“I’m counting on you then.” [Ryouma]
After getting back home, Ryouma gathered the goblins and gave them some orders over his light meal, then he had a bath to wash off the sweat, and then went straight to bed to try and get some sleep, but unfortunately, he just couldn’t get any.
Even now he was continuing to extinguish fires, rescue people, provide treatment, search for kidnappers, run around the city, and use magic. His physical and mental exhaustion have piled up because of his Shared Perception with the slimes, yet he still couldn’t get a wink of sleep.
On the contrary, Ryoma’s mind was filled with various thoughts that kept popping up and disappearing.
At times he would doze off, but he’d wake up just as soon as he did, and in the end…
( I can’t sleep. )
So Ryouma got out of bed, took out a cup and a small bag from the cabinet next to it, and then took a scoop out of the bag with the included spoon, pouring it into the cup along with the hot water he produced with a spell.
“Fu… At times like this, this here is my best friend.” [Ryouma]
That was none other than his family’s medicinal recipe that he’s loved to drink since his past life. As a blend of roasted dandelion root, Japanese mugwort, Maidenhair Tree Leaves, and several other wild herbs, it is one of the best drinks that could be made in this world.
（I used to always— No, I really shouldn’t… It’s been happening more frequently recently, though, I know. ）
Ever since the city became more chaotic, Ryouma’s started to reminisce more and more about his past. Although it hadn’t reached the point where he was thinking about it everyday, he couldn’t help but think about his past life during times like this when he couldn’t sleep.
But then again, everyone had moments like this, so he was probably just tired. That’s why he never really paid it much attention, but the circumstances today were different.
‘If you’re alone in those mines of yours three days before the end of the year, you might just be able to rid yourself of your doubts.’ [Sereriputa]
A god by the name of Sereriputa once told him that, so he couldn’t help but wonder.
“Was he talking about this?” [Ryouma]
One question would lead to another, and before long, more and more questions began to pop up.
But if reminiscing was the ‘doubt’, then what kind of situation would rid him of it? In the first place, what exactly was he worrying about? What was the cause of it all? Were his worries the reason he kept thinking about the past? Or was he worrying because he kept thinking about the past?
But with both mind and body exhausted, he failed to gather his thoughts.
Ryouma sat on the bed and sipped in a daze.
(In the first place, why would Sereriputa tell me that? The other gods were there too, but he went out of his way to make sure that I would be the only one to hear those words.)
Given Sereriputa’s free spirited personality, Ryouma thought that he wasn’t someone easy to deal with, but at the same time, he believed that he wasn’t the type to lie.
“…Fu fu.” [Ryouma]
In the end, he couldn’t find an answer, and he ended up smiling instead.
(Well, I’m beat! But you know what, I don’t think it matters. I know I tend to reminisce, but all that stuff is in the past anyway, and I know without a doubt that I’m happy with my life right now. I’m not strapped for cash, I’ve got a roof over my head, clothes to keep me warm, and plenty of food… I make money off of my adventurer work and my enterprising endeavors. My livelihood couldn’t be more stable, and on top of that, I get to sate my curious spirit with my slime research. I know a lot of people now too, and though of course not all of them are kind, many of them are. If this isn’t happiness, then what is?)
The Maidenhair Tree Leaves that he used for his drink were gathered by that adventurer boy called Berk. The cupboard that he got his cup from was also decorated by stones from that boy, Niki, whom he became friends with during his trip to Fatma Territory.
The number of things in his room that were ‘related to other people’ were increasing.
He had a lot of things too when he was holing himself in the Forest of Gana, but those were all things that Ryouma himself made. He was completely self-sufficient then, so he had to provide everything himself.
“I don’t like how that sounds, though. It makes me sound so lonely. I had slimes to accompany me back then, so it’s not like I was alone… Though I suppose treating slimes as a replacement for people might actually make me appear even lonelier.”
Not sleeping properly and staying up all night was most likely a habit he picked up living alone. Ryouma laughed at his own mumblings. It seemed he was more tense than usual.
(I never once dreamed I’d be living a life like this. It really is just like living inside a light novel, like living in a dream… Oh, maybe this is what he meant.)
Suddenly, it occurred to Ryouma that this this might be what Sereriputa meant by ‘doubt’. It wasn’t about his unhappiness regarding his current circumstances, but his
(In that case, I do understand. If this is really a dream, then I wouldn’t want to go back to my old life even if I woke up.)
Ryouma thought back to when he met Gayn’s group for the first time. When they told him he’d died, he didn’t really care if he was dreaming or not. That was how little attachment he had to his past life, and it was also his decision to transmigrate then that led to his current life.
(It was like being thrown out in the middle of the ocean and having to keep swimming because stopping meant drowning, a life with no hope or vision for the future. Though I was still somewhat better off since I made a living, my situation was unstable enough that I feared just one thing going wrong. That’s why I thought I would end up just like those criminals in the TV or the internet. I don’t advocate for them, no, but whenever I saw the comments, I felt like they were criticizing me, and that made me sad. I didn’t want to die. But wouldn’t it be better to just die anyway? Wouldn’t the world be better off if I just died? Thoughts like those kept haunting me as I slaved away my body to protect my daily life.)
Ryouma recalled the words of that young master of the slave trading company that he dined with.
‘I feel that in order to protect your current life, you’ve unconsciously been trying to become a ‘good child’ by listening to what the adults say… Although you seem really happy now, you also seem constrained.’ [Orest]
“Ha ha, he really hit the nail on the head, didn’t he? …I get it now. …Everyone around me was kind, and life was going well, so I thought I could be reborn in the truest sense… But in the end, I haven’t really changed all that much inside.”
Though Ryouma spoke as though he’d been enlightened, the words he uttered rang pessimistic. Yet internally, he was also the calmest he’s been, and the smile that surfaced on him was not that of self-derision. As he drank what remained of his cup, the various thoughts that erupted ceased, and Ryouma returned to bed—
“So they came, after all.” [Ryouma]
—The moment he was about to return to bed, the stone slimes around the abandoned mine informed him of an approaching group.
“I suppose these people are part of my ‘doubts’ too then? I get it now, but… With this, everyone will probably worry again.” [Ryouma]
As a troubled but happy smile surfaced on him in that dimly lit room, Ryouma reached out for the katana beside his bed. He wasn’t in his best condition, no, but there was a fire in him that wasn’t there before.