In the town of Delead, they stayed overnight at a farily high-class inn. It was a sturdy stone-built three-storey building with a flat rooftop.
During the night, Jin for some reason or another couldn’t sleep and left his room, then tried going up the stairs to the rooftop. Small lights gave off enough light to let him somehow see where he was walking.
Stars were twinkling in the spring night sky.
“Ooh, what a pretty night sky. Even though I don’t know the constellations here.”
Jin who was looking up at the starry sky began to feel unusally sentimental. Then,
“Reiko, you’re here, right?”
Reiko, the faithful Automata always protecting Jin, undid her [Stealth] magic and appeared.
“Come over here.”
Jin who had become somewhat lonely called Reiko to his side, and gently stroked her head.
Reiko raised a puzzled voice due to Jin’s slightly unusual state.
“Mh, yeah. You’re always by my side, so.”
“Yes, that’s because it’s my reason for being.”
“Hehe, you always say that, don’t you. Well, it’s fine, just stay by my side always.”
“Yes, of course.”
It was dark so Jin couldn’t see well, but at that moment Reiko had an extraordinary smile on her face.
Suddenly a song flowed out of Jin’s lips. A song he had for some reason forgotten about until now.
The ending theme of a story about a group headed west in search of a sutra. This was also from the orphanage director’s collection, but he had heard the tune from a video tape, not a cassette tape.
Reiko held Jin’s hand. She hoped that would remove at least a bit of Jin’s loneliness.
Jin stopped singing, and then.
From behind he could hear the sound of footsteps. Reiko quickly turned around and prepared for combat…, but.
It was Elsa. Apparently as her room was on the third floor, she had heard Jin’s voice and had come up.
“Elsa? What’s wrong?”
“That’s my line. What’s wrong, Jin-kun?”
“Do you even need to ask. Somehow I couldn’t sleep”
Getting such an answer, Elsa gave Jin a searching look and then,
Her reaction was that of more or less accepting the answer.
“So, that song just now was?”
“Something or the other.”
As if she wasn’t satisfied with that answer, Elsa showed a deeply pondering attitude then,
She guessed exactly right at Jin’s feelings, didn’t she.
As it was dark she couldn’t see Jin’s flustered and troubled face, but he was still clearly confused. By no means did he expect Elsa to say what she just said.
With a slightly nervous voice he answered with a question, and,
“Because I’ve been like that.”
“Father is military personnel so he’s seldom home. Mother has a weak constitution so she doesn’t leave her room much. My brothers are so much older than me that we don’t really see eye to eye.”
He had previously heard of Elsa’s family structure, but hearing it again either way made him feel for her.
“There’s no way Rai-nii either could always play with me. Especially after he became a diplomat we’ve not been able to meet often.”
No doubt she didn’t have many friends of her own age. The cause of her not being very good at conversing must’ve been that too, Jin thought.
“When I was lonely, I wanted to get all the more solitary. Then I would the time I had fun.”
“By times you had fun, you mean…”
“When I was little. When I played with, or no, when my brothers and Rai-nii played with me.”
As expected, childhood memories seem to be special for everyone, Jin once again thought. The childish days when you knew nothing and only spent time playing.
In Jin’s case it had been an extremely short time, but certainly it had been like that.
“Jin-kun is a great Magi Craftsman. Even so, for that reason you’re isolated.”
Tonight, Elsa was frightfully sharp.
“…Is what Rai-nii said.”
But in fact it seems it was Reinhardt’s opinion told second-hand.
“Rai-nii said. The only people who can make up for isolation are the ones who share the same feeling.”
Jin was surprised that such a speech came out of Elsa’s mouth. However,
“…But, what did he mean?”
In any case, Elsa was Elsa.
Jin’s vaguely serious feelings had left somewhere. He once again looked at the night sky, then at Elsa.
“Aren’t you cold?”
Looking closely, in the middle of the darkness, Elsa was wearing only her nightwear.
“Mm. I’m fine.”
Even so, Jin removed his coat and put it on Elsa.
“Thanks. Jin-kun is always kind.”
Elsa thanked Jin and closed the front of the coat. Jin then said to her,
“Hey, during the day, we talked about the common people’s faction and chosen people’s factions, but are they in a bad conflict?”
“Nothing like that. Our country is mostly of the common people’s faction. Only a part of the nobles are of the chosen people’s faction.”
According to Elsa’s explanation, part of the nobles who employ Magi Engineers = Magi Craftsmen try to monopolize technology.
“They’re just immersed in their superiority complex.”
Elsa cut them down to size.
“But, Jin-kun hates something like that, right?”
“Yeah. Just building things that are liked is enough, but when people accept them gladly it makes you happy. That’s the time when you’re likely to be rewarded for your work.”
“Rai-nii also said something like that.”
Elsa then stopped talking and cast her eyes down as if hesitating to say something, but eventually like she had readied herself she raised her head and,
“Although Rai-nii told me not to talk about this.”
With that preface,
“I want Jin-kun to come to Shouro Empire. Then I want you to build many things that are liked, and things that are helpful.”
She then blushed just a bit,
“…Jin-kun, the look on your face when you build things, I like it.”
Elsa said, turned around and,
She left the rooftop with those parting words.
“Things that are liked, and things that are helpful, huh.”
Jin who was left by himself muttered to himself. For some reason Reiko wasn’t in sight.
“To get rid of isolation, to settle down, is what it means, right.”
Right now Jin was alone. He didn’t belong to any country.
“Well, I did plan to sooner or later live in some country, but.”
His original intention behind touring countries during this trip came out.
“Shouro Empire, huh.”
＊ ＊ ＊
Speaking of Reiko, at that time.
“Elder Sister, there was a man like this.”
She received a report from the ‘Hourai Island SP’ alias ‘Ninja unit’.
“A nuisance night by night, aren’t they. It would surely be a bother to expressly report this to Father, so please handle the disposal by yourselves.”