~~Beilanea North Gate, Thirty-Two Past One in the Morning~~
“I never thought wed be running away together less than a day after we first met, Melchi…”
“Time isnt a factor in the bonds between peoples hearts, my friend.
Well, some emotional wounds do take time to heal, though.”
“Why didnt you pack any sweets Master! No – I know you have some! Where are they!”
“Ive tied some to your tail.”
Now shes looking very much like a puff of cotton candy… but isnt doing that supposed to make her dizzy
“Im not seeing anything!”
“Thats because theres nothing there.”
“Lying is a sin, sir! I know youve actually tied it there, right”
And so my Familiar started spinning again, now in the opposite direction.
Melchi had understood so much about the relationship between Pochi and I just from seeing so little.
Perhaps the information available to her was too little, sure, but shed based her opinion on what she had, declaring that ours was aninteresting relationship.
Now that I thought about it, I hadnt seen many Familiars during the past year Id spent here.
Perhaps there was a reason for that.
It didnt seem to be caused just by the recent popularity of Familiar summoning spells.
“…So, that Lina lady… will she actually show up”
“Its a close race against time, after all… So Im not sure myself… Five more minutes.”
Id contemplated showing up at the dormitory, but considering that wed soon part ways, I couldnt bring myself to.
Some things just couldnt be properly conveyed through magecraft alone, too.
I could no longer stay in Beilanea for long.
With my call being so sudden, Lina had immediately replied and cut the communication off.
“Master, shes here!”
Pochis nose twitched, presumably detecting Linas familiar smell.
“Theres another person with her… Isnt that-“
Wait, another person I was briefly puzzled, but from Pochis questionable expression, I soon had an idea of who that might be.
As soon as Pochi muttered that name to confirm my guess, Melchi responded to her.
“Hmph, itll get noisy if I meet her now.
Ill go wait outside.”
Which remind me she did saysomeone like Irene earlier, so I probably shouldve seen this coming.
As I saw off Melchi while she walked out the north gate, Pochi reacted once again, this time with a twitch of her ears.
And here they are.
Two girls in the distance… well, technically one girl and one woman, but anyone would have trouble telling them apart.
On one side was Lina, out of breath.
On the other was Irene, looking quite sour.
The scene had quite a strong contrast to it, and it felt so… welcoming.
“Hah hah… ha… Sir Asley…”
I was reminded of that one time when I had depleted Irenes arcane energy, after which Lina had come rushing back to me at the classroom, arriving out of breath.
Hard to believe that its almost been a whole year since then.
Its been packed so densely with activity compared to so many years Id spent by myself… Ironically, Im feeling nostalgic for the things that had happened most recently.
“Thank you very much, maam.”
“Ugh- always have a corny reply ready, I see.”
“No, I havent had corn recently.”
“Oh, for the love of… anyway, are you sure youre really going If youd just lay low for a while, your false charges can be dealt with eventually.”
“Yes, Im sure.
Things have gotten quite noisy lately, but I see this as a good chance to broaden my range of information intake for a bit.”
It was as if a shadow was cast over her face.
It looked like she was genuinely concerned for me.
Also, it was quite rare to see this side of Irenes emotional sensitivity.
I mean, no one would have expected this from of the Six Archmages.
She used to chase me around my staff back when I took the entrance examination, I think Now Im feeling nostalgic for that, too.
Well, maybe not – considering that I hadnt been able to shed my tears for so long, that could be considered a degeneration instead.
As I pondered over Linas actions and how I was feeling personally, a smile slowly appeared on my face.
“Sir Asley… why… why are you smiling”
Lina held her tears and tilted her head in apparent confusion as she asked me, making me unsure whether she actually was asking or if shed actually gotten a read of my feelings.
“Good question… but who knows”
“Thats… so unfair.”
“Evasion is also a valid strategy, Lina.”
“T-that felt more like a counterattack than an evasion, Sir Asley.”
Yours was a counterattack, too, Lina.
For real, Lina has never ceased to impress me with how far shes come.
She had talent for magic, sure, but shed grown so fast as a social human that I was surprised.
I look forward to whatever achievements shed have made by the next time we meet.
Perhaps because things were back to the usual tone, Lina puffed her cheeks up in annoyance, not even aware when her tears had dried up.
And as Id expected, I wanted to poke those cheeks with my fingers again, what with how satisfying they had sounded last time.
“Can I poke your cheeks”
Those same words Id said once before…
…were met with what Lina hadnt said last time.
“Ngh- why not”
“S-save it for next time!”
…So thats where shes coming from.
Just as I realized how Irene might be feeling left out, what with her staring at us so blankly, Irene seemed to have realized it herself as well, so she promptly puffed her cheeks up when I turned to her.
“Hahahaha, I do want to poke your cheeks as well, Miss Irene.”
“…Bah, way to make a fool of yourself again, Master…”
Pochi seized that chance to mock me as she heaved a deep sigh.
Wait, what Was I not supposed to say that
Irene was equally as exasperated as Pochi was… Wha- huh And Lina seemed to be angry
“Anyway, please take good care of yourselves out there! Ill do my best back here, too!”
“Hmph, so the times come for us to part ways.
No matter how foolish you may be, you ought to appreciate how Lina helped you out just now, Asley.”
“Seriously, my Masters foolishness knows no bounds!”
“An Eternal Fool, if you will – Well now, that does sound the most fitting description for Asley here, doesnt it”
As I hurriedly made a stopping gesture with my index finger over my lips, Irenes eyes opened wide to show her confusion.
Then she swiftly turned to look at Lina.
[“Doesnt Lina know about this!…”]
I bet thats what she thought.
The one in question, Lina, only stared blankly and tilted her head.
Yes, she does not – I communicated that to Irene through eye contact, and she grew even more exasperated.
“All right, its about time we get going.”
I ended the topic before it could be pursued further, then straightened my old vestment and turned away from them.
“Lina, Miss Irene, Ill contact you all when things calm down.”
“When I find out anything, Ill contact you, too.”
I nodded to her while I reached down to pet Pochis head.
That being a sign to take off, Pochi went on ahead, walking toward Beilaneas north gate.
I followed right after her, and once we got outside, I glanced at Melchi, who waited there with her back leaning against the wall, signaling her that we were ready to go.
As the two called my name one last time while I walked away, I raised my hand and waved in response to them.
Pochi gigantified, and I hopped on her back.
Melchi followed right behind Pochi, keeping up simply by jogging behind her.
Well see you later, Lina.
~~Grassland North of Beilanea~~
“Well, well, what a big catch… We sure got a lot, eh, Pochi”
“All because you ran ahead recklessly, sir! Now we have seven Murder Tigers and three Ogres on us! What do you plan to do now!”
“Oh, calm down… Think of it as an opportunity to work up an exquisite combination for us! Commence Operation Pochi from Beyond the Grave!”
“NAY! Aha, I have a better idea! Let us commence Operation Living Dead Asley-boi instead!”
What a dreadful thing to come up with!
I kinda want to see that cute Living Dead form, though.
“NAY, NAY! Well, for now, just buy me some time!”
“Oh, you just had to have me do it, dont you!”
“Hahahaha, so thats how you guys always are! I havent said anything since I thought you actually had some ideas, but… youre in real trouble here, right”
“Well, yes, we are! Please take our right side, Melchi!”
Melchis ears seemed to twitch in response to my request.
For whatever reason, she then proceeded to glare at me.
“M-E-L! Call me that and Ill help.
Were gonna be the traveling partners, so might as well do it, yeah”
Melchi demanded so, pulling me toward her by my collars as she talked.
The face of this almost androgynous-looking girl, who looked like a boy with blonde hair and blue eyes, reddened up slightly as she kept quiet and stared at me.
As if I was conforming with her, I started to feel quite awkward, too.
I just couldnt refuse to do what shed told me to, it seemed.
“A-all right, fine… Mel! Take our right side!”
“Nuhuhuhu, leave it to me!”
Melchi beat her c.h.e.s.t like a gorilla, and then walked off to our right in high and proud spirits.
While that exchange was going on, Pochi was doing well enough to keep the monsters at bay.
“Master, Im actually having trouble with these tigers, sir!”
“Ill buy you baked sweets when we get to the next town! Just hold the line!”
“BRING IT ON, KITTIES! DONT EVER EXPECT TO WIN AGAINST ME!”
“And nothing for me, Ash!”
“Oh, for the love of… Ill teach you the Teleportation spells formula sometime later, then!”
“HAHAHAHA!! I AM INVINCIBLE!!”
Hey, she just got a bargain for a Ten-Million Gold Magic.
But no amount of money could replace a life.
And as they had claimed, those two were truly invincible while driven by a greedy goal.
Thanks to them, I had plenty of time to draw my Spell Circle.
“Rise, A-rise, A-rise! You two, get back! Meteor Lance coming right up!”
Spears of molten rock rained down from the sky, precisely piercing the Ogres and Murder Tigers as if they had been locked on.
Two of the Murder Tigers had narrowly dodged the attack, but were picked off by Pochi and Melchi on standby.
At the same time, the level up fanfare rang up within my head.
A level up in quite a while… well, maybe not, since I felt like Id been leveling up like crazy these past few months.
NAME: ASLEYTITLES: The Eternal Fool, The Polarizing, Hermit Candidate, Advanced Mage, Alchemist, Staff Master, Six Archmages (Tentative), Good Teacher, Rank A, Top Student, No Guts, SS Slayer, Guardian Mage (Tentative)LV: 72HP: 1,354MP: 20,035EXP: 1,109,445SPECIAL SKILLS: Attack Magic (Skilled)Support Magic (Skilled)Recovery Magic (Advanced)Purification (Advanced)
…Oh My first title just got updated with a prefix that hadnt been there this morning