Message from the translator: And we’re back! This is a pretty quick and light break before heading into the next chapter. Still, enjoy~
Volume 1, 4-3: Overcast Day
“‘Bandit extermination’…..Big Bro Fin, isn’t that dangerous?”
Max leaned on his sword in the orphanage garden as he asked, worried. The length of the sword provided by the army corps was roughly the distance from an adult’s stomach to their wrist, but it was practically a long sword to the petite Max. It was a memento from Iguros and should have been returned back to the army corps, but Fin had secretly hidden it from them, since he didn’t know if it would be necessary later on, and most importantly, it was saturated with all the memories of Nanais, making it difficult for him to let it go.
Watching the two of them practice from the side, Nellis interjected, “That’s right.”
“It won’t be just the survivors of those you’d faced; there may be a lot more, no? Even for the army corps, the environment is different in the middle of the forest. And the Beasts of Darkness might be there as well.”
“That’s why I said there’s no way I can ignore them.”
Fin wiped the sweat from his brow and returned his sword back into the scabbard. Although he couldn’t put it into words, he felt some kind of responsibility towards those five children, and this determination was clear from his behavior. Heartbroken, Max looked at Fin, bit his lip, and hung his head. Then, he slowly said in a mutter.
“I thought I was gonna to be the one who had to say that……but, it really wasn’t Big Bro Fin’s fault. If we had all stayed in Tetna like that, then we would’ve all starved to death. I, who couldn’t look after the little ones properly, am also responsible. However, I can’t stand being silent about this now.”
Max raised his face and stared intently at Fin who was trying to run away.
“If you’re only to exterminate the bandits just because of your sense of responsibility, please stop it. It’s fine if I’m the only one who can’t forget about them. You must think about your own future, your family, and such.”
“What are you trying to say?”
“I’m saying that your argument and that Winean commander are idiotic.”
Max frankly said without a shred of mercy, so Fin raised his eyebrow in a joking manner. However, Max did not laugh. He continued to have a grim expression, one inappropriate for his age.
“The survivors from Tetna are just troublesome eyesores from his point of view. He could be thinking of using this bandit extermination as an excuse to just finish them all off in one blow.”
Max pointed out. Fin frowned at these unpleasant words, but he didn’t run away by saying, ‘You’re just thinking too much.” Nellis nervously asked, “What do you mean?” Fin and Max looked at each other.
“Well,” Fin nodded with a melancholic expression. “It’s a possibility: the commander’ll say that he’ll lend us some subordinates for the bandit extermination, but in reality, they’ll be ordered to kill us after we kill the bandits. If that’s the case, then all those people who know of the true state of Tetna and Nanais will completely disappear, and the commander’ll be able to lessen the number of bandits. This is Dirgius’ plan–one that’ll certainly make him happy.”
“Oh no! No matter how you look at it, it’s impossible for your commander to be that vile of a man to offer such a solution!”
Nellis shook her head in astonishment. Fin understood her feelings and ran his hand through her hair without saying anything. His mind had been surrounded by the illusion of what it meant to be in the army corps until he witnessed the behavior of the soldiers in Nanais…no, until he met Dirgius and was mildly disappointed in Ancius in Winea.
The Diatius Empire’s troops were steadfast in their strict rules, carried their pride, and fought for honor and the citizens…..in the past.
“If Dirgius wasn’t thoroughly a fool to not think of such a strategy, then I would’ve been saved a bunch of trouble.”
Fin jokingly cracked and shrugged his shoulders at the two worried kids. Max gave a strained laugh and returned a sarcastic comment in resignation, “In that case, there’s nothing we can do, heh.”
At that moment, a completely out-of-place, bright voice came calling out to them.
“Max! Ah, Big Brother Fin, too! Look, look!”
Pitter Patter Light, tiny footsteps belonging to Fernaine were rushing towards them from the direction of the temple. She was dressed in a brand new, light pink clothes, and the same color was sprinkled around her whole face, making her look like a flower fairy. Her black hair was nicely combed. It wasn’t done to look messy like a country bumpkin kid, but just a thin portion of it was naturally braided. The red ribbon was vibrant and stood out like her dark green eyes.
“Fernaine! I didn’t recognize you; I’m so glad you’re looking so lively!”
Fin crouched down and patted the little girl’s head. Fernaine puffed up her chest, proud. She twirled around once, and the hem of her clothes gently floated. Fin had noticed that these clothes were a bit too rich for an orphan and sent Nellis a questioning look, and she returned a forced smile.
“Fernaine, are there people who’ve become interested in you and sent you a bunch of stuff recently? I think they want to adopt you. I’m sure all the other girls are jealous, so it must be tough for you.”
Listening to that, Max burst out into laughter.
“Even though she’s a little one, a girl is a girl, haha!”
“What’s with the laughter?” Nellis scowled at him. “Isn’t obvious to be happy over getting pretty clothes or delicious treats? Right?”
Nellis asked Fernaine as she crouched down to fix the string on the little girl’s chest. Fernaine put on the airs like a rich daughter, as if saying that it was a given. Fin had a strange expression on as he was holding back his laughter.
“Hey hey, Max, Big Brother Fin, I’m pretty, right?”
She twirled once more to show them, and the two boys each nodded their heads in agreement and gave suitable cheers. Satisfied, the little girl rushed off to look for any other person who would praise her. When she had completely gone, the three of them for some reason exchanged glances and laughed a bit now that their spirits had been lightened.
“Well…..at any rate, it’ll be great if Fernaine gets adopted into a proper family. And I fulfill my promise.”
Fin let out a relieved sigh. He swore to Iguros that he would surely protect and bring her to safety. While Iguros had died, it didn’t give him any excuse to throw away his pledge.
“How faithful you are, Big Bro Fin.”
Max expressed in a complicated voice. It was a mix of admiration and astonishment. Nellis also gave a serious and deep nod.
“That’s right~ Our big bro is real~ly so damn serious that it’s a problem.”
“Nellis, your wording is horrible.”
“Don’t say things like ‘damn’,” Fin lightly rebuked and scowled. Of course, Nellis just twisted her mouth and said, “See?” Max laughed while Fin gave a bitter smile and shook his head in astonishment.
“Sheesh…..those temple disciple clothes’ll cry, you know. Though I won’t tell you to be graceful this late in the game.”
“I do act diligently in public, you know! Fret not. Especially since I have to give a good impression to the visitors who come to the orphanage. Everyone’s future is depending on it after all.”
Suddenly at the end, Nellis looked gloomy. Fin tilted his head to the side to ask her if anything was wrong. She checked to see if anyone else was around and whispered in a low voice.
“Actually, you see, I’m a bit worried about Fernaine getting adopted. It’s just…..fishy. I know that the Priest and everyone else are treating the children well. But, how can I put it…..it looks like they’re only favoring Fernaine.”
After contemplating for a while the correct words to use, Nellis finally finished saying. Next to the frowning Fin, Max had an exaggeratedly stunned face.
“What, are you also jealous of the little girl? Well, it can’t be helped; Fernaine’s a special kind of cute.”
“You’re totally off! It’s not like that at all, but…..I can’t really put it into words. After talks of someone wanting to adopt her, they only pampered her, no, it wasn’t just being partial to her. It looked like she was receiving favors in food and clothes, so that’s why……”
“AARGH!!” Nellis fretted and shook her head. Fin was carefully pondering Nellis’ choice of words, but after an unpleasant thought popped in his head, a murky wave of nausea washed over him.
“…..Almost like she’s an item on sale.”
Fin whispered, but after Nellis was taken aback, she gave a deep nod. Max’s eyes were wide opened.
“Bu, but that’s….”
“Well, if you consider that the person wanting to adopt Fernaine will spend money for her, then such a thought isn’t strange. Looking at it realistically, then as expected, the orphanage would benefit if adopters appeared quickly and in great numbers. That’s why if they could improve the children’s appearances by a little and entice foster parents, it isn’t suspicious.”
“And that happened a couple of times in Nanais as well,” Fin added then shut his mouth. Even though he merely spoke the truth, what could he do about this bleakness?
Likewise, Nellis tightly wrapped her arms around herself, cold as if the sun had suddenly become obscured by clouds.
“I hope that this is just you overthinking things. Since that child was delighted and stuff, I feel bad if I said something weird and ruined the mood. That’s why I’ve been silent till now.”
As if infected by their unease, Max also fidgeted around.
“It’s just your imagination. I’d also seen that geeze….er, old man many times before, but he didn’t seem like a particularly bad person. He’s fond of children and looks like a kind person, so I’m sure everything’ll be fine.”
“Yeah, that’s right.”
Fin agreed, saying that this was all them needlessly worrying. However, there was no such basis for that, and it wasn’t like their anxiety had disappeared; the three of them clearly understood this. At the same time, they also realized that their current selves had no power to do anything about it.
Trying to change the mood of the area, Fin stretched his limbs as far as he could.
“For the time being, we should be worrying about me rather than about Fernaine. I gotta sleep early and recharge if I wanna avoid injury during tomorrow’s bandit extermination.”
“Big Bro…..you sound like an old man.”
While it was nice of her to play along, that comment was a bit too much. Fin’s face had really become sullen from it. Max and Nellis spat then rudely burst out into laughter. Exasperated, Fin shook his head, but eventually, he also laughed along with them.
: It’s an idiom that means that Nellis was acting inappropriate with those clothes on, causing the clothes to ‘cry’ due to being unable to fulfill their duty. I’m not really sure how to word this concisely though.
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