Chapter 100: It’s really easy for people to look in a mirror without actually seeing themselves fully
I fled the forge.
Desmond’s thanks regarding his sword Gaoithe wasn’t the reason.
Have you ever been faced with a wolf beastman who looks kind of rabid with red eyes just staring at you with a weird kind of fervor?
Once again, I fled the forge.
Even though Ragnall said,
“Aren’t you going to help Trelzt out more around the forge?”
You bastard, we both know that’s not happening with Trelzt acting like this.
I shot Ragnall a dirty look before I ran off, without giving anyone else a chance to say anything else.
Aaah, that scared me. If Helward gets that kind of devotion towards him everyday, there’s no wonder he ran off to the Labyrinth so ofte… ah, wait, I can’t go picking up his bad habits. I have enough of my own!
Anyway, I’m feeling pretty gross, so let’s go freshen up.
I think I sweat more within the half hour of fixing that sword than I have while forging 30 swords, no, 60. And that’s all without flames.
The mental pressure was also amazing.
It’s not unreasonable to want to run away from people badgering me with questions after all that, right?
If just repairing a broken spirit sword took that much effort, I can’t imagine what MAKING one would be like.
How would you even start? Do you start with an already-forged sword? An ingot? Metal dust?
Ah, no, that’s not the main problem here.
I need to focus more on training my magic, if I want to be able to make a sword like that.
Just now, I felt like I still had a bit of leeway, but I was stretched pretty thin with controlling the massive amount of magic, maintaining the barrier, and pinning the magic engravings on the sword together.
I mull the problem over in my head as I return to Woodrest.
First let’s go and change out of my sweaty clothes before I think about it.
I mean, sweat has totally seeped into my clothes, so it’s pretty gross.
As I walk back to my room, Hibiki-chan walks out carrying some parchment.
It’s Hibiki-chan and my room, after all.
Hibiki-chan jumps, her eyes wide.
“Jun-kun! Eh? You’re all sweaty! Were you training?”
She tilts her head to one side, looking me up and down.
“No, I was trying out something new in the forge.”
“Hehe, of course that’s what it was.”
… What does she mean by that.
Of course I don’t mean for that to be a question. It’s completely rhetorical.
Come to think of it, I’ve been neglecting training my sword recently too, huh?
I’ve been spending way too much time in forging and smithing…
Even though this is a world with dangers around every corner, I’ve totally been slacking off on my sword practice. I wonder if I’ve gotten complacent with my cheat abilities…
That’s no good. A genius is only mediocre if he doesn’t train!
Both in magic and swords, I’ve been slacking off.
Weird. I was pretty on top of things when I was still in Japan. I trained, did my homework, helped out at clubs, and cleaned up around the house all pretty diligently without neglecting any of it in favor of other things …
In this world, smithing and swords have completely become an obsession, huh?
… Un. I guess it’s hard to imagine that I had nothing to do with swords in Japan. Ah, no, that’s not right. The neighborhood was well aware of Grandfather’s eccentricities and his backyard forge, and I spent a lot of time looking over sword stuff, but the degree of my interest is completely different in this world!
Setting that aside, I ask Hibiki-chan,
“So what are you up to?”
“Un, well, Hibiki was going to go get herb gathering quests from the Guild board in the Warden’s Post Headquarters. I was going to take the time to ask about what they’re used for. Seimei-san said it would be helpful if I documented the herbs that I see on this trip.”
Right. Although Hibiki-chan can’t use group chat or send items, she can still contact us through [Friend Chat]. Or like, Seimei-san has been talking to Hibiki-chan?
And since when did Hibiki-chan start talking in cutesy third-person? Although I’m happy that she’s not forcing herself to try to act like a grown-up, so I won’t point it out.
I put a hand to my shoulder and stretch my neck as I say,
“Right, good luck then. I’m going to go take a bath, and then maybe I’ll find you so we can do it together.”
I open the door to go into our room, but Hibiki-chan’s standing there with her eyes wide open.
“What is it?”
Hibiki-chan’s eyes stay round like saucers and she tilts her head to one side as she slowly says,
“Th-there’s girls in there right now, you know? I heard the Wardens have round-the-clock shifts…”
Oh? That’s right, the scouts are always coming in at different times.
I remember and nod my head.
“Ah, un. As long as Toel isn’t there, I think I’ll be … fine…?”
I tilt my head like Hibiki-chan.
As I stand there thinking for a moment, a mischievous smile spreads across Hibiki-chan’s face.
She claps her hands and laughs, saying,
“I never thought I’d ever see someone who was actually cured of their trauma with shock therapy!”
“… You’re thinking too much about it.”
But even while I say that, my face is dark because I was thinking the exact same thing…
Geh. Hibiki-chan’s still staring at me like she’s laughing inside!
“What, you want me to wear clean clothes like this?!”
I pretend to be mad and chase her off, but… now that I’m thinking about it, will it be fine?
Approaching the bath entrance, I take a deep breath, go inside, and…
… there’s no one in the changing area.
Give me back my five minutes of silently freaking out.
I go to a locker-type row of cubby holes with doors, but then I remember I have Inventory, so it’s totally not necessary. As I go to enter the bathing area, I notice a mirror hanging over there.
I didn’t notice it last time… no, it should be “I didn’t notice much last time”.
It’s a clear, silvery mirror, but how did they do it?
I inch in closely to see … mithril, huh?
It’s true that mithril won’t oxidize as fast as silver, but it still oxidizes and it’s mithril.
Who could afford to put a mithril mirror up?!
Ah, right, this one place here.
Let’s see, let’s see… there are also magic arrays on the edge of this large, circular mirror. Does it keep it from oxidizing, or from fogging up …
Using my less intrusive non-attribute investigative magic, [Trace], I carefully probe the arrays without activating them.
Hm … What the hell! It’s a divination tool!
An image of the female Wardens claiming the divination tool to use as a mirror when it’s not being used for its intended purpose crosses my mind.
… I’m honestly at a slight loss for words.
The female Wardens are using a high-end divination tool as a bathroom mirror. What more can I say?
I sigh and roll my eyes a little, looking over the beautiful, smooth, polished surface.
Because I was only looking at the surface quality of the divination too- ahem, the mirror, I neglected to notice that I was standing, naked, in front of the mirror.
The girl in the mirror flushed bright red, and my cheeks feel hot.
I’ve… never actually seen myself after waking up in this world without clothes.
Actually, come to think of it, except for that first time when I went to The Queen Mary, I haven’t had a chance to look in a mirror.
Or maybe I was unconsciously avoiding mirrors.
I can’t help but look around to see if anyone’s coming, like I’m doing something bad, before I step up to the mirror.
Ugh… My cheeks are still bright red just looking…
Even though there’s probably no point to them, based on my size, I think chest wrappings are in order… for my own sanity.
Ah, no, I, who avoids looking down even when I’m doing my business, am going to take a good look this time.
… As I thought, there really is no big difference to my face. The gloss to my skin is brighter, but I think that has something to do with acquiring magic and my current healthier lifestyle and eating habits.
Two months seems like enough time for the change to be noticeable, right?
My stature really didn’t change that much either. I might be tall for a girl back in Japan, but in this world I definitely don’t stand out. I’m just about average, for a human girl my age.
Which means if I was still a guy, I’d be on the short side, huh? Well, all the gamers are on the short side. Taku, who was tall for a Japanese man, was just about average in this world.
I look over my arms and legs next.
My limbs were also long and slender to begin with, but you could say that I’ve actually gotten a little more muscular over these last few months.
The muscle is a lot more defined so I’m kind of happy, but I don’t know… it’s not really a question of a girl’s arm or a boy’s arm.
It’s clearly the arm of a person who does manual labor for a living.
Although my hands are still slender and delicate-looking.
I don’t really understand why muscle development sticks but the development of calluses doesn’t.
I mean, with all the forging I’ve done you’d think that my hands would get rougher and more like a man’s hand, but it hasn’t changed.
It seems like my lifestyle has definitely had an impact on how I look, huh? I, who had always wished for some obvious muscles but was unable to develop them, am happy that there’s some kind of results from the physically intense lifestyle in this world.
Which is all well and good, but …
I gloomily stare at my waist, shoulders, and neck.
Just like before, when I first looked waay back when I came to this world… they’re really womanly, huh?
I mean, with changing genders it’s to be expected that the hips and chest are different, but actually my hips, chest, and butt are only slightly more padded than they used to be.
The actual obvious differences, other than down there, are in the tight waist, narrowed and gently-sloping shoulders, and the slender neck.
Even though I have a basically-flat chest, it’s not possible to see through that I’m a man at first glance even with clothes on.
Well, I’m not one, anymore.
Dammit, it’s the game’s fault! Because it scans you with your clothes on, it apparently ‘beautifies’ your physique automatically, by 5% if you’re a man, 15% if you’re a woman!
Although I only found out when Seimei-san told me a little while ago…
And I kind of hate myself a bit, because I thought that my face isn’t really all that out of place on this body.
Dammit. Was Masaki telling the truth when he said people mistook me for a girl sometimes back in Japan, even after we entered high school?
I seriously want to know, why the hell was I not aware of it?!
While I’m staring bitterly into the mirror, I hear giggling and talking from outside the changing area.
Crap! People are coming this way!
“Oh~, we’re not the only ones!”
“Ah, it’s the swordsmith girl that was terrorized by Toel last night. Don’t worry, Ms Swordsmith, Toel’s still on duty!”
I’m relieved, Toel’s still on duty…
Because Toel isn’t here, despite the other women who are coming in, bathing is pretty uneventful.
I mostly keep my eyes to myself, and most of the women who are coming in are tired from a night shift, so outside of greeting me they don’t really pay me any attention.
Somehow, I’m beginning to wonder why I had made such a big deal out of it before.
…I don’t want to believe that Toel’s “shock treatment” worked, but…
The bath actually has a good feel to it, now that I notice. I like the smell of the hot water in cedar bathtubs, and the Wardens put in medicinal herbs in the water so it’s really nice to soak in.
You know, now that it’s actually quiet enough to notice these details this time.
I think it would still be awkward going into a bath with the girls from The Queen Mary and Hibiki-chan, but as long as they’re not into invading my personal space, I think I’ll be fine bathing with women from now on.
… Grandma, I wonder if it’s alright for your grandson to think that…?
Although I guess it’s ‘granddaughter’ now.
That image in the divi-mirror is 100% girl, although I still don’t like to admit it.
Even though I’m getting more muscular, should I be happy about that now that I’m really a girl?
I mean, when I was a guy I wasn’t into muscular girls, but do my preferences in girls as a guy matter in how I want to look as a girl now that I’m girl and not a guy?
Back in Japan, although I thought I had grown out of being recognized as a girl by high school (whether that’s true or not), I was at least aware that I was more on the androgynous side of things.
You know, being slender, being called a “beanpole”, all those types of things. Although it died down a little when we got into high school.
Because of that, I might have been overly concerned with becoming more manly-looking, like wanting to put on muscle and grow a few more centimeters
And it’s not just how I looked, you know?
I was into “manly” things as a kid, like wanting to be a hero of justice, looking up to samurai, and of course the swords, and all of that.
You could even say that everything I did was probably influenced in some way by my image of an ideal man.
When you think about it like that, can it be helped that I’m confused about things? Not just the physical change, but about where I want to go with my life.
What do I want to be as a woman, looking at it from the perspective of a guy?
I, who have not lived as a woman, who have not survived 16 years as a woman through the awkward ages of puberty, who only knows how men look at women, am I really capable of making a decision like that?
Of course I understand I’m probably making too much out of it, that men and women aren’t really all that different mentally, but it’s not that easy to come to terms with.
I feel like, rather than as a man or woman, I’d rather be seen as a “swordsmith”…
I sigh and stretch before getting out of the bath.
Being a woman is hard… well, I guess it’s more like suddenly having my gender swapped?
I still don’t know what I want to do with my new(ish) womanhood, but at least I’ve finally let go of the regrets of things I left undone as a man.
Worrying about whether or not I can actually be a woman while also clinging to living my ideals as a man; it was a really futile anxiety, wasn’t it?
<A/n: Thanks Calavante for the donation!
The results of Toel’s shock treatment was planned. The introspection on the meaning of gender and identity was not. Jun’s growing! *shock*
Although Jun still has growing up to do in the future too, so (s)he just has a working theory for now >