The way back from the brothel. Ravi had talked lesser than usual. I glanced towards her a few times, but the only thing came to view was the top of her round head. Even if I talked to her, she wouldn’t meet my eyes. Ravi looked down at her own feet even while walking.
「R-Ravi……How about we stop by the candy shop」
Ravi shook her head sideways while still looking down.
「It’s a big city, I’m sure they have all kinds of candy lined up! 」
「……Don’t want it 」
「I-Is that so……」
Why am I expecting to get her attention with just that? I was being unrest because I could not understand it as it was the first time that she had shut away like this.
……It’s obvious that she’s mad at me that I couldn’t help the people at brothel. That’s probably the reason. I have self-conscious that I’ve done something very merciless and she was probably disillusioned with me.
Of course, I planned to tell her everything when we returned. But even me myself is feeling regretful at my own judgement. I wondered what kind of excuses that I would’ve to spit out this time.
The heavy sigh came out of my mouth because I didn’t know the way to fix the mood. As the sun went down, I turned back and saw Ravi stood in the middle of the road that is becoming red-stained.
Her face looked red and her lips were shut tightly. The hem of the dress is clasped tightly with her both hands.
「……! Ravi, is there anything? 」
I was shocked and I hurried back to her. I realized that she was tearing up as I lowered down to one knee.
「What is it, what happened? 」
I’m not looking to hear why she cried, but what she wants to do. I asked with a gentle voice as I gently patted her head. But unfortunately, that seemed to have a reverse effect.
Tears suddenly started to fall from her eyes like a broken dam. She didn’t say anything, but only stomped the ground repeatedly in rage. It was as if all her overflowing emotions are morphing into tears. Seeing that, I realized. She was still a child even if she pretended to be firm.
「H-here, don’t cry any more. Calm down a little. Alright? 」
It felt like it was myself who got calmer from that. Ravi is very sad as she had started crying and wailing all out while clinging onto me. The small hands hugged my neck. My coat is getting warm after soaking in tears. The muffled cried continued even as I desperately consoled her.
In the end, I carried Ravi all the way back to the inn. The first floor of the inn is crowded with customers who are having an early dinner. She might calm down if she had something to eat. I thought so but she rebutted me she didn’t have appetite. Having no choice, I carried Ravi who was clinging like a koala back to the room.
I sat Ravi on the bed and wiped her face that was stained with tears and snot. Ravi looked at me with a swollen pair of eyes. She seemed to calm down a lot, as her expression didn’t look on the edge anymore.
I sat on the bed beside and faced towards her.
「Can we talk? 」
I was relieved as she agreed. But leaving that aside, where should I start talking. The reason I denied helping. I wonder how I should explain to her properly.
Unable to organize my mind, a few meaningless words were uttered.
The reason I’m reluctant to bring Ravi close to the brothel. But is it really fine if I tell her straightly? The reason why brothels exists, and the occupation of prostitute. Is that any different if I brought her to there?
The world is filled with the adults’ desires and filth that isn’t meant for children to witness.
I wanted her to look at only the beautiful parts if possible. Not knowing the world of adults would be better for her, wouldn’t it? After all, she is such a pure child at heart that she cried as a result of unable to control her emotions
If so, wouldn’t it be better that I think of other excuses rather than explaining the purpose of a brothel.
Thinking of a convenient excuse is also one of the filth of adults.
I couldn’t grasp the correct answer even after thinking over and over. As an adult, as her guardian, what is truly the correct way I should act.
Because I’m not related by blood to her, must I give up to an extent?
……No, that won’t do.
I don’t want to use that as an excuse.
『Not related by blood』. Because it would mean that I’m stepping on the bonds between us.
「……Daddy. ……Are there people who are unsavable……? 」
Suddenly, Ravi’s soft voice broke the silence. The me who was stuck in the labyrinth of thoughts raised a stupefied face. The face that still looked like she’s on the brink of crying stared at me.
「N-No……. That can’t possibly be true……」
「Then, why can’t they be helped……? 」
The questioning gaze was pure. In the face of innocence, no lies are effective. I understood that clearly. If so, there’s nothing I can do. I broke the silence and opened my mouth.
「Today, the place we went to is a place called 『Brothel』. Have you heard of it? 」
Ravi shook her head sideways.
As expected, she didn’t know…….
「Brothel is something like……Ah―……Explaining it……Where men use their money for their desire……No, not that……. Not that meaning……」
I inhaled deeply and give out a heavy sigh.
「Listen, Ravi. When people love each other, they would become couple. And they would want to be in contact of each other with love. Getting relieved and happy when they hug. 」
「Me too, hugging with daddy is happiness……」
……It’s a little different than that but, whatever.
「And because of that. It’s the happiest when you can touch your loved. But not everyone is fateful to find their loved ones. And that is very lonely. To bury that loneliness inside, men would buy the gentle caring of a woman with money. That is the place called brothel. 」
「Buying gentle caring……」
Ravi repeated my words and became silent as if in deep thought.
「Daddy, is it not good to buy someone’s care? 」
「……No. The sadness, loneliness and his hardships are only the person himself would know. So, it would be wrong to assume it is bad. 」
「……I also understand loneliness and sadness……. Before daddy came…… I was also lonely……」
「Ah……! But I’m not lonely now! 」
Ravi added on panickily while trying to smile.
I returned back a smile and patted her head.
「Just that……I think that it’s still a sad thing to buy love with money. Because of that, I didn’t want Ravi to be near that place. 」
「You refused because of that……? 」
Ravi’s brows frowned as if in deep pondering.
She’s thinking desperately.
She’s a child that’s why an adult must lead the way. I realized the me who decided so on my own was wrong again. Even though I said that I would discuss with her.
What am I even doing……?
「Ravi, sorry for many things……」
「I’m sorry too……. Daddy, I didn’t understand a single bit even though you were worrying about me……. B-but say……. I like the daddy who will help everyone……」
「That’s why……The people in trouble, I want you to help……」
Having Ravi pushing my back really made my heart felt light. My will to protect Ravi haven’t changed a bit as a matter of fact. But I want to be an adult that doesn’t do actions that will disappoint Ravi.
Turning away from the people in trouble, caring only for her in a small world. That’s not what she herself wish for.
I should pay more attentions towards the others. I must be able to protect my important ones without letting her get hurt too. To do that, I need myself to be a bigger vessel.
「Ravi. Tomorrow, we will visit the brothel together again. 」
Ravi’s expression brightened like the sun.
It was obvious with a single glance. It was the correct choice.
As I thought about that――……
Ravi covered her stomach while looking embarrassed. It seems like that was the bell of her tummy.
「We haven’t had our dinner right. Let’s go down to the first floor and ask if they can get you something. 」
Although the time for dinner had long past, they would probably still serve at least soup and bread.
I took Ravi with me and went down to the dining hall. Coincidentally, the landlady was in the middle of wiping the tables. The inn’s landlady is a hunched old lady with a bun tied on her head.
「Ah. People make their own food when it’s past the dinner serving time here. The ingredients are on the shelf there. The meat is there. Note down how much you used. And the extra charge will be added on your lodging fees. 」
I was overwhelmed by the sudden instructions given. The landlady threw the rag into the bucket and left the dining hall. There are other inns who rent their kitchen and tools to their occupants too. But as expected, to use ingredients and report how much they’ve used is a first even for me.
I went past the counter into the kitchen.
As I peeked inside the shelf that I was pointed to…….
「Round carrots, monster chives, parrot eggs. Also, oriental garlic. 」
Then, I opened the box where all the meat is kept. There was thinly sliced orc meat stored together with a huge block of ice. The image that float to my mind was an energizing meat dish. A stamina stir-fried1.
The volume is just right to fill Ravi too. As I decided what to cook, I immediately started preparing. I rolled up my sleeves and washed my hands thoroughly. I put the meat onto the worktable to let it heat to room temperature. During that time, I will wash and cut up some vegetables.
「I will help too……」
「Oh, thanks. Then, Ravi, how about help me wash the carrot and chives? 」
Meanwhile, I diced the garlic. And next is cutting up the vegetables that Ravi had washed. The peeled carrot is shredded while the chives are cut into 3-centimeter intervals.
Adding salt to the orc meat, sprinkling with pepper and using a little sake to remove the meaty smell.
「Well then, next is frying it. 」
Putting oil on the hot frying pan, I put in the diced garlics, a nice smell started drifting from the kitchen. Smelling that, the empty stomach becomes increasingly hungry. Using a strong flame over the garlic would char it quickly.
When the smell of the garlic rose, I moved them to a small plate. And now, putting the orc meat inside. The crackling sound of frying started to be heard. Although it’s sliced thin, orc meat must be cooked thoroughly.
After confirming the pink had disappeared completely, the carrot is next. The chives will be the last, and after that, a little more stir-frying. The flavoring will be simple with some salt and the garlic just now.
The knack of any stir-fried dish is to grasp the time. Cooking the vegetables while maintaining its crispness. After making do with a simple food presentation, it’s done.
「Ravi, it’s done. 」
「Wa……! I’m getting plates and fork. 」
「Alright, thanks. 」
The stamina stir-fried, a basket full of bread, and a bowl of soup was on the tray. After picking it up, I took it to the table in the dining hall. Ravi followed behind.
「Let’s eat shall we. 」
We lowered our heads to the dishes that are made in joint effort. The first is the stamina stir-fried. Using the fork and getting a harmony of vegetables and meat. Then, putting it into the mouth……
The fragrance of the chives comes first. Then, the meat juice accompanied by the appetizing mild spiciness of the garlic. The carrot accents the dish even more. Because the saltiness was just right, the bread in the basket is disappearing quickly.
「Daddy, really delicious……! 」
Ravi who had her cheeks stuffed full said happily and I happily nodded back.
「Eat up a lot. There’s still soup left. 」
Ravi who beamed held the bowl with two hands.
「The soup is nice too……」
Ravi sighed happily a few times after putting the bowl down and had her hands on her cheeks. She really eats it deliciously. The corner of my eyes lowered naturally from the sight.
Having a warm meal together with Ravi is joy. When I realized it anew, there was a fuss from the stairs.
「Hey there, what you’re making? 」
「I could even smell it from the corridor upstairs. 」
The guests of the inn came down to the dining hall one by one. The surroundings became bustling suddenly. They were sniffing while staring our plates. Even now, they’re having a craving expression.
「Ah-……If it’s fine, would you like some too? 」
「……!! Is it fine!? 」
Again, I cooked another batch of stamina stir-fried for the others. The seasoning was the same. But because of the human count, I had put in more cabbage.
「Alright. It’s done. 」
The lined-up people on the counter cheered while looking this way. I put the big platter with all the stamina stir-fried on the table. As I passed out the forks, they started digging in all at once.
「Delicious! The meat taste really seeps through……! 」
「The crispy tender vegetables is the best! 」
「Yeah, it’s the first time I ever had any stir-fried vegetables as tasty as this! 」
They really praised it too much. I put my hand over my head as if shied.
「Are you the one who made it? 」
Among the guests, the oldest person asked me.
「No way……. A single male who can’t help but to learn cooking by himself. 」
「Raising a daughter by himself. Hic……! It’s such a touching story! 」
「Oi, someone bring out the wine! 」
「I’m gonna go get my bottle from my room! 」
「Me too!! 」
A few people rushed up the second floor. They returned with a cheap looking bottle of wine not long after.
「Now, let’s drink―! 」
「Delicious side dishes with cheap wine! I like that! 」
For some reason, it had progressed into a huge feast. I smiled wryly as I looked at Ravi. Ravi was still, working on her meal happier than ever. Ravi’s joy is the number one priority. The time progressed later in the night while accompanied with laughers in the dining hall.