Chapter 163 - Heaven, Earth and Human Test (1)
As Theodore looked reflexively at the information window before him, Seimei started to explain the 'Human Test,' 「It is good to devote yourself to training every day. However, if you can't use that power to protect people, it is just a meaningless disaster like a typhoon or flood. In the Human Test, I will look back on the lives you have saved before.」
"The lives I have saved...?"
「The value of life can't just be assessed by men and women. Using the most equitable and reasonable standard, as well as considering your age, I will take 10,000 lives as the bottom line. 」
10,000 lives...! It was easy to say, but that was a number which made up an army. Besides, it wasn't simply helping them but saving their lives. This made the difficulty rise to an absurd level.
Seimei said he considered Theodore's young age, but in the end, it was an attempt to make him give up the test. However, Theodore nodded without a single sign of agitation. "I understand."
Seimei was confused by the calm answer. 「...You're going to accept this condition? 」
"Does that mean you are overcharging me?"
「O-Of course not...」 Seimei muttered in a voice filled with embarrassment. Just like how a gambler with high odds of winning was cautious against bluffs, it seemed like Seimei became reluctant due to Theodore's unwavering attitude.
However, Seimei denied his suspicions. Saving that many lives... it was a miracle only possible for heroes of the Age of Mythology. Perhaps that unusual calmness meant Theodore had already inwardly abandoned the 'Human Test.'
Seimei guessed this and spoke again, 「I understand. From now on, I will go back through your life and count the number of lives that have been saved! 」
Simultaneously, the technique of 'Causality Mirror' was used. This was top-level shamanism which had been practiced long ago, and it was used to gain insight into the past. It was incredible that it could be reproduced after Seimei's death.
"Ah." Theodore realized that he was on a familiar hill. He looked around involuntarily, then he heard Seimei's voice, as if confirming his conjecture.
「Oho, this is your hometown. 」
It was as Seimei said. The Miller Barony, the place where Theodore had grown up, was spread under his feet. However, it wasn't the peaceful landscape where wheat grew during the harvest season. It was a battlefield where living corpses tangled together with people.
The scene where the undead had attacked, filled with the smell of blood and death, was still vivid in his mind. The struggle with the elder lich was reproduced right before his eyes.
Seimei quietly contemplated until the memory ended, then he settled the results according to the 'Human Test.'
He spoke in a voice which wasn't filled with any surprise at the presence of the elder lich. 「It is a fight against the black magic that summoned the undead. You did a considerable amount of work with the help of others. There are over 100 people in the village, and you prevented the aftermath that would've happened next... Okay, that is 1,000 lives.」
Seimei acknowledged that Theo had saved 1,000 lives. The result was limited due to the mercenaries who had helped defend the village, as well as two people who had aided him against the elder lich.
It was a large number, but when thinking of the quota, Theo had only filled 10%. Nonetheless, Theodore accepted the result without any objections. "Well, it is a reasonable number."
That said, this wasn't the only incident.
「Hrmm, then let's go to the next one.」 Seimei was slowly becoming more uncomfortable. He had been sure the quota couldn't be filled, but his confidence was shaken after seeing Theodore's innocent face.
Then the causal scene changed. It became a dark alley, the stronghold of thieves. This was the outskirts of Bergen, which Theo had infiltrated in order to rescue the captured elves. The series of circumstances that Theodore remembered flowed before their eyes.
As soon as Theodore's Magic Bullet destroyed the head of the thief, the world stopped again.
「You are like a typical hero, rescuing the long-eared family who had become slaves.」
"Long-eared family? Is that what you call the elves in the East?"
「Their ears are long. I admit that it isn't a good name, but an easy to understand name lasts for a long time. 」
Soon after that, Seimei came to a conclusion, 「I will count this as 100. 」
It was a brief response. Seimei felt a strange feeling rising in his stomach at Theo's dull answer. He had expected to be questioned about the number '100,' yet why was this youth acting like this? However, Seimei pushed his irritation down and headed to the next memory.
The confrontation with the legend ranked grimoire, 'Laevateinn,' was reproduced.
「Hah...」 Seimei cried out in a loud voice for the first time, unlike his usual taunting or playful tone.
He was an onmyōji, so he could see how dangerous these flames were. Theodore had literally saved the world in this fight. Even if it wasn't the world, it couldn't be denied that Theo had saved all the elves living in the Great Forest. Additionally, the lowest estimation of that would be in the hundreds of thousands.
Needless to say, Theodore had surpassed Seimei's 'Human Test' with this one fight.
「...This... I have to admit it! 」
The Causality Mirror wasn't simply a recollection of the past but a top-level magic which looked at all the associated people. Thus, Seimei was forced to give a passing grade for Theo's heroic actions.
It was worth more than 10,000 lives, even with the help of the high elves, the help of the elemental ruler, and the cooperation of Theodore's fellow magicians. Furthermore, there were still events left to see. However, Seimei thought it was sufficient and stopped the technique.
Then he spoke in a clear voice, 「Young man from the West, are you a protagonist who emerged from a heroic saga somewhere? 」
Theodore tried to speak, but he couldn't. It wasn't a question asking for an answer. So, instead, he realized it was Seimei's sincere compliment. Then the system messages announcing the end of the 'Human Test' appeared.
[You have passed the 'Heaven, Earth, and Human: Human chapter.']
[The progress at the current stage is 33.3%.]
[Step 2: Go to the 'Heaven, Earth, and Human: Earth Chapter.']
At the next moment, Theodore realized he had returned to the original space. Nothing was visible except darkness. He could only see Seimei, who was looking at him with a peculiar expression.
"Honestly, I'm amazed," Seimei remarked.
"......"Theo didn't respond.
"A young man who saved so many lives is standing before me. I was confident in my own time, but maybe that was self-conceit."
The young man who had called Seimei's soul in an unknown way... His identity might be suspicious, but... instead of failing, he had passed the test. Perhaps this encounter was an opportunity to solve the problem that Seimei himself couldn't solve. Seimei gazed at Theodore with deep eyes.
If this was the case, then he would verify the possibility with the other two tests.
"I will explain this test."
If the 'Human Chapter' tested the 'responsibility of a person with power,' then the 'Earth Chapter' tested the virtue of 'not being overwhelmed by one's own strength.' There was nothing as ugly as senseless violence, so strong patience was required for the 'Earth Test.'
"The 'Earth Test' is to confirm your faith in yourself and the patience to not succumb to temptation. Is it possible for you to stand upright in front of the temptation that you have faced?"
Everyone faced their own temptations, and their lives were determined by whether they gave in or resisted it. Childhood dreams faded into faint memories, and it wasn't uncommon for a boy who dreamed of becoming a righteous knight to end up as a thief for a few gold coins.
It was said that mountains and rivers wouldn't change in 10 years, but people always changed. The path chosen by people would change according to their choices. Rather than words, actions were what defined a person.
Theodore looked at his last 20 years and stood upright. "Yes, I can do it."
He couldn't say that he had never looked up at the sky in shame, but he hadn't lived a shameful life. In a sense, this might be a privilege of the young. The passing years were short, and the youthfulness meant they were faithful to their inner hearts, rather than worldly desires.
Seimei nodded at the sure answer and pointed to Theodore's head with his fan. Then he made a simple gesture with his other hand and said, "Path of Five Desires."
* * *
Theodore screamed without any sound, "――――――!"
It was only a short time in reality, with approximately five seconds passing since Seimei had cast the spell. However, during those five seconds, Theodore experienced at least 50 years of life.
He was expelled from Bergen Academy and retired to the country.
He agreed to the black market's dealer's proposal and entered the world of back alleys.
He ran away from Ellenoa.
He couldn't stop [Laevateinn].
He fell to Aquilo's temptation and became her possession.
Of course, not all the memories remained. Like dimly shaded twilight, they were remnants of a long time ago. Theodore experienced the opposite side of a fork in the road, the one he hadn't chosen.
There were lives which ended tragically and lives in which he lived peacefully. There was also a life in which he grasped enormous wealth and a life during which he was surrounded by beauties. He experienced a life where he returned home and quit magic, and a life marked by enormous achievements on all continents.
Seimei watched all of it and briefly commented, "Indeed, an eventful life."
It was a life which seemed to be a sheer cliff. If Theodore had given up even once, he wouldn't be standing here now. In an era where people were scrambling to be heroes, someone had reached here with a normal body.
Seimei had a feeling of admiration for Theodore. Then he threw a joke at Theodore, who was mentally exhausted. "By the way, I have something to ask you, regardless of whether you pass the test or not."
"Do you have a problem of sexual dysfunction?"
Tok, it was the sound of someone's sense of reason snapping.