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Lanj: 2011/7/19 8 P.M.

Translated from the original Japanese.


Note from Nias: This account is ported from an old edition.

2011/7/19 8 P.M.

Even if it were a bluff or a lie, he thought his wish would one day come “true”. Since then, it had been exactly twenty years. How long would he have to wait? How long would he have to keep wishing? He was thinking about whether someone would call for him if he came here.

Thus, while looking at the clock that has stood there from the beginning without changing, he waited for eight o’clock in the evening. At the shore of the lake.

Whether it was from within the light or the depths of the water, he hoped that someone would call for him….

—But the reality is this. Once the heartless clock pointed to eight before his eyes, nothing at all changed in the world. There was no reward. He has not been repaid.

During the thirty minutes thereafter, Seren Arbazard watched the dark surface of the water on top of the vermillion-lacquered bridge, dumbfounded. Waiting for something to happen, he had looked at the clock and the pond. Yet nothing had happened. There were usually not many people at the firefly lake of Felixia University. Given that the firefly season had already ended, he was alone.

It had been twenty years today. He remembered that day, twenty years ago. And each day up to today flashed through his eyes like a revolving lantern. Every year. This hour of every year came here. And he was disappointed every time. He was disappointed greatly in as much as his mature years at the end, even though he knew that there was no meaning in numbers. The fireflies had all left and were no longer there. His sense of irritability exposed, Seren left the pond.

While climbing up the wooden stairs connecting the pond and the campus, Seren got a phone call. He took out his leizen from his right pocket. Because he was listening to music until just now, the speaker was still stuck.

“Hello?” he responded as he put his leizen back into his pocket and continued up the stairs.

“Oh, Brother? Where are you now?” It was the voice of a young woman.

“Is it Mel? The pond.”

“The pond? Why are you there…” No wonder why her voice sounded dubious. “It’s okay. Well then, wait at the plaza at the top. I’ll be waiting there too.”

“Got it,” Seren said before hanging up.

Not many tens of seconds after he had finished climbing the staircase, the person who called him came up. She was a beautiful, lovely girl with blond hair, blue eyes, and white skin. Although she was twenty-two years old, she looked younger because she had some blood of a yellow-skinned person, and she appeared as if one could say she were a girl. She stepped towards him with a bag under her arm.

“Thanks, Mel.”

Mel was a student at Felixia University; she belonged to the mathematics section of the science department. She was already in her last year as a student there, taking a doctoral program in graduate school.

“Let’s go home together.”


The two started walking toward the west gate.

“You’re not wearing white today, are you?” asked Seren during the walk.

“Usually, math students don’t need to wear white. Do you have a seminar today, too?”

Seren nodded silently. He had graduated and now worked as a research student. He specialized in the study of modern magic. —Although it’s called so, this discipline is not recognized by society. The time when it prospered was the Ordin (rd) era, about 400 years ago. After the Ordin era, mankind lost the power of magic. After that, the technical civilization grew and reached today. Because studying magic was useless in the era of scientific prosperity, it would not be useful in finding employment. Surely there was a government body called the Summoning Department in the country called Arbazard. For those entering there, even the study of magic is an indispensable subject. But that would, after all, concern its study from the classics; in short, he would have no choice but to take a test in the classics as everyone else there had done.

“What are you studying now?” asked Mel in a calm, soft voice.

Although Seren specialized in modern study of magic, its scholarship was not widely recognized. Therefore, he was doing such things as taking courses in the study of magic from the classics, as well as in magical engineering. Because he had not chosen a respectable subject, even in the sciences, he could not get a decent job after leaving graduate school. After all, one can’t throw away one’s dreams completely, so he gave up on trying to find a job in his graduate days and remained in seminars as a researcher. When he noticed, he had already been in thirty.

Officially, his major was linguistics. On top of being closely related to the study of magic—the study of spells, especially, it was recognized as a field of scholarship. But from the equilibrium of magical engineering, he was also involved in the field of science and technology. Because this carried the costs of parts and specimens, he was always worried about research funding.

When asked about his major from people, he wanted to say that it was modern study of magic, but he was exposed to disappoving and odd looks every time that he was fed up with it and decided to say that it was linguistics and engineering. Nonetheless, since linguistics and engineering are not overlapping fields, many thought he was strange anyway. As a result, he honestly disliked being asked about his major.

“Studying… is it?” muttered Seren in a self-deprecating way. From society’s perspective, there is no such thing as studying a field whose existence is not recognized by academia. At most, it is a “hobby”. Naturally, there is no high or low in hard work. … Or it’s supposed to be that way. But in reality, there comes a wide disparity in societal treatment according to whether or not a discipline is recognized by the world. Quite an irrational thing to say.

For him, the eyes of society are cold. But this childhood friend and protegee of his is different. She does not ridicule Seren’s efforts. Rather that cutting it apart by calling it a “hobby”, she properly recognizes it as “research”. Thus she is one of his few supporters.

“Do you understand the meaning of modern study of magic… what I’m studying?” Seren asked solemnly.

In contrast, Mel easily answered “yeah”.

“Magic is a closed system of discipline. Science is an open system. Now, people who don’t use magic certainly account for almost everyone. But the problem is not practical. It’s its novelty and nobleness. Magic is a discipline that falls apart if you put only half your will. As a result of humans no longer using magic, it’s become a field that can be cut down heartlessly.

“If humans could have continued to use magic, its study would never have been closed. As a result of common people of low birth pursuing their own profits, the study of magic was shut up to be a closed system against its will. But that doesn’t mean it’s closed entirely.

“However, wrenching the closed study of magic open won’t change anything from its past, and it just ends up reinventing the wheel. So at the same time closed system is opened once more, modern science and ancient magic are fused together. That is the modern study of magic.

“Even if the practicality of modern magic is nil for us in the modern era who don’t use magic, it has enough meaning as a challenge to the scholarship of humanity.


Seren was very pleased at Mel, to whom he had readily given such a long speech. “So. If the world doesn’t approve of it, then I want to stir the history of scholarship. In that I find my reason to live. Even if it’s only a little, I’ll be happy, but I want to turn the gears of the study of magic that no longer move.” The pleasant wind of the summer night stroked Seren’s cheeks.

“Yeah, I know. That you’ll persist.” Mel’s hair fluttered in the wind. She pressed against the nape of her neck with her long, white fingers.

“Do you…” Satisfied, Seren looked towards Mel’s face from the side.

He had a good reason to study linguistics. He could not feed himself just by being a research student, and if he had a full-time job, then he could no longer do research. Therefore, he decided to work a part-time job, but as for easy ones, there would be more open positions for foreign languages than engineering. The chief employers for these jobs would include cram schools or translation agencies.

Although Arka might be at its highest prosperity, the country is rich with other official languages: Tiaren, Altiaren, and Arbaren. If there are many different official languages, then that alone should create demand for foreign language study and translation. Four hundred years ago, a young man with the same name as him did not exhaustively spread the unwelcome favor of an international auxiliary language called Arka, and thanks to him, he of today could somehow eat.

After they left through the west gate and crossed the signal, they reached Felixia Station. As expected from a school of the royal purveyor, a majestic specialized station was being prepared.

There were few schools that had stations so near their campuses. Because this school’s campus was used for every level from elementary school to college, one could say that it was a station dedicated to Felixia.

Felixia station was not a junction; it passed only through the Phantom Rim Line (幻環線; arnaxelte). In effect, it was a station that existed because of Felixia, so that was only reasonable.

There was a junction at Kaliz Station, one stop away. It temporarily transferred to the underground Faiman Line (蒔蘿線; faimanrein), allowing one to depart at Arna Bridge (幻京橋; arnarafil) at Razordin Station in east Kaliz. It takes thirty minutes to walk from Felixia to Arna Bridge, but it turns out that the train goes around.

As they climbed the stairs, the two proceeded on a familiar path without exchanging any words. Seren casually felt that the silence was a good thing because the relationship was not awkward.

Since Arna Bridge was within the metropolitan area, land was expensive around there. There was no place around the station where destitute research students would live. Only after fifteen minutes away from the station would he enter the old town, where he would finally be greeted by the slums that he had accepted.

As he entered the crumbling apartment that seemed to be made of some unknown stone, he made a knocking noise and went up to the second floor. As he went up the stairs, his right hand was against the wall and his left hand was in the corridor. Mel came to a stop in front of the one-eyed door.

“Good night,” said Seren as he entered the single room across the door. He took his wallet out of his pocket and retrieved a key, a simple and traditional metal key that one could find hundreds of years ago. The lock was so primitive that it did not even have the S in “security”.

Well, there wasn’t much worth stealing there, so he didn’t care at all.

All that the place had was a single room as wide as six tatami mats, a modular bath, and a poor excuse for a kitchen. Ever since regulations had loosened, the one-room abolition law and such had already left something to be desired. Even this worn-down apartment seemed to have been a 2LDK apartment originally before it was split into one-rooms.

The middle of the room was very simple. Drawers, bed, PC, desk, chair. There was nothing else.

After he took off his coat and hung it on a pole hanger, he finished washing his hands and rinsing his mouth before sitting down on his bed. As he leaned his head against the wall, it made a small clunk.

Mel was next door. She was on her bed, across this thin wall separating them. He heard a clunking sound coming intermittently, as well as a smooth sound of a finger being traced across a wall.

“G… O… O… D…” It was Morse code. “N… I… G… H… T…? …Really, what are you doing in the era of e-mail?” As Seren chuckled, he returned a similar tapping signal.