“Who is it?”
Inaril was listening in to their conversation. She had felt the presence of someone approaching this way as well. She turned her head toward the door.
“Should I go check?”
Nainiae thought it might be a good idea to see the face of the one who was approaching this way. So, she asked as she moved the mana inside her. Riley shook his head.
“We will know soon enough anyway. There probably is no need for that. Just get other magic ready.”
Nainiae nodded. She hid her body by sticking to the wall. She then prepared the restraint magic that she was planning on using on the guest who was going to arrive here soon.
Only until a moment ago, there were warm, friendly conversations going inside Inaril’s home. Now, only silence was left in the place.
Breaking that silence, footsteps could be heard. It seemed to be in a hurry. Soon, the firmly shut door was opened wide. The guest revealed their identity.
The guest was sweating heavily, especially their face.
The face was familiar. Riley and Nainiae, who had been on full alert, relaxed their faces.
“What the, it was you?”
Riley’s voice had no hostility in it. Inaril realized the one who had come wasn’t anyone bad. She lightly sighed.
Priesia was sitting. She muttered the name after discovering the face of the boy who had entered the house.
“Ugh… Oh man. As I thought, you all came back here.”
With his palm on the door, the boy greeted everyone. He took a moment to calm his breathing and entered.
“Come on. You left me behind?”
Nainiae was hiding in the kitchen. She started to pretend that she was busy and picked up the tray that she had placed in the kitchen.
“Who left who behind? It’s just that you were late.”
As if he had done nothing wrong, Riley placed his fist on his waist and acted proud. As if he was trying to say he couldn’t beat Riley, Nara declared surrender. However, he stopped walking in.
Nara realized there were a few more people here in comparison to when he was dragged here the last time. So, he wondered what this was about. He blinked his eyes.
“M… Mr. Ian? Ms. Priesia too?”
Riley figured there would be many things to say and hear. Finding it to be a bother, he pointed at an empty seat.
“Sit first. I think there will be much to talk about.”
* * *
The conversation continued until nightfall. So, Riley and others decided to just sleep at Inaril’s place. They made places to sleep on the floor by laying blankets. Everyone was traveling through a dream world of his or her own.
“They sure are sleeping soundly…”
“A lot of stuff happened today.”
Nainiae and Riley had left the house for a moment. Nainiae had used a phrase from Riley’s past life and shrugged.
“To think thay you would use that phrase.”
“Compared to before, I have gotten better at it, right?”
She was asking if her common sense had improved since summer. Riley looked at her and then broke into a smile.
“All right. Yes. You have gotten better.”
Having heard the response she wanted to hear, Nainiae also smiled. She started to think about the things she had heard in Inaril’s home today.
“My head is a bit overwhelmed because I heard so many things today.”
There were the memories she had extracted from Rebethra. In addition to this, she had heard many things from Inaril and Ian. It seemed her brain was overwhelmed because she was trying to organize them all. Nainiae sighed lightly, and Riley said,
“I know. Things are tangled up in a complicated mess.”
Inaril was once called the Right Hand in this world. She said she was already dead and was only waiting for her body to disintegrate. At that moment…Ian just stared at her with a vacant look on his face. Riley was thinking about the Ian from that time.
“What would happen to Ms. Iril when Ms. Inaril’s added lifespan is exhausted?”
Unlike Riley, who was thinking about Ian, Nainiae thought about Iril. She was thinking about the brief conversation she had with Iril on Andal’s mountain last time. It seemed that Nainiae was finding the situation regrettable.
“Well, she could continue living in Romera Village or she could leave this place, one of the two, don’t you think? She probably will inherit her grandmother’s house or something.”
Inaril looked like she was in late 20s to early 30s at most. However, she was older than Ian. Thinking about this, Riley emphasized that Inaril was a grandmother as he muttered.
“She is a grandmother huh…”
In his past life and this life, he had never met anyone he could call grandmother. He shook his head.
“So, how long did she say she had left?”
“She said she had about a week left.”
Those were the number of days remaining for Inaril.
Her body had died a long time ago. To warm her cold skin, she always kept near the fireplace. Even at best, she had a week left.
Because Riley had brought up Inaril, Nainiae brought her hands together and started to fiddle with her thumbs.
“I feel like I am seeing my former self.”
Nainiae felt like she knew how someone who was prepared to die was feeling. Riley scratched his head and asked,
“What is it? Does it bother you?”
“It would be a lie if I said I was not bothered by it.”
Nainiae stopped fiddling with her thumbs. Now, she thought about Ian, the senior butler who must be snoring inside Inaril’s home.
“I’m worried about Mr. Ian too.”
“He must have longed to meet her for a very long time.”
Nainiae said in regrettable tone. Riley glanced at her face from the side and asked,
“It does not matter, don’t you think? Ian thought she had already died. Despite that, he got to see her face and talk to her again once, so… I think he’s got to resolve the feelings that piled up inside?”
Nainiae also glanced at Riley’s face from the side and responded in terse words,
Her response, although short, contained many meanings. Riley put on a perplexed look on his face.
“What are you going to do?”
Nainiae turned her head to the sky as she asked. Riley said,
“I am not sure…”
He had many things to do.
He also felt like just going back to the mansion. There was the case of the Epidemic, the purple human who they had not resolved yet. There was also the matter of Helena. For reasons unknown to them, Helena had turned her back on humanity.
In his past life and this life, Riley had never gone to school, but… Riley felt like a student who hadn’t done any of his homework although the vacation was almost over.
‘If I really played around all this time, then I wouldn’t feel so wronged about this.’
Instead of playing around and doing nothing, this time, Riley could say he had been running around and working diligently. With a bitter look on his face, he looked at the Holy Sword hanging on his waist.
“The most urgent matter is Epidemic, which is related to the migration of the monsters.”
Thinking about Epidemic, he thought about Helena’s case which also needed to be handled next.
“At the moment, I’m not sure how I’m going to chase down that Helena lass.”
They had no idea how to get to the world below that Ian and Inaril spoke of, the world that Riley had come from to be exact.
“If we do find a way, are you going to go there?”
Having heard the question, Riley pondered about it for a moment. He looked up to the sky like Nainiae had done earlier and said,
“I should. I will go.”
Toward the night sky, Riley breathed out, making frosts in the process. He then added why he planned to go there.
“I need to go finish the conversations I didn’t get to resolve. I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep soundly unless I do.”
“… Mr. Riley?”
Nainiae and Riley turned their heads toward the sound.
She was coming toward them without the staff. Nainiae quickly went next to her and supported Inaril.
“You are not even using your staff…”
“If I did, that will awake anyone who is asleep.”
Inaril smiled in relief after being supported by Nainiae. Inaril turned her head toward where Riley was and carefully approached him.
“Mr. Riley, you are there, right?”
Riley stared at her blinds which was facing him. Inaril pulled her chin. It seemed she was hesitant. She carefully opened her mouth.
“I have a favor to ask.”
Perhaps this could be considered her last will before disintegration. She nodded and said,
“The sword… Would you like to share the sword with me?”
Wondering what this was about, Riley carefully listened to what Inaril said. Dumbfounded, he just stared at her.
“It is a very simple and personal desire. Mr. Riley, you had lived your life with the blessing of the sword as well. In that case… perhaps you thought about it once at least too?”
Having heard Inaril’s question, Riley thought about his past life in which he had swung the sword quite frequently. He realized what she was asking and peeked a smile.
“Have you ever lost before?”
“At least, when it was a matter of the sword, I have never lost once.”
Inaril responded, full of confidence. She soon shook her head and corrected herself.
“No. I have lost once. It would be right to say I lost on purpose.”
Riley thought about the sword wound on her eyes and the story that Ian had told him back in the mansion. He figured he could understand what she was talking about. He nodded.
“It was Ian?”
“It is an embarrassing past for an old woman like myself.”
Inaril blushed. She then asked Riley again.
“Will you please grant this request from an old woman?”
Hearing her desperate plea, Riley sighed briefly as he looked toward her house.
‘To simply put, my teacher’s swordsmanship was unmatched in the entire world. Although I am serving Iphalleta House…I am certain that my teacher’s swordsmanship is superior.’
One time, Ian had said those words with pride. Thinking about this, Riley turned to look at Inaril.
Having heard Riley’s response, Nainiae pulled Riley’s sleeves, concerned if this was a good idea.
“Will it be all right?”
Nainiae didn’t think Riley would lose. She was concerned about Inaril.
Inaril didn’t have long to live. Nainiae was concerned about Inaril overexerting herself or getting hurt badly.
Riley patted Nainiae on the shoulder, telling her she should just focus on being a good referee. Riley added,
“I’ll adjust properly.”
After that, Riley and Inaril moved to an empty space behind the house. They faced each other and extended their hands.
“… Both of you…please do not overdo it.”
From the dimensional space, Nainiae brought out two practice swords that were made of wood. Nainiae handed one each to Riley and Inaril. Nainiae pierced the ground with the Holy Sword in the middle of the empty area and started to count down.
With just one more number left, Riley and Inaril each started to take a stance. Their stances were different from the other’s.
‘The stances are different.’
They both had received the blessing of the sword, so they both could wield the Holy Sword. However, because their ways of holding the wooden swords were different, Nainiae’s eyes filled with curiosity.
Who would win?
Initially, Nainiae was leaning toward stopping this duel. However, she was a servant of the Iphalleta House after all.
This was a matter of the sword. Even Nainiae could not help but get excited with anticipation. That feeling was ahead of all others inside Nainiae.
Also, this was a duel between two individuals with the blessing of the sword who have never lost a battle. So, she was feeling that way even more.
With the last number, Nainiae used a simple noise magic to declare the start of the duel. Riley and Inaril both dashed toward each other.
Sounds of wooden swords clashing could be heard. Using this opportunity, someone carefully walked next to Nainiae with his index finger placed on his lips.
“… You are?”
Nainiae looked at the young man next to her and crumpled her brows.
“I’m not here to pick a fight. I just…”
The young man vacantly stared at the duel and whispered.
“I just wanted to watch.”
The wooden sword of his younger brother and the wooden sword of his teacher… The young man was diligently chasing after the swords. It was Ryan.