The villagers came into the children’s home after following along with the girls’ words to talk about their negative feelings towards humans. Even though it was their own home, the children seemed to be terrified by Cain’s expressionless face. Seeing that, I thought they would not even be able to speak properly at this rate, I pushed him out of the house and said that I would talk to the children.
All right, let’s fix this as soon as possible, and leave this town quickly…!
"Then, your name is Enni and his name is Ed? So, Edgar is your brother?"
At my question, Enni, who was sitting to my left eating beef jerky, nodded her head. Hearing that, Ed, who was sitting to my right and eating jerky as well, rolled his eyes and spoke.
"Enni! You can’t tell humans your name like that!"
Tears welled up in Enni’s eyes at the sound of her childish voice. Because of that, I said, secretly covering her from him with my body.
"But, how can you yell at your sister like that? She’s surprised."
"What do you care?"
"Not you, Adelia. Can you call me Adelia?"
"Ha. Who cares about human names?"
Really, an impudent brat…
As I ate the beef jerky I had given them, I twitched my fingers as I watched Ed’s head turn with a quick glance. I really want to give him one hit, but…!
…I should be patient, right? After all, I am an adult.
Trying to suppress my boiling anger, I carefully handed over my apology first.
"We were sorry for earlier. We were surprised and flustered because you suddenly threw stones at us."
"And, even though I didn’t get hurt because Cain saved me, you shouldn’t throw rocks at people like that. They might get hurt."
"Ha, who cares?"
I stared at the children who were sucking their fingers while trying to raise the corners of my trembling lips. Perhaps, it fit his taste since he pulled the pocket that I was holding. The savory smell of the beef jerky in the pocket made the children’s mouths water.
"Is it delicious? Would you like more?"
"Ha, I don’t like what humans give me, but I’ll make it special this time."
I held out the jerky to Enni, ignoring Ed, who reached out to me.
"Enni, would you like to eat more?"
A large piece of beef jerky was placed in the little girl’s hand as she nodded with her eyes twinkling. Edgar, who was watching the scene, glared his eyes as if bewildered.
"What are you doing now?"
"I like good children. If you promise to speak nicely, I’ll give you more."
"Do you think I’m going to listen to what a human says all because of a little bit of jerky?"
"Oh, is that so? Then, keep acting like that."
I shrugged my shoulders as I watched Ed breathing heavily. His hands trembled as he stared at the jerky as if I was teasing him. To be honest, I thought it was a bit harsh towards a young child, still… It was Edgar who started it first.
"Enni, that’s a premium jerky."
"Yeah, it’s beef jerky made from wine-drinking calves. Have you tried it before?"
At my words, she shook her head. Enni then opened her mouth cautiously, raising the jerky she was holding, "Well, then… Will you get drunk if you eat this jerky?"
"Because I’m eating a calf that drank wine?"
The childish question was so cute that I burst into laughter. I stroked Enni’s hair and shook my head.
"No, you won’t get drunk by eating jerky…"
"Ugly old lady! I really hate you!"
Ed’s voice cut through the conversation with Enni, and I turned my head to him, startled. For a moment, I was flustered to see him staring at me with tears hanging from his eyes. Still, I asked back what he had just said.
"Wha, what did you just say now? Ug, ugly old lady…?"
"A grown person being so mean to a child because of food!"
"Why does that matter! This jerky was originally mine?"
"Yeah, and you gained a lot of weight because you ate it all by yourself!"
…I am gaining weight?
After saying that, Ed slammed the door shut and ran out of the house before I could even say anything. I just burst out laughing out of absurdity and amazement. At the same time, Enni was nibbling on the beef jerky while gazing at me.
Shaking my head at Edgar’s unexpected remarks, I glanced down and looked around.
Did I really gain that much weight…?
"Do you think I’m fat…?"
Enni, who had blinked her big eyes in confusion at my question, quickly shook her head. I skimmed over my body and persisted.
Even with the answer that came back without hesitation, I could not get rid of the feeling of discomfort. As I was fiddling with my stomach that had not appeared for no reason, Enni, who was still looking at me, uttered quietly.
"Brother Ed doesn’t hate older sister."
"Brother Ed hates human people because he thinks they’re the reason why Brother Noya disappeared."
"…What? Who disappeared?"
"Brother Noya. He’s the older brother who lived next door, and he went missing about three days ago."
"Noya? Are you talking about Noya, the dog shapeshifter…?"
Tilted her head at my question, Enni then nodded as if I was right. At her figure like that, I flopped down onto the floor in the room.
The dog shapeshifter named Noya was the real hidden protagonist of the first episode of the novel.
Noya, who was on the verge of being sold for illegal trafficking, was rescued by Cain, who came out to investigate Winder village at the Emperor’s order. After realizing that he possessed greater divine power than the priests, the Emperor asked Irene, who later returned to Aren, to protect him.
Irene, who was an affectionate and kind person, took care of him like her younger brother, and Noya, who was influenced by her, saved her life several times after that.
"Adelia? Can I have more beef jerky?"
I fumbled and handed the bag of leftover jerky to Enni, who asked if she could have more of the jerky. Having received all the remaining jerky from me, the little girl ran out of the room with her pocket as if she were excited.
Right now, the beef jerky is not a problem.
The novel was heralding a perfect start…