Radkiel nodded, his expression portraying a sense of surprise as if he hadn’t expected to astonish me this much.
“If you mean by receiving the quest’s initiation, then yes, indeed. I have. It was explicitly mentioned as the main quest…”
“The main quest, you say? Ah, could you please tell me its contents? Can you share them with me?”
My main quest was to rescue Radkiel. In response to my urgent inquiry, he hesitated before replying.
“Um, it stated that your future changed upon me arriving on this island.”
“Yes, a change. That’s obvious. And then?”
“It indicated that the future could also be changed based on my choices…”
“Ah, the future. I see… Wait. You mean it can change? Truly?”
“Huh? Yes. It certainly did.”
What? Why? Even though my quest explicitly stated that it couldn’t be altered, Radkiel’s was different!
As my expression kept changing, Radkiel added hastily, “It suggested that I should complete all the quests if I wish for the vision of the future I witnessed to manifest into reality. It warned that if I fail, the future would change, yet there is still uncertainty…”
“…Rael saw the future? I mean, like, a d-dream…?”
With great effort, I managed to utter those words, and he, in response, softly answered, covering his mouth with his palm.
Oh my God. In other words, this is some kind of joint quest, isn’t it? Spending a year with Radkiel, he has to follow his assigned quest. So, if I were to drive him away, the quest would fail, right?
“Isn’t this just too much…”
Becoming happy together? Who in the world could be happy while being kidnapped and confined? At least I am not!
Gazing at Radkiel with a downcast expression, I attempted to salvage my thoughts, which became tangled upon meeting his eyes. Something seemed to cross his mind, making him appear even more bewildered.
Let’s be straightforward. Since he will probably read my thoughts again, there’s no other way.
“Yes, Radkiel. Crime… it shouldn’t be committed…”
“Kidnapping someone without their consent or arbitrarily confining them somewhere is a crime, a crime. A wicked deed.”
“Oh, right. It’s also prohibited to engage in physical contact without consent. Hugging or kissing without permission means harassment, vile actions committed by human trash. And…”
Marriage. I don’t know what happened to lead to this result, but it inevitably reminded me of Stockholm Syndrome. Or maybe the effects of hazy mind? Though the implications are different, they both represent a lack of genuine affection.
Since it’s an important matter, I need to ensure that my speech isn’t overly verbose, carefully choosing every word.
“Substance-induced actions, or brainwashing. Those are also unequivocally forbidden. Um, it means coercion… For instance, forcing marriage to keep someone close…?”
Of course, it wasn’t helpful either. As Radkiel gazed blankly, his expression becoming increasingly perplexing, a indistinct sense of anxiety crept over me.
The memory of my dream and the partially sleeping Radkiel murmuring seemed to engulf my mind, unsettling it.
…If there’s a strange feeling, I should promptly suppress and immobilize him. Unobtrusively strengthening my grip on his arm, Radkiel burst into laughter.
“So, that’s why you avoided me. I see now.”
“…This isn’t something to laugh about. And not just me, anyone would avoid this!”
Unintentionally, I swung my arm. Whoosh! The familiar sound of a branch being cut resonated, though I’ve become accustomed to such situations. Radkiel flinched slightly, but he managed to smile again.
“I will promise on my life, Yuri. I will never commit acts such as kidnapping you, confining you, engaging in non-consensual harassment, or coercing you into marriage.”
“Making a promise on your life won’t be hold accountable if you change your mind later, right?”
“Well, that’s true. If I were capable of using magic, I could forge a more binding vow. However, I have no talent in that area whatsoever.”
I was in the same boat. Despite being on a magical island, I’ve never learned or seen magic.
After contemplating for a moment, Radkiel spoke again.
“Yuri, if it’s acceptable, not right away but sometime in the future, I’ll have a mage to draw up a more compelling oath. The conditions will remain as I mentioned earlier, and if I were to breach it, I would forfeit my life.”
By doing so, he traced his finger along his throat, as if emphasizing that he would never engage in such actions.
…Given how openly he’s discussing this, it seems that he’s trustworthy for now. Maybe something happened in that dream, but it’s also possible that he doesn’t have any intentions of actually going through with marriage. Either way, I don’t have anything to lose by trusting him.
In response to my hesitation, Radkiel added quickly,
“Would that allow me to remain on the island? Just until I finish all my tasks.”
“…Well, as I mentioned earlier, there’s no way out anyway. Rael, just to be clear, you don’t know something and are pretending not to know, right?”
“No, of course not. I swear, I also don’t know of a way to leave. However, it did state that if the quests fail, we will return to our original worlds.”
“Ah, right. The quests. My mind was so chaotic that I almost overlooked that…”
In my quest, it merely stated, ‘Spending a year with Radkiel.’ But does Radkiel have the same condition?
In response to my puzzled gaze, he promptly provided an answer.
“I could confirm four conditions. The first is for the traveler to grant me complete permission for residing on the island. This traveler seems to refer to you, Yuri.”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
Well, there’s no doubt about it.
Come to think of it, the reason Radkiel insists on staying on the island must be due to the quest. While I’ve now learned the reason behind his excessive attachment, it doesn’t make me particularly happy. The reward for completing the quest is for the future glimpsed in dreams to become reality. I’m not fond of that idea…
‘There still seems to be something left unspoken.’
Sporting an openly displeased expression, he casually turned away and continued speaking.
“The second condition…”
It must have been a mistake. Suddenly, Radkiel’s lips twitched, and his eyes trembled as if an earthquake had occurred within them. He glanced at me as if gauging my reaction and then mumbled hesitantly.
“I think I’ve said it before, but I’m really not lying.”
“What do you mean?”
“T-traveler’s heart… I have to get.”
“Oh, the heart… you mean!”
Although I’ve also become a game character at this point, I inwardly reflected.
Until now, Radkiel had been so generous with hearts enough to convince me that he had a skill called “Heartstorm”. Strangely, except for a slight flutter whenever he smiles, my heart has never raced in his presence. Quite the opposite; my heart raced enough to show black hearts, so to speak.
Given my current condition, it’s utterly impossible for him to acquire my heart. With this conclusion in mind, I felt greatly relieved. Fortunately, this level of difficulty seems like favoritism rather than discrimination. Of course, I’m the target of that favoritism.
“Very well. That’s perfectly fine. What about the third and fourth conditions?”
“…The third is to give the traveler gifts more than a hundred times. The fourth is to engage in positive interactions with the traveler more than a hundred times. There were other conditions as well, but I couldn’t see them.”
“If you can’t see them, it means you have to complete other quests to make them appear, or fulfill specific criteria. None of it seems particularly challenging. Except for one.”
Although the notion of gifts is somewhat vague, in the context of the game, even giving pulled weeds would be considered a gift, and positive interactions seem to involve dialogue.
If I kept meeting him and getting something, it would eventually amount to around a hundred times, and it should be completed within a day.
As soon as I had this thought, Radkiel shook his head.
“It’s specified that gift-giving and positive interactions are limited to once per day.”
“Once per day? It might be difficult to do them all at once too. Well, anyway, since quest success is already a lost cause, I don’t really need to bother.”
I smiled contently, feeling as if I’ve been relieved from a lingering pain.
There are times when not attempting something uncertain, where hope hinges on success, is better than attempting it at all.
“No, as you said earlier, it’s important to view everything positively.”
“… So, is there’s nothing else? Is that everything?”
“Yuri, you have a habit of quite openly changing the subject when you’re embarrassed or uncomfortable. However, there is, in fact, something very significant left to discuss.”
Again, he wore a solemn expression, and I anxiously clenched my hands.
Radkiel sighed deeply, as if it was a headache, and with a more candid expression than before, he spoke.
“If the quest succeeds, the trapped island and the traveler’s time will flow normally, and the future glimpsed through dreams will be fixed. Additionally, the memories of the stranded person will be preserved. That’s what the magic I saw wrote.”
“The notion that time will flow normally was also mentioned in my quest. I haven’t had the leisure to deeply ponder it so far… I interpreted it as the magic binding the island being lifted.”
I offered no response. After all, I, too, do not know whether true magic is cast upon this island or not.
If I accept this explanation at face value, then the span of a year would become 365 days instead of 120, and I would also continue to age, it seems.
However, at this point, I was more concerned about the penalty for failure than the reward for success.
“The stranded person refers to Rael?”
“That’s what I believe. What I’m worried about is what happens if I fail…”
“Yes, what happens? I’ve heard that the island closes.”
“I have the same understanding. However, if I fail, the trapped island will close forever, and, um, the stranded person’s memories will be erased, and the future glimpsed through dreams will vanish. Also…”
It will close forever. Memories will be erased. The future will vanish. Except for the last part, it all feels rather ominous.
I’m becoming increasingly concerned about what additional penalty might be in place. Therefore, I gazed intently at Radkiel with an urging expression.
His adam’s apple bobbed a few times as he swallowed dryly. He nervously squeezed and released his fingers, and only after a while did Radkiel finally open his mouth.
“The traveler’s time… comes to an end.”
“I interpreted this to… Yuri will die…”
Avoiding the ending only to face an ending that seems like the end of life itself.
Pssh. The armrest, already considerably worn, had turned to dust in my hand. Read ahead here.