NBAA Vol. 1 Chapter 6

CHAPTER 6 

One year passed, and Reito’s birthday came around again.

“Happy birthday, Lord Reito!!!”

“Happy birthday, young master!!”

“Reito, happy birthday!!”

“Thank you, everybody!!”

A birthday party was held for him in the residence’s dining hall.

His mother Aira, the maid Aria and the other servants all gathered. They didn’t treat Reito coldly, even if his jobs were deemed “hopeless.” They watched over his growth with kindness and warmth.

The “accursed” child banished by his own father was deeply moved by the presence of so many people who accepted him for who he was.

Celebrated by his mother and the servants, Reito received their presents.

“Lord Reito, please take this. It’s a new toy for you.”

“Thank you! This is…a wooden bird?”

“Oh no, this is a phoenix, a legendary monster said to have existed hundreds of years ago.”

“Ooh, a legendary monster…”

Another servant then brought their present.

“Lord Reito, please look at this too!! It’s a photo of the Thunder Emperor, one of the Seven Heroes all boys are crazy about!!”

“A photo? Does the technology to develop photos exist in this world?”

“Er…tech…what?”

“Ah…nothing, never mind. Thank you very much.”

Reito received presents from the servants, one after the other, while thanking all of them politely.

Aria gave him a wooden box.

“Here, young master. I made this charm myself to give to you today.”

“Thank you. Is this a vial?”

“There’s a recovery potion made from medicinal herbs inside. Please always keep it with you, in case anything happens, okay?”

“Okay…”

(I never expected to receive a potion as a birthday present…)

Reito accepted the charm from Aria, a slightly awkward smile on his face.

The last present came from his mother. She was not smiling like before, however, but had a very serious look on her face.

Aira gave Reito a wooden box coated in silver, then spoke gravely.

“Take this, Reito. But you must never open it.”

“Mom?”

“I planned to give it to you when you came of age, but…it’s better for you to have it now. I’ll keep the key with me, so you can’t open it, but please take good care of it.”

“…okay.”

Reito took the box, with some perplexity.

His mother’s behavior left him wondering, but he decided to treasure the small box, together with the potion vial he received from Aria.

◆◆◆

The day after his birthday, Reito was taking care of the medicinal herbs in the flower patch behind the residence.

He was still curious about the contents of the small box, but Aira said she would tell him about them when he came of age. In this world, that meant turning 15 years old, so he would only know in ten years’ time.

(I could ask Airis about it, but…)

So pondered Reito, while working on the flower patch, but eventually decided to keep the promise with his mother, and stopped thinking about the wooden box for the time being.

After he finished taking care of the herbs, he played with Aria. That day, he chose a game that he used to play often as a kid in his former world.

“Hop, hop, hop…”

“You’re so good at it, young master. What kind of game is that though?”

Reito was moving through a series of circles drawn on the ground, hopping on one leg. Finally, he would land with both legs on the last two circles, then go back, on one leg again. In the former world, his grandparents had taught him this game, but he wasn’t just playing around now: he was actually practicing Leap, one of the skills he had recently learned.

“Hey Aria, can you make it harder to jump from circle to circle?”

“Eh? But you won’t be able to reach them if I put them farther apart.”

“It’s okay, I can do it.”

Aria did as Reito said and increased the distance between the circles.

The distance was now too large for a child to cover in a single jump, but Reito leisurely jumped from one circle to the other, thanks to his new Tech Skill “Leap”.

“Hop, hop, hop!”

“Wow!! Amazing, young master!”

Reito managed to jump over two meters, using one leg. Not once, but in rapid succession, from one circle to the other.

He successfully reached the last circles, and Aria applauded him, an expression of surprise on her face.

“I didn’t know you were so athletic, young master. I’m speechless, honestly.”

“Hehehe…”

Reito laughed out of embarrassment for Aria’s praise.

(I learned Leap purely by chance, while running away from Aria…but it is pretty useful. I heard from Airis that there are skills that boost your physical abilities, I guess this is one of them?)   

Just then, however, a new doubt surfaced in Reito’s mind.

(Can it be used for anything other than hopscotch, though…?)

As Reito was mulling over such thoughts, Aria walked closer and asked him a question, a curious tone in her voice.

“You really are unique, young master…how did you come up with a game like this?”

“I didn’t come up with it myself, though…ah, it’s nothing, never mind.”

“Aw, of course, I mind. Oh yes, why don’t I teach you a game I used to play when I was little?”

Aria smiled as she recalled it.

“What game?”

“Well, it’s a game all elves play…”

Aria drew a triangle on the ground, wide enough for a person to stand in, and told Reito to stand at the center. He looked at her, curious, and Aria continued her explanation.

“All elves play this game at least once in their childhood. It was first created as a training method, but the kids copied it and turned it into a game.”

“Wow, a battle training game…”

“The rules are simple: if you can stay inside that triangle until the end, it’s your win. I’ll try to force you out, though, so watch out.”

“You’ll force me out? How?”

“Don’t worry, I’m not allowed to touch you or use any tools…but I have magic!”

Aria then pointed her palm at Reito and released a strong gust of wind, similar to the one she created when she cushioned his fall from the roof.

“Whoa!?”

Unable to oppose the sudden gust, Reito was blown out of the triangle and fell on his butt.

Aria smiled as she extended a hand to help him up.

“Aw, young master, you lost! So, what do you think of elf games?”

“Of course I lost! You always said no to showing me your magic, and now you go all out on a little kid!”

Reito grabbed Aria’s hand and stood back up, showering her with complaints, so the maid blushed violently.

“W-what are you saying!? I held back, you know!!”

Aria knew she had gone a little too hard, so — still blushing — she patted Reito’s clothes to brush away the dust.

Reito, on the other hand, had come up with a strategy that might let him win against Aria. He returned to the triangle and asked her to play again.

“Hey, can we do it one more time?”

“Oh, did you like it? It’s fine with me, but…”

Aria was surprised but saw how eager Reito was, so she decided to let him play until he got tired.

~

They thus continued playing the elf game for about one hour, but Reito did not succeed in enduring Aria’s wind even once.

He fell and rolled on the ground every time, getting dirtier and muddier each time.

“Aria!! One more time!!”

Reito, however, did not show any signs of giving up. Aria was having fun at first, but also because of the strain of using magic so many times, there were traces of fatigue in her expression.

“Haah!!”

Aria shouted and unleashed a gust of wind. Like so many times already that day, Reito struggled a bit but was eventually blown out of the triangle.

“Waah!! …one more time!”

Reito stood back up immediately and returned to the triangle.

Aria was tired, in more ways than one.

“Let’s stop here, young master. If you’re angry at me blowing you out suddenly the first time, I’m sorry, so…”

“It’s not that!! Just a little more, please!”

“T-this is the last time, okay!?”

Once again, the wind blew from Aria’s palm.

Reito took a lower stance, bracing for the wind pressure. He had grown used to it, little by little, and managed to stay on his feet.

“Not bad, young master…I won’t hold back anymore!”

“Kh…!?”

The wind pressure became stronger, shaking Reito’s body.

He was almost blown off his feet but somehow managed to endure it. He felt that his body was really becoming better and better at resisting the wind.

(I knew it!! During the past hour, I started letting the wind flow past me! Like Leap and Break Fall can improve my physical abilities!)

Reito had become able to parry the gust of wind: as proof, a status window appeared before his eyes.

.

<Battle Art “Circle Parry” acquired.>

.

As the words appeared before Reito’s eyes, he instinctively pushed his palms forward and drew a circle in the air.

“Haah!!”

“Waah!?”

That very moment, the gust of wind shot from Aria’s palm dispersed into the surroundings, causing her to lose balance.

“I did it…I parried the wind!”

Reito rejoiced, pumping his fists in the air. Aria, on the other hand, looked utterly bewildered.

“W-what was that…? What in the world did you do, young master!?”

“Ah, er…”

Seeing her magic nullified like that shook Aria to the core.

Reito was unsure about how to explain, then decided to simply tell the truth.

“Well…I learned a skill called ‘Circle Parry’…when I used it, the wind kind of disappeared.”

“C-circle Parry…? It’s a skill learned by martial artists…no, it can’t be!! How can someone with a hopeless job learn a skill like — ah… ”

“Eh…?”

Aria realized what she had just said and hurriedly covered her mouth with her hands.

“Ah…I’m very sorry!! I didn’t mean to…”

Aria seemed shaken to have inadvertently uttered the words “hopeless job”, but Reito was much more shocked than her.

“I’m sorry, young master…how could I…”

Aria quickly approached Reito and embraced him tightly, tears falling from her eyes.

Reito knew that she just blurted out those words and did not truly despise him. Learning that someone as close to him as Aria secretly thought such things, however, surprised and hurt him deeply.

Reito looked in the distance and spoke to Aria.

“It’s fine, forget it…more importantly, your clothes will get dirty…”

“I’m sorry…I’m really sorry…”

Aria did not let go of Reito as she continued crying.

Reito returned her embrace, but for the first time in his new life, he felt miserable because of the “hopeless jobs” he was born with.

~

After taking a shower and cleaning up, Reito went back to his room.

“I don’t feel like training anymore today…”

So he mumbled to himself as he lay on his bed, then opened communication with Airis.

『Airis.』

『…if you wish to keep your mind off things, I will gladly have a chat with you.』

『It all feels so…pointless.』

Reito accepted Airis’ proposal and honestly confessed his feelings.

The kindness of the people around him had made him forget about the fact that people like him were discriminated against in this world. He and his mother could live comfortably because he happened to be born into the royal family, but had he been born in more normal circumstances…

Reito asked Airis a question.

『In the end, they treat me well just because I’m the king’s only son, right?』

『It pains me to say this, but that is correct. If you lose your current standing, your life will surely be in danger. Please, never forget it.』

◆◆◆

The day after the “incident” with Aria, Reito shut himself in his room and communicated with Airis, to talk about which skills he should focus on learning.

『Airis, what skill do you think I should learn next?』

『Well…I don’t mind giving you advice, but you sound so cheerful. Did you overcome your sadness already?』

『I still feel down, to be honest, but I want to focus on other things. I have to get stronger quickly, too.』

The number of skills Reito had learned at this point already surpassed the skills an average person learned in their lifetime. In order for a “hopeless job” holder to survive, however, further training was essential. As Airis had told him the day before, his life would always be in danger.

Airis’ bright voice echoed in his head. 

『I see. I believe we can move to the next step, then.』

『The next step? What’s that?』

『It’s time for you to learn your job’s skills, Reito. I think you will be able to do it pretty quickly.』

『Eh? Do you mean…magic?』

『It’s still too early for magic, but you should be able to learn Alchemy skills by now. Shall we begin? First, you need…』

Reito carefully listened to Airis’ instructions, then closed the communication.

As soon as he was free to move, he went to his desk and took a metal knife and fork.

“Good thing I had breakfast in my room today…”

It would be awkward to bump into Aria, so Reito asked for breakfast to be brought to his room, which turned out to be very helpful: he needed a knife and fork for his next training.

“I wonder if I can pull it off, though?”

Reito recalled Airis’ explanation. The Alchemist skills he planned to learn were “Metal Transmutation”, “Shape Change” and “Matter Reinforcement”.

(Airis said that “Metal Transmutation” lets you transform a metal into another metal, with “Shape Change” you can freely change the shape of matter, and “Matter Reinforcement” can boost the endurance of any object…okay, let’s start with Metal Transmutation…)

Reito held the knife in his hands, then closed his eyes and imagined it as being as hard as a diamond.

(Imagine the knife becoming sharp and hard…like a diamond…)

After a while, Reito opened his eyes. He then tried stabbing one of his wooden toys with the knife.

“W-wow…”

The knife easily pierced the doll’s chest and poked out of its back. It was much sharper than any table knife: its blade shone just like a sword crafted by a master blacksmith.

“It’s a lot sharper than before. Did I use Shape Change too, without thinking about it…? It’s dangerous to leave it like this though…there.”

Reito carefully removed the knife from the doll, then silently imagined it returning to its original shape, this time with his eyes open.

The knife obediently started changing, under Reito’s gaze, and regained its original shape.

Reito sighed, relieved, and the status window appeared before him.

.

<Alchemist-exclusive skill “Metal Transmutation” acquired.>

<Alchemist-exclusive skill “Shape Change” acquired.>

.

“Wow, already? It’s not even been one minute, though?”

Reito was surprised at the speed of the process, but quickly calmed his excitement and grabbed the fork this time, in order to learn Matter Reinforcement.

Following Airis’ advice, he tried activating the skill.

“Okay then…don’t think about the material’s structure or any difficult things…just imagine the object in your hands becoming harder…”

Reito held the fork tight, simply wishing it to become harder. He then tried swinging the knife he worked on against the fork.

“Yaah!”

With a shrill clang-like sound, the knife was repelled. A closer look at the tip revealed it was chipped: the fork, in the contrast, was unscathed.

“The knife’s Metal Transmutation wore off, so it should be the same material as the fork now…and yet, their hardness is totally different.”

.

<Alchemist-exclusive skill “Matter Reinforcement” acquired.>

.

The status window appeared before Reito’s eyes. In less than five minutes, he had learned all three skills.

“I guess it’s faster to learn skills meant for your job…”

Happy and excited at having mastered all skills already, Reito giddily called Airis.

『Ai-chan~!』

『Who are you calling like that!』

『Oh, it works even if I don’t say your name properly.』

『We have communicated often enough for our wavelengths to match, apparently.』

『Is that how it works?』

Reito kept the small talk short and immediately changed the topic to alchemy.

『Can you tell me why Alchemist is considered a hopeless job? It doesn’t look useless at all to me, honestly.』

Airis seemed to expect Reito would ask such a question: she replied promptly, without hesitation.

『It is true that an Alchemist’s abilities themselves are excellent. As you have just tested yourself, with Metal Transmutation any metal can potentially turn into the hardest metal in this world. That is only temporary, though: after a set time, the transmutation is dispelled and the metal turns back to its original state.』

『Really?』

『At your current level of ability, I think it will last for one minute at most. Besides, the hardest known *regular* metal in this world is steel, so it isn’t possible to transmute metal in something harder than steel…for the people of this world, at least.』

『…? Oh, I get it! There are metals harder than steel in the world I came from! Which means that…』

『Correct. Thanks to your knowledge of your former world, you can change any metal into something harder than steel. I suppose we could say it was good luck for you to be born with the Alchemist job. You can do Metal Transmutation that no one else in this world can, after all. However…transmutation to magic metals, such as Mithril and Orichalcum, is not possible.』

『Is that a problem?』

Reito seemed to be struggling to understand, so Airis explained further.

『In this world, magic metals are the norm. Most of them are harder than steel, and there are many kinds of magic metal weapons too.』

『I see…』

『Furthermore, Alchemist is a magic-type job, so compared to Martial Artists, Warriors, or Knights, people with this job have rather low physical abilities. So even if you could craft powerful weapons, you could not use swords or spears as well as Swordsmen or Knights. Even if you make weapons, they’ll be made of steel at best…and break all too easily if the enemy has a magic metal weapon.』

『Seriously…?』

Metal Transmutation wasn’t such a useful skill, after all. Reito began to suspect this, then asked another question.

『What about Shape Change and Matter Reinforcement, though? They can be pretty useful, can’t they?』

『…Reito, you have tested Shape Change on a child-sized knife and fork. They are made with relatively soft metal, which is probably why you didn’t realize it, but those two skills won’t work well at low proficiency.』

『Eh? Proficiency?』

Airis’ explanation continued.

『Please check your status window. The “Exclusive Skills” should have increased.』

Reito opened the status window and noticed that it listed a new category of skills.

The three skills he just learned were displayed in this “Exclusive Skills” category and were each accompanied by numbers.

.

[Alchemist Exclusive Skills]

Metal Transmutation — Changes object to another metal. [Proficiency: 5(max)]

Matter Reinforcement — Increased endurance of object [Proficiency: 1]

Shape Change — Changes shape of object [Proficiency: 1]

.

『You’re right, there’s a weird number next to them…I wonder if I can wipe it…』

Reito made it seem like the numbers were in the way, so Airis swiftly corrected him.

『You can’t just rub them off the status window! Time is stopped now, so you can’t even move in the first place…』

『Aw, shucks. So, what does this proficiency thing stand for?』

『Exclusive skills and other unique skills have this parameter, it means how well you have mastered it. The higher the proficiency, the more effective the skill becomes, and the burden of activating it decreases too. The highest level is 5, as you can see.』

『It seems similar to skills like Break Fall and Leap.』

『Tech Skills like Break Fall and Leap do not have fixed proficiency levels. You have simply become more skilled at using them, Reito.』

『I see. Proficiency is like the rank of magic spells in games, I guess.』

Reito seemed convinced. Airis then gave him some advice.

『I would recommend you work on the proficiency level of Shape Change, first of all. That way, you will become able to change the shape of objects other than metal.』

『Okay…oh? Metal Transmutation is already at 5.』

Matter Reinforcement and Shape Change had a proficiency level of 1, but Metal Transmutation was at 5, which Airis said to be the maximum level. Reito was surprised by it, so Airis explained.

『It’s not a particularly strange occurrence, actually. You already have some knowledge of metals, so you could change it to a metal that doesn’t exist in this world, after all.』

Reito heard that Metal Transmutation wasn’t too useful, so he wasn’t sure to be happy or not to have maxed its proficiency already…so he put it aside for the moment and asked about the other two skills.

『Okay then, how can I raise the proficiency level of Shape Change and Matter Reinforcement?』

『It will raise on its own as you use them. When you have free time, why not practice using them?』

『Okay.』

Reito ended the communication with Airis and was able to move again.

He immediately started practicing with his new skills, in order to raise their proficiency level. He activated the relatively easier to use Matter Reinforcement on the fork.

The fork, however, did not show any signs of changing.

“Hmm, it didn’t work. Aah, I see! The effect from when I used it before hasn’t worn out yet!”

Reito recalled that he had started the communication with Airis — thus stopping time — soon after he used the skill on the fork.

“Even if you cast Matter Reinforcement twice on the same object, you can’t double the effect, then. Airis said it would go away after one minute…so while I wait, I’ll try using Shape Change on the knife.”

Reito attempted Shape Change on the knife, but couldn’t mold it exactly as he wished. He could make the blade sharp like before but failed to make the blade itself blend.

After a few more failed attempts, an idea flashed in his brain.

“Hard materials are difficult to mold, so they have a bad affinity with Shape Change, maybe…no, that’s not it. If I reduce their hardness, instead, it should become easier to change their shape.”

While mumbling to himself, Reito tried Metal Transmutation on the knife, to change it to the softer aluminum. After that, he tried using Shape Change again.

The knife easily bent: the blade was now similar to a scythe used to reap grass.

“I did it!! So if I use Metal Transmutation one more time and restore its hardness…”

Reito activated the skill and turned the knife back to the previous metal while maintaining the curved shape.

“Wow, it looks like it was always this shape…ah…”

After a little time passed, however, cracks formed on the blade. Then, with a loud snap, it shattered to pieces.

“Aah…no good.”

Maybe it was because of the low proficiency of Shape Change, or because the knife’s blade couldn’t endure the stress: the cause was unknown. Reito, however, realized he had a much more pressing issue to worry about.

“Crap, mom is going to scold me if she sees this! How can I even explain it…?”

Reito carefully collected the broken knife shards. When he picked up all of them, he had an idea.

“What happens if I use Shape Change now…?”

Reito concentrated on the shards on the palm of his hand and tried using Shape Change on them.

“Wow, creepy!”

Each shard started moving as if it was alive.

Reito was about to instinctively toss away the squirming shards but stopped himself just in time. He gathered them in one place, fused them together, and continued molding them.

After a while, he managed to connect all the shards to a single mass, though its shape was quite irregular.

He put the object next to the knife’s handle, held them with his hands, and activated Shape Change again. Soon enough, the knife returned to its original shape.

“Yeah…I did it.”

Immediately afterward, the status window appeared before Reito’s eyes.

.

<Craft Skill “Mending” acquired.>

.

“Huh? What’s this?”

A new category, “Craft Skills”, appeared on the status window. Curious, Reito accessed the status menu.

The new “Mending” skill was also added to the list.

.

[Alchemist Exclusive Skills]

Metal Transmutation — Changes object to another metal. [Proficiency: 5(max)]

Matter Reinforcement — Increased endurance of object [Proficiency: 1]

Shape Change — Changes shape of object [Proficiency: 1]

.

[Craft Skills]

Mending — Restores broken metal objects.

.

”There’s no proficiency level. These Craft Skills might be special skills gained when using skills in a particular way. Well, the knife is fixed…the shape is a little different, but no one is going to notice the difference.”

I’m not going to be scolded by mom or Aria now, thought Reito with a sigh of relief. He then looked at the knife’s blade and realized *something*.

“…this might just work.”

Reito used Shape Change on the knife again.

Maybe because of the low proficiency, however, he couldn’t reach his desired result. The blade just twisted in a weird shape, far from the shape he imagined.

“Crap…I guess I’ll practice for now.”

From that day onwards, Reito spent his free time trying to change the shape of anything and everything he came across, in order to master the Shape Change skill, inadvertently causing all sorts of incidents.

One time, he tried to change a toy’s shape, which turned into a hideous mess, but forgot to turn it back: Aria thus began to suspect he had superhuman gripping power, while Aira was worried that he hid deep, dark trauma in his heart.

Another time, he tried using Shape Change on the ground and ended up creating a massive pitfall, in which Aria — outside to hang the laundry to dry — fell right in.

Yet another time, he was found while he tried changing the shape of the iron fence surrounding the residence, scolded about going close to the fence, and temporarily denied any and all outings.

Reito did not give up, however, and continued practicing every day.

◆◆◆

As Reito overcame these and other accidents, half a year passed.

At long last, he had raised the proficiency level of Shape Change to the maximum. Matter Reinforcement, which he practiced at the same time, was maxed out too.

That day, Reito waited for the whole residence to fall asleep, then sneaked in the dining hall, in order to test the results of his training.

“Mwahaha…to one who has mastered Shape Change, keys and locks are meaningless…”

Whispering with a very villain-like tone, Reito reached the dining hall, using Stealth to hide his presence. In his hand, he held a fork molded into the shape of a key.

The idea Reito failed to realize six months prior was to create keys with Shape Change.

He opened the door to the dining hall with the fork-key and headed toward the kitchen. His goal was to procure a kitchen knife: as soon as he did, he used Shape Change on it.

The knife’s blade vibrated violently.

“With max proficiency, I can even do stuff like this…”

Reito looked at the blade, vibrating at high speed, then recalled the Shape Change training he did with Airis.

Shortly after learning Shape Change, Reito was having a hard time molding the knife’s blade, so Airis gave him some advice.

~

『You’re struggling with Shape Change, aren’t you? At a time like this, you should recall that tool from your former world — the metronome.』

『Metronome…that thing in the music room at school?』

『Correct, the instrument that swings left and right at a fixed tempo. I’m not joking, mind you. Think of a metronome, then make the knife’s blade bend left and right, with a regular rhythm.』

『Huh? What’s the point?』

『Just try it, you’ll see. At first, bend it at a wide angle, slowly. Once you get used to it, little by little reduce the angle and speed up the tempo.』

Reito was still unconvinced but did as Airis said and started bending the knife’s blade with a regular tempo.

He bent the blade at a wide angle at first, slowly and surely. As the days passed, he became able to bend it more quickly and at a smaller angle.

After about one week of practice, the skill’s proficiency rose at a very high pace.

At the same time, the blade’s bending angle became smaller and smaller, while the speed was almost double the starting tempo.

One month later, both Shape Change and Matter Reinforcement were at proficiency level 4. The knife now moved so fast it looked like it produced afterimages, and a sound of the blade slicing through the air could be heard.

Two months after the start of training, the proficiency level of Shape Change finally reached 5: by moving the knife’s blade left and right at high speed, Reito could turn it into a sort of high-frequency vibrating blade.

~

After recalling the process of his training, Reito looked at the kitchen knife again.

“Airis seemed to think this was just an efficient training method, but if I can make it vibrate so fast, it should be sharper as a weapon too.”

Reito whispered to himself, then looked around, looking for something he could slice without causing too much trouble.

“This chair doesn’t look like it’s being used anymore, so it should work. I can also restore it with Mending, anyway.”

Reito prepared his high-frequency kitchen knife to strike.

“It always seems to work perfectly in manga and video games…I wonder if it’s really effective, though…”

Reito then swung down the knife.

The moment the blade came in contact with the chair’s leg— 

“Here goes nothing…whoa!?”

Reito felt no response from the impact, so he ended up swinging wider than intended.

The severed leg fell on the floor, as the chair lost its balance. Reito hurriedly supported the chair, but dropped the knife in the process.

“Oh crap!”

The knife stabbed the floor.

Its high vibration blade quickly stabbed through it and continued vibrating for a while: leaving Reito’s grip probably robbed it of its energy, however, so it soon returned to being a normal kitchen knife.

Reito looked at the scene, dumbfounded.

“…that was close. Too dangerous.”

Reito fixed the chair with Mending, then forcefully extracted the knife from the floor. He then observed the blade.

“I might be able to fight against monsters with this, though.”

Reito brought the knife back to the kitchen, then returned to his room.

In this world there existed dangerous monsters, such as Goblins and Orcs. Reito had never encountered one, but he might have to face them in the future. Until then, he had to acquire as many skills as possible.

Various thoughts raced through his mind, as he opened the door leading out of the dining room.

“Shape Change is really useful, though. I can open any lock with it…”

He closed the door behind himself and used the fork-key to lock it.

He activated Stealth and headed toward his room, but a certain door caught his eye.

It was the door to the book vault, which Aria always forbade him to get close to.

“Aria always stopped me from going inside…she’s not around now, though, and I can make the key…”

Reito was very interested in seeing what kind of books were kept inside.

It’d be great if I could find books about magic…with such lighthearted feelings, he pushed the fork in the lock, changed its shape accordingly, and opened the door.

“Pardon my intrusion…wow, what’s this place…?”

The room was pitch black. Thanks to Night Vision, however, Reito could see as if it was noon.

The study was much smaller than expected: even smaller than Reito’s child room.

“This is a small study, not a vault…”

Reito looked around the room but found only one bookshelf. He walked closer to it and examined what kind of books it contained.

“What the…they’re all black.”

All the books on the shelves had black covers. Reito checked a few of them, but none seemed to even have a title.

Perplexed, Reito opened one of the books. Thanks to the Translation skill, he had no trouble understanding the contents.

The moment he started reading, however, he was utterly shocked.

“This is…!?”

The book contained a list of members of the royal family and vassals of the kingdom, each paired with a cause of death. That was not exactly shocking by itself, but…

…the cause of death next to most names in the list was “assassination”. Furthermore, the specifics about the assassination method and other details followed too.

Information so precise and comprehensive that it could only be recorded by the assassin themselves.

“So…the assassin wrote this!? All these books have the same binding, could it be that they’re all records left by the assassins…!?”

Reito took other books from the shelf and flipped through the pages. All of them, however, contained similar lists of royal family members and their cause of death.

“It explains why Aria wouldn’t let me go in here…hm?”

Reito’s eyes caught the last name recorded in the book he was scanning and his hands stopped.

His voice trembled.

“It can’t be…there’s mom’s name, and my name too…”

The last names were indeed Aira and Reito.

The space reserved for the cause of death is still blank…but if our names are here, it means our assassination is planned…and these blank spaces will be filled…

So thought Reito, then whispered to himself.

“This is the worst…but there are plenty of other people with no cause of death here. Does it mean that they didn’t cause trouble, so they weren’t killed…?”

Even if Reito and Aira’s names were in the book, maybe their assassination was not set in stone.

Nevertheless, Reito felt that he learned a terrible secret. A sense of dread overcame him: he hurriedly put the book back and fled from the room before anyone could see him.

~

Back in his room, Reito opened communication with Airis.

He told her everything he saw in the book vault, but Airis did not seem surprised: it was like she knew everything already.

『I see…you have finally learned the secret. The books you have found are the records left by the assassins responsible for the murder of important figures in the kingdom.』

『Why is there something like that here…? Or…they are here because of this place…』

『That is correct. This residence is separated from the outside world, making it ideal to hide the kingdom’s dark secrets. Even if the book vault was found by someone…that someone cannot leave this residence’s premises after all.』

Learning that the residence was cut off from the outside world and impossible to leave shocked Reito even more.

『I see…wait, but if that’s true, how can we live here like this? Food and other supplies are brought to this residence every day.』

『Supplies are brought to a storage area under the residence. There is a teleportation magic circle there, which they use to send supplies. Living beings cannot be teleported, by the way. When you were brought to this residence, they used an airship.』

At the time, Reito was still a newborn and was sleeping, so he didn’t know how exactly they arrived at the residence.

Reito, surprised, asked another question.

『An airship? They have things like that?”』

『They are fundamentally different from the ones in your world, but yes. In any case, to access or leave this residence, the only way is to travel through the air.』

『Seriously…? I have to learn how to fly…』

Reito was still dumbfounded, but Airis changed the topic and said something curious.

『Leaving that aside, that attack you did with Shape Change was pretty interesting. No one in this world would have ever come up with something like that. You might as well learn some “Swordsmanship” skills, why not?』

Airis was referring to Reito’s high-frequency kitchen knife naturally. He thought that it might become useful for self-defense, so he was a bit surprised that she took it so seriously.

『But I’m a Magician?』

『Well, it’s not like you can’t learn skills for Swordsmen or Warriors. If you put in enough effort, you should be able to learn Swordsman’s Battle Arts too. It will definitely be difficult, but there are many useful skills you could learn. You might be surprisingly good at it, Reito.』

Reito pondered Airis’ words for a little while. He then recalled about his “hopeless jobs” and asked her a question.

『My physical abilities are worse than someone with those jobs, right?』

『There are skills that boost your physical abilities, so you can learn them to fill in for what you lack. You might be able to use the skills you have learned this far and create a new sword style even!』

『A new sword style…well, I admit that I’d love to be able to fight with a sword…』

Reito couldn’t hide his excitement. Influenced by comics and video games when he was little, he often dreamed of becoming a sword-wielding main character.

『Realistically speaking, though, I’m still only 5 years old, so I guess it’s too early to use a sword…』

『You don’t need to train seriously from the start, just play with it at first. The important thing is to have a sword in hand daily. If you ask Aria for some chopping wood, you could mold it into a wooden sword.』

『Now that you mention it, she chops wood sometimes…』

Aria was in charge of firewood. She was physically stronger than her appearance suggested and often chopped it with an axe. Reito remembered seeing her doing it, so he made it a point to ask her the next day.

He then recalled something, so he talked to Airis about it.

『That book vault was really strange, though. I hoped I could find at least one book about magic…』

『If you want to know about magic, you could just ask me. More importantly, no one saw you, I hope. I would hate it if they decided to assassinate you because you learned of the kingdom’s secret.』

Airis’ tone was playful, but she seemed to be earnestly worried about Reito.

『Don’t worry. I used Stealth and locked the door again too. I don’t think anyone noticed.』

『I do hope that’s true…』

Airis sounded concerned, so Reito replied with confidence.

The possibility of anyone finding out about Reito’s actions that night was indeed low. Other than Stealth, he also learned a skill called “Soundless Walk”, so he could even erase the sound of his footsteps.

At the same time, however, Reito had made a serious mistake: he had forgotten to restore the hole created in the kitchen’s floor by the high-frequency knife.

The very next day, Aria tripped and fell because of that hole. Reito was thus suspected of having opened that hole to pull a prank, so the angry Aria gave him the silent treatment for a little while.

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