NBAA Vol. 7 Chapter 2 Part 3

“Oh, right… you could use ‘Shrink Ground.’ I was the one who was surprised…”

“Um, who are you, anyway?”

As Reito inquired, Kotomin and Ullr, the wolf, who sensed something unusual, also came out of the garden.

“Reito… do you know this person?”

“Woof?”

Shizune cleared her throat and introduced herself.

“Let me introduce myself. My name is… Shizune.”

“Ms. Sisuneyo.”

“Shi-zu-ne!” 

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

While apologizing, Reito realized he didn’t have a weapon. Pondering his oversight, he considered activating “Space Magic,” an enhanced version of “Storage Magic,” to retrieve his weapon. He was unsure of her identity, but her release of murderous intent was undeniable, and he wondered if she might be an attacker.

To find out Shizune’s true identity, Reito decided to communicate with Airis. During this communication, time would freeze, and if he asked Airis directly about Shizune, he would learn not only her identity, but also the reason for her visit.

『Airis.』

『Oh my God, I was just taking a nap and now I’m at…』

『What, do angels take naps and stuff?』

『Well, I don’t really need to sleep. I was watching Mr. Reito and wanted to try something human-like… No, never mind that. What do you need?』

『I want you to tell me about this person in front of me. Come on, hit the keyboard and search!』

『No, I don’t look things up on a computer… Oh, where did I put my phone?』

『You have a smartphone?』

Airis paused for a moment before explaining the reason for the woman’s appearance before Reito.

『The woman appears to have come to ask Mr. Reito for a favor. She shows no signs of hostility.』

『Really?』

『It’s better to hear it from her than from me. If you know in advance why she’s here, it might give you a biased view…』

『Okay. Thanks again.』

『No problem… I’m going to take my morning shower now, so if you’ll excuse me.』

『It’s almost noon…』

The communication from Airis’ side ended. Time resumed its flow, and Reito decided to let his guard down a bit to listen to Shizune’s story.

“I don’t want to talk about it here, so come inside. Suramin, get the tea ready.”

“Puru puru puru.”

Shizune frowned as Suramin, perched on Kotomin’s shoulder, bubbled and shook.

“Wait, you let the slime make the tea? Does it taste okay?”

“She’s the best tea brewer in our house, so…”

“Purupuru.”

Suramin turned her dull eyes to Shizune with a questioning “Do you hate me?” look on her face. She found her innocent cuteness striking, and with a slight blush on her cheeks, she relented, “Well, I guess it’s okay then.”

They all entered the house, with Shizune and Reito sitting across from each other at a desk. Meanwhile, Ullr, curious about what was happening outside, looked out the window, and Kotomin, perhaps out of concern, joined Ullr to watch them together.

“Puru Puru…”

Suramin skillfully balanced the cup on her head and brought the tea.

“Thank you… I was just wondering, how did you make the tea?”

“After swallowing the tea leaves and hot water, Suramin mixes them inside and then pours it into the cups.”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“I lied. I helped pour it into the cup.”

Shizune accepted the tea with some hesitation, took a sip, and looked pleasantly surprised. The quality of the tea leaves was exceptional, and the temperature was just right, making the tea quite delicious.

“That is really good tea. Honestly, I haven’t had anything this good in a long time.”

“My relative’s aunt… sister brings me all sorts of nice things.”

Reito’s house often received gifts from his Aunt Maria, which included fine pastries and high-quality tea leaves. As for the furniture, Reito initially had bought broken pieces and restored them using his alchemy skills, but now he was using first-class furniture, courtesy of Maria’s generosity. At first, he was hesitant to accept these gifts, but he eventually relented, knowing Maria would have trouble finding another place for them.

“I see, you’re better off financially than I thought. But that’s not important. Let’s get to the point.”

“Purupuru.”

“Oh, and you also brought me some snacks… Thank you.”

Suramin offered a plate of yokan* to Shizune, who accepted it with a gentle smile and gratitude. Reito noticed that despite her mature appearance, she seemed to have a soft spot for cute things. As he thought about it, Shizune gave him a look as if she had read his thoughts. (TLN: It’s a Japanese sweet made from red bean paste, agar, and sugar.)

“What’s with that look?”

“Oh, nothing… Then why were you outside my house?”

“You’ve been doing pretty well in the arena lately, haven’t you?”

“What?”

Shizune’s comment took aback Reito. The only time he had participated in a match as ‘Reito’ was in a two-person match with Mina, and that was some time ago, so her use of ‘recently’ didn’t seem to apply to him. This meant Shizune knew that Luna, the Black and Silver Swordsman, was actually Reito. Shizune smiled and continued.

“I don’t plan on telling anyone about this… at least not now.”

“What do you mean by ‘not now’?”

“Do me a favor, and I won’t tell anyone about you.”

“Are you threatening me…?”

Reito’s gaze sharpened at Shizune’s words. She met his gaze with equal seriousness. Remembering Airis’ earlier comment that Shizune had no animosity towards him, Reito decided to at least hear her out.

“What kind of help are you asking for?”

“You know what it is. I appreciate honesty… As a matter of fact, I’m participating in the main competition of the Battle Festival.”

“Really?”

“Yes. I was confirmed for it even before your first match. My opponents so far have been unworthy – the matches ended too quickly, leaving the audience bored.”

If Shizune’s report was true, she was undoubtedly a formidable fighter. Reito had sensed from their first meeting that she was no ordinary person. His instincts as a Sword Demon had picked up on Shizune’s abilities, placing her on par with Shun, the “Swordmaster.”

“I want to win the main competition of the Battle Festival, the King’s Tournament, in a month. I want to defeat a certain man, and I need your help.”

“If you’re asking me to lose on purpose… I won’t do it.”

“I would never suggest such a thing!”

Shizune’s voice rose as she slammed her fist on the table. Reito was slightly taken aback by her sudden outburst, but she quickly regained her composure, apologized and returned to the topic at hand.

“I know I came across strong… but watch your words. I’m a Swordmaster too, not a coward.”

“Swordmaster…?”

“Yes. You may have heard of me as the Blue Swordmaster.”

Reito was surprised. He hadn’t expected one of the legendary Swordmasters to seek him out.

“Who is this ‘certain man’?”

“Can you guess who is the best swordsman in this city is…?”

“…Bal?”

The first name that came to Reito’s mind upon hearing ‘the strongest swordsman’ was Bal, his mentor in the art of “Strike Blade.” Bal was the strongest member of the “Black Tiger Guild,” unmatched even by active adventurers.

In addition, Bal was even stronger in her prime than she was now, and had once faced off against her parents’ murderer, the vampire “Gain”. However, it was clear that Bal was a woman, which contradicted Shizune’s reference to “some guy”. Shizune also shook her head in denial.

“That’s your guild master, isn’t it? Well, I admit she was certainly strong… back in the day.”

Having said that, she mentioned the name of the man she was pursuing.

“The Sword King of the most powerful adventurer’s guild…” 

“Gorai, the one wearing that onyx-black armor, right?”

“Yes, that’s him. You know him, don’t you?”

“Well, I know him…”

Gorai was the swordsman who had visited Reito’s waiting room the previous night. Reito sought confirmation from Shizune.

“So, your goal is to defeat Gorai?”

“You don’t need to address me with titles and honorifics. We will fight together, won’t we?”

“I didn’t realize you were still considering it…”

“No, I will have you on my side… by any means necessary.”

Shizune gave a wry smile. Reito, curious about her intentions, asked directly.

“Why me? If you’re in the tournament, there’s a chance you’ll fight me, right?”

“That won’t happen. Our match will definitely be in the finals.”

“Why?”

“The finals of the Battle Festival are always a four-way battle royal. The main competition is divided into four blocks. You, me, and Gorai will always be in separate groups. The organizers wouldn’t let us fight each other outside of the finals.”

“Is that how it works…”

Reito was skeptical, but decided to be convinced for now, since Shizune seemed to have more knowledge about the Battle Festival. He understood that they wouldn’t face each other until the finals, and their common goal would be to face Gorai, who was expected to reach the finals.

“I hate to admit it, but I’m no match for him alone. But together, you and I might stand a chance. So, will you help me? I’ll owe you one.”

“Why are you so fixated on Gorai?”

“If you want to know that, promise to cooperate with me.”

Shizune answered Reito’s question with a sharp look. While he could have asked Airis about her motives, Reito preferred to hear it directly from Shizune herself. He agreed to her suggestion, willing to listen to her reasons.

“I understand. I will cooperate.”

“I think that’s a wise decision. Rest assured, my goal is to beat that guy. I’m not interested in winning the tournament for its own sake.”

“I’m not particularly interested in winning either, but… what is your reason for targeting him?”

“The only reason I want to take that man down is that he’s… my father’s murderer.”

“What?”

“My father was killed by that man.”

Taking a deep breath, Shizune clutched her sword and continued.

“I was born into a noble family of a kingdom. But as you can see from my hair color, I am not purely human. I am the child of my father and his concubine who was a mermaid.”

“Mermaid… Is that the same as Kotomin?”

Shizune nodded, recognizing the connection.

“Kotomin, the girl who just came in, right? As you can see, my hair is darker than hers, isn’t it? That’s because I have human blood. I was once shunned because I was born human but had the blue hair of a mermaid.”

She seemed distant, playing with her hair, remembering past instances of being bullied because of her unique appearance. Although she was human, her mermaid-like features made her an outcast among her relatives.

“My father and mother were the only ones who were kind to me. My father died ten years ago, and my mother five years ago, all because of that man…”

“That man?”

“My father was a great general in the kingdom. His name was Gilan Fall. He was known as the strongest warrior in the kingdom, until that man appeared…”

When Shizune’s father, Gilan Fall, was alive and renowned, a famous adventurer came to the royal capital. The queen, impressed by the adventurer’s tales, suggested to the king to invite the adventurer to the castle. This decision, however, led to tragic consequences.

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