Sudden teleports, not using people’s proper names, might means right, tsundere… it’s Shiro’s Apprentice No.1!
Before The Human-Demon Great War – The situation of Ronant
Author’s note: Ronant’s point of view, shortly before the war.
「Long time no see.」
「It has indeed been a long time, teacher.」
I meet with Apprentice No.1, the Hero Julius, for the first time in a while. It’s been many years since I’ve seen him in person. Because of interference from the Divine Word Religion, I can’t even meet with him properly. Really, it’s so frustrating.
「I’m glad to see you’re doing well.」
「Likewise, teacher. You are already an elder, yet here you are still on active service and full of spirit.」
「Who do you think I am? I’ll be blasting away on active service until I die.」
「Sounds like you, teacher.」
Apprentice No.1 gives a refined smile. When I was taking care of him, there was still some innocence left in him, but he’s already become a fully-fledged adult now.
「Julius… oh, Ronant-sama, when did you arrive here?」
The one who entered without even knocking, was called Hyrinth or something I think? He’s one of Apprentice No.1 friends-cum-comrades.
「He suddenly teleported in. I’ve told him so many times not to shock me so much by doing that though.」
「You still have a long way to go if you can’t even perceive the teleportation omen.」
I ignore Apprentice No.1’s complaint. If I don’t meet in secret like this, then the Divine Word Religion gets annoying.
「You are the same as ever.」
The Hyrinth brat sighs, but I at least adhere to the minimum standards of decency.
「So? Teacher and Hyrinth both, what is your reason for coming to visit me?」
「Hrm. The Hyrinth brat has an urgent matter so he can go first.」
My matter is nothing important. Just some meddling. So I can just put it off.
「Brat huh. Well, I guess I might be a brat from Ronant-sama’s perspective.」
「What’s wrong with calling a brat a brat? If you want to object then you can start by trying to defeat me.」
「Please forgive me.」
After a bitter laugh, the brat suddenly puts on a serious expression.
「Ronant-sama. What I’m about to discuss is a military secret.」
「Sure, I got it. I promise not to disclose anything about what’s happening here.」
The brat would have preferred it if I stepped outside I’m sure, but he’s already given up on getting me to leave. We don’t know each other that well, but he understands at least that much about me. Sure enough, he begins the report with a resigned expression.
「Scouting units failed to return on schedule. It’s probably better to consider them to be wiped out.」
With the brat’s report, Apprentice No.1’s expression turns mournful. The units deployed here on what should be called the front lines of the humans, are different to the units you’d find elsewhere. The elite amongst the elite. Even such a scouting unit, failed to return without reporting anything. That signifies just how dangerous the opponents are.
「Hmm. How many of the units failed to return?」
「All of them.」
Oh my goodness. That’s much worse than expected.
Before a major battle like this one, a scout unit will split into several teams when attempting to gather intelligence. Even if one team is discovered and annihilated, other teams should still be able to bring back intelligence. However, this time all the teams failed to return. What that likely means, is that the searching ability of the opponents exceeded the stealth ability of the scouts, and on top of that they were strong enough to speedily wipe out the scouts. In addition, it also means that there were enough enemies to launch a simultaneous attack on the dispersed scout units.
It is natural for scout units to keep in contact with their companions. If any unit encounters something abnormal, they should be trained to all retreat promptly. The fact that they weren’t able to do that, likely means that they were attacked simultaneously.
The ability to find and locate the scout units. The ability to annihilate the scout units in combat. For the enemy forces to be able to do that, it means that they must have at least as many members as the scout unit.
「It seems that it will be a harsh battle.」
Apprentice No.1 says that in a subdued voice. He’s probably thinking about the members of the scout unit who became sacrifices, or some such.
I better scold this foolish apprentice, so I address him in a low voice.
「This is you we’re talking about, so I bet you’re thinking about the victims from the scout unit or something, but if you have time to think about such things then you should think about yourself instead.」
「Teacher! What do you mean by “such things”!?」
Apprentice No.1 rarely raises his voice, but he’s always been sensitive about matters of life and death.
「I’m saying that this isn’t the time to be thinking about the victims from the scout unit.」
「Teacher. There’s things that even you can say and cannot say. If you say any more, then I will not forgive you.」
「Oh-ho? How will you not forgive me?」
Against my pressure, the brat flinches. Apprentice No.1 doesn’t show any agitation on the surface, but that’s merely a presence.
「Just, how, are, you, going, to, not, forgive, me? Do you seriously think that you can defeat me or what?」
Stressing each word one by one, I question him in a low voice. Apprentice No.1 or the brat, one of them gulps.
「Don’t be conceited. There is always someone better than you. It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re the Hero.」
I release the pressure, and poke Apprentice No.1 on the forehead with my staff.
「That also goes for the scout unit. They performed their own duties, and due to a lack of strength they were killed in action. It is not wrong to mourn their deaths. However, you’re barking up the wrong tree if you feel responsible for their deaths. Just because you’re the Hero, if you think that means that you can save anything and everyone then you’re greatly mistaken, okay? Or perhaps, you think it would have been better if you yourself went out to scout – you’re not having such misplaced thinking, right? That would be clearly stealing the duty of the ones who died, and in addition, to imply that they were too incompetent to do their own jobs would be the greatest insult. It couldn’t possibly be that the Hero of all people has such degrading and despicable thinking.」
It seems that Apprentice No.1 couldn’t think of anything to say in response to what I pointed out. He hung his head without speaking. He’s always been like this. He tries to shoulder everything. That every time someone dies in war it becomes his responsibility. Nobody else but his. That’s how he’s gotten into this misunderstanding that he can’t be satisfied unless he can save everyone. Such a thing, would be impossible even for a god though.
Instead of calling him Apprentice No.1, I call him by his name. Julius slowly raises his head.
「Remember to think about yourself on the battlefield.」
When people become preoccupied with other things, they then may not survive even when they could have.
「There is always someone better than you. You should well understand that yourself, right? Only the strong can protect others. You are weak. So weak you can’t even defeat me.」
「Teacher, you can only say that because you’re strong.」
To Julius’s timid objection, I bark out a laugh.
「There are ones better than me too. You should well understand that yourself, right?」
Since Julius likewise knows about “that person”, he should understand. An existence with such strength that us humans couldn’t possibly oppose it.
「You got it? If it becomes dangerous then run away without hesitation. You are more or less the Hero after all. Compared to having the Hero escape, it would be far worse for the Hero to die. Get that into your skull.」
「It’ll be fine. I shall protect Julius after all.」
The brat is spouting some drivel.
「Having that come from someone more feeble than Apprentice No.1 isn’t persuasive at all.」
「Ouch, that’s harsh!」
I’m sure he took a playful attitude here in order to improve the mood. To raise his spirits so that Apprentice No.1 won’t head towards the battlefield depressed. His fighting strength is a bit unreliable, but he’s a good friend.
「Heheh. Well, I guess I’ll have you protect him then.」
「You bet. Please be at ease.」
As the brat intended, it seems that Apprentice No.1 cheered up a bit.
「Even so, Ronant-sama, worrying over your apprentice and scolding him – you’ve got a cute side to you.」
「I, I’m not particularly thinking such a thing!」
What the heck is this guy saying!? I thought he was a good friend of Apprentice No.1, but it looks like I was mistaken!
「Look! He’s blushing, he’s blushing.」
「I’m not blushing! Dammit! I’m going back now!」
「Teacher, thank you for everything today.」
I activated teleport, and left the place.
That was, the final farewell between Julius and I.
Reference data :
Ronant at the time of “P, please wait!” : status values of 1500 in magic types, 300 in physical types.
Ronant at the time of the elf village war: status values of 4000 in magic types, 400 in physical types.
Despite having passed not only his growth period but having already started the descent into old age, he still managed to more than double his magic type status values like a FREAK.
Julius: average status values of 2600
Just a bit stronger than Kunihiko and Asaka.
“Scouting units failed to return on schedule” – this might sound a bit off but in the original there is no indication of whether it was just one or whether it was multiple, as there is less distinction between singular and plural in Japanese. Hence Ronant’s request for clarification.
Ronant’s “that person” is of course referring to Shiro.
Ronant at the time of “P, please wait!” – this is referring to the chapter “The Nightmare of the Labyrinth ③” when Shiro used her Ruler Authority to block his Appraisal.