Chapter 2: Attack of Cat-eared girl [side Miya]
Sitting in a corner of the alleyway, I waited for my mother’s return.
It seems like a very long time ago now, even though it was only a year or so ago that the country announced that the Demon King was defeated and the whole city was abuzz with the news.
At that time, the whole city was in a festive mood, and humans, dwarves, elves, and subhumans were all dancing in a circle together with hope on their faces.
I still remember my parents walking with me through the streets lined with food stalls, music blaring.
My father who was an adventurer and my mother who was a former prostitute brought me a simple but happy life.
But then a dark shadow covered the city.
It was a few days after the end of the festival that the residents began to notice something strange.
One night, my father came home and told my mother and I something we couldn’t believe.
He said that the number of monsters on the outer layer of the forest was too scarce.
Those words of my father turned my life around 180 degrees.
The rumor spread quickly, and the whole city, and probably the whole world, was in a panic.
Because the disappearance of the monsters would mean the disappearance of meat.
Everyone was running around looking for information, and there was a lot of speculation.
Some said it was a curse from the demon king, others said it was a prelude to a natural disaster.
The adventurer’s guild took the situation seriously and immediately ordered a large scale survey of the forest.
I remember that the party to which my father belonged was also a part of it.
The investigation revealed that the monsters that had been nesting in the surface layer of the forest had moved into the deeper layers.
The depths of the forest are filled with a thick layer of magical elements, and are the territory of powerful monsters.
Only a few high-ranked adventurers are allowed to dive there.
For most adventurers, diving into the depths of the forest was an act of suicide.
In no time at all, the death rate of adventurers jumped, and the price of food skyrocketed to extraordinary levels.
Merchants became reluctant to sell food, and clashes broke out everywhere.
The city was flooded with adventurers who had given up on diving into the forest, and at one point the bodies of the starving dead were lying all over the streets.
My mother and I were both fired from the restaurant where we worked.
And before we knew it, the restaurant had also closed its doors.
Even though Dad belonged to a medium-sized party, he risked his life every day to go deep into the forest.
He often came back with serious injuries.
Dad tried to act tough, but I saw him cry on mom’s chest many times, including the day a member of the party died.
Dad still went into the forest every day to help me and my mother.
Even after he lost his party, he joined another party and desperately tried to reach the depths of the forest.
There were times when my mother cried and tried to stop my father from going into the forest with his unhealed body.
However, he gently reminded her that it was just for now, and headed off to the forest alone.
One day, Dad went into the forest to kill a monster and never came back.
According to his friends in the party who escaped with their lives, he was attacked by the King Ogre, and it only took a moment.
It was the first time I saw my mother, who had been so kind and strong, sobbing like a child.
My mother’s and my life became more and more difficult.
What we had at home that we could sell was now a mere couple of bucks.
To get something to eat, to pay the rent, and to raise me, my mother, a former prostitute, was desperate to sell herself to get some food.
When she turned to the brothel where she used to work, she was turned away without a second thought, but nevertheless, she desperately tried to get customers on the streets.
The bruises on her body gradually increased.
Since my father’s disappearance, my mother has been spending a lot of time at home with a vacant expression on her face.
There were times when she would suddenly go into a hysterical rage.
I couldn’t stand to see her like that and asked my mother over and over again to share her suffering and let me sell my body.
But when I told her about it, she would always get angry like a demon and would not allow me to do so.
It wasn’t long after that that we couldn’t pay the rent and were kicked out of the house we lived in.
We wandered around without a place to go, carrying only what little belongings we could carry out of the house.
My mother tried desperately to get customers, even after she started living on the streets.
My beloved mother, in her loneliness without my father, tried to carry everything on her own, tried harder and harder, and then broke down.
One day, she told me, “I’m going to go find your father,” and then she went away.
The next day, I searched for her all over the city, but could not find her.
Since that day, I have been waiting for my mother’s return in this back alley.
I was sure that she would come back.
So I decided to wait until then.
I hadn’t eaten anything for three whole days.
At this rate, I would starve to death.
…… The truth is, I realized it already.
My mother is probably no longer in this world.
“I’m sorry, Mom.
I made the decision that day to sell my body.
I closed my eyes, put my hands together, and thanked her for raising me.
Then I went into the city and headed towards the district where the relatively wealthy people lived.
I felt like my heart was going to collapse with anxiety.
It was my first time to imitate a prostitute, and I was afraid of the consequences of the experience and how much it would hurt.
On top of that, I was also worried about the fact that I had a poor body, unlike my mother.
I didn’t have breasts, and I wasn’t sure if they would really buy me.
(But he say that men like the woman first time ……)
At my previous workplace, I overheard a man who used to be an adventurer say that.
So, I made myself believe that if I appealed to them about it, I would be fine.
When I arrived at the district I was looking for, I walked down the street, taking a good look at each of the buildings that lined the street.
I would knock on the door of any place that looked good and ask if they would be willing to answer.
I thought about it, but I couldn’t take the first step, and before I knew it, I was halfway through the district.
I realized that this wasn’t going to work, so I made up my mind.
I decided that the house in front of me would be the first one.
As I stood in front of the door of the house, I felt as if my heart was going to burst with nervousness.
I took a deep breath to regulate my breathing.
With a shaky hand, I knocked on the door.
No reply came back.
I knocked again.
“Excuse me, can you please give me some food? I’ll pay you with my body.”
“U-um, I’m a virgin.
So, um, ……”
At that moment, the door opened.
Out of the door came a man with a stern look in his eyes.
The man was neatly dressed, and just as I thought he might have some money, I was hit in the face by his hand.
The impact knocked me to the ground.
My cheeks ached from the slap.
Overhead, then men’s curses rained down on me.
“I’ll take you to the guards, you bastard!” I managed to get up and run away.
The man did not follow.
I stopped in the middle of the road and crouched down.
I gritted my teeth and suppressed the tears that were beginning to well up.
My cheek didn’t hurt anymore, but my heart was screaming.
I don’t want to do this anymore, I’m tired of it, I cried out.
People walking through the city would only give me a glance as they passed by me.
No one would help me.
Now that my father and mother were gone, there was no one who could give me a hand.
Crying won’t change anything.
I slowly stood up.
Walking through the city.
There were no tears, but I was feeling weak all over.
I wandered aimlessly, until I found myself nearing the edge of the district.
I stopped when a building a little further away caught my eye.
It wasn’t because there was anything unusual about the building, but because I could see a man’s face peeking through a gap of the door.
The man was peering outside, and then quickly retreated back inside.
He seemed to have picked up something just before closing the door.
I stared at the building.
There is no doubt that he was not going to leave, and that he lived there.
I was afraid of getting hit like before.
But being afraid would not save me.
I slowly made my way towards the building.
I stood in front of the door.
I couldn’t stop shaking as I remembered what had happened in the first house.
Still, I knocked on the door.
Like the first house, no answer came back.
I knocked again.
“U-um, ……, is anyone there?”
“U-um, could you please spare me some food?”
I’ll do anything you want.
So, just a little bit is fine….
Um ……, I-I’m a v-virgin! T-that’s why!”
“W-wait a minute! I’m coming!”
At that moment, I heard a man’s voice from inside the door.
It seemed that he was willing to listen to me, at least for a moment.
I let out a deep breath.
I felt so nervous.
I felt the presence of a person on the other side of the door.
But the door didn’t open.
“Oh, yes, I’ll open it now.”
A few moments later, the door opened.
A man, who looked to be about 20 years old, came out.
The man, who wore slightly unusual clothes, looked at me and froze for some reason.
I noticed that his facial features were not something I saw very often.
(But, he seems like a kind man.
The man, at least, doesn’t seem to have any dislike towards me.
I was secretly relieved.
I was determined to make a request.
“Um, can you give me some food ……?”
“Oh, right! Food, food.”
Then the man went back inside as if he remembered, and came back with a white bag that I had never seen before.
The man handed it to me.
Apparently, it contained food.
“T-thank you very much.”
I bowed to him, confused by the unexpected turn of events.
I hadn’t expected it to be so easy.
But the unexpected turn of events had only just begun.
“So, um, about the payment… “
“No, I’ m fine, you don’t have to pay.”
The man said this without hesitation.
I didn’t understand what the man was saying.
If so, why did he give me food?
“No, that’s okay.
I’ll just buy another one.”
The man said this as if it was obvious.
His expression didn’t look like he was lying.
It was as if he was telling me that he could buy as much food as he wanted.
The mystery of this man was growing in my mind.
But other than my body, there was nothing I could offer to him.
I tried to tell him this, but I could not.
I was afraid that he might ask me to return the food.
“Um, well, more importantly, would you like to come inside?”
Again, the man’s words were unexpected.
Refusing was not an option that came to mind, so I nodded, unsure of what to do.
As he suggested, I went inside the house.
“Ah, yes, your shoes.
The inside of this man’ s house was rather strange.
The inside of the house was much smaller than I expected from the outside, and there were many things I had never seen before lined up in such a space.
The silver rectangular objects and the white shelves next to them were all very colorful.
I sat down on a chair as the man suggested, and although I knew it was rude, I looked at the furnishings in the room.
On a gray shelf made of an unknown material, a plain white plate with a very elaborate drawing of a fish was displayed haphazardly.
There was a clock on the wall, and the cloth on the bed looked very high quality.
A man held out a towel to me and suggested I wipe my feet with it.
I didn’t have any shoes and was barefoot, so I accepted his kind offer.
Then the man offered me a drink.
The transparent glass that contained the drink was so elaborate that it was frightening to think how much it would cost.
I was even a little scared of this man who uses such artwork as if it were a daily necessity.
Maybe he’s really rich.
I sipped fearfully from the glass.
The drink in it was a little cold and slightly sweet.
I wondered what kind of fruit was in it.
It had been a long time since I drank juice.
“It’ s delicious, isn’t it, I like this juice a lot too.”
The man sitting in the chair in front of me was drinking the same drink.
“Um, can I ask you something?”
The man asked me.
“Yes, what is it?”
“Those ears are something real, aren’t they?”
The man’s question was not quite clear to me.
I wondered what he meant by “real”, would there be fake ones?
For the time being, I nodded.
Um, it’s …… real… ?”
“I guess so.”
The man nodded repeatedly, seemingly satisfied.
Thank goodness, it seemed, the answer I gave was correct.
But I wondered what he meant by that question, and realized one possibility.
Could it be that this man doesn’t like subhumans?
“Um, do you by any chance dislike …… subhumans?”
Feeling uneasy, I asked honestly.
But the man shook his head vigorously.
“No, no, it’s very dreamlike.”
“It’s more like a fantasy.”
What is fantasy? I don’t understand.
At that moment, my stomach rumbled loudly.
The juice in my stomach was making me even hungrier.
I was so embarrassed.
“Oh, go ahead and eat.”
The man didn’t seem to mind and offered me the contents of the bag.
I looked into the bag and took one out.
It was a kind of sandwich with ingredients in a very thin, transparent wrapper.
“It’s a sandwich.”
“Um, what’s that transparent stuff around it?”
“Oh, let me peel it.”
I handed the sandwich to the man as I was told.
The man neatly peeled off the transparent wrapper and handed me the contents.
I looked at the pure white sandwich for a moment.
I wondered what this white sauce thing between the ingredients was.
Then, slowly, I took a bite.
At that moment, my mouth was filled with a savory taste that I had never experienced before.
I took another bite, and another bite, and another bite of this delicious food.
The man looked at me happily.
At that moment, something that had been keeping me tense for a long time loosened up inside me.
Tears were flowing by themselves, and I couldn’t stop them.
When I finished the first sandwich, the man handed me the second one as a matter of course.
That made me happy again.
“Thank you for the food.
I ended up eating the two sandwiches in the white bag by myself.
Then I remembered that I hadn’t told him my name yet.
“I’m sorry it’s late, but my name is Miya.”
“Oh, my name is Tanaka, nice to meet you.”
This kind man apparently was called Tanaka-san.
He talks very politely to me, so I guess he is a well educated man.
He also has a lot of rare items, so he might be a merchant.
It was very frustrating that I had so little to give back to such a man who had been so kind to me and had given me food.
Thank you very much.
I’m really hungry, but I don’t have any money, so ……”
The only thing I can offer is my poor body.
“I can only pay with my body ……”
“No, really, I’m fine.
He rejects my offer.
I guess my body is not attractive enough.
Still, I wanted to do something to repay him.
My father and mother had always told me that I should repay anyone who was kind to me.
“But my mom and dad told me to repay anyone who was kind to me.
“Oh, you have parents?”
Tanaka-san’s question made me stumbled for a moment.
“I have ……, but my father died and my mother disappeared.”
“I’m sorry, that’s a difficult question to answer.”
“No, it’s okay, but I’d like to repay you in some way.”
Tanaka-san thought about it for a moment and then said
“Oh, then tell me about the city.”
“About the city?”
I’m not sure what he meant.
“Yeah, like the name of the city on the other side of the door.”
“Huh? The name of the city is Freud.
…… Are you not a resident of this city, Tanaka-san?”
“Oh, well, …… I recently moved to this city from afar.”
Tanaka-san then asked me several questions.
He only asked me some simple questions that even I, an uneducated person, knew.
(Could it be…)
I wondered if Tanaka-san was deliberately asking something simple in order to have me repay him.
“But, this much is not really repaying you in any way……”
When I said that without thinking, Tanaka-san looked a little troubled.
I regretted that I had annoyed him so much.
Instead of returning the favor, I was getting in his way.
I felt that Tanaka-san was telling me that there was nothing I could do to help.
However, Tanaka’s next words were also unexpected.
“So, um, Miya, would you like me to hire you?”
“Well, I might need your help with something in the future, or maybe you could teach me something, so I was wondering if I could hire you in exchange for a meal ……, and you could continue to come here.”
I was so surprised that I was speechless.
That means he’ s going to hire me.
I couldn’t believe it.
“A-are you sure?”
“I’m not strong and I’m not smart, is it okay?”
I don’t know why Tanaka-san would go this far for me… for someone he’s never met before.
I don’t know, but I was so happy that I couldn’t stop crying.
Something that had been tense became a little lighter.
“T-thank you, I’m really happy, please take care of me.”
This encounter with Tanaka-san turned my life around 180 degrees.
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