—Are you aware of the Witch Of Calamity?
In the night with just the two of us, Laura suddenly mentioned her name.
Naturally, I knew about the witch.
Those who aimed to become magicians knew the historical figures of magic history like the back of their hands.
The Witch Of Calamity.
That alias was no less well-known than even One Thousand, manipulator of 1000 spells—otherwise known as Magnus.
She had conspicuous white hair and red eyes and could use approximately 500 spells. For a magician who carved their name onto the annals of history, 500 was a number that left much to be desired—but that was because she only learned offensive spells.
I hear she even beat out Magnus in spell count when it came strictly to offensive spells.
That’s how outstanding of a magician she was. However—
If Magnus’ name was a star that shined brilliantly throughout history, then her alias was that of a fallen meteor, spoken of as the stain of all magicians.
She used her overwhelming might to wage war with the kingdom.
Though at the cost of enormous sacrifice, the kingdom triumphed. However, it’s said that it took countless months and years for the ruined kingdom to regain its former glory.
It was at that point I realized something.
Laura’s hair was pure white, which was an incredibly unusual color.
It was identical to the Witch of Calamity—
“What about the Witch of Calamity?”
I answered like so.
Laura, lying in the opposite end of the room in the darkness, threw me a new question in response.
“Do you remember the soldiers from last night calling this place ‘A cursed village’?”
“Well, about that—This village was made by blood relatives of the Witch of Calamity.”
…So that’s what it meant. I guess that explains the cursed part. The Witch of Calamity’s rampage was ancient history, but she was constantly told as a fairy-tale to children, myself included. The Witch of Calamity is synonymous with the word evil to those that live in this country.
I was wondering why there were so many villagers with white-ish hair, but that seemed to explain it.
“In this village, there are children seldom born with pure white hair, which is a sign that their blood runs thick with the Witch of Calamity.”
“That would be you then.”
“Yes, that’s right… My eyes are blue, though.”
I heard Laura speak with a hint of laughter.
“I’m a person with a cursed lineage, born from a cursed village. That’s why I believe I won’t be able to make friends at the academy.”
I’m not really following…
“Laura is Laura, not some Witch of Calamity.”
“Yes. I believe the same. It’s quite strange, isn’t it?”
“You care too much about it. There aren’t any people who’d discriminate based on something like that anymore.”
“…This is a story from my childhood. After my parents realized I had talent in magic, they sent me to a private magic school in a nearby town. I tried my best to make friends and talk to other kids, but they all ran away from me—saying, ‘It’s the witch, it’s the witch, she’ll kill us’ and so on…”
Laura told me her story in a sorrowful voice.
“It’s because my appearance stands out. There’s always someone who realizes my lineage, and the rumors all come spilling out.”
There were numerous nobles at the magic academy. Rumors about Laura would only spread even further. ‘Classifying’ other people based on their family lineage was common sense for that lot.
“Have you ever considered dying your hair? No one would know then, right?”
“That might work if I decide to live as a regular person, but… There seems to be a relationship between this strange hair of mine and my mana. If I ended up dying it, the effectiveness of my spells would weaken, which is why—”
Laura emphasized the “why”.
“As long as I choose to live as a magician, I cannot run away from this hair.”
“Why do you go as far as to enroll into the magic academy, despite all of those bitter feelings?”
“…I want the way people treat my village to improve, even if only by a little.”
“The way people treat the village?”
“This village has its origin and all, so it isn’t treated very well by the country. Although, things seem to have gotten considerably better. That too was all thanks to the successive generations of villagers that inherited the witch’s blood—they had their contributions as magicians to the country recognized.”
Laura continued with strength in her voice.
“I also want to refine my skills for the sake of the village—I truly believe that.”
“Laura is the hope of the village, huh?”
“I-I’m not nearly the hope of the village…! Everyone always tells me I don’t have to push myself—that it’s ok to live normally, but… It’s exactly because everyone is so kind that I want to do everything in my power for the village!”
I feel like I’ve come to understand this girl named Laura a little more.
Until now, I got the impression that she was a diligent girl with a good personality, but she had her own worries and things she refused to give up on. Despite all that, she earnestly tried to keep moving forward.
I heard Laura’s voice quiver in the darkness.
“Now that you know about me… Will you still be my friend?”
Rejection, rejection, rejection, rejection, rejection—
So far, that’s probably all she’s ever experienced outside of the village. I didn’t even need to contemplate the amount of courage she needed to muster to say those words.
Which is why—
My answer was decided from the start.
I wonder if my old self would have said the same—if it was me ten years prior, still attending the magic academy. Would I have said the same thing if I still lived in the world of nobles and believed I had talent?
“Of course. No matter where we find ourselves, I’ll always be your friend. I swear it. I will never break this promise, come rain or shine.”
The room went dead silent.
I heard Laura sniffling.
“…Thank you, very much. I’m truly glad I got to meet you, Albert…”
After a long silence, Laura spoke.
“…We’ve been talking for a little too long. Let’s sleep.”
“You’re right. Goodnight, Laura.”
“Sleep well, Albert.”
With that, my long day came to an end.
The following morning, I decided to return back home.
I became the village hero before I even knew it. The villagers all decided to get together and send me off.
“Come again whenever!”
The mayor sent me off with kind words.
Laura’s father briskly approached me.
“I’ll just ask again to make sure, but did nothing really happen last night?”
“Why are you still on about this, Father!? I’m telling you nothing happened!”
Her face beet-red, Laura yelled while pulling at her father’s arm.
Ever since we woke up, Laura’s father would constantly check with us if nothing happened last night. He’s pressuring me quite a bit…
I chuckled and replied.
“Laura and I are friends, after all. We wouldn’t do such a thing.”
“Yes! We’re friends!”
Laura replied with a sweet smile.
Laura said she was going to stay in the village and prepare for enrollment; She planned on arriving at the capital in tandem with the school entrance exam.
I waved goodbye to Laura.
“Well then, I’ll see you at school.”
Afterward, I raised my right hand into the air and said the usual.
I glided away into the azure sky.
Before long, my second magic academy school life would begin.
Finally finished… I didn’t think I’d make it. Book 2 begins tomorrow!