Chapter 36: Sometimes, even if the Situation doesn’t Change, just Changing your Outlook is Enough.
Dawn is finally here.
Well, I say that but it’s only been a few hours since I had returned from my berserk rampage.
I’m not sure if it’s because of my mood, but the chilly morning mist seems to reach my bones as I drop silently from the roof of The Queen Mary’s. The sun hasn’t reached the depths of the streets yet.
Thanks to my cowardice I couldn’t bring myself to go in and face them last night, but now I feel horrible for not checking in on the girls and Maryiste-san. I don’t even know if anyone has been very badly injured … or worse.
The gaping hole in the wall has been covered with sheets tacked up inside, but this will definitely need to be fixed before the next rain. I go to the side and try to enter through the employee door.
I had planned to sneak in quietly to see how they’re doing before sneaking back out, but …
As I tried to so~ftly close the door, there’s a presence behind me.
I turn quickly to find …
A very stern-looking Maryiste-san.
Though my heart is quivering like a puppy that knows it’s done something wrong, I try to pull myself together. If I keep this act of avoiding them, I’ll end up cutting my ties with these people. That, I don’t want. I might as well bite down and bear the blame.
… Maryiste-san, the silence is too long. I can’t take it!
As if responding to the cry of anguish in my heart, Maryiste-san breathed out a long sigh. With that her expression softened, and she said,
“If you were alright, Jun, you should have come back.”
Ah, something inside me broke down.
What was it, something about Maryiste-san looking like that, it somehow reminded me of a time when Grandma, looking at the mess Masaki and I made when we tumbled from the roof and destroyed her precious flowerbed, controlled her emotions and said, “At least the two of you aren’t hurt.”
Like that, I cried. Even though I haven’t cried in years, right now, I cried.
Maryiste gently pulled me into a hug, and I cried into her chest.
When I had calmed down some, Maryiste began talking.
“There’s no need to blame yourself, Jun. I think, even if you were here at that time, it wouldn’t have changed the result, except that you might have gotten badly injured. If we had been fighting just the Dark Wyverns we might have been alright, but we didn’t know we were fighting a larger group supporting them. If it was like this, we’re all lucky we got away with our lives.”
“… But I couldn’t do anything.”
Feeling embarrassed now that I had let out all my emotions, I mumble that into Maryiste-san’s shoulder.
Maryiste pulled me away at arms length, looking me dead in the eye.
“Don’t get us wrong, Jun. We asked you to be a guard, but somewhere along the way you’ve become like a little sister to those girls. If you had gotten yourself hurt for them, I don’t think they could have stood back up after this attack. To me as well, you’re not just a guard anymore. Jun, remember, there are people here that will worry for you.”
Now that we both had calmed down, though I’m still not satisfied that she wasn’t angrier at me, I listened as Maryiste-san told me what had happened.
At first, it was the Dark Wyverns, acting aggressive as usual, but they had brought along people that Maryiste-san had immediately not liked the looks of. It was these people that proposed Maryiste submit The Queen Mary’s to them so that they could do business. When she told me about this, Maryiste had a troubled look on her face. I don’t interrupt her to ask about what the business those people wanted to do was, but I mentally note it to ask later.
When Maryiste refused, the men blew the hole in the wall and attacked the customers as a threat. The stalwart Adventurer customers couldn’t do anything. When those men left, the Dark Wyverns put their hands on the girls.
I felt sick to my stomach when I heard about that. I don’t care if you say they do that kind of thing all the time as a job. Thinking about those men enjoying forcing resisting women; I hate it.
Maryiste tells me that it didn’t last long, though. LeeAnne’s Adventurer Beastkin party members recovered enough from their wounds from the unknown men and managed to drive the Dark Wyverns out before too much damage was done.
GJ trio Beastkin Adventurers. I think their party name was “South Wind” or something like that.
“In the end, the Dark Wyverns were easily beat back and the girls are recovering quickly, but the damage to the shop …”
Maryiste looks around. Probably, it’s not just the damage to the shop and the girls she’s worried about. Their customers will also probably drop for a while because of this incident.
“As if attacks from trash like that could do anything. It neither hurts nor itches.”
As Mariste-san falls silent, Solyana emerges from the back. She has a bit of a limp and her head and arms are all bandaged, but her face is determined as usual. She may be forcing herself to ignore her pain, but Solyana is indeed already recovered to this degree.
“Solyana, you shouldn’t be up and moving around yet… Oh, it’s Jun-chan!”
“There’s no reason for me to be lying down, so why shouldn’t I be up?”
Jarna, a half-elven girl that the customers praise for her listless beauty, came running out chasing after Solyana, but when she saw me, her syrupy voice brought all the other girls out from the back and down from the living quarters even as Solyana retorted at her.
“Jun-chan! Where have you been?!”
“We were so worried, do you know how worried we were?”
“Mou, come back if you’re alright!”
Without a word of blame, the girls showered me with questions while scolding me. And …
Oof! As expected, even though she’s bruised and battered all over, Erina-sama’s tackle hasn’t lost any of its force.
As she rubs up against me, she cries,
“I waf fo wowwieeeeed!”
‘I was so worried,’ I guess?
“Um, I’m fine, Erina-sama, so …”
“Nu-uh, this is your punishment for making us all worried!”
“Oh, good idea!”
“Yeah, take this Jun-chan!”
Uwaaah! It’s touching, they’re all touching! The girls enjoying messing with my nervousness towards their skinship on a regular day, but today they’re going beyond their usual! But, I feel like I don’t have any choice but to put up with it.
It’s already good that they’re so lively. Women are strong!
The front door bangs open, startling all of us as the familiar figure of LeeAnne rushes in. The three Beastkin men aren’t here with her today. Those sturdy men are probably sleeping off their wounds.
“Maryiste, is Jun-dono here?!”
Ah, she stops when she sees the giant pile of girls. The girls reluctantly pull themselves away from me, and when I’m visible, LeeAnne breathes a sigh of relief before she starts talking to me. A-are? I’m sensing a hint of anger. Ah, was it because I yelled at her last night? I vaguely remember doing that.
“Jun-dono, what on earth did you do last night after you left? Right now, everyone’s talking about how the Dark Wyvern’s were completely wiped out!”
Ah … uhoh. If they were already this upset with me for not returning right away, I’m not really sure what they’ll do when this comes to light… How did LeeAnne already know all about it?! And what do you mean everyone’s talking about it?! It just happened a few hours ago!
*gi gi gi*
All of The Queen Mary’s girls’ heads turn creakily to look in my direction.
“Jun… what …”
“Don’t tell me …”
“Hey, you didn’t…”
With a stiff smile on my face and a cold sweat breaking out, I’ve already seated myself in seiza before they had finished turning. It’s really hard to meet their eyes right now.
Ano, Onee-sans, the looks on your faces right now are a little scary …
I fidget a little, then suddenly prostrate myself with a dogeza.
“I’m very sorry, I have gone and done something rash!”
“”” It really was you!”””
The girls and Maryiste explode.
“Jun-chan, what are you thinking?!”
“Hey, what are we supposed to do if you get hurt?!”
“Don’t you ever sneak off and do something like that again!”
“Even if you care about us this much, don’t think we won’t be angry!”
One by one the girls scold me. On one hand they seem happy that I would go that far for them, but it’s greatly outweighed by the livid anger they have towards my reckless behavior. Even though they’ve only known me a little over a week.
Remaining in the dogeza posture, with my forehead to the ground, I can’t help grinning like an idiot while my face is hidden. That I also shed a few tears is a secret.
Ah, I don’t want good people like these to go through something like this again.
Though I haven’t slept, I feel refreshed. Having sorted out my feelings, I understand I can’t stay the same as I have been. Just childishly doing whatever I want without understanding the world I’m in; there’s no way I haven’t been treating this world like a game.
For both my sake and the sakes of the people who will worry about me, I have to start living seriously in this world.
I’m not really sure exactly how to go about it though…
Currently I’m helping restore the shop. Though Maryiste-san was going to hire some workers to come do it, for the things I can do, please let me do them.
Maryiste-san is seated quietly at the bar. It was the request of both the girls and me that she not strain herself too much, so leave the rubble clearing up to us! So they said, but I can’t let the girls, especially the ones who have been injured, lift heavy things, so it’s mostly me clearing the rubble while the girls clean up after me.
Well, I was formerly a man, so leave the heavy lifting to me.
Oh yes, Solyana did want to help despite all of our rejections, but thankfully Erina-sama put her foot down. It seems the power hierarchy in the shop is Maryiste-san > Erina-sama > Solyana. Anyway, after Erina-sama turned stern for a rare moment, Solyana is sitting with Maryiste-san, helping to work through the shop’s budget.
After I returned from taking the rubble to a scrapyard I intended to help the girls finish scrubbing the floors, but they had finished by the time I came back. Most of them had gone back to sleep. Well of course, the Morning Watch bells are only just now sounding. They couldn’t have gotten much more sleep than I had in the time between the attack and the cleaning.
With the sun coming up, Erina-sama is finishing putting out all the lanterns and magic lights we’d been using before she yawns and gives me a light wave, saying,
“Make sure Solyana doesn’t do anything reckless … well, I guess that goes double for you!”
before heading back up to the living quarters.
It amazes me how quickly these girls jumped back from last night’s violence.
“You’re surprised at how quickly they’ve recovered, aren’t you?”
Maryiste-san read my mind.
“Yes. I don’t know if I could do it.”
“It’s because those girls have experienced worse before they came to work for me.”
Maryiste-san looks fondly at Solyana, who has dozed off in one of the chairs we salvaged. A brothel in a time period like this isn’t a place you’d think would have a lot of work benefits, but here at least is a place where the employer cares for her girls and worries about their needs.
There’s a brief silence before I ask,
“Maryiste-san, I realized that there are a lot of places I’m lacking in, especially in my lack of knowledge about this world. I wonder if there are things you could teach me, especially about money.”
“If there are things I can teach you, I don’t mind doing so.”
“Ah, so you realize that you have no common sense after all.”
Thank you for waking up just in time to insult me, Solyana. I can’t refute it anyway.
What Maryiste taught me is that the girls, on average, each earn about 15,000 ecrue a night. That is the number I will engrave into my heart.
I still can’t wrap my head around the worth of ecrue in this world; it’s much like losing track of money when using foreign currency in my former world. Even if you know the exchange rate, you’ll still have a weird disassociation with money when it comes time to buy things. But now, with this number, at least this I’ll know this much; I won’t take that 15,000 ecrue that these women entrust their livelihoods to for granted anymore. Wasting that amount of money would be an insult to them.
While talking to Maryiste and Solyana about the common commodities versus the uncommon commodities (and how to tell which rich people were scammable by Solyana – I won’t use that information, Solyana, definitely not), time went by quickly until just about noon.
I insisted on going to buy the girls lunch – er, breakfast – as an apology for making them worry. Anyway, after injuries, they’ll need good food, and I don’t want Maryiste to have to worry about more finances and just let them eat their fill.
I did consider offering to pay for the repairs to the shop, but somehow … I couldn’t bring it up to Maryiste.
Anyway, after buying way too much food from the food stalls, and getting way too much for free, on my way back, there were two familiar figures that I didn’t expect to see in front of The Queen Mary’s.
“Are? Lor, Niera? What are you doing here?”
<A/N: Rather than a brothel harem, looks like Jun got some older sisters. At the moment, it’s looking like men are attracted to Jun, and Jun is attracted to women. Of course, this is from first impressions. How things go after Jun and her flags get to know each other … even I don’t know! Anyway, Jun will probably prefer crafting and adventuring over romance.>