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54: The Goddess and the Two Great Idiots

 Packing a load of baggage into his rucksack, Aleist set off from the academy towards the temple on the borderlands. As a countermeasure against the war event he had recalled a few days ago, Aleist thought he would take up an advanced job. Endorsing and tagging along, Rudel came with little baggage as he walked behind Aleist.

They had taken a carriage from the academy to a nearby village, but as the temple was on a mountain, they would have to climb it. Aleist was short of breath from his heavy load as he trudged on up.

But Rudel looked at Aleist and offered a word.

"I should've brought something heavier to train too."

"Just to let you know, I'm not dragging along this heavy baggage for training purposes or anything like that! Make light of mountain climbing, and it really will be dangerous... I was seriously in tears when I came a few years ago."

Recalling his self from a few years back, Aleist was moved to tears. He had brought his feet to the temple hoping to receive the grace of an advanced job, but without any proper equipment for mountain climbing, he had gone through quite a trial.

In-game, you didn't require any special mountain climbing equipment. Or so he continued mumbling to himself.

"This much is nothing, right? I don't think you need such grandiose equipment. Just look around Aleist, there are birds I've never seen before."

Walking behind Aleist, Rudel climbed the mountain. Honestly, Rudel enjoyed mountain climbing quite a bit. Seeing Rudel happily spending his time behind him, Aleist thought.

(Why has Rudel come to such a place... it's usually there for comrade strengthening events and the like. Wait, huh? In that case, does it mean Rudel is already my comrade?)

Feeling something was off about happily climbing a mountain with Rudel- one of his goals- Aleist continued on towards the temple.

Lines of overgrown trees, the cries of birds they could hear from time to time through the warm glow of the sun, the two of them continued walking a few hours more... before their eyes was an old, unmaintained building that you could perhaps call a temple.

That temple in the heart of the mountain, with no one to manage it, it looked to Rudel as if it would simply rot away.

"This is the temple? It's practically rotting away... what are we supposed to do here, Aleist?"

Aleist put down his bags and sat down on the spot. If the inside of the temple was the same as it had been a few years ago, then the whole place would be covered in dust so thick there was no place he could put down his bags and rest.

"We receive a prophecy here. You just have to wish to rise to a higher stage as you pray. If you do, the prophecy shall indicate the path you should go down, and if you want, you can change your class to an advanced job."

"Then I'm going to choose dragoon."

"No, dragoon is a special job, so you can't become one here."

"Why!? I don't want to be anything besides a dragoon."

"Again, it's special, so it's impossible. In the first place, when you don't have a dragon, you can't become a dragoon."

Rudel seemed displeased, but since he'd come all the way here, he thought he would pray anyways. If praying would indicate the path he should treat, he thought it would show him the path to be a dragoon.

"There's no helping it. Then I'll ask what I'm lacking to become a dragoon..."

"Isn't that obvious? You're lacking a dragon... is Dragoon really that good? As an occupation, or rather job, it's a bit half-assed, and the way you are, just becoming a high knight will make you plenty strong."

Aleist tried asking what had intrigued him for so long. Rudel was strong. Magic, swordplay and martial arts, in all fields he was ranked at the top of the academy, and in a simple battle, he was likely first in the academy... so Aleist thought.

"... Back when I was small, I saw a dragon fly across the sky. A splendid wind dragon of a deep emerald hue. Ever since I saw it, I couldn't help but want one of my own. I want to ride a dragon and fly through the sky. Freely soaring... flying with a dragon who'll contract with me is my dream."

Rudel spoke of his dream. The dream he held onto from childhood...

"I don't have any dreams. I just wanted to have a bit of fun in life. When I was a kid, I convinced myself I was strong, and that my future was secure. Maybe that's why, I filled my heads with all sort of foolish ideals of heroes and harems."

Aleist felt jealous of Rudel. The fact he simply continued to chase the dream he held from his youth was cool, and that he didn't give up was amazing, he thought. On the other hand, he was...

"A harem? My father had a number of women, but I've never felt jealous looking at him. From time to time, father and mother would fight over it, see. Something about inheritance and such."

"So harems really are most beautiful when left to dreams. I've heard women can be scary when push comes to shove..."

Aleist thought a bit. Could it be the harem he imagined was something that couldn't exist? As he thought that, the elf Millia floated up in his head.

"I won't deny it if it's your dream, but don't you like Millia?"

"N-no, well I do, but..."

(Millia likes yoooou.)

Aleist lamented in his heart. He had tried to use chocolate to get his feelings across on Valentine 's Day, but had failed. Not wanting to be the only one teased, Aleist shifted the subject towards Izumi.

"A-and what about you and Shirasagi? Everyone's saying you two are like a married couple."

Hearing that, Rudel made a bit of a happy, yet somewhat sorrowful face.

"I can't be with Izumi. I want her to be happy, so I've been telling her to rely on Luecke or Eunius' house... the two of them acknowledged it, but Izumi's a stubborn one."

"That's irrelevant! If you like her, then just say you do! As you are now, you're just running away."

Aleist was a reincarnator who lacked any recognition of himself as a noble. He didn't quite understand what Rudel was saying, but with his modern era sense, he thought that as long as there was love, things would work out one way or another.

Izumi's house was one attempting to flee to Courtois from their homeland... either obtaining noble status and serving under another, or gaining some land of their own. Otherwise, it would be difficult for them to live on. It was for that sake that Izumi aimed to be a high knight, and she needed an influential noble backing her...

If she ended up dating Rudel, then status-wise, Izumi could only become a mistress. And Izumi's house would enter the umbrella of the Arses House. There was nothing good to come of entering the falling umbrella of a falling house. And the House also had problems as a ruling power.

Aleist, who blurted it out without even considering such things, was surely a man who couldn't read the mood. Rudel could have gotten angry... but his heart was warmed as Aleist got so worked up for his sake. He sent a bitter smile as he spoke.

"You may be right... it's about time we started off. If we don't hurry up, the night will fall before we can get back."

"Do you really get it..."

Grumbling complaints as he stood, Aleist left his bags where they were as he walked towards the temple. In his hand, he gripped only a few small items he had pulled from his belongings.



Giving the temple altar a simple sweep, he lit the candle with a magic flame and placed the offerings he had brought with him. Filled with dust and spider webs, the temple's insides were filthy.

"Is that offering really enough? It doesn't look like the right price to hear out a prophecy."

Seeing Aleist start into the preparations, Rudel also did some light cleaning, but seeing the offerings Aleist had brought along, he grew anxious. The altar was lined with the sort of sweets a child might like.

"This is fine. The goddess here loves sweet things."

As the form of a goddess in Rudel's mind collapsed, the prayers began. Rudel began praying a step behind.

(Please give me an advanced job, oh blessed goddess. I brought you the chocolate you love so much, so...)

(Please tell me how I can become the strongest dragoon, blessed goddess...)

As if to answer their prayers, the inside of the temple was enveloped in light as a semi-transparent glowing goddess appeared over the altar.

"A-amazing."

Rudel gave his honest thoughts upon seeing the goddess. His crumbled image repieced itself somewhat, but seeing the assembled sweets disappear at a rapid pace, it fell apart once more.

'Come hither and I shall bestow a prophecy unto thee. If yonder lad of golden hair doth devote himself to the martial way, I shall open thee the path of the Black Knight...'

"W-what? I've never heard of that job before!"

As Aleist began thinking over the words black knight, the time came for the prophecy to be bestowed upon Rudel.

'And for thy other child of man... you shall take with thee the path of the White Knight. From today henceforth, you shall name yourself White Knight and live such that you never bring shame to thy noble name. "

"No... I want to become a dragoon, so I have to refuse that White Knight bit."

Perhaps due to his crumbled image, he spoke without any fear.

'Eh!? ... White Knight is one of the strongest jobs, and the highest order of holy knights...'

"Change, change me to dragoon."

As the hesitating goddess held her head, her eyes sought salvation from Aleist. But Aleist's hands were full with his own matters.

"Why!? The job that comes after magic swordsman is supposed to be hero"

'No, um, it'll be troubling to me if you refuse.'

As the goddess turned back to Rudel with a troubled look on her face, she started thinking over just how she was supposed to convince the individual before her eyes.
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