Lunch on a certain early autumn day when I was 10 years old.
“So, we’re planning to send out an expedition force to train new recruits.”
“If you like, I was thinking of letting Al and the others observe it. What do you think?”
“Um, how far are they planning to go?”
“It’s for practical combat training for the new recruits, so probably just to the edge of the forest.”
“That sounds fine then.”
“I want to give them a chance to observe a real expedition before they enter the academy, but we’re not sure if we’ll send an expedition force next year.”
“I see. If they want to become magicians, they should experience combat at least once.”
“It’s just for observation. Practical combat would be a bit too early.”
“Well, I experienced practical combat when I was the same age as Ashera.”
“You were a prodigy, one in ten years, so to speak.”
“Haha, I’m just joking. It’s only for observation. I understand.”
My father and mother were having an interesting conversation about us. It seemed to be related to us, and I was really curious.
“Mother, what is an expedition?”
El, Ashera, and Marl were probably wondering the same thing, so I asked on behalf of everyone.
“In Blue Ring, there’s a forest known as the ‘Demon Forest,’ where monsters live. If left alone, the monsters overflow and start attacking nearby villages and towns. That’s why we regularly send out military forces to thin out the monsters.”
“The Demon Forest…”
“They say there’s a master of the monsters in the Demon Forest, according to legend.”
“A master of the monsters…”
“Nobody has seen it, so it’s taken with a grain of salt.”
“I see. Are monsters different from animals?”
“Monsters have a magical stone somewhere in their bodies. It’s used for magical tools, like lanterns and water magic devices.”
“Magical craftsmen use magical stones to make magical tools.”
“I see. Can you choose that as a subject at the academy?”
“Of course, if you’re interested, you can choose it as a subject.”
“Okay. I understand.”
“Let’s get back to our topic.”
“Yes, I’m sorry.”
“We’re sending out an expedition force to thin out the monsters in the Demon Forest. We’re considering letting you observe it.”
“So, the idea was that you would accompany him on this expeditionary force and see what it was like in action.”
“Will I be allowed to participate in the actual combat?”
“Your father has prohibited it, so no.”
“Well, if you’re a good child, he might consider it.”
“! I understand.”
Dad is listening to the conversation with a bitter smile on his face.
“Mom, about the earlier conversation, is it for everyone?”
“That’s the plan, but I want to hear all of your wishes.”
“Yes, of course, there is some danger involved. I don’t want anyone to push themselves unnecessarily.”
“Mother, I want to participate in the actual combat.”
“I already know that, Al.”
“What about the rest of you? Honestly, without any pressure, just answer truthfully.”
“I’m a bit scared, but if everyone is going, I want to go.”
“I want to participate. I don’t have a problem with actual combat.”
“I’m… scared. I can’t use magic properly yet.”
“I see. So, Al and Ashera will participate, El is undecided, and Marl won’t participate.”
“Rafina-sama, I apologize.”
“Marl, don’t apologize. It’s only natural given your circumstances. You started four years later than Al and the others.”
“Let’s take our time to build up your strength from here on.”
So, Marl’s non-participation was decided at this point.
“El, what will you do in the end?”
“I can go either way…”
Mother seemed a bit exasperated by El’s response.
“El, make your own decision. I don’t appreciate leaving the judgment to others.”
“Alright, I’ll… participate.”
“If you’re forcing yourself, you should reconsider.”
“I’m not forcing myself. I really want to go. It’s just that I’m a little scared…”
“Well, that’s a natural response. These two are just strange. Your reaction is normal.”
“Yes yes… If we’re going to accompany the observation, which unit would be best…”
“”She just swept it away as nothing””
“Looks like the Mage Corps is probably the best option… I’ll discuss it with Joshua.”
Mother muttered to herself as she headed to Father’s office.
Left behind, the four of us engaged in casual conversation, based on the information we had just heard.
“However, actual combat… I’m looking forward to it.”
“Nii-sama, it’s for observation, not actual combat.”
“I’m okay with actual combat.”
“Al, Ashera, aren’t you scared?”
“I’m not particularly scared.”
“I’m not scared either.”
“Is that so? Even as I get better at magic, I think I’ll never want to go into actual combat…”
“Marl is gentle, so it’s understandable.”
“Am I not gentle?”
“Ashera is gentle too!”
“So, am I not gentle, then?”
“You’re gentle, Nii-sama!”
“Pfft… Elphus-sama, you two are making fun of me.”
El chuckled, showing a slightly surprised expression before wearing a wry smile.
“People have their strengths and weaknesses. Marl doesn’t need to fight.”
“I agree, that’s what El says.”
“I think the same. Marl is better off not fighting.”
Marl’s face showed relief as she received our reassurance.
“By the way, Marl, have you been living in this town as Mother’s apprentice all this time?”
“That’s the issue… Elphus-sama.”
Recently, El began discussing Marl’s concerns.
“As Mother’s apprentice, Marl inherited her techniques, but she struggles with combat. So, she’s been contemplating whether it’s better to attend the Academy and learn healing magic.”
“I see. That might not be a bad idea.”
“But if it’s decided after Mother went through the trouble of taking her as an apprentice…”
“I mentioned that Mother said she’d be fine with it…”
“I think Mother would support it.”
“Do you really think so…? Won’t she think I’m ungrateful?”
Marl looked worried as she cast her eyes down.
“I believe as long as we say, ‘That sounds great!’ without making it too complicated…”
“If it’s from our teacher, then yes.”
“Most likely, Mother will…”
“I understand. I’ll discuss it with Rafina-sama.”
“That sounds like a good plan, Marle.”
“Thank you, Elphus-sama.”
It seems Marle is planning to consult Mother about her future. Surely, Mother will be thrilled to support her. If things go as expected, when we turn 12, El, Marl, and I will attend the Academy, while Ashera will stay behind. I hope she’ll take care of Mother and Clara during our absence. In this way, we ended up preparing for the expedition. I’m excited about the possibility of participating in combat, even if it’s just for observation.
The excitement is becoming uncontrollable.