Kyle was woken up by a gentle ray of warm light shining upon his face.
“… Where am I?”
His voice cracked. He looked around as he got up.
It wasn’t a completely new environment; rather, for him, it was one of his most familiar places.
On the wall hung a model sword given to him by his father, and on the shelf were books recommended to him by his mother. The desk and chair were just as he had left them, and the bed he was currently lying on was surely one that he had used before.
There was no mistake; this was the place he had spent most of his life. He was in his hometown, which was supposed to have been destroyed a year ago by the demon invasion.
“What is going on…?”
Perhaps it was because he had just regained consciousness; he was still trying to understand the situation. As he struggled, Kyle heard thumping on his door and a bright voice screeching.
“How long are you going to sleep? Wake up already!”
A young girl in her mid-teens entered the room. Her hair was long, red, and wavy; her movements, full of life. Just watching her supplied plenty of energy.
He muttered the name of an old, childhood playmate. The two spent the majority of their lives together, and after the invasion they were never supposed to have been able to see each other again.
“Oh, you’re awake. Geez…You turn 16 today. Act like it.”
She arrogantly placed her hands on her hips.
She had been like this since she was young. The two were around the same age, but because she was born a few months earlier, Lize treated Kyle like a little brother.
Kyle sat there for a few moments, still overcome with surprise at what was unfolding in front of him.
“Oh…it’s just a dream.”
He snapped back into reality and let out a weak laugh.
It was a very happy, yet cruel dream.
If this dream was a final reward for saving the world, it was too brutal.
The bygone days of peace… The irreplaceable days that had been taken for granted.
It didn’t matter even if it was just an illusion… if only time could be reversed…
Lize called out to him after noticing his strange behavior, but Kyle ignored her, got up from the bed, and approached her.
A baffled Lize asked again, except this time, Kyle was so close that he could feel her breath.
Ignoring her for the second time, Kyle embraced Lize in his arms before she could say anything more.
“Lize! Lize! Lize!”
He repeatedly called her name, wishing that this moment would last indefinitely, and strengthened his grip on her.
“Hey, hey, hey, hold up! What’s going on here?!”
Lize fumbled her arms as he locked his arms around her, but the confusion made her efforts futile.
Lize’s resistance dwindled, and her face flashed a bright red color.
Kyle noticed the awkwardness only after a while.
Her warm body, the scent of her perfume radiating from her hair, and her whispers all awakened his senses.
For a dream, this was quite realistic.
To confirm something, Kyle slid his left hand downwards.
Lize’s body jolted in response.
Kyle unintentionally rubbed that soft, warm, thing.
“Eh!? Ah? N..no…h..hey!”
Lize, clearly confused, let out a cry.
Kyle distinctly remembered Lize having an inferiority complex due to having a bigger ass than other girls in the same age group.
During this entire time, Kyle was forgetting about something.
He had just woken; physiologically, a certain part of his body was “filled with energy.”
Rubbing a girl’s ass didn’t help the situation; that part of his body was gaining even more “energy.”
The worst part was probably the fact that he was hugging her tight. Lize had undoubtedly noticed his “energized” body part. It would have been hard to miss, considering that he was pressing it against her body.
Lize’s red face turned pale in an instant.
Kyle’s grip was forcefully shaken off. Lowering her body, Lize was able to use her wrist like a whip. Gathering power from her toes, she twisted her waist, smacked Kyle at an incredible angle using her entire body, sending him flying towards a bookshelf.
Kyle was flung in the air, spinning like a top and finally smashing into the shelf with incredible force.
“What are you trying to do first thing in the morning!! You idiot!”
Lize screamed at him with teary eyes before walking out, slamming the door violently behind her.
Kyle was buried under the books, now fully away due to the pain that stretched from his face to his neck. He was finally able to sense what was going on.
“Eh… This isn’t a dream?”
At that moment, Kyle’s right fist, which was clenched tightly since the moment he woke up, slowly opened.
The blood-red gem that Kyle found on the altar fell to the floor, making a sound.
“This isn’t a dream…”
He leaned backwards towards the bed while massaging his neck that was now in excruciating pain.
“There’s no way a dream could be this painful…but if that’s the case…then what is going on here?”
Though he was fully conscious, he was still unable to comprehend the situation.
For sure, he had been in the demon’s lair, battled with the demon and barely managed to emerge victorious. He had suffered a near-fatal blow… If this wasn’t a dream, then what could possibly explain the situation?
“I’m not hypnotized or hallucinating. That kind of stuff doesn’t work on me anyways… Even if I was under a spell, this shouldn’t be happening.”
After thinking this through, he checked his left arm. If he remembered correctly, his left arm had suffered a massive blow, and it should be almost falling off.
“It’s healed… no… it can’t be.”
With that much damage, even the highest level of healing magic would render it useless for a while and scars would definitely remain. From his experience, he was sure of this.
But his left arm was clean. No discomfort or disability at all. It was as if his arm had never even wounded.
The other wounds across his body were also gone. He moved his body slightly, and noticed it was in extremely good condition. The pain and dullness from earlier had also vanished.
After spending some time thinking, Kyle stepped out of his room.
The arrangement of the rooms was just as he remembered. The more he looked around, the more he became sure that it was his own house. He glanced at his reflection in the mirror inside the reception room.
“I knew it… I look younger.”
During the ongoing battles with the demons, he had completely forgotten about his birthday. But he was sure he was at least twenty years old. But the reflection in the mirror only showed a young boy in his mid-teens. No cuts or scrapes anywhere.
There could be only explanation for this.
“… Is this the past? Have I gone back in time?”
He took out the red stone from his pocket. It looked the same as when he first picked it up near the altar. It was beautiful, shiny and unlike anything else in this world. But, unlike when he had first picked it up, he could no longer feel its magical powers.
“That can’t be… There’s no magic spell to turn back time… but is there another explanation…?”
Kyle held his head for a while, but snapped back when his stomach made a sound. He let out a dry laugh.
“I suppose hunger affects everyone, regardless of their situation… On the bright side, it proves that I’m normal.”
Hoping to find some food, he walked towards the kitchen and found just that.
On the table were some meat, fresh bread, vegetable soup, scrambled eggs, salad, and fruits. For a breakfast service, this was quite a luxurious meal.
“Lize must have prepared this.”
Kyle and his family hated chores, so Lize often cooked for them. They couldn’t complain to her because she did all of the cooking.
He grabbed some food and shoved it in his mouth. The taste was nostalgic. Though he hadn’t been able to eat this kind of food for the past year, he had never forgotten the taste.
“I must eat it… before it gets cold…”
He began to violently stuff food in his mouth, trying to fight back tears.
“As expected, I ate too much…”
Looking at the empty plate, he let out a laugh. It was clear that he was in pain from overeating.
“I probably should’ve noticed before eating, but… this amount of food… there’s no way this was made for one person.”
Just then, he heard a noise from the entrance, and noticed someone coming in.
He was alarmed for second, but recognized who it was instantly.
The sound of the footsteps sounded familiar to him as they headed straight for the kitchen.
The guy who entered had short blonde hair and was well-groomed. He looked like a neighborhood delinquent who had just grown up.
He was wearing comfortable clothes and had a cheap sword holstered on his waist.
Seran, like Lize, was an inseparable childhood friend of Kyle, except he was a delinquent.
This relationship lasted until their final moments.
“W… What a surprise. You’re usually terrible with mornings, but you’re up early today.”
“Y-y-yeah… Umm… How are you feeling these days?”
“Are you outta your mind? I saw you yesterday.”
Seran seemed perplexed.
Kyle took a deep breath and looked closely at Seran’s face… Something was definitely not right.
“The dumb look on your face is the same… but the Seran I know of had an exceptionally stupid look. The one standing in front of me now looks exactly like the blockhead I knew when I was a kid. Just bigger…”
“I’m having trouble understanding, but I know you’re making fun of me.”
Plus… he looked younger.
He was probably the same age as Kyle.
He hadn’t noticed it before, but Lize had also looked younger than he remembered.
“Anyways, I don’t have time to deal with you right now. Time to eat breakfast...wait…where’s the food!?”
Seran was shocked to see the empty bowl.
“You ate everything again!?”
“Well, it was good…”
Kyle remembered Seran coming over just to get food.
“Damn. I knew Lize had been preparing something since yesterday, so I was gonna come over to get a share… That girl is savage, but so are her cooking skills, so I was pretty excited.”
Seran couldn’t bear it. He started scraping out the leftovers from inside the bowl.
“Hey, I hope you don’t mind me asking a weird question… but… what year and day is it today?”
“Huh? What a strange question. It’s the 24th of May, 2823.”
As Kyle had expected… Four years ago. It seemed that he really had gone back in time.
“Are you sure? Really?”
“Why do you ask? I’m quite sure I know the date…”
Seran then clapped his hands once, as if he had an epiphany.
“Right! Today is your birthday. I completely forgot about your birthday. You wanted me to celebrate or something?”
“Nah, don’t worry, I’m not interested in you celebrating my birthday.”
After Seran finished whatever remained in the bowl, he looked towards Kyle and said:
“Fine. I suppose I’ll let you take all the food in the bowl for breakfast today since it’s your birthday.”
“Cheap bastard. You weren’t even the one who made it!”
Seran turned to leave, completely ignoring Kyle’s remarks.
“Where are you going?”
“If there’s no food, I have no reason to be here. I’m going over to Lize’s to see if I can get something.”
As he left, he muttered something along the lines of Lize’s food always being bomb: “If I get on my knees and beg, then I’m sure she’ll cook something up for me! I know she’s got a sweet spot somewhere.”
He wasn’t shy at all.
“Ever since you were a kid, if you wanted something, you’d forget about pride, and would do anything it took to get it.”
“Quit complimenting me. You’re making me blush.”
“I’m not. Get over yourself.”
“Just a reminder, my birthday is on the 2nd of August. If you wanna know what I want for a present, I request either some gold or a pretty girl.”
Kyle let out a dry laugh as he watched him walk out the door.
It had been a while since he had a conversation like this.
It used to be a dull part of his daily routine, but with everything that happened, he realized that he had taken it for granted.
“Well… What should I do know…?”
It seemed certain that he was in the past, but he had yet to figure out exactly how he had got here.
He wanted to seek advice, but he also didn’t want to tell some random person about what had been happening.
“I know there’s only one person whose advice I can seek… if she’s awake.”
Scratching his head, he walked out and headed towards her house.
The Lenard House that Kyle belongs to was located near the Rimaze area of the Zilgs Kingdom, and was known to be quite a large estate. It was three floors high and boasted an enormous lawn as well. Kyle headed towards a shack located to the side of the lawn.
The shack was made of sturdy stone with a flat roof and didn’t have a single window. The moment someone stepped inside, they were forced to walk down a steep flight of stairs.
A nostalgic scent reached Kyle’s nose as he opened the door to the basement.
The narrow room contained bookshelves packed full with literature.
On the wall with no windows, there was a magic tool with semi-permanent “Light” magic stored inside.
This was a custom-made tool designed to keep the lighting adjusted, ensuring that the books were not damaged.
This archive utilized unimaginable magic to keep the lighting and humidity in ideal conditions, though it came with an unimaginable price tag.
The archives were home to everything from children’s books to forbidden literature from the ancient periods when demons ruled.
In the center of the room was a table with stacks of books piled on it.
The woman who was half-buried in what seemed like a mountain of books noticed Kyle entering, looked up, and gave a grin.
“Oh, it’s you Kyle. What brings you here at this hour?”
He had a feeling she would be here, but for some reason, actually seeing her was emotional for him.
“It’s already morning. Were you reading all night again, Mom?”
“Eh? Oh… It’s already morning? … I knew I’d lose track of time here.”
The woman who let out a yawn while saying that was Kyle’s mother, Seraiya.
With a childish face, short hair, small body, she looked much younger than she really was.
She was well into her thirties, but if she stood next to Kyle one would have guessed they were siblings.
“I got a question. Do you have time?”
Seraiya looked at her son with a confused face.
“You wanting to ask about something is quite rare… If you want to know about how I met your father, I can talk all day long. It was twenty years ago when…”
“We can talk about that next time.”
Kyle stopped his mother, who was eager to talk about it.
Whenever Kyle’s mother would talk about how she met Kyle’s father, the conversation would last hours. Kyle had been traumatized by it ever since he was young.
“I wanted to ask you about magic.”
“About magic? Would I know enough to answer your question?”
“I don’t know of anyone who knows about it as much as you do, mom.”
There were three main types of magic.
Sacred magic that borrows the power of gods and causes miracles.
Spiritual magic that uses Earth, Water, Wind, and Fire.
And finally, ancient magic which uses knowledge to a great extent in its formation.
The human race mostly used sacred magic and ancient magic, but Seraiya was a user of ancient magic.
Magic was further divided into six categories: lowest-level magic, low-level magic, intermediate-level magic, advanced-level magic, highest-level magic, and special-class magic.
A title was given to each magician depending on the type of magic they could use.
The lowest-level magicians were called Magicians. Low-level magicians were called Sorcerers. Intermediate-level magicians were called Wizards. Advanced-level magicians were called Mages. The highest-level magicians were referred to as Archmages.
There are only a handful of people who had the ability to use special-class magic, so they were often given individual titles.
A famous example would be the Sakira, Queen of the Sula Kingdom, who had the title Glorious.
Saraiya was also an Archmage.
Though the truth can be disputed, Seraiya was the youngest magician to ever be recommended as the Court Mage of the Garugan Empire.
Now, she was using the money she earned and the resources she had inherited from Kyle’s grandfather, who had died before Kyle was born, to invest in her hobby of collecting books.
Kyle didn’t know why she lived in such a remote area, and she kept changing the subject whenever he brought it up.
But there was no better person to ask about magic than her.
“Umm… Is there such thing as a magic spell to go back in time?”
Seraiya answered his question with ease.
“Yeah, although it’s not widely known, there are spells that interfere with time.”
“But I didn’t even know they exist. Seems like such a convenient… I mean… unfair magic”
“Of course. It’s because not everyone has the ability to use that kind of magic. If I were to go into details, it’d take days, so I’ll just stick to saying that theories of time-meddling magic has already been proved. The reason many people can’t use that magic is simply because of the amount of magic power involved.”
Magic power was the source of energy that every magician possessed, allowing them to cast spells.
“If we were to rank the spell that turns back time based on the 6 categories in existence, it would probably belong ten ranks above the special-level magic. Forget humans; not even dragons or gods can use that kind of magic. If time were a large river, then a human would be the size of an ant. Do you think an ant could do anything about a large, flowing river? Even if the greatest magician in history were to sacrifice a part of his lifespan in order to cast that spell, he would only be able to change a few moments.”
This was why Seraiya had said there are only a handful of people who even knew this spell.
“I see… So what would need to happen for time to turn back several years?”
“Years? That would require the use of tremendous magic power. No matter how you consider it, gathering that much power seems impossible.”
She shook her head, as if to say it would be useless to even think about turning back time several years.
“What if… a magic item was used?”
Seraiya reacted to Kyle’s question with an “Ah.”
“I see, that’s interesting. Magic items can store magic power… It’ll take time and effort, but if you were to use a spell like that, the use of magic items would be a good option.”
Seraiya thought about it for a while, but shook her head once again.
“I’m thinking about it, but there are too many problems. First, you would need to acquire the magic power before storing it. It’d take some effort, but you’d be able to gather some over time. But to turn back time by several years, it’d take over a thousand years to gather the magic power, even for an Archmage.”
“… What if a forbidden ritual was performed?”
Seraiya’s face went dim.
“I suppose employing such methods would allow one to gather tremendous power… Where did you learn about that?”
The forbidden ritual was basically a sacrifice. It involved sacrificing portions of one’s life in exchange for magic power. Doing so allowed one to gather an immense amount of magic power. Performing the forbidden ritual did not cost any magic power to the user, so that wouldn’t be a problem.
There had once been a magician who joined the dark side and sacrificed an entire village, just to test some magic.
Thus, the existence of the forbidden ritual wasn’t widely known.
“I was just reading a book. I don’t know too much about it.”
In the horrifying battles that Kyle had experienced, the humans who were being decimated by the demons had no choice but to resort to this forbidden practice as a tactic to ward off the enemy.
In fact, they were so overwhelmed that they didn’t have time to use this spell. This was the reason the humans had resorted to reckless charges in the end.
“I see… but even if you used the forbidden ritual, it wouldn’t be possible. If you were to turn back time for several years, you would need a tremendous amount of magic power; at least half of the people on this continent would have to sacrifice themselves.”
“… Right… There’s no way to have half the human population to create such a magic tool.”
In other words, with half the human population, casting such a spell wouldn’t be impossible.
Kyle remembered the piles of bodies that had surrounded the demon king’s castle.
They were what was left of the enslaved humans. The lives of these people had been drained out of them to create magic power.
“Another problem would be a catalyst. With an ordinary spell, you’d be able to use just about any magic stone or jewel lying around. But with spells of such large magnitude, you’d need something that would be able to withstand the tremendous energy. I don’t know if such a catalyst exists.”
There were objects called magic stones, which were usually special gems that absorbed magic power.
Each magic stone had a limit on how much magic power it could absorb. If the limit was exceeded, the gemstone would break and the magic would become wild and explode.
“The only thing coming anywhere near being capable of storing such power would be the Heart of Shinryu.”
As Seraiya mentioned the Heart of Shinryu, she began to dig through the mountain of books piled onto her desk, and picked out one old book. In her mind, each book was placed in a specific location, and she knew where everything belonged.
“Ah, this is the one. This is the Heart of Shinryu.”
In the book she was holding, there was a legend on the Heart of Shinryu, along with a picture of it.
Once upon a time, there was a powerful dragon whose powers were much stronger than any of the gods.
The remains of the dragon contained a residue that was more powerful than any god that had ever lived. The person who got his hands on this was Zares.
Zares succeeded in extracting the Heart of Shinryu from the remains.
With a seemingly endless supply of magic power at his disposal, Zares was able to prosper for a thousand years.
However, after a thousand years, the magic power of the Heart of Shinryu went dry.
That was how Zares was destroyed.
“Anyways, the stone is now dry, but it could be filled with magic power again. It would be an amazing tool. When Zares was destroyed, it went missing. It’s been about a thousand years since it happened. I wonder if it's still around. It’s possible that the Heart of Shinryu belongs to the demons.”
“I… I see…”
Kyle was subconsciously gripping the stone in his pocket.
The stone that resembled the picture right in front of him.
“So basically, if we were to turn back time a few years, we would have to use the Heart of Shinryu and sacrifice half the human population?”
“Exactly. See? Impossible right?”
“Well… Yeah… That would be… impossible…”
Kyle shifted his gaze away from Seraiya.
“You’re asking very strange questions. It’s as if you came from the future.”
“Hahaha what are you talking about; that’s nonsense.”
“I suppose it is.”
The two laughed (though Kyle’s was more of a forced laugh).
“It’s been a while since I’ve spoken to you, Kyle-chan.”
“Definitely. It's obvious that you’ve been avoiding me these days.”
“Ah~ I had no intention of avoiding you….”
In his mind, Kyle knew Seraiya was right.
Starting from right around this time, Kyle had avoided his mother for no particular reason.
Maybe it was puberty, but in hindsight, he still didn’t know why he had avoided her.
“I was very lonely. I felt like I had failed as a mother, being hated by my own son.”
“Ah~ Well, Mom, you neither act nor look like a mother… You’re always at home and have no interests besides books. You’re terrible with housekeeping chores and you don’t take part in anything that a normal mother would. You probably don’t meet the general standard of being a mother.”
“I had a feeling that that was the case. But it really pains me because I didn’t expect my own son to be this straightforward about it to me.”
“Still, you’re my one and only mother, and there’s no other mother in the world that’s better than you.”
“How charming of you.”
Seraiya hugged Kyle with a large smile on her face.
Kyle was much taller than Seraiya, so it was more like Seraiya hugging onto Kyle. Normally, Kyle would just break away, but today, he was trying hard to fight back the tears of nostalgia and happiness.
“All this talking made me hungry. If I remember, Lize-chan is supposed to make food today. She’s really good at cooking you know.”
As Kyle saw Seraiya happily head towards Kyle’s house, excited to see what food will be served, his face cramped up.
“Oh… Umm… I’m sorry. I ate everything.”
Seraiya’s face froze over.
“… I see… Well… That’s unfortunate… I’ll just stick to preserved food like usual then… hehehe…”
“Ok… I mean… I’m sorry…”
“No no, it’s fine. I just remembered. It’s Kyle-chan’s birthday today. I’ll just give you breakfast as a birthday present hehehe.”
“Why is everyone giving me that breakfast as a birthday present?”