(Translator’s Note: This author and his weird way of writing will be the death of me.)
It happened 5 years ago, just as the first cold streak hit one winter’s night.
[Damn, the concept of work should just disappear from this world. Ah~~~ I don’t want to work~~~. Generally speaking, why is that you can’t get money if you don’t work. Isn’t that strange? There is something wrong with the world. A revolution is necessary. I won’t do it, but can someone do it for me, please?] Granite
This is how I spent my days grumbling away, at this time I was 27 years old and still an active alchemist. Here I am on the very outskirts of the capital, in a place commonly known as the slum district. I am creeping along like some sort of burglar.
–No, even if I say I look like a burglar from someone else’s perspective I probably look like some sort of “evil magician”, “black market dealer”, or “an alchemist that has used the taboo arts”.
A black cloak and hood completely covered my body, and in one hand I held an alchemy staff that was decorated with a skull…is what I wanted the rod I had to look like. Well the additions to that staff were difficult…. I remember it took almost three days.
As I was heading to a place that is far away from the main district of the capital, consequently the number of street lights gradually deceased. Even the stars were hidden behind thick clouds in the sky and the moon itself was hidden.
Now large snowflakes that showed no sign of sticking began to fall, a cold wind passed through the narrow street causing me to shake uncontrollably.
The only sound that could be heard, beside the wind, was the creaking of the gradually dirty worn-down roofs of the surrounding buildings. Even before I reached the slum district, where the lowest in the caste system lives in an area that has had development stopped, a depressing atmosphere surrounded the area.
As my surroundings gave off the feeling as if monsters had invaded, at that time I, who already couldn’t freely move due to the cold, found my body began to stiffen.
A handy self-protection tool used by alchemists, it can release the energy of a single action that has been put inside of it beforehand.
The output can be greatly affected but the creator’s skill and finances used. It is superior against magician in terms of invocation speed and is superior to melee fighters in terms of reach. I should have saved after abstaining from drinking for a month. It’s better to make a proper staff then just having some knockoff by my side, as I do now.
Without thinking I admitted to my own laziness in an instance, even such a simple action was out of the norm for me. This is the second time tonight this has happened, and I haven’t even reached the slum district yet.
[Still,…maybe I should come back another day… It’s cold…and creepy… It might be smart for me to strategically retreat from here…Right? No, I can’t. Knowing me, if I leave now I’ll never come back to a place like this. I must find a someone here who no one will miss, a person that will be my meal ticket… The deadbeat comfortable lifestyle of my dreams is within my grasp…!] Granite
Of course, after 5 years have passed and with everything that has happened until now, looking back my “good plan” seems more of a “shit plan”; yet my past self still clung to that plan. As I hurriedly moved forward into the dark streets I looked like a creepy army alchemist who mass produces homunculus.
(TL Note: Shou Tucker from full metal alchemist, creepy as hell. Never forget Nina and her big dog…)
—Also, I have to finish this tonight.
My past self muttered this.
Tonight, the guards in charge of patrolling the capitol will be stationed at more important areas this evening.
Tonight, is the festival celebrating the princess turning 10 years old. The fact that her body is weak is widely known through the town. Among the merchants that I often deal with as an alchemist, those parasite pieces of garbage secretly bet every year whether the princess will celebrate “another” birthday or not, what a tragic princess.
Every year on the princess’s birthday, the royal family takes a large amount of finances from the treasury and celebrates in a grandiose manner.
Of course, for the peasants, it doesn’t matter if the princess is awake or in a coma.
The populace of the capitol is doing nothing but enjoying the grand festival and drinking all night long.
So, the guards who defend the peace of the capitol will be patrolling the important areas of the capitol that are more likely to have incidents occur.
….In addition to that, the people who live in the slum district don’t even have the money to enjoy the festival, so all of this has nothing to do with them.
By the way, even though I might be a bit better off, even if it tried to play it cool and say, “I don’t carry spending money” is my motto; I’m still living day by day. I am in no place to talk about other people…
As I stared at my current surroundings with a sense of fear, I stiffened my body against the cold and such sad thoughts ran through my head as I continued forward.
—Then I finally set foot in the slum district.
If I were to sum up the slum district in a couple of words, it would be a garbage dump.
Compared to the previous district I was in when I was worrying about my safety, at least people still lived there so it was a much more luxurious place compared to the slums. This is what I thought.
As a rotten smell rose to my nose, I noticed the remains of excrement around the area.
Despite this there wasn’t any garbage to be found on the twisting roads that make up the slum district, and not even a single blade of grass could be found growing on the street. As I took one more look around, if you could ignore the stench and the contents of the gutters you would think this was a properly maintained area
I could sparsely see abandoned buildings even in this darkness. There were structures made of only pillars and walls that couldn’t be called abandoned buildings littered around area, like gravestones.
I’m sure the inside of these structures did not have what would normally be considered a room.
Because of this a crying voice carried by the wind could be heard, a voice that was filled with resentment and sadness.
—As the cowardly I arrived at this place, I finally realized just how foolish my thoughts had been and feelings of guilt washed over me. Also, I started to feel afraid as if I had stepped into some magical territory full of monsters.
Even though I am a plain mediocre alchemist, no matter what I am still an alchemist.
That means in short, based on the world’s hierarchy I fall into the lower stratum of the intellectual class.
Then as far as I know the country I was born in has a affluential good government compared to our surrounding countries.
There is war. And my country does fight often.
Our country’s army is powerful, and we rarely lose any conflicts.
Even though there is some government propaganda, I am aware of it. That’s why I didn’t think that there would be such a dark side to the country here in the very center of the country, the capital, and not somewhere in a faraway town.
The reason for my mediocrity is not just my personality, but my lack of imagination can also be noted as being at fault.
I just particularly don’t want to work. I don’t feel bothered thinking this way. And I think that’s that.
But even with that, I am not sure what I am trying to do now will pay out in the long run. This is what I started to think.
Setting several steps into the slum district, after uncharacteristically seriously thinking; I regrettably arrived at a conclusion.
This is a bad habit of mine. I am normally very selfish but when it comes down to the wire, I am a coward.
Ahh, I should have had a stiff drink before coming here, this is so lame.
[…I should head home.] Granite
I nodded to myself starting to head in the opposite way and go back home to my stuffy workshop.
—Then, I had a stroke of luck, is what I could say.
As I was about to abandon my nice idea and head home, I heard a small voice that was like a gospel to my ears.
It was a person, and most likely a child.
And a coughing sound could be heard.
It was close, down this alleyway that is 70 cenmeterus (centimeters) wide.
After hearing that sound, I quickly had a change of heart, and the conclusion I came to earlier was forgotten as I calmed down.
[Are you serious..? Is this the heavens telling me to go through with my nice idea? Well let’s not worry about logic and the small details. Yeah. Those are the worries of important nobles who are involved with the politics of this country. Haha, just a little more until my deadbeat dream lifestyle is within reach.]
As I was smiling while in high spirits, I hurriedly made my way through the streets….then I came to my senses.
Wait?… Kids for the slums are known for being greedy…. I’m not going to get beaten up and stripped of all my belongings, will I?
That is troubling. A refined alchemist such as my self is not suited for such violence.
Well in case of such an event I went to the trouble of preparing my bluff of an alchemy staff and black robe.
I massaged my hands that had gone numb from the cold before I entered the alley. Last night I had practiced how to make a scary face and I grumbled to myself as I read a magic tome of curses; I thought of some intimidating phrases and repeated them in my head.
Then after a while after I decided I was fully prepared, I made my way to the direction where the voice had come from, all while shaking on the inside.
Now will an ogre or a basilisk come out. Even though I was over-exaggerating as I thought this, I continued forward.
(TL Note: This is Japanese saying that originally goes, will a demon or a snake come out? It means you never know what will happen.)
After sluggishly going about 10+ meterus (meters) I found a young child shaking wearing in worn-out clothes that made a prisoner’s uniform look good and had wrapped themselves in a blanket that was as dirty as a cleaning rag.
Just then at that moment, the thick clouds had cleared, and the pair of white and blue moons showed up directly above the alleyway.
In that cold moonlight, as if from a scene in a play the alleyway was brightly lit up.
The child there heard my footsteps and raised their dirt covered face. There all I saw was a pair of desolate green eyes staring at me.
——Before I could even think how sad this child was, I shook in fear.
Those eyes were as deep as a bottomless pit.
Overcoming all of the fake bravado and bluffs I had prepared, there that child was truly disturbing.
A demon or evil ghost would surely retreat in front of this child.
I thought such idiotic ideas where nothing but an undeniable truth at that time.
I was so scared that I didn’t know what I was afraid of and as I was absorbed in these feelings the lines I had practiced in my head flowed from my mouth.
[—— To you, o’ young child that has been completely abandoned by this world. To you, o’ lost child who no one ones how many more nights more you will see. Take my hand. Offer me your body and become of use to me. —— If you do this, I shall offer you modest salvation.] Granite
And unexpectedly, I repeated the lines I took from an old demon contract. While illuminated in moonlight, I stretched out my hand while the child slightly widened their eyes.
The child showed no other emotions and just stared at me with a blank expression.
The child in front of my eyes slowly stood up and took my hand.
The child’s hand was cold due to the temperature outside.
But that hand that was still warmer then the outside temperature, belonged to just a child and not some sort of demon. As my past self finally acknowledged the person in front of me as just a child, I was relieved.
This was the moment that I, Granite Range, and the girl who still had no name, Shalltear Range, met.
—— It was at this time that while feeling relieved I, who is usually careless, forgot something important.
What expression did I have when I first confronted her?
On top of that, what lines did I use to persuade her?
Then finally, How did I look in her eyes at that moment?
—— Because of this, even though Shar never showed this in her expressions, I made her come to a great resolution.