~~Lina’s Room in the Southern District Inn, Half-Past-Eight in the Afternoon~~
“Lina, congratulations on your acceptance into the Magic University!”
I presented the Star Rod with the pink ribbon to Lina.
Lina began by staring blankly, then her expression gradually crumbled as tears welled up in her eyes. She stooped down right on the spot, letting out a not quite coherent voice.
“…Ngh… Ahh… Uuh…”
“Ahh, Master! You made Lina cry!”
This would’ve been such an emotional scene if not for one noisy little thing… But either way, I did all I could to cheer Lina up. There was no time to deal with Pochi now.
“I’ll excuse myself for now, so just call when she’s calmed down, yeah?”
“Wha, ah… Huh?”
Oh, now it’s become an actual emotional scene… I guess?
Pochi simply left the room without saying anything further, leaving me and Lina in the room. Only Lina’s sobs could be heard now that the room has otherwise fallen silent. Though snippets of laughter and hustle and bustle could be heard from the windows, they did nothing to help the eeriness of the silence surrounding us.
In leveling myself with Lina, I sat down on the bed.
In an attempt to stop her cries, I took out my own new staff and called for Lina to get her face out of her hands.
“Check this out, Lina. It’s the same design as yours!”
Peeking between her fingers, Lina looked at what I showed her.
Whew, she finally stopped.
Nope, she’s crying even more.
Looks like I have no choice but to let her be for a while.
I only patted Lina’s head as I waited for time to pass by. Strangely, I felt no awkwardness as time passed, each second so long, yet so short. It was simply strange.
That must have lasted 15 minutes, I suppose? By the time Lina stopped her cries, she grabbed my hand as it was still on her head… Though I say ‘grab,’ and while her grip was considerably strong, it was a warm touch that seemed to hide a gentle arcane energy.
Before long, Lina stood up and sat herself on the bed. She did not let go of my hand, however, and instead proceeded to grip it with her other hand.
I didn’t understand what Lina intended to do, but if she could calm herself down by doing so, I only had to stay quiet and let her.
Still, as one who aims to be a Philosopher, isn’t this situation a bit… not good?
Though we’d known each other for relatively long, Lina still is a girl. She could read my pulse through my hand, and knowing that made my pulse rate go even higher.
Before I knew it, my thoughts were thrown into disarray, and now I longed for the assistance of that noisy little thing.
I require assistance, Pochi! This is Asley, isolated and helpless! Mayday mayday mayday!
Eyes twitching, pulse unstable! Help me, Pochi…!
It was Lina who finally broke the silence. Her voice sounded slightly hoarse, perhaps from all the crying and coughing.
Still unstable, I responded in a panic.
As if by a prank of some demons, my voice startled Lina and caused a complete tone shift.
“Ahaha — what’s up with your voice?”
As if by assistance from some angels, Lina’s voice brightened up, a sudden change from before.
“S-sorry, must have been because I’m not used to dealing with this kind of surprise and mental strain.”
“What a weird answer… But that’s just like you, Sir Asley.”
“Just like… me?”
In an unusual happening, I tilted my head in confusion.
“You like to think about yourself at length sometimes, don’t you? Besides, that explanation sounded way too… formal.”
“Ah… You might be right about that.”
“See, that’s what I meant. Ahaha…”
“If you say so. Heh heh…”
As we laughed, Lina slowly let go of my hands, and once again looked at the new staff that she had been carrying under her arm all this time. Or not — perhaps this was her first time to have a good look at it.
“White but glowing with silver light… It’s beautiful. Like glittering snow crystals…”
“Apparently it’s made from a kind of wood called Platinium. The man at the store gave me a discount for a pair of it.”
“Ah — If that’s true, I don’t think you should’ve told me…”
I must admit that Lina looked quite charming, what with her puffed-up cheeks. It was like I’d never noticed how much she has grown.
“It’s easier to just let everything loose.”
“That’s not fair! You can’t do that!”
Now she’s even more annoyed. And now I’m overcome with a strong impulse to poke those puffed-up cheeks. Those round, soft-looking, reddened cheeks… There was no way I would not want to poke them.
With nothing to lose, I tried catching her with a spontaneous request.
“Can I poke your cheeks?”
I asked that with all the resolve to be told off, but Lina froze for only a moment, then moved her face closer to my index fingers. And then…
Lina pushed her face against my fingers.
A little puff of air shout out of her mouth — it was funny, and quite adorable.
“Hahahaha!! So that’s what it sounds like!”
“I tried my best to hold that in! Ahahahaha!”
I patted Lina head again, then stood up.
“Pochi, c’mon! Let’s go get dinner!”
I turned to the door and called. Immediately, Pochi entered with a creak of the opening door.
“I could hear everything, you know! My stomach really hurt from holding back my laughter! AHAHAHAHA!!”
…I need to buy some dog earplugs as soon as possible.
~~The Next Day, Eight O’clock in the Morning~~
- NAME: Asley
- TITLES: The Fool, The Polarizing, Hermit Candidate, Mage, Alchemist, Staff Wielder, Six Archmages (Tentative), Teacher, Rank D, Top Student
- LV: 52
- HP: 864
- MP: 14,781
- EXP: 241,169
- SPECIAL SKILLS:
- Attack Magic (Skilled)
- Support Magic (Advanced)
- Recovery Magic (Intermediate)
- Purification (Advanced)
- NAME: Lina
- TITLES: Little Sister, Apprentice Swordsman, Apprentice Mage, Pupil (Excellent), Rank D
- LV: 37
- HP: 413
- MP: 479
- EXP: 90,145
- SPECIAL SKILLS:
- Attack Magic (Elementary)
- Support Magic (Elementary)
- Recovery Magic (Intermediate)
- NAME: Pochi
- TITLES: The Fool’s Familiar, Advanced Familiar, The Powerful, Great Wolf, Watchwolf, Apprentice Mage, One Who Requires Earplugs
- LV: 100
- HP: 2,710
- MP: 597
- EXP: 9,999,999
- SPECIAL SKILLS:
- Breath Attack (Zenith)
- Air Claw
With new titles come new statistical changes.
Lina and I have gotten stronger, and Pochi has been assigned some new titles. Her performance during the examination must have influenced that.
…And let’s just ignore that last one on the list.
After finishing breakfast, we gathered up in my room, and tallied up all the gold we had left.
“In all, we have… 3,200 Gold.”
“We’ll still be here for the rest of today, but the plan is to move to the 200-Gold inn tonight. But since Pochi is also counted in the rent, we’ll need a total of 600 Gold per night. Which means–“
“If I’m counted as well… Then we’ll be broke in 5 days’ time.”
“Exactly! Therefore, we must go out and make ourselves some money!”
Lina and Pochi looked at each other, questioning why I had stated such an obvious point.
“That introduction was unnecessary… Let’s just hurry to the Adventurers’ Guild, Master.”
“Time is of the essence, Sir Asley.”
Lina seems to be more outgoing now, perhaps from yesterday’s incident, or her gaining confidence from her successful University enrollment, or perhaps both.
Or does it just come naturally with her having seen more of the world? Or has she always been like this, but I had never noticed?
Now that I thought about it, Reid and Mana were also quite outgoing, so her resembling them was only appropriate. Maybe she has finally come out of their shadows.
“Master? Are you listening?”
“Sure am. We were talking about plucking out your tail to make steak, right?”
“I’m sure it’ll taste so good that your jaws will fall off, Master!”
You were supposed to get angry at that, dammit.
“That sounds painful…”
“We do have those pain-stopper herbs called Morphine, right? I’ll probably be fine if you mix that in with my food. Oh, but you do need to watch the dosage!”
“…Ha ha ha…”
“Is something funny, Lina?”
Pochi tilted her head in confusion toward Lina’s sudden laughter.
“I mean, you said that because you trust Sir Asley to never do that to you, right? I’m jealous of that relationship you have, I couldn’t help but laugh… Must be so nice.”
Lina’s smile seemed to emanate light, like some kind of gentle diety.
I’m sure she will… or maybe she has already grown up nicely.
“I-I-I’m not — That’s not what it’s like!!”
Highly flustered, Pochi jumped onto the bed and slid under the blanket. Lina and I looked at each other and burst out in laughter.
And Pochi groaned in an expression of anger from under the blanket — Just like Poachi always would.
“Now now, back on the topic of money. We’re currently on Rank D, the slaying requests we can take pay about 300 Gold at most, and we can accept three requests at a time. Meaning one of us can make 900 Gold a trip, which totals to around 1,800 Gold.”
“Well, that sounds pretty straightforward.”
Pochi said, sticking her head out of the blanket.
“Sure, but it’s inefficient. So I thought we should tackle some higher-ranked monsters.”
“But if we didn’t accept a request, we wouldn’t receive any payment for fighting them, right? I think that’s what you and Pochi used to tell me…?”
“It’ll hurt to not get a straight payment, sure, but you do know that it’s not the only reward you can get from high-ranked monsters, right?”
“Ah, the loot!”
Lina pumped her fist and looked to me to confirm her claim.
“That’s right, we can get information on high-ranked monsters from the Guild bulletin. If we know where the monster is, we can just go there and hunt it down.”
“But wouldn’t that be dangerous? You did have to pull out some tricks for the Alpha Chimera back then…”
“Do you have any special ideas in mind, Master?”
“Well, let’s say that it’s all thanks to this staff that I got some ideas running.”
I showed my brand new Star Rod to Pochi and Lina.
With them just titling their heads staring at it blankly, I proceeded to explain Swift Magic to them.
“Well well, human craftsmanship sure is amazing.”
“S-so my staff can do that as well?”
“It sure can. In your case, Lina, I think you should put in Recovery or Support spells–“
I said up to that before I shut my mouth.
Lina has become a full-fledged mage now, so this was as good a time as any to let her decide for herself.
“…Yes, I’ll think about it.”
As expected of my excellent pupil. It was like she could read my intentions.
“Now this is starting to sound exciting!”
“All right, first off, to the Adventurers’ Guild!”
Silavin: Ah! We finally caught up 😀 Yay~