There are two things that helped calm Shirley’s anxiety somewhat. The first is that the birds that seemed so permanently fixed to Sophie and Tio’s bodies had detached themselves the next morning.
It would have become a hindrance to their everyday lives if they had kept sticking to them and this had saved Shirley the trouble of trying to explain things to their school, but she was still a little worried about just why the birds that had been so attached to her daughters had suddenly unfixed themselves the very next day.
She was beginning to get deeply concerned when she considered the possibility of her daughters catching some kind of illness, so she consulted a scout that was staying at the Deficit House… But, according to him, those chicks were actually a type of spirit bird and that there was no problem with their behaviour.
“It’s actually common amongst all spiritual bird species. The newly hatched chick will attach themselves to their parents until they can stabilize their own magical power.”
The need to moderate certain aspects of children is shared by all creatures. A prime example is magical power, cases of excessive magical energy running amok and causing lasting mental or physical damage aren’t just a danger to magical creatures, but humans as well.
Sophie and Tio were actually born with an excess of magical energy, but as they grew that power stabilized, even reaching a point where they can now use their magical power to an extent.
However, unlike humans who take very keen care of their young, out in the wilds anomalies such as an excess of magical power will likely go unnoticed leading to injury or death.
The number of deaths of young monsters and magical animals due to this is comparable to the rates of death from causes such as illness and predation.
In such a savage world, the evolutionary step taken by those spiritual birds was incredibly significant, seeing a sharp decline in the mortality rate of young birds.
It didn’t have to be their parent or another spiritual bird… Any creature with a magical path would do… All species of spiritual birds had biology that allowed them to assimilate with the magical paths of other creatures to forcibly stabilize their own magical energy.
“I see, so that’s what happened… Thank you very much for your help.”
“Don’t mention it. If you’ve got any more questions just pop them to me, I’m the bird expert, I’ve been using them for over ten years.”
“Then, do you know exactly what kind of birds those two are?”
Shirley kindly didn’t press the boastful man any further as he whistled and tried to avert his eyes.
“And so, today, we need to go and buy all their necessities from now on like food, not to mention a cage…”
That’s what Shirley had told her daughters who had rushed home after school to see their birds as soon as they could, but Sophie and Tio were already caught up in a different discussion entirely.
“After all it’s not good to have a weird name, shouldn’t we give them a cute name instead? Actually, even more than that, we have to think about a name with an important meaning too!”
“Your naming sense is pretty bad. Even if they’re soft like pudding now, do you think they’ll stay that way when after growing up?”
“I-It’s better than Gengollow at least, right!?”
They had been debating names since yesterday and still hadn’t come up with anything. As she watched Sophie and Tio anxiously debate with each other, Shirley’s thoughts drifted to the events of ten years ago.
After her two adorable daughters had been born, just like they were doing now, Shirley had struggled with a long list of potential names.
A name is something that stays for life. As the sole person in charge of naming them, no matter how much she thought about it back then it wasn’t enough. As she watched her daughters go through something like that at only ten years of age, she thought that perhaps keeping a pet might end up being a valuable asset to their education.
One day they will become adults and leave her side. Perhaps it’s a bit too early to think about things like this, but if they can develop a sense of responsibility by taking care of these birds, then Shirley will be happy about it.
“Hey, mama? How did mama decide on what to name us?”
“When you named us, mum, did you have some kind of standard?”
They seemed to have run out of ideas amongst themselves, so they’ve gone looking for outside help. But when Sophie and Tio looked to Shirley for some sort of hint, she said something they weren’t quite expecting to here.
“Well… To be honest, when I gave you your names, I didn’t give too much thought to the meaning.”
Anyone who knew just how doting a parent Shirley was would be quite shocked at that revelation. For her daughters, she struck down a dragon king and was on the verge of taking on an entire nation by herself. It’s hard to imagine that Shirley didn’t attach extreme importance to the names of her daughters.
“The name a parent gives a child has no meaning. What’s important is the life the person who is named leads, the name itself is nothing more than an inscription your footsteps will leave behind… So long as the name is easy to say and isn’t something that would be embarrassing to be called as an adult, then it doesn’t matter too much.”
“Hmmm, so that’s how it was?”
“Yes. That said, it would still be best to give them a name that you think others will like as well.”
And, despite Shirley saying all that ――――
“Maybe Sylvara after the ancient saint from the books or Sylvia meaning the desired child? …No, wait, what about Fio which means future in that language… Or the name of the gem in the centre of a carbuncle’s forehead that is meant to bring good luck, Carnelia… Kuh! If I knew this was going to be so hard, I would have settled on a name before they were born!”
After their birth, she had struggled for three months to come up with fitting names for the two of them, a fact that Shirley has never told a soul.
“Now then, if we don’t make our way to the tool shop, it will close before we get there, you know? I’ll help you think of some names along the way.”
After encouraging both of them to get ready, Shirley changed into a light one-piece dress. Sophie and Tio both wore wide-brimmed straw hats to protect themselves from the sun and carried their birds in little boxes with straw bedding that was given to them by the bird expert adventurer.
“Now, both of you, line up please.”
As she took her purse, Shirley cast magic on both Sophie, Tio and herself. It was protective magic called 《Guard Skin》that covers the body and prevents any penetration.
“Oh, are you three going out?”
“Yep! We’re gonna get a cage!”
“Mm. See you later.”
After the mother and her daughters were seen off by Martha, Shirley held the hands of her two girls as they walked through town. Below that clear blue sky, the hot sun that baked the city streets was the exact opposite colour.
There’s a wide variety on offer at the tool shop often frequented by adventurers. From healing potions to ropes that can be used in all kinds of situations, to a magical tool that can spit flames, to scrolls that can cast magic without any need for chanting. Adventurers need all manner of tools to complete their work and this shop aims to cater to them.
A particular type of tool are magical cages, which are usually used to house familiars. Most of the cages are quite compact, intended for smaller animals, but that raises another issue.
“We actually don’t really have any idea just how big they’ll be when they grow up.”
“Maybe we should’ve gone to the library before coming?”
Shirley had actually done as much reading up as she could, but she couldn’t find any records that matched their physical description. So, if they bought a small cage now, they may have to replace it when the birds grow up.
“But even more than that, they’ll hardly be happy cooped up in a tiny space, so it’s probably best to make the cage as large as possible.”
The other adventurers had told her as well that it was important to create an environment that won’t stress the birds. Shirley doesn’t ever tolerate wasteful spending, but since she’s making good money now, perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad investment to buy a cage slightly larger than necessary――――
(A stress-free environment… Do they really need it?)
When seeing those birds carefree faces, a thought that maybe that kind of thing wasn’t necessary flashed through her mind. Those two birds didn’t seem to mind sleeping in those small boxes earlier despite how tiny they are.
“What’s this, Shirley, you’re bringing the children along today?”
As they were looking at the bird cages lined up on the shelf wondering just which one to pick, an old woman with a hoarse voice walked up behind them. Her whole body was covered in a black robe and her long nose protruded from her face, she looked just like a witch from the old fairy tales.
“Yes, just for today… This lady is Aurora-san, she runs the tool store, say hello.”
“N-Nice to meet you.”
It makes sense that the children are a little daunted by the sight of this old woman. The atmosphere that surrounded Aurora was noticeably different compared to a normal person.
“Hee hee hee. So these are the rumoured girls? Don’t be so frightened, I’m not going to eat you. I’m already mixing ingredients in my pot, after all.”
“…So she even uses a pot.”
As Tio murmured to herself, Aurora heard her and twisted her mouth into a big smile.
“That’s right. Right now I’m turning a magical curse into a liquid that I’m going to insert into an apple. I’ll boil it down until it’s little more than water and inject it, then once it’s ready I’ll give it to some beautiful maiden and make her fall into an eternal slumber.”
“I’d prefer you not tell strange stories to my daughters, please.”
What she was actually making in her pot was just a regular potion solution, but when she told them that Sophie had responded “W-Well, I knew it was just a joke” with such an obviously relieved face, Aurora laughed.
“So, the errand you’re running is about those birds, then?”
“Yes. Straw bedding and the like can be sorted out easily enough, but since we don’t know how big the birds will grow, I’m not sure which size cage to buy.”
“That is a problem… Then, what about this?”
As she said that, she brought something out from the back of the shop. At first glance, it seemed like a regular bird cage, but the magic sigil on the floor of it was quite dubious looking.
“It’s a cursed cage that was developed for rich folk who didn’t want their puppies or kittens to turn into adults, it’ll stunt the animal’s growth. This way, you won’t have to worry about size?”
“No, I mean, this is a bit…”
As Aurora said something quite heinous so casually, Sophie gently pushed the cage away.
“Hmm… Then, what about this? It’s just big enough to fit a perched eagle, but once the bird enters semi-eternal sleep magic will activate, this way they won’t be conscious of how small the cage is.”
Wincing as yet another awful birdcage was suggested, Tio pushed it away with an innocent look.
“That’s enough enchanted cages, what’s the largest cage that you have here?”
“Is that so? Well, there is that one.”
Aurora had a bit of a disappointed look on her face as she beckoned them to follow her into the back of the shop and in the back of the storeroom, she pointed towards a mess of wood and metal wire.
“If you say you want the biggest cage I have, this is it.”
“Huh? Isn’t this just wood?”
It only makes sense that Sophie would be doubtful since all that disparate wood and wire don’t make up what she would think of as a birdcage at all. However, Aurora nodded, insisting it was indeed an animal cage.
“It’s disassembled as is. The customer who buys this will have to assemble it themselves, then they can use it to house their familiar. It can probably fit a person, so it should be able to fit your birds even if they grow ten times as big.”
“Um, isn’t this more like a hen house than a birdcage…?”
“Well, they’re similar enough, right?”
“There’s a bit of a difference in intention.”
“Can we even assemble this in the first place?”
This was quite a bit different than what they were expecting. This is basically something closer to a hut than a cage. Also, if it’s something so big that it couldn’t be placed in a tool shop without being disassembled, maybe it’s overkill?
In the first place, this looks like something that needs to be tackled by a carpenter, it’s doubtful an amateur could assemble it. Shirley didn’t have any knowledge of carpentry at all, but Aurora insisted it would be fine.
“Take a closer look, can’t you see the holes that have been drilled in the wood? It’s specially made so that even an amateur can assemble it… But, it’s been frustrating me just having it sitting here, since I can’t find a buyer.”
“I imagine so.”
It can’t be argued that if they constructed a birdhouse this large, no matter how big the birds grow they’d be able to live comfortably. But, the problem was ――――
“There’s nowhere to put this?”
“Actually, won’t this end up wider than our room?”
That family staying at the Deficit House doesn’t have anywhere near enough room to install something this large in their lodgings. Although Shirley has a long relationship with Martha, there’s no way she’d get permission to set it up on the grounds around the back of the inn, but just as Shirley was about to give up and buy a regular bird cage, she came up with an idea.
“Wait just a moment. Actually, we’ll take this one, there won’t be a problem.”
Next time on MotoMusu, it’s DIY time.