Chapter 268: An impossible reunion

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TLN: I sincerely apologize for ending the chapter yesterday in such a sour manner. I was  thinking about putting out today’s chapter yesterday, but I had business to attend to and couldn’t manage to bring out 2 chapters.
Again, really sorry!

White as always.
After the night passed, I had come to a place I wouldn’t even imagine I would be a few hours ago.
The outside is pure white.
That place is, to my surprise…
“I am truly sorry, Waka-sama! I am aware that you are in the middle of clearing the labyrinth of Lorel, but…”
The one who is lowering his head is Shiki.
Actually, tomorrow is lecture day in the Academy.
At evening, I was planning on going to Rotsgard in order to have a preparatory meeting, so meeting with Shiki today was within schedule.
I simply didn’t expect it to turn into meeting in the morning.
Because of the sudden call of Shiki, I am currently at Kaleneon, a place I haven’t been to for a while.
“And so, how’s Jin?” (Makoto)
“He has regained consciousness, but he is still in a state of extreme agitation. I didn’t expect Jin to lose control in such a manner. It was my blunder.” (Shiki)
“…He is still alive. You don’t have to be bothered so much by it, Shiki. You must have estimated the amount he could handle when you had him train after all.” (Makoto)
That’s right.
Apparently, Shiki was training Jin, who was burning with desire to be employed by us, in a separate curriculum from that of the classes and had him take some work to see.
Of course, he wasn’t alone. The company staff was also with him.
The training itself was just as I said, not something that was too dangerous.
Regarding Jin, Amelia, and the students, I have given a relative amount of material for Shiki and have left it to him, and from what I have heard, there’s no problems.
By nature, it was a situation where there’s no need to call for me.
‘I am truly sorry, Jin has been seriously wounded. Please come to Kaleneon posthaste’, is the report I received in my sleep, and so, that’s why I am currently in Kaleneon.
From what Shiki has said, the treatment has been safely done and has shown the best results where no scars are left.
However, because Jin was about to die -not in a class, but in actual combat- he fell into a state of agitation.
…Well, at the classes, no matter how much they are conscious of death, lately, they have seriously understood somewhere in their minds that they won’t die.
Even if we corner them right at the borders of death, we wouldn’t go as far as actually killing them after all.
But actual combat is different.
For the sake of stealing, protecting, eating; they will fight the enemy and kill it.
Of course, only one side will survive and the other will die.
In other words, Jin has experienced the fear of actual borderline death that he has not experienced in a while, and his state of mind is currently unstable.
In terms of strength, he has plenty enough to work as an adventurer, but -fufufu- looks like he has finally stepped into the starting line of becoming a warrior in the real sense of the word.
He probably remembered the time with the lesser dragon and that has made him even more mortified and agitated.
That was also actual combat, but he was in a party, moreover, they had countermeasures before fighting, and they also had tenacity that surpassed their fear.
Now then…why was Jin on the verge of dying this time?
“…Actually, I am expecting Jin to act in Kaleneon’s matters. And so, I was thinking about having him experience fighting in a snow country and the way to fight there, so I brought him here with the intentions of having him learn in actual practice.” (Shiki)
“And  there was an unexpected factor that even Shiki was unable to predict. Is that how it is?” (Makoto)
“…Yes.” (Shiki)
Shiki’s bitter smile was heavy.
Maybe he thinks he has planted a trauma in his student.
Being honest here, I don’t feel like Shiki needs to feel so responsible about it.
I also have no intentions of blaming him at all for the injury of Jin.
After this, I plan on saying this to Jin when he gets somewhat better: ‘Don’t make Shiki worry’, ‘are you a weakling?’, ‘are your limbs decorations?’, which is just some light abuse.
I don’t know for what sake he did it, but he came to our place seeking strength, and said he desired to be employed in the Kuzunoha Company.
He should have known of its danger.
He himself has taken the lessons and has been watching us, so he should have known that there’s no way he would obtain power and money by sipping tea while watching the sunset.
If that wasn’t the case, he would have dropped out of class.
On top of that, he was suggested training by Shiki and he accepted it, and splendidly failed in it.
That’s right, he failed expectations.
At the very least, that how I have to think as the representative of the company.
Everyone from Asora is also going outside and doing their best as part of the company with pride, so the responsibility is heavier.
If it were simply about the class, it would be another story, but when it is about Jin and Amelia, I must make sure to act the part.
“Shiki, in this time’s matter, Jin betrayed your expectations and you were disappointed. That’s all there’s to it.” (Makoto)
“But I—! Am in part their teacher as well.” (Shiki)
“At the same time -for now, at least- you are the company superior of those two. Right?” (Makoto)
“That’s…yes, it is exactly as you say, but…” (Shiki)
“Then, let’s go with expecting the same as everyone at Asora in terms of work. Without the partiality that they are students. You are focusing too much on it.” (Makoto)
“Am I…really focusing too much on it? I admit that because he is under my tutelage and inexperienced, I have been soft.” (Shiki)
“That’s how I see it. No matter if he is a student under your tutelage, as long as he wants to work in the Kuzunoha Company, inexperience doesn’t matter. If we are going to hire them, it would be troublesome if they don’t properly show the strength we seek from them.” (Makoto)
“…Right. It is just as you say. If we are soft with only them, it wouldn’t be a good example for the people of Asora that have crossed the gate and working hard at the outside for the company. You are completely right.” (Shiki)
“I am leagues away from preaching Shiki though. Hahaha.” (Makoto)
“No, that’s not true. This is not good, I just end up treating them as students rather than acting as a superior. If they are going to be involved with the company, I have to properly do things.” (Shiki)
“That’s right, that’s the way to go. Now then, Jin should have calmed down by now. Maybe I should go with the: ‘hey, wimp’. And so, why did Jin end up that way?” (Makoto)
The mysterious factor that overturned the expectation of Shiki.
It interests me.
“That’s probably me~!”
From the other side of the room’s door, a response suddenly came in place of a knock.
No, this voice…
I have heard it before?!
“Is it okay to enter?!”
An energetic voice resonates in the room.
Obviously, I look at Shiki.
“There’s probably no mistake. Because of that person’s influence, Jin chased the mamonos too far and received an injury.” (Shiki)
I see.
It is a voice I have heard before, but…at the same time, there’s a sense of discomfort for remembering.
It is as if something is out of place. A strange sensation.
Who is it?
Well, for now, it seems like the other side doesn’t hold any hostility, so let’s have it enter.
“Please, go ahead.” (Makoto)
“Excuse my intrusion!!”
At any rate, it seems to be an energetic person.
I could tell before that person came in but, she is a girl.
She is in her teens and…

Around the same age as Jin and the others…
“Nice to meet you! It is an honor to make your acquaintance, Raidou-sama! At the orders of my father, Falz, I am on duty at the Adventurer Guild of Kaleneon, my name’s Sofia!!”
Short blue hair, both eyes not showing a single irregularity, and her energy is the same as before entering the room.
The dragon slayer that Root supposedly dealt the finishing blow to…has, for some reason, rejuvenated, and is standing in front of me.
Father, you say?!
“And that’s how it is. Because of me, it seems I made the apprentice-san there get injured. I am sorry.” (Sofia)
The young Sofia explained the situation for me, and lowered her head deeply —at me.
With no stiffness and no uneasiness showing.
No, that’s not on that level. This is…yeah, she clearly doesn’t know me.
It looks like she really doesn’t know.
For some reason, she seems to be incredibly interested in me and that part is eerie, but there’s not a single trace of her faking.
I don’t know everything that happened in her past.
But…if -and only IF-she didn’t have the objective of devouring Superior Dragons to be on the same level as Root, and didn’t have any sort of factor that distorted her into darkness as she grew up, she might have ended up being a woman like this.
Of course, that’s only an if.
But the young Sofia in front of me isn’t some sort of residual spirit of her or an undead, she has clear presence. Moreover, she is calling that Root as father.
…No, it wasn’t Root.
That’s how she called him.
“Raidou-sama?” (Sofia)
“Ah, right. I understand. It is nothing you should apologize for. It just means that our Jin is inexperienced.” (Makoto)
“Inexperienced?! It is true that he is a bit of a weird guy, but his skills were quite high. Ah! Could it be that in the Kuzunoha Company, even that is considered inexperienced?!” (Sofia)
The young Sofia talks to me with glittering eyes.
A bit of a weird guy. It is not like Jin is a weird guy.
But from what I hear of young Sofia, he is indeed weird.
I have also confirmed with Shiki, and it seems like what she says is true.
Sister Miranda, huh.
It seems like that’s what Jin shouted when he coincidentally met Sofia in the middle of his training and ran to her.
It wasn’t on the level of resembling an acquaintance, he was completely sure that this young Sofia was this person called Miranda.
Doesn’t sound like he went crazy from the cold.
In the first place, the current Sofia is clearly strange.
She is younger, doesn’t remember me, and her impression of the Kuzunoha Company is overwhelmingly good.
And that girl looks similar to someone else?
No good, I don’t understand.
“Can’t say he is skilled when he ended up injured just because his strength was not fitting for the place. It is true that if I am asked whether Jin is weak or strong in the Kuzunoha Company, I would say that he is an apprentice. He is still weak.” (Makoto)
“Uwaa~~! As expected of the world’s strongest war potential, the Kuzunoha Company! You are exactly how father said!!” (Sofia)

As I thought, even here she mentions Root.
This Sofia being here, or more like, everything about this is a scheme of his.
Going through the trouble of leaving this girl in Kaleneon, must mean that he was looking forward to me finding her and be taken aback by it.
And also, he expects me to go flying to his place asking for the circumstances of this.
…That’s exactly what I will be doing though.
That irritates me.
In the first place, what’s that about being the world’s strongest war potential.
That’s not an evaluation you give to a company.
“War potential, is it. Seriously, how ill-natured of Falz-dono.” (Makoto)
“No! My father always says this frequently. That being able to cooperate with the Kuzunoha Company is a big benefit for the Adventurer Guild. He said that Raidou-sama is an important and irreplaceable existence.” (Sofia)
“T-That’s why he said that you are his ‘most trusted person’ and send me to Kaleneon. I was looking forward to the day I meet you like this. That’s the truth.” (Sofia)
She looks happy.
Yeah, there’s no doubt about that.
There’s no doubt in her words.
Let’s start over. I will give her the chance.
It is certainly great.
But…that innocence, that pure way of her bringing the conversation to me, looking at her who is happy about this moving meeting of hers…for some reason, it was painful for me.
I still don’t understand the reason why.
The figure of Sofia enjoying life…looked pitiful.
I don’t know how, but Root has given her a life opposite of hatred, a life of happiness.
That’s how it is, and yet…
I can’t read the emotions of Shiki who is standing at my side.
He is simply showing a gentle expression as a superior of the company and at times, gesturing comprehension to the words of Sofia.
“Ah, he told me to keep this a secret, but I can’t lie to father and Raidou-sama, so I am telling you this, okay?” (Sofia)
The young Sofia made a troubled expression and then soon returned to the smile she showed until now as she said this.
Shiki’s eyebrow moves slightly.
…New information huh.
That ‘he’ she mentioned just now, is she referring to the person that rescued Jin at the base of the snow mountain?
That’s what Sofia said.
That there was a man who wiped out the mamonos that cornered Jin.
It is questionable for a person that’s challenging the snow mountain, but apparently, it was a knight-looking person that sported a full plate armor. Moreover, he was riding a strong horse.
There’s so many things to retort to that I don’t even know where to begin.
Being told this is some new sort of illusion magic would be more believable.
“He introduced himself as Aznoval. It seems like he saved the apprentice there, and when I arrived at the place, he said: ‘I am Aznoval…is the alias I go by as a knight -no I mean, an adventurer of ori– no, not that either, I am just passing by. By the way, where’s Tsige?’” (Sofia)
I know that name though.
“From the looks of it, I don’t think it was an alias but his real name. He was wandering Kaleneon, and was asking the directions for Tsige. That’s clearly weird.” (Sofia)
…That’s true. It is way too far.
It is like being in China, and asking the way to Finland.
If it’s from Silk Road to Middle East, that’s barely realistic.
Even if this world has teleport formations, the standard way of transportation in this world is at the level of the Middle Ages.
Anyways, Tsige huh.
If he is from the Adventurers of Origin, I can’t ignore that the name Tsige came out from his mouth.
First of all, let’s look at the state of Jin, and then, return to Tsige.
…I will leave the labyrinth exploration for the afternoon, and in that time, I will have everyone investigate about the things related to Iroha-chan.
Now that I think about it, Mio wanted to inspect the miso production.
It is dull but, as a small reward, let’s make it free time this morning with the pretext of investigation.
“At any rate, what should we do about that boy? I am not Miranda-san, and am not that boy’s sister though. Today is our first time meeting. If this were a new type of flirting, I would have been able to reject it…” (Sofia)
“I will be asking him that after this, so it may take a bit of time, but if you are okay with it…” (Makoto)
“If Raidou-sama says so. Also, please don’t use formal speech with someone like me. It seems like you are busy today, but it would make me happy if you were to lend me your time in the near future! Well then, I would feel bad taking so much of your time, so I will be leaving now!” (Sofia)
She doesn’t intend to meet Jin, huh.
But that’s true.
It would make me feel more at ease if this were simply Jin fallin’ in love at first sight with Sofia and him trying some nonsensical flirting.
Now then, let’s hurry.
I have to finish the business here and in Tsige while it is morning, and return to Kannaoi by the afternoon.
Tsige huh. It would be nice if there’s someone who knows about the objective of this Aznoval person though.

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