“Hmm…… Huh? What was I doing?”
The ceiling looks unfamiliar, and there’s no Pochi pillow under my head.
The bed is nice and fluffy, at least… But where the hell is this?
“G-good morning, Asley…”
……And why am I sharing the bed with Warren?
Have some sense of personal space, dude.
“What… sort of situation did I get myself into?”
“What, you don’t remember? You forcibly brought me along into this room, Asley!♪”
Man, he seems suspiciously chill about this.
And wait… I actually DON’T remember.
After returning to the present day, Warren brought me over to this Resistance hideout. I do remember up to that point quite clearly.
What happened after that?
I think… Irene dragged me outside, then I fought with Lina, Hornel, and the others, right?
Then I lost to Irene and Warren, and… Nope. I don’t remember much of whatever happened after that.
“Looks like you actually don’t remember. You’ve been studying the technique I used against you, the Lightning Boundary. And you’ve been at it for three whole days, you know?”
“Really? THAT long?”
“Hehehe, I did figure that you were passionate, but your sheer devotion to the arcane arts is… well, far above my level, so I had quite a hard time keeping up with you, honestly.”
“…And why have you been sleeping here specifically?”
“Because my arm has been stuck under you!♪”
I immediately got up from the bed.
Warren rubbed and shook his arm a few times, and then went back to grinning creepily like usual.
“I must say, though — getting to study a friend’s sleeping face was… not as bad as I’d thought.”
It’s quite scary how genuinely happy Warren seemed when he said that.
“Anyway, since you don’t remember what went on the past few days, let me recap — Thanks to the Awakening Stone and Limit Breakthrough magecraft that you’d brought from the past, everyone has already leveled up past the hundred cap. You have said that you wouldn’t mind the Stone being kept in the Resistance hideout, but I’d like you to confirm — are you sure you are all right with that?”
So he’s asking me again because I don’t exactly remember agreeing to any of that.
His work integrity is surprisingly high when it comes to this kind of thing.
Still, I’ve been suspicious about those sparring matches this whole time…
“A-ah, yes, sure thing. But I’ll be using it as well, of course.”
“Thank you… Hmm? Is something the matter?”
“…So I’ve been wondering… You set all those sparring matches up for me, didn’t you?”
Warren pushed up his glasses.
“So you’ve noticed. Well, to be precise, it was me and Miss Irene.”
“I knew it…”
“See, Asley, you’ve gone to the past and gained extraordinary powers there. But being too proud of it will be a great detriment to you going forward, as your fighting methods will be affected for the worse. In fact, that was starting to show when you fought me and Miss Irene, wasn’t it?”
Ngh… Now that he spelled it out, it’s quite understandable.
I won against most of them, but they did get some good shots in with their techniques.
And I must’ve taken it too easy when I fought Jennifer.
Maybe I was too arrogant, thinking that I could just stand there and let everyone hit me.
“So, how was your experience? Sir Dallas’ special technique, Miss Trace’s surprise attack, Miss Irene’s strategy, and my magecraft.”
“If I had taken things seriously, I could have won in no time at all.”
“Exactly. Even now, after we have all used the Limit Breakthrough, your raw power is still overwhelmingly higher than ours. Regardless, we were able to take you by surprise. Why do you think that is the case?”
“…Because they knew my personality.”
“That’s right. If you’d been serious, the fight would’ve been over in an instant. But you ended up struggling and suffered two whole defeats. As the saying goes, victory depends on the turn of fortune — but fortune can be turned manually by fighting the right way. Without the method of boosting power with the Limit Breakthrough, many people in this era have honed their fighting techniques as much as they could. With the right tactics — and of course, preparation and grit — it is possible to bridge the gap between levels. Surely Lina and the others knew how useful that could be. And above all else, I wanted to teach you that as well — which led to us setting up that fight for you.”
“Y-you wanted to teach me?”
“Oh? Did you think that I hated you and just wanted to beat you up or something?”
“Ah, no, not exactly… Hahaha.”
Warren moved his face closer to me — yet another unusual gesture coming from him.
“Hehehe… You are among my extremely small list of friends, Asley. I wouldn’t want you to go off and die.”
“O-okay, I’ll keep that in mind… Hmm? By the way, Warren, did you actually use the Limit Breakthrough? Your arcane energy level hasn’t changed much from before…”
“I haven’t used it yet… because I’ve been stuck with you all this time. Not that I think I’d like to use it anytime soon, though.”
“Huh? Why not?”
“I figured, to think up strategies for going against stronger enemies, it’d be better to keep my raw power relatively low.”
Saying that, Warren chuckled again.
Man, just how optimally greedy can this guy get…?
“Also, perhaps it is… dictated by fate.”
“Us being born into this era, where we must develop our techniques and grit in order to go against stronger enemies. Quite unusual, don’t you think?”
“Ahaha… I guess.”
“Now then, Asley, I’m starving. Why don’t we get something to eat right now? The food here tastes great, I assure you.”
I was about to answer… when my stomach made a noise faster than my mouth could deliver my voice.
“Well, going three days straight without food and water will do that to you!♪”
So Warren did go along with my shenanigans, huh? Now I feel like I’ve done something very wrong…
While still feeling hot in my face due to the embarrassment, I followed Warren to the mess hall. There, I found my Familiar–
“Did you get a good look!? My faster face was like — BZZT BZZT BZZT! And then he went — GWOOOHHH!? And his eyes were all white! Like THIS! I couldn’t stop laughing! And that GAAAAAAHHH at the end! That might be one of his three best party tricks so far!!”
Lina and Fuyu sat at the same table as Pochi, looking troubled as they listened to the latter running her mouth. From the look of things, the doggo must’ve been parroting the same story again and again over the past three days.
And what the hell did she mean, party tricks!?
“Well? Want to have a word or two with her?”
“Hah… no, I’ll just leave her alone. She’ll have some hard work to do later, though…”
“Ah, perfectly balanced, as all things should be.”
Lina noticed me right as Warren sat down at a nearby table.
And at the same time, Pochi rushed to hide under the table.
Quite an impressive demonstration of an emergency evacuation, I must say.
“Hey there. Good morning, Lina, Fuyu.”
They put their own dishes on a tray and came over to the table where we were.
In the meantime, I took a look around, observing the other members of the Resistance.
…Hmm, I see, I see.
“Do you… have some time to talk?”
Fuyu asked, sounding happy.
And so am I — it’s really a nice thing, being able to sit around the table with old friends like this.
“Yeah, sure. I was about to get something to eat, too.”
Hearing me say that, Lina stood up as soon as I was seated.
“Ah, I’ll go get some drinks!”
And so both of them jogged into the kitchen again.
“If you’d just sat down, I would’ve gone and gotten some myself. Hehehe… Well, they seem to enjoy doing it, so I suppose that’s fine.”
My Familiar sprang up from under the table.
“Huh? You’re not angry, sir? I mean, I was–“
“–By the way, Asley, you just said that you’d give her some hard work to do, yes?”
“Eep! Anything but THAT!”
Pochi exclaimed, shifting irregularly in her chair.
“What do you think? We’ve trained them quite decently, if I were to say so myself.”
Warren asked me — probably about the power levels of the Resistance members.
“Hmm… WAYWARD Mages…?”
“Hehehe… That’s quite a nice pair of glasses you have, Asley.”
“Huh? You could tell?”
“You told me about it two days ago.”
God damn it.
“How did you recruit so many mages, anyway?”
“A part of them was from the Magic University; they dropped out during the time I was the Student Council President.”
I see. That would explain why they’re titled ‘wayward’ mages.
“They could not continue receiving tuition either due to financial situations or insufficient skill, among other reasons. Regardless of the latter case, any mage could become powerful if they were… trained enough.”
Warren said, cracking a grin.
Understandable — if we’re going to fight against the Nation, we can’t ignore even a bit of the people’s power.
“What are those other reasons, Warren?”
And why is Pochi dancing around now?
“The so-called wayward mages typically don’t associate themselves with the Adventurer’ Guild, you see. Some still work with the Guild, of course, but we’ve connected with those who don’t, recruiting them to our cause.”
I see. Must’ve been a lot of work for Warren to handle all that.
At some point while we were talking, Lina and Fuyu came back with drinks.
“”Here you are, Sir Asley.””
…Why are they giving me two cups?
“Um, Fuyu? Why don’t you give that cup to Pochi?”
“What are you saying, Lina? You were supposed to give Pochi that cup.”
And so the cups kept being slid around in front of me.
I gotta get them to settle down somehow… Aha. Maybe Warren can help–
“–Very interesting. So you actually turned into a Heavenly Beast?”
“That’s right! He insisted, so I had no choice! Like, he insisted REAL hard! So hard that he ended up crying! But like, I’m a big-hearted dog, you see! So I had no choice but to let myself become a Heavenly Beast!”
…Man, this furball really can lie through her teeth while I’m still right here, huh?
Well, that’s fine. I’ll just have to set the story right myself.
Hmm… Oh yeah, that reminds me…
“By the way…”
Lina and Fuyu finally stopped.
“Where’d Sir Barun go?”