HWTR – Chapter 5 – Omen of the Demons


Ah, Mamiya-san hasn’t changed a bit since a year ago. She has an appearance that would undoubtedly be labeled as “beautiful” by everyone. It’s the same with her demeanor, her way of speaking, and even those glasses that she wears despite not needing them; they suit her so well.

And the way she starts with, “Shall we get to work?” is so nostalgically familiar to me that it almost brings tears to my eyes. It’s the same feeling I get when I’m eagerly digging into the delicious food at my favorite restaurant.

I reminisce. In the Adventurers’ Association at [Terian Empire] and [Republic of Zuminar], there were certainly staff members assigned to tend to [First Family]. But once you’ve worked with Mamiya-san once, working with other people just feels off. That’s just how good Mamiya-san is at her job.

As I rose from the sofa, I instinctively reached out for Mamiya-san, seeking a reunion embrace. However, Mamiya-san only tilted her head. Her cold gaze clearly conveyed, “What are you doing?” That’s fine! Hehehe.

Alright.

Now then.

I settle back onto the sofa. As if to replace Pencil-san, Mamiya-san took a seat across from me. Pencil-san feeling a bit awkward, cheerfully exclaimed, “Ah, I’ll bring some tea!” before leaving the room.

Mamiya-san placed the binder she was holding on the glass coffee table. The binder contained a stack of documents.

There was a brief pause. Neither of us spoke. We just let our gazes wander over each other’s faces. It was a gaze filled with nostalgia. Eventually, Mamiya-san looked at me from under her brows and spoke.

“Since you’re here, I assume Saburo-san is also determined to handle this, right? It’s reassuring to see you so resolute.” (Mamiya)

“Wow. I don’t really get it but hold on a moment. Let’s celebrate our reunion first, Mamiya-san. It’s been a year, you know? Come on. Actually, before coming here, I met with a kouhai from high school, and she seemed quite happy to see me.” (Saburo)

“Is that so? So that’s why you smell like alcohol. And this kouhai-chan is a woman, right? Meeting with a woman in a tavern during the day, you’ve indeed become quite bold.” (Mamiya)

“Hmm. Mamiya-san, you never change.” (Saburo)

“Yes, I haven’t changed. By the way, how about you, Saburo-san? Is there anything different about you?” (Mamiya)

“…Maybe my status?” (Saburo)

“You received you’re S-rank certification about six months ago, was it? Congratulations. If it was given here, I would be involved with giving it out, right?” (Mamiya)

The reason for Mamiya-san’s dubious tone, whether she’s genuinely celebrating or not, seems to be packed into her final words. Well, I received my S-rank certification at the Adventurers’ Association in [Republic of Zuminar].

Normally, it’s common, or rather customary, to receive grade certification at the Adventurers’ Association in one’s hometown. However, for certifications of A-rank or higher, evaluations from all the Adventurers’ Associations across the continent are necessary. Therefore, if one is deemed worthy, it’s possible to receive certification at the Adventurers’ Associations of another country like [Republic of Zuminar].

Well, if possible, I would have preferred to receive my S-rank certification in the [Kingdom of Reinella]. I wanted to receive words of celebration from Mamiya-san, who would have been my main supervisor here. However, the timing was unfortunate. It was just bad luck.

There was a knock on the door.

Mamiya-san responded promptly and Pencil-san entered the room. She placed a teacup on a tray on the table, bowed, and left.

Once again, we were alone. Mamiya-san, with red lips behind the steam rising from the teacup, spoke.

“Next is SS, huh. It’s going to be a long journey, but do your best.” (Mamiya)

“…Well, I think the road to SS is too tough. Even if you search the continent, there are only a few people who achieved it, right?” (Saburo)

“You’ll make it, Saburo-san. I’m rooting for you.” (Mamiya)

“Hmm, the expectations might be too heavy.” (Saburo)

“I’ll be giving it out next time, so it’s a promise, okay?” (Mamiya)

…Subtly, Mamiya-san’s lips twitched upwards at an angle that probably wouldn’t be noticed by anyone else. As someone praised by Master Kisaragi for having “good eyes,” I noticed it. And once I noticed it, I couldn’t just ignore it. 

I shift my attention to the survival pouch around my waist. I think about the envelope inside labeled ‘Letter of Resignation’. Then, I awkwardly nod.

“Alright. Well then, shall we finally get down to business?” (Mamiya)

“Talking about work, huh… I’m such a lazy person, so I can’t really get myself to feel like doing any work at all.” (Saburo)

“That part of you hasn’t changed since the old days, huh? Whatever, it’s okay. It’s our job to draw out the motivation of adventurers and to support them.” (Mamiya)

“…I briefly heard from Pencil-san, but the situation is about the [Toto Dungeon] located at the eastern part of the [Yoimai Forest], isn’t it? It’s classified as Dungeon X and shouldn’t be functioning normally—but, it started emitting a high density of mana all of a sudden.” (Saburo)

“That’s the gist of it. By the way, after checking all the libraries in the kingdom, we’ve confirmed that a similar phenomenon occurred once, a hundred and twenty years ago.” (Mamiya)

She says something outrageous so casually that it strangely sounds like common knowledge. A similar phenomenon occurred? No, that’s not it. What’s truly remarkable is Mamiya-san’s competence. The report from the [Kingdom’s Magic Corps] about the phenomenon occurred just thirty minutes ago. So how? How did she manage to find a precedent from a hundred and twenty years ago so quickly?

And moreover, it probably wasn’t an event that happened within the kingdom.

If such a rare phenomenon had occurred within the kingdom, it would have definitely been taught in history classes at school. Since I don’t remember learning about it, it must mean that the incident happened elsewhere, not in the kingdom.

Mamiya-san continues, and just as expected…

“There are records of a similar phenomenon occurring in a dungeon at the northern end of the [Roland Continent].” (Mamiya)

“Ah, the [Roland Continent], huh. I’ve never been there. And if it’s the northern end, it must be a pretty cold area. Even though that place is already famous for being cold all year round.” (Saburo)

“Yes, that’s right. Even wearing a [Demon Yeti]’s fur wouldn’t stop me from shivering. Well, I’m sensitive to the cold myself so it could just be a personal problem.” (Mamiya)

“You’re sensitive to the cold, huh…” (Saburo)

“Yes. That’s not really important, though… Saburo-san, when you hear the term ‘120 years ago’, does it make you think of anything?” (Mamiya)

“To say there wasn’t would be a lie.” (Saburo)

It was an unpleasant question. But the fact that Mamiya-san asked it in that way implies some kind of connection. It’s an unpleasant thought, but it might not be unrelated.

—120 years ago marks the beginning of the war between humans and demons.

Until then, demons had coexisted with humans, albeit in a tense relationship. While it was a predator-prey relationship, there were no instances of groups invading each other’s territories. During that time, there was somewhat of a truce. Of course, there was no war.

I only learned about it in history class, so I have no idea about the atmosphere of that time. Still, there’s no reason to doubt that history. It must have been the truth.

However, 120 years ago, wars broke out in various places, starting with groups of demons invading human villages. Of course, the [Kingdom of Reinella] was no exception. I have memories of learning about the many casualties.

I deliberately reach for the teacup calmly. After sipping the bitter tea inside, I speak.

“Surely, there’s no connection, right? To that war.” (Saburo)

“…120 years ago, in the northern dungeons of the [Roland Continent], the investigation teams didn’t return.” (Mamiya)

“They didn’t return?” (Saburo)

“Yes. They didn’t come back. The details are unknown. They disappeared without a trace. That’s all that’s documented in the records. And shortly afterwards… the Demon King was resurrected, and the war began.” (Mamiya)

“…I really don’t want to hear about that kind of story.” (Saburo)

“So, Saburo-san… Could you gather everyone from the [First Family]?” (Mamiya)

Mamiya-san’s demeanor changes.

The switch has been flipped.

The switch that turns her into a workaholic.

If that’s the case, I need to switch gears too. Even if it started from a painful misunderstanding, I am a hero. A seasoned adventurer. I am in a position where I have to do my best.

So I want to do my best.

I want to.

I think that, but I hang my head. And I replied honestly.

“Sorry… everyone from [First Family]… they’re all missing.” (Saburo)

After a while of silence, I heard Mamiya-san’s dumbfounded “Huh?” It might have been the first time in five years that I heard Mamiya-san’s bewildered voice.


TL Notes:

Thanks for reading!

When the world needed them the most, they vanished.

If you think [First Family] is gonna show up early, nah, just like in Strange Grief, the MC’s party doesn’t show up until the author decides so.

I need a world map of this place cause my venue dictionary is getting filled up quite fast. Yeh, I keep a list of all the places mentioned in this series, just in case it gets reused again. Well, the only important ones are probably the MC’s home country and the dungeon. 


Footnote:

  1. None
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