|Author: Sasaki Ichiro||Original Source: Syosetu|
|Translator: Mab||English Source: Re:Library|
I, Emilia, am 14 years old. No, I don’t know if I’m 14 or not. When I was around 2 years old, my parents abandoned me… well, to be fair, my memory of that time is hazy, but someone, some time ago, left me all alone in front of an orphanage.
“Mommy is going away for a bit, just wait here okay?”
That could’ve been a fake memory I made up, but I do remember being all alone in the dark, hugging my knees for hours on end, waiting for my mom to come back.
Eventually, Miss Director found me in the morning, lying limp from fatigue and cold, and rushed me into care to patch me up. In the end, no matter how many years I waited, my parents didn’t come for me.
Life in the orphanage wasn’t all that bad. My brothers and sisters were in the same boat as me, and compared to the children in remote areas who were abandoned by their parents and had to work for themselves since they were 10, I knew we were much more fortunate.
Well, the cold winter and the lack of food day in and day out were the worst parts of our lives, though…
That said, by the time I got to 5 or maybe 6 years old, I’d become part of the older group. That’s when I started taking care of the younger group, pretending I was an adult, and helping Miss Director around the orphanage.
Apparently, Miss Director herself built the orphanage. She was a former adventurer and a shrine maiden of the Saintess’ Church. However, the Head Temple denied her from opening an orphanage within empire borders because that’s where the Deva Kureha Faith is, so she left the church and spent all her personal funds to build the orphanage.
I know she’s taken great care of me, but I just can’t understand why she would start something that, not only wouldn’t benefit her but also make her lose a lot of money. So I asked her that, then, she said:
“I’m not really thinking of gain or loss… if even a single one of these children grows up to be someone who brings good to the world, then that’s more than enough.”
Her eyes crinkled with wrinkles when she answered.
But, if that’s really her answer, then… I’m just sullying her goodwill. After all, I’m a pickpocket.
Occasionally, some rich guy who looks charitable or a philanthropist would come to the orphanage. When this happens, all the children in the orphanage are made to line up and entertain them with songs and arts and crafts. And sometimes, some really lucky child would be adopted.
Saying goodbyes is hard, but they’re all happy to be spared from winter frostbite, chapped skin, and a meal of mostly salt water and moldy black bread, so they left with a relieved look on their faces.
Sure, being liberated from the hardship of living in the orphanage is nice. But those pitying eyes those people give us turn into self-gratifying pleasure when they think they’ve helped… I hate those. It makes me feel they’re looking down on us; it makes me feel so sick and disgusted.
That’s why I’ve been giving them a scowl. Because of that — or maybe not really, since nobody would notice a scrawny, ashen-haired girl like me anyway — I marked my 10th birthday (the day the orphanage picked me up) without being adopted, and the very next day I left the orphanage on my own terms.
It’s normal for children my age to go out to work anyway, and I’ve been preparing for that too. I left since I wanted to be independent, and with one less mouth to feed, my brothers and sisters will have more to eat.
So, I asked my older brothers and sisters who’d left the orphanage before me for help, but the jobs children my age could take were polishing shoes or selling newspapers— jobs with little income.
Not to mention, some kids get very territorial, and some thugs charge you if you want to do business on their turf; that’s where most of my earnings go. Right when I got fed up with their crap, one of my older brothers taught me a way to earn big bucks quickly—stealing and pickpocketing.
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That being said, the one who taught us how to pickpocket and pick locks was some drunken old fart who got kicked out of the Thieves’ Guild because his skills got impaired by alcohol.
By the way, that old fart died two winters ago in some ditch somewhere, and my older brother who encouraged me into this line of business died three years ago after a rival gang stabbed him over a turf war. He was probably thinking of making me his woman; that’s why he was so kind to me. Well, now that I’m completely and utterly alone, I’m still making do with the pickpocket skill the old fart taught me.
I’m far from being “someone who brings good to the world,” as Miss Director said she hoped.
The first time I met that woman (or that girl since she was 2 years younger than me, though I only learned that later. The curves on her body and the reserved atmosphere she had gave me the wrong impression) was when she was out shopping downtown.
She was wearing this shiny, black-based dress that practically screamed luxury item, and she had a servant who was probably 15, or 16 years old with her. You know right away that she must be the daughter of some noble or well-off family.
Her face was average, but seeing that ignorant look on her, I smiled in my mind.
(… got me a dull sitting duck)
“Your ladyship, can I offer you some newspapers? They’re the latest Empire news.”
I approached her with a basket in my arm and offered my operation tool: empire’s gossip papers — it contained articles like predictions for who the next emperor will be, or the dead emperor is actually alive, or some secret lover that some royalty is hiding; all that nonsense crap.
By the way, I also had some wrapped candies in the basket. They were my props for the male customers. They knew that a girl selling candy equals a prostitute, so I’d bring anyone who’d buy the candy to the back streets and strip them down to their underwear.
The young lady looked curious when I offered her the newspaper with a smile on my face. She was as unguarded as I expected, and that was when I knew she was an easy target. I glanced at her. The rings on her fingers looked inexpensive, but I could spy a very expensive-looking necklace decorating her chest, hidden under the dress on her bosom — a very ample bosom.
Then it hit me; that must be a great treasure. It has to be. I know I will be rich like never before.
I gulped hard, my hand reaching for that ticket to greatness… when the maid casually stepped between us, her emotionless amber eyes looking straight at me.
“We don’t need them. Let us go, milady.” Right after saying that, she half-forcibly took the hand of her ‘milady’ and left. The young lady, looking a bit puzzled, followed after her.
I put the newspaper back in the basket, my face sour. “Dang it, she knows… pretty sure she’ll warn that young lady about me.” I guess that means I can’t pocket that necklace when the maid is around her.