Chapter 2: The Acquaintance of the Gods
Inoel the Righteous. Fierla the Beautiful. Dragon King the Strong. Dione the Wise. Jastin the Inspired. Ulmino the Ambitious.
– The great Holy Pantheon that watches over the actions of the people.
Endurance. Clarity. Fury. Tempest. Life. Decay.
– The unshakeable Divine Order that governs the state of the world.
With these two forces, the world is whole. From these two groups the world will thrive.
Follow the Divine Order, pray to the Holy Pantheon.
And maybe you will one day hear their voices.
Day in and day out, all over Sylrona there are pious believers who would regularly visit churches and chapels, desperate to hear the gods and become Oracles.
However, to hear the gods, is that really something that should be so enviable?
If Laurie was going to be completely honest, wouldn’t the peoples’ respect go down once they can hear the gods?
[“You’re thinking some rather sacrilegious things, there…”]
“Ah, as expected, thinking something like that would normally incur divine wrath, huh?” With a grin, Laurie turned to face the speaker who addressed him.
A handsome, older man with blonde hair and a full, but trimmed, beard stood regally in front of him.
When he had first met this man, or rather, this god, Laurie had suddenly become depressed over the difference between the looks of this charismatic and manly middle-aged “man” and himself, when he had been forty-something in a previous era.
Now, however, he couldn’t help but acknowledge that such comparisons were foolish, when you were comparing yourself to the Supreme God, the head of the Holy Pantheon, Inoel, who stood for Dignity, Justice, and Compassion.
[“In the first place, we wouldn’t act so inappropriately in front of anyone but Laurie.”]
The one who spoke next was standing next to Inoel, a “woman” of surpassing beauty.
Long, flowing black hair, moist red lips, a healthy, youthful glow to her skin, and an outrageous figure that was both voluminous and slender in just the right places – but at times she could also appear as pale-faced and slender as a bewitching ghost, or with skin as dark as chocolate and sinewy muscles. One who appeared in many forms, all female and all lovely (though with a distaste for pedophilia, she drew the limit at appearing as a child), this was the goddess of Beauty, Love, and Eroticism; the goddess Fierla.
Besides them was a thin, ruddy-faced youth with curly brown hair (Jastin of Expression, Merriment, and Inquisitiveness), a stern-faced woman with sky-blue locks (Dione of Cultivation, Wisdom, and Prudence), and a man of questionable age, heavily armored with a helm that covered the top half of his face and resembled the stern face of a dragon (The Dragon King God, of War, Strength, and Dominance).
These were all faces that Laurie, at the age of seventeen, had long since memorized well.
“I’m surprised that all of you showed up today. Although … Ulmino isn’t here?”
Jastin laughed, a happy, twinkling laugh.
[“As usual he said, ‘That man is so boring. Call me when he does something interesting,’ and didn’t bother.”]
Well, Laurie thought as much.
It was actually pretty amazing that five out of six of the gods of the Holy Pantheon had showed up during his meditation.
“So? Why did all these honorable members attend this meeting today?”
Laurie couldn’t help but have a sense of foreboding.
The way this looked, with so many of the gods that brought him into this world here, facing him seriously with an air of determination…
… this couldn’t be anything good.
The god, Inoel, stroked his cropped, neatly trimmed, golden beard.
[“Why we all appeared today … well, there were some things …”]
As Inoel hesitated to bring up the main topic, the youthful Jastin cut in, grinning broadly.
[“Or more like, a lack of things, we should say. Seriously, Laurie. This is an intervention!”]
[“An intervention… well, as the Goddess of Cultivation, I think that your disinterest in furthering your skills to be dissatisfying. In this tiny town, you fight the same monsters and do the same things over and over … after seven years, there’s no longer any space for you to grow here.”] Dione said.
[Thy hadst a high-quality body given to thee, it is a waste … no, forget it. Thou art boring.”]
“… Thank you for getting to the point, Dragon King God.”
So it was like that after all.
“Even if you say that, the ones who gave me this body were you guys. As a human being who’d like to remain in the realm of human beings, there’s no one who’d request a body like this.”
Laurie grumbled his protests under his breath, but since the ones in front of him are gods who can read human thoughts, there was little doubt that they didn’t catch it.
The high-quality body given to him, huh?
That “high-quality body”, they call it… It’s so “high-quality” that Laurie seriously wondered if it was okay to still call him a “human”.
In this world, there is that phenomenon called “magic,” but the people who are capable of using it are rare.
The bloodlines of those who can use magic are closely guarded, and over the many tens and hundreds of years, these bloodlines gave rise to the noblemen and women.
Those with magic rose to power, while those without fell from grace.
For the ones capable of using magic, on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being barely able to activate it and 10 being sage level, most of the magic users would be at about a 3.
Laurie? Um… that is … on that scale Laurie would be … 100, perhaps?
Not to mention, there are all sorts of different types of attributes of magic.
Ruled by the Divine Order, those blessed by Endurance controlled the earth and stone. Clarity ruled over water and ice, Fury over fire and heat, and Tempest over air and storm. There was even magic given by Life and Decay.
In general the magic users of this world could only use one of the six, or, as a rare existence, perhaps two at the most.
Laurie can use all of them, though.
His physical prowess was amazing too.
By the age of five, Laurie discovered he could run and run without getting tired at a speed that most people couldn’t see, stop a rampaging boar with one hand, and bench press a small building.
Just by observing, he was capable of learning the military arts, and Laurie discovered that his memory was considerably excellent and his concentration was definitely a grade higher than it had been before.
Laurie was even blessed with a well-formed body; broad-shouldered, though on the slender side, with the ability to gain muscle without becoming too bulky.
His face … well, he took some displeasure in it since it was more “beautiful” than “handsome”, but Laurie consoled himself that, at the least, it was still recognizable as male.
If you asked anyone else, they would say that it was an unforgivably attractive face.
To be given such outrageous stats, what more could one ask for from the gods?
… Somehow, rather than feeling grateful for such a cheat-filled body, Laurie had a feeling of unease from it.
He couldn’t help thinking,
Was I their project car or something?
With these characters, who are called the “Holy Pantheon”, Laurie could vividly picture them sitting around a table going, “Oooh, how about adding that? Why don’t we do this? Ah, but wouldn’t this also be interesting?” as they put together the various bits and pieces that made up his body.
Wouldn’t that idea make you feel uneasy about having such a body?
At the age of five, after discovering his terrifying abilities, Laurie broke into a cold sweat as various thoughts ran through his head.
Does it come with a 20 year warranty? Can I return it if it malfunctions?
When he shared those thoughts with the Holy Pantheon,
[“Ahaha, we got a little carried away~ Sorry, we don’t have concepts like ‘warranties’ in this world, but don’t worry, it probably won’t malfunction.”]
… Somehow, that response didn’t relieve his worries any.
So they really made his body haphazardly without thinking?!
With a sigh, Laurie pushed the unfortunate memories aside and asked,
“I wonder how many times you all have said something like this … In the first place, weren’t you gods the ones who said that you didn’t have anything in particular for me to do? And before you say that if I don’t do anything it’s a waste of the high-specs you gave me, that was done completely by all of you, without my input, you know?”
[“Of course we’re not talking about that. You, as a reincarnated person from one of the Earth series, have a lot of potential from the knowledge you acquired in your previous life.”] Inoel said.
“There’s no way for that, you know? I don’t know what you’re expecting, but I don’t have any special, era-changing knowledge. I never built anything, or had any interesting hobbies, and I left all my knowledge about sciences and stuff behind in high school. I just worked with computers. Exactly how am I supposed to use that here?”
A resounding sigh erupted from the divine entourage in front of him.
“H-huh? Um, did I say something weird?”
[“So he’s not aware of it himself…”]
[“It isn’t good to be oblivious to your own actions, Laurie.”]
Fierla and Jastin were the only ones to voice their feelings, but the other gods had a look of weariness on their faces as well.
What’s with that?
Laurie was discontented with the current situation of not knowing what they were talking about.
[“Let’s see. How should I put it; Laurie. In the seven years you’ve been living in this town, what has changed? From when you first came to now.”]
It was the goddess Dione who relented to explain things to him.
Laurie thought for a moment.
“There are a few more buildings, but if I had to pick one thing, it’s that there are more merchants and other travelers coming through here before heading to Stonegate, I guess?”
[“It’s not ‘I guess’, it’s at the point where rumors about the increase in travelers through this small town are flying all over the country! The inns and vendors in the town have been shaking their heads in frustration as they struggle to meet the needs of all the travelers.”]
Well, it’s not like he didn’t know that, but was it really getting to be such a problem … in the first place, why was Dione bothering to talk about the blooming success of the little town?
[“So it’s like that, but Laurie. Do you know why there has been such an increase in people coming to this town?”]
Let’s see… There’s a miasmatic marsh nearby, but it was equally close to Stonegate, so even with the recent increase in monsters, that’s probably not it. The town specialties … did the town even have any specialties? In the first place, it’s mostly just a farming community that cropped up as people cleared land to plant fields in order to support the growth of Stonegate…
[“FOOD! It’s the dishes that can only be found in this town!”]
Dione had grown impatient and just blurted the answer out.
“Oh. Now that you mention it, I remember hearing something like that from some of the Hunters that have been coming in. And?”
[“And that was your doing!”]
Now that she mentions it …
When he first came to this small town, carrying the tiny Emi on his back, they ate all their meals at the Red Cock’s Comb, the tavern in the same building as the Hunters Guild Office.
Everything was just boiled and seasoned with salt.
Meat. Boiled and salted.
Root vegetables. Boiled and salted.
Leafy vegetables. Boiled and salted.
Beans. Boiled and salted.
Eggs. Boiled. Sometimes salted.
And what’s more, if it was meat it was boiled to rubber, and if it was vegetables it was boiled to mush.
Once in a while there may have been a boar roasted on a spit over a fire, but even then it was simply rubbed with salt and turned on the spit.
Soups were seasoned only with salt and animal fat.
It didn’t take even two weeks before Laurie, with a slight twinge of heartburn and a palate sick of eating salty, texture-less mush and hard, rubbery meat, yelled, “What is WRONG with you people?!” and charged into the kitchen.
Keep in mind that he was a ten-year-old boy at the time.
But even though he charged into the kitchen…
“What do you mean, that was my doing? Popo and Tild were the ones who started making delicious food, right? I mean, all I did was lecture at the cook. Even in my previous life, like now, it’s not like I can cook all that well.”
[“You really don’t understand… cooking with medicinal herbs, adding milk and butter to sauces, blanching vegetables, stir-frying, using lightly fried and seasoned flour to thicken soups and make gravy, searing meat … these were all things no one else had thought of, you know?”]
“But even if I mentioned those things, I didn’t know how to do it myself, and so it took Popo and Tild a long time and a lot of trial and error to figure all of it out.”
Especially using the herbs. In this world, herbs were used to keep pests away and as well as in medicines and ointments, but not many were used in cooking. After all, it was common sense that medicine tasted bad, so why use those things in food? Even though there were herbs Laurie recognized as used for cooking.
Well, other than ginger and garlic, Laurie didn’t know what any other herbs looked like or how to use them.
Instead he told Tild, “Food is also medicine for the body! Using herbs for cooking isn’t strange at all!”
And as if the scales had fallen from their eyes, Tild and Popo began experimenting with cooking with herbs, along with other cooking methods Laurie described to them, and very soon rumors of strange but delicious food from the Red Cock’s Comb began spreading throughout the town.
That some truly horrendous creations came out, causing Laurie to scold them and say, “You can’t just add a lot of everything, you have to learn what to pair with the ingredients’ original flavor and be careful not to overpower it,” is something that the two creative chefs would prefer to keep quiet about.
But you know, if you’re talking about the sudden jump in advancement in cooking methods, doesn’t the glory and effort lie with those two intrepid gentlemen, who slaved day in and day out above the cooking fire all these years?
[“I won’t deny the efforts of those two men, but be aware of the fact that it was your words that sparked their efforts.”]
“Even if you say that, it’s not like I knew how to put those words into action myself. It was all just trivia that I’d heard from my mother and my ex-wife in the former world. And even then, it’s not some fancy cooking methods, like French cuisine or something. It’s the so-called housewives’ common knowledge.”
Dione let out a huge sigh.
[“It’s just that ‘common knowledge’ of yours isn’t common knowledge in this world.”]
While Dione put a hand to her forehead and shook her head, Fierla covered her mouth and laughed prettily.
[“Oh dear, he only just realized it!”]
[“Pretty soon, simply because travelers want to eat this food, this small town is going to grow into a medium, maybe even a large-sized town, and these cooking methods will spread out throughout this country, and maybe even into the neighboring ones. With your careless words of ‘common knowledge’, you have single-handedly sparked a cooking revolution, you know?”]
R-revolution? Laurie still found it hard to believe; to think that only his desire to eat good food and give his sister a balanced diet would have such grandiose results.
As Laurie came to terms with this realization, Inoel spoke.
[“That is what we think is a shame. Even the most trivial pieces of the ‘common knowledge’ from Earth, from the mind of Yoshio Itsuki, has the potential to create giant advancements in areas that you aren’t even aware of. And yet, after inadvertently sparking the revolution in cooking, you’ve done nothing but Hunter’s work. Even if we risk breaking our agreement, we can’t help but have high expectations and hopes for you.”]
Laurie sighed heavily.
“I get it, I get it. And so? I understand your positions clearly now, but why did all of you suddenly want to talk about it all at once today?”
Inoel coughed suddenly.
[“Ahem. Ah, well… that’s…”]
[“Thou hast said that thou will not entertain notions of ambition before thy sister hast come of age every time we brought up the subject in the past, but now thy sister hast reached the age of fourteen in the previous night.”]
Not one to beat around the bush, the Dragon King God cut into Inoel’s fumbling.
Ack. “My sister isn’t an adult. Until she becomes one, I want to fully devote myself to raising her.” Laurie had used that excuse over and over again so many times that he began to use the excuse without even thinking about it.
He hadn’t even realized that now, since the coming-of-age was fourteen in this world, he couldn’t use the excuse any longer.
Even though, because of his memories from his previous life, he thought that fourteen was still far too young to be considered an adult.
[“Now look here. I haven’t said much about it before, because it was admirable for you to decide to take her out of that bad situation and struggle to give her a good life, but haven’t you been thinking too much about your sister’s age? You’ve completely neglected your own age! You’re already seventeen, you know? And yet, what’s with this barren history?! Ignoring your lack of lovers, you haven’t even fallen in love once in all the years you’ve been alive in this world! That’s seventeen years! Seventeen years of youth! Wasted!”]
In the face of another of Fierla’s rants, Laurie panicked as he protested,
“No, well, that’s because, you know, I was such an old man before! There’s no way I can go for any girl who’s before puberty, and the older women who’d take advantage of such a young boy are -!”
[“NO EXCUSES! You! Need! To! Start! Paying! Attention! To! Love! I know you secretly want to find a woman to marry and settle down, but do you honestly think that kind of happy ending is just going to fall into your lap?!”]
Laurie had no words to defend himself with.
He bit his lower lip nervously. Even though he had been trying not to think about it, Fierla’s lectures hit him right where he felt uneasy.
Certainly, although it was questionable whether he would have had bedded a girl or not, a boy of his age would have at least fallen in love once or twice already. A boy of his age would have entertained thoughts of becoming someone great once or twice already.
A boy of his age …
Inoel smiled gently at him.
[“Go ahead. Even if we already know what you’re thinking, voice it out. It’s the least we can do, to listen to your worries.”]
Laurie let out a sigh that sounded like a weary old man.
“… I can’t help thinking that I’m wasting this boy’s life. To be such an old man inside with an old man’s regrets. Although I’m not sure it’s in the vector Fierla was heading, I too have wondered if I haven’t wasted this boy’s seventeen years of youth.”
Inoel closed his eyes, as if in thought, before he slowly opened them again, staring straight into Laurie’s eyes.
[“’This boy’ that you are talking about … is it anyone but yourself? Though you were Yoshio Itsuki, you, and not anyone else, are now Laurie. There was no one before that was going to be Laurie, and there is no one after that could become Laurie. Since you are Laurie, let me ask you; is there anything you are dissatisfied with, after the decisions you have made? Would you chose to have done things differently if you had to go back?”]
Laurie didn’t have to think too hard before he answered.
“No. I think I would have still made the decisions I made back then, even if I had the chance to do it over.”
[“Well then, the man who is Laurie has answered the man who was once Yoshio Itsuki. There is no need to over-analyze your past events. To let Laurie live his life to the fullest, if there was nothing you regret, then isn’t it alright to focus on moving forward?”]
That’s right. Ever since his birth in this world, hadn’t he already decided it?
He was going to choose to live his life in order to leave the least regrets behind.
<A/n: Forgot to mention previously, there is no incest. That’s kind of an important point for a lot of people.>