Translator: Kurehashi Aiko Editor: Queenie
That voice was so silent that I could hardly even hear it. But even if I looked at him with a concerned expression, there was no response. His long eyelashes were casting a small shadow on his white, porcelain-like skin. His petal-like lips were trembling slightly. His next words were even more silent than before.
「Surely. Just a… little bit… more.」
I really couldn’t hear the rest of his words. He then placed his hand on my cheeks and traced its shape. I called his name again, but he still didn’t respond to me. Looking at him, he was already asleep, and his face right now looked so calm.
Eventually, the boy’s body began to shine slightly. The light goes up from his body and forms a vague shape that started to look more and more like a person with every passing second. Finally, it took the shape of a man that looked like a night fairy. A form of beauty that could be either feminine or masculine. Then the shape opens its eyes. The irises that looked like the most beautiful things in the world were looking straight at me.
I could see him clearly, but I couldn’t be sure if he was real here or if he was just an apparition. I looked at him with a relaxed and delighted expression, to which he turned his head away, which was a cute reaction, but it also surprised me a little bit. Hm? What happened?
「Edi? Is there something wrong?」
「… It’s nothing.」
「Please don’t say that. You suddenly cut the communications like that. I didn’t even know you could actually do that.」
I am sure that the Princess, Klanven and Widnichol wouldn’t make that much of a deal out of that, judging by their personalities and the fact that it was that man that they were dealing with. While looking at the man I made a mental note to apologize in his stead during the next conversation, and at that moment his spotless features frowned a little bit.
「It seems that instead of relying on me, you place more hopes in those three.」
「It seems like my child self is not all that reliable to you.」
The man’s expression looks as though I have betrayed him in some way. I shudder seeing the coldness in his eyes. It was the kind of look that would make even the most battle-hardened soldiers and heroes shook and tremble all over. But still……
「Now look at you. You can act cute if you want to.」
Who would have thought that he would get jealous over something like that? While he looked embarrassed about this situation, I was finding it hard to hold back a cheerful laugh right here in this moment.
「I just can’t help it, alright!? I just want you to rely on me a little bit more.」
Well, well. Hearing him say that it was only natural, I could no longer hold my laughter in. Just what was going on through those heads of theirs? It seemed to be so stupid but at the same time it was so adorable that I couldn’t just help myself.
Although that man was looking at me for a while with a quite stubborn expression, he finally gave in and looked away, looking even more embarrassed than before. Then he just casually extended his hand and stroked my cheek gently. Of course I couldn’t feel it since his hand was ethereal, but it was the thought that counts. And even though his hand was just slipping right through me, I could feel the pleasant warmth behind his gesture.
「You finally laughed.」
Hearing that man’s relief-filled voice made me feel kind of surprised. “Finally”? What’s that supposed to mean? I was smiling and laughing before, but could it be that the man was unable to see it?
「Wasn’t I already laughing before?」
Maybe it was all due to the stress or the recent lack of sleep, but there shouldn’t be any change to how my skin looked or the way in which I was behaving. I should have been laughing and smiling, just like I would always do. That is why the man’s words were so mysterious to me that I couldn’t help but to wonder at them. Seeing me look at him like that, the man smiled bitterly.
「Ahh, that’s right. You were laughing. But I don’t believe it was from the bottom of your heart. Maybe it’s just me, but in my eyes there is a big of a difference between the two.」
Then he paused and the man touched my cheek again. But just like the last time, his hand just kind of slipped through my flesh, which made that man seem rather sad.
「I must have caused you quite a bit of concern, haven’t I?」
I really wanted to make him cheer up right now. I stood up from the bed and tried to pinch his cheeks and stretch them, and then give him a piece of my mind. However, my hands just passed through his image, without connecting to anything. Just like he was unable to touch me, I was unable to touch him.
–––– Ahh, this is so frustrating.
It was regretful that I wasn’t able to touch him, and it was filling my heart with really complicated emotions. I couldn’t touch him, I couldn’t hug him, I couldn’t kiss him and I couldn’t hold onto his hand.
「If that’s the case, I would like to see that on your face as well.」
Really now, it was hard to just hate that man the way he was right now. Just seeing him like that was enough to make me smile, and I wanted to laugh more and more from now on. The man shakes his head while slightly lowering his gaze, apparently feeling guilty.
「This isn’t quite your fault here, if anything, I am to blame.」
「Still, the fact remains that it was me who keeps on shoving more and more worries onto you.」
Normally I would be happy that he was able to make that kind of facial expression, but judging by the situation we were currently in, there was no reason for me to feel happy about it.
「I am also full of regrets, since I’m just the same. So if we both feel that way, why don’t we call it even for now?」
「So that none of us needs to feel guilty.」
So in the end, which is it? That man doesn’t want to make me worry, and I want him to smile and laugh more. Deep down inside, I felt that we basically wanted the same thing. So maybe, just maybe, it would all work out one way or another?
I looked at the man with a surprisingly serious look, to which he only blinked a few times before letting out a loud sigh.
「You are really something else.」
「Ara? What about me?」
Astonished, I cocked my neck. Was that supposed to be a compliment? I look in the eyes of the man, looking for confirmation, but they were only filled with complicated things.
「Doesn’t matter. I just thought it was something like you to say that.」
「So, does this mean that you praised me?」
「Do whatever you want.」
「A compliment it is, then! I’m so happy that you said that!」
As that man fell silent, I smiled brightly. I felt as though he wanted to say “Why won’t you drop it already?” but apparently he didn’t want to be rude. Goodness gracious, what a troublesome husband he is. The most important thing is, his expression was no longer so stern.
Noticing my smile and satisfied expression, the man sighed deeply once more.
「About that story about Elizabell the Black Witch.」
I knew that this conversation would be unavoidable, but hearing the name of the Black Witch coming out of that man’s mouth caused me more pain and made my body stiffer than I would have expected it to become.
「–––– Yes. I’m sorry that I didn’t speak to you sooner about it.」
「No, it’s alright. After all, you had no way of knowing if the legend was true or not, or if there were some kind of clue in it that could help us. Besides, it’s my fault that I ended up like that, since I was so caught up in the runes before my eyes that I forgot to pay attention to my surroundings.」
…… I think I get it, but at the same time I don’t really get it. It seems that no matter the age, this man was really into anything magic related and once he got focused on the topic he would stop paying attention to anything that wasn’t directly related to it.
Guess that’s a hopeless workaholic to you. The man crossed his arms at his chest and started speaking after a moment, seemingly trying to organize his thoughts.
「Since I was reverted to the form of a little child, it would make sense to think that the legend was true and that it was Elizabell’s magic that was the cause. Or maybe it is that the ruins are filled with her magic and upon interacting with me it caused a special anomaly of some kind. Anyways, it would be simply unheard of to think that it would be the doing of some magician, since that would require power and talent far outside of the spectrum that can be encountered in modern times, myself included.」
Now that he was putting it in such a way it was indeed plausible-sounding, but to think that he would compare himself to others like that…… Even amongst the wizards, his powers were quite exceptional. So it was unheard of to hear him say that there was something magic-related that he would have trouble doing. But wait, I’m sure that if he tried hard enough, or if he prepared himself, than maybe, just maybe……Or if there was someone who could control time magic……
「Does that mean you could be able to bring yourself back to normal if you had access to your usual power?」
「At least in theory, it is simple enough.」
He said that, but I was sure that it wasn’t really that simple to achieve. Even if we succeed in deciphering the magic language of the ruins, the younger Edi cannot use magic as confidently as his adult self. I looked at the small boy laying on the bed covered in the blanket, and then I looked back at the image of that man. From his look I knew that we were thinking about roughly the same thing.
「Have you talked to the Princess? Were they able to tell you anything?」
His voice sounded more like a conformation rather than the actual question. Recalling the conversation with the Princess, I realize that he must have been listening in this whole time.
「That’s right. Klanven believes that this is not dark magic, but rather an artificial one. And Widnichol is certain that this magic is influenced by the emotions.」
「I see. …… Well, it would certainly look that way.」
Hearing me say that, the man’s eyes open wide. He looked at me for a moment and then smiled lightly. It was that kind of smile that would always make me feel reassured.
「You also mentioned that you’ve found a new magic formula that would allow you to take things to the next level.」
The translucent white hand stretched out towards me and made a motion as if it was trying to pat me on the head. Of course, his hand couldn’t really touch my hair, but still he continued the motion while saying “I’m leaving this to you.”
「You should probably go to sleep soon.」
「No buts. Just go to sleep.」
Imperative tone? I knew that the man wanted for the best of me, but no matter how much he would try to order me, sleep isn’t something that can just be conjured on the spot.
「Umm, Edi? Let me tell you this since this may be the last time. What did this child tell you?」
「…… The last?」
The man suddenly frowns his eyebrows. Ara? I cocked my head ever so slightly. What was that? I can’t really understand what you just said. And what was that expression on his face just now? I must be really dozing off right now! The man then said “It’s alright” and as he leaned forward he gently placed his hand on my cheek. I smiled slightly at that gesture, my face must have looked really funny right now.
「I’ll make sure that you’ll sleep really well.」
「…… Thank you so much. Now, good night.」
「Yeah, good night.」
The gentle voice of that man lulled me to sleep. I was surrounded by deep and warm darkness, but I wasn’t the least bit afraid. I knew that he was right here beside me, so there was nothing for me to be afraid of.