Inevitable Mother-Daughter Conflict
On that day, a strange scene was playing out in one of the Deficit House’s rooms.
Sophie stared at her as she held a bluebird in her hands. It was as if she was actually saying the word, so intent was her gaze.
Standing next to her older sister, Tio also silently looked at her mother, the red bird still perched upon her head. Those pure eyes of hers appealing just as earnestly.
“Hey, mama, isn’t it fine?”
“S-Staring at me like that won’t change anything.”
The woman who averted her eyes from her daughters’ piercing gazes as sweat trickled down her brow was the pride of the guild, the strongest swordswoman amongst its ranks with the nickname ‘The Demonic White Sword’, Shirley.
An adventurer who could face off against a dragon king without an ounce of fear now felt truly overwhelmed by the opponents in front of her.
(Ah… How did this happen…?)
Normally that mother and her daughters were as close as best friends, but right now there was a major rift between the family.
It’s not like there have never been arguments before. They’ve been living together for ten years, so obviously they’ve butted heads on what to have for dinner or whether or not homework has been done a few times in the past.
But, this is different. Since this is a serious issue that could change the course of their lives, the mother is understandably nervous, but the daughters seem keen on that change.
“Heeey, why not?”
“Mm… We’ll take care of them properly.”
But, the battle wasn’t looking good for Shirley. As tears glistened in her eyes, she felt like a rookie adventurer staring down a dragon.
For Sophie and Tio who were usually so different, just why were they now putting up such a stubborn united front against their mother…? The conflict dates back to when they had all returned to the Deficit House earlier.
Since there was no immediate solution and Shirley couldn’t see any threat even with the use of her supernatural eyes, the family returned to the Deficit House with those two baby birds in tow, nesting comfortably in the twins’ hair.
They don’t have any choice but to take care of them for a while since the two sets of twins have become inseparable, but Lisa, Chelsea and Mira had still seemed a little worried.
――――”Umm, is it really okay? Sophie and Tio live at an inn, don’t they?”
――――”Usually, you can’t keep animals at an inn, right?”
――――”If it’s like that, I can ask father to let the two of you stay for a while if you’d like…?”
Even though their mother was happy her two girls had such thoughtful friends, she told them it wasn’t a problem.
Certainly, it would be an issue to keep animals at a regular inn or boarding house… Especially when it came to larger animals like dogs and cats, it would definitely be prohibited, but the Deficit House is an inn for adventurers.
It may not be common amongst frontline warriors, but more nuanced roles like scouts and mages quite often keep pets or familiars. To scout out terrain that would be treacherous for humans, or maybe to sniff out valuable herbs that give off a scent so faint only an animal with a very keen sense of smell could find it. Also, through modern developments in magical techniques, animal-like familiars can act both as guardians for their masters as well as conduits for enhancing magical abilities.
――――”It won’t be a problem. Bird familiars won’t be out of place at the Deficit House.”
Since it was an inn for adventurers, nobody there would blink an eye at them. Of course, it is still an inn so the owners are never exactly pleased with animals that shed hair like cats or dogs, but when it comes to smaller creatures like birds or insects there shouldn’t be a problem.
The landlady is especially strict about cleaning up after pets, but there’s a very wide array of animals being kept at the Deficit House, from other birds to spiders, snakes and even a small dragon, adventurers keep all sorts.
――――”…Hmm. Then I guess it’s fine…”
It might have been her imagination, but for some reason, those three looked a little disappointed. Maybe they were worried about the welfare of the chicks, but she didn’t press them on it.
“So, for the time being, I’ll be keeping these two birds in our room…”
“I see… It’s not really any of my business, but you should be patient looking for a way to separate them. But, honestly, you sure don’t waste any time getting wrapped up in strange circumstances.”
Martha allowed it with a laugh.
“…This isn’t a laughing matter.”
“Ahh, sorry. It’s just hard not to when you look at it, right?”
As they held out the dried beans given to them by Martha’s husband, Sophie and Tio looked happy feeding the baby birds.
“They’re really forceful when eating, aren’t they? Were they hungry…?”
“Probably. I mean, if they’re acting like this for just a bit of food… Ah, ouch, it pecked my hand.”
Those two birds kept happily eating away, completely ignoring the sudden waves of killing intent flowing towards them from the twins’ nearby mother. As the usual scene of carnage and death was being projected by that swordswoman’s aura, it was as if the chicks were completely unfazed.
Slightly amazed at the birds’ resilience, Shirley was about to go and ask a nearby adventurer if he knew anything about this particular breed of bird, when she heard those words.
“Hey, hey, what should we name them?”
“Mm… What about Gengollow?”
“Ehh~, that’s not cute at all.”
Sophie and the baby birds seem dissatisfied with Tio’s naming sense.
“Anyways, where did the name Gengollow come from?”
“It was the name of an adventurer from the Trading Country, so I thought I’d try and give his name to one of the birds.”
“…Um, I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news…”
Shirley couldn’t stop herself interfering, raising a timid voice to interrupt her daughters’ conversation.
“If you give them a name now, won’t it be harder for you to say goodbye when we get you separated from them…?”
As she was met with both girls and birds staring at her with wide open eyes, Shirley knew that the intuition she’d felt back at the guild had been correct.
What she had thought back then was ‘these children, I suppose they’ll say they want to keep them as pets?’ in regards to that inevitable thing all parents have to face.
“…We can’t keep them?”
Shirley wasn’t happy with even keeping them temporarily. Keeping a pet isn’t a simple task, it’s too much for a young child.
When it comes to everyday things, these girls will usually go along with what Shirley says. She never asks them to do anything unreasonable, likewise, Sophie and Tio aren’t the kinds of girls to argue for petty reasons.
But this time was different. Looking between their mother and the chicks, then at each other as if they were alter-egos, the two of them nodded once then turned to ask Shirley.
“Can we really not keep the birds?”
Just as she thought. Doing her best to hold back a sigh, Shirley answered them as calmly as she could.
“They should go back to where they belong.”
“…Where they belong?”
“Then, right here?”
Just like that, the two of them put the birds on their heads. And as they did, a sound like a gong rang through Shirley’s head. It was as if the bell had been rung and the curtains raised on the fight between the daughters who wanted to keep their new pets and their mother who was expressly opposed.
They were back in Shirley’s rented room. Normally the three of them would be sat around the table, happily talking or working on homework, but right now an icy silence flowed between mother and daughters.
“I’ll say it again, but I won’t allow it.”
She tried to take the initiative and score an early victory, but she was met with two dissatisfied faces. Shirley sighed, then tried to take a more diplomatic approach as she calmly asked her daughters.
“You’re both being very stubborn today, why is that? Even if you don’t want them to leave, one way or another I’ll have to get them off you?”
“It’s not about that… They’re cute.”
“…Cute, you say?”
She thought about that as she looked closely at the birds that essentially amounted to balls of puffy feathers with a face in the middle… It was hard not to feel puzzled if you call such shoddily made creatures ‘cute’.
Although she found herself doubting Sophie’s taste for cute things, Shirley realized that maybe what was considered ‘cute’ had changed from when she was young.
“Anyways, you can’t just keep these creatures because they’re ‘cute’. Since they’re still chicks, we will keep them until we can find someone to take them in, but anything more than that I can’t allow.”
“But they chose to stick to us, we shouldn’t force them to go with other people.”
People sometimes underestimate her because of those sleepy eyes, but Tio has the ability to cut straight to the heart of the issue with a single line.
Shirley also thinks that these birds didn’t fall from the sky onto their heads without a reason. It’s only her intuition backing that up at the moment, but it’s hard to believe it’s a coincidence when they’re also two highly intelligent birds that can assimilate magical paths.
“But, that’s another story entirely. Like I said, I won’t accept keeping them just because you feel like it.”
But, Shirley has to be tough here. Keeping a living thing is no easy task.
“Do you understand? To keep a living thing means that you’re responsible for that life. You can’t ever be neglectful of it, not even once.”
Although that mother and her daughters don’t live in the lap of luxury, their finances are very secure so they don’t struggle for money. For Shirley, an adventurer who can bring down even a dragon, buying things like cages, food and veterinary care wouldn’t break the bank.
Because of that, the problem isn’t with the means of caring for them, but whether or not the girls who desire it are up to the task.
Shirley herself is a woman who has raised two twins. She doesn’t want to put raising birds and raising her girls on the same pedestal, but there are some essential similarities.
As someone who knows just how difficult it is to have another life under your care, it’s not a burden she can so easily accept her daughters’ taking on their shoulders.
“Can you handle feeding them every day? Will you be able to groom them and check that they’re healthy? I can’t accept you taking care of them unless you can swear to take absolute responsibility.”
She cited one obstacle after another, a wall that she will stand upon resolutely. If they don’t have the spirit to make it over this wall, then the discussion is over. Shirley had hoped they would give up if she set up such obstacles, but…
“We’ll feed them and take care of them. So, it’s fine, right?”
Being entreated with those big, earnest eyes, a crack appeared in her resolve. She’s doing her best not to show it on her face, but this is a very tough battle for Shirley who wants nothing more than to do whatever makes her girls happy.
“We’ll clean up after them properly.”
Now both of them are looking at her like that. Being stared at with two sets of eyes with absolutely pure intentions makes Shirley almost buckle, but she desperately shook her head to try and regain her thoughts.
“I-It’s no good. How can you make sure they’re healthy? It would be fine if you can take them to a vet or a doctor, but will you as an owner be able to notice if they’re ill?”
“I’ll do my best with studying. So, isn’t that good enough, mama?”
“I won’t skip out on schoolwork or helping around the house either.”
She feels herself shrinking before Sophie and Tio’s overwhelming stubbornness. There’s something familiar in the eyes of the two girls that are looking at her, they’re the eyes of someone who has something to protect.
Who would have thought those protective instincts of theirs would be awakened at such a young age over these birds? Thinking that maybe those chicks were using some sort of manipulation through their connected magical paths she looked again with her supernatural sight, but she couldn’t see anything strange.
Those children resemble their mother. Shirley hasn’t noticed it herself, but that strong desire to protect what they hold dear was definitely inherited from her.
“Is it still no good? I’ve saved up my pocket money so I can buy a cage myself.”
“Mm. I’ll also help by keeping them clean.”
In the first place, it’s so unusual for the two of them to go against her so stubbornly like this. The daily life or death struggle of an adventurer takes an awful toll on the spirit, so Sophie and Tio must not want to do anything that would be a burden to Shirley.
Even though seeing that her daughters grew up to be so caring and thoughtful is enough to bring her to the verge of tears as a parent, they’re still children, so sometimes she wants them to selfishly desire what they’d like, or rely on her when things get tough.
(Because they were raised by a single female adventurer, these girls never grew up with any sense of greed.)
They knew just what sort of struggles their mother had gone through raising them and had never asked for much, though that too weighed on Shirley.
A child shouldn’t have to be reserved with their parents. She might not be able to meet all their desires, but they shouldn’t be afraid to ask, though Shirley noticed something in the way they asked her now.
They aren’t seeking to take in these baby birds out of any selfish desires, but for a genuine desire to protect these young lives.
On top of that, they didn’t make a single mention of how they had never truly asked her for anything like this before, only trying to persuade her completely sincerely.
“…Uuuuu! I understand, I understand. It’s my loss.”
“Huh? Wait, then that means…”
“However, I’ll be keeping a close eye on things for a while. If I see that you aren’t able to take care of them properly, I’ll be looking for someone to take them in, so please keep that in mind.”
“Yay! Thank you, mama!”
The two baby birds raised up a shrill cry of delight. As she watched Sophie and Tio hug each other, Shirley wondered if this had been inevitable. Of course, she’ll be true to her word if she feels that the birds’ care is being neglected, but if they truly do their best then Shirley will help out as well.
That being said, since it’s for her daughters, Shirley is already wearing a serious face, wondering just how far she can go to help them without interfering.
“Isn’t that great! We’ll be together from now on!”
“Mm…! We’ll have to think of names quickly, right? For now, if Gengollow is no good then what about Daigollow…”
“It has to be a cute name!”
However, looking at those two girls having that much fun, Shirley’s stern mask slipped.
(…Well, this kind of thing should be fine.)
The family has new members, as well as new species. Since this was something her daughters had truly wanted, Shirley felt that maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.