Chapter 8:

A Full Stomach and a Hearty Smile

The Consequence of Saving the World

Her eyes may be of different colours, but the conviction displayed in them was the same. The image of Melyeze challenging Sereya to a duel was still firmly etched into my mind.Bookmark here

While she was definitely strong, I found it hard to believe that she was in the same league as Sereya. I mean, she even preached about how frightening Sereya was as an opponent! Bookmark here

“Oi, your food’s getting cold,” my trusted companion snapped me back to the present.Bookmark here

After dropping that comment, she continued to stuff her face in her meal without a care in the world. I knew she was calm, but wasn’t this too calm? She had a fight scheduled later in the evening against a high-ranking officer in the military!Bookmark here

As someone whose only focus was the grilled chicken breast in front of her, the only thing I found off about her eating was that she was only using her spoon. Her knife and fork were left untouched by the side of her plate. Wasn’t it—Bookmark here

Oh right, I forgot she only had one arm.Bookmark here

Still, it was strange seeing someone cut chicken with a spoon. Then again, if you were the greatest swordswoman in the world, I wouldn’t be surprised if she could cut chicken with a hammer.Bookmark here

Eh? Since when did she have fish? She only ordered chicken!Bookmark here

“Hmm As I thought, I prefer yours better.”Bookmark here

?Bookmark here

Argh! This thief was stealing my food!Bookmark here

“Hey, that’s mine!” Bookmark here

“Oh? Sorry, you were just leaving your dish there, so I thought you weren’t eating.”Bookmark here

“You could’ve at least asked!”Bookmark here

“B-But I take from your plate all the time and you don’t say anything.”Bookmark here

Damn you, past me!Bookmark here

“You wanna have mine instead? I don’t mind switching,” Sereya grinned. Seriously, she was getting on my nerves.Bookmark here

“No! Leave me and my fish alone. Also, I hate chicken. They were our pets.”Bookmark here

In the midst of her chewing, her mouth almost exploded from a sudden, but stifled giggle.Bookmark here

“Sorry, sorry! It’s just so strange. You always hated fish. You said that back in Japan, you got tired after seeing it used in almost every single dish. Fried chicken, on the other hand, was heaven!Bookmark here

At least, that’s what it sounded like when you first told me.”Bookmark here

Eh? What a weirdo. The more she talked about the guy who killed the Demon Lord, the more I hated him.Bookmark here

“Japan? Is that where Hanasuke was from? Where’s that?”Bookmark here

“It’s an island in the far, far east. Of course, there’s no such place in Fallcross. Much later, you said that it’s actually from another world!”Bookmark here

What?! Another world?Bookmark here

“Does this mean he was a god?”Bookmark here

Mum always said that far beyond the sky above us was another world, and that the stars at night were the gods watching over us, taking over the Goddess’ duty of giving light as the sun.Bookmark here

“God? But you always said that you were human. I don’t know the specifics, but Ordis will help us find out tomorrow.”Bookmark here

A god possessing my body to save humanity by killing the Demon Lord—it made so much sense. I hoped the Legendary Sage would say this was the case.Bookmark here

“But before that,'' my gaze fell towards two burly men arm wrestling on another table, “aren’t you worried about the duel tonight? Shouldn’t you know, be preparing or something?”Bookmark here

Well, at least she took her time to chew instead of speaking with a full mouth. Gulping down her meal, she answered:Bookmark here

“I am. You can’t fight on an empty stomach you know.”Bookmark here

I shook my head at that response.Bookmark here

“Listen, I know you’re like one of the strongest people in Fallcross, but would someone who knows that challenge you without a trick up her sleeve or something?”Bookmark here

“Hmmm that’s true. Should I store a hidden knife here, then?” she suggested as she lifted up her empty sleeve.Bookmark here

I wanted to strangle her so bad.Bookmark here

“Oh, Evan, check this out,” she untied the cuff of her sleeve.Bookmark here

“Ta~da!”Bookmark here

Out of nowhere, the knife that was next to her plate magically dropped out of her sleeve. When did she—how did she do all this?!Bookmark here

“They call this, slight of hand, right?” she innocently asked.Bookmark here

Sleight. It’s called sleight of hand. If you were thinking of coming up with another hand joke, stop.”Bookmark here

Sereya was just an enigma to me. On the outside, she was beautiful and gentle. She was the type of person who typically had suitors lining up for her.Bookmark here

On the inside, how could one of the Seven Heroes be such a dork? She either only wanted to tease me or drop crushing boulders of reality on my shoulders—both of which I was not fond of. Bookmark here

“But Evan, on a serious note, look around you.”Bookmark here

I did as she said. Around the men who were arm wrestling was a tiny crowd. Beer mugs filled their hands while their voices filled the bar. Based on their weapons and gear, they were probably warriors who served under the banner of the same lord.Bookmark here

The other patrons were quieter, but the sound of chatter was still audible. Humans and demihumans were trapped together, lost in a world of their own conversation.Bookmark here

The tiny waitress carried five or six mugs in each hand, swiftly travelling from table to table, distributing liquor and ale wherever she went. The sun wasn’t even down yet, but people were already demanding alcohol. Was this the bar’s happy hour or something?Bookmark here

“All of this is thanks to you. It’s already been five months since the demons were driven away. Yet, the smiles and laughter of the people are still here. Nations and businesses are rebuilding. It’s like the world completely changed, you know?Bookmark here

But then, you’ll always have people like Melyeze. People who hate war so much that they push themselves to be stronger, strong enough to make sure that it never happens again. Sooner or later, you, me and the others who fought against the demons will have to step down. That’s when it's people like Melyeze who will be the next generation of heroes. Her duel with me is to see how big of a gap she has to cross before she gets there.Bookmark here

So while it’s important we don’t drop our guard, it’s also important to smile and treasure the happiness that we have now, don’t you think?”Bookmark here

I think I finally understood a little bit more about Sereya. She may be young, but having seen the horrors of war firsthand, she was wise beyond her years. Yet, at the same time, she didn’t let the pain and the anger define her. She looked death in the eye, lost her arm, but was still able to smile and crack jokes.Bookmark here

Even if I did get back my powers, will I ever be as strong as her?Bookmark here

“Excuse me, miss!” Sereya grabbed the waitress’ attention, “Can we have a seared salmon with lemon sauce?”Bookmark here

“You bet’cha!”Bookmark here

And just like that, she went for round 2.Bookmark here

“Wow, you’re that hungry?” Bookmark here

“No, I’m already full.”Bookmark here

Eh?Bookmark here

!!!Bookmark here

She already finished my food when I wasn’t looking!Bookmark here

“See? I ordered your meal for you. Aren’t I nice?”Bookmark here

“I hope your stomach is so full, you’ll lose the duel cause you can no longer move!”Bookmark here

Unfortunately, she could indeed still move. By the time we finished our dinner, she didn’t have any problems walking whatsoever.Bookmark here

As the sun called it a day and as the torches decorated the city streets at night, we made our way to the designated location of the duel. Bookmark here

Allantheim in the evening was a lot less lively. Stall owners were packing up and taking stock of their goods. The laughter of children was gone as they prepared to be tucked in for bed. I much preferred this quieter atmosphere, probably because I was a village kid.Bookmark here

Sereya guided me towards the fringes of the city, away from the commercial area that we were at. Like the night sky, she was calm and unperturbed. Conversely, my heart was pounding, even though I wasn’t the one who had to fight!Bookmark here

We stopped by a series of military buildings and warehouses. Guards, both at the entrances and on the watchtowers, paid close attention to our every move. If I were them, I’d do the same—especially since this suspicious couple were the only citizens walking on this side of town.Bookmark here

Eventually, we stopped in front of a large military complex. On the outside, was a sign which read, ‘Chapterhouse of the Order of the Wings of Ragnarl’. Now it made sense to me why Sereya initially called Melyeze a ‘sir’, she was a knight!Bookmark here

The guards stationed outside the chapterhouse were a lot different from the other guards and soldiers I passed by. They had an air of superiority around them. Their weapons, their armour—these troops were an elite fighting force.Bookmark here

“Sir Melyeze is waiting for you. Come with me.”Bookmark here

One of the knights led us into the premises of the chapterhouse. We never went into the main building. Instead, the knight brought us around into an arena located by the training grounds.Bookmark here

At the centre of the arena was Melyeze, suited up in heavy armor from neck to toe, bathing in the light of the stars.Bookmark here

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