32 – The Crawling Shadow
And so, along with everyday life the seasons also gradually began to change. When Tatsumi was first summoned to this world, it was the season of the sea, in other words, spring. But now the seasons passed and it became the season of the evening moon–or winter as it’s called back on Earth.
The general residences of the capital Levantes were made of light brown coloured brick like objects. That’s why the outer appearance of the city looked completely light brown in colour. But after the snow started to fall everything became a world of white.
And the outer appearance of the city wasn’t the only thing that changed.
Tatsumi’s everyday life also took some huge changes.
Because Tatsumi was officially declared as a clerical knight, his rank as a priest also went up from Junior to Senior.
To begin with, junior priests were mostly priest apprentices, so it could be said that Tatsumi only became a priest in due form after that.
Of course, Tatsumi’s uniform and crest also changed to that of a senior priest’s. But putting the crest aside, surprisingly he didn’t have many chances of putting the uniform on.
Because since he became a clerical knight, most of the time inside the temple he was wearing his armor.
It was a chain mail armor denoted with a holy crest meant for clerical knights. Only captains were given Plate armor so like Tatsumi, most of the new clerical knights wore chainmail.
And then, the sword hung from his waist also made it clear that he was a clerical knight.
Of course, it didn’t have to be said that when Calcedonia first saw Tatsumi clad in a crested chainmail with a sword hung on his waist, she literally became haggard and spellbound like a maiden in love.
Including Tatsumi, all of the cadets successfully passed that ‘Graduation Test’.
Other than Tatsumi, the other four were each assigned to one of the different squads of the five knight squads.
The reason why Tatsumi was not assigned to a normal squad like Verse and the rest, was because his posting as a clerical knight was that of an exorcist.
That’s why, he had to take up anti-demon combat experience along side with anti-personnel combat.
To that goal, Tatsumi would probably use the monster hunter’s association in the town to participate in monster subjugation personally, or by forming small groups.
Though his path was ultimately a different one than his friends, it could not be helped as he was aiming for an exorcist.
So time passed as he sometimes did physical training along with his fellow knights, while at other times he practiced magic alongside Calcedonia and Giuseppe.
Every day after returning home he was greeted with Calcedonia’s sweet smile. He ate his fill of Calcedonia’s homemade dinner, took a bath, and along with her went to bed.
And for some reason, Tatsumi figured out that if he slept by hugging Calcedonia from behind her sleeping posture won’t go aggressive. So after that he made a habit of hugging Calcedonia to sleep.
Furthermore it was currently the season where snow and cold danced in the sky. As a result everyday going to sleep while hugging each other, feeling each others warmth was really comfortable.
Though his busy yet peaceful everyday life was continuing, day after day malicious shadows that wanted to ruin it started appearing.
“Oi, you over there! you’re that guy called Tatsumi right?”
It was when he was returning home after a good day’s work at the temple. He was suddenly called out from behind, so he instinctively turned around.
What he saw was three messy but huge built hoodlum or thug like men standing there.
They slowly approached Tatsumi as they began to show off their hammer like fists and arms each as long as a tree trunk.
“We got some matter to talk with you pal.”
“Talk…? Talk about what? Correct me if I am wrong but, this is our first meeting right?”
As Tatsumi looked at the men in doubt, the men started to grin as they surrounded Tatsumi.
“Well yeah. But heeey we’re all brothers here right? We won’t take much of your time… But this place is a bit inappropriate for our talk yeah?”
While putting his think arms over Tatsumi’s shoulders like he was his best mate, the man started to lead Tatsumi away.
The place the man wanted to go to was a dark alley by the side of the street. It seems like the ‘talk’ these guys wanted to have with him was the type people couldn’t have out in the open.
From the side, this event looked like some normal youth getting tangled up with some rough thugs or bullies. Though the people in the surrounding stared at the scene with anxious and inquisitive gazes, nobody came to help. They could clearly feel the violent aura of the three gorilla like men.
If Tatsumi was wearing his knight’s armor and crest, then the reaction from the people and the thugs might have been different.
But in this cold season constantly wearing his armor was a bit tough. Even though he could be wearing the armor over his clothes, the metal mail would turn as cold as freezing water in this season. So that wouldn’t be such a good idea.
That’s why when leaving the temple Tatsumi took off his armor and put on a winter warm sweater to keep his body temperature up.
Being half forcefully pushed along by the man, Tatsumi almost got dragged in. But the current Tatsumi was different from when he was first summoned.
While being pushed from his back, Tatsumi calmly observed the men. It seems like the men thought Tatsumi was scared so they completely dropped their guard.
Tatsumi aimed for a gap in their position, and quickly slipped away from the men. And as if to run away, he entered the dark alley himself.
“W-Wait a minute, you bastard!!”
“This idiot. He entered the alley by himself!”
They were at a loss for a moment when Tatsumi slipped away, but then seeing Tatsumi running into the alleyway on his own accord, the men started to smile evilly as they chased him.
And then, when the men finally stepped into the alley, Tatsumi was nowhere to be seen.
“W-Where the hell is he?”
The dim alley went straight ahead. And there was no place to hide here.
If he did go further down the alley. Then they should’ve been able to see his back at least.
But no, they could not see his figure.
The men somewhat impatiently started to look around for Tatsumi, contrary to their confident attitude from before.
They closely surveyed the surrounding, but as expected Tatsumi was not there.
“Damnit!! Did he go deeper?”
“That’s the only possible place dumbass!”
“Damn he’s a fast rat I’ll tell you that!”
The men continued to curse loudly as they chased after Tatsumi who they thought went further inside the alleys.
“What in the world was that all about…?”
While overlooking the men running and cursing from above, Tatsumi started to ponder.
Tatsumi was currently on the roof of one of the buildings that formed the alleyway. He was currently half buried by snow as he was lying down on top of the roof peeking out his head from one corner.
After running into the alleyway, Tatsumi immediately blinked himself into the sky. After that when the roof came into his field of vision he blinked once again to the roof. He then blended himself with the snow and started to observe the men.
The reason why he blinked twice was because from down the alley he could not see the top of the roof.
Obviously, Tatsumi had no intention of getting into trouble with thugs like them.
Then were those people simply eyeing Tatsumi to extort money from him?
No, they even knew his face and name. In other words, they specifically targeted him.
“I don’t know what’s going on but. For the time being I need to be a bit more careful. I better tell this to Chiiko and Mister Giuseppe too.”
Tatsumi hid on the roof for a few more minutes just in case the men came back. But in the end they didn’t.
“….Let’s go home. And it’s cold outside too….”
While quivering in the cold lightly, Tatsumi stood up shook off all the snow on him.
Being more prudent now, Tatsumi began to blink from one roof to another, making his way home.
At the same time as when Tatsumi was going through all this in another place,
The supreme pontiff of the temple of Savaiv was meeting with a certain person.
“It has been a while. I heard from Calsey about your health. Is everything alright now?”
The room was warm as the firewood in the fireplace flared up. Giuseppe came here to meet with an old friend.
“Yes. Thanks to that child’s magic, I get to see your old decrepit face one more time.”
“What random things are you saying? Aren’t we both old and decrepit?”
“Ufufu. Well that is true I guess.”
Even though they were both throwing insults at each other, the two had happy expressions.
That was how deep the friendship between the two were, to the point that they could calmly tease each other like this.
“So? Why are you here today? Don’t tell me you only came to check up on my health?”
“Of course not, Eleesha. The reason why I came today was to ask you something…. You, you’ve been sniffing around lately haven’t you?”
Giuseppe’s eyes which were calm all of a sudden became sharper. And as if to match that, Eleesha’s expression changed instantly too.
“Oh my. You’re quite fast.”
“Well I have a few eyes and ears too, yes. So, what’s your objective?”
“But is it not obvious? To me, Calsey is also like a grandchild. And I just want to find out what sort of person her partner is, that’s all… It would have been strange if I didn’t right?”
“Fumu… And so? In your eyes, how was son-in-law…How did Tatsumi seem to you?”
“Well…According to my trusted subordinates’ report, he seemed like a diligent person whom you could trust but… He’s too diligent. So on the contrary I find that a bit suspicious.”
All the reports Eleesha got about Tatsumi were filled of nothing but Tatsumi’s honest character.
He went to the temple early in the morning, and after finishing his duties there he came back straight home.
He looked a bit too sincere, a bit too honest as a man of his age. So Eleesha’s doubt was whether or not all of this was a facade.
Hearing that from Eleesha, Giuseppe immediately started to laugh out loud like a child who just heard the funniest joke in the world.
“Hohohohoho!! What? You were worried about that!? No no, you old vixens really don’t think like us normal folks do you?”
“Oh my? But I on the other hand find it strange that why an old badger like you didn’t find this point weird?”
Maybe she felt a bit offended after being laughed at so plainly like that, she asked with a sullen expression.
“This is exactly what they call the gap in common sense.”
“Gap in…Common sense?”
Giuseppe who finally stopped himself from another laughing outburst, nodded slightly.
“Just like that. You are aware of where Tatsumi came from right? Calsey should have told you.”
Eleesha nodded after being asked by Giuseppe. She knew that Tatsumi was summoned from another world.
“Tatsumi’s former world…Nihon was it? Tatsumi would still be considered a minor there, not an adult.”
“Wait. P-Please wait one moment! If I remember correctly, isn’t the boy called Tatsumi already 16 years old? 16 and still not an adult…?”
“That’s why I said, the gap in common sense.”
“So what you are saying is, though we have been thinking that Tatsumi is already an adult, Tatsumi, the person in question, still views himself as a minor?”
“… … Rather, he is unable to shake off his habits from his home world. From what I have heard from him, in Tatsumi’s home country, until one becomes an adult things like wine, Tabacco, gambling and the likes are all banned by the country’s laws. Of course, there are a few minors who go ahead and break these rules, but their number is on the smaller side. Almost all of the people in his age group generally live a life like his.”
“… So what in our eyes was an overly sincere lifestyle, for him was just spending his normal everyday life…?”
“Different countries have different lifestyles. And not to mention different worlds. In this case it’s a normal thing for one side’s common sense to be completely thrown out the window.”
Eleesha closed her eyes momentarily, as if to digest what Giuseppe said. And so after thinking for a while, she opened her eyes again.
“…… You mean I overthought things…?”
Eleesha said slowly, word by word. Hearing that, Giuseppe smiled in satisfaction.
“I am happy that you care about Calsey. But why don’t to try trusting that girl for once? And even after that if you are unable to believe in Tatsumi, why not trying to meet him directly? I believe that after meeting him once you will understand what sort of lad he is.”
“Yes…. It seems like I still have the bad habit of always viewing things in a bad light from the get go…”
Eleesha said with a bitter smile, while Giuseppe heartily laughed.
“Putting that aside. Nobles are people who like to use those under them first. Taking action personally only when it’s the worst case scenario. And besides, you are a person who’s used to dealing with other shrewd nobles. It cannot be helped if your viewpoint has become like so.”
“Well yes. Changing my approach depending on the opponent. For me to even forget that. I guess I really have turned old and decrepit.”
“What, there’s no need to feel so down. Against people with bad character, if you aren’t so prudent, then at the very last moment you won’t notice anything, no?”
As if being lured by Giuseppe’s happy smile, Eleesha too started to smile merrily.
But then, her expression turned serious once again.
“Speaking of people with bad character… There has been others snooping around that boy recently.”
“Oho? I have not heard that. So, who is it?”
“The heir to the house of Gargadon… you understand right?”
“Ah, that foolish boy who has no other redeeming features other than his bloodline? He’s still pursuing Calsey huh…”
Giuseppe himself was aware of the one called Lalaic Gargadon, so he put on a satisfied face.
“I know you well, If it’s you you’ve already done something right?”
“Yes. Whether that boy called Tatsumi really is the type of person Calsey said him to be… I was thinking of using Lalaic to find that out.”
“Umu. If it’s this, then it seems like I have to finally chastise these foolish greedy wolves. I feel bad about tricking son-in-law, but if it’s to stop all these things that make Calsey unhappy, I am sure he will agree as well. Fumu, I will be participating in the farce too, okay?”
Seeing Giuseppe who was smiling like a kid whose prank inventory just got raised by 1, Eleesha herself started to smile with a deep meaningful glance.
After blinking for a while, Tatsumi finally reached his home.
After unlocking the door with the magic key and passphrase, he entered the house.
There was a fire burning in the fireplace, so the house was all warmed up.
While breathing in that warm and cozy air, Tatsumi took off his outer wear and entered the living room. But then suddenly something assaulted him from behind.
—- Is it an ambush!?
While thinking about the men from before, Tatsumi’s face turned serious as he immediately looked behind over his shoulders.
But what he saw was the ever so familiar silver hair and ahoge swaying about left and right.
“Yes, it’s me! Ufufufu, were you surprised?”
Hugging Tatsumi from behind, Calcedonia was grinning cutely.
Looks like she wanted to surprise Tatsumi, so after he entered the room she jumped out of the door’s shadow and hugged him. She should’ve have sensed the magic fluctuations when Tatsumi blinked outside the house.
“…? Is something the matter?”
But seeing Tatsumi’s expression, she tilted her head in confusion.
Thinking calmly, it was nigh impossible for someone to set up an ambush here for Tatsumi other than Calcedonia.
All the locks of this house were magic locks, and they had passphrases to boot. Normal thieves would not be able to open them. And the passphrase itself was in Japanese, so other than Tatsumi and Calcedonia, who knew Japanese from her past life and had no trouble understanding everyday conversation, it was fundamentally impossible for people who didn’t know Japanese to be able to solve the lock.
Remembering all of that, Tatsumi once again relaxed.
And seeing Calcedonia who was looking at him in confusion, he told her about what happened on the way home.
“… Oh my? That means, someone is targeting master…?”
“… I think so too. But, I don’t think I have ever done something so that people would want to target me…”
Tatsumi still had a rather small amount of friends and acquaintances in this world. And he doesn’t remember doing something so that the other party would hold a grudge.
No wait, if there was then there’s only one possibility.
“…… Maybe, those guys were Chiiko’s devotees?”
It was no secret that Tatsumi was living together with Calcedonia.
If by chance the thugs he met today were actually the devotees of the <<Holy Maiden>> then it wasn’t strange if they wanted to grief him.
“Yeah…. But if that’s the case, then what should I do from now…? Well, if it’s running then I have confidence none can match up to me.”
Because of the characteristics of Tatsumi’s magic, it was quite hard to restrain or capture him. Well, if you could force Tatsumi into an area devoid of any mana, and put him in a very sturdy room without doors and windows then it was possible.
“I’ll tell grandfather about this tomorrow. Rather than that—”
Calcedonia grabbed Tatsumi’s hand and dragged him to the fireplace.
“Master’s body is completely freezing cold.”
“Well… I was lying on top of snow for a while.”
“If you don’t warm up soon you’ll catch a cold you know?…..Eii!!!”
Calcedonia once again hugged Tatsumi from behind while he was warming himself up sitting on the floor legs crossed before the fireplace.
“….So? Am I warm enough…?”
“Y-yup… It’s warm… Thanks Chiiko.”
Tatsumi was blushing, his eyes were swimming around looking away, fidgeting. But Calcedonia just giggled while hugging him from behind. Chuckling cutely, she brought her face over Tatsumi’s shoulder and started rubbing her warm cheeks on Tatsumi’s cold cheek.
So while momentarily forgetting about the crawling shadows aiming for them, in a certain sense the two returned to their everyday happy interactions.
 Nihon, aka Japan. Said in katakana.