|Author: Ash||Original Source: Syosetu||Word Count: 3882 characters|
|Translator: Mii||English Source: Re:Library||Word Count: 1771 words|
I am Triela, an orphan. My best friend was sold yesterday.
To be honest, saying that she was sold wasn’t correct. A certain merchant subsidized the operating funds for this orphanage, and this orphanage was operated with the intent to sell off children with good skills.
My best friend, who was taken yesterday, had a skill that would be useful for the merchant. As a result, she was taken to the merchant’s place.
There were some children who were taken in the past. The older sisters who took very good care of us and the older brothers who were very helpful… None of them came back.
At that time, I unexpectedly met an older brother who left the orphanage because he couldn’t learn any useful skill by the time he was 13 years old and became an adventurer.
That older brother was 18 years old at that time. One day, he happened to meet a child of the same age who was taken to the merchant from the orphanage. The story I heard from him at that time was tragic.
All of the children who were taken were bound by slavery magic and contract magic and they were treated like slaves. Boys would be given the minimum necessities of life and got assaulted on a daily basis to vent the other workers’ stress. Girls would be treated as a plaything. Even so, in order not to lose the children’s useful skills, they prevented them from dying.
Because that boy told the older brother about his cruel situation, he was severely punished in front of him. That older brother couldn’t bear to see it and immediately ran away.
…Does my best friend have to suffer that?
Falling into despair, my eyes turned dark. The other children who were listening to him became sad. The atmosphere of the orphanage immediately darkened.
…It was obviously illegal to force the children to become a slave. Right after we heard the story, we directly appealed to the director. But it was useless. It seemed like the director knew how the merchant treated the children who had already been taken. He had reported this matter to the administration a lot of times and tried to make them do something about this. But the investor merchant always managed to get away from punishment. No matter how many times the director had bowed his head and begged the merchant to stop this, nothing has changed.
On the contrary, the merchant would cut back his funds on the orphanage when he found out about the director’s reporting him, making the children in the orphanage had to eat less than usual. I recalled that there were times when the amount of their food lessened. I was convinced that this was the reason. After that, we stopped doing anything.
There were many small children here. I shouldn’t involve them.
Ren was a mysterious child.
Even though she was in the same age as me, her tone was polite and calm. Sometimes, she surprised everyone by doing some crazy things. When we went to the forest to search for something to eat, she picked up more edible wild plants than anyone else. But coincidently, she was surprisingly weak and lacked physical strength.
She always had a blank face. When I thought that she was walking right behind me, she would suddenly put her finger on her chin while muttering something and scratched her head. After that, she would stand still for a while before doing something strange again.
She also said a lot of mean things. She didn’t go easy on the boys who made a mess by doing stupid things. Her polite tone made the damage even greater.
On the other hand, she was very caring and the younger children liked her very much. Although she didn’t seem to be aware, the number of children who wanted to get pampered by Ren was extremely high.
Ren’s high competitive rate wasn’t only limited to the small children, she was also being targeted by almost all the boys in the orphanage. But Ren despised rough boys the most and didn’t want to deal with them at all.
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And speaking about the competitive rate, she was also targeted by the children outside the orphanage as well. The boys wanted to become closer to her and the girls wanted to become her friends, which was kind of bizarre.
It was Cain, the boss of the children in the orphanage, who protected Ren.
Cain kicked all of the guys who tried to do something towards Ren. Thanks to that, he also became the boss of the children in the town.
I believed that Ren also trusted Cain. At least in the beginning. Yes, Cain and Ren were actually close friends when they were very young.
It changed when Cain started to think of Ren as a girl. To hide his embarrassment, he started to act coldly towards her, but he gradually raised his hand to Ren and even started using violence until she cried.
By the time I noticed something was strange, it was already too late. Cain constantly made Ren cry and Ren extremely disliked Cain.
I warned Cain a lot of times, but nothing improved. If there was only one salvation, it would have been how Cain immediately stopped the other boys with brute force when they tried to bully Ren.
Eventually, Cain’s bullying on Ren escalated to the point that Cain took away Ren’s meals. He gave her meals to the younger children, but I couldn’t bear to see how Ren cried because she was hungry. Maricle, Ren’s close friends, and I would share our meals with her.
As those days went on, Ren started looking at Cain as if she was looking at stones in the roadside or insect corpse.
However, while relentlessly bullying Ren this much, Cain still thought that Ren liked him for some reason. He even planned to take Ren with him out of town to become an adventurer and get married by the time he was 13 years old. I didn’t understand his mind at all.
The girls hated him because he was really stupid at those parts… but when he did something while using his head, everyone was surprised how he could do amazing things calmly. Yet when he didn’t think of anything, he was so stupid that I felt annoyed watching him. That was Cain.
There were times when I thought it would be good if he could behave himself since he was handsome, but since he wouldn’t fix himself no matter how many times I scolded him, I had already given up.
A few days after Ren was taken and the atmosphere of the orphanage turned gloomy, everyone became even sadder.
It seemed like Ren’s carriage was attacked by bandits and they fell off a cliff. As far as the soldiers who went to the bottom of the cliff had confirmed, there was no survivor. The corpses had been eaten by the demons and ended up in a horrible state. Even if someone was alive, going into the forest under the cliff was too dangerous since there were many brutal monsters and beasts inside. The soldiers gave up and returned back.
The merchant who funded this orphanage was weirdly stingy regarding this matter. He always used the route crossing the mountain to transport the children. That route was the shortcut, but it was dangerous because bandits might appear there. Taking a safe route means detouring the forest and tripled the cost of the travel. It seemed like he really hated the cost.
The same thing happened several times in the past. A child taken from here died on the way because of an accident. Since the situation didn’t improve at all, that merchant probably saw the worth of our life as the same as the travel cost. But I never expected that Ren would face the same end…
Then the atmosphere of the orphanage became even gloomier and heavier.
Ren was too dull to notice this, but she was idolized by everyone. I was so sad that Ren died, but after thinking about it, it might have been better for her to die rather than being treated as a plaything. Considering the story I heard from the older brother who came back before, I couldn’t say that staying alive in that hell was better.
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While comforting the gloomy children with that thought, I noticed that Cain was thinking about something.
A few days after that, Cain called me out to discuss something.
…Cain told me that he would take around a year to prepare and leave this orphanage to go to the royal capital and become an adventurer. It seemed that he thought about a lot of things after Ren’s incident.
The members Cain would take along were Boman and Ryuu, who were always acting stupid with Cain, and Maricle. Four people in total.
“…Will you come with us as well? Plus, it won’t be good if those three stay like that, right?”
It seemed like he already saw through who I would bring along if I decided to go with him. Those three were Ricorice, Kuro, and Arle. Other than me, they were all especially close to Ren.
After hearing the news of Ren’s death, they were so sad that I couldn’t even bear to see them. I tried to cheer them up, but I was at a loss since I didn’t have any idea how to do it. But this might be a good opportunity, If the environment changed, something might change. They might recover once we moved.
“Yeah, I’m going. I’ll take those three with me.”
I think those kids wouldn’t refuse.
“Then it’s decided.”
Then the next day, we had started preparing. The four boys began practising how to fight by swinging woods while doing small chores and saving coins.
Like Cain, we trained our physical fitness and studied herbs while doing some chores.
…Yeah. Ricorice and the others chose to come along. It seemed like they wanted to change their environment, just as I thought.
March, around a year after the news of Ren’s death. Already prepared, we left the orphanage and set out to the royal capital.
After arriving in the royal capital, we had continuous hardships. Every day, we were struggling to feed ourselves. Ricorice and the others were busy working every day that they didn’t have time to be sad.
While all of us were working hard together like this, we would have a reunion with our best friend who we thought was dead. But that’s another story.