48 – Child – Pressure
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I froze, suddenly feeling a shiver run down my spine.

"Rudy?" Sylphy called out to me and then pulled me into a hug. "Are you cold? Here."

I felt something wrap around me. A cloak or a blanket. I couldn't tell exactly what, but it was warm.

I looked towards Sylphy... Well, towards where I heard her voice and smiled. "Thanks, Sylphy. And no. I just had a weird feeling."

It was apparently noon. Since I couldn't see, Sylphy was serving as my eyes and helping me move around.

...It was a bit embarrassing when I had to use the bathroom earlier, but she thankfully didn't follow me inside.

But anyway, we were just sitting in my room now on my bed.

Mom and Mama Lily were taking care of Norn and Aisha upstairs with Master Roxy's help.

...Well, Master Roxy said she wanted to help, but I also heard her mumbling something about testing whether infants naturally had mana sight or could develop them with enough exposure to mana.

Hopefully I was just imagining things.

It was a neat hypothesis though. I mean, considering the melded senses and my own experience being a baby, it was possible. I didn't think there was anything really special with me anyway in terms of my body.

Plus, I did seem to recall Norn and Aisha looking around vaguely in the direction of where some colorful bits of mana floated...

But anyway, that meant it was just me and Sylphy together hanging out.

The only real change that had happened was that we were inside now instead of playing outside in the snow or at her house.

Well, that and the whole me being blind. Doing my best not to dwell on that though.

Or the crippling anxiety that Being W might be trying stuff in the background that I couldn't see.

Or the fear that Dad might be in over his head and end up dead somewhere I couldn't see while trying to protect me.

Oh yeah. And those vivid memories of his bisected corpse, a grown up and teary Norn, as well as an indifferent Aisha kept playing on loop when I wasn't careful.

One of the perks of having a photographic memory! When you can't see with your real eyes, your mind's eye takes over! Huzzah!

The only thing that was keeping me calm was the knowledge that Master Roxy was around and that she would definitely know if something was off and how to react to it.

That, plus the knowledge that everyone I cared about was here with me and were here to support me too.

Like Sylphy.

I felt a soft hand grab my right hand before gently rubbing my palm.

"Are you sure you're okay, Rudy? Do you need me to get you anything?"

I placed my hands over hers and smiled. "It's fine, Sylphy. Just knowing that you're here with me is enough."

Sylphy was quiet for a bit. Probably giving me a happy smile back.

That was another thing I was sad about. I couldn't see Sylphy's cute and happy smiles now.

Or my cute baby sisters. Or my cute and smart Master. Or my warm and supportive moms.

...Man. Being blind sucks.

No. 'Turning' blind sucks. It probably wouldn't be too bad if you were born blind since you would get used to it being the norm. But suddenly having a major sense taken away... I thought I was used to it already after the accident, but this was something else.

Really wasn't looking forward to going to sleep later. And speaking of sleeping...

"Um. Sylphy."

"Yes, Rudy?"

I felt my face heat up, but I pushed on and said, "D-Do you think you could convince your parents to sleep over? I... kind of don't want to be alone at night. I mean, Master Roxy is here, but..."

Silence.

"...Sylphy?"

"Of course I will, Rudy! You can count on me!"

I laughed and then reached around to pull her in for a hug.

I missed, but I felt her move into my arm to let me hug her.

"Heehee."

"You're the best, Sylphy."

"No, Rudy's the best."

I felt Sylphy's gentle hands trace my cheeks before tousling my hair.

After that, she said, "You tried really, really, really hard to stop your dad, didn't you?"

A pang in my chest. The familiar stab of regret.

But this was new.

The overlapping images of my dad's corpse along with his shocked face as he stood in front of me...

"Rudy?"

Sylphy's concerned voice.

I realized that I was trembling. At the same time, I felt some sweat running down the side of my face. I laughed and said, "I'm fine, Sylphy. I guess that being blind is just hitting me harder than I thought. Who knew that missing out on seeing things would make things so weird, right? I mean, it's just like closing your eyes. Except they're always closed. And except that you can see things you don't want to see when you never wanted to see them in the first place, as clear as if your eyes were actually open and-"

A warm hug. After that, a soft pat on my back. "It's okay, Rudy. You don't have to pretend with me."

A quiet reassurance.

I paused.

"I like you for you. You don't need to be cool or strong, Rudy. I just want you to be happy, okay? So you can cry if you want."

"I-I'm not going to cry."

*sniff*

Dammit!

Sylphy patted my back. "Okay. Rudy's not crying." She pulled away.

I instinctively started to lean towards her, but I pulled myself back.

If she noticed, Sylphy didn't say anything about it. Instead, I heard the pages of a book turning before she said, "Then should I keep reading?"

"...Yes. I'd appreciate that, Sylphy."

I turned to the side and brushed the tears out of my eyes.

"Okay. Then... The Great Hero Perugius finally sealed the Demon God Laplace away. Unfortunately, despite the sacrifices of the other heroes, that was all that could be done. Even so, it was enough. Like that, the long war against the demons was over and peace returned to the world. But Perugius continues to watch over the world, waiting for the day that Laplace returns. Roaming the world in the sky castle Chaos Breaker with his familiars, he continues his long vigil in preparation for the day the Demon God arises once more."

The sound of a book closing echoed. And then Sylphy said, "And that's the end of the story. Did you like it, Rudy?"

I frowned and said, "I think it's a bad story. What kind of author writes one where all the heroes die and the big bad is only sealed away? Then there's the fact that Perugius is all alone waiting to get revenge for his friends..."

"Um. It's a real story though?"

"Eh?" I blinked and then said, "It's real?"

"Mmhm! My dad says that it was a while ago, but Perugius is a real person. And the battle is real too. Sometimes, if you look up at the sky, you can even see Chaos Breaker drifting pass."

"Huh."

I paused.

"...Wait. Then doesn't that mean that there's a chance that a Demon God is just lurking and waiting for a chance to be resurrected?!"

Silence. And then Sylphy said, "Maybe? But it should be fine, right? Rudy's strong, so when you're all grown up, you can be the new hero and help Mister Perugius!"

I nodded and said, "I'm definitely going to need to talk with that guy at some point..."

If there was really a Demon God just lurking around in spirit form trying to resurrect while his body was sealed away, then I definitely needed to start making-

Wait.

Sealed Demon God, malevolent spirit...

"Rudy?"

...Holy crap. Is Being W the Demon God Laplace?

Ah. Wait. That can't be right. Laplace's colors were silver and green. It wasn't white. And Being W's mana was a milky, pearly white, not silver or green.

...Well, maybe it changed after he got wrecked by the heroes?

Possible.

Except... I faintly remembered Being W mentioning Laplace. Right? I think it was the first time he tried something on me. What did he say again...?

Something like...

'You... Laplace? ...possible! ...can't see... Future...?! ...Have to...!'

...Right. Something like that-

Wait.

"Rudy. Are you tired? Is something wrong?"

"A-Ah. No." I shook my head. "I just had a scary thought."

Right. There was no way.

I wasn't some reincarnation of a Demon God or something. And Being W wasn't a reliable source of intel anyway. Not to mention that I didn't even hear everything he was saying...

Yeah. It was just coincidence. Maybe he was talking about how the way I was using mana was like a Laplace Transform.

Definitely it. After all, Laplace was the name of a mathematician too. Not just a Demon God.

The door opened. With it, noise suddenly reemerged. The sounds of my baby sisters babbling in the distance. Mama Lily calmly reading a storybook while my Mom hummed a tune. The sounds of pots and pans and the smell of savory stew.

And then Master Roxy's voice. "Sorry to disturb you two, but lunch will be ready soon."

"Thanks, Miss Roxy!" Sylphy answered back and then stood up. "Come on, Rudy!"

I laughed and then stood up as well. "No need to be in a rush, Sylphy. It's not like the food's going anywhere."

Sylphy grabbed my hand and started gently leading me forward. "I know! But it sounds like Norn and Aisha are awake now, so let's go say hi!"

I smiled and followed her lead. "Well, if you put it like that, I guess I should show my face, huh? It'd be bad if my cute little sisters didn't recognize their older brother when they grow up."

"Rudy." Master Roxy's voice echoed from behind. "You should be careful. You don't want to jinx it, do you?"

"A-Ah. Good point, Master. You're as insightful as ever."

Considering the weird circumstances, that might actually happen...

Note to self: think positive.

"And you still need to learn to hold back on praising girls."

"...Understood, Master."

"Oh!" Sylphy spoke up and said, "Miss Roxy! After this, do you think you could help me with magic? I wanted to try something new and show Rudy, but since he can't see..."

"Of course. There are a few things I want to test now as well. Especially after seeing how you use magic, Sylphy."

"Great! I wanted to test some things out too after seeing your magic!"

I turned towards Sylphy and Master Roxy. After that, I frowned.

Yes, frowned.

I definitely wasn't pouting. Definitely not upset that I couldn't see how they were using magic. Nope, not at all.

...Dammit. Just how much longer am I going to be blind? It's only been a few hours since I've been awake like this and it's already feeling like forever...

Definitely need to remember to not try to reinforce my eyes with mana in the future. Or at least, make sure to set up a drainage system first, because this suuuucked.

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