To Be a Power in the Shadows! - Chapter 42[Updated at: 2021-01-11 09:21:42]
What started it all was a single letter from Alpha. There was only one sentence on the letter.
“If you’re free, then come to the Holy Land.”
That was it.
Due to half the academy being burned down, summer holidays began early, so I am indeed quite free. And speaking from experience, Alpha’s invitations do lead to fun events the majority of the time, so I set off for the Holy Land the very next day after I saw the letter.
Lindwurm, the Holy Land.
Actually, I’ve been there once before. It is one of the holy sites of the most widespread religion of this world, The Word. It is a monotheistic religion that believes in Beatrix, the goddess who had granted powers to heroes in the legends.
Getting from the academy to the Holy Land takes four days by carriage. It’s within the country, and actually not that far away.
I was torn between dashing there at my full speed or taking the slow carriage as a mob, but in the end decided to diligently be a mob. Everyday decisions are important for character building, is what I told myself while putting on airs in an affected manner.
Now I really want to punch that past me.
I should have just ran. If I did it seriously during the night, it would have taken no time at all.
The result of not having done so is that I am now inside the carriage belonging to the Student Council President, Rose Oriana.
Inside the extravagant and spacious and comfortable carriage is just Rose and me. After taking a cheap carriage to an inn town, I had coincidentally bumped into Rose, who then enthusiastically invited me to ride her carriage. I had refused. I did refuse, but ended up losing to the power of royalty and thus ended up having to go to the Holy Land together with her.
According to her, there’s some event called Trial of the Goddess that’s going to be held there, and that she had been invited as a VIP to said event. While thinking that that’s probably what Alpha’s invitation is referring to, I continue listening to Rose.
But it’s just that about halfway through, she loses me completely.
“Someone who possesses a heart as gallant as Sid-kun’s truly must not die in an incident like that.”
So says Rose with a gentle smile. Un, I’m just a mob, so I’m not gallant or anything, and since when have we been on a first name basis? But no matter, at least I can still understand her up to here.
“The day I heard that you had survived, I felt that it was fate. The fact that the day has come where we can talk with each other again like this surely must be proof that the world has given us its blessing.”
This is the part around where I start to get lost. I don’t even believe in fate in the first place, and what the heck does she mean by ‘the world’s blessing.’ I belong to the faction that sticks up our middle fingers to the world.
“Our path will surely be one filled with thorns. With no one to bless us, and no one to acknowledge us.”
Didn’t you just say that the world is blessing us?
“But the great hero in the legends who received his strength from the goddess is said to have been a commoner who built up enough wealth and fame to finally marry the princess of a great country. The path might be full of thorns, but there surely is a blissful future on the far side of it. This I truly believe.”
Is this some religious doctrine? The part where an extreme example, the hero in this case, is raised in order to bewilder the average person is really religion-like.
“Overcoming this time’s Trial of the Goddess would be sure progress down that road of thorns. I, too, would be able to tell my father the story of a gallant boy.”
Guess whoever overcomes that trial would be a lucky fellow indeed.
“That path of thorns must be traversed, one step at a time, but as two people together. And thus each step would engender deeper and stronger love that is tied all the tighter.”
So, like a three-legged race? That mentality of helping each other really does sound like a religious doctrine.
“I haven’t told anyone else yet, but let’s work hard, for a happy future.”
Rose offers me her hand, so I shake it. I really don’t know about all that religious mindset or teachings, but I do agree with the part about the happy future. Happiness is important, yep. For me, I mean. What do I care about other people’s happiness?
While feeling Rose’s fiery gaze and slightly sweaty palm, I silently consider taking a distance from this girl. I don’t mean to reject religion, but it’s just that the difference in temperature is a bit hard to bear. I think everyone would be happiest if people on fire stick to hanging out with others similarly on fire.
“Today’s weather is pretty good, isn’t it?”
So I say while looking out the carriage windows at the clear blue sky and rolling green grassland. When you want to steer the conversation away from a troublesome topic, the weather is often a safe bet.
“It sure is. Though the sun is so strong that it must be quite hot outside.”
Rose is now also looking outside.
It is shady inside the carriage, but even so we are perspiring a bit. There is a shining sheen of sweat on Rose’s porcelain white neck. Her elegantly curled honey-colored hair sways gently in the wind, and her dazzling, pale-colored eyes narrow in enjoyment.
For a while, we continue talking about the weather and the school and whatnot, until we gradually lapse into silence, both searching for a next topic.
The thing about silence is that there are many different kinds of it. But they can generally be split between comfortable silences and uncomfortable silences.
The silence where both parties are searching for a topic might be uncomfortable for most people, but that’s not really the case for me. Just knowing that we’re both searching for a topic gives me a somewhat heartwarming feeling.
In the first place, if two people are alone together in a carriage for an extended period of time, then it’s only natural for topics to eventually run out. The fruitless struggle to resist that eventuality is what is most heartwarming of all.
After falling into silence several more times in that manner, Rose finally brings up thattopic.
The afternoon sun has already fallen quite a bit, and the light is already beginning to take on a madder red tinge.
“That incident, there’s probably something deeper about it.”
Rose’s eyes reflect the faraway setting sun.
“The men in black who claimed to be Shadow Garden, and the man who named himself as Shadow, those two are most likely from different organizations.”
“Why do you think so?”
“The difference in their swords are just too stark. The swords of the men in black were all of the common variety. In contrast, the swords of Shadow and the women that followed him was a brand new school, one that has never been seen before.”
“Is that so.”
“I had told this to the Knight Order of Midgar Kingdom, that the men in black and Shadow were fighting each other. But the public announcement issued by the Knight Order considered the men in black to be of the same organization as Shadow. They did not provide any convincing argument for that conclusion. As such, I am sure that there is something much deeper about that incident.”
“Aren’t you just overthinking it?”
“If so, then that’s fine. But, what if I’m not. What if Midgar Kingdom has pitted itself against the wrong enemy…… then it might lead to an unthinkable catastrophe. I’m having Oriana Kingdom look into it too, but Sid-kun, you be careful.”
Rose smiles gently, then nods back.
“We’ll be reaching the next inn town soon. I’ll get you a room next to mine, alright?”
“Nah, I’m good. I’ll just find a cheap place.”
“You must not! It is very dangerous in those kinds of places! Don’t worry about the fee, I’ll pay for everything.”
“No no no, how can I trouble you so? I’ll be fine, really.”
“There’s no such thing as ‘troubling’ between the two of us.”
In the end, I lost and ended up staying in the 30,000 Zeny per night top class inn. We then had dinner at a top class restaurant, after which I was dragged along to do window shopping and had a fashionable outfit coordinated for me. Lastly, we played for a short while at the casino, before finally returning to the inn. Of course, it was the royal treatment everywhere we went. The bed is soft and fluffy and there’s even a shower in my room.
Through it all, my total expenditure was 0 Zeny. Could it be that the leech-style mob life is actually really great?! If I can just keep one eye closed in regards to her slightly fanatic religious side, this might actually be worth considering.