I don’t like Mentor.
Indecisive, cowardly, weak, pathetic. I hate all that about Mentor.
[You shouldn’t say stuff like that.]
Ignoring the voice saying that in the back of my mind, I swung my sword as I did every day. I feel like I can forget everything and anything whenever I do this.
“Man, you’re working hard huh, Asaka.”
Even so, as soon as I heard that annoying voice, my chest felt weird.
“Not really. I’m a Swordsaint, this is normal.”
Not bothering to look back at him, I gave him a curt response.
“Even so, there’s no driving reason for you do be this hard working, right?”
I didn’t answer his gentle words.
Mentor didn’t seem to mind me ignoring him at all as he continued talking to me.
“I’ve been thinking about going to see my wife. Would you like to come with me?”
Even though that’s what I thought, my mouth answered on its own.
Mentor smiled, almost like he knew I was going to answer like that.
There were two stones next to each other in the place we went to.
Standing between them, Mentor put his hands together. I watched on in silence.
Because… they were just rocks. No one was here.
Even if you put your hands together, even if you keep them clean, it won’t make anyone happy.
[Eh? I’m happy though?]
I heard a voice in my mind just as I thought that, causing me to grab onto his clothes.
Ignoring Mentor as he tilted his head, I cleaned the tombstones.
I say that, but it would’ve been clean and shiny even without me doing so.
Be it windy days or rainy days, the dragon next to me would use his free time to keep them clean.
“Thank you, Asaka.”
“… I didn’t do anything.”
Feeling frustrated for some reason, I carefully cleaned the tombstone in front of me. When I stole a glance at Mentor, I saw him smiling softly as he worked to polish big sis Ai’s tombstone next to me.
Again, even though I didn’t intend to say anything, my mouth spoke on its own. It shouldn’t have been at a volume that someone could hear, but this sharp-eared dragon heard me as if I’d spoken right into his ear.
“… It’s fine. She passed away, in the end.”
“Hmm. Well, I wouldn’t say it’s fine.”
When he heard me reluctantly say that, his face took on a complicated expression, like a mix between troubled and loving.
“I’m sad, sure… but well, I don’t regret it.”
Only giving a vague response, I sighed. I don’t know how I felt… Angry? Sad? Or maybe something else? Even I didn’t understand it.
“Besides, I just… well, I get the feeling that she’s still here by my side.”
“You believe in her promise?”
When I said that, Mentor looked a bit surprised.
“You know about it?”
“… I heard it from her.”
“Oh. You and Yuuki were good friends, after all.”
I nodded. Aunt Yuuki was my great aunt, grandpa Amata’s daughter. We used to play a lot when I was young and I used to love listening to her tell me stories back then.
The elf, calm and dependable like a mother.
The lykoscentaur, gentle yet scary when angry like an older sister.
The lizardman, mischievous like a younger brother and the merfolk, energetic like a younger sister.
And her beloved dragon.
Aunt Yuuki would tell me her stories of love and adventure through life, she was so good at it that I felt like I was there experiencing it myself.
At some point, she got so good that I could even experience the colors, sounds, and flavors of it all.
“I heard all of it. Including all of your failings and downsides, all of it.”
“Haha, that’s a bit scary.”
Probably thinking I was over exaggerating, Mentor smiled. I wasn’t kidding, though.
I have all of aunt Yuuki’s memories in my head. Even including everything she didn’t tell me, all of it. I’m sure it’s the final magic she’d left behind.
—Which is why.
Every time I see Mentor’s smile, my chest tightens in pain. Each time he talks to me, my heart throbs helplessly. Hers probably did, too.
I hate Mentor. Yeah, that’s what I tell myself.
“… She truly loved you, Mentor.”
“Yeah. I know.”
Seeing Mentor nod as he always did, my heart thumped yet again. I can’t stand it. I don’t have the resolve she did.
But I knew that, of course. She’d said it was like that for her at first, too. How she tried to stay away, to avoid him.
—As well as how she wasn’t be able to not love him.
I’m sure there exists a story that is mine alone.
It might intersect with hers, it might follow an entirely separate path.
But right now, I hate Mentor for this pain.
Even while understanding that it’s probably a vain resistance.
It was faint, but I heard a voice in my mind. It was just an illusion I made.
She died five years ago, after all.
It was just my imagination figuring she’d say that.
… But I’m sure I would tell the story.
To my own children, to my grandchildren, to my nieces, to my nephews. I would definitely tell them.
And they would do the same.
Because it was a very, very important promise.
She promised that she would stay by his side forever.
The story of a girl who lived a short life.
Of the memories buried within my chest.
Of the Swordsaint Existence Chronicle.