An Ominous Omen
Ruin always follows one’s footsteps.
Unless those footsteps themselves are ruin.
“Oh, Mentor? Good morning. You look unwell, are you alright?”
“Morning… I’m alright.”
I grudgingly replied to Violet, who was looking at my face in worry.
I was hesitant to tell her I had a hangover.
“Um, where’s Yuuki?”
Unable to find her red hair in the wheat field, I asked Violet where she was.
It had been a decade since I began the special classroom and started teaching them, so I’d taught them just about everything I could. They’d graduated from daily classes for a while, so they were now generally working as school teachers, out in the field, or as coaches for raising livestock.
“I believe she is still sleeping?”
She’s always been an early riser, but I suppose even rare things happen sometimes.
Just as I thought that, though—
“She said that you rejected her and was drinking and crying until late last night.”
Violet said it like it was nothing.
“Y—… You heard about that?”
“Oh yes. Rin, Luka, and I were comforting her.”
She was smiling, but not of that smile made it into her tone. Rather, she sounded scary.
“… I’m sorry…”
“Am I truly who you should be saying that to?”
Once I gave an apology, her tone finally softened.
Seeing me like that, Violet continued.
“I understand your feelings as well, Mentor.”
She touched one of the wheat stalks with her hand, muttering.
“I have lived among these humans, I understand. Their lives pass much too quickly. Let alone trees, they are more similar to flowers.”
Come to think of it, Ultramarine coming to that realization may be why she refused to stay here.
“So, what about pairing with me?”
Just as the conversation had taken a solemn turn, Violet changed the topic with a jest.
“Err, umm, sorry…”
“Oh? It appears I have been rejected as well.”
Violet let out a reserved chuckle.
I honestly can never tell how serious she’s being.
“I think that I will return to the forest once this harvest is complete.”
I didn’t think of her as cold-hearted. It was because of her feelings that she could understand my pain.
“Just… whether the harvest ends well is another story.”
Violet nodded, her expression serious.
The scarlite rat guards were working out well. Seemingly unable to gnaw through metal, we’ve managed to prevent them from getting into the raised storehouses. However, the rats didn’t give up. Since they were unable to eat our stockpiles, they’d turned to attacking our fields the moment the crops grew.
We’d been taking several countermeasures against them doing so, such as making traps and including poisonous food, but the harm they do to the crops seem to get worse and worse as the years go by.
“We will think of another way to stop them.”
Leaving with that, I decided to go see my other students.
I stopped by the school building on the way to the ranch. Luka was teaching a class in the classroom. The girl, once rather introverted and quiet, had turned into a splendid teacher.
Watching her teach the class, I heard the sound of the bell signal the end of the session.
Luka, hearing the bell, turned to look outside the classroom. Our eyes met.
“Wh-What are you watching for, Mentor—!?”
Immediately after that, she blushed and ran over to me. Her students could all be heard laughing in the background.
“Class is over, over! You can leave—!”
When Luka cried that out, the students scattered as they left the room.
“Looks like you’re adored by your students, that’s great.”
“Oh Mentor, that’s embarrassing. How long were you watching me?”
“Not for long. I did watch for long enough to see how good you’ve gotten at Professor Luka, though.”
“Please don’t tease meeee…”
Luka’s voice trailed off in embarrassment.
“But being a teacher is fun. I was worried about whether it would suit me when I started.”
Unusually for her, she was smiling in a carefree manner.
“Does being with human children… err, not trouble you?”
I hesitated over outright bringing up their longevity and asked it in that way instead. Upon doing so, Luka inclined her head slightly in thought and responded.
“Right. Human children… they grow up so fast, don’t they? Yuuki was like that too, even.”
Hearing her name suddenly come up, I nodded.
“But that’s why teaching them is so fun. I get to see them steadily changing.”
However, her following words surprised me.
“They might not be able to do something one day, then suddenly be able to the next. And if they can’t do it the next, maybe they can the day after. Every day’s so exciting, I keep thinking about how amazing they all are.”
So you could think about it all like that, too. Really, she’s much more suited to being a teacher than I am.
“Ah, but… I think I want to go back to the grasslands soon?”
Which is why I was so surprised at her saying that, causing me to move forward and unintentionally shout.
“Eh—I mean, I haven’t been home in more than ten years… wouldn’t you want to see your family’s faces?”
“Don’t worry, I’ll definitely come back.”
“Really? Err, I mean, that’s great. Thinking that you were going to leave surprised me!”
Taking her hand, I breathed out a sigh of relief.
“E-excuse me, Mentor… would it be that troubling for you?”
“Yes, it would. I’d be really troubled if I didn’t have an excellent girl like you around, Luka.”
“Oh, okay… eh? E-Excellent!? Me!?”
Luka suddenly began to panic when she realized I was talking about her.
She served as the class leader the whole time, managed the young problem children, and helped kick start the general idea of magic formations. If you couldn’t call her excellent, no one could be called excellent.
“Of course! Thank you, and I hope you continue to be just as excellent.”
Parting from the thoroughly-embarrassed Luka, I headed toward the ranch.
“This is why I keep saying you’re always like this!”
“Eeh, but wouldn’t this way be so much more fun?”
Even before I saw them, I could hear a certain pair arguing.
“You two never change…”
“What, you came all the way out here? You have that much free time?”
When I made my appearance over the fence, Rin came flying over at me and Shig gave a wry comment.
“What are you two arguing about this time?”
“Get a load of this. She never sticks to the program. She’s wanting to clean them before we feed them.”
At the end of it all, but plan to breed behemoths ran into an impasse. We’d succeeded in enclosing them, but… well, dealing with their excrement turned out to be impossible.
Behemoths both took in and gave out in an amount appropriate for their body size. Although Luka said that their feces could probably be reused as fertilizer, with them being confined into such a small area, it had too much of a concentration.
Dealing with a tremendous amount of smelly manure every day back and forth to the grasslands was a job no one wanted to do, it also just wasn’t practical given the sheer volume to process.
However, we did make progress in raising animals. Fences reinforced with scarlite managed to endure the deers’ rush, and magic kept continually active through magic formations proved useful to prevent escapes. They still hadn’t become accustomed to people yet, but we did succeed in managing to keep them without an unreasonable difficulty.
“Why did Rin want that?”
“I think it’d be fun…”
They weren’t tame, so we used the time while their eating to clean the ranch. We would serve them scarlet potatoes in a food trough, close the pen the trough was in, then get to work cleaning while it was closed and let them back in when we were done. Otherwise, the deers that recognized the ranch as their home would attempt to remove any invaders.
However, the current Rin does have enough strength to say that it would be fun. Although her magical output is still unstable, it is shocking in its sheer strength. Even if she didn’t use incantations, she’d easily fend off the deers.
“But there is a chance that you may end up injured, right? Even if you were alright, the deers may get injured. Shig’s way of doing it helps make sure that doesn’t happen.”
When my gaze met with Rin’s, she nodded.
“Good. So you’ll listen to what Shig said, right?”
“Even though you didn’t listen to me at all…!”
Shig clenched his fist and shook it at Rin, who was nodding at me so obediently.
“By the way, the field is having some trouble with rats, do you have any good ideas?”
I’e recently been trying to ask these two for their perspectives when I get troubled.
“Hmm… make the field be in water?”
“Like that’s possible!?”
Shig couldn’t help but react to Rin’s idea that she said after a moment’s though.
“Oh. But if the rats can’t swim, maybe we could put a river around it?”
“That might work out.”
What was it called again? Hmm… irrigation? Although if it turns out that the rats can swim, maybe I could make the canal in a way that they won’t be able to move about its channels?
“Thanks, I’ll give it a try.”
Really, these two were reliable for stuff like this. They’re a great team.
“It was nothing!”
“Hey! That was obviously my idea! I was the one that said it!”
They bash heads quite a lot though…
＊ ＊ ＊
Shig’s idea for an irrigation channel worked out very well. It looked like the rats weren’t too good at swimming. It helped for both farming and the ranch.
We’ve even managed to solve the problem with our lack of teaching staff, so we should be able to avoid the falling into ruin in a hundred years I’d predicted. It seemed like everything was going smoothly.
Everything except that I still hadn’t been able to talk with Yuuki.
That is, it’s not like I literally haven’t talked with her. We’ve been able to talk if needed and greet each other. But every time I try to make a good opportunity to apologize for what I did, she always ends up running away for one reason or another, and she’s stopped approaching me at all. Even though she’s been the one sticking to me all this time.
I know that my refusal was selfish of me, I did something horribly cruel to her. I had hoped that Yuuki’s behavior would return a little closer to normal as time went on, but it actually just made it even harder to close the gap and apologize.
I heard about it on one of the days I was worrying about Yuuki.
“Yes. That is the only thing I can see it as.”
What Violet showed me was a branch laid out across the canal.
“It appears they used this to get across…”
Fresh wheat grew in the field. At their bases were pieces torn out. The indents indicated rat teeth.
“… It probably isn’t that a branch fell from a tree and landed there accidentally… right…?”
We’d made the field out of what used to be forest, so its side was right next to the forest. However, it wasn’t so close that a branch could just fall from a tree and land on the canal. It looked more like that someone deliberately moved the branch over it.
“Is there any possibility that some children were playing and accidentally left it?”
It was hard for me to believe that rats orchestrated it and carried the branch there themselves.
“I did try asking to see if that was it, but no one seemed to know anything about it.”
“Hmm. Well, maybe it’ll be alright if we just tell them that the rats can get in if it happens and to be more careful?”
I don’t want to believe that there is anyone in the village who would knowingly damage the village’s food supply. Even if we have room to spare, it’s not to the point of being easily coped with like modern Japan could.
“I understand, I will have it be known.”
“Sorry, and thanks.”
However, I still wasn’t aware.
—Aware of how lightly I’d taken this world’s creatures.