The Magus of Genesis — Chapter 29

A Promise

約束

 

Words of the future from a time long past.

 

​ Sixty-nine years have passed since I met Ai.

​ Both Darg and Ken… as well as all of those that had lived in the cave Ai came from have already died.

​ Living amongst their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, Ai was the last one left.

​ “—… The owner of many names, the flow of time, death itself… Remove yourself from this body of mine, vanish.”

​ Finished reciting the very, very long incantation, Ai breathed out a sigh and laid down on the bed.

​ It was a specially made felt from the wool of a sheep I’d captured from another continent.

​ It couldn’t hold a candle to what modern Earth was capable of, but Ai smiled nonetheless, saying it was remarkably better than sleeping on straw on the ground.

​ “Ai, are you feeling alright…? Don’t push yourself, it’s okay.”

​ “I’m fine, it’s… like my daily routine, now.”

​ Ai spoke slowly, her tone unsteady.

​ The extravagantly lengthy incantation to prolong life took somewhere around ten minutes to recite. She’d been reciting it each and every day, even when I wasn’t there. She practically couldn’t even stand anymore, but she still continued with the custom.

​ I thought that the magic might have had no effect, but seeing as how Ai has had such a long life, it looks like it may have unexpectedly worked somewhat.

​ But even so, it was just to the level of being mere consolation.

​ “Besides… either way, I won’t have… much longer.”

​ Unable to respond to her, I just combed her bangs.

​ Nina had told me the same thing.

​ Ai had just a few more days to live.

​ I couldn’t imagine a world without her in it.

​ Meanwhile, on that thought, I could feel a sense of resignation spreading through my chest.

​ She, as a human of this era, had lived long beyond her time.

​ Her aged body had grown weak, no longer able to run through the fields, unable to talk cheerfully, unable to hear much of anything.

​ Watching over her like that was painful for me.

​ “Mentor.”

​ Ai gazed at me intently.

​ “Could I ask you… one last thing?”

​ “What? I’ll answer anything.”

​ Please don’t let this be the last, the end.

​ Desperately pinning that feeling down as it threatened to overwhelm me, I just barely managed to force a smile on my face.

​ “I want—to know… Mentor’s name.”

​ “My name?”

​ Dragons don’t live together, not even with their own children for very long.

​ They held an incredible amount of knowledge, so they were probably also knew how to seize beings by understanding their name.

​ Which might be why they don’t bestow names.

​ It felt strange to give myself a name, so I’d told Ai to just call me Mentor. That alias had spread to the people in the village, only two people didn’t call me that. Those two were Nina and Darg.

​ “Didn’t I explain it before? Dragons don’t have names. That’s why I said for you all to call me Mentor, it’s my name.”

​ “What I want to know… is Mentor’s name, as a human.”

​ Her words caused me to suddenly remember it.

​ Right. I used to be a human.

​ I didn’t forget about it, of course.

​ But I’d almost lived as long as a dragon as I did as a human.

​ I’d grown accustomed to living as a dragon, enough so that my awareness of having been something else previously began to dim.

​ “So… you noticed?”

​ I’d never told anyone that I was formerly a human.

​ It wouldn’t particularly be a problem if they did know, but I thought that no one would believe me either way.

​ “I know everything… about you, Mentor.”

​ Ai spoke with a slight smile on her face.

​ She wasn’t exaggerating, it was probably true.

​ Her ears were failing, but for some reason, she never stopped being able to hear me.

​ “I… yeah. I was a human. I wasn’t a human of this world, though. I was a human that lived in an entirely different world.”

​ Ai, not appearing to doubt me in the least, nodded as she listened.

​ “That world didn’t have magic… no, I suppose I should say it only had one. That magic… was my reincarnation into this world as a dragon.”

​ “Reincarnation…”

​ Ai played with the word, ruminating on it.

​ “Ryouji. My name from when I was a human is Ryouji Sekiguchi. Written like this.”

​ Saying that, I wrote the characters for my name in the air.

​ “… Ryou… ji…”

​ The instant Ai muttered that, my entire body felt as though it were burning.

​ Be it when I soaked in hot water or when I accidentally set some trees that had been surrounding me on fire—not even the time I bathed in magma—I had never felt a heat this hot.

​ This was the first tense I felt hot since I was born as a dragon.

​ My belly burned, my arms twisted, and my vision blurred.

​ However, the mysteriously, it wasn’t painful.

​ The feeling passed just as abruptly as it began.

​ “Ryouji… is that…?”

​ Blinking several times upon seeing Ai look strangely close to me, I realized—

​ “… It appears so.”

​ —that my appearance had changed into that of a human.

​ “This… is you?”

​ “Probably… I think.”

​ Her eyes opened wide, Ai stared at me fixedly.

​ I stretched out a trembling arm and gently placed my hand against her cheek.

​ And then embraced her closely.

​ Not even something like this.

​ Not even something like this… could I do until now.

 
26_BW
 

​ Embracing the body of the woman I loved so dearly for the first time, she felt small and delicate, like she might break if I put even the smallest amount of strength into my embrace.

​ “Ah…”

​ Ai’s arms reaching around my back, she let out a content voice.

​ Her moistened eyes glittering like starlight, she looked at me in earnest.

​ Honest, earnest… her eyes, looking straight into me, wouldn’t change no matter how much time passed.

​ She’d come to me as a sacrifice—young and innocent, our spring.

​ She grew up to be lovely, like new leaves sprouting on a tree—the girl I’d yearned, our summer.

​ Beautiful as a vividly colored flower—when she confessed her love, our autumn.

​ Countless wrinkles biting into her skin—the woman that supported me as my wife, our winter.

​ Through the years, her eyes had only ever seen me.

​ “I was happy.”

​ Me too.

​ Even though I had to say it, my mouth didn’t move.

​ “That I could meet you… and stay with you…”

​ Don’t go, please.

​ It was all I could do to keep myself from spouting my own selfishness.

​ “I was really, really… happy.”

​ Even if my form had turned into a human’s, a portion of my senses appeared to remain as a dragon’s.

​ For the first time since I was reborn, I cursed that I was born as a fire dragon.

​ The magic that had turned me into a human seemed to be running out of power.

​ Steadily, the warmth drained from her lips, her eyes, her fingers…

​ That she was gradually dying was frightfully clear to me.

​ How easy would it be for me to beg, to scream, for her to not leave me alone?

​ I’d pondered whether I should end my life with hers many times.

​ I didn’t want to imagine living for hundreds, thousands of years in a world that didn’t have her in it.

​ “Yeah… meeting you made me… really, really happy, too…”

​ Enduring the agony assaulting me, I finally managed to squeeze out my voice.

​ I had to tell her.

​ To tell her that she had given me just as much happiness, that her smile was the sun that lit my world.

​ “Mentor, you’re… so gentle. I love you.”

​ But Ai smiled in response, seemingly able to see through all of my thoughts.

​ “So, again… I’ll—”

​ Mustering the rest of her strength, Ai mouthed her words.

​ She was so weak that she couldn’t even cause the air to vibrate.

​ It was her final breath.

 

* * *

 

​ “… It’s over?”

​ “Yeah.”

​ After nodding back to Nina’s quiet question, I suddenly noticed.

​ “Not going to react?”

​ “There’s nothing different though? Same gold eyes, same red head.”

​ Even though my appearance was completely different than when I’m a dragon, she had no reaction at all and responded as much.

​ “Well, if forced…”

​ She looked up at me and continued.

​ “I thought you’d look more like a kid.”

​ “I really am as a dragon though.”

​ I can’t be sure since there’s no mirror in sight, but judging by my arms and legs, my form is around that of a twenty-year-old human. I can’t say how long a dragon’s lifespan is, but that should at the very least be considered young for a dragon.

​ “… You’re less depressed than I thought you’d be.”

​ “No, I’m staggeringly depressed.”

​ If Nina weren’t here right now, I’d be crying my eyes out.

​ However.

​ “Nina. Let’s make a magic academy.”

​ I spoke the same words to her that I’d used long ago.

​ “…? Didn’t you make it?”

​ Ai really was a wonderful wife.

​ She thought of me to the very end.

​ “A bigger, better school.”

​ Dragon’s ears truly are sharp.

​ Sharp to the extent that they could hear Ai’s last words, words that didn’t even make it past her mouth.

​ Therefore, I’ll believe in the words she left me and look forward.

​ “Let’s make such a wonderful academy that everything in the world knows about it.”

​ Because.

​ Because someday, she will return.

 

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