Final Chapter − The Manner of Departure
“It’s been a long time, Madoka, Hideo. I would have preferred to meet you again under different circumstances, but I feel that I have no option but to rely on your fame even after thirty years have passed…. By the way… Alex was killed in battle. You must have already heard about it from Diana, about the monsters called Shii. I’ve gotten a lot older, and I’m sure the same is true for both of you. However… We’ve tried everything, and you’re our only remaining option…”
“I wish I could have seen this earlier.”
Madoka absent-mindedly muttered that while watching the low quality image that was playing on the television.
The face of her old friend had indeed aged considerably, but the way she looked while trying to conceal that she had lost someone important, and the way she tried to deal with that loss by immersing herself in the pressure of her work was just like the Erijina Radagast she remembered from the past.
“Wow, Erize’s gotten old… Ouch!”
She wordlessly silenced her husband who said something unnecessary while sitting beside her.
The day after Hideo returned, he had taken Diana’s 8mm tape to a friend who was was a collector of old cameras and recording equipment, and had it converted to a DVD format right away.
It had been ten days since the attack by Alexei’s Shii and William, but the Kenzaki family’s surroundings had still not returned to normal. As for the car, Hideo had conducted an air raid and used a flash fire magic against the remains of the car that were already burned to a crisp at the site of the accident, and melted it beyond all recognition. In this way, the issue was brought to a conclusion, at least as far as the Kenzaki family was concerned.
As for what to do about the paperwork for decommissioning the vehicle and the vehicle insurance, they were still thinking about it. They had told the neighbors that a relative had borrowed the car, and planned to make up some other excuse once things had calmed down a bit.
Regarding the front door, they had contacted the real estate agency who had helped them when they bought this house, and got an estimation for the repairs. However, it looked like the repairs would still take some time to start because the investigations by the police, fire department, and the gas company were still dragging on.
Diana was still living at the Kenzaki house, acting as a guard for Yasuo and Nodoka.
After that incident, Hideo took three days of paid leave from work and stayed at home, but nothing related to Ante Lande or the Shii happened during that time. Instead, he was backed into a corner dealing with the real estate agency, the insurance company, the police, and the fire department.
If Yasuo chanted the incantation to summon Liutberga, Hideo would be forcefully summoned along with it. This phenomenon was confirmed after conducting several experiments and they determined that he could do it again if the need arose.
However, Nodoka was not able to summon Hideo by chanting the same incantation, and she wasn’t able to summon her mother by chanting the incantation for the Holy Staff Marlowe either.
Nodoka had become very angry when they realized that, but for now, they established a routine where Hideo would protect Yasuo, and Diana and Madoka would take turns protecting Nodoka depending on the situation.
Even so, there were many gaps in this plan. Especially for Yasuo’s protection, even though Hideo was in charge of protecting him. For example, if Hideo was to give off light and vanish during a meeting at work, he was sure to get asked questions like, “Kenzaki-kun, just what happened to you the other day?”
All of them, including Diana, keenly realized the importance of contacting Resteria for help in maintaining the peace of the Kenzaki family and the surrounding area.
“Right now, I think I understand how Yasuo felt.”
“What do you mean?”
“When you first said that you wanted to go to Ante Lande, remember how much that boy resisted?”
Hideo recalled that time while smiling bitterly.
“I’ve always been bad at dealing with situations like that. Thinking back now, there must have been a better way to put it, but I just panicked.”
“It couldn’t be helped. This happened all of a sudden. It’s just…”
Madoka sighed while listening to Erijina’s explanation, which was basically the same things that Diana had already told them.
“If that child comes out and says, “I want to be a Hero”, then I really won’t be able to stay calm.”
“Even though the two of us did all sorts of insane stuff.”
“That’s exactly why. I don’t want my children to ever do anything that dangerous.”
“Ah. The two of them probably said all that stuff because they didn’t want their parents to do anything dangerous either.”
“That’s why, I now understand why Yasuo was so stubborn about it. Haah.”
Erize was still in the middle of her explanation, but Madoka turned the DVD player off and put her head down on the table.
“The parents’ karma will fall upon their children… I don’t even want to think about such a thing.”
“We even gave gave them those names while praying for that not to happen.”
Hideo said that bitterly.
Erize’s explanation contained a lot of information regarding Alexei and the Shii, but there was no information at all regarding the man who called himself William. Probably, even Erijina was not aware of that man’s existence.
Both Hideo and Madoka were aware that the darkness that enveloped Ante Lande was threatening to get their son and daughter and even their friends involved, and were incredibly uneasy about it.
The ex-Hero and ex-great magician both gave a deep sigh inside that dark room, which seemed to come from the depth of their experiences over their lifetime.
“So, is Yasuo still working hard?”
The sun was shining brightly in the sky, but the winds of the winter stubbornly refused to retreat, mercilessly assaulting the pedestrians on the street and making them think spring was still far away.
In the sunny residential area where people were coming and going, the Kenzaki house was still showing its broken doorway.
Nodoka took a sports drink from the refrigerator in the kitchen, went through the main door, and walked around to the backyard.
Over there, she saw Diana who was for some reason wearing a tracksuit that had been purchased at a discount from a neighborhood clothing store, and Yasuo, who was covered in sweat and reading a reference book.
“Huh? I thought you were doing physical training?”
“Yasuo’s strength was at it’s limit, so we’re studying theory now.”
Not even an hour had passed since breakfast, when Yasuo had said that he would be learning basic Magitech Soldier Training under Diana’s guidance.
Nodoka had uncharacteristically decided to bring him a sports drink because he had looked like he was sweating a lot, only to find him in such a condition.
“This illustration is very easy to understand, so we’ll start with this one, okay? It’s the most fundamental concept in aiming sorcery. Imagine that there is a right-angled triangle on a plane in front of you. The sum of the squares of the sides that make up the right angle is equal to the square of the hypotenuse. Are you with me so far?”
“No, I’m not. Please wait for a bit.”
Diana was wearing a cheap tracksuit and waving Pollux like a bamboo sword while conducting a lesson, and her brother was hurriedly taking notes while looking harried. This was a sight worthy of a comedy skit.
“Right-angled triangles? Math? Onii-chan, are you getting Diana-san to help you with your exam preparation as well?”
Nodoka was surprised at hearing words that she was used to, so she peeked at the reference book that her brother was reading, only to find…
“……Pythagoras’s Theorem? Come on, this is middle-school level stuff. You’re studying this again in high school?”
She tilted her head while looking at the reference book that did not look like it was university exam-level at all.
“No, this appears to be required knowledge in order to use magic, but I was bad at math even in middle school. I won’t get it unless I really start from scratch…”
“Pythagoras’s Theorem is required in order to use magic?”
“Yes. This is the most fundamental knowledge required to make sure your magic hits what you’re aiming at.”
Diana proudly puffed up her chest and continued her explanation.
“For example, if you want to make a pillar of fire appear at your enemy’s feet, you need to correctly determine the spot where your magic will take effect and the enemy’s current position.”
“Eh? Magic doesn’t just hit whatever you’re looking at?”
Nodoka stuck out her hand as if to show what she meant, but Diana shook her head.
“It’s not impossible, per se, but that’s something you can only do once you properly understand the knowledge behind it and practice it over and over again. Some Techno Weapons come with inbuilt rangefinder and pelorus capabilities, but those are mostly add-ons used by old people or children who lack the strength to fight. Packing more components into a weapon make it that much more fragile, heavy, and difficult to use, so ideally people should aim to be able to use sorcery without relying on additional add-on components.”
“That really seems so down to earth. I guess it’s not as easy as eating fruit from some legendary tree, obtaining a beginner-level magic staff, and firing off magic.”
“We’re doing this because Yasuo lacks strength. He needs to properly understand the knowledge and his own limits in order to control the consumption of magic energy, or he’ll run out of it right away and collapse.”
Diana explained it without a shred of ridicule or malice, but it felt like she was saying Yasuo was a good-for-nothing who didn’t even have the basic requirements, so Nodoka gave a bitter smile.
“Onii-chan, you’ve been skipping out on training ever since your club was shut down, right? Also, were you taking math lightly because you want to go into liberal arts?”
“…I have no excuse.”
Yasuo couldn’t say anything against Nodoka’s ability to accurately spot the truth, and he hung his head in shame.
For the next year, Yasuo planned to study for his university exams while concurrently undergoing basic Magitech Knight training under Diana. Once he managed to get into college, he would take a temporary break from studies and go to Ante Lande as the Hero to try and resolve the situation, while still keeping his seat at the college.
He planned to keep his seat at the university because he was thinking of his life after finishing his work as the Hero, and he judged that taking a break from studies right after getting into college was the option with the least risk.
That’s why, even with his desire to begin singing again, Yasuo was still unable to decide on what college he wanted to go to. If that unknown assailant called William reappeared, and on top of that, if Hideo left for Ante Lande, the defence of the Kenzaki family in Japan would become overwhelmingly weak.
Even Hideo’s desire to return to Ante Lande had been dampened by his fear that his family might come to harm in his absence, and he was uncertain of what he should do.
Hence, Yasuo declared that it was all the more important that Hideo should stay in Japan, and Yasuo, who was one of William’s targets, should go to Ante Lande. Over there, he would receive the best protection that could be offered, while he could do more research to uncover William’s true nature. Meanwhile, Hideo and Madoka would protect Nodoka in Japan.
Diana was completely powerless against William, but Hideo was able to destroy his artificial space, and Madoka’s power also appeared to work against him to some degree. If Hideo went to Ante Lande under these circumstances, his family would not have the same level of protection, no matter how many Magitech Knights were sent to Japan in his stead.
It was still unknown if Yasuo would be able to gain the same level of power as Hideo, but his father was also supposedly an ordinary high school student when he first arrived at Ante Lande, although there might be some difference in their levels of strength.
In that case, with repeated training and practice, there were high odds that Yasuo would also be able to gain a certain level of strength.
Yasuo had volunteered to go to Ante Lande as a new Hero because he wanted to help Diana, save Japan and his family from danger, and maybe even gain fantasy-like powers of his own. He was basically counting his chickens before they hatched, but he had never expected that he would run into such a roadblock right at the start.
“Incidentally, what I’m explaining to you is still ‘Magic’ that existed during Madoka’s generation. After you learn this, you’ll move on to learning ‘Sorcery’. You will have to study a lot more later on depending on what Techno Weapon you’ll be using, and what element of magic you have an affinity for.”
“With regards to math, you’ll be learning basic functions, high-school level trigonometry, vectors, and trigonometric functions. Depending on your magical affinity, you might also need to study physics and chemistry…”
True, he had aimed to become a Hero in another world because of his feelings of wanting to protect Diana and his family, and for that purpose he was ready to train his body, study hard, and he had also hoped that he would get some strong power because of it.
However, who could have guessed that he would need to revise his sines, cosines, and tangents in order to do that?
“Ah… is that for stuff like discerning what the material you’re burning is comprised of, plotting the trajectory of your attacks, grasping the arrangement of molecules in ice, and understanding how lightning is transmitted through air?”
Nodoka looked at Yasuo who was visibly losing his resolve to continue and just said some random things that she had learned during her studies for her exams, but…
“That’s right! Nodoka, you’re brilliant!”
Diana nodded while looking pleased.
“Do Dad and Mom use magic while following this process as well?”
“I’ve heard that Madoka had an innate talent for magic, and was able to use it while skipping the fundamental theories entirely. As for Hideo, I’ve heard that the Holy Sword Liutberga has a high-level computing function built into it.”
“What the hell, that’s unfair!!”
“Well, this is Onii-chan we’re talking about. His grades are only good for humanities-related studies, his strength is below average, and as for the powers he appears to have right now… ”
Nodoka gave an exasperated look at her older brother who was shouting, stopped talking for a bit, and then gave an uncharacteristically evil smile.
“He’s a little better at singing compared to regular people, and Dad will come to save him if he calls, no matter where he is. It doesn’t feel like he’ll be able to become strong at all.”
Although it depends on how you put it, the fact remains that these are despairingly low-level stats for a young person who wants to become a Hero.
Even if he had not planned on becoming a Hero, no man would want to be in a position where the only thing he could do when faced with danger was calling his father for help.
“Do you really think you’ll be able to make this work while also studying for your university exams? If you need to be good at studies for this, maybe things would move a lot faster if I volunteered instead?”
“Hey, Nodoka, you…”
Even while rejecting Nodoka’s abuse, Yasuo looked like he was on the verge of agreeing with her somewhere in his heart, but…
“It’ll be okay. Yasuo already has the basic quality required to become a Hero.”
At Diana’s unexpectedly serious tone, the siblings made a surprised expression.
The basic quality required to become a Hero.
Even Yasuo didn’t know what that was. However, Diana continued to speak with conviction.
“It’s something that I and the other Magitech Knights of Resteria cannot possess, due to our responsibilities. It’s something that Nodoka has almost certainly not realized yet. Yasuo already has it, and it shows in his every action.”
“Something Diana-san lacks, and I haven’t realized? The only difference I can see between us and Onii-chan is that he is male and the two of us are female.”
Nodoka tilted her head while trying to understand Diana’s statement which was similar to a riddle. Yasuo, too, didn’t understand what Diana meant, and he looked at her as if waiting for an answer.
However, Diana shook her head while giving a smile that was as bright as the sun.
Right now, Yasuo did not have the strength to fight. If she put it into words and revealed it to him, there was a risk that he might interpret it wrongly and go on a rampage. Besides, it was not something that he absolutely needed to know.
It would be fine as long as Diana, who looked up to the ideal of a Hero, or someone else who crossed paths with Yasuo in the future recognized that quality in him, and kept it from disappearing.
It was something that everyone was supposed to possess in their hearts, but it would get shackled down over time by the chains known as ‘responsibilities’, and eventually it would become so rusted that it no longer works.
It is an unwavering courage to stand up and protect the one you love.
“It’s okay! I’m sure you will become a Hero who surpasses Hideo someday, Yasuo. Until that day comes, I will pledge my life to support and protect you!”
“I think you should give up… I don’t think Onii-chan has that much value…”
“Expecting too much from me would be a problem, but having such a low estimation of me really hurts. Please, just leave me alone to study the basics in peace!”
The son of the Hero appeared to be faltering at the initial step, but he still did his best to keep going forward. To start with, he took up the middle-school level reference book that was within his reach, and began to prepare his brain to defeat the subjects that he was bad at.
─ The End ─