Feeling a bit mischievous, I decided to lend Zack an advanced book titled, Geopolitical Problems in the Taulia Continent & Their Related Historical Background.
My former boss was the Margrave of Laswell. He told me that if I wanted to become a knight, I had to read this book. However, I honestly didn’t understand most of it. Although I borrowed the book for the sake of Nicholas’ studies, even Nicholas needed several months to understand its content.
Zack only asked us about some difficult words and was able to understand most of it.
When he told me that he had finished it, I playfully asked him about the relationship between the Kaelum Empire and the City-State Federation. He answered that the Federation had a goal of trying to find benefits in their relationship, all while maintaining a pretense of submitting to the Empire as their suzerain state. On the surface, the City-State Federation may seem like an alliance of independent states who possess complete sovereignty. The relationship between the suzerain state and its dependent states can’t be seen with a single glance. However, the reality was that the states of the Federation feared the military might of the Empire. In order to maintain their independence from the Empire without wasting money, the states did not assert their territorial rights on any areas other than their cities, and did everything they could to maintain this kind of relationship.
If the rumors are to be believed, Aurela, the Central Commercial City of the City-State Federation, is secretly supporting the Holy Kingdom of Rooks who recently achieved independence from the Empire. Since the point of the Empire’s spear is now being aimed at Rooks, Aurela seems to be exclusively giving Rooks their support. Furthermore, I’ve heard that Aurela has been struggling to earn any profits lately because the Empire continues to eliminate the tariffs on their roads. Although the book Zack borrowed also had that kind of gist to it, the author delicately obscured the point he wanted to make. Too blatantly insulting the Empire would have been dangerous, since the author was a scholar of the Academy City, a member of the Federation. Zack easily read and digested that information, and furthermore, added in his own unique interpretation of the work.
I was also quite astonished by the stories Zack told to Mel and the other kids. The North Wind and the Sun explained the importance of utilizing both physical force and various degrees of conciliatory measures for diplomatic types of matters. The stories about the cunning fox which was about a dispute between close friends implied the moral of a third party profiting at the expense of others. When I heard about these stories from Claire Jakes, Dan and Sharon’s mother, and also Zack’s caretaker, I wondered who could have possibly thought them up. I was so intrigued, I tried checking among all of the family’s retainers to see if they were ones who had created the stories. After learning that it was actually Zack who had come up with the stories, I felt more shocked than the time Zack had read the advanced book we lent him.
I couldn’t help but ask myself, What is this child?
And so, when Zack told us his past, I honestly felt quite relieved. I certainly thought that it was absurd in the beginning, hearing that he had received an education comparable to a scholar in this world, lived to around my own age, and worked in a city of hundreds of thousands of people. However, in the end, I came to accept that these things were reasonable, considering what Zack had already shown us.
Nevertheless, I felt that this could turn out to be dangerous. Certainly, he seemed to have vast amounts of knowledge, and certainly, he seemed to have been chosen by the gods. However, if he were to continue to live with no one believing in his actual ability, then I’m afraid that it’s inevitable he’ll walk down the wrong path.
When Zack turned the topic towards magic, I thought that in the future, this child is going to need companions he can rely on. And so, I decided to send for Lydianne. If it was her, maybe she would be able to teach and understand him.
I wanted Lydianne to come over no matter what. After that, if I remember correctly, I think I honestly told him about what I thought of her.
Even after our discussion ended, I was overcome by another series of pleasant surprises.
When Zack told me he wanted to learn the sword under me, I had intended to let him taste his first setback today. If it was Zack, he would probably be able to pull through the normal training just fine, however, he won’t become stronger if he doesn’t experience any difficulties. And so, to make him experience that today, I ordered them to go through a training so monotonous even Zack’s brother, Rod, would have to admit defeat.
And sure enough, Guy’s son was the first to throw in the towel. However, Zack and Hector’s daughter both managed to pull through to the end.
It seemed like the two of them had a natural aptitude for this. If they were to be trained further, there was the possibility that they would become swordsmen who would surpass even me.
With that, they’ve proven that their willpower is satisfactory. For now, I’ve decided that my purpose in life is to further train these two and brighten my grandson’s future.
Today was truly a good day.
◆ ◆ ◆
When I heard my son say that there was something he wanted to talk about, Matt and I exchanged glances. I feared that finally, the time had come. At around the time when our son turned three, we noticed sudden changes in his behavior. For the son who used to kick the insides of my stomach, any small change was obvious to me who was his mother.
In the beginning, he became obsessed with cleanliness. He always washed his hands and body and soon, before I noticed it, he also began cleaning the house. After that, he became interested in reading books and learned the alphabet at a frightening speed. When he memorized all the letters, he quickly isolated himself with his books. To be honest, I felt a touch of loneliness when this happened.
Although the speed at which he learned letters surprised me, the biggest thing that surprised me was how he often took care of Mel and the other kids. Although I had always acted as their caretaker up to this point, when Sharon seemed lonely he would call out her, and when Dan seemed bored he would put down his book and come out to play with him. He no longer acted coldly towards Mel who always stuck around him, and also no longer treated Rod and the others as a nuisance. I felt as if he had become a grown adult who was merely looking after some children.
And so, although I was surprised when Zack revealed that he was “a man in his forties who had come from a different world”, I was still able to comprehend it. It was as if my feelings were saying, “aah, so it was something like that after all.”
Although it seemed like Govan, my father-in-law, was a little worried, I on the contrary, didn’t feel worried at all.
After all, pure and innocent children like Dan, Mel, and Sharon were accompanying our son without any doubts or suspicions. Although you might argue that it’s not terribly rare to find adults deceiving children, I believe that Zack isn’t a bad person based on how he spends time with the children everyday despite there being absolutely no benefits in it for him. When I saw my son show an anxious face during our discussion, I couldn’t help embracing him in my arms.
“Zack. You’re my child. Nothing will ever change that. If you were indeed, chosen by the gods, then nothing would make me happier.”
And so, I pulled him in even closer,
“Besides, we’ve never even sensed a single trace of malicious intent from you. If we did, we would have never given you the chance to speak with us.”
That’s right . . . he is my son . . . my precious son.
His soul may be older than mine by a good number of years, however, that’s an unrelated matter. I will continue to love him and protect him. No matter what . . .
◆ ◆ ◆
My son was chosen by god.
My wife, Tanya, was making a face as if all this was obvious, but, as for me, I still couldn’t bring myself to believe it. Even now. Although there was the possibility that he was playing a prank on us, it was impossible for a mere four year old child to come up with such a detailed story and furthermore, there was probably no one could tell such an audacious lie.
However, the main question was: is this something I should be happy about?
Zack was born into the frontier, into the poor Lockhart house. If he had been born into a more affluent house, there’s no doubt that he would have been able to pursue his studies more freely. In reality, he has to read and study books by himself and therefore, will only be able to attain that much knowledge. If he were to attend an academy in the city . . .
However, it doesn’t seem like that’s something he particularly desires.
He seemed honestly relieved and happy to be a member of our family. If at all possible, I want to give my son more opportunities in life. It doesn’t seem like he needs to acquire any general knowledge. I fear that he probably has more knowledge than everyone in this village, no, probably more than everyone in all the cities of this entire region.
If that’s the case, then I guess the only remaining thing we can help him with is magic. Although my father has called Lydianne over for this, I believe that in order to acquire more advanced knowledge, he will probably have no choice but to attend an academy.
The Magic Academy that is the closest Rushmore is Tyria, the Academy of the Magical Arts, located in the Academy City Doctus. Admissions are accepted from those around the age of 12. I have no doubt that if it’s Zack, he’ll definitely pass the entrance examinations. However, studying abroad is a matter that requires a considerable amount of funds. Enrollment fees and tuition fees. Although I’ve heard that the enrollment fees aren’t terribly expensive, this is based on what the affluent noble houses are saying. In addition to the tuition fees, the list of fees goes on to include things like living expenses.
The problem is, our house doesn’t have that type of money.
There’s roughly eight more years before Zack becomes old enough to enroll. Until then, I’m going to make it my mission as a father to save enough money for his enrollment.
◆ ◆ ◆
My little brother is such an amazing guy.
Before I even knew it, he’s studied more things than me, and sometimes he also tells me some really interesting stories.
And then, there’s today.
He’s also become one of grandfather’s students. Even though he’s four years younger than me, who’s eight years old, he continued to swing the wooden sword for one hour straight.
I began training when I turned five. Nevertheless, after only swinging for a short time on my first day, I immediately cried when my grandfather yelled at me.
Although Shim’s sister, Mel, also did really well, Zack managed to go through it all without uttering a single complaint or falling on his knees even once.
Even though it’s unpleasant to remember my own experience, I probably wasn’t able to completely finish grandfather’s strict training to the end until I turned six. And yet, my brother who’s only four managed to accomplish that on his first day.
I used to think that my brother was a cute little thing, but I never really cared about him that much.
However, today, I’ve understood.
I’m Zack’s onii-san. In order to not lose to him, I also have to do my best.
Starting from today, I’m never going to utter another complaint. As the Lockhart house’s eldest son, and as the grandson of my great Ojii-sama, in order to not lose to my younger brother, I’m going to give it my all.