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My head hurts.

No, that's wrong. My everything hurts. I knew it was a really bad idea to go drinking with my co-workers yesterday since my alcohol tolerance was non-existent. However, since I was only a recently promoted manager from the countryside, I wanted to make an impression of a reliable and down-to-earth guy. My sister always said I look bored and unapproachable all the time, but the truth is, my facial muscles are just too stiff. And people avoided me because of this trait, the number of friends I had in school was zero.

The least I can do now is to hope no weird rumors will pop out in the future. Also, I better not wake up in someone else's apartments. That would be embarrassing. I feel how something shifts under my weight. Are this dirt and grass I feel? Man, that's even worse. I open my eyes and shut them tight instantly. It's too bright outside. Last time I checked, it was the middle of autumn. Why in the world is it so sunny outside?

I try to open my eyes again, and this time I'm successful. There sure lots of green outside. More than I ever saw before. Up to this point, the most greenery I saw was either my potted plants or the old pine tree near the office where I worked. Did I pass out in a park, then? I really have no memories of the last night whatsoever. It makes me wonder what was I up to yesterday.

"Hey! Did you see that? It's a person! A girl!"

Hmm? I turn around and face a kid with a sword that doesn't look like a toy. It's sharp and pointy and stuff. I'm no expert in child education, but won't allowing your kid to wander around with a real weapon be a thing any reasonable parent shouldn't do? Even his clothes look kind of strange. They looked like something straight out of a movie about knights and dragons. Not a full set of armor, but more like a set of tight leather. And this kid is now innocently staring at me with hopeful eyes.

"My... My liege, stop running away so much. What if someone ambushes you?"

Another kid comes from the bushes. I call him a kid, but this one is almost a head taller than me. He's wearing a set of metal armor and carries a real sword, too. And a shield. When his eyes fell on me, the taller boy stopped talking in an instant. If the first one looked amused and overjoyed with this predicament, this one was more thoughtful and careful. He stood first, looking me in the eyes. I can't call myself tall, but seeing a kid tower over me was a huge blow to my ego.

"Who are you, milady? And what are you doing here all alone? It's unsafe to travel across the forest on your own. Especially for a fair maiden such as yourself."

What? Who is the fair maiden here? This kid is talking crazy talk! I'm neither fair nor a maiden! Is he blind or plain stupid? And that brat even has the nerve to give me a gallant and chivalrous smile. Look, you may talk and walk like a knight, kiddo, but flowery language won't work on me. Firstly, I'm a man. Secondly, my heart is blacker than a piece of charcoal. Thirdly, you're far too young to make any girl swoon.

"Milady?"

Here he goes again. And the first kid just stands here, watching. He must be stifling a chuckle or something. Won't any kid of his age think girls have cooties? Now, as for the young casanova over her...

"Would you quit calling me that?! I'll have you know I have a name. It's..."

Stop. What is my name? I'm sure I have one. It was given to my by my dear parents. It was plain and unimaginative, but I liked my name the same. So, why is it so hard to remember it? Nothing comes to mind. It's as if a lid was put over my memories. I remember my family and friends, but their names elude me. Heck, I can't even picture what they looked like. 

"Oh? Alfy, do you think what I think? This girl has amnesia!"

What in the world? 

"It's true, my liege. Just like how Sir Harold taught us. Sometimes people without memories of their past lives appear at random. I heard the stories, but never imagined I'd see a "spirited away" person. Much less finding one near the goblin camp. Alive, that is."

"Wait, wait. What nonsense are you babbling about? Sure, I don't remember my name or where I came from, but this doesn't mean I have amnesia. And who're you calling a girl?!"

"You. I believe that would be you."

Much Later.

"Just when we were about to take down the last bandit, a huge ogre rushed right into our formation. And it wasn't a run-of-the-mill ogre, either. No, he was wearing some armor and carried a lance. Like, the kind riders normally use. Those rascals must've domesticated one. So, that got me thinking... If a good-for-nothing gang of bandits can domesticate an ogre, why don't we do the same? We have more resources than petty burglars, don't we?"

Barnett said. As always, he was obnoxiously loud, not caring about our friend peacefully sleeping on my lap. Well, it's not like poor Alfred would wake up anytime soon. Still, his lack of any self-control, if sometimes oddly charming, was grating on my nerves. It's lecture time, I guess.

"It's impossible, Barnett. Monsters, such as ogres, are impossible to domesticate through natural means. Monsters eat the precise amount of food to sustain themselves, so it's not like they hunt to feed. You see, it's in their nature to cause mayhem and destruction. In fact, when monsters are kept under the lock, they start to weaken and will eventually die. As for those bandits, my guess is that they simply sicced the ogre on unfortunate travelers." 

I was taught this much by my teacher, Harold. Man, living in the fantasy world sure was interesting. Also, a bit scary, but how cool is it to use real magic? Well, "super-duper awesome" is one word, I guess. While I was talking, Barnett was looking at me with eyes full of adoration. 

"Whoa, you sure know lots of stuff, Maria! If you know so much, why do you need new tomes? I think you're smart enough as it is."

Heh, he is still full of holes. The time to strike has come! 

"Dolt!" I said and flickered him unprotected forehead. Despite taking direct hits from wyverns before, he acted as if it actually hurt. "Magic tomes aren't for learning. They are tools to keep spells ready. You see, every time mage casts a spell, they have to either said the chant verbally or process the mental construct inside their brains. Both need time and concentrations. Tomes, on the other hand, need only mana to activate pre-inscribed spells, so this makes them so important. As a soldier, do you think having a mage capable of unleashing their spells rapidly, without pauses is important?"

"Absolutely!"

He-he... Hook, line, and sinker.

"That's why I need those tomes so much. I want to help you in protecting our lands, too. For this, I need to broaden my array of battle-ready spells. And so, I need magic tomes, which I can get only during the Trade Fair in the Gateway City. Honestly, it's such a shame only reinforced monster hides and other precious materials can store magic words without breaking apart. Such a shame."

"Y-Yeah... Such a shame, indeed."

"Oh, hush you. We're nearly there, so I'll be waking Alfred up. I don't want you bothering him to be the first thing he sees when he wakes up." 

 

 

 

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Savoyarde

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