<Message from me:> A double-upload today. This is the Side Story for Volume 1. I’ve also uploaded the character sheet for Volume 2, but be warned that it does contain spoilers. This one, though, is fine. Enjoy~
The Younger Sister’s and Older Brother’s Opinions
These events occurred half a year before the events of the main story.
On my own site, I received a comment asking, “I was wondering if he would stick with Nellis even though they aren’t connected by blood,” so I wrote this side story as if those characters were personally asked.
■What the younger sister had to say■
“Nellis, your older brother is kind of cool, right?”
Being asked that by a friend, Nellis answered, doubtful. When that happened, it seemed that the friend hid her embarrassment. She giggled with a know-it-all face.
“Yeah. Well, it’s not that he’s beautiful or anything….It’s just that, he looks clever. Like he’s not one of those idiots hanging around town. You know, those guys who start fights, draw graffiti on shop walls, and act coldly to the girls they hang out with.”
“Ah, yeah…well, that’s true.”
Nellis reluctantly accepted. Although it had only been a little more than 4 years since Fin had become her brother, she could recall no instances of him being that foolish or hurting her and her parents.
There were times when he would play along with her pranks, but when she thought back on it, he was doing this to make sure she didn’t cross the line instead of out-rightly telling her to stop. It was like he was acting as her guardian.
“And that’s why he’s not interesting.”
Nellis muttered to herself, causing her friend to tilt her head, confused.
“Nellis, do you perhaps like Fin? Even if you call him your older brother, you guys aren’t related by blood. Does he make your heart flutter? He’s reliable, and I think it’s nice when he laughs.”
“Don’t joke around!”
Nellis suddenly opened her eyes widely and rebuked. That wasn’t all; she continued to prattle loud enough to cause her friend to flinch.
“Well, it’s true that when he first came to our home, I had….you know…. Fine, I admit I had some expectations of him. But it was only a momentary delusion! You know, like a childish fancy!”
Even though being only halfway through her teenage years, there was no way she wouldn’t have childish fancies, but Nellis was serious.
“My illusion was quickly broken. I really couldn’t believe how stupidly serious he was! ……Ah, that’s right. You’re the eldest daughter, right? You’ve probably thought that it would be nice to have an older brother. I used to think that too. But, you know, reality is definitely not like that! It’s more fun talking to a dead fish than being together with Big Bro Fin.”
“You don’t have to go that far…”
“Really? I think I’m being quite reasonable. If it was only a greeting after not seeing each other in a while, then yeah, he isn’t a bad conversation partner. Sure. I’m rarely uncomfortable with him around. But you know, try being with him for 4-6 hours. It’ll definitely feel stuffy! I suggest you reconsider your tastes. You’ll be in a world of pain if you marry someone like him.”
Although the conversation strayed way off to the topic of marriage, the girl didn’t react. In this northern area, it was perfectly normal to see the friendship between a male and female as a means of searching for a marriage partner.
Nellis nodded with a straight face to her uneasy friend.
“I’m sure since I’m the one living together with him. The one who will become Big Bro’s wife…..hmm….would probably be someone who isn’t expecting anyone other than a husband who can only earn money and do physical labor. It has to be someone who’s completely fine with the only words being exchanged between from morning to night be ‘Yeah’ and ‘Yes.’”
The image of a conversationless, lethargic, melancholic marriage life crossed the girl’s mind. That wasn’t really that unusual of a situation. The girl let out a long sigh as this potential partner wouldn’t even be able to fulfill her dream of being a newlywed.
Nellis was astonished at her friend and shrugged her shoulders.
“You know I’m also quite worried about him. I don’t think he’ll get married for the rest of his life, and if we forced him, I would feel bad for the wife. Well….if it’s someone who is super attentive and can converse without saying anything, then that might be a different story.”
But that would have to be a miracle. Besides, if such a person existed, they probably would marry someone better than Big Bro.
――Nellis said, but in truth, she was the one who had been praising him from outside of his earshot.
Though she would have never imaged that her words would become the truth in the following years. Or that by meeting that partner, her gravestone of a brother would begin to soften up.
■What the older brother had to say■
When he was coming back from delivering wheat flour to the town, an unexpected guest was waiting for him. It was the childhood friend, Taz. They grew up together in the orphanage, and now he was working as an apprentice sailor, carrying luggage to various harbors.
“Yo, welcome back.”
Taz said, relaxed as if this was his own home. Fin wasn’t able to remain shocked and laughed.
“It’s been a while. You came back, huh.”
“Yeah……Nice place you got here.”
Taz looked around the room and said in a quiet voice. Fin nodded and smiled.
“Mr. Oandus and his family have been good to me. How ’bout you? How’s the ship?”
“It ain’t bad. They may be rough in a lot of places, but deep down, they’re good folk. There’s also some who if you flatter them, they’ll cheer up right away. And others who don’t give a damn as long as there’s alcohol around. Well, as long as you do your job, you don’t gotta worry about a place to sleep or food. And when we dock, we get a break.”
His way of talking made him sound like a full-fledge man of the sea. Fin stifled another laugh, his mouth pressed tightly. But, Taz had noticed this and scowled.
“Eheh. If you’re gonna laugh, just laugh. But you know…There are secret shops only the sailors know ’bout. They got the best booze, women…..”
“You ever gone there? Well, have you?”
Fin raised an eyebrow, thinking this was a joke. Taz had always been someone who easily got carried away and loved to play, but he was still at the age he wouldn’t really be into the pleasures of adult life. Whether you grew up in a good or bad environment, bar owners and prostitutes wouldn’t bother to deal with a child who had yet to even grow facial hair. That was what Fin knew at the very least.
Taz snickered, but he neither affirmed nor denied it.
“Sailors grow faster than people on land, ya know.”
His haughty smile asked if Fin was jealous. Fin blinked and shrugged his shoulders, only giving those as his answer. He felt no envy or jealousy, but this caused Taz to become dejected at this lack of a response.
Seeing this, Fin decided to give a vague answer.
“Hum…. Is that so?”
“Don’t force it, even though I know you’re really jealous.”
As usual, Taz read too much into it as he grinned and jabbed Fin with his elbow. Fin returned a push back, indignant.
“Whatever. I don’t really care.”
He was putting on a strong face, but for some reason, he started to feel jealous. But by the time Fin had noticed this change in feeling, Taz was the one who gave up.
“Tch, you’re that type of guy anyways. Besides, you don’t gotta pay them prostitutes as you already got a good partner.”
Fin looked puzzled, so Taz lowered his voice and whispered.
“I just saw her. Nellis got pretty cute, right? Heh, you.”
“Hey, wait a sec. I don’t intend….”
“Don’t play dumb. Then, do you wanna bet? The next time I come here, you’ll be the young owner of the mill, and Nellis will have a big tummy. With like 2 or 3 kids…..”
Shouting, Fin grabbed his childhood friend by the collar. Naturally, Taz flinched as shock and fear appeared in his eyes. Fin was confused at how unexpectedly harsh his reaction was and slowly let go.
“…..Stop. I’m not shameless.”
Taz apologized at first, but after he fixed his shirt, he continued without really learning his lesson.
“But, you know, serious talk here. I’d thought you were gonna marry Nellis and take over the mill. When I heard that you were adopted by Mr. Oandus, I was completely convinced that that was the case.”
“Right when I was on the verge of being kicked out of the orphanage, Mr. Oandus came by, saying he needed someone to help. Just that. After Nellis finds a suitable partner, I’m joining the army corps.”
“That’s a shame, though.”
Seeing how Fin was only fulfilling his duty to his adoptive parents, Taz raised a flabbergasted voice.
“I don’t think you don’t gotta be that formal. Well, it can’t be helped as that’s the kind of person you are….If it was me, I would be already be calling dibs on her. She’s that cute.”
Taz said as he turned his greedy eyes in the direction of the kitchen, causing Fin to grimace.
“If you do anything weird to my sister, I swear I’ll push you off the cliff into the ocean, even if you’re my friend.”
“Woah, scary. What the heck? So do you want her or not?”
Irritated, Fin shut Taz down immediately before letting out a sigh.
“You know….she would jump on top of your bed every morning to wake you up. I’d seriously thought my guts would come out of my mouth the first time it happened. One time, our heads bumped into each other and we were seeing stars for the whole day. If she had to say something to me, it would be abuse like ‘You’re dumb’ or ‘You’re boring.’ She would also claim that candles were being wasted in my room and just take them away…..”
And whenever Fauna would occasionally bake some sweets, Nellis would always take Fin’s portion. She would cleverly and cleanly push work on him, saying, “While you’re at it, do this.”
Finally, she would treat Fin’s words as mere grumbles, and after he finished, she would just let out a deep sigh. Taz held his stomach laughing and threw a sympathetic look.
“Hahaha, in that case, even if you guys married, she would be the one wearing the pants….Hahaha, I can totally imagine it! So, you’re joining the army because you hate her?”
“That’s not the reason why.”
Fin answered sullenly while Taz asked amused.
“Then, if I said I wanna marry Nellis, you won’t stop me?”
“…..If you’re serious, then yeah, I won’t.”
Fin shrugged his shoulders and added very clearly.
“However, I’ll tell Nellis and uncle that you peed on your bed and blamed me for it.”
“Wow, you know how long ago that story is! ….Sigh, you real~ly aren’t funny. I get it. Let’s drop the topic. The end!”
Taz waved his hands in the air in surrender and changed the topic.
He told stories of his life on the ship, the work and rare things at the harbors, the rumors spread by the merchants, and such; all of them interesting and novel. In return, Fin reported the situation around Nanais during the time Taz had been away.
As this was all happening, the sun had began to set. Fauna was also beginning to prepare dinner, so she invited Taz to stay.
“Fin, sorry to ask this, but can you bring some firewood? Also, please go and call your father.”
“Okay, got it.”
Fin immediately nodded and stood up. When his back had disappeared outside past the doorway, Taz looked at Fauna with a very complex face.
“…..He’s truly a lost cause.”
“Do you really think so?”
“He’s got no desires. I believe you should reconsider thinking about letting him take over the mill.”
“How disappointing. I thought that if it was Fin, he could get along with Nellis.”
“Ah, well then, how about me?”
Taz jokingly recommended himself, but Fauna only giggled, giving no answer.
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