Inside the carriage, the harbor view springs up. The glass and the wall of the carriage that should’ve separated us from the outside world, fails to do so as the liveliness and chatter resound within.
Time flies as fast as the flocks of seagulls flying around in this perfect weather with clear blue sky.
It feels as though it was yesterday when I held Shen, idling away in the palace, and learned of her sorrow and solitude. But in a flash, days have passed by and the inevitable voyage has come.
And now mother is here to accompany me on my departure, even though it is clearly unnecessary.
「 Sweetie, are you mad at me? 」Mother asks, giving me her usual reassuring, but deeply guilt ridden smile.
「 No, I am not. What is it? 」I say, realizing that I fail to hide my annoyance.
「 Then why are you not saying anything? 」
「 Nothing, mother. I’m just… nervous. 」
「 Nervous to leave your lover behind? 」She asks, letting out a wide smile.
「 M-mother! 」I shout in protest. Before I know it, my cheeks are burning. Hopefully that doesn’t show…
「 Hmph! 」She mildly protests back with a puffed cheek,「 you should be thankful to your mother that I teach your innocent dragonkin lover the art of making love. She even told me you never make a move on her. Oh… poor girl to have fallen in love with my dense, idiotic son. 」
「 Yes, yes yes… I’m the fool who somehow got a beautiful girl to fall in love with me, 」I forcefully let out a light laugh,「 what did you talk about with Shen, anyway? 」
「 Ara-ara~ you should never pry into a woman’s secret and conversation, Renald. You might be a grown up man now, but you are still as clueless as the childish boy that I knew of. 」
Well, how am I supposed to know the intricacies of women, mother?
The carriage stops, a slight knock on the carriage’s door telling me that the helmsman has jumped off and will open the door in a moment. I look out the window and indeed we are already in the spot with multiple ships and decks.
The door opens and I swiftly get out of the carriage, the helmsman passes me my luggage, where I continue to carry them.
「 Hurry now, sweety. 」Mother hops out of the carriage, surprisingly,「 Your new life awaits. Mother will accompany you to the ship at the very least. 」
「 Mother. 」I say seriously,「 You know you can’t stay here for much longer. Father is waiting for you to come back and join the rest of the family on a trip going back to the Alderhide territory. 」
「 S-sweetie… 」mother looking nervous,「 A minute or two is fine. Wh-what if you got lost in the harbor? What if you got the wrong person? I must accompany you. 」
I hold her hand that I notice to be shaking. Of course, she would. Her only son is going to a foreign place, very far away.
「 Mother… I will be fine. 」I say affectionately and calmly, trying to assure and comfort her.「 You can’t make father wait for much longer. Who knows what he’s up to. You belong with father. And I will make do by myself just fine. 」
She holds my hand tighter as she forces a wide smile.
「 My little boy has grown up to be a fine man huh… I know this time will come sooner or later but I’ve never thought it will be in this way… 」
She pulls me into a tight embrace. My hand that holds my luggage is let go as I return the favor and hold my arm around her.
Feeling her warmth that contrasts from her peaceful blue hair as if it’s the flame I’ll ever need to remain cosy for life.
Is this… Is this the feeling of having a genuine loving mother? To think I would only realize this now…
「 Alright… I love you, my sweet boy. Promise me you will be back safe and sound. 」
「 I promise, mother. 」
She let go of the hug and with her face facing me, let out a wide smile once more. It should be a happy one for sure, but the emotion of sadness is clearly noticeable and can’t be hidden away.
「 I know I haven’t always been a good mother to you. I know something must have happened to you lately and in the past that you don’t want to tell me about. 」
How… How did she know? Is she talking about that time because of Hyledd?
「 A mother can sense these things, 」she says with a sad smile.「 Maybe you don’t trust me with the truth, but whatever the case it may be, I want you to know that I love you, and that I will always be here when you want to come home. 」
She goes back to the carriage, with steps that I notice to be taken quite hesitant.
I’m the one who hasn’t always been a good son to you… mother. But I can’t say that out loud.
Dammit what would a loving son say to a mother…?
「 I… I love you, mother! 」I shout as loud as I can, hoping that my very late farewell words reach her.
No voice comes from her and her lips doesn’t budge but she waves back with more enthusiasm, the glass window carriage doesn’t obscure her eyes that are now sparkling.
The horse neighs as the carriage starts moving. The carriage moves to the middle of the swarm filled with other carriages and pedestrians, where I see a glimpse of mother crying…
I want to run, catch up to the carriage, and try to comfort mother. But it’s too late. The carriage already engulfed itself in the crowd in the street.
Even in our farewell meeting she had to cry…
Shen’s love might be uncertain and fleeting. But my mother’s love towards me is as certain and as strong as the brightest diamond.
By the time I come home to the Veinard kingdom and meet with my mother once more, I must be a person that is worthy to be her son. A successful man and one that she won’t be ashamed of. Just like what I did in my past life.
I must make her happy and never make her cry again…
With the carriage nowhere in sight, I carry my large luggage and start wandering around the harbor like a drunken lost sailor. I’m a complete idiot to have forgotten to ask at which specific location do I meet with the merchant.
I try myself to stop dwelling on mother and focus on the present matter. On the bright side of it, at least this lonely moment gives me time to enjoy this one-of-a-kind harbor.
Usually harbor docks are made of wood, but everything here is made entirely with pristine grey stone, showcasing just how prosperous the sea trade route is.
The harbor is very much alive with rowdyness of the sailors passing by and diverse merchants conversing with their cargo goods on deck. Colorful banners of different kingdoms on each of the ships on display.
Then as I walk I stumble upon a decently sized magnificent ship that draws me in. There are much larger ships than this, but the decorations ooze out something that make me take notice.
「 Quite a beauty, isn’t she? 」
The voice lightly startles me, I look at the direction of the voice. A middle-aged man, with blonde hair. The outfit the man’s wearing on a glance might seem to be modest with its lacking decoration but it is dyed in dark blue, one of the most expensive color dyes. Usually reserved only for the nobility.
The man also wears a tricorn hat, which might’ve indicated he’s the captain of this ship.
「 She’s a beautiful fifty meters, three-masted, ocean-going sailing ship, capable of carrying up-to six hundred tons of cargo. 」He says looking lovingly to what seems to be his own ship,「 Layered in some manaritium in it’s hull and keel with the latest invention of the《Associations of Magicians》《School of Enchantment Magic》department to provide protection and faster speed. It’s figurehead, a golden roaring lion to symbolize the great pride of our Veinard kingdom. 」
「 I am Aston Marcht. Judging from your demeanor, may I assume the young gentleman is the《Veinard Trading Guild》official who’s to accompany me to Kasanra? 」
「 Ah, that’s right, 」I show him the guild’s insignia and give him the letter 「 this is the letter from Dorlad. 」I add.
「 Indeed… 」He opens and proceeds to skim the letter.「 From the famous Dorlad himself – the right-hand of the《Veinard Trading Guild》guildmaster. 」
He stops reading the letter and faces back to me again, with a warm smile.
「 Welcome aboard, young gentlemen, Sir Renald Alderhide. I’m delighted to be your acquaintance. 」He offers his hand and I return the favor by giving a firm handshake.
「 You’ve come just in time, 」he continues,「 in a few minutes the ship is ready to set sail. Is your luggages with you? 」
「 Just the one in my hand thankfully. I carried not too much since I don’t want to burden your ship and men too much. 」
「 My… 」He looks slightly down at the luggage in my hand,「 where’s your servant? Why are you carrying your own luggage? Aren’t you of a noble blood? This won’t do… Edrington! Bring our guest luggage to our finest quarter. 」
A man hurriedly comes in front of us, wearing the classic striped blue shirt that screams sailor identity.
「 Aye aye, sir. 」
He offers me a hand, presumably for the luggage I have in hand. I hand the sailor the luggage, which he immediately takes into the ship.
「 Renald! There you are! 」
I look towards the shout that calls my name.
「 Elras? Aaron? 」
「 What were you thinking… Seriously, Renald. You think just sending us farewell letters is fine? 」
Elras and Aaron unknowingly come to me. Aaron looking pleasantly surprised while Elras looks obviously annoyed with his usual narrowed eyebrows.
How did they come here? When I didn’t even know what ship I specifically needed to go to? They even brought their servants from the looks of it.
「 Well, I assume all of you will be busy with your other duties as our education is finally over. 」I add, trying to reason with them as well as to myself.
「 That may be so, Renald. 」Elras replies,「 but nevertheless you are our cherished friend, and it saddens me that you will have to travel far away to the land of Canids, while I’m going to be stuck in my fief dealing with those damn elves. 」
The butler behind Elras steps forward and elegantly brings a wooden case up to his chest, where he opens it slowly to reveal the item inside.
A sheathed sword in its black and white sheathe with gold decorations.
This sword is quite similar to Elras’s sword… Wait, don’t tell me.
「 Isn’t this your sword, Elras? 」
On closer inspection, this is exactly his sword, minus the Reinhardt emblem of two eagles head, replaced with a normal ball-like shape at the pommel of the sword. I slowly take it out from the case and I unsheathe the sword. The blade gleams brightly, as well as the unique and far more complex manaritium runes. Oiled and sharpened, to the point of being almost new.
The magic runes, if I remember correctly, act as a mana storage and amplifier. Allowing the wearer to cast more spells as well as more intensive spells. Not only that, the mana runes act as burning coal, for the damage it inflicts leaves burns marks and flesh turns to ashes. And it swings leaves a trail of blue fire.
Truly befits a noble magic swordsman.
「 Yes. You deserve a far better sword than that “bastard” sword. Given more time, I would’ve commissioned the finest sword from one of the best Reinhardt blacksmiths, but this sword will do just fine for you. 」
Sword symbolizes one’s authority. A noble’s weapon. An expansive and versatile weapon that sets them apart from the commoner’s weapon, the spear.
The sword doesn’t have the Reinhardt emblem anymore thankfully, but this is still a serious matter.
For Elras giving me his sword is the same as him giving me his core identity and a bestowment of deep respect.
「 But this is your personal sword, Elras… I can’t take it… You won’t have a sword anymore then. 」
「 If there’s one thing that you should’ve learned other than that《School of Wits Magic》of yours, it should’ve been the noble society. The Reinhardt family prides itself with its legendary weapon. It was made by Reinhardt’s first founding father. Reinhardt broadsword. Layered almost entirely in manaritium. Unbreakable and Supreme. Revered to only the successor of the Reinhardt family. And I will receive the honor to call it my own soon. 」
「 W-wait… does that mean?! 」
「 Yes. 」Elras smiles visibly becoming wider,「 The next time we meet, you will have to call me, the Marquis of Reinhardt. 」
「 I… I don’t know what to say… Congratulations! And… and thank you for the gift… 」
He turns to the ocean, an unusual melancholic air engulfing him.「 So this is it, huh? Where we’ll part ways. 」
I want to respond to him, but before I can figure out what to say, his face contorts into a cocky grin.「 Hopefully you won’t be a virgin the next time we meet up. Heard those Canids have mating heat cycles. 」
He pats me on the back, then makes way for Aaron who holds a box of his own and is currently shaking his head at Elras’ comment.
「 I also have a farewell gift, my dear friend. I hope you receive it well, as I’m sure you will need this more than I in your adventure. 」
Inside the mahogany box, is a heavily decorated potion, with the very distinctive enneagram stars that symbolizes the Goddess Maria religion at the cap of the potion. Inside the clear glass, is a very bright red liquid, it might even very well be almost pink with how bright it is.
Red means it’s a vitality potion, but I’ve never seen this kind of red before.
「 Aren’t you also being too generous, Aaron? 」Elras taunts, letting out a presumptuous grin,「 giving him the《Elixir of Life》a legendary vitality potion. Rumored to be ten times more effective than a normal potion and can cure almost any disease. Reserved for the pious priest who devoutly follows the Goddess Maria words. 」
「 Forgive my prudence, Elras, but for once you could’ve just shut your lips. 」Aaron says sternly,「 Look at him. Now he will be burdened to receive my meager farewell gift. 」
What’s up with them? Why are they all showering me with extravagant and priced items? We are friends, but nonetheless it’s not something so significant. A friendship forged only by circumstances and coincidence.
「 Does this mean you’ve officially become a priest? 」I ask, hoping to slightly convert the conversation.
「 Yes, I’ve officially become a priest, the devout follower of Goddess Maria. This potion will be in better use for you in travelling in unknown areas than a priest who would be stuck in the cathedral headquarters for what is most likely for my entire lifetime. 」
「 I know… But still- 」
「 Ahem… 」Aston draws our attention. Stopping our conversation.
「 I’m sorry to disturb the gentleman’s talk, but my ship is ready to go and is waiting for Sir Renald Alderhide to go onboard. And I’m also sorry to say but I can’t delay much longer. As you know for merchants time is money and time is at the essence. 」
Aston politely adds, a tinge of suppressed hurriness is noticeable from his tone, however.
「 Well? What are you waiting for? Take my gift as well. You can’t delay much longer. If you feel burdened make sure to bring back exotic gifts from there. I heard their herbs are potent and teas a delicacy. 」
Feeling cornered from both sides, I reluctantly accept Aaron’s gift as well. While making a mental note to bring back gifts to both Aaron and Elras. As being in debt too much is rather a bad thing.
「 Elras. Aaron. 」I look at them,「 Thank you… All of you. For the useful gifts. I will treat it well and I hope that we will meet again one day. 」
「 You’re a genius, so don’t let random idiots step on you! 」
「 Return back safely, my dear friend. With honor and glory. 」
As the sailors around us turn busy to prepare for departure, the two take a few steps back to avoid being in the way and I climb the ramp that leads up to deck. When I turn around, they’re already gone from the pier.
And the ship sets sail, to Kasanra.