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Chapter 1, Part 1

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It was early summer. Though I said that, London was actually pretty cool in the summer.

After all, the highest temperature hardly ever went above twenty-five degrees (77°F). The average temperature was only around fifteen degrees (59°F), and at night, it was sometimes even necessary to take precautions against the cold. Watching tourists who had carelessly dressed for warm weather express their regret was one of my greatest joys.

Though due to the rising global temperatures, maybe this fun will end someday.

As for the cause of the warming, go ask some institutions. Though I could not help but feel that science has finally come to this step. Even if there was no magecraft or mystery involved, if a rich person with two children decided to devote all their efforts to cut down the Amazon rainforest, the world would be in crisis in a flash. It doesn’t even take a nuclear missile to send everyone on their way.

On that note, the thing that stops this sort of thing from happening in magecraft is called the Counter Force, but I digress.

That’s enough rambling.

The reason why I brought up London summers was because something happened that meant I had to leave there.

“Apologies, my lady. I plan on traveling to Wales for about a week for personal reasons. Is it alright to leave all the work to you for that period?”

My brother had said that to me.

That brother of mine! Wants to travel! For personal reasons!

I hope you can understand the sort of excitement that the thought filled me with.
After all, since my brother had been forced to become a Lord, he had been performing his duties with far more seriousness than I could have imagined. Though he desperately tried to hold back his stomach pains, there were some times when I honestly thought he was going to make a run for it. For this reason, I had even prepared tracking magecraft and a couple of torture rooms. I never thought all of those would end up going to waste. Maybe I should reflect on that.

So, when he said this, I could not help but get serious.

I tried every means to complete the necessary negotiations and business ahead of schedule, transferred my remaining chores to Shardan, the second-grade lecturer who worked for us, and put forward the conditions for my brother to bring me along.
Oh yes, by the way, I wasn’t worried that he was going to escape. I just wanted to take the chance to grasp his weaknesses. Since the war that happened in the Far East ten years ago, apart from the video games he liked to play and the occasional letter he received, there was hardly a trace of private life left on him. What a difficult person to toy with. But my instincts told me that the more I loved a pet, the more leashes and restraints I should put on it. It would be even better if I could bully him in the process.

Anyway, for this sort of reason, I accompanied him into the Welsh countryside.
Each holding a briefcase, we boarded a train at Paddington Station in the morning. As I enjoyed the turbulence, I snacked on the desserts that I had brought. In about two hours, we arrived at the Welsh capital of Cardiff.

After that, we took a five-hour-long bus ride, where we passed by a multitude of road signs in both English and Welsh. Then, we needed to walk up a winding mountain path.

The path seemed to be created specifically to blister the feet of the people who walked on it. It was very likely that only animals ever took this path. I very much wanted to slap the person who had made this road and to ask them exactly what they were thinking when they did so.

Occasionally, there was the chirping of birds. The smell of dirt, animal dung, and rotting fruit mixed together, creating a smell that could only be found in the countryside. The lush foliage in front of me stretched out to god-knows-where. Such a scene was enough to discourage the average traveler.

Rather than saying that the mountain resembled another realm, every step we took seemed to be a step towards the underworld of ancient times. Or perhaps we were getting swallowed into the stomach of a giant. The perverse feeling which that thought gave me made me feel slightly unsettled.

By the way, the first person to show a sign of weakness was my brother.
Just as I had a considerable lead on the dimly-lit road,

“…Could you, wait, for me.”

He said, in a raspy voice.

“Oh, really, you’re already tired, brother dearest? We’re only running our magic circuits for a little bit longer than usual. Shouldn’t this be an easy task in a place with so much Mana?”

“Could you please not, poke fun at other people’s, weaknesses with such a look of joy?” My brother protested, bent over and breathing heavily.

I could not help but raise the corners of my mouth in a smile. Even though he was aware of his lack of ability, he still expressed displeasure every time he was honest about it.

This meant that he hadn’t given up on his future yet. Even though he already stopped having hope in his talent long ago, he hadn’t lost his challenger’s spirit. What a contradictory person. Then again, it was for this reason that teasing him was so interesting— no, more like the reason why he didn’t bore me. I really should praise my younger self for being able to find him.

“If you’re going to say that, my lady, you should probably consider the unevenness in your own magecraft. With how you’re doing it, you’re going to waste a significant amount of energy. I’d recommend that you imagine the circuitry between your sacrum (a triangular bone in the lower back) and your fifth cervical bone in more detail.”

And there he goes again. Even though he was absolute garbage at it himself, he had a clear knowledge of what was ideal for others.

How twisted. What was this person’s problem? Who was he, a toy specially made for my pleasure?

“Hey, hey, if I get more efficient, I’ll be miles ahead of you.”

“Even if you leave me behind, I’ll catch up.”

I wonder, was he referring to distance or magecraft?

Whatever it was, his bravado made me laugh.

“That’s not a bad answer.”

I tried to repress the smile that was forming at the corners of my mouth and concentrated on trying to do as he said.

Doing this really did improve the efficiency. To tell the truth, I wasn’t much better than him in terms of stamina. So to relieve my exhaustion, I concentrated my magic on the flow of my blood and on my nervous system.

I took out my water bottle and drank some diluted wine as I looked out over the mountains.

“Aren’t we almost there?”

“…It says so on the map.”

My brother said, leaning on a tree and nodding as he wiped the sweat from his forehead.

He even took out a cigar and put it in his mouth. Though I thought that cigars would probably drain a person’s stamina, I didn’t dislike the smell. Besides, it was a good way to keep the insects away.

“Speaking of which, I remember that you once said that it used to be a fashion to build structures on mountains, yes?”

“Correct. In some religions, building shrines and temples on mountains was a proof of faith. To the believers of the religion, the hardships they endured when they climbed the mountain were a sign of their accomplishment. However, this tendency has changed over the years, and has waned along with the centralization and secularization of religion. After all, if you stay out here, you can’t become politically significant.”

The shift of religion.

Even though what they believe in has not changed, the [way they believe] in it has changed with the times.

With the development of the internet, the speed of change will only increase. Maybe in the future even attending service through computers won’t be a rare sight (TN: Well what do you know). Maybe even computers will have become outdated then.

After all, even though magecraft is based upon attempting to reach the past, accepting the present is necessary.

Though the El-Melloi family only became the head of the Department of Modern Magecraft (Norwich) because of the sudden death of its previous Lord, recently, I’ve started thinking that it wasn’t just a coincidence. Perhaps it was inevitable that the long-ignored Department of Modern Magecraft (Norwich) would receive a Lord.

To be honest, I find this quite interesting.

Chaos suits me more. If the El-Melloi family was still in charge of the Department of Mineralogy (Kischur), I probably wouldn’t have been chosen as the successor. Most families only had one mage because of Magic Crests. Originally, I would have just been a random mediocre mage living out my life as a backup from an insignificant family. If you look at it this way, I should have a tiny bit of gratitude for the Meluastea family, who took over both Archaeology and Mineralogy.

“Hmph. Faith. I probably should have asked earlier, but what the heck is this place?”

“…(TN: This is supposed to be suspense or something so pretend there’s a word here) Graveyard.”
Hearing his rasping voice, I could not help but blink many times in succession.

“Oh. I’ve heard of that before. Even though it’s not well-known in the surface world, down where we are, this is probably one of the most famous graveyards in the world. Even though it’s famous, the exact location isn’t clear… So it’s in Wales. Talk about blind spots, I completely ignored the possibility that it might be here.”

I muttered, putting one hand to my lips. My brother sighed.

He moved his finger like he was trying to stir up the smoke from his cigar. Perhaps this was a sort of warm-up activity to get his brain up and running.

“Before we get there, let’s have a lecture.

“Since the beginning of time, people have feared death. Even in a time when it was easier to lose your life than now, nobody was content with their own deaths. After all, no matter the present or the past, you only get to live once. ”

“Well, that goes without saying.”

“So, to suppress this fear, they defined what the world would be like after death. They clearly set it apart from the world of the living and gave it a name like the underworld or yōmi (the yellow spring, the land of the dead). This meant that death was no longer the end, but a new beginning. Death was just a way that our ancestors could bring themselves to accept the end of their lives.”

It looked like he’d found his stride.

Though his breathing hadn’t stabilized yet, once he touched on this sort of topic, he would not stop. I have to admire his tenacity in this regard. The only thing other than magecraft that could make my brother ignore his bodily functions was probably video games. Though it’s probably very difficult to find gaming buddies in the Clock Tower.

“In the age of the gods, the land of the dead was much closer to us than it is now. The situation is similar with death. Even though it’s a one-way path, the people of the past believed that it was still a connection to another world. The difference of the name by which we call it changes what meaning it has. For example, ancient the Mesopotamian Kigal (alternatively, Kur, Irkalla, or Arali, characterized as a dark, shadowy cavern) is vastly different from Valhalla (characterized by being a majestic hall for heroes) of the Norse.”

I remember that Valhalla was the palace of the god Odin in Norse mythology. It was said that the chosen dead could be guided to that place by valkyries and that there were hundreds of large doors from which thousands of warriors would enter the feast halls. As the sun rose, they would fight. They would be resurrected again at dusk, enjoying fine wine and good food and anticipating a new battle the next morning.

Thus, those presently living would not fear death, but instead would enthusiastically participate in the glorious battles that would lead them to Valhalla.
Though I could not understand this, I could agree that this sort of mindset was compatible with their definition of the land of the dead.

The ancient meaning of death. Or perhaps you could call it the most ancient form of magecraft that was shared between every civilization.

“So, death is just a journey to another world. That’s a romantic way of putting things.”

“Not necessarily. In Scandinavia, many mountains had names that are pronounced similarly to Valhalla. Perhaps they thought that those mountains were also part of the land of the dead. If we adhere to this definition, even though people will never conquer death, they can lessen the dread they feel towards it. In those eras, it was very difficult to cross an ocean. Therefore, even the land of the dead would seem closer than the other end of a sea, both psychologically and physically.”

My brother paused for a second, putting the cigar between his fingers and taking out his water bottle to drink water. Then, he used the back of his hand to wipe his mouth before he continued slowly.

“And graves were a way of giving a form to this [world]. Perhaps you could call it a tiny, separated land of the dead.”

I finally started to understand. A grave was not only a place to bury the dead, but it also was something deeper than that. It was a man made, tiny land of the dead.

That was what we called a grave.

“For this reason, kings and other influential people from all over the world would build mausoleums. Because graves were the underworld itself, they were their new palaces and fortresses built to continue their conquest. Valuable funerary objects, as well as countless figurines of soldiers, were placed there precisely for this reason. Whether they were pharaohs, kings, or emperors, they did not think that death was the end.

“Oh, right, and in Asian cultures, they would consider the Fengshui (a system of laws considered to govern spatial arrangement to optimize the flow of energy in Chinese thought), which further reinforces the notion of the afterlife. To elaborate further, there is a division between the places that separate death from life and the places that integrate the two and even attempt to derive power from death. The latter is often found in the Far East, but also includes the catacombs of France.”

My brother’s passionate and slightly off-topic words drifted into the clear sky above Wales.

“Though, these are only the ancient perceptions of grave-making. Like I said before, beliefs change over time. In ancient times, graves were like tiny worlds, but in the present, they are seen more as [windows]. Even people without specific religious beliefs may unconsciously see graves as a window to the dead.”

This is affirmed by the way people pray in front of graves.

Rest In Peace (R.I.P.), we pray. Amen, we say, as if it was a mantra. Because graves exist in our perceptions regardless of whether we believe in the afterlife or not.

“No matter how you put it, graves are linked to the world after death. In both the past and the present, we can peer through the graves and into another world.”

“Another world, huh.”

I repeated in a low voice.

Or you could say, that was where we were headed now.

“…So you’re saying that we’re heading to another world now?”

“Perhaps. Death is the real master in ancient cemeteries. Living people are only visitors who can stay for a short while on this earth. We should at least be prepared for this, especially in a cemetery that is this famous.”

“…I see.”

As usual, he managed to return to the starting point of the discussion.

As a lesson, I could understand it. The reason I didn’t review the magecraft-related history of graves was that the meaning of graves has changed dramatically. No matter how beautiful a poem might be, if you had no knowledge of the language in which it was written, it might as well be a random scrap of paper.

I nodded and then asked a question that came to mind. “So this trip is just a field investigation? You do sometimes go to research things that are hardly related to Modern Magecraft sometimes. Is it one of those excursions?”

“To tell you the truth…” My brother said, “there might be a secret to my victory there.”

“Your victory?”

I felt that I should feign confusion here for the sake of politeness, but to be honest, my brother’s goal was simply too obvious. For this reason, I wanted to grasp his weaknesses.

So I shrugged and said in a resigned voice.

“Really. So you haven’t given up yet.” There was really no need for me to clarify what “giving up” entailed.

The Fifth Holy Grail War, where the former Lord El-Melloi had died a sudden death and where my adoptive brother had survived, was going to begin again. Apparently, it was supposed to occur every sixty years, but because a situation occurred last time, there were only ten years between this one and the last.

But doesn’t going to the world after death to find a way to win sound a bit dangerous?
“It’s fine if you want to go, but don’t you remember what you promised me?”

“Of course not. To deal with the El-Melloi debt, to restore the Magic Crest, to be a stand-in Lord before you become an adult, and to be your tutor, right?”

He paused for a second.
“I’ll think of a way to deal with it. Or at least I’ll have come up with a general idea. Then I’ll be able to go.” He said determinedly.

Well, well. I could not help but blink (many times in succession). Even though he still looked as if he could fall over at any moment, there was a certain untamed glint in his eyes that wasn’t usually there.

But it’s also for this sort of reason that this guy gives me a headache.

I sighed.

In short, I couldn’t stop this brother of mine. Rather than saying that it was because I was not skilled enough, he probably couldn’t even control himself. He had decided on this way of life long ago and would continue trying to fulfill his wish even if it ate away at his humanity.
I often had this image in my mind.

The image of migratory birds that aimed for distant places that hardly ever stopped beating their wings. When they flew over the ocean, if there were no islands or driftwood, they would be forced to use up all the energy they had to continue soaring. They had to persist even if the seas were stormy, and had no time to turn back even if their companions fell from the sky around them. Only after this sacrifice, could they finally reach their goal.

But would they really be rewarded?

Oh, that got too sad all of a sudden, I thought, and put my imagination on pause.

To be honest, I originally wanted to put a few more leashes(restraints) on him, because having your toy run away would be very boring. Especially since my brother was far more useful than I thought he would be. But if I kept the leash too tight, Melvin might come over to interfere. What a nuisance. Making my brother’s life living hell was actually quite hard.

I considered this as I continued down the mountain path. Suddenly, something moved in the foliage.


We turned our heads to the source of the sound. A pattering sound came from within the forest. All of a sudden, about a dozen birds rose into the sky.

“Ravens, huh.” My brother muttered, and then turned his gaze back to the forest.

I also noticed [it].

“Ravens carry the souls of the deceased,” came a deep voice.

A black shadow emerged from where the ravens had once been.

It was a man dressed in black. Though he appeared to be around 60 years old, his sturdy build was visible from his jacket. There was a scuffed hat sitting atop his messy, unkempt hair.

“Ravens often appear in continental Celtic Mythology. They are the guides of the dead, and the birds of grave keepers. Because some say that they caw the word ’nevermore’ (TN: So we’re doing Edgar Allan Poe references now? Alright).”

A raven landed on the man’s shoulder.

“You said that they were the birds of grave keepers. Does that mean you’re—” My brother began.

“What business does a mage of the Clock Tower have with me?”

I didn’t think that he could tell that we were mages of the clock tower at first glance. Or, perhaps he had been listening in on our conversations for a long time now.

My brother stood straight and gave him a bow. “I am Lord El-Melloi II.”

“It’s a rare sight to see someone visit specifically to meet me,” said the man.

He turned around and faced his back to us. “I am the grave keeper Bersac Blackmore. If you have business, follow me.”
He began walking into the woods at a stunning speed, and my brother hurried after him. I turned around to squint at where the ravens had disappeared. The legend that ravens would transport souls reminded me of a place.

“Blackmore Graveyard…”

The graveyard whose name constantly circulated among mages, and was one of the oldest graveyards in the land.
-End of Part 1 of Chapter 1 of Book 6-
Please excuse the lack of photos I still haven't figured that out yet
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