Chapter 4:

Priscilla Natò

The Door to a Bittersweet Ending

“Hey, welcome back to the living world, how do you feel?” asked Akira, ignoring for the time the two questions that she posed to him, wanting first to confirm that she was all right.

“I am all right, yes… but that is not the point here!” replied Priscilla, getting up and looking at Akira straight in the eyes, even though she was probably twenty centimetres shorter than him. “My greatest concern right now is to understand how can I possibly be alive when I remember being killed by those two horrific… monsters. Furthermore, I would like to understand how did we end up in a forest when we were in a cave. Then there is the fact about who could you possibly be: how could you possibly have stood up against those two horrors? Even though that is the last of my concerns…”

He could understand her concern: it isn’t that normal to go back from death without even having a sign of that trip on your body. But he couldn’t really tell her the real truth, that a goddess came down from wherever gods live and saved her: she would have probably taken him for a mad person, not exactly what he wanted to. Looking at her chestnut eyes with his green ones, he said “Honestly, you’re alive, and I don’t know why. Look at me: if you remember even a bit of my fight, you would probably remember that I was hit pretty hard by one of those beings, and now I am all right. As why we are now in a forest, I also don’t know: I passed out, just like you, and just regained my senses a while ago.”

“Has anybody told you that you are really useless?” said she in an annoyed tone.

“Sorry if I, like you, didn’t know why did I end up in that cave, why had I to fight monsters and how the hell did we end up here. It’s not that I have all the answers of the universe, apart from 42, that is” replied Akira, with the same annoyed tone, but a bit softened up, as he understood that in that situation it was normal to be a bit irritated.

At those words her cheeks got red all of a sudden, he didn’t know whether it was because he replied to her in her same tone or whether it was because she understood that he was right and she was being unreasonable, asking those question to a fellow companion in that misfortune. Turning her head away from him, as if to hide her embarrassment, she replied “Hpmf, guess it could be understood and excused: you were there against your will just like me, so…”

“Why don’t you just stop acting all mighty and all and just say that you’re sorry?” asked Akira, a bit tired of having to do with a haughty person: he always hated those types of persons, and he hated to have relationship with people such as her.

She looked back at him with ferocious eyes, like he was trying to strip her of her own dignity “Who do you think you are to talk like that to me, peasant?”

Okay, that was enough. Akira unleashed his coldest glance possible, emitting a really powerful and intimidating aura and said calmly, looking at her right in the eyes in order to obtain the best result possible “Listen here: first, I was the one to save your life, so a bit of respect. Second, drop that peasant bullshit, as it does not mean anything: we are all humans, and some of your so-called “peasants” are way better than those within the nobility. Third, you are the daughter of a merchant family, which means that you come from a middle-class family, which makes you unpopular both to the nobility and the normal people, as you do not belong to any of those two. So stop acting like everything is inferior to you, and act like a normal person would do, okay?”

As Akira was speaking, Priscilla slowly turned her gaze away from his eyes, feeling the powerful and cold aura that they emanated and that he was right on some things, like the fact that he saved her. It was the first time that someone really told her off like that, not out of hate or envy, but just because he was seriously annoyed by her behaviour, and she understood that well enough: after all, it was like the dislike she had for the nobility, a bunch of people that only had a hereditary title to boost up about and nothing else and that were in the majority of cases just a bunch of perverts and incompetents. When Akira finished his speech, Priscilla slowly turned her head towards him and quickly spat out the words that she should have said form the first time.

“I’m sorry…”

“That’s better” said Akira “I can understand if this was a character that you assumed because of the situation we are in, but I doubt that you only act like this in those occasions. Sorry if I sounded a bit authoritarian and harsh, especially about your family background, but I don’t like to deal with haughty people, that’s all. Would you like if someone acted that way towards you?”

“…No, I wouldn’t…” slowly replied Priscilla, remembering her encounters with the nobles of the capital that she had while travelling together with her father and the slimy feeling that those people and their manners gave off.

“Then, are we all set, Priscilla?” said Akira, looking at her with a cold yet also comfortable gaze.

“Yes… but, wait a minute, how do you know my name? And that I was from a family of merchant” asked Priscilla, suddenly suspicious of those info that he knew about her.

“…You told them to me before dying. You don’t remember that?” asked Akira, with a furrowed brow.

“Ah, You’re right…” whispered Priscilla, suddenly remembering that, embarrassed because of her unfounded suspicion towards her saviour.

Then Akira suddenly asked her a question “Hey, before you died, or so to say, you spoke a phrase which I think was in… Irgondeh, or whatever it was called... something like Javrìn nu…”

However, as he was speaking, he understood that she was really embarrassed about that and that she would have exploded if he finished the sentence, so instead he asked her a question.

“So, ehm, do you speak Irgondeh…?”

She slowly nodded, still embarrassed, and corrected his pronunciation, saying it was Irgundàh, not Irgondeh. Then, she asked “How do you know about its existence?”

“Well…” started saying Akira, trying to make up a good lie “...let’s just say I once encountered a person who elucidated me about its existence.”

Priscilla looked at the ground for a while, with her cheeks still red like apples, then she started lifting her head. Akira understood that it wasn’t the case to ask her the meaning of that phrase, as it would have only served to irritate her and, as it was just to satisfy his curiosity, it wasn’t really worth it. Instead, this time it was Priscilla who asked him a question.

“So, hmm, can you please tell me who are you and where you come from? I think that is the only useful thing that I can gain from this experience from you.”

Ignoring her undesirably mighty tone, Akira replied with a half lie “I am Akira Demoni, and I come from a nation far away from here, in the far east.”

When she heard that, her eyes started sparkling like she just saw a pile of unprotected gold. “Oh, how exciting! I have never met a person from the east! Do you come from Eharda? Or from Nihaian? No, don’t tell me… you come from Kasavera island, don’t you?!”

Hearing those strange places that he never heard of before – obviously, as he came from another world, and he didn’t know nothing about the geography of this world, and even less about the world itself – he just replied “No, I come from a remote nation of the east, one that people of this land have never explored. I’m sorry to disappoint you” he added, as he didn’t want to enter in discussion about cultures that he didn’t even know about.

“Wow, amazing!” said Priscilla, now in total awe from his words “I didn’t know that such a land existed! That’s so exciting! I need to hear all of your stories about that land!”

“Oh, for god’s sake, in which mess have I put myself in?” thought Akira, but then a way to use that occasion came to his mind

“Listen, Priscilla, I don’t know a lot about this world either, as I have been for the majority of my life in that far away country. So, in case, can you tell me something about this lands as well? It would be an equivalent exchange, and I am sure that the daughter of a merchant family can see the advantage of such an agreement, am I wrong?”

Priscilla didn’t even need to thought about that for a lot, as, only after a few seconds, she replied “Yeah, sure! I don’t see any disadvantage in this”. It was obvious that she was excited to hear about his land and that she was trying hard to maintain a sort of decorum, instead of immediately asking him a machine-gun fire of questions. “That also explains why you could beat those monsters, then. If you come from a foreign land, then that also explains your fighting style and how you could beat those monsters with your fists alone”

“Are you saying that I am a barbarian?” asked Akira, just to tease her.

“No, I am not saying that. What I was trying to say is… if you grew up in a foreign land, then you had more occasions to fight in different styles than the people of this land, so it would make sense that you could be able to beat those monsters with no weapon whatsoever” said Priscilla, a bit panicked, trying to save herself by a comment that could have been considered offensive by her interlocutor. Even though her rephrasing still made Akira seem like a barbarian who didn’t know civilization enough to make his own weapons. However, Akira decided to ignore that, understanding that the girl meant no harm at all and was just trying to convey her amazement – or so he would have liked to thought. As they were talking, the sun started going down and the night was slowly taking the place of the sunset that had assisted to their interaction. Seeing that, Priscilla suggested that they started moving towards her town, Zuvaskja, and Akira agreed: after what he passed he needed a bed and something to eat, even though he had no money. No, wait, he had some money, or better some yen, as he didn’t think that this world also had yen as their standard monetary value: after all, in his trousers he still had his wallet, the only thing that he carried with him all the time. He never really had a smartphone, except for a small period of time in high school, and he never really needed it: public phones were still a thing and a lot of them were still functioning, so if he had to make a phone call while he was away from home he just used them.

“Hey, Priscilla” asked her Akira “what is the currency of this land? I need to know if I can pay with the money from my land or if I need to change them”

“The currency here is a combination of coins and bills called Heya, or commonly called gold: after all, Heya is just the official name that appears in official documents, so the population can call it like they want: some simply call it money, so...”

“And are these bills similar to this?” I asked her, giving her a ten-thousand-yen bill that I had in my wallet.

“Hmm, yeah, the design is really different from this, but yes, this is just like those we use. If you need money, I think I can make you exchange this currency with ours at a reasonable exchange value, and maybe there are people that know about it and have an exchange value already set up: in that case, it would be all relatively easy”

“Thank you” I said, really appreciating her help in that matter: if I had some money, then a lot of things would have been a lot easier in this world. While we were talking about this subject, we arrived near a big lake, created by the confluence of three big rivers, and that looked like a mirror for how pure the water looked, like it literally came out from a mountain spring and reached that lake without even getting dirty once. With the falling light that the fading sun was emanating the water assumed a really mesmerizing orange colour, which fused itself with the black of the night, creating a particular tonality of dark orange which was really captivating. When they arrived at a large clearing near the lake, Priscilla suddenly stopped and turned towards Akira.

“Hey, Akira, I have an offer to make you” said she, while Akira was looking at her puzzled but at the same time interested “I would like to offer you the opportunity to be my fighting and fencing teacher”.

That offer took Akira by surprise: he expected that a middle family had private instructors that educated their sons and daughters, but he didn’t expect to be selected by one of those daughters as her teacher. Even though he had an idea why she asked him that.

“Are you asking this to me because every teacher that you had just escaped from you after a week or so?”

At those words she became red yet again, making it clear that he just got it right. Maybe.

“Oh shut up! I’m offering you a position that many people would dream of and you are treating me like this?” replied her, trying to make up for her evident embarrassment.

“All right, I’m sorry. In any case, it doesn’t sound a bad offer, but I feel like there is a but coming in your proposition, am I right?”

“Yes, exactly” Priscilla said that, then took a deep breath and said “The condition for the job is this: you have to fight me in a fist fight. Don’t worry, it will only be a mock battle, it will serve me to understand if you can really teach me something that the other possible teachers cannot”.

“That is all?”

“Yes, that is all”.

“You know that I won’t go easy on you, right?”

“That is exactly what I want you to do: if you go easy on me, you can only forget about my work offer”.

“That’s okay for me: just try to give me an entertaining match, got it? I would be highly dissatisfied if a girl that always had a fighting and fencing teacher couldn’t even sustain a mock fight”.

At this provocation Priscilla laughed and put herself en garde, as if to say that they should get started. And just from there Akira could see that she literally had no idea how to stay on guard: she was unbalanced and her feet were too distant to give a good offensive power and at the same time the possibility to retreat easily. He sighed, knowing too well that that match was going to end in just a few punches, and also put en garde, waiting for her to make the first move. Then, she swiftly came against him and tried to hit him with a jab from a far. Just that she tried it from too far, completely missing her objective, a thing that made her also lose her balance and lean forward. Akira sighted again, making it clear that he was disappointed with what he just saw, and got in a second near Priscilla’s head. But he didn’t hit her: instead, he got near her ear and whispered “Do you want to finish this off immediately or do you want to ridicule yourself in front of me?”. At those words Priscilla widened her eyes, also because for how quickly did Akira get near her, and then tried to retreat. Akira let her do, even though he could have easily ended her during her retreat with an uppercut right under her chin, as her guard was totally absent in that moment. Then, while Priscilla was thinking about attacking him again, Akira decide that it was time to end it, as he said her that he wasn’t going to go easy on her. He quickly got near her and started throwing a series of jab from a rather near position, wanting Priscilla to try and use it as a way to dodge a jab and counterattack. In fact, that was what she did a certain point, trying to dodge one of the punches that Akira threw just a little bit out of her body. But that was all a tactic: when she did that, with his right fist Akira hit her right on her upper torso, a bit under the throat, wanting to make her lose her breath and use that moment of confusion to finish the match. In fact, that was exactly what happened: Priscilla was surprised by that and needed a moment to regain her composure, but in that moment Akira move closer to her and hit her scruff of the neck with his elbow, an hit that would have probably made her unconscious if it had the right power. But that was when Akira stopped, right some centimetres before really hitting her with his elbow, making it clear who the winner was.

“Eh, you are really a disappointment” said Akira, after having got a little away from her. He knew she didn’t stand a chance against him, but still, that spectacle had been really pitiful: if she really had teachers since she was little, then they were really bad. They probably never grew up having to defend themselves from everyone since they were a child, they probably grew up in a middle class family thinking that the little they exercised made them eligible to teach fighting to others. In the meanwhile, Priscilla looked at him with a look of amazement and respect on her face. Seeing that, Akira asked her, with a little smile on his face “So, what do you think? Do I have something to teach you or not?”

At those words Priscilla looked at him right in the eyes and said “Yes, you have. Can I understand that you have accepted my offer?” 

“Hmm, I don’t really know if I want to teach you, but, if you promise me that you won’t act all high and mighty with me, then I guess I don’t really have a reason to refuse your offer” said Akira. 

At those words a smile quickly grew on Priscilla’s face, showing how thankful she was, in a way that she probably would have never been able to describe through words, as proud as she was. “Okay, then that means that from tomorrow on you will live in my house, together with the other teachers and our servants. For today, you will need to sleep at the local inn. Don’t worry, I will pay for the night. You know, it is not really decorous for a woman to bring home a man at night, isn’t it?” stated she, laughing at the last image. “Now, why don’t we start going back? The night is really setting up, and the forest during the night isn’t really one of the funniest place to be in this world”. Akira nodded, and so, together with Priscilla, who in the meanwhile started chitchatting with him about the battle and asking him things about him and his country, started heading to her village, with a job, a place where to stay, and a new opportunity to live a fulfilling or at least decent life.

Real Aire