Boyhood Epilogue: The Cherry Blossom-Colored Gem
After crossing the sea, he was on horseback in the port town of Roundheart and was making his way to the royal capital of Heim, which was guarded by knights.
The knights were all equally surprised, and understandably so.
It was the middle of a festival in their home country, and the appearance of the crown prince in formal attire was enough to make them wonder what had happened.
But without explaining, he continued on his horse.
“H-hey… what’s wrong with you, bringing me all of a sudden to this place?”
“I’ve got a lot of things on my mind, too.”
“A lot of things? …Geez. Even though it’s the first day of the festival, you’ll get scolded if the crown prince isn’t present.”
“It’ll be fine. I got a day off for Krone and me today with the reward for taking down the red fox, so don’t worry about it.”
With such a big reward, even his grandfather would have been granted his wish.
“Are you sure you’re okay with spending it on something like this?”
“It’s all right. I can’t think of a better use for it than for today.”
“…I-is that so?”
Krone didn’t seem convinced, but today he was more forceful than usual. He seemed sorry, but he couldn’t tell her the reason yet.
Then, perhaps because Krone realized that he would not tell her the reason, she gave up on further pursuing the matter and sighed.
After that, they talked about nothing else and continued on their horses toward a certain place.
“This place… it used to be my home, wasn’t it?”
The remnants of the Gluttonous World Tree still loomed over the ruins of Augusto’s Archduke’s mansion.
It may eventually wither and die, but its current appearance had none of the disastrous looks it had the other day, and its leaves were lush and fresh.
The sun was shining through the trees, and birds were chirping.
Stopping the horse there, they looked up at the Gluttonous World Tree.
“I’ve always wanted to come here.”
“Fufu, we just spent the last time we were here together. What’s the windup?”
“Well…. a lot of things.”
Having dismounted first, Ain put his hand on Krone’s side and set her down.
“I was bigger than you at first, but it all happened so fast, didn’t it?”
“Did you not like it when I did this to you?”
“No. I was so happy that I almost hugged you.”
“I’m glad to hear that. But now I want you to let me escort you first.”
When Krone hugged closely to the arm he held out to, the distance between them was close enough that it would make it difficult to walk away.
Although she had spoken her doubts with her mouth, there was a sense that she had entrusted him with everything.
“Shall we go?”
The warmth of their hands, which were naturally laid on top of each other, was lovely. It seemed that Krone also felt the same way, and she smiled prettily, twisting her arms around him without any change.
There was no other experience, except for now, of walking so close to someone for so long that he could almost hear their breath and their heartbeat.
Even so, there was no nervousness. The only thing that made him nervous was the thought that he was happy to be doing this.
“You know what?”
“Yes, what is it?”
“Do you remember our date at the harbor a few years ago?”
“How could I forget? I am confident that I remember everything that happened with Ain.”
So was he. He has not forgotten a single memory with Krone.
…..Even so, the sound of heartbeats in his chest was almost audible to his own ears.
He was so nervous that a bead of sweat broke out on his forehead. He wiped it away with a handkerchief he had taken out of his pocket and took a breath without letting Krone hear it.
“Fufufu, that’s weird, Ain.”
The streets around here were still hard to walk on, but for Krone, it’s still her parents’ house, which she knew all too well. Krone left his arm and went forward with a nimble step.
She was moving forward daintily like a fairy with her hands clasped behind her back.
“You know, Krone.”
“Hmm? What’s wrong?”
Krone, walking in front of him, answered without turning around.
“At the time, I didn’t know what it meant to give it to you. Even on the day I confided in you that I was worried because of my monsterization, I think I only had a vague idea of what it meant to me to give it to you.”
But now it’s different.
Because it’s to convey the feelings he had in his heart.
…..His chest was beating fast. Just looking at Krone in front of him, his heart was beating so fast that it hurt.
Eventually, Krone stopped.
They stood facing each other at the same place where they had first met, the same place where Ain had woken up the other day.
“You know what, Krone?”
She tilted her head and looked at him.
Her scent drifting by the wind made him even more nervous.
But the tension was starting to feel good, too.
“Geez….. what’s really going on with you? Your face is redder than usual, and when we were linking arms earlier, I could recognize that Ain’s heart was beating very fast, you know?”
“A-ahahaha… It’s impossible not to be nervous just for today.”
“As I said, why are you nervous? Are you… feeling sick?”
He would tell her the answer right now. There was no need to look worried.
It’s time to calm down.
“There’s something I really wanted to say to you here.”
The annoying thumping in his chest stopped. The only thing reaching his ears now was the voice of Krone, who was standing right in front of him.
Even his eyes could only be directed at Krone.
“…The words you wanted to say?”
It’s already been decided.
There was no need to make any further preparations. And there was no more hesitation.
──A moment after he called her name, all the little birds on the ground flew off at once. As if to congratulate the two of them, they soared high into the sky.
All that remained was to think of the woman he loved and to spin his last words.
He got down on one knee in front of Krone and offered it to her.
When she saw it, she shed a single shimmering tear and accepted it with a radiant smile on her face, something that had never been seen before.
The one and only──cherry blossom-colored star crystal in a jewelry box.
It has been a while. My name is Yuki Ryo.
I am happy to be able to greet you all like this again.
I hope you enjoyed the ninth volume.
This ninth volume was written as a break in the story that concludes Ain’s “boyhood” and continues into his “adolescence.” I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Incidentally, although there are no plans yet to publish the following “adolescence” in book form, I have already written the web version to its completion.
In addition to the dungeon where the first prince and Chris’ sister disappeared and other things that Gail hinted at in this ninth volume, there is also a story that reveals the truth of what the goddess said at the beginning of the first volume.
When the day comes when we are able to show you these in book form, we hope that you will be with us again!
On a related note, there is also Yuki’s Twitter account, where he posts the latest information on Magic Gems Gourmet as well as updates on his other works.
Currently (in the spring of 2021), we are updating other full-length works in addition to Magic Gems Gourmet.
If you are interested, I would be very happy if you could keep in touch with me on Kakuyomu or other sites!
──And so on, I have greeted you with the same greetings as usual, but in fact, I have not thought about whether I could make a special greeting to mark the end of the “boyhood” period.
However, it seems to be difficult.
In fact, I spent nearly two hours writing and rewriting to reach this sentence, but none of it felt right because it sounded lonely to call it a break.
So I’ll try to be upbeat this time and give my closing remarks as usual!
Now for the customary acknowledgments.
The two editors in charge of this project have been very kind to me since I started writing the first volume. Everything they have taught me has been a valuable asset to me.
Also, the book designer always gave me wonderful covers.
I would also like to thank the bookstores and the bookstore clerks who put the Magic Gems Gourmet on the shelves. I would also like to thank everyone who was involved in the distribution of the book.
I would also like to thank Sugawara-sensei, who is in charge of the manga adaptation.
Sugawara-sensei has been very helpful in making the manga version of “Magic Gems Gourmet” a success. I would also like to express my gratitude to the manga editorial department.
──And most of all, Naruse-sensei has been a great help to me.
Everything that Naruse-sensei has drawn for me is my treasure and precious memories. Thank you so much for all the wonderful Ain’s you have created for us!
Last but not least, to those of you who have picked up the ninth volume in this way.
Thanks to all of you, Magic Gems Gourmet has been able to come this far. Thank you for always supporting us!
With that, I think it is time for me to leave this time.
I don’t know yet whether the next greeting will be for the “adolescent version” of Magic Gems Gourmet or for another work. However, I am sure that I will have another opportunity to greet you.
I hope to see you all again on that occasion──!