I rushed towards the door of the Mattroc Orphanage and knocked using the lion-shaped door knocker three times.
――Thump, thump, thump.
The sound resounded like a giant’s footsteps because of my chaotic emotions.
I swallowed my breath and wetted my dry throat. As I stared at the lion while waiting, the door opened slightly from inside.
The person came out looked like a worker there.
「Yes, is there anything I can help with? 」
He smiled while facing me. The way he smiles feels like the director. It feels like he’s totally imitating the director. The way the corner of his eyes droop and the edge of his lips raises. It’s a bit funny and makes him feel friendly.
I am here to pick Ravi up, I explained I didn’t want to entrust her to the orphanage after all.
「Ha…… is that so. I will go confirm with the director for a little while, so please wait. 」
He disappeared behind the door after saying so. I felt the time I was waiting for was strangely long. As I paced in front of the door restlessly and sighed, the man returned and let me in.
「Hey. Good morning. 」
As I raised my face towards the origin of the voice from the stairs, the director was there smiling.
「Did you worry and come to take a look? 」
Director Mattroc came down towards me while smiling and asked for a handshake.
「It’s just ……. It’s better for her if you don’t meet her. She still doesn’t have anyone to rely on around here, the kids that came here because of certain issues, always felt homesick in the beginning. You meeting with that child would probably make her feel lonelier. 」
「No, that’s not true. I came here to pick Ravi up. 」
「Oya……. Pick her up, huh. But didn’t she herself came here on her own will? She said so herself yesterday. 」
「……Ahh. I know. But that itself was a misunderstanding. I will be taking Ravi home like this. Let me meet with her. 」
Director Mattroc stared at me while his eyes narrowed like a slit. After that, he nodded with a kind atmosphere.
「I understand. The kids are probably playing in the garden around this time. I will take you there. 」
I was guided towards the garden by the director. Ravi didn’t mingle with the other kids but was messing with the dirt in the corner of the garden.
I called her name while running towards her. The moment she saw my figure, her pupils widened.
「Ah……. ……W-why……? 」
「I’m here to pick you up. Let’s go home together. 」
I stretched my hands towards Ravi.
Ravi tried to take my hand reflexively, but she lowered her arms limply.
She curled up while being silent. Her side hair fell on her cheeks.
(……She really doesn’t want to go with me as I thought.)
The extended hand wasn’t going anywhere. I felt a pain deep in my chest as if getting pierced.
「……I-I will just bother you……together……」
I was shocked as I heard that. Her shoulders were trembling as her lips shut. It seems like tears are going to fall from her big eyes.
(Why she said being a bother……)
I suddenly came to a realization. What came into my mind, was what Director Mattroc said in front of the pastry shop.
『It’s difficult for you to take care of a young child right? And your travelling would be limited when you have a child with you. You can’t possibly leave the child and sleep alone too and have to keep guard during the night. Also, travelling fees would be much expensive than when you’re travelling by yourself. 』
I was thinking about my own matters and didn’t realize what Ravi behind me must’ve felt when she listened. I should’ve known how she felt because of her quiet and reserved personality.
(She believed her existence was causing trouble for me……)
That’s why she didn’t look lively after going back to the inn. Something like that, to realize it now…….
(I’m dumb, too dumb)
Ravi took everything in by herself. I should’ve known if I paid more attention to her feelings.
(……Wait. Then that time too……)
Ravi asked me if the one-piece I bought was expensive.
(It wasn’t that she was disappointed that it was something cheap)
When I told her it was cheap, she said 『I’m glad.』. I finally understood the meaning now.
It’s that she felt sorry that I bought her a dress. That’s why she asked worryingly. She was glad that it was cheap. And I left her to go buy something while she was feeling so down…….
I’m amazed at how foolish I am.
「Ravi, I’m so sorry! 」
I apologized while lowering my head.
「I didn’t take into account for your feelings. Because of that, I rushed out without thinking……. It’s like that, please forgive me」
「……!? Ah, don’t apologize……」
Ravi walked up to me, and I felt her small hands on my arm. As I lifted my face while scared, I met with the wet eyes of Ravi.
「I had never thought of you being a trouble. Rather I’m really thankful that you travelled with me. 」
「……R-really……? I’m…… not troubling……? 」
「Yeah, really. That’s why, can’t you return to me please? 」
Tears spilled out from Ravi’s wet eyes. Ravi rushed to me out of urge and leaped into my arms.
She stretched out her thin arms desperately and hugged tightly on my back.
「Really…… I didn’t want to leave……」
The overflowing emotions in my chest made me feel like crying too. I hugged her back with the feelings that can’t be described with words alone.
「Listen closely, Ravi. I wouldn’t entrust you to anyone that’s not trustworthy. Only someone that can guarantee your safety and happiness. If I’m not convinced, remember that I will always come to take you back. 」
I don’t want her to shed such tears again.
(Never again, absolutely)
「Hahaha. Wonderful. It’s so moving that my eyes are wet. 」
I carried Ravi back on my shoulders and turned back to Director Mattroc. Even though he said something rude, he kept smiling.
(Even though I thought that he was a kind person after seeing that smile for the first time……)
But the me now sees it as a creepy mask on him.
「I wanted to help out since it was troubling for you……. Since you said you would take care of her, I won’t hold you back. I shall guide you outside. 」
「I have something to ask before that, Director Mattroc. 」
「Something to ask? What is it? 」
I continued after glancing over the children playing around in the garden.
「Is it true that I heard that all of the children in the orphanage will eventually head for the eastern continent? 」
「Yeah. That’s right. They would live either in the industrial city of Bourbon or the harbor city of Bastide. 」
「But don’t you worry about the children that crossed the continent? 」
「Well, that’s of course. That’s why occasionally after I sent the children there, I would go there personally to visit them. But since it’s difficult to do so frequently. The last time I went there was a year ago. 」
「Is it really that nice of a place? 」
「Of course. There’re many people and lively there, every day is busy like a festival. The children that went over there also seemed to be happy. 」
Unfortunately, it’s the worst-case scenario.
(If Director Mattroc himself was a victim as well, then it wouldn’t have been this bad……)
「So that means that you aren’t being deceived. 」
「Eh? What was that? 」
「The eastern continent was devastated by the Four Heavenly Kings under the demon king. Especially, industrial city Bourbon is currently under their control. Living in such a city would be 『Seemed to be happy』? In the first place, you can’t possibly visit such city. Even if you ever entered the city somehow, you can’t leave. 」
「Hahaha. Please don’t say such scary things. I don’t know you heard it from who but, there’s no way it’s like that. I seen it with my own eyes after all. 」
「It’s strange. I’ve also seen it with my own eyes. 」
Even though he’s still smiling, his face doesn’t look that friendly to me anymore. Director Mattroc moved first.
「Children, I’m sorry but can you all go inside. 」
Even though the children had a strange face, they still followed the director’s order.
「You do have a heart to at least evacuate them huh」
As I said that, the director started to laugh funnily. His mouth distorted, and the nature of his smile changed.
「Evacuate? What are you saying. I will continue being the director here even tomorrow. I can’t show that you’re going to die after all. ――Well, if they were dragged into this and died, it means that the product I have will decrease. I want to avoid that at all cost. 」
My anger rose as I saw from the edge of my view. His subordinates are gathering in the courtyard. Eight of them surrounded me who was carrying Ravi.
As soon as the director gave the order, they came at me once. I immediately started the chant for Ice Magic.
《The goddess that defends the Holy Sanctuary of Absolute Zero, bid me a freezing kiss―― Ice Magic Hail! 》
「Uuwaaak……!?! What is this――!?!!! 」
The Ice Magic I released froze the feet of everyone there in an instant.
「Wha……!? You……offensive skill user!!! 」
Being shaken, the smile disappeared from the director’s face for the first time.
「Ravi, wait for me here」
As I lowered her down, I explained the reason to her clearly this time.
「For the sake of the other children too, I have to fully uncover their wrong deeds. So, I have to go have a little talk with them. 」
I squeezed her hands a little, and she nodded back. Even though she looks a bit worried, her expression showed me that she had trust in me.
「Director, don’t you think freezing to death is bad? 」
I took my steps one by one towards the director. The more I drew closer, he became more panic.
「O-oi……. W-what are you planning to do……」
「What happened to those that left here? 」
「D-don’t know……! 」
「It seems like freezing you to death isn’t a bad idea. 」
「I-it’s a bluff……! You aren’t capable of killing another human! 」
(Capable of killing huh……)
Certainly, I avoid killing as much as possible. I also have Ravi with me now but, I’ve always tried to capture alive if possible. It’s not because I’m kind. Since killing them would mean the information is lost, and I think that the misdeeds that they’ve done can only be atoned with their entire life.
However, now my image of not killing anyone had dragged me back.
(……If I knew this would’ve happened I should’ve practiced a scary look. ……like a villain…… Ha―, that’s right……)
I tried to smile as brightly as I can, imitating the director in front of me.
(The corner of the eyes droops down, and the sides of the mouth goes up…… Alright, something like this)
I tried to look at them while trying to maintain the face――
「Hiii――!!!! Making a creepy face……!!!! 」
I want to say that this is imitating you. But I will be content that they seemed to be afraid now.
「I’m also good at pretending to be a good person like you. Can’t you see it? If you don’t confess, I don’t mind killing you. There seems to be other people who knows. 」
I turned away from the director and looked at the subordinates.
「It seems they will confess if I kill you and ask them. 」
「W-wait……! T-the children is sold to brothels and perverted nobles!! 」
「Which brothel? 」
The director spit out a few city’s name.
Of course, the noble’s names as well.
The inside of my stomach felt hot as if burning. I tried to suppress my anger by looking down and breathing deeply.
That moment, I heard the director’s scoffing voice.
「Kuhaha―, too naïve! Even I can use fire magic! 《The spirit of fire, bless me with the flames of anger that you hold―― Fire Magic Salamander―!!!!》」
A small flame was released. I dodged that easily and stepped beside the director.
「Ahh……!? Fubwoooh――!!!! 」
I struck the nauseating face with my fist. The director who was blown away together with his frozen legs crashed into the trees and passed out.
Several hours later.
Because of my report, it became that Director Mattroc and his subordinates is going to be jailed. There were many people who gathered after hearing about the disturbance. Their faces were all surprised. Well, that’s expected. The person that was apprehended by the military police was in fact, the Director-sensei that was liked by everyone in the city.
「S-stop it……! I understand! I understand already! It’s a misunderstanding, I’m not the perpetrator! They’re the one who did it in reality! Oi, let go! Don’t touch me with your filthy hands, damn it!! 」
Director Mattroc who desperately tried to push the blame on his comrades while flailing around. And His subordinates who were yelling out the evil deeds that he had done.
The people gradually changed from being surprised to be being doubting of him.
「It’s like a different person……」
「Such foul wordings……」
「No but, I still can’t believe it……. The whole city was deceived ……」
While hearing such voices around, I accompanied the military police to the jail.
After that, I heard that they’ve found the name list of all the children that was sold in his documents and found out where all they were sold to quickly. The military police captain promised that he will find out where all the children is and ask all of them if they want to return.
And regarding the management for the orphanage in the future, I heard they were going to talk it out with the citizens. I was relieved that they didn’t say it would be demolished. It seems volunteers will take care of the children for the meantime. The only salvation is the people living in this city isn’t indifferent about it.
(Incidents like this, I hope there will be no second time……)
I really wanted to save all the children. But that would just be arrogance. I can’t turn back time. I sighed deeply while looking up at the night sky illuminated by the moon.
That night. After returning to the inn, I stretched out the ribbon that had been bought under a huge misunderstanding towards Ravi. She had a strange face while tilting as she was putting it over her wrist.
「That’s a present for Ravi. 」
Her big pupil widened like the number zero.
(It would be good if she’s happy even a little……)
While I was feeling anxiety while waiting for Ravi’s response……
Her delicate face crumbled into a face full of happiness. She smiled like she was truly happy.
My chest was warm and fluffy. I felt the pathetic-ness and the embarrassment that I felt in the shop paid off…….
「This is what I went out to get after leaving you in the inn. I felt responsibility for letting you wear poor clothing so I took this strange measure. Sorry about that. 」
「I’m sorry too……. I…… just disappeared without telling……」
「No, it’s fine.」
We laughed awkwardly at each other because we’re both shy in apologizing.
「Ribbon, is it fine I wear it……?」
「Of course. 」
She seemed to not know how to tie her hair properly.
「Lend it for a while.」
I’m also clumsy in that aspect, but I’ll have to try my best. It was difficult, but I was able to tie the ribbon on her hair somehow.
「Alright, it’s done」
Choosing the watery blue color was correct after all.
「Un, it suits you very well.」
Ravi shook her head.
「……But, why……the ribbon……? 」
「Didn’t you look at the cute dress of the children jealously? I still can’t buy a dress for you now, so please be content with just the ribbon for now. 」
Even though she didn’t look embarrassed by the plain one-piece, I can see that she admired the clothing of the other children.
I thought that but…….
Somehow her face turned red the moment she heard what I said.
「……N-no……. It’s not the dress……. Sweets……it seemed attractive to me somehow……」
「Eh!? It was that!? 」
Apparently, I underestimated Ravi’s liking towards food.
「……Fu-……Hahaha―. I see, I see. It was the sweets. 」
I blurted out laughing, while Ravi smiled shyly. Anger and despair, things that causes sadness, can all be overcome by smiling like this. It was such a night that I thought that.