04 – Nature is beautiful everywhere
They had almost reached Kitahara Middle School, the middle school that Nodoka attended, when Diana let out a loud voice and stopped walking.
“Nodoka! Over there! Look!”
Diana excitedly took off her sunglasses and pointed at something far away.
Instead of what Diana was pointing at, Nodoka saw that the area around Diana’s eyes was slightly red. However, if she were to mention this, she had a feeling that Diana’s whole face would turn red, so she decided not to point it out.
She unwillingly turned to see what Diana was pointing at, but…
Houses, the streets, a small tea plantation, and buildings.
“What are you pointing at?”
Nodoka really couldn’t tell what Diana was pointing at and intently looked for the thing that had captured Diana’s interest, but she still couldn’t find it.
“Over there! That’s Mt. Fuji, right!?”
“Ehh!? Mt. Fuji!? Where!?”
The two of them were in the middle of town, and it wasn’t a particularly elevated area.
Nodoka knew that if they were blessed with clear weather during winter, Mt. Fuji would be visible from the upper levels of her school. However, was there a really a place on the route to school, moreover, in such a place surrounded by buildings, from where Mt. Fuji would be visible?
“Over there, isn’t that Mt. Fuji!?”
Nodoka put her face next to Diana’s, looked intently to see what she was pointing at, and was honestly surprised.
It was in between two low-rise buildings.
The gap between the buildings acted as an unintentional peep hole, and from exactly this spot, she was indeed able to catch a glimpse of the snow-capped peak of Mt. Fuji.
“G-Good job on finding that.”
“I really wanted to see it at least once after coming to Japan! I’ve heard that it’s a really beautiful mountain!”
Diana continued to talk about it excitedly like a typical tourist from abroad, albeit in fluent Japanese. She even appeared to have forgotten that her eyes had been burned by the energy beam.
Nodoka was a little relieved after seeing her bright face and hearing her happy voice.
During the battle the other day, Diana had received a large emotional scar. However, no shadow of that fight or the trouble with otherworldly monsters could be seen on her happy expression at this moment.
How was she able to stay so positive?
Looking at her expression right now, Nodoka really felt that her brother was not needed at all. However, saying that right now would sound like a non-sequitur, so she held it in.
“You knew about Mt. Fuji even before coming here?”
From the way Diana put it, it sounded like she had known about Mt. Fuji from a long time ago rather than hearing about it after coming to Japan.
“Of course! To the people of Ante Lande, Mt. Fuji is a divine mountain!”
“Oh, I see… Hmm?”
Nodoka intended to give a light response, but after thinking of something, she felt a chill run down her spine.
“Hang on, you don’t mean…”
“Yes! It’s considered divine because it exists in the birthplace of Hideo and Madoka!”
Mt. Fuji is an active volcano that sits in between the Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures. Neither her father nor her mother, nor any of their relatives were from Shizuoka and Yamanashi, so it was a little strange to hear someone saying that it “exists in the birthplace of Hideo and Madoka”.
“There are many mountains in Ante Lande that have been named ‘Fuji’ or ‘Fujisan’.”
“Remember the painting I told you about before, the one called ‘The Hero, Hideo, gazes upon the sunrise at the Sacred Mountain’ that was painted during Hideo and Madoka’s travels? The mountain in that painting is now sometimes called Mt. Hideo Fuji!”
“…And that’s what she said.”
That night, Nodoka casually mentioned Diana’s shocking proclamation to her parents over dinner, which caused both her father and mother to hold her heads and collapse upon the dinner table.
“What kind of name is Hideo Fuji…”
“Don’t ask me. That sounds like a Sumo wrestler’s stage name.”
The middle school daughter turned a sceptical look upon her parents who were trying to escape from reality.
“It’s that painting, right? The one that was painted on the northern cliffs of Gazadi…”
“You’re probably right.. Remember that person we met while coming down the mountain? She said she was a painter and a survivor from Torjesso.”
“Damn her, doing something so unnecessary.”
“Apparently, that painting is treated as one of Resteria’s national treasures now.”
“I don’t care what they think about the painting itself, but why did it cause the cliffs of Gazadi to be called ‘Hideo Fuji’? That place is a mountain range, right?”
“Actually, did you talk to anyone over there about Mt. Fuji?”
“I don’t remember something like that. Are you sure you’re not the one who talked about it?”
Nodoka could only smile bitterly while watching the Hero and great magician arguing hotly and pushing the responsibility onto each other.
“You probably looked at some mountain during your travels and said that it looked like Mt. Fuji, right? To someone like Diana-san’s father or mother.”
Looking at it as a topic of gossip, it was not impossible.
Nodoka had never been abroad, but if she went to study in a foreign country someday and saw a view there that resembled Japan, she would surely mention it to the people there.
In her parents’ case, because their companions were leaders of countries, anything they let slip would immediately be spread widely among the commoners.
“Does it really matter? This is all stuff in Ante Lande, right? Just let them do what they want.”
“Nodoka, just think about it. How would you feel if you became famous for some great achievement, and they changed the name of this area to ‘Tokorozawa City, Nodoka District’?”
“You wouldn’t like it if they wanted to change the name of Tokorozawa Station to Nodoka Station in light of your achievements, right?”
“I definitely wouldn’t want that.”
“If Yasuo really manages to become a hero in Ante Lande, then you might face the same thing as well. In the process of celebrating Yasuo’s achievements, they might give your name to some river or building, that’s entirely possible.”
“…I don’t think that Onii-chan will really manage to become a hero, but for the first time, I seriously feel like I want him to stop trying.”
In that room illuminated in a slightly yellow light by an aged fluorescent lamp, the old Hero, great magician, and their daughter gave a heavy sigh while thinking about the boy who said he wanted to become a hero, and who was out training at this very instant.
“And so, after dropping Nodoka off at her school, I walked about a little searching for a place from where I would be able to see Mt.Fuji.”
That night, Diana happily related what happened that morning to Yasuo during their usual running, but Yasuo was once again so out of breath that he couldn’t even reply properly. It was the same during the incident the other day with the wrist watch, Diana talked a lot even while running.
For Yasuo, talking during exercise was unthinkable because it would disrupt his breathing.
However, thinking about it properly, people would have to move a lot in the middle of battle. If you’re not able to communicate properly in the middle of battle, there is a possibility of losing your life.
That is what he had been told, but he still wasn’t able to make any proper conversation, and it usually ended with him running in silence. Sure, it had only been a week since he had started training, but at this rate, it was unclear whether he would even manage to become a regular soldier, let alone a Hero.
Incidentally, Diana’s eyes seemed to have already been completely healed by some magical means, and she was no longer wearing the sunglasses when Yasuo had returned from school.
“You want to… see Mt. Fuji… so badly…?”
Diana clenched her fists without disrupting her breathing at all.
After hearing that a lot of mountains in Ante Lande had been named Fuji, Yasuo felt like he had heard of something like this happening before and he kept thinking about it while running silently.
“Ah… I remember… Mt. Fuji…”
They had finally reached home after finishing their running, and Yasuo was so fatigued that he even felt nauseous.
“There’s… a Mt. Fuji… close by.”
Diana’s already big eyes widened even further after hearing that.
No matter how you look at it, it was definitely just an artificial hill.
“I went to see it during a school outing once. This is called a Fujizuka.”
“Yeah. back in the old days, it was pretty difficult to even travel to the base of Mt. Fuji. However, Mt. Fuji was visible from many parts in Japan, and paintings of that beautiful sight also easily spread to many places. You said mountains with snow, tall mountains, and mountains with similar shape are called Fuji in Ante Lande because of what Dad or Mom said, right? This is pretty similar to that.”
From the description provided on the website, it appeared that the “Arahata Fuji” near Tokorozawa City was originally a Fujizuka that was present at a shrine that was built sometime in the Meiji Era. It had been moved to its present location later on, and it was now a lot bigger than it had originally been.
“Well, it doesn’t serve its original purpose anymore, but since the old days, everyone has always felt that Mt. Fuji was special… That’s what my teacher at school said, anyways.”
Yasuo closed the browser and shut down the PC while continuing to speak.
“This is not really a reason, but… how do I put this? I know I’m nowhere near your level yet, Diana, but after hearing about how the people over there named a mountain after Mt. Fuji to celebrate the achievements of a Hero, I’ve come to feel that the people of that world and this world share a similar way of thinking, so it gives me a little motivation.”
“The Arahata Fuji you just showed me, is it permitted to climb it?”
“No, I don’t think we’re allowed to. It’s supposed to be the object of worship in a shrine after all, so climbing it might invite divine punishment. It was probably built while regarding it as something sacred.”
“…I think I understand. The feelings of admiration. Even though I only saw it from afar, I too thought that it was a beautiful mountain.”
Diana made a small smile after saying that.
“There’s a lot of beautiful scenery in Resteria that I want you to see as well, Yasuo. They are beautiful sights that Hideo and Madoka have definitely seen before.”
“…It was my idea after all, so I’ll work hard.”
If Yasuo ended up going to Ante Lande, it would definitely not be for a sightseeing trip.
Going to that land would mean taking up the mantle of Hero as his father’s representative, and entering a world of war that he had never experienced before.
“Saying this sounds uncool, but really, don’t hold high hopes for me, okay? Even I don’t know if I can really become that strong.”
“I understand. Even if you don’t become a Hero, Yasuo, I would still like you to come to Ante Lande to visit. Of course, I’ll act as your guide when that time comes.”
After seeing such an honest smile, he had no choice but to work hard.
Yasuo suddenly felt shy and ran away from that place after saying that he was going to take a shower.
Diana once again murmured the name of Japan’s largest sacred mountain to herself.
“It’s a little too far away to use as a training spot.”
After saying that, she turned to the living room door that Yasuo had escaped through, and made a mischievous smile.
The next morning, Yasuo woke up feeling a little more refreshed than he usually did in the morning, perhaps because of what happened last night, or as a result of his daily training. He left his room in high spirits, but,
For some reason, Nodoka was waiting for him outside his room, and,
“Onii-chan, you’re not suited for this after all. Becoming a Hero doesn’t suit you at all.”
She said something like that as soon as she opened her mouth, and,
“Yasuo, don’t you feel like you’re at your limit? If you want to give up, now’s the time.”
His mother said something so disheartening to him when he ran into her near the bathroom, and finally,
“Yasuo, are you really not going to regret becoming a hero?”
Even his father asked him that with a serious expression when they were sitting at the dining table.
“W-What’s up with all of you? Saying stuff like this right after I got motivated to work harder!”
He knew that the people of his family were not enthusiastic about the fact that he had volunteered to become a Hero.
However this was the first time he had seen them try so earnestly to change his mind, and moreover, they were doing it as a group, so Yasuo felt more confused than angry.
“I told you that I’ll do whatever is within my power, right? What’s up with all of you all of a sudden!?”
“No, you should really quit.”
“I mean, considering it’s you…”
“Well, as long as you hold on to that conviction…”
At these half-hearted responses, Yasuo said,
“I’m going to school! Dad, keep your mobile phone within reach as much as possible, okay!?”
Yasuo left the house after squaring his shoulders.
“Have a good day!”
Diana, who had been cleaning the area near the still-broken front door sent a cheerful voice towards Yasuo’s back, and spurred on by that voice, Yasuo headed forward to face another day.
“Ah, it’s no good, he’s really motivated. And Diana-san is the type of person who unconsciously encourages him to work harder.”
“This takes me back. I remember when you and Alex were often taken for a ride by Erize’s airheaded side as well. ”
“W-Why did you shift the conversation to me all of a sudden?”
The Hero Candidate was running towards a bright future, and for better or for worse, he didn’t hear a word of the things his family members were talking about.
– The End –