A Full Stomach for that Hungry Little Girl (Part 1/2)
[My apologies, but I really have to split Chapter 2 into two parts. As it stands, it’s the longest chapter I’ve ever come across in a konosuba book, taking up almost half the entire volume. Even split in two, each one of them is easily longer than any other chapter I’ve released.
Fortunately, that chapter also naturally splits into two parts, so it shouldn’t prove too disruptive a reading experience. Part 2 should be going up next week as usual, so, I hope to see you then. Till then, enjoy this chapter.]
On this day, I didn’t have any of my companions with me, so I was planning on enjoying a lazy breakfast by myself.
I went down to my usual seat at the first floor of the guild and tapped on the table to call a waitress over.
“It’s a little annoying, so can you please be quiet? It’s getting in the way of business. The exit is over there.”
“I just came here! I’m a customer too! I want to order something!”
The waitress with short red hair strode over with a frown.
“The Eris church is handing out soup today. If you go now they’ll probably allow you to have two bowls. Isn’t it great?”
“Why do you automatically assume that I don’t have any money!? I have money from time to time too! Hurry up and give me the menu already!”
“Come now, there’s no way that’d be true. Right?”
The waitress said, barely hiding her laughter.
“Yeah, there no way he would have money. Dust wouldn’t be Dust if he wasn’t poor. Otherwise he’d be just a regular adventurer.”
“That’s not even funny as a joke! If you want to earn money as a stand up comedian, you’ve got to get some better material.”
The other adventurers seated around the area chimed in.
Dammit, these guys are completely looking down on me.
“Hey, even I occasionally come into money too. Here, take a look. What does this seem like to you?”
I pulled out a few coins from my wallet and let them clatter to the table.
“Eh, this… doesn’t seem to be fake. What is with this money? I won’t become an accomplice to a crime if I accept it, right? You can spend time in jail by yourself.”
“I didn’t get the money illegally! It’s the prize money I got from those zombies at the graveyard. You guys got the same money too!”
Since Serena graciously refrained from taking any of the prize money, the rest of us got a bigger share, and thus I had enough money to pay for breakfast today.
Most of the other adventurers gained plenty of money during that incident too, which is why, even though it’s still early in the day, there are plenty of adventurers lazing about the tavern enjoying lavish meals.
“Anyway, enough about that already. Bring me something filling. Hurry up. And you guys, stop checking if it’s raining spears!”
The people sitting near the windows immediately opened them and gazed into the sky.
[TL note: “Is it going to rain spears” is the japanese equivalent of “Did hell freeze over” or “Did the sun just rise from the west”]
Ah, well, they do say that the rich care not for petty concerns. Now that I’m rich, I won’t lose my temper over such a small matter.
“Oh, this is rare. To think that you’d be here before us. It… doesn’t seem to be raining.”
“There’s hardly a cloud in the sky today. I guess miracles do happen from time to time.”
“Is it going to rain spears? Or perhaps the sky is about to fall down?”
All three of my companions who finally arrived peeked out a window and gazed into the sky.
This place really is filled with just the most disrespectful people.
“Nothing is gonna come falling down! Is it really that strange for me to be eating breakfast-”
Almost as if in response to my words, the sound of something breaking suddenly resonated through the guild.
As we looked around in a panic for the source of that noise, something landed with a heavy thud in front of me.
“Wha-What’s going on!?
The thing, no, the person that landed on my table is a young girl.
Her pale skin and long, flowing silver hair seemed to shimmer in the sunlight streaming in from the windows.
In about ten years, she’d probably turning heads whenever she walks down the street.
“Eh? Eh? Where did this girl come from? Did she break in through the window?”
Lynn seemed totally confused by this situation as she repeatedly looked between this girl, the broken window, and back.
Keith and Taylor were in similar states.
However, this girl doesn’t seem to be in pain at all, and stared resolutely at me.
“That was a pretty flashy appearance. Are you injured?”
Regardless of her reasons for doing so, jumping through a window like that is bound to cause a cut or two.
The girl was barefoot and was wearing only a simple one piece dress. Despite that, as far as I can tell, she hasn’t suffered a single wound at all.
“I found you.”
She said in a soft voice.
“Huh? What was that?”
“I’ve found you, master.”
What did this girl just say?
“Sorry, I didn’t catch that. Can you say it again?”
The girl repeated in a far louder voice than before.
A silence fell upon the guild.
Did she just call me master?
“Hey, what kind of joke is-”
My companions let out a disbelieving scream, and just like that, the guild erupted into a cacophony of voices.
“Dust you bastard! You would even make a move on a girl that young just because you can’t get a woman!?”
“And she’s calling him master too. I’m sure he’s blackmailing her somehow.”
“Aaaah, Dust sank his poisonous fangs into a defenceless young girl. I always knew he would do this someday!”
I gave the surrounding adventurers a stern glare to shut them up and turned towards my companions, who had been silent all this while.
It’s good to have such reliable companions. I knew they would trust me enough not to believe-
“Dust, so you were only pretending to like big breasts, huh? You’ve been spending a lot of time with the flattest girl in that store, Lolisa, recently, so I thought that was a little suspicious.”
“If you turn yourself in, they’ll be less harsh on you. Don’t worry, I’ll go with you.”
Keith and Taylor grabbed my shoulders.
“Ow-Ow-Ow-Ow! You’re digging into my shoulder! Dammit, I can’t get free! Hey, come on, this is obviously a prank by that kid! Listen to me! Lynn, don’t just stand there, say something too!”
When I appealed to my last shred of hope for aid, she gave me a cold gaze that felt like it could stop a charging monster dead in its tracks.
“I always knew you were scum, but I didn’t think you’d be this bad. If you have any last words, I’ll hear you out.”
“Eh? Am I going to die?”
Lynn raised her staff and steadily drew closer.
Even if I wanted to run, Keith and Taylor had a death grip on my shoulders. At this point I couldn’t even get up from my seat.
A soft glow started gathering at the tip of the staff.
Ah, I’m going to die.
“Don’t bully master!”
The young girl leap in front of the staff and spread her arms.
“Don’t do that, it’s dangerous. I’m going to do something really grotesque, so it’d be too much for a little child.”
Lynn said something really dangerous sounding, but the little girl just repeatedly shook her head.
“… Sigh. Oh all right, I won’t bully him, so relax. If you have any objections, I’ll hear you out.”
Seems like my life was saved thanks to her.
… No, wait a minute. In the first place, the only reason why my life was in danger was because of her saying all those weird things.
“Objections, well, in the first place, who is this kid? Say, have we even met before?”
“Playing dumb even when you’ve been caught red handed, you really are gutsy, aren’t you?”
“Don’t point your staff at me! I really don’t know!”
If I ran across such a unique girl before, even I wouldn’t forget about her. But I have absolutely no recollection of her.
Still, there’s something off about her. What’s with this sense of nostalgia whenever I look at her, I wonder?
Silver hair and pale skin. Hmm. I feel like I’m missing something.
“Even if you are going to lie, you could’ve at least picked a more convincing line.”
“I’m not lying! Hey, brat, are you sure you haven’t mistaken me for someone else?”
The little girl got up to her feet and stared closely at my face.
“Have you forgotten?”
Even if you say that while looking at me with tearful eyes, I can’t remember something I’ve never seen.
And I definitely don’t recall ever meeting a young girl with silver hair.
“Have you forgotten how you rode me and went wild?”
And she said something even worse than before.
“You told me it feels good to let it all out.”
“H-Hey… Please say you’re lying! Otherwise, I’ll be joining all those corpses we defeated yesterday! I’ll forgive you for that joke, so… Wait a minute, could you be… Faitfore?”
I grabbed her shoulders and desperately tried to get her to correct her statement. Just then, a nostalgic name suddenly popped into my mind.
As I looked into her eyes, I suddenly felt an immense bloodlust coming from behind me.
Slowly turning around, I was greeted by the monstrous gazes of my companions and every adventurer present.
“Oh, is that it? You should’ve just told us that from the start.”
“Yeah. Though I always believed that Dust wouldn’t be this awful of a fiend.”
“Indeed. It’s only natural to trust in your companions.”
I glared at my companions who were telling complete, bold faced lies, but none of them looked my way. Instead, they were fawning over the girl, Faitfore.
“I already told you, I didn’t remember! She’s someone I knew from back before I became an adventurer. I owe a lot to her…parents.”
After getting beaten black and blue by everyone in the guild, I managed to convince one of the priests to heal me in exchange for a glass of wine, and somehow managed to get back on my feet.
After that, I managed to remember exactly who this girl is and quickly explained it to everyone.
If I hadn’t remembered, I’d be either in prison or dead by now.
“But, it would’ve been fine if you just told us about her…”
“You were the ones who didn’t listen! The reason I didn’t recognise her right away is because… she looks very different from when I last saw her.”
The subject of the conversation, Faitfore, was sitting on my lap and waving her fingers around. She seems to be fairly happy.
“Well, it’s not uncommon for girls her age to change dramatically in appearance in a very short time. It’s understandable that Dust didn’t recognise her immediately.”
“Yeah. I’m really regretful over my actions, so stop glaring at me. I’ll treat you to a drink, so cheer up already. We are companions and friends, aren’t we?”
I’m going to bleed Taylor and Keith dry later.
“Still, I wonder where her parents are. No one should leave such a young girl alone like this.”
“Who knows? She’s always been a little carefree. Maybe she saw me and decided to leave her in my care for a while. Faitfore has always been quite fond of me, after all.”
I quickly spun a tale to smooth things over. For now, I need to extract myself from this place.
I patted Faitfore on the head, and she craned her neck to sniff my palm.
“This smell is nice. Hey, Laine-”
“Aaaa! You were only this big when I saw you, so you probably don’t remember it. My name is Dust. Go on, try saying it. And don’t call me master or anything either, okay?”
That was close, I completely forgot about that. Just what is she saying all of a sudden?
No one heard that, right?
“I didn’t forget. Dust, no, Laine.”
“Oh, you managed to say it. My name is Dust, you got that?”
She fixed me with an unblinking gaze.
Don’t look at me like that. I understand what you’re trying to say, but for now, please just go along with me.
I met her gaze and subtly nodded.
“I got it. Dust.”
That was a little more direct than I would’ve liked, but she seems to understand it. It’s good that Faitfore is so quick on the uptake.
Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like anyone picked up on what she just said.
“Anyway, what are you going to do with this girl? Are you really going to take care of her? Even though you can barely take care of yourself?”
“Well, I don’t have much of a choice. I don’t even know where to start looking for her parents.”
The fact that her parents are in this town at all was a lie in the first place. Even if we were to search for them, it wouldn’t turn up anything.
Now that I’ve been reminded of Faitfore, I can’t possibly leave her to fend for herself.
“Dust, are you okay? Can you really take care of a child?”
“Well, I’ll manage somehow. She’s a pretty smart girl, after all.”
I took care of her back then, so it should work out somehow.
When I patted her lightly on the head, Faitfore grabbed a hold of my sleeve and tugged.
“Dust, I’m hungry.”
“Oh, right, food. Lynn… is impossible. Come with me for a bit.”
I held her hand and brought her over to the reception counter.
Spotting Luna polishing the counters, I decided to head over to her.
Her bountiful assets are wobbling nicely today too.
“Luna, are you busy now?”
“Not particularly. Is that girl the one who caused all that commotion earlier?”
Faitfore bowed, and Luna’s expression instantly softened.
“Oh my, what a well mannered girl.”
“Yeah, she’s pretty smart. Anyway, I have a favour to ask of you. Her stomach is grumbling right now. Can you please give her some?”
“Don’t say such pathetic things in front of a child. But, oh, well, I can spare a meal at least.”
Luna, completely misunderstanding me, waved a waitress over.
“Ah, no, that’s not what I needed help with… Can you give her some breast milk? With juggers that huge I’m sure you have some, right? Ah, don’t worry, I’ll keep a close watch so that no one will interfere- Gah! Who the…who hit me!?”
Behind me was a displeased looking Lynn with her staff in hand.
“If you keep fooling around, you’ll get your adventurer’s card confiscated. And, more importantly, you looked at my breasts just now and said it was impossible, right? Just what did you mean by that?”
“Ah, well, you know, if they aren’t big they are not going to produce anything, right? And,for someone around Luna’s age…”
It was at this point that I realized that I brought up the taboo.
“What was it about my age? Were you going to say it’s expected for them to be married and have children by now? Don’t you think that’s discrimination against working women?”
She said that with a jovial tone, but there’s nothing jovial about her expression. Is today a bad day for her?
As I was looking for a way out from between these two, Faitfore looked closely at Lynn and tilted her head.
“Why is the princess here?”
Lynn’s rage disappeared in an instant after being faced with such an unexpected question.
“She’s saying that you look as beautiful as a princess! Isn’t that great, Lynn!?”
If this girl stays here for any longer, she’ll probably say something even more damning.
“Right, I’ll buy a meal for you, so let’s go outside!”
Without waiting for her reply, I picked Faitfore up and rushed out of the guild.
“Hey, wait up!”
I heard Lynn’s voice behind me, but I ignored her and escaped from the guild.
Once I’m a fair distance away from the guild and made sure that no one I knew was around, I put Faitfore to the ground.
“Hey, hey, Dust. Why was the princess there?”
“That’s a different person. You’re a good girl, so don’t say that to Lynn ever again, okay? And don’t tell anyone else about my past either.”
“Yes. But she looks just like her.”
So she thinks so too, huh?
I didn’t want to talk about this matter any more, so I took Faitfore by the hand and walked around the city.
I bought a few pieces of food from a nearby merchant, and Faitfore greedily stuffed her cheeks with them.
“Say, why did you come here?”
“I wanted to talk with you, so I came here. Also… I was lonely…”
She felt lonely, huh. Well, I do feel a little bad for leaving her behind.
“Is that so. In that case, I guess I’ll have to stick with you.”
Now that I take a good look at her, she has really changed a lot. Long silver hair that extended all the way to her ankles and pale, unblemished skin.
As for clothing, the only thing she was wearing is a single white one piece dress, which is dirty and torn in many places. She didn’t even have a pair of shoes on.
“I’ll be really troublesome if we don’t get you new clothes, in a lot of ways.”
“Faitfore is fine as is.”
“Even if you are, we can’t leave you like this. If other people were to see me bringing you around like this, they would think I’m an abusive father, or some pervert. Either way, the police will get called and I’ll end up in prison.”
There are a lot of cops in Axel who have it out for me. If they see me dragging a little girl dressed up like this around, they’ll definitely arrest me without a second thought. Definitely.
“Lets just buy some fitting clothes at some nearby store.”
“Oh, Dust-san. Good morn… O-Oh, were you that desperate for money that you finally crossed the line? I had faith that you’d do it someday.”
“I don’t need that kind of faith!”
See, I knew someone like that would show up.
I pretty much knew who it was from her voice, but just to be sure, I turned around, and of course, standing right there was Yunyun looking at me with a fearful expression.
Those are definitely the look you’d give to a criminal.
“Police! There is a criminal here!”
“Hey, cut it out! It’s not what you are thinking! Every one of you say the exact same thing. This is the child of a friend of mine. Go on, introduce yourself.”
“Waaaah, so cute! She’s like a doll! Hmm? She doesn’t seem to dislike it even though she’s together with you. If you knew her, you should’ve told me. I thought you finally resorted to kidnapping. I was almost about to call the policemen over.”
“You already called them! Do you really think I would commit such a serious crime so easily!?”
Yunyun smiled at Faitfore while she chewed on a skewer. Women really are weak to young children, huh.
“Anyway, nevermind me, how are you doing with that chieftain’s trail or whatever it was?”
“That matter was safely… safely? I mean, it’s done with.”
What’s with that suspicious answer?
“So you asked Kazuma for help, huh?”
“How do you know that? Did you hear it from Kazuma-san?”
She sounded surprised, but really, it’s quite obvious.
Given Yunyun’s personality and relationships, there aren’t that many options available. In fact, there’s only one.
“The only people apart from me you can talk to normally is Sir Vanir and Kazuma. If you brought Sir to the Crimson Demon Village, it’d definitely blow up. Plus he’s not a vanguard anyways.”
“I did consider asking Vanir-san a little bit. But I can’t see any other outcome other than him teasing everyone back in the village and causing a catastrophe…”
A greater devil who enjoys pulling pranks on humans, and an entire village of combative archmages.
… Yeah, that’ll definitely result in quite the incident.
“Well, that’s a wise decision. He might be lacking in combat power, but he is pretty quick witted. Asking him to be your partner is probably for the best.”
“Yeah, yeah. Kazuma-san is kind, unlike a certain someone, so he happily agreed to come along!”
She’s putting a lot of emphasis on that certain someone, huh.
She’s definitely referring to me, but, well, I’ll let it slide. However, there is one point that I couldn’t stay quiet about.
“Just who are you calling kind, exactly?”
“Isn’t it obvious? It’s Kazuma-san.”
“Haaah? Don’t you know that he’s known as Scumzuma and Trashzuma and the like on the streets?”
I’m often referred to as trash and scum or that bastard behind my back, or even to my face sometimes, but Kazuma’s reputation isn’t that far from mine.
“O-Of course I know. But he’s kind to me.”
“He obviously has an ulterior motive. Most likely, he wants to appear cool in front of Crimson Demons that are known for their beauties. Kazuma and I are best buds, you know?”
As I declared, Yunyun froze up.
“Dust’s best buds… ”
Seems like my declaration sounded more convincing than I expected.
Even Kazuma only says ‘he’s an acquaintance’ when confronted about our friendship. I’m pretty sure he’s just being shy.
That’s why, when I run out of money, I have to get him to treat me to another round.
Yunyun is spending the time to talk to me, so she probably has nothing to do like usual. It’s worth asking, at any rate.
“Oh, yeah, you are kinda a girl, right? In that case, do you know of a place where they’d sell clothes that would fit her?”
“The kinda part bothers me a little, but alright. I know a lot of tailors around here. I frequently go out to window shop! … Though I’ve never gone in with anyone else before…”
She just said something really sad, but in terms of finding ways to kill time by themselves, there’s no one in this town better than Yunyun.
This girl spends every day either hanging out in the guild, playing with the explosion girl, or wandering around town. Though she occasionally does go on a quest by herself.
“I would like to entrust a task to you, as someone who has mastered the path of the loner. Please pick out a set of clothes for this girl. Just something that would look good on her would do.”
“Can I really!? I’ve always been good at playing with dolls, so leave it to me! Aah, to think that the day that I can go out with a girl to pick up a cute outfit is finally here!”
I was fully prepared for her to reject me, but it seems like she’s far more elated with the idea than I expected.
I really shouldn’t say this considering I’m the one to ask her to do this in the first place, but I don’t get what is so enjoyable about picking out clothes for another person. Besides, if she really wanted someone to go with, she could always ask her out.
“Couldn’t you go out together with that explosion girl?”
“Megumin always wears the same dress, so she doesn’t spend money on clothes very often. Plus, her fashion sense is, you know.”
“Ah, I see.”
Come to think of it, Kazuma did tell me that Megumin rarely accepts money earned from their quests. Something about her being happy as long as she can use her Explosion.
She often shows up with an eyepatch even though there’s nothing wrong with her eyes, so I understand where Yunyun is coming from about her fashion sense.
Her dedication to Explosion magic that leads her to spurn even money is somewhat impressive, in a way. That said, I still don’t feel like teaming up with her anytime soon.
“Faitfore is fine as is.”
“No, no, a girl needs to look cute! We are starting with a good base, so I’m sure you’ll look cute no matter what you wear.”
Yunyun is surprisingly passionate for once.
Faitfore seems confused by what she’s saying and merely stared at her in a daze.
I can probably leave this matter in the hands of Yunyun.
Why do women take so long while shopping?
I don’t even want to think about how much time has passed since I entered this store.
Faitfore has been dressed up in countless outfits by now, but she still had the same expressionless face. No, actually, I get the feeling that she’s getting a little fed up now.
“I knew it! I thought this set of clothes would go well on you! Though that was looked really cute too!”
“Right!? Have her try this set next. Oh, my, how cuuuute! I almost want to take her home!”
I didn’t know when that happened, but Yunyun and the clerk seemed to have bonded over their mutual enthusiasm for dressing up Faitfore.
… The look in that clerk’s eyes feels a little dangerous, so I think I’ll pay a little closer attention to her.
Yunyun is normally shy around strangers, but she’s getting along really well with the clerk today. She must be so excited with dressing up Faitfore that she completely lost track of her surroundings.
Eventually, after spending an inordinate amount of time in the store, they finally settled on what they wanted to buy.
“We bought two sets of clothes and shoes, but you’re broke as usual, aren’t you, Dust?”
“Hey, don’t look down on me. I can afford to pay for a set of clothes or two… What is with this ridiculous price!? Are women’s clothes made out of gold!? I’ll be lodging a complaint.”
I think these cost more than I normally spend on food in a month.
“Please stop! This price is normal. If anything it’s actually cheaper than usual. Oh fine, this is for Faitfore’s sake, not yours, so don’t get the wrong idea.”
Yunyun said with a proud smile.
“Oh, thanks… You know what, nevermind. I’ll pay for it.”
This girl took great care of me way back then. Paying for her clothes is the least I can do.
I carefully counted out the money and paid for the clothes, and she changed right on the spot.
Faitfore is wearing a one piece dress, but unlike the one she wore before, this one is vibrantly coloured and clean.
With this, people won’t be giving me strange looks on the streets anymore.
“Oh, that looks pretty cute on you.”
Faitfore let out a rare blush.
“D-Dust-san is actually spending money for someone else’s sake… And he’s even giving a compliment to a child even though it wouldn’t benefit him the slightest… The same Dust who wouldn’t spend money on anything other than beer or gambling… Just what happened to you!? Did you pick up some strange disease, or received a strong blow on the head…?”
It’s not that surprising. Don’t point at me with a trembling hand like that.
“Just what happened to you!? You aren’t the kind of person who would treat a child this kindly for no reason! You aren’t some strange monster wearing the skin of Dust, are you!?”
“What kind of monster would that even be!? By the way, I don’t have any skin down there! If you want I can show it to you! Oh, don’t you dare cast magic here. If you do, Faitfore will be dragged into it too.”
“I can’t believe you’d even use a child as a shield!”
Ha, say whatever you want.
“Anyway, I no longer have any need for you today. Thanks for the help, seeya.”
“Thank you very much.”
Faitfore bowed before quickly tottering after me.
Glancing back, Yunyun was standing there with a glum look on her face.
“Now then, what should we do next? Do you have something in mind?”
“I want to know what Laine… Dust does normally..”
“What I normally do, huh? Well, the order is reversed, but since you’re wearing clean clothes, let’s give you a clean body to match too. Let’s head to the bath.”
I can think about what to do with her after a good wash at the public bath.
Faitfore seems to have the same expressionless face as usual, but I can tell that she’s quite happy right now.
“Is walking hard on you?”
“It’s a little tough, but it’s also fun.”
Even I can tell this isn’t like me, but slowly I stopped caring about that.
If this was just a regular kid, I would’ve pushed her onto Yunyun or one of my companions and went out to drink.
“What’s a public bath?”
“It’s, well, it’s a large place where you can play in the water.”
“I like water.”
Come to think of it, I always go wild whenever I go to the baths.
… No, wait, given my current circumstances wouldn’t that work?
Arriving at the public baths, I handed over a handful of coins over to the elderly man manning the counter.
“One adult and one child, huh? Thank you very much.”
“Thank you. Right, let’s go.”
When I grabbed Faitfore’s hand and tried to go through the door, someone grabbed me by the shoulder.
This elderly man is surprisingly strong for his age.
“What are you doing? I already paid, haven’t I?”
“That’s my line. That path leads to the women’s bath.”
“I know, but I have to help her wash up. I’m really sorry about this, but please let me enter the women’s bath together with her.”
Indeed, this is a compromise for the sake of Faitfore who looks too young to be able to wash up by herself.
“Hahaha, you make a good joke. At her age, you should bring her with you into the male bath.”
“Don’t you think it’s odd that a girl can be allowed to enter the men’s bath? Old man, do you know what gender equality is? I’ve never let go of the child in my heart. In other words, I’m just like a child. You can trust me on this.”
“No, I don’t think I will.”
Dammit, I thought I managed to sell myself pretty well, but this old man just won’t let go.
“If you continue to protest, I’ll call the cops in addition to barring you from the premises. By the way, did you cause some trouble here in the past? If I recall, you were caught peeping-”
“Okay, fine, I was in the wrong! Alright, let’s head to the men’s bath together!”
I said loudly, drowning the old man’s words before heading to the men’s bath.
It’s in the middle of the day, so it doesn’t seem like there’s anyone else here.
“Clothes are annoying. Going naked is better.”
“It’s fine while we are in the bath, but don’t go naked outside. Especially not in a town like Axel that’s crawling with weirdos.”
The image of a certain Crusader who would probably stride through the town nude if given the chance sprang to mind.
No, she probably won’t do it. She does have her position to consider, after all.
Still, I can’t imagine that Crusader with anything other than blushed cheeks as she happily strode through town.
“How do you wash your body?”
“Oh, I’ll do it for you this time. You can do it yourself once you remember.”
“Dust, you sound different, but you’re still kind.”
“The great me is always kind at heart.”
Saying that, I started scrubbing her hair.
Seeing such a familiar scene, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the past.
If I recall, back then, I was…
“… Ah, Luna, you take baths in the afternoon too?”
“Lynn-san, what a coincidence. A part of the materials that one of the adventurers delivered turned out to have been rotten, and the odour is…”
I pressed my ears against the wall.
That was Lynn’s and Luna’s voices just now, right? Are the two of them on the other side of this wall right now?
Dammit, if I knew that, I would’ve forced my way past that old geezer no matter what the cost!
“Dust, what are you doing?”
“Give me a moment. I’m busy right now.”
Faitfore, her head covered with bubbles, stared at me.
Please stop looking at me with those innocent eyes of yours.
“… Are they getting bigger?”
What!? What part of the body are you talking about! Tell me more details, Lynn!
“Um, could you stop squeezing them with such a serious expression? Your skin is smooth and springy. It actually makes me a little jealous.”
“Kya! Don’t suddenly poke me like that~”
What is she squeezing!? Which part is she poking!? Tell me more! In as detailed a manner as possible!
“Dust, my eyes hurt.”
I was so engrossed with my eavesdropping that I forgot to wash the soap out from Faitfore’s hair.
This is a really bad time, but I peeled myself away from the wall. The voices have started to fade away anyways.
“Oh, sorry. I’ll wash them away, so keep your eyes closed, okay?”
As I was rinsing her off with warm water, I felt a strange gaze on my back, but when I turned around, there wasn’t anyone else in the room with me.
“Hmm, that was odd. I was sure I felt someone’s gaze on me. Could it be that a girl is peeping?”
The small stream of bubbles emerging from the bathtub fell completely beneath my notice.
After refreshing my body, I once again found myself acting as a guide to the town.
“That’s a general store that never manages to sell anything. That pitiful creature manning the counter is known as a miser. If you get too close, you’ll catch the poverty disease from him, so watch out.”
“Stop filling a girl that young with crazy thoughts. You are the one who’s poor all year round. Young lady, if that man does anything strange to you, remember to cry for help.”
I came across the general store where I occasionally kill time at, so I told Faitfore about it, only to be met with false charges.
“Old man, do you have any junk that would fit this girl?”
“I don’t have a single piece of junk in my shop! Oh, sorry for yelling. That must have surprised you. I’ll pick out something that suits you from the back, so wait for a moment, okay?”
The old man disappeared into the back room of the store for a moment, before reappearing with a necklace in hand.
“Here, take this. I’m sure it’ll look good on you.”
Saying that, he attached the necklace around Faitfore’s neck.
However, it was clearly designed to be worn by an adult, so it didn’t fit Faitfore at all.
“Oh, dear, the chain is a little too long. The jewel is going to hang on your belly like this. I can adjust the length, so do you mind giving it to me for a bit?”
“This is fine. Thank you.”
“Really? Well, I’ll be here, so if you need it adjusted, just come back anytime.”
“I don’t have any money on me right now, so I’ll pay you back some other day.”
Judging from the size of the red jewel on the necklace, it must be worth quite a sum.
Thanks to the appearance of the treasure islands, the price of precious metals and gems has gone down quite a bit in this town, but even so, there’s no way I would be able to afford that with the money I have right now.
It’s a little off for a girl that young looking to be wearing such a gaudy necklace, but she seems to have taken a liking to it, so I can’t possibly ask her to return it now.
“You’ll pay me back…? Sorry, my ears aren’t what they used to me. There is no way that Dust would willingly offer to pay for someone else’s goods, right?”
“I said I’ll pay for it. She’s very… You know what, nevermind. Anyway, see you around.”
The old man furrowed his brow upon hearing that.
If you keep worrying this much, your hairline is going to recede even faster, you know?
“It’s a little gaudy, but a red jewel doesn’t look too bad on you. It’s valuable, so keep it under your clothes when you go out, okay?”
Her expression hasn’t changed much, but I can tell she’s in a good mood.
After that, we proceeded down the back alleys.
“Oh, hell, when did we arrive at this store? Let’s get going.”
“Dust-san, the store isn’t open yet.”
Loli Succubus, sweeping out the front of the store, noticed me and called out.
I fell into my usual habits and made my way to the succubus store before I realized it.
“A young girl and Dust-san…”
She wandered over even though I didn’t respond to her, and immediately started scrutinizing Faitfore.
Unlike the others, she didn’t immediately assumed that I am committing some kind of crime. It seems like she is a better judge of character than I thought.
I think I’ve gained some newfound respect for Loli Succubus.
“So, you moved from big breasts to the direct opposite and dangerous genre, huh? Even though you knew you’d be judged harshly for it. From big breasts to flat chests, and now even to young girls. I must really admire your drive to plunder the depths of erotism.”
“Hey, cut it out! Stop treating me like a pervert!”
She doesn’t seem to bear any ill will, but it still doesn’t mean I’m happy to be talked about like that.
Faitfore, meeting Loli Succubus’s eyes, tilted her head and pulled on the hem of my clothes.
“She smells weird. Not human. Can I eat her?”
“W-What is with this girl? She’s saying some really dangerous stuff!”
Oh, she saw through her with just her scent, huh?
Loli Succubus quickly jumped back in shock and distanced herself from Faitfore while maintaining eye contact.
“No matter how hungry you are, eating something like this will give you a stomachache, so don’t.”
“That’s where you start!?”
“Plus, look carefully. She’s all bones in her chest and butt. Even if you eat her, she won’t be filling at all.”
Even though I convinced Faitfore not to eat her, Loli Succubus looked like she was about to cry instead.
I just helped you there, so isn’t this the part where you say thanks?
“This girl is harmless and peaceful, so pay her no mind.”
“Um, sorry to interrupt you, but who is this girl?”
“I-Is that so? Er, my name is Lolisa. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
Loli Succubus replied nervously.
It’s a little weird to see her bowing and scraping before a young girl, but she seemed to be serious about it.
“Something feels really off about her. My devil’s instincts are telling me that going against her is a really bad idea.”
“That’s just your imagination. This girl is the child of a friend of mine. I’m guiding her around the town right now. I’ll pay a visit to the store later tonight.”
“Ah, wait a minute. It’s really sunny out today, so.”
She went back into the store and came out with a wide brimmed hat, which she placed on top of Faitfore’s head.
“You have such beautiful pale skin, so you need to watch out for sunburns. Oh, my, it really looks good on you.”
Even without me doing anything, she’s picking up clothes and accessories as we go along.
At this rate, she’ll probably get given a house before too long.
After bidding goodbye to Loli Succubus and returning to the main street, Faitfore started saying she was hungry again.
As a result, we went into a nearby restaurant, but her appetite isn’t anything to scoff at. Before too long, a mountain of plates were piled up in front of me.
“You sure eat a lot.”
“Yes. It was tasty. Dust, aren’t you going to eat?”
“I’m not hungry. Just water is enough for me.”
Come to think of it, she has always had a huge appetite, hasn’t she?
It’s good to see her happy and all, but at this rate, my wallet is going to be empty within two days.
I could make them run a tab or borrow some money, but… I don’t want to do that in front of Faitfore. That means I have to work.
I looked at Faitfore who was blissfully eating in ignorance of the financial troubles I had.
She was eating with her bare hands without touching the cutlery at all, so her hands and mouth were covered in sauce.
“Hey, I’ll wipe you off, so don’t move. There, it’s clean now.”
“Ah, I can’t stand it anymore! Just who are you!? It’s really creepy!”
“Waaah!? Who the-!?”
A sudden loud voice exploded from behind me.
I turned around, only to be met with the figure of Lynn, Keith, and Taylor.
“Were you guys following me?”
“We were worried about Faitore. But nevermind that, Dust, what’s with the way you’re treating her? You’re acting almost like she’s your daughter. It almost feels like a completely different person. What did you do with the real Dust?”
“I was keeping watch in the bath ready to jump out in case anything happened, but nothing did happen. All I could see was a regular, ordinary family.”
Taylor nodded in response to Keith’s words.
So these guys are the weird presence I sensed back then?
“Say, I’m just spitballing here, but… That girl isn’t your flesh and blood daughter, is she?”
“You think so too, huh, Lynn? I was starting to think that it might really be the case.”
“For someone who hates kids, you seem to be really enjoying your time with her.”
Just what the hell are these guys saying?
There’s no way Faitfore can be my daughter. This isn’t funny even as a joke.
“I’ve always been kind to women and children.”
“The moment you see a beautiful girl, you’d be all over her.”
“That’s just me paying my respects to beautiful women.”
“Just who exactly was the guy who tried to force a kid to pay his laundry bill when he accidentally spilled a drink onto you?”
“Back then, I was just broke and happened to be in a bad mood.”
My companions gave me a doubtful look.
I’m used to such gazes from them, but I really don’t want to face the innocent eyes of the girl sitting next to me.
“Be honest with me… You were secretly laughing at me behind my back, weren’t you, you traitor! And you’ve been getting along well with other women recently even though you’re already married! Dammit all! All the couples in this world should break up!”
“Stop hitting me while crying!”
“Calm down, Keith! I understand how you’re feeling, but it isn’t confirmed yet.”
Taylor grabbed Keith and pulled him away.
“There’s no way you who might as well be the epitome of scum could treat someone else’s child so kindly…”
“Yeah, yeah! Just admit it already! She’s your kid, right!? I bet you have a ton of other children hidden away too! Just say it already!”
“Any burden will be made easier if you talk about it.”
These guys don’t believe a single word that I said.
At this point I’m thinking it would be faster to just tell them that she is my daughter. It’d prevent them from investigating too deeply into Faitfore, so it’s worth a shot.
“Well, you see-”
“Are you really married? Did you hide it from us all this time? Tell us the truth.”
Seeing Lynn’s suddenly serious face staring at me, the words that were on the tip of my tongue died on my lips.
“You know, you guys have some really impressive imagination. Do I look like I’m a married man? And look at her. Just what age do you think I would need to get busy to have a child this old? There’s being quick on the draw, but this is just ridiculous.”
Judging from Faitfore’s apparent age, I would’ve had to have sired her when I was about ten. That’s just physically impossible.
“Ah, yeah, that’s right. Thinking about it calmly, there’s no way someone would be strange enough to marry Dust. Yeah, that makes sense.”
That’s going too far, isn’t it? And why do you sound so happy?
“Dust, I believed in you.”
“Yeah, me too.”
“That’s the second time I heard those lines today. There won’t be a next time.”
I don’t want to pick a fight with them in front of Faitfore, so I’ll let them go for now.
“Anyway, it doesn’t seem like we’d be able to go on any quests when we have to take care of that girl too. But with the money from the treasure island and the zombie graveyard, we’ll be fine for a while.”
“Ah, bout that, can we pick up a quest?”
“Dust, you’re acting really strange, you know? Normally you think of nothing except how to spend your money, but now you’re actually asking to work? Are you sure you don’t have a fever?”
Lynn placed a hand on my forehead.
“I’m fine. This girl is a big eater, you see. If I don’t earn some money soon, I’ll starve to death.”
Faitfore stared forlornly at the empty plates that are now stacked from the table to the ceilings.
I ordered enough food to feed five grown men, and it’s already all gone.
“Yes, yes, I get it. I’ll order whatever you want.”
Her slightly sad expression changed to a smiling one. Though I’m probably the only one who could notice the difference.
I waived the waitress over and ordered the same meals again.
… I might run out of money today.
“Can you really eat that much? You’re not forcing yourself, are you?”
“If there’s too much, you can leave the rest to us.”
“It’s not too much.”
“Eat up and grow up fast.”
“I’ll do my best.”
My companions have a soft spot for children, so they quickly got along with her.
In the middle of this, Lynn, with a curious expression on her face, wandered away from the table into a corner of the store and waved us over.
When we went over, she drew us into a huddle and started whispering.
“Anyway, back to the original topic, I don’t mind paying for this meal if you need it.”
“I’m never treating Dust to a meal, but a kid is fine.”
“I can’t bear to see a child go hungry.”
Well, I was expecting them to say something like that, but…
“I’m thankful for your concern, but I can handle paying for her food myself.”
“… …” x3
“What’s with that look?”
The three of them gave me looks of wide eyed surprise and gaping mouths.
The only sounds that could be heard from the store is the sounds of Faitfore digging into her meal.
“Let’s go to the hospital.”
“I’m not sick.”
“Then let’s go to the church.”
“I’m not cursed either.”
“Who are you?”
How many times are we going to go through the same motions again before you’re satisfied?
“You know, is it really that strange for me to say something proper for once?”
“Yes it is.” x3
“You guys only show your team coordination at times like this!”
I really wish they’d show that level of teamwork when we’re fighting monsters.
Even though we raised our voices, Faitfore was still digging into her meal without a care in the world.
Really, nothing moves her.
“Anyway, you said you’ll handle the food bill, but can you really afford it?”
“Don’t make fun of us. Unlike you, we… Taylor and I properly save our money up.”
“There’s no telling what awaits us in the future. We have some money saved up to account for that.”
“Hey, why am I not included? Well, I don’t have much saved away, but unlike Dust, paying for a child’s meal is a piece of cake for me.”
Oh, well said.
You guys have been so distracted by what’s going on with me that you haven’t noticed just how terrifying she is.
“Take a good look at that table.”
I pointed at Faitfore who was still eating at the table.
My companions who followed my finger took one look and gasped.
Several dozens of plates were piled up on that table to the point where Faitfore was barely visible.
Even so, Faitfore still wasn’t satisfied and was currently ordering yet another round from the waitress.
“Eh, you’re kidding, right? One person ate that much? In such a short time? Isn’t there a massive disconnect with how much she eats and how small her body is?”
“T-This is outside of my expectations. I know that children have huge appetites, but this is…”
“What a terrifying appetite. If a girl eats that much food at a mixer, no matter how beautiful she is, nobody would go with her.”
It seems like that they understand what I’m getting at.
If we keep talking here, Faitfore will probably end up ordering even more food, so we decided to cut our conversation short and left the store.
With this, my wallet is now empty. If I don’t find a good paying quest soon, nevermind tomorrow, I wouldn’t even have enough money to pay for dinner tonight.
Looking back at Faitfore who was placing the last dish on top of the pile, she still seemed a little unsatisfied.
I was planning on heading back to the guild to pick up a quest or two, but the sun is starting to set and the surroundings are getting dark, so I have no choice but to give up on it today.
My companions ordered dinner in the tavern, but I’m completely out of money. Seems like I’ll have to spend tonight in the stables.
Personally, I’m fine with that, but the problem is the girl currently waving her legs through the air while seated next to me.
Despite having eaten so much, she still seemed to be unsatisfied, and gazed longingly at the menu with her finger in her mouth.
I could approach my companions to borrow some money, but after putting on airs just now, my pride won’t… Hold on, I still have something as uncertain as pride within me?
“What are you doing? Why are you making strange noises with your arms crossed?”
“No, I’m just surprised by something that I thought I’ve long lost.”
“Dust, you really are acting strangely today.”
Is she seriously worried about me? Keith and Taylor were looking at me with a concerned expression too.
Well, leaving them aside for now, my first priority right now is to secure enough food for this girl.
I cast my gaze across the guild, looking for a way to accomplish that without spending any money, before a strange idea popped into my head.
“Right, can you see those four people raising a fuss over there?”
Faitfore looked around, seemingly at a loss.
Most adventuring parties tend to consist of three to five people, I guess it’s only natural for her to be confused. Besides, everyone present was making a lot of noise.
“You see that table with the three girls? The one with the blue haired priest doing party tricks? If you walk up to the guy in the middle and say ‘Onii-chan, I’m hungry.’, he’ll probably let you eat your fill.”
“Yeah. He’s rich, so there’s no need to hold back.”
“… I’ll go see him.”
Faitfore made her way over to the most famous, or perhaps most infamous, party in Axel.
It’s well known that Kazuma is soft on women and children. On top of that, he seems to have a thing for little sisters. Iris and that explosion girl are proof of that.
It’s also clear from back when that explosion girl’s little sister came for a visit… though I suppose that applies to everyone in the guild.
Faitfore pulled on Kazuma’s sleeves and said something to him.
I couldn’t quite make out what she was saying from this distance, but it seemed to be working pretty well. Kazuma and the other girls gave her quite a bit of food.
With a platter full of food, Faitfore came back with a satisfied look on her face.
“They gave me a lot.”
“Oh, that’s good. Go ahead and dig in.”
“One of these days, Kazuma is going to lose his patience with you.”
“It’ll be fine. Kazuma is happy to get thanked by a young girl, and she is happy to get a full stomach. In the words of Kazuma, this is called a ‘Win-Win’ situation.”
“No matter how you look at it, they are the ones on the losing end. Though, I can’t really complain while seeing her eat so cheerfully.”
Lynn looked at Faitfore digging into her meal without a care in the world and smiled.
Seeing that brings back some memories. If I recall, she also smiled the same way back then when we were watching Faitfore eat–
“Faitfore-chan, what part of Dust do you like so much? To be honest, there’s plenty of things to complain about when it comes to him, and he has barely any good points.”
“I want to know about that too. Even goblins are less hated than this man here.”
“It’s hard to think of something praiseworthy about him.”
“Come on, I at least have one or two good points, right!? If you are my companions, you could at least try harder to think of something!”
Faitfore stopped eating and thought for a moment.
Her expression shifted slightly. I think she’s frowning.
“Dust saved me. He broke me out of the cage I was trapped in. He said ‘It’s fine now, you’re safe.'”
That was a long time ago. You still remember the moment we first met, huh?
I remember that time clearly too. You were injured and kept in a cramped cage, so you were really on guard.
“Sorry for bringing back such unpleasant memories. But… Are you sure the Dust you saw back then wasn’t an illusion?”
“Are you sure it was Dust? Take a good look at this slovenly face. Are you sure you haven’t mistaken him?”
“Hey, I said wait.”
Lynn grabbed ahold of my face and pulled it infront of Faitfore. When I’m this close, I could see the colour of her eyes slowly turn red.
Ah, this is bad.
“C-Calm down! This is just our usual ribbing. There’s no need to get angry. This is a common sight amongst companions this close.”
I hastily patted her head and tried to calm her down.
Fortunately, it seemed to have done the trick. Her eyes are returning back to her original colour too.
“I hate people who say bad things about Dust.”
Lynn, seemingly receiving too large of a shock after hearing that she’s hated, staggered backwards.
“Aah, she hates you because you spoke badly of me. Maybe you should consider your manners in the future.”
“Oh, shut up! I mean, no matter how you look at it, what she said just now doesn’t sound anything like the Dust I know. It sounds like a heroic knight in some fantasy story or something. It must be a mistake. Are you sure it’s Dust…”
“I won’t say it any more.”
Lynn fell silent after seeing the glare that Faitfore was giving her.
Rather than believing her, it feels more like they are just playing along in order to not anger a child. But, well, I don’t really want to dwell on this topic any further, so that suits me just fine.
“This girl is really scary when she gets angry. I just felt a pressure that you wouldn’t expect from a child.”
She was covered in cold sweat. I think she might have really been scared by her.
“You really think so? Well, she did create a pretty big mess when she lost her temper that one time. I had a really hard time soothing you back then.”
Faitfore disappeared behind the tower of piled up dishes after hearing that. Is she embarrassed, I wonder?
“Anyway, nevermind that. More importantly, I’m planning on taking a quest tomorrow. You guys are free, right?”
“I guess I’m free.”
“I don’t have any plans, if that’s what you’re asking.”
Seems like I won’t have any issues with forming a party tomorrow.
The only problem would be finding someone to take care of Faitfore while we are out on a quest.
She’s pretty smart, so maybe I can leave her here at the guild?
“Faitfore, we’re heading out to earn money tomorrow, so can you wait for us here?”
“No, I want to go with you.”
“Don’t be selfish. It might be dangerous out there tomorrow..”
“I hate this girl.”
She instantly rebuked Lynn.
It seems like she really dislikes her, to the point where anyone would be able to tell at a glance. She’s gotten better at expressing her emotions.
“Young lady, it’s really dangerous out there, you know? What would you do if a monster pounce on you?”
“Oh? Well, that’s really brave of you. Hahaha.”
Taylor is treating it like a joke, but she’s serious when she says that.
“I don’t mind taking her along.”
“Hah!? What are you saying!? We aren’t heading out to play, you know? What are you going to do if something really does go wrong!?”
Even after being told that she’s hated, Lynn is still seriously concerned for the girl.
Keith and the others tried to persuade Faitfore, but she simply angled her head up and remained deaf to their words.
Even in this form, her mannerisms doesn’t change.
“Don’t worry, I’ll definitely protect her. Besides, it’s not like you guys are planning on abandoning her when the fighting starts, are you?”
“Of course not. I don’t mind leaving you to fend for yourself, but there’s no way I can abandon her like that.”
“In that case, there’s no issues with taking her along. We just have to take on some less risky quests. Even if you leave her here, knowing her personality, I’m sure she’ll sneak out after us.”
“I will follow you.”
She nodded in agreement as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“In that case, it might be safer to take her along from the start.”
“But, Taylor, having a child running around underfoot would get in the way, and getting a child to play nice won’t be easy, you know?”
“True, but we can’t just leave a child alone and let her wander off into danger.”
Taylor and Keith seem to be seriously racking their brains for a solution, but there’s really no need to be that worried about her.
Just then, Lynn, who had been silent all this while, suddenly got to her feet.
“I have something in mind, so I’ll go make some preparations. See you tomorrow.”
And immediately left without waiting for our reply.
I’m a little curious as to what she’s up to, but the more pressing issue is… how will I pay for the food that Faitfore just ordered?