“My name is Hideo! The person who will obtain victory for new frontiers! Wings, go forth! Flower petals, take flight! Gather the shining azure sunlight! Avatar of the wind, Holy Sword Liutberga! Answer my call and take form!”
This was hardly the kind of thing a middle-aged salaryman who was nearly fifty years old should be chanting, but Yasuo and Nodoka were unable to look away from their father’s hands.
A bright blue light, brighter than an LED flashlight was coalescing within Hideo’s hands.
After an especially strong gust of wind, the light faded and their father was holding a sword in his hand.
“Aah, now look what you’ve done.”
“T-That was surprising.”
While Yasuo was frozen from shock, his mother who had been silent until now rose from her chair and started to pick up the things that were scattered around by the wind that his father had apparently summoned. Even Nodoka was showing a shocked expression.
The picture frames that were on top of the cupboard had fallen down, the framed paintings on the walls were tilted to one side, the box of tissues that was on the table had got blown into a corner of the room, and even the tablecloth had been blown up by the wind. The figure of his mother, Madoka, efficiently fixing all these things appeared to be out of touch with reality, maybe because she saw something so extraordinary. His father looked a little sad as he closed his eyes.
“I didn’t intend to show all of you so much.”
“Amazing… so this is the legendary Holy Sword of the Wind, Liutberga.”
Unlike Yasuo and Nodoka who were dumbfounded, Diana had a look of awe upon her face.
“I’ve gotten rusty. Back in the old days, I didn’t need the chant, and the sword didn’t look so flimsy either.”
The sword that was polished to mirror finish gave off a faint blue glow, and seemed to leave afterimages in Yasuo’s eyes as it moved.
What did he just see? Magic? There was no other way to put it, but Yasuo still couldn’t believe what he had seen.
“Is that some sleight of hand? Something like Diana-san secretly handed you that thing which looks like a cosplay prop while you were distracting us with the light.”
Nodoka proposed a very realistic explanation after glancing at her brother who was confused as to whether it was really magic or not, after seeing the unreal scene before him.
Yasuo was astonished at his sister’s composure and was about to agree with her theory, but then reconsidered. That was because Diana hadn’t been carrying such a long sword anywhere on her person.
The sword in front of them had a metallic sheen, and didn’t look like a prop that was built with some trick in the materials or structure.
“Do you want to hold it?”
Hideo was not in the least worried about Nodoka’s theory, and handed the sword that seemed to be called Liutberga to Nodoka, hilt first.
“Eh? Can I?”
Nodoka asked back in a simple manner, like a child who had been allowed to hold the belongings of an adult.
“It’s okay. This is my holy sword. It won’t hurt any of my family members.”
Unlike Nodoka’s simple question, her father’s answer was so serious that it almost seemed unnatural.
In spite of that, Nodoka cautiously stretched her hand out towards the proffered hilt and made to hold the sword, but:
Nodoka certainly held the sword. But the second it passed into her hands completely, the sword started to turn into particles of light and disappeared from the point first, as though it was dissolving into thin air.
Once the sword had completely disintegrated, the particles irregularly moved back into Hideo’s hand and turned back into a sword in the blink of an eye.
“I was definitely holding it just now… Wow, that’s pretty awesome!”
“Yasuo, do you want to try holding it too?”
Yasuo frowned at his sister who looked like she was having fun in spite of her confusion, and stretched his hand towards the hilt as well. However, just like before, the sword disintegrated into particles of light before Yasuo could hold it properly and returned to Hideo’s hand.
The feeling of holding a slender, metallic item remained in Yasuo’s hand. For a moment, he also felt its weight. However, he also felt that it was far too light to have been constructed entirely out of metal, and also felt the sensation of the blade slowly vanishing in his hands, just ten centimeters in front of his nose.
“Not considering Ante Lande, I hope you’ve come to understand that at least I’m not normal.”
Although it was very vague, his father accurately understood the question that was within Yasuo’s groan.
“I didn’t want you to hate me. I didn’t want to scare you. Swords and magic are not normal things. The fact that your father is not normal, when I considered what effect that knowledge would have on you, I was too scared to tell you.”
Yasuo wasn’t able to confidently say that it wouldn’t have been the case. If he had found out about this earlier, could he have continued to interact with his father normally?
There’s no way he could have done that. Even now, he was in such a state.
Even without considering the matter of being a hero and other worlds, his father had just demonstrated something that couldn’t be explained by common sense. There’s no way he could discover how to react to this matter in the few seconds that had elapsed.
At this point, Yasuo finally felt that something outrageous and incredible was happening in front of him. Yasuo, Nodoka, and even Hideo were unable to say anything, and just looked at each other for a while.
The incredible secret of their family was now revealed. Such a thing had never happened in the Kenzaki household before.
None of them knew what was to be done. Even Diana could do little more than just look on while being tense.
A gentle voice broke the taut silence.
“Both Yasuo and Nodoka won’t be able to come to terms with it so quickly after hearing such a story. Why don’t we take a break and talk again after while?”
“Hmm? Ahh, you’re right. Let’s do that.”
Their mother, Madoka, had returned after fixing all the things that had fallen over or were blown away by the wind summoned by their father.
“I know you two are confused, but your father is actually worried because of this sudden development as well. Let’s stop talking about this for today, and set a time for discussing this again later. We can afford to take at least that much time, right, Diana-chan?”
“Eh? Ah, yes, if it’s just that much…”
Diana’s reply was a moment late as she didn’t expect to be asked a question.
“Then we’re done for today. Diana-chan, do you have any place where you can stay for the night?”
“Well, umm, no, I don’t…”
Diana replied while looking at Yasuo timidly.
“I expected to take Hideo back with me by the end of today, so…”
“There’s no helping it then. You can stay in my room for today. We have a futon for guests as well, although it hasn’t been used in a while so it may be a little dusty.”
“Ah, thank you very much-”
“Mom, wait. Wait just a minute. You seem weirdly calm, are you okay with this?”
Yasuo forcefully entered the conversation between his mother and Diana.
“About the talk regarding holy swords and the different world, How do you feel about all this?”
“Even if you ask me how I feel…”
Yasuo’s mother looked back at him with an expression that could be taken as being baffled, expressionless, or just trying not to think about it.
“Dad just said that he wants to quit his job for some incomprehensible reason.”
His mother was an avid reader, and was proud of her book collection that had works from many genres, but the only fantasy books she had were the typical foreign books that were made into movies.
Maybe she was silent all this time because she wasn’t able to keep up with the conversation, and in the end she had on an expressionless face as if she had closed herself off from the discussion.
It wasn’t clear whether she understood what Yasuo was worried about, but she lowered her shoulders and spoke with her eyes cast downwards after first looking at Hideo and then at Diana.
“Of course, I don’t want your father to quit his job either. Although we have savings, we don’t know what will happen in the future. One of us could get into an accident, fall ill, or something else might happen.”
“R-Right? See, Mom agrees with me-”
“But I also understand why your father wants to go, and so I’m not able to strongly disagree. I don’t know what to do either.”
“Can’t strongly disagree with Dad quitting his job… wait, what do you mean?”
Looking at her son who was confused, Madoka looked at Diana like she had given up on everything and asked her,
“Diana-chan, does Erijina… no, Erize, still dislike eating carrots?”
At this, Yasuo, and even Nodoka, gave a startled shout.
On the other hand, Diana smiled a little and gave a small nod.
“Yes. Every year, she imposes exorbitant taxes only on carrots to keep them from the markets, and the Emperor reprimands her for that. It’s become something of a custom.”
“She hasn’t changed at all. Alex must be having a hard time as well.”
“Yes, my father… my father was very strict while raising me to not complain about food. Thanks to that, I became capable of eating most things.”
“Eh, Mom, are you serious?”
“Wait a second!”
“Who’s this Alex?”
“Wait, are you kidding me?”
As the brother and sister asked their mother these questions while trying to make sense of the situation, their mother placed her index finger near her mouth as though asking them to calm down.
“Your father and I fought together in Ante Lande, and fell in love with each other.”
She said that while creating a small flame above the tip of that index finger.
This time, Yasuo was truly lost for words.
While he was in that state, the flame that was created on top of his mother’s finger gradually changed in size and shape, and finally took on a spherical shape in mid-air as though it was enclosed in a crystal ball, and looked like a small sun that shone in the colors of the rainbow.
“I’m very thankful. To think that I would be able to see the magic of Sugiura Madoka, who was known as the ‘Rainbow Sage’, with my own eyes. As a Magitech soldier, I feel very lucky.”
Unlike Yasuo and Nodoka who were unable to make a sound, Diana looked at Kenzaki Madoka, known as Sugiura Madoka before marriage, with admiration, just like she had looked at the Holy Sword Liutberga earlier.
Nodoka was even more surprised than she was with the so-called Holy Sword from earlier, and showed a childlike expression for once while looking at the flame that was continuously changing in shape and color while hovering over her mother’s finger.
“Woah, seriously? It’s so pretty… wow!?”
However, at that moment, the fire alarm on the ceiling started to make a loud noise, and their mother hurriedly covered the miniature rainbow sun with both hands and made it vanish. While pulling the string that would stop the alarm, she said,
“Am I still called by that embarrassing nickname over there? Seriously, Diana-chan. Forget about being a sage, I’m just an old lady who didn’t even go to college. If you praise me for such a small thing, Erize who has been the leader of the Mage Squad of the Kingdom’s Knights for all these years will become jealous.”
“My mother is too overconfident. It would be good for her to learn a little humility.”
Diana was praising his mother, while his mother was trying to be humble but didn’t look displeased. Yasuo didn’t even know what to do anymore.
Maybe because she noticed that look on her son’s face, she shrugged and looked at her husband and Diana.
“I understand your desire to help the people you were indebted to in Ante Lande. I, too have many memories of that place, and I was saved by the people there many times, and if I could do something, I would want to. But we’re old now and can’t fight like we did back then, and Yasuo and Nodoka are at an important stage in life.We don’t know how much money we will need in the future. That is why… I still can’t tell you what I think you should do.”
If this was a nightmare, he wanted to wake up already.
What was with this scene?
His mother was a magician? Sage? Mage Squad? What the heck is that?
How was Nodoka able to listen to such things without batting an eyelid?
Was he the one who was being strange?
The mentality of the eighteen-year old boy who had grown up in a completely normal way had reached its limit.
“Eh? What? Onii-chan, are you for real?”
Being hit directly with this difficult reality, Yasuo couldn’t take it anymore and fell down, unconscious.
Yasuo, who had slept for a long time for once, felt like he had awoken after having a long dream.
“I might have overslept a bit”
While saying that to himself, he stretched his back that felt stiff and climbed down the stairs.
While squinting his eyes against the faint light of the early morning, he saw the back of his father, Hideo, wearing a suit and putting his shoes on near the front door.
“…Hmm? Are you leaving already?”
Yasuo looked at the clock near the front door that had an inbuilt hygrometer and thermometer, and saw that it was only 6:00 AM. It was one hour earlier than his father usually left for work.
“Hmm? Ah, I’m going to Osaka on a business trip for three days. The Shinkansen train leaves pretty early.”
“Oh, I see. Have a good trip.”
It was pretty common for his father to take business trips. The frequency was at least once every month. However, Yasuo didn’t know the exact number. It was just a usual part of his life, and if he didn’t see his father at night, he would just think “Ah, he’s on a business trip.”
“Well then, I’m sorry for leaving all this trouble behind. We’ll continue the discussion after I get back.”
“Hmm? Ah, okay.”
After seeing off his father as he had done many times before, he wondered what trouble his father was talking about. As he struggled to remember while not being fully awake yet, the sound of his stomach due to hunger distracted him.
Speaking of which, he couldn’t remember what he had eaten for dinner last night.
“Ah, did Dad come back late from work yesterday? Hmm, but I think I took a day off from prep school…”
As he was rubbing his half-open eyes, he tried to scratch his stomach through the gap in his pyjamas, but the cloth he touched felt different from that of his pyjamas, so he looked down at himself.
“Hmm? Woah, what the hell?”
No wonder he felt so uncomfortable while waking up, for some reason he was still wearing his school uniform.
“Eh, did I fall asleep like this yesterday? Ahh, the trousers are so wrinkled. Hey, Mom, yesterday I…”
Yasuo realized that his memories of the previous night were hazy, and as he called out to his mother who was preparing breakfast,
“G-Good morning! I didn’t realize you were already awake! How are you feeling now? I’m sorry, breakfast isn’t ready yet!”
He realized that an unknown young girl was standing in the kitchen, and,
“AAAAAAAAAAAAH! Ah!? AAAAAAAAAH!!”
The memories of the previous day came rushing back all at once, and he screamed at the top of his lungs.
The one who was standing in the kitchen was the girl who had thrown a massive bomb into the Kenzaki household yesterday, the self-proclaimed outworlder, Diana. He couldn’t remember her full name yet.
“Hey, what’s all the noise about!”
The scream brought his mother running into the living room.
“Yasuo? You’re awake? Are you feeling okay?”
“W-W-W-W-W-What do you mean, am I okay?”
“I mean, you suddenly fainted yesterday and didn’t wake up at all. I was planning to call the ambulance if you still didn’t wake up in the morning, you know?”
“No, no, that’s not important! Dad just left the house, call him back!”
“Huh? I already know that. Why do you want to call him back?”
“What do you mean, why? He was talking about quitting his job, right? He might turn in his resignation today before coming home!”
“Calm down a little. Also, you didn’t take a bath yesterday, so go take one now. If you can make this much noise, then I guess you’re alright.”
“How do you expect me to calm down?!”
“You look pretty relaxed already, sitting on the floor like that. Don’t worry, he’s just gone on his usual business trip to Osaka. No matter how firm his resolve is, he can’t just up and quit his job in one day. I’ve also properly warned him to not be hasty.”
“I-Is that so?”
Yasuo wasn’t able to calm down, and he glared at Diana while still being in the pathetic position of sitting on the floor.
Seeing that, Diana knelt on the floor in front of Yasuo.
“Umm, I slept in Madoka’s room last night, and I realized that I was very inconsiderate towards all the family members, so I thought we could begin the conversation again on another day…”
Unlike yesterday, she wasn’t wearing light armour that gave off a fantasy-like feeling, and was instead wearing a blouse that he assumed belonged to his mother. Since Diana, who was less than twenty years old and had blonde hair and green eyes, was wearing a blouse belonging to his mother, who was nearly fifty years old, he couldn’t shake off the feeling that it was really mismatched.
However, since the clothing was of a style that was ordinary, he was able to keep from adversely reacting to her like he did yesterday. Putting that absurd discussion aside, it seemed that she really felt sorry towards Yasuo.
“Ah, um, okay.”
But that didn’t mean that he suddenly wanted to be friends with her.
In the end, Yasuo only gave a halfhearted answer, and wasn’t able to think of anything else to say. It was then that the door to the living room opened suddenly and hit him hard on his back and the back of his head, as he was still sitting on the floor.
Nodoka’s startled cry was heard from the other side of the door, and she peeked in with an unhappy face and looked at Yasuo who was in pain with cold eyes.
“…Thanks to your shouting, I woke up at an hour when I could have still been sleeping, Onii-chan.”
“I-Isn’t there something you should say to me before that….”
“The door bounced back and hit my toes, it really hurts. Why are you blocking the way by lying down in such a place?”
“Ehh, what’s up with that?”
While Diana was looking at Yasuo who was groaning in pain, Nodoka sleepily looked at Diana and greeted her normally while yawning slightly.
“Ah, good morning, Diana-san.”
“Good morning, Nodoka. Umm, Yasuo made a really loud noise…”
Diana naturally exchanged morning greetings with Nodoka, and looked at Yasuo who was holding his head while writhing in pain as if she was uncertain as to how to interact with him.
“You can just leave him be. Mom, can I have some black tea?”
However, Nodoka just talked like she didn’t even consider her brother to be human, like she did everyday from the moment she woke up.
“I-Is that really okay? Ah, if you want tea, the pot that boils water quickly is heating up right now.”
“Ah, the electric kettle? I hope you haven’t actually put it on the stove.”
After thinking for a second, Nodoka realized that Diana was talking about the electric kettle used to heat water. Heading towards the kitchen, she walked in between Diana and Yasuo.
Yasuo sat up while rubbing his head, but wasn’t able to conceal his misgivings at Nodoka’s behaviour.
It wasn’t that she was being friendly towards Diana. However, she was tolerating Diana’s presence as though she was a distant relative who had come to visit, and wasn’t as uncomfortable with having her around as Yasuo was.
“Well, it’s not that I don’t understand what you want to say.”
At some point, his mother had come to stand beside him and said so while looking downwards while having a complicated expression.
“Go get changed. You have another uniform shirt to change into, right?”
Even those words, which he would normally hear many times in a month, felt like they were coming from a distant place.
The atmosphere in the dining room turned even worse than it was yesterday.
Since the main person, his father, wasn’t here, Diana’s presence felt even more abnormal. Diana, too, seemed to feel the tense atmosphere around Yasuo, and just nibbled her toast without saying anything.
After that, Yasuo took a shower, took a fresh shirt out of his wardrobe, ironed his trousers even though he didn’t really know how, and prepared to leave for school. He focused on the toast and salad in front of him to avoid looking at Diana as much as possible, even though he couldn’t avoid seeing her completely.
“…Such a tense atmosphere.”
Only Madoka said that in an unhappy manner.
“I know it’s asking too much for all of you all to get along in just a day, but why don’t we at least turn on the TV?”
Although she seemed to be asking for permission, his mother had already taken the remote control and turned the TV on.
Ah, this way he could just look at the TV and avoid having to look at Diana. Even he felt that this was being too rude, but the moment he started to think that:
“There are people inside that plank!?”
He heard Diana’s astonished words and had a coughing fit.
“Eh? Ah, I’m sorry! Did I just say something weird?”
Since he wasn’t able to believe the supernatural things his parents had shown him yesterday, he was also unable to believe that Diana was from another world.
“Are you seriously asking that?”
Nodoka, who had been eating her breakfast at her own pace without caring about the tense atmosphere, asked this question. It couldn’t be denied that she had lost some of her reproachful tone, but her tone was slightly friendlier.
“She probably is. Even yesterday, she tried to turn off the fluorescent lamp before sleeping by removing the cover.”
“N-No, I just thought it was a very bright candle, or a light created by magic….”
Nodoka automatically looked upwards at the light on the ceiling of the living room. It was a familiar sight, so she rarely looked at it directly. She saw what appeared to be dust and a dead insect inside the lamp, and thought that it hadn’t been cleaned in a while.
“…You’re joking, right?”
“Ah, no, I’m really not joking or anything.”
Nodoka asked her as if to confirm the fact, but Diana hurriedly gave an excuse.
“Ah, I heard my mother talking about things that Hideo and Madoka had told her, regarding box-like devices that showed moving people, and devices that projected light onto a large surface, so I was really surprised.”
Diana was upset and looked like she was about to start crying.
Seeing that, Nodoka for some reason looked more reproachful, and nudged Yasuo’s elbow.
Although she didn’t say it aloud, she was signalling him to not make Diana cry over pointless stuff as it would be troublesome.
Yasuo too, had noticed that Diana’s eyes were a bit teary, and looked away because he suddenly felt uncomfortable.
“Ah, so you already knew about the existence of television.”
Yasuo’s attitude indicated that he was feeling stressed as he had lost his aggressive emotional stance, and felt uncomfortable even calling a temporary truce, but Diana looked as if she was relieved that Yasuo’s tense behaviour was dissipating, so she spoke rapidly.
“Y-Yes. I didn’t think it would look like such a thin plank, though.”’
“Doesn’t the one in our house still look like a box, though? If only barely.”
The TV in the Kenzaki household was certainly a flat screen television, but it was a fairly old model. Hence, it was a lot thicker than the latest models.
“Is that so?”
“Yeah, the latest ones are only half as thick as ours, or maybe even less than that.”
Unlike Yasuo, Nodoka was able to properly have a conversation with Diana about everyday life. Just what was going on here? Did something happen after he had pathetically fainted last night? Judging by Nodoka’s behaviour, did she come to terms with the bizarre things that their dad, mom, and Diana talked about?
Maybe because the question was evident from his expression, Nodoka became aware of Yasuo’s gaze. She put the piece of toast that she was holding back on her plate, and asked Diana in a more formal tone.
“Well, I don’t know how serious you are about the whole thing, but both Onii-chan and I are still confused, so let’s not have a rehash of yesterday’s conversation, okay?”
“Y-Yes. I too feel bad that I impatiently tried to finish the discussion yesterday. This is an important problem for all of you, so I hope we can take some time and gradually discuss this problem….”
Thanks to Diana’s cliched words that would easily win a high rank in a ‘are there people who actually say that?’ contest and Nodoka’s ever-unchanging behaviour, the wintry atmosphere at the dining table reduced a little and it felt like a fresh breeze of spring blew through the room.