Serge became 14 years old.
14 years old.
Most countries would treat 14 year olds as adults. They could marry from that age on.
The earl gave Serge a sword meant for self-defense on his birthday.
The katana he’d gotten from Ria before had a much better performance, but it was the thought that counted. No one else had given him anything.
(I wonder how the people back home are doing…)
His memories from before he reincarnated were much stronger after meeting Ria. However, that didn’t mean he didn’t miss his hometown.
He wanted to go back there before the Millennium and protect them from at least some of the danger.
“Serge, did you…”
Chris called out to Serge, who was gazing outside of the window.
“Did you actually grow taller than me?”
It was as she said. When he stood up, Chris was looking up at him.
Neither of them had realized at all. They’d been near each other the whole time, so them not noticing was all but natural. More so given their current ages.
Serge’s everyday lifestyle hadn’t changed much. He attended his classes, received lessons from Azel, then went home to sleep. As for what was added to that, it was his subjugations with Chris.
At first, Chris was completely exhausted just by a single trip’s journey. Her level had gone up a little, so her endurance went up accordingly.
She was able to go back and forth from the forest now, so she wasn’t an inconvenience with the other members.
But even so, she probably wouldn’t be able to become the Hero’s comrade. Even the much stronger Serge couldn’t even think of standing a chance against Ria’s shadow.
“Eh? The Hero? There isn’t one anymore.”
Even so, when Azel said that… it was a huge shock.
“Eh? Eh? When you say there isn’t a Hero, not one anymore I mean, what are you saying? Did he disappear together with the empire… or something?”
“No, he said he was fed up with this world and ran off with some high elf girl to another world.”
That’s too unrestrained, Hero!
There were actually more circumstances surrounding the whole ordeal, but if you just paid attention to the facts, nothing Azel said was a lie.
Through the Demon King’s trickery, the Hero was made to play a part in Golden Dragon Clarice’s termination and, together with the high elf girl he’d met in Oomori Woods, was sent to another world by Water Dragon Lanna.
“Well, having over three million people’s deaths placed on you and then being forced to fight the demon tribe, wouldn’t the normal person’s spirit give out from that?”
That really was reasonable.
Being summoned into another world and then being turned into a murderer. It was ridiculous to expect something like that to go well.
“But the previous Hero fought right?”
The current Demon King.
“The Hero before him did as well. But he’s a bit sensitive. It’s not like I’ve met him directly though.”
Hmmm, what would I do?
Would I have been able to murder orcs and the like?
Ria’s different. That girl adapts to whatever.
Thinking about it like that, I can’t blame the Hero.
“By the way, Serge.”
“Huh? What’s up?”
“You, would you succeed me as the Great Sage?”
That was sudden.
“I intend to fight in this next Millennium. I don’t think that I’ll be surviving it. However, like my predecessors, I have to make sure that the sage knowledge is passed down.”
He was being serious. It wasn’t a joke.
“Intellect, mana, insight, willpower. You even have memories from your previous life. Is that not enough?”
It felt like he was valued. However, Azel had probably been watching him for that reason.
He’d probably been doing so for a very long time.
“Well, you don’t have to answer right away. There isn’t much time though.”
“What are the advantages and disadvantages of becoming the Great Sage?”
“The advantage is knowledge. You’ll inherit the knowledge that has been passed down from generation to generation of Great Sages. And you’ll have perpetual longevity. For disadvantages… none.”
He couldn’t believe it.
“You just have to decide what you should do. That’s what I’m doing.”
That’s what this was?
Him leading this academy city and observing the world from the shadows, leading it to a better future.
Was that what he meant by that?
“Will I obtain power?”
“If you make use of the knowledge.”
“What about Carla-san? I’d think she’s more suited for it than me.”
“She said that she would return to her country and live solely for it.”
It was true. She had fought against a dragon and killed it for her country, becoming the Dragonslayer.
In the end, he wasn’t able to make his decision quickly.
What Serge wanted was power. The power to protect his comrades.
If he could get it, there shouldn’t be any reason not to choose it.
However, the reason that he wasn’t able to answer just then was because of the look in Azel’s eyes.
His eyes didn’t just look like he had grown old. His eyes bespoke of exhaustion, causing Serge’s hesitation.
Serge left to the pavilion and gazed at the moon. It was a full moon. When it started to wane, the next one would be Chris’s birthday.
Serge wanted to give her something as a present, but something being sent by a member of the opposite sex on your 14th birthday signified that they wanted to court the other, so he couldn’t do anything.
(I wonder if I could launch some fireworks for her?)
Or maybe there was something else he could do? He was thinking about stuff like that.
Chris was standing under the moonlight.
She was only wearing a jacket over her thin silk.
“What are you doing?”
To be honest, he thought she was someone else for a moment.
“Oh, it’s you.”
“I saw you slip away, so I followed.”
He hadn’t noticed, it was his negligence.
“Have you been thinking about something since dinner?”
“You saw through me?”
“You were thinking about something, but didn’t want to talk about it…”
Of course that wasn’t it.
“It’ll be your 14th birthday soon, right? I can’t give you a present, so I’ve been thinking about something I could do.”
It was the truth, after a fashion, at least.
“There’ll be no one giving me a present, so anything from you would be nice…”
This was her reaping what she sowed.
Normally, if a girl didn’t have a man that loved them, they wouldn’t be courted.
“Really? Then I’ll give you an amulet. What’d be good…”
Serge searched around his storage space. He’d made various things while practicing bestowal magic.
What he chose from his items was a silver barrette.
“I made it myself, so it’s not something fancy, but it has various kinds of magic bestowed on it, so I think it’ll be useful.”
When he passed it to her, Chris grasped it tightly.
Saying that, she immediately tried it on. Gathering her long black hair, she put it on.
“Does it suit me?”
Under the moonlight.
Her black hair and the silver matched harmoniously.
No, it wasn’t the jewelry that was beautiful—
“It does, but I’d like it if you wore more proper things for your party. If you want, I’ll give you a present for your next birthday, too.”
Serge said that, but the next year would be the third year the Demon King spoke of.
What time would the demons start their invasion in that third year? Thinking about that, he wasn’t able to make it a promise.
“It’s a promise!”
Did Chris know what he was thinking about?
She just smiled.
He felt that it would be great if she could just keep on smiling like that forever.
She was gazing at him, looking up slightly.
“Really, thank you.”
Later on, at her birthday party in the earl’s mansion, Chris uncharacteristically wore a white dress and some light make-up.
Although that alone gave her a much different impression from usual, there was a certain thing decorating her pinned-up hair. It was the silver barrette.
Even when she was asked for it, Chris wouldn’t tell others where she’d gotten it. She just said that it was a present she’d received before her birthday.
(This is… that, isn’t it…)
Even if Serge were a thickheaded-type protagonist, he wasn’t a protagonist whose hearing got worse as it was convenient for it to be, so he somehow realized it.
Chris held good will towards him.
He was conscious that a flag had been raised. However, honestly, Serge wanted the man’s dream: a harem.
It could be said to be cruel, but Serge had already been a virgin for thirty years including his previous life.
If he married Chris, he wouldn’t be able to have mistresses. She would definitely cry if he were unfaithful to her.
That’s why he should’ve avoided the Chris route from the start, but…
(I’m not a man that would just say oh well.)
He couldn’t do something so cruel to such a cute girl.
On that day, Serge danced with Chris until his eyes spun.
Since neither of them were particularly good at it, it was actually rather charming.
Chris’s brother talked about them rather sarcastically afterwards.
By the way, there was one other thing.
It was something Serge learned later on, but when a woman asked a man for a birthday present, it was known as a reverse proposal.