【Chapter 2 – First Contact】
The dream has changed. I used to be in my own footsteps, watching the scene where I walked up to the shrine as if I was there. Now, —for some unknown reason— I am standing near the top of the stairs, watching 「another me」 go through the motions instead.
Several times I tried to yell at 「myself」 as 「I」 walked up near that strange person while they were praying, but no voice comes from my mouth. Not only do I act as an observer now, the atmosphere is different. It’s like all the color has been washed away, reminding me of a black and white movie, and a silky grey smoke wafts off of everything. I don’t understand why I’m seeing the dream like this, but every time I try to approach myself and the other person I’m violently awoken.
I’ll keep these changes in mind as I continue to grow up, maybe there is some significance to it.
I woke up this morning after that dream as I usually do. There’s only faint light coming in from the single window in my room, light shades of blue and green appear on the walls from the colored glass.
It’s been about 2 months since my first birthday, but nothing has really changed for me. I can tell I am growing at a pretty fast pace, but I wish that my physical endurance would keep up with my mental side. It’s something like having narcolepsy, sleeping the way a baby does.
Recently I’ve been trying to get Rei’el-san to understand that I’m not a baby.
Well, I mean, I am a baby— but not really…
I don’t know how he’ll respond once he finds out, but I learned something rather interesting the other day which gives me hope. I found out that Rei’el-san is an Elf, something he told me himself actually. While I’m sure he didn’t think I could comprehend it, lately he’s been visiting me while sitting at the chair in my room. He picks me up and looks down at me, quietly whispering things that are on his mind.
He has a lot of uncertainty in his life, I think it calms him to tell a child in the same situation about his troubles.
Little does he know, I also enjoy it because I get information.
Right, well— He’s an elf, and he’s already over 100! I don’t know why I didn’t think about the possibility that he wasn’t a human, but from my fantasy knowledge elves usually have pointed ears. I’m not sure what the differences are, but he doesn’t have any physical attributes that differ from a human as far as I can tell.
Anyways, it’s significant because he doesn’t look like he’s older than 20 or so… My thought process is that maybe he won’t find it weird that I look like this, yet am more mentally mature.
As a child in my previous world, I used to play with wooden blocks with letters and shapes on them. I always thought in my older years they’re not actually that great, seeing as babies don’t know what letters are— but god, do I wish I had some now.
I’m not sure that I can read, although I could in Eldeora, but if I had a set of those blocks I could use them to talk to Rei’el-san. I don’t know if it would be enough to have an actual conversation, but I could use them well enough to get him to understand my situation a little.
Many times I’ve tried to make facial expressions while he talks, or point to things that are relevant to his monologues, but he just gives me a little smile and continues on. What did Inari-sama think would happen in this situation? I don’t really understand why she wouldn’t inform them that I’m not actually a child.
Maybe that would be a little weird though, knowing a baby you’re taking care of is in his late teens mentally. I can see how that would be troublesome.
She didn’t say anything to me about it either though, such as, 「Don’t tell them,」 or 「Tell them when you’re older.」 I’m somewhat curious if she made a mistake with the spell and didn’t notice that I would retain my memories and maturity. Something to ask her when the time comes.
Speaking of which, she said something like 「I will come to you when you’re considered an adult in this world.」 I don’t know what age that is, but since it’s a fantasy world it could be anywhere from 10 to 20 right? Personally, I hope it’s closer to 10, but not if it means I need to work at that age— I’m more interested in studying.
I’ve only seen a small amount of magic so far, but it’s every man’s dream to wield lightning and strike it down upon an enemy army right? I hope I can learn how to do magic like that, even if I’m not the violent type.
Thinking about mass killings, are we?
Would zapping an army appeal to you?
I wonder if you understand my personality even a small amount— do I seem like the type to do something as stupidly 「flashy」 as destroying an army with lightning? Is that the image I give off to you?
「Flashy.」 Haha…even goddesses like puns.
Was that intentional or—
So what’s got you so on edge this early? Another dream?
Cutting me off is it?
Same one as last week, where I’m the observer instead of myself. Do you know anything about it?
I wouldn’t say 「I don’t know anything about it,」 but since there are many ways to interpret it, I may as well not.
That’s what I thought… by the way, I learned Rei’el-san is an Elf, but he doesn’t look any different than a human. How do I tell elves and humans apart? What’s so different about them anyways?
Ignorant as always… Well you’re from another world so it can’t be helped. First thing to know is that there are three different types of elves.
Three huh? What kind of Elf is Rei’el-san?
I’m getting to that. Do you want make a habit of interrupting gods? There are some who would kill you for less, you know.
To think there are gods more prideful than this one… Even though I doubt I will run into more gods in the future, I’ll keep it in mind.
As I was saying, three types of Elves: Woodland, High, and Dark.
Do the dark elves cast evil magic? Something like sacrificing souls to the devil in order to gain more power while also trading their sanity?
The image I have of Dark Elves has been tainted by video games, but I have to know if such crazy beings exist!
…Sometimes I think I have you figured out, but it’s presumptions like this that keep me guessing… To answer your question, no— they’re nothing like that. Also, no more interruptions or I’ll sacrifice —you— to a devil for more powers.
That’s a joke.
Woodland Elves are the most common, and live in forests, mostly the ones near the center and south of the continent. They’re gifted in nature magic, and often followers of Inari like Rei’el— who is one of them. High Elves are the oldest race of Elves from the original ancestor 「Dawn Elves,」 and are the artsy type. They like to live in the mountains like the city below Eldeora, and have affinities with Spirits. The last kind, the Dark Elves, are the parent race to the Dwarves and usually live alongside them in their cities.
How can you tell Rei’el-san is a Woodland Elf?
I can tell because their pitiful illusion magic doesn’t work on me. The reason you can’t tell is because Elves hide their appearance from the other races. Dark elves don’t do it though, and you can tell just by looking at them.
Why do they hide?
Ugh, I’m not your private teacher okay? Ask someone who cares.
Seems I’ve reached my question quota for the week. Selethain-sama has 「woken up」 several times now, but usually she doesn’t answer my questions. I thought that she said 「… in return I’ll answer your questions…」 earlier, but it’s only been happening when she feels like it AKA— almost never.
Several hours have passed and it’s time for breakfast. Whatever Godric-san had been doing the past several months seems to be over, he’s been at breakfast for more than a week now. After the usual greetings and prayer, everyone is happily eating while Rei’el-san feeds me something like oatmeal and a couple fruit slices.
I haven’t had much meat since I got here, where is everyone getting their protein? The oats? I thought there would be more fish since we’re close to the ocean, but I guess merchants don’t come here to sell often.
I learned this town is called Seastria, but I’m more curious as to the general population. I had assumed it was human because of the ones taking care of me, but Inari-sama had said that she had few human believers, why is that anyways?
I had thought Godric-san was a human too, but now I’m not too sure. I should have asked Selethian-sama if he was an Elf like Rei’el-san.
I’m also interested in how the land is governed. I know there is a human capital in the north, but does that mean that borders are decided based on what races live there? It could also be that it’s a continent-country, but somehow in a fantasy setting all the races getting along seems unlikely. It might also be divided by religions, but do atheists have their own land too then?
As I’m thinking about such things I get carried back to my room by Rei’el-san.
Originally Juna-san fed me and cleaned my clothes, but everyone thinks that I like Rei’el-san the most, so he took over. It might be because whenever Juna-san cleaned my 「pants」 after I, uh… had to go to the bathroom, I made a mortified expression.
I’m sure she didn’t mind, as to her I’m a baby. However it’s incredibly embarrassing to have a young woman changing and cleaning my clothes!
Rei’el-san decides to stay for a while after putting me in my crib again.
Alright kid, this is showbiz— give em’ all ya' got!
I’m flailing my arms and jumping, hoping to get Rei’el-san to notice me.
Oh he’s looking over here.
Shit— what do I do now?
I nod wildly. If I put one arm into the air I’d probably fit in well at a heavy metal concert.
「What’s gotten into you, young one? Do you need to go to the bathroom?」
Rei’el-san looks at me with an uneasy face.
Is that all I am to you Rei’el-san? A chore?
Remember that time I silently listened to your hour-long story about some girl you liked in your village!? It wasn’t nearly as interesting as you thought it was!
He gets up from the chair and walks over to me, picking me up.
Goddamit it… I’m already this old and this is my maximum speech level??
He starts rocking me back and forth slowly in his arms.
Not what I’m looking for Rei’el-san. But I appreciate the slow… rhythmic… zzzz…
Excellent, it’s the middle of the night.
Everything is going according to plan, yep.
Just what I wanted, to sleep more than I already do.
I don’t know much about babies, but don’t I sleep a little too much? I’m only awake for half the day at best…
Maybe there’s some side-effects to Selethain-sama leaching my magic power that I’m unaware of. I’m sure she wouldn’t tell me even if I asked.
I hope I can talk to Rei’el-san soon. I’m not sure if it will bring me any massive benefits, but maybe I can get him to be an impromptu teacher. It’d be great to see if I can write, if not he might show me how.
Alright, let’s do some brainstorming. How can I get Rei’el-san to notice I am not stupi— a baby.
Step one: Get Rei’el-san to look at me.
Easy enough, all I have to do is act like I’m at a rave.
Shit. I haven’t thought this through at all.
How do I bridge the gap between 「Look at the silly baby (lol),」 to 「Hey Rei’el-san, I’m actually an adult, thanks for cleaning my poop!」
Even if I was capable of talking normally, I can imagine a scene where after I tell him about me, he pulls out a sword yelling, 「It’s a demon child! A demon child I say!」
I hope Rei’el-san isn’t that impulsive when the time comes…
Back on topic— what can I use to show intelligence?
I peek through the holes in my crib, but alas, the room is almost entirely empty as usual. What difficulty setting am I on?
Okay, okay— so there’s nothing useable in my immediate area… Just as I’m thinking that, I notice the window.
Since this was a storeroom of sorts before I got here, it wasn’t often cleaned. As such, the window is covered in a light layer of dust. Could I somehow get Rei’el-san to bring me over to that window? If so I may be able to write something on it in the dust with my finger…
The downside is not knowing if I can read or write. I could before though, so I don’t see why that wouldn’t carry over. Either way, it’s a long-shot, but it’s also all I got right now.
It’s that time of day again.
Just after dinner, Rei’el-san has decided to stay in my room for while I 「go to sleep.」
Rather than going to sleep, I need to get him to pick me up without using the sacred and most dangerous 「Slowly Rocking Magic」 to make me fall asleep.
Now, it’s time to dance like someone who just dropped acid for the first time. I actually have no idea what that means but I expect it’s wild.
Rei’el-san has noticed my strange flailing movements and is coming towards my crib with a cautious expression.
「Two days in a row? I wonder if I’m spoiling you…」
I’m not that desperate to be comforted like a baby you know. If only you knew…
As soon as I get picked up I begin pointing to the window desperately. It looks like it’s working, he’s moving in closer…
The window is almost within my grasp—
「Don’t touch that Alastor-san, it’s dirty. What would we do if you were to get sick? Heh, I guess it wouldn’t be a big deal with Juna-san around…」
Then let me touch the window! For fuck’s sake!
「I know you want to go outside, but we can’t. If it’s every so often it’s okay, but Godric-san is still up and I have work to do early in the morning.」
Yeah, this plan was no good huh.
As I’m about to give up…
「I’m tired of watching this.」
Suddenly a slightly cold, female voice comes from somewhere in the room. Or everywhere? It’s hard to tell where it’s coming from.
「What was that? Who’s there!?」
Rei’el-san holds me close to his body and jumps around, looking for the source of the voice that could only be Selethain-sama.
I didn’t know you could talk aloud.
Eh? Why wouldn’t I be able to?
You never did before though…
I never needed to talk to anyone besides you, but it’s annoying to watch you flail around like a drunk. I expect recompense for this by the way, how does a few years of servitude sound?
I wish you’d spare me.
「Settle down Elf-san, I’m not going to harm you. I’m a friend of the boy you’re holding there.」
Rei’el-san looks down at me with a worried expression and tries to open the door, but it won’t budge. He calls out for Godric-san, but somehow I have a feeling that his voice isn’t leaving the room.
「Are all Elves this way? Fleeing at the first sign of danger, what a boring way to live.」
「I won’t let you have the boy! He’s a precious gift from Inari-sama, we’ve been tasked to care for him!」
Selethain-sama bursts into laughter.
「HA! As if I would want to abduct someone that common house fox wants! I perish the thought.」
She’s an 「S」 for sure.
(EDN: S as in Sadist… e.g. enjoys causing pain)
「T-Then what do you want from me..?」
Rei’el-san is visibly scared, I’ll have to apologize about this later.
「Eh? It’s not me, but the boy who wants something. He’s a simpleton— but he was trying to communicate with you by writing on the window just now.」
「C-communicate? But he’s a baby…」
「Even as an Elf, the idea of physical appearance being different from intelligence confuses you?」
「Are you trying to tell me Alastor-san is an Elf as well?」
「This is why I hate talking to mortals. No, he’s not an Elf… He’s a human that’s been reincarnated with his memories, that is to say, he’s around 18 years old.」
Rei’el-san looks down at me with a stunned expression.
「I-Is that true, Alastor-san?」
I nod my head up and down in response.
「Inari-sama… what is this boy?」
Rei’el-san mumbles that to himself as he lets out a huge sigh.
Selethain gives me a short you can handle it from here, I suppose? Before going back to sleep in my shadow. She must be able to use the shadows in the room as a pseudo-body to communicate and interact… it’s actually quite scary. I feel for Rei’el-san.
Rei’el-san puts me down on the desk and sits at the chair so our eyes line up.
「I’m sorry I didn’t notice before, all of us thought it was strange how well behaved you were.」
I swing my head side-to-side as to say, 「It’s not your fault.」
「I wonder if there is something I can do for you… Ah, I should tell Godric-san and Juna-san about this.」
As he begins to get up, I do what babies do best— cry.
Rei’el-san turns on the spot and looks at me again.
「You don’t want me to tell them?」
I stop crying and nod my head.
Even if you ask me why, I can’t respond like that you know?
「Ah… I wonder if there is some way we can talk…」
I point at the window in the room.
「Writing! Of course! You can even write… I have so many questions, let me go get you something to mark with.」
Rei’el-san disappears from the room and returns in a few minutes with a few pieces of parchment and something like a rough pencil.
I put pencil to paper, and find that I am able to write— although I don’t know how. They letters are foreign to me, yet I know what they mean.
I don’t know what the literacy rate is in this world, but I’m thankful that Rei’el-san can read. It would’ve become a small mess if he couldn’t.
And so, the discussion begins.
We stayed up late into the night and early morning talking about various topics. When I had filled up the sheets with scribblings, Rei’el-san would cast magic to remove the ink and I’d continue. 「Because the parchment is made from thin bark that goes through a soaking process, I can 『heal』 it, removing the ink」 he said.
It started off with me under interrogation, answering his questions about who I was, and how I got to where I am. I told him about my arrival in Eldeora, and about my meeting with Selethain-sama and Inari-sama. He was shocked that I had met Inari-sama in person, and that Selethain-sama stuck around by me. I didn’t tell him she was weakened though, just that she wasn’t here to harm anyone.
After explaining my situation and many surprised expressions from Rei’el-san, I began asking him questions as well.
I found out that Godric-san did plan on raising me into the church, following the path that he himself took to gain a position. I learned the note that Inari-sama left only said that I was to be cared for and kept inside, away from danger. I had always thought it was Godric-san who decided that…
After asking a few general questions like that, I asked if there was any books nearby or if he could get some for me. He responded by telling me books were very expensive and rare, and likely the only books in Seastria are copies of some religious texts in the church. He told me he’d get one for me under the pretext that he wanted to study it himself.
It’s unfortunate, but apparently the only big libraries are found in the great schools and some of the larger cities. Even those are only accessible by students or nobles however, very few books are sold in stores.
Rei’el-san looked a little down after telling me about the books, so I asked if he’d be willing to teach me himself. He quickly accepted, although I’m not sure what he can teach me. I thought about asking him to teach me nature magic, but I think it’s too difficult for someone my age, and a teacher is coming when I turn 3 anyways.
I also asked him not to reveal my situation to anyone else, I’m not sure why exactly, but it’s better if I can control who knows just in case.
Anyways, it’s morning now and Rei’el-san has come to bring me to breakfast as usual.
While we’re sitting at the table, he’s obviously nervous about how to interact with me now, and is probably a little anxious about keeping my secret in front of these two.
「Is something wrong Rei’el-san? You look tired this morning?」
「W-wrong, n-no— a bit tired is all.」
「Is that so? Make sure you’re sleeping properly.」
「Ah… o-of course.」
Rei’el-san isn’t a very good liar huh? It’s pretty funny to watch though. I don’t think he would say anything even if Juna-san presses him though.
「Godric-san, is it alright for me to borrow some of the books in you office? I was wanting to study a bit about the church.」
「Books is it? Just make sure you don’t take them out with you, I can’t easily replace them if they get dirty or damaged.」
Rei’el-san looks at me and does a slight smile with subtle wink combo. What an idiot…
「That reminds me, I was able to find a good teacher for Alastor-san when I went into the city a few weeks back.」
「Oh, is that so, Godric-san?」
「Yes, her name is Opella-sensei, she told me she’d be happy to teach him how to read, write, nature magic and basic things about the world.」
「That’s great news, don’t you think Alastor-san?」
Juna-san looks over at me with a smile, and I nod my head a little bit.
「What a smart boy!」
With that, breakfast concludes and Rei’el-san takes me back to my room. He tells me he’ll get a book or two for me, but not until later when he can be around.
I understand he doesn’t want Godric-san or Juna-san to walk in while I’m sitting near an expensive book, but I don’t think they will come anyways…
Several months pass, Rei’el-san has been teaching me steadily about various things related to the church while we read through the books. He doesn’t seem to know too much about the world, although he traveled for a time so he sometimes tells me about the places he’s visited.
I remember seeing a lot of mountains on the map at Eldeora, but according to Rei’el-san it’s no joke. Methendil has a lot of mountainous regions, some of which go into the clouds and spread over several miles. The forests are also vast, several different types exist depending on where you go.
I asked him about how things are governed, but it’s more complex than I thought.
There are several large capitals in Methendil which are usually accepted as the capital of a particular race or race(s). The cities are ruled by kings, and there is a common system of nobles below them.
The part that becomes strange is how the land is distributed. The kings control the capital, and some land around it, nobles control small towns and land plots, but what about the rest of the land? Well, it’s largely unclaimed. Methendil is a massive continent, and a grant for controlling land can be given by any of the kings as long as it’s closer to their territory than another king’s.
Outside of that, there are several peoples who claim their land outside of the general government system, and as long as the population is high enough, it will be recognized by the authorities.
In my old world, unclaimed land was rare, every country wanted to be in control of as much as possible. In the case of this world however, there are many powerful beasts and magic creatures which dwell in the forests and mountains. Nobody wants to make a claim on land that has these creature because the resources required to clear it is a small army. Not only is it time consuming, but if someone is injured in these areas they might file a complaint to whoever owns the land, which makes the owner look bad.
It’s a strange system, but I understand it’s difficult to enforce borders of land that has many dangerous beasts in it.
I asked about the state of relations between races, but Rei’el-san doesn’t know too much about it. He told me that the High Elves don’t like the other elves, and don’t accept entire races as allies under any condition. It seems they are very prideful, and only want individuals that can show their individual value inside their lands.
He also told me that Woodland Elves such as himself tend to keep to themselves inside the forests, and don’t usually participate in global politics or wars.
Outside of that information, he didn’t have much else to say on the topic.
I hope I can keep spending my days like this for a time, learning slowly about the world and what’s in it. Next time I’m going to ask him to tell me about all the races you can run into here.
Time is passing faster now that my days are better filled.
From reading the religious texts, I have learned some of the history of Inari’s church, but it’s pretty dry, typical religious stuff. Many of the books are detailing the proper ways to pray and worship, or codes of moral conduct.
One book however, The Great Church of our Goddess Inari-sama, had several chapters about it’s history. I learned that Inari-sama used to act as the head of the church in a more literal sense, and anyone could ask for an audience with her. The main church is in Nastafahre, the major city not far from here. Maybe I will be able to find her there, but this book is very old so it’s probably not too relevant anymore.
My second birthday is on the horizon, which means only a little more than a year away from getting a magic teacher… I’m really excited for that.
— End of【Chapter 2 – First Contact】—