Today is the Dark Day, a holiday, and yet I’m in my room practicing magic power manipulation.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Every dog has its day.
Suddenly, I had a strange feeling.
As magic power gathered within me, I felt that the power of that place became stronger.
(Fumu, I should ask Mom about this.)
Heading to the living room, I found my mother drinking tea and reading a book with El. But when I looked at my mother’s face, a thought crossed my mind.
(Maybe she’s been told it’s dangerous and won’t tell me… Mom is reading a book to El and isn’t paying attention to me. If I casually bring it up, she might let it slip…)
I suppressed my presence and casually approached my mother.
“Mom, what happens when you gather magic power in your arms?”
I spoke lightly, very lightly.
“Hmm? Gathering magic power in your arms? Doesn’t that make you stronger?”
Mom answered as if it were obvious, while continuing to read with El.
My eyes glowed mysteriously.
“Is that so? Does it also increase defense?”
I asked lightly, very lightly.
“Of course not, for defense, you need to envelop your surface with magic power.”
Mom answered while flipping through the book.
(I see, so defense increases when you envelop the surface with magic power. It’s like muscles making you stronger. I want to extract more information.)
“It seems like front-line fighters would appreciate that.”
I tried to get a little more information.
“Yes, body enhancement is a technique suited for front-line fighters. But it’s also good for mages… huh?”
While taking a sip of tea, Mom froze in place, making a stiff, creaking sound as she turned to face me.
“Mom! Please teach me ‘body enhancement’!”
My voice echoed throughout the room.
Mom, frozen like a frog stared down by a snake, broke out in a cold sweat.
“Well, magic is, you know, not until you’re 10…”
Mom’s voice trembled.
“Is body enhancement magic? It seems different from magic, more like a technique that uses magic power.”
Based on her previous answer and her attitude, body enhancement should be outside the realm of magic.
“Well, it’s not exactly magic, but it uses magic power… so you could say it’s almost like magic, right?”
Looking at Mom, whose eyes were darting all over the place, I was confident of my victory.
“If it’s not magic, then it’s okay. Please teach me body enhancement!”
I replied … with a triumphant smile.
The defeated sigh echoed in the room.
In a corner of the living room…
“Haa, I really don’t want to tell you, you know? But I’ll tell you anyway, just promise me not to use it recklessly.”
With a sigh, Mom continued with her nagging.
“I won’t use it recklessly.”
“I won’t use it.”
El, who was probably not aware of the situation and was just imitating me, replied along with me.
Two hours later…
[Aldo has learned Body Enhancement! Lalala———–♪]
Body Enhancement was easy. All you had to do was gather magic power in the areas you wanted to strengthen. That was it.
Having already learned magic power manipulation, I could already use Body Enhancement. Perhaps that’s why Mom reluctantly taught me, knowing that she would eventually learn it too.
Rafina was amazed at Aldo, who had learned Body Enhancement.
(Haa… Aldo is unbeatable. If you learn magic power manipulation, you can use Body Enhancement. That’s certainly not wrong. However, in reality, just strengthening “muscles” alone won’t be enough; bones and tendons won’t support it. To master Body Enhancement, you need to move your body while using magic power, gradually getting used to it over a long period.)
Body Enhancement was a “technique” that involved precise allocation of magic power to various parts of the body through magic power manipulation. It required meticulous control and was not something a child who had just learned magic power manipulation could easily perform.
Some time after learning Body Enhancement, during breakfast…
“Al, El, next week’s Dark Day is your birthdays. You two have been with us for five years since you were born. We’re very happy.”
Father suddenly began talking while we were eating breakfast.
“Birthday! Can we have the cake we had when we were four again?”
“Birthday? Cake day?”
“It’s not just the cake. There will be a feast too.”
“Also, nobles have a debut at the age of five, so we’ll celebrate with the villagers too.”
“What’s a debut? When? Where? What do we do? Just me? El too? What about Father and Mother?”
“W-Wait a minute, Al. A debut is when the direct heirs of the lord show their faces in the town square on their fifth birthday. Of course, you, El, me, and Rafina will all be there together.”
“Just showing our faces in the town square? That’s not so bad.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. Seeing my reaction, Father burst into laughter.
“What did you imagine, Al?”
“Well, when you said ‘noble debut,’ I thought we’d have to introduce ourselves and dance in front of everyone…”
“Pu! Hahaha! No way, we wouldn’t make a five-year-old dance or introduce yourself.”
I glared at Father with silent pressure.
“Sorry, sorry, I won’t laugh anymore. I really apologize.”
“Well then, as planned, on the next Dark Day, we’ll have your debut in the square. Maybe after lunch? Be prepared to say your name, at least.”
In the end, I grumbled in my heart, thinking I’d have to introduce myself after all.
On the morning of the birthday…
Around the time breakfast was finishing up…
“Alright, Rafina, Al, El, I’m going to the town square with our guests first.”
Father looked at us and began speaking.
(I wonder what the town is like; I’ve always wanted to see it. I want to go too. Should I ask?)
“Dad, I want to go to the town square too. I want to see the town.”
“Hmm, what do you think, Rafina?”
He seemed to leave the decision to Mom.
“It’s a bit risky to let him go alone. Can we arrange for someone to accompany him as a guard?”
“I see… I’ll check on that. Will you wait for a moment?”
With those words, Father left his seat to inquire about the guard arrangement with the butler.
“What about El? Do you want to go with Al and the others?”
Mom asked, facing El.
“I want to stay with Mom…”
“Oh, it looks like El wants to be with me. Then, let’s stay together until the debut.”
Mom smiled and gently stroked El’s head, burying his face in it. After a while, Dad returned.
“The squadron leader of the knights said she’s off-duty and will come with her daughter for the debut. We can have Al accompany them. What do you think, Al?”
Perhaps because there would be no family members present, Father asked again, but my answer was already decided.
“I want to go.”
Seeing my immediate response, Dad and Mom looked at me with surprised expressions and exchanged amused smiles.
We were soon ready to depart, following Father, and I could see a man in his early thirties standing there.
The man appeared to be around 180cm tall and, while he wasn’t wearing armor, he had the unmistakable appearance of a knight. As Father approached, the man greeted him with a salute.
“I apologize for suddenly asking this of you today. This is my son, Aldo.”
“Don’t be, I was also at a loss with just my daughter.”
The knight replied to Father and then turned to me.
“I’m Harva, the Second Squad Leader. Nice to meet you. And this is my daughter Ashera, she’s seven.”
“I’m Aldo, nice to meet you.”
As I returned Harva’s greeting, he looked surprised and prompted his daughter to greet me.
“Ashera, you should say hello too.”
“Nice to…meet you.”
She must be around second grade, being seven… It couldn’t be helped.
“Nice to meet you too, Ashera-chan.”
I spoke to Ashera with a smile.
While in the carriage——
I gazed out of the carriage at the view of the town. I sat next to Dad, with Ashera across from me, and Harva sitting diagonally opposite. It was the four of us on our journey.
“Where do you live, Ashera-chan?”
I intended it as casual conversation, but Ashera seemed surprised, as if she didn’t expect to be spoken to, and she stared at me with wide eyes.
“…Just a little further ahead, then you turn again…”
Uwaa. Even though we’re speaking the same human language, I couldn’t understand her at all.
I carefully searched for a way to continue the conversation without letting my smile stiffen, and in this way, time passed inside the carriage until we finally arrived at the square.
“Well then, Al. Be careful not to trouble Harva.”
Dad seemed busy attending to the guests. He left those words behind and quickly walked away.
However, a knight in a hurry approached Dad and whispered something to him.
Maybe there was some trouble, as Dad and the knight wore serious expressions.
The knight and Dad talked, and then another knight approached Harva.
“Excuse us. Unexpected guests have arrived, and we don’t have enough guards. We understand that you’re off duty, but if you could…”
Upon hearing the words from the knight, Harva approached Father and spoke to him.
“It’s not a problem for me to take on guard duty, but what about Aldo-sama’s protection?”
Father glanced briefly at me and then back at Harva.
“Don’t worry about Aldo; he’ll be fine. I’m sorry, but can I ask you for the guard duty?”
And so, Harva was suddenly assigned to guard duty. Before entering the duty, Harva began speaking kindly to Ashera.
Before starting the guard duty, Harva began speaking kindly to Ashera.
“Ashera, I’m sorry… I have to go to work. Can you make it home by yourself from here? If it seems too difficult, you can ask someone to accompany you…”
“N-no… I’ll be okay… I can go home.”
“Next time, let’s go have your favorite sweets together. I’m really sorry…”
Harva continued to apologize while holding Ashera.
As for me, I ended up confined to a corner of the square, where there was an administrative building. It was considered a safe location.
(Well, it can’t be helped. I wanted to explore the town, though.)
I idly looked out of the window, and I saw a small girl walking alone. It was Ashera. She had said she could go home by herself, but she was looking around anxiously as she walked. She must have pretended to be strong to avoid worrying Harva.
(Is she really okay going home alone? She said her house was nearby; should I escort her?)
I secretly glanced at the staff and then quickly ran down to where Ashera was.
Ashera turned around in surprise when I called her from behind.
“I’ll walk you home, Ashera-chan.”
“I can go home by myself…”
She immediately refused.
“I want to be friends with you, Ashera-chan. So, how about we chat on the way back home?” (I’m trying too hard. This would be a case in Japan.)
“I’ll show you something special. So, let’s go home together.” (I need to catch her attention somehow.)
I quickly created a ball of light using magic power. The ball of light floated and danced around Ashera.
“Uwaa… it’s beautiful…”
I swirled the ball of light and then stopped it in front of Ashera.
“How about it? My special trick! Let’s go home together.” (If this doesn’t work, I’ll have to resort to being a stalker.)
My wish seemed to have come true as Ashera started speaking in an excited voice.
“Yeah. Let’s go home together.”
“Yeah yeah. Let’s go home.” (Alright, it’s a good thing I learned magic power manipulation.)
It wouldn’t be right to let a girl her age go home alone… So, we walked together, chatting about random things as we followed the familiar path home.
The people of the town watch the two of them walking from afar, but with interest, and then quickly change direction. why? This is because the two looked like an aristocratic siblings.
Aldo didn’t understand why Ashera was considered a noble. The reason was that he had been dressed in noble clothing at the mansion as her guide.
The nobles’ children were walking alone without any guards.
The townsfolk seemed to want to avoid any trouble, so they quickly distanced themselves from the two.
In the alleyway, there was a man observing the two of them.
His appearance was far from elegant, and he seemed like either a beggar or a thief… someone who didn’t seem reputable.
The man gave some kind of signal. Two people responded to the signal.
Upon receiving the signal, the two men slowly approached Aldo and Ashera.
The men took tattered pieces of cloth from their pockets. They seemed to be wet with something, as droplets fell from the cloth.
They didn’t appear to be in a hurry, but they closed the distance between themselves and Aldo and Ashera rather swiftly.
When the men finally got close enough to touch Aldo and Ashera, they pressed pieces of cloth against their mouths while restraining them from behind.
Aldo struggled instinctively, but he was just a five-year-old, and his strength was useless. In that moment, he thought of using his rudimentary body enhancement, but before he could act, his consciousness started fading…
(Not good! Some kind of drug…)
By the time he realized it, his consciousness had already slipped away.