Chapter 2: The Younger Sister’s Determination
The sound of tableware clinking together could be heard.
Despite the many astonished looks focused on him, Tohru continued his meal without saying a word.
He wasn’t by nature a polite eater, but this was far worse; he ate as if he was being cornered. It definitely didn’t look like he was enjoying eating his meal.
Cram in a mouthful. Chew. Gulp it down. Take a swig of water, then cram more inside. Repeat.
Over and over again, as if he were performing a simple mechanical operation.
It wasn’t delicious, nor was it disgusting.
There was probably no greater insult to the chef that made it, but Tohru wasn’t even tasting the food. He was eating for the sole purpose of replenishing nutrients.
It had only been a little over three hours since then.
While gathering wild plants in the forest, he had come across a girl who was all by herself, and then came face to face with a Feyra unicorn. He had ran around trying to protect the girl from the unicorn, buying time so she could use her magic while losing quite a bit of blood and stamina in the process, and then on top of that used a technique that he hadn’t used in about two years, “Iron-Blood Transformation”.
In particular, this “Iron-Blood Transformation” consumed a bizarre amount of stamina.
To be honest, after all that it was a miracle he had managed to keep from collapsing. He had dragged all the natural strength out of his body by force, and was now walking the tightrope called “limits”.
As a result…Tohru found himself to be ferociously hungry, and the instant he had set foot back in Del Solant, they headed to a diner. By now, there were enough empty plates stacked on top of each other in front of him to hold portions for more than five people.
It was already afternoon, so business was booming.
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 raised his head and spoke.
“One more just like that.”
Through a small window that connected the kitchen with the dining room, the chef nodded, though he looked annoyed.
“Eat, too much,” muttered the silver-haired, purple-eyed girl as she furrowed her brows, looking at Tohru.
That was what she had told Tohru to call her. He did not yet know her background, but right now the important thing was that she had said she would pay for the meal. Tohru didn’t have an ounce of pride, and he was completely penniless.
“Unreasonable. Eat, too much. Stomach, shocking.”
“More importantly, you have money, right?”
Chaika gave a nod, but didn’t look happy about it.
“Then there’s no problem. I did some work, and I got hungry afterwards. That’s all.”
Well, she had said she would treat him to breakfast if he guided her this far. But she was probably also thinking that not precisely confirming the amount, or rather, the budget beforehand was a mistake.
After that, Tohru picked up a bread basket next to him and began to eat the contents of it as well, tearing the bread into small strips.
He wasn’t just eating anything and everything randomly. 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 consumed the last piece of bread in the basket, 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, and this was pretty much the same thing. The rabbit probably isn’t aware of why it does such a thing, but that’s just how it is.
“You didn’t come back, so I was worried.”
“What on earth is my Nii-sama doing here?”
Tohru mustered up his willpower, and turned around to face the entrance of the restaurant.
Standing there was—just one girl.
She had a long, lean figure, and black hair that was tied up at the back of her head. Her eyes narrowed into long slits were beautiful, but—when she stared at you with those half-closed 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 didn’t know why she was here. She was only walking—her eyebrows weren’t raised in anger and her face wasn’t red, but she still gave off heat. None of them were able to hide their fear.
“Akari, no, well, this is…”
In a panic, Tohru struggled to find the words.
Come to think of it, it was already the middle of the day—he had left the house with the intention of procuring breakfast, and it was way too late for that. With no thought to the sister who he had left waiting at the house without food, he had put down enough 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.
For the time being, Tohru’s back, which had been sliced open by the unicorn’s tusk in a single blow, 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 a 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 Nii-sama?”
“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, devoid of expression.
“Then what am I misunderstanding? Please enlighten your stupid sister, Nii-sama. This scent clinging to you is without a doubt the smell of blood, of a girl on the cusp of womanhood whom you’ve deflowered.”
“Suspect a wound first!” Tohru shouted as he struck the table.
But Akari tilted her head to the other side and spoke.
“But that would be strange.”
“What’s so strange about it?”
“It’d be strange if my Nii-sama got injured just by 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, assuming you led around a girl you didn’t even know, I doubt you’d be able to keep your sexual desires in check.”
“Don’t say disgraceful 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 entire wound wasn’t visible, but even Akari could see the remnants 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, and Tohru automatically stopped her 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 since 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. This girl did you in. And she gave my respected Nii-sama that wound, so 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’t tell!”
It seemed like Akari thought Chaika gave him that wound.
“…Am I mistaken?”
Still held back, Akari turned her head and looked at him over her shoulder as she asked that.
“But there is no other way to hurt Nii-sama than by distracting him with his fetish for young girls.”
“Exactly what kind of person do you think I am?”
“It was a Feyra.”
He lowered his voice as he said this, and changed his words. 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?” If it came to that, there would no longer be any point to going so far out of his way to keep his family name secret and hiding himself within the refugee district of Del Solant.
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 were code words that were 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 at the same time, using these words also indicated to Akari that this was a serious matter.
“And so this girl’s actually my benefactor. But even though now it’s lunch, this girl offered to pay for our breakfast in return for me guiding her. We’ve eaten enough wild plants already, so eat up.”
Akari nodded her head.
At the same time Tohru released his hold on her.
“I’m sorry, Nii-sama.”
“I’m glad you finally get it.”
“I had thought that since Nii-sama has been out of work and lying around all day, his sexual desire was—”
“Just shut up already.”
“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.”