Chapter 46 – Western Frontier Town
“An expedition mission in the western territory?”
I asked, and Luke answered.
“Yes. Once again, the crown prince has selected you.”
While this was the second time, it did not feel real.
I still felt like the same magician who had been fired in a countryside guild.
How is it that such things are happening now?
That being said, it was still something I felt grateful for.
My rank had gone up, and my greatest asset, which was magic combat, was up to the standards of a Royal Magician.
In order to become the person that I wanted to be.
In order to be Luke’s rival and equal.
It was much too early to stop and stand still.
“But, why an expedition?”
“The details have not been shared with us. However, the personnel who were selected seem to be the same as those who participated during the Goblin King battle in the Misty Forest. And so we can assume that something will happen in the near future.”
“You mean that another disaster-level monster will appear?”
“I think we should prepare for such a possibility.”
As Luke said this, I quietly clenched my fist.
If such a powerful monster did appear, then it would be another chance for me to show my ability.
If I work hard and get promoted, I might be able to break Luke’s record this time.
And then I will be able to boast about it to my heart’s content!
But in spite of this silent resolve, there was one thing that bothered me a little.
“I would very much like to participate in the mission, but I would like to take about two days off first.”
“Has something come up?”
“My mother is going to attend a reunion in her hometown, and she feels very anxious about it, and asked me to accompany her.”
The town on the western frontier, where I had worked as a magic artificer.
In order to reach it from the royal capital, one would have to hire a carriage and give the driver instructions etcetera.
But my mother had been raised in the countryside, and was not used to doing such things, and so she wanted my help.
“I’m sorry, I know that paid leave is just an urban legend, and this is a terribly unreasonable request, but…”
I muttered awkwardly.
“No, it is not unreasonable at all.”
Luke said with a sigh, and then he smiled.
“Take your time, and enjoy being with your mother.”
Much to my surprise, I had gotten a few days off as if it was nothing.
I was aware that the system technically allowed us to do this, but in reality, I assumed it was only something people did when a family member was sick or there was some other misfortune.
This white working environment never ceased to amaze me…!
And so like this, I headed to the western frontier town with my mother.
“My dear Noelle. How are things with him recently?”
“As I told you before, it’s not like that with me and Luke.”
I ignored my mother’s attacks of ‘get married,’ as we rocked in the carriage.
When we arrived in the town, my mother smiled happily and said,
“Thank you. I will see you later then.”
“Yes. I hope you enjoy it.”
I waved as my mother headed to the place where she would meet up with the others.
I had not been in this town for a while, but it had not changed at all.
And my memories of it were not very pleasant.
‘Really. You have worked for us for three years now, and all you are capable of making are crystal balls that anyone could make. Think about how we feel, having made the grave error of hiring someone as worthless as you.’
I was treated as being no good and useless.
And then I was fired.
I just wanted to work at a place where I could use magic.
But no one would hire me after that.
‘I’m very sorry, but we have decided that we cannot give you a job at this time.’
I had felt so low and unneeded back then.
And so I could not bring myself to get anywhere near that old work place.
As if to run away, I started walking in the opposite direction.
However, I suddenly heard someone’s voice calling from behind me.
“Noelle…!? Is that you, Noelle!”
It was a cheerful, nostalgic voice.
When I turned around, I felt a feeling of happiness at how much she had grown.
“Huh? Nina!? What a surprise! It’s been so long!”
We had been friends who played nearly every day before I went to the magic academy.
I had met Nina during a time in my childhood when I was obsessed with climbing trees and catching bugs.
It all started when I had saved Nina, who was being bullied by some other children.
‘Noelle, the ultimate and most powerful magician has arrived! If you wish to torment her, you will have to defeat me first!’
I had been quite a tomboy back then.
There was so much energy in my body, that I just had to unleash outside. And so I would go around and punch any bullies in the neighborhood without a shred of guilt, until they started to call me the ‘The most terrible woman of the west.’
‘Take this! The ultra-super-final god punch!’
My dream was to become a magician, and I just wanted to get as close to it as possible.
However, I did not know how. And so I just let my fists do the work.
‘Damn it! I won’t forget this!’
‘Hehe! Justice always prevails!’
Like this, I had won hundreds of battles with never a defeat, and before I knew it, the children I had helped had grown quite fond of me.
Nina was a girl who had formed a particularly strong attachment to me.
She was the daughter of a wealthy family, and had just recently moved to the countryside.
But she found it difficult to fit it.
And that made her a target for the bullies.
It was during such a time that I helped her.
‘You are so amazing Noelle! So dashing!”
I was glad whenever she would praise me like that.
And after I had gone to talk to her several times, Nina started to follow me around.
Nina’s eyes seemed to sparkle and she would listen to me intently when I taught her how to climb trees, or how to punch bullies in the face.
Of course, since Nina was brought up as a lady, the daily life of someone who had no toys and spent their time running around over wild mountains, was new and exciting.
‘I want to be just like you, Ms. Noelle.’
Nina said to me one day.
‘You help children, even when they are being attacked by boys much older and bigger than you. Even if I cannot do that, I would like to become stronger.’
She had never said that before, and it made me happy.
At the same time, I also wanted to be like Nina.
While I was the kind of person who would chew on grass as a snack, every movement of hers was elegant and refined.
She could play the violin and was an excellent dancer.
And she knew so many things and was so intelligent and mature.
But more than anything, Nina had a lot of books in her house.
There were so many magic books there that I could not read, no matter how much I wanted to.
I was jealous of that.
I admitted it with a sigh, and then Nina said,
‘But you could borrow them if you want, Noelle? They were my great grandfather’s books, and no one reads them now.’
If she only knew how happy those words made me.
And so reading those faded magic books became an obsession.
It was probably due to that experience, that I prefer to read older books of magic.
In fact, it was really thanks to Nina creating this environment where I could study, that allowed me to pass the exam for the royal magic academy.
And so I was so thankful to her.
Because of this, I was really looking forward to returning after graduation, and being able to play with her again.
However, on the day that I returned…
I stopped on the road that I usually walk on.
There was no one left at Nina’s house.
‘Mr. Lawrence? Ah, they have moved away. Yes, because their daughter’s illness was cured. The one that affected her respiratory system.’
Nina’s family were incredibly wealthy.
It was only after I became an adult, that I realized that our friendship had been allowed because we were still young.
And so I had become resigned to the idea that we may never meet again. Which made this sudden reunion all the more wonderful.
There was so much to talk about.
But I didn’t know where to start, and became quite speechless. Nina laughed and then said,
“So, you have become a Royal Magician.”
“Yes. I knew it at once as soon as I heard your name. And I was not the least bit surprised when I heard people speak of your accomplishments. After all, you are Noelle.”
She had the same expression of total trust that she always did.
“No, if you only knew of the wild waves of society that battered me. And I was unemployed for a while.”
“It can be difficult for a woman to work in magic. I understand. Because it was hard for me as well.”
“But I did my best, because I knew that I would be able to meet you again.”
And then Nina said with a bright smile.
“Do you have time now? I am quite free myself.”