The Consequence of Saving the World
An ocean of black engulfed me.
No, it felt more like a swamp, like I was submerged in this pitch black body of water. Forget seeing anything, even moving my limbs was a major obstacle. This liquid was so viscous, it was as if I was an ant trapped in a jar of honey.
If only it was honey, I wouldn’t have such a huge difficulty breathing. I swam, trying to head to the surface, but this void was disorientating. Was I even heading up, or was I going even deeper?
I didn’t notice it at first, but the cold was getting to me. Wet to the bone, my body shivered violently, but it didn’t help at all. It was a race between drowning and freezing to death—I couldn’t tell which would get to me first.
What kind of memory was this? If I died here, would I wake up? Ordis could help me Memory Dive again, right?
A loud voice, followed by an electrifying shock to my brain. Gasping for air, I felt something freezing on the top of my head.
“If you don’t get up on time, I’m gonna try something nastier next time!”
The sensation of glutinous liquid around me? Gone.
The dreadful inability to breathe? Gone.
The piercing cold? Gone.
In an instant, all of the elements which brought me to death’s door vanished without a trace. My body felt perfectly fine, the only exception being my heart which was still pounding with the force of a battering ram. There was another thing that remained, though, and that was the wet, unpleasant feeling at the top of my head.
That was when it hit me—I was on my bed. I was still gasping for air. Did I wake up from a nightmare?
“Hahahahah! You look like you peed your pants!”
I wouldn’t mistake that cheeky laugh for anything.
Eveline’s voice, which usually felt like an over-enthusiastic banshee, overwhelmed me with warmth. I never realised how much I missed her until I heard her teasing.
Turning towards her, my sister looked exactly like how I remembered her. A simple, plain floral dress, the straps on her shoulders still bearing marks of repair and a mischievous smile underneath the curtains that were her long bangs—she hadn’t changed a single bit.
Then again, it had only been two days since I last saw her. Yet, after everything I had been through, it felt like an eternity.
Seeing her peppy and acting like her usual self unlocked the floodgates in my eyes. My little sister was here with me, at home. I really couldn’t hold in my relief any further and started to bawl.
Her attitude moments ago was nowhere to be found. I probably scared her from how much I was crying. My brain wanted to tell her ‘it’s nothing’, but my crying made it hard to mouth the words out.
“I’m sorry, okay! I promise I won’t pour water on your head anymore! Please don’t tell mum, I’m sorry!”
She hid the cup of water behind her back in guilt. That explained why my hair was wet. I didn’t blame her at all. In fact, if she didn’t wake me up, I would have died in that dark ocean.
As I wiped my tears away, my breathing started to return to normal.
“No, it’s not your fault. I just had a very bad dream. Thank you for waking me up.”
“I-Is everything okay?”
“I really thought I was gonna die, but then you saved me.”
Ah yes, my sister as I know her.
“You better wake up now, 'cause I’m not gonna save you from mum if you don’t.”
“You think I’ll still go back to sleep with this wet patch on my head?”
Unable to come up with a reply, she stuck her tongue out at me, this brat. Eveline left my room, but turned around and came back in.
“Oh, big bro, once you’re done with the animals, can you train with me?”
“No way, if my back isn’t already broken, it will be if I train with you.”
“I’ll tell mum you cried like a little girl~”
This lil—You were the one begging me not to tell mum in the first place!
“Awesome! I’ll be at my usual spot. Love ya big bro!”
Just like that, Eveline scooted off. Normally, this would be the part where I sighed in sheer annoyance. However, this time, it was one of relief.
This memory I was in probably happened near the start of my ten-year timeskip. Eveline still looked and behaved like the twelve-year-old tomboy that she was, eager to train in her make-believe martial arts instead of learning how to cook.
All things considered, I guessed I lucked out. I could have been thrown smack bang in the middle of a battle against demons, but I found myself in my home in Breven instead.
I got up from my straw bed and pulled out the dusty old hand mirror from my shelf. As expected, I didn’t really care about my looks since it probably had been years since I used this mirror.
The image in the reflection was the exact person I wanted to see. Brown hair, younger features—this was me! Being back in my own skin was a huge confidence booster. Mum’s necklace was still on my neck.
Damn, it felt good to be back.
Wiping the wet spot on my hair off with a nearby rag, I exited the confines of my room. I desperately wanted to see mum, so I left the house right away.
As I opened the door, I was greeted by the familiar sight of Breven Village. The adults were probably already at the field or tending to their livestock.
The welcoming scent of fresh air mixed with dirt and animals wafted in the air. I knew it, nothing beats the smell of a southern village. Even the air here was a lot different compared to the central region of the Kingdom of Adradia, where the Hero’s house and Allantheim was.
I could relax and breathe in all the air I wanted, but I needed to look for mum first. She was probably at the back of the house going about her routine in the garden.
True enough, she was squatting, harvesting chillies. It seemed that this memory took place in summer, given how ripe and red the chillies look.
“Mum!” I called out to her.
She turned her head and took a glance at me. As she continued plucking the chillies from their plants, she yelled:
“Evan! What are you standing around here for? Have you fed the animals yet?”
“I wanted to wish you good morning first!”
Her movements stopped. She was probably confused as hell since I wasn’t the type to wish people good morning.
Mum got up, turned around and had a puzzled look on her face. It was starting to sag and wrinkle. Despite that, her face was the one thing that I wanted to see more than anything else.
I resisted the urge to run into her arms and hug her. Mum was already perplexed by my behaviour. Also, I should not deviate from Hanasuke’s actions as much as possible. As an otherworlder who probably didn’t know my mum, he most definitely wouldn’t have done that.
“Well, if you wanted to do that, then you should wake up earlier! It’s almost noon. Go feed the pigs before they stuff themselves with their own dung!”
C’mon Evan, you should have at least acted a little bit more annoyed from getting nagged. Seriously, I was just so happy to see mum and Eveline again. Still, I shouldn’t let that distract me from my real objective here, which was to learn whatever I can from how Hanasuke fought.
As I headed towards the barn, I couldn’t help but wonder what would be the exact memory that triggered that. Did he develop a secret technique from training with Eveline? I simply couldn’t comprehend how an otherworlder would think. Heck, at this point in my life, did he even know he was the Hero yet?
As I placed these questions at the back of my mind, I also placed the animal feed where they belonged. Pigs, chickens, cows and horses—I could tell they were all eager to see me. Alright, I admit, they were probably happier to see their lunch in my hands.
Thankfully, today was a rather light day. There weren’t any problems with the animals and their pens weren’t that dirty. This was my routine for years. My body was simply moving on its own!
With the cows grazing around, it was finally time to go see Eveline. I headed to the tree on the hill where she usually trained. Why she chose such a ridiculous spot instead of a normal, flat surface, I had no clue. Kids were weird.
The hill wasn’t too far away from the village. Turning around, I could still see our house. At the top of the hill, I could see Eveline swinging the air with her sword.
“Hey! I saw that. You’re laughing at me, aren’t you!”
Sorry, Eveline. After seeing how Sereya and Melyeze fought, watching your techniques in motion “scared” the life out of me.
“If you’re gonna laugh at me, then you better back it up with your skills!”
Melyeze grabbed a spare wooden sword from behind the tree and tossed it to my feet.
Pointing her weapon at me in a stance, she introduced herself to me like an honourable warrior. Hmm, should I play along?
I picked up the sword and lazily pointed it back at her.