This chapter hasn’t been checked by an editor, so it may have to be updated in the future.
Author: Kiyo Date (伊達きよ)
Whatever I can do
In between magic lessons, Setsu was outside in the gardens as usual, yelling something or other while holding his hands up in the empty air. Well, the words were clear. They were easy to make out. But Xiao Ya didn’t quite understand their meaning. And so as usual, Xiao Ya sat on his chair pretending not to hear anything, as he watched over Setsu.
“Be that as it may..-”
Xiao Ya turned to look around.
“No-one showed up in the end.”
Gently, the wind blew across the neatly tended gardens. Except for Setsu and Xiao Ya, there was nobody to be found there.
Not long ago, there had been so many people around that he had wanted to ask why the people working around the castle had so much free time. It had been noisy and crowded. But right now, it was quiet except for Setsu’s and Xiao Ya’s voices, and the chirping of the birds. In comparison to the other day, it was almost a little bit lonely.
There was only one explanation for this.
“Master Xiao Ya! Did you like that spell name? The words are just the right length, and the echo sounded great! Let’s use that name from now on when we’re practicing! Ah yes, I need to find a good pose for it…!”
Setsu was shouting at Xiao Ya, waving his hands excitedly. Xiao Ya sighed and said “Well, it might be difficult for everybody to catch on to it…” as he waved back at him.
Li Huang had half abducted Xiao Ya when he had returned from work to make him lift the Language Conversation Spell the Emperor had put on Setsu. He had taken him to his chambers to see Setsu, who was glued to a stack of books he had gotten from the library.
Since Xiao Ya understood how much of a bother Setsu was when he could speak his mind, he readily obliged. But no matter how hard Xiao Ya tried to lift the Emperor’s spell, he couldn’t succeed. It surely had something to do with it having been the Emperor himself to wield this magic. But that even Xiao Ya, who was abt at Language Conversion spells, was unable to do anything about it was a surprise. There was no helping it. The Emperor himself would have to be asked to lift the spell. Unfortunately, this morning he was set to do an imperial tour of the country, and had taken to the skies. Since he had returned to the castle so unexpectedly, they had expected him to leave again soon. They didn’t think it to be this soon though. Both Li Huang and Xiao Ya were greatly perplexed. Setsu, who had wanted to learn the language of Lan Huang properly, too, was upset. Li Huang contacted the Emperor with magic, but all he had gotten as a response was a carefree “Hmm no, I can’t come back right now. Give me ten to twenty days.” Li Huang, who usually always urged him to carry out his imperial duties with diligence, couldn’t exactly ask him to “Just forget about work and come back please!” In the end it was clear they would have to just carry on like this for ten or more days.
So the problem now was how to deal with Setsu during that time. 10 days, 20 at worst. They couldn’t lock up Sestu in his rooms for that long. Li Huang and Xiao Ya discussed and arrived at the conclusion that “It will be much earlier than we had hoped but, his personality will definitely be revealed. Let’s just keep on practicing magic as always and let it happen bit by bit.” They explained the situation to Setsu and asked him to keep the Language Conversion spell a secret, since Li Huang was supposed to be in charge of teaching Setsu. Since there was nothing else that could be done, Setus agreed, and decided to use seize the opportunity to read as many difficult books as possible for now.
And as for the reactions of others, they would do as they had agreed on. As soon as Setsu started speaking again like he had been able too before, other people stopped coming near him, or at least stopped gathering around him.
“Ah, yes, good morning everybody! The weather is nice today, isn’t it? The dazzling brilliance of the sun is only rivaled by the splendor that is me! I shall do my best at practice today as well,” Setsu spoke fluently. People were surprised and put off. At first it had only been surprise, but the more Setsu spoke, the more people seemed dejected.
“Setsu… our sweet Setsu..”, “Don’t say that, stop! It was all a dream.” and “Oh, Cute Setsu, come back!” were the things they muttered as they fled away. As the days passed, there were fewer and fewer people gathering, and by the third day there was not a single person left.
“Setsu, are you sure you don’t need a break?”
Setsu was restlessly practicing the spells he had learned in the gardens. As they had been doing lessons since the morning, Xiao Ya thought it best to take a break.
“No! I’m in really good shape right now, please let me continue. And also I want to finish earlier, so that I can read in the library. While the Language Conversion spell is still on me, there’s a lot of things I need to do!”
Laughing loudly and happily, Setsu turned Xiao Ya’s invitation down. Apparently he had progressed further in his readings thanks to the Conversion spell, and was greatly enjoying his studies. That last part wouldn’t change whether he could talk or not.
“All right then,” Xiao Ya said and waved his hands. Sitting on his chair, he glanced down to his feet for a moment. There was a big basket standing there, full of Setsu’s hand-made cakes. It were cakes that Setsu had made for the people that would usually come to gather around him. Setsu hadn’t said as much, but it was clearly so still. It was too much just for Xiao Ya and him.
He had made them, even after they had stopped coming. Maybe he thought of the time there hadn’t been enough for everyone and so he kept making them every day. Xiao Ya watched Setsu. Setsu who got up early every morning to cook. Xiao Ya looked at the unopened basket, and felt like there was a tear about to drop down his cheek. He felt so sorry. Maybe it would have been better if they hadn’t tried to conceal Setsu’s personality from the start.
Just from his appearance and his way of speaking, people, including Xiao Ya, judged him unfairly and projected their own ideas on to him. But whether he was able to speak or not, the real Setsu didn’t change at all. He prepared the cakes the same way, and gave the magic practice his all, like always.
Setsu may have been ignorant of the subtleties of the human heart, but he had to know that reason people stopped gathering around him was probably due to him expressing himself freely. Since the Language Conversion spell had lifted the barrier, he had to be aware of it
But Setsu’s attitude wasn’t changed at all. If he behaved the same way as when his speech had been limited, or if he just kept silent, the people might come back. But he chose not to do that. He didn’t act or pretend, and enjoyed his life.
Xiao Ya admired Setsu for that. While it might seem like Setsu was wanting people’s validation, that wasn’t actually the case. Rather than to value what other people thought of him, he cared about doing things his own way.
Even if nobody came, Xiao Ya didn’t mind. As long as Setsu enjoyed himself, he could practice magic for as long as he wanted. and if Xiao Ya could help him along the way, that was just fine.
And if nobody ate the sweets inside the basket, Xiao Ya thought as he clenched his fist, then he would eat them all himself.
Xiao Ya had become totally used to playing Setsu’s guardian.
The days went on like that, with nobody else entering the gardens anymore. Until one day, a young man came by, restlessly searching for somebody. When he saw Setsu, a smile spread across his face and he waved.
Xiao Ya didn’t recognize the face, and inclined his head in doubt. Setsu smiled and waved his hand at the young man. Perhaps he was a soldier, judging by his dress.
“How is you injury?”
“Thankfully I’m fully healthy again. If anything I feel better now than before I got injured.”
“HA Ha ha! Well, since it was I that used the healing magic on you this is not surprising at all. Not at all! If you ever get injured again, please don’t be hesitant to come to me again.”
“Ah he he, thanks you. I hope I don’t have any more injuries but if I do, I’ll come back again!”
Xiao Ya watched on blankly as they conversed. From their conversation, Setsu had apparently cast healing spells to cure the young man, but what how on earth could that have happened?
“Erm, Setsu? Who is this?”
“Oh, I am sorry for the sudden interruption! I am Sunuyaaru of the white army’s eight division. Um, I injured myself during training the day before yesterday, and there was nobody in the military proficient at healing spells. I went to the medical ward, but there was nobody there, and while I was loitering inside the castle I met Setsu..”
“When I saw his condition I immediately healed him with my magic!”
“Yes! That’s how it was.”
Xiao Ya nodded at their words. The element Setsu possessed, Earth, wasn’t particularly cut out for healing magic, but that was not to say it was impossible. For the case of an emergency, Setsu had been practicing healing magic for some time now. It seemed like it had paid off.
“You really saved me. The blood wouldn’t stop flowing; if Setsu hadn’t saved me I would have collapsed. And there isn’t even a scar left now! Usually Masters of Sorcery aren’t this concerned about injuries of a lowly soldier like me, so there’s always some scars or bruises left over!”
As a Master of Sorcery, he could only give a forced smile at that, but the young man seemed to be thanking Setsu in earnest.
“N’ since I’d heard it said that you were here every day, I wanted to come to express my thanks.”
Sunuyaaru handed a package to Setsu with one hand.
“Mugwa fruits are in season right now. They are extremely delicious. Please enjoy them cooled!”
The gift was a quite expensive fruit. Setsu carefully took it and politely bowed after he said: “Oh, I thank you for your thoughtfulness.”
“No, I’m the one that is grateful.”
“For somebody like me, whose wisdom is overflowing, helping people in trouble is a matter of course! It would be an outrage if I kept my vast magical abilities to myself only. Whether it’s a small effort or a big one, it is my duty to apply myself for the good of the world and the good of man, and help people in need whenever I can!”
“He he, Setsu you’re not only kind and beautiful, but also really funny.”
Sunuyaaru cheerfully laughed at Setsu’s speech.
Watching their exchange, Xiao Ya felt touched. Setsu, the real Setsu, was being appreciated and accepted. He was more than happy to see it. He cleared his throat to conceal that his eyes had gotten a little watery, and said to Sunuyaaru: “Yes, he is a really funny person.”
After talking to Setsu and Xiao Ya for a bit, Sunuyaaru left the gardens. Watching him leave, Xiao Ya chuckled and looked at Setsu.
“My, my, what a surprise. Using healing magic to aid somebody? That was good of you, Setsu.”
“A matter of course. It bears repeating. I just did what I was supposed to do.”
“Ha ha he he,” he laughed as ever. It was good that he hadn’t changed Xiao Ya thought. Looking at this unchanged Setsu; his appearance and his character, it was clear that even now there would be people that would come to like him. Just like himself, or Li Huang, or that young man just now. There would be more and more people who would come to accept him. It would be slow, but that didn’t matter. As long as Setsu enjoyed living in this world, all was well Xiao Ya thought.
Just then in that wholesome moment, he saw more people walking up to them from afar. It looked like it were court ladies this time. They were carrying something liked baked sweets. And behind them, somebody dressed as a kitchen chef, along with still more people from the castle were walking.
“Yes? What is it?”
“How many people have you helped recently?”
“HA ha ha! I didn’t count them all. Quantity doesn’t really matter. If there’s a person in need, you have to do what you can each and every time. Thanks to the Language Conversion spell, these days I have been able to understand what exactly the problem was, and helped out. So there’s more people now than before I think.”
He rested his hands on his hips as he was bragging, but of course the words he was saying were true and good.
As Xiao Ya watched the people filing in one after another, a dry laugh grumbled from his throat.
On today’s afternoon, there probably wasn’t anymore time to practice magic with all the people coming to express their thanks. Xiao Ya had to revise the study schedule.