Saturday, December 11, 2021

Have a Cup of Coffee after School in the Fantasy World Café V4 (6 of 6)


Translator: Skythewood

Editor: Hiiro

The first to speak was Tize. With her eyes wide open, she said quietly as if she was dreamtalking.

[Ehh, it’s… B-Big brother? But why…]

[Yes, it’s me, your big brother. Shouldn’t you say ‘long time no see’?]

[But, how can this be… Grandmother she...]

Tize stood up with a start, then ran towards me and hugged my waist.

[Y-You can’t. If grandmother finds you here, you’ll get in more trouble.]

She said as she pushed me. I knew that Tize was pushing with all her might, but her strength was too weak. I wasn’t pushed at all.

[Ughh, I’m serious! Please move! And why are you here? I caused you so much trouble, so why…?]

The hands pushing me lost their strength, and just held onto the hem of my shirt. She looked down and leaned her head against my chest.

[Why—— are you here?]

Her voice was trembling.

[I came here to see you, Tize.] I said. [We haven’t finished our conversation, right? And Pleek-san is working as a chef in my shop today. Like he said before, it’s regarding the lie he told his mother from the countryside. So, we will be troubled if Tize isn’t here.]

[… Ugh.]

Her grip on my shirt tightened.

[Everyone in the Indecent Alliance wants to see Tize too. We even gathered yesterday for a strategy meeting. We were discussing how to bring Tize back. Although they suggested dangerous ideas, which is troubling for me.]

I then continued:

[We will be troubled if you suddenly disappears. I, as well as everyone else, are waiting for you, Tize.]

Tize pressed her head against my chest and kept squirming. I put my hand on her head, and gently caressed her soft hair.

[Tize, you think there isn’t any place for you, right? You think you’re not needed by anyone, and wondered whether you should be here.]

[… Why do you know that?]

[Because it’s the same for me.]

I looked into her eyes as she raised her head and answered with a smile.

[Actually, I came from a place far away from here.]

[…… A far away place?]

[Yes, it’s so far that I can’t return easily.]

[Big brother, do you want to go back?]

She asked with forthright eyes, and I answered with a smile.

[I wanted to. I wanted so much. I felt that I couldn’t live here, and didn’t want to live here. So for a time, I confined myself to a room.]

My memories about that period had grown vague, but the searing emotions were still fresh in my mind, and the feelings were still smoldering deep inside.

[Back then, I felt no one could understand my pain. Even if I said it out loud, no one would help me. So I lock myself in my shell, and was exhausted just getting by.]

Tize lowered her gaze, and leaned against my chest again.

I didn’t know how much of my words could reach Tize. I could empathize with Tize’s pain, but I didn’t dare say I completely understood it. Tize had her own pains that no one in the world could understand. But I still had some idea how to face those pains.

[Hey, Tize. When I asked if you have lied before, you nodded, right?]

Tize nodded gently with her head bowed.

I wasn’t sure if I should say it out loud, or maybe I should pretend that I didn’t notice, and just soothe her gently. What I was about to say would touch the wound hidden deep inside Tize.

Was it fine for me to touch that wound? Could I shoulder that responsibility? I was bound by those doubts.

Tize lifted her head at this moment. Her squinting eyes caught sight of me. Under the bright moonlight, her loneliness was submerged quietly in ice.

Oh no, I got it wrong, I suddenly remembered.

She would misunderstand me again.

I couldn’t pull away from her. No one had approached her before. Because she was a Songstress, the people around her were hesitant to avoid negatively influencing her.

That was important, but at the same time, no one could understand her.

Even though it might hurt her, there were times when it was necessary to delve in deep. After meeting all sorts of people in this world, I realized this obvious fact.

If the people around Tize were hesitant, then I would do it. I was the one who realized it, so I should see this through.

[Tize—— you can actually sing, right?]

My words didn’t affect the world in the slightest. It didn’t ignite any explosion either. I couldn’t use any magic. However, it made Tize’s emotions waver.

Tize opened her eyes wide, and exhaled as if all the weight on her body was gone.

[Why do you know?]

[Because you hummed in the shop before, right? Someone with the trauma of singing wouldn’t hum so happily. So I realized it. It’s not that you can’t sing, you just don’t want to sing.]

[… Big brother is so sharp.] Tize said as she pulled away from me. She retreated to the window and squatted under the moonlight. [It was true that I couldn’t sing when I first took the stage. I couldn’t sing, and my body couldn’t move… However, it’s a lie that I can’t sing after that. The same thing might happen again on stage, but I can still sing]

[Why did you lie?]

When she heard my question, Tize smiled at me faintly. Tize spread her small wings under the moonlight, looking as if she was going to disappear.

[In the end, it was useless even if I can sing.]

She said as she pulled her arms resting on her knees to her mouth.

[I’m useless. My mother should have been a Songstress. Mother’s wings are beautiful, and her singing is great, and she makes my grandmother proud. She was supposed to be a Songstress, but she gave birth to me… which messed up everything.]

She sounded like she was speaking about someone else, her voice was strangely devoid of emotions.

[Because of my wings, people said all sorts of things about my mother… My mother worked really hard to protect me, and her health failed because of that.]

Tize’s small wings were a symbol of incompetence in the Bird Tribe, I recalled what Granny Bonnie told me. With that foreign value in mind, Tize must have had an unbelievably hard life.

[After mother died, grandmother never smiled again. She just taught me to sing with all her might… Singing won’t make me happy anymore. It is my fault that everyone is unhappy. Even if I sing, I can’t move the hearts of anyone.]

Tize’s words tore at my heart. I couldn’t find the words to console Tize who could only live this way. Anything I said would sound hollow.

Silence loomed over the room, not allowing any movements within its cold and dark domain. Only Tize illuminated by the faint light could break this silence.

[… That day, I couldn’t stand it anymore and ran away, then realized it immediately. Where could I run to? I didn’t even have a place to run to. It must be strange to not even know how to run away.]

Tize smiled in self mockery. That smile didn’t suit Tize at all.

[I didn’t even know where I was, and it started to rain… I was thinking that I couldn’t go anywhere. I wanted to cry, but the tears didn’t flow. Big brother then talked to me, and covered me with your umbrella.]

I recalled what happened on that day. For me, that was just a small fragment of my daily life. But to Tize, it was something more.

[I was really grateful. It made me really, really happy. I was happy you sheltered me with your umbrella. After going to Big Brother's shop, I met a lot of Indecents, and spoke a lot… They were all good people.]

[That shop,] Tize said quietly.

[To me, that was the first place where I could run to. I can still be myself when I’m in that shop. Not a Songstress, not someone useless, but an Indecent—— I was really happy.]

Smiling as if she was dazzled by the past, Tize looked my way. She looked as if she had seen through everything.

[But it’s over now. I caused you a lot of trouble, big brother.]

[… It’s not much trouble.]

Tize shook her head.

[Big brother got arrested because I fled to your place. I finally understood. I shouldn’t have ran away.]

I should have told her that she was wrong. That she shouldn’t push herself so much. But I couldn’t say it out loud.

[The times when I didn’t need to sing is over. I need to sing again. I’m a Songstress, so I need to keep singing.]

Tize stood up, walked to me and bowed deeply.

[I’m grateful for everything you have done. You even came here and listened to my rant, that makes me really happy. Please tell Pleek-san that I’m sorry. I’m sorry that I can’t say goodbye properly to everyone.]

Tize’s faint voice was trembling, and then stopped. She was clenching her fists and biting her lips, suppressing her emotions that were welling up.

[……Tize, are you fine with this? With losing a place to hide, singing against your will. Are you happy about that?]

Tize looked up. Her eyes were still moist, but she was smiling. This must be a fake smile she had practiced numerous times.

[All this time,] She said. [All this time, I have been thinking, please save me. Someone save me. No matter how much I sing, no one can hear the voice of my heart. It’s a lie that I can convey my feelings with my song.]

So it was fine, she said.

[Singing is meaningless now. I just need to sing the way I was instructed, and satisfy grandmother, the guests, and everyone. I don’t mind at all. Because I have no other worth.]

This is the last value I can create for myself.

Tize said and smiled at me. The tears in her eyes rolled down her cheek. It glittered as it fell to the ground under the moonlight, and shattered like glass.

[In that case...]

I wonder where my words were stemming from. My emotions were mixing chaotically, turning into a shape that even I couldn’t differentiate properly. There was only one thing I understood. I couldn’t stand Tize living like that.

[Since you say you have no value, then I will take you.]

Tize opened her eyes wide. Her head then turned red as if she was steaming.

[I-I don’t understand…!]

[You think you have no worth, right? Then it’s fine for me to take you, right?]

[No, that might be so, but taking me.]

[Actually, I have been thinking about getting some music for my shop for a while now. So Tize can sing in my shop then. Hmm, that’s a great idea.]

[I-It’s not great at all! Don’t decide that on your own…]

Tize waved her hands to express her dissatisfaction with the plan. Her wings were flapping too.

[It’s troubling that you disappeared all of a sudden. Pleek-san isn’t the only one waiting, the Indecent Alliance will disband if Tize isn’t there. Those guys are just members of the Tize fanclub.]

[No, erm, I’m happy about this, but...]

She hung her arms weakly and said with a lonely tone:

[… But grandmother will never allow this.]

That was a stronger lock than anything else. The existence bounding Tize and restricting her movements. However, there was a possibility there. That was a strong lock, but that also meant I just needed to break that one lock. That was all.

[What if Phyllis-san agrees?]

[—— Ehh?]

[If Phyllis-san allows you to go to my shop right now, will you come?]

If Tize shook her head right now, then it was all over. All this would be meaningless, and I wouldn’t be able to do anything. I could only believe that my shop was that valuable to her, and the time she spent with the Indecents was that important to her.

Tize couldn’t answer immediately.

She remained silent, as if she never considered this before. I just waited for her. How long did this silence last? When Tize finally looked up at me, she nodded as if to confirm something.

[—— That’s great.]

I couldn’t stop myself from smiling. I felt tense just waiting for Tize’s answer.

[But grandmother will never allow this.]

[That’s right. She won’t permit this easily. However, I have a matchstick hidden away.]


I wasn’t sure whether this matchstick could be lit. Maybe it would sizzle out before it catches on fire. Maybe the wind would blow it out right away. Even so, it wouldn’t ignite without being struck.

I pulled Tize’s hand, and walked to the door.

[E-Erm, big brother!?]

[Let’s hurry. We need to go back before the shop closes.]

[H-Hurry back where?]

[You’ll know soon.]

When I opened the door, I could see Claire-san blocking my way. Claire-san’s eyes opened wide when she saw that I was taking Tize with me.

[Claire-san, can you bring me to Phyllis-san again? I want to ask her for permission to bring Tize out.]

She stared at me, then at the panicking Tize, before looking at us holding hands.

[… It will be very difficult for you to get permission, even more so if it involves the young lady.]

[That’s true. But if there is anyone that can get permission, it will be me.]

I concluded with a smile. My emotions whirled in my body like a torrent. It flowed to every inch of my body faster than the beat of my heart, and pushed me to take action.

Claire-san smiled. That was the warmest smile I had seen from her.

[If that is so, let’s try it then. But if you fail, you’ll be sent to the Patische, you know?]

[That’s fine,. Everyone is intimidating me with that place, so maybe I should pay it a visit.]

I said and smiled back at Claire-san. She then turned, and I followed.

I walked along the corridor while holding Tize’s hand. My heart was pounding, and my head was heating up.

[… Why.]

I heard a voice come from my side.

[Why, did you go this far?]

We were walking briskly, so Tize and I were both breathing hard. I answered as we walked.

[When I first came here, I was like you. I felt that this world was terrible, and didn’t know what to do. I hated everything and wanted to abandon it all, but couldn’t do it.]

I didn’t know what kind of face Tize was making. But I continued without being fazed. The overflowing heat made my throat dry from anxiety.

[However, now that I looked at it again, this world isn’t so bad. There are terrible parts and people I can’t meet again, but there are people important to me here. I met people who changed my way of life. So it’s still too early to give up.]

I wanted to go back to where I came from. I didn’t want to get used to this place. I resisted everything in my life. But after I met a girl, my life was dyed a different shade of colour. I met all kinds of customers, and can evaluate myself.

[Tize, you might think you are unable to do something, but you actually can. So what if others say you’re incompetent. I don’t have wings in the first place, so that has nothing to do with being incompetent. To be frank, I don’t really know about Songstresses. But Tize, I will be troubled if you disappear suddenly. Everyone in the Indecents wants to see you, Tize. I’m just here to pick up a friend, that’s all.]

After going down the stairs briskly, we walked past the corridor and finally saw the door leading to the courtyard.

I had been holding Tize’s hand, and she was holding back now. My smile deepened at that.

I walked through the door, and saw the courtyard before me. After barging out suddenly, the gazes of many people fell on me. They were all nobles, powerful people, and the likes. But that didn’t matter. I wasn’t from this world anyway, so I didn’t care about such trivial matters.

In the densest part of the crowd, I found Phyllis-san who was wearing a gown. The Heavenly Tigress was staring right at me. I took a deep breath and smiled back.

I slowly descended the stairs towards the courtyard, with Tize following behind. Everyone in the courtyard was focused on me, but I wasn’t fazed at all.

After walking down the stairs, I walked straight towards Phyllis-san. The crowd naturally parted, leaving nothing to block my way. The gazes merely observed me. My hand was gripped tightly, and gripped back in response.

I stood before Phyllis-san and looked right at her.

[… How did you get in? You really did something foolish.]

After pulling the glass in her hand near her lips, Phyllis-san spoke.

[I came here to meet a friend, and didn’t realize I needed an invitation. Well, I still managed some how.]

[When did you become friends with Tize?]

[We already were friends. And today, we reaffirmed our friendship again.]

Phyllis-san looked at Tize who was diagonally behind me. She gripped my hand again, probably out of fear. However, I saw something different in the eyes of Tize as she looked at Phyllis-san.

[As for me, I didn’t know how great you were as a Songstress.]

My surroundings immediately became noisy, and I could hear all sorts of words. For example, [What a rude person], or [how dare he take that tone with Heavenly Tigress-sama.] They were all trivial matters. So I ignored them all and continued.

[That’s why, I’m treating you as Tize’s grandmother for our conversation.]

Phyllis-san raised a hand to stop the growing murmurs of the crowd. Phyllis-san looked at me without a word, and I couldn’t tell what kind of emotions she was feeling. She seemed willing to hear me out.

[I’m holding a party in my shop. A lot of our friends are waiting for Tize, so I want to bring her over. May I do so?]

[You think I will agree?]

She sounded incredibly cold. I already expected that answer.

[You really don’t learn, do you. I already told you to not get involved with Tize.]

[Yes, but I don’t remember agreeing to that. I will return you the money.]

Phyllis-san’s eyes turned sharp. She must be very unhappy about my existence that went against her wants. I already knew she was such a person.

[—— How foolish. Alright then, I will send you to a real prison this time. You must have gotten in through illegal means anyway. Someone, call the guards.]

She turned to signal that the conversation was over, and called out. She wasn’t loud, but her voice echoed through the entire courtyard, as if she was knocking on the eardrums of all the guests.

The hand holding to mine lost its strength, as if Tize had given up. She must have expected this, and accepted this situation easily.

However, I still had a small kindling left.

Like a small flame shielded from the storm with my hands, this was the last light. I wasn’t sure whether it would cause an explosion. Or maybe all this was just my delusion, and it was meaningless.

However, I still didn’t give up.

This was an important answer I grasped in this world.

I held onto Tize’s hand tightly, and took a deep breath.

I was tone deaf and couldn’t sing well. I couldn’t move people with my song, but in this world and this place, only I could sing this song. So I wanted to sing this for the Songstress.

I started with the opening lines. I must be off tune since my voice was trembling. The people looked at me with weird gazes. Some were frowning. But that didn’t matter. I wasn’t singing for them. I was just singing to the person with her back turned towards me.

Phyllis-san wasn’t reacting.

Maybe I got it wrong.

I started feeling uneasy.

I had misunderstood, and the last flame had whittled away, huh. My voice was straining, as if something was caught in my throat. My voice stopped midway as if it had been crushed. At that moment, Phyllis-san turned back.

[—— What clumsy singing. Where did you learn that song?]

Phyllis-san reacted without any bafflement nor mockery. If I could only describe it as nostalgia.

What I just sang was a tune from my world. A sad song that would play in towns during the evenings. When Tize sang it in the shop, she said her grandmother taught that to her.

[That’s my line, Phyllis-san. Where did you learn that song? This is a song from my hometown.]

This was a gamble. Could the implications in my words reach Phyllis-san? I could only hope.

This song shouldn’t exist in this world. If it existed here, someone must have passed it here. It must be someone from my world, who came here just like me. A person searching for their hometown, singing it out of nostalgia.

Phyllis-san opened her eyes slightly. She then looked at me carefully, as if she just noticed my existence.

[Could you be……]

There was no need for words. We were thinking the same thing.

Phyllis-san definitely knew someone from another world, someone like me.

This fact stirred my heart intensely. This was the clue I had been searching for. Someone from my world came here, and was in the same predicament as me. And she knew such a person. I wanted to step forward and ask about it. Where was that person now? Could they talk with me? What were they like, when did they come here? My anxious feelings were suppressed because I was holding Tize’s hand.

It wasn’t the time yet.

There were still many people who didn’t know the situation, and Tize was behind me. I breathed slowly to regain my composure, then smiled at Phyllis-san.

[Shouldn’t we talk again on another day?]

[… Yes, that seems to be necessary.]

Phyllis-san closed her eyes as if she had given up. She seemed to notice what I was going to say next.

[In that case, why don’t you visit my shop on another day? I have urgent matters to attend to right now. Can I take Tize with me?]

This was part of the negotiation, and also a threat. Just like Corleone-san and Momon-san, I mimicked the negotiation skills of the top class merchants.

I was implying that I wouldn’t discuss that with her if she wouldn’t permit Tize to follow me to the shop.

I gulped, and waited for Phyllis-san’s answer. She crossed her arms, then shook her head slowly.

[—— Alright then. But Claire must go with her.]

[Thank you very much.]

I bowed, then turned. All people in power had volatile emotions. It would be a problem if she changed her mind.

Tize, who was behind me, had her mouth agape.

[Alright then, let’s go.]

[Ehh, ah, okay.]

Tize followed me, unable to believe what just happened. We avoided the crowds and walked towards the academy’s exit. We passed by Linaria and Aina along the way.

[Sorry, but I will make a move first. If possible, please visit the shop too!]

I said quickly. Linaria waved gently with an awkward smile. Aina sounded puzzled as she asked: [Wait, what’s going on here!?]

I ignored her question and left. Linaria would explain things to her.

When we left the courtyard, Claire-san caught up to us.

[How shocking. I never imagined that you could convince Phyllis-sama.]

She sounded impressed. I smiled at her.

[Like I already said, I’m the only one in this world who can do that.]

It was just a speculation, but I was right. However, my objective wasn’t met yet. I needed to do more than bring her out of the academy. She needed to see for herself that there was a place that would accept her.

[Tize, can you make it to the shop on foot?]


[Pleek-san’s mother should be there already, you need to act like his daughter.]


[Granny Bonnie will definitely come. She said Tize is her disciple.]


[Celine-san has settled her own problem too. To help us for Tize’s sake… I hope things went well for her.]

Whenever I spoke, Tize would respond with a nod. Her voice was loud, but also trembling.

We passed through the school’s gate, and ran towards the streets. Tourists were everywhere at this time, so the carriages would be stuck. We weaved through the crowds and kept walking.

And finally, with a splatter, the colour of the ground was changed. Large drops of rain fell from the sky. It was a downpour commonly seen in this place.

This caused a commotion amongst the pedestrians on the streets. The rain fell on us without any mercy.

However, we didn’t have the time to take shelter from the rain.

I looked back at Tize. One side of her hair and wings were drenched, but she still smiled at me. I smiled back. The sensation of the rain drenching my body felt really good right now.

We ran in the rain. We would see the shop’s entrance soon. Everyone from the Indecents were waiting for us.

Chapter 15: The Song of the Indecents

When we reached the shop, the first thing we saw was Pleek-san kneeling before an old lady crossing her arms. Baffled by this, I stood in place stiffly.

[… What’s wrong?]

Tize said puzzledly, and leaned forth to peek.

Noticing us hurrying into the shop, the old lady looked over. She looked at my face, then at Tize, and squeezed out a wrinkled smile.

[Oh, what a cute child! Might you be Tize?]

At this moment, the sounds of chairs being kicked echoed in the shop, and many faces looked over.

[It’s true! Hey, Tize-san is back!] [Tize-san, I have been waiting so long!] [Hey, why is the shopkeep holding her hand, how envious.] [How can the shopkeep do that?] [That’s right! Asking us to gather and eat here is too brutish!] [Tize-chan will only see you act cool, damn it!] [We wanted to infiltrate in too! I even prepared the weapons!] [How sly!]

The voices welcoming Tize turned into boos, then evolved into a chorus chanting [How sly!]

No, this wasn’t right… I worked so hard, so why were they dissing me… If I left things to you guys, you people would use illegal means that would cause a huge uproar…

I could only sighed at this, but Tize gently patted my back and said:

[You are not sly at all, big brother. You worked hard to help me.]

It was a little embarrassing to be comforted by a girl younger than me, but I could feel Tize’s warmth slowly seep into my body, and everything was fine.

[Hey! Shut up, and keep it down!]

The old lady yelled loud enough to shake all the brittle utensils. She drowned out the boos, and the shop became as quiet as a school field in the middle of the night. The old lady nodded with satisfaction, then turned to me.

[You must be the Shopkeeper.]

[Oh, erm, yes.]

I answered bafflingly, and the old lady bent her already hunched back, bowing her head at me.

[I’m sorry for the trouble caused by my foolish son.]

After saying that, I finally realized that she was Pleek-san’s mother. Since Pleek-san was kneeling on the floor, the plan must have failed.

[… Please raise your head. Pleek-san only did this because he doesn’t want to disappoint his mother.]

I said in a panic. Why was I trying to make excuses? In the end, the accumulating lies filled me with guilt.

Pleek-san’s mother looked up with a refreshing smile.

[I know. He wants to make me happy, so the things he wrote seems too good to be true, and I already noticed.]

[Oh, I see.]

She got straight to the point, and I felt drained.

[I know what my own son is thinking. But he dragged so many people in, and even pretended to own this shop. This child has always been putting his efforts in the wrong things.]

The mother glared at Pleek-san while she said that. Pleek-san straightened his back and averted his gaze with a cramped face.

[But I’m glad that so many people are willing to help him. I’m very grateful that everyone can get along with this child.]

She then bowed deeply, and I waved my hands flusteredly.

[No, this is helpful for me too, so it’s fine.]

They would be ready to welcome Tize back this way.

[Mom, even the shopkeep said so.]

Pleek-san stood up with a smile.

[Who said you can stand up?]

[Ugh… Give me a break…]

That shameful voice made Tize giggled. His mother felt it was silly to stay angry after seeing that smile. He tapped Pleek-san’s hand.

[Apologize properly to everyone.]

[Leave that to me. I’m the best at apologizing.]

[What the heck is that.]

Seeing his mother smiling exasperatedly, Pleek-san also smiled. The bond between parent and child could be seen clearly. This scene looked so bright.

[Mom, since you came all this way, why don’t you try the food in the city? There’s a first rate chef here who can make anything.]

Pleek-san said in a refreshing voice. But his mother shook her head.

[That will be wasted on me. And I don’t really understand the taste in the city. Instead of that...] his mother smiled. [I want to taste your cooking. You will always cook on my birthdays. Such as...]

She then gestured with her hands as she racked her brains. She couldn’t recall the name of the dish.

Pleek-san knew what she wanted, and drooped his brows.

[That, huh? But compared to that amateurish dish, the food here taste better.]

Pleek-san pointed at the chef in the kitchen. Since Momon sent him over, his skill must be top class.

[No, I don’t need that cooking. So hurry up.]

[But I haven’t touched a knife for so long…]

[Stop making excuses.]

After forcefully saying that, the mother pushed Pleek-san’s back.

I could understand his mother’s feelings. Instead of a first rate chef, she would be happier to taste her son’s cooking. That was how cooking was. It didn’t matter how good the ingredients or skills, it couldn’t compare to the cooking of a loved one.

Pleek-san rolled up his sleeves and picked up a knife timidly. His mother watched over him with gentle eyes at the counter.

Pleek-san’s plan went down the drain. I brought Tize back in a rush, but she didn’t have to pretend to be his daughter anymore. But this was for the best. He wanted to put up a vain facade, but his mother didn’t care about all that. She would be happy to see her son doing well.

I looked at Tize. She was looking at Pleek-san and his mother with a smile. Tize already lost her mother. I wonder what happened to her father. That should be complicated, since that wasn’t brought up at all.


At this moment, I heard a timid greeting come from the side. I turned and found Celine-san standing there.

[Celine-san! Ehh, I thought you got taken away by the authorities?]

[I thought so too, but things have taken a strange turn…]

She adjusted her thick glasses while saying that, then opened her eyes wide. She then squatted down and hugged Tize.

[Instead of that, welcome back, Tize-chan! I’m so happy to see you!]

[Ugh, t-that hurts.]

Tize's voice was muffled after her face was buried into those bountiful breasts. Celine-san seemed relieved as she let go, then grind her cheeks against Tize’s head. Tize’s head bobbed up and down, and slowly put her arms around Celine-san’s back.

Whistles and applause erupted around them. They were holding back because of Pleek-san’s mother, but that reservation was gone now. They cheered loudly [Welcome back, Tize-chan!] [Welcome back!] [Welcome back to the world of the Indecents!]

Tize was finally freed by Celine-san, and bowed with a bashful expression when someone cheered. That made the cheers even louder.

Celine-san stood up and came quietly to my side, and said quietly.

[Back to what we were saying, I met the official tracking me.]

She then pointed to a corner seat. I looked over, and saw a young man in formal attire there. He nodded with a smile when our eyes met. I then turned to Celine-san.

[… Why is he here?]

[Actually, he wants to recruit me to be his clerk……]

[Isn’t that good? That’s why he is looking for you?]

I heard that becoming a clerk meant making it big for a ghostwriter.

[No, actually...]

[I fell in love with her words.]


The sudden voice surprised Celine-san and me.

The bureaucrat who was sitting just now was standing beside us.

[I had seen many words because of the nature of my job.] The man said. His face was flushed for some reason. [But this is the first time I have seen words filled with emotions. Even though Celine-san is just writing a dry superficial document, it seems to be alive and appeals to me… Oh, it’s wonderful.]

[… I see.]

I didn’t really get it, but he was attracted to the words in Celine-san’s forged documents.

[So, you want to recruit her to be your clerk?]

[That’s right. I want to see more of Celine-san’s words. Everyday. If possible, I want to see her words written with emotions.]

I peeked at Celine-san. She seemed troubled. That was to be expected. Most people would never hear someone telling them that [I love your words so much that I want to see them everyday.] So that was a natural reaction.

However, Celine-san had the principle of putting her feelings into her writing. With that in mind, she might feel happy that someone likes her writing. Her face was blushing a little.

[……Celine-san, why don’t you hear him out. You are troubled by your father’s finances anyway.]

After I said that, the man suddenly made a serious face.

[Are you troubled by something?]

[Actually, my father is a guarantor, and a loanshark is hounding him to pay up…]

[I see. Depending on the situation, I might be able to take some countermeasures. There has been a lot of problems during this period, and we are working hard to look over things. Can you tell me the specifics?]

[Ehh… Alright.]

I thought he was a weirdo who likes words, but he was acting like a dependable bureaucrat. Both Celine-san and I were looking at him in a daze. Was I mistaken about his eyes looking hyped up?

[If your emotions are affected, your words will get affected too. I won’t let the loansharks affect you.]

… This person had a weird sense of judgement.

I couldn’t help smiling at the sight of them returning to their seats. They might be more compatible than I expected.

After looking around the shop, I found them enjoying themselves casually. The atmosphere in the shop was different than usual, with tables covered by white tablecloths and candle stands. Servers were standing everywhere, but most of them had been pulled aside to have their meals.

Most of the customers were familiar faces. They were gathered here to support Pleek-san’s lies, and to welcome Tize. And now, Pleek-san’s plan had fallen through, and Tize had returned. There wasn’t any need for the tense atmosphere anymore.

Tize sat at the seat closest to her, and was mobbed by the crowd. I could hear people saying things like [where did you go] or [your wings are really cute.]

This was a wonderful sight. Everyone got along well. I felt my efforts were rewarded just by seeing this.

Before I realized it, Claire-san was standing beside me. She must be lurking nearby, even though we went back to the shop together.

[… She is making a good expression.]

I said to Claire-san while watching Tize seriously answer the queries bashfully. Claire-san didn’t say anything in response. But her gentle eyes watching Tize conveyed more than any words.

Chapter 16: Where She Belonged

If there were times you drink to drown your sorrows, there would be times you drink to enjoy your times with others. As it turned late, the Indecents said they wanted to drink, and left the shop. When adults were happy, they would want to drink. They left one by one after bidding Tize farewell.

Only the dirty utensils and restaurant decor were left behind. The employees dispatched by Momon swiftly tidied the utensils, tablecloth and candle stands, then made plans to collect them tomorrow.

Celine-san went back to discuss the matters about her family with the officials, and Pleek-san brought his mother home. The shop turned quiet, in deep contrast with the rowdiness earlier.

Claire-san was seated at the tables. Tize and Granny Bonnie were still at the counter. Tize walked around, making a ruckus and singing with the Indecents, and was exhausted. She rested her head on the counter sleepily, and dozed off. Granny Bonnie watched over her with gentle eyes.

[Children should be carefree.]

[Yes, you are right.]

I looked at Tize. Her eyes were closed, and her breathing even. Her sleeping face was like the culmination of innocence, just like an angel.

[I don’t know what you did, but you must have worked hard.]

I shook my head when Granny Bonnie said that.

[Actually, I didn’t do much. Thinking back, Phyllis-san wasn’t serious about stopping me.]


Granny Bonnie supported her face with her palm.

[That was just my gut feeling without any basis… When I approached Phyllis-san with Tize, her eyes weren’t that sharp.]

[Her eyes?]

[Isn’t that obvious? A man like me was bringing her precious granddaughter out, you know? Normally, she should be yelling at me furiously. It feels kind of warm, or nostalgic.]

I said as I thought what happened, and Granny Bonnie snorted. It was an action with a sense of intimacy.

With her eyes on Tize, Granny Bonnie said:

[That must be a grandmother with a terrible personality reminiscing the past. She lived a hard life as a Songstress, and anyone would fantasize about someone taking them away.]

She said, as if she knew Phyllis-san very well.

[…… As I suspected, you know about Tize and Phyllis-san’s circumstances?]

[Oh, so you suspected that? You already realized, huh?]

After saying that nonchalantly, Granny Bonnie looked my way.

[I was curious, since you seemed very knowledgeable about the Songstress and Tize. I thought this is because of the Indecent intelligence network, but Granny Bonnie shouldn’t be interested in this topic.]

Granny Bonnie smiled.

[You’re right. I’m actually acquainted with that old lady with a terrible personality. Although I had never met this child before.]

[Acquintances, huh. How was your relationship with her?]

Granny Bonnie who took pride in being an Indecent and moved around at night, and Phyllis-san who lived her life basked in the spotlight on stage. I was curious about how they were connected.

[It’s nothing, just trivial matters. There was a time in the past when I was good at singing too.]

Granny Bonnie didn’t say anything more. I didn’t have the privilege of knowing her storied past yet. This was true for everyone, we wouldn’t share our past unless we were interested in flaunting it.

I suddenly recalled a tune Granny Bonnie hummed one day. Maybe that was part of Granny Bonnie’s past, and I could only feel it at that moment.

Suddenly, there was the sound of carriage wheels rolling over stone roads. I looked out the window, and saw a carriage stopped there. A while later, the door opened. Phyllis-san, who was still in her gown, was standing there.

She surveyed the shop, then walked over slowly. I heard they were acquaintances, but neither Phyllis-san nor Granny Bonnie looked at each other, ignoring the other’s presence. That made me suspect whether they were really acquainted.

Phyllis-san sat down beside Granny Bonnie. She raised the corners of her lips as she watched the sleeping Tize.

[… Looks like happy hour is over.]

[Yes, it was really fun. Everyone sang together.]

[Sang together? This child?]

She said in surprise.

I didn’t know who started it. It was rowdy, and no one would mind since everyone was having fun. After someone started singing, the Indecents joined in one by one. They weren’t drinking, but they still acted like they were drunk.

Celine-san then joined the singing circle with Tize, and Tize started singing with a smile.

After I said all that, Phyllis-san quietly closed her eyes.

[I see… It’s fine if she joins in the song willingly.]

There wasn’t a shred of surprise in her words.

[You already noticed that she can sing?]

[Of course. I have been watching her, and can tell if she is lying.]

She said as she clumsily patted Tize’s head. There wasn’t any harshness in her gaze, and her eyes were filled with love for Tize.

[… You should treat her gently all the time. It’s because of how clumsy you are in being strict, that things become so complicated.]

Granny Bonnie said quietly. This was the first thing she said after Phyllis-san came in. Phyllis-san grunted with a sideway glance.

[That’s unnecessary concern. No matter how clumsy it is, don’t butt in on my education policy.]

[Oh, sorry about that. But if you carried on like this, wouldn’t this child get crushed under the weight? You’re lucky that this kid interfered and turned things for the better.]

Phyllis-san didn’t answer. She just closed her eyes, and the air turned tense.

[— You’re right, I admit it. There’s a possibility that I can’t save that child alone.]

[You are as hard headed as always.]

[It’s you who is too unprincipled.]

They glared at each other. They might be old acquaintances, but their conversation sounded like bickering. They seemed to be on good terms, but I hope they could spare a thought for me.

[I have decided to protect this child. This child doesn't have a father, and lost her mother, I’m her only kin now. I will raise this child no matter what.]

[You are too hard headed, both regarding the death of her parents and the raising of this child. Your way of protecting her is no different than locking her in a cage.]

[But her wings—]

When Phyllis-san said that, Granny Bonnie smacked her lips. That made the shop even more tense.

[What are you saying, stupid. So what if she doesn’t have normal wings, what nonsense. She is only seeing things this way because you push your views on wings on her.]

She then looked right at Phyllis-san.

[That is a really narrow world. The people gathered here today don’t care about Tize’s wings. You’re the only one who is bothered. The idea of making up for her wings with her voice is destroying this child’s possibility.]

Phyllis-san’s eyes turned sharp, and she raised her brows.

[… You think you understand this child’s pain? Being mocked for her wings that can’t take flight no matter where she goes. The weak can’t survive. So this child has to be strong. If others look down on her wings, then she has to make them submit to her voice. This child can only rely on her voice. That’s why I’m teaching everything I know to her. I will protect her until her voice can help her soar in place of her wings.]

[She is the one who will decide that! Did that child ever ask you to do that!? That she wants to make others submit to her voice, and prove her worth!?]

[She can decide in the future. Without power, she wouldn’t even have the right to choose. To let this child live on freely, I want her to have power. I won’t forgive anyone who harms this child. I have the obligation to protect her.]

They were completely at odds. Both of them were right, and both of them had things they wouldn’t back down from.

I felt it wasn’t my place to butt in, but I still spoke during this pause.

[Well, I understand how the both of you feel, but isn’t what Tize thinks the most important thing?]

The two of them looked right at me, then at Tize. Tize’s shoulders shook, probably from the pressure she felt.

[……Tize, I know you are awake.]

Tize didn’t move. A while later, she lifted her head timidly.

[What, so she is awake.]

Thinking back on what she said, Granny Bonnie commented bashfully. Phyllis-san looked over without saying anything.

[Tize, you heard what was said, right?]

I asked, and Tize nodded.

[Granny Bonnie and Phyllis-san are worried about Tize. However, the most important thing is what you think, Tize. Why don’t you share your thoughts with us. Phyllis-san will want to know too, right?]

Tize carefully lifted her head and looked at Phyllis-san. She nodded with her eyes still closed.

Tize took a deep breath, lowered her gaze on the counter, then said with a stammer:

[I… like grandmother. When my mother was still healthy, she was always smiling, and treated me kindly… But after my mother died, grandmother never smiled again, and always looked very strict… If I can sing as well as my mother, maybe, grandmother, will smile again.]

This must be what Tize thought. This was her pure, untarnished feelings. And it made Phyllis-san open her eyes.

[That’s why I practiced so hard, so I can sing as well as my mother, then become a Songstress. But grandmother still didn’t smile… So I worked even harder, and sang even better… However, when I got on stage for the first time, I realized...]

Tize said as she looked up at Phyllis-san. Phyllis-san held her gaze.

[I don’t actually want to sing on stage. Many people applauded me, and the light was bright, but I didn’t feel happy. I… only sang to make mother and grandmother happy. I want mother and grandmother to praise me for my song, that’s why I’m singing.]

Tize took a deep breath to suppress her sobs.

[I don’t care what others say about my wings. But no matter how much I sing, grandmother won’t smile. So I think I’m incompetent, and don’t want to sing anymore. So I lied and ran away.]

Before I realized it, large teardrops were welling out of Tize’s eyes. She didn’t wipe it away, and her voice was still trembling as she conveyed her true feelings.

Phyllis-san bit her lips hard. She narrowed her eyes, suppressing her surging emotions.

[I don’t know what I need to do to make grandmother smile like she used to. So, I’m incompetent, I’m, very sorry.]

Tize lowered her head, her voice almost fading away, and Phyllis-san hugged her. She held Tize tight, wanting to convey all of her emotions.

[It’s enough. It’s enough, Tize. You are not incompetent.]

Phyllis squeezed out with a hoarse voice.

[But, I...]

Phyllis-san shook her head, stopping Tize from continuing. She was holding Tize tight so Tize wouldn’t see her crying face.

[… Let’s stop the performances. If you don’t want to sing, then forget it. I will be happy if you are by my side. Oh right, how about going on a tour together. Let’s do something fun, Tize.]

She wanted to abort the performance now? I looked at Granny Bonnie, and she looked back and said with a smile [If it’s her, she will really do it.]

I felt an indomitable resolve in Phyllis-san’s words. Her personality might be extreme, but she was basically a foolish grandmother.

[Erm, about that...]

Tize gently pushed Phyllis-san’s chest away. She looked up at Phyllis-san.

[That will cause a lot of problem for many people.]

[It’s fine, leave it to your grandmother.]

[There are people looking forward to it.]

[Don’t worry, grandmother will think of something.]

She wasn’t getting through...

[Another thing,] Tize looked over with a gentle smile. [I was really happy when I sang with everyone. I felt happy about singing.]

Phyllis-san’s eyes were in a daze.

[That’s why, even though I can’t sing well, I want to sing like my mother. I failed once before, but this time...]


Phyllis-san shook her head at that. She patted Tize’s head, and smiled warmly as if she could accept anything.

[You don’t need to sing like anyone. It’s fine even if you don’t sing well. You just need to enjoy your singing, and sing however you like. That will be your song.]

This must be the smile that Tize missed so much. This must be the warmth that Tize craved so much.

Tize nodded firmly. She looked like she couldn’t bear it anymore, and hugged Phyllis-san with a muffled cry. Phyllis-san held Tize, and patted her head preciously.

Granny Bonnie and I looked at each other and smiled.

[Really now, what a clumsy family, always causing trouble for others.]

[But this is wonderful. It really is.]

[That’s right.]

We smiled again, then I asked quietly:

[… Since you are Phyllis-san’s acquaintance, do you know this song?]

I quietly hummed the tune from my hometown, and Granny Bonnie opened her eyes wide in shock. She then smiled as if she realized something.

[— I thought your lack of common sense felt familiar, so it wasn’t my mistake.] Granny Bonnie said quietly. [Someone taught Phyllis-san and I this song when we were young. He said he came from a place far, far away.]

I felt a chill behind my back, but endured it. I almost screamed.

So it existed.

Someone who barged into this world, aside from me.

[Where is that person right now?]

I squeezed those words out of my dry mouth. I leaned forward, not wanting to miss any details from Granny Bonnie.

Was he still alive? That might be possible. If that was the case I wanted to meet him. I felt a sense of duty, and my heart pounded intensely, and the blood rushed to my head.

Granny Bonnie looked right into my eyes. I felt troubled. Granny Bonnie’s eyes seemed empty.

[Who knows? I don’t know where he went. One day, very suddenly, he was gone without telling Phyllis or me anything, as if he was going out for a stroll. I never saw him again.]

I could only feel a sense of loss in my heart. Something in my heart had vanished, and couldn’t be filled up. After I made it so far.

[…… Is that person important to Granny Bonnie?]

I asked on reflex. Granny Bonnie’s shoulders trembled.

[Kind of. And he still is.]

I didn’t say anything more.

When Granny Bonnie struck the match, I remembered something Granny Bonnie said. [Let there be light.] I heard that phrase somewhere before, and finally remembered.

Let there be light. A phrase from the Bible.

That person told Phyllis-san and Granny Bonnie about the Bible and songs, and they remembered it even after decades. But that person vanished.

Where did he go?

No one knew the answer to that.

Chapter 17: If You Are By My Side

This was my first time visiting a theatre. With the stage as the centre, the seats formed a three layered semi-circle, and it was a full house. The place was dim, but the people seated with their instruments could be clearly seen. They were probably an orchestra.

The place was noisy. The expectations of what was to come, and the out of the norm experience made everyone too excited to stay quiet.

More specifically, the people around me are the noisiest.

[I’m really nervous. Will Tize-san be fine?] [I will jump down and encourage her.] [Hey, this is the second floor.] [It’s fine, I’m an adventurer.] [That’s the issue, retard.]

In one of the stands on the second floor, the Indecents and I were gathered in one corner. We were invited by Tize and Phyllis-san to the first day of the performance. There were too many of us to secure seats, but the stands offered a good enough view.

[I’m worried about Tize-chan…]

Celine-san said.

[I said it’s fine. Let’s wait calmly.]

Pleek-san said, but he wasn’t calm either.

The calm ones were like Granny Bonnie, who was supporting her cheek while leaning against the railing.

[… Hey, should I really be here?]

Linaria leaned over and whispered.

[Why not? You did help me enter the academy.]

[That might be so, but I haven’t really met Tize before.]

[You will see her soon. Look, it’s starting.]

The orchestra played cheerful music, the tune was exciting and made me want to move around. The heartbeat-like rhythm sent our expectations to the roof.

The red curtains on stage were drawn. A well dressed elderly man emerged from its seams, and started speaking.

He thanked everyone for their presence, then finished after introducing Tize and Phyllis-san. I was glad it wasn’t a drawn out speech normally given by school principals. That would have been boring, and the crowd’s anticipation was overflowing, and he would have been booed if he went off track.

The man vanished behind the curtains, and the music faded slowly to silence.

It was quiet enough to hear a pin drop. And finally, a last set of curtains were drawn.

The stage was illuminated by bright white light. Tize was already standing there. She was wearing a beautiful gown, her hands together before her abdomen, and looking stoically ahead.

When the curtains were fully drawn, the moment we had been waiting for had arrived.

The music started. It was a slow, soothing tune. Tize opened her mouth, and we leaned forward. We didn’t want to miss anything. However...

—— Silence.

The singing didn’t start, and the music continued. The conductor before the orchestra stopped the music. He turned and looked at Tize, then started from the top.

We looked at each other, filled with unease.

The tune stopped again without Tize’s voice. Murmurings were starting in the crowd.

Tize remained still on stage. Her mouth was slightly agape, standing alone in that dazzling world.

If this continued, she wouldn’t be able to sing.

She still hadn’t found her song.

The murmuring from the crowd was getting louder. Chattering could be heard everywhere. The performance might get out of control.

We waited quietly, believing in Tize and looking right at her. We were all watching over Tize.

But I suddenly realized something.

We could see the stage clearly from here, but what about the reverse? Could Tize, who was standing on the dazzling stage, see us, who were on the dim stands on the second floor?

Tize was alone in the dazzling world right now.

[Hey, Linaria]

[…… What?]

Her answer had a tone of exasperation, even though I hadn’t said anything.

[You already know?]

[You must be scheming something anyway.]

[Why do you know that? Well, you’re right though.]

I smiled awkwardly, then looked at Linaria’s face.

[I might be drawing some attention later. No, I will be drawing a lot of attention. It will be embarrassing, but will that be fine?]

Linaria looked back at me with a resigned expression.

[Do what you want. If it’s necessary, I will help you too.]

That answer made me really happy.

[Well then, I won’t hold back then.]

I coughed, then put my hands around my mouth like a loudhailer. Sensing what I was about to do, Linaria laughed. She didn’t stop my foolish actions, and even permitted it. I really like this side of Linaria.

I took a deep breath, swelling my stomach, then shouted at the stage.

[Tize——! Go for it——!]

My voice echoed through the entire hall. As expected of a theatre, the acoustics were excellent.

I could sense the gazes from the entire hall directed my way. I was really prominent. The gazes weighed on me heavily. So Tize was enduring such pressure on the stage alone, huh. My chest hurt when I thought about that.

The hall turned noisy. People were probably thinking about what the hell I was doing. My face turned hot from embarrassment. At this moment, a voice came from beside me. It was louder than me, and reverberated through the entire hall.

[Tize! Go for it——!]

Linaria shouted with her hands around her mouth, just like me. She then looked at me with a red face, and smiled proudly.

[You need to do it like this.]

Her smile protected me from the pressure of the crowd’s gazes. If she was by my side, I could do anything.

I was about to shout again when explosive voices came from behind me.

[Tize-san, work hard!] [I’m here, Tize——!] [Marry me——!] [Tize-chan is so cute——!] [Princess——!]

I looked back, and everyone from the Indecent Alliance was shouting whatever they wanted. They were shouting towards Tize, telling her that they were present.

Granny Bonnie looked at me with both hands raised and shook her head. I smiled at her, then raised my voice to compete with the others.

Our voices filled the entire hall. We didn’t fear the gazes directed our way, because we are shouting for Tize who was standing alone on the stage, and not for anybody else. You are not alone, we are all here, we did everything to convey that point.

Figures moving hurriedly could be seen below. Three, then four, their numbers were increasing. They were the venue security, rushing over to stop us.

We paid them no mind. We didn’t care about ourselves, and kept shouting for our comrade.

Tize, who was standing under the limelight, turned our way. She might not be able to see us shouting, but she definitely heard our voices.

Finally, Tize wiped the corners of her eyes, relaxed her shoulders and looked up. She then slowly opened her mouth.

She didn’t have the wings that others had, and had once given up on singing. And now, she was taking a step forward. She didn’t have the wings to take to the skies, but she still flew. Even if they weren’t visible, her outstanding wings had still sprouted.

It was fine even if she couldn’t fly. She could just rest again. If that wasn’t enough, the Indecents would give her our wings. Although those wings would be ugly and scarred, unable to exist under the sun and incapable of flight.

We stopped our cheering. Tize was about to soar into the sky. We could clearly see her white wings spread out wide.

And with her new wings, the Songstress serenaded the entire theatre with her song.

No comments:

Post a Comment