I sighed and placed my hand on my forehead as several emotions were swelling inside of me. I tried to calm my emotions.
Then I called out to the small shivering butt in front of me.
[…Are you ok?] Granite
After a long period of silence, the girl responded in a voice comparable to the cry of a mosquito.
Not long after this, she faced toward me and rolled herself into a ball by grabbing her knees.
Yeah, this is probably that.
She is probably so embarrassed that she can’t even lift her head.
She is so sad… It’s at the level where I feel inclined to immediately do something nice for her.
As I sighed again, I picked up the robe the girl threw away and went behind her to place it on her shoulders.
Then I walked to the front of her and as I prayed, to a god I don’t believe in, that she won’t have another hysterical fit, I spoke to her.
I felt like a beast tamer.
[Um, well. Let me correct the misunderstanding you currently have.] Granite
As he said this the young girl finally raised her head.
Both of her eyes were stained with tears, and due to the excitement from earlier, her sunken cheeks are tinged red.
However, she has calmed down and lost that crazy feeling she had before. I placed my hand on my chest to calm myself.
[First, I didn’t bring you here to sacrifice you. When I said to be of benefit to me, I didn’t mean it in that sort of way. …Are we clear? I will repeat myself. I have no intention of sacrificing you.] Granite
The young girl opened her eyes wide as if she was shocked from the bottom of her heart.
Ugh. How much did I look like I wanted to sacrifice someone to this child?
As I was overcome with an unexplainable feeling, I stared into the green eyes of the girl and waited until she digested this new information.
The girl blinked several times in bewilderment and then timidly asked.
[Then…why…why? There..is nothing, else I can do.] Child
Oh…, so I finally have gotten through to her.
I looked down at the girl who fearfully had her upturned eyes focused on me. When I think about how many idiotic mistakes have happened to finally get to this point; I sigh to myself as I have lost count of how many times it’s been today.
But with this I can finally move on to the important conversation at hand.
Well then how should I go about this…..
If I don’t choose my words carefully then my hope for a someone to support me might turn into me making her “work for me like a slave”.
…Still the fact that she seems like she would be ok with that is kind of scary. I would be in trouble if she wanted out of our arrangement later on. What I say at this moment is very important.
It seems it is time to change out the luminous stones. The light in the workshop has dimmed, and the light has become somewhat weaker. Beside the sounds of the heated alchemy pot and the occasional sound of our clothes rustling, it is quiet.
I don’t know whether I should be relieved or worried. I thought this as the little girl stared at me waiting for my response.
I unconsciously licked my lips.
Earlier, the tears she cried after eating the food I made.
Honestly, I felt that her crying was beautiful and I could feel her gratitude towards me.
I’m sure she is an honest and kind kid that you wouldn’t think is from the slums. This is what I think.
――But even so.
She is probably only grateful for what you would call “one good meal and a good night’s rest.”.
I have no expectations of her maintaining these feeling in the future.
To feel an unchanging debt of gratitude to someone over something seems easy but is actually quite difficult. This I know for sure. People just don’t become that strongly attached to someone.
For example, even though she feels strongly enough to say “I will become a sacrifice”, these feelings will eventually become null.
Heat is something that without an outside factor it will disperse. This is a law of nature and I’m sure the same also goes for human emotions.
――Therefore, when tying a person down, using something as uncertain as a debt of gratitude is nothing more than kindling to a fire. You need to show a clear benefit and continue to stimulate their wants and desires.
So, concerning this girl what are her “benefits” and “desires”?
What kind of reactions did she show to what I’ve said up until now?
What kind words did she throw at me?
And even though it was a misunderstanding that started from my carelessness.
Where the hell did the intense, madness-like fervent desire to sacrifice herself come from?
――Just what was the keyword?
(I don’t want to die alone.)
She definitely said that…
What does she mean? What would cause her to act so boldly?
She must have circumstances beyond my imagination.
But there is no need, at least right now, to consider it.
You do not need to know the circumstances if you are only making use of it.
It is only a matter of her interpreting things arbitrarily.
At least for this girl, these words, have enough desire for her to rush forward into trying to sacrifice herself…
I don’t if it was a few minutes or a few seconds.
I finished my thoughts and after putting together what I had to say, I spoke.
[Let me introduce myself now, I am Granite Range. I’m a magician that creates special items with the power of magic. ――I intend to have you learn alchemy. And you will use the techniques I teach you for my benefit. …What, I promise, as long as you are useful to me, I will continue to take your hand. I promise I never let you feel “alone”. This is the reward that I can grant you.] Granite
Then the girl looked at me with a blank face and just stared. After a while she rubbed her nose and responded in a broken sentence.
[Y,Yes…! P,Please look, after… me…!] Child
It seems I pulled the right one.
Occasionally, I can clutch it out.
Well, now I’m tired.
But then, as I was showering myself in self-praise, I suddenly came to my senses.
…… Looking at this from an outsider’s point of view, isn’t this the spitting image of a selfish adult who has deceived an innocent child?
No, I intended to do this from the and that’s why I brought her from the slums, but actually going through with it, this guilty feeling…. She seems really happy too….
Wasn’t there, you know, another way to go about this?
Was there any need to make this exchange with her so emotional?
Since I uselessly spouted lines as if I was her better, there is no way I could do something better.
As I began to experience these depressing feelings, I put the girl, whose eyes were tinged red, to bed. I opened a new ale that I had just bought that afternoon, and from then I went to bed.
(TL Note: Until now the author has only referred to the Shalltear as child or girl in the flashbacks. Here he used her name, but I know it’s a mistake so I changed it to girl. You’ll see why at the end of the chapter.)
[I am surprised you remember it so well.] Granite
Having the words, I said at that time perfectly reproduced word for word, I unconsciously let out a single complaint.
Although I felt refreshed remembering the Braised Moa Pigeon stew. I recalled another unpleasant fact……
Shar is sitting next to me shyly with her cheeks red.
While touching the tea cup letting off steam, she answered.
[Hehe, even now I sometimes dream about what happened.] Shar
What, isn’t that too heavy? Forget it. What do you mean dream about it?
While feeling dejected, I took the teacup and had a sip.
……Huh. What the hell this is good.
[Um… So, could you please……hold my hand?] Shar
As I did a double take on the impossibly delicious tea in front of me, Shar hid her face and said something annoying.
What is it now? Have you recently been acting too spoiled? You are so impudent even though you’re an apprentice.
Keep silent and let me live my deadbeat life! Honestly, why are you so gifted? Huh?
Thank you for supporting me, sonofabitch!
As I was spouting such garbage phrases to myself, my mouth started talking almost automatically.
[Hmm. I don’t mind, but what’s wrong?] Granite
Of course, I mind. It bothers the hell out of me
[You know, “I will take your hand” …] Shar
??? I wonder why the explanation has changed.
While looking at the reckless Shar who is fidgeting in her seat, I’m frantically trying to understand what’s going on.
Is that … ah? Did you remember that?
[That reminds me, at that time Shar would always hold my hand no matter what we did, or where we went.] Granite
It was truly annoying.
I remember I quickly regretted saying “I would continue to take your hand” for a while.
After making me remember that, why are you the one that’s embarrassed.
I mean didn’t you just hug me earlier.
The feelings of girls around Shar’s age are a real mystery…
Fine you can do what you want, just hurry up and stick out your hand.
While thinking such things, I put out my right hand then Shar’s body trembled.
She timidly raised her face and stared at my right hand.
She shakily lifted her left hand and slowly rested her hand on mind.
At the moment our hands made contact, she closed her eyes and let out an unnecessarily amorous voice
Then she folded each finger one by one, inserted them in between my fingers and squeezed. That is when she opened her eyes, and stared at our connected hands. Her eyes were swimming as if in ecstasy.
…… What are you doing, Shalltear-san.
Beyond that, I abandoned even making fun of this situation. I then closed my eyes and decided to recall the contents of the entertainment novel I was reading yesterday.
In the country of Lacracia, the people who work in certain magic or technical professions are normally required to register with the country.
Primarily, this is to stop the flow of techniques to a foreign country and during times of war to efficiently produce ammunitions for military use. These are the two reasons for the registration.
Also, there are some benefits when it comes to the, for example taxes, so it’s not always a bad deal, but there is an apprentice program that is mandatory by law and periodic technical skill checks, so to be honest it is still annoying.
But no matter how annoying it may be, it is required.
The next day we went to the town hall to file some paperwork but――
[Range-san, are you an idiot?]
――A woman I was acquainted with insulted me in a cold tone.
She is a petite woman with long hair who probably has a distant ancestor who is from some island country
As she was wearing a proper uniform and sitting straight in her chair, she looked at me as if I was some garbage laying on the side of the road.
This woman’s name is Kaya.
She has a childish face so it’s hard to guess her age, but I’m sure she is younger than me and is around her early 20’s.
Also, one of the few people from “Fool’s Street” who is capable of functioning like a decent human is the old lady gardener. She is that Mir-san’s one and only daughter. Compared to her unbelievably cheerful mother, Kaya is the complete opposite, a tight ass.
[That is an abrupt greeting. Have I done something weird?] Granite
[Doing something weird, that’s not even the start…] Kaya
Kaya let out a long sigh as she looked at the young girl who was holding my hand and sticking next to me. She then stood up and spoke to the employee working behind her.
[Prathi-san, I’m sorry but I was wondering if you could watch the counter for a little while? I must have a conversation with this idiotic man, Range-san.] Kaya
[A,Ah. I u,understand. Please go ahead, senpai….] Prathi
[Hey, Kaya what are you playing at?] Granite
[It’s fine, just follow me.] Kaya
With a scowl on her face, Kaya led us to room with an empty sign up. After she confirmed we entered the room, she locked the door. She let out yet another sigh and then she started talking.
[Sit wherever you like. …Now just where did that child come from.] Kaya
Kaya asked this while looking back and forth at myself and the young girl who was wearing some lumpy winter clothes we picked up at a used clothes store. I answered her question with the same answer I gave earlier.
[Like I said. She is a distant relative of mine. Even though I don’t want to, I am the only one who can take her in.] Granite
[…So, you are going to stick with that story, huh? …Ugh, I understand. It’s hard to swallow but I’ll let it be. For argument’s sake let’s say that you are telling the truth. How did you bring that child into the capitol? You do know what season it is now, right? It’s the middle of winter. It’s hard to think that girl who has no other relatives but you would come from a far place all the way to the capital. Normally the prices of horse carriages during winter is high, do you know how high they are now that it’s the festival celebrating the princess’s birthday?] Kaya
[…. No matter what you say, isn’t it ok since she is here hence reason why we’ve come in the first place. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Unexpectedly there was a merchant who was overflowing with kindness and goodwill. Ok.] Granite
As I said this the little girl desperately nodded, just as we had practiced beforehand.
As she saw this, Kaya gave me a stern glare.
[Don’t sweat the small stuff, worrying about the small stuff is my job! On top of that. Unexpectedly! Are you even trying to hide that fact that your lying?] Kaya
[So annoying. Since you are like that, even though you’re an elite with a good job and have a decent face, your still single. Why don’t you try calming down a bit?] Granite
[H,HUH! T,That has nothing to do with this! And what about you! Even though your older than me, you are still single!] Kaya
[I’m doing fine. I don’t want to get married. When it comes to women, keeping it to a physical and monetary level is the best way to avoid future problems.] Granite
(TL Note: He is basically saying that it’s best to use prostitutes so he doesn’t have to deal with having a wife. This dude is the worst. lol)
[A s,sleazebag like you! A,After saying all of that how do you want me to respond!?] Kaya
[The response you’re showing right now.] Granite
[!?! H,Horrible! You are horrible! Do you enjoying messing with people? Yeah, it is fun, huh. Everyone from Fool’s Street is like that!] Kaya
[Hey hey, this is a conversation between you and I. I don’t think it’s not good to involve other people. As a public worker from the town hall, you have to be reasonable.] Granite
[Huuh!? Why do I have to be lectured at by an irresponsible person such as yourself. Uhh, this isn’t fair…I hate this…] Kaya
Letting a young girl hear this wouldn’t be the best. So something similar to common sense stirred inside of me and I covered the young girl’s ears as I nosily argued with Kaya.
Kaya became confused with teary eyes, I then searched the room looking for a way out.
[Well, let’s just leave it at that, ok? We have lot to get done today. Let us continue this some other time.] Granite
[We don’t need to do continue this nonsense! Just do whatever you wan… No no no! We still haven’t finished the main conversation.] Kaya
Tsk… We were almost out of here, she came back to her senses.
As I was frustrated by this, Kaya took several deep breaths to calm herself.
Fuu… Even though she is so petite her chest was well armored. It gave off a nice feeling…
Well I’ll forgive her for all of her rudeness up until now.
As I thought this, Kaya began to severely glare at me.
I thought she caught me staring at her, but I was wrong. She was just glaring at me.
[I want you to spill the beans.] Kaya
[Spill the beans?] Granite
[Yes. Since we are the only ones here, I want you to tell me the truth. Even though I hate to admit it, I am from Fool’s Street. Even though you all are good for nothings, I still believe there is a line that you all would not cross.] Kaya
…Is that what you call trust? It looks like you’re just giving up to me.
As I tilted my head, I realized it is true that at this rate we won’t get anywhere.
But, even though it’s been awhile since I’ve seen her. I never expected her to say anything like this. She does seem to have loosened up somewhat.
――With that in mind, I haven’t crossed any line, right?
Honestly, I’m not even sure myself. What should I do?
I sat the girl in a chair and dragged Kaya to the far corner of the room and whispered to her.
Kaya made a face as I dragged her along, but she did follow me.
[….That’s right. Hah…..Don’t get mad.] Granite
[I’m already mad so it’s fine.] Kaya
[O,Oh. I picked her up in the slums.] Granite
[See, I knew she wasn’t a relative of…Huh?] Kaya
[I said I picked her up in the slums] Granite
[…What’s wrong? Are you feeling ill? For you to do something so humane.] Kaya
[That’s uncalled for. I am perfectly fine. …It is true that I wasn’t thinking of saving her when I brought her from the slums.] Granite
[Then why did you do it?] Kaya
[…I wanted an apprentice.] Granite
I…. cut out a lot as I explained the story to Kaya. Kaya stared at me trying to search out my true intentions with her eyes. But after a while she gave up with a sigh.
Then, Kaya looked over at the girl who was sitting restlessly in her chair as she stared at us. Kaya the reluctantly muttered.
[Hmm… It doesn’t look like that girl hates you… ―― I understand. I will help to register her as your distant relative. I’m sure that girl will be happier that way.] Kaya
[…What’s wrong with you? Aren’t you the one is feeling ill?] Granite
When Kaya heard what I said, she made a displeased face.
[Even I know how hard it is for an orphan to live in the slums. I can at least be that accommodating.] Kaya
I just didn’t think about it that way but…
I only thought that it would be simpler.
W,Well if she wants to take it that way then be my quest.
[Well all things considered… even if this is known to the private parts of the town hall…there is no way to confirm any of this.] Kaya
[Huh? What do you mean?] Granite
[Ugh… Truth be told, the only groups of people properly managed are people of peerage, knight and soldiers, public workers employed by the country, and craftsman such as yourself. ――Since it’s only the two of us here, besides those who are directly connected to the profits of this country, the upper nobility is strongly against properly managing other groups of people. All the while the royal family quietly folds their hands and does nothing. To be honest, they interfered with the supply of the large amount of ale for the festival from the other day. Do they have any idea how chaotic the ――] Kaya
Hey, the story is going off track.
If I leave her like this she will complain endlessly, so I cut in.
[I got it. I got it. You are having a hard time as well. So, what. If for some reason a problem arises, you can just pretend like you don’t know anything.] Granite
[Fufu. You can be considerate of others too, huh. But please don’t worry. If that time comes, both you and I will properly accept our punishment.] Kaya
[I’m sorry, let me correct what I said earlier. You are a god damn tight ass.] Granite
As Kaya softly smiled and spoke, I let out a deep sigh.
As we returned to the counter and Kaya began to get the paperwork in order. She asked me a question.
[Ah, that’s right I failed to ask this earlier. What is the child’s name?] Kaya
[No, wait it’s not what you think. Just wait a bit.] Granite
[I can’t believe it…. What is with this man….?] Kaya
Kaya looked at me as if I was a dead bug lying on the side of the road. She then held her head as if she had a sudden headache.
I panicked and crouched down, and locked eyes with the young girl who was once again tightly gripping my hand.
Now that she mentioned it, it’s so obvious!
Why haven’t I asked this girl her name up until now?!
How out of it am I?
[Ehem. I’m sorry. Even though this is something I did, I have been completely, truly, and hopelessly thoughtless. I know it’s a bit too late, but can you tell me your name?] Granite
After sleeping for a full night and having a proper breakfast and lunch, her complexion looks much better. The girl looked at me with her stunning green eyes and confusedly tilted her head.
…No, why is she confused in the first place.
I’m talking about your name, your own name. Please hurry up even though I know it’s too late to be asking this.
As I thought this, I asked the child once again.
[Yes. What’s your name?] Granite
[I don’t have a name.] Shalltear.
That response was so unexpected, that my mind went blank for a second.
Eh? Are you serious? Do people in the slums not have a name?
Or maybe she has been in the slums since before she could be given a name?
This girl looks to be around 10 years old.
Shit, since I don’t know any other people from the slums I can’t come to a concrete answer.
…No wait wait wait, calm down down down. That isn’t the problem right now.
If she doesn’t have one then I’ll just have to give her a name. If anything, that is more convenient. Yep that’s right.
[O…k. Then I shall give you a name. Be thankful.] Granite
Shit, I can’t think of a name of the top of my head.
Um, oh right. Oh whatever, let’s just go with that.
[From today on your name shall be “Shalltear”.] Granite
As I said this I can hear a gulping sound from above me.
As I ignored this, I stared at the fragile little face in front of me.
[Sharuteea…? That is…my name…] Shalltear
[Yes, that’s right. Well to be accurate your name is now “Shalltear Range”. Range is the family name…a name that family member’s share. Do you have any complaints?] Granite
[We…are family? I with…Magician-sama.] Shalltear
[Hm, well…that’s right?] Granite
I nodded in the moment, since we are distant relatives, we are not really family.
Well, I thought I shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. Then at this moment the girl, now henceforth Shalltear――
―― Delivered a single shocking word.
I’m sure I was put into a stupor by the profound words of this little girl.
Exactly how I spent the rest of that day, has been completely erased from my memory.
(Author’s Note: Before I realized it’s the end of August…. My my, this author is beyond help.)
(TL Note: The author is commenting on how slow he is to update. I am not in a position to judge.)