Gossip – Girls’ Growth
Three days after Shirley had learned that the Empire’s shadow was looming over her family, she’s currently visiting the Adventurer’s Guild.
“Shirley-san, I have a letter for you from the guild master.”
“Y-you don’t have to look so disgusted with me!”
On the letter was the crossed sword and staff of the adventurer’s guild and next to it was the emblem of the girl emblazoned against the dawn, Shirley frowned when she saw the symbol of the Golden Witch.
“…This feels a little too familiar. I ought to just throw this away, I don’t really feel like being tricked and mocked right now.”
“A-ah, right… I can’t deny that I’m ashamed on behalf of the guild for what happened before.”
Shirley hadn’t forgotten that the last time Canary sent her a letter, she and her daughters ended up snared in a double contract. Even more so because she was forced into something so shameful.
“B-but, if the guild master sent you a letter personally, it has to be something important, right?”
“I suppose? That demon woman doesn’t commit idle mischief after all. It’s incredibly irritating.”
So she said. It’s inevitable that any letter that carries both the mark of the adventurer’s guild and Canary’s own emblem will be important.
She doesn’t know just what it is, but it’s possible that something on the level of a Dragon King’s attack has happened again.
“I’m going to take a look.”
“Ah, then I’ll use a letter opener…”
“No, don’t. There’s a possibility there’s some kind of curse or trap involved.”
“…You’ve known her for so long, but you really don’t trust grandma at all…”
She gazed at the envelope with sapphire and crimson eyes. Shirley opened her eyes wide and used her ability to see ‘everything’, reading the words on the folded letter inside the envelope.
“Having asked me to mediate, a certain personage of high birth wishes to meet you on the climactic day of the month, at two hours past noon. Whatever they wish to tell you is secret enough I could not write it thus, but I shall leave it up to you whether you wish to meet with them. If you intend to accept this rendezvous, please inform Yumina and she will organize proceedings. The meeting place is the reception room of Adventurer’s Guild in your remote little town.”
Shirley frowned in suspicion.
It is common for people in high society like nobles to conceal their names when making meeting plans. But, for a meeting like this to happen at such a time… There are only a few people who know the truth about what is targeting her daughters.
What’s more, what could be so important that some noble would lower themselves to meeting directly with a commoner? No, she doesn’t know if it’s an aristocrat or perhaps some high ranking merchant, but either way these people so pressed for time wouldn’t give it up idly.
(In the past, there were a few times where I was approached to be a bodyguard after an escort request.)
They were enamoured with Shirley’s martial prowess and wanted to make her a part of their retinue as a personal guard, though she had to decline the offers despite the generous pay since it required always moving around with her client, but she was quite sure that this meeting wasn’t about that.
It’s impossible to think that the ever self-conceited Canary would let herself be the middleman if it was some sort of business proposal. In the first place, if it was something like that, they could have just sent Shirley the letter without having to use the witch as an intermediary.
(Which means… It’s a person so important that even Canary is willing to be a messenger…?)
That narrows things down considerably. Shirley can only think of three people.
One of them is the great unifier of Canary’s homeland, the Lord of the Land of Demons. The second is the ruler of the trading nation on the eastern seas where Canary is currently conducting business. And the last person, the one who is most likely considering this is his own backyard.
(Could it be the King?)
The head of the Pendragon family that rules the Kingdom and Canary’s close ally… Briefly, an image of the Black Lion King she met at a ball all those years ago flashed through her mind.
(Since he’s so close to Canary, it’s not strange that he knows I’m in the Kingdom, but why is he suddenly contacting me after ten years? And at a time like this…)
She doesn’t understand why the royal family would need Canary to mediate either. However, suddenly contacting her now when the Empire’s shadow was attempting to swallow her family whole, it was all too strange.
Now that she thinks about it Grania, the one who managed to pinpoint the location of the magic’s caster, was one of Canary’s students herself. It’s unlikely, but it’s possible things aren’t quite as they seem.
(I don’t know how this will end up, but I don’t have much choice.)
The end of the month was two days away. If there was a chance of proving the Empire’s guilt, of getting the full picture, then Shirley would seize that opportunity.
“Alright, it’s perfect.”
Shirley isn’t usually one for self-flattery, but even she felt like she did an excellent job with dinner that day. Sophie and Tio’s eyes sparkled when they saw the meat pie baked to a perfect golden-brown colour and the simmering chicken stew laid out on the table.
“Mama, did something happen today? It’s so luxurious!”
The meal made from a rented corner of the Deficit House’s kitchen, an inn for destitute adventurers to get a night’s rest, looked extravagant considering the atmosphere of the dining room they sat in.
Usually, she cooks modest dishes based on bread or salads, but today she went all out and made both her daughters’ respective favourite dishes.
“Did something good happen?”
“…No, I simply felt like it. There wasn’t any reason in particular.”
She really did just feel like it. Cooking two meals like this takes a lot of effort, but it’s a labour of love and getting to spend quality time with her daughters over dinner is pure bliss for Shirley.
(It’s possible we won’t get many opportunities to spend time as a family soon…)
It’s still just her fears for now… But it’s completely possible that Sophie and Tio could be swept up in the entanglements of power and politics.
Of course, Shirley wouldn’t just sit by. For the future of her daughters, she would make enemies out of entire nations.
So, this is her way of making amends. Amends for the nights without her these girls may soon have to endure, with the uncertain waters they’re soon to sail.
“Now, it won’t do to let it go cold. Let’s eat.”
” “Thanks for the food!” ”
Sophie scooped as much of the stew as she could on her spoon and Tio dug into the pie with her fork. When Shirley saw their faces light up as they took their first bite, Shirley sighed happily.
Even if she doesn’t know what her enemies are truly after, so long as she can protect this peace, then she has nothing to fear. Even if her meeting with that noble visitor doesn’t pan out, she knows that she isn’t alone either.
The strength that exists in the bonds between people, it was something she had learned in this remote town.
“Ahhh that was tasty! Thank you!”
“Yes, I’m glad you liked it. Remember to brush your teeth properly.”
The twins polished off their plates and went back upstairs. They’ve become familiar figures for adventurers who pass them by in the hallways.
“I’m feeling sleepy because I ate so much, I wonder if I should lie down?”
“Mm. You’re going to get fat if you do that though.”
When Tio said that expressionlessly, Sophie stopped in her tracks.
“W-what are you saying…? I-I’m actually not sleepy, not sleepy at all okay?”
Sophie is actually slightly thinner than most girls and probably doesn’t really have to worry about putting on weight, but she’s at that age. The mere mention of gaining weight was enough to blow the cobwebs away.
“A-anyways, you’re not one to talk Tio! You’re always sleeping after you eat, even if you’re good at exercising aren’t you being careless?”
“It’s okay. I’ve got an extra place to store nutrition.”
“What are you talking abou――――”
She started to say, then she trailed off. To any bystander Tio’s figure seems to be easy to figure out in her sometimes shabby way of dressing, but Sophie noticed something strange.
“T-Tio…? A-are those…?”
“Mm. They started growing from the beginning of the year.”
She hadn’t realized that the person she spent every day with had changed so slowly, but despite her chest being small… Those bumps were definitely larger than the nothingness on Sophie’s chest.
“It feels kind of weird when I’m swinging a stick around, but maybe now mum will buy me a bra.”
“W-what!? B-but I was told by the shop person I didn’t need it yet!?”
When they got measured at school this year she was one centimeter taller than Tio and she felt like her arms and legs were getting longer as well, Sophie was beginning to think more and more that ‘now I’m beginning to look like an older sister’.
But, reality is a harsh mistress. She couldn’t have ever imagined that her little sister would overtake her like this.
“Why… Why…! Why are you getting ahead of me, even though we should both be inheriting it from mama!”
Sophie completely forgot about her slight height advantage as she struggled to recover from the shock of this new discovery.
Of course, the merits of chest size vary from person to person, but when it comes to this girl she always saw breasts as a measure of maturity.
This was just too much of a shock, the pride she had been building up as an older sister since that measurement at school was collapsing around her ears.
Tio put a hand on the slumped shoulders of her older sister.
“We’re just children, it’s good to be patient. Besides, height and chest size aren’t everything.”
“I know you’re trying to cheer me up, but it’s not helping at all!?”
Whilst Sophie pride as the elder sister had all but evaporated and Tio was beginning to get worried about her,
How can you talk about something like that in the hallway!? Having heard the conversation all the way from the dining room, Shirley covered up her embarrassed face with her hands.
Living in a town like this and spending every day in such a vibrant inn and school, Shirley was worried that their surroundings were beginning to rub off on them if they can talk about things like that so openly, without a hint of modesty.
(I’ve got to work even harder from now on.)
No matter what anxieties she has about the future, right now she has to teach her girls how to act like proper ladies, lest they draw the eyes of lechers.
She dashed off in pursuit of her girls, sending overwhelming bloodlust towards anyone who dared look in their direction.
Hope my copy of Volume 1 arrives in a few days, it comes out in Japan tomorrow. I’ll take pictures but I probably won’t be doing any scans.