Translator(s): Yomigaeru Editor(s): Yuzuha Proofreader(s): Yomigaeru
Author’s Note: A little on the longer side.
Sophia Orphanage. It’s located not that far away from the hospital.
From the outside, it appears to be an ordinary standalone house that’s been deteriorating. The number of orphans being raised there are: 1 baby, and 8 children anywhere from age 5-12. It’s a very small-scale orphanage, being run by a single kindly granny named Sophia.
We arrived at this orphanage about 10 minutes ago. Eris and I greeted the director Sophia-san together, then immediately got to work helping out.
Well, I say helping out, but what I’m doing is simple. Sophia is going to meet someone after lunch, so she just wants me to look after the kids during that time. Although since Eris is supposed to help prepare lunch, it looks like we got here a little on the early side.
And now, with the baby over her shoulder, Eris is assisting Sophia with making lunch for the children.
「Onii-chan, awesome! Super awesooome!」
「One more time, do it again!」
「Heyyy, how do you do that? How does it work? Teach me, Onii-chan!」
「P-Please teach us! I want to try it too, Master!」
In the meantime, so that these mischievous kids don’t do anything weird, I’m keeping them in the cafeteria. I’m basking in envious and reverent looks from all the children. What exactly am I doing, you ask? — it’s origami.
「How’s that? This one is a bird known as a crane.」
「One more time! One more time!」
「Heyy, how did you fold it? D-Do you start off with a triangle fold?」
「Master, amazing, you’re amazing!」
Having animals steadily come into form as I fold the paper must be a novel experience for the children; they’re staring at my hands and eating it up. Apparently, the culture of playing with origami doesn’t exist in this country.
By the way, if you’re wondering why I’m so good with origami, it’s because that was my topic of choice during free study in elementary school. You couldn’t even really call it study, it was pretty much just copying an origami textbook page by page, but I generally remember the contents of that textbook even today.
There are patterns in origami. To a certain extent, if it’s something simple then I can even improvise the folds for it. Classics like the crane are a no-brainer, and with animal faces there’s plenty of room to ad lib. I never expected that experience to come in handy this later on.
Frankly, when Eris told me “While I’m cooking, watch over the children and make sure they don’t do anything dangerous” I was at a loss for what to do, but when I tried this it unexpectedly worked out.
And, after my origami performance captures their interest,
「Alright, I’ll give you some paper, so try making whatever you want.」
「I-I’m gonna make a Goblin!」
「I wanna do a Slime.」
「Hey, how do you make a bunny? Hey, tell me?」
「I want to try making Master with origami.」
If I give them paper, all I need to do is keep an eye on them. Having them running around roughhousing would’ve been a hassle, but giving them a new toy like this keeps them under control.
The children obediently focus on folding paper. All that’s left is for me to occasionally give advice and show them a new origami sample at appropriate times, and that should keep them busy until Eris finishes helping with the cooking.
Well, when I’m involved, childcare is a breeze. With this, maybe Eris will feel my paternal side and think “if it’s him, raising children together might be nice…”
–As I’m having those thoughts, I notice Yuel, who had mixed in with the children, stop moving her hands all of a sudden.
…Now that I think about it, Yuel-san. She blended in on the orphan side before I noticed, but it was too natural so I didn’t say anything.
I wonder if she wasn’t able to fold a miniature Master very well, and she wants to ask me for advice? But that’s impossible even for me. It’s not like my folds are at a high enough quality to distinguish an individual person. I wish she’d stick somewhere in the neighborhood of the cute animal face series, at most.
…However, although Yuel stopped moving her hands, she isn’t looking at me.
Yuel’s gaze is fixed upon a young girl who appears to be somewhere around 7 years old.
…I wonder what’s up with this kid? While the other children are going nuts for origami, Yuel is just staring at that girl.
…Looking at that girl, I notice something. She’s not holding any paper. She’s not even looking at it. Rather, it doesn’t seem like she’s showing any interest in origami at all.
She appears to be holding something in her hands, though, since she’s making a stroking motion. But it feels like her mind is elsewhere. It’s as if she’s just waiting for time to pass, just sitting and staring off into nothing.
「What’s the matter? Is origami boring?」
For some reason or other, I try calling out to her out of concern, but her eyes tear up and she hangs her head.
…I wonder if she’s shy? Well, when a stranger suddenly shows up, I guess some children will react this way too.
「Well, there’s plenty of paper. You can try it later if you feel like it.」
For the time being, I call out to her again, and–
the girl buries her head in her knees and starts to cry.
「Oi, d-don’t cry! I-I’m not doing anything, okay?」
W-What should I do? I never expected her to cry just from being talked to. Yeah, I guess I still don’t know how to deal with these kinds of kids. And maybe she’s simply afraid of adult men. Right, shall I go call Eris and have her handle it instead?
–Then when I go to call Eris, Yuel (who saw the girl’s reaction) looks over at me for some reason.
What’s with that, those look like eyes of anticipation.
…What could she be expecting? For me to handsomely put a stop to the girl’s tears now, or something?
…No, I get the feeling that’s not it.
It’s just that I can’t quite tell what Yuel is thinking. When I tilt my head,
「Master, this girl may not be able to see.」
Yuel offers a suggestion. The girl’s shoulders quiver.
It didn’t seem that way to me, though.
…Wait, Yuel had a period of blindness, so maybe she would understand.
The girl raises her head slightly, and looks in Yuel’s direction. Her face is curious, like “How did you know?”.
…I take a closer look, and something does seems slightly off about her vision or focus or whatever you want to call it.
…I get it. She can’t see, so she can’t do something like origami. Is that what it means?
「…Um, not exactly, I can see a little. But… I can’t see any small details since everything’s blurry…」
The girl speaks to Yuel in a trembling voice.
…So blurry that she can’t even see as far as her hands. I’ve heard of something like that. Most likely, this kid has extreme amblyopia. It may be that she can vaguely tell the state of her surroundings, but can’t focus on minute details or anything, and everything looks hazy, that kind of feeling.
「Her eyes, huh… eyes are…」
…Having a seeing disability must be terrible.
EX Heal is necessary in order to treat eyes. And since they can’t be treated without EX Heal, this mere orphan of a girl may never be able to get them treated for the rest of her life.
She may still be alright while the orphanage is looking after her, but after that she won’t have any options. If her eyes don’t work, even searching for a job will be awful.
I can pretty much imagine how a sightless girl will end up in this world… maybe a slave, maybe a prostitute? Most likely something in that neighborhood.
Perhaps the granny at this orphanage will keep looking after this girl even after she becomes an adult, but that woman is quite old herself. Misfortune no doubt awaits this young girl in the not-too-distant future.
…Even as I’m mulling it over, Yuel is staring at me intently.
Yeah, those eyes are expecting something.
…In the past, I healed Yuel’s eyes. They’re clearly telling me she’s under the impression that “my kind Master would never abandon this pitiful sightless child”. Mixed in with the expectation that her master is about to do something cool, as well.
While Yuel is still staring at me with those eyes, the girl begins to speak again with her head downcast.
「Back at the festival, um, I heard that if I went to Saint-sama, she would surely be able to heal these eyes. But, um, she stopped after the person in front of me, so it didn’t work out.」
「Ahhh. That, huh…?」
Now that I think about it, the saint was giving out free treatment since a few days before the festival. Was she hoping to receive treatment that way? But, judging from the fact that the saint couldn’t cope with that Earth Dragon’s petrifying breath, the saint can’t cast EX Heal multiple times. She must have used up her mana right before getting to this kid.
「But, um, it’s okay. Saint-sama gave me this, right, and she said if I have it then something good will surely happen so don’t give up.」
Saying that, the girl shows us the object in her hands.
「This is… a ring?」
From first glance, the ring looks expensive. It’s made of gold, and adorned with a large gem. Plus the decorations are detailed; I get the feeling that in this world it would take quite a bit of money to make a ring of this quality. I bet it would fetch a rather good price.
…It’s not some kind of weird magic item, is it? Like that earring Ruruka gave me. When I heard she got it from the saint, for some reason my guard went up. And apparently she said that something good will happen just by having it. First things first, let’s try using Appraisal.
…Ain’t it just a normal ring? Doesn’t seem to be a magic item or anything. Nothing unusual about it, just a luxurious golden ring.
Which means, this is just a type of charity? She might have meant for the girl to sell this when she’s truly in need.
「I heard that, um, Saint-sama is still in town. So as long as I have this, I know I’ll get treated.」
As she says that, the girl pats the ring.
…She must not know that the saint already left town. When she finds that out later, I wonder what kind of face this girl will make?
I avert my gaze from the girl, and Yuel is still looking at me. With sparkling eyes, looking at me.
…It can’t be helped. I can’t betray these eyes of hers.
If I abandoned this girl here, I wouldn’t be worthy of Yuel’s respect.
…Happily, that saint has already skipped town. Though I’m not saying I’ll be completely open about my healing magic, it’s probably not to the degree that I need to hide it when there’s a patient in front of me.
Besides, this girl’s eyes have always been able to see a little. As long as I make sure to forbid her to speak about it, I should be able to dodge the issue for a while. Then after some time passes, so long as she isn’t told “that person healed you”, she won’t remember who exactly it was that healed her.
「What’s your name?」
「I see, Farah.
…I have something to tell you. Can you come with me for a bit?」
Well, let’s hope that she grows up to be a beauty like Eris and comes back looking to return the favor. I’ll leave Yuel to keep the children company and go treat this girl.
At the time of treatment, I gave the sightless girl, Farah, two conditions.
The first one is, until she becomes an adult, she’s not to let anyone know that she’s now able to see. And the other one is that she can absolutely never tell anyone that I’m the one who treated her.
Well, since she’s such a young girl I have my doubts as to whether or not she’ll follow them properly, but I said what I had to say. Although she was just jubilantly rejoicing about “Something good really did happen! Thank you, Onii-chan!”, so I’m not convinced she was listening carefully. Well, even though she should already be able to see, she still lets that granny feed her during lunchtime, so it looks like she’s abiding my conditions for the time being.
「Eris-chan, Shiki-san, Yuel-chan… thank you so much for helping me.」
We finish lunch, and the orphanage granny politely gives us her thanks. Right, she’s meeting someone after this, so we just need to look after the children in the meantime? Well, I say look after, but the baby is the only one that seems like it’d be a handful, and Eris is here too. I’m sure we’ll manage somehow.
「I’ll be welcoming Archbishop-sama in just a little, so until we finish talking, I’ll be relying on you for a while longer.」
「…! So the person you were meeting was Archbishop-sama…?」
When she hears the word archbishop, Eris’ face distorts slightly.
「Yes, he had something to discuss about the donations. It wouldn’t do for the children to say anything careless around Archbishop-sama, so… I’m counting on you, alright? I’m going to go wait for Archbishop-sama in front of the entrance.」
The granny announces as she steps outside the orphanage.
…Something seems to be weighing on Eris’ mind as well; she’s making a difficult face. Oh yeah, before we came here she was saying that business is harsh here because the archbishop is skimming so much off of the donations. If that archbishop is here to talk about the donations, there’s also the possibility that his plan is to lower them. That may be what Eris is concerned about.
–As I’m contemplating, the baby suddenly begins to cry in Eris’ arms.
I wonder if it’s because of the grim face Eris is making? When she realizes, she immediately switches to a gentle expression. After that, the next thing she does is check the baby’s diaper,
「…This doesn’t seem to be it.」
and when she confirms that it’s not the cause of the crying, she begins to comfort the baby by cradling it in her arms and gently rocking it. She seems used to that. Apparently it’s true that she occasionally comes to this orphanage to help out. The baby doesn’t stop crying so easily, though.
「…Perhaps it’s hungry. But I just fed it…」
Now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure she was giving it something like milk out of a baby bottle during lunchtime. So it’s not like it would be hungry again yet, either. Well, babies cry over the littlest of things. Rather, they even cry for no reason at all. And it’s not like its complexion is bad, so finding a way to comfort it is probably the best approach.
–And, as I’m mulling it over,
「Eris-san, won’t you let the baby drink from your boobs?」
Yuel blurts that out.
Instantly, Eris stops moving. She’s just looking into Yuel’s eyes like she can’t understand Yuel’s intent. By suggesting to let it drink from her boobs, does Yuel mean that Eris should feed the baby her mother’s milk?
「…W-Will anything come out?」
When my doubts arise, I try asking,
「T-There’s no way… there’s no way it would, right!?」
and Eris becomes flustered and denies it.
…Well yeah, if it did, that would mean that Eris is currently several months pregnant. If Eris got pregnant unbeknownst to me, I would probably keel over from the shock. And I still haven’t put my hands on her yet.
…Perhaps startled by Eris’ shouting, the baby’s crying grows more intense.
「U-Um, Eris-san, I-I’m sorry…」
Yuel seems to misunderstand that Eris is mad at her, and lowers her head in dismay.
「…Ah, h-hold on! …T-That’s not it, Yuel-chan! I-I’m not mad. It’s just that, um, milk won’t… i-if you’re not pregnant, it won’t come out, alright? I-It’s not something that comes out just because your b-breasts are large.」
「…O-Oh, is that how it is?」
「T-That’s right, that’s why my, um… milk, won’t come out.」
Eris demonstrates the high-level technique of comforting Yuel with words while comforting the baby by rocking it back and forth. She clears up Yuel’s misunderstanding, and gradually gets the baby to stop crying as well.
…But man, how do I say this… the image of Eris taking care of a baby fits her to a tee.
…Even though she’s supposedly never been married, it’s as if I’ve already come to see that baby as Eris’ child. I wonder why? Is it because of those huge tits?
「That really suits you…」
By the time I notice, my thoughts have already leaked out. Did Eris hear that? She looks at me.
…Eris stops rocking the baby, and she’s staring at me. Her face seems a little surprised.
…After that, she looks at the baby in her arms. I notice the hint of a smile in her expression.
…Then once again, she looks at me. She’s staring intently. Wait, although she’s looking at me, somehow it also seems like she’s just staring off into space. I wonder what she’s thinking about? It feels like her mind is elsewhere.
「W-what do you mean, i-it suits me…?」
However Eris quickly turns around in a fluster, and resumes comforting the baby. Whoa, I wonder what this–
The instant I try to think about it.
「…Master, I’m picking up some strange signs. I’m going to take a quick look outside. I don’t sense any hostility, but if anything happens while I’m away, please use this.」
The moment I wonder if Yuel is going to say something about it, she hands something over to me and jumps out the window.
…Strange signs? I wonder if there’s something outside.
Hey, the thing Yuel gave me… it’s a smoke bomb. The same kind she used before at the beauty contest plaza.
Out of curiosity, I take a look out the window Yuel jumped through… but there’s nothing there. Yuel must have gone off somewhere already; I can’t see her.
「Archbishop-sama, truly, thank you very much for coming out of your way on this occasion. It is not much, but please welcome yourself to this humble abode.」
At the same time, I hear the granny’s voice from the direction of the entrance. Looks like the archbishop has just arrived.
…What, don’t tell me she was just sensing the archbishop?
Then, as I’m analyzing Yuel’s behavior,
「Looks like he’s here… H-huh? Where’s Farah-chan?」
Eris wonders aloud. I look around, and indeed one of the children is missing. It’s Farah. Farah is gone.
「S-She isn’t here!?」
「Yes, I’m fairly sure she was here until just recently, though…」
Did she end up going off somewhere while we were calming down the baby?
But this timing is not great.
…I saw that archbishop once in person, back at the beauty contest. If an innocent child bumped into that chubby archbishop, they might blurt out “Wahh, it’s a piggy!” or something. The church is this orphanage’s lifeline. If they say something like that, he may cut off the donations to the orphanage and it’ll end up going bankrupt. And Farah is still young, so we need to find her quickly.
Oh right, should I have Yuel track her down? Ah, that may not work. She went off somewhere, and hasn’t returned yet.
…She said “signs”, was that not referring to the archbishop?
「I’ll go search for her. You look after the children, Eris.」
Well, I can pretty much guess why Farah might’ve gone off somewhere. She just obtained proper eyesight. Most likely, she wanted to go have a look at various places around the orphanage.
「Now then, where could she be?」
This orphanage isn’t very big. I should be able to find her within a few minutes. For starters, I’ll check the nearby rooms.
「…Not here, huh.」
She’s not inside this one. I’ll search the next room.
Inside the room, there’s a large closet that looks big enough to hide a single person. Don’t tell me she’s hiding in there? I’ll check it just to be sure.
「…Not there, huh?」
There are a lot of children’s clothes inside, though.
…Ah, there are undergarments too. Well, it’s not like I’d have any interest in the underwear of the children from this orphanage, naturally. And, as I’m about to close the closet,
「I swear, this place is so dusty.」
「I’m terribly sorry… please, use this room.」
–from just outside the room, I hear voices.
Sounds like the archbishop and that granny are about to enter this room. Within a few seconds, I hear the clank of the doorknob turning.
「…Mm? Did your hear a noise just now?」
「No, I’m afraid I did not.
…Ah, I shall go and fetch you some tea right away.」
「Forget the tea. You think I would drink anything in this filthy place? Besides, this won’t take long.」
I’m in a cramped, dark space. All I can hear are the voice of the granny and the sullen archbishop who just entered the room.
…The fact that I reflexively hid inside the closet is that thing, y’know, a conditioned response. I mean look, they may be children’s things but there’s underwear in here. And if I happened to be spotted opening the closet, I might be mistaken for some kind of lolicon pervert.
「Let us get down to business. The donation to this orphanage is being increased.」
「Yes, until now there seems to have been an… omission in the orphanage survey.」
…Although, how long should I stay in here? The archbishop said their talk would be over soon, so it probably won’t take that long. And if I came out now, it would be totally suspicious.
「T-Thank you very much, Archbishop-sama! Truly, thank you so much!」
As I’m listening to their conversation out of boredom, I hear the granny’s gratified voice expressing her thanks.
…Wait a minute, the donation is being increased? Eris was saying that the current archbishop is stingy with money, but I wonder if that’s not actually the case?
「My subordinates are currently surveying the number of orphans at this orphanage as well as the state of deterioration of the building. The exact amount of the increase will depend on the results. Now then, sign these documents. They’re to verify that my eminent self personally performed a careful inspection of the orphanage.」
…No, just from the archbishop’s voice, I can sense some considerable unpleasantness. I mean, this archbishop just openly clicked his tongue. This increase was probably not what he originally intended.
–Now that I think about it, back at the time of that beauty contest.
I’m pretty sure the saint mentioned something about having a talk with the lord concerning the donations. By some chance, did the ensuing conversation between the saint and the lord about this matter result in them taking a scalpel to the archbishop’s donation embezzlement?
Somehow, I get the feeling I’m on to something.
The archbishop doubtlessly claimed that there was an oversight in the orphanage survey as his excuse. I was wondering why someone in such a high position as archbishop would be coming to the orphanage in person, but this too must be his way of appealing to the lord. That middle-aged lord was doing his job properly, huh.
As I’m pondering, I hear the sound of footsteps from outside. Then, the sound of the door opening. Apparently somebody else has entered the room.
「Archbishop-sama, there’s an urgent matter…」
I’m guessing it’s one of those subordinates that the archbishop mentioned earlier. They must be whispering since I can’t make out what they’re saying, but I can tell they’re having a discussion..
After a short while, the archbishop bellows in excitement.
「You really found one!? T-There’s no mistake, right!?」
The archbishop goes on and on in a loud voice. I wonder what’s up? Did something happen? I’m a bit interested.
I glance around a little, and inside the closet, I find a place where a sliver of light reaches. It’s probably a ventilation hole so the clothes don’t get mildewed. I decide to peek through it.
「Yes, of course.
…Although, Archbishop-sama, if I may, a slightly lower voice would be…」
「Y-Yeah… possesses… saint… moreover, a woman?」
When I take a peek, I can see the archbishop and his subordinate having a conversation. But since their voices are low, I can only hear bits and pieces of it. All I heard were the words “saint” and “woman”.
Man… he sure is chubby, that archbishop. Especially around the waist. His girth is pressing against his priest robes, and seems like it could break free at any moment. What’s more, perhaps because of all the rings he’s got stuffed onto his hands for whatever reason, his fingers poking out from his sleeves end up looking like boneless ham. It’s not very becoming, in fact it’s a little unsightly.
「Yes. I doubted my ears at first, but it’s reliable information.」
The subordinate speaks. Although, what are they talking about? Is the information that made him doubt his ears related to what the archbishop said about the saint and a woman…? For a moment I was worried that they found out about my EX Heal, but I don’t get the part about a woman. And something tells me it’s not related to me.
…Rather, those rings the archbishop is wearing. I decided to use Appraisal on them, and they’re mana capacity raising magic tools. All of those rings jangling around on his hands, every last one of them. That’s insane, oi. It explains why that archbishop can use EX Heal, too. With a collection that big, just how many times can he cast it?
「Archbishop-sama, whatever is the matter?」
Perhaps suspicious of the archbishop’s state of affairs, the granny calls out to him.
「No, nothing at all. However, it would seem I’m going to be a bit busy, so I shall be taking my leave at this juncture.」
The archbishop announces that as he hastily rises from his seat. I wonder if the orphanage survey is done already? Doesn’t seem like it is, though.
「U-Um, Archbishop-sama, the papers are still…!」
「Hmph… such things will no longer be necessary.」
In contrast to the flustered granny, the archbishop leaves the room in a chipper mood.
…What the heck was that all about? And that granny is standing frozen in place with papers in hand, too. Besides, I thought that those papers were most likely a relatively important item to be delivered to the lord, but is that not the case?
Or perhaps I should say, won’t you hurry up and leave the room too, granny? I kinda need to use the toilet… I’d like to leave this closet soon.
We’ve finished taking care of the children, and we’re on our way back from the orphanage. The three of us, Eris, Yuel and I, are walking down the road to the hospital.
After I left that closet, I soon understood the meaning of the archbishop’s conversation. The ring Farah had, which she received from the saint. Apparently it was taken by the archbishop’s underling.
「Taking things from children, how horrible…」
Eris says with an angry-looking face. Eris realized that Farah’s ring was taken after the archbishop’s group had left. Doesn’t look like she was able to get it back. Well, as far as I could tell from eavesdropping on them, it sounded like something fairly important. Even if she had asked him to return it, he probably wouldn’t have given it back.
「Yeah, I know.」
Well, it’s a shame about Farah’s ring, but there’s nothing I can do. It was an expensive ring, but in the end a ring is just a ring. I don’t want to make an enemy out of a powerful person over a mere ring. The risk is too great.
And Farah herself wasn’t bothered about it at all, saying “Something good already happened, so it’s fine”. She also didn’t understand how much it was worth, though.
Eris most likely didn’t directly see the ring either. She’s a little angry, but just a little. She thinks that what was taken was just a ring the children were using to play house, though. If I told her it was a golden ring, she would likely flip out. Eris is scary when she gets truly mad. One slip of the tongue and she seems like she would go storm the archbishop’s place. Let’s change the subject.
「Hey Yuel. That reminds me, what were those strange signs you mentioned?」
I remembered something. At the same time the archbishop arrived, Yuel jumped out the orphanage window and went somewhere. Although by the time I left the closet and met up with Eris, Yuel had already returned. Leaving Farah aside, I wonder what exactly Yuel was up to?
「Err, there was a beast girl on the roof of the orphanage.」
「A beast girl?」
「Yes, with doglike ears, a girl around the same age as me. She seemed to be monitoring the orphanage.」
Why would a beast girl be on top of the orphanage’s roof? For a moment, I wonder if I’m being watched by somebody connected to the saint, but the saint already returned to the royal capital. Besides, Yuel only detected the signs after we came to the orphanage. If I was under some sort of observation, I assume Yuel would’ve detected it while we were in the hospital, or the instant we went outside.
…Don’t tell me it was just a neighborhood kid who wanted to play with the children in the orphanage? In that case it would all fit.
「And then what happened?」
「When I chased her, she ran away.」
I can just imagine Hunter Yuel-san chasing down a beast with a knife, but that’s probably not how it went down. She probably ran off when Yuel tried to talk to her, or something. And according to Yuel she’s still a child, so maybe she was just shy.
As my conversation with Yuel carries on, Eris sighs deeply.
「What’s the matter?」
「No… it’s just that Archbishop-sama, I really do hate him. And there’s Farah’s ring, too… he passed by me on his way out, and he gave me this incredibly repulsive look… for just a second.」
Do you hate being looked at with lascivious eyes? Well, as for me, I can’t help but look at Eris’ nicely plump hips or her giant tits, though.
…For the time being, I should be careful too. However, Eris’ expression quickly shifts to one of amazement.
「At any rate, the children sure loved you. They were saying how they want Onii-chan to come teach them origami again.」
She must have realized that talking about it won’t change anything. Eris changes the subject. Apparently the kids properly reported my activities to Eris. Nice. With this, I’ve achieved my goal for the day.
「Moreover… Farah-chan’s eyes, you healed them, didn’t you?」
Whoa, how do you know about that, Eris-san?
「…Did Farah tell you that?」
「I could tell from how delighted her face was. I told you, didn’t I? I’ve been coming to this orphanage every now and then.」
For a moment I doubted Farah, but looks like that’s not what happened.
…Well, since Eris visits the orphanage regularly, I guess she would notice the change.
「It seemed like you didn’t want your true healing ability to be seen, so I didn’t ask you before, though… You know, I’ve been worried about that girl for a long time.」
Eris remarks with a gentle expression.
…I wonder if Eris, knowing that I want to hide my healing magic, has been troubled this whole time with the desire to ask me to treat Farah?
「…It wasn’t really that big of a deal.」
But well, in terms of effort, it really wasn’t a big deal. It would be bad if I was discovered, but it’s not like there will be any problems from Eris finding out that I used EX Heal. However, Eris is staring directly into my eyes as if to say that it was an incredibly important thing.
「Thank you for healing Farah.」
Then, Eris says that and smiles softly.
Maybe it’s because Eris rarely shows me such a genuine smile, but my heart skips a beat. This is bad. Even though it shouldn’t be a big deal, my face is getting a little warm. I’m having a little trouble looking her directly in the eyes, and I unconsciously end up averting my eyes.
Perhaps having doubts about the state I’m in, Yuel comes to peer into my face.
…Danger, danger. I can’t let Yuel realize that Eris’ smile got my heart all aflutter.
I don’t know if she’ll cry or what, but doubtlessly it won’t have a good effect on her. I hide my face behind my hands for a second to reset my expression.
「Don’t worry about it. Let’s hurry back.」
After that, I lightly pet Yuel’s head to dodge the issue. Yuel is still tilting her head, but when I pet it again, she contentedly nestles her head into my hand.
For some reason, Yuel’s high voice echoes in my empty head.
It’s late at night on the same day we returned from the orphanage.
A knocking sound on the door of the hospital awakens me. The room is dark. Judging from the moonlight streaming in from outside, it’s most likely still around 2 am. A visitor at a time like this?
「Mm… perhaps someone needs urgent treatment. I’ll go have a look.」
Looks like Eris woke up as well; she puts on her coat and leaves the room.
Although, treatment at this time of night? I remember the time Ruruka came to ask me to heal Fran and Sera. Don’t tell me it’s her again?
…No, Ruruka should be at the lord’s place right now. She shouldn’t need to go out of her way to ask me, there ought to be one or two excellent healers there already.
The knocking sound at the door stops.
Most likely, Eris is dealing with it.
…Should I go too? Eris ought to be able to manage it by herself if it’s a cold or a minor injury, but it’s someone expressly coming this late at night. It might be a severe illness or a wound on the level of a missing body part. After I softly peel Yuel (who’s clinging to me in her sleep) off of me so as not to wake her up, I head downstairs.
「Huh, Eris… where are you?」
However, Eris isn’t in the treatment room. Actually, there isn’t even a light on in the room. Even though this is where she always listens to the patients’ symptoms and casts her healing magic…
She’s not in the hallway either, nor is she at the entrance.
And then I notice.
…For some reason, the front door is slightly ajar.
Is she outside? But why would she go outside? I wonder if, by some chance, someone was transported here on a stretcher or something and she went outside to treat them? But wait, for the kind of wound that would require transportation via stretcher, she would have come to call me over right away.
I peer out from the entrance, and nobody is there.
「…Eris, seriously, where did you go?」
I go out as far as the alley, and look around.
When I do, there’s something there. But not Eris.
It’s dark and there’s some distance between us, so I can’t see that well… but there are the figures of about 5 men. I see their silhouettes running off towards a back alley.
…Eris isn’t in the hospital. The front door has been left open. The silhouettes of a group running away.
It’s not like there’s positive proof in that direction. But, the moment I spot that group running off, my whole body breaks out in goosebumps. I have a bad feeling about this.
Most likely, that’s what happened.
Eris… has been kidnapped.