Dawn of the New World Short Story: In the Middle of a Dreamby Takumi Miyajima
When Richter Abend removed his glasses, he rubbed around his eyes and let out a sigh. It was strenuous work to read the letters under the dim lighting. That was likely why his eyes were straining. But the contents of the old literature could not be exposed to sunlight.
“Richter, how about a break?”
Aster Laker, who sat across from him, abruptly raised his head and place the old book in his hand on the desk.
“Give me some time; I want to read something more carefully.”
Aster scowled at Richter’s answer.
“If you’re gonna say it like that, you’ll always be standing there. Humans, on the other hand, can’t concentrate for a very long time.”
“That may be true for humans, but half-elves—”
“You are a half-elf, and I am a human. I’m only asking for your sympathy.”
“You can rest if you like. Just be silent.”
“Let’s do it together, or it’ll be boring!” Aster shook his chair in a childish manner. “Richter, come on!”
“Stop. You’ll drive me mad.”
“Really? That’s terrible! You need to rest so you can pull yourself together, right?”
With a smile, Aster leapt out of his chair and grabbed Richter’s arm. At this point, Aster could no longer be opposed. It irritated Richter, but his human friend knew how to manipulate him.
“At any rate, let’s get some fresh air. The garden’s benches are a great place around this time!”
With another sigh, Richter put his glasses on again.
“Fine. We’ll go, then. But only for a short while.”
“Great! While we’re at it, let’s get some donuts from the cafeteria!”
When Richter gave a cold stare, Aster shrugged his shoulders.
“Alriiight, I got it. So no donuts?”
“If you want to eat, get the food yourself.”
“Fine, don’t be so stingy!”
Before Richter could glare at Aster once more, the latter immediately left the room, and the former’s gaze followed him out and above the door.
Behind the Imperial Research Academy was a garden. Aster ran towards a bench that stood in a corner.
“According to myself, Aster Laker, this is the most comfortable spot! It’s the best for naps, too!”
Aster seated himself on the bench and stretched out his limbs. Richter reluctantly sat beside him.
With the strange weather conditions, people all over the world were leading more difficult lives than ever. And the one who could solve this, Richter and Aster surmised, was the Summon Spirit Ratatosk. But before they can conduct field work on Ratatosk, they must first verify that he exists. The literature they were studying earlier made the task only more daunting. And each moment they spend on that literature is another towards the world’s destruction. To Richter, breaks would make them all the more guilty.
“Why’re you still edgy?” Aster looked at him with gleaming eyes.
“I’m not edgy.”
“Stop kidding around. You’ve always got a sour look on your face, but your brows are digging a bit deeper this time.”
Richter scowled at Aster almost reflexively, who returned it with a composed face and his tongue sticking out. “See? You’re all wound up.”
“That’s because someone’s pissing me off!”
“And that someone is Ratatosk, right?”
Tackled at a weak point, Richter could not speak. With a distant look, Aster grasped the amulet that hung about his chest. It was a habit he formed when he was preoccupied with his thoughts. “There’s really no trace of a Summon Spirit named Ratatosk.”
The sound of metal clattering. Aster pouted his lips as his fingertips continued to fiddle with the amulet. “The imperial archives contained lines and lines of nothing.”
To that, Richter agreed.
The ancient times may not have not done any research regarding Summon Spirits, but Ratatosk was not mentioned in the general records. Not even the imperial archives, which they could finally access, hinted to Ratatosk’s existence.
“They likely added Ratatosk’s encounter with Mithos later on, just so they could mention the hero.” As Richter said so, Aster strengthened his grip on the amulet.
“About that…if it was really asserting Mithos, they would’ve revised some of the other events, too, such as his pact with Origin. Yet the encounter with Ratatosk was all they’d added.”
“You’re saying that some things were purposely left out of writing because they were connected to the Great War?”
“Yep! At that time-” As Aster leaned towards Richter, the chain of the amulet snapped. Petrified, he could only face him with his eyes. “The amulet’s…”
“I was wondering when that would break.”
“Aaaaah, I’m so sorry, Mom!” Panicking, Aster picked up the chain that had fallen to the ground. In his excitement, he had gripped the amulet tighter than necessary, and had torn the chain.
“This isn’t the second time this happened.”
“No, it’s the third.” With a sigh, Aster pulled out his handkerchief and folded the remains of the amulet inside it. “I’ll get this fixed at the art department later. They’ll be mad at me again for this, though.”
“You have to be careful about that. Your mother gave it to you before you came to Sybak, didn’t she?”
“Yep. I wonder how she’s doing…” Aster said with a nostalgic tone. He was enrolled into the Imperial Research Academy at the age of nine. Exceptionally young for a human, and it was painful to be separated from one’s parents at such an age.
“Come to think of it, what about your parents, Richter?”
Unable to reply, Richter averted his gaze. He was a half-elf. He was pulled away from his parents and taken here, akin to a kidnapping. Until very recently, the half-elf researchers were not permitted to leave or go anywhere, and Richter had not seen his parents for a very long time. Neither did he knew how they were doing. They could have also been, like Richter, captured and placed under surveillance.
But because the laws that ostracized half-elves were alleviated, his parents may have been released, but he was repulsed at the idea of meeting them. His own existence had brought disorder into their lives. And even worse, feelings will come up should they meet again. And one of those, Richter was aware, was “fear”.
Then, Aster held out the amulet he’d hidden in his handkerchief. “Courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality.”
When Richter returned his eyes to Aster, the latter offered an exhilarated smile, as if he had a reason to feel so.
“You know that everyone can use real magic, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I know. And after we can confirm Ratatosk’s existence, I’ll go see my parents.”
“You have to! And when that happens, you can introduce me, your best friend!”
“Who said that I’ll enjoy meeting them?”
“Personally, I’m really curious about your parents. How could they’ve gotten a kid like you?" As he said this, Aster scrutinized Richter with his brows wrinkled, his mouth curled downwards, and his eyes narrowed.
"Why the strange face?”
“Eh? This is my version of Richter Abend!”
When Richter glared back, Aster took a large breath, and laughed with a loud voice.
“You just made the same face!”
“I did not!”
“You did, you did! You looked like a criminal!”
“Ah, sorry! I laughed too much. I’ll reflect on my actions.”
“Enough, already! More importantly, we have to go back. Time is scarce.”
Richter stood up. He’d thought that Aster would voice his discontent, but instead, he replied with “You’re right”, indicating that he was satisfied with the break. He followed Richter, and gave him a fleeting glance before nodding. “What? Is there something stuck to my face?”
“Yeah. Two eyes, a nose…”
“I’m kidding. It’s just…when you were still working in that basement, you always looked like you were tired…”
“Well, I wasn’t tired.”
“Not physically, but your eyes. It’s hard to follow what you’re reading in dark places, and that’s tiring. You blink more often now.”
Richter inwardly clicked his tongue. This human was so attentive that it was nearly frightening. And he saves people as naturally as he breathes.
“…Aster, let’s head to the cafeteria before we get back.”
Aster tilted his head in puzzlement. “Why’s that?”
“I’m a little hungry, too. I’ll treat you to donuts.”
Aster beamed. In response to that, Richter gave a little smile of his own. Because after all, he was still pleased with his human friend.
Translated by Sebz