༺ A Date? ༻
I had unintentionally grown accustomed to enduring.
Continuously training and withstanding the pain as if my muscles were being torn apart.
Taking another step forward even when it felt as if my heart would burst.
Fighting while piling up monster corpses in a war that seemed to have no end.
I had to grit my teeth and bear this past journey.
However, waiting was unfamiliar.
Most people around me didn’t even give me the time to wait, they left my side.
I used the time waiting for someone who wouldn’t come to swing my sword once more.
So to me, patience and waiting had quite different connotations.
Therefore this moment, waiting for Instructor Lirya at the tram stop felt particularly strange to me.
I glanced at the clock in the stop. Although the appointed time had already passed by five minutes, Instructor Lirya was nowhere to be seen.
Could this be what they call being stood up?
But it didn’t seem like Instructor Lirya would do such a thing. After all, she had proposed this meeting from the beginning.
Maybe something happened. I was contemplating whether to continue waiting here or go to the place where I could guess her location when I heard the sound of footsteps approaching the stop.
At first, I didn’t recognize her.
She wasn’t in her usual neat uniform, but a pure white dress, and the hair she always tied up high was let down. It was Instructor Lirya.
Instructor Lirya who dressed differently than usual, shyly smiled at me.
“I’m sorry, Instructor Graham. Have you been waiting long?”
“It’s okay. You didn’t delay much.”
In fact, I had arrived 20 minutes earlier than the agreed time and had been waiting, but that was not a fact worth mentioning. Nevertheless, Instructor Lirya sincerely apologized with her head bowed.
“I’m really sorry. I didn’t realize how time was passing. I was just… choosing my outfit.”
Certainly, Instructor Lirya’s appearance today was quite different from usual. It looked like she had put in a lot of effort. While looking at her, I nodded in agreement.
“You look good.”
“Your outfit today. I didn’t realize that such clothes would suit you.”
Instructor Lirya seemed to not have expected my words. She smiled shyly and brushed her hair back behind her ear. Soon, her gaze turned to my outfit.
“Instructor Graham, you’re in your uniform?”
I didn’t have any other suitable clothes, and there was no reason not to choose my instructor’s uniform. The only clean clothes I had were my instructor’s uniform and military uniform.
For a moment, a fleeting regret passed through Instructor Lirya’s expression. However, she soon replaced it with a bright smile and spoke enthusiastically.
“Instructor Graham, you’re not familiar with our customs, right? Today, I’ll guide you through the festival!”
“Today’s purpose is to repay my debt, so there’s no need for that…”
“No, let’s forget about such rigid things today. Just focus on enjoying the festival with me, okay?”
I had no choice but to nod. If that was Instructor Lirya’s request, I had no reason to refuse.
We took a tram to the natural park in District 10. District 10 consisted of a large green park, and it was a place where the citizens of the academy would enjoy walks or take rest on weekends.
“During the festival, the Märchen Theater Group performs here. They’re a long-established and famous theater group in the academy. Every performance attracts a lot of people, so we have to go now to secure a good spot!”
“Is this your first time hearing about a theater group, Instructor Graham? It’s like a regular play, but with some songs mixed in, it’s really fun!”
“Um, I see.”
Having lived on the battlefield since I was a child, I had never seen a performance, let alone a theater.
Judging by how Instructor Lirya talked about it, the Märchen Theater Group must have been quite famous. District 10 was overflowing with people, right from the entrance of the station. As soon as we got off the tram stop, it was hard to even walk due to the crowd.
Looking at the unexpectedly large crowd, Instructor Lirya’s face colored with surprise.
“Uh, huh? It wasn’t this crowded last year…”
I recalled something I had heard on the radio news yesterday.
The celebration of the 5th anniversary of the victory was said to be the most lavish so far. The parade of the Hero’s Party and the news of the launch of the airship were expected to draw more people than the 1st-anniversary celebration of victory.
As we got closer to the performance venue, the crowd became denser. And just then, the curtain of the stage went up, indicating the beginning of the performance.
The performance was about the Hero of Light and the Seven Heroes.
Seven heroes and seven demon army commanders face off in an intense battle. And in the finale, the Demon King accepts defeat and retreats from human land.
However, to be honest, the content was quite different from the reality.
For instance, in the play, the battle with Kainax, the most powerful of the demon commanders, was depicted as if it was primarily led by the Hero. They even dramatically depicted the scene where the Hero directly defeated Kainax.
I distinctly remember how that guy would make all sorts of excuses and flee whenever Kainax appeared on the battlefield.
The most amusing point was that Malevolent Star appeared as a demon who had turned towards humans. After the war ended with the human’s victory, the scene where he entrusted the peace of the continent to the hero and returned to the demon continent… honestly, it was hard to watch.
Despite that, the songs and the actors’ performances were excellent. Putting the content aside, I could understand why Instructor Lirya liked this theater group, and why so many people gathered to watch this performance.
I turned my head to see how Instructor Lirya was viewing the performance, and immediately felt a pang of pity.
Perhaps due to her short stature, she was trying to watch the performance while hopping like a rabbit among the people. It was a sight pitiful enough to arouse sympathy from anyone.
I thought about letting Instructor Lirya sit on my shoulder to watch the performance, but I felt she might find that even more embarrassing, so in the end, I could only watch her.
“Thank you for watching our performance!”
“That was the Märchen Theater Group!”
As soon as the performance concluded successfully and the curtain call ended, the people who had filled the square scattered with faces full of regret.
As soon as the performance ended, I looked for Instructor Lirya, but I could not see her.
I quickly scanned the area, but her small frame made it difficult to find her.
“Instructor Graham! I’m over here!”
Just then, I heard her voice. When I turned my head, I saw her in the crowd, raising her arm high and waving at me. Her small stature made her struggle against the crowd like a child.
At this rate, she’ll be like this throughout the festival.
I strode through the crowd and approached her. Then, I firmly grabbed her hand.
Instructor Lirya looked at me with a surprised expression as her hand was suddenly grabbed, but she did not pull away.
“Don’t go too far away.”
“Ah, yes, yes….”
“It would be better to hold hands. Otherwise, we might get separated.”
“…Yes. Let’s do that.”
Instructor Lirya bowed her head deeply, her cheeks flushing. Her hair, which was usually tied up, was let down, hanging like a curtain and concealing her face, making it impossible to see her expression.
Walking on the bustling street wasn’t easy, so I held Instructor Lirya’s hand tightly and walked close to her. Throughout the walk, she strangely didn’t say a word.
We were headed to the restaurant that Instructor Lirya had reserved, but when we arrived, an unexpected problem occurred.
“You’re short on ingredients?”
“I’m really sorry, ma’am. We had a problem with our supplier and we can’t operate today. There are just too many people everywhere… We’re trying to find another supplier in the central market, but we’re not sure if we can resume operations today.”
“Oh dear, really….”
“We know you’ve come from far away, and we’re really sorry. However, if you come back next time, we’ll serve you with the best service.”
A promise of that sort held no meaning if the reservation for today was canceled.
Regret, disappointment, and a sense of helplessness crossed Instructor Lirya’s face regarding the situation.
“Hmm, what should we do now…?”
In such a bustling tourist situation, it was impossible to make a reservation at another restaurant. You had to wait in line for at least an hour at any restaurant.
Of course, there would be decent restaurants if we looked, but we had to endure the inconvenience of searching for them. Most importantly, I was here to return a favor to Instructor Lirya and I didn’t want to serve just any food.
“Could you wait for a moment?”
“Do you have some sort of plan?”
Instead of responding, I pulled out a communicator from my pocket. It was a device that Sylvia had given me for communication in case of urgency.
As soon as I connected to the magic circuit, Sylvia immediately responded.
-Oh my, who is this? My dear, did you suddenly miss my voice?
At the sound of the woman’s voice coming from the communicator, Instructor Lirya’s shoulders twitched slightly. I couldn’t understand why she was reacting that way.
But for now, the conversation with Sylvia was my priority.
“Sylvia. I need your help.”
-Huh? What’s up? Should I reserve a VIP room for you right now?
Ignoring Sylvia’s playful words, I briefly explained the situation. That we were unable to use the restaurant we had booked due to a problem there. Even though I omitted the details, Sylvia’s voice tone suddenly increased, revealing a strong curiosity.
-What, what? You’re not… are you on a date with a girl right now!?
I let out a short sigh.
“No, it’s not like that.”
“Hehe, got it. You know I’m quick-witted. I won’t bother you unnecessarily. Just wait a bit.”
As much as I wanted to refute, I desperately needed Sylvia’s help at the moment.
After a brief silence, Sylvia’s voice came straight from the communicator.
-Okay! I’ve sorted it out. You can go to Himel Garden in District 4. I’ve booked it under your name, so there should be no problem.
“District 4? Wait, that’s too…”
Just as I was about to say that it was too much, Sylvia left her words and cut the communication.
-Finally, is spring coming for our dear too? Hehe. Have a good date.
The communicator was no longer responsive.
Instructor Lirya and I exchanged somewhat awkward glances with each other.
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