Chapter 29: Garen
“Before we begin, let us establish some ground rules—listen to each other until the end of the conversation—Okay?”
Garen nodded as I spoke.
“Let’s also perform some soundproofing magic so no one else can hear us.”
I’m not good at magic, so I’ll leave that to Garen.
“Who will go first?”
“I… No, Mika first.”
I told him everything I knew about being summoned by Astoria and asked to be the Saint. I thought I had done everything possible. But a year after I was summoned, the true Saint appeared, and my place quickly vanished. And I was eventually executed for impersonating the Saint.
Garen nodded when I finished.
“So Mika does have the memories…”
“…Can you tell me the story about Garen?”
It’s Garen’s story from now on.
You may not have noticed, Mika, but I was present when Mika was summoned. Mika was perplexed when we summoned her for our own selfish purposes. But you, gentle one, eventually nodded to our wishes. How kind you are, I thought. I was so glad you nodded, your dark eyes gleaming fearfully but steadily—the only ones in our world.
Then I became your personal bodyguard. It’s a privilege to serve as your bodyguard. You have no idea what is commonplace in this world. I liked how your expression changed in surprise with each one.
Mika, I was overjoyed that you were thinking of me. I felt special every time you called my name and I saw my reflection in your eyes.
──Sorry, I’m getting off track here. You were raised in a world without war, and I can only imagine how difficult it must have been for you to be on the battlefield.
Despite this, you continued to support us. You truly were a Saint. You were nothing short of a Saint. Until one day, that is.
That day arrived unexpectedly. That day, it rained, as I recall. The rain became flowers, and then there was a gleaming light. In the glare, I closed my eyes, and when I opened them again, there stood a girl. She referred to herself as the Saint and was annihilating the demons one by one.
The king summoned me after she appeared. Mika, you were right; we summoned you knowing you’re the Shrine Maiden who brings misfortune. And now that the Saint has appeared, we no longer require the Shrine Maiden, who could bring misfortune to our cause. They told me to kill you.
I declined. But the king’s decree had already been issued, and it was predestined. I was removed as Mika’s guardian and appointed as the true Saint’s guardian. While the Saint’s reputation was growing, Mika’s was deteriorating, until that fateful day arrived.
But I couldn’t let go.
Why do they say you, who can do nothing, who stood on the battlefield with trembling feet, knowing you couldn’t do anything, are the Shrine Maiden who brings misfortune and not the Saint?
That can’t be right.
I didn’t want to give up, so I devised a method. A forbidden magic only available to royalty.
I looked at Garen in disbelief. Garen nodded slowly, tears shimmering in his golden eyes.
“…It’s magic to turn back time.”