Chapter 1 – The End of the Beginning



1-1

…This has become a bad situation.  

Lost and penniless, his heart felt heavy under the weight of those words.  

Technically, he wasn’t broke. The wallet in his pocket held all of his fortune, which, in theory, should be able to buy some things.  Even so, the situation he was in would only consider him as “penniless.”

“Their currency really is different, huh…”

The boy let out a deep sigh as he played with a ten yen coin – a “10 Giza,” in his palm.

(TL Note: It’s a Japanese serrated coin that is really rare)

He was an ordinary young man without any distinctive features – short black hair, and average in height.  His slightly toned body made one wonder if he had worked out. He wore a cheap, yet fitting, grey jersey set. His only noteworthy characteristic was his hawk-like eyes, but even that had lost its intensity, as his gaze lacked ambition.

(TL Note: His eyes were actually described as 三白, or sanpaku, which is when a person has smaller than usual irises, causing the white part of your eyes to be visible above or below them)

With such an ordinary appearance, one would easily expect to lose interest in him among the crowd. Yet that was not the case, as the people around him stared as if he was a strange object.  

This was to be expected, because no one else had black hair, not to mention the jersey.  Their hair colors ranged among blond to red, brown to green, and blue.  The clothes they wore were even more outrageous, with heavy armor, dancer-like outfits, and black robes in the mix.  Exposed to the unfamiliar sight, the boy came to a realization.

“That means, this has to be it,” snapping his finger, he pointed at the onlooking crowd and said, “the so called other-world summoning.”  

Just as he finished his thoughts, a cart being pulled by a large lizard passed by.


1-2

Natsuki Subaru was a Japanese boy born on Earth, and his family could only be considered normal.  

If one were to describe his seventeen years since birth in a simplified manner, the  previous sentence would suffice.  If there was something to elaborate on, then it would be his decision to refuse to attend high school as a third-year student.  

“Go to college or get a job.” When faced with this crossroad in life, people are forced to make a decision. Everyone accepts this as a part of life; he was a little better than others at running away from what he detests. This resulted in him excusing himself from school more and more.  Eventually, he became a splendid truant that made his parents cry.

“To top it off, I was summoned to another world when I should have become a dropout… I really can’t understand what is going on.”

It felt like a horrible dream.  No matter how hard he pulled his cheeks or banged his head against the wall, he wouldn’t wake up.  Subaru could only groan as he left the main street that was now filled with curious gazes.  He walked into a back alley, and sat down on the slated surface.

“Assuming I’m in a fantasy world, this civilization should be similar to the medieval era. The stone pavements here are pretty even, but I can’t see any machine-like equipment, which means there must be a certain technique…Naturally, my money is also useless.”

Subaru figured the only way forward was to confirm whether he could communicate with the locals and learn the value of goods.  Fortunately, he was able to converse without an issue, and the currency used was simply gold, silver, and copper coins.  Subaru learned this from his first contact with the locals, a fruit stall’s owner, but at the price of displeasing the owner.  

Looking at the situation, Subaru felt blessed.  His ability to grasp the situation was thanks to the current generation’s addiction to anime and games, and being summoned into another world was like a teenager’s dream come true.  But…

“For a clueless guy like me, if I don’t get any entitlements to start off with, it’s difficult for me to survive!” Subaru complained.

A cellphone (with almost no battery left), a wallet (filled with DVD rental membership cards), a cup of instant noodle (tonkotsu and soy sauce flavor) and a bag of snack (corn potage flavor) from the convenience store, the grey jersey he enjoys wearing (still unwashed), and his old sneakers (two years old).  His starting equipment was too meager and shabby.

“At least give me an Excalibur. It’s all over, what am I supposed to do?”

After all, he was summoned to this other world on his way back from the convenience store, so he couldn’t help it.  Especially when it happened in a blink of an eye.  The only item useful in this world was his snack, which was half-eaten when he had gotten hungry before. Realizing the importance of food, he immediately regretted his decision.  

All of this has to be a joke, Subaru thought, but the lizard-drawn carriages and pedestrians’ gaze betrayed his hopes.

“Nobody seems to be reacting to the human-like creatures walking around.”

Watching the bustling crowd filled with colorful hair and oddly clothed people, Subaru finally accepted the reality of his trans-world summoning with the existence of demi-humans.  Looking around, he saw many dog and cat ears; even some lizard man looking mutants.  Come to think of it, they weren’t that different from human beings.

“Seeing how many demi-humans there are, wars and adventures must happen very often. Aside from the fact that I don’t recognize any of the animals, using a lizard to pull a cart is quite innovative.”

After organizing his thoughts, Subaru was able to breathe a sigh of relief.  If the plot development is like the fantasy stories he read, then he should be successful with his modern knowledge in this other world.  But he still couldn’t understand.

“Why am I in such a desperate situation without knowing why I was summoned? I don’t recall walking through a mirror, or falling into a pond. Come to think of it, where’s the beautiful girl that summoned me?”

The main heroine, who determines the worth of a fantasy world, is missing.  If this was a game, this would be unacceptable.  You can’t just summon the main character and leave him without a goal, that’s like making him a disposable character.  Subaru, after ascertaining the situation, had nothing else to do besides escape reality.

“If I really had to say…this is no different from my life before, where I would stay my room.”

His parents’ figure crossed his mind, but he could not afford to be homesick.  Right now, Subaru had to find a way out of this situation.  Just as he was heading towards the main street…

“Oof, sorry,” Subaru bumped into another person and hurriedly apologized as he stepped out of the way.

“—ugh, that hurts!”

His shoulders were grabbed suddenly, and he was dragged back into the alley.  

Turning around, he saw the burly man who had easily thrown him back.  Behind that man stood his two companions, as the three blocked the alleyway exit.  Subaru had a bad feeling about this, as he was all too familiar with their actions.

“Excuse me…could you explain to me what you are doing?”

“It seems like you don’t understand your position right now. Whatever, just hand over everything of value and you won’t get hurt.”

“Ah… it really did come down to this. Ha ha, this is not good.”

These men looked to be in their twenties; their inner vileness showing from the gaze of contempt they gave to Subaru.  They may not be demi-humans, but they certainly aren’t kind.  Meeting these cliché punks could only mean one thing…

“Shit, I triggered a mandatory event.”


1-3

Facing the group of men smirking at him, Subaru put on a fake smile as he began thinking.  

He was in a pinch, but stories since ancient times involving people summoned to another world always have them obtain a superpower.  Since Subaru was summoned under the same conditions seen in many other trans-world stories, he surmised it is likely that he had also been given special abilities.  Thinking about it, he felt his body become lighter.

“It feels like the gravity here is one-tenth of that in my world. I can do it, I can do this! I’ll beat them down and pave the way for my future with their experience points.”

“What is this guy muttering about?”

“I don’t understand what he’s talking about, but I know he’s making a fool out of us. Kill ’em.”

“That’s my line! I’ll make you regret this!” shouted Subaru, as he threw his all into a right straight at the large man in the front. The fist landed perfectly on his opponent’s nose, but was grazed after hitting the front teeth.  

This is my first time hitting someone! It hurts more than I had imagined. Despite having simulated these situations before, this was Subaru’s first time actually fighting.  

Taking advantage of the situation, he leaped at the next man who was still shocked.  Arcing his foot forward, Subaru slammed the second man’s head into the wall, knocking him out.   With an unexpectedly great start, Subaru gained confidence in the idea that he was “unparalleled in this other world.”

“As I thought, this world’s setting is that I am the strongest! I can feel the adrenalin pumping.”

Whirling around, Subaru crouched and prepared himself to take down the last person…  

Until a gleam of light caught his attention, in his opponent’s hand was a knife.  

From there, Subaru slid across the pavement with his knees and cleanly folded his body, pressing his forehead against the ground.

“I’m sorry! It’s all my fault, please forgive me! Please just spare my life!”

Prostration.  It’s the most extreme action one can take to show submission, to the point of degrading oneself.  

The flow of the situation from before was all gone now. Subaru could feel the blood draining from his face as he desperately apologized multiple times.  After all, it’s impossible to go up against a blade.  Once you’re stabbed, everything is over.  In addition, the two people that should have been taken care of rose up.  One held his face as his nose was bleeding, the other was shaking his head, but otherwise they looked healthy.

“What!? My one-hit sure kill move is only effective to this extent!? What about the ‘promised power from being summoned’!?”

“You keep talking about things I can’t understand. Now you’ve done it!”

Subaru was mistaken about being promised special powers for being summoned to another world.  In particular, he did not become any stronger.  

Still prostrated on the pavement, his face was trampled on, causing blood to flow from the impacts of his forehead hitting the ground.  One after another, Subaru received countless kicks to the face as he desperately tried to curl his body in defense.  He was the one who started the fight, so Subaru was given no mercy by the men.

—Crap, this really hurts.  I might even die from this.  Seriously.  

Because this was not the world Subaru came from, there was no guarantee the thugs wouldn’t take his life.  Better to make a final attempt to counterattack before getting beaten to death—

“I told you not to move you idiot!”

“OW! ARGH, it hurts, it hurts, it seriously hurts!”

Subaru tried to get up, but was stopped when his hands were stepped on by the man holding the knife.

“We’ll beat you until you can’t move, then strip you clean of your belongings. That’ll teach you to look down on us…”

“I-If money is what you’re looking for, then this is pointless. After all, I’m penniless…!”

“Then your unusual clothes and shoes will have do. Go become food for the alley rats.”

Oh, this world has rats too.  Please don’t let them be as big as monsters.  

Looking at the knife about to plunge into him, Subaru tried to escape reality by pretending he was not involved in this.  

He didn’t see any revolving doors, or observe the slowing down of time.  He could only feel the end approaching like a string about to snap.  —It was at this moment.

“Move it, move it! You over there, you’re blocking the way!” shouted a desperate voice, as a person charged into the alley.

The thugs raised their heads in surprise, while Subaru, incapacitated, could only lift his gaze.  

A young girl with blonde hair to her shoulders ran before his eyes.  Her red irises exerted a strong will, and she had a cute fang protruding from her mouth.

(TL Note: The term for the cute fang is ‘yaeba’)

Though his first impression of her was that of a cheeky girl, he felt that if she were to smile, many would be charmed by her.  

The timing of this situation relighted Subaru’s hopes.

I was waiting for this kind of development!  

A girl dressed in worn clothes had unexpectedly came across a robbery scene.  By convention, this girl has a chivalrous heart, and she will save Subaru, whose life is about to be expunged…

“It looks like I stumbled across something serious, sorry! I’m busy right now! Stay strong!”

“Wha—, hey! Are you serious!?”

His hopes were shattered as quickly as it came.  

The girl raised her hand apologetically towards Subaru, and ran through the alleyway.  Without any signs of stopping, she rushed past the men towards a dead end.  Or so it should have been, as she used a plank leaning on the wall as a platform and kicked herself up.  She nimbly grabbed hold of the ledge, and instantly disappeared on top of the building.  

With her gone, the surrounding fell into silence.  The young girl stunned everybody, as she blew across them like a typhoon.  But Subaru’s situation still has not changed.

“By any chance, what just happened didn’t lessen your hostility, did it?”

“More like it worsened our mood. Don’t think you can get off that easily.”

Subaru was still unable to move his body due to being trampled by these men.  The man’s knife shone as Subaru’s eminent death neared reality.  

—No, no way, this is a lie. This can’t be happening.  

He let out a tense smile as he desperately prayed for someone to stop this situation. However, such a convenient event did not happen, and tip of the blade drew closer and closer.  

Subaru resigned himself to death, as he felt tears well up in his eyes.  It was not because he was afraid, but rather because it was such an empty end which felt unbearable.

[Illustration]

Just when he had thrown everything away, and had given up hope—

“—That’s as far as you will go, you ruffians.”

That voice overpowered the bustling crowd, the vulgar shouts from men, and Subaru’s own breathing; it was as if the world shook under those words.


1-4

Time felt like it had stopped.  

Standing in the alleyway entrance was a young girl.  Not to mention, a beautiful girl.  

She had braided silver hair that reached her waist, and bluish purple irises that seemed to exert an air of intellect as she gazed at the scene.  Her delicate features had a mix of brightness and childish charm, creating a dangerous noble-like loveliness.  

She was a head shorter than Subaru, her height averaging around 160 cm.  Although her clothes used white as the base color, she did not wear any ornaments or decorations.  Rather, its simplicity accentuated her presence.  The only thing that was striking was her white robe, which had been embroidered with a ‘hawk-like bird’ to give a solemn feel.  Even so, those clothes were simply accessories for exemplifying her dazzling existence.

“I cannot overlook this violence any longer. — This ends here.”

Her silvery voice resounded pleasantly in Subaru’s ears, making him forget about his current situation.  He was overwhelmed by the silver-haired girl’s presence, and that feeling spread to the other men as well.

“Uh…who are you, exactly?”

“I’ll forgive you right now, since it was my carelessness’s fault. So, graciously return the things you stole.”

“Hey, her clothes look really expensive. Is she a noble…? Huh? Stole?”

“Please, that’s very important to me. I can give you anything else, just not that. Please. Be good and hand it over.”

The girl was making this seem like a trade.  There was a sense of confusion growing, as something difficult to express in words was happening before us.

“Wa-wait! I don’t think we are on the same page here.”

“…What do you mean?”

The men pointed at Subaru, who was under their feet.

“Y-you didn’t come here… to save this guy, right?”

“That person is wearing some odd clothes. Are you guys in the middle of a falling-out? 3 versus 1 isn’t something worth praising…but if you are asking my relationship with him, I can only say he is unrelated to me.”

Did the conversation get dragged too far off-topic?  The girl’s voice had faint hints of her irritation. The men, realizing her impatience from her attitude, hurriedly tried to explain themselves.

“Wait a moment! If your goal isn’t this guy then we have nothing to do with it. It’s probably that brat from before!”

“You were talking about something stolen, right? The wall! That kid wall kicked up the roof and ran away!”

“Over there, on the other side! Based on that speed, she should be three streets away by now.”

Under the stream of words from the men, the girl turned her sight towards Subaru. Her gaze was that of confirming the truth in their words, which Subaru couldn’t help but nod in agreement.

“Hm…It doesn’t look like they’re lying. Then it seems the thief is on the other side of the alley. I have to hurry.”

Turning her back on Subaru, the young girl began walking out of the alley.  The men were obviously relieved.  

Just as Subaru was stunned by the reality of being abandoned…

“Regardless of that matter, this is a situation I cannot overlook.”

The girl looked back and stretched her palm towards them — a bright glowing light was seen before it was shot out of her hand.  A sound similar to that of a hard ball hitting flesh was heard as the men cried out after being blown away.  Afterwards, a high-pitched sound could be heard as fist-sized pieces of ice fell beside Subaru.  The blocks of ice seemed to defy the seasons and the laws of physics as they dissipated quickly, as if the atmosphere swallowed it whole.

“—Magic.”

His mouth immediately leaked out the most appropriate word to describe the phenomenon.  There was no chant, but that was definitely launched from her palm.  Like that, he was able to witness magic first hand.

“It’s a lot less fantasy like than I expected…Somehow it’s more of a disappointingly realistic feel.”

He expected the ball of light to scatter, or create a burst of energy; in reality, rugged pieces of ice would appear, deal damage, and then disappear.  Where’s the excitement in that?

“You… had to stick your nose where it doesn’t belong.”

Subaru placed his impressions on magic aside as the men hit by ice blocks rose back up.  Only two people were able to shakily stand on their feet, as one had fainted from the severity of the hit.  But it seemed to only anger them more, seeing their companion get taken out.  The man holding the knife handed the other person a club-like blunt weapon and readied themselves for battle.

“Since it has come to this, I don’t care if you’re a magic user or a noble, don’t think you’ll settle this easily. Surround and kill her! Did you think you can win 2 versus 1, HUH!?” shouted the knife wielder as he held his bleeding nose.  

In response, the girl closed one eye, “You’re right. 2 versus 1 might be difficult.”

“—Then, how about we make it 2 versus 2 to even the field?”

Continuing after the girl, a gender neutral, high-pitched voice pierced through the alley’s air.  

Surprised, Subaru looked around.  The men also looked around hastily, but they couldn’t find a figure from both ends of the alleyway that could have originated that voice.  

As if to show the confused people something, the girl stretched out her left hand.  With her palm facing up, “it” stood on top of her white fingertips.

“Watching you guys look for me with such expectations, how should I say…I’m embarrassed,” it said as it covered its face with its paws.  Standing there was a palm sized cat.  It had grey fur and droopy ears.  From Subaru’s knowledge, it resembled the American Shorthair breed of cats aside from having a pink nose and a tail the length of its body.

At the sight of the palm-sized cat, the man holding the knife shouted in horror, “Y-you’re a spirit user!”

“Correct. If you withdraw now, I won’t chase you. Hurry up and decide, we’re in a hurry.”

Hearing the girl’s words, the men scrambled to pick up their fallen companion and rushed out the alleyway.  On their way out, a loud tsk could be heard near the girl.

“I’ve memorized your face, you bastard. You won’t get away that easily next time.”

“If you do anything to this girl I’ll haunt you and your future kin. Although you probably won’t make it to that point if I did that.”

Up against the final threat the thugs could muster up to say, the kitty retorted sharply with ease.  

Though the kitty said it in a casual manner, their faces turned pale white.  This time, they fled into the crowd in silence.

[Illustration]

The thugs soon disappeared, leaving Subaru, the girl, and her companion in the alley.

Anyway, I have to give her a word of thanks, Subaru thought. Forgetting the pain in his body, he tried to get up—

“Don’t move,” stated the silver haired girl in a cold manner.

Her eyes were that of vigilance.  Even though she knew Subaru was not with those men, it was not enough for her to let her guard down.  Such was her conclusion.  

Although he was being looked in this way, Subaru had an unnatural reaction to it.  Under the gaze of those bluish purple pair of irises, he could not help but be attracted to its charm.  Unaccustomed to beautiful girls, Subaru couldn’t help but blush and involuntarily avert his sight under her scrutiny.  

Noting Subaru’s actions, the silver haired laughed boldly.

“Look, he has a guilty conscious so he looked away. My judgement wasn’t wrong.”

“I’m not so sure. That seemed like a male’s reaction, as I couldn’t sense any ill will from it.”

“Be quiet, Puck… You, you know about the girl who stole the insignia from me, don’t you?” she interrogated, after silencing the cat.  

Even her face when brimming with confidence is cute.  But…

‘Sorry to break it to you, but I don’t know a single clue about this.”

“Eh? Wait, really!?”

With the girl’s confidence stripped from her face, he was able to catch a glimpse of her natural expression.  Her imposing attitude from before was nowhere to be seen, as she looked at the cat in her palm in panic.

“W-w-what should I do? Don’t tell me that I took a detour…”

“Looking at the situation, I think it’s best if we hurry. Escaping at such an amazing speed, the culprit must have some strange blessing.”

“Hmph. You’re making it sound like it’s not your problem, Puck.”

“Even though you’re the one saying I’m useless. Anyway, what should we do about that kid?”

Looks like they finally remembered.  As the conversation subject shifted back to Subaru, he leaked a bitter smile.  It was as if the girl went “Oh,” and realized Subaru’s presence and situation.  

For her, Subaru put up a bravado and stood up.

“It’s more than enough for saving me. You’re in a hurry, right? It’s best to go as soon as possible,” … How about I give you a hand, young lady?  Was what he wanted to say while brushing his hair aside and giving her a dazzling smile, but—

“Huh?”  

His head suddenly felt very heavy.  He stuck his hand out towards the wall to stabilize himself, but missed.  Just like that, he fell face first onto the ground.

“Hey, don’t force yourself to get up… Looks like I was too late.”

The little cat’s warning was one step too late.  Without being able to brace for the fall, Subaru experienced a sharp pain that knocked him unconscious.

“Well, what should we do?”

“It’s none of our business. He won’t die, just leave him.”

As his conscious faded, he could faintly hear some of their conversation.  

As expected of an otherworldly fantasy world, its view of sympathy is a lot harsher.  Am I going to be left in the back alley like this?  He thought negatively.  

On the plus side, moments ago he was about to die, but now he was able to continue living on.  After coming to these two conclusions, Subaru’s consciousness slowly faded.

“Really~?”

“Really!”

In between his moments of consciousness, he saw the silver haired girl look back with a flushed face.

“… Absolutely not. I won’t do something like save him!”

… Her angry face also looks super cute, as expected of a fantasy world.  

After forming his last impression, Subaru’s conscious fell into the darkness.


1-5

Awaking from his slumber, Subaru felt refreshed. It was comparable to the feeling of emerging from a body of water.  He opened his eyes only to be burned by the sun. Under its glare, he rubbed his eyes with a frown.

There are people who can regain their consciousness immediately after they wake up, and Subaru was one of those with such a constitution.

“Ah, you’re awake?”

The voice came from above, to be more specific, it came overhead from where Subaru slept.  He tried turning his head towards the voice, and realized he was lying down on the ground, with something soft under him as a pillow.

“Don’t move yet. Your head was hit, so you shouldn’t be careless.”

The voice showing concern was gentle.

As Subaru recalled the events before he passed out, it struck him that he was experiencing an extremely fortunate development for boys.

Lap pillow — following heaven’s will, Subaru turned over as a pretense to indulge in it.

“Fuu. I didn’t know cute girls were so hairy…Wai-, that can’t be true!”

While playing the straight man (TL Note: tsukkomi), he looked upwards as his vision cleared and returned the world to normal.  In front of Subaru’s eyes, with his upside down field of view, was a tremendous cat face.

“It was an arrangement we made so that you would feel happy, at least until you woke up.”

“First of all, stop talking in that falsetto. There’s no way I can mistake the cat for the heroine.”

Getting a lap pillow from a human-sized cat is an unprecedented situation. However, since it was a rare opportunity, Subaru decided to enjoy the fluffy fur with his cheeks.

“This is too blissful. What is this sense of joy? I can understand why people would want to love a cat till it goes bald.”

“Well~, if you’re so pleased by it, then enlarging myself was worth it. Right?”

While scratching its head in embarrassment, the large cat winked at someone for approval. Along its line of sight, down the entrance of the alleyway, stood the silver haired girl with her arms crossed and a composed expression.  There was no doubt it was her, because Subaru engraved it deeply in his memories before he lost consciousness.

Witnessing Subaru waking up and her companion’s wink, the girl let out a soft breath and walked towards them.

“Um, sorry about that. In the end, you had to stay until I woke up…”

“Don’t get the wrong idea, we couldn’t help it because we had something to ask you. Otherwise, we would’ve already left you behind. Got it? Then don’t misunderstand.” The girl emphasized with a strong tone.

Since Subaru had no resistance towards beautiful girls, he could not handle her forcefulness. As a result, he could only nod while neglecting the words spoken.

“I healed the wounds on your body and let Puck give you a lap pillow until you woke up for my own sake. Therefore, you’ll be repaying me in kind.”

“You’re acting like it’s a big deal…but isn’t it just a simple request?”

One good turn deserves another, it is reasonable to think that way.  

In response to Subaru’s reply, the girl looked at him sternly and shook her head.

“No such thing. This is a one-sided order… You have an idea of where my stolen insignia is, right?” The girl asked while softening her tone.

Because the question sounded familiar, Subaru couldn’t help but tilt his head in perplexity.  Before he fainted, they should have had the same conversation. Speaking of insignia, isn’t it a badge for lawyers and prosecutors to show their identity? Subaru had no impression of one.

“While I was unconscious, did someone hit my head?”

“It was only ten minutes, nothing like that happened. Leaving that aside, what is your answer?”

“Well, if that’s the case I really don’t have a single clue.”

If he didn’t know it, he would answer he didn’t know. Subaru’s answer did not change from before.  However, hearing Subaru’s answer, the girl didn’t seem to act disappointed.

“I see. It can’t be helped then. But you’ve told me the information that you know nothing, so that makes us even for healing your wounds.”

Her reasoning was such that even a swindler would have been surprised. Unable to follow the conversation, Subaru was left dumbfounded.  

In an act to dismiss what happened, the girl clapped her hands together.

“Well, I’m in a rush, so I will be leaving now. Your wounds have been healed, and those people shouldn’t come looking for you anymore after that harsh threat. It’s dangerous to go into a deserted alleyway by yourself. Ah, this isn’t because I’m worried, it’s advice. Next time you come across a similar situation, I won’t help you because there’s no merit in it. So don’t count on it.”

The girl rattled on like a machine gun, then took Subaru’s silence as an affirmation. She nodded in satisfaction as she said “good!” then turned around.  Her long silver hair swayed with her movements, under the dim alleyway it gave off an ethereal glitter.

While being fascinated, Subaru had the fur under his head disappear, forcing him to sit up in a hurry.

“Sorry about that. My girl just can’t be honest with herself. Don’t think weirdly of her.”

The cat said with a smile, before returning to its original size to ride the girl’s shoulder. The girl stroked its back, and it disappeared into her silver hair.

Without glancing back, the girl quickly began walking.

Looking at her back, Subaru thought back to what the cat said. How she was not forthright, and the intent behind her words and actions.  Even though she was in a hurry because her things were stolen, she saved Subaru. And after treating his wounds, she clumsily said those words so he would not feel indebted to her.  That’s not simply at the level of not being honest, it’s self-sacrificial to the extent that Subaru couldn’t bear to look.  The girl could have blamed Subaru for getting in the way of her goal. Nevertheless, she didn’t complain once, nor ask of him an apology or thanks.  Because for her, saving Subaru was of her own accords.

“That way of living only leads to unreasonable losses, is she a fool.”

Subaru got up as he said that, patted the dirt off his jersey, and took off.  Although the dirt on his favorite jersey was apparent after taking such a beating, his body underneath hardly felt any pain, making him realize once again how absurd magic was.  And to the girl who offered him kindness without demanding compensation…

“—Hey, wait for me!” He called out.

Standing at the entrance of the alley, facing the main street, she was at a loss for where to go when the voice came from behind. She placed a hand on her silver hair as she looked back with a slightly troubled expression.

“What is it? I’ll say this first, but I can only afford to spend a little more time with you.”

“You’re still being nice about it though!? Putting this aside, it’s an important item, right? Let me help.”

Hearing Subaru’s offer, the girl blinked in surprise.

“But…you said you didn’t know anything about it…”

“True, I don’t know the name of the thief who stole your things, or where her location is, but I remember what she looks like! She has a fang poking out of her mouth and conspicuous gold hair, like a kitten! Her height is below yours, her chest is flat, and she looks around 2 to 3 years younger than you. How was that?”

Subaru’s fast-talk was a bad habit of his which led even himself unable to understand what was spoken.  This time it was in full force, causing himself to be embarrassed about his speech.  

The silence was painful. He broke out in a cold sweat — his armpit and palms became clammy. His palpitations and shortness of breath caused him to feel anemic, and his stuffy nose resulted in a hay-fever-like migraine, making him feel embattled. Then—

“—You’re a strange person.”

Placing her hand over her mouth, she tilted her head and gave him a stare like he was an exotic animal.  With her fingers pressed on her lips, she stared at Subaru in evaluation.

“I’ll say this again, I have nothing to thank you with. Despite my appearance, I am penniless.”

“Don’t worry, I’m practically penniless myself.”

“Incidentally, I am also broke. We sure are a pitiful bunch.”

Ignoring the voice from the silver hair that interrupted the conversation, Subaru thumped his chest.

“Besides, I don’t want a reward. I want to return the favor, so let me help.”

“I haven’t done anything to deserve your thanks. If it’s about treating your wound, then I already got my compensation.”

An adamant girl until the end.

Faced with such a stubborn girl, Subaru gave a bitter laugh. “Then,” he began, “I am also helping you for my own sake. My purpose is, hm… Yeah, one good deed a day!”

“One good deed a day?”

“Yep, I will perform an act of good will every day, so I will go to heaven when I die. Over there, my life dream of only eating and sleeping awaits me. Therefore I will help you for my self-interest.”

Although he could not understand what he said himself, at least he said what he wanted to talk about.  

Subaru’s determination caused the girl to fall deep in thought. However, the cat riding on her shoulder poked her cheek with its paw.

“I can’t sense any malice, so why not be honest and take his offer? Besides, to search without a clue in a castle town is reckless.”

“But, if he were to be dragged into this situation…”

“Though I find your obstinance cute, losing sight of your purpose because of it is absurd. I don’t want to think of my daughter as an idiot.”

Even with the cat supporting Subaru, the girl didn’t change her stance. However, the cat deadened his expression and spoke in a serious tone.  

“Furthermore, the sun is about to set. When it’s night, I won’t be able to lend a hand. If your opponents are ruffians then there’s nothing to worry about…but having a shield is always good.”

“It feels like I’ve been thrown into a dangerous role! Wait, what? From what you just said, is there a condition that prevents you from coming out at night?”

Taking a step closer, Subaru posed the question to the cat. It gently flicked its whisker with a front paw and replied.

“I cannot come out because I’m a spirit, despite my cute looks. Even just appearing requires a lot of mana. Therefore I stay in the summoning crystal at night, and come out when the sun rises. Well, the ideal time frame would be around 9 o’clock to 5 o’clock.”

(TL Note: The crystal doesn’t actually summon the spirit, it’s actually supposed to be a yorishiro — an object for spirits to occupy)

“Nine to five, you sound just like a civil servant… A spirit’s contract is unexpectedly strict…!”

His ability to talk naturally with spirits was thanks to modern otaku poisoned by anime and games.  There are times where a nation known for its perverted nature can be helpful.

The girl besides Subaru and the cat continued to worry as they established a conversation.  However, she seemed swayed by the talk just now, as she mumbled “Au—”, “no”, “but” in a troubled voice.

“… I really don’t have anything to thank you with.”

Thus, Subaru’s offer was accepted.


1-6

The first friendly exchange in this other world — a heartwarming interaction, took an hour to happen.

“—Hold on, what is this situation?”

The investigation was easily brought to a halt.

Under the girl’s piercing, cold gaze, Subaru scratched his head to avoid embarrassment.

“I did not expect to encounter such a difficult matter, even my eyes could not see through it…”

“You seem to evaluate yourself reeeally highly, even though there are no results to show. Seriously, no matter how you look at it, we’re in a tight fix.”

“You don’t hear ‘in a tight fix’ these days…”

Feeling the girl’s eyes sharpen from having her wording pointed out, Subaru shrunk away.

Despite searching for nearly an hour, they remained in the alleyway for some reason. Of course, there’s a firm reason for this. They discovered some problems which made the situation difficult.

First, they were not familiar with the area.  

In this regard, Subaru could be forgiven because he was just summoned to another world. However, it seems the girl was also unfamiliar with the surrounding, resulting in this funny story where both parties presumed the other understood where to go, causing them to waste roughly 10 minutes. Except when Subaru looked at the girl, her eyes did not indicate any hint of laughter.

And second, the words written around the place – he could not read them at all.

Since he was able to converse, he became careless, but looking at the surroundings again, there were definitely handwritten hieroglyphics here. Unless they’re ‘talismans for warding off evil that are popular among locals’, then they are most likely this world’s standard language. For Subaru, he could not even read a sign.

In other words, the promise of ‘for some reason I can understand their language’ only applies to speech. Given how he would have been doomed if he could not even speak with others, it can only be seen as unfortunate or put into a bad spot.

“Having said that, the difficulty meaninglessly skyrocketed… this world sure isn’t kind.”

Far from perfect, his surroundings seemed sloppy and lacking.

“Ha ha…ha…” Subaru laughed in self-deprecation. Retracing his footsteps, he realized nothing good has happened, and became discouraged.

As for the person accompanying him, he noticed she was standing alongside a wall with her eyes closed. Seeing her small lips muttering something, Subaru tilted his head in puzzlement.

“What is she doing…”

“That’s her talking to lesser spirits over there.”

A grey cat suddenly appeared in front of him and spoke, shocking Subaru to raise his brows.

“I thought I didn’t see you. I assumed you went back, but you were here the whole time, huh.”

“That’s because there is still a bit of time until the scheduled time. Unlike those lesser spirits, I do my work properly.”

“You sure view your occupation highly…Those lesser spirits, what are they?”

Judging by its name, it should be one rank below spirits.

As if to confirm Subaru’s thoughts, the floating cat shook its tail and said, “Lesser spirits are existences that have not gained the wisdom to become a spirit. After some time, they gain power and self-awareness, and become a spirit like me.”

Nodding his head while listening to the explanation, he noticed faint, floating lights emerge around the silver haired girl. The ephemeral lights resembling fireflies’ glow began surrounding her.

It was a scene which one would hesitate to say could be experienced by a person. Only those allowed under the existence of supernatural would enter this sanctuary. Under this scenery, Subaru—

“This is amazing. All these floating things are spirits?”

“—Hya!”

Intruded bluntly.  Subaru ruined the illusion by striking up a conversation with the girl.

Letting out a voice in surprise, the girl’s eyes glistened from her drops of tears. Then, the lights surrounding her were affected by the disturbance.

“Oh… they’re panicking, they’re panicking.”

A great number of lights were alarmed as they moved erratically to escape in puzzlement, melting into the atmosphere quickly as they disperse.

“—Ah.”

The two were open-mouthed as they searched for the lesser spirits that have disappeared. But when the panicking girl went through the same procedure as before, there was no response to her calling.

“Ah—! They’re all gone now! What do we do!?”

“Uwah, sorry! You see, this was my first time seeing a spirit, so I got a bit over excited. I felt like it didn’t seem dangerous.”

“They were under my control, so it was fine. It would have been terrible if you had done that to an inexperienced spirit user. Worst case scenario, the rampant spirits would go… boom.”

“Boom?”

The girl reprimanded Subaru for his careless actions, but the only words he heard from her was “boom.”

“You must be exaggerating. Those sparkling things are dangerous? Is that even possible?”

“It is so. For example, even as cute as I am…two seconds is all I need to turn you into dust.”

“Spirits are scary—!!”

The girl’s idyllic extermination statement caused Subaru to shudder as he looked at her.

“Don’t tell me when you’re really angry, you’ll make the cat…”

“I won’t use Puck for such things. I will do it myself if I have to resort to violence… It’s no good. As I thought, they aren’t answering me anymore.”

Failing to re-contact the lesser spirits, the girl shook her head dejectedly.

“I meant to ask after those spirits disappeared, what were you doing?”

“I wanted to ask for clues on the item I was looking for, but they disappeared before I could ask.”

“Ueh!?”

Subaru suddenly became speechless as he learned he was at fault more so than expected, and seeing this, the girl let out an “ah” sound.

“B-but you see, some time has already passed, and lesser spirits are not as keen in awareness compared to normal spirits, so I wasn’t expecting much……saying that would be a lie.”

The girl’s honest personality obstructed her intentions, causing her to hesitate on following through. Her distress made Subaru conscious, once again, of his stupidity. At this rate, he’ll just be a burden for the girl from start to finish.

“Being indebted to the girl, and given the precious chance to a parallel world, my situation should not be this bad. This relationship, I need to somehow cling onto it so it does not escape…!”

“Though your face tells me you thought of something wicked, what did you come up with? Um…”

In front of Subaru, who steeled his selfish resolve, the girl was hesitating. Her slight frown in her brows confused Subaru, but the grey cat understood its meaning.

“Ah, speaking of which, we haven’t heard your name yet. Let’s introduce ourselves, shall we?”

“Oh, yeah, you’re right. Then let me start by giving you my name!”

Subaru put on a false bravado to cover up his blunders, and decided on posing with his finger pointed towards the sky.

“My name is Natsuki Subaru! I am clueless and broke beyond compare! Pleased to meet you!”

“Hearing that is enough to tell you are in a desperate situation. Yep, as for me, I’m Puck. Nice to meet you~”

Subaru extended his hand out in a friendly gesture, which Puck proceeded to fly his body into to give a dynamic handshake. Such that from an outsider’s point of view, it looked like Subaru was crushing Puck. His bold behavior caused the girl to stare at them while blinking repeatedly.

“It’s unusual to see a person interact with a spirit so casually…… Your name is also unusual, as well as your black hair and eyes. Where did you come from?”

“Fuu, I thought you were about to ask that. Well, following the pattern, I come from a small country in the east!”

This is a trope that has been used to death for parallel world stories: to the east of this world, there is a hidden Japanese island.

(TL Note: ジパング or Zipangu, was actually used instead of ‘Japanese island’. It’s a term Marco Polo used which people believed was describing Japan)

Because communications between countries are rare, saying you wandered from there would make them accept it. And the conversation would conveniently end there, just like magic. But…

“Lugunica is the easternmost country on the continental map…There’s no nation east of here.”

“No way, seriously!? This is the east end!? Then this is the admired hidden land!?”

“You don’t know where you are, you have no money, you can’t read, and you have no one to rely on. This person might be in a more precarious position than I am…”

The unexpected development stunned Subaru, causing the girl to become restless with unease.

Her actions exuded her busybody nature. Subaru’s laid-back…no, defenseless nature caused her to worry incessantly.

She stared at Subaru again, studying his figure from top to bottom carefully.

“Looking at you now, your body seems pretty well-built. Um…Subaru, was it?”

“Oh? O-oh yes, that’s my name.”

(TL Note: YES here was spoken in English)

Hearing his named called hesitantly, Subaru had an unusual feeling which caused his response to quaver. He coughed to hide his nervousness before lightly flexing his biceps.

“I work out my muscles every day. After all, I’m a half shut-in, so I have to at least do this much.”

“Um, I don’t really understand what you mean by ‘shut-in’, but you must come from a pretty respectable family, right? Didn’t you learn martial arts before?”

“No, I’m seriously born from an ordinary middle-class family…Where did you get information that said I was from a noble family? Did I give off a noble family’s aura of elegance?”

“You do give off a slight curious feeling.”

Something nice was said! Joked Subaru, as he threw his hands in the air.

The girl then quickly grasped both of Subaru’s raised hands.

Not expecting his fingers to be touched by a girl, Subaru froze while he let out “Au.”

“Your fingers were also the case, but the main reason was because of how your skin and hair looked. Compared to commoners who labor every day, your hands are not the same. Your muscles also don’t seem to have developed from working either.”

Squeeze, squish. His hand was being played with, which Subaru accepted while blushing.

She pointed out he was not an ordinary foreigner based on his sorry appearance, and Subaru admired her for her perceptiveness.

Meanwhile, the girl continued “Black hair and black eyes. Those features are common among Southern refugees, but in Lugunica it would be proof that you could live in luxury. These clothes which I’ve never seen before are also well made… How was it, was I right?”

Seeing Subaru’s silence, the girl smiled triumphantly.

Intrigued by her beautiful appearance which was comparable to a bewitching aura, Subaru examined her theory and frowned.

“Between right or wrong, you’re completely wrong, but how should I say this without hurting you?”

“If it’s wrong then say I was wrong clearly, I won’t feel ashamed!”

The girl who was filled with confidence until a little while ago now had her face dyed red with embarrassment. Looking at her depressed state, Subaru troubled over how to explain where he came from.

He could be honest and say “I am a good-for-nothing who was summoned to another world,” but making this kind of remark would only create a gateway to being acknowledged as “a person with a screw loose.”

Looking at his past comments, Subaru troubled over the risk of telling the truth.

“You don’t have to think so much about it, I won’t pry if you can’t say it.”

For the hesitant Subaru, she took the initiative and convinced herself to loosen the investigation. Once again, Subaru reacted to his shameful display with a frown.

The girl said a “but” before murmuring, “as expected, it must be something quite serious.”

She had an unprecedented feeble voice and clouded eyes.

“————”

Seeing her unable to hide her complaint, Subaru had an unreliable fire lit in his heart.

“Am I an idiot? No, I am an idiot. Seriously, what am I doing…”

In front of his eyes was a girl who he was indebted to for saving his life. Didn’t he offer help to return the favor? Then what is with this situation up until this point.

“Subaru?”

Spotting Subaru’s change in expression as he became quiet, the girl tilted her head questioningly. Noticing her silver hair brushing down her shoulders from the movement in the corner of his eyes, Subaru brainstormed in a hurry till his head was spinning.

He recalled when he was in the back alley getting kicked, he had looked up and saw the thief’s figure. Capturing that moment, any reliable clue in the scene at least…

“There are some things I want to confirm with you, is that okay?”

“Eh, sure, um… go ahead.”

“Thanks. I heard it several times before, but this is the imperial capital…called something right? It’s a super huge place where the King’s castle resides inside the town.” Subaru asked disjointedly using what he remembered the girl said.

(TL Note: Thanks here was spoken in English as “Thank you”)

Though the content of the question was strange, the girl did not inquire and responded “yes” with a nod.

“In such a big city, there’s a girl that pickpockets for a living. Judging by her clothes she isn’t well off… naturally, there should be a place where such people live in.”

“………”

“Is there a place with poor public security, something like the slums…? Exchanging stolen goods for money without an intermediary is difficult, therefore this is a likely possibility.”

Analyzing the girl thief, whose figure was imprinted in his memory, from head to toe, Subaru used all his fantasy knowledge to come up with a theory.

“That’s why, I think there’s a better chance there than searching randomly… How about it?”

“I’m a bit surprised. Subaru, your mind thinks pretty quickly.”

“Nah, you could say it’s a logical conclusion, or a trope of medieval fantasies. Though, looking back, it is far from rectifying my blunders…”

Despite that, Subaru accepted the words of the admiring girl, and thought it was not altogether bad.

Putting aside Subaru’s attempt at hiding his embarrassment by scratching his head, the girl nodded multiple times.

“Let’s think along those lines then. We should go ask people who are familiar with this.”

“It’s only a slight detour. Let’s make haste.”

They looked at each other as they came to an agreement. First, they would leave the alley to go to the main street, then head towards places that are crowded. But before that, Subaru realized.

“Come to think of it, I heard your pet cat’s name, but I haven’t gotten to know yours, I think.” Remarked Subaru in a dispirited tone.

The girl was slightly surprised as her eyes widened. She then closed her eyes, and after a few seconds of silence…

“… Satella”

“Oh?”

Silently cursing himself for his careless remark, Subaru was delayed in his reaction to the quiet murmur.

“I have no family name. It’s fine to call me Satella.”

In an emotionless voice, she gave her name with an attitude of rejecting being called it.

Satella — as the girl called herself, made him feel distant. It was unlike anything before.

If possible, Subaru wanted her to tell him an easy to call family name, but he kept silent as he could not say her name clearly. For the time being, he made a weak-willed decision to call her in second person.

While watching the two interact, Puck, concealed under the silver hair, incidentally said “… you have bad taste.”

The mutter did not even reach the foolish girl, much less Subaru.


1-7

Relying on the bustle, the two left the unpopular alley and arrived at the main street after ten minutes or so.

Subaru’s gaze wandered restlessly as he hesitated at first on who to call out to.  Suddenly, his sleeve was pulled by Satella, who stood beside him.

“Hey, Subaru”, called Satella, who sent her gaze across the street.

Following her line of sight, Subaru also noticed what she was looking at.

… I have a bad feeling about this.

As if to support his premonition, Satella asked with a serious look.

“—that kid, doesn’t she look lost?”

There were some problems, but the last one appeared unexpectedly.

“…Ah”

He already knew before it came to this point.  This pretty girl with silver hair standing next to Subaru was already a hopelessly good-natured person.  But it was a curse she stubbornly refused to admit.  Subaru spilled a large sigh.  

“Calm down.”

“While we’re having this conversation, what should we do if that girl goes off somewhere?  I have to hurry and call out to her…”

“Your gentleness is a serious virtue, and I don’t want to say too much because you saved me, but do you understand our current situation?”

Ahead of them, beside the building across the street, stood a girl.  She was around ten years old, with lovely brown hair cut to her shoulders.  Her looks were enough to spread joy to those around her should she laugh, but it was spoiled by her uneasy look that seemed like she would burst into tears at any moment.  In all likelihood, Satella’s judgement was correct.  Its right, but…

“My blunders included, the gap between you and the thief that stole your belonging has only gotten wider.  If you spend more time here, it will get sold off and you might not be able to recover it.”

“That may be so… but—”

“Then…”

That child is certainly pitiful, but with so many people here it is likely one will lend a helping hand.  On the other hand, they had an urgent circumstance that required them to search for something.

No matter how one looked at it, this issue took precedence over the little girl.  Nevertheless,

“But that girl is crying right now.  Right, Subaru?”

“………”

“It’s fine if you cannot go along with me.  Thank you for everything up until now, Subaru.  I’ll figure something out later…I have to do something to help that kid after all.”

Seeing Subaru keep his mouth shut, Satella seemed to have solidified her intention to part ways from here.  Rather than being dissatisfied with Subaru’s obstinacy, she didn’t want to drag him along with her selfishness, was the impression Subaru got from how she spoke.

With her silver hair flowing, Satella hurried across the street to the girl’s location.  The little girl, who seemed like she was about to cry with a downturned face, raised her head as she suddenly noticed someone standing in front of her.  Her eyes were filled with hope, as she thought the person she was searching for had found her.

“Sorry I’m not the person you were looking for,”  Satella said as she kneeled down.  

The little girl opened her eyes wide in shock.  Rather than showing relief, her eyes indicated fear.  From an outsider’s perspective, one could tell her heart shriveled because she was called out by a stranger.

“I might be meddlesome, but where are your father and mother?  Are they not with you?”

Noticing the little girl was frightened, Satella used a gentler voice than before.  However, her concern went unnoticed as the girl trembled in fear after having lost sight of her guardian.

“Uhm, er…Please don’t cry?  Big sister won’t do anything to you.”

She tried to understand the little girl who closed her heart off, but the results were not enough as the girl shook her head.  Gradually, tears began to accumulate in the girl’s eyes, and they were about to overflow any moment—

“What I have taken out here is a 10 Giza.”

“Heh?”

This sudden interruption left Satella dumbfounded as she was unable to speak.  Raising her line of sight, there stood a boy wearing a grey jersey.

Subaru responded to Satella’s reaction with a wry smile, and then directed a smile, not to her, but the little girl.  Like Satella, the girl was surprised by the sudden intruder.

Unexpectedly extending his right hand towards the child, Subaru said.

“Now then, can you see that there is a coin in my right hand?  You can see it, right.  Alright, I will then squeeze this tightly with my hand.  Squeeeeeeeze.”

“Wai-, Subaru…what are you doing?”

“And…presto!”

Disregarding Satella’s call, Subaru opened his fist that held the 10 Giza for the two to see.  Then, the coin that should have held there disappeared.

“Somehow, the coin I held has vanished.  Where could it have gone?”

The little girl blinked and carefully examined Subaru’s right hand, but it did not appear whether she looked at his palm or the back of his hand.  Nodding at the girl’s happy reaction, Subaru stretched out his left hand this time and gently patted her brown hair.

“Look, the coin was hiding here all this time.”

Seeing the coin appear in his left hand fingers after brushing her hair, the little girl was awestruck.  Satella, it seems, also did not understand the trick as she stared in bewilderment.

Elegantly bowing in front of the two, Subaru dropped the 10 Giza into the little girl’s hands.

“I’ll give this to you as a present.  It’s valuable, so take good care of it.”

The little girl nodding earnestly while protectively holding the coin created a heartwarming scene for Subaru to see.

Suddenly, Subaru’s ribs were poked from the side.

“Hold on, Subaru…”

“Wait, wait.  Don’t look at me with such stern eyes.  Although, I do admit my words from before were my bad…”

“Just now, how did you do that?”

“Ah, that?  You weren’t asking about the intentions behind my action, but rather the magic trick itself?”

After promising to explain the trick later to the interested Satella, Subaru once again turned towards the little girl.  She was looking at the 10-yen coin curiously.  It seems that her uneasy feeling was calmed down by the super magic trick as she answered the kneeling Subaru clearly.

“I see, so you really did get separated from your mother.  Well, don’t worry.  Leave it to big brother and big sister here.  We will find her in a flash.”

Once again, he patted the little girl’s head and held his hand out, which she grasped onto timidly.

Upon seeing this sight, Satella’s eyes opened wide.

“You seem very accustomed to that performance.  Do you happen to work with appeasing children, Subaru?”

“Saying that out of context really hurts my reputation!  Plus, I’m jobless.”

To be honest, his occupation as a student is only out of convenience.  Especially when considering his suspicious lack of attendance recently.  Thus, it is best to think of that status as annulled after being summoned to this other world.

Well, that aside…

“Why don’t you take the lonely little girl’s hand, big sister?”

Subaru said in an unnatural tone while winking.

The little girl held out her opposite hand that was not connected with Subaru towards Satella.  For an instant, Satella had a surprised expression that caused her to stop breathing, but she soon let out a small sigh and grasped the small palm.

“Yep, leave it to big sister.  We will definitely find your mother.”

The little girl smiled, silently nodded, and began walking to lead the two people.  The three were walking with the child in the middle.  They advanced through the crowded main street.

“Something like this, from an outsider’s perspective, wouldn’t we look like a young couple with a child?  How embarrassing!”

“…?  No matter how I look at it, I cannot imagine you (Subaru) and this child as anything other than siblings.”

“I can’t tell if that was a dry opinion or an honest one!”

Caught in the middle of this exchange, the little girl of whom both hands were held let out a laugh.


1-8

Fortunately, due to the two’s conspicuous appearances, the lost girl’s guardian was found quickly.  In this case, Subaru was not the only one who stood out, it was the same for Satella who had extraordinarily beautiful silver hair.

“I am really thankful to you.”

[Illustration]

After the mother rejoiced at reuniting with her child safely, she thanked them multiple times.  Subaru, while laughing, responded with ‘it’s not a big deal.’

On parting, Subaru reciprocated the little girl’s waving until they were no longer visible.  He then turned to Satella, who had a bright expression as she saw the parent and child off.

“Well?  I think we took a considerably big detour, may I ask this big sister what kind of merit we gained?!”

Snapping his finger, Subaru teased her extremely good-natured personality.  Rather than being a sarcastic remark, it was more of a joking tone.  After all, Satella made such a roundabout excuse when she helped Subaru, so he was certain that her response would meet his expectations.

“…Simple.”

To Subaru, whose ulterior motive was to tease her, Satella put on a soft expression and replied,

“This way we can continue searching with a pleasant feeling, right?”

“……”

“If I abandoned that child to retrieve my insignia, I will surely regret it.  Helping that child, and then regaining my insignia, isn’t that the best way?”

Without putting on a front, Satella asserted with a refreshing look.

That being said, Subaru was already in a deadlock.  He had to change his way of thinking.

This girl is not only a good-natured person who always puts herself at a disadvantage, but also a ridiculously greedy person.

“Yes, you’re right.  Thanks to this fine play it won’t end with us saying ‘although we abandoned the little girl who was lost and crying out of uneasiness and loneliness, we safely recovered the insignia so all is well.’  Right?”

“That was somehow a terribly unpleasant way of saying it.”

Subaru’s extremity caused Satella to twist her lips.  Then, as if she remembered something, she turned to stare at him.

“That aside…why did you help?  You were opposed to it.”

“It’s because I wanted to show off my magic trick…just kidding.  I told you didn’t I?  I’m helping you search for your insignia because I want to go to heaven by doing a good deed a day.”

“But you already helped that girl, so wouldn’t that be your good deed?”

“Let me counter that overly logical argument!  Well, you see, isn’t it fine to do several good things a day?  It’ll take care of tomorrow’s portion!  I intend to finish this week’s quota earlier!”

Though he felt like it deviated from the original meaning of ‘one good deed a day’, Subaru forcefully tried to make it coherent.  In response, Satella looked dumbfounded.

“Subaru…your personality is reeeeally self-harming.”

“Anyone else is fine, but I don’t want to hear those words from you!”

He intended to return those words in its entirety by raising his voice, but Satella simply tilted her head with a blank look.  It seems like she seriously has no self-awareness.

“You’re not a bad child…”

“What’s with how you’re treating me like a younger person?  Though there have been many instances where easterners get treated as such because of their baby face, I don’t think my age is that far off from yours?”

At a glance, Subaru estimated Satella’s age to be around 17 or 18.  For the 17 year old Subaru, who was born in the first quarter of the year, there was the possibility that he was younger.

But in response to Subaru’s words, Satella narrowed her bluish-purple eyes slightly.

“I don’t think that kind of thinking is reliable…because I’m a half-elf.”

“————”

Unexpectedly, Subaru was at a loss for words and fell silent.  Seeing that, Satella had complicated feelings.  In her eyes, a mysterious mix of resignation and disappointment surfaced.

“I see, no wonder I thought you were cute.  After all, elves are beauties according to the promise.”

(TL Note: The promise Subaru is referring to is the setting or norm of all fantasy stories)

“……What?”

Subaru immediately nodded as if he understood, which caused Satella to have a ‘that’s not what I mean’ face while blinking.

“Hm?  What’s wrong?”

“’What’s wrong’ you ask…… um, you know, I’m a half-elf……”

“I heard you?”

Satella was unable to convey the issue clearly, so Subaru could only answer as such.  However, hearing Subaru’s answer, Satella reacted dramatically.

“————Ah”

While Subaru wondered if Satella had something stuck in her throat, she turned her face away from him.  Crouching besides the wall, Satella stuck her hand through her silver hair and held her head.

Watching her strange actions, Subaru was at a loss for words.

“Tei!”

“Ow!  Hey, what was that suddenly for!?”

Out of nowhere, the cat struck Subaru on the cheek fancily with his paw.

With the paw it used to hit Subaru, Puck stroked its whisker and began with “Mm—”

“I just had to express this unbearable feeling somehow.”

“I can’t accept this kind of reason for getting hit, but it was soft, so I’ll forgive you.”

“I didn’t hit you in particular because I was angry.  If I were to choose, it would be the opposite.”

“Opposite?” Subaru asked while raising his eyebrows.

“Yes, opposite”, confirmed Puck.

Before he was able to ask the meaning behind those words, Satella returned and interrupted their conversation.

Twirling the tip of her long silver hair around her finger, Satella glared at Subaru.

“……Really, Subaru you dummy.”

“You don’t really hear ‘dummy’ that often.  Also why am I getting yelled at?”

“Hmph, who knows?  That aside, we need to resume our search for the insignia.”

Subaru was dissatisfied after having been dismissed for his unreasonable treatment, but it immediately evaporated before Satella’s more intimate attitude.  Though he couldn’t pinpoint the reason why her attitude changed.

“Still…I was aware of it during the lost child incident a while ago, but isn’t this town too big to be searching for something?”

“It’s Lugunica’s imperial capital after all.  Not only is it the biggest place, it also has the largest population.  Erm, if I recall correctly, the population size is……around three hundred thousand.  The human traffic entering and leaving is also very intense.”

Satella answered Subaru’s question smoothly with a boastful look.

“I see, three hundred thousand.  It’s pretty large huh……and thanks for presenting the information like you took it from a book.”

“Muu …”

Putting aside the girl that was seen through, Subaru used the information he was told to envision Lugunica’s city.  Three hundred thousand people.  It is a considerably large scale for a city’s population in a medieval fantasy world.  Naturally, this number only accounts for people living in the city.  If you include adventurers and merchants going in and out, the number will swell up.

Standing on the road watching people come and go, Subaru felt suffocated from being so close to such diversity.  Beastmen, demi-humans, and humans mingling made this place unquestionably a melting pot.

(TL Note: ‘salad of different human races’ was used, but I thought melting pot was more fitting)

Getting lost in the back alleys for an hour should not be dismissed as a simple, funny story either.  It was too big and too complicated, causing them to lose sight of the road to the main street.

“In other words, we cannot afford to fail anymore.  We have already been given a considerable advantage.  The next time we get lost, I think we are out.  Need to choose carefully.”

“Choose carefully……you say?”

“Good results will not come about by moving without a plan.  For example, would there be more detailed information available if we return to the place where the insignia was stolen?  Were there people there watching?”

“Ah… there were people there, maybe.”

As if something came to mind, Satella spoke her mind with a hand over her mouth.

According to Satella, she seemed to have met the pickpocketer in broad daylight, right in the middle of the main street.  It’s a bold crime, but looking at the traffic congestion on the street now, it wasn’t the wrong decision.

If there are a lot of people, that alone will allow for many places to disappear in.

“Can you remember where it was stolen?”

“Nn, hm… Probably this way… I think.”

Guided through the streets according to Satella, Subaru felt his sense of direction and distance as a human taken away because the many different races crowding the streets were no less confusing than the maze-like back alleys.

He fell into this feeling of not knowing where he was heading.

Even though he should not know this location, he had this inexplicable, clinging feeling of having walked here and leaving before…

“No, this is a place I’ve seen before.”

Looking at the place Satella was guiding him to, Subaru gave a half-laugh while scratching his cheeks.

The place Satella’s insignia was stolen Subaru was informed of — It was no other than the corner of the street where Subaru was summoned to.

“I was at a loss here, so I entered this unpopular place to cool my head.  But I ended up encountering your fight with thugs A, B, and C.”

Recalling the event approximately two hours ago, Subaru was deeply impressed by the sheer coincidence.

Anyways, it’ll be quick to take care of if the incident occurred here.  As luck would have it, there was someone here they could call out to that would have an idea.

“That’s why I can boldly declare ‘leave this to me.’  The fruit shop.”

Turning his body around in a storefront, Subaru used his hand to point towards a fruit store set up in the main street.  Colorful fruits were displayed on its shelves, looking at its freshness would make one salivate.  And speaking of the shopkeeper handling them…

“…What, and here I thought it was a customer.  It’s you again, Penniless.”

(TL Note: The shopkeeper gave Subaru the nickname ‘Penniless’)

With a cold gaze that made it hard to believe he was in the entertainment business, the shopkeeper spoke harshly towards Subaru.

The owner was a muscular man who wore a bandana.  He had a stern look and deep voice.  The left side of his face was marked by a white, knife scar that ran vertically.  No matter how you look at it, he could not be an honest human being.

Rather than acting as if something was wrong, Subaru stood at the fruit shop counter as if he belonged there.

“Don’t be so cold mister.  Weren’t you kind to me in various ways before?”

“That was when I thought you were a customer.  If I knew you were broke from the start, I obviously would’ve chased you off.  Like now.”

Towards the overly friendly Subaru, the shopkeeper remained cold.

In response to the shopkeeper’s action that was as if he was keeping an insect away with his hand, Subaru shrugged his shoulder and said “Oi oi, are you sure this attitude is fine?  I’m different from before, haven’t you notice?”

“What?”

Subaru triumphantly flared his nostrils, which perplexed the shopkeeper.

Taking a step to the side for the shopkeeper to see, Subaru presented Satella with both hands.

“How’s that?  I brought a companion, a companion!  Though your attitude flipped around after discovering I was penniless, now that I brought a potential regular customer, how about it?”

“Um, Subaru… You seem to have some strange expectation of me, but I also didn’t bring any money?”

“Eh, what, seriously!?  Then what, a pauper and a penniless person have been walking together in a big city!?”

Looking at the two broke fellows, the shopkeeper sighed.

“Well?  Now there are two penniless people.  What do you have to say, bro?”

“Actually we were looking for something.  I wanted you to hear us out a bit, could you?”

“I was being ironic when I was going along with you, Penniless!  Don’t you understand?!”

Bombarded by the angry yelling, Subaru’s eardrums suffered severe damage.

“A-as expected, it was no good huh.”

Shrinking behind Subaru, Satella tugged on his sleeve while pulling back.

It’s true, asking questions without buying goods is quite a selfish action.  Speaking of which, the reality of having no money does not change.  So, they should give up on collecting information.

“Ara?  You two are……from before?”

Suddenly called out from the side, Subaru and Satella looked back.

In front of their eyes stood a woman with long, brown hair, whom they recognized.  After all, her hand held a small palm which belonged to a little girl happily looking at the two.

“I was wondering why Miss was here as well.  There’s only a narrow-minded and tough looking person here?”

“Hehe, I decided to drop by because this is my husband’s shop.”

“Husband?”

Subaru and Satella looked at each other due to the unexpected answer.  The two slowly looked back towards the shop to confirm with the scar-faced man leaning back with his arms crossed.

“Pops……don’t tell me you killed this Miss’ husband and took this store as your own.”

“What are you saying with that serious face of yours.  I am genuine, this is my store and my wife!”

Turning around, Subaru was astonished to find the lady smiling with a troubled look on her face.

This tough-looking man is the husband of such a delicate and gentle beauty?  Isn’t there some kind of mistake?

Don’t tell me they’re being threatened, thought Subaru worriedly.

Letting go of her mother’s hand, the little girl rushed to the side of Subaru, who was being rude, towards the scarred-face man —— her father then lifted her.

“Oh, there, there.  You sure are energetic…… Well, that aside, do you know these two penniless fellas?”

“Dear, please don’t use such a disrespectful term as ‘penniless’ to call them.”

In response to the shopkeeper’s thorny words, his wife raised her eyebrows and stated her frank advice.

After that, she explained Subaru and co.’s relationship with her daughter.

Once the shopkeeper heard the story up to now, he placed her daughter down and spoke.

“I’m terribly sorry.  For me to have said such harsh words to my benefactor, please forgive me.”

“Nah, it’s fine.  After all, it’s true that we don’t have any money with us……”

“That’s right, oi!  If you don’t reflect on yourself even for a bit, I’ll be troubled……Eh, wait, your cute face suddenly became scary.”

Satella silenced Subaru, who was about to get ahead of himself.

Afterwards, the little girl who was let down by her father stretched her hand out towards Satella.  In that small hand was a red, flower shaped ornament.

Satella held her breath as she looked between the little girl and the floral ornament, seemingly confused.

“Please accept it.  It seems my daughter wants to show her thanks.”  The lady said to give the puzzled Satella a push from the back.

Hearing that, Satella pulled her small chin back, and received the floral ornament from the little girl’s fingers.  Satella then fastened it to her left chest, on top of her white coat, and kneeled down for the little girl to see it easier while looking at each other.

“Thank you.  I’m extreeeemely happy.”

Satella’s brightest smile left Subaru, who unintentionally caught a glimpse of it, entranced.  In front of that smile, the little girl also looked away embarrassingly.

The shopkeeper then coughed once towards Satella.

“You’re my daughter’s savior.  As thanks, I’ll listen to anything.”

Nodding strongly, the tough-looking shopkeeper said so while giving his friendliest smile.

After having been surprised by those words, Satella then looked at Subaru with a smile that was different from before, it was as if she was smiling in triumph.

“See, our detours have resulted in our favor.”

Indeed, as she boasted about the strange coincidence as if it was her doing.


1-9

Despite being only one street away, the place had an awfully gloomy air about it.

The alleyway was quiet, and the presence of humans, or any signs of life were far away.

Though there wasn’t much distance from the main street, which was crowded with many people, the bustle felt like a faraway dream.

“If you were to handle stolen goods, it would be in the slums.  But…”

Muttered Subaru as he poked his head through the alleyway connected to the main street which was rumored to lead to the slums.

“The air, atmosphere, and probably the people’s personality living here are terrible.  Are you sure you want to go?”

“Were you not the one who said it would be here, Subaru?  Besides, the owner of the shop from before said that it would be here as well…”

“Afterwards, he also suggested to give up if possible.  Don’t forget.”

Recalling the conversation at the fruit shop, Subaru frowned.

It’s been roughly 30 minutes since the coincidental reunion and turn of luck from their predicament — the two have now arrived at the entrance of the rumored slums that most of the imperial capital’s stolen goods are brought to.

Meeting his beloved daughter’s savior, the tough-looking shopkeeper kindly listened to two’s story.  Although they were able to obtain information on the slums as a result, the two were hesitant.

“It’s a bit late, but isn’t it better to have called someone over?  Police…they should be called guards here?  If you request them to search for it, using human wave attack should take care of it in one go.”

(TL Note: human wave attack)

“You can’t.”

However, Subaru’s suggestion was immediately discarded.  Her assertion bewildered him.

“I’m really sorry, but you can’t.  I don’t think the guards would act for such a small robbery… In the first place, I can’t rely on the guards because of some circumstances.”

With her lips closed tightly, Satella looked at Subaru expectantly with a face that said ‘I cannot say the reason’.

She doesn’t wish to be questioned.  Under that gaze, Subaru raised his hand in compliance.

“Well then, what should we do now?  Perform the human wave attack with the two of us?”

“Make it two people and an animal.”

The cat followed up with Subaru in a light-hearted tone as to prevent discouragement.

Puck, who appeared on Satella’s shoulder, looked at the two while rubbing his face.

“That being said, there isn’t much time for idle talking.  If we are to use the human wave attack with two people and an animal, then I’ll only have around one hour left.”

Looking up where Puck was looking towards, one would notice the space in-between the buildings was mostly dyed orange.  It was not due to the dim environment, or the damp smell, but rather the sun was about to set, indicating Puck’s time limit.

“Advance forward or return, hurry up with a decision okay?”

“I do not know what ‘human wave attack’ is, but we will obviously advance forward.  Regardless, if we miss this, it might be taken somewhere we cannot retrieve it from.”

Answering Puck’s request, the girl then turned towards Subaru.

“Then, let’s go…but you need to be more cautious than before about the alley ahead.  After all, people who are used to fighting live there.  If you’re scared, it’s fine to stay and wait for me here.”

“How much of a chicken do I have to be to wait here?!  Let’s go!  I’ll stick close to your back like a haunting spirit.”

“There’s no option for you to step forward huh, even though it would help a lot.”

Hearing those forced, cold feet words, Satella had already lost count of how many times she sighed.

Ever since we met, Satella has had a gloomy expression most of the time, thought Subaru.  Even her occasional smile was caused by something other than me.  She’s already this cute with her negative expressions, if she would smile towards me, then that would be the best.

“Alright, let’s show off one of my good points then.”

“What wrong?  You suddenly exhaled roughly from your noise.”

(TL Note: No idea how to phrase this, it’s the action one would take when bragging and such)

“Thanks for ruining my scene of determination!”

Though his spirit was dashed, Subaru quickened his pace to keep up.

He kept waving his hand after the girl who was moving towards her target so that he would not be left behind.


1-10

Now that the search has continued onto the next stage, in the slums, there would be difficulties ahead — or so they thought, as there were unexpected people to help.

“Who were they helping?  That’s right, me!  For some odd reason, the slum residents were friendly… don’t tell me, based on the timing, my charm level was readjusted?!  Last it was during kindergarten!”

When Subaru was small, he had very cute features.  If he had long hair, he could have easily been mistaken as a girl.

… More than ten years had passed since, and it has been cruel.

“What changed since a moment ago?  Is something on my face?”

“A pair of terrible looking eyes, short ears, and a flat nose is there…”

“I didn’t need the comment about my eyes and nose!?”

While Subaru hung his head, Satella was troubled as she placed her finger over her lips and made the sound “Hmm.”

“It’s probably because of your appearance?  After all, you’re covered with dust.  There’s also some traces of blood.  The people here are all struggling, so they couldn’t overlook the pitiful Subaru…”

“Right now the most pitiful thing is my pierced heart!  But I understand, dammit!”

They’re people who can relate with others in the same circumstance.  For Subaru, he gained an unexpectedly high favorability in the slums; conversely, Satella’s favorability dropped unexpectedly low.  The reason for that is probably her appearance as well.

“Those hooligans are probably thinking that.  After all, you’re clothes are pretty, and you look beautiful.”

“You really think it stands out…?”

Pulling on her own white coat’s sleeves, Satella asked Subaru uneasily.

She seems to only think of it as a clothing issue, and is unaware of her perfect figure.

“Um, I have something I would like to ask…”

“Hah?! Don’t hang around here if you’re going to wear pretty clothes.”

Once again, Satella’s voice was cut off.  Her success rate was low because her appearance plus clothes reduced it by two times squared.  Still, he can’t suggest to wear slightly dirty clothes.

(TL Note: No idea how to phrase this, so… 2x2 where x is percent which reduces her success rate)

“At least take off that coat of yours and it might be different…”

“…Okay, I understand.”

Satella held her coat’s shoulder with her hands, but did not take it off.  While he could not understand her actions, Subaru didn’t dare ask why.

Under Satella’s fingers, pinned on her left chest, was the floral ornament which seemed to calm her down as she touched it.  At the heartwarming sight of her being relieved from touching the ornament, Subaru was filled with motivation.

For there to be a place where she could not take action, Subaru’s slight dirtiness being helpful was like a dream come true.  Getting ganged up in the back alley by thugs was worth it.

“Well then, why don’t you leave this to me?  It’s more important that, through my accomplishments, we find the culprit’s whereabouts and gradually corner him.  My accomplishments, corner the culprit, here I go!”

“I understand that, while you’re happy about being useful, emphasizing it as hard as possible is really awkward.”

Subaru, originally planning to pose for each word, became a showoff braggart.

Having been seen through, Subaru could only return a wry smile towards Satella.  It’s only been approximately two hours, and two’s exchanges have become really familiar; however, the end was different this time.

“Sorry, I’m at my limit” said Puck as it leaned against Satella’s neck feebly.  Its grey fur emitted dim lights, and its body dimmed as if it could disappear at any moment.

“The way you fade out looks like you’re dying.”

“It’s because I overworked myself in order to protect my only daughter from the eyes of bad men.  If I force myself to the limit, when I disappear I’ll disperse.”

“What the heck.  Alright, after you disappear just leave it to me.  I won’t let any dangerous men near.”

“Then, before I go could I make you disappear?”

“That’s not good!?”

“Just kidding,” Puck responded in a small voice towards Subaru, who hugged his own body.  Exchanging glances with Puck, Satella then took out a green, shining crystal from her chest.

“Sorry for making you overdo it, Puck.  I’ll do my best afterwards, so take your time to rest.”

The green crystal on Satella’s palm began to glow.

There are some nuances that make it different from a jewel.  Based on Subaru’s knowledge, it is best to call it a ‘crystal’.

(TL Note: Subaru was using ‘結晶’ which means crystal in Japanese, but from this line onwards he uses English)

Puck reached the crystal by going along Satella’s shoulder and arm, and stretched its body out to hug the crystal tightly.  It then gave Satella one last look back and said “I think you know already, but don’t act too rashly.  When the time comes, even if you have to use your Odo, summon me.”

“I understand.  I’m not a kid after all, I can at least properly take care of my own things.”

“I wonder about that.  My daughter is kind of strange there.  I’m trusting you, Subaru.”

Puck had a look of affection that was like parents watching their child.  Towards that look, Satella was embarrassed while being dissatisfied.

As the conversation directs towards himself, Subaru hit his chest powerfully.

“Leave it to me!  Look forward to my sixth sense.  If my judgement says ‘the danger level is critical, DANGER!’ then we will immediately back off.”

“I couldn’t understand half of what you were saying, but I’ll leave it in your care… Well then, good night.  Be careful.”

Giving Satella a final glance, Puck’s figure then disappeared from this world.

Puck’s small body became particles of light and vanished as if it melted into the world.  Aside from the talking cat part, having met a fantasy spirit-like thing, Subaru couldn’t help but feel his emotions well up.

While Subaru was secretly being impressed, Satella gently stroked the crystal as though she cherished it deeply, and put it away in her chest securely.

Judging by the flow of the story, something like Puck’s mind should be in there right now.

“We’re now down to two people, but… don’t think about something strange.  I can use magic after all.”

It seems that Satella took Puck’s previous remark seriously and was cautious of Subaru.

“Oi oi, I haven’t had a situation where I was alone with a girl since I was an elementary student.  It’s very unlikely, but I haven’t done anything.  Didn’t you see my actions up until now?”

“That sounded very meaningless and very unconvincing… Yeah, Okay.  Let’s proceed.  However, Puck is gone so we should be more careful.”

Was she shocked by the cowardly Subaru, who threw his chest out in pride?  Satella tightened her front robe and moved forward.

“I’ll take the forefront.  Subaru, you be vigilant of the back.  If anything happens, call me immediately.  Don’t try and take care of it on your own.  I don’t particularly want you getting hurt… Subaru is weak after all.”

“You prefaced it so I can’t hate you…”

If he was going to be ditched, she would not have said the part before ‘Subaru is weak after all.’

Unable to hide her true intentions, she really is sweet, enough to melt your heart.

Urged by Satella, who still seemed to have something to say, the two resumed their search.

That being said, what they had to do did not change.  It was to steadily find the slums’ residents and describe the characteristics of the thief to see if the residents had any clues.

Subaru, the asker, handled as many as he could and began having a good feel for the tempo.

“It might possibly be that person, Felt.  A quick, young girl with blond hair, right?”

The two finally came across some useable information after inquiring for an hour.

The person was an overly friendly man who said “Hey, bro.  How are you holding up?” towards Subaru.

“If it’s Felt, then the stolen stuff would be in the Stolen Goods Storehouse.  It’ll be tagged and left there for the old man, the warehouse owner, to gather up and sell to some other market.”

“That’s a strange system… Aren’t you worried that the warehouse owner would take it all and run away?”

“It’s because we trust he won’t do it that he became the warehouse owner.  Well, even if you say ‘yes, that item was stolen from me,’ he can’t return it to you.  You have to negotiate well to buy it back.”

The man laughed as if it was natural for the person whose stuff was stolen to be foolish.

Since they learned of the location of the warehouse, arriving there should be quick.

But, another problem arose instead.  That was, the reality that the two were penniless.

“He said we had to buy it.  What do we do?  It’s looking more like we will have to negotiate for it.”

“Even though a stolen item should be returned, why must I pay money for it…?”

When the problem leans towards financial issues, Satella suddenly let out a troubled expression.

What Satella muttered is nothing less than correct, but it is too self-indulgent to think they would understand.  To easily, and more importantly, surely solve the problem, it would be wise to heed the man’s advice.  That said,

“I have another question, but does the insignia look like it’ll fetch a high price?  Even if we are negotiating, it’ll be an issue if we don’t know the market price.”

“…Although small, inside the middle is a jewel.  I don’t know how much it is worth, but I think it isn’t something cheap.”

“Jewel huh… that’s difficult.”

Even without knowledge, one would know a jewel is a convenient item that can be sold for a large sum.  The techniques for making imitations shouldn’t exist in this world, therefore all objects that look like jewels must be jewels.  In other words, they naturally fetch a high price.

While there was nothing to be optimistic about, Subaru felt something odd about Satella’s remark.  She said she didn’t know the worth of her insignia.

It’s possible it was a gift, but to some extent, she would more or less learn of its cost.

“For now, let’s think about it after we go to the storehouse.  It might be possible for us to secure a decent price through negotiation……”

Worst case scenario, there was a means to do something about funds, but it was extremely damaging for Subaru.  Unless that became their last means, he didn’t want Satella to know.

While they discussed how to recover the insignia, the two walked nonstop for ten minutes.

… Having arrived in front of the building referred to as ‘the Stolen Goods Storehouse,’ the two looked at each other.

“It’s a lot bigger than I expected.  There are some quite bold thieves out there.”

“Now I know the reason why it wasn’t called a hut, but rather a storehouse.  If the inside is all filled with stolen goods, then… no matter what we do, it’s hopeless.”

Of course, it shouldn’t be crowded with stolen goods because they were regularly disposed of.

The Stolen Goods Storehouse’s vulgar name was fitting of its majestic and sturdy looks.  Though only one-story, the building’s floor space was comparable to that of an apartment complex.  A high wall at its back, it was set up in the deepest parts of the slums.

“That high wall I can see over there is…?”

“I think that is the imperial capital’s bulwark.  It seems we have unknowingly came from the center of the town to the corner.”

Having heard Satella’s words, Subaru hazily visualized a map of the town.

All four sides are most likely surrounded by this kind of bulwark, creating a square.  Inside, the castle is either in the center or the northernmost part of it, and the places far away would be where these slums are located.

Since three or four hours had passed since their search began, the imperial capital seemed a bit larger than what Subaru had assumed.

“Now then, according to the rumors I think the owner of the Stolen Goods Storehouse would be inside… What kind of attitude should we take when going in?”

“Go in honestly, because the stolen item is in there.  And if we find it, ask them to return it.”

Subaru insisted that kind of just argument would not work, but Satella refused to listen.

Fundamentally, her character was simply too upright, forbidding any crookedness.  Precisely because Satella was such, she saved Subaru in that situation.

“Ok, I got it.  Then leave this to me.”

The possibility of this becoming complicated was too high, therefore Subaru couldn’t help it and volunteered himself.

The last resort — use it too early and it won’t be like a trump card, but miss the timing and the situation becomes troublesome.  Subaru did not hesitate for this kind of situation.

(TL Note: This is talking about how Subaru didn’t hesitate to be in charge so he gets the timing right for when he uses his trump card)

Subaru’s proposal caused Satella to look at him in surprise.  While thinking her straightforward expression was cute, Subaru immediately prepared an excuse for when Satella would voice her concern—

“Okay.  I’ll try and leave it to you.”

“Naturally, I don’t expect you to agree easily.  After all, I’m not so stupid as to think that I’ve gained your trust after what has happened.  But I have a plan so trust me… EEEEHH!?”

“W-why are you so surprised?”

“I mean, isn’t this a completely different pattern from the usual?  ‘Entrust this useless carbon dioxide generator with this?  That’s so ridiculous, I’m laughing my head off.  A dog is much better than you,’ is the sort of remark I imagined you would say which would hurt me while renewing my determination though!?”

“I wouldn’t say such a horrible thing!”

Subaru’s exaggerated paranoia angered Satella; however, she cleared her throat and steadily stared at Subaru with her two amethyst eyes.

“It would certainly be a lie to say Subaru wasn’t holding me back.  Just when I thought you were serious, you immediately said something crestfallen.”

“You don’t really hear ‘crestfallen’ these days.”

Though he interrupted her, Subaru could not help but droop his shoulders as he could not argue with it.

“But, even though you’re mischievous, it was thanks to Subaru that the little girl was prevented from crying.  That’s why I can’t think of you as a person who would tell a lie without giving it any thought.”

In retrospect, she was speaking in a roundabout way.  “Therefore,” she continued, “I will try and believe in Subaru…If all goes well, then you have earned this feeling.”

“If you change the latter half to something like ‘please do your best for me,’ then I would work harder though?”

“I can’t force myself to say something like that.  But, do your best.”

In every meaning possible, she was a girl who cannot tell a lie.

“… Nn, I’ll do my best.”

Subaru replied to Satella with a grin and walked towards the storehouse.

His trump card which he could not talk to Satella about was an item Subaru brought from the modern world.  It was the only thing he could call his property.  If it does not exist in this world, then it is possible to establish a barter for it.

It would be damaging for Subaru because it is hard to imagine Satella’s stolen insignia being worth more than a cellphone in this world.  This kind of amazing opportunity was one that only existed in this world.

“Um, is anyone home?… Wait, the door’s open.”

The entrance of the storehouse had a rotten smell drifting about.  When he attempted to knock on the wooden door, Subaru noticed the fact that it was slightly open.  He peered inside and noted it was extremely dark.

“Not having streetlamps is quite inconvenient… Though it is natural considering the reason this building was built, why is the inside of the storehouse darker than outside?”

Even though he stuck his head inside, this place was the innermost area of the slums where the moonlight doesn’t even reach, so he couldn’t see anything beyond an inch of him.

Subaru strengthened his resolve to enter.  But before that, he looked back at Satella.

“There’s no answer, but I’ll go ahead and enter.  So could you act as the lookout?”

“Are you sure?  Wouldn’t it be better if I entered…?”

“If, by any chance, a surprise attack occurs and you get taken out from the start, then we’ll be annihilated.  If I get jumped, then you are free to decide whether to heal or counterattack.  This should be the proper role assignment.  I ask that you hear my request, please!”

(TL Note: Subaru uses ‘please’ in English here)

Satella was deep in thought from Subaru’s words.  After contemplating briefly, she stuck her hand in a pocket, took out a white crystal, and hit it against a wall.  Suddenly, it began overflowing with white light.

“At least take this light.  Regardless whether or not someone is there, make sure to call me.”

“I know.  Puck said to be careful as well.  This is quite a convenient stone, huh.”

“Even though something like Ragmite ore is available everywhere.  Subaru, you’re reeeeally not knowledgeable are you.”

Satella said in a stunned voice, before handing the Ragmite ore over to Subaru.  The dimly glowing crystal released some faint heat, and was about as bright as a candle’s light.

“Okay.  Then I’m gonna go take a look.  Though I won’t return late, it’s fine for you to eat first.”

(TL Note: Subaru is joking about how this is a normal conversation between a couple)

“Don’t say such stupid things.  Be careful alright?”

“Kay, ‘kay.  Satella as well, until you hear my voice you must not enter, ok?”

With the courage mustered for entering, Subaru used some to call out her name.  Up until this point, he was unable to say it because he would become too embarrassed that he would walk in circles.  Having been able to do it smoothly, Subaru clenched his fist and glanced at Satella’s face.

“…What’s wrong?”

Contrary to his imagination, Subaru’s calling caused Satella to stiffen with wide eyes.  This unexpected reaction puzzled Subaru, while Satella shook her head after a moment.

“No… it’s nothing.  If we recover the insignia, I’ll properly apologize.”

“I don’t know what you are apologizing for, but rather than ‘sorry,’ wouldn’t ‘thank you’ make me happier?  Furthermore, it would be the best if it came with a smile!”

“Baka.”

Those two words that came from Satella’s mouth were followed by a smile that was deeply imprinted into his mind.  Even though it was a dull joke from Subaru, he was able to make her laugh in this way.

(TL Note: ‘Baka’ is two characters in Japanese, so…)

After the negotiations are over, I want to see that smile more in a brighter place, he thought.

“Well then, will a demon or a snake come out?  Though neither can be considered a joke because this is a fantasy.”

(TL Note: 鬼が出るか蛇が出るか was used here, which means ‘you never know what might happen’)

After criticizing his own joke, he held the Ragmite in one hand and fearfully stepped inside.

In the darkness, the first thing he saw in front of himself after entering was a counter.  This was probably originally a post station or something.  The first floor of the building seemed to be used as a tavern after all.

(TL Note: Post station)

On the counter that seemed to be used as a receptionist area, and behind it, were crowded with various items on display.

There were a variety of boxes, pots, different swords, and even cheap precious metals.  They were all stolen goods, because Subaru had noticed they each had a wooden plaque.

“If I collect these plaques and hand them to a guard, it looks like it might be possible to have a mass-arrest.”

In fact, this kind of occupation being connected with the darkness and corruption of the country was a must happen trope.  From here, where the stolen goods get sold off to was also suspicious.

While thinking such things, Subaru continued searching for the object of interest — it was then…

“Hm?”

Subaru stopped at the sudden feeling of unnaturalness beneath his shoes.

It was not the feeling of unnaturalness felt from stepping on something hard, rather it was the opposite.  The floor he stepped on pulled at his feet — it felt like something adhesive was stuck under his shoes.

Lifting his foot, he touched the bottom of the sneaker with his finger.  A sticky liquid was on there.  Lightly touching the strangely sticky liquid with his finger, an immediate instinctive discomfort arose.

“What? What is this?”

He brought his finger up to his nose to smell it, but in the first place the air inside was stagnant, so he could not smell it clearly.  And naturally, he did not have the courage to check with his tongue.

Smearing the unpleasant-feeling thing on the wall, Subaru was prompted by the discomfort to bring the Ragmite ore forward.  It was then, when he was about to move forward, that Subaru found the reason ahead.

“… Ah?”

Unintentionally letting out a stupid sound, Subaru finally recognized “it”.

Under the pale light, the first thing he saw on the ground was a slovenly rolling ‘arm.’  Its finger were open, as if asking for something, but strangely enough, the body that should be connected to the elbow did not exist.

Searching for where it is connected to, he moved the lights and found an outstretched foot further back.  The foot was properly attached to the body, and the body was accompanied by the parts that should be there.

—With a large cut in its neck, and missing an arm, the corpse of a big old man was there.

“Hiiie!”

The moment he noticed the dead body, Subaru silently screamed, exhaling air rapidly.

At this moment, Subaru’s mind went completely blank.  His ability to think was blown away, and his hands and feet, as if frozen, were unable to move.  His only thought was an endless white space.  Then…

“Ahh~, it was seen.  Well then, it can’t be helped.  Yeah~, it can’t be helped.”

A woman’s… voice, I think.

She had a low and cold, but somewhat pleasant voice.

“Ga—h!”

There was no time to look back.

The moment he tried to turn towards the sound, Subaru’s body was blown away by an impact.  His back was slammed into a wall, and his view fell into darkness as the Ragmite left his hand and bounced on the floor.

But Subaru’s conscious was not paying attention to such things.  His conscious was focused on…

“Guuuh…H-hot.”

—His body was overwhelmed by “heat,” scorching Natsuki Subaru.

…This is seriously bad.

Feeling the hard ground with his face, he realized he had fallen prone.  He was unable to muster any strength from his body, and had lost all sensations from his fingers. He could only feel heat spreading across his body.

—Hot, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot!

He kept coughing violently, gurgling even as his life source welled up in his throat, forming foams of blood across his mouth.  Through hazy eyes, he saw the floor had been stained scarlet.

—Ah… is all of this… my blood?

As he had mistakenly thought he spilled all of his blood, he stretched a trembling hand towards the burning source of heat.  When his fingers felt the torn abdomen, he came to a realization.  No wonder he felt a burning sensation, he had mistaken pain for heat. He had a severe laceration — his body was nearly split in half, with only a layer of skin left connecting the two parts.

In other words, he was meeting his “end.”

Acknowledging this, his conscious began to fade quickly.

Suddenly, a black leather shoe rippled the pool of blood that laid before his eyes.  Someone was here, and this person was presumably his killer.  

But he couldn’t care less about looking at this person’s face.  

…His only desire was that she would be safe.

“…baru?”

He thought he heard a silvery, bell-like voice. To hear that voice… to be able to hear that voice… it was his salvation. Then…

“—Ugh!”

A terse cry was heard before the carpet of blood welcomed another person.  The body fell beside him, with an arm loosely stretched towards him.

He weakly held onto her limp, snow-white hand with his blood-soaked hand and felt a finger move, as if to return his gesture.

“…ait for me.”

Even at the brink of his conscious, he fought to stay awake.

“I will surely…”

…Save you!

The next moment, Natsuki Subaru died.

[Illustration]



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