Silence fell upon both of us as I carried Julianne on my back and continued our trip back home, well, her home. I didn’t see fear in her eyes, which was a relieved since I overwhelmingly murdered all those guys, but at the same time I couldn’t make a good guess on what was going on in her head.
“. . . are you perhaps the person who saved Anartia?”
And Julianne was the one that broke the silence.
“Your sister made a deal with me, so I did what I could.”
“Oh, so you are the Hero people have been talking about, one who singhandedly destroyed half of Rivell army with a bow.”
I was thankful that the story stayed true, kind of. Just imagining how rumors would get twisted into something like, that guy called upon an army of angels and rained justice upon the enemies, made cold sweats ran down my spine. It’s not that I’m scared of fame or anything, but it’s just simply embarrassing.
“Well, more or less. I’m still just a mercenary at heart, though. Rather than that, you’re not concerned about what kind of wicked deal I made with your little sister?”
Julianne let out a cute giggle; her face was too close to my ear when she did that so it gave me some tinglings at the back of my head.
She laughed at me——.
“Are you trying to become the bad guy?”
“No . . . I just want to stay as neutral as possible. Though, that sounds stupid, to be honest, since people have already started to view me as the Hero of Anartia.”
But when you come down to the core of the matter, I had some sort of ulterior motives under the cover of helping Anartia. In any case, it’s no use trying to argue about that; whether a person is good or bad always depends on which perspective you’re looking from.
“Won’t you trust me when I say I know for sure you’re not that kind of wicked demon?”
“I mean, if you say so. Honestly, though, put on some basic vigilance, people are probably more wicked than demons.”
“I really trust my eyes, but okay~”
A couple minutes later, she fell asleep on my back, soundly. I guess it was perfectly plausible since I picked her up in the middle of the night and kept running until morning. Her body was pretty weak so a couple hours of sleep were something good for her, anyway.
* * *
Late noon, Julianne was still sleeping peacefully on my back when we arrived at the national border of Anartia Kingdom.
The ramparts were still under reconstruction because of the surprise attack by Rivell so a lot of workers and guards were there. Luckily, they all recognized my face and their princess’ face so they easily let us in with warm welcomes.
I stopped at a remote town in one of the surburb areas of Anartia, rented a room in a decent inn—which freaked the hell out of the owner—and laid Julianne on the bed.
“Still sleeping, I see . . . that relieved face, though . . . ?”
To me, it looked as if she had been yearning for a good and peaceful rest during all these years. I didn’t have the knowledge about what the hell kind of events happened in Rivell when she was married to the crowned prince politically, but upon seeing this, I could roughly guess what kind of ups and downs she went through.
I checked the amount of money I had left in my pocket and found a bunch of gold coins. These were given to me by the King as travel expenses so I should be able to blow them as hard as I want to buy food and stuff for Julianne. That said, I couldn’t just leave her in the room alone and go shopping so I went downstairs and asked a staff in the inn to go buy dinner from the best restaurant in town. The guy gladly accepted because he was asked by the Hero or something like that, but I paid him a gold coin anyway.
I borrowed a few books from the inn owner and sat in my room, back against the bed and face towards the window, reading while waiting for food to come.
“Hm . . . this language . . .”
I automatically understood the writing of this world thanks to having the Dragonbow pouring its power into me and it was actually awesome that way since I could study the structure of the language without the need for a teacher. I must say, it was pretty well created, the human language in this world. Incidentally, it was also thanks to the Dragonbow that I was able to use this world’s human language the moment I transferred from The Center. And probably, I’d be able to use other races’ languages, too.
The book I was reading talked about how the Author was an adventure-maniac as he travelled literally everywhere he could. He recorded the things I witnessed and learned about along the way then made his pupil publish the book as his death wish, hoping for it to become popular and people wouldn’t forget about him.
And he did succeed in leaving behind a huge legacy as his journey diary was officially recognized by the imperial capital and sold as the most basic Guide to Adventuring nationally. But since there was no laws of copyrights, his family only receive around 30% of the earnings from selling the book. That’s pretty bullshit; it was a great book packed with useful knowledge so I made a mental note to tell the King to increase the money that goes towards his family.
Another book I borrowed talked about basic principles of becoming a magic caster. It explained the flow of magical power in details and included a couple tens of beginner-level spells as examples and, I guess you could call them homework? The book was something widely used in academies as textbooks so I guess the quality was certainly guaranteed.
“Hm . . . like this?”
I opened my palm and created a floating fireball. I made sure the size was small so it would be easy to control; committing arson on private assets such as this inn would be the last thing I ever wanted in my life.
It said in the book that one needs to maintain a clear image in their mind while reciting the chant in order to master the act of invoking magic. Shortening chants was written as something very advanced on the level of Court Magicians, and chantless spells were purely works of legends or absurdity.
“Um . . . but I just chantlessly made a fireball . . .”
I attempted to use some other spells written in the book using various methods and came to a conclusion that the clearer the image was, the faster the magic took shape. And at one point, you wouldn’t need to recite chants anymore because the spell would take shape almost instantly.
Now, let’s go back to the fireball, how did I create one chantlessly?
The answer was pretty simple, the image I had in my head as I used the spell was the speeding up of molecules, resulting in a rapid increase in temperature—after that, the spell itself just needed to use my magical power to create a spark, forming the fireball. That was the factor that made the spell go chantless. Magicians in this world would probably just imagine a fireball appearing out of nowhere while I knew the principles behind it on an atomic level. I might become a good magic caster if I could keep using modern knowledge like this.
When the sky turned completely burning red, a knock on the door resounded the quiet room.
“Oh, thank you.”
“I-It’s my pleasure!!”
It was the inn staff whom I asked to go buy dinner for me and Julianne. I properly thanked him then went back into the room, to be greeted by the figure of the princess herself already sitting on the bed, her complexion brimming with healthiness. Of course, she was not completely as healthy as a normal person, she just looked more well than how she previously was.
“Good timing, I got us dinner. Sorry if it’s not fancy stuff.”
“No, I can’t be thankful enough . . .”
As I pulled a tea table closer to the side of her bed and placed the boxed dinner on top of it, she happily unpacked and ate it. I also got myself a chair and sat on the opposite side to eat my share. We had a quiet dinner while being bathed in the crimson color of sunset.
It felt oddly peaceful.
* * *
“It’d be too inconvenient, so . . . sorry, you’d have to wait until we get back to the royal castle for a bath.”
There’d be servants and Ilianne there to help her with doing that. A mercenary like me shouldn’t try anything funny even though that deep dark part in my heart called a man was crying out its miseries. Whatever the case is, she would need to endure it.
“Aww, what a shame. It would’ve been okay too if you helped me take a bath.”
She said with an unreadable smile. She seemed to be having fun messing around with me.
How could this woman be the innocent Ilianne’s sister, their personalities were heaven and earth.
“Yeah, it can’t be helped. Also, like I said, stop being so careless around a guy.”
Honestly, considering how charming she looked, any hot blooded youngster would have lost all control and attacked her. This was actually the only time I felt grateful I had been through . . . whatever I had been through to achieve some sort of self-restraint in these kinds of situation. Actually, half of this was probably thanks to the person who brought me up too, he forged my nerves into steel.
“I know I know~”
“You don’t look like you listened . . . but in any case, we should arrive at your house by tomorrow early noon.”
“Home, huh . . .”
She had a distant look as she took the emerald pendant in her palm and stared at it.
“. . . doesn’t feel real?”
“Yes, I never thought the day would come when I can be released from whatever fate I put on myself . . .”
Ahh, I can totally relate, yup. If that old geezer wasn’t there to kick my ass, I would’ve stayed the demon I was to the rest of my life. I never expected to receive a chance to escape from myself.
“On that note, were you born with this . . . condition?”
“Mhm, but in return, my constitution is special. It’s hard to explain, but I can sort of, see through people’s intentions and behaviors.”
“How about your legs?”
“They’re different, I suddenly lost the ability to use my legs when I turned six.”
“Hah? It came out of nowhere?”
“Mhm, I was completely normal one night, then just completely lost my legs the next morning.”
That’s obviously unusual. Even if it was a sickness, the doctors at the imperial capital should’ve been able to diagnose it with magic or something. But according to Julianne, nobody could figure out why, her body condition didn’t get any worse, either.
“Hmm . . .”
“There was a rumor going on about me being cursed and it was really getting to the point of bothering my father’s position, so . . .”
“Ahh, that’s also one of the reasons for that political marriage, huh . . .”
“Mhm. My luck wasn’t completely zero, though.”
“The crowned prince of Rivell was only 6 years old at the time~”
“. . . hah?”