Four years later.
The royal engagement day had arrived.
King Herod Zenonidas of Zen Kingdom officially announced the betrothal of his first son, Shin, the Crown Prince, and Yume, the daughter of Duke Valenz.
Ryu was now six years old.
He held two wooden swords outside the house as he looked up at the sky when a snowflake touched his nose.
'There's too much snow.'
Based on the novel, Ryu remembered that Yume's childhood really liked the snow. She would always jump at the sight of falling snowflakes.
But after her engagement, it became a recollection of the season where her suffering started, like today.
News spread that Duke Valenz was looking for the most outstanding educators for the future Crown Princess.
"I should remember her teachers' names and make sure to punish them later."
While Ryu was in deep thoughts, Graham shouted panickily.
A wooden sword whacked Ryu's face, making him rotate twice, dumping him into a pile of snow.
"Ouch! That... hurts."
Ryu gently touched his swollen cheek and remembered he was in the middle of training. Ryu and Graham practiced while Sara went to the forest to hunt.
"See? I told you, a shield would have been better than a second sword. You could have defended that easily."
Graham scolded Ryu for using two swords rather than a sword and shield.
When using a sword in this world, it was common sense for anyone to have a shield.
But after reading many stories in his previous life, using dual swords became one of Ryu's fantasies back on earth, so he insisted.
"Isn't this more awesome, father?"
"Hmm... I somewhat agree. Though I rarely see people who use two swords."
Ryu laughed, resulting in a twitch of pain that made him groan.
"But I don't have a technique to teach you for using two swords. I only use a sword paired with a shield."
Graham reminded and sighed.
Ryu dusted the snow piled on his clothes before picking up his swords.
"Thanks, father, and don't worry, I will find a master soon to advance my swordsmanship."
Sara and Ryu had already grasped Graham's swordsmanship in these four years. From novice to apprentice. There was nothing more he could teach them. The only thing the two could add was to make themselves physically stronger.
With this, Ryu assumed their skill was capable enough to protect themselves.
His goal was to get stronger. Powerful enough not to lose to anyone. Wanted to learn more, so Ryu needed to find a new master.
One midnight, an unknown entity coincidentally left an intermediate magic book inside Ryu's room. A continuation of his mother's beginner magic book.
Was it really a coincidence? Ryu didn't know.
This reminded Ryu of when Sara took her adventurer test. He learned that there could always be people hiding in the corner, watching.
'Do not be careless.'
Though Ryu's identity was already exposed. Whoever that entity, all Ryu hoped was it to be someone friendly. He even considered the author.
'But he doesn't have a reason to secretly give me a magic book.'
Nevertheless, the book was still a rare item, so Ryu didn't waste the chance and absorbed it.
Beginner magic was about the basic elements, while intermediate magic was about enhancements.
After learning a little bit, Ryu touched his cheek and chanted.
"Afiste to soma mou na epoulothei."
Healing magic! A green light appeared in his hand. The swollen cheek slowly deflated as it turned back to normal. Graham, who was watching, got astounded.
"Your magic is remarkable as usual."
"Yes, father, magic never ceases to amaze me. Not only was it healed, but the pain is also gone."
Graham and Hazel already knew about Ryu's magic. He told his parents after Sara became a full-fledged adventurer.
When Ryu saw how they accepted Sara, his anxiety disappeared, which gave him the courage to tell them.
"Hey, guys! I'm back!"
A beautiful pink-haired lady in the distance shouted. While carrying a large backpack, Sara was equipped with a steel sword, shield, and plated armor.
"Auntie Sara! How was your hunt today?"
Ryu greeted her back with a warm smile.
Sara made a big grin and showed him the inside of her backpack.
"Hehe... I encountered a king boar today. We'll have a feast!"
"Awesome! The taste of a king-level beast is the best!"
Even Graham was surprised, walking out of their backyard while raising his hand as a gesture.
"I'll go and call Hazel."
Waiting for Graham to leave before Ryu glanced at Sara.
Their eyes met, and Sara already knew what Ryu was thinking, revealing a broader smile, followed by a bunch of simultaneous laughter.
"Hahaha! I earned as much as 10 gold coins!"
Sara showed Ryu a pouch containing silver coins. As always, she gets exhilarated at the sight of money.
Even though Sara loved money, she always gave it to Ryu without a second thought.
"Then, should we stash it in our secret base?"
"Yes, go cast your magic, Ryu."
"Epitrepste mou na psaxo ta gyro."
Ryu chanted scout magic to observe around a certain distance to be safe. When he discerned that no one was near, he cast another spell.
"Afiste to edafos na anoixei."
The ground in their backyard vibrated. A stair appeared that led underground.
"Let's go, auntie."
A secret base that was made within a year. Earth magic was not Ryu's specialty, so creating it took them a while. An underground base below his parent's property, where they kept the money they earned and the plans Ryu sketched for the future.
As Sara's adventurer rank advanced, the quests' difficulty increased, and the reward improved.
Sara was currently at E-Rank. Ryu was pretty shocked to see that she had a talent for this.
Graham was once a C-Rank adventurer. Sadly, he got an injury that prevented him from overexerting himself. Forcing him to retire early.
But fortune still smiled upon him. Because of his leadership and teaching skills, he found his way to becoming a town guard commander.
As Ryu and Sara went down the stairs, a door became visible. Behind it was a large room with different wooden furniture they bought and created.
The room was designed like those in secret spy movies.
Wooden boards were placed on the wall where their plans and sketches were pinned.
One large table in the middle where a map was placed for strategizing.
Thinking back. Even Ryu couldn't believe he had this childish taste.
They went to a room where three magic seals were placed on a door. These seals were magic locks to prevent people from opening the door, specially designed for burglars.
The main door also had a seal but used a cheaper one since magic locks were expensive.
Inside this room was a pile of treasures that they had earned and collected.
Ryu opened the stash and placed the coins along with the others.
He picked up the cash ledger and noted.
'10 gold coins - Winter 15, Year 718.'
In the report, they completed 190 herb gatherings, 62 F-Rank, and 26 E-Rank monster extermination quests in four years.
Total earnings of 522 gold, eight silver, and two bronze coins minus their daily expenses. These coins were equivalent to half a million dollars.
"Auntie, aren't we quite rich?"
She replied with her signature grin.
People who would see this would think that gathering this money was easy. But they never knew how dangerous it was for an adventurer.
Not only does your average adventurer have to fight monsters, but concerns such as dealing with bandits are much worse.
Every year, thousands of adventurers would go missing. Even the highest-ranked adventurers were not exempted.
"You know, auntie, if you need to buy something, you're free to do so. I believe you would need personal things as a lady. Remember that this is also your money."
"Don't worry about me. I'll take some if I really need to."
Ryu looked at Sara and saw she didn't lack good equipment. Though she could spend a wealthier lifestyle if she wanted.
"If you say so."
"Aren't you the one who needed this money? I felt you already have plans for it, so I'm just helping."
Sara sat on a wooden bench, tinkering with her sword.
"Just don't forget me when you become someone important in the future."
Then she gave a satisfied smile.
"Aight. Then I believe it's time to settle some accounts."
Sara looked at Ryu with a curious look.
"Do you have a plan today?"
"It's bad for these coins to be dormant. So we should invest them."
"Use coins to make more coins."
Sara's eyes widened that they almost flew, glimmering every time they talked about earning more. She was excited.
"What, what are we waiting for?"
"Auntie, please stop your drooling."
Finally, the day arrived to go back to the Pseudo Trading Guild. The interior of the building changed so much, and more items were displayed.
Ryu and Sara tried to propose business four years ago but got ignored for being too young. But this time, they came with money and many business plans.
They saw that the store clerk was now different when they entered the building.
'I hope he isn't unmannered and unreasonable like the previous one.'
Sara, who saw my gloomy expression, held my hand, reassuring me.
"Don't worry. You should believe yourself just how I believe you."
Ryu entered and pulled Sara along the way.
As the door creaked, the store clerk prepared to greet them. He saw Sara, wearing a complete set of armored equipment, which made his eyes gleam with respect.
"Welcome, dear customer. How may I help you?"
Sara took a quick glance at Ryu, and he nodded.
"We want to open up a business."
The store clerk got somewhat surprised.
"And what business would that be?"
Sara learned how to handle people and toned seriously.
"We want to talk to the one in charge. This business is too big for you to handle, mister."
Even Ryu was surprised by how Sara's communication skills had improved. She became a strong—independent, beautiful, and courageous lady.
The store clerk hesitated. So Ryu helped by voicing out like a second-rate antagonist.
"My auntie is an E-Rank adventurer; she is still young and will become someone greater in the future. Please think carefully."
Ryu could see how nervous the man became as he hurriedly withdrew.
"It, it's nothing like that. I, I will call the owner of this branch. Please wait for me."
Sara and Ryu looked at each other with a triumphant smile.
"Thank you, auntie."
"It's nothing. Aren't we partners?"
Ryu blinked a few times and turned his head away from her response.
Again, it reminds Ryu of when he thought of leaving Sara once she became self-sufficient. Now, he was the one who became dependent on her.
He felt guilty. Some time ago, Ryu decided to be with Sara until she found her fated one.
"In the past, I thought of leaving you when you became strong enough."
"...How about now?"
"I won't leave you until you find a husband. I promise!"
Ryu quickly turned his head and saw her with a warm and tender smile. Then her reply tickled his heart more.
"I will also not leave you. If someone wants to marry me in the future, you will be the one to decide if he's worthy."
"Pfft... Of course!"
Ryu laughed... Sara laughed...
They didn't notice the gentle tears slowly dwelled in their eyes.