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Chapter 4: Just Because It’s You (4)

It was strange.

No matter how Siel looked at it, she couldn't understand.

The boy was definitely out of place.

From what she had observed, he was never foolish.

In every action, he exhibited an intelligence that seemed out of place for his age. He could immediately detect when someone was scheming and was quick to catch on.

However, what was strange was his way of dealing with things.

The norm was if someone attacked you first, you killed them before they got you.

That was how the world she had wandered for the last three years worked.

But the boy, he would always resort to uncomfortable means like threats or intimidation, never attempting to kill his opponents first.

So, she asked him.

- It would be easy for you to plan their demise. Why don’t you seek any revenge?

To which the boy responded as if she were the one who was strange.

- What are you talking about?

- Why on earth would I kill those kids?

- No, I mean, they are indeed annoying, but they’re still kids. Plus, if they weren’t in this place, they wouldn’t have turned out this way, right?

The more they talked, the more she realized how odd this man was.

As if he came from a completely different world.

Because they’re children, they should naturally be protected.

To her, children were livestock.

Property owned by their parents.

If there wasn’t enough money to raise them, they’d be buried in the ground as soon as they were born, or if there was a bit of leeway, they’d be raised to be put to work, or if circumstances worsened, they’d be sold for a fair price.

At least, that’s how the world she knew worked.

But when she shared such thoughts, the boy was horrified and utterly disgusted.

- It’s fundamental for parents to love their children.

He said, blaming the current state of the world on its sheer madness.

Hearing this, the girl felt she was beginning to grasp the essence of this man.

He was an impossible dreamer.

A dreamer with such a soft mentality, one wonders how he has survived in this harsh world.

To survive in this harsh world, one must distrust, be wary of, and betray everyone.

Yet, this man truly believed.

In a world where everyone is treated equally.

A world where parents can love their children.

A world where they don’t have to kill each other to live.

He insisted such an absurd world must come to be.

That it was only right, and it was the natural order of things.

‘Was he a child of a noble family?’

That was the only conclusion she could come to.

Such naivety could only come from a child who grew up sheltered, unaware of the ways of the world.

Probably a noble’s son, caught up in some mishap and ended up here.

‘Surely, he’ll face reality soon enough.’

She was convinced his ideals would crumble one day.

And yet...

The boy never changed.

She watched in a daze as the boy was whipped in her place.

The fragile human body.

The pain must be unimaginable for her.

But the boy’s expression remained unchanged.

She knew why.

She had seen something similar before.

- It’s okay, Siel. Really. Mommy is really okay, so don’t worry and go to sleep.

Pretending to be strong, telling her not to worry, that it’s all okay.

“I’m fine. It doesn’t hurt because of my constitution.”

Despite being beaten to a pulp, the boy said so.

Surely, he was hurt because of her.

So, it was only right for him to hate and resent her.

It was logical to keep a distance.

Yet, why did the boy continue to stick by her?

She couldn’t understand.

Every action of his was incomprehensible.

“Why are you doing this for me?”

“If you don’t want to eat, then don’t.”

Why couldn’t he just walk past a starving child, instead secretly sharing his rations?

“Keep this to yourself if you have any conscience. My rations are limited as it is. I already have enough enemies, being marked as a fool would be the end of it.

And... this is the last time I’m helping you out. Find your own way to survive and eat.”

Why does he wear a guilt-ridden expression as he says such things?

After saving someone with his own food, why does he look as if he’s done something wrong?

Too soft.

Far too soft.

With such a mindset, there’s no way to survive.

A world of equality, human rights, a world where children can live carefree as children. In this world, dreaming of such things is futile; they can never be achieved.

Yet, the boy remains unchanged.

In these two weeks, nothing has changed.

“…Eat this. I’m not feeling hungry today.”

Again today, the boy says this as he hands her a piece of bread.

She couldn’t hold back any longer.

She simply couldn’t understand this boy.

She couldn’t understand herself for being unable to take her eyes off this foolishly kind boy, who was dreaming an impossible dream.

“Why?”

So, the question slips out.

“Why are you doing this for me?”

The girl is no fool.

She knows.

She knows the boy hasn’t touched food for days, always giving his share to her or the other kids.

Always taking the whip in her place, always helping her out.

Always appearing to help her whenever she’s in danger.

She knows it all.

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

The boy feigns ignorance with his response.

“You should be the one eating this. You haven’t eaten anything in days.”

She couldn’t stand his reaction.

It upset her.

Of course, it’s not right.

She doesn’t deserve such treatment.

It was the same with her mother.

Her mother wasn’t supposed to die because of a monster like her.

So.

“Why?”

She just couldn’t accept it.

The reason he’s doing this for her. The reason he cares so much about her.

She looks at the boy again.

With an awkward face, he scratches his neck, thinks for a bit, then speaks.

“Just, because it’s you.”

Why does that phrase bother her so much?

*****

The girl slowly moved her feet.

The surroundings were noisy. However, with a slight manipulation of magical energy, understanding the situation around her was a simple task.

And then, Siel saw it.

The fate that the boy had met.

It was as expected. The boy was far too kind.

He should have killed everyone who stood in his way. He shouldn’t have shown any kindness.

That outcome had already been decided long ago.

The boy, having lost consciousness, was being dragged to the platform for execution. The girl, who had been staring blankly at this scene...

“Are you there?”

For the first time, she initiated a conversation with the wolf.

Why? She herself couldn’t comprehend her actions.

It wasn’t logical. All she had to do was run away here.

She had escaped from such places before. She had learned all the magic to conceal her presence from her mother.

So why was she doing this?

Because of that boy?

That was strange. They had only known each other for two weeks.

She didn’t even know the boy’s name.

Moreover, if he harbored such dreams, truly a dreamer wishing to make this already doomed world a better place,

He wouldn’t survive long even if he were to be saved here.

But why.

“I’ll make a contract.”

Was her lips moving on their own?

Why can’t she take her eyes off him? Why does he concern her so much?

‘Ah...’

It was then that the girl finally understood what love was.

- Just, because it’s you.

Just like the simple words the boy had said.

She believed that her mother shouldn’t love her. She believed that she shouldn’t love her mother.

Because she was an abomination. A life that should never have been born.

But it’s different.

Love isn’t like that.

When someone loves someone, no reason is needed.

When someone loves someone, no qualifications are needed.

You simply cherish them because you want to. You cherish them simply because they are precious.

She doesn’t want him to die.

So,

[I’ve certainly received half of your soul.]

She loves him.

She wants to protect him, no matter what sacrifices are made.

“Swallow it up, wolf.”

A sinister black shadow casts over the world.

What once was human morphs into mere flesh.

Walking serenely through that place drenched in blood and flesh, the girl advances.

To save the one she loves.

“...Siel?”

The boy she holds in her arms looks at her.

He must be incredibly bewildered.

And rightfully so.

The overseers have all been devoured by the shadows without a trace.

The children are all plunged into panic, scrambling to escape.

“How did you... No, more importantly... Why?”

The boy asked.

Why she helped him.

Siel pauses, lost in thought.

Although she considers herself selfish, it’s actually because she adores him, who is kinder than anyone.

Because she too has become curious about the ideal world he speaks of.

Because he taught her what love is.

Siel didn’t know how to express all those feelings in just a few words.

So, with a faint smile, Siel simply said,

“Just, because it’s you.”

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