“—and using the gifts of the Goddess, the Great Hero Xander slayed the Demon Lord, saving the world from his darkness.”
Mr Walden finished the story, only to be greeted by half a dozen yawns. A brown haired boy piped up, raising his hand.
“This story is boring. Don’t you got another one?”
I glanced past the small gathering of village kids, all huddled around in front of the middle aged man sitting on his stool, straight at the boy who spoke. His name was Adrian. And he was not the only kid here with a bored look on their face. The message was pretty clear: they all wanted to be literally anywhere else but here.
I partially agreed with that sentiment. Not because I wanted to hear another, more interesting story from Mr Walden; it was because we had all heard this same story more times than most of the kids here could count. Not me, though— I was not a kid.
…am I really comparing myself with literal ten year olds?!
Technically, I was the same age as most of them; my physical body made me appear like I was no older than these kids— which was true if you only considered the time I spent in this world. However, I was mentally almost two decades older than every single one of the kids gathered here right now.
However, almost as if he was ignorant of the level of intellect or wisdom a kid possessed, Mr Walden began lecturing us on the importance of his tale.
“There are many stories I could indeed tell you, many of which I heard during my time in the Capital. However, I don’t believe those stories would be for your best interests. They may be interesting. They may even be full of excitement and wonder, which I am sure you children would love. But, those stories would not do anything for you. They would only serve to entertain you, something which you children already do for yourself. There are no lessons to be learned, and no morals to be taught.”
“What can we learn, Mr Walden?” this time, I was the one to raise my hand and speak. “From the story. What morals or lessons does it teach us?”
“Ah, Melas, there are a great many things for you to learn. But I can not tell you what they are. It’s something that you must learn yourself, else its meaning will be lost on you.”
I fought the urge to groan at his ‘sagely advice’, though the same could not be said for most of the kids. Mr Walden sighed.
“If you need to know, I will tell you one thing, and one thing only, before you leave for today.”
Mr Walden paused, hoping to gather all of our attention before he started. Once he realized that I was the only one even paying any semblance of attention to him, he took a deep breath and reluctantly began.
“Never sully the Goddess’ gifts,” the middle aged man spoke in a solemn voice. He cast his gaze throughout the group of bored kids, before stopping at me. We locked eyes, and as if he was addressing only me, he continued. “The world we live in, the mana it produces, it has all been given to us by the Goddess. But if you were to defile it, you would be no different from the Demons we have fought to destroy.”
With that, Mr Walden got up from his seat and slowly walked away; upon seeing him leave, everyone else started to disperse too. Instead of following after the kids running around to play or chat, I remained seated on the floor for a moment longer.
Defile mana, huh? I looked heavenwards, staring at the clear blue sky of day.
What was mana? It was supposedly the fundamental building block of… everything. When the Goddess created this world, she used mana as the base of all things, living and nonliving. It permeated throughout the air we breathed, the food we ate, and the body we lived in. Whether it be Humans, Elves, Dwarves, or even Monsters, every living being needed mana to live— to simply exist.
And yet, the Demons defiled mana, and thus creation itself. They took the creations of the Goddess and defaced it, desecrating the world, and destroying its mana. They went against the Goddess of Light, and spat on Her face. They took her gifts from her, just to throw it away. And for what?
What could they possibly gain from committing such blasphemy? Why would they take Her grace, and drag it over the ground?
The answer was simple: for magic, of course.
Several thousand years ago, the first magic was performed. A Demon, learned to take mana— the very essence of this world— and used it for his own purposes. At first, it was seen as a miracle. A power bestowed upon this Demon by the Goddess Herself. He used this power to start fires, to build shelter, and to gather food. Demons looked to him for protection, and he provided it. Because of his power, every Demon saw him as special, and eventually made him their lord. But, the Demon Lord did not think his powers were special. And one day, he finally proved it.
The Demon Lord began teaching magic to all Demons, believing that this power could change the world; to him, it was a universal gift of the Goddess, and he wanted everyone to learn about this… magic.
The Demon Lord first invited the Dwarves and showed them his magic, but they dismissed it as easily replaceable through their technology; then he sent for the Humans, and even though they were interested in it, they did not stay to learn; and when he called for the Elves, they never came. The Demon Lord was dejected, he wanted to show them this power, but they did not want to see it.
But the Demon Lord thought magic to be good, so he sent his people out to spread it far and wide. And as his people began teaching their ways to all the peoples of the world, he learned more about it. He slowed his aging, sustained himself without food, and forwent all manners of rest. It was a life free from suffering, one which he taught his people how to live.
Without the need for food, they neglected their crops; without the need to rest, they travelled the world; without the fear of old age, they enjoyed mundane lives. As they became more carefree with this power— as their cities and farms fell into disrepair— it was not surprising that they never once realized what was happening to their lands: that they were destroying their home.
It was then unfortunate timing that only at this point, did other species’ begin to take interest in this magic, and so a delegation of all the great powers in the world were sent to Hell to meet the Demon Lord. But when they arrived, they did not see a gift of the Goddess, but a perversion of it.
They saw a land blighted over and cursed by darkness. Food could barely grow from the dead earth, and what few animals that remained were pale and thin— even the Monsters fled, seeking more mana-rich lands.
So instead of finally accepting their magic, the peoples of the world decried it as blasphemy. As heresy. They demanded that the Demons stopped defiling the Goddess’ gifts, but the Demons who grew dependent on it refused. So, to protect the sanctity of the Goddess— to protect Her light— thus began the Holy Wars that raged on for millennia. With that, magic became outlawed, and the practitioners of magic were deemed heretics. Which leads us to now.
A hundred years ago, the Demon Lord was finally killed and his forces defeated; the few allies he had in the form of Goblins and Orcs, all fled Hell, seeking shelter or a place to hide. With that, ended the era of the Demons, starting anew with the ones who brought about their destruction— the Holy Xan Empire.
Named after the Great Hero Xander himself. Formed by him too. And with the support of the Church, they maintained world peace by… hunting down every magic-user in the world, and killing them for heresy.
And isn’t that just great?
I asked for the potential to become the world’s most powerful magic-user, but coincidentally, it’s illegal!
It was definitely this way because of pure happenstance, and definitely not the work of some jerk fake-god who just wanted to mess with me even more after he killed me. I really hate that guy, I sighed as I uncrossed my legs. I finally stood up, getting ready to leave—
Only to be met with a pair of hazel eyes, staring down at me.
Adrian was standing next to me, looking like he wanted to say something. I hoped he hadn’t been standing there the entire time. Because that would’ve been really awkward if he was just waiting for me while I sat there thinking for the past ten minutes. Who am I kidding, I am awkward. I don’t know how to act like a normal kid!
Not knowing about my internal monologue, Adrian finally found the courage to speak. “You heading home, Melas?” he asked, quickly averting his eyes from me. As I nodded my head in response, he continued. “Can I walk with you for a bit?”
“Sure,” I said simply, and began walking.
I didn’t want to seem rude, but I honestly did not know what else to say to him. It was so obvious he liked me, and that he worked up a lot of courage to simply talk to me. But unlike him, I am not a kid!
Adrian was only a year older than me. Which— because of my past life— still made him a kid in my book. Even if he suddenly doubled in age and grew up to be extremely handsome, I would not be interested in him by the sheer fact that I knew him since he was a little kid!
So we walked in awkward silence as I headed out of the village., Adrian’s eyes darted around between me and the houses surrounding us. His eyes never lingered on me for more than a second, always seeming to rest on the single storey wood buildings that we passed by.
But in spite of his nervousness, Adrian was generally a sociable person. The boy waved a hand at a burly middle-aged shopkeep, as we passed by his shop. I, on the other hand, had no idea who that was, so I kept my face straight and continued walking.
We arrived at the wooden palisade’s that surrounding the perimeter of the small village after a bit. It was a short walk. Not long at all. Because this village, Villamcreek, was in the outskirts of the Rem Republic, and barely even housed a couple hundred people.
I turned to face Adrian, and he quickly looked away. After a moment of fidgeting, he finally spoke, still facing the gate.
“I hear you’ve been helping out your mom— Ms Aria— these days. You’ve been heading into the woods alone and gathering herbs?”
The question came out more as a statement rather than a question, so I gave him a curt nod.
“I see,” that was all he said for a bit.
He faced me after a moment, deciding to finally speak up again.
“I hear from my dad that more and more monsters have been showing up— that the woods aren’t as safe anymore.”
As he paused for a second, I tilted my head to the side, unsure where he was going with this.
“I know Ms Aria needs the herbs. I know you need to help her out. So, I’ve been thinking. I’ve been learning to use dad’s pistol— to work its mana crystal. I was thinking that maybe I should go with you, next time you go out. Keep you safe, you know?”
Ah, I see how it is. Sure, I did not mind his company to be honest. Going into the woods by myself to gather medicinal plants was quite boring. Plus, he was offering to protect me, which had no downsides.
And, the fact that he could work a pistol was actually quite impressive; mana crystal were supposed to be quite difficult to use. Most only learned how to properly use one in their teens, and only the simple ones at that. The mana crystal of a pistol may not be the most advanced, but it certainly was not the most basic either.
“Sure,” I said. “Thank you, Adrian.”
Upon hearing my response, his face turned a shade pinker, before managing to mumble out a response.
Adrian quickly turned and stalked back the way we came, while I left the gates of Villamcreek, to head back home.
The walk home took no more than 20 minutes. The sun was still high in the sky, although it was beginning to head down. As I approached my house, I stopped at the sight of a woman. The woman stood at the front of the house, her back turned to me as she tended to some flowers. She was not just any old gardener however, she was the village’s Herbalist— or, my mom.
A quick glance at her would tell you that she and I were related. She looked just like me, except if I were a decade older. We both had long black hair— although mine only went down to my shoulderblades, while hers went down to her torso. And as she heard my approach, she slowly turned around, our silver eyes meeting as she did.
There stood my mom. My beautiful mom. She was not my mom from Earth, nor does she know that I was reincarnated from another world. But that did not matter, because she was my mom. She was as real as my mom from Earth, and I loved her just as much.
Since I was reborn, this woman was there for me. When I first saw her, I did not like her. I did not want her to be my mom, because I already had a mom back on Earth. I was lost and confused in this new world, and threw tantrums over every little thing. Yet she was patient with me. She fed me, taught me, and loved me.
She loved me simply because I was her daughter, and when I realized that, I felt so ashamed. I acted worse than a child, worse than a rebellious teenager, and worse than an estranged daughter. She was my mom, and when I saw her standing there, I felt a tingling sensation in my heart.
My chest felt warm, my cheeks loosened up, and for the first time that day, I smiled.
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