When we reached the east gate, we found that the enormous inner wall and its tightly-shut gate still stood strong. The mechanisms were operable without issue, but there was no sign of it having ever been used.
What in the world is going on here?
“Sir Asley, you need to see this!”
Now this is terrible. The rubble of ruined houses and collapsed outer wall has made all of the roads inaccessible.
“Lina, do you know what’s up ahead?”
“Up ahead… If I remember correctly, there was a road that leads to the north gate.”
“…Which means the eastern district is also isolated, save for the underground tunnel. The monsters must’ve found themselves stuck in here while the area was sealed off, and ended up resorting to cannibalism… At least that’s what I’d assume.”
“But Master, putting the Alpha Chimera aside, shouldn’t semi-intelligent monsters such as Goblins be able to open the gate?”
“Well, we did find the Alpha Chimera on the main road. It must’ve been camping right in front of the east game.”
None of that was set in stone, of course, but I don’t think I’m that far off the mark.
And if that was the case, the natural assumption was that the cornered Goblins had discovered the passage and eventually found themselves in the southern district.
“I see… that does make sense, yes.”
“Way to go, Sir Asley!”
“Now, don’t praise me so much. It’ll get to my head, yeah?”
“Okay, I’ll stop.”
“Hey, that was unnecessary, Pochi!”
“Now now, what say we call it a day?”
Damn you little…
Well, that was the appropriate way to take care of me, I must admit. I’ve had a history of getting reckless when I’m carried away, after all.
At the end of the day, we left the monster-free eastern district, dug the tunnel back up, and came back to the southern district.
Ryan, Reid, and Mana were waiting for us in the church, right at the tunnel’s exit. Apparently, it was because they had heard the Dynamites.
After we’ve caught them up on the details and proposed that the eastern district could be used now, Ryan immediately went to work.
By the tireless work of the townsfolk, and our assistance, of course, the much-wanted path to the eastern district was soon complete. The efficiency of the process could be attributed in part to Ryan’s aim for the re-establishment of a governing body for the town.
~~Two Years Later~~
By one way or another, the town’s many troublesome relationships with the monsters had greatly settled down, and the children had become stronger, enabling them to form groups to assist with guard duties.
Reid had become quite popular as the whole town’s big brother figure, Mana had been consistently improving as a teacher, and Reyna had always been assisting Ryan with work.
Lina and Tifa had been nothing but excellent, and have shown rapid growth in their respective specialized fields — Lina with Restoration Magic, and Tifa with Support Magic. As the one teaching them, I’ve also felt like I might have improved somewhat, albeit at a turtle’s pace at best.
And today, as Ryan had told me that he had important matters to discuss, I have come to visit him.
“Enrolling into a Magic School? So this concerns Lina, sir?”
“Yes. You have provided her with more than enough practice in the art of magic, Sir Asley, but I wanted her to learn from various other sources as well. Reid and Mana have already given their consent, and Lina herself seemed to be interested, too.”
“I do understand the desire to let her go out and see the expanse of the world, sir. Ever since she was young… I mean, little, she’d always been forced by circumstances to fight, after all. But why bring this up now?”
Ryan took out two rolled-up parchments from his desk drawer and presented them to me.
“There are my letters of recommendation for the Magic University. The girl has recently turned fifteen, and is now qualified for enrollment. And the other one is yours, Sir Asley. Whether or not to use it, I’ll leave the decision to you.”
“What did you mean by ‘mine’…?”
“Nowadays, the Magic University and the Warrior University would not let one enroll without a letter of recommendation from a town’s Chief, you see.”
“That doesn’t quite answer my question, sir.”
“…Apologies. I suppose this letter is just an excuse…”
What’d he mean by excuse?
Besides, the last time I went to the Magic University, well… I’d been so discouraged by the difference in talent that I’d just up and quit, you know?
“It is an excuse to have you leave us, sir.”
“To have me leave… U-umm, did I do any–“
Ryan raised his hand to interrupt my words.
“I may have worded that poorly. Please do not misunderstand. I wanted to send you off — that was what I meant.”
“What are you on about, sir…?”
“As of now, even if for just the south and east, the town has finally been rebuilt enough to perform its minimally required functions. Now that we’ve dug a well in the eastern district, the irrigation channels should also be completed soon enough. Suffice to say, we will be fine by ourselves going forward. You have no issues with leaving us now, Sir Asley.”
“I ask that you do not take us so lightly.”
From Ryan, a man gentle as can be, a bold and powerful statement.
“I believe you have your own goals in life, and that you are meant to make your agenda and knowledge be known to the world. Beilanea, where the Magic and Warrior Universities are, is a gathering place of all manners of goods and information. You may very well find information regarding the Devil King’s Chestpocket, too. With that in consideration, would you mind taking Lina along as you head there? You could say that this is all too convenient for us, since we don’t necessarily have combatants to spare for her escort, you see. Would you grant one last wish for her — and for us, as well?”
“To be frank… as one man, I do want you to remain with us. However, that would not do us good in the long run. It is natural for humans to gather where the foundations are most stable, but the world is far too large for one to simply seek comfort in a single place. That is what I wanted the people of this town to keep in mind — to become strong and never lose sight of what makes them human. Of course, that applies to you as well, Sir Asley…”
Those heavy words struck my heart like a sharp arrow.
It was as Ryan had said. My initial objective had already been achieved, yet I still remained here.
I had made myself comfortable… that, I won’t deny. But the most important point was that I seemed to be reverting to my old ways.
Thanks to Ryan, I realized that early. Otherwise, I would’ve kept going down that direction until Pochi called me out.
–What a damned idiot I am.
“…When do you propose we leave, then?”
“The enrollment period will be starting quite soon. I would suggest tonight if you are able, and tomorrow at the latest.”
“That is quite a tight schedule, sir.”
“I’m afraid that applies only to you, Sir Asley. Lina and Pochi have already gotten their preparations in order.”
Pochi, you little…! Is she even still aware that she’s a Familiar!?
“Ha ha ha ha, Pochi’s description of you was quite accurate, I must say.”
“Huh… what was it that she’d said, sir?”
“It is more effective to tell my Master at the last minute! — That was it. And here we are…”
“……What a surprise.”
“Yes, what a surprise indeed.”
“No, Sir Ryan… I meant how good you are at doing impressions of her…”
“Hah hah hah! I did practice that for a whole thirty minutes, after all!”
So this is the charismatic leader of Faltown… We’ve known each other for two years, but I sure haven’t seen all of him.
That night, Pochi and I packed up our belongings and headed to the east gate.
Reid, Mana, and Tifa were there with Lina, waiting to see us off.
“Mm, now this is fitting for a warrior’s… well, a mage’s departure.”
“Oh, Reid? Aren’t you going to cry a little? Your beloved Lina is leaving, you know.”
“Bah, he’s already done that. Here, see all these marks and wrinkles?”
“Dammit, Mana! I thought you promised not to tell anyone!”
I could indeed see them. In a way, they served to show how important his youngest sister was to him.
“Are you really leaving, Teacher?”
Tifa said as she grabbed the sleeve of my vestment, as if pulling me back.
At the present, she is 12 years old, and just like Lina, she was an excellent pupil.
“Tifa, I’ve left some homework for you at the house I used to live in. Please give it a good look. When you’re done with it, you must then study and train on your own… Understood?”
“Yes… I-I’ll give it my best! I won’t be left behind by Lina! And when I turn 15… I’ll go to the Magic University as well!”
“That’s some powerful competition you have there, eh, Lina?”
Reid folded his arms and cracked a joke for Lina.
Tifa seemed like she was about to cry, but she did her best to hold it in.
“What are you saying? I’m sure Tifa will become a stronger mage than I will. I’m just leaving a bit earlier, right, Tifa?”
“I’ll catch up to you before you know it!”
“By the way, that’s a nice robe you’ve got on, Lina. Since when did you have that?”
“Miss Reyna made it for me, with some high-quality cloth that Sir Ryan had lying around.”
Lina was wearing a jet black robe, with its reverse side embroidered with silver thread for the warding of malignant elements.
The robe itself was a good fit for her figure, and the edge of its hood on the back was attached with a silver-ish white fur.
It seemed gaudy at first glance, but being worn by Lina, it felt strangely fitting. This was perhaps because Lina has grown up quite a bit.
“You should’ve changed into some nicer clothes as well, Master.”
“I did change my underwear, all right?”
“Taking care of your private parts is important, yes. But you should realize by now that negligence of other important things is part of what makes your negative titles stick.”
“Bah, you nitpicky little… Here, I look better with this on, right?”
To humor Pochi, I put on a pair of glasses and painted my face a serious expression.
“You do look better with glasses on, Master, but… does it have to be ‘that’ pair?”
Pochi moved in closer and whispered into my ear.
“I’ve completed them just yesterday. And thanks to the successful upgrade, they can now be used while worn normally.”
“…Did you ever stop to consider that I’d be angry when you said that?”
“The function can be toggled on and off!”
“…You damned fool.”
Huh, is it just me, or did that suddenly sound… less harsh?
“What’re you whispering about? It’s getting late. I don’t really like emotional moments like this, you know. Get a move on already.”
“Make sure to come back once in a while, all right?”
“Teacher, Lina, do your best out there!
Saying our goodbyes to Reid and the others, Pochi, Lina, and I took our first steps toward the Magic University.
We were sent off with encouragement from Tifa, who continued to wave her hands when we were almost out of sight, up until we could feel the east gate close behind us.
Though it had been long since I left the dungeon, the void in my heart still grew larger. It was such a mysterious, indescribable feeling.
I’m sure this will be a long, eventful path ahead yet. Among them, Faltown may very well be considered the starting point of everything.
Silavin: Updated the Patreon for those that are interested. Barnnn has been working really hard so that we can provide the lowest tier with at least 1 chapter.