soon after I arrived here with Elinalise, Lylian said that she needed to buy groceries and dragged Elinalise along with her. Thus leaving us in this state.
The motive is clear, Ethan has something he has to talk with me about. This is a good chance as I also have something to talk with him.
“Youma, glad we could meet again” Ethan breaks the silence and does a greeting.
“Yeah, glad to see you guys too”
“It’s been 2 weeks since you entered that forest. I heard it was for training purposes, but for you to stay in the Forest of Beginnings in the whole 2 week period, I wouldn’t believe it… if I didn’t see you right now”
Ethan stares at me as he finished those words and adds.
“Really, just what did you pass in order to get so strong in such a short amount of time? I don’t think there are that many mana beasts out there in that forest that could boost your strength to such an extent”
I smile wryly at his words. Indeed, a rank 1 would normally not be able to rush through the monsters in that forest as fast as me. Since I had my speed boost along with the sword I was given by them, I was able to breeze through the forest and defeat mana beasts with one swipe. But it definitely isn’t only that.
“A lot happened. While we are at it, I want to apologize. The sword you gave me, I broke it”
Saying so, I take out the broken long sword and bow deeply at Ethan. Such a sword is clearly not a common one you could find anywhere.
Ethan’s face is colored in surprise as he looks at the sword.
“No really, what did you go through in there. There is no way a mana beast in that forest could do this to your sword. It’s even bend like it hit something sturdy”
Yeah, that Kaiser’s fur was crazy tough.
“Hah~, well, no matter what happened. Don’t worry about the sword, it is something that we gifted you, so there is no need to mind about us. You don’t have a weapon yet right? If you want, we could give you another one to replace it”
“No, don’t worry about it. I already asked for one made. Anyways, this isn’t why you had Elinalise leave right?”
I jump straight into the point. Ethan seems to be slightly shocked and turns silent for a bit and says weakly:
“… You must have already noticed”
His words were very ambiguous, but I sort of knew what he was referring to. I nod.
“Elinalise’s actions are way too abnormal. I can only call these actions as someone looking for emotional support”
Ethan smiles slightly and makes a troubled face.
“So you could tell huh. I almost thought you would say she has been love-struck or something of the sort and then go “gahahaha!”… If you were to do that, I would…” Saying so, he lifts a shaking fist as if restraining himself.
Who do you take me for?
“I understand that her feelings are more complex than simple love. That’s why I wanted to consult with you, the person that seems to be the closest to her”
When I say that, Ethan lifts his face shocked and stars sparkle in his eyes.
“D-Do you really think I am the closest one?!”
“Well… Yeah I do”
There’s only Lylian and you. And if I had to choose, I would 100% ask you, so there wasn’t much choice anyways. However, there is no way I will tell him.
“I see, I see, so I am the closest huh. Then it is no wonder you came to ask me, I know the most about Lady Elinalise after all”
With all of his seriousness gone, he nods happily.
He doesn’t seem like the type, but he really does love Elinalise a lot. And he even reacts like a diehard fan that had his favorite idol praised.
After his temporal period of bliss, he puts his serious face on again and begins explaining.
“You see, Elinalise has been a real hard worker since very small. Being born into such a big family that is to be expected. But because of… a certain special case regarding her, there’s an immense pressure placed on her. She was born with exceeding talent, however, the family doesn’t approve of her. For that sake, she tried hard when she was small, but as she grew up she slowly understood that such hard work would never bear fruit”
Ethan slips away the reason as to why the family doesn’t approve of her and just continues on.
“I understood that pain and watched small Elinalise as she grew up. I swore to support her. After some time, the thing she looked forward to was that those days of being enclosed with only books would end, she was looking forward to the Journey of Comprehension but it is as you know”
“The outside was vaster and scarier. The suddenness of everything overwhelmed her”
“Yeah, coupled to that, her knowledge was way too superficial. And when she is in her journey at the Forest of Beginnings which she is separated from us, she would fall into a state of panic leading to the tragic disasters around her”
Ethan then laughs dryly and adds: “I swore to protect her, but when she needs it the most, I can’t be by her side”
“… There is a limit to how much one can do. There are times when one must learn alone. I am sure that she will be able to surpass expectations”
These weren’t empty words of praise, I have seen her magic after all. I tried doing magic a little bit when I came to this world so I know how hard it is to learn. With her own hard work, she managed to reach the 3rd tier at the young age of 15 when it is said to take at least 20 years.
And that ability she showed when she supported me at the Blood Bear fight. There is no doubt, she has the sense of a fighter. She grasped the timings correctly and saved my life twice. Given time, she is sure to become a strong combat force.
“… I know, she has the ability to do so. But it isn’t as simple as that, all that pressure she has felt from the family, from her duty as the Freyhart, has been weighing in her heart”
I don’t understand too well their situation, however, it seems that in this world the view of social status is dominant. One takes high importance in social positions in this world, well, not like it was any different in my world. But this is my first time being so close to a situation and approach like this.
Ethan places one hand on the table between us and looks at me, his expression showing deep sorrow.
“I did say I would protect her, that I would support her. I have done so all this time… but it is ironic. It is exactly because I have passed so much time with her, because I chose the path to protect her, that I can’t support her right now”
A truly bitter expression.
What Elinalise needs right now is not me, is what his face is telling me.
She needs someone outside all this Freyhart strife, an outside party she can trust in. And that person is me huh.
“That’s why…” As Ethan says so…
“Please accompany Elinalise on her journey!” He bows deeply.
I look at his current appearance. Even though strong, right now he looked so frail, trembling as if cursing his own weakness.
I close my eyes and direct only my words at him.
“This decision should be taken while Elinalise is present. Moving this conversation along without her would not be appropriate”
Hearing this, Ethan lifts his head and embarrassedly said: “Yeah, you are right. I might have been a bit too hasty. I am truly sorry”
“No need to apologize”
I understand your sentiments of wanting to protect someone important to you.
“Hai Hai! Did you miss us?!”
“W-We are back…”
After a while, the door was swung open and an incredibly lively Lylian appeared with arms lifted and several bags in her hands. Elinalise was at Lylian’s back, with bend knees and hands supporting her falling upper body. Breathing heavily.
A clear image of how much of a pain it must be to accompany this woman.
“Lylian… Those bags” Ethan looks at Lylian’s hands agape, eyes wide open.
“Heheh, shops before a festival are awesome! So many good stuff!”
But Lylian shows obliviousness at Ethan’s clear shock and just dances happily with her loot. Elinalise made a sad face and with moist eyes said: “I am sorry Ethan, I… I couldn’t stop her”
“L-Lady Elinalise there is nothing to apologize for. It was my error for not noticing the deeper meaning behind her actions”
And Ethan follows fit, collapsing on the floor doing an orz pose.
“Isn’t the Freyhart family rich? Why so troubled?” I whisper this question at the lifeless person on his arms and knees.
He turns his dead-fish eyes at me. “The Freyhart may be, but right now in this journey we are provided with a limited amount of funds to survive. Which also counts as a part of the trial. The lodging is provided by the family but everything else must be done at our own discretion”
“… And Lylian has a tendency to buy unnecessary stuff when she finds them “interesting””
Elinalise also adds. Saying it in a tone of utter despair, as if recounting a bitter experience.
“Oh come on. Don’t tell me you didn’t find that talking sword hilarious”
Saying those words of hate at Lylian’s carefree remark, both of them make a really bizarre face of disgust.
Just how hated are you, talking sword?
The time passes with not much going on.
While Ethan is preparing food, I play with Lylian and Elinalise using the things she bought. There are actually board games in this world as well.
“Haha! Got your Magic Academy! With these, I am in control!”
Lylian was crazy good at them. In all the games that felt incredibly familiar, Lylian was winning them all. I wasn’t sure if it was ability or luck but the fact that we couldn’t win was clear.
By the way, Elinalise was dead last in every single one of them. Completely opposite to Lylian, Elinalise showed a complete mastery in getting the worst out of everything. Cards, numbers, dices, movements, almost all of them were bad.
Maybe the luck theory isn’t that farfetched?
“Elinalise, you are bad”
“Gah! I-I know!”
My blunt words must have felt like a bullet. Elinalise grabs her heart as if shot and crumbles to the floor wailing.
“Lady Elinalise’s forte isn’t board games! That is the only reason you guys are winning! Or more like, stop bullying her!”
A yell comes from the far kitchen. Ethan has some really good ears.
“We were scolded huh” I get closer to Lylian and trade whispers.
“Ethan has always been like that. Don’t worry, even when losing, Lady Eli actually likes to play these games”
And Lylian giggles slightly after saying hers. Her evil personality was very clear to the eyes.
“Elinalise, are you a masochist?”
Elinalise’s body jerks straight up at my words. And with a challenging look, she takes the dices.
“I will show you!” And throws them.
… 2. Straight into Lylian’s property.
“Buahahahaa! Pay up!”
“… I see”
“What did you see?!”
And so, Elinalise crumples.
That’s how the evening basically passed.
Ethan gave me a few meaningful glances as if trying to tell me something in that time. But I just ignored them and continued mingling carefree.
There is still something I need to confirm from her before anything.
“Elinalise, I am willing to become your companion temporarily”
I suddenly bring it out.
Complete silence. As if the temperature had dropped to 0, their faces had frozen in place. But after a while, the face of Elinalise changed, a big smile appeared and sparkles shone in her eyes.
“Really?!” She jumped up her seat and pressed both of her hands on the table pushing her face in my direction. Her body hopping up and down in excitement. Completely ignoring the fact I said temporarily.
Both Ethan and Lylian stayed in place, looking at the scene silently. The two of them must have noticed that wasn’t all to the conversation.
“Yes. But it will only be temporary. Let me be blunt here, I plan on heading to the Beast race continent, so it will be impossible for me to accompany Elinalise in her journey”
It was better to be clear in this. No matter how much she wants me to follow her, her journey should not include the Beast continent. So we would ultimately have to part ways at some point. I need her to have this in mind.
The three who heard my statement looked at me with faces of disbelief.
“Are you seriously saying that? The Beast continent has hostile relations with the human race you know?” Ethan asks me extremely seriously. As if telling me a joke about this is unacceptable and I should make a better excuse if I want to refuse.
“I am serious. There is something I need to do in the Beast continent and it has to be as soon as possible. I have no leeway for detours”
“That resolve… it wasn’t there the first time you refused. I see, you have your share of difficulties as well”
Ethan seems to have understood and gives in.
Elinalise just stays silent and looks as if thinking about something.
“I may have other things to do, but I intend to follow you in your journey as far as I am able to”
I cut my words and pause for a bit. I look at Elinalise who was hanging her head down in deep trance, she notices my gaze and looks back at me. I put my hand over my mouth, do a slight cough and continue.
“In exchange, I want Elinalise to teach me magic”
Elinalise froze. Her whole body went stiff and her eyes became dots. With trembling hands she slowly pointed a finger at herself.
“Me? Teach you magic?”
“Yeah, is it a bother? It is okay to refuse, I will still accompany you, but it would be a great help”
Elinalise’s magic stems from the Freyhart Magic Academy. A high tier school which is famous for creating strong mages. If there is a rule that one cannot teach the magic to outsiders, I would be causing unnecessary trouble for Elinalise. Though honestly, magic is an area that brings me deep interest and I feel that if I learn it my horizons will increase by leaps and bounds. I definitely want to learn it if I have the chance to.
“T-There is no way it is a bother! I will do it, I will teach Youma magic!”
Elinalise shakes her head left and right. And with a hearty pump of her fists, she accepts to teach me. Her mouth had an ^ shape and her eyes were shining with anticipation. There were no signs of her disliking the idea.
“Oh oh! I can teach you magic too Youma, I am a nurse. I know healing magic”
Lylian also accompanies the hype and lifts her hands energetically. Telling me she wants to participate as well.
“No way!” But it wasn’t me who refused, it was Elinalise. Her face was strong, not leaving any room for the person positioned as a lowly bodyguard to say anything back to her master.
“I also don’t like the idea that much” And I also pitch in in the disagreement. Being taught by Lylian feels like a pain and her classes would definitely end up in harassment of my own body. Only thinking about it sends shivers to my spine.
Lylian pouts and goes “Buh buh!” Before sitting down. But her face showing a strange expression of happiness and satisfaction.
I unconsciously smile.
“Then I am counting on you sensei”
“Eh? Sensei? Y-Yes! You can count on me!”
Elinalise stands firmly and does a military salutation.
I don’t know if she was aiming for a strong image, but her whole body was shaking in excitement, taking away anything strong about it and only leaving a small girl that was happy to be relied upon.