【Chapter One – Trial by… Holy Water?】
All I see is darkness. What happened to me? Where am I..?
I think I can hear a man’s voice…
「So grateful to… entered existence… be blessed…」
Huh… the voice is distorted, I can’t make it all out.
Brr! I feel cold.. and wet?
I slowly open my eyes and see a man above me, but he’s looking out at something while holding me in his hands.
I’m submerged in water. Not all the way, my face seems to be uncovered. What’s going here? It explains why I can’t hear him very well.
I want to struggle but I’m so tired… I’ll just give it up for now.
The man continues to speak while looking out at something. He’s dressed rather odd, a white coat with some light green accents on the shoulders and down the middle. And that hat… what to say about that thing.
Ah, I know what’s going on- I’m being baptized. That man must be a priest… but for what religion I have no idea, Christianity?
Then again, I’m not in my old world anymore, I doubt Christianity exists here. Why is my body like this? It looks like I am pretty young, maybe just under a year old. But I seem to have retained my mental age, is this what they call reincarnation? I shouldn’t be able to recognize that though, right?
The man lifts me out of the water and I hear polite applause. It appears to be that he was looking out at a congregation of believers in a church. I wonder what’s going to end up happening now… Are my 「parents」 somewhere in this group of people?
The priest places me into a towel held by another man, this one looks down at me with a kind smile as he wraps it around my wet body. He’s looks pretty young, maybe around 18. If this is my new dad, I hope he didn’t do something irresponsible like having a baby when he’s young… Then again, I’m not really a baby so maybe it would turn out alright.
「You did a good job Alastor-san, I’m proud of you.」
The young man says this to me as he takes me somewhere in the church, away from the people sitting in the pews. 「Alastor-san」 though… I wonder how that managed to carry over. I’m guessing I didn’t appeal to them that it was my name. I’ll have to ask when I get older.
Once again, I’m accepting things so easily… I know that the Fox-sama told me that it was due to the spell that brought me here, but I can’t help but find it strange anyways. What was her name again… ah, Inari-sama.
I’ve met some pretty strange people in the past few days… I guess it’s been months now if I’m this old. I wonder why it is that I didn’t 「wake up」 until now. I have more questions now than ever.
The man brings me into a backroom somewhere and lays me down in what looks to be a cradle of sorts. It’s rather crude, more like a large soup bowl than what I would be used to seeing, but from what I know the technology looks to be far behind in this world.
I wonder what the Headmaster-sensei and Elaine-san are doing right now? Maybe he knows what happened to me… but somehow I rather doubt it. I’ll try to get a message to them at some point, but this body isn’t well equipped for that.
Ah… I’m so tired. I’ll take a short nap for now and figure things out when I wake up.
I’m trying to get out of my bed, but it seems like the 「walls」 are too high for me to grab, being a baby is pretty limiting. That might seem obvious, but it’s hard to really understand it until you’re stuck in a body like this. I wonder if the elderly also feel this way?
There’s a few small holes here and there in the cradle (probably for decoration) that I can use to see around the room I’m in.
It looks to be night, so there’s not much visibility outside of a single window providing minor moonlight.
The room I’m in looks like a closet or storeroom that was repurposed for use as a nursery. It’s a few meters across in a square shape, the construction is all wood. The single window has glass in it, but it’s not clear- a mix of blues and greens with a frosted appearance. I think it’s called sea-glass? I wonder how they produce it if that’s the case.
Outside of the colorful window panes, there’s not much to the room. The 「bed」 I’m in is on top of a small table in the corner of the room, and there’s only a desk with a chair as other furnishings.
The door is across from me on the wall, but it’s also plain besides an etching in the middle, which depicts a circle with a tree inside of it.
Ah, of course. So this is a church of Inari-sama.
I glance to my right hand, and sure enough, there is a faint tattoo with the same design as the door on the back of it.
What is this thing? I wonder if Inari spends time here, maybe I can come in contact with her soon.
Sure enough I’m already getting tired from trying to jump and escape the crib earlier… a baby’s endurance is pitiful.
Guess I’ll go back to sleep for now, and wait for the morning to come.
「Aren’t you just the cutest little thing anyone ever saw? Aren’t you? Arentchuuu?」
I wake up to a shorter woman saying such while rubbing my head against her cheek. Adults are annoying huh? I wonder if babies ever think about that sort of thing.
I feel like Nova-san would do something like this too if she saw me in this state though, so it might not be limited to adults.
Nova-san huh? I wonder what she’s really like. That beautiful silver-haired girl I met just a few days… or months ago. I feel like she would be trying to find me now, while causing trouble for everyone involved. Or maybe what I’ve decided to call 「Shadow Nova-san」 would come out and try to abduct me for that dark-haired girl. Selethain-sama, was it? I wonder what she’s doing now too. I guess none of those things concern me much now.
The short woman takes me into a dining room, probably for the church staff, and holds me in her lap, occasionally bringing sips of soup to my mouth.
Hmm, this isn’t bad. Similar to miso I think.
「How’s our boy doing today, Juna-san?」
The older priest who baptized me yesterday is talking to the short woman holding me.
「He’s being well-behaved as ever, seriously have you ever seen a baby who doesn’t cry in the middle of the night?」
「Hahaha, you’re right, truly we have been blessed by such a child.」
These seem like good people, I bet Inari-sama has something to do with me ending up in their care. Or rather, it’s impossible she doesn’t. I wonder if the priest and Juna-san are my parents, but Juna-san looks to be in her late 30’s, while the priest man looks like he’s around 60. Maybe that doesn’t matter much in this world? I’ll hold off on that for now so I don’t make improper judgements.
The young man from yesterday comes into the room carrying plates of food, it looks like this soup was prepared earlier for only me. Juna-san continues to slowly feed it to me while the two men are moving around setting the table.
「Alright, all of us are here. Why don’t you pray today, Godric-san?」
「Hmm? Let the boy do it, it’s better for him to get into the habit of it after all.」
Everyone turns their eyes to the young boy who just sat down at the table.
「Do you mind then, Rei’el-san?」
After that, everyone closes their eyes and the boy named Rei’el-san begins to pray.
「O’ blessed Kami-sama of the land, may you hear our voice. We come together under your name to ask for grace today, as we consume the fruits of our labor and your blessed works. May you be received by all people, and confer your blessings to our fields and homes this year as you did the last. We also wish to lift up our thankfulness for the young one you bestowed, he is fair in all manner and sure to be a gifted person. I pray that we can perform our duties to your approval, and that we bring honor to your name with our actions. Amen.」 (EDN: Kami = God)
Oi, oi. Are they praying to that Inari Onee-san? I wonder what kind of picture they have of her. This sounds awfully formal compared to what I would pray to her at the shrine… maybe that is why she felt so protective of me. I’d get bored of hearing a rehearsed prayer like that, it ’s so distant. I don’t really know how gods think though, but she seemed fairly eccentric compared to what most think of when they hear the word 「god」. If they’re praying to her so earnestly she must be fairly devoted to the followers though, which is certainly admirable.
My opinion of her is pretty good, even though she reincarnated me suddenly without permission. I wasn’t in the best position at Eldeora after all, and now I can live easily with several kind people. If I’m to be in the world for awhile, it’s nice to have a childhood to grow and learn the common sense of this world. That’s what I have decided to think for now.
「My, that was wonderful.」
Rei’el-san turns a little red at Juna-san’s compliment. He’s a pretty handsome guy, short, dirty-blond hair, and a medium build. His arms and body look fairly muscular even when he’s wearing the church robe; leading me to believe he trains his body or does a lot of physical labor.
The three converse about various church-related activities for several minutes, then return to eating silently. From their conversation, I’ve inferred a few details about what they do here.
Rei’el-san cooks the meals and takes care of the various tasks given to him by the church. Juna-san is something like a shrine-maiden, but I don’t really understand her responsibilities. Godric-san is the head (and only) pastor, leading the church congregation in services and community building activities.
Juna-san smiles down at me, feeding me soup in-between her own bites of food. Unlike many of the women I have run into in this world, she’s not very attractive by my standards. She seems to be of the same race as Inari-sama, two light brown ears pop out from the top of her head, and a tail from just above her butt. Outside of that, she looks like a human. Her face is round and lacks many defining features. If anything, she gives off a motherly feel. Though I might think that only because I am a baby right now and she’s been taking care of me.
Godric-san briskly eats something like toast and reads though a thick book, probably some kind of religious text. He’s a larger man- not in a weight sense, but a strong sense. The scar down his left cheek makes me think he might have been a solider in the past. From what I’ve heard, he supports the other two and myself financially. That money might come from the centralized church system though. Besides that, he has very short grey hair, and a simple appearance. Although I will say he looks too built to be a pastor.
These three people eat mostly in silence, with Juna-san sometimes saying something to me in a cutesy accent.
After breakfast has concluded, I’m brought back to my room and placed in the crib. Outside of meals, I don’t leave the room much except for when Rei’el-san comes to play with me. It looks like the church is pretty busy.
Many days pass by like this, with nothing really happening. I learn a few things from conversations I overhear, but it’s fairly minor information. I found out that I was left here with a note, and the church brought me in; basically I am thought of as an orphan. I wondered why there wasn’t more children here, but I found out that they only took me in because of the mark on my hand. It seems that it’s quite rare, a direct blessing from the goddess Inari-sama herself.
Well, I could have told them that.
Lately someone else from the church has been visiting Godric-san, and I learned that this is a small branch church. The major churches for Inari-sama’s followers reside in a major city about 2 hours from here on horse. They spend a lot of time talking about positions in the church, but I can’t catch all of it so I don’t know what the heart of their discussions are.
I found out today that I’m about 8 months old now. When I was found I was very little, only around 3 months old (or so they guessed). So far I’ve spent 5 months as a conscious baby, but nobody from when I arrived in Eldeora originally has come. I wonder if Kouchou-sensi thinks I’m dead or if he just let it go after everything happened. I wouldn’t expect him to come looking for me, but I’d like to meet him again. Let’s make it a goal to get into Eldeora as a student when I’m older. (EDN: 「Kouchou-sensi」 is a respectful wording for 「Principal,」 referring to Lunian, who will go by this for the time being.)
Ahh~ I wish I could grow up faster. I’m tired of being confined to this room, unable to learn anything about the world. And even though I can understand the language of the people around me, I’m still only at the level of blabbering incoherently. Being a baby is the worst.
Can you hear me?
With these words I’m being awoken in the middle of the night. Don’t people know it’s not good to wake up a baby?
D o y o u u n d e r s t a n d m e?
There’s that voice again… It sounds familiar.
Finally… so you were returned to such a state after all.
I look around my crib but clearly there’s nobody here. So it is Selethain-sama huh.
Where are you? Why are you here? What happened in the castle after we summoned you?
I don’t really understand how it works, but it looks like she doesn’t 「hear」 what I’m thinking unless I want her to… This telepathy, it really is convenient.
(EDN: Selethain’s telepathic messages will be bold&Italic, whereas Alastor’s lines will only be italic. I think this is the best way to differentiate the two.)
Take it easy, I only just woke up. How long has it been since then?
Just woke up, what do you mean? If you mean the time from that night to now, it’s been a little over eight months.
Eight months? Ugh… well, time is relative anyways. I guess you don’t understand what happened at that time so I’ll explain it to you.
If I remember correctly, you did say we’d be spending a lot of time together, but I haven’t heard from you until now.
When Fox-bitch showed up, I hid quickly. Of course, I didn’t know it was her until she actually appeared, but I wasn’t going to take the risk that it was an ambush after all.
You thought that whoever brought me here wanted to draw you out right? In that case you were afraid it was someone who came to hurt you?
Exactly, so I thought to hide in the most secure way possible. I never would have imagined she’d show up and make you into a baby. You won’t really understand, but as a Goddess of Shadow some of my abilities are related to stealth. When she appeared I quickly went behind you and joined your shadow.
Joined my shadow? You mean to say that you possessed me?
Possessed? Don’t put me on the same level as a mere spirit. But you’re correct in a way. Anyways, the caveat to this particular ability is that I can’t leave that shadow for a period of time. Unfortunately for me, that time became greatly extended due to the reincarnation you’ve gone through.
So you’re saying that you’re currently living inside my shadow, and you can’t leave it.
Simply put, yes. Normally it would only take a matter of hours to leave, but because I became a part of you at that time, my powers went through a 「Rebirth」 also.
So you don’t have the power to leave my shadow. How long will it take for you to regain that ability?
… I can’t say for sure. I only just now gained enough power to regain consciousness. I’m not sure how you managed to do it before me, but if I had to guess it’s because Foxtail-sama gifted you in her element of magic. We aren’t exactly opposites, but you could say that shadow and her element of nature don’t agree with each other.
Nature magic huh? I guess that would make sense. Inari-sama, if I remember correctly, is a god of fertility and agriculture. But why would shadow not mesh well with nature?
It’s more complex than this, but most magic can be put into the categories of creation and destruction. There are some that take the middle-ground of manipulation, but those are few. Nature is closer to creation, whereas shadow is closer to destruction. The two aren’t as opposite as fire and water, but enough to cause interference.
Finally I’m learning something about magic. If I’m actually gifted in nature magic, I hope I can learn how to use it well.
It’s embarrassing for a Goddess to be in this situation, but I’ll be borrowing your magic power for the time being until I am powerful enough to gather it on my own. In return, I will answer whatever questions you might have… when it’s convenient.
It’s so nice to have someone to talk to, even if it is someone who’s personality is largely a mystery to me. It doesn’t seem like she’s lying so I’ll take this as a good opportunity to learn about the world. When she becomes powerful enough to leave on her own… well I’ll think about that when the time comes.
Odd as it may seem, I’m glad you’re stuck in my shadow. I have a lot of things to ask you about…
I don’t know if Selethain-sama can see me or not, a greedy grin spreads across my chubby face.
Just like that, several more weeks pass with nothing special happening. Juna-san still comes to bring me to meals, and Rei’el-san plays with me when he has free time. The man who was visiting Godric-san stopped coming lately, and so I am left in the position I have been for the last several months again.
Before that happened I did learn a couple things though. The town I’m in has a population of about 2,000, whereas the city a couple hours from here is much larger. I don’t know the specifics, but from what I heard it might even be 20 or 50 times bigger. The town I’m in is a farming community, but the population is higher than average due to the amount of fertile land in the area. All the farmers live communally in this town, rather than on the property they farm. I don’t think it’s very convenient for those who have farms that are distanced from town; but it’s something that helps with security and forms a larger sense of community.
I also learned that I’m to be taught nature magic by the church, but not until I’m about 3 years old. I’m sad it’s so far away, but magic teachers seem to be a commodity mostly for the rich, so I can’t complain. All three of the people living here in the church with me can use nature magic, but Juna-san is the most proficient. I sometimes hear people come into the backrooms in pain and she uses some kind of healing magic to help them. The church is a kind existence in this world. I don’t know about other religions, so I’m going to keep a revisionist mindset on that though.
Outside of what I’ve overheard, having Selethain as a conversation partner has greatly increased my knowledge about the world… or not.
As soon as she promised to answer my questions, she went back to sleep and hasn’t said anything to me since. I should have asked if she had the power to talk with me freely… but I had assumed that was the case without doing so.
Growing up is a slow process.
My first birthday is coming soon now, but even with that, time feels cruelly slow for me. Imagine being inside a baby’s body and being largely confined to a single room. It’s not a great experience, but I can’t fault the people taking care of me. I don’t think that it’s good for a baby to lie around this much, but it’s not like they know that I’m vastly more mature than my appearance.
That said, I’ve started to do a little exercise every day. Being the physical age I am, I don’t know if it will make me stronger or not; but I’m trying to get into the habit now so it feels natural later. Some parts of me are curious if there is something like an 「Adventurer’s Guild」 in this fantasy world.
Inari-sama told me that she interfered with the mind-wiping process, and that my memories from my past world would come back slowly. It’s been happening for awhile, but I never realized it happening. Oddly enough, when I thought about the first things that came back to me, I noticed it had happened even when I was back in the castle.
That morning Nova was laying in my bed, I had thought about it as a comparison to anime… I didn’t notice that at the time, but surely I am recovering things without knowing. Anyways, I feel as though a lot of holes are being filled in as time passes.
Lately I’ve been having a dream about the shrine commonly. I walk up, and the person standing there smiles at me solemnly just like I remember. For some reason, when I wake up I still can’t remember what their face looks like though. I hope one of these times it sticks with me, but even if I know the face it might not help me figure it out anyways. I don’t know the artistic renderings of any gods in this world, and I doubt they would be walking around on the street…
Rei’el-san has been coming to see me almost every day now. He doesn’t say much to me, just picks me up and holds me as he walks around the inside of the church. I want to go outside so sometimes I point to the doors, but he just tells me, 「I know you want to go outside, but Godric-san has forbidden it.」 I don’t know why they are keeping me locked up in here, but the scenery has long become stale.
Sometimes Rei’el-san looks at me strangely when I do something like that. I wonder if he can somehow sense something is different about me. I don’t know if I should try to make it more obvious or hide it from him though… Maybe when I’m older and actually able to talk I will tell him I was reincarnated.
Juna-san has been running around excitedly preparing for my birthday. I don’t know what kind of customs they have here, but it looks like it will be similar to what I remember. She hasn’t been in the church too often outside of that, seems like she’s doing something with Godric-san lately.
Speaking of which, I almost never see him anymore. I don’t know where he goes during the day, but I hear the doors opening when he comes back late at night. I think it’s some kind of community activity, but since he leaves before breakfast there’s no discussion about it so far.
Today is my first birthday (approximately). It looks like days, weeks, months, etc. are pretty similar to my original world, but they don’t have exact measurements like we do. They just base time off of how many days have passed, and time during the day is roughly guessed based on the light.
Anyways, I’ve been brought into the area we normally eat, and there’s a few decorations around. It’s nothing extravagant, not that I had imagined it would be.
「「「Happy birthday, Alastor-san!」」」
Juna-san, Rei’el-san, and even Godric-san are here today, they look at me with smiles while I lay in the young man’s arms.
Everyone sits down at the table, and Juna-san pulls out a small cake. It’s pretty plain, looks like some type of sponge cake. I haven’t had anything you could call sweet since I’ve been here- outside of an occasional apple-like fruit; so I’m plenty excited for it.
Rei’el-san pulls small pieces off the cake and feeds them to me and everyone looks pleased at my happy expression.
Hmm… but something has changed about Godric-san; he’s looking at me with somewhat-distant eyes. He hasn’t been around too much, it looks like he’s pretty tired from something. I don’t know what he’s been doing, but I hope that he’s sleeping properly.
After light conversation between my 「family,」 the party is over and I’m brought back to my room where Rei’el-san puts me back down in my crib.
「As special service, I’m going to take you outside with me tonight. Don’t tell anyone, I’ll come get you later.」
He chuckles a little bit after he says that, and walks out of my room.
It’s not funny to tell a baby not to tell anyone things. I might actually be able to do it, you know! It’s frustrating because I can’t speak coherently, but if I could, I would surely talk back to you!
It’s your birthday already? How long has passed?
Where have you been! I thought you’d be around since the first time we talked!
Hmm… I had less power that I thought. It’s been several months then?
Yes, three or four now.
Luckily, you’re getting to the age where your body will accept mana more readily, so I will begin to grow stronger as time passes.
So there was an age where that happened? I feel like it’s a bit over my head to really understand what mana is and how that all works, I’ll be sure to question her about it later.
What’s your situation like? Will you be able to stick around from now on?
I should be able to communicate with you more frequently than before, maybe once a week. A year from now I should be able to come to everyday for some amount of time; I think when you’re about 3 years old I will have enough power to be around constantly.
That long huh…
Blame Furry-chan for giving you an affinity with something meager like nature magic.
Meager huh, I hope it doesn’t turn out that way. If I can learn how to heal people that will become a good asset, so I’m not too worried.
…Tonight I’m finally getting the opportunity to go outside, do you think you can tell where we are from that?
It’s hard to say… Usually I would be able to tell at all times, but since I’m in this state- if there are large landmarks, it’s not impossible.
Alright, conserve your power until then. I’d like to have some bearing on my location if possible.
I want to make something clear to you now, before this 「relationship」 goes any further. I will help you when I feel like it, don’t presume to give me orders just because I’m in this state. You do understand the difference in existence you and I are, don’t you? I’ve been holding back, but I won’t be having you tell me what to do.
I didn’t mean it like that…
Seems like she’s not around anymore. She might have said that, but it looks like she’s going to help me this time anyways. She’s a moody person, I have to remember that. I wonder if Nova-san got that mood-swinging attribute from being around this goddess too much. I should ask about the nature of their relationship too, I wonder if it’s something like mother-daughter.
Do gods have children?
While I’m thinking about various things, the light coming through the window dims, and I hear my door opening.
Sure enough, Rei’el-san comes into my room with his index finger up to his lips.
「I’m here as promised, are you ready?」
I nod my head enthusiastically, and Rei’el-san lifts me up and leaves the room. He sneaks carefully around the church until he reaches the room used for church services. We slip out the front door unnoticed as the light of the day dips below the horizon.
Hey, wake up!
Don’t call me like an animal, reserve that kind of treatment for your benefactor.
Really not a fan of Inari-sama. I wonder what their past consists of…
Let me know if anything sticks out to you.
You don’t need to instruct me.
Rei’el-san brought me around the back side of the church, where fields of crops spread out until they reach a cliff edge. A brilliant, blue body of water stretches out beyond the horizon.
Do you see that? Looks like an ocean.
Yes, I can see it just fine.
I have no idea what she’s using to see, but it’s probably better not to think about it…
So, any idea of what that is? Do you know what body of water it is?
Rei’el-san walks around outside with me in his arms until he reaches the complete backside of the church, then he leans against it while holding me.
I wish he’d walk around a bit more so I could see if there were any mountains, forests, or the like. It’s getting so dark now though, I’m not sure I could see them anyways…
I don’t know where this is based only on the water there, but it appears to be an ocean. As far as I know, the followers of Inari would be mainly demi-humans and spiritual races. If we take that as a base, it’s likely we are still on Methendil near the coastal city of Nastafahre.
Nastafahre? How close is that to Voulden, the city where Eldeora is located?
Hmm… They are on opposite sides of Methendil, it would probably take about four months by horse carriage. There are passages through the mountains that could make it faster, but they’re also dangerous. Take that as a guess, I don’t travel by horse.
Right, there’s magic in this world. I wonder if I can learn to teleport there, or find some kind of warp-gate that would move me between cities.
Rei’el-san is looking out at the fields with a distant gaze. I wonder what’s on his mind.
After a few minutes of silence, Rei’el-san take me back inside and puts me down in the crib.
「Good night, Alastor-san… and happy birthday.」
Lately I’m wondering if the three that have been taking care of me are as happy as they appear when I’m around. I can’t do anything special to ascertain that though, so I just have to wait until I’m older.
Just like that, a whole year has passed since I arrived in the world. I wonder where I would be now if Inari-sama hadn’t shown up. If the answer is prison, then this beats it- although barely. When I’m older I won’t see it that way— but being a baby is almost like a prison in itself.
I think I’m going to stop making excuses, and try to communicate with Rei’el-san if I can. I’m not sure how to do that, but I’ll spend my time thinking about it for now. Although the church is taking care of me, I don’t want to get roped into service when I’m older. Somehow that seems to be what they intend.
The mark on my hand might have freed me from magic prison, but it might end up damning me in another way down the road.
— End of【Chapter One – Trial by… Holy Water?】—