Our mansion was the world to me. A little too big for people to live in, it was still too small to spend one’s lifetime in. I think that’s why I loved books. I could go anywhere when reading. Of course, even if I could read, there were places I couldn’t imagine. What’s an ocean? What’s a mountain? Lake? River?
Once they found out about my gift for exceptional magic, I could no longer go outside. A maid who felt sorry for me taught me a lot of things; how to read, places she hadn’t seen, and what it means to love someone.
Not long after, she was fired for teaching me unnecessary knowledge. I couldn’t even say goodbye. One day she was just gone, and when I asked about her, they gave me a blunt answer: “She will never see you again.”
I spent my days reading books. In fact, I learned the words “alleviate boredom” from reading. Every day I felt my heart wearing thin. Before long, they’ll use me as a weapon. A dark future was waiting for me.
One rainy night.
A young boy, not much older than me, snuck into our home and killed my father. Strangely enough, I wasn’t scared of him. After that, he saved me while I was being transported to the capital.
He was like a hero I read about in novels. Although I said I was a heavy burden, he saved me easily. He even cleared a dungeon.
My life, once only black and white, was rapidly becoming colorful. A forest spread far and wide outside of town. Caravans were coming and going on the road. A small bridge spanned across the river. The hotdogs were incredibly delicious; though Hikaru thought it was too spicy.
I knew Hikaru was hiding something important. But I didn’t doubt him, nor did I stop having faith in him. He was my savior, my hero who gave me freedom, and probably the first person I ever loved.
I found out he had a unique ability called the Soul Board. He gave me the Stealth skill so I had no choice but to believe it was true. I don’t know if he realizes it, but his ability is extraordinary. If he felt like it, he could mass produce an army of sword masters. He’d be a god. I understood why he was desperate to hide it.
When he told me about it, I was so happy that he trusted me, I almost cried. Which is why I want to be of use to Hikaru. He doesn’t have to ask me what I want. If Skill points limited how much he could improve his abilities, then I’ll simply compensate for what he lacks.
After all, he already gave me too much.
The next day. After some preparations, they made their way out of town. Grasslands spread out before them on a gentle slope, and beyond that were woodlands. Lush mountains loomed in the north. They hailed a stagecoach and set out towards that direction.
Hikaru felt like a weight was taken off his shoulders after telling Lavia everything. It seemed like she changed too, as she nestled close more often. They held hands almost all the time.
After spending most of the day on the road, they arrived at a small town on the foot of a mountain. Having secured a room at an inn, they headed out for dinner. The town was basking in the orange glow of sunset.
「That’s a really big sun.」Lavia muttered as she watched the sun set over the woodlands in the west.
Sounds of children playing came from somewhere. The aroma of roasted meat drifting in the air filled Hikaru with hunger, and they entered a tavern. There wasn’t any other place to eat.
「Oh my! Hello, little customers. Travelling?」A stout proprietress came to take their order.
「Something like that. Anything you’d recommend? We’ll just have that.」
「You got it.」
The place was about half-filled. A red-haired woman carrying a lute – either a troubadour, or a travelling musician – appeared in a corner of the tavern. She sat down on a stool, plucked her instrument’s strings for fine tuning, then started singing.
——A long time ago, there was a man who was descended from a phoenix.
He longed for freedom and left his strict home——
It was an epic with a man as the main character. The story contained words related to the Rumanian clans like Yellow Tiger and Red Dragon.
The proprietress brought them sausages, ham, and some vegetables, and they ate while listening to the song. The man who yearned for freedom was eventually called to fight for his motherland and lost his beloved brother in the war.
Listening instead of reading is not so bad, Hikaru thought.
「Another song about Rumania…」
「I’d love to hear a decent song instead.」
The words came from a different table. This town was a part of Ludancia. The people probably didn’t like hearing songs about Rumania.
It’s like there isn’t even an alliance between the nations. They still think they’re independent.
The image of a green-haired man popped up in Hikaru’s mind – a man who was worried about Forestia’s future.
——At a complete loss on what to do, the man talked with a Green Ogre.
The creature received the phoenix’s blood and set off to stop the war——
Green Ogre… I think that’s the name of League’s clan.
His eyes met with Lavia’s who was staring at him. Her hands had stopped, eyes fixed on Hikaru.
「What’s the matter, Milady?」
「I was just wondering what’s on your mind.」
「It’s nothing important, really.」
「Were you contemplating on whether to help this country? In that case, it really is nothing important.」
「Why would I be thinking that?」
「Despite saying it’s none of your concern, you’re actually kind to those who work hard.」
「People usually say I’m arrogant. This is the first time someone said I was kind.」
「Really? They just don’t know how to judge people.」she said, full of confidencem, and flashing a gentle smile.
「What is it?」
「Thanks for listening to me.」
「I should thank you for telling me. I was really happy you did.」
Hearing those words, feeling her emotions, once again made him glad he told her everything.
「The song’s over.」Lavia said.
There was no applause. Setting her lute against the wall, the woman headed to the counter and ordered tea.
「I’ll go talk to her. I might give a helping hand depending on the info I get.」
Hikaru made his way to the bard.
「Excuse me, Miss. Can I talk to you for a bit?」
「…And who are you?」
「Are you from Rumania? I want to know something about these clans.」