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.
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!
“Oi, your food’s getting cold,” my trusted companion snapped me back to the present.
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!
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—
Oh right, I forgot she only had one arm.
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.
Eh? Since when did she have fish? She only ordered chicken!
“Hmm As I thought, I prefer yours better.”
Argh! This thief was stealing my food!
“Hey, that’s mine!”
“Oh? Sorry, you were just leaving your dish there, so I thought you weren’t eating.”
“You could’ve at least asked!”
“B-But I take from your plate all the time and you don’t say anything.”
Damn you, past me!
“You wanna have mine instead? I don’t mind switching,” Sereya grinned. Seriously, she was getting on my nerves.
“No! Leave me and my fish alone. Also, I hate chicken. They were our pets.”
In the midst of her chewing, her mouth almost exploded from a sudden, but stifled giggle.
“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!
At least, that’s what it sounded like when you first told me.”
Eh? What a weirdo. The more she talked about the guy who killed the Demon Lord, the more I hated him.
“Japan? Is that where Hanasuke was from? Where’s that?”
“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!”
What?! Another world?
“Does this mean he was a god?”
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.
“God? But you always said that you were human. I don’t know the specifics, but Ordis will help us find out tomorrow.”
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.
“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?”
Well, at least she took her time to chew instead of speaking with a full mouth. Gulping down her meal, she answered:
“I am. You can’t fight on an empty stomach you know.”
I shook my head at that response.
“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?”
“Hmmm that’s true. Should I store a hidden knife here, then?” she suggested as she lifted up her empty sleeve.
I wanted to strangle her so bad.
“Oh, Evan, check this out,” she untied the cuff of her sleeve.
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?!
“They call this, slight of hand, right?” she innocently asked.
“Sleight. It’s called sleight of hand. If you were thinking of coming up with another hand joke, stop.”
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.
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.
“But Evan, on a serious note, look around you.”
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.
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.
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?
“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?
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.
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?”
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.
Even if I did get back my powers, will I ever be as strong as her?
“Excuse me, miss!” Sereya grabbed the waitress’ attention, “Can we have a seared salmon with lemon sauce?”
And just like that, she went for round 2.
“Wow, you’re that hungry?”
“No, I’m already full.”
She already finished my food when I wasn’t looking!
“See? I ordered your meal for you. Aren’t I nice?”
“I hope your stomach is so full, you’ll lose the duel cause you can no longer move!”
Unfortunately, she could indeed still move. By the time we finished our dinner, she didn’t have any problems walking whatsoever.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
“Sir Melyeze is waiting for you. Come with me.”
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.
At the centre of the arena was Melyeze, suited up in heavy armor from neck to toe, bathing in the light of the stars.