The next day, which was also a day off from school, a rhythm of mallet against wood was reverberating in Shirley’s ears. As she hammered the pegs of wood into holes, one couldn’t possibly imagine the strength to do it all in one blow was coming from that delicate looking lady.
Using a high powered version of the strengthening magic 《Physical Boost》, magic called 《High Rise》that is a staple of all high ranked adventurers, it can boost the physical capabilities of someone dozens of times over.
“Tio, hand me that one.”
Besides their mother who is effortlessly tackling the carpentry, Sophie and Tio spread out the wire mesh and nailed it to the frame of the wood.
Even though they weren’t using big hammers, Shirley was still worried about the two of them, so she told them to only use their wrists instead of swinging so that they could avoid injury.
“…I did say that you two should let me do the assembly alone since it’s dangerous…”
“Ahahaha! Don’t worry!”
“If it’s just doing the nails, it’s easy.”
And just as they looked to laugh at Shirley who was so worried, Sophie and Tio both hit their thumbs with their hammers at the exact same time.
“T-That’s what I was saying!”
Just as the two of them yelped in pain, Shirley rushed over to apply healing magic and use her sight to check for any broken bones. The pain was gone in an instant, but despite Sophie and Tio still wiping away tears, they refused to put down the hammers.
“Do you understand now? Since the building part is dangerous, please just leave it to me…”
“No, it’s okay.”
“Since we’re their owners, we have to do at least this much.”
That sense of responsibility to see the construction through helped to alleviate their mother’s worry just a little bit, although Shirley is still prepared to have to use healing magic again.
Just like jewels don’t come out of the earth cut and polished, people too also won’t grow without trials. So maybe it’s a good thing that they experience some difficulties, although not if they injure themselves at the same time.
Let’s finish up my part quickly and help Sophie and Tio with their work. That’s what Shirley thought as she began to hammer even faster, but――――
She accidentally slammed the hammer down on her hand. With the physical power poured into her hammering hand with 《High Rise》, she felt the sensation of bones breaking in her off-hand.
“? Mama, what’s wrong?”
“No, nothing happened.”
It sure is nice being a semi-immortal. Shirley replied as if there was nothing wrong as she turned her face away, hiding the tears rolling down her cheeks.
“But really though, I didn’t think we’d be building it in the toolbox.”
“Actually, I was just surprised by how much space there was in here.”
The magical chest that allows Shirley to store various tools and weaponry and instantly summon it to her hand, the ‘Hero’s Toolbox’. Usually, since there are so many dangerous pieces of equipment and swords all about, she doesn’t let her daughters in here, but Shirley is making an exception this time since it’s the only place with enough space to store the new birdhouse.
Shirley even has a desk, lamp and shelves that she uses in secret to keep growth records and diaries about her daughters in this magical space. So long as there are water and food, it would be possible to actually live for quite some time in this toolbox and since there’s so much space they could bring all the timber in here to assemble the house, it will be ideal to let the birds stay here.
“I’ll tell you this now, but you’ll only be able to enter the room in this place that houses the birds, so don’t even think about trying to come in here to play with the swords.”
It was the main thing she was worried about with using this space, but Shirley is still quite sure it’s safe.
There are many doors that greet you when you enter the magic toolbox from the ladder, leading to many different rooms, like the one that houses all her magical swords, the one that stores all her adventurer tools and the study where she keeps her daughters’ growth records. But, her daughters would only be able to access just the one room.
All those doors have been locked by magic. None of them even have a keyhole, but the doorknob simply won’t even turn no matter how much force you use unless Shirley grants the opener permission. So, no matter how much Sophie and Tio are interested in looking at and playing around with the weapons and tools, they won’t be able to get into those rooms.
“Fuu… It took a little longer than I thought since I’ve never done this before, thank goodness for the instructions.”
Shirley took a look at her pocket watch in front of the birdhouse which at the moment was merely a frame. It was almost the afternoon already.
“Let’s take a quick break and have some lunch.”
“Oh, I’ll help!”
After climbing up the ladder after Shirley, Sophie and Tio washed their hands in the kitchen. Sandwiched between the two girls, Shirley looked through the magically powered cold storage, thinking about which ingredients to use.
They’ve been working since breakfast, so her daughters are probably quite hungry. Since that’s the case, she took out the bacon and eggs from the refrigerator, then after taking out the lettuce and tomatoes as well, she made up her mind on sandwiches as she remembered the loaf of bread she’d bought yesterday.
“Can the two of you take care of the ingredients for me? Bacon and eggs first, then the tomatoes and lettuce.”
The two girls sat at the kitchen table as they did their best to cut up the ingredients so that they could reach, albeit the result was a little sloppily.
In this town, cookery is a woman’s domain. It is said that women are even judged sometimes purely on whether they can cook or not. At first, she was deeply opposed to them even touching a kitchen knife, but after learning they’ve been practicing cooking at school, Shirley relented and let them use knives, so long as she’s watching.
Next to that happy cooking scene, Shirley twirled her knife between multiple ingredients thrown into the air. Then back down onto the counter, perfectly sliced and diced foodstuffs fell neatly onto plates and colanders.
“Every time I see it, I’m surprised that you can cut them all up like that not using a chopping board. All at the same time too.”
“It’s because I didn’t stop practicing ever since I came to this town.”
“…It might just be me, but I think you took that practice in the wrong direction…?”
Shirley might be fairly average at cooking, but her knife work is exceptional, as would befit the name ‘Demonic White Sword’.
For example, she can scale and bone three fish thrown into the air at once, cut apples into perfect rabbit shaped slices in an instant and even completely grate a carrot before it falls back down onto the kitchen bench.
It’s less kitchen work and more something that has reached an acrobatic feat at this point, although Sophie can’t help but wonder if it’s necessary to go that far.
(Well, it was pretty horrifying at first.)
As she had spent her entire life as a noblewoman up until that point, Shirley’s cooking was quite awful when she first arrived at the Deficit House.
She would treat the kitchen knives as if she were wielding a sword, cutting through not just the ingredients but straight through the chopping board and the bench. Whenever she tried to use the frying pan, flames would roar up from the stove like someone had blasted the area with fire magic, if she wasn’t a semi-immortal it might well have killed her. She really did feel truly indebted to Martha, who never gave up as her cooking teacher despite everything.
(Well, nobody other than Martha can ever know about that. My pride as a mother is at stake.)
She wanted to look like the perfect mother who could do everything since there wasn’t a father around. As she thought about that, Shirley heated up the frying pan.
After lunch, they continued on with work without too much trouble.
“Tio, can you bring me those two boards?”
“Mm, got it.”
“Mama, can’t we climb up there and help too?”
“No, it’s dangerous this high up… Actually, could you two please work on the door? If you have any questions, just ask me?”
Their work is almost over. As Shirley is finishing attaching the roof, the two girls are attaching the hinges of the door.
Since they were unfamiliar to the work, both in terms of expertise and physical suitability, it took a little longer for them to assemble it than it would take a male adventurer, but they were quite satisfied that the birdhouse wouldn’t topple over even in a strong wind.
“It’s a bit late now, but this is kind of what they call D-I-Y, right?”
Sophie said quietly as she tightened the screw.
“Most of the kid’s dads at school do this stuff a lot, but this is the first time we’ve done it at home, right?”
“Yes, the Deficit House has everything I need, so I didn’t think I’d ever have to experience doing something like this.”
But even as Sophie said that, Shirley groaned a little bit, thinking that this is the kind of work a man should be doing.
If you thought about it in the view of a normal family, usually the father would be helping the children assemble the dog house whilst the mother watched on as she prepared lunch, but this family has no father so Shirley took up the responsibility as carpenter for the day, building the large birdhouse with her daughters.
It is inconvenient to be a single parent at times. She would never spare any effort for her daughters, but sometimes she feels there are limits to what she can do as one woman alone. Even if that might be quite far from the truth, the real problem is ――――
“Lately, Marco from our class has been bragging that he and his dad built a really great doghouse. And then he makes jokes about how we only have a mother… And that we don’t have enough room at our house.”
School children… She had heard that children who were seen as different were likely to be bullied, especially amongst boys. In Sophie and Tio’s case, it would be for their hair colour or only having a single parent.
Even though she’s delighted that they’ve been blessed with good friends, she can’t help but feel she’s still letting them down in some way. And as for that father, the one currently still raging back in the Empire, it’s hard to imagine him ever doing anything like D-I-Y. He’s not a father to be proud of at all.
As she was marking down this Marco boy who seems to be bothering the twins, thinking that perhaps she needs to make it so that he’s removed from their sight (permanently), Tio gave a little snort as she stared at the door frame absentmindedly with those sleepy eyes.
“Mm. I got a little angry about that. So when we had physical education that day… During the strength measuring test, I made him cry a little bit.”
If she acts like that, people will probably be far too scared to bully them, so Shirley felt a little relieved despite herself.
“That’s why I’ve been really looking forward to making this with mama and Tio since yesterday. Everyone always says this is a man’s job, but who cares about stuff like that when it’s fun!”
“…Is that so?”
As her daughters beamed at each other, Shirley allowed herself a little smile, though she didn’t let them see it. No matter how inconvenient she thinks being a single parent may be or how much she fears her girls being teased about it, so long as her daughters are happy, then Shirley is happy.
“Now, just a little bit more. We can finish it in time for tea.”
And like that, they finished putting together the birdhouse. After they finished, Shirley took care of setting up the water and birdfeed. For their last job, Shirley gave Sophie and Tio sheets of paper and some straw in order to create the bird’s nests.
“Now all we need is something like a nameplate… Have you decided on what to call them?”
“Yep. We thought about it a lot, but in the end, we decided to copy mama.”
Sophie and Tio put the two baby birds in their new straw nests. After a quick “ahem”, Sophie pointed at the blue chick and ――――
“This little one is called Beryl…”
Then, Tio pointed at the red-plumed baby bird right after.
“This is Rubeus.”
“Beryl and Rubeus… Both of them take their names from gems?”
“Yep. I wanted to name it after sapphire somehow, but none of the names sounded right.”
It seems they both chose names that sounded good rooted in the names of red and blue coloured gems. They both sound like good names and they’re quite easy to say.
“Well, things got a little bit out of hand at one point. Like when she kept talking about naming them after white meat.”
“Mm. I really liked the name Chicken Wing.”
Those baby birds in their nests… Beryl and Rubeus cried out in real panic. No matter who you asked, being named after food didn’t bode well.
“Since we sweat a lot today, the both of you should take a bath. I’m a little tired, so I’ll ask Martha to prepare us some food when we’re in the bath.”
“Agreeeed~. I’m sweaty and sticky all over…”
The inside of the toolbox is quite cool, but after working for that long they’ve still sweat quite a bit. As the three of them left the toolbox to make their way to the inn’s bathhouse, Tio turned to ask Shirley something as if she’d just suddenly remembered.
“By the way… There was something I wanted to ask mum to help us with for school.”
“…Ah! I completely forgot because of Beryl! Isn’t it only five days away?”
“? What is it?”
With the way they’re talking, it seems like they want her to help them with a new class before it starts. If that’s how it’s going to be, then Shirley is already getting fired up and ready to go.
Her daughters are suddenly volunteering to study, even Tio who usually tries to run at the first sign of it. As a parent, she can’t let that sudden passion go to waste. Shirley’s ready for anything! Just as she’s psyching herself up, Tio looked up at her mother with doe-like eyes.
“Actually, this summer, the physical education class is going to be about swimming. So, I was hoping you could teach us how to swim beforehand.”
Sorry for no TL yesterday, but I figured I’d wait until I was slightly more sober.