Translator(s): Yomigaeru Editor(s): Yuzuha Proofreader(s): Yomigaeru
I’m in front of the door to Eris’ room.
I managed to place the winning bid on Eris’ hospital for 1,500,000 Zeni, which was nearly everything I had. That being said, it was considerably lower than the market value. Eris’ hospital was originally the home of Eris’ family of four, so it’s a rather large house. If the location weren’t so bad, I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford it.
But now I hold the deed for that very hospital in my hands.
The deed is currently under my name, but I plan to transfer it back over to Eris as soon as I can. It’s not like there would be any problem with leaving it like this, but if Eris’ hospital became no-longer-Eris’ hospital it would leave a bitter aftertaste in my mouth.
While I’m mulling it over, I knock softly on the cheap, splintered wooden door.
But there’s no response. Is she not there?
I try knocking again. Still no response.
Apparently Eris is out. Well, it’s not like I’m dying to tell her that I bought the hospital right away or anything. I’ll wait patiently.
As I’m waiting in the inn room for Eris to return, I notice that Yuel has fallen asleep. Spending all day yesterday hunting the boss must have really tuckered her out. She’s sleeping soundly, taking soft breaths. She probably won’t wake up for a while.
I have a sudden thought.
How is Eris going to react when she sees the hospital deed?
Eris was living in that hospital for many years. It must hold a ton of family memories for her. And she probably wanted to wait for her sister’s return in that house. From Eris’ perspective, it must have been something she really didn’t want to let go of.
And that’s where I gallantly swoop in, holding the title deed.
I’ll hand her the deed without asking for anything in return. She’ll be so moved, of course. Hell, maybe she’ll be so impressed that she goes all “my hero, take me!” on me.
The problem is what comes after that. If by some chance Eris and Yuel start to bicker over me, things could get bloody. Up until now I’ve just been absent-mindedly thinking “I wanna make a harem”, but if I actually try to do it I bet that some difficulties will arise. If I hook up with Eris then Yuel will cry, but if I hook up with Yuel then Eris will hand me over to the authorities. Nah, since she’s a slave and all it probably doesn’t work like that in this world.
As these thoughts are running through my head, I hear footsteps coming up the stairs from the hallway. I stick my head out the doorway to find Eris just about to enter her room next door.
「…What do you want?」
When Eris spots me come out into the hallway she greets me in a low, tired voice. There’s almost no light in her eyes. She looks exhausted.
And she seems pretty moody. Is it her time of the month?
Nah, that’s probably not it.
Her outfit is the habit she used to wear at her hospital. I bet she’s been going around to other hospitals trying to find a job.
「Have you figured out where you’re going to work yet?」
「…Not yet, but I’m fine. I’ll work it out soon. Besides, today… the hospital was sold, so I have a bit of savings now.」
Her attitude is curt. I bet she hates making other people worry. She’s the kind of person who wants to solve her problems on her own. Living by herself from a young age probably gave her a strong sense of independence.
Be that as it may, she hasn’t found a new workplace yet after all. Since I bought back her hospital, that works out better for me. But I had a feeling that’s how it would turn out.
Eris’ abilities as a healer aren’t especially amazing, but she does have an average level of skill. Besides, she’s a blonde bombshell with magnificently ripe melons. I’m sure she could get hired just about anywhere, but… other hospitals don’t think very highly of her.
Because Eris set her hospital’s treatment fees a lot lower than market price.
It’s not like this city has a union that establishes uniform treatment costs or anything, but there’s a general market price of 400 Zeni per Heal. The fact that Eris attracted customers by slashing that price in half likely didn’t sit well with the nearby hospitals.
For her hospital to go bankrupt while operating like that, and then for her as the manager to come around looking for a job, they all probably either told her she got what she deserved, or approached her with obvious ulterior motives. I’d be fully in the second camp by the way.
But once Eris sees the deed I’m holding, her haggard face should perk right up.
She’s built up a lot of fatigue from not being able to find a job. Maybe the other hospitals said some awful things to her, and it’s wearing down her emotions. If I show her this deed at a time like that…
Something like “Y-You bought back the hospital for me! So dreamy, take me!” is sure to happen. Eris will start calling me “dear”, maybe even with a ❤ attached to it.
「…So what is it you want?」
Eris’ worn-out face is giving me a look that says, “state your business already”. In front of those tired eyes, I dangle the hospital deed.
「Eris, take a look at this.」
「…What is this? Some official document?」
Eris makes a suspicious face, but she takes a look at the deed. Then her expression turns to shock.
「W-Why do you have this!? Even though today… it was sold off…」
Eris keeps reading the deed over and over in astonishment.
「Yeah, I bought it.」
Once Eris realizes what I’m saying–
「You did…? B-But… how… that much money…!」
–I wait for her to come leaping into my arms… but nothing happens.
「But… but you… three months ago you… weren’t you broke!?」
H-Huh? That’s not quite the reaction I was expecting.
Far from rejoicing, it’s more like her whole body is shaking out of frustration. She’s choking back her trembling voice and clenching her clothes with her head hung low.
What’s with this reaction? That hospital deed that was so important to her is right here, isn’t it? So why–
「I’m sorry, I, I can’t deal with this right now…」
Then Eris disappears into her room as if to run away, with tears trickling down her cheeks.
What just happened? Does Eris hate me so much that even the hospital doesn’t make up for it? Since her hospital ended up in the hands of a man like me–
…Nah, probably not. More likely it’s because she couldn’t hang on to the hospital no matter how hard she tried, and then I bought it like it was no big deal. It was so important to Eris that she was willing to incur the ire of the surrounding hospitals by lowering her prices, just to protect it. I easily acquired the hospital that she desperately tried and failed to protect. That must be why she seemed so frustrated.
No doubt Eris just needs some time to sort out her feelings right now.
Yuel is sleeping softly on the bed in the room. I ought to give Eris more time before trying to talk to her again… but without someone to talk to, there’s nothing for me to do.
Wait, that reminds me, my item box is getting full. During yesterday’s Huge Slime farming, along with the rare drops, I also got a huge amount of Slime Jelly. Adding in the amount I had already saved up, there’s easily enough to last me a year.
I could spend some money at the adventurer’s guild to expand the size of my item box, but since I just bought the hospital I don’t have much money left. Alright, I’ll organize my item box.
As I dig through my item box, more and more trash comes out. Street food skewers, fruit cores, a gravure photo taken by a magical projection tool… that last one’s not trash. A frayed toothbrush made from some sort of animal hair that I never got around to tossing out, a chipped wooden cup…
And… a bloodstained, tattered habit.
It’s the one from that time I went into the labyrinth to search for Yuel. I kept thinking about throwing it out, but it always slipped my mind.
Before I forget again, I should hand it over to the inn’s poster girl and have her throw it out with the rest of the trash.
Then, as I leave the room with the habit in my hands–
「Sorry about earlier, I…!?」
–I bump into Eris in the hallway.
She’s staring at my arm… no, at the bloody, ripped habit. Her expression shifts back and forth between surprise and sadness a few times while she looks at me.
「Hey, is t-that…」
Eris covers her mouth with shaking hands, and gawks at my habit in shock. The very same habit that I was wearing when I went to look for Yuel.
「Don’t tell me… for me? Did you really go looking for an expensive magic item in the labyrinth for my sake, and because of that…?」
Looks like Eris is jumping to conclusions.
「No, this is…」
Eris definitely thinks that I recklessly risked my life to scour the depths of the labyrinth for the sake of her hospital, or something along those lines.
Maybe I shouldn’t go out of my way to correct her misunderstanding.
As far as I can tell, now that Eris thinks I bet my life to earn the money to pay for her hospital, it feels like her mood is much better than before. And she’d likely be more willing to accept that I bought her hospital if the story was that I risked life and limb for it.
「Sorry, I… must have made a mistake. But how, how did it get like that…?」
Eris strokes the bloodstained habit as her eyes start to water. I can clearly feel the compassion in her tender gesture.
This is my chance.
For Eris’ sake, I risked my life to earn enough money, and bought back her hospital. Why don’t I go with that? …It makes me look cooler that way too.
Besides, it will improve Eris’ mood. Right, this is for Eris’ sake as well.
So I smile at Eris and casually explain.
「Of course, I had to pay you back for the kindness you showed me, right?」
Upon hearing that, an expression floats up on Eris’ face that’s somehow simultaneously happy and sad.
「…You dummy, going that far. Besides, a hospital isn’t something worth risking your life over.」
I totally agree. I would never risk my life for the sake of a building.
Eris is still looking at me with that sad-yet-happy expression. I take the opportunity to retrieve the deed from my item box and–
「Eris, I want to set things right with you. Back then, even though it bothered you, I just thoughtlessly did whatever I wanted. And I didn’t see any problem with it. But that’s not how it felt for you. I’m sorry for not realizing it. I was in the wrong. But I’d like to atone for that by returning the goodwill you showed me. So… won’t you accept this?」
I kneel down at Eris’ feet as I speak.
I must look like such a stud right now. Risking my life to raise the money to purchase my benefactor’s hospital, and then returning it to her with no strings attached.
What a moving story.
I feel like I pulled it off flawlessly.
「…! I’m so sorry, I even kicked you out, and yet you still…」
Eris takes my hand that’s holding the title deed and softly wraps both of hers around it. A single tear spills down her cheek.
「I don’t blame you for that.」
Since it was clearly my fault for sexually harassing you.
But we have a tender mood going right now. I shouldn’t mention something so vulgar. I’ll gently use my finger to wipe away her tear.
「When you showed up, it felt almost like my father had come back. Your healing magic skill that could make up for the deficit, and how you would show kindness in one way or another. It felt almost nostalgic, somehow. But you know, that’s exactly why I hated the sexual harassment so much. That was wrong though, you’re not my father. You’re your own person…」
Sexual harassment is bad even if I’m not your father you know. But Eris is completely caught up in the atmosphere.
It’s a good mood.
「But don’t ever do something that dangerous again. Look, the debt is gone, so I’m sure we can live off of the hospital alone. Why don’t you stop being an adventurer, okay?」
It’s a good mood, and yet.
And yet… I’m feeling a little guilty.
The way this is headed should be the best outcome for both Eris and myself. But my chest feels like it’s getting jabbed by needles. Yet it’s for Eris’ sake that I’m letting this misunderstanding continue.
Even so, I shouldn’t earn her favor by taking advantage of the situation. I feel guiltier and guiltier every time she says something nice to me.
Yeah, even if it’s this late, I should tell her that it’s a misunderst–
「It was too embarrassing, so I never told you this, but you saved me just as much as I saved you. It was lonely running the hospital all by myself, and business was terrible. When you showed up at a time like that, I was sure that together we could get the hospital back on its feet.」
–While I’m still processing that, Eris continues talking.
And, in a voice that’s barely a whisper, Eris mutters.
Then she lets her head thump onto my chest.
Since she’s bending forward, I can feel her bountiful breasts. Along with her softly fluttering blonde hair. A sweet scent tickles my nose.
…I decide to take this lie to the grave.
Afterwards, we head to the property broker near the center of town. Just in case, I leave Yuel a note saying that I went out with Eris.
There are no issues with the title transfer, and it’s finished in an unexpectedly short time. Then, as we stroll down the main street on our way back, I try casually putting my arm around Eris’ waist.
Eris flinches and throws a questioning glance at me. But, she doesn’t resist. She has an attitude like “I suppose it can’t be helped”.
…I think I’ll have Yuel go work a shift at the tavern tonight.
Eris’ opinion of me has seemingly skyrocketed. If it was before, she’d slap my hand away from her waist and scowl at me.
We continue walking like that, and as we pass in front of the tavern–
「Yo, Shiki! Your farmin’ with the ‘venturers really paid off, huh! Come buy us a round!」
「What’s with the gal on your arm? Whatta hottie. …Hoho, I get it, you went right to a brothel as soon as you got some money huh? Way to go, Shiki!」
We run into Eight and Geyser, whose faces are flushed bright red from drunkenness.
Uh oh. This development is not good.
「You comin’ with us next time? Just havin’ you there is crazy profitable! Whaaat, s’fine if you hang back like last time n’ jusss heal! Let us take care of stoppin’ the attacks, it’s allll goood!」
「Yeah, leave the fighting to us! Hahahahaha!」
「H-Hang on! Let’s talk about it later! Now’s not a good time!」
Not good. What’s not good, you ask? The fact that Eris-san is right here. I look to my side…
「Why might it not be a good time, I wonder?」
And Eris is glaring at me with eyes sharp enough to shoot me to death.
…I really didn’t think this through.
I confess. I confess everything.
About how the bloodstained habit had nothing to do with earning money for the hospital. About how I just decided to go along with Eris’ misunderstanding. And that I mainly did it to improve Eris’ image of me.
I prostrate myself. Without a doubt, it’s a perfect-form dogeza. With my head against the pavement stones of the main street, I beg for nothing but her forgiveness.
Eight and Geyser, perhaps sensing the turbulent atmosphere, flee the scene.
「Hahhh, you really know how to spoil things. ……It’s fine. You don’t really need to apologize.」
She must just be fed up with me at this point. I want nothing to do with you anymore, so don’t bother, that kind of feeling.
I timidly raise my head… and there is Eris’s outstretched hand.
「Seeing me in that state, you were worried about me, right? …I get it, okay.」
I take Eris’ hand and rise as she gives me a smile. The feel of her soft hand somehow makes me very happy.
「It doesn’t really matter how you did it. The fact is, you raised a huge amount of money to buy the hospital for me. Right?」
Then Eris mutters 「But lying is bad, got it?」 while giggling.
「Look, now your knees are all dirty.」
I brush the dust off my knees and look at Eris. Framed by the sun, her smile has an all-enveloping tender feel to it. It reminds me of the days when I used to work at her hospital.
Feeling a bit embarrassed, I speak while trying my best to stay calm.
「Shall we go back?」
And Eris replies–
「Yes, let’s go back. To the inn where Yuel-chan is waiting. Then we can all go home to our hospital.」
She says with a smile.
Author’s Note: Thus ends the first arc.