The sounds of clinking cups signaled the beginning of a celebration that would continue into the morning. It was a celebration that spread out to the other customers in the tavern, transforming into something more like a festival.
“Ah, what a fight! What a fight it was!”
“Yes, it felt good to destroy rare items and artifacts like they were nothing!”
Gardo and Ness laughed boisterously. Ness had been crying during the early moments of the battle, but I suppose he turned around and just took out his frustration on the Automatas instead. He seemed like he didn’t care now.
“The cores alone would have been worth quite a lot by themselves. But then again, they would have been impossible to take, since they were filled with the enemy’s magic.”
“Of course… They would self-destruct and you would die!”
Well, things might be different now… I suggested. Ness’s eyes suddenly changed.
“But don’t do anything stupid, alright?”
“I wasn’t going to! I’m sure the military is all over it, anyway!”
He must have been quite drunk now, as he began to laugh hysterically. I was worried, but he would probably be fine…
As for Gardo, him and Daniela were quarreling over some meat. What the hell…
“Don’t fight over the food…”
“Asagi, the dining table is always a battleground.”
“Exactly! Mmm…ggg…mm… Especially when Daniela is present. I have to get even for the last time!”
Uh… Was he talking about the Anthill at Replant? How nostalgic… Yes, Daniela had eaten a lot then.
Even as I thought back on those days, Daniela and Gardo continued their struggle.
In the meantime, Matsumoto, Manager, Lemon, and Rachel ate at a more leisurely pace. The scene was peace itself. I only hoped that this world would continue to be like this for some time.
“Mister Asagi, have some more meat.”
He put some of the cooked meat onto my plate. Lemon and Manager were also cooking for each other. Or feeding each other. They seemed to be really close…
Rachel thrust out her plate with an annoyed expression. And so Matsumoto selected an especially good piece for her. What a grouchy master.
“You don’t seem to be in a very good mood. Is it because of that meeting?”
The ending of that meeting, anyway. Rachel had been against the idea of using the rings for negotiations. She said that if we gave them something that was created by the gods, they may turn it into a weapon in the future.
“Those things contain the power of the gods… If they wanted to, they could make a Hero.”
“As for that, can’t the goddess at least choose who it will be?”
“Like a divine revelation?”
“Hmm… Well, we can avoid future trouble by making the first move.”
It wasn’t exactly a conversation for a celebration, but this was important. Next to us, Daniela and Gardo competed for meat, and Ness was falling asleep. It was getting a little chaotic.
But it was fun at the same time. I was happy to be able to enjoy a night out with them and be able to talk. Being able to sit down here like this was the result of how hard we had fought. It made me happy about all that I had done.
However, amidst this pleasant atmosphere, a grenade was thrown.
“By the way, Asagi and Daniela. You fought a god, right? Who was stronger?”
“Of course, it was me.”
“Aye, I was stronger.”
□ □ □ □
“Here goes, Daniela!”
Clang! The metallic sound rang again and again.
I blasted away Daniela’s unleashed wind arrows with the wind of my greatsword. In return, I launched water arrows that were created by using the liquified blade as a medium. Daniela cut every one of them down with her sword.
“I’m growing every day as well!”
Gardo had brought up this debate. And so far, it was a stalemate. We were now God Wolf and Origin Elf. However, I had been the one to land the mortal wound on Haidera. In other words, I was stronger.
I had lost to Daniela during the Imperial Sword Tournament. But that was forgotten ancient history. But when I said this, Daniela disagreed very heatedly, and so we decided to put it to the test.
Daniela and I went outside of Soul Soleil, and the others followed us. Half of them looked worried, while the others looked amused. And behind them, there was a group of civilians who had come out to watch us.
Of course, when so many spectators were around, we quickly became the subject of wagers.
“Look what I can do now…!”
I used ice magic to create a sword. I had so much energy that it was overflowing. And I compressed it and then compressed it again. This was my new magic, Hróðvitnir. This was enough energy to make Niflheim three times over, and it was in a single one-handed sword. The cold aura around the sword was enough to freeze the moisture in the air.
“Hmm. That is very blue.”
It seemed like an unbeatable magic sword, but Daniela stretched out her hand towards it. And then the sword shattered and dispersed in my hand.
“My magic energy is without limit now. Your magic is useless in front of me.”
“Tsk…you pesky Origin Elf…!”
I felt both drunk on power and a little frantic, which made me sound more villainous than usual. If magic was no use, then I would rely on pure skill. And so I enveloped both legs in platinum wind and charged forward. This simple move was easily dodged by Daniela. It was no surprise. I expected it. In fact, I had wanted her to do it.
Then I spun around suddenly, unsheathed the Glampanzer, and swung down.
“Even your feints are simple. Really, is that all you got?”
However, this too was blocked. Still, I tried to push forward with the sword, but in that instant, she slid to the side, and I fell towards the ground.
I raised my head and was about to strike back, but the tip of her sword was pointed at my face. I was completely defeated.
The spectators burst into applause and sighs. The former were obviously those who had bet on Daniela. While the later were those who had put their money on me.
Of course, this level of noise quickly attracted the city guards, and gamblers were forced to disperse. As for Daniela and I, we had to spend the night in a military facility, as we had desturbed the peace or something. It was true that we were heroes who had helped end the war, but they insisted that this was a separate matter.
Surely, they were being just a little ridiculous??
□ □ □ □
I began to mutter, but couldn’t actually think of anything to say. Daniela stared at me as she stood under the window, the moonlight shining down on her.
“Uh… We did well. Didn’t we?”
She looked at me as if I was an annoying child.
“…Well, I suppose so. Relatively speaking.”
“Right…? It feels like we’ve reached the end. This is as far as we can go…”
She wasn’t just an elf now. I wasn’t really human. And I would stay in this world until I died.
There was only one chair in the room. Daniela sat on it and leaned her elbow on the table with a far away look on her face.
I sat down on the floor and leaned against the wall. The floor and walls were cool, which was soothing after getting heated up.
There was nothing for us to talk about. I felt a little foolish for even trying to force a conversation earlier. It was just a calm, relaxing atmosphere. The quietness was comforting. It made me look back on everything that had happened.
Haidera had stabbed me, and I was sent here. I really knew nothing back then. But I killed my first goblin. Then forest wolves chased me to my first town. That’s when I met Daniela.
It was quite a journey… I was mocked and called ‘Black Rabbit’… I had been quite bummed about the skill I was given as well.
Of course, meeting Daniela was the best thing. Had that not happened, I might still be in Fhiraldo. Just an angry Adventurer who the others picked on.
And then I met Beowulf and was taught Legs of the Forest Wolf… That skill saved my life many times.
After that, Daniela and I started traveling. We crossed mountains, escaped forests, walked through grasslands. We went to many towns and met all kinds of people. We had to say goodbye just as many times, and it was with those memories that we came this far.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. I…lived such a boring life. I hated it. It was a life without anything interesting or fun. And then I was suddenly thrown into an unknown place… And well…I’ve done my best ever since then.”
“Aye, I know. I have watched you closely.”
“Yeah… I kept running. And made it all the way here…”
Putting all of this into words made it sound so trite.
“I…do you think I’ve become the protagonist now?”
I was always playing a secondary role. It hadn’t been the life of a protagonist. However, I did have my own struggles. It had taken me a while to have a real goal, but I finally decided to take down the Nova. And I accomplished that… Surely that made me the protagonist of my own life?
“Asagi. You were always the protagonist.”
“I see… That’s good to know.”
Daniela muttered as she stared into space. But her words seemed to echo in my chest. Right… Ahh. It had all been worth it. All of this time, I had lived in order to come here.
“Well, I guess that makes you the heroine, Daniela.”
“You idiot. I am the protagonist of my own life. I do love you, Asagi, but I am not going to use my life for you.”
“Wow, that kind of hurts…”
“Well, perhaps only someone who is at the level of a protagonist can make it feel better?”
I see… She had a point.
“That’s true… You know, ‘double protagonists’ doesn’t sound too bad either.”
Daniela chuckled, and I laughed as well. Yes. It was comforting knowing that Daniela was a protagonist.
Our days would only get busier from here. While the Nova was annihilated and there would be no more summonings, Haidera would return in a hundred years and try to destroy this world.
We had to prepare and train for when that happened. A hundred years would pass before we knew it.
We couldn’t just sit around like this!
“Alright, I think we should leave now.”
“Anywhere but here!”
They might get angry at us, but uh…Rachel could deal with that. We already said that we were sorry. But I couldn’t hold this feeling in anymore.
Snap! I snapped my fingers and tore the air open, connecting to my own ‘space between the worlds.’ I could see the large parking lot. And behind it…that old convenience store.
“Come on, stand up!”
“He-hey, do not pull me!”
Daniela’s mouth hung open as I pulled her to her feet. Our journey had begun with Daniela pulling me by the hand. But that journey was over. It was the beginning of a new one.
This time, I would pull her by the hand.
□ □ □ □ □ □ □ □