Chapter 01: A Strange Painter
Hiiro and his party finally arrived at the town near the border, 【Surge】, but an unexpected incident occurred.
“Hey, what’s the meaning of this?”
Hiiro frowned sullenly whereas Arnold who was next to him, twitched his cheeks.
A large number of people had set up stalls and had attracted a crowd in front of them. The amount of people in front of him were so large that it was bothersome to count them all.
Hiiro, not a fan of the hustle and bustle, got irritated by the rising heat.
“I-is there a festival today…?”
Muir titled her head charmingly and her eyes were sparkling. She was fascinated by the endless line of stores in front of her eyes.
“Mhm… There’s a lot of good smells.”
Winka and Winger both twitched their noses while looking restlessly at the stores with various foods and drooled.
Then Arnold who was pondering on a thought, realised something.
“Wait a minute. Is today the first day of 《Urui》?”
“It is, Uncle.”
By the way, in this world 《Urui》refers to the 《month name》.
These were the months of this world, each with 30 days. Incidentally the year was 《Anol》. It is currently the year 《Anol 2114》.
“What’s so special about today?”
“Don’t you know, Hiiro? The annual festival 《Raer Festival》is held on the day.”
There were also seasons in this world. In Japan those would be called spring, summer, autumn and winter.
“It’s currently 《Raer》, right? They’re holding stuff like this all over the place to brush off the heat.”
Hiiro listened to Arnold’s explanation.
(I see. It’s just a summer festival.)
Hiiro’s discomfort only grew when he realised that. It was already hot to begin with, there were a hot headed guy beside him and this crowd on top of that only added oil to the fire. It was really irritating.
“Were you thinking something rude right now?”
“Ah. Nope, I was just thinking that you’re hot-headed, Old Man.”
“Listen here! Even if you have to lie, can’t you deny it? What’re you answering honestly for? Dammit.”
“That’s why you’re hot-headed.”
“Th-this Brat, seriously one of these days…”
Arnold clutched his trembling fists. Muir’s face suddenly appeared in Arnold’s view. Her face was flushed as she watched the bustling people.
Arnold thought of something and clapped his hands together.
“Okay, I’ve decided! Say what you want but I’ve already decided!”
“What’s with you all of a sudden? You finally lost it?”
Muir also blinked in surprise.
“We’re staying here tonight, right? Then let’s enjoy the festival too!”
Those words made not only Muir but also Winka brighten up. They seemed rather delighted.
Muir wanted to enjoy the festival but couldn’t say it out loud. Winka just wanted to eat food.
“I see. Then have a good time you guys. I’ll be at the inn———.”
Hiiro tried to leave but Arnold grabbed him by the shoulders.
“Let me go.”
“No, no. How can you be like that now? Let’s enjoy the festival.”
“Mhm, you sure you wanna act like that ~?”
“… What do you mean?”
Arnold raised his index finger and smirked. Hiiro was irritated at that and wanted to knock him out but he resisted.
“Listen, the 《Raer Festival》here in 【Surge】is quite big.”
“There are a lot of shops ~. Moreover the special thing about this festival is that there’s a super popular stall here.”
Hiiro’s shoulders twitched as the words “super popular” piqued his interest.
“On top of that, they hold competitions to see which stall is the most popular in【Surge】. Well, the food stall wins every year… See what I’m getting at?”
“… I see. Do they have that kind of delicious food here?”
“I think you’d be quite pleased.”
Arnold was well versed about the state of the world. It didn’t seem like it was his first time attending the festival in 【Surge】. He also didn’t seem to be lying nor had he any reason to. The words “delicious food” became like bait.
Hiiro’s fighting spirit rose. He made up his mind and went ahead of everyone.
Arnold was disappointed when Hiiro didn’t respond and wondered if he had failed to persuade him but Hiiro said without turning around.
“Lead the way already. What if the good stuff sells out, Pervert?”
“Do-don’t call me pervert!”
Arnold shouted angrily but his mouth formed a small smile. Muir and Winka were also thrilled from anticipation. Four people and an animal decided to enjoy the festival for a while.
“… 《Burning Peach Candy》?”
Hiiro muttered while looking at the sign of a store. Arnold widened his eyes in admiration and said.
“Oh, they’re selling quite the rare fruit!”
“Hello! How about it? It’s cheap!”
The stall owner, an energetic old man was radiating with courtesy. Muir and Winka looked at the 《Burning Peach Candy》displayed at the stall with sparkling eyes.
“Old Man, give me four… no five!”
Arnold also added Winger’s portion. Winka thanked him and he replied while laughing, “Don’t worry about it”.
“Sure thing! Oh, the little missy’s are cute so I’ll give you an extra big one ~!”
“Th-thank you… Ehehe.”
Muir and Winka smiled happily. Hiiro and co received the food. Hiiro watched them for a bit before asking Arnold.
“Is it good?”
“Yeah, you bet ~. The fruit is shaped like a burning fire and while it’s candy, it’s also soft enough to easily chew. Well you’ll understand how burning it is once you try it.”
Hiiro ate a mouthful after being told to. He could certainly bite it off easily and the taste spread through his mouth as he chewed it. Then something suddenly popped inside his mouth.”
“Hehe, surprised? The popping fruit on your tongue is the true value of the《Burning Peach》!”
Arnold shouted, boastingly. The flavour was indeed addicting. It wasn’t too sweet and yet it was still a treat for your taste buds. Hiiro concluded that this was surely popular with kids.
Muir was holding onto her cheeks with an entranced expression. Winka opened her small mouth as much as possible and stuffed her cheeks and Winger was chewing on the candy.
Hiiro and co were hungry so they gulfed down the candy and went into the crowd of people.
“Okay! Onto the next one!”
They went gourmet hunting under Arnold’s lead.
(I see, so this is a festival. If it’s got good food then it isn’t all that bad.)
Hiiro never went to festivals when he was back in Japan so he was quite drawn to this new experience.
However as was typically for Hiiro, he wished the crowd wasn’t there.
A lot of stalls were similar to the ones in Japan like the shooting range and drawing lots.
Muir was enjoying those games to the fullest with Arnold and Winka. After walking for a while Hiiro’s mentality finally started to reach its limits.
(Ah, this sucks. People bump into me and step on my feet… Can’t they all just disappear?)
His thoughts started wondering to dangerous places. Then he spotted a rather large stall. The sign of the stall read:
《Happiness Shark Sandwich》
Arnold who was also looking at the same sign, was surprised.
“N-no way… That Happiness Shark…?”
“You know it?”
“O-of course! It’s an ingredient that every cook would like to prepare at least once!”
Hiiro assumed that it must be something really good judging from Arnold’s excitement.
“Listen, the Happiness Shark are found in the 《Great Blue Sea》and live in the deepest part. They rarely come up to the surface. It’s super rare but sometimes it appears for a short while to lay its eggs. Its body has a beautiful pink colour and it has an emerald horn on its head. It’s said that every part of its body is edible, even its horn and teeth!”
Arnold’s whole body trembled with excitement as he spoke but Hiiro basically had no interest in animals, so it went in one ear and out the other. There was only one thing that Hiiro wanted to ask.
“So, is it good?”
“Of course! Listen, its taste is said to… Top even the 《Aqua Hound Meat》!”
At that moment, Hiiro’s eyes changed to something close to killing intent.
“Look over there.”
Arnold pointed at a cylinder lottery wheel like the ones often seen at shopping districts. There were a lot of people queued up in front of it.
“They only have a limited amount… So you have to win that to eat it.”
Shock ran through Hiiro’s whole body. Coming all the way here and not being able to eat this meat? Hiiro bit his lips at the torture.
“Each person only gets one try and it looks like several have already won… Oh, it’s written on the plate that there’s only eight portions left… The line’s pretty long to so I guess it’s impossible.”
Hiiro clenched his fist in frustrated when he saw Arnold throwing in the towel. Winka paled in despair at Arnold’s words.
She also wanted to try the meat like Hiiro.
(Wait, wait. That 《Aqua Hound Meat》was awesome. But I can’t eat the even more delicious meat in front of my eyes? How’s that possible… No, the words giving up are not in my vocabulary!)
Hiiro raised his face with a jerk and glared at the stall.
“Let me give you my thanks, Old Man.”
“My thanks for showing me this.”
“Even if you thank me you still can’t eat…”
“No, there’s no reason to give up.”
“But isn’t it common sense to think that it’s impossible?”
“Don’t joke around. If it’s common sense for me to have no chance then I’ll distort that common sense!”
Hiiro looked at the people spinning the cylinder wheel. It looked like you won when a golden ball dropped out.
If the golden ball had dropped then that meant that there were only seven portions left. Hiiro had to hurry.
(In that case…)
Hiiro concentrated magic power into his fingertips and a faint bluish-white light glowed on it.
“Hey you guys, show me your hands.”
All three were flabbergasted.
The queue in front of the lottery slowly became shorter. Some people had already won so there were only four portions of 《Happiness Shark Sandwich》left.
Luckily for them, no one else had won since then and finally…
“It’s my turn.”
It was finally Hiiro’s turn. He gulped and slowly turned the cylinder. It clattered and then ———
Everyone swallowed their saliva. The ball that dropped out was ———
“FUAHAHAHA! Nothing is impossible for me!”
Hirro laughed loudly like a Demon King.
Yes, he’d magnificently pulled out the golden ball. A pale glowing word was written on his fist that was raised high in the air.
That word was ———『Blessedness幸』.
He had worried over what to write. He could have written 『Luck 運』but he didn’t know whether his luck would increase or decrease.
What about『Out 出』? A ball would drop out for sure but it didn’t necessarily have to be the golden ball.
What about『Success当』? He was most hesitant about this one. It might have allowed him to win the lottery but he wasn’t sure if it would give him the results he wanted.
It might have worked if he wrote it on the lottery wheel itself but he thought it would be meaningless to write it onto his hand.
Therefore he had written 『Blessedness幸』since he could clearly imagine himself being blessed with luck.
Magic was imagination. Any unnecessary thoughts would reduce its power. So he chose the easy to imagine, 『Blessedness幸』. His magic really was like a cheat.
Moreover it was four-pack. He had written the same character for the other three because it drastically increased the chance of one of them winning.
Still it meant exposing his magic to them.
(Well, I regret nothing. It’s all for the good food.)
His appetite won over the troubles of having it exposed. Well it’s true that he didn’t oppose much because Arnold and co seemed like they already knew. As a result, all four people were able to get what they wanted in succession.
Arnold and Muir were dumbfounded by what had happened so Hiiro thought he should explain things now that it’s gotten to this point and because he was in a good mood.
By the way, Winka was only happy.
“I know what you want to ask but for now… Let’s eat!”
He would explain it to Arnold and co afterwards.
In their hands was a dish that resembled a hamburger. The filling, was of course, Happiness Shark. It was a beautiful pink and was wrapped in vegetables like lettuce and topped with a salty-sweet sauce.
… Wh-where am I?
He smelt the smell of the ocean tide drifting about and for a moment, he hallucinated that he was in the middle of the ocean.
His body was being squeezed because of the deep sea pressure. It had both elasticity and umami. The compatibility with the crispy bread was extraordinary and just a single bite allowed him to feel the soul of the ocean.
His body melted away from the stimulation on his tongue… No, in his whole mouth. On top of that he tasted something crunchy. It was the horn that Arnold had mentioned before and it was delicious.
The fried cartilage with its superb seasoning was also indescribably delicious. His body readily digested everything, even the bones and teeth.
(Holy, who knew something this delicious existed?!)
It was more delicious than anything he’d eaten before. The inside of his stomach was storming as if the food was still alive.
It was earth-shatteringly good. Moreover his body felt like it was brimming with power.
This is… Wow…
(… Definitely a win!)
He smiled naturally.
If he were to relax he might have fallen asleep on the spot from ecstasy. It was a really pleasant sensation, like he was floating in the sea under the warm sun.
When he looked at Arnold and co, Muir was relishing in the food too. She seemed to like eating and she was in a good mood from getting to eat something so good.
As for Arnold ———, he was crying for some reason.
To be honest, it wasn’t a pleasant sight to see an old man crying while eating food.
Well, the food was certainly worth crying over but it somewhat dampened the mood so Hiiro decided to smack him afterwards.
Winka was also stuffing her cheeks in satisfaction while sharing her food with Winger. Everyone was happy.
“Ah ~, that hit the spot! It was really satisfying ~.”
Arnold was patting his bulging stomach happily.
“Yeah, it was delicious. Mhm… Well…”
Muir looked at Hiiro.
“Ehm, Th-thank you, Hiiro-san.”
“Thanks, Hiiro. It was delicious.”
Winka also thanked him at the same time and he replied with, “No problem”, but this triggered Arnold to ask about 《Word Magic》.
“So, tell me about the thing that you wrote on our palms earlier… You’ve been tight-lipped about it until now but isn’t it about time to tell us?”
“… Well, fine.”
“Eh? You’ll really tell us?”
Arnold had thought that he was going to refuse again so he inadvertently asked.
“What? I can just keep it to myself then.”
“Ah, no, no. Tell me! That word… what is it? It’s magic, isn’t it?”
The other two closely observed Hiiro’s mouth. They were also interested in Hiiro’s mysterious magic. Arnold had a character written on his own body before so he was the most curious.
“Yes. It’s called 《Word Magic》. A unique magic.”
“I thought so.”
Arnold had noticed that Hiiro had been using some kind of unique magic. It had only been a short time since they had met but Hiiro used his magic a lot in front of Arnold so it wasn’t odd for him to notice.
After all, he could produce fire, light, heal wounds and even raise the physical abilities of others. Arnold had battle experience so it was only natural that he noticed.
“But out of all the unique magic I’ve seen so far, yours is kind of strange. What the hell is the theory behind it?”
Hiiro was puzzled over how much he should say. He gave them a little bit of information because he had felt good but should he say more?
Hiiro recalled what they were to him. They had met under strange circumstances and have continued travelling together.
To be clear, the three of them were good-natured, idiotic and honest guys. They also cherished their companions. They probably thought of Hiiro as a companion.
He also had a near death experience with them. Somewhere inside of Hiiro, his mutual trust for them had grown. Hiiro thought it was fine to tell them just a little and spoke.
“I wrote something on your palms, right?”
“That character is from where I lived and I can draw out the effects of the character.”
Kanji didn’t exist in this world so the three couldn’t read it. So Hiiro explained his magic frankly. The two other than Winka, listened with a dumbfounded expression on their faces.
Especially Arnold, who folded his arms and said, “Did we have such characters?”
Winka raised her voice in excitement, “Oh ~!”
“Actually Hiiro, isn’t your magic unfair?”
Muir also agreed with Arnold and nodded her head.
“Who knows? It’s natural talent.”
“Well, that’s certainly true but… Still, out of all the unique magic I’ve heard of so far, none are this powerful.”
“Hoh, like what for example?”
Hiiro was interested in unique magic besides his own.
“Let’s see, magic that controls space, magic that brainwashes people and… magic that tames monsters.”
“They indeed sound powerful.”
Hiiro felt that brainwashing was especially dangerous. He didn’t know how it worked but to deprive others of freewill was too strong a magic.
“But, you’d be able to use any of the magic that I just mentioned with your 《Word Magic》, right?”
To be honest, he could. Maybe he couldn’t control it as perfectly as the original but it was possible to use a word with a similar effect.
“Indeed I can.”
“I knew it, that’s so unfair ~. You’re a damn cheater.”
Muir hadn’t raised her voice yet but she was agreeing by nodding her head.
“But even though my 《Word Magic》is omnipotent, it’s definitely not invincible.”
“What do you mean?”
“Who knows? I’ve no reason to tell you.”
As expected, Hiiro wouldn’t tell them his weaknesses. Even if he did trust them a little, there were still things he couldn’t say.
“Gah… True, you’re not the type of person who’d tell other people your weaknesses.”
“That’s how it is.”
“But well, your magic is still very fascinating! It’s truly a dream!”
“Whatever. I’m tired so I’m going to the inn.”
“Listen to me!”
Hiiro went along at his own pace as always whereas Arnold sighed and followed him obediently.
“Mhm? Have you had enough of the festival already?”
“Eh? Ah, yeah I’m satisfied…”
“I had fun too!”
“Wi had fun playing a lot too…”
“There you have it.”
“Then go and book the room, Servant.”
“I’ll say it as many times as it takes but I’m not your servant! Also respect your elders!”
“Don’t be arrogant just because you were born earlier.”
“It let me experience more things in life! Apologise! Apologise to me right now!”
Hiiro looked at the Arnold, who was screaming loudly and said.
“Don’t become an adult like him, Chibi.”
“What do you mean by that, you damn brat!”
Hiiro shifted his gaze to Muir but she was troubled over how to reply.
Hiiro ignored Arnold’s annoying outburst and headed to the inn. But a problem occurred there.