The Man and the Girl
Edited by: Karma
“Ah~? So you’ve come again, eh?”
In response to the question asked by the man, the petite girl nodded her head slightly, a blank expression on her face.
The man sighed, but didn’t say anything else, only gesturing to the seat next to him. Bowing her head slightly, the girl also said nothing as she took her seat.
Chuckling to himself, the owner of the bar made his way over to the newcomer to take her order. This wasn’t the first time that the expressionless girl had been in his bar, and he had a feeling it wasn’t going to be the last either.
“What will the young lady have today?”
The owner asked the girl even though he already knew what she would ask for. She always ordered the same thing, after all.
The girl had a soft voice, matching her diminutive figure, but the owner’s trained ears could hear her regardless; even though the other occupants of the bar were being fairly boisterous.
After giving the polite girl his standard response, the owner proceeded to head to the back where his refrigerator was. He checked the magic stone that kept it running, and luckily, it was still going strong. He would not have to find a replacement stone anytime soon. Shaking his head, the owner grabbed a bottle of milk and walked back to where his customer was patiently waiting.
“Thank you, Mr. Owner.”
He would never get tired of seeing that small smile grace her lips whenever she thanked him. For him, that smile was the only payment necessary. However, he still turned to the man sitting beside her, and spoke up.
“Oi, you useless brat. I’m putting that milk on your tab, so make sure to pay up.”
“Eh~? What’s with that difference in treatment, old man?”
The man huffed, but didn’t protest too much. Everyone knew the owner’s word was law in this bar. Besides, it’s not like the man was strapped for cash. He could easily pay for the milk his unwanted companion had ordered.
Turning to said companion, the man gave her a small glare for the trouble, but sighed when she cutely tilted her head in confusion. He huffed at the sight, but rubbed the top of her head anyway. In response, she gently pushed herself into his hand a bit more, seeking the warmth the man gave off. He could have sworn she was purring, but it was too noisy around them to hear clearly.
After she apparently had enough of the petting, she moved herself away, with a smug look in her eyes.
“By the way, are you still refusing my request, Mr. Mage?”
“Haa, are you still asking me to do it?”
The man was tired of her constantly asking. Honestly, he was tempted to accept just to get her to stop pestering him about it. Then again, he’d have to actually put in some effort if he did, so he couldn’t allow himself to do it. He wanted to keep his current lifestyle of lazing around.
“Oi, brat, can’t you just go ahead and accept? Although I hate to admit it, you are the best suited for this.”
The owner threw in his two cents, but the man just huffed and turned away. Seeing him, the owner sighed and turned back to the girl.
“Are you sure it has to be him, miss? I’ve heard the court magician is pretty good too. Couldn’t you just learn from her?”
“No. It has to be him.”
Sighing to himself after listening to their short conversation, the man thought about why it had to be him. Why he had to be the one the 「Heavenly Hero」chose to train under. Of course, he had to admit, he probably was strongest magician in the kingdom, but he was supposed to be notorious for being lazy. Where did all the hard work he put into destroying his reputation go!?
He looked down at his drink. Then, looking back at the girl sitting next to him as she calmly drank her milk, he started to form an idea. If he played this right, everything would be taken care of in one go.
“Hmm, tell you what kid. If you find a certain flower for me, I’ll accept your request and teach you magic.”
“What the!? That lazy bum is giving her a chance?”
“Oi oi, I can hear you, old man.”
The girl looked at the man with hope in her eyes. She had begun to think the strongest magician would never accept her request, even though she had tried everything she could think of to get him to. She resolved herself. Even if she had to tear the world apart, she would find that flower!
“Well, I should warn you first, the flower is a bit rare. Well, I’m sure that the 「Heavenly Hero」can find it fairly easy though. Anyway, here, this is what the flower looks like.”
The man used his magic to display an image of the flower. It wasn’t a spell, he just molded the magic into the form that he wished to convey. This was the reason he was considered so powerful. He was not bound by the predefined magics, only by the limits of his imagination.
“Un, got it. I’ll go look for it, so stay here, ok?”
The girl looked determined, and the man could only laugh inwardly. He gave her a nod though, indicating that he would still be at the bar when she returned. The owner here was friendly (sometimes) and the place had good drinks, so he wasn’t planning on leaving anytime soon. Satisfied with his response, the hero bolted out the door, intent on finding the flower before anymore time was wasted.
“Hmph, you’re a cruel one aren’t you, brat?”
“Ah, so you recognize that flower as well? Hm, well, I might have gone a bit overboard, but she’ll be fine. There’s nothing too dangerous in this area anyway.”
The owner doesn’t say anything else, but grunts in dissatisfaction. ‘Sorry old man, but this is the only way I’ll train her. She’s got to prove herself’, the man thinks to himself. Turning away from the old man, the mage casts some magic and starts watching the hero’s progress.
Surprised when the mage suddenly jumped up, the owner immediately prepared himself to fight whatever had spooked the man. He may be an old man now, but he had been a fairly well known adventurer before he retired.
“Oi, what happened?”
“S-she… she found it.”
“Hrm? What do you mean?”
The man turns to the still alert owner with a look of despair upon his face.
“She found the flowers! A whole field of them! H-how though?! I’ve looked around this entire town and couldn’t find a single one!”
Realizing that nothing was actually wrong, the owner gave a hearty laugh and went back to wiping down the counter. The man, however, was unable to recover so easily. He was in shock. The hero had done it, and now he’d have to keep his word and train her. He had thought today was going to be a good one too…
He slumped down in resignation, picking up his drink and threw it back in one go. Just great, he was going to have to train someone now. He didn’t know the first thing about training people!
He didn’t register the door to the bar being flung open, or the alert posture the owner had adopted. Not even that everyone else had run away, scared off by the hulking man and his crew who were now taking up most of the seats.
The man dumbly looked up at the brute who had yelled right in his ear, causing him to finally notice the other man’s presence. The brute, a bald man with an ugly face and scars marring his exposed chest and arms, gave a toothy grin.
“Finally, we never thought you were going to wake up, sleeping beauty.”
His statement elicited chuckles from the rest of his gang, while the mage still stared dumbly at the noisy thing before him. Annoyed at his lack of an expression, the gang leader tried slamming the mage’s head against the bar. However, he wasn’t even able to touch the man’s head.
Before his hand got anywhere near his head, the mage had finally realized what was going on, and cursed under his breath. He let out a little of his magical power, and blew apart the brute’s hand. ‘Well, that’s what he gets for being cocky,’ the mage thought to himself as the brute started screaming in pain.
The mage knew better than to make a mess in the bar. So, he simply erased it all before the blood and gore could stain anything. Seeing their boss in pain, all the men in the bar stood up and adopted intimidating postures. The owner, after seeing that the mage was up and focused again, chuckled to himself before going into the back. ‘That brat can handle fodder like them,’ he thought to himself as he waited out the carnage in safety.
The magician, now alone with the gang, finally stood up from his chair and looked towards the other men. A collective shudder went through the group as they gazed upon the mage’s soulless eyes. However, it was far too late for them to run. The fight was over the moment the mage was forced to stand.
When the girl finally returned to the bar, she noticed there were only two people present: the owner, and the man she would soon call ‘master’. Giving no heed as to why there was nobody else in the usually populated bar, the hero happily skipped over to the counter.
“Ah, welcome back, miss. I assume you had a successful trip?”
The owner laughed, as if he already knew the answer. The girl wasn’t sure how he knew, but she gave a favorable response anyway. The man sitting to her right just let out a pain-filled groan.
“Hehe~ I found the flower~. Here you go~.”
While rubbing it in the magician’s face, the young girl gently placed the flower in front of her new teacher. The man sighed, but still sat up, taking the flower into one of his hands.
“Hey, old man, can I get a cup?”
The girl looked at the man next to her as he asked that. For once, he actually looked serious. Seeing such a side, the hero shivered in anticipation. She couldn’t wait to start learning magic from someone so powerful.
After getting a mug, the mage willed some boiling water to appear in the mug before he looked back at the flower, and started to infuse it with his magic. In response to his new student’s questioning gaze, he sighed before explaining.
“Alright, first lesson, I guess. You see, this flower is a bit special. It has a very high tolerance to magic, and normally, would be avoided by all kinds of animals because of how bad it tastes. However, if you pour enough magic into it, this flower eventually reaches a breaking point.”
As he finished saying so, the hero noticed that the flower was shining slightly.
“As you can see, at this point, the flower starts to glow due to the amount of mana flowing through it. You have to be careful from here, though, because if you do it incorrectly, the flower could combust. However, we don’t have to worry about that now, since I’ve done this countless times before. Anyway, just watch.”
After making sure that the little girl was paying attention, the mage took control of the magic he had poured into the plant, and slowly started moving it all towards the bottom of the flower. As he did so, the areas of the flower that the magic had abandoned turned to ash and faded away. The hero watched intently as the magic became more and more concentrated at it reached the end of the flower hovering over the cup of boiling water.
“Are you ready? This is the most important part.”
“Un, I’m ready.”
After hearing the hero’s words, the mage dropped the incredibly dense mana into the water. To the hero’s amazement, the water became a brown, almost black color, and somehow seemed even hotter than it was before. The biggest thing, though, was the smell that now hung in the air around the drink. It smelled wonderful, like something she never thought she’d smell again. To think that the man she had decided to train under could make coffee.
She thought to herself, ‘Hehe~ I knew I picked the right person. Still, to know about coffee. Is he a reincarnator like me?’
The mage, not knowing that coffee was already a drink, had only one thought as he drank his coffee… ‘Worth it.’
“Alright, kid. Let’s go.”
The mage turned to the girl, confused. Seeing his confusion, the girl elaborated.
“Ah. Hm, not a bad name, Clara.”
Clara turned to the man, obviously annoyed that he didn’t introduce himself. Sensing her displeasure, the man laughed before giving his own name.
“Calm down a bit. I was getting there. Anyway, you can call me Dathe, I guess.”
Laughing a bit, Clara gave her thoughts on her master’s name. However, Dathe just shrugged it off. For him, it was just another name on a long list. However, he still played along good-naturedly.
“Yeah yeah, whatever. Let’s go.”