About two months after the two-country joint mission ended temporarily and we returned to Marihect──
It was reported that the tunnel leading to Aricalen was opened.
Aricalen is a country surrounded by mountains, and although it’s connected to Eri by several tunnels, all of them collapsed, so repair work was being carried out in a hurry.
First of all, I knew that the construction was proceeding with the priority of at least opening one tunnel.
Before returning to Marihect, to explain why it collapsed and find out why they can’t contact Aricalen, we were informed that we might be called again.
However, it seemed that there was no call this time.
The messenger only reported that the tunnel had been opened before returning.
I wonder if Eri could handle it by itself.
If they could, then that’s that.
So I just spent my day as usual.
Rodo went to the barracks while I headed to the healing area or went to the market with my parents-in-law or watched Rodo’s training or my sword-wielding parents-in-law…
It might be my bias…I don’t think it is, but Rodo was the coolest.
Of course, my parents-in-law were also cool.
And sometimes, when they’re in the form of an Akinist, I could enjoy the bliss of stroking them.
…if they transform, it seems that the Akinist aura will cause damage to the surroundings, but since our houses are located away from the others, I think it’s okay to do it at home.
Even after stroking Rodo, who became a beast at home, no complaint was issued.
On a day I was spending my leisurely time like that.
I was called by Aricalen as a “healer”.
It seemed impossible for an ordinary healer alone.
Last time, I just came as Rodo’s companion, so even if I cast magic or heal, I wouldn’t earn that much.
I knew that before I went, so I have nothing to say about it.
I’m not a magician nor a healer.
I’m just accompanying as “Rodo’s partner”.
Normally, I can’t be by his side with just that identity.
Since other people’s partners would remain in town or country.
I was only able to accompany him, probably because I said, “I might want to participate in the monster subjugation and maybe heal the injured?”
In fact, I participated in the monster subjugation and sometimes healed.
But it’s different this time.
Being ordered to heal by the “country” meant that I could go to Eri as a “healer”.
When they called me, I told His Majesty that Rodo would be with me.
So this time, Rodo would be heading to Aricalen as my companion.
When staying in another country, Rodo or my parents-in-law would never leave me.
That’s because my power is special so this was to prevent kidnapping.
I’m also a magician, so I can defend myself.
…but I can’t say that I’d “never be attacked”.
If I fall asleep, I’d be powerless, and if my magical power was blocked, I might not even be able to escape.
Marihect, who knew the threat of an Akinist, wouldn’t do that, but in other countries, some people don’t know what an Akinist was capable of.
That’s why Rodo won’t leave my side.
Rodo was quite angry with my parents-in-law when he picked me up in Eri at that time.
(How did he find out?)
I thought, but apparently, my mother-in-law said it.
Didn’t she know that Rodo would get angry?
The three became more overprotective from that day on.
And since then, I have had no time to be alone.
Even after returning to Kalzen.
And even now when I’m heading to Aricalen.
…because we’re riding on Sig together, it’s natural that we’ll stick together.
Even during the break.
I’d be on Rodo’s lap the whole time.
I feel spoiled every day.
At first, I didn’t really like being spoiled or pampering others.
I also liked my time alone.
But now, I think sticking together is also nice.
It’s been over a year since I came to this world.
As usual, I didn’t find out anything about my circumstances.
…and I have a lot more questions.
It’s been over a year since I came here.
Over eight months since I became this figure.
Yet I noticed that my hair didn’t grow.
As you continue in your humanized form, your hair and nails would usually grow.
And once the people here could humanize, their beast form would not change.
In other words, am I currently in my beast form?
But even in my child form, nothing changed.
I can’t feel any growth.
So I thought of my grown-up figure.
I became like that.
I wondered if I could get what I wanted, but when I thought of an old figure, nothing happened.
Is it because I’ve never experienced it?
I’ve never imagined myself as an old man.
I’m more like my mother so it doesn’t make sense to think of my father.
Even when I think of my mother dressed as a man, something feels off.
And still, nothing happened.
I decided not to think about my situation, which would just add to the questions.
…now I don’t know what to think.
If we don’t go through here, we can’t go to Aricalen.
They said they repaired one of the collapsed tunnels as soon as possible…so it’s fine, right?
Actually, I’m not good with tunnels.
I’m not bad at dark places, but I avoided it as much as possible since I was in Japan.
When asked why I avoided it, I could only say “because I’m scared”.
I don’t know what’s scary though.
And I don’t know why I think that way.
It might be a little different from being scared like my phobia of dogs.
Maybe the type of “scariness” was different?
I don’t even know that.
But I’m scared.
“…Rodo, hold me tight.”
“Ko? …are you scared?”
I turned my body and hugged Rodo.
Because he’s holding the reins, he only had one arm around my body.
I’m dissatisfied with only having one arm around me.
But in that state, we proceeded through the tunnel.
(No. No. …I’m not in a tunnel. I’m just in Rodo’s arms.)
Like how I’m telling myself, I kept thinking like that.
I pressed my face against Rodo’s chest and didn’t look around.
When I tried to hear Rodo’s heartbeat, my loud heartbeat interfered.
(Scary, scary, scary, scary…)
No good, that’s all I could think about.
I couldn’t help but be scared.
My breathing became shallower and I took a breath on his shoulder.
I couldn’t stop sweating and I had difficulty breathing…
“Ko!? Do you want to go back? You don’t have to overdo it.”
I could hear Rodo’s voice from a distance.
He’s hugging me so I should be able to hear him more clearly…
After finding out that Rodo was trying to turn around, I lost the feeling of Rodo’s arms hugging me.
When I opened my eyes, I was in a place I didn’t know.
I’m standing somewhere…or not.
(Where? Here is…)
I looked around the room and after a while, I knew where it was.
I didn’t recognize it at first because it didn’t have the furniture and desk I was using, but the view from the window was the same as what I could remember seeing from my room.
(Since there are no traces of furniture on the tatami mats, did they replace it with a new tatami mat?)
The curtain on the windows was something I’ve never seen when I was here.
What’s in this room was a small…Buddhist altar?
Then…when I looked at it──I took a breath.
The one in the photo that seemed to be a ghost was me smiling in front of the university.
It was taken by my mother as a memorial when I went to university.
(I…died in Japan?)
So that’s why I could go to Rodo’s world?
The door suddenly opened which surprised me, but the other person didn’t seem to notice me.
Am I in an out-of-body state right now?
My body is transparent.
“I’m home, Big Brother.”
The one who said those words to the Buddhist altar was…Sou?
From how I remember Sou, it seemed like he’d grown a lot.
It didn’t look like only a year had passed.
The last time I saw Sou was in his first year of junior high school.
However, the uniform that Sou is wearing now seems to be from high school.
(A high school student…? Is the time axis different from that world?)
Originally, he should be in his second year of junior high school.
However, the fact that Sou is now a high school student meant that at least three years have passed.
He has such a strong back.
Is he still playing basketball?
He seemed quite tall.
…or am I not just tall enough?
I intended to call out but I couldn’t make a voice.
I couldn’t even speak.
I tried to touch the back of the person facing the Buddhist altar but gave up when I saw my hand passing through.
Now, I couldn’t interfere with this world.
But even though it’s been so many years, I’m glad I could touch him even in this way.
I thought he hated me but that was just me overthinking things.
(Sou, thank you very much.)
I couldn’t touch him, but my arms went around him like a hug to express my gratitude.
(T-that surprised me…)
Suddenly…I was surprised when my younger brother stood up.
…maybe my feelings reached him?
(I’m happy then.)
Since he had such a reaction, maybe he could see me right now?
(…that’s too much hope.)
But knowing the truth in this way was a step forward.
(Please forgive me for hiding.)
I shed tears and sent undeliverable words to Sou who was looking around.
(Bye-bye. I love you, Sou.)
My precious family.
I couldn’t help it but you were cute, my younger brother.
I can’t see you anymore, I can’t talk to you anymore, but I want you all to be happy.
(I’m being called…)
I heard a dear and irresistible voice.
The next moment when I turned my face to that voice──
“Ko!! …thank goodness.”
Rodo’s deep blue face was in front of me.
“Ko wasn’t breathing. I thought I would lose…”
He strongly hugged me and his tears fell.
The rattling breath and trembling body were proof that Rodo is in pain.
“Rodo, I’m sorry. I worried you…are you okay?”
I called out many times from his arms that wouldn’t loosen…but Rodo didn’t move at all.
“I’m fine. I won’t go back to [Japan] anymore. …I can’t go back. Because I’m dead in [Japan]. So I won’t suddenly disappear, okay? I’ll always be with Rodo until the end of my life.”
“…did you go there?”
When I thought it finally worked, I only heard a part of what he said.
“You will never go to Niho again!”
“That’s why I’m saying you got it wrong! Just listen to me!!”
With bloody eyes, he hugged me…no, he was trying to hug me even more, but I stopped him in a hurry.
Rodo’s serious hug couldn’t be endured by my body.
It’s going to be a pain.
“I’m dead in [Japan]! I can’t go back if I don’t have a body, right? …I’ll be with Rodo all the time. I will live as Rodo’s partner forever.”
When I said that, he finally lost power from his arms.
“I’m worried about this, but not now.”
When he smiled, I was finally relieved but Rodo had a tearful expression on his face.
I licked the flowing tears and it tasted ridiculously sweet.
When I licked all the tears, his face appeared in front of me.
However, he seemed to have turned back so we have to go to Aricalen from now on.
“Wait until tonight?”
Rodo looked disappointed at those words.
…he’s cute, though.