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Chapter 2: Just Because It’s You (2)

It’s a certainty. This has to be a sure win.

Siel. That was the name of the protagonist’s companion I remembered from a spoiler post I read before getting absorbed into this world.

As far as I recall, she was supposedly a young half-elf abandoned by her own kind.

Wait... Elf? 

My thoughts drifted to her race as I scrutinized the area around Siel’s ears.

Indeed, though obscured by her hair, they were slightly more pointed than a human’s. Her skin was also remarkably fair.

Her black hair didn’t quite fit the elven image, but then again, she was a half-elf. It made sense when considering the mix of traits from another race.

“...?”

Perhaps finding my blatant staring somewhat odd, Siel gave me a peculiar look.

Feeling a bit awkward, I quickly averted my eyes and pretended nothing happened.

Maybe it was because of her personality, she didn’t seem inclined to question my behavior. Without much thought, she simply turned her head back and continued on towards the mining area.

Nonetheless, this confirmed she was indeed the Siel from the spoilers.

I racked my brain to recall the details of the spoilers I had read.

Siel’s story was... something about elves exiling her due to some bizarre superstition, labeling her as an ominous child.

Ominous, her?

I couldn’t help but doubt the intelligence of these elves.

She looked merely beautiful? Seemingly vacant and innocuous, nothing about her appeared malevolent.

What kind of peculiar superstition could drive a community, even to the extent of abandoning a child?

I couldn’t wrap my head around it, but that wasn’t the pressing matter at hand.

Having come this far, my course of action was clear.

An opportunity had practically fallen into my lap; there was no way I could let it slip by.

Somehow, I had to make this girl my ally. That was the immediate priority, even more urgent than escaping.

‘I need to become friends with her quickly...’

Just as I was entertaining this thought, my mind suddenly hit a wall.

Come to think of it... how does one become friends with a young girl?

My mind went blank in an instant.

In a way, it was to be expected.

Being too knowledgeable about befriending young girls would be odd, to say the least. It would be more than strange; it would be criminal.

Even the memories of how I made friends back in elementary school were fuzzy.

Ideas like offering candy to foster friendship seemed not only unimaginative but downright pathetic.

‘...This is driving me insane.’

A sigh escaped me naturally.

To make matters worse, her aloof demeanor seemed to leave no room for approach.

But what choice did I have? Contemplating how to secure this girl’s cooperation was far better than pondering how to escape on my own, as I had been before.

Whether it turns out to be a success or a failure, I had no choice but to give it a try.

*****

I was wrong. This child isn’t human; she’s a block of wood, a block of wood!

Over these two weeks, I’ve done everything imaginable that could build affection.

Shared food with her, taught her various things, protected her when others picked on her.

I’ve really done everything possible.

Yet, there’s been no change in the outcome.

Usually, after all these efforts, one would expect a greeting when meeting, or naturally spending time together, right?

But this kid is just the same as when we first met. The reason we’re together now is because I approached her, not the other way around.

And the problems don’t stop there.

“Eat faster, or you won’t even make it halfway through before mealtime ends!”

Despite my nagging, Siel continues to nibble on her bread like a rabbit, with a vacant look on her face.

It’s become so routine for me to scold her like this that it’s now a part of my daily life.

In other words, I’ve unilaterally become attached to this little brat.

I know it’s idiotic, but it couldn’t be helped.

The kids here are like they’re raising dozens of snakes inside. They’re more cunning and dark-hearted than most adults I’ve met.

But Siel is the opposite.

She’s too transparent. Void of any thoughts.

Left alone, she’d be whipped and have her food stolen.

What’s even more frustrating is that she just takes it without fighting back.

It’s like I’ve ended up looking after her out of some sense of raising a pet, feeling like she’d die if I didn’t.

‘Is she really an elf?’

Judging from the fact that her senses are a bit strange and her reactions are a bit inhuman; she’s definitely an elf without a doubt.

But it doesn’t make sense for even a forsaken half-elf to be this weak, to only be taken advantage of.

Considering the status of elves in the previous story, she should at least have the ability to sneak away from here.

So why on earth does she stick around?

“......”

While I was lost in thought about this incomprehensible girl, Siel, for once, looked my way.

Having been at this for a while, I feel like I’m starting to get a grasp of this creature’s language.

This must be the reaction when it wants to ask something.

“Is there something you want to say?”

“Aren’t you eating?”

Hearing that, I glanced back at my own tray.

Indeed, there’s still one piece of bread left. 

It was only the food I had desperately tried to preserve during the early days of possession.

But now... I just can’t bring myself to eat it.

Is this the curse of knowledge?

I wish I could just be like the other kids, eating around the moldy parts.

Why did I have to pick up that trivial fact from the internet that mold is like a flag planted by bacteria after they’ve completely conquered the food?

And it’s not just about hygiene; it’s tasteless. No, it’s beyond tasteless—it’s like torture for the tongue.

“...You eat it. I’m not really in the mood today.”

So, once again, I offered the bread to Siel.

I don’t want to be picky about food to the point of risking death. But I wasn’t feeling hungry yet.

Probably thanks to the robustness of this healthy body.

I could probably go without eating for about a week.

‘Besides, I’ve saved up some stuff, so if I get hungry, I can just eat that.’

It’s better to just give it to Siel here.

As for gaining affection... well, I’ve given up on that a long time ago. But still, feeding her feels like feeding a pet. It’s somehow satisfying just to watch.

After handing the bread to Siel, I planned to spend the remaining mealtime thinking about future plans.

Or so I thought.

“...? What are you doing?”

But the sensation of the bread I offered to Siel didn’t leave my hand. She seemed to have no intention of taking the bread I gave her.

Our eyes met once again. And unusually, Siel was the one to ask a question this time.

“Why?”

Under normal circumstances, I might have lectured this elf on the importance of providing more detail when speaking or explaining the context to make her questions understandable.

But strangely, I felt overwhelmed by the atmosphere emanating from her.

“Why are you doing this for me?”

Her tone was neither accusing nor scolding.

Just pure curiosity. An emotion that conveyed she couldn’t comprehend my actions at all.

“Was there something wrong with the bread you ate earlier? Take this quickly; my arm’s getting tired.”

That was my response to Siel. However, her reply was once again something I couldn’t fathom.

“You should be the one eating this.”

On the surface, her words made sense.

It’s the idea that she felt guilty for always receiving and insisted that I should eat instead.

But her expression was utterly baffling.

Throughout these two weeks. Not even when she was whipped, nor when other kids stole her food and left her hungry, had she looked as sorrowful as she did now.

“You haven’t eaten anything for days.”

...It was then I finally understood her reaction.

Well, I had been relying on my abilities and choosing not to eat. But how must that have appeared to her?

And thinking about it, there’s more that adds up.

Being an elf, she might not be susceptible to mana addiction, but since I’m completely immune, it made more sense for me to take on the mining work, even covering her share.

Since I don’t feel much pain due to my abilities and heal quickly, I’ve also taken the whippings in her place.

With that in mind, it makes a bit more sense.

It’s somewhat gratifying to realize she hasn’t entirely overlooked my efforts. It’s comforting to know that the attachment isn’t one-sided.

But then...

Something about this feels off.

‘Is this really something to be so sad about?’

If you’re grateful, why not just say ‘thank you’?

“Why?”

Siel asks, and even though her question is again truncated, I understand the intent behind it.

This left me pondering.

Why did I help her?

Because she is the protagonist in the game, so she must be strong.

Because I wanted her to be my ally and help me in return.

Because the more I watched her, the more I felt she would wither away if left alone, so I wanted to take care of her.

Because, somehow, I’ve grown attached to her.

There are too many reasons. But how do I explain all that?

-Ding, Ding!

As I was mulling over this, the bell rang. 

It’s a signal to gather.

Considering there’s still time left for the meal, this sudden call likely means some fool has broken the rules and is about to be publicly executed.

Regardless, I need to hurry to the assembly area.

So, I ended up voicing the first answer that came to mind.

“Just, because it’s you.”

Why? 

At that time, I wondered why did Siel make such a strange face?

There was absolutely no way for me to know.

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