༺ Decision to Leave ༻
So many things happened in such a short time.
I rescued Elizabeth amidst the crash of the airship, and at the Imperial Palace ballroom, dark mana almost ran rampant.
And I met Charlotte, and just moments ago, I received the hard-to-believe news that Ella might still be alive.
All these events took place within 24 hours, if measured by time.
I boarded the tram heading to the academy. The landscape of the city flowed by outside the tram window.
My body incessantly shook along with the rattling tram.
My mind was in a whirl.
The words left by Ruellyn kept circling in my head.
What exactly did I want to do by finding Ella in the first place?
Did I want to erase the helplessness of my childhood?
Did I want to hear directly why she left me?
Did I want to apologize because of the guilt of not being able to protect Ella?
I wasn’t sure yet.
If I met Ella in person, I thought I could make a decision then.
Ruellyn said the next few months would be okay, but I couldn’t rest easy just believing that.
Ruellyn’s skills are definite, but the skills of the undead corps commander are by no means inferior. After all, isn’t the battlefield where plans and assurances most often go astray?
Speaking from my experience of spending more than a decade there, someone else’s guarantee is usually not something you can trust. I’ll take his advice into consideration, but it’s just a reference.
The Kingdom of Ionia is a quarter the size of the Galatea Empire in terms of territory. Even so, it is by no means a size that a person can travel around alone.
My first plan was to start searching at the Ionia Royal Palace in the capital city of Karia, but if Ella wasn’t there, I might end up combing through the whole country.
Besides, the land of Ionia was now a den of the undead. Even if I were to tour peacefully, it would take a long time, but how much time would it take to trace Ella’s whereabouts while fighting endlessly incoming undead?
Even doing just that, the few months that Ruellyn mentioned might pass in the blink of an eye.
That was the reason I decided to go to the academy first. If I just left to find Ella without saying a word, I would inconvenience Dean Heinkel, so I would have to stop by the academy at least once to explain the situation and take a leave of absence.
Once I leave, there is no promise of when I can return, so I might have to quit my instructor position altogether.
Even if I leave, I should at least say goodbye to Instructor Lirya and the students.
Perhaps I was too lost in thought. By the time I came to my senses, the tram had already arrived at the academy station.
It had only been a day, but the dormitory building felt oddly long-time-no-see.
As soon as I opened the main gate and entered the dormitory, I saw Batar right away.
“Uh? Instructor Eon.”
For some reason, Batar was half-naked, and a hot heat was rising from his body.
I was speechless for a moment, then nervously opened my mouth.
“…Why are you doing that there?”
“Hmm? Well, I was running just now. The training ground here is as good for running as the plains back home.”
Thanks to his overwhelming visual, my judgment was momentarily delayed, but clearly, Batar was wet with sweat as if he had just finished exercising.
I asked with a perplexed expression.
“I’ve wanted to ask this for a while, but why do you always take off your clothes when you exercise?”
“Haha! Isn’t it obvious? The warriors of the plains don’t wear armor when they fight. And training should always be conducted as if it’s real.”
Well, a shirt wouldn’t normally be called armor….
However, as an instructor, I suppose I should appreciate his diligence in training, even on a day off?
“…Well, anyway, good job. Did you run alone? Where are the other students?”
“Hmm, let’s see. The elf and the kid went downtown to buy stuff, the blackie is in the recreation room, and snake eyes have been holed up in his room since last night. I’m not sure about the rest. They seem to have not come back yet.”
I was momentarily dizzy from the stream of racially charged remarks spewing from Batar’s mouth.
‘Elf’ and ‘kid’ must be referring to Titania and Oznia, and ‘blackie’ and ‘snake eyes’ to Saladin and Elizabeth?
I let out a short sigh.
“…I won’t interfere with what the students call each other, but how about using their names in moderation. And blackie? Your skin color isn’t that different from Saladin’s.”
Saladin, a desert tribesman, had dark brown skin rather than black. Batar, from the grasslands, was similar.
Batar chuckled and said,
“I only remember the names of warriors I deem worthy. Otherwise, it’s just ‘kid’, ‘elf’, and ‘snake eyes’. And about the ‘blackie’, he was born with that skin color, but mine is healthily tanned under the mother sky’s sunlight. There’s quite a difference.”
I couldn’t understand him at all. I hadn’t realized Batar’s personality was this self-focused.
Then again, unlike the other students, I rarely had a chance to talk with Batar. Not only had he not caused any noticeable problems, he had never asked for my help.
The plains tribes mature quickly. It’s not just physical growth, they bear the responsibilities of a warrior from a young age, which inevitably leads to faster mental growth.
Unlike the empire, where one is recognized as an adult at 18, the plains tribes are considered warriors at 13 and start families around 15, and by 18, they already have children….
Does Batar have children?
I didn’t know.
If I quit my instructor position, I won’t have the opportunity to know in the future.
The time I spent with the students was just about a month, but our relationship as instructor and students would no longer continue.
There wouldn’t be days like today when I’d learn more about them.
Thinking about it made me feel heavier in my heart.
Suddenly, Batar asked in a serious tone.
“Are you leaving this place?”
It was a sudden and sharp question.
“…Why would you think that?”
In response to my question, Batar began to talk about something else.
“The plains are abundant, but they can’t feed everyone. Not every tribesman is a warrior, but old warriors usually can’t contribute to the tribe. They don’t know how to make food or weapons and just waste food every day.”
Batar’s expression darkened momentarily. It was as if he was recalling unpleasant memories.
“…So, old warriors leave on their own. Before they’re expelled from the tribe, before they become too old to hold a weapon. They seek a glorious death by attacking the strongest monster they know, and thus they meet the end of their lives.”
Batar spat out the words indifferently.
“That’s the look you have right now, the look of a warrior who’s decided to leave.”
A voice full of certainty. I intuitively felt that it was pointless to try and hide it.
I nodded heavily.
“Yeah. I’m leaving soon.”
“Hmm, I see….”
Batar sighed, seeming a bit regretful, and wet his lips.
“I felt like I was starting to learn something, but it can’t be helped. Wherever you go, I hope you have fair winds.”
Batar smiled a mischievous smile as he spoke.
“It’s a greeting of the plains. I want to wash up now, so I’ll go ahead.”
He turned his back to me, waved his hand, and went up to his room.
Perhaps that was his way of saying goodbye. I’d never heard of the phrase ‘fair winds’ being used in a farewell before, but somehow it seemed to capture the freedom of those living on the plains.
I couldn’t just stand at the entrance forever, so I went up to my room as well.
It was a bit late to visit the Dean’s office. I planned to go there early the next morning, but it seemed odd to leave the rest of the day unoccupied.
I looked around my room slowly.
Over the course of a month, I’d accumulated a few personal items. Most of them were destined for the trash since I didn’t plan to take anything with me, but it seemed best to sort them out in advance.
I took out a box and put all the items from the room into it. Most were textbooks for class, with the only other items being a spare set of instructor’s clothes.
Since I didn’t have many belongings, cleaning up didn’t take long. When I was almost done, the already sparse room seemed even more barren.
I could just throw away this box when I left.
Then, I heard footsteps from outside the door.
The owner of the footsteps hesitated for a moment before knocking on the door with a brief pause.
“Instructor Eon, may I come in for a moment?”
It was Elizabeth’s voice.
I knew it was her from the sound of her footsteps, so I wasn’t surprised. But I was momentarily uncertain about what to do.
Last night, I had lost my temper and done something I shouldn’t have done to a student.
Looking back on it now, it was immature. Releasing an earnest desire to kill was not much different from attacking with a sword. I had to admit that.
Even though it might be awkward to see each other, the student had mustered the courage to come and see me first. Turning her away at the door would be wrong, both as an instructor and as an adult.
“Thank you, Instructor.”
Elizabeth carefully opened the door and entered.
Unlike the night marked by confusion and fear, she now seemed to have regained her usual composure and calmness.
However, her attitude was much more cautious than before. I couldn’t yet discern what intentions she was harboring.
“Instructor, about what happened last night-“
Just as Elizabeth politely began to speak, her eyes caught sight of the sparse interior of the room and the box filled with items.
A brief silence followed.
Elizabeth asked in a voice mixed with confusion and surprise.
“Instructor…? What’s with the luggage…?”
I had no intention of hiding it when I decided to let her into the room.
“I’m planning to leave the academy soon.”
Elizabeth’s eyes quivered slightly.
Hi guys, author still hasn’t returned.
I will start unlocking the chapters with time.