8. Life of the Town

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8.: Getting accustomed to things

*Clang. Clang. Clang. Clang.*

“Alright children, the sun has risen and its time for breakfast, everyone wash your faces and make your way to the dining hall.”

As one of the Orphanage’s Sisters woke up the remaining kids from their beds, Arend rose with a refreshed mind. Concerning yesterday’s incident by the river, he understood his situation, after hearing the exaggerated stories from the other kids during dinner. Sighing to himself, Arend realized his faults when he distanced himself from Nel and made light of her gratitude.

“I need to apologize to Nel for the words I mentioned to her, hopefully, she’ll understand me.”

After the boys finished washing their faces, Arend followed suit, freshened himself and followed the rest of the boys to the dining hall.  At once he caught a glance of Nel as she stood in line for breakfast. Though he was willing to confront her, he knew it would cause a scene, so he decided to hold back until after eating. After grabbing his food, Arend wasn’t sure where to sit, he didn’t have the previous Arends memories so he didn’t know who his friends were or who he originally hung out with.

In truth, the original Arend was a loner who was very unsociable, so eating by himself was normal to everyone. But to everyone’s surprise, Arend walked to where Nel was and sat down right in front of her. The dining hall erupted into whispers.

~”Has Arend fallen for Nel, after he became her shining knight?”

~”Ridiculous, there is no way for Nel to see him that way.”

~”Hey, hey , hey, Arend is quite bold today after yesterday’s save, what do you make of him liking Nel?”

~~”Gross, why is Arend by Nel, he shouldn’t even be next her, he made her cry.”

As the peanut gallery was conversing amongst themselves, Arend, decided to just be upfront about his matter with Nel. Apologizing for his errors was what he naturally did back on earth, why would it be different now. After sitting in front of Nel, Arend cleared his throat and bowed his head towards Nel.

“I don’t know if this makes up for it, but I’m sorry for being mean to you yesterday.”

Nel was surprised by Arend’s actions, she didn’t expect this out of him, so she was not prepared for his apology. The usual Arend was a weird boy who kept to himself, who didn’t really see much out of life. But after he saved her yesterday, she thought maybe he was just misunderstood. Then again, his indifferent actions and words toward saving her, brought her emotions in turmoil. She couldn’t help but see Arend as teasing her and making light of her again.

“I… you… it…”

Nel was at a loss for words because she never thought the Arend in front of her would act this way.

“Although I pulled you from the river, to be honest, at the time when Sister Lia came, I had no memory of saving you. So I’m sorry for being mean to you afterward.”

Still bowing his head to Nel, Arend stayed still awaiting her reply. With such a response, Nel could feel her head start to become dizzy as she couldn’t believe it was the same Arend in front of her. On the verge of being unable to think, she saw herself as being rude and decided to accept Arends apology.

“It… its’ alright so please lift your head, you don’t have to stay like that. Stop it.”

As soon as Arend heard those words, he lifted his head and smiled back to Nel.

“Thank you!”

Immediately after Arend’s response, Nel’s face became hot as blood flushed to her head. the girls next to her, realized what’s going on and thought it best for Arend to leave. As the girls around Nel, shooed Arend to sit somewhere else, the rest of the dining hall bolstered into an uproar.

“Did you see that! Arend is playing the knight in shining armor.”

“Lies, there is no way he could be a match for Nel.”

“He didn’t like her in the first place, wasn’t Arend a loner type of guy.”

“It’s a mistake, there is no reason why she would like him.”

The louder the dining hall became one of the church’s sisters came out to quell the disturbance. As the dining hall uproar lessened, Arend managed to finish his breakfast and head to the designated meeting place Sister Lia told him to be. Arend had brought along the pouch given to him by Mr. Orven the Old Healer.

After traversing the Mind Labyrinth for almost a year, in thought. Arend was able to grasp the seriousness of the world’s state. The corruption the Goddess spoke of was merely the stagnation of her world. The memories of Mr. Orven and his experience were clear in Arend’s mind due to yesterday’s mind dive.

Arend also realized the difference in technological advancement, magic, and religion.  While these were the main things he grasped, he knew there were many more issues that plagued the world of Alkrga. Since corruption was more of a subjective thing, Arend was not sure whether he could save the world, rather he wondered why he should even do so. He understood that the original Arend may have died, by drowning and he assumed his body because of the Goddess. In short he never fully agreed to her demands of saving her world, only that he would do his best and try not to die in an unfortunate manner. As these thoughts played through Arend’s mind, Sister Lia had just come up upon him.

“Good morning Arend, how are you feeling?”

“I’m doing well Sister.”

As though she never had any sleep, dark bags lay under Sister Lia’s eyes.

“Is there any problem?”

“Ah, no, do not worry about it, how about we set off for the Healer shop already.”

Downplaying her fatigue, Sister Lia started off in the direction for the Healer Shop, Arend ran along following her lead.

~~~~~

Arriving at the Healer Shop, Arend took in the atmosphere of the merchant district, with its morning hustle and bustle.

“Fresh vegetables just in, buy them at a group discount, singles will be priced accordingly to size.”

“Welcome Patrons, enjoy my famous wares, for inquiries come this way.”

The sun had risen to a decent height, Arend approximated the time to around 9 o’clock as merchants left and right tried to woo customers and adventures alike.

‘At least the commerce around here is lively, hopefully, I can use this to my advantage.’

Entering the Healer Shop, Arend and Sister Lia were greeted by a Shop Assistant and led to the back of the shop once more. The Shop Assistant offered them refreshments as they waited for the Old healer guy.

Just as the refreshments were served, Orven entered the Healer Shops back room.

“Ah, Good Morning, Welcome once again.”

Moving on from the greetings, Sister Lia was anxious to get straight to the point.

“How about we make this a bit more private.”

Constructing a barrier once more, Orven cast several magic spells  to overlap securing the back of his shop space.

“Can we just continue where we left off from yesterday?”

“All in due time. Right now let’s settles ourselves and get acquainted properly. I am Orven Claiv, owner of this healer shop, former Adventurer and a long dear friend of Sister Lia. It is a blessing to make your acquaintance.”

“Ugh… don’t talk like that, what need is there for an introduction.”

“For certain reasons, it would be best to do so.”

“Tch… Alright. Liliana Aerschfe former adventurer and a Sister of the Trinitas Order.”

“I am Arend.”

“Ok, ok, introductions aside. I will share my diagnosis concerning Arend and I’d like Arend to explain himself as well. If that is alright?”  Sister Lia and Arend nodded in agreement.

“Now after you brought Arend to my shop, I used my ability on him and was surprised by what I saw. Arend’s memory structure is different from any I’ve encountered, also his memories only begin from whence he was pulled from the river. I was not able to further delve into Arend’s mind labyrinth or rather, Arend’s mind does not have a labyrinth at all. It is just a wall that plays various memories of his own choosing.”

Sister Lia, looked at Orven as though he was not making any sense. How can Arend’s memories just start from him being saved at the river, what of his memories prior to drowning in the river? She drew her line of sight towards Arend and caught a simple smile.

“It may be a lot to take in, but what Mr. Orven said is true. My memories only begin with me awakening by the river, it is also the reason for my confusion.”

“Then how are you able to be this way? How can you walk and talk normally? Your mannerisms are different, but you do not seem to be incapable of much. Why?”

“The old me had died at the river, and who I am, as off right now is entirely different.”

Sister Lia’s eyes grew dark at those words, If the boy in front of her is not Arend, it must be a wicked spirit whose possessed Arends body. Immediately She began to gather her energy.

“WAIT!” Arend shouted trying to calm her down, but his words fell on deaf ears.

“But you are not Arend, I have no reason to listen to you. I must take responsibility before things become worse.” But just as suddenly as her energy grew to a hostile point, it abruptly stopped and dwindled.

“Huh. Why is my..”

“Geez, Liliana. your recklessness is the same as always. Can you not go around wrecking things in my presence.” Orven had activated one of his countermeasures, believing that a situation like this might occur, due many experiences with Lia as an adventurer.

“We gathered here to discuss what happened to Arend, at least hear the full story before passing judgment. How does killing this boy amount to taking responsibility? Did you know how Arend was like before the river accident? Did he change a lot from that time? If he was  a wicked spirit do you think you and I or the children at the orphanage would be fine?”

Faced with a barrage of questions and reasons, Sister Lia, pouted in her failure. She knew she’s at fault, she can’t retort back or disagree with Orven. As Sister Lia’s hostility lessened, Arend decided to explain himself as best as possible.

“Getting to the point, the reason for my current behavior, I can’t answer that completely because I don’t know. But memories about this world, I learned all of that from Mr. Orven, after I came into contact with him inside my head. After that, we went on a journey through Mr. Orven’s memories, until we made it back to our bodies.”

Arend concluded to keep it a secret that he was from another world, and thought it best never to mention it again. He felt it would only make things worse if anyone found out.

“It was a wrong choice of words for me to say, I had died at the river, but my mind was a mess. I could barely realize what was going on, it was only after you saved me, that I couldn’t recognize you, but deep inside me I knew you were someone I could trust in.”

Sister Lia’s eyes moistened after hearing that last statement. She grimaced at Arend who had smiled towards her, her previous actions had begun to depress her. The Arend in front of her was still Arend, though he didn’t remember her, in his heart, he still knew who she was. Under her breath, Lia muttered, “Oh I’m so foolish. I almost failed in keeping my promise.”

“Sister has nothing to feel bad about, your intentions were only for my wellbeing and the other children.” Arend tried to comfort the depressed Lia, but only furthered her condition, like pouring steaming hot water onto a person who was freezing. He only meant well but injured her just the same.

Orven slightly smiled to himself at the scene in front of his eyes and decided to reset the mood. Pulling out the same rose colored potions from last night.

“If it makes you feel any better, here are some potions for you. It will be best for you to take a sip and relax.”

As Lia was still in a somewhat depressive state she obligingly accepted the potions from Orven. Nodding to his suggestion, she uncorked a potion and was about to gulp the rose colored liquid, but before a drop could even touch her palate, Lia’s eyes widened to the color. Immediately she chucked the potion bottle back at Orven in a fit of rage.

“Y..ouu… da.ree…”

Lia’s figure once again rose from her seat as if a demon was directly behind her, laughing to herself, her eyes seethed with a creepy glint that would send a chill through your back. She charged at Orven with a maniacal lust for his demise.  As Orven smiled smugly to himself, he thought ‘Ah just like old times, I never get tired of seeing her like this.’

~~~~~

After things settled down in the back room of the Healer’s Shop,  Orven was more or less beaten till he was quite bruised and raw. Sister Lia had vented her frustration from his past ‘gifts’ that he tried passing to her. With a sigh of relief, Orven crawled to his shelf, pulled a bottle to drink its contents and once more he was healthy again. Lia glared in his direction, her eyes implying if he wants any more punishment. Shaking his head to show his surrender, Sister Lia sits back down only to realize she had shown a really embarrassing scene to Arend.  She reluctantly turned toward Arend, expecting to see a child in fear of her, but was shocked again.

Arend on the hand had just nonchalantly waved back at her, implying that he was fine and that he thought this was normal. As the rooms atmosphere turned fine again, the trio returned to discussing Arends situation and any side effects.

“As I have tried to reassure you, Lia, Arends mind is different from any I’ve come across. I have no sure diagnosis to say if he is better or worse, but I can tell you this, his thoughts are on par with many adults, so I highly suggest treating him as such.”

“Arend is still a child, it was careless of me to have the children go on their own yesterday. Had they not been out, Arend would not be in such a state.”

After listening to the back and forth conversation between Mr. Orven and Sister Lia, Arend could no longer keep quiet.

“Sister, though I have lost my memories from before I fell into the river, I learned a lot from the experience with Mr. Orven. If not for Mr. Orven, I may not have been able to be this way. I’m really grateful to the both of you. Otherwise, I may have become a mentally crippled burden for Sister and the orphanage.”

At Arends outburst, both Orven and Lia became silent from his response. They agreed in their hearts that the possibility of him not coming to the Healer’s Shop could have left him mentally crippled.

“At least my body and my heart remember what is important. It may be naive of me but, I could trust Sister from the river because my body didn’t fear you. Maybe one day, I can regain my lost memories, but for now, there are a lot of things I want to learn.”

Looking at Arend for a while, Lia gave a great sigh and Orven just nodded his head while staring at the ceiling.

“If it’s alright with Sister, I’d like to work under Mr. Orven for awhile.”

“Little Arend, I don’t think now would be the time for that. If you can someday regain your memories, I think it would be best for you to stay within my supervision. Furthermore, I’d rather you not be influenced by such man.”

“Lia, I am not that bad as to lead Arend astray. I would only be guiding Arend with knowledge of healing and potion creation. From the time in my memories, Arend saw a great deal as to how well people can be saved from potions and healing.”

“I can agree with your knowledge of healing and potions, but Arend is still too young for now.”

“Sister, I want to become an Adventurer as soon as possible, and for that reason, I want to learn a lot so I can be strong. I saw from Mr. Orven’s memories how Sister fought against a monster horde to protect a village. I want to be strong like Sister and her comrades.”

Putting her hand to her head, Lia felt troubled. She can recall the memory of protecting a village from her adventuring days and can only assume how Arend may have witnessed it. Lia can understand Arends conviction to become strong, but as she still saw Arend as a child, as much as possible she wants to protect him from any danger.

Orven glanced in Lia’s direction reading her expression and understood her feelings of watching over Arend. He too wanted to protect Arend as much as possible, but he also knew that Arend is no longer a child.

“Lia, how about this, I won’t take Arend in to work under me. Instead, I will come by the Orphanage once in a while to teach my healing and potion knowledge to the children who are willing to learn. That way you can still watch over Arend and the other children.”

And Arend, with what we agreed upon in while journeying through my memories. Here are a few books related to plants, animals and beginner potions, as well as a set of magic tools for making potions. This is just a beginner set, so you won’t be able to make anything more than simple tonics and cures.”

Lia watched as Orven passed off a few of his precious books to Arend. Still unable to see  Arend as an adult, she reluctantly agreed with Orven’s proposal. She could only nod her head to Orven, as he finished his business.

As Orven wrapped up extra supplies for the magic tool set, he placed them all in the finely woven pouch he had gifted to Arend previously. Though the size of the pouch can fit in the palm of one’s hand. Arend watched in amazement as the rim of the pouch expanded when items entered. The pouch was like a bottomless pit, accepting all the items Orven placed within it. Seeing Arend’s astonished expression, Orven let out a smile.

“Arend, this magic pouch was also my gift to you. It has the capacity to accept the size of a small bed, which is about two Mu¹ by one Mu. There are many magic pouches with different qualities and capacities, so don’t feel reserved about accepting this okay.”

“I understand.”

“Also, Arend, after I uncast my barriers, please wait in my shop for a while, you are free to ask my assistant any questions about my wares. I have a couple things I want to discuss with Lia about teaching in the orphanage.”

Arend nodded to Orven, as the back rooms magic disappeared, Arend exited and went to go see Orven’s assistant.  As the assistant became busy attending to Arend’s curiosity, Lia was the first to question Orven’s motives.

“If it was just about teaching at the orphanage, it would have been fine if Arend stayed. What is so important that needed to be discussed?”

“Lia open your eyes already, Arend is better off now than he was before. He has a fresh start to be himself. I regretted not being able to save him before he experienced a traumatic loss, but you were there as well, you understand Arend’s sanity when he was at his worst.”

“Is he really better Orven? He also said he may regain those memories, Arend may revert back to his old self once again. How does his future get better, if he may destroy himself in the end? If he regains his past trauma now, his demeanor may escalate to something much worse.”

“I have faith in their son, I have faith in Arend.”

“…..”

“Liliana, if it comes down to that, let me see him even if he resists you. However the case, we should tell him the truth about himself  and his history before he remembers his trauma. I’d like to guide him and I want your assistance with that. We do not have a lot of time, who knows when our enemies find us.”

“Orven… I lost contact with one of our allies several months ago. If they really were attacked, we may have at most four more years before they can track us down, two years if they have an elite mercenary from that place.”

“…..”


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 ¹. Mu is Alkrga’s measurement, comparable to a Meter of the metric system.