Translator: Kurehashi Aiko Editor: Queenie
The corridor here was so bright that Juri-kun’s lamp wasn’t even necessary at this point.
「Say, Juri-kun? How did you even find this place in the first place?」
When I ask him, Juri-kun answers me in a hushed voice after a moment of brief silence without turning back and still being a few steps ahead of me.
「There’s no big story or reason behind it, really. You know, both my parents are long dead now. Just until a little while ago I was staying at the temple so I didn’t have to worry about accommodation and food and all that. There weren’t any real restrictions there, but they would always tell me to stay out of the forest, and that was the only thing that I couldn’t really understand.」
「… Stay out of the forest?」
「Yeah, apparently it has something to do with the fact that this is the uncharted forest or something like that. Didn’t you know?」
Really now, it was the part of the forest with the ruins inside it, the very same that the man was currently investigating. So it seems that Juri-kun ventured here out of sheer curiosity because the adults told him that he absolutely could not go there. Just what you’d expect from a small child.
「So while I was snooping around the place, I happened to find that cave and this passage here. Simple, right?」
「–––– I see.」
I kind of understand where he was coming from, but then again, I was reminded that sometimes ignorance could truly be a blessing in disguise. I wasn’t the one who could say anything about being privileged or having a cheat at my disposal, since I happened to reincarnate into an aristocratic family, but that fact alone meant that I grew up in a very sheltered environment. So truth be told, Juri-kun’s knowledge about this world must be greater than mine. Without a shred of doubt.
So what could I possibly say to a boy who was forced to spend his whole day playing around in the forest because he had nowhere else to go to? I couldn’t possibly think of any words that would be suitable here.
We walked for a minute or two in silence before another stone wall rose up right in front of us. Juri-kun placed the lamp on the ground again and started to touch the wall in the same manner as he did before. And just like before, the wall soon moved to the side, revealing the way to go further in. But then Juri-kun suddenly came to a stop.
“What’s wrong?” I wanted to ask him, but the sight of the next room shaped like a huge dome made me swallow my words entirely.
The walls in this place were completely covered in letters in a strange language that I didn’t recognize. And right in the center of this place, there was a man holding a long staff in his hands, looking straight at us.
From the sound of this man’s voice, I almost immediately recognize that man to be my husband. Seeing me, the man lowered his staff as he cocked his neck and opened his eyes wide.
「Edi? Why are you here……」
「That is what I would like to know. Why are you here?」
「Umm, that would actually be a long story… By any chance, am I not supposed to be here……?」
I started to speak, and with each of my words the eyebrows of that man were raising higher and higher. That was all the answer I needed in and of itself. There was no need for me to even wonder if those were the ruins he needed to investigate, because they probably were. But I was still wondering how it was possible for us to be here.
While I was at a loss for what to say or what to do, I could see that Juri-kun’s face have become somewhat distorted and twisted by some kind of dark emotions.
「The Black, Wizard……」
I took a deep breath, for it was probably the first time that that man would see Juri-kun. Juri-kun stepped a little bit forward. True, I have never mentioned that my husband was the Black Wizard, but I just thought there was no need for me to do that. As I thought that, Juri-kun got closer and closer to the man.
「You there, who the hell are you! This place is my secret base! Don’t act like you own the damned place!」
「…… From my standpoint, you seem to be the one who’s trespassing, child.」
Whispered the man while he watched how Juri-kun was slowly approaching him.
Suddenly, the man opened his eyes wide and looked around. Just then, the magic symbols and circles that were dormant until now were starting to glow in the same way as the pieces of the wall that Juri-kun touched earlier. Then the man screamed something incomprehensible, but before he was able to do anything, Juri-kun’s body started to glow pure white. At that moment I leapt towards Juri-kun, filling my vision with pure white as well. I tried to close my eyes and move my head away, but the glow was so bright that I could still see it even with my eyelids closed.
I felt as if a lot of time had passed since that moment, even though it was only but a few seconds.
「 –––– Big sister. Big sister!」
「…… Juri, kun?」
「It’s alright now. It’s alright now, big sister, so please let me go already! I can’t breathe!」
「Eh, eeehhh, right, sorry about that.」
When I could see normally again, I saw that my arms were outstretched and that I was forcibly hugging Juri-kun to my chest. Feeling that my grip had lessened, Juri-kun used that opportunity to break free. Then I could see something with the corner of my eye. It was a brightly colored mantle, the very same that man wore on his way here.
What happened here? The only thing I know is that the man was nowhere to be found. For a moment there I thought that he might have run away from here, but he wasn’t a kind of man to just abandon people in need and run using his teleportation magic.
In any case, once that Juri-kun got away from me I immediately rushed towards the center of the magic circle that was drawn onto the ground. I started to search through the laying cloak in hope of finding some sort of a clue. And then my eyes widened with surprise.
My surprised voice echoes throughout the cave. I was sure that my current expression must have been quite funny or even stupid, but if anyone was in my shoes right now I can guarantee you that their expression would have been more or less the same. What is the meaning of this? What? How?
The first thing that I saw was his black hair, shining in the dark. When I tried to squeeze his hand, it was completely drenched in sweat. His skin was as smooth as ever and as white as I remember it to be, being able to awaken envy in every woman. He looked just like a fairy, and the only real difference was that he seemed to be unconscious right about now.
And yet there was something completely unnatural about him right about now. And that something was the fact that even though he was about the same age as I, his body right now was a lot smaller. And by that I mean A LOT SMALLER.
He should be the same age as I am. That’s how it should be, but right now his figure looked to be no older than nine or ten years old. He looked like a small child no matter how you looked at it. His clothes were the same size and shape as the one that that man was wearing, so there was no mistaking it. There was no way in hell that I could have confused him with someone else.
I was so shocked that I needed to sit down. I just kept on staring at the little boy in shock for so long that even Juri-kun happened to approach me to see what caused such a reaction from me. He looked at the small boy, then at me, and then at the small boy again.
「Say, big sister? Is this perhaps that Mister from a moment ago?」
「Yes, there’s no doubt about it.」
I don’t know what caused him to turn into a little boy, but there was no doubt in my mind that it was him in the flesh. But that was sadly the only thing that I could be sure about right now.
「……What are we going to do now?」
「…… Whatever shall we do indeed.」
For the time being, the only thing I could think of was to pick the body of the unconscious boy from the ground as gently as I possibly could.