The apparent excitement of Origa, who directly heard about her and Hifumi departing for the capital from him, made her to some extent unapproachable for those who knew and those who didn’t know about the circumstances.
Origa spent the few days until the departure going full throttle with her troublesome character, feeling several times more jealous than a normal woman and having a desire to monopolize him at the level of a normal woman. Even while preparing the luggage, she did so with a rough nasal breathing as if completely threatening her surroundings or saying that she doesn’t want anyone to attend to her.
Going by Hifumi’s character, Origa knew that if she told him “I want to go together with you”, he would give her permission to do as she likes as long as there are no special circumstances. She also understood how to act so that his decision didn’t change.
The person concerned, Hifumi, spent his time until the day of the travel by going to buy food and suitable magic tools in Fokalore and tossing them into his darkness storage, developing new weapons with Pruflas and training with Caim and the other soldiers.
Snuggling up to his side, Origa accompanied him on his shopping in the city, participated in the training and made sure to not separate from Hifumi as much as possible.
“Lord and his wife have a really nice relationship.”
“Isn’t that a good thing? It seems like some uproar is once again happening in Vichy, but thanks to Lord, there’s not the slightest danger to our side.”
And so on. Hifumi, who eats in the same restaurant as the commoners and wanders aimlessly around the town without any guards although he’s an appointed noble, and Origa, who can be seen to gently nestle close to him, were warmly watched by the people of the city of Fokalore.
However, the people, who know Origa well since they are serving in the feudal lord’s mansion, cannot take such carefree attitude.
That’s because Origa is fixedly staring at them from close-by while they are talking with Hifumi. Although nothing happens as long as they don’t talk about the trip or the capital, they are immediately glared at and pressured with blood thirst as soon as the topic of going to the capital comes up.
“In the end, for a number of reasosn, they haven’t done many things befitting newly-weds, have they?” (Alyssa)
“Haa… newly-weds, is it?” (Viine)
Inside the study room, Alyssa started to talk to Viine, who’s studying opposite of her, while waving her quill pen around, once Caim stepped outside for work.
With that subject being brought up without prior warning, Viine lifts her eyes from the textbook and gives a half-hearted reply.
“In the beginning, you know, Origa-san, who was a slave at that time, and another person accompanied Hifumi-san. Even when I joined them, we were just four people.” (Alyssa)
Looking up at the ceiling, Alyssa seemed as if she was watching a distant place. Viine didn’t know who the other person she talked about was. However, her deliberately not mentioning the name has probably some kind of reason, she thought.
“That means master had a lover and wife who was a slave?” (Viine)
Since Viine heard about Origa originally being a slave, she wasn’t surprised about that, but she can’t imagine Hifumi and Origa acting like lovers.
“Lover… yea… Achoo!” (Alyssa)
The tip of the quill pen, she swung with her fingers, tickled Alyssa’s nose causing her to sneeze.
“Uuh… rather than lover, it resembled more the relation of a pupil or a retainer. As a matter of fact, her way of fighting was mostly fixed and trained by Hifumi. It looks like she ended up changing her weapon back then, too. I guess it was around that time when she stopped using a wand?” (Alyssa)
“At the time when I met them I didn’t have much leeway either”, Alyssa laughs.
And, she was at least able to change it into a funny story. As soon as she thought of what happened in the past, she felt slightly lonely.
“If you consider it like that, various people got in contact with Hifumi and became his friends or enemies, but the one who thought first of getting close to him was Origa, right? There are many people who serve him like Caim and the others, but the one who is planning to do the same things he does while standing shoulder-to-shoulder with him is only Origa, isn’t she?”
People like Kasha and Pajou who died after becoming hostile to him, people like Sabnak who hasn’t become his comrade but still cooperates with him and people like Imeraria who get manipulated; the faces of all the people Alyssa knows float in her mind.
“Are you different, Alyssa-sama?” (Viine)
Alyssa couldn’t understand Viine’s question well.
“Umm, in other words, didn’t you consider wanting to become just like his wife?” (Viine)
“Ah~, I see…” (Alyssa)
The former Vichy territory, Arosel, that has now become a part of Tohno Earldom. Alyssa clearly remembers the events at the time when she was rescued by Hifumi from the violence she suffered there. The memories of the pain have faded, but the fear, that made her want to die due to the helplessness she intensely felt at that time, was deeply carved into Alyssa without having vanished yet.
If it’s now, she knows that her emotions at that time were yearning and the awakening of a love she wasn’t aware of herself.
“… It’s different, I think. I like Hifumi-san, but that’s respect towards a strong person. Therefore… therefore I will become Hifumi’s adopted child, the responsibility is heavy, but I’m happy, is what I believe…” (Alyssa)
The tears that overflow gradually, spill down along her cheeks finally.
“Geeze, how embarrassing… I wonder why…” (Alyssa)
Viine quietly approached Alyssa, who had laid her face on the desk with her shoulders trembling, and gently stroke her back.
“I know. I’m not able to do the same things as Origa-san… that’s why…” (Alyssa)
Viine continued to stroke Alyssa who at last burst into tears after raising her voice.
The day before the departure to the capital.
Early morning. Origa participated in the training carried out by Hifumi.
Inside the forest slightly off the highway once one leaves the city of Fokalore. Though monsters appear here often as well, it doesn’t matter to Hifumi at all.
This place that lacked the hustle and bustle of people and had the aroma of trees and greenery was the favourite place of Hifumi.
Origa and him sit in seiza next to each other on the grass with closed eyes.
Besides the presence of Origa who’s next to him, he can feel weak monsters discovering the presence of people and running away.
While calming down his mind with the scent of nature hitting his nostrils, he digs up the memories of his battles in Horant and Vichy. He reproduces the fighting inside his head. Although he has a feeling of satisfaction towards all his moves, there’s also introspection.
Couldn’t I have killed them faster? Wasn’t it possible to take their lives in a more efficient way?
And, in order to make use of that in the coming battles, he closely inspects his movements. All of it is for the sake of realizing the perfect slaughtering. Even now his desire to murder is gushing out like an endless spring. For the sake of letting it out at any time.
A tree towers in front of Hifumi who quietly opened his eyes.
The trunk that has a thickness of several arms, grows directly into the sky and the lush leaves expand towards the sun.
One blow of drawing the katana and attacking in the same stroke, the katana’s point is turned towards the trunk and stops. Leaving less than a millimeter distance, it barely doesn’t scratch the rind. It’s an act he occasionally does for the sake of confirming his own sensation and the length of his own weapon.
He knows the length of his own katana better than anyone else, but just because of that it doesn’t necessarily mean that the length of his own arms won’t change at all. There’s also the possibility that the state of the rivet on the sword hilt slightly shifts. This was also a ritual to check that.
“Well then, let’s begin?” (Hifumi)
“Yes. Please treat me well.” (Origa)
Standing up in concord with Hifumi, Origa held the iron-ribbed fan in her left hand and bowed.
Opposite of her, Hifumi places both hands at the base of his legs and naturally bows in a smooth manner.
Lifting their faces at the same time, they readied their weapons.
The iron-ribbed fan, grasped by Origa in her left hand is still closed.
Hifumi draws the katana and takes a seigan stance.
There’s nothing like encouraging yells.
The footsteps from Hifumi, who steps in silently, are inaudible.
Origa shows absolutely no nervousness towards Hifumi who is approaching as if gliding. She firmly turns the iron-ribbed fan’s tip at Hifumi’s middle forehead.
Hifumi’s attack comes directly from the front being swung down from above.
Origa steps diagonally forward, slips below his arm and blade, and wields her iron-ribbed fan with a side sweep.
At the time when Hifumi stopped the katana at the height of his waist, the iron-ribbed fan came to a stop at a distance where it’s unclear whether it touches his neck or not.
After several seconds, they separate in silence while remaining on guard.
The distance at the time when they returned and the distance at the time when they prepared while facing each other in the beginning is completely the same.
They don’t talk about what has to be done.
They are already at a stage where explaining such things is unnecessary.
Origa loosens her mouth that was tightly closed a bit and slowly exhales through her faitnly opened lips.
The next slash unexpectedly comes to sever her knee from the side.
Pulling back her right leg, she advances her left leg into the space where the katana passed through.
She lowers her iron-ribbed fan at the head of Hifumi who went down on his kness.
And stops just before it.
After taking several seconds, they separate.
From then on Origa strikes back against Hifumi, who repeatedly comes at her with attacks that included kicks and consecutive slashes and thrusts, with the movements she had her body master.
Hifumi’s movements are far slower than at the time of normal combat, but there are no useless motions and there’s not a splinter of hesitation as he smoothly performs his footwork. His skilled movements, unrelated to something like speed, made it difficult for the person facing him to react.
Even so, Origa deals with the attacks that are released randomly. She properly moves to unleash counter-attacks that can cause a fatal wound.
Origa, who was frozen stiff due to tension in the past because of the attacks where she didn’t know what will come next as there was no prior arrangement, became now able to move naturally as she got used to her weapon and piled up real combat experience.
However, the movements of Hifumi, who gradually raised the spead, became untrackable for Origa’s eyes. She barely handles them by relying on the initial motion from his stance.
With her return attacks being avoided as well, the number of attacks increases to two then three without it finishing at one attack as before.
Even while evading the dangerous thrust towards her face as second attack, she fails to deal with the diagonal slash and is also unable to counter-attack. At the second time she was unable to dodge the thrust coming to pierce her chest.
She stepped forward with a foot to support her crumbling posture. Believing that she would be definitely pierced in the chest by the thrust, Origa unconsciously closed her eyes.
However, the pain she resolved herself for doesn’t come.
“Don’t shut your eyes. Do it with the intention of accepting the outcome no matter what happens.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi matched the staggering Origa and drew back the katana.
When she looks down at her chest with a face that’s dripping with sweat, the katana’s point has stopped at a distance where it barely won’t reach her body though it touches her clothes.
Looking at her face being reflected on the sword’s blade that’s glittering in the morning sun, Origa tightly bit her back teeth.
“Let’s stop at this place today?” (Hifumi)
“No, with this it won’t become training for you, Hifumi-sama. Please let me help you.” (Origa)
Due to Origa requesting a continuation with an imploring stare while the sweat gushes out from her face, Hifumi tossed a cloth at her for the sake of wiping away the sweat.
“In that case, first adjust your breathing and wipe the sweat away. Remove your sluggishness by drinking water.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi held out the apple-like fruit he picked up in the wastelands to Origa who is wiping her face and neck briskly.
“Your movements aren’t bad. It will become better once your body gets used to not having its movements disturbed even if faigue appears.” (Hifumi)
Hifumi also eats a mouthful of another fruit he took out. Plenty of bittersweet juice passes through his throat and moistens it.
“After you stopped being wielded by your weapon, all of importance that’s left is repetition…” (Hifumi)
It’s Hifumi’s pet theory that technique is something that will permeate into the body after watching it and getting familiar with it. Though it’s something he put into practice, he also knows that it’s difficult. There are many reasons why young students stop coming to a dojo, but one of them was “I got tired of repeatedly doing the same boring movements.”
“Yes. Please treat me well from now on as well!” (Origa)
Even Origa, who replied with a smile, savoured the fruit while looking happy as she ate it.
Finishing the short break, both of them stand up once again and face each other.
“Well then, we will change the attacker and defender. Any kind of attack is fair. It’s also fine for you to use magic. Come at me with everything you’ve got.” (Hifumi)
“Yes! I will!” (Origa)
Origa, who had readied her iron-ribbed fan, clashes with Hifumi using all her power.
I have a partner to whom I can direct my wholehearted trust and good will. He will receive my full power. What happiness! Just how blessed am I?
I might not catch up to him even if I use all my life. Thus I will follow him until the end of my life.
A thrust that avoids a thrust. In exchange for that, she performs a side sweep at his feet, but jumping up a hit comes down at her. Even while evading that by rolling over, she kicks towards his flank, but the pommel of his katana thwarts that.
The rendezvous where sparks scatter between just the two of them, continued until Origa couldn’t move anymore due to fatigue. Given the situation, Hifumi carries her to the feudal lord’s mansion. It’s a fact that she had the ulterior motive of aiming for that, but showing her exhausted state, Origa gently places her head against Hifumi’s shoulder while breathing roughly.
“… You are a strange one.” (Hifumi)
In Origa’s case, she had the intention to appeal to Hifumi by showing an erotic, flushed face, but since her mouth slackens with a grin, it didn’t look to Hifumi as anything but getting high due to being too exhausted.
The best effort of Origa, who has little experience in love, doesn’t reach Hifumi.