8 The Exhilaration of Change
The silhouette of an unknown entity could be seen flying in the sky. One could say it didn't belong to a human-made vehicle since it was so small to be considered an airplane. Therefore, the only remained answer was a "bird".
But with getting closer it would be plain to say whom that outline belonged — a human.
The pressure of the air was pushing those long-white hairs of his, though it couldn't stop him by any means; he had enough power to hold something like this.
A man with a full-length black garment — similar to a clergy cassock — was flying over numerous modern buildings, looking presumptuously upon them. With his hands holding themselves behind his back, he was moving through the white clouds with a high speed. The sound of airflow which he caused by flying quickly was so loud as though an aircraft was making it.
Over those neatly-trimmed beards that almost covered half of his facial expression, two angry black eyes could clearly be seen, showing a great quality of anxiety and concern. Those wrinkles on his face were pointing his old age.
Suddenly, his movements in the air stopped. He was floating in the atmosphere as he was viewing the ground with his eyes, keeping his body straight and completely upright simultaneously.
What he was doing in that time couldn't be explained by the laws of physics. Having the ability to fly had been a wish for humankind for many years. It would give a feeling of freedom to those who had been chained in this world, humans.
—How can a human do such a thing?
These thoughts would occur to everyone who could see him, though being far away from the ground didn't let any human identify his appearance. He could be seen as a black crow in the sight of the people on the ground; nobody was able to recognize him at that time.
He abruptly began to rush toward a specific place, moving much faster than before. While he was getting closer to the earth, his characteristics as a human were in the vision for the people around him. Neither pedestrians nor drivers would give him any attention, although the scene upon them was incredibly beyond the humans' capabilities.
However, they couldn't see him at all to become surprised, as though his body was completely invisible to their eyesight. If they could see him, those furrowed eyebrows on his face would immediately frighten them.
The more he was becoming close to his objective, the more silent and dead would his surroundings become. It sounded that part of the city was completely empty of population.
It didn't take a while for him to arrive in the area which he had decided to rush toward. He landed upon the middle of the street, a countless number of people with the same clothes as him had existed there before his arrival.
Some of them were floating in the air with a balanced distance from the ground, covering the sky with those black clothes of them. Some were actually standing on the ground all around him.
It would be totally impossible to look at somewhere without noticing a dark point in it. In the sky, on the ground, everywhere was full of priests with black cassocks.
As he started to look ahead, he faced a large building, a high school. There was the only place in that area which still seemed spirited due to the sounds of the students; everywhere else had entirely been drowned in the silence.
A young man — wearing the same cassock — appeared before him and bowed while he had stood there.
"You came, sir."
"I can see you've already emptied this region."
"Yes sir, it would be horrible if people get hurt. We're facing with a wizard after all," the young man paused for a moment and put an angry expression, "but still school is full of innocent people. Why should he appear in such a public place?"
"I think his objective is to slow us down with them. We can't let it happen by any means."
"But sir, how are we supposed to kill him without harming the students?"
"We're not. We are here to assure his death, that's our precedence."
"Tell me, which is more important? Rescuing the defective bodies, or stopping the evil from corrupting the souls of them?"
"Clearly the second."
"Incidentally, we're not evil. We shouldn't do unnecessary deeds which can put those lives in danger. However, don't show any hesitation if you could finish the wizard off, no matter what happens."
"Yes, also," he looked around, seeing the priests everywhere, "aren't we overestimating our enemy? Why should Church mobilize such a great amount of priests just for a mere wizard?"
After hearing those words, he sighed as he was watching that young-looking priest.
"You better not underestimate that 'mere wizard'."
"But... isn't bringing 10,000 warriors too excessive?"
"If Church wanted to overestimate his power, they would send two holy warriors instead one for this case."
That answer stunned the person before him. It seemed the word "holy warrior" had a great impact on his mind, looking with a dazed face and widened-eyes.
"Yes," he replied quickly, remembering something important after it, "by the way, is everything alright at the 'other' side?"
"There's no trace of anything unusual around his spouse. No suspicious movement has been identified so far."
"So he truly chose his son. I guess it's also a part of his plan, splitting us into two forces to weaken us."
"Then, shall I recall them from there? Since there's no need to watch her as long as the wizard has appeared here."
"No. It might be a trap, who knows. We're still not aware of what he's planning to do. So it's better to not be careless. Order them to watch the woman's surroundings carefully and be ready for anything to come."
"Now tell me, have you done the [Teleportation Obstruction] prayer?"
"Yes sir, just as [Dimension Impediment] and [Interruption Wall] prayer."
"What about [Reality Barrier]? Just emptying the people of this area won't be enough. People outside of the region might see the events. It would be troublesome to erase all of those people's memories."
"Well, we've been waiting for you to come and do it for us. Unfortunately, our capability doesn't reach a prayer of that level."
"I see, it can't be helped then..."
He stepped forward as his eyes were fixed toward the sky, swaggering slowly with that instinctive-furious expression on his visage; overwhelming energy could be felt by everyone around him as he was strolling forward.
When he stopped, a dazzling light suddenly appeared on his hands as it was shining toward every side of the place, making all those priests amazed with wonderment.
As he opened his arms and moved both of his hands to the side, the fabulous light illuminated the place.
"Lend me the Lord's divine strength. Pray for my soul and send us your light. Accept my repentance as a sign of God's mercy. Reign over your humble servants!"
These words were instantly followed by a tremendous beam from the Heavens, coming down perpendicularly with an unbelievable speed.
— The energetic aura around him became even more massive than before —
"[Reality Barrier]" he shouted while standing straight in the rays of light.
The radiation promptly started to form a sphere shape and cover the atmosphere of the city with the transparent vision of it. If one were in the sky at that moment, watching such a magnificent and brilliant scene would surely make that person speechless.
The dazzling air began to slowly change to its previous — normal — situation as though nothing significant had happened. The people in the city also didn't give any attention; it seemed all parts of that splendid incident were invisible for them.
Meanwhile, the whispers of admiration began to be noticed:
"It... was glorious..."
"What a greatness!"
"S-so, it's the power of a Paladin."
"Truly a breathtaking beauty... Just as expected from one of the Paladins."
When he turned back, he could clearly see the look of astonishment on their faces as hearing those whispers, though it didn't surprise him. It appeared to be a usual thing for him that not even a little bit of change on his expression was visible.
He looked at that young-looking person from before, pointing at him to come forward.
"Tell everyone to be ready for the assault."
"Yes, are we doing it immediately?"
"We'll let him do the first move. Attacking first might take so much of those innocent lives."
"Precisely, it's just as you say."
"However, we can't wait forever."
"I understand. Also, what about his son, should we kill him?"
"Well... our first priority is the wizard. As long as he's alive, we may use his family as hostages to force him to surrender, if needed of course."
"Yes, we'll follow through. But would he really care about them? He's a sorcerer after all..."
"If he didn't, he wouldn't come this far for his son."
"He may not be emotionally bound to his family, it can explain why he decided to rescue his son. He wants someone who can inherit his magical powers."
"It's as you say."
Every priest behind him subsequently nodded in agreement, approving the words of him eagerly.
The sky had completely become black and the ground was drowning in the dark because of that numerous quantity of priests.
♦ ♦ ♦
It was another day at the school. Everything in the eyes of Giichi Takahashi was as same as before, no particular change.
He had been in the hospital for two weeks, so he needed time for getting used to school again. But since nothing had changed, it could be easily handled.
When the doctors decided he no longer needed the inpatient care, he was discharged from the hospital — it took place two days before. The moment they heard he can walk again, the doctors became so shocked as though the impossible had happened. However, still being alive after jumping from a building sounded more unthinkable.
There was something unprecedented with his body, it was healing itself so much faster than the body of a normal human.
It was a miracle, and it appeared to repeat itself again and again. Akane was so overflowing with joy that she totally forgot to punish her beloved son. After that time, she was spending much more time with Giichi, talking with him in any possible way.
Incidentally, the hospital food was too horrible. Giichi Takahashi could recall its taste; even remembering it would make his body involuntary tremble. He had been used to Akane's delectable foods, so it was impossible to endure those meals in the hospital.
Now he understood how much ungrateful he had been during the past, complaining about all sort of things in his life. Although this life was too monotonous, he knew it could be much worse.
Giichi Takahashi could just feel attention from the people around him. He was able to remember the yesterday, the day he had returned to school after two weeks of absence. He had been surprised by an uncontemplated celebration, prepared by all of the students in the high school. Giichi knew he was quite popular, but he didn't think he was this much important for them.
He also heard the school had found a replacement for Mr. Yagami, so there was no need for Noburo to take care of that matter. It was a bit surprising since most of the teachers were unavailable at this time of year, so it would be extremely hard to find a free one at a specific field. It somehow took only 2 weeks for this new guy to show up as their new teacher.
And now he was sitting on his usual chair in the classroom, waiting for the new calculus teacher to come. The students didn't remain awaited for a while, that person had just entered the class.
He had the same characteristics which were expected from an old teacher to have. Despite his age, he was quite good looking. His wrinkled face also included a full white beard. While wearing a white shirt under his tan suit, he had a red necktie tied tightly under his shirt collar.
When he started to introduce himself and talk, his voice sounded so youthful compared to his age. It was also quite familiar for him; had he heard it somewhere?
Giichi Takahashi didn't give much attention to him, he would never be actually conscious in the classes since he didn't care about it. This attribute of him had affected God, making him more carefree over time.
He was thinking about something particular meanwhile. He didn't understand how, but somehow the class was over while he was deep in thought. Giichi Takahashi then started to leave the classroom to a break and get ready for another boring one afterward.
But a voice stopped him quickly.
"Mr. Takahashi, I have something to tell to you."
That sound belonged to the new teacher, pointing him out to still stay on his chair as the students were all leaving the room. By the time that all of them had gone, only Giichi Takahashi and he could be seen in the classroom.
Giichi was quite familiar with this scene, teachers calling him to wait after the class time and advising him because of his indifference. Therefore, Giichi Takahashi didn't show any interest in hearing what he wanted to say.
However, his eyes suddenly widened as though he had seen a ghost.
"You've grown up so much, Giichi!"
No, there was no ghost there.
It was just a second ago that the new pedagogue had stood there as he could clearly see him. But now there was no trace of him, not anymore. Instead, just a young-looking man with a black suit could be seen in his place.
—What is happening?
He absolutely knew this appearance didn't belong to that teacher since it differed completely. Everything happened so sudden that he wasn't able to understand what was going on.
By using Giichi's memories, the identity of this newly-appeared guy was clear. He was a person whom Giichi Takahashi had known very well in his life. God could easily identify that face with recalling his memories.
The person before him was Giichi's dad, Yuma Takahashi.
But even with knowing that, how can it be? He was trying to find an explanation with searching through his memories, though no answer could be found there.
As he was still searching his recollections for an answer, Yuma — his father — began to stroll toward him. The moment he reached Giichi, he hugged him tightly with tears in his eyes.
"M-my son..." he cryingly mumbled.
Now Giichi no longer needed an explanation. Why should he need something like that? His father was with him right then, why should he think about anything else? With looking back, Giichi loved him more than anything in this world, even though "new" Giichi would love his mother more.
"Father..." Giichi hugged him back, putting on a smile simultaneously.
It felt warm. He could feel the warmth of his dad once again after all these years. The reunion of son and father wouldn't normally be worth even the slightest bit for God, though it was different for him right then.
Having the same body as humans meant having the same emotions as theirs, and these emotions were so strong to be ignored and called unworthy.
"I will explain everything to you," Yuma looked at him, still weeping, "but right now, let's get away from here."
He didn't know "how"; this question seemed quite insignificant for Giichi Takahashi. The only thing which he cared about was the presence of his father and nothing else.
He didn't want to ask questions anymore. God was tired; he just wanted someone to protect him.
That moment he was human more than any time else.