I’m an Old Man but also a Saint? — Chapter One: The Knight Who Came to the Village

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T/N: As far as I can tell, no one else has translated this.
I thought it sounded super cute so I went ahead and translated the first chapter.
It’s six pages long and took me forever.
Hopefully I’ve done the author some justice! This is also a completed work with a happy ending (according to the author).

Born in a small, remote village, I have lived the picture-perfect life of poverty: neither starving nor saving.
It’s three days on foot to the nearest town.
Even for the bare necessities such as salt, you either must have the mayor buy it on your behalf, or wait for the rare merchant to come.
Villagers, who live in such remote places and have no money or time to spend on frivolous things, don’t bother going out to the city.

So, like the others here, I have never left the village nor regretted staying.
I’m poor, but I’m happy with how I live, and not going out into the city isn’t a real problem.

…No, there is a problem, actually.

Status Appraisal at age fifteen, mandatory for all residents of this country.
I’ve never been Appraised.
Rather, most people in this village haven’t been Appraised.
This is due to the village being so far away from the city and due to the lack of church in this village, which is highly unusual.

Well, right now, there’s the church building, but… can I really call it a church? Firstly, there’s no priest.
The old priest died decades ago when I was still a young child but no replacement ever came.

Secondly, the building which used to be the church is full of the village’s food.
It’s the only stone building in the village, and it’s cool even in summer, so as far back as I can remember, it’s been used as a storehouse.

On the other hand, since there’s a statue that looks like a shrine, I think it’s okay to call it a church.
The statue is wrapped in cloth and kept out of the way, so it’s difficult to say whether the church actually plays a role, but it is excellent as a food store.

In a sense, since it protects our important foods, it is more worthy of worship than other gods.

…The story went awry.

Due to these circumstances, we who live in a remote village without a church have never been Appraised.
Even if fulfilling obligations is good, if I were asked to do it, I wouldn’t, because even if I was Appraised, I already know I’m without magical power.
I don’t need to leave the fields for six days just to be told that.

My father and mother, grandfather and grandmother had all done so, so there shouldn’t be a problem.
Just because I haven’t fulfilled my obligations, doesn’t mean anyone should bother to come to a village in such a remote place.
And if you do come, don’t interrupt all the villagers.
At best you’ll be scolded.

I thought this way until yesterday.

Yes, until yesterday.

In this village where women are less than forty percent of the population, there are a certain number of men who are gay.
The best men look good, talk well, are rich… so if all the men are sorted that way, it’s only natural that I’m mediocre, bad-mouthed, and my parents died early.
It’s not uncommon for the surplus men to marry each other, but I don’t have anyone.
Before yesterday, I lived quietly alone in the house where I’d grown up.
I had reached my 42nd birthday without any regrets.

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After finishing the field work and returning home, I was immediately called to the village mayor’s house.
I gathered more information about the situation from the conversations I heard along the way, it seemed that a great man came from the capital and said that everyone would be Appraised.
The purpose being the twenty year long search for the saint.
It’s hard to reach such a remote village.

The saint in our village? Hah!

I think the first time I had heard about missing saint, I was almost twenty years old.
A saint is the one who cleanses the whole country of miasma, keeps the demons away, and heals the injured.
There is always only one saint in a generation, but everyone is sure the missing saint is still alive.
It is said that when the power of the previous saint begins to weaken, a new saint will always appear.
I don’t know how it works, but thanks to her magic, the damage caused by demons in this country can be suppressed.
It is also because of the saint that we can live so close to the Forest of Demons without fear.

Rumors that the next generation’s saint wouldn’t appear because the current saint was so powerful had reached our small village.
Rumors which caused the mayor to hold an elder’s meeting to learn more.

‘If the next saint cannot be found, the damage done by the demons will increase.
The temple knights are in a frenzy looking for her, so it was best to keep our heads down until they leave.’ Is the conclusion the elders came to, but contrary to the expectation the search would soon be over, the saint was still missing.

“Although our village was miraculously undamaged by demons, the damage to the country as a whole was serious, and there are whispers about the possibility of a demonic invasion.” said the mayor.

That is why the knight has come all the way from the city to such a remote place.

Is it even necessary to Appraise an old man?

Since it’s a saint, it’s probably a woman, so isn’t it enough to Appraise Lilia, the mayor’s daughter, or Mimi, Dan’s granddaughter? I don’t think there’s a saint in such a poor, remote village in the first place.

When I entered the mayor’s house, following the man who came with my summons, I saw people from all over the village had already fathered.
Since the women are line up in the front and the men in the back, I guess that must be the order of the Appraisals.
I let my companion stand in front of me as I took my place at the end of the line, looking at the man who’d come all the way from the royal capital.

I heard that he was a great man, but is he really a so-called knight? He wore a crisp white uniform and had a longsword on his waist.
He had wheat-colored blond hair and purple eyes like mountain grapes.
He also had a slender body and a beautiful face.
He was probably about thirty years old? Even from behind, I could see the excited blushes of the women.

Are all men from the royal capital like this? Or is this guy extra special?

The line progressed slowly while I think about nothing in particular.
Unfortunately, there was no saint among the women.
As expected in an atmosphere of bitter smiles, the line progressed much faster.
Perhaps, it only took time because the women were so fascinated by the visiting men.
When I took a peek at the Appraisal artifact from my place in the moving line, it looked just like a shiny piece of paper.

I didn’t know how it worked, but it seemed that a person’s status would appear when they touched the paper.
It seemed miraculous, but I realized it was just magic.
Since I’ve lived in a poor village far removed from magic and magical items, they are common in cities, and more so in the royal capital.
I assumed that the paper is some kind of magic tool.
Of course, it was my first time seeing or touching one.

As soon as I was struck by the fact I would be touching magic for the first time, it was my turn.
There was no one behind me.
In other words, this was the end.
After all that, it seemed there was no saint in this village.

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Just imagining the trek to get here, I felt sorry for the men who’d come all this way for nothing.

“The next person… Are you the last?”

“Oh.”

When I answered with a slight nod, the man’s expression became slightly cloudy.
His mouth remained smiling but his long eyelashes cast a shadow down his cheeks as his eyelids drooped.
Even though he’d come a long way, he seemed to be seriously worried there wasn’t a saint.
He must have been a man with a strong sense of responsibility.

When I touched the paper as instructed, letters gradually appeared. Zeph.
42 years old.
Gender: Man. The level displayed was three digits, and the physical strength and magical power were both four digits.
… I wasn’t sure if this was high or low.
I wondered how much everyone else had.
Even while I was tilting my head, more letters appeared.
In the category of attributes were [Holy], [Light], [Earth], and [Water].

… Maybe I could use magic? Don’t crops benefit from light, soil, and water?

“… Saint…”

“?”

The man muttered something while looking at the paper, right? I turned around.
Obviously there was no one else in the room.
I wondered if I was the saint now, but was I misunderstanding? There’s no way a saint would be in such a village.
Then, was it a disappointed mutter from not finding the saint? Oh, poor knight.
When I turned back to him with pity, I met the man’s gaze firmly.

What??

His face was too composed and it was hard to read his emotions, but his gaze spoke volumes.
It was looking directly at me, not some villager, but as if I were holding something important back from him.
…I didn’t know what I would be holding back.

“You’re here, right?”

“What?”

“I’ve been searching for you all this time, Saint.”

“…Huh??” I asked him, face full of confusion, but the knight seemed unfazed.
Regardless of my words, he knelt down and bowed his head in a single graceful motion.

…Um, what kind of situation??

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Even when I checked behind me again, there’s no one.
Even when I look at the mayor, standing off to the side, his eyes are staring widely right back at me.
I’m sure I look the same as I always do.

…Someone please explain!

Well, that’s what happened yesterday.
In summary, a knight came all the way from the royal capital and certified that the saint was a forty year old man.
That’s all.
You don’t understand what it means? I’m not sure I do either.

He told me that while most saints aren’t men, it can happen very rarely.
Specifically, five of the fifty-two saints.
Which makes me the sixth man to be so blessed.
The distinguishing mark of a saint is the use of the [Holy] attribute.
It seems [Holy] magic can only be used by a saint.
The quickest way to find a saint is by using Status Appraisal.

My status… as it was written, holy.

It’s been over twenty years since I started hearing they couldn’t find the saint.
I had wondered why finding her was so difficult, what was taking them so long.
All because I hadn’t been Appraised.
Furthermore, because my village isn’t on any map, it had been omitted from the temple census.
Maybe it was included back when we had a priest, but since then it was completely forgotten.

Due to such unfortunate coincidences, my village had been excluded from the search so far, but after hearing a rumor about the village, the knight had come with some half hope of success.

“That’s why I want the saint to come to the capital as soon as possible.”

“I’m a saint… that doesn’t seem right?”

“Impossible.
The Appraisal confirmed it, and I heard from the mayor that the damage caused by demons to the village was unusually small.
Demons instinctively avoid wherever the saint is.”

Well, the saint’s power is useful but how long can it last to protect against the demons? If not indefinitely, then going to the royal capital is pointless.
I heard that our village, deep in the forest, has suffered great damage from demons in the past.
If it’s because of me that the village is safe now, I can’t possibly go to the royal capital.

It’s said that the saint plays a special role in the royal capital that calms all the demons, but it takes a month by carriage to get from here to there.
If something happened to the village in the time it takes for me to arrive, I would be devastated.

The knight smiles a little when I fervently, albeit poorly, explain my concerns.
I don’t know the reason for this smile, but it makes me shift uncomfortable in my seat.
He squints at me as if looking at something dazzling but the only thing in front of him is an old man.

Get a grip.

I may be a saint (maybe), but staring like that is too much!

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“Please be assured, If you place your Yorishiro on all four sides of this village, they will be just as protected.”

“Yorishiro?”

“Hair, blood, etcetera.”

“Huh?”

Must it be hair? I’m not bald at the moment, but my hair has become less energetic as I’ve gotten older.
Even though I pay close attention when I wash my hair, I wonder if I’m pulling it out myself.

No good!

The knight explains that hair is better because taking it doesn’t hurt your body, and that old hair previously fallen out isn’t good because the spiritual power is weakened.
But I don’t care! I have no intention of giving away my hair.

There would have to be four strands at all four corners of the village.
That’s a number I won’t pull out of my scalp!

“It’s blood.
It’s blood.
I’ll only use blood.”

“But that would create a wound on your body!”

“If blood won’t work, I won’t go to the royal capital.”

I think the work of the saint is important, but I don’t want to go if they’re going to demand all my hair.
I’m still skeptical that I’m a saint.
Four hairs, though they may not be useful, are too high a price to pay.
I’ll tolerate the long trip, but no one takes my hair! If I pull it out, it may not grow back, how could I give it out so easily?

The knight concedes with the feeling that I will never give up as he watches me stare resolutely at the knife.

My hair is protected.

 

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