Volume 1 - CH 14

Childlike Innocence

Marie and I were sitting on the back of a cart, while our parents were on the driver’s seat. Other villagers were also riding on carts like ours. The ride was bumpy, but I couldn’t complain about luxury in this world. Besides, I was excited to be going to the city, so the discomfort wasn’t too bad.

As we traveled, my sister and I chatted and enjoyed the scenery, passing through plains and forests. We encountered other travelers and merchants along the way, exchanging nods and hurrying along. Finally, after three hours, our father announced that we were getting close.

“Look, there it is.”

We all turned our heads to see the city in the distance. It was better built than I had expected, with walls, gates, and guards at the entrance. There were also many people waiting in line to enter. It seemed quite spacious, but I wasn’t sure if it was considered medium-sized or not.

Once we passed through the gate and entered the city, we found ourselves on a long street that seemed to bend to the left in the distance. The path wasn’t straight, and the buildings obstructed our view of the whole street, so I couldn’t tell if it had a grid-like structure. The city had a slightly messy and underdeveloped feel to it, but I was still thrilled to be there.

We parted ways with the other villagers, who were planning to meet up with us later. As our cart moved forward, our father reminded us not to wander off.

“First, let’s do some shopping. Then, let’s stop by the blacksmith’s shop before heading back home. Don’t wander off or you’ll get lost, so stay with us no matter what.”

“Okay!” Marie and I replied in unison. We agreed obediently.

Ah, of course, we’re just children. It’s clear that I won’t be able to investigate anything freely, especially when it comes to magic. I’m not even sure what I’m looking for.

There are no libraries in this country, nor are there many bookstores. All we can do is look around for something else. Despite this, I’m still just a child and can’t wander around the city by myself. But when I grow up a bit, I’ll be able to explore on my own. For now, I’ll keep my eyes open and make mental notes of the places I want to visit in the future.

As I observe the cityscape, I notice that the buildings are a mix of wood and stone, and the construction is rough compared to modern times. However, it looks normal for this era. Our clothing is simple and plain in color. Men are often dressed in shirts and pants, while women are often in dresses. They are mostly the same, with some variations. Similarly, the people walking around the city look similar, but there are some who wear armor or look like mercenaries. It’s a rarity in the village, but here it seems to be more common.

As we slowly walked down the street, we stopped in front of several stores, leaving me and Marie waiting in the carriage. Most stores are small, and going with a large group would be a hindrance. There are hardly any large stores, mostly small independent ones. So, I wasn’t particularly dissatisfied, just bored.

However, what struck me as odd was my sister’s behavior. She’s smiling more than usual and fidgeting. Even while we were waiting, she seemed distracted, looking around at her surroundings. Perhaps she’s excited to be in the city or had something planned. I couldn’t quite tell, but it’s unusual for her.

“What’s wrong, sis?” I asked.

“Huh? No, there’s nothing wrong.”

“Really? You seem uneasy.”

“Uh, no, I’m fine.”

But it’s clear that she’s worried about something. Although it didn’t seem like a bad situation, I decided not to press the issue any further.

As we visited several shops, the wooden crates and barrels in the back of the cart increased in number. Despite not having much space, Marie and I started to enjoy ourselves. After all, it’s more exciting to be in a cart with a lot of stuff than an empty one, right? Or is that just me?

“Alright, we’re done shopping. Next, we’re going to the blacksmith’s.”

The word “blacksmith” sounds somewhat romantic, but I’m not too interested. I can’t use a sword, and I prefer to be a mage over a swordsman. However, Marie seemed excited, and her restlessness reached its peak as we neared the blacksmith’s shop.

She started shaking her feet, a nervous habit that was unusual for her. I wondered if there’s something at the blacksmith’s that’s causing this. It’s amusing to observe her, so I didn’t say anything.

After traveling a fair distance, we eventually reached a narrow alley, where the carriage stopped.

“Okay, everyone, get out.”

“Are we all going in together? Is that okay?”

“Don’t worry about it here.”

Descending from the cart, we looked up at the shop. As children, it appeared quite large, but it was just an ordinary store. It was spacious enough for all four of us to enter without any problem. The signboard had an illustration of a sword and shield, and the words “Blacksmith Glast” written on it.

When Dad went inside, we followed. The interior was decorated with various kinds of weapons and armor, such as swords, spears, axes, hammers, shields, and armor, among others. I looked for anything related to magic, but there was none.

There was a morning star, but it was not a magical weapon. It seemed more suited for use by priests.

“Oh, welcome… Oh, it’s Gawain,” said a man who appeared to be around the same age as Father, as he sluggishly emerged.

The short-haired man sighed when he saw Father. He was thin, but his body was toned.

“What a way with words. Glast. Aren’t I a regular here?”

“Oh, yes, that’s right. Sorry about that. You came to pick up the order, right?”

“Is it ready?”

“I made an excellent piece. It’s for the young lady. Ah, yes, of course. Sorry for the late introduction. I’m Glast, and this… ah, I’m like a friend of your father.”

“Hi, I’m Marianne.”

“Hello, I’m Theon.”

When Marie and I greeted him, Mom smiled happily beside us. Glast nodded approvingly and said to Dad, “They’re surprisingly well-mannered. Hard to believe they’re your children…”

“I’ll punch you.”

“Stop it. Your fist really hurts. Anyway, wait a minute, let me get a sword for you.”

As soon as he said that, Glast went back inside and quickly returned, holding a small sword in his hand. As he had mentioned earlier, it was probably Marie’s sword.

“Here you go. I shortened the blade and made it lighter for a child’s use. It should be easy to handle. The scabbard has some decorations, so it should look pretty stylish,” he said, handing the sword to Marie.

When Dad nodded, Marie received the sword from Glast. The scabbard had some gem-like objects on it, and the surface was adorned with beautiful patterns, making it look like a sword that nobles would carry. It didn’t seem like a cheap product.

When Marianne drew the sword, the blade became visible. It was indeed short, perhaps even shorter than a wakizashi, but it was still almost as long as a long sword. It seemed like quite a piece of work, even to an amateur. It looked like it would have a good cutting edge.

Marie bowed to Glast once again after returning the sword to its scabbard.

“Oh, thank you very much,” Marie said.

“Don’t mention it. I’m getting paid for it anyway. But I put a lot of effort into making it, so it’s sturdy and can cut through just about anything. Just be careful with it. Not many kids your age have their own sword. Giving you this sword means I trust you. Don’t betray that trust,” he replied in a rough tone.

Despite his gruff demeanor, it was clear that the he had put a lot of thought and care into making the sword for Marie.

Although it was their first meeting, Marie guessed that Father had told the blacksmith about her. Maybe to him, she and her brother were like nieces and nephews.

After hearing his words, Marie pursed her lips and looked serious. She’s a serious girl, and she wouldn’t do anything to break the trust he had placed in her.

“Anyway, I still can’t believe that Gawain has childs. When he’s younger, he’s a playboy who traveled the world and dragged me along with him. And then, in the middle of his travels, he met Emma and fell in love with her. That’s why he settled down in the Kingdom of Listia.”

“Hey, Glast! Don’t say unnecessary things! Gl-Glast! Do you want me to make it so you can’t talk?”

“Aww, scary! Stop it! The kids are watching!”

I couldn’t help but feel a little envious of the close relationship between her father and Glast, despite the latter’s strange behavior. I also felt happy to see my father making such a face, and Mother giggling quietly in the background.

“Anyway, I’ll be back sometime soon! And hey, don’t work too hard all the time. Come visit us sometime,” Father said, coughing and straightening up.

“Thanks for the invitation, but we’re actually pretty busy. We even have regulars who come in for repairs and consultations. We could hire someone, but we’re saving up to expand the shop. For now, I’m handling it alone. It’s not perfect, but it works. The only problem is finding time to rest. But you coming to visit us is a nice break.”

“I see. Well, maybe I’ll bring the kids with me next time.”

“Oh, okay. The boy is next. No, wait, it’s Theon. You’re learning sword fighting, right?”

“Well, I tried to learn, but it wasn’t really my thing. I’m thinking of trying something else.”

“I see. Well, parents and children are different. Just because a parent is good at something doesn’t mean their child will be too. You just have to be mindful of what you can do, what you can’t do, what you want to do, and what you don’t want to do. If you live your life paying attention to those four things, you should be able to enjoy it to some extent.”

The words of someone who has turned their hobby into their job really carry some weight.

Father chuckled in disbelief as he watched Glast with a childlike smile.

“Heh, even this is hard work, you know. There’s a lot to it. But well, it’s fun too.”

“I’ll send you a flower or something when you expand your shop and achieve your next dream. Now, we should be going. Sorry for the interruption, Glast.”

“Yeah, come visit again!”

Marie and I waved our hands at Glast, who waved back with a cheerful buzz. As we left the shop and got onto the carriage, a scenery began to unfold before us.

“Glast was a good person, wasn’t he?”

“He wasn’t a bad guy. Just a bit rough around the edges in his speech and behavior.”

“Oh, you used to be like that too, you know.”

“Huh, really? I don’t remember much about my past.”

Father averted his gaze while mother smiled happily beside him. It seemed like they both had their own struggles in the past, but I didn’t want to pry too much.

Beside me, Marie held her sword with a delighted expression.

“I’m so happy. I was all fidgety because I knew I was getting a sword. Well, my birthday was coming up, and Father said he’d buy me a sword.”

“But why did you hide it? You could have just told me.”

“It’s not that I was hiding it… I just felt a bit bad, you know? Theon isn’t getting anything, so I was the only one who was getting something… I thought it’s a bit selfish.”

“But it’s a birthday gift, right? Besides, I’m your younger brother, so I don’t really want a sword or anything. You didn’t have to worry about it, Marie.”

“….Maybe you should be a bit more selfish, Theon.”

“I’m not being selfish. You’ve done a lot for me.”

“That’s not what I mean.”

I wondered what she meant by that. Oh, I see. She means that I should ask for things I want. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever asked for anything before.

Sis has gotten sweets, clothes, and now a sword, but I haven’t gotten anything. But then again, I don’t really want anything. I do wish there was something magic-related that I could get though. But it’s not like I can get something that doesn’t exist. So, I guess there isn’t really anything I want.

“Alright, let’s go back. Is there anywhere you want to stop by?” Father asked, but my sister and I shook our heads.

“Theon, is there anything you want to buy? We can’t afford anything expensive, but if it’s within reason, I’ll buy it for you,” he offered.

“No, I’m good. I don’t really want anything,” I replied, prompting my parents to exchange looks.

“Are you sure? Don’t hold back if you want something.”

It seemed like they were concerned about me, just like my sister. Perhaps because I never seemed to want anything. But it was the truth; I didn’t want anything.

As I was about to decline again, something caught my eye in the distance. I couldn’t quite make out what it was at first, but the shop stole my interest right away.

“Um, what’s that over there?” I asked, pointing to the shop.

All three of them turned to look, and their reactions were mixed. My sister looked surprised, my mother looked troubled, and my dad scowled.

“That’s a place you don’t need to know about, Theon,” Father said.

The sign above the shop read “Fairy Shop,” and for some reason, I felt uneasy as soon as I saw it. The feeling had been in the air even in the carriage.

My parents seemed to be avoiding the fairy shop for a reason that wasn’t immediately clear to me. I couldn’t immediately think of a reason why, so I spoke with curiosity.

“Could it be… that they sell fairies?”

“Did you hear that somewhere?”

“No. You mentioned before that there are people who procure fairies. I thought that might be the case.”

Fairies were small, humanoid beings that were more like phenomena than creatures. There was still much unknown about them, but I knew they looked like people and some people bought them.

They kept them as pets or something similar, but the idea of owning a creature that looked like a person was unsettling to many.

Father seemed to be deep in thought, still scowling as he pondered something. I must have given him a lot to think about.

“Sorry, I just got curious, so don’t worry about it. Shall we go back?” I said, hoping not to cause any trouble.

Unfortunately, my words didn’t seem to alleviate my parents’ worries. Instead, they appeared slightly saddened by what I had said.

“Okay. Let’s go back,” my father reluctantly agreed.

“Yes, let’s go back,” my mother added with hesitation.

As we moved down the street, I couldn’t help but think about how difficult it is to navigate things as a child. I wished I could handle things as well as my older sister, but sometimes my adult self gets in the way.

I understood that being a well-behaved child would be less of a hassle for parents and make their lives easier. However, at the same time, they might worry or even become sad, wondering if the child is just putting up with things or if they could be more trouble but are holding back.

While I’ve never been a parent, I have experienced being an adult. Therefore, I understand how adults think of children to some extent.

As I glanced at the fairy shop, I saw a wealthy family leaving the store. The child was holding a large bottle, and inside was something small and humanoid. For some reason, that scene burned into my mind.

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