“You… you said you are Ian’s teacher, right?”
Riley asked as he looked at Ian’s face in the window. Inaril, who was blind, was wondering why Riley was asking. She tilted her head to the side and responded,
“Yes. He was my very first pupil. He is also my hero. I would have been tied to Helena longer, but he saved me. He is my hero.”
Although not by much, she was older than Ian. A long time ago, Inaril had lost her life and she had been living her life since then as a dead body. She said she had taught Ian swordsmanship with the blessing of the sword that she had.
“I couldn’t directly deliver him the blessing of the sword but I taught him my swordsmanship. Just like… my granddaughter.”
She asked Riley,
“Was I wrong to do so?”
Inaril thought Riley must be the senior who had the blessing of the sword before her. So, to confirm, she was asking if it was wrong to do so.
Riley shook his head and said,
“It’s not forbidden in particular. It’s your freedom to teach your swordsmanship to anyone you want as much as you want.”
Riley also had once taught someone his swordsmanship.
“It’s not something I should butt in.”
Not just in his past life, but even in this life… he had lightly tossed advice to Sera, the maid from the mansion. Also, recently, he had taught Nainiae, the maid who had been serving him, a few moves through demonstrations.
“What I want to ask you is something different.”
Riley redirected his gaze from Ian. Now, he was looking at Inaril who had her head tilted to the side.
Riley was blurring the end of his sentence and Inaril tilted her head to the side.
“I heard you have about a week left?”
Riley pondered hard about how to say this. In the end, he asked about that.
Having heard the response, Riley scratched the back of his head as if he was finding this to be such a bother. He quietly continued.
“I’ll just throw you a straight ball.”
“Ian said he wished you could live a little longer.”
Instead of finding a roundabout way to say it, Riley told her what Ian had said. Inaril’s lips shook lightly.
“He said a week is too short. He has waited several decades for this reunion... He said he doesn’t want to wait again.”
He thought his had teacher died. However, it turned out that she was alive as a corpse. Now, although she was here, Ian was going to have to say goodbye again. Ian wasn’t even sure if there was such a thing as an afterlife and he was not sure if they could meet again even if there was one. With bitterness…Ian confided in Riley about it. Riley was thinking about the conversation.
“Ian said he has something he wanted to tell you. He said it is something he was not able to tell you before. He said he should definitely tell you now that the opportunity to talk to you has come again. However… he said a week was too short and he complained to me.”
Riley had no idea what Ian wanted to tell Inaril. He approached Inaril and extended his arm out.
“My butler said he had a few things to say, so…”
Riley moved his mana as he continued.
“Try living a little longer.”
Inaril realized Riley was using mana. Inaril appeared to be panicking. She opened her mouth and muttered Riley’s name.
“Well, perhaps it is not right to say you should try living a little longer since you already have died? It would feel cold when your hand is held as well.”
“Mr. Riley… Even so, this is against the way of the world…”
Of his time magic spells, Riley used slow magic. He was extending the time that Inaril had left in this world little by little. He said to Inaril who was panicking.
“This is just out of a whim.”
“Gods are like that too, don’t you think? That one who is called Goddess had me born into this world with all of my past life’s memory intact. That’s not supposed to have happen in the first place. So…”
Inaril was stepping back to avoid Riley’s magic. However her back-step was stopped by Nainiae’s hand.
“Even if another thing that is not supposed to happen does happen, it would be all right, don’t you think?”
Because of the duel earlier, Inaril’s skin was pale as a corpse. Now, her skin had regained some vitality. Riley retrieved his hand and said,
“Huuuuaaaaa… Uuuu. It’s been so long since I exercised.”
It was not certain if it was because it was morning now or if it was because it had been a while since he had exercised and hence he was tired. He yawned big time, enough to tear his mouth. He then gestured to Nainiae to come closer.
“… Let’s go back.”
“Instead of here, I would like to go sleep on a nice bed.”
Riley looked so sleepy that he could fall asleep on the street right now. He was rubbing his sleepy eyes. Nainiae thought that it could not be helped. She prepared a teleportation spell.
“I’ll leave the rest to you all.”
Inaril was standing there with a blank look on her face. Ryan, Ian and the others were looking at where they were. Nainiae said those words as goodbye toward those people. She then supported Riley and went inside the portal.
* * *
The year ended.
The winter was almost winding down. The spring had just come around the corner at Iphalleta Mansion. A pretty faced maid came running to the Young Master who was sleeping in.
“… Young Master! Young Master!”
“Ummmm….. Five more minutes…”
“This. Please take a look at this.”
It was his designated maid, Nainiae. By her calling, Riley woke up. He cringed in protest, wondering why she had to wake him up.
“Ugh, what is it…”
With a crumpling sound, she handed a paper to Riley. It was full of letters. Nainiae pointed at the part that was written in relatively larger fonts.
[Due to the great migration of monsters which started from Ansyrium’s Epidemic, thousands of monsters swarmed at Romella Village… The monsters were exterminated over night by mercenaries]
It was a newspaper.
“Mercenaries? Are they talking about Nara?”
The newspaper article didn’t just have letters. It included drawings as well. Riley checked out the entire article. He found Nara in the drawing. As the representative of the mercenary group, Nara had his spear resting on his shoulder. Riley peeked a smile.
“If you continue to read further, it mentions Ms. Rorona, Mr. Ian…Ms. Iril and Ms. Inaril too. If you look here…”
Although they were not on the drawing, the article included the name of Rorona, who was a fellow mercenary with Nara, and Iril and Inaril who Riley had met in Romella Village.
“Romella Village’s Sword Witch, the most dedicated contributor who saved the village… Uncover her mystery? The blindingly bright light that surged from the Romella Village, the missing Priestess was there? Appearance of the former mercenary hero, what is he doing now?”
Riley read the rest of the article and other headlines. He furrowed his brows and looked at Nainiae.
“What is this?”
“It looks like they have done something big.”
Riley now held the entire paper by himself with his own hands. He started to really read the contents of the newspaper.
“… I don’t see Big Bro’s name.”
“Ah, yes…. I didn’t see Young Master Ryan’s name there.”
Perhaps because they were inside the mansion, concerned about someone listening, Nainiae said it in a quiet voice by whispering it next to Riley’s ear. She added,
“Still, if you look at the bottom, there is a mention of someone’s exploit. It is brief, but I think it might be about Young Master Ryan.”
Having heard her explanation, Riley checked the bottom. He saw the part which read ‘mysterious hooded cape.’ He shrugged.
The newspaper was about people who were still in Romella Village.
It didn’t just talk about Iphalleta House’s Ryan and Ian. It also mentioned Nara, Rorona and Priesia who were indebted to the Reitri Merchant Group at the moment. Also, the article even mentioned Inaril and Iril who lived in the village.
“Now that I think about it, I forgot to tell Mr. Reitri that we met Mr. Ian.”
“He is quick at figuring things out. He probably figured that I returned to the mansion right after meeting Ian. I’m sure he promptly directed his attention to find other ways to make money after that.”
“I guess so.”
After reading the entire paper, he folded it and handed it to Nainiae as if he was trying to tell her to take the paper away. Nainiae received the paper and smiled big.
“I’m so glad. They seem to be doing all right.”
“…Mr. Ian and Ms. Inaril”
With the newspaper held against her chest, Nainiae smiled. Riley put up a bitter smile and mumbled,
“Well, if it was anyone who didn’t know about the circumstances for his absence here, they would think that Ian was neglecting his duty and committing total thievery.”
“Let’s just think of this as giving him a winter vacation. When the time is up and when Ian gets to say everything he wanted to say…when he gives her a beautiful sendoff, he will come back.”
Riley closed his eyes again.
“I’m going to get some shuteye for a bit, so wake me up during the dinner time.”
“Are you going to sleep again?”
“Sleeping is the profitable business.”
“I guess that would be true for you, Young Master.”
Nainiae knew that sleeping was closely related to how Riley collected mana. It looked like Nainiae didn’t know what to do. She looked conflicted. She started to glance around.
It was because a guest had come to see him.
In the garden, while waiting for the spring that had not come yet, Riley was trying to take another nap. However, his eyebrows got twisted after hearing the voice from above.
Top of Riley’s head was hit by the tip of someone’s foot.
“I know you are not asleep. Get up.”
With veins bulging from his forehead, Andal, the red-haired young man, moved his foot again and kicked Riley’s head once again.
“E… Excuse me, teacher… How about we wait a bit and have the conversation when Young Master is awake?”
Nainiae looked like she didn’t know what to do. She looked at Riley and Andal back and forth.
Andal called her name. Nainiae responded in a quiet voice.
“When did you change like that?”
“What do you mean… changed?”
“I always told you that you should be proud and hold your head up high as my pupil, yet… Take this to your heart once again. You are my pupil. Therefore, you don’t need to lower your head to anyone, even to the Young Master you serve.”
“No… I have always been like this.”
“Anyway, I need to wake him up. Step aside.”
Andal walked towards Riley to kick his head. Nainiae broke out in a cold sweat and blocked Andal’s path.
“N… Now that I think about it. Is the case with Epidemic resolved? I heard that it is a big problem in Ansyrium. I have not heard anything new since…”
Nainiae was glancing around and wondering what to do to prevent Andal from pestering Riley when he was trying to rest. She flexed her wits and asked Andal about Epidemic.
“I know. I actually came here because of that.”
Concerned that there might be someone around the garden, Nainiae used soundproof magic in secret and started to focus on what Andal had to say,
“I learned that the purple human bastard who spread the epidemic is in Ansyrium, so I went after him. He completely destroyed a city. However… a problem came up.”
Having heard what Andal was saying, Riley, who was pretending to be asleep, opened one of his eyes narrowly and looked at Andal.
“An arrogant human came to see us first, and… He asked if we would like to negotiate.”
“Yes, just a human said that.”
He was saying that just one human recognized Andal and the other dragons and came first to talk to them. Finding it hard to believe, Nainiae asked,
“Was it like Mr. Nara…What I’m saying is, was it a being who had a special ability like the Basilisks?”
Andal shook his head and said,
“That bastard was human.”
Andal looked at Riley who had Nainiae standing in front of him. Andal added,
“Even that rascal over here, although he looks like he couldn’t possibly be human, he is a human, isn’t he? This bastard that I ran into in Ansyrium had the same feel to him.”
Andal was saying he met someone who was like Riley, someone who was a human but wasn’t like a human. Nainiae hardened the look on her face. Hoping for a more detailed explanation, she narrowed her eyes and asked,
“When he said negotiation, what kind was he talking about?”
“He said he wanted to go fishing with his old friend.”
“So, he said that he will hand over Epidemic who we were looking for if we bring him his old pal.”
“About that, by any chance…”
“Ah, Young Master.”
The words were nonsensical, so Nainiae tilted her head to the side. Meanwhile, Riley already had opened his eyes and was actively listening to what Andal was saying. Nainiae looked back at Riley.
“Was it a woman?”
“Woman? No. It was a boy. In human’s age… He appeared to be about twelve years old.”
Riley was thinking it that might have been Helena, so he asked. Having heard the response, he thought about Rebethra when they ran into him in a forest near Romella Village last time.
“A twelve years old boy?”
“The bastard said that his old pal is the most skilled swordsman in the world… Of the humans I know, when it came to someone who is the most skilled swordsman, I could not think of anyone else but you. So…”
Rebethra had once lost his life to Helena. Riley was trying to figure out how he had come back to life. Riley tilted his head to the side and asked,
If it was Rebethra who Andal met, Riley figured that Rebethra would refer to Riley as a friend. Pondering what this was about, Riley crumpled his eyebrows.
“… Ah, one more thing.”
Riley was thinking hard about something. Andal said he forgot to mention one more thing. He said,
“He said that the most skilled swordsman friend will come and find him if I told that friend the following. So…He told me to make sure to tell you this.”
“That day… The words that the Brave Hero said just before he fell from above to the ground… He said he remembers them well.”
Having heard what Andal had delivered, Riley furrowed his brows.