「……今まで、気付いてやれなくて本当にすまんかったのう、アスティラ. わしがもっと早くに気がついていれば. もっと、早くに助けてやれたかもしれんのに. 本当に、すまなかった」
「いいんですよ、オーケン. 私、貴方がちゃんと私のことを覚えていてくれたことだけで嬉しいんです. もう随分、時間が経ったんでしょう？ それに彼(・)がいなければ、私たちだけでは全員が生きて帰るのは難しかったでしょう. 時機があったんだと思います」
「ふふ、そう意地を張るものでもないですよ. 素直にノールに感謝するのがいいと思います……それにしても、歳をとりましたね、オーケン？ 最初、あまりにも髭モジャすぎて、全然貴方だとはわかりませんでした」
「ふん、エルフなんてズルい血統のお前さんと一緒にするない！ もう、あれから軽く二百年以上経っておるんじゃぞ？ 歳をとらない方がおかしいわい……わしだって、これでも年齢の割にはお肌の艶がいいですねって、よく言われるんじゃぞ？ 元からそういう血を持ってるお前さんと比べること自体、おかしいんじゃい！」
「……お主、相変わらず言うのう……？ まあ、色々あったんじゃよ. 色々と、な」
"...... and I broke up after you disappeared. And as you may have heard, ...... he died hating the fake you. The stone is the end result of that. That's Roy.
Astira listened to Oaken's words and twisted her face in grief as she stared at the clear red stone beside her.
"......, I see. It's my fault.
What are you talking about? It's not your fault. It's my fault. If I hadn't been so stubborn and stayed with him, I never would have ...... let him do that.
...... Don't blame yourself, Oaken.
...... Well, I guess that makes two of us.
The two men stared at the stone and were silent for a few moments.
I'm sure he'll feel better now that the red stone has helped him defeat the fake. I'm sure he'll be relieved to know it's in the hands of one of his own children. That's it.
"Yes, it was great, sir. Rollo. ......, right? He was summoning some kind of amazing dragon. ...... It was amazing.
I'm sure you're right. He was quite a sight to behold. ...... Of course, he was able to do it because of the amazing skills that I had developed over the years, right?
"Yes, I know. Lean was very grateful to you.
......? You did? ...... Well, of course she was. Of course she did.
As Oaken stroked his beard, slightly embarrassed but satisfied, Astila asked again.
The girl ...... Rollo is perhaps of Roy's blood?
...... I don't know about that. I don't know. We're related, we may be related somehow, but it's been too long ...... to find out. No one will ever know.
"...... Well, yes.
I'm not sure what to make of it, but I'm sure it's a good idea.
But. I'm not sure what to make of it. I'm sure there's a connection.
...... You're right. I've been in contact with Rollo many times. We have a similar temperament. He's shy and cautious, but he has a soft spot for others, just like you.
"Then there may come a day when I have to fight with you, Oaken?
...... If I could do that, I'd be on my own, but that's going to take some time, isn't it? He's a little too gentle in his temperament.
"Hmm. ...... I knew we were alike.
They both laughed quietly.
"...... Yes, yes. By the way, I became a mother (・・・・) before I knew it. Did you hear?
"Yes, I've heard that. I've known for a long time that I had a prince.
It's a dream come true. I can't believe I'm going to have such a fine, smart and handsome son.
...... Are you really the Pope of Mithra? I'm sure you've heard of it. I can't imagine you getting involved in politics. ...... Are you okay with that?
"Hmm, that's okay. I'm sure Mr. Tillens will take care of all the difficult stuff. And the people around me have been really nice. And everyone around me has been really nice to me. Even when I go out on the street, people are really happy to see me, even if I just say hello or shake their hand. I feel like I'm a really big person.
That's ...... very serviceable. I don't mean that I feel like a great person. Maybe you've already got a lot of power ......?
"Hmm ......, yes. It's true that now I don't have to work at all, I can live in a nice place, and I can eat whatever I want. I think I've got a lot of power.
"...... Yeah, ......? No, no, no, I'm not talking about that level at all. ...... Well, okay. I've got a lot to say, but two of the three of us are still alive. I'm sure you'll be happy to hear that.
Oaken looked at the red stone that had been Roy's memento, and pulled out another small bag from under his robe.
Astira rolled her eyes when she saw what came out of the bag.
You still kept that?
They were three silver cups that Oaken had once purchased from a shady stall.
It was a bit old, but it must be the same old cups that Astila remembered, the ones used by the three members of the adventurer's party, the Sage's Cup.
I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that I'm not the only one who's a fan of your work. In the event that you have any questions regarding where and the best way to get in touch with us, please do not hesitate to contact us. If that were known, how much do you think this thing would be worth? But no one would believe that we were once friends who trusted each other with our lives. It's not worth much at all. So I had no choice but to keep it at .......
Astira smiled nostalgically at Oaken's somewhat excusatory explanation.
I see. So you're selling it when it's worth something?
"...... Of course not, right? If you and I say it's real, how much do you think it will be worth? It's a great way to get the most out of your time and money. You can't even tell if it's a fake .......
I'm not sure what to make of this.
I'm sure you'll have the ...... real one with you for some time to come.
"Not forever, of course. Of course not forever, but at least I'll have it for as long as I live.
Yes. I hope so.
Oaken laughed as he laid out the three cups and poured in the liquor he had brought with him, and Astira paused for a moment to take one of them.
"Oh ...... does Oaken still remember how to do this afterwards?
"What, you treat me like an old man. Of course not. I'm the one who invented it in the first place.
The friend in front of me had not changed at all.
But when Astila saw Oaken with the cup in his hand again, she couldn't help but feel that many years had passed without her knowing it, and her face clouded over with an inexplicable sadness.
You'll be able to find a lot more information on the web.
...... Don't worry. No matter how much time passes, there is no way I will ever forget you. How many times over the past two hundred years have I dreamed that this day would come?
"......Yes. ......Yes. That's right.
In the event that you have any questions regarding where and the best way to use the site, you can call us at our own web site.
"...... Oh, so maybe you cried a few times because you were lonely? You did cry, didn't you?
Don't try to make me say that!
"Hmm. ...... That was a stupid question.
Astira's face brightened and she picked up a small cup.
"Well, shall we begin? But it's a bit long, isn't it? It's a little long, but it's full of lines that are embarrassing to say in public.
"...... Don't complain now!
Then they raised their cups one at a time and said the words in their memory at the same time without hesitation.
"We, the three cups, thank you first for this strange encounter.
It was a rule that they would say in the tavern when they all came back alive.
No one else knew about it, but the three of us.
"And in gratitude for our good fortune to be here again, ──── we commend you for the hardships we have overcome and the wonderful adventures we have had.
It was a phrase that had been coined on the premise that the three of them would be reunited.
It was the first time one of them had ever done so without the other. But for the two of them, it felt natural to do it now.
It was the only promise they had made when they reunited.
They hadn't decided anything about what would happen if someone was missing.
So they continued as if there were still three of them there.
Of course, there was no one there but the two of them.
The other person (・・・・), who was supposed to be there when they said this, is nowhere to be found in the world.
They know that very well.
They know it so well that the third cup seems to shake a little.
The red stone seemed to glow as if in response to their voice.
The person they know so well seems to be standing in front of the third cup.
They both know that all of this is just an illusion created by their own desires. ────
But hopefully, just for this moment.
It would be nice to be able to share a cup of sake, even if only for a moment, with the friends with whom we once shared adventures, even if it is only an illusion.
Even though they knew it was an unattainable dream, they held up the two cups and said the names of their lost comrades together.
"This 'Cup of Wisdom' is dedicated to our friend Roy.
Quietly, the two cups touch each other.
The third cup remained in front of the red stone.
There was no one left to raise the third cup with them.
They both knew it.
And so the wishes of Oaken and Astira were swallowed up in the silence of the night. ──── And then nothing happened.
They lowered their raised cups and turned their heads without saying a word.
Astila suddenly looked up.
"...... What's wrong?
I think I just ...... heard someone laughing at me.
"What?" Oaken looked around involuntarily.
But, of course, there was no one there.
No, no, no, no, no, no. There's no one there.
"...... No. I think ...... Roy was smiling at Oaken just now.
Astila said and laughed quietly.
I think it was you who laughed at me.
"...... No. That's not true. ...... Look, now he's pointing at Oaken and laughing. What's with the bearded monster?
"Isn't the ...... bearded ghost a bit of an exaggeration?
"...... Hmm. Well, why don't you try shaving it off? Maybe then Roy would understand.
"Ho ho, can we please not do that? ...... Are you serious? Please don't do that. You know?
I hope that makes sense to Roy out there. ......
...... No, I told you there was no one there.
There were only two people there, Oaken and Astila.
There was no one else in the room.
──── But then, just for a moment.
In the eyes of the two of them, it seemed as if they could see Roy smiling quietly at the sight of the two of them so unchanged.