A Misunderstood Mentor – Chapter 5 – Thus, to a Legend
“I will definitely come again.”
Leaving those words behind, the black dragon Noiria walked out of the cave.
Her last words left me shivering.
It was something truly regrettable. It might seem pitiful, but I wished she wouldn’t come again. My heart could only take so much.
“I will be awaiting your return.”
Ignoring Reia, who crushed my wishes the instant I made them as always, I started to tidy up the pot and fire. The leftover stew would be for tomorrow. I’d mix it up with rice next time. I had thought that this was going to be my last meal, but I was truly grateful that I would get to eat tomorrow. Ah, life is a joy.
“Ah, Takumi, let me clean up the mess. Please let yourself rest.”
“No, it’s already getting late. Why don’t you head on home? No matter how strong you are, the mountain paths at night are dangerous.”
“Huh? Go home?”
“Huh? You aren’t going home?”
Reia sounded surprised, but I was even more surprised.
“Alice taught me that when being initiated to the master’s techniques, the disciple must stay by the master’s side. I was under the impression that I would live with you.”
“No no no, that’s impossible. You’re already an adult. Just go home and come back tomorrow.”
After saying that, I remembered what Reia said some time back.
“Oh yeah. Didn’t you say that your heart was fluttering and your temperature was rising? Go to the village’s doctor.”
“No. I will not leave.”
For the first time since she came here, Reia disobeyed my orders.
“Those mysterious irregularities in my body could only be an aftereffect of your power. I have never felt something similar since I was born.”
But what did that have to do with me? I had no power to speak of.
“But for some reason, that sensation doesn’t feel bad at all. Within the tightening feeling, somewhere, I can feel my power surge up. I can’t really explain it well, but I feel like if I can harness this power, I will become stronger.”
Hello? Was she even speaking my language?
That sounded kinda scary, though.
I wondered if she would just explode out of nowhere.
“Well, anyways. An unmarried woman cannot be living with an old man in his thirties…Stop, put away that dagger. Don’t just try to commit suicide every time I say something you don’t like.”
“I have sacrificed everything to the path of the sword. Useless distractions like gender are irrelevant.”
I couldn’t even. This girl seemed to be the type that wouldn’t get destroyed by facts and logic.
Perhaps Alice sent Reia over to me because she couldn’t deal with her either.
“I get it. Let’s start off by not trying to commit seppuku. I’ll also let you live with me.”
“Thank you very much.”
Just like when she first came here, she looked like she was about to hug me, but she stopped at the last minute. Her face suddenly right next to mine, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit awkward. After a moment of closeness, Reia jumped away, flying backwards with a clonk.
“I-I’m sorry. In my joy, I was about to break your ban on touching.”
“Uhhh, yeah, be careful next time.”
Looking down at my feet, I noticed that the cave floor had a few cracks in it almost as if an explosion had occurred here.
This girl’s self-destructive properties had even spread to my home…
“But your power is truly amazing. Even though we didn’t touch at all just then, I could feel your power surging inside me. It felt like my heart was going to burst open.”
That was definitely some kind of horrible unknown disease.
I’d hoped for her to go visit a doctor quickly, but when I mentioned it, she tried to kill herself. What could I do at this point?
“If you can’t even control that level of power, there’s no hope for you.”
“Y-Yes. I’m sorry.”
I only hoped that she could cure the disease by herself.
“Alright, let’s go to sleep. From now on, this side will be your area.”
I drew a line on the cave floor with a stick.
“Huh, are we not going to sleep together?”
Of course not.
I couldn’t sleep if we did.
“Do you think you are qualified?”
Reia slapped her thigh.
“If we slept together, my current power wouldn’t be able to oppose yours and I’d die. It’s something like that, isn’t it.”
“Good that you get it. That’s exactly right.”
The truth was that I’d be the one to die.
I had absolutely no experience with women.1 Just living together with a real, living woman was my limit.
I laid down straw on both of our sides, enough to be used as two separate beds. A huge wave of drowsiness hit me right as I finished tucking myself in.
I was really tired.
I still couldn’t tell if the entire day was a dream; maybe my life would go back to normal once I woke up.
I quietly fell asleep wishing for a peaceful life.
The sound of something being shaved off woke me up the next day.
Only a few specks of dawn’s light entered the cave. I rubbed my eyes, looking at what was making that noise so early in the morning.
Potatoes, cut to pitiful sizes, were stacked up in a mountainous pile.
“Good morning, Takumi.”
Reia eloquently greeted my as she peeled potatoes with her dagger.
My precious stockpile for the upcoming winter had all but disappeared.
“Yes, my excitement for being your disciple eclipsed my need for sleep, so I’ve been following your teachings.”
This was very troubling.
At this rate, we’d both starve this winter.
“Rei, let’s limit the number of potatoes you practice with to one a day.”
“But I won’t be able to learn anything at all. What would I even be doing in the remaining…time.”
A lightbulb flashed over Reia’s head in the middle of her speaking,
“Thinking about that is also a form of training. I understand it all.”
“Good that you get it. That’s exactly right.”
Well, all I wanted to do was save what remaining potatoes I had.
I did my best not to cry seeing the tragic ruins of what were once perfectly good potatoes. I decided to mash the potatoes and make it into a soup. It wasn’t something I’d eat normally, but there was no sense in wasting precious food.
But, just then, Reia suddenly drew her katana.
“You, what do you mean by this!?”
I wondered if she got tired of her dirt-poor master, still cleaning up the ruined potatoes. I resigned myself to death.
“Good morning, Takumi.”
Standing at the entrance to the cave was the very same black dragon from yesterday.
“I did say that ‘I’ll be awaiting your return,’ but it’s only been a day? You are taking Takumi’s mile here. Do you still not understand even with how much we’ve said already? Or do you think that you became strong after a single night’s sleep. It doesn’t matter. Takumi, let’s do her in.”
More accurately, I couldn’t beat Noiria even if I was fully clad in plot armor with an ability that granted me power from flashbacks and friendship.
“Wait, Rei. Let’s not have needless violence.”
Noiria’s mood seemed different from yesterday.
She didn’t seem to be overflowing with killing intent but instead with a gentle aura.
“Ah, that’s right, Takumi, I have something to report to you.”
Noiria kneeled on the stone floor.
For some reason, I had a very bad premonition.
“We, as dragons, have pledged our entire race to serve you. I beg you to lead us as our new king.”
I had no words.
Looking at Reia, she was completely nonplussed, as if this was a matter of course. She was even nodding along.
I could hear the noise of my peaceful life shattering into a thousand pieces.
Thus, a legend began.