Chapter 1:

William Arklight (part 1)

Painted Tale

I was submerged in the darkness.

In the darkness, I waited, and waited, and waited...



Suddenly a bright flash of light appeared.

My ears were filled with joyful shouts and cries of a baby.

My vision, long used to the darkness, was overwhelmed by information.

My skin felt the sensation of air and human touch for the first time in what felt like an eternity.

By the time I came to my senses, a man in his early thirties was joyfully looking at me.

He had short brownish-black hair and almond-shaped brown eyes. Even though his facial features were slightly rough, his skin was relatively smooth, and he was clean-shaven, which gave an impression of neatness. His expression was filled with joy, and his gentle gaze was filled with warmth and love.

I tried looking around but found myself unable to lift my head.

"Uwaaah"— I kept hearing those annoying cries. That's when I realized something— the source of those cries was me.

"*&!&#^#%#&#^&*" An unknown language was filling up the room.

Suddenly, the black-haired man held me tight and carried me off somewhere. I could only see the ceiling, so I was unable to figure out where we were heading. Suddenly, we stopped, and I could feel another pair of hands wrapping around my body.

A woman's face entered my field of vision. She had platinum silver hair flowing down until her waist. Her round silver eyes betrayed an air of weariness, and yet her gaze was filled with gentleness and love. She was a beauty gifted with fine soft facial features. Her age was around the same as the black-haired man's.

The words, meaning of which I didn't know, kept filling up my ears.

At that moment I realized: The pair holding me tight were my parents.

I was reincarnated.



My name is now William Arklight. The world I ended up in is a world of swords and magic. The likes of which I've come across in all sorts of entertainment media in my previous world.

My father is Richard Arklight, a hereditary knight of the Renoa Kingdom.
Hereditary knight is a noble title awarded to knights whose accomplishments have secured them a place in the ranks of nobility.

Initially, when I saw his black hair, I took that as a sign of his eastern background. However, upon further notice, I realized that his features were those of a westerner. Apparently, hair colors in this world don't necessarily have anything to do with your race. How strange.

My mother — Eleonora Arklight — is a daughter of a traveling merchant who used to be a good friend of my deceased grandfather, the previous head of our family. Her father, aka my grandfather, was one of the most successful traveling merchants around here. He was a good friend of the former head of the Arklight family, and so he proposed that his daughter marries into the Arklight house.

While we might be nobles, our territories only include several small villages in the surroundings. Our land is on the eastern border of the Renoa Kingdom, near the Duchy of Donwell.

Last month I turned five. I finally have a good grasp of the language and understand most of the conversations around the house.

I died but was given a second chance. Since I got reincarnated, I've had a lot of stuff to think about.

I remember the bitter feeling I had in my chest when I was dying.
I remember my last wish: I want to experience hope once more.
So I decided to do everything in my power to fulfill that wish.
But there is a slight problem: I have no idea where to begin.

Well, first of all, I need to learn a little bit more about this world. I know that technology is on the same level as it was in medieval Europe. Or, at least, it is in the place I'm born in. There might be a discrepancy between the capital and the countryside, but I doubt it's too big.

Although, there is another factor that might play a big difference: Magic.
I don't know its capabilities, nor do I know if there is a limit to its usage. I've only seen it once when my father was practicing in the training ground in the backyard.

Currently, learning more about magic is my priority.

As I was pondering about my goals in my room, I hear the door creak.

I turn around to see a boy in his late teens, peeking into my room.

That boy is Edward Arklight, my big brother. His facial features were reminiscent of my father if only a bit more gentle and youthful. In his hands, he was holding a stack of books.

"Big bro?" I can  hear my unsteady high-pitched voice resounding across the room.

"Hey, Will, still sitting around in your room? Never really understood your desire to hole up inside," his words, as usual, have a tinge of worry he hides behind his casual tone.

"I don't like outside. I like my room more," The words that come out are rather clumsy. I can already understand the vast majority of what was being said, but I can't quite speak fluently yet. Well, At least I'm grateful that no one will suddenly proclaim that I am a genius child and send me to an elite academy in the capital or something like that. That does sound like a pain in the ass.

"What a weird kid. Were you some kind of a cursed shut-in in your previous life or something?" He says in a joking tone. Damn it, His jokes hit dangerously close to home...

"Big bro, why books?" Struggling to get off that topic, I ask him, pointing my index finger at the stack of books.

"Heh, I'm glad you asked," a slightly mischievous smile appears on his face, "it's time for you to start studying," he proclaims while slightly lifting the books in his hands. 

Apparently, the time I can laze around has come to a close. Still, do they really start studying in this world from five years old?

Unable to hear my complaints, Edward sat nearby and put the stack of the books on the desk. He began his lesson by asking me some questions.

"So, Will, what do you know about the kingdom we live in?"

"Name Renoa."

"Right, anything else?"

"King is main."

"Yes, the king is indeed the ruler."

"We noble."

"That's right, we are a part of the nobility as a family of hereditary knights. Though, of course, you and I aren't considered knights quite yet."

This time I stay silent. How the hell do you expect a five-year-old to be knowledgeable about politics, geography, or the economy?

Oh, that's right, there was one more thing I knew about this kingdom.
"Duchy neighbor"
He nods and resumes his explanations: "The Duchy of Donwell is our neighbor on the eastern border. There is some political tension between our countries... but that's beside the point." 

For a second, he seems slightly troubled, but he keeps on talking: "To the south of our kingdom is The Great Reina river, and to the north — the Freiden Republic."

He is explaining, his index finger pointing at the abovementioned places on the map. Finally, he gets to the western border.

"And here is The Wasteland."

The Wasteland. That name piqued my interest.

"The Wasteland empty?" I asked if it's called that way because it's a desolate area. Maybe a dessert of some sort? Or a tropical jungle?

"No, sadly, it's not. It's lively, way too lively."

"...?" I tilt my head in confusion.

"The Wasteland refers to all areas that do not belong to any country of intelligent species." He paused as if letting what he said to sink into my mind. "Instead, it's an abode of monsters ruled by Monster Kings."

"Monsters... Bad animals?" I ask. I meant dangerous but couldn't quite remember the word.

Are monsters the same as animals? What is the difference between a dangerous animal and a monster? All those questions kept swirling in my mind as I waited for his answer, silently cursing my lack of fluency.

"No, monsters and animals are different. While they have quite many similarities, monsters, unlike animals, need mana to sustain themselves. That's why you will rarely run across a monster within the kingdom unless you are close to the border, of course."

What? I can't see a logical connection between mana and being within the kingdom's territories.

Seemingly, sensing my confusion, Edward decides to elaborate on his explanation.

"You see, in that sense, intelligent races— I guess you wouldn't know what that means either, huh— I mean humans, are closer to monsters than animals. We also require mana to lead our lives, although in our case, we need it to develop our bodies rather than sustain ourselves. Mana helps us improve our physical capabilities so that we can maintain our livelihoods. The vast majority of mana, naturally produced within the kingdom daily, is consumed by its population. That's also why the average health level in the big cities is lower compared to the countryside."

" ... "

What? I was struggling to process what he said. Does that mean the use of magic dilutes the amount of mana in the air? But then what was that part about the average health level... Hmm, maybe that means...  

"Oh, sorry, was that too much information at once? Haha, you have such a focused expression on your face all the time that I forget you're only five..."

I interrupt his lengthy chatter.

"Me... Use magic?"

"Yes, that's right! Will also uses magic. All human beings do. It is used to make us stronger, more agile, more resilient. It also helps us overcome diseases and maintain our health. Because of that, the more overpopulated the area is, the more sickly its populace going to become."

I was processing the information in silence. I don't know what exactly does that mean. Are the humans of this world weaker than in my original world since they need mana to maintain their health and livelihoods? Or are they the same, and the assistance of mana makes them sturdier and healthier in comparison?

Either way, I'm lucky to be born in the countryside.

Althoug, there was one more thing that caught my interest.

"Monster Kings?" 

That's right, it's Monster Kings, not King. Does that mean that there are several kings? Do monsters also have several countries? That means they are intelligent enough for that. But, if that's the case, then what is the difference between monsters and intelligent species?

"Yes, Monster Kings. They are the strongest of monsters. Even though we call it The Wasteland, in reality, it is split into many different territories. Every single one of those territories is led by its own Monster King."

He pauses his explanation there, seemingly at a loss whether or not he needs to keep going.

"Well, I guess we will stop the geography lesson there," he says and then puts away the map and pulls out several books from the stack.

"Ok, Will, it's time you start learning how to write."

Oh great... Now, I'm stuck learning letters.



And so, I started studying the writing system under my brother's guidance. I'm not sure if it's the same everywhere or is only used within the kingdom. Regardless of that, it will be helpful in the future, so I can't slack off. So, right now, I'm listening to Edward's lecture on the writing system.

It is similar to that of the European languages of my previous world. The alphabet consists of forty letters, and the phonetics sound like a mix of English and French. Although, there are some similarities with the far-east Asian languages as well.

Aside from the alphabet, there are characters in use that bear a strong resemblance to the Chinese ones. They are called artoglyphs. Apparently, official documents and some books use a mix of the alphabet and the most common artoglyphs. Around one thousand artoglyphs are widespread, and nobles need to learn all of them before they come of age. Wait, Edward said some books, right? What about the rest of them?

"... While the books that are aimed at commoners use only the alphabet."

Books aimed at commoners? How is that possible? The level of technological advancement is around the middle ages, right? I know that books were expensive back then. Is it different in this world?

"Mm, Will, what's wrong?" Sensing my confusion but unable to understand the source of it, Edward stopped his explanation.

"Commoners... Read books?"

"Well, not all of them, but there are plenty of decently rich ones that can definitely afford a book or two. I said that those books are aimed at commoners, but that's not really the truth. Among the nobility, it is widely considered that books are primarily a source of knowledge. That's why the books that seek to entertain their readers are somewhat looked down upon. They are considered "the commoners' books." Although, in reality, many nobles read them as well."

Hmm, so there is quite a significant number of relatively well-off commoners. From Edward's words, it seems that many nobles also read those.

"Well, I guess that's enough for today. Any questions?"

There is something I'm curious about.

"Brushes expensive?" Since we had a couple of paintings in our house, I knew that brushes and paints exist. I just needed to know if getting them is a realistic goal.

"Huh, brushes? You're interested in paintings? Well, they aren't that expensive, but... Paints are a different matter. Even for nobility, a set of brushes and paints will cost quite a sum. It would be different if we were high-level nobility, but we are just a family of hereditary knights..."

I see, so getting a set of painting tools won't be easy... Oh well, at least I'll have a goal to strive for.

"Ok, you can rest for today. We'll keep going tomorrow, so brace yourself."

And that's how I started studying in this world. What a bother. Well, it's not like I expected to slack off for the rest of my life, to begin with...