It’s now half a year before going to school.
The current season is a season called leucojum-moon, in my previous world’s terms, it’s winter. (TLN: It means snowflake-moon, I called it as I did because I can)
As the chilly days go on, our heating magic formation keeps being used at full capacity.
Though we still have the jewel from the Jewel Turtle at hand, Elena, Dee and I have had talks of going to sell it soon. We also have the money that we’ve been saving for five years, so there are no problems on the ‘capital’ side.
Training is also going well, knowing that they can go to school with me, the two disciples are showing more and more enthusiasm. When I first picked them up, I had made a short-term schedule thinking that we’d separate upon my going to school, but that is no longer necessary, so I adjusted the schedule looking at the long term.
It’s nevertheless severe, but the siblings are persevering and growing up well.
The attendants’ destinations have been decided, too.
I’ll start with Noel, but she seems like she’ll just be going back to her hometown village.
Her village was poor and she had many siblings at home, so, with being a migrant worker as a pretext, she left the village for the sake of reducing the cost of food, however, it seems like while exchanging a couple letters, she found out that the current feudal lord was quite capable and that the lacking in the village had been considerably improved. It’s also expanding, although only slightly, and it’s tolerant towards beastkins, so, believing that there would some job to be found now, even if only a singe one, Noel decided to go back home.
Dee will also head to Noel’s village.
Rather than that, half a year has passed and he hasn’t been able to confess to Noel yet. His sloppiness has been getting quite irritating, so I’m thinking of a plan to incite him to do some night crawling.
And then, there is Elena….
That day, I was having a mock battle with Reus.
Noel and Dee were doing housework, Emilia was receiving education from Elena, and, though Reus and I were merely exchanging blows with our wooden swords, I was currently in the middle of fixing his bad habits.
【”Big brother――! I give up, I give up!”】(Reus)
【”How many times do I need to say it for you to understand? If you get caught like this it’s because you’re not pulling back your sword.”】(Sirius)
He has too many openings, so I make him eat an Iron Claw to instill the training in his body.
【”Well, let us try once again. Next up you――”】(Sirius)
【”Sirius-sama! Please.. please come at once!”】(Emilia)
The voice of Emilia, who had her head out of the window, was no longer a yell but something closer to a shriek. I returned to the house hurriedly after tending to my body, and upon charging to Elena’s room, I understood everything.
【”Elena-san… Elena-san collapsed… she’s not moving…..”】(Emilia)
Elena was breathing roughly with a pale face void of life, while being held in Emilia’s arms. On the other hand, Emilia, who seems like she’ll burst into tears at anytime, has been simply calling Elena’s name again and again.
【”Don’t talk! We need to move Elena to her bed immediately.”】(Sirius)
With a thundering voice, I redirect Emilia’s attention toward myself and I address her slowly to make her settle down. That’s right, I must not get impatient here. The top priority is to first carry Elena to her bed.
【”Listen up, for starters, move Elena to her bed. I won’t be able to examine her otherwise. Do you understand?”】(Sirius)
Maybe because she was given a purpose, Emilia calmed down and carefully moved Elena to her bed, as if she was a fragile object. The technique she used to move her without putting a burden on her despite her agitation is probably the result of her attendant education.
Before I became aware of it, Noel and Dee were waiting behind me, as I was gathering mana at Elena’s bedside. Though they’re anxious, the two are standing quietly, seemingly waiting for my diagnosis. As for the siblings, they keep on crying while holding Elena’s hand.
Using 【(Scan)】, I examine Elena’s condition. From the head to the abdomen, from the waist to the feet, I took my time and scanned her body throughly.
And then… it became clear.
【”In the end… it came”】(Sirius)
This is neither a sickness nor an injury, it’s simply, her lifespan.
I asked before, and it seems that in her early years, there were many times when she was not able to eat sufficiently. To make matters worse, she would do harsh labor in an environment where she wouldn’t receive proper nourishment, that was inadequate for the growing girl to develop to the term of her growth.
This right now is the price to pay for that. In my previous life, people lived up to be nearly a hundred years, but in this world where medicine isn’t developed, Emilia might be considered as a long-lived person. Recovery magic doesn’t have the omnipotent ability of extending one’s lifespan.
There is only one thing I can say for sure. She… doesn’t have much longer.
Her body was already at its limits from before. Through the past half year, her sitting time increased, soon, the time she’d spend not moving increased, and lately, she had been spending a lot of time bedridden.
And yet, when teaching Emilia, she’d stand up and she’d point out her bad points by personally demonstrating to her. Bearing with the pain running through her body, mustering her remaining strength, all for the sake of imparting her own techniques, even if only a little.
【”Sirius-sama! Elena-san is fine, right?”】(Emilia)
【”Big Brother, you can cure her, right?”】(Reus)
Though Noel and Dee appear to have understood by my reaction, the siblings are still clinging to the hope that is myself. However, believing in miracles not caused by myself is not in my nature, to begin with, I do not want to hide in the illusion called “miracle”. I’m sorry for the two of them, but I’m no god. It’s impossible for me to somehow influence one’s lifespan.
【”…. You must not…. be unreasonable”】(Elena)
Though Elena has regained consciousness, her face is still as white as before, and her condition is showing no signs of improvement. Having stroked the heads of the siblings who were weeping while clinging to her, she turned her face my way.
【”Sirius-sama, you’re done performing my diagnosis, right?”】(Elena)
【”Well then, the results. I want you to inform everyone, too.”】(Elena)
【”It’s my personal problem so I’m ready. Moreover, they all have the right to know.”】(Elena)
In spite of the bitter situation, she was smiling gently. I see… she has made up her mind, huh.
【”Elena, you have two months… No, it’ll probably be one month.”】(Sirius)
At my decree, the two siblings crumbled down, while Dee and Noel casted down their eyes sorrowfully.
【”Did you hear? I do not have long. Therefore…”】(Elena)
Elena looked once at all of us, and with a serious gaze, she stated.
A few days have passed after that, but her conditions is only becoming more severe.
She can no longer stand up from her bed, she somehow lives while receiving Noel and Emilia’s care. Though we all stay beside Elena whenever we have free time, nodding while lying down and talking lightly is her limit, that sight of her, foretelling her death, is unbearable to see. However, that’s Elena’s consideration, she’s showing it to us on purpose in order to make a point.
【(I’m going to pass away, so prepare yourselves to catch that blow)】
That is what she meant when she told us to be prepared a few days ago. That would be showing a painful reality once again to the the siblings who have barely recovered from their parents’ death, but it’s unavoidable by now. Therefore, hardening her heart, she’s displaying her dying self, to make this even little bit easier to deal with, I guess.
Though the situation is as such, training went on. Although the two often often lose their concentration, I believe moving their bodies allows them to let vent out their feelings. Taking care of not injuring our bodies, the days go by.
Half a month had passed.
Elena cannot eat solid food anymore, she can only drink some specially mixed nutritional supplements for her meals.
It might soon be time.
I wonder, what can I possibly do?
The thing I wanted to make was not praiseworthy, depending on the point of view, it was a cruel measure. Even so, I had to do something, I wanted her to be satisfied.
With her approval, I flew to the sky to go gather materials, I spent a few days on it, and at last, I completed the thing.
After handing it to Elena, all I could do was wait for her decision.
And then… That day arrived.
One month after Elena collapsed.
That day’s morning started very noisily.
【”Good morning, everyone”】(Elena)
【”【”【”【”Elena-san?!”】”】”】”】(Noel & Reus & Emilia & Dee)
Everyone shrieked, except for myself. No wonder, Elena, who was bedridden, is standing in the kitchen, cooking. Disregarding them, who are in blank amazement from the incomprehensible situation, Elena is making a dish while humming.
【”Elena-san… Could it be that you have recovered?”】(Emilia)
【”I’ll do the explaining later. Let us have breakfast first, shall we?”】(Elena)
The breakfast displayed on the table is merely one of Elena’s standard menus. Bacon sandwiches and egg soup, The chest dances the dish that Elena made.
However, in front of her only, there was no dish, there was just a glass of water.
【”Are you not going to eat, Elena-san?”】(Emilia)
【”Well, that’s… Please stop worrying about me and eat.”】(Elena)
Though they felt a little doubtful, they all decided to give priority to her home cooking, which hadn’t been served in a long while.
【”How is it? I haven’t prepared anything in a while so I hope it doesn’t have a weird taste.”】(Elena)
【”Thank goodness. It has been a long time so I was anxious.”】(Elena)
【”I like it, too!”】(Reus)
At the end of the peaceful breakfast, Elena prepared an after meal tea and stated a shocking truth.
【”Today, I am going to die.”】(Elena)
Everyone stopped moving. I personally knew of the circumstances so I just stared at Elena indifferently as she spoke up, but Noel, who had recovered at last, raised her hand and asked a question.
【”Excuse me… could you explain, please? That was too abrupt, I don’t know what to make of it…”】(Noel)
【”A drug… you mean, a therapeutic drug?”】(Noel)
【”No, It’s different. This is a forbidden drug that improves the subject’s physical strength and reduces his life force. The drug’s effects will last until evening, therefore, I can move normally up to then.”】(Elena)
Life boost. (The life grinding pill)
Its effect is just as she explained it, and it’s frequently used in times of war, it seems. Normally, it would wear out after a few hours and the user would be in bed for the few following days, however, I was able to adjust the drug, I suppressed its effects and I extended its durability. But the burden afterwards it is that much more brutal, when that time will come, it’ll certainly be the end for her.
【”Why take such a drug? Why… Elena-san?”】(Emilia)
【”【”【”【”Huh~?”】”】”】”】(Dee & Emilia & Noel & Reus)
Everybody was amazed by that unreasonable statement. Even I feel the same, but it’s a rare act of selfishness from her, so I really want to let her do as she pleases. Since Elena was completely unfazed by their gazes, everyone’s lines of sight converged to me, as if asking me what I intend to do about it.
【”It’s just as she said. I’m also canceling my training for today and I’ll be taking this opportunity to relax at home. Therefore, you may do as you wish too, Elena.”】(Sirius)
【”【”Y-Yes!”】”】(Noel & Emilia)
After that, Elena handled the housework just like she used to.
Patting Reus and Emilia more than necessary, having a tea break with Dee and Noel, and giving me a lap pillow, she spent the whole time with a smile.
And then, by the end of dinner, she called everyone to her room.
Lying down in her bed without even having been told to by anyone, she looked at us, who were lined up around her, and then opened her mouth.
【”Today was really enjoyable. Since It’ll probably be time soon, there are some things I’d like to pass on to you.”】(Elena) (Note to self: Got to check here)
With a tender smile, she talked to each us while calling our individual names.
Hearing her, the whole crew was shedding tears, but as I continued listening to that speech …. I started feeling angry.
If I were to say what I was angry at, that would be Elena’s behavior.
【”Is there a problem, Sirius-sama?”】(Elena)
Elena questioned me while smiling, but I’m getting fed up with that smile now. What’s with that smile? Moreover, telling everyone such a bland speech, is this just a simple maneuver to pass over a job?
Are those your true intentions? I expressly prepared that drug, but could Elena really be satisfied with this?
【”Elena… is this really alright?”】(Sirius)
【”I am very sorry, did I contrary you in any way?”】(Elena)
With my change of mood, the surroundings started being noisy. As an attendant, Elena tries to soothe the change in her master, but that’s not lessening my anger.
Yeah, you certainly did.
You… how long are you going to act like a servant? Our relation is that of a master and his attendant, but you’re on the verge of death, speak like family. You used to pat my head like a mother so—
(【”You’re fit as a mother indeed, Elena. I, too, think of you as one.”】(Sirius) )
(【”-!? Ah, T-thank you very much!”】 (Elena) )
(【”You two are a little like a mother and a father.”】(Noel) )
(【”In others words, am I Sirius-sama’s mother? That’s wonderful.”】(Elena) )
—-Ah, so that’s how it was.
Elena is not the only one responsible for trying to act like a servant, I’m at fault too.
Instead of acting like an adult, I should have just behaved like a spoiled child, receiving her affection upfront.
【”I deeply apologize if I have spoiled your mood, Sirius-sama. Therefore, about my words, you can……”】(Elena)
【”I hear you. However, I want you to show and speak out your real feelings more… Mother.”】(Sirius)
Though she was surprised by my words and opened her eyes wide, she immediately shook her head and smiled wryly.
【”Stop joking please. Your only mother is Aria-sama, I’m naught but an attendant who serves you.”】(Elena)
【”Me… your mother…”】(Elena)
【”…. Is it really fine?”】(Elena)
【”I already think of you as nothing but a mother. So please, if you don’t, I just might come to hate you, mother”】(Sirius)
Tears peeked through Elena’s eyes. Those are genuine happy tears. Without wiping them, she fixed her eyes straight on me.
【”Sirius-sama… No, Sirius, I don’t want you to hate me. So I’ll do as you say.”】(Elena)
Though Elena’s use of a familiar language towards myself made Noel & co lose their composure, it made me feel very satisfied. That’s right, I should have got on way earlier with calling her mother like this. It took me too long to realize… dammit…
【”I’m sorry everyone. So, one more time, I’ll be speaking to you if it’s alright with you.”】(Elena)
This time, Elena conveyed what was truly on hear heart.
【”Reus, you must properly chew when you eat. Though I’ve said it many times before, not savoring your food is impoilte to the person who made it.”】(Elena)
【”No, I’m saying precisely because it’s now. In addition, you have to learn polite language soon. Otherwise you’ll seem like a suspicious person and you’ll trouble the people close to you, so be careful, alright?”】(Elena)
【”Next up is Dee. You’re the eldest, but would you allow me to tell you a few words?”】(Elena)
【”Being careful is all right, but you’re just being cowardly. Have some more courage. That person keeps on waiting for your words, so act before it’s too late.”】(Elena)
【”I, I understand.”】(Dee)
【”Noel… my cute clumsy younger sister. You’ve really given me some hard times.”】(Elena)
【”Yes, sure, they do say that the foolish younger sisters are the cutest ones, don’t they?”】(Elena)
【”It’s alright, I like your foolishly pure self. Therefore, stay as you are.”】(Elena)
【”Yes… I’ll do my best”】(Noel)
【”Emilia, make proper use of what I’ve taught you. I’ve heard you say it many times, but your decision hasn’t changed, right?”】(Elena)
【”I see, don’t overwork yourself though. If you hurt yourself, Sirius is the one who’ll get sad, so go easy on the self-sacrifices.”】(Elena)
【”Maybe you’re beyond cure. But really, take care of yourself. You’ll be supporting Sirius in the future, after all.”】(Elena)
【”Yes… I will… support him….”】(Emilia)
【”Sirius, I don’t need to tell you anything.”】(Elena)
【”I mean, you can do anything by yourself, right?”】(Elena)
【”So you don’t completely deny it, huh? However, you really can do anything. It’s mother guaranteed.”】(Elena)
【”As Aria-sama would have said, nothing is impossible for you, so I want you to live an honest life without being tied down to anybody.”】(Elena)
【”That’s reassuring. Leaving that aside, I have a request but… would you hear it out?”】(Elena)
【”Could you call me mother again?”】(Elena)
【”As many times as you want, mother”】(Sirius)
【”Call me mom.”】(Elena)
【”Yes, yes, mom”】(Sirius)
【”As expected, mother is better.”】(Elena)
【”Got it, mother”】(Sirius)
【”Hehe, it’s my first time seeing you cry. So you’d cry for my sake, huh?”】(Elena)
【”You know, I am very happy right now.”】(Elena)
【”But I do have one regret, it’s that I won’t be able to watch your growth any further.”】(Elena)
【”I guess so. However, I am happy. Though it was often bitter, I had a fulfilling life. Being able to see off my beloved family like this at the end, it makes me truly… happy.”】(Elena)
【”I love you… my Sirius.”】(Elena)
【”Yes… those words are enough for me. Sirius…”】(Elena)
――― Elena ―――
When I came to, I was standing in a white space devoid of any extremities.
It’s strange, I was just on a bed being watched over by Sirius and yet… what is the meaning of this?
【(Oh come on, you came too early!)】
【(That’s right. Long time no see, Elena)】
It has been a while indeed. Your child is growing up splendidly.
【(Mhm. I’ve been watching the whole time, so I’m aware. Also, you’ve made a mistake. He’s not only my son, he’s our son, right?)】
Well, that is right.
【(What’s more, you’re talking way too formally. We’re not a master and an attendant anymore, we’re just mothers.)】
Your words make me glad, but it’s a habit of mine. Apart from that, where in the world is this place?
【(Hmm… what should I say, I wonder. Maybe you can think of it as… a dream?)】
A dream? Guessing from your words, it’s possible to watch Sirius from here, right?
【(Huh? Aren’t you adapting too fast? And here I thought you’d be a little more surprised….)】
You get used to these thing when beside that child. Moreover, If I can watch over Sirius, the rest is trivial.
【(I see. The place next to me is empty, so why don’t you take a sit? )】
You’re telling me to sit but there is no chair.
【(That doesn’t matter in here. Look, you can see Sirius)】
That’s true. Mhm… he’s still adorable no matter how many times I see him.
【(Oh no… our son is, unexpectedly, a lady-killer. For him to make you fall like this, he’s quite the sinful man)】
I fell for him the moment I held him in my arms after he came to life.
【(Speaking of that, I did before he was even born. My love’s depth won’t lose to anyone’s.)】
What are you saying? I love him more.
【(I’m the one who loves him more!)】
No, I am.
【(This will go on forever. We should just say that we both can’t see the depth of each other’s love.)】
That’s right, then let us come to an agreement. However, you can’t see mine more than I can’t see yours.
【(Ugh, you’re still stubborn about the oddest things, you haven’t changed.)】
You haven’t changed either, Aria-sama.
【(I guess it’s true. Hey, Elena, the only thing we can do now is watch, but I have something to tell you.)】
【(Thank you. And… you’ve done well.)】
I’ve led a happy life.
――― Sirius ―――
The next day, we went to the flower garden where we went for the picnic before.
What brought us all the way here is a desire to make a grave at the foundation of the tree in the garden’s center.
Save for the nobles, the funerals in this world are done modestly, among family. Also, the remains of the deceased are perfectly cremated until only the bones are left, and the remaining bones are crushed as well. This is measure taken because corpses tend to absorb mana and turn into zombies. We followed that measure too, and with one hand holding a wooden box containing Elena’s ashes, I started digging a grave.
The digging just quietly went on, with no one uttering a sound, and we finished Elena’s burial.
【”Here, big brother”】(Reus)
I set up the tombstone that Reus has given me, and I carve a name with my mithrilknife.The name feels kind of lonely by itself, let’s add something.
【”Everyone, I want to carve something more, any ideas?”】(Sirius)
【”Carving one’s own name on another person’s grave is unbecoming. But I do want to carve an expression of love like such.”】(Emilia)
【”Mhm… in that case, what about this?”】(Sirius)
Everyone nodded in consent to the words I carved. And then, at the end, all of us offered a silent prayer.
Thus ended Elena’s funerals.
I’ve never known my mother in my previous life, as for my master who found me and raised me, she was more of a guardian than a parent.
Even after being reborn, I wasn’t able to see my mother’s face, the one who taught me of a mother’s affection was, without a doubt, Elena.
I’ve tasted sorrow many times in my previous life, I had thought my tears had dried… and yet, at the thought of her, I was moved to tears.
It was a nostalgic sensation. I sincerely believe that that “mother’s affection” which awakened it is great.
Elena, you, who poured your innocent and pure love without stint.
Elena, you, who kept on supporting me, on supporting the family, from behind.
Farewell. You dear person who taught me the warmth of a mother, for the first time.
And please… rest in peace.
――― The words carved on the tombstone ―――
【(Here lies Elena… a loyal attendant who was loved more than family.)】