Wednesday, April 5, 2023 @

Chapter 75, Part 1

 At the sound of the voice, I turned around. There stood a familiar young girl, crying uncontrollably, reaching out toward me. Despite being held back by servants and restrained by our parents, she continued to gaze at me with tearful eyes, screaming and desperately reaching out, pleading.
 "Family is truly dear to you, isn't it?"
 A young man beside me says to me as I stared at my sister's pitiful state. I look up at him. He, on the other hand, smiles and looks at me with a pair of eyes of different colors, mystic eyes. They scrutinized me, testing me.
 "...No, I've already made up my mind."
 I denied the man's words. I asserted. All the contracts had already been made. Nothing could be undone. The contract, made by putting a curse on my body, cannot be broken for one-sided reasons.
 Therefore, I deny it. With a smile that contained a sense of resignation, but also a clear understanding.
 Yes, this is for the best. It was the right choice. My family will probably not starve to death now. It's just... I hadn't expected my sister to cry so much over it.
 "Let's go. I know you've done your duty. Then I must fulfill mine."
 "Even if the path ahead is filled with thorns?"
 "Even if the path ahead is hell itself, I will go."
 I look at him. We look at each other. The man narrows his eyes. Then he closes his... eyes and sighs.
 "All right, I understand. If that's the case, then I won't give you any mercy either. I'll make sure you do the job you're paid for."
 He said, gripping my hand firmly. His hand was strong, but at the same time, I could still feel a warmth in it. ...And so, without resisting, I followed his lead and moved forward.
 "Brother!? No! Don't go, don't go, Brother! Brother...! No, nooo...!"
 My younger sister called out to me desperately, her voice resembling that of a wounded animal, a desperate cry. And I twist my mouth in frustration. But I couldn't turn around. I couldn't afford to waver in my determination. That was the one thing I couldn't allow.
 So I didn't look back. I didn't turn around. All I could do was just shake that voice off without regret, and then... and then...!!
 'Oh. What a pitiful child you are.'
 Suddenly, the world stops. Colors faded from the world. At the same time, I notice a presence.
 I turn around, and before I can say anything, something soft envelops me from behind. Its lush, green scent reminiscent of plants tickled my nostrils. It was a sweet, intoxicating fragrance that seemed to go on forever. At the same time, two loving hands embraced my head tightly, enveloping me. My mind began to drift into a drowsy state, and my thoughts stagnated like sticky mud...
 'Have you remembered? Your true memory?'
 "N-No, what...?"
 I stammered in fear, my heart racing. But the presence smiles gently.
 'Hehehe, it seems that your special last memories are still tightly sealed, isn't it? Such a pitiful child. Even the pillars of your heart have been tampered with and violated, what a cruel treatment.'
 The earth mother goddess said with a mournful tone, gazing at me sorrowfully, and then embracing me as if to comfort me with warmth and affection.
 'Please remember. Do you have any recollection of this memory? Did you have such a conversation?'
 That's right. What is this conversation? What does this meaningful conversation imply? I don't remember having this conversation... I was definitely taken away without any explanation... No, that's not it. Yes, this memory is the real deal! The truth!
 "Yeah, I remember. I'm pretty sure I looked up at him after that. And I received permission, turned around... and then... and then...!!!"
 Amidst the chaotic and turbid sea of memories, I recall that memory. Yes. I turned around!! And I said something!! I must have said it!! To my sister! To her! That's... that's for sure...!!
 But the sealed memory that was about to resurface until the very last moment, quite literally, was not allowed to fully revive. The green-haired earth mother goddess looks up to the sky.
 'Oh, it's a pity. Is it time already? Today ends here."
 With her deeply disappointed murmur, my consciousness floats gently. I awakened quickly, my body floating in the air. And then, a gust of wind blows as I am sucked into the sky. The surrounding scenery distorted and scattered like mist, melting away.
 Just as I was about to be thrown into the sky, I instinctively grabbed her hand. The hand of the earth goddess, I held it tightly. Clinging to it, grasping it.
 'Hehehe, my adorable child. My poor child. My dear child. Remember this well, okay? Memories are the foundation that shapes one's existence, the basis for values and personality.'
 With infinite pity, infinite sadness, infinite tenderness, the mother of all things simply looks up at me and whispers. Advising me. Warning me.
 "What... are you... saying...!?"
 'Don't worry. No matter who you are, no matter what you are, at least the mother is absolutely on your side, you must not forget that. Do you understand?'
 With incomprehensible playful words on my lips, the parasites that had taken root in my mind gently released their hold on my hand. They let go of my hand tenderly. And before I can say anything, I'm blown away. And as I gazed at the receding land, my consciousness drifted away, and then... and then...
 "What are you guard sleeping?"
 "...No, I am not asleep."
 As soon as I regained consciousness, I replied confidently to the piercing words thrown at me. Sometimes, lies were necessary. Though the maid standing by my side frowned at me and wondered about me.
 (How embarrassing. Falling asleep during my duty...)
 Indeed, it seemed that I had fallen asleep without realizing it. It was a dumbfounding thing to do in the middle of a mission. It had been a long time since I had made such a foolish mistake. I could have been killed just like that... But was I unconscious for about half an hour?
 "Suzune, you shouldn't say such terrible things. After all, he's guarding me. ...Good morning, and thank you for your service."
 Following the maid, the female-form main character appeared behind the sliding door. It seemed that she had already finished getting ready for the morning, and had already changed into her formal clothes. Her hair was neatly arranged, and she had put on light makeup.
 "Good morning, Miss."
 "Hehehe, I don't really like being called 'Miss'... But anyway, I heard the breakfast is ready, so please get ready for the morning too, won't you?"
 After receiving a scolding glance from the maid, Tamaki made a last-minute declaration, trying to divert the situation. Then she quickly leaves the place.
 "...Please don't take advantage of young lady's kindness. I'm watching you."
 "...I understand."
 I followed behind the main character as she left the scene, and then paused to exchange respectful words with the maid who nailed me to the wall. Following that, with a snort of disdain, Suzune leaves. Well, well, I remember that in the original story, Suzune was a delicate and timid character...
 "Is it because it's the April fool's edition? Or maybe there's a butterfly effect in there somewhere? Well, I don't know."
 I mumbled to myself, unable to come up with an answer no matter how much I thought about it. Asking the person directly would be an option, but with the way our relationship stood, it wouldn't be easy.
 "...Anyway, let's brush my teeth and have some food."
 At any rate, the first thing to do was to fill my bellies. I can't fight if I'm hungry.
 "Speaking of which..."
 Then, as I stood up on my slightly numb legs, I realized something.
 "What kind of dream... was I having?"
* * *
 As part of my duties as a guard, I eat the food provided to me in the waiting room set up in the main building of the house so that I could rush to act immediately if needed. And on the other side of a sliding door, the lord and his family were having a meal with their servants nearby, chatting and enjoying their food.
 The lord's family, as well as the breakfast provided to me, was quite lavish. It consisted of white rice, which was not mixed with cereals or watered down with water, miso soup with root vegetables, tamagoyaki and baked fish, simmered beans, pickled plum, and pickled vegetables.
 This menu could be considered traditional Japanese cuisine from my previous life's standards. However, in this world where famine and death by starvation are commonplace, even such a traditional menu would be considered quite luxurious for self-sufficient farmers and town residents alike.
 The most surprising thing is that this menu is not for guests only, but the same for all the servants in the house. I have been in this village for almost a week now, and I am still amazed.
 "Oh, there are still some eggs left. Can I have one?"
 As I was thinking such a thing looking at the dishes on the table, a voice called out to me from the side, and almost in no time at all, my tamagoyaki was kidnapped by chopsticks.
 I shift my gaze diagonally to the right and I notice Inoue Kehiko, a man from the southern region, enjoying his tamagoyaki with great relish. He seems to have noticed my gaze and smiles broadly.
 "Don't feel bad, okay? Even mealtime is part of the battle. If you don't eat quickly, you'll be plundered like this. It's a good lesson, isn't it?"
 "Don't you think that's a pathetic excuse for a grown man?"
 Seriously, a man of his age is talking like a child. If he wants more, he can have another. He can do whatever he wants in his position, after all.
 (No, this is...)
 Then I suddenly realize what Kehiko is trying to do and narrow my eyes. Even through the distance, he seems to have noticed, and he grins even wider
 "Aren't you afraid of food grudges?"
 "I'd be happy if you just let your anger out and challenge me to a duel."
 "What a stupid idea!"
 It's a ridiculous idea. This man, who has wanted to have a match with me since we first met, seems to have grown weary of the fact that he has been unable to get approval because of the situation. Even so, this is...
 "Hahaha, it's rare for our leader to be so interested in someone..."
 "Indeed. I don't know what's so great about this guy's body. Look, I have more physical strength than him, right?"
 "Fool, don't judge a man with spiritual power by his looks. He could break your arm with one hand."
 "Oh really? That's impressive. I'd like to have a match with him sometime."
 Around us, Kehiko's men, who are all rough-looking warriors or thugs, start provoking us one after another.

Please bookmark this series and rate ☆☆☆☆☆ on here!
Donate me

LogoSupport Me with USDC (ERC20)

LogoSupport Me with XLM (Stellar Lumens)
Memo* : 2127737
XLM address Copied!
XLM memo Copied!