The Rebirth of the Hero’s Party’s Archmage chapter 40

Episode 40

After finishing the written exam on the last day of the tests, I returned to the dormitory to find that the three suns were still high in the sky.

The results would be graded over the weekend and announced on Monday, so from now until the weekend, it could be considered a perfect holiday.

If the exams had proceeded according to the original schedule, we would have entered the mid-year holidays immediately, but since the exams were moved up a week, there was no such break.

“Oh, yes. It increased, it really did.”

As soon as I returned, I checked my journal, Rin’s diary. It was the moment when a pleasant hypothesis was conclusively proven.

Socrafres.

– You can inherit the progress of ‘Unique Magic’ research from the surrounding environment.

– Progress 40.0% => 40.8%.

Yes, intense battles with formidable foes do indeed increase the rate of progress. This is a very satisfying result, though it’s odd to think that just by fighting, my unique magic has improved.

“I should take this as well…”

I packed the journal along with a few garments into a bundle. I was planning to go out for a short trip lasting 2 nights and 3 days—sort of a power-up vacation.

– Rin, after your expedition, why don’t you come to our temple in the Crimson Mountains?

It was a story from 300 years ago.

After consuming nearly 50 magic potions and fighting for close to four days, Freide had made that offer.

– There’s an elixir called the Breath of the Dragon; it’s incredibly potent. I’ll give it to you. It’ll significantly boost your magic power.

– Is it alright for you to give that away, Freide?

– Who do you think I am? I’m the shaman Freide who serves the Fire Dragon Bel’Dakiun. I’ll treat you to the full Crimson Mountains course, just come.

That’s why I’m considering visiting the temple of the Fire Dragon now that all the red dragons have departed.

Tch, of course, the part about having been in a dormant state for over 300 years is somewhat concerning.

But, what if Freide was so sure I’d return that she prepared an elixir for me? If there’s no elixir, I can just consider it a physical training trip.

“I just feel reluctant to visit the black market in my current state…”

Without the ability to use techniques like the Imagery Barrier, which could be considered the apex of my skills, and not being able to freely use Bell Quirius, I feel somewhat anxious.

“All the preparations are now complete.”

Having slung the bundle over my back, I took a careful look around the room to ensure I hadn’t forgotten anything.

“Well then, shall I go and check it out?”

Freide, have you really prepared the gift you promised to give me?

* * *

The Crimson Mountains were a sacred range that represented the southern region, marking the border between the Holy Human Empire and the Dragon Republic.

Because the Fire Dragon Bel’Dakiun and his legions had resided there for nearly a thousand years, the mountains were imbued with mysterious magical powers that made the place a holy site for many believers, magicians, and witches to this day.

After the legions departed, the mid-northern to northern part of the range, where the was situated, became imperial territory, while the central-southern to southern part, where the main temples were located, went to the republic.

The peak representing the republic was the Mythic Fire Peak, where the Fire Dragon once dwelled. Even today, a witch acting as a shaman oversees ceremonies here, continuing to impart the teachings of the dragons.

“The place I’m heading for isn’t here though…”

It’s the Snow Fire Peak, where the shaman used to live and prepare rituals before the legions left for the South Pole. Simply put, it’s where Freide was.

“Excuse me, young man.”

As I was sweatily climbing the Thousand Steps, a steep path carved from the cliffside leading directly to the temple on Mythic Fire Peak, a voice called out from behind me.

“…Hmm?”

As I wiped off the sweat and turned around, I saw a middle-aged man unfurling a cloth on the step, eating oatmeal biscuits.

“What are you in such a hurry for at this early hour?”

Dressed as a traveler, the man’s muscles hinted that he wasn’t an ordinary pilgrim.

“From what I see, you’re not the type to make a pilgrimage to Mythic Fire Peak. Are you aiming to desecrate other temples?”

“…?”

“There’s no need for that wary look. Coming here to plunder the Crimson Mountains at your young age, I presume there’s a pitiable story behind it. Let me give you a piece of advice.”

He carried on with his own narrative without waiting for a response, which I found peculiar, and I chose to listen quietly.

“Don’t go to Snow Fire Peak. Although left unattended for nearly 300 years, no plunderer who visited survived.”

“Why not? If it was left unattended?”

“How should I know? It’s said that a demon raised by a shaman is guarding the place.”

“A shaman? A demon? Does that make any sense?”

“Well, that’s what they call it. I once dared to go up to the entrance myself; honestly, it was a near-death experience. If I had gone any further, I would’ve surely died.”

Were all the shamans succeeding Freide psychopaths?

It was so absurd I couldn’t help but chuckle.

Whether it was Treina accused of dabbling in black magic or now a shaman raising a demon — and to think, Freide herself wasn’t exactly normal either.

Seeing my genuine smile, the middle-aged man sighed as if the ground was collapsing beneath him.

“It seems my stories have only fueled your ambitions for quick riches. I understand that the words of us elders rarely reach the fierce ears of youth, but you should reconsider.”

A summoned beast? Or a magical creature?

Whatever it is, I should be cautious. A shaman is considered one of the most exceptional people in the republic, not just in status, but also in ability.

“Thank you for the story. It seems I won’t be taken by surprise now.”

With a light laugh, I expressed my thanks and resumed climbing the steps.

When the cramps in my calves started to flare up, a winding path leading off from beside the Thousand Steps appeared. It was the way to Snow Fire Peak.

Picking up one of the lanterns illuminating the stairs, I shone light on my feet and turned onto the mountain path.

The mountain at night was eerily quiet yet noisy.

“Let’s detect it.

The demon that the priestess raised is guarding that place.

Was that just a rumor? I don’t see any trace of such a being anywhere, nor do I sense its presence.

Even so, I carefully surveyed my surroundings just in case before finally leaping over the vine-covered temple gate.

An eerie silence filled the ancient sanctuary. The stillness seemed to teeter on the edge of breaking, and the atmosphere was chilling.

Crack…

It was the moment I stepped on a branch.

A graceful three-tiered pagoda stood atop the temple, and suddenly, phosphorescent light gleamed from its pinnacle.

“…?!”

A powerful hostility.

Even before the shivers down my spine subsided, something unfurled its wings wide at the pagoda’s peak.

Flames then surged forth, forming enormous wings and a beak, and soon it scattered sparks and soared high into the night sky.

“Could that be….”

A chilling thrill swept through my mind for a moment.

An overwhelming sense of hope—a mere delusion—flashed before my eyes, but reason suppressed it.

Whoosh!

The flames dived toward me like a missile. If I hadn’t rolled forward, my entire body would have been incinerated, given the nature of that being.

‘It can’t be. How could it be….’

The flames that grazed over my head then immediately glided and shot back up into the sky.

Lynn, say hello. This is Friede. And this is Fifi. Friede raises her like her own daughter.

Taking advantage of the gap, I sprinted along the moss-covered colonnade of the temple.

Just then, light reflected off the temple’s glass window, and before the heat reached me, I pressed myself flat on the ground again.

Rumble!

The intense heat swept over my head, scorching a few strands of hair and leaving a burnt smell.

Maybe it was that smell.

When we first met, I remembered that smell too. Back then, my hair burned when the creature perched on my head suddenly spewed fire.

Ahahahahahaha! Fifi hit you with a good one! Fifi is the mascot of our party, you see!

Friede had laughed so hard that day… That prank had quickly brought her and me closer.

‘But… No, this is impossible. It’s been 300 years since then.’

My legs, which were running toward the temple’s main gate, stopped involuntarily. After all, there were no eyes to see and no ears to hear.

What if…

What if it really were true…?

It took a tremendous effort just to let the words tremble from my throat. My voice cracked at a high pitch as it finally escaped.

“Fifi… is that you?!”

The flames circled the sky, seeking the chance to strike down the intruder.

“Fifi, it’s me! Lynn!”

The flames flapped their wings, scattering beautiful fiery traces in all directions like a blanket of stars, and then began their descent.

“It’s Lynn!”

The boy cried out as if sobbing, calling out in a voice mixed with sorrow, doubt, and joy—a voice he hadn’t been able to utter since his reincarnation, a cry that had no one to hear it.

“…?”

The flames that had been diving at me in a terrifying heat suddenly stopped right in front of me.

The firebird tilted its slender beak in confusion.

“Lynn? Lynn? Lynn?”

It awkwardly imitated the voice, as if trying to mimic the sound it hadn’t heard in ages, but soon began calling the name with increasing ease.

“Yes, it’s me… We even competed to be the mascot, remember?”

Fifi was a sun parrot that Friede had brought to the party.

A species so rare that even jewels and gold couldn’t buy one, it was famous for having intelligence equal to that of a human child.

And it wasn’t just intelligence. Despite being a beast, it could freely manipulate flames with a mysterious ability that led some to worship sun parrots as legendary creatures.

“Not Lynn. Looks different. Fifi recognizes friends.”

As if angry at being deceived, the sun parrot began spewing flames several times more intensely than before.

It could have burned me alive.

If I hadn’t covered my body with a semi-circular water-based barrier using water magic at that very moment, the confrontation between water and fire would have turned into a cloud of steam.

‘Is this really Fifi…?’

The emotions surging within me were confusing. Was this turmoil? No, wasn’t this joy?

“Fifi, I may look different, but it’s me! It’s really me!”

I cried out to Fifi, who was violently tearing apart the water wall in fury at my impersonation.

Wasn’t there a memory only this creature and I could share? Something that could immediately prove who I was…?

Suddenly, like a flash of lightning, something clicked in my mind. Everyone in the party had laughed brightly.

“Look, don’t you remember?”

The magic circle on Rain’s palm shattered, and the water barrier disintegrated into countless droplets that danced like snowflakes.

It was the magic Fifi loved.

The magic that made Fifi dance with joy. The magic that Friede, Rista, Kies, and Lynn all loved because Fifi loved it.

A trivial yet brilliant fragment of memory from our time together that wasn’t written in any book.

“…”

Did Fifi see the same memory in that magic? The parrot that had been warily circling the sky slowly descended and stared blankly at the water droplets.

“Lynn? Lynn? Lynn?”

“Yes, it’s me… I’m Lynn.”

In that instant, the flames that had made Fifi’s body even larger than an eagle were snuffed out with a hiss.

Without the flames, it was just a small parrot covered in golden feathers. Its crest spread like a sunflower in all directions, and in the center, its head blossomed like a cute flower.

Fifi flew up to Rain’s shoulder, bobbing its head and tail back and forth with excitement.

“Lynn, scaredy-cat mage Lynn, Fifi’s friend.”

My vision blurred with tears.

Though the feathers that once gleamed 300 years ago were now tattered, and its beak and claws were broken and worn down, Fifi remained.

The Fifi who had journeyed with me to the ends of the earth through snow and rain.

“You… How did you… until now….”

My knees gave out, and I slumped to the ground, unable to stop the sobs and laughter from escaping my throat.

This wasn’t just a reunion.

Fifi was a living relic that transcended time, embodying the echoes of memories I’d thought lost forever.

“Lynn said Lynn would come back. Lynn came back.”

With uncontainable joy, Fifi climbed up and down Rain’s head and shoulders, shaking its head and tail.

“You fool… Why did you wait for me… It’s been 300 years….”

Tears flowed continuously from the boy’s eyes, but the smile on his lips was one of pure joy.

“Friede said Lynn would come back. Fifi waited. Until friend comes back. Always. Because we’re friends.”



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