This is the first chapter of Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasuka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte ii desu ka? (what a mouthful). I won’t make any promises yet on whether I’ll go on and translate the whole thing, so I’ll be using this to gauge interest. So for now, enjoy reading!
Before this World Ends — A
The eve of the final battle.
It’s their final night, so they should at least spend it with the people they would like to meet.
Such was the decision of the party of heroes gathered to slay the Visitor, “Elq Hrqsten” – acknowledged by the Church of the Guiding Light as a hostile element – before they each went their separate ways.
“—So how come you decided to come back here, of all places?”
His “daughter”, whom he hadn’t seen in a while, gives him an exasperated glance.
“I already told you. Tomorrow’s the final battle. I can’t guarantee that I’ll make it back alive. I don’t want to leave any regrets, so I want to spend my last night with my loved on—“
The “daughter” interrupts her “father” with a sharp tone. “I’m. Telling. You. That’s really weird!”
The setting is the caretaker’s office of a small public orphanage.
The figure of his “daughter” running about the kitchen appears to be rather annoyed.
“Those ‘loved ones’ should be your wife or your girlfriend, no matter how you look at it!”
“Well, it looks like some of them did just that, at least.”
The party of heroes is a band of seven – a few of them known as this generation’s Legal Braves. Two of them are married, and another two have lovers. Or, well, one of them says that he “has so many lovers that he can’t decide who to pick”, so let’s just leave that as an exception.
“Why are you talking like it doesn’t concern you?”
“Because it doesn’t. I’m a stranger to that kind of thing.”
A pleasant smell wafts throughout the room.
A small sniff from his nose elicits a grumbling noise from the pits of his stomach. Fortunately, it appears that it did not reach the ears of his “daughter”, who was busy stirring the pot of stew.
“So, Dad, you’re saying that you don’t have anyone like that?”
While she does refer to the young man as her “father”, he is, of course, not related to her by blood. It is just a nickname that comes from being one of the oldest residents of this orphanage, and the fact that the person who is supposed to have that nickname – the caretaker – is too old to be referred to as such.
“There’s no way I’d have time for that. I had to go through studying and training and fighting and battling every single day just so I could be acknowledged as a Quasi-Brave.”
“Is that so?”
A half-hearted reply. An obvious sign that she does not believe a single word he just said.
Her disbelief is not unwarranted. The Legal Braves – acknowledged by the Church of the Guiding Light as mankind’s greatest – are of course a given, but even the Quasi-Braves, who are only second to them in both strength and valor, are extremely popular to the world at large. Revealing his identity in public would get him surrounded by hordes of young women and their shrill voices, and attending parties sponsored by the government leads to nobles introducing their daughters to him.
However, whether there is a passionate woman out there attracted to his career and standing, and whether they’re someone whose affections he could return are completely different matters. Ultimately, he has managed to reach his present state by ignoring all women and all their attempts at stealing his heart.
He is, however, aware of how wasteful his actions are.
“But you were surrounded by so many wonderful ladies before.”
“I’m not sure who exactly you’re talking about, but those are my comrades.”
“The way you say that and mean it instead of being just dense and ignorant kinda makes me think that you should just go out there and die. Seriously, Dad.”
“You know, you say some really mean things sometimes.”
“Perhaps I inherited that from a certain someone?”
It seems that the food had finished cooking during their conversation.
“Are the kids already asleep?”
“Obviously. What time do you think it is?”
“What about that dumb Master?”
“Master” refers to none other than the old caretaker of this orphanage.
He is, for some reason, a master swordsman, and yet the history and career that led to his incredible skill remains completely unknown. To the young man, he is the world’s strongest man, the world’s greatest sword master, and the world’s worst example for everything else.
“He says he has some business to take care of in the capital. Every time I think he’s finally back, he gets up and leaves each time. He’s never here for very long.”
“Huh? So it’s just you and the kids staying here?”
“That’s right. What, now you feel like worrying?”
His “daughter” giggles and says,
“I’m just kidding. Sometimes a town guard on patrol would pass by, and lately Ted also drops by to help out.”
“Alright, stop right there. It’s good to hear that the town guards drop by, but I refuse to allow Ted near this place. Drive him out.”
“Why do you look so serious all of a sudden? Were you on bad terms with him?”
That isn’t the case. It’s just that, as someone whom she calls “Dad”, he feels a need and obligation to be enraged at this.
“Here, it’s done.”
The “daughter” takes off her apron in time with her announcement. She carries the whole pot to the table.
“It’s already late, so they’re just some leftovers I warmed up.”
She says so with a straight face, but he knows it’s just a way of hiding her embarrassment. This orphanage is not wealthy enough to have a whole pot of stew as leftovers.
That said, he pretends not to notice and just says,
“No need to thank me for this.”
She sits in front of him and rests her chin on her hand with a proud look on her face.
Realistically speaking, even if he had a lover of some sort to speak of, he probably would still have spent this night here in this orphanage.
Five years ago, when he decided to take up the sword back when he was much younger, it was so he could protect this place.
Five years ago, when he kept on swinging his sword even though he had little talent to speak of, it was so he could one day come back to this place.
Tomorrow, his party will go out and challenge mankind’s greatest enemy, the Visitor. While it is indeed a grand and extraordinary adventure, it doesn’t change what he needs to do – and what he has been doing – until today.
For the sake of the things he wants to protect,
For the sake of the place he wants to come back to,
He will continue to swing his sword and survive.
“Hey Dad, why don’t you say something nice at a time like this?”
Still resting her chin on her hand, his “daughter” mumbles a complaint at him.
The “father” tilts his head in wonder as he crushes potatoes down to bite-sized pieces.
“Like, ‘when this battle ends, I’m going to get married!’”
“No way. That’s a pretty ominous thing to say.”
Back when he was a young boy who admired the Legal Braves, he had enjoyed reading many stories about them. If memory serves, the words his “daughter” just said were used many times to foreshadow someone dying a regretful death.
And of course, he doesn’t want to die. And he definitely doesn’t want to do anything that would set up his own demise.
“I know that. I’m making the kids read all those books you left here. While teaching them how to read, I remembered how all those stories went.”
“You’re suggesting that when you know what it means? That’s just in bad taste.”
After blowing on it to cool it down, the “father” brings a spoonful of soup to his mouth.
It’s delicious. What a nostalgic flavor.
The spices in the soup soak deep into his mouth. Its flavoring is set to match the tastes of hungry children – a taste that one would be hard-pressed to find even in the highest-class restaurants of the capital.
“I’m aware of that. I just can’t accept what you’re doing.”
His “daughter” taps on the table with her fingers and continues,
“When you say that you’re here so “you don’t have any regrets”, you’re saying that you want to be ready to die anytime. I don’t like that. I know nothing about battles or wars or anything like that. But I think that, in harsh situations like those, the ones who aren’t prepared to die are more likely to survive. ‘I have to survive no matter what it takes. I have something I need to come back for.’ You know.”
His “daughter” pouts and keeps going.
“In stories, killing off those people first would be more dramatic. I get that. It’s a lot more tragic if the people you don’t want to die get killed off. But I’m sure those who are destined to die like that would refuse to accept something so arbitrary.”
He notices that his “daughter’s” finger is trembling slightly.
His “daughter” is a strong woman. When she feels emotionally weak, she would never let it show on her face. Pretending to be upset, to complain, and grumble lets her stop her tears from falling down.
“So Dad, if you guys are heading out to fight God itself, don’t jinx yourselves by saying something so pessimistic. Cling on to something more concrete. Tell me something easier to understand. Give me a good reason why you want to come back home. If you don’t, I… I don’t think I can see you off tomorrow with a smile on my face.”
“That’s… easier said than done.”
He knows what she’s trying to say. And he even agrees with it.
Even so, at the moment he has no plans of getting married. In the first place, he needs a partner, and that probably isn’t a matter that should be decided on the spot. Still, saying something like, “I’m going to think of a good name while I’m gone, so go and prepare a baby for when I come back” doesn’t seem to be the right answer either. Actually, if he said that, he would definitely receive a loud slap to the face.
Time to think of something else.
“I liked the ones you baked before. I’d like a huge serving on my next birthday.”
His “daughter” looks into his eyes and slumps her shoulders.
“Are you really going to survive and come back for those?”
“Did I say something wrong?”
“Well, no, but… doesn’t it lack tension?”
She scratches her cheek and says,
“Well, whatever. Let’s settle with that. In exchange, I’m going to feed you so much cake next year that you’ll get a heart attack.”
So you better come back home – she holds back those words behind her lips.
Her expression clouds for a moment, but she gives him a smile.
“Alright, leave it to me.”
He gives her words of reassurance, and continues to slurp his stew without stopping.
The night goes on.
The dawn of the final battle approaches.
Less than a year after that night, humanity fell into ruin.
And of course, the young Quasi-Brave failed to fulfill his promise.
A very long time had passed since then.