“Okay, this can’t be right! How did my ten-thousand Gold disappear in just one evening!? That’s one whole enrollment into the Magic University — hell, that’s a normal guy’s minimal expenses for a whole year!!”
“Wellllll, I’m not a guy, but a Siberian Husky! And I’m not in the Magic University, either!”
“Oh, NOW you’re trying to get clever with me, huh!?”
“Wellllll, just spell it out yourself, sir!”
“We’re talking about it right now!”
“Let’s wait until we’ve had breakfast first, sir!”
“And whose fault was it that my wallet’s too empty to get us another meal!?”
“What!? I already told you to tie up the money bag’s mouth tightly, Master!”
“Stop trying to dodge it! I know you know whose fault it is!”
“But Master, you did say at one point that a Familiar’s responsibilities are also its Master’s responsibilities!”
“That’s right! And that means you can’t just do whatever the hell you want! Why do you think I’m preaching the hell at you now!”
“But I’m HUNGRY! Your responsibility, Master!”
“God damn it, furball! You think I’m not hungry or what!?”
“Boy, oh boy… You’re so helpless, sir! Come one, let’s go hunt some monsters!”
…Huh? What was I angry about, again?
Well, no point in agonizing over what’s already past. What’s important now is figuring out our way of life in this… ongoing past.
“Oh, nice. Gotta write that down in the Principles of a Philosopher…”
“…You’ve filled quite a lot of pages now, sir.”
“I know, right? What I wrote just now were wise words from a man who’s gone to the past. ME! Hah-hah!”
At least she doesn’t whine about it anymore, so I can write whenever I please without suffering a headache. Gotta appreciate the gift of education and literacy.
“……Whew, that should net us the 15,000 Gold.”
“So much in just in a single hunt! We were lucky that this one A-ranked quest was on the board, sir! Gotta appreciate the gift of education and literacy!”
Hey, that last quote sounds familiar.
“AND at long last, we’re free from Miss Irene — other obligations, for now! It feels so refreshing, sir!”
Pochi shouted, wagging her tail.
And she has all the rights to do that — we’ve been on edge every single day for the past year or so. Not even the Pochibitan D could relieve all of our fatigue.
She’d pushed herself especially hard during the fight against the Devil King the other day. Honestly, we wouldn’t have won if not for her.
……Okay, I WAS the one who decided to throw a party last night, so MAYBE I didn’t actually need to preach at her just now. I guess I wanted to teach her about limiting herself, but thinking again, she did play a major part in saving a whole Nation.
Considering that, perhaps Pochi hasn’t been rewarded enough just yet.
“Anyway, what are we doing next, sir? Seeing that we’ll be heading to Regalia soon…”
“First we go back to Beilanea and buy the stuff we need for Pochibitan D… which is to say, vials and fruits. After that, we’ll stock up on food supplies — just enough for the trip.”
“Breakfast and lunch! Got it, sir!”
Good God, she’s got the whole trip planned out.
And so we went back and did the shopping. Putting the stuff in the Storeroom, we then proceeded to leave town through the north gate. By now, it was already a bit past noon.
“Gah, if we’d woken up a bit earlier, we might’ve been out of this town BEFORE noon…”
“Why agonize over such a minor detail, sir? We finally got a good night’s sleep, after all.”
As we looked up at the sky and grumbled, we heard little footsteps approaching from behind us — in other words, from the direction of Beilanea.
And upon hearing that voice, Pochi disappeared like the wind, while I reluctantly looked back.
I did NOT expect her to follow us all the way here…
“W-what is it, Irene?”
Yes, THE Irene. Again.
Out of breath as soon as she called out to me, she stopped, bent down, and held herself up on her knees.
Did she run after us in a hurry?
“I was chasing you… this whole time…!”
She’s still out of breath, but it doesn’t show in her voice… Is she powering through it with sheer pride?
Well, the Irene we know also likes to put up a strong front, so not much difference in personality here, I suppose.
But what did she mean, chasing us this whole time? Does that mean she saw us in town at some point, and we’ve been going too fast for her to catch up in general?
Well, I didn’t notice her at all. Could she have been suppressing her arcane energy signal?
If she was, even if unknowingly, then she must be quite talented at controlling arcane energy.
Irene held out something — looks like a letter.
Well? Does she want me to take it or what?
Yes, she does.
I accepted it and, while keeping an eye on Irene’s expression, opened the envelope.
The parchment sheet was none other than her Rank E certificate.
“…What a surprise! Have you been hunting monsters for a whole day since then?”
“O-of course not! I only took things a little seriously!”
[“She’s lying, sir.”]
[“Of course she is.”]
Despite Pochi shooting me the Telepathic Call so suddenly, I answered without missing a beat.
And despite her disappearing just now, she’s most likely just above our heads, on top of the gate, keeping an eye on us.
Both Pochi and I had a good reason to think that Irene was lying.
…All those scratches, cuts, and her messy hair. They’re all there.
Even picking a fight with the local bully wouldn’t injure her that much.
…Man, for a Six Archmages Candidate, she sure is a handful.
“You came all this way to show this to me?”
“I said, you can have it!”
“Wait, isn’t this too important to–“
“–Take it! I can get another promotion soon enough, and I don’t need the certificate for anything anyway! You’re my stalker, right!? Then take it, and keep it!”
Good God, so heavy-handed. Well, I suppose I’m partially to blame for introducing myself to her that way in the first place.
“…All right, I understand. As your stalker, Irene, I’ll take good care of it!”
“When I get famous, bring it back to me! I’ll sign my name on it!”
…Oh, so she’s the kind of girl who derives motivation from making promises to others, rather than to herself? …On a subconscious level, that is.
I folded the letter back into the envelope and looked at Irene.
“All right. When that does happen, I’ll be sure to visit you again. Make sure you have a cool-looking signature by then.”
“Hmph! Of course!”
Irene puffed up with pride.
Thinking this would be our last meeting for another few decades, I walked up to her.
Irene was spooked, while I suddenly smiled. Surely my intentions aren’t wrong here.
Now, what to do to leave a strong impression… Oh, I know–
“Rise, High Cure Adjust!”
And so all of Irene’s injuries were healed instantly.
Her scratches and cuts were there just seconds ago, but now they’re gone. Must be a strange feeling, getting healed like this for the first time.
Her messy hair still isn’t fixed, though.
“…This is magic…”
“Isn’t it amazing?”
I said, looking Irene in the eyes.
Turning red, she turned away.
Hmm? Did that actually convey the awesomeness of magic to her? Or did I fail?
Either way, I gotta go. Without meeting War Demon Emperor Sagan, I won’t understand anything — and thus can’t start doing anything.
“Now then, it’s time that we parted ways.”
“–! Ah…! Uh……”
Hmm? Does she have something else she wants to say?
She’s not saying anything though, and we’ve been here for quite a few moments now.
In the end, I simply have her a handshake.
“Be well, Irene.”
Irene cast her eyes down, her ears turning so read that one would think she’d caught a cold.
“I am ALWAYS well…”
When I quietly let go of Irene’s hand, Pochi came down from the top of the gate.
She instantly gigantified, and by the time Irene looked up, we had already disappeared from her view.
“I’LL BEAT YOU SOMEDAY!!”
But her voice lingered in our ears a moment longer, sending us off with what sounded like an oath.