Some time had passed since my 5th birthday, and it was a particular morning during breakfast.
“Mom, I want to learn martial arts.”
“Martial arts? Are you still thinking about your birthday? It was just that we didn’t have any guards, so I think it’s too early for you, Al.”
Her response was as expected. Now it was time for the real negotiation.
“Then, how about just training my body? Can I train at the edge of the knights’ training ground?”
“Just training your body? Why not just do it here in this room?”
“I’d like to practice a bit of body strengthening outside, if that’s okay.”
She looked at me with a stern gaze.
“Mom, if you keep staring at me like that, you will pierce through me!”
“Is it okay?”
“When are you planning to do this?”
“After breakfast, every day.”
“This is your study time. So, no.”
“Recently, I’ve only been reading books during self-study. Butler Roland said I’ve finished the studies for children up to 10 years old.”
“Mom~ please~ p~l~e~a~s~e~”
“Mou, fine, just stop with the birthday-like pleading.”
With that, we settled on morning body strengthening and afternoon magic practice. After breakfast, I headed straight to the training grounds. El had to study, poor thing. I hoped he would study hard for both him and me.
The training grounds were located behind the mansion, and the properties were connected. As I walked, I enjoyed the scenery along the way.
“It’s been getting a little warmer lately. Summer is coming soon.”
My birthday was in May, and now it was June. The Fosterk Kingdom seemed to have a climate similar to Japan.
When I arrived at the training grounds, I could feel the heat rising. Nearby, knights were engaged in one-on-one mock battles. Two knights in half-plate armor skillfully wielded their swords and shields, clashing with each other. It seemed to be a closely contested match with neither side landing a significant blow.
As I watched the exciting mock battle, someone called out to me from behind.
I tore my eyes away from the duel and turned around. There stood Ashera and Halva, whom I had met on my birthday.
“Halva, thank you for helping me on my birthday. I’ve wanted to thank you for a long time and Ashera, thank you for bringing Halva.”
“No need for thanks. We are in your debt. Ashera told me that you helped her escape, so thank you very much.”
Halva performed a knightly salute.
“Ashera, you should express your gratitude too.”
After the formalities were done, we engaged in some small talk.
“Since Halva is a knight, I understand why he’s here, but what brings you to the training grounds, Ashera?”
“Well, you see… Ashera’s mother is ill, and she went back to her family’s house for the time being. In the meantime, she asked if she could stay at the knight order’s premises…”
“I see, that must be tough.”
Ashera’s face drooped upon mentioning her sick mother.
“Ashera-chan, want to play together?”
“I can’t allow that, Aldo-sama.”
“It’s fine, really.”
I asked Ashera once more.
“Ashera-chan, want to play together?”
“Sure, I’ll play with Aldo.”
“Ashera. Call him Aldo-sama.”
“I’m sorry, Halva, but could you stay quiet for a bit?”
“Yes, of course.”
I silenced Halva and then turned back to Ashera.
“Ashera-chan, instead of calling me Aldo-sama, you can just call me Aldo.”
“Okay, then you can call me Ashera.”
And so, I made friends with the young girl. While Ashera and I played, Halva headed to his knightly duties. Ashera usually passed her time in the knight order’s premises, taking walks or napping.
I moved to a corner of the training grounds and decided to practice using Body Strengthening. I started by walking normally, then gradually increased my pace, and finally attempted to run lightly. However, I stumbled and fell spectacularly. It seemed that I still had a lot to learn about controlling my magic.
Ashera had been watching me closely the whole time. After a while, I took a break and sat down next to her.
Ashera had been watching me the whole time. After a while, I decided to take a break and sat down next to her.
“Ashera, if there’s something you’d like to do, you can do it too.”
“!! Then, can you teach me that?”
“The shiny, round thing.”
“Ah, you mean magic manipulation?”
Gathering magic power to create a ball of light.
“Yeah, that. How do you do it?”
“Hmm, that’s a bit tricky…”
I contemplated how to proceed.
(Well, I guess I’ll take her to the mansion and ask Mom.)
I entrusted a message to one of the knights to deliver to Halva, then returned to the mansion with Ashera.
Upon arriving at the mansion and entering my room, something unusual happened behind me. It felt like a scene out of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
“Mom, El, Roland, what are you all doing?”
“Ah, I’m not doing anything special”
“Nii-sama, who is this child?”
“Elphus, this is Ashera, a 7-year-old girl. She’s the daughter of Halva, the leader of the second squad of the Knights.”
“Hello, I’m Ashera. Nice to meet you.”
“Well, isn’t she cute? Aldo brought a girl home for the first time. You should marry her.”
“Mom… Let’s leave the marriage talk aside for now; I have something to discuss.”
“Hmm? What is it?”
“Well, Ashera wants to learn how to manipulate magic. What should I do?”
Mom suddenly wore a serious expression.
“Ashera-chan, why do you want to learn magic manipulation?”
“Because the glowing round thing is beautiful.”
“I see. You want to try it yourself because it’s beautiful.”
“Yeah, and Aldo defeated bad people by using the glowing thing. I heard that from Dad.”
“I see……Ashera, did Aldo look cool doing it?”
Ashera’s eyes sparkled.
“Yeah! Aldo jumped with his glowing feet, and then he defeated the bad guys with a big ‘bam.’ It was so cool. I want to do it too.”
“I see… you saw Aldo’s feet light up……”
Mom seemed to be deep in thought.
“Alright, I’ll teach you magic manipulation.”
“Mom, is that okay?”
“Aldo, you asked for it, no?”
“Yes, but I thought you might say no.”
“Well, seeing magical aura is a bit of a talent. Ashera-chan probably has the potential for it. But I’ll treat her as my disciple. Is that okay with you?”
“Ashera, she’s willing to teach you as her disciple.”
“Ashera, please tell me.”
I explained the situation with the Halva family and Ashera’s daily life briefly.
“Alright, then. Ashera-chan, come to the mansion every morning, and you can stay until your father returns.”
“Mom, is that okay?”
“There’s no problem for a master to take care of her apprentice. That’s fine, right? Dear.”
Father, who had been peeking from the hallway, nodded in agreement.
And just like that, Ashera became Mom’s disciple, and she joined us in learning magic.
Rafina was plotting something alone… the future of the Blue ring family’s heir.
(Both Al and El have chestnut-colored hair like me. It would have been nice if they had golden hair like Joshua… Ashera’s silver hair and her round, twinkling eyes, and her fair skin. If she marries Aldo or El, they’ll surely have adorable children. She’s my top candidate for a daughter-in-law… Fufufu.)
She was already planning about such things.
After my nap…
Both El and I began our magic training. El focused on expanding the amount of magic he could use, while I worked on refining my control over it. At the end of our training sessions, we practiced magical resonance to boost each other’s abilities.
It may not sound like a cheat, but doubling our growth rate was quite impressive.
As for Ashera, she practiced a meditative state where we would sense magic. First, she had to learn how to sense magic before she could do anything else.
I learned to do it in a day with El’s help, but normally, it takes much longer. I sat in a chair, extended two fingers on my right hand, and concentrated my magic into the tips of those two fingers, attempting to create two glowing orbs. It was much harder than creating a single orb.
I failed many times and had to start over repeatedly. Mom emphasized that this seemingly mundane training was essential.
I glanced at El, who effortlessly created a glowing orb twice the size of his usual ones with just one finger.
I couldn’t afford to lose this. I focused even harder on my training.
After dinner, Halva came to the mansion to pick up Ashera. He was very apologetic but thrilled to hear that Ashera had become my mother’s apprentice.
At that time, I heard something about her daughter being thrilled to be an apprentice of the “Ice Witch”.
Ice Witch (lol)….I would love to hear more at some point.
Ashera was standing naturally while in a meditative state. I couldn’t help but notice that she had been in this state for at least 30 minutes.
Suddenly, Ashera’s eyes slowly opened, and she muttered softly.
“It felt warm…”
Hearing her words, Mom smiled and began to explain.
“Ashera, that’s magic. Now, try to move a small portion of that magic, about the size of a grain of salt, freely.”
Ashera responded enthusiastically and immediately resumed her meditation.
They had started calling each other “Master” and “Ashera.” It seemed like a minor detail, but my mother insisted it was important.
I asked my mother if I should call her “Master” too, but she teared up and opposed the idea. It was hard to determine where her boundary for such things was.
A Few Weeks Later on Dark Day…
Dark Day was a holiday.
It seemed that Ashera was also interested in physical training. Every week on Dark Day, the three of us, El, Ashera, and I, engaged in physical training to strengthen our bodies.
She says that the moment when I, who is smaller than her, beat up Jarrod was seared in her mind’s eye.
We made sure to take plenty of breaks during our training to avoid injuries. However, we couldn’t spend the entire day on physical training; we had too much free time.
So, I decided to put my knowledge cheat into action.
“From now on, let’s start ‘Kankeri.'”
[TL: “Kankeri,” an outdoor game that fascinated children in the Showa period, is an active game of hide-and-seek. Children are divided into two groups: the parent who protects the can and the ogres who try to kick the can. If the ogre is found by the parent before they can kick the can, they’re caught and immobilized.]
“Nii-sama, what’s ‘Kankeri’?”
“‘Kankeri’ is… It’s a passionate feeling filled with sweet melancholy. That’s what ‘Kankeri’ is.”
“That sounds impressive…”
“A passionate feeling.”
“Well, let me explain.”
I began to explain the concept of ‘Kankeri’ to them.
“Alright, let’s give it a try.”
“Let’s do it.”
“Remember, I’m the ‘Oni’ (demon). I’ll start counting to 100, and then you can begin. Don’t leave the training area.”
With that, the three of us played together, occasionally including bored knights who joined us. We played until late in the afternoon.
“Maybe it’s time to go home? Isn’t it about time for Halva to come pick you up?”
“Yeah, but I want to play a bit more…”
“We’ll play again next week. I’ll teach you ‘Keidro’ next week.”
“Nii-sama, what’s ‘Keidro’?”
“I’ll tell you next week. Alright, let’s go home.”
(If I adjust for Japanese years, I’m 39… playing with 5-year-olds at 39… That’s a bit much, but I’m just playing with them… It’s not like I’m enjoying it or anything.)
And so, Ashera became our childhood friend.