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A Boy From the Far East
Rattle rattle, the train zoomed through the vast United States.
Though it had been nearly a decade into the twentieth century, humans still went on such grueling journeys. Wondering if it was high time they began flying in the open skies, Soujirou Hino gazed out through the train window. There, he saw a parched wasteland extend beyond the horizon. It was an unimaginable sight in his homeland, the empire of Japan. In that country, no matter where there was always either grass, trees, mountains, or rivers present everywhere.
“Isn’t it boring, young lady?”
As he stifled a yawn, the elderly man sitting on the seat opposite him spoke slowly in easily understandable English.
His behavior and words towards a foreigner were both polite and he was dressed well too. He seemed to be quite the gentleman. Thinking so, Soujirou replied in English.
“Yes, it’s my first time traveling so long on a train.”
“You seem quite young, yet you’re traveling alone without a companion. Where are you going?”
Soujirou wondered where to correct the elderly gentleman first.
“My destination is the Atlantis Witch Confederation.”
“Oh, that…are you traveling to the part of the Magic Empire that didn’t sink, Atlantis? You want to be a witch, young…”
Naturally, he didn’t wish for the misunderstanding to drag on any longer, and hurriedly interrupted the elderly gentleman.
“Um, thank you for the praise, but…unfortunately, I am a man.”
Hearing that, the elderly gentleman lifted his glasses and stared at Soujirou wide-eyed.
He returned the gaze unblinkingly with his obsidian eyes.
Soujirou wasn’t a “Young Lady”, but a beautiful boy of sixteen.
He had glowing skin, big round eyes with clearly defined dark irises, and long eyelashes.
Amidst his long boat ride from Japan and his stay in America, his hair had grown till his shoulders. He had tied it up with a string so that it didn’t bother him.
He wore a deep blue men’s suit with a slightly longer jacket hem. Modeled upon a trend he had seen in a foreign magazine, Soujirou had tailored it himself. He didn’t wear a necktie. Instead, he wore a bolo tie1 with the Hino family crest inlaid that his parents had given him instead of a charm.
He carried a stout leather trunk containing his tailoring equipment and a beautifully textured amber cane.
Oh, the elderly gentleman breathed out a sigh of astonishment.
“My apologies. Then, are you traveling there for the entrance examination?:”
“Yes, that’s right.”
At that moment, a young woman spoke from the seat behind Soujirou.
“A person traveling to the Atlantis Witch Confederation? What a coincidence. I’m going there too.”
A woman in her mid-twenties playfully peeked her head over seats. This time it was a woman for real.
She wore a woman’s suit with sharp lines that had been in the trends recently and the small hat on her head that suited her quite well.
Her eyes, brimming with curiosity, fell upon Soujirou.
“I see. You are…?”
Just as she was about to speak, the door leading to the back of the train was violently thrust open.
The new entrants were a ragtag bunch of gun-wielding ruffians.
Pointing their guns, they hurled abuses at the passengers, overpowering them.
A train hijack.
Quite an apt crime in a country where anyone could bear arms if a citizen.
At that moment, seeing the unusual state of affairs, the child on the very last seat began crying.
The mother tried to pacify the child, but even that seemed to irritate the ruffians. They decide to use a crude way to silence the child. That is, to pull the trigger—.
A dull thud rang through the train car.
That was Soujirou hitting the top of the man’s head with his leather trunk.
“To think of doing such a despicable thing to such an adorable child…you’re a bunch of cowardly dogs! No, it would be an insult to dogs to compare you to them…you swines.”
He was mostly muttering to himself, but he spoke in English on purpose.
The gun-wielding ruffians shouted something in an indecipherable accent. The contents were easy to guess.
Soujirou grasped his cane with both hands and unsheathed out a sword. Forged with the techniques of Japan’s famed swordsmiths, the steel blade glinted in the light.
He had handed over the leather trunk he was holding in his left hand to the crying kid just before.
“It is more important than my life, take care of it.”
As he spoke, the child stopped crying. Nodding with earnest eyes, the child cradled the trunk in his arms.
While the passengers were cowering on the floor, scrambling to protect themselves, Soujirou took the sword that was concealed in the cane in his hands and faced the men with guns.
Then, what should he do?
If there was only one, he could have taken him down effortlessly. But, there were at least three men involved in this train hijack.
It couldn’t be helped, I would just have to attack and leave everything to fate.
It was a sorry excuse for a descendant of an illustrious house that had given rise to countless soldiers and Samurai Warlords, but it couldn’t be helped.
He wouldn’t bother with manners such as warning before an attack and the like.
He charged at the men.
The men haphazardly fired shots while shouting something. But not a single shot grazed Soujirou.
However, it wasn’t simply because they had a bad aim. It was also because of the transparent shield of ice that appeared in front of Soujirou and protected him.
It was an unexpected reinforcement. This was magic.
“There. Do what you want, boy.”
The one who cast the magic was that young woman.
When he gave her a sidelong glance, she seemed to be elegantly sitting. But he noticed her skirt flutter and from the hem of the chemise underneath, she released sparkling Ice Magic.
It was a Crystal-Type Magic Dress.
“Appreciate the help!”
He wasn’t raised with such meekness that he couldn’t give a tough fight to men whose guns were good as sealed.
In a blink of an eye, just as he knocked out the men with the back of his sword, a shout of cheer came from the front of the train.
“It’s the Witches!”
My, my. It seemed like the Witch Guard had finally made their appearance on the train.
Soujirou returned the sword to the cane before it complicated matters further.
Rattle, rattle. The train continued as if nothing had happened.
“…Thank you. I was saved thanks to you.”
He turned to face the witch from before and bowed deeply as was the tradition from Japan.
If that Witch hadn’t been here, Soujirou would have simply failed his task.
He received an unexpected reply.
Although rude, Soujirou stared at the woman from head to toe.
That face was similar to the one he had often seen in the hazy pictures or portraits printed in newspapers.
Then perhaps, this woman was…the youngest one in history to hold an official position, the witch of the legends.
“Yumis Latrasta Atlantis. That’s my name.”
Atlantis. The only ones permitted to use that name were the head of the International Witch Federation and the head of the “Academy” that was in Atlantis.
“I wonder what kind of a Witch will you meet here on. I wish you a happy academy life!”
Soujirou tightly gripped the trunk that contained his tailoring implements.
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