A gentle warmth was embracing my cheeks as I opened my eyes.
It seems that my body had been laid down. I had apparently been asleep.
As I was arousing my consciousness, the sound of a dead dry wood being burst open could be heard.
Finding a peculiar sound, I moved my face in that direction and found an open-air fire a little ways from my spot.
The fire that had the perfect blaze for burning wood, was burning wood.
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Needless to say, having a fire like this was out of the ordinary, unless one did it by oneself.
In that case, someone──no need to say who it was──lit the fire.
「….The one who lost, me.」
「Oh, you woke up.」
While supporting my upper body, I muttered in the direction of the culprit who built the fire.
On the other side of the fire Chester was placing in wood while laughing.
….Damn it. It was just a little more and I would have beaten him. Involuntarily, I grit my teeth.
For me, it was a desperate struggle that used up all my energy, but Chester seems to have some spare energy left.
The evidence for this was the position I woke up in, as well as the bonfire.
Moreover, my body only ached, and wasn’t in any serious pain.
Even though I had been injecting the maximum amount of magic into my fist during the fight, I still had enough magic to heal serious injuries.
Besides the two decades that I didn’t experience due to my rebirth, there was also a twelve year blank.
It wasn’t like I was trying to make an excuse but, it seems that during those years, he had raised his strength a lot──I was weak.
「Complete defeat…for sure.」
「Ah. With a body of a brat, you didn’t even skip a day of discipline. You still aren’t accustomed to that body, right? It was just a little, but your techniques were a bit dull.」
For a while, silence ensues.
….Honestly, I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated at feeling frustrated and I couldn’t help but clench my fist until blood came out.
My foundation has to be worked on. I had worked on my magical power more than I had in my previous existence in order to make it perfect.
However, this was the result.
The hands and feet of a child are short. The skills that I had gotten in my previous existence couldn’t be properly used even if I did understand the 「Principle」behind the skill.
Chester had used a feint, one which I could have easily grasp his hand in──however, that was only if this were my previous existence. Then, I definitely would have been able to grab his hand by moving faster than Chester’s reaction speed.
This was just a talk of “if”…the result is unchanged. I had to accept my defeat.
….Though, if this were a deathmatch, I would have definitely been dead today.
I wasn’t going to abhor it, after all, I used all my strength and lost. Other people probably weren’t as lucky and died because stupid things came out of their mouths.
For my nemesis to step into an even higher realm, I couldn’t feel any jealousy towards him. Compared to the me who had died once to understand 「Martial Arts」, this guy had a way longer life.
He was closer to the position of strongest than I was. That’s why, it was enviable, but couldn’t be helped.
「I had polished my 「Martial Arts」with the intention to fight, so what the hell.」
Perhaps, there was no one who could defeat Chester unless he was delivered to them on a silver platter. While the world certainly was wide, it was like trying to find a pin inside of a haystack in order to find a worthy opponent for this guy.
That is to say, what was this man fighting for?
I was suddenly very concerned, and wanted to hear his answer. ──To answer the mystery, even though it was already known.
「….Who knows? I hadn’t thought of such a thing. Ever since you had died, I suddenly lost the motivation. I only polished my「Martial Arts」because it was a daily routine. Because every day happened in such a manner, I hadn’t really thought about it.」
──So, there was no such reason. His goal could be described in two words; uncertain.1
It was the same after all; people didn’t become a「Martial Artist」if they didn’t have the resolve to aim to be the strongest.
「How about you?」
「I’ve also never thought of such a thing.」
「I’ll bet. Guess that’s how it is, isn’t it?」
It was as I had thought. I suddenly felt a little weird and some laughter leaked out of my mouth from my throat.
I guessed that Chester was also fine with my answer because he also started laughing.
Ah damn, it’s really frustrating. Although I had used all my strength and lost, I felt a little frustrated that I felt satisfied.
At least I now had a goal that I should surpass. This was the first time I felt like this ever since my master’s death.
「Next time. I’ll make you kiss the ground.」
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「Ha~tsu, come at me anytime. It’ll definitely be fun to win in the upcoming matches.」
My, this guy’s mouth doesn’t know when to shut up.
However, it won’t go as you say. I’ll win tens and tens of times before you die.
….Fumu, it’s been a while since I had these feelings.
Turns out that having bad friends is a good thing.
「N~jaa, it’s almost time for a meal. I’ve already killed a bird.」
「You actually did such a thing? ….Yareyare, you’re like a child, old man.」
Looking at Chester, who was too spirited in spite of his age, I leaked out a sigh.
This man shows no signs of aging. In fact, it seems that he’s had a well and active life.
Looking at Chester, who had plunged the stick I had sharpened into the bird, I was thankful for the strength of my nemesis.
♦ ♦ ♦
「Achoo! …Although it’s pretty late, why is your figure like this?」
「….You’re really slow. Well, wait a bit and we’ll talk it out.」
It was the moment that I was about to bring the roasted bird to my mouth.
Chester, who already had a mouthful of chicken, said something over the fire.
Don’t speak while you’re eating. After saying so, I bit into my roasted bird.
The bird that had been roasted by the fire gave off an alluring fragrance that stimulated appetite.
Although no spices or salt was used, the smell of the roasting meat stimulated ones primitive appetite.
Moreover, the level of roasting was just right. The skin of the bird was sizzling, as though it had been just been deep fried, and had a texture just like a thin pastry when I bit into it.
The fantastic meat juice created from the bird’s fat immediately eased up my cheeks.
The soup that consisted of the fat, meat, and skin was exquisite. From the dry, crunchy skin to the juicy meat with fat, it was overflowing with flavor. Saliva from the gaps of my teeth kept flowing from the smell and taste.
Although I had been hungry, it didn’t last for long. The natural slight saltiness of the roasted bird made it a good dish to eat.
That is to say, I completely forgot about what Chester had said and became obsessed with the roasted bird.
The skin of the roasted bird was easily torn by my teeth and the concentrated roasted meat easily accepted my tearing as well. During the time I was biting into the meat, the best sauce came ou──
And then I realized that I had already eaten a roasted bird. Although the amount of meat on this bird wouldn’t be considered much, the aged me from my previous existence couldn’t even finish eating it.
….U-umu, it’s because I’m in a period of development. A strong appetite I hadn’t felt in a long time was felt. The delicious meal was able to fill my stomach and I felt a sense of satisfaction.
This was the best meal after an exercise. Unexpectedly, today turned out to be a luxurious day.
「Such a gluttonous stomach, were you really that hungry?」
「After getting this body, somehow. Well, shall we start the talk?」
I nibbled at the bird incessantly. Chester seeing me eating in such a manner teased my attempts.
It would have been inconceivable for such an action in my previous life…
Chester who was more than a hundred years older than me ate the bird in a single bite.
That aside, I wonder why I was blessed with such a peculiar turn of fate.
「Frankly, I don’t know. All I can say is that when I revived, I possessed this body.」
「Well, I have live for quite a long time time but I have never heard of such a story. You are probably the only one. How lucky.」
As I guessed, even Chester who has lived for so long admitted that this is the first time he has heard of such a thing.
I scrutinize my hand. No blisters, no wounds.. just a child’s silky smooth hand.
「Still, this is quite an enviable story. Even though you have become rusty, being able to retain your experience from your past life and relive a new life sure is… Anyway, aren’t you the strongest 12 year old?」
「Stop it you. But of course, there’s no way I would lose to a 12 year old kid.」
「That’s indisputable. Even if it’s merely 100 years, after having spent your whole life practicing martial arts, losing to a 12 year old brat would surely be depressing.」
「Merely… From my perspective, the fact that you elves think of 100 years as “merely” 100 years is enviable.」
「You’re an elf now as well.」
As the area grew darker, a slight deafening silence fell upon us while we sat around the bonfire.
In the vicinity, the cry of a beast could be heard. How annoying.
「My disciple.. I brought her here.」
In the midst of the silence, those few words seemed to cut through the darkness of the night.
Those few words surprised me.
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Hearing this, I conjectured that he must have a reason.
In the past, Chester was known as 「The Creator of Primo Martial Arts」. Many sought to be his disciple.
Having painstakingly building his inheritance which defined him as the strongest, he would not simply pass it on to any random stranger…was what Chester said. What the heck made him change his mind?
「I thought you didn’t take disciples?」
「Well, that been the intention. After you died, seeing Alma-jouchan frantically disseminating the Shijima techniques, I became slightly jealous.」
Chester confessed as he casually scratched his black and white hair.
「After I die, there would be nothing left… or something like that. You left behind Alma-jouchan, but I have nothing. That somehow bore within me a strange impatience.」
As I gave no response to that, Chester continued.
His face was somehow melancholic.
…What will be left behind, huh? For me there was Alma, so I had no such concerns but… if I failed to attain the title of the strongest and died, what would I have been left with, I wonder? Even I’ve contemplated that before.
Even I who had disciples had such sentiments before. Chester also no longer gives off an air of strong vitality or vigor, I wonder if this is the result of old age.
Sending that he had more on his mind, I silently waited for him.
As expected, Chester continued.
「But the guy who could fulfill my expectations did not appear. Yet, I kept recalling Alma-jouchan. I will never hand the Primo Style to the likes of you, such were my sentiments but… (referring to how weak they were)
Lately, I have found a suitable successor. The times are changing. Once our era is over, theirs will come.」
「… That’s not like you. I thought you were the type to never retire?」
「Of course, I don’t intend to retire now. The matter here is about successors.」
「What do you mean? Wasn’t he the one you picked with your own 2 eyes? What’s the problem?」
「…… He’s too strong」2
Soon, a smirk appeared on his face.
…Too strong? Is he really as strong as Chester says?
「Yeah, this brat is shy of 15, but she possesses lots of potential and talent. Thinking about it makes me feel old.」
Contrary to what he said, Chester seems to be enjoying himself.
When I first witnessed Alma’s talent, I remembered having similar feelings.
It was like sucking in water in the form of a sponge.
Thinking back to the me who was struggling to learn the Shijima Style, I chuckled.
Although older than myself, he is only just realising the joy of having a disciple.
Looking on at Chester boasting about his disciple, my amazed expression broke into a smile.
「Without a doubt, this kid will surpass me. The moment I realized that, I was so intrigued. It’s a problem of age. Say, can you guess who she is?」
…Isn’t that going too far?
Chester had a smile plastered on his face like that of a child.
Who is this man? His face is goofier than usual. Did I really lose to this guy…
Where did the meek atmosphere from earlier go… it’s like become a fool.
He was speaking almost as if he was reminiscing about a loved one. His grandfather story continued ….. I can only sigh.
「There’s no way I would know… Besides, I have only recently learnt the elven language, and I don’t even know anything about the world since 30 years ago. Plus it’s unlikely I would have any knowledge of your disciple what with you laying underground (figuratively) this whole time.」
「Dayona (Is that so), you don’t know huh, then let me tell you! Listen!?」
How troublesome. He wasn’t that this before……. he used to be like a sharpened blade.
Now he’s almost like a dog with its fangs extracted. He’s just like a grandfather reminiscing about his grandchild…
「It’s my grandchild! She picks up every technique I teach her, and having succeeded in learning each technique, hearing 「Grandpa」 is such a wonderful thing. It’s so cute!」
Well, grandchild huh….?
Did this guy just say grandchild?
Seeing my nemesis in such a senile disposition speaking such unexpected words really hurts my head.
It’s like a master, or so I thought ー or a reason it gave me such an impression.
No wait, in the first place… in the first place this guy…
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「You were married??」
「Oh? You didn’t know, it has been for quite some time. Well such things happen」
…I never heard of it.
I thought he was a man who thought only of martial arts, but to think he was married and had children…
And not to mention he has a grandchild too…somehow, I’m getting a headache.
「And then, this grandchild…」
「No wait, hang on. Will this take long? If it takes too long, I’m afraid I must excuse myself.」
「I see, though I was just getting to the good part…」
The so called doting grandfather. Having experienced being a teacher once, I hold out my palm to halt him.
This 「Grandfather (Osofu chan)」 story will definitely take a long time. It’s not that I don’t have patience, rather the conversation’s length tests my confidence in my patience.
In a teacher and a disciple setting, a teacher’s words must be silently listened to, but if it’s Chester, that’s a different story. I must prevent such a tragedy from repeating, absolutely.
「Ma~ii (Well fine). Let’s get down to business. I have a request for you.」
I heave a sigh of relief, having somehow stopped him from rambling on.
But… a request, huh. If it’s not too troublesome then it should be fine but…
「…. And if I refuse?」
「I’ll expose you to Alma-jouchan. I expect your life would become much busier, wouldn’t it? You will probably be unable to train as freely, would you?」
Kuso (****), brandishing people’s weaknesses merrily.
I already knew. There would be no choice but to comply anyways. From the start, I could only pray that the request would not be too troublesome.
「Just shoot. Don’t be too unreasonable though.」
「It’s hardly unreasonable. Returning to the previous topic..」
「….Make it brief」
Apparently, the request had something to do with his grandchild.
Now that he mentions it, I wonder if his granddaughter is fine with it. He may be alive, but at such an age, isn’t it queer?
Distracted with thoughts that only give me a headache, I consider my plans for the future.
That troublesome fellow grasped my weakness…from now on I’ll have all kinds of nuisances pushed upon me.
At least I’m still attending school for now so I might be pardoned…but even then I am unclear as to how to deal with this problem.
Well whatever. Anyways for now I need to resolve this problem.
「As I have been saying, this kid is the crème de la crème. Well, even though she isn’t steadily mastering the Primo Style…the problem is that this brat is a little too strong. There’s no one of the same age who can match up to her.」
…Fumu? (Hmmm) I see.
Having said so much, I can pretty much guess at what he is requesting.
It doesn’t seem as troublesome as I envisioned it to be.
That said, I’ll finish listening to his request. Truly, this grandchild is quite troublesome.
「So here’s my request…. just once in a while, I would like you to challenge her. No matter her strength, she’s still nowhere as strong as us yet. The only kid I know who can match against him, is you.」
The request was as expected.
Befriend my grandchild or I’ll burn your hand.
…Yare yare, he’s become quite mellow.
However, babysitting huh? Well, I guess there’s no choice, but even then I feel uneasy.
「…. I’ll accept the request if it’s just this much. And stop it with the 「Osufu-chan」.」
「Say whatever you want. When you have a grandchild, you won’t be any different. I have picked this life with great efforts. A life of solitude is lonely. Somehow, marriage isn’t such a bad thing.」
「Is that so.」
Seeing my amazed expression, Chester laughed heartily.
Having a grandchild, will make you so mellow huh?
My appearance. Chester’s heart.
Both having changed immensely, we engaged in a chatter.
As we sat around the fire, which was the conclusion of the duel, we renew our friendship until dawn breaks.