So far, I’m working to release chapters weekly, but since this is a short one, I’m releasing it a bit early~ I’ll still do my weekly release next Wednesday though.
This particular interlude shows the story from a certain character’s POV. Enjoy!
Kiriko Interlude 1: The Red Riddle
“AHAHAHAHA!!!!! What’s with these dirty little weeds, you vermin? You were trying to hand these in for a quest? What a joke! AHAHAHA!!!”
The golden-haired man laughed wildly as he jumped up and down, trampling down on the Anura herbs that I had painstakingly taken several hours to pick. I grit my teeth with suppressed rage, holding myself back from knocking out a couple of the man’s teeth. Even if I tried to, however, I’d likely soon find myself subdued by the man’s muscular goon, who was standing silently nearby.
Getting angry won’t help. I have to hold it in. He’s a noble, after all. I can’t, I mustn’t, do anything to him….
I continued to repeat these thoughts within my head over and over again. I could hold it in, like I always did. This was nothing to me, compared to the pain my family would be in, should I raise a hand against this ‘all-mighty’ noble. We were having hard enough times, even without me landing myself a night or two in a jail cell. I couldn’t let our situation worsen.
“Ahahahaha! Well, that was some good exercise~ I had fun, so thanks. Con~rad~ AHAHAHAHA!!”
My tormentor pat his hand roughly on my shoulder as he walked past me, having finished harrowing me for the day. His ear-splitting laughter pierced my eardrums, causing me to wince in pain with my head lowered.
“Come on, Butch, let’s go! I wanna grab something to eat at Berry’s restaurant before heading over to the Adventurer’s guild to do some real quests! Well, I might just grab a little more than food there, ehehehe.”
The golden-haired man, cackled vulgarly as he talked about his lunch plans for the afternoon. Likely, he was planning on, as usual, abusing his authority as a noble to harass some town girls, namely, the rather pretty waitress who worked at said restaurant. Though I realized that, I continued to keep my head lowered as the filthy noble walked out of the alleyway he had managed to corner me in with his goon.
As soon as I could no longer hear the cackles of my tormentor, I kneeled down, attempting to pick through the remains of my harvest. The round leaves had been cruelly crushed upon the ground, and were covered in dirt as they leaked a green fluid and released a slightly grassy smell. They could no longer be used for the completion of my quest. After all, the guild sought out these herbs for their medicinal properties. Nobody would want to use them in their current dirty, fluid-spewing state.
“Dammit….it’s no good, huh. I’ll have to go back and pick some more.”
Sighing with resignation, I headed out of town, deciding to pass by the Toracorn pastures on my way to the river outside of town, where the Anura herbs normally grew. As I approached the grassy fields however, a faint glimmer of red caught my eye.
….hm? That’s weird, we shouldn’t have any Rosso Toracorns here….
I glanced into the large pasture, seeing numerous golden-furred Toracorns grazing peacefully on the grass. Their fur glowed majestically in the sunlight, emitting a near-metallic shine. By the fence, a distance away from the grazing Toracorns, glowed another apparently ‘furred’ animal, only with red fur instead of gold. Its ears twitched slightly in the wind, before suddenly disappearing.
I rubbed my eyes, wondering if I had been dreaming. The animal strangely lacked the usual striped appearance of a Toracorn. With the disappearance of its ears, I soon realized that rather than red fur, I had actually been looking at red hair. That is, the flaming red hair of a person. A young girl, in fact. A girl who currently appeared to be lying relaxedly on the grass, looking downwards at something as if in a slumber.
My feet stopped as I became mesmerized by the girl’s hair. Though I had seen many Rosso nobles before, I had never seen such vibrant red hair before. While it could be described as close to the red of a sunset, it seemed to me to be closer to that of a powerful flame, burning brightly upon the grassy field. In short, it was simply beautiful. My eyes were stolen away by the young girl’s hair as I fell into a trance, watching her lie quietly on the grass, until suddenly—
“WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?!?!?”
The calm of the picturesque scene was broken by the girl as she stood up while screaming at something. My face crumpled with shock at the sudden change in atmosphere, and I stood still, unable to make a single reaction. The girl raised her arm as if to throw something, but then, seemingly changing her mind, stuffed it into the pocket of her jacket. She whipped around grumpily, still looking downwards as she walked a few steps forward. As she raised her head to look in front of her, she froze upon seeing me, still standing stock-still with shock.
Suddenly, the girl smiled at me. Her sparkling, ruby-red eyes stared at me as she approached. If not for the stark contrast with her agitated manner from only a few seconds earlier, it would have been as if she were a cute little sister greeting her older brother in the morning with breakfast.
However, things being as they were, her sudden change in demeanor brought forth an intense wave of fear from within me.
This girl’s dangerous. She’s definitely not sane at all.
After all, no sane person would be capable of having such a drastic change in mood….right?
I remained on high alert as I backed away slowly, as if handling a highly agitated, carnivorous animal. It was bad to bolt suddenly. Slowly….I had to slowly move away….
A soft voice rang out in my ears, stopping my thought processes. Unlike her earlier shout, the girl’s voice was calm and reassuring, as if she were trying to say, “It’s okay, I won’t bite”. I froze again, unable to properly comprehend her kind tone. Several moments passed, before she spoke again, attempting to recapture my attention.
I jolted at the sound of her voice, realizing with embarrassment that I had simply been staring at her for several minutes, unable to decide what to do. Deciding now that it would be best to return her greetings, I attempted to give a smile as I replied,
Unfortunately, my attempted smile simply resulted in a strange spasm of my facial muscles. Seeing my strained expression, the girl lowered her gaze as her cheeks turned a slight shade of pink.
With her ruby red eyes turned downwards, and her slightly bashful expression, the young girl gave the impression of a maiden about to confess her love. Though I knew that was definitely not that case, I couldn’t help but admire the young girl’s appearance, regardless of her ‘crazy’ contents. Another period of silence ensued as I silently examined the young girl. Not long later, she turned her eyes up at me, and asked quietly,
“H-How long were you watching me for…?”
I felt my heart skip a few beats at her question, causing me to give an involuntary twitch as I replied honestly.
“S-Since the beginning…….”
After all, I had been watching her ever since she had been lying down grass, up until the point where she had broken the tranquility of the pasture with her screams. Upon hearing my reply, the girl lowered her face once more while giving a small, “I see….”, likely embarrassed at having been caught in the midst of her….rather abnormal actions. I scratched my head awkwardly.
I…should say something….
Not wanting to make her feel any more uncomfortable, I spoke the only words I could think of to reassure her.
“It’s okay, I won’t tell anyone.”
In the end, no matter how insane this girl may be, she still had feelings. She was still a person, and I should respect that. It wouldn’t be good if, because of my words, such a charming young girl were to be hurt. However, immediately after I spoke, the young, red-haired beauty asked,
“Tell them what?”
Hearing such a normal question come from such an abnormal girl caused me to smile, as I replied without a single hint of hesitation or tact,
“About your mental instability.”
The girl froze, her eyes gazing at me blankly, as she digested my words. Her shoulders began to tremble slightly. Worried, I raised my hand. However, just as I was about to ask what was wrong, a loud shout emerged from the girl. Then, a long flash of thigh exposed itself to my eyes as a heavy force hit my chin. As my vision faded, I wondered to myself,
Just what did I say wrong?