Chapter 5 The Girl Who Cried Wolf
“Wahhhh! Hic! Sniff… hic… waahhhh!”
“Do you know to how to soothe a child?”
“I don’t either”
At a slight distance away, John and I were both huddled up and whispering to each other as the fox girl cried.
“Tagami, you have nothing to worry about!”
“You should probably take off your hel-”
“Just leave everything to me!”
With a voice inflated with confidence, John walked towards the girl taking big strides completely ignoring what I was going to say.
Creeping up near the fox girl, John kept his hands up in front of himself, as if to say he came in peace.
“Little fox girl, we’re taking you away!”
“Hic… Nooo! I… sniff… I hic not taste good…hic”
With a look of dread, the fox girl backed away further as John tried to approach her. I could see genuine tears of fright in her eyes.
John came back looking like he had lost a high steak battle. His arms were hanging low, and his body bent forward in defeat.
“Are you trying to kidnap her…? And take off your helmet! I’d be damn scared if someone like you approached me if was a kid as well!”
Damn! Looks like I can’t rely on John.
Walking past John, I decided to give it a shot.
“Don’t worry, I won’t eat you”
I slowly approached her without any ill intent.
“What’s your name?”
“… N-no have”
She answered in a shaky voice while I slowly inched forward.
“Do you remember what happened to you before you fell unconscious?”
The fox girl spoke a little more clearly. It seemed she had calmed down a little.
“Heckman transferred you over to me”
I sat down in front of her, and pat her head as I talked. Her eyes opened wide as I explained what happened while she was unconscious.
“Then… new master?”
I nodded my head and stuck out my hand in front of her.
As if guiding a lost child, we walked back to where John was, hand in hand.
“Alright John, let’s go”
With an ecstatic expression, he hurriedly ran to his wagon and climbed into the driver seat. Because there wasn’t enough room for three people, the little fox girl looked back and forth at me and the last remaining seat.
“Hmm, how about we do this?”
I lifted her up, and sat down with her on my lap.
“Wah! Sit, master, ok?”
“Yes, it’s fine”
With things finally settling down again, we were back on our way to Runebelle.
“Mr. Tagami, shouldn’t you give her a name?”
With my thoughts wandering off back into dreamland, John reminded me of an unresolved issue.
“Hmm… how about Cece?
I looked at the small fox girl with big round eyes sitting on my lap.
“Do you like it?”
Cece revealed a bright beaming smile, happier than anyone I’ve ever seen before. Looking at her, it made me smile as well.
Maybe having a slave won’t be so bad.
Without any more disturbances, we safely made it to Runebelle just before sunset.
“Mr. Tagami, this is where we part ways”
“Thanks for the ride”
With a polite tone, John headed off towards the Guild Hall. I suppose he wanted to turn in the frog carcasses right away. Though I can’t really blame him, there were a lot of frogs in his wagon…
I thought of going directly to the guild as well, to turn in my frog legs, but there was something else I needed to attend to first.
“Cece, let’s get you some clothes”
Holding her hand, I walked around the busy streets until I found a shop that sold cheap clothes.
An elderly lady that was hunched over and had grey hair greeted us as we walked inside her small store.
“Good evening, I’m looking for clothes that will fit this girl here”
“Oh my, isn’t she just the cutest thing ever!”
The elderly woman walked over to Cece, and began touching her all over, as if she were a plush toy. Cece kept looking over at me, as if asking for help with her eyes.
“Uhh… lady, I don’t think Cece enjoys being touched like that”
“Oh! Is that so? Your slave is so cute that I couldn’t quite help myself. Allow me to apologize by giving you a discount on whatever cloths you want to purchase for her”
As soon as the old lady finished talking and let go of her, Cece quickly darted behind me and held onto my leg. She poked out her head, watching the elderly lady in fear from behind me, as if she were a dangerous existence.
“I’ve never chosen clothes for little girls before, what do you recommend for someone her size?”
“Oh? Is that so? In that case, allow me to take a few measurements before I recommend anything!”
With eyes beaming directly at Cece, even I felt a few shivers run down my spine at her words. Cece behind me was also shaking in fear.
I looked behind, and called her name. She looked back at me with big round eyes, and shook her head vigorously. She really didn't like the idea of that elderly women taking her measurements.
I looked back at the elderly woman with a serious expression,
“Go for it”
Like a cat that had found a small mouse, the elderly lady pounced behind me and seized Cece before she could react. She moved at an illogical speed completely unfit for someone her age.
Is she really an old lady?!!
Cece was quickly dragged off into the back room as the door slammed shut.
“Oh yes! Wonderful! Wonderful!”
“n-no… no! no! no!”
I feel kind of sorry for Cece now…
“Yes! Yes! Yes! Just a little more! Come here!”
“Auuu! Ahhh! ......”
After a moment of silence, the door to the back room slowly opened, and they both came out.
Cece looked straight at me with an expression as if she had been both violated and betrayed, as she slumped back over to me.
Sorry Cece, I don’t know what happened back there, but it was for your benefit!
“Oh my! She has such a wonderful body~ fufufu!”
The old lady began blushing as she talked.
I feel like I’ve encountered a similar situation before... For now, I'll pretend like I didn't hear anything...
“What do you recommend?”
“About that, could you come back tomorrow around noon? I have nothing in here for her at this time, but you can take a few different dresses if you need spare clothes for her to wear”
Taking the old lady’s offer, I grabbed a few one pieces that looked like it would fit Cece, and had her change into one right away. Coming out from the back room again, Cece was wearing black shoes with a tan colored once piece.
“Thanks I’ll come back tomorrow”
Just as I turned around to leave the store, a question popped into my mind.
Come to think of it, how did the shop lady know Cece was slave? When I glanced over her, she didn’t have any weird markings on her arms or legs, or even have on a kind of slave collar around her neck like what I’ve read in novels.
“By the way, how did you know Cece was a slave?”
I turned back slightly, and threw out my question.
“Oh, you mean you don’t know? It’s different for humans, but for demi-humans, they usually have a certain part of their body cut off. For demi-humans like that fox girl there, they have their tail cut off aside from the enslavement crest that’s placed on their back”
The old lady talked in a serious tone.
“But many slaves have worked hard enough to become free on their own, so be mindful of who you judge”
“I see, thanks. I’ll keep that in mind”
As the lady finished talking, I thanked her and left the store holding onto Cece’s hand.
Outside, the sun had almost finished setting. We actually spent a fair amount of time inside the clothes shop. I wanted to visit the Guild Hall right after, but Cece was sucking on her thumb. Was she hungry?
“Cece, are you hungry?”
When I looked down at her and asked, she shook her head and looked at the ground as we continued walking.
We didn’t eat anything on the ride here, so I knew she had to be hungry. Maybe she was just too shy to say anything?
“Let’s get some dinner”
Holding her hand, I guided her over to a what looked like a restaurant.
“Hello, please have a seat over here. We’ll be right with you”
Inside, we were greeted and seated by a waiter.
It seems like this world had proper waiters. It was much different from what I had envisioned.
I glanced over the menu, and everything was decently cheap.
“Cece, what would you like to eat?”
There was no way a child like her wouldn’t be hungry. When I gazed at her from across the table, she looked down, staring at the top of the table.
“What would you like to order?”
The waiter from before had come back, and asked what I wanted to eat.
“Give me your evening special, and for the fox girl, get her the kid’s daily special”
“I’m sorry, is your slave eating with you?”
As soon as I had answered, the waiter gave me a look of shock.
I realized why Cece had been adamantly saying she wasn’t hungry now.
When I glanced around the room out of the corner of my eyes, there were others who were already seated, staring at me strangely.
“Yes, is there a problem with it?”
“We don’t serve slaves here”
Although I couldn’t see Cece’s face, I knew she felt some kind of emotional pain. Her ears immediately drooped down as the waiter finished her sentence.
I got up from my chair angrily, picked up Cece with both of my arms and walked out of the restaurant before the waiter could say anything else.
It was frustrating. I wasn’t mad at the restaurant, or even at their policy. I was mad at myself. Something like shops not accepting slaves was what I should have anticipated. Instead, I rashly entered at my own pace and embarrassed not only myself, but Cece as well.
Outside, I found a food vendor and bought some skewers from him. I handed over two to Cece, and we both sat down on a bench to eat as the sun dipped down into the other side of the world, vanishing from the sky.
I watched as the orange in the sky faded into dark blue while munching on my skewers.
Restaurants are overrated anyways! I never really liked eating out back in my world, and even less inside the school’s cafeteria. These food venders outside are a godsend! I don’t think I could survive in this world without them! Maybe its time for me to learn how to cook?
When I looked down at Cece, it she hadn’t eaten at all. Instead she was watching me munch on the various meats attached to the skewer with her mouth wide open, drooling.
“Cece, aren’t you hungry?”
She snapped out of her drooling trance, and glanced back and forth at me, and the meat skewers in her hand.
“…Ok to eat?”
“Yes, it’s okay to eat. I bought those two for you, so eat them”
Her ears that were down, rose up in delight as she began eating with a cheerful expression.
It was likely that she had been forbidden to eat before her master previously. But those kinds of things, I don’t care about them. If you’re hungry, then just eat I say!
“Cece, you don’t have to ask me if it’s okay to eat. If you’re hungry, tell me so we can eat together from now on”
I gently pat her head, and continued talking.
She looked up with her eyes that had curved into a smile, and answered in a voice fitting of a child while quickly finishing her skewers.
I waited for her, as she instantly devoured her food. It was getting dark, and rather than going to the Guild Hall, I decided to find an inn. It was a long ride here, and I’m sure the both of us were tired.
Tomorrow morning, I’ll visit the Guild Hall, and then visit a weapon shop to buy some equipment for Cece. Although she might not like the idea of killing things, I’ll have to get used to it. I want her to eventually become independent after all.
Inside the Guild Hall, a familiar red-haired girl approaches the man standing at the counter.
“I’m looking for Tetsu, a guy that looks half-dead with black hair, I heard he was here”
“A guy with black hair, and half-dead…? I’m sorry, bu-“
“You mean Tetsu Tagami?”
From door behind the counter, a bald man with many scars and a body with seemingly perfect muscles walked out and spoke with a loud voice.
She had heard the name Tagami before, but could they really be the same person? They looked nothing alike. But when she thought about it, she had never hard his last name before. She had only known that he was a Japanese guy that looked like a zombie from horror movies.
“Yea, he should be headed towards Runebelle on his way towards the Labyrinth City right now. You might even have missed him on the road here Missy”
A look of confusion quickly took hold of the red-haired girl who stood there with a dumbfounded expression.
“Was his in-game avatar actually different than real life? Did he lie to us about himself then…?”
She talked to herself, in a whisper low enough for no one else to hear what she was saying.
In Project IRIS Online, the guild the four of them had created was a place where everyone had designed their character to look like themselves.
Plagued with childish looks, her friends and family nicknamed her Mimi because it fit her childish image. Not offended by the nickname, she began using it as her online handle.
However, she was absolutely sure there was at least three people who knew her real name, Marie, inside Project Iris Online. The three people were the guild managers, Glenn, Reyna, and of course Tetsu. If the person she met was really Tetsu, then why did he act as if he didn’t know her?
“He… he must have tricked me!”
Marie stood there and mumbled incoherently to herself as she shook in rage.
Although she was angry at him in the first place, she planned for him to beg for her forgiveness after she was done torturing him. But now it was different. She felt as if she had been played!
“I-I-I’ll never forgive him! Ever!!!”
She quickly stormed out of the Guild Hall, and dashed out of the city under the sky illuminated by the night stars.
Back inside the Guild Hall.
“Have him watch her would you?”
“By him, you can’t possibly mean that guy, can you?”
“Yea, that’s exactly who I mean. He’s in Runebelle watching over Tetsu right now, but that girl worries me as well. For now, send him to keep an eye on her movements as well”
“Yes, Guild Master!”