Chapter 3, Part 4
With a long sigh, Tohru continued his story.
“We viewed the attack on the merchants who had come to our village the same way we would a direct attack on us. Though we hadn’t wouldn’t go so far as to call them family, they were people we had cooperated with. So, to ensure that nothing like this ever happened again, we decided it was necessary to make an ‘example’ out of the perpetrators.”
Saboteurs weren’t bound to the rules of any country.
They would sell out their talent to anyone who desired it.
And so there was no way they would let anyone get away with slaughtering one of their partners. They would mercilessly crush the perpetrators with everything they had. It was for the safety of the Acura village, but it was also a good way for them to showcase the skills they had for sale.
“All together, we found the bandits or whatever they were—the bunch of guys that had attacked Jasmine’s group—and annihilated them. We killed every one of them, and left their bodies on the road for all to see.”
Tohru nodded his head gloomily.
Sure, they had destroyed the enemy. Though they weren’t able to tell which one of them had personally killed Jasmine and her child, they made sure that all of them got their just desserts. Tohru, too, had participated in the annihilation of the bandits, though he was limited to just standing watch.
“But that didn’t bring Jasmine or her child back to life. She had died pointlessly without leaving anything behind, and there was nothing we could do about it.”
Chaika only blinked in apparent surprise.
Tohru continued on, rather self-deprecatingly.
“And so that’s why…I wanted to change the world itself.”
“I wanted to leave behind proof that I had lived. Using all my own strength, I wanted to accomplish something that I could leave for the future. I wanted to keep going until my spirit had burnt out.”
That was at least better than wishing for peace and stripping away your tusks and fangs, only to vanish pointlessly.
In those turbulent times, he would rather leave a scratch on the world before dying.
That was what he had thought.
“And that’s why I’m a saboteur. I didn’t know of any other path. And for that reason, I trained like my life depended on it. Really.”
Literally, he had trained to the brink of death.
Like he had been obsessed with it—
“I looked forward to my first battle. I could do things that the average knight or soldier couldn’t. I didn’t want honor or accolades. I—just wanted to feel that I had changed the world in some way.”
It was for that reason, he had thought, that he had been born in the Acura village.
Telling himself that over and over, Tohru continued to push through his rigorous training.
“Then, the war ended.”
“Combat became frowned upon.”
The saboteur skills that Tohru had continued to polish—the only “means of changing the world” that he had at his disposal—were suddenly prohibited. On top of that, saboteurs were now on the run from influential people who regarded them as “fear-mongerers who disturb the peace.”
It was true that saboteurs were well-versed in many things. But as expected, their true strength could be brought out only on the battlefield—without that he couldn’t change the world. With his skills he could do something like slice potatoes and radishes, but for cooking purposes a kitchen knife was much more suitable—like how you couldn’t use a sword for its intended purpose anywhere but in combat.
A sword without a battlefield was completely useless.
And so, that was the story. He didn’t see any benefit in changing his mind after all this time. From then on he hadn’t engaged in any more superficial training.
Chaika called his name as if she had just now realized something.
Chaika extended her hand and placed her palm upon Tohru’s shoulder.
“Jasmine-san. Meaning, existed.”
“Tohru, remembers. Will be, on Tohru’s mind. Always.”
Jasmine had also said something like that.
“All the people I meet will remember the things I did.”
That’s right. He couldn’t forget that.
Then, she asserted more strongly—
“Sad story. But…”
Chaika slid her hand off of Tohru’s shoulder and across his back. Then with both arms, she embraced his body and clung to him.
“Wait…what are you…!?”
“Surely, reason for Tohru saving me.”
As if her hand was searching for something, she began to stroke Tohru’s back.
Across the wound that he had received from the unicorn, which had still not healed.
This was an unexpected development.
But—if he thought about it more, it was—
Back on the mountain, when they had first met, Tohru probably could have just abandoned Chaika and made a run for it. At the very least, if he hadn’t tried to protect her, he probably wouldn’t have received that wound. It really was a spur-of-the-moment thing—but why exactly did he act on such a whim?
Saboteurs prized rationality just as much as they avoided honor and accolades.
That meant that sometimes they were despised as heartless and cruel people.
If a saboteur was going to as far as to expose himself to danger to save another person, there had better be a good reason for doing it.
But at that time, Tohru had risked his life to protect a girl he had only just met. What reason did he have for doing that? Rather, in that situation, ditching the stupid girl and escaping would have been the more rational option by far. So why had he not decided to do that?
Chaika couldn’t be more different from Jasmine.
As a matter of fact, one would be hard-pressed to find any similarities between the two.
“To Jasmine-san. Am grateful.”
Chaika said, still embracing Tohru.
With her right hand, she gently caressed the wound on Tohru’s back.
Tohru was at a loss for words.
Chaika’s reasoning was rather high-handed, as if she was trying to force a cause from the effect by making it up on the spot. Even if the Jasmine incident never happened, Tohru probably would have found another reason to protect Chaika. His entire set of values wasn’t based on the Jasmine incident alone.
However, that incident had actually greatly influenced Tohru’s present character.
“Just like that, all our lives are connected.”
Giving birth to life.
Saving a life.
If both of these things could similarly connect lives to each other, then perhaps—
“Incidentally,” an icy voice inquired, “I would greatly love to know what your intentions are with your current actions.”
Tohru pushed Chaika away in a panic.
He had merely been going along with the mood, but to someone who had just entered the room behind him it probably looked like Tohru and Chaika had been hugging each other.
“Wait, this isn’t…this is just…”
Panicked, Tohru turned towards the voice.
Akari stood there, expressionless as always, but—in her hand was a wooden pestle.
Most likely she had been using it to break down and mix the newly-bought ingredients- the tip was coated with a fine, brightly-colored powder, probably poison.
With a quick, sharp motion, Akari pointed the pestle at Tohru.
“If you have any excuse, I’d like to hear it.”
“Ah—no. That is to say, you’re wrong. This was, Chaika was, to the wound on my back, she was—”
What reason did he have to be so flustered? Though even he himself didn’t know, he kept making excuses.
“If she was simply doing a medical examination of your back, wouldn’t it make more sense for her to go around you to examine it?”
“You—can’t you let me finish explaining just this once!?” shouted Tohru.
During all this, Chaika was just looking back and forth in puzzlement at Tohru and Akari’s exchanges, appearing as though she had no idea whether or not she had done anything wrong. To her, there really weren’t any deeper suggestions behind touching Tohru’s wounded back.
“My goodness, it appears even Nii-sama is hopeless. You’re finally interested in doing some work after all this time, and then you go and seduce our client.”
She shrugged her shoulders as if to imply “good grief.” However, she was as usual near-expressionless, so the gesture just looked terrifying.
“Are you implying I often make moves on people?” Tohru groaned.
“You mean you wouldn’t?”
Tohru glared at Akari.
“Besides, I haven’t done anything here, either. Chaika was just—this, my back, she was merely checking the wound on it. It’s nothing I should feel guilty for. If you’d just looked closer, you would have understood,” Tohru said, pointing to Chaika.
Of course, Chaika only blinked and tilted her head quizzically, completely innocent. Actually, speaking of innocence, Tohru had never asked her age, but exactly how the hell old was she? She vaguely had the appearance of being in her middle teens, but if that was the case then she should know exactly what embracing a member of the opposite sex implied.
But that aside…
“I see. All right. That is indeed my Nii-sama.”
Akari nodded with satisfaction.
“My Nii-sama tries to protect pure maidens, and even I have to admire that incredible sense of virtue.”
“I doubt you really believe that.”
“And so, ‘Chaika Trabant’.”
She once again pointed the wooden pestle, this time towards Chaika.
Even if you are our client,there’s no way I can hand over Nii-sama’s virginity to you. But if you’re determined to take it at any cost, then let’s play rock-paper-scissors for it.”
“Seriously, rock-paper-scissors? Actually, just shut up for eternity!” Tohru shouted, striking the wall.