When I woke up this morning, the world had changed.
I thought the sky was strangely dim, but then I found that it was pitch black. Black clouds were hanging over the noble district. The border between the blue sky and black clouds is clear and very eerie.
It was clearly different from an ordinary cloud; it almost like black magic that was used to block a vision., even at a glance, I could tell that this is a very unusual situation.
“Oh, good morning Alice.”
“Father. …brother too? What are you doing? You all dressed like that in the morning.”
My father and brother that were returning from outside were wearing a working outfit. Due to the nature of our family, we do have a blacksmith inside our mansion. Maybe that’s where they were.
“We were making magic tools.”
“you too, father? That’s unusual. What kind of magic tools?”
“The one Alice made before, one that raises the monster encounter rate. I’ve been playing around with it a little bit and made one that lowers it. …Now that I think about it, that was groundbreaking, wasn’t it? To be honest, I didn’t know the power of magic tools would extend to such things.
But it seems that it cannot be reduced to zero. Even mithril can’t withstand it. This is a new discovery; zero gives heavier load than seventy.”
“I see… Was that had something to do with the black cloud?
“Oh… in fact, yeah.”
“Was that why Hayato requesting to meet yesterday?”
My father nodded. I’m not sure what’s going on here.
“I talked to His Majesty last night, and he said that the academy will be closed for a while, and all the noble families should be prepared for emergencies. That’s why Alice is taking the day off, too.”
Was that so serious that His Majesty would approve overnight?
“I understand. Can I help you with something?”
“No, it’s all right for now. I’ve already set up the production line, and the craftsmen will take care of the rest.”
“I see… So, where’s Hayato? Hasn’t he come back yet?”
“… He’s already back, but he had to leave again as soon as he arrived. The adventurer guild called him, it’s about some difficult enemies out there, and he has to go and defeat them.”
A difficult enemy?
Like a big shot one? A monster that only he can handle?
My brother sends a pressing glare from father’s back, and he aches to get out of this place as soon as possible.
“Father, I think I’ll go first.”
“Yes. I, too, will start again as soon as I’ve had a nap, so come to the workshop when you woke up.”
“Yes, sir! I need to write up my ideas in my notebook first.”
“Just get some sleep.”
My brother walked quickly to his room with swift movements. After watching his back, I asked my father about something that was bothering me.
“What kind of monster did they find?”
“Well… It’s hard to explain, but it seems to be a very influential one. If we let it go, it will cause a black cloud to cover the sky all over the world.”
“Oh no! That’s serious! Isn’t that terrifyingly amount of power?”
The scale is even bigger than I thought! As I was exclaiming, my father looked a little sad.
“Yes. That’s why Hayato must be the one to do it, isn’t it? I’m sure the others weren’t enough. He’s going to a place a little far from here. I’m sorry, Alice. I’m a little busy, so I’ll be going now. I have something I need to prepare quickly.”
“…Do you still need to make something?”
“Yes. Since there is no way to hide it, I’ll tell you that we’ve decided to start making weapons and armor as of today.”
“I’ve already told His Majesty about it, and although he’s said a lot of things, he understands the necessity. We’re going to prepare a prototype first so that he can see what it’s like, and then we can start developing it in earnest. We need to make swords and shields now.”
He patted me on the head and walked to his room.
The world really has changed since yesterday.
We always said that we won’t touch anything weapon-related, but now we going back to our words.
–I wonder what’s going on.
I’d like to know more, but my father and brother seem to be busy, and Hayato isn’t here right now. I don’t know who I should ask.
Let’s go see mother for now. She might know something. That’s what I thought, so I went to her room.
“…Mother. Good morning.”
“Oh, good morning Alice.”
She was standing at the mirror table, having her hair done by a maid. Mother’s usual style is to curl her hair with electric iron and tie it up.
Today, as usual, she was curling her long hair.
“Mother, we seem to be in some kind of trouble. Do you know anything about it?”
I sat down next to the mirror and asked her. She was silent for a while without looking away from the mirror and then answered in a small voice, “I don’t know.”
“I don’t know.”
She covers her mouth without looking at me.
It’s not like she doesn’t know anything about this, but she made it clear that she won’t ever tell me.
This situation is filled with a bad vibe.
“Is that so? …I understand.”
I’m sure Hayato will be able to tell me, but I’ve given him my communication device, so there’s no way to contact him…
I want to go to town to look for it, but I don’t know where it is — I think I’ll just have to wait for him to come home. Though I don’t know when that will be.
I’ll ask my brother for the time being.
“Brother, may I have a word with you?”
Knowing that I would be disturbing him, I still went to my brother’s room to ask him. The door was opened by Lav, who greeted me in a hushed voice.
“Good morning, Alisha. Chris has just fallen asleep.”
“Falling asleep? he was unusually excited just a moment ago.”
“Yes. he was summoned by the Duke earlier, and it seems that he has been working all night long, so I guess it’s understandable. If there is anything I can do for you, I will answer it in his place… What happened?”
“Then… did you know that Hayato left last night after receiving the appointed request?”
“What? Is that so? I’m…sorry, I don’t know. I just found out about that.”
“Thought so… also, did you know anything about the black cloud?”
“Yes. I was also going to ask Chris when he came back, but he came back with an uncanny expression on his face that made me afraid to call out to him…
I haven’t been able to ask him anything yet because he suddenly fell asleep as if he had run out of energy, and he did that just as soon as he started writing something.”
“Brother… you’re not very strong, aren’t you?”
“It can’t be helped, you know. Chris is not like us, who grew up in the wild.”
If my brother is a greenhouse-grown bean sprout, then Hayato and Lav are wild roses or something.
Bean sprouts and wild roses. What an amazing combination.
But now it’s not a time to admire that.
“So Lav doesn’t know what’s going on either.”
“Yes, I’m sorry I can’t help you.”
“No problem. How are you feeling, by the way? Do you have an appetite?”
“Yes. I feel a little sick sometimes, but I can eat as many strawberries as I want.”
“Oh, not lemons?”
“Fufu, I’ve heard rumors that people will have a craving for sour foods, but I really enjoy sweet and sour foods, and I can’t thank Chris and everyone enough for preparing so many…”
“Well, at least you had some appetite. Okay then, I’m sorry to bother you. See you later.”
“No, not at all! I was going to have breakfast with you if you’d like, but I’m not sure I can eat a proper meal right now. …I will feel sorry if I make a mess, so I’ll just stay in my room.”
“Yes. I think it’s better that way. Take care of yourself.”
“Thank you very much. Then, I’ll ask Chris about it when he wakes up. I’ll let you know what I find out.”
When I left the room, I thought that the only other person I could talk to would be Jeffrey, the butler, but I was told that he was also out on an errand from my father, so I lost my last hope.
I thought about waiting quietly in my room for Hayato’s return, but time seemed to be moving unusually slowly, so I thought I’d try to make a magic tool to calm myself.
I want to make the glasses that I failed to modify before, but I haven’t bought any glasses yet. ……
If I use the materials I have on hand now, I can only find accessories or clothing.
The shadow storage on the inside of the petticoat was a good idea. You don’t have to carry a bag around, so it’s very convenient.
However, I don’t think petticoats would be worn in a fight, and more importantly, it would be difficult to get them in and out. No one with a normal mind would stick their hand in the inside of a skirt during a fight. That’s not very useful.
Then again, maybe I could place it at the back of the cloak.
A cloak is a necessity for adventurers who travel far. It can be worn by both men and women, and since it has a large area, it can hold some large items.
Let’s give it a try.
I took out the cloak from the closet and checked the material— it’s a cotton and wool blend.
It doesn’t seem to be very resistant to magic…
It’s fine if I want to use it as defensive tools, but it’s not enough to hold shadow storage.
If we talking about cloth, silk seems to be the best material. The petticoat I was using was also made of silk.
Still, it would definitely be useful to attach a shadow compartment to the cloak, so I tried to think of some way to make it work.
I had silk sheets in my closet, so I decided to use those. From the various colors available, I picked out a nice brown one and cut it out to the size of the cloak.
I sewed it on with a needle and thread, somewhat messily, and before I knew it, time seemed to have passed.
When I was almost finished, I heard a knock at the door, and Hayato came in.
“Oh! Welcome back!”
I put down the needle, stood up, and ran over to him.
He held out his arms to me, and I jumped into them without hesitation and hugged him tightly.
“… Alice, I missed you.”
“Me too. I feel like I’ve been away for a long time. Though, we’ve only been away for one night.”
I wanted to move away from him a little to see his face, but his arms wouldn’t loosen, so I couldn’t.
I had no choice but to talk to him with my face buried to his chest.
“I heard that a terrible monster has appeared, and Father say that you are going to defeat it. Are you sure you’re okay?”
“… I don’t know.”
“Well, don’t say things that will make me nervous.”
“… You won’t know all this until it’s over, you know. Hey, Alice. If I don’t come back after a while, just forget about me and be happy.”
“Please don’t say something like that. I’m not kidding.”
I forced myself to pull away and look up at him.
“If you don’t come back, I will go looking for you, and I will not give up until I find you. Don’t think you can run away from me… Or rather, why don’t I come with you?
I’ve heard that we’re going to start making magical weapons and armor. I’m sure that if I borrowed that power, I wouldn’t be too much of a liability.”
“What? Is that right? Did the Duke say so?”
“Yes, I heard it directly from father.”
“I see… Magical weapons and armor — Well, I guess we have no choice.”
“His Majesty is aware that our current situation is an emergency. I’m sure there will be challenges once we start using it, but I believe we are going to be okay, so… please take me with you.”
“I can’t do that.”
“… I can’t.”
“That’s not an answer. …… Then at least tell me what’s going on. Were the monsters they request you to defeat are somehow connected with the black cloud? Are they that strong?”
“It’s not about how strong it is, it’s… It’s special. And I’m the only one who can confront it.”
He said and put his hand on the wall. He took out something black from the shadow he created there.
“What’s that? A …… sword?”
It’s a shiny jet-black sword that reflects light like a mirror. It almost a work of art. Hayato stares at me and urges me to take it.
“This is for Alice.”
“It’s sturdy, it cuts very well, and I’m relieved to see that there’s no strange magic attached to it.”
“Strange magic? What do you mean by that?”
“I want you to protect yourself with this.”
He gave it to me as if he was pushing me halfway.
“And also this.”
He then reached around his neck and pulled out a golden chain from inside his clothes, and removed my tag.
“I’ll give it back.”
With a twirl, the chain was slung over my head, and the gold tag returned to me.
It’s the first time he ever put it back on me, but that’s not the point.
This sounds like a goodbye talk, but I couldn’t say it out loud because I was afraid he would say, “Yes, yes it is.”
He hugged me again without saying anything. I wanted to hug him back, but I couldn’t, because doing so would be like accepting his goodbye.
Not wanting to change anything definitively, I couldn’t move or speak, so I just stood there.
After doing so for a while, he pulled away from me and said
“… Bye, Alice. I love you.”
Then he walked out of the room.
I was stunned with the sword in my hand, and then I came back to myself.
–…… I don’t think this is good!!
This is not the way to say goodbye!
No, I don’t know if that was really a goodbye speech or not!
I think he was at least aware of that possibility. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have returned my tag.
I don’t know what kind of strong enemy it is. I don’t know how strong they are, but I don’t want this to be the end.
–The magic tools.
The power of the magic tools and Hayato’s strength, if you combine them, there is no enemy in this world that you cannot defeat. Absolutely.
–I have to go after him.
No, I’m not going to be a burden to you.
“Father! Are you still up!?”
“Whoa! What, Alice? I’m awake. What’s wrong?”
“You have to lend me some money.”
“I’m going on a trip!”