Chapter 2: The Younger Sister’s Determination
The sound of tableware clinking together rang out.
In the midst of the astonished gazes focused on him, Tohru ate his meal without a word.
It wasn’t like his manners were exemplary to begin with, but right now he was stuffing his face with reckless abandon, not stopping once to savor the food.
Cram in a mouthful. Chew. Gulp it down. Take a swig of water, then cram more inside. Repeat.
Over and over again, as if it were a mechanical process.
He looked neither pleased nor perturbed by the quality of the food. Though there was probably no greater insult to the chef, Tohru wasn’t even tasting it. He was eating only to replenish his bodily nutrients.
It had been only a little over three hours since then.
Upon gathering wild plants in the forest he’d come across a lone girl, an encounter which had eventually brought him face-to-face with a Feyra unicorn. He had lost most of his energy and a lot of blood after protecting the girl from the unicorn and buying her time to activate her magic. On top of all that, he’d activated a technique that he hadn’t used in about two years, “Iron-Blood Transformation”.
This “Iron-Blood Transformation” in particular consumed a horribly large amount of his stamina.
To be honest, it was a miracle he was still standing. The skill had siphoned all his strength, and he was now essentially walking the tightrope between consciousness and unconciousness.
As a result, Tohru found himself to be ferociously hungry, and their first stop once back in Del Solant was a diner. Incidentally, the stack of empty plates in front of him had held enough food for more than five people.
It was already early afternoon, and the diner was bustling.
At first, the people around Tohru didn’t pay him any mind, but after a while they could no longer ignore the fact that a young boy was downing all this food, stacking plate after plate without a word.
After cleaning his sixth plate, Tohru looked up.
“One more just like that.”
“…Yeah, yeah, I gotcha.”
Through a small window that connected the kitchen with the dining room, he saw the chef nod, looking irritated.
“Eat, too much,” muttered the silver-haired, violet-eyed girl with a frown as she watched Tohru.
That was what she had told Tohru to call her. He knew next to nothing about her, truthfully, but the important thing was that she had said she would pay for the meal. Tohru was penniless, and he didn’t have an ounce of pride.
“Unreasonable. Eat, too much. Stomach, shocking.”
“You’ve got the money, don’t you?”
Chaika gave a nod, but didn’t look happy about it.
“Then no big deal. People get hungry after they work, y’know.”
Well, she had said she would treat him to breakfast as compensation for guiding her here. But she was probably also thinking that not precisely confirming the amount, or rather, the budget beforehand was a mistake.
Tohru then took a piece of bread out of a basket beside him and began to devour that as well, tearing the bread into small strips.
He wasn’t just eating anything and everything he could. Actually, Tohru had been taught that in order to replenish nutrients most effectively, the order in which he ate mattered. The brain sent signals to the stomach to release digestion enzymes based on the stomach’s current state, and he was coinciding his eating habits with when he thought his stomach would be releasing those enzymes. So this manner of eating was actually pretty effective.
Tohru had just finished scarfing his bread, when—
He froze in place.
For some reason, out of the blue, every patron in the restaurant froze as well.
No, for it to be “out of the blue” meant that there was absolutely no reason for it. It was more like an instinct. When a rabbit comes face-to-face with a tiger, it instinctively cowers. It was likely the diner patrons were experiencing the same phenomenon.
“You didn’t come back, so I was worried.”
“What on earth is my dear brother doing here?”
Tohru mustered up his willpower, and turned around to face the entrance of the restaurant.
Standing there was—a single girl.
She had a long, lean figure, and black hair tied in a ponytail. Her eyes narrowed into long slits were beautiful, but—when she stared at you with those half-lidded eyes, there was an intimidating air about her.
Akari. Tohru’s younger sister.
She briskly made her way through the restaurant, toward Tohru and Chaika’s table.
Instinctively, the restaurant’s patrons moved out of her way, making a path for her. They had no idea why she was here. Her eyebrows weren’t raised in anger nor was her face crimson, but she gave off a raging heat as she walked nonetheless. None of them could hide their fear.
“Oh, Akari—no, well, this is…”
Panicked, Tohru struggled to find the words.
Come to think of it, it was already the middle of the day—though he had left the house with the intent of procuring breakfast for the two of them, it was now way too late for that. With no consideration towards his hungry sister he’d left at the house, he had put down enough food for six people, and was about to pick up his seventh plate. There was absolutely no more room for excuses.
Conclusion: All he could do was earnestly apologize.
“…Sorry. I forgot.”
Rather than considering her brother’s grandiose apology, Akari narrowed her eyes at him, and then looked behind and noticed Chaika, whose eyes were wide in surprise.
“…I smell blood,” she murmured.
As a stopgap measure, Tohru’s back, which had been sliced open by the unicorn’s tusk in one go, had been stitched up with some needle and thread which Chaika had on hand—both the clothes and the skin—so he had thought he was pretty inconspicuous. As expected of his sister, she seemed to have noticed something unusual about her brother immediately.
“Ah, no, this is just…”
“It might be unbecoming for someone like me to say this, but…”
“Just what do you think you’re doing, deflowering this girl that looks to be a child?”
Tohru looked at Chaika.
Chaika didn’t seem to know what she meant, since she was just staring blankly.
“What is it, dear brother?”
“There are all sorts of things I’d like to say to that, but now’s not the time. Point is, you’re wrong.”
“Is that so?” Akari tilted her head. “Then what am I misunderstanding? Please enlighten your stupid sister, dear brother. This scent clinging to you is without a doubt that of a deflowered girl on the cusp of womanhood.”
“Suspect a wound first!” Tohru shouted, striking the table.
Akari tilted her head to the other side. “But that would be strange.”
“What’s so strange about it?”
“It’d be strange if you got injured just going to the mountains.”
Tohru heaved a sigh.
Well, the fact that she had faith in him to that extent made him somewhat glad.
“Moreover, leading around a girl you don’t even know, I doubt you’d be able to keep your sexual desires in check.”
“Don’t say dirty things like that!”
After all, they were currently in a restaurant full of people.
“But if that’s the case, you always have your non-blood-related younger sister right here, so it would be more logical for you to express your sexual desire towards me first. I might not be to your liking, but the desire of man is—”
“Shut up. Just shut up already,” Tohru said with something like a moan. “Or rather, just take a look at this.”
Tohru reached around to his back and lifted his clothing up just a bit. The wound was visible enough to see the signs of a sewing job.
She seemed to be as surprised as one would expect, as her eyes went wide.
“Do you understand now?”
“Yes. I understand. It seems I’ve made a grave misunderstanding.”
“If you get it, then good. If you get it. Oh yeah, since you’ve come all this way, your food is also—”
Without even hearing Tohru’s words, she fixed her gaze upon Chaika.
“I will kill her.”
Akari determinedly walked towards Chaika, but Tohru leapt up and stopped Akari by twisting her arms behind her back. Right now she didn’t have the hammer; but that didn’t mean he could relax. Akari could crush an apple with her bare hands. It wasn’t like she was particularly muscular, but as she was a member of the Acura clan she was certainly no novice.
“You don’t get it at all, do you!?”
“Of course I do. You were done in by this girl. And since she gave my exalted brother that wound, my gentle, understanding self might not be able to hold back, either.”
“Exactly what part of you is ‘gentle’ and ‘understanding’? And are you respecting me or insulting me? I can never tell!”
Aparrently Akari thought Chaika had given him that wound.
“…Am I mistaken?”
With Tohru still holding her back, Akari turned around and looked at him over her shoulder.
“You are. Definitely.”
“But there is no other way to hurt you than distracting you with your fetish for young girls.”
“Exactly what kind of person do you think I am?”
“It was a Feyra,” he murmured in another language entirely.
If word got out on this side of town that a destructive beast had appeared, it would cause a huge uproar. They would probably say things like, “That guy encountered a beast of destruction and lived to tell the tale? Just what in the world is he?” It would make keeping his family name secret and hiding himself within the refugee district of Del Solant a moot point.
Akari immediately narrowed her eyes.
“For whatever reason, I met a Feyra. By chance, I happened to meet this girl, Chaika, and I got her to help me defeat it. She’s a wizard, and there’s a Gundo in that coffin there.”
In the town of Acura, there was a code language that only the Acura clan knew of. These words made it so that anyone around them would have no idea what they were talking about, but they also indicated to Akari that this was a serious matter.
“And so this girl’s actually my benefactor. It’s lunchtime now, but this girl offered to pay for our breakfast in return for me guiding her. We’ve had enough plants already, so eat up.”
Akari nodded her head.
At the same time Tohru released his hold on her.
“I apologize, dear brother.”
“Finally, you understand.”
“I had thought that since you’d been out of work and lying around all day, your sexual desire was full to burst—”
“Shut up already.”
He scowled at her.
“Anyway…since you went through the trouble of coming here, we can both get fed. Her treat.”
Akari looked in Chaika’s direction, and after a long sigh, Chaika nodded.
“I see. Then I’ll have the special of the day, enough for four people.”
“When you didn’t come back, I got worried, used my hidden technique, and ended up looking all around town for you. As such, I am quite famished.”
“…Wait, you shouldn’t use the technique like…ah, never mind. Whatever.”
Well, it was true that Akari could also use the “Iron-Blood Transformation” technique.
“Well, sorry, but I guess that’s how it is.”