Chapter 1 Part 5
The servants led them to an annex a short distance away from the mansion. Perhaps it was prepared for guests, but the size and structure of the annex did not pale in comparison to the main building, and it was undoubtedly a guest house to welcome distinguished families and nobles.
After being ushered into the reception room, Alicia had the servants leave.
“Now then… let’s have a talk again, shall we?”
“…Before we do that, I was wondering if Elria and Galleon-san do not need to be present?”
“Those two are not suitable for this kind of situation. My husband is too loud and gets in the way of the proceedings, and my daughter is not very good at talking and explaining things, so I figured it would go more smoothly if we talked ourselves through it.”
Alicia tipped her teacup in a composed manner while giving a harsh assessment of the two.
However, the situation is already difficult. In addition to being the mother of his fiancée, Alicia is the head of a family with a power second only to the royal family. And now he has to say, “Please approve my engagement to your daughter”. It is no longer just awkward.
Perhaps sensing the situation, Alicia changed her attitude and tone.
“There’s no need to be alarmed. I just want to know what’s going on and how things came about, and I’m asking you as an equal.”
Hearing that, Reid appears to be thinking about it. He then gave a deliberate sigh and nodded.
“…I’ll take your word for it, then. I also believe we’re here to talk, and I’m not good at dealing with things like diplomacy.”
“…You say you’re not good at diplomacy, but you seem to have a way with words, though?”
Alicia stares at him with furrowed brows.
Reid is like an old man in spirit. Although he is not bad at these conversational diplomacies and dealings, in fact, he has a keen intuition to sniff them out.
“The reason we decided to get engaged was so that I could take advantage of the name and status of the Caldwen name.”
“…That was Elria’s idea, wasn’t it?”
“Yes. You may ask Elria herself to confirm it.”
“I don’t need confirmation. Because you are ‘Reid’.”
“…What do you mean by that?”
Alicia quietly lowered her eyes in response to Reid’s question.
“When she was a little girl, she said to me out of the blue, ‘I want to find someone called Reid Frieden’.”
“…She has been looking for me for that long?”
“Yes. But when I asked her why, she just shook her head and wouldn’t answer, and she just said, ‘I’m sure he is here,’ so I just assumed it was a childlike delusion and didn’t take it seriously.”
She probably did not think that ‘Reid’ would really appear.
“To put it bluntly… that child was strange since birth. She was different from all the other children, not only in her talents, which surpassed all mages, but also as a person. She never cried, even when she was a baby, and she even gave me… her mother, a scared look.”
That was what Reid had been told by his mother, too. However, Elria was probably even worse than that.
Because of her previous life, she is not used to interacting with people, and now she wakes up in a world that is a thousand years in the future without knowing anyone.
Elria, who had always been shy, would have avoided her mother because of the memories of her previous life, even though she understood that they were her immediate family.
And so, she must have spent her life desperately in an unfamiliar environment. Even under such circumstances, Elria tried to find Reid, without knowing if he was really there. There is no basis for it. And yet ―― she did not give up and kept looking for Reid.
“……Is that so.”
Alicia’s expression softened slightly as Reid quietly returned the words upon hearing this fact.
“I’m telling you this first, if you’re that ‘Reid’, then I’m willing to approve the engagement.”
“…You’re willing to leave your house in the hands of a man of unknown origin based on the words of Elria alone?”
“Yes. That’s the path she chose.”
With a smile on her face, Alicia continues,
“No matter how strange that child was… she is still my daughter. As a parent, it’s only natural to want her to seek her own happiness rather than make her unhappy by forcing her into an unwanted marriage in order to keep the family name alive, don’t you think?”
Alicia spoke not as the head of the family but as a mother. She must have gone through unspeakable hardships to reach this decision.
A strange child who is born a genius but looks at her mother with frightened eyes. Alicia’s feelings as the mother of such a child must have been immeasurable. And being the head of a family with a status second only to the royal family, she must have faced intense scrutiny from both outside and within the family.
Even so, she decided to prioritize Elria’s happiness as her own daughter.
“So, what about you?”
Alicia looked straight at Reid as if testing him.
To belong to the Caldwen family means to live with Elria. That means they will be together until one of them dies.
However… that future is not absolutely necessary.
If Reid only considered the battle with Elria, then there was never a need to become a mage. They could just fight without regard for their surroundings to fulfill the promise they once made.
As for the matter of finding out about their reincarnation, time and means will be limited, but by no means impossible.
It is certainly convenient for them, but it is not absolutely necessary.
And yet ――
“―― She was my only equal.”
Smiling naturally, he recalls the exchanges they had on the battlefield.
Upon hearing that Reid was on the battlefield, Elria would fly in or create new things to fight him, and when those failed, she would come up with new techniques and strategies again.
No sane person would have any affection for someone who is trying to kill each other. But neither Reid nor Elria was sane.
“We’ve been apart for a long time now. But just like Elria, who kept looking for me, I’ve also never forgotten about her.”
In the eighteen years since his reincarnation, he had never once forgotten Elria.
Even though he was living a different and more peaceful life than before in a world where magic had developed, he still thought of Elria’s image occasionally.
He wondered what she would think of this world, what she would say when she saw today’s magic, and whether she would live as peacefully as Reid if she were alive in this world.
If Elria lived in this world the same way ――
“―― I want to be with Elria.”
Smiling softly, Reid replied.
Hearing those words, Alicia nodded in satisfaction.
“…I see. I’d give you a passing mark for the proposal.”
“That’s really strict.”
“Anyone can say the words, but it’s the actions and the results that count.”
After such harsh words, Alicia raises her fingers.
“There are three conditions for me to approve your engagement. For the first condition, I will leave you in charge of all matters concerning Elria.”
“Well, I think that’s a little too much.”
“That’s just how many problems she has… She will eventually inherit the name of Caldwen, but she’s a shy child who is not good at talking, nor is she good with her manners and other problems…”
Previously, Elria was allowed to behave freely because she was a ‘Sage’.
However, now that she is born into a distinguished family with status and history, she will be expected to behave accordingly in society.
“At least, with you by her side, she will be able to learn something from you.”
“I’m not sure about that either.”
“Compared to Elria, you are doing fine.”
“Please don’t have that much faith in your daughter.”
“Well… you certainly looked old-fashioned, outdated even, but I don’t think it matters because you seem to make a good impression on people who take pride in being part of a distinguished family.”
“A person from a distinguished family shouldn’t say that…”
“It’s fine. We value our duty and pride as the one who inherits the name of the Sage, while other families just talk endlessly about their long and futile history.”
Alicia sighs, exasperated, as she rests her elbows on the table.
The first impression Reid had of her was that she’s a strict person, but it seems that her true nature is to be straightforward.
“The second condition is to attend the magic academy and become a qualified mage.”
“That’s our goal, so you don’t have to worry about it.”
“It’s not that simple, you know? The magic academy in the royal capital gathers outstanding mages from all over the continent who have been recognized for their talents. That’s why talent alone gets you nowhere, and those who can graduate quickly are the true geniuses.”
After changing her expression, Alicia raises her third finger.
“Third, you must prove yourself while you are in the academy. There are many people who want to be associated with a Caldwen, and there will certainly be people who will criticize you because of your family background. Show them your abilities and results to silence them.”
“Why don’t you just do this?”
Alicia rolled up her arm and clenched her fists. What a heroic statement.
“It is not only your knowledge of magic that would be tested at the academy, but also the techniques of magic combat against other people, and the ability to think and move according to the situation. She’s usually like that, but even those of us who have dealt with Elria in mock battles have had a hard time with her.”
“Yeah… I guess people are not always what they seem…”
Reid averted his eyes and returned the appropriate words.
After all, Elria has fought for more than fifty years in her previous life.
She was skilled not only in close-quarters combat but also in strategies using magic, and even Reid had memories of considerable hardship due to that. For Elria, a mock battle would be nothing more than a game.
“Well, I’m sure it will be fine.”
“I have high hopes, too. After all, that child even approves of you.”
“Please leave that to me. I know a thing or two about magic combat.”
“That is very promising. So, what kind of magic do you use?”
“Well, I don’t use magic.”
As soon as Reid answered, Alicia’s expression froze.
“…Can you say that again?”
“I’m sorry, I should correct myself. I can’t use magic.”
“I didn’t ask you to correct it.”
Alicia’s expression instantly turned grim.
And then ―― she sighed before turning to face the door.
“Galleon, come here for a minute.”
“OOOHHHHHHHHHHH!! You called me, Alicia?”
“Be quiet. You are being noisy.”
Alicia snapped, and Galleon came into the room with his huge body hunched over.
“Galleon, let’s see how good he is.”
“…I’m not a mage, so I shouldn’t be allowed to fight, right?”
“This annex is not only for guests but also a state-licensed magic training facility. In the facility, magic combat is permitted even for those who are not qualified mages, in exchange for a limit on the magic power output. We usually have mock battles with Elria here, too.”
In other words, it seems that they led Reid to the annex with the intention of seeing how good he was from the start.
Alicia then got up from her seat and turned on her heel.
“I’m going to go talk to Elria. Let him go if you think he is worthy enough to be admitted to the magic academy.”
“Yes!! Now, Reid-kun, let’s enjoy ourselves in the mock battle!!”
Galleon started to warm up his huge body. The sound of creaking and cracking could be heard.
“In general, mages fight at medium to long-range using magic, but in the case of close-quarters combat, using body strengthening magic and magic equipment are the bread and butter for mages!!”
The gauntlets on Galleon’s hands are ‘Magic Equipment’. They are optimized for mages to use magic.
“I will lend you my own magic equipment! Do you have any magic equipment that you would like to use!?”
“Thanks for the offer, but it’s okay because it’ll break when I use it.”
“Is that so!! Then you will just fight without one!!”
“I wish you would have said something like, ‘Let’s stop for safety reasons’.”
As he answers, Reid lightly moves his arms and legs to check his physical condition.
It has been eighteen years since he has fought in a battle.
However, he had trained so that his body still remembers the movement.
“By the way, what are the conditions for winning?”
“Hmm! Then, if you can avoid all my attacks for one hour from now, you will win!! No matter how prepared you are, it will be difficult for you to land a blow on me!!”
With a confident look, Galleon grabbed his fists, signaling his eagerness to start the fight.
Galleon is also a son-in-law of the Caldwen family. Then there is no doubt that he is a very competent mage.
In other words ―― he is a perfect measure of modern mages’ ability.
“Then, after avoiding all attacks, I will make a blow, okay?”
“Oh!? If you can do that, I’ll give you the right to call me Daddy!!”
“Please let me just call you father-in-law.”
After answering, Reid looked at Galleon.
“Oh, and I would like to confirm one more thing ――”
Reid tells Galleon with a grin.
“―― Please don’t complain if I happen to destroy the whole building.”
It was the very same grin he used to have when he was called ―― the ‘Hero’, in the past.