Chapter 9

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If You Don’t Want Them, I’ll Take Them
“S, save meee…”

Although it was near the entrance, it was inside the forest, so it was not a place where someone would notice and help the child.
Moreover, a boar-like monster was about to attack the child at any moment.

The child seemed to be too weak to move.

“Richmond, can’t you help him!?”
(Mhm… I don’t mind, but that is a Human child. What are you going to do with it after?)
“What do I do, you ask… anyhow, you have to rescue the child first! I will cook you a delicious meal.”
(What!? Alright!! Hold on tightly, Kanade.)
“Eh, gyaaaaaaargh!!!”

As soon as he said that, I thought my heart was going to jump out of my mouth as he began to plummet.

The boar-like monster, perhaps because the dragon had suddenly descended from the sky, was indeed not in the mood to attack anymore. It got startled and ran away.

It was retreating, but do boars ever retreat?

“Hiii… d, dragon…!?”

I thought that the trees were in the way and Richmond, who had turned into a dragon, wouldn’t be able to land on the ground, but I was surprised to see him gradually shrinking.

“Whoa! Richmond, so you can change your size, too.”
(Are you surprised? Dragons of my caliber can use Miniaturization as well.)

I thought it was kind of cute to see a small dragon puffing out its chest proudly.

The child was fine, I hope? It’s good that the monster ran away, but…

After sliding down the miniaturized Richmond’s back, I set my gaze at the child.

Then…

“My, oh my, they ended up fainting… huh? I thought it was just a lone child, but there was another behind them?”
(Seems like it. I couldn’t see the other one from the air through the trees.)

As I approached the children, wary of the monsters that might attack at any moment, Richmond laughed at me.

(Even if there are monsters around, they won’t attack you as long as I’m here.)
“Eh, really?”
(Yeah. The monsters deep inside the forest where your village is located is a different matter, though.)

I see. So I don’t have to be so afraid now!

When I ran up to the children, I found them lying on the ground, covered in rags and with emaciated and scarred bodies.
They seemed to be about six or seven years old.

“……”

I have never seen anything like this in Japan, so I was speechless at how miserable they looked.

(They are still youngsters.)
“… Why are there children this young in this forest?”

My throat tightened, and I managed to squeeze out a few words, to which Richmond replied:

(They must have been abandoned.)

The children’s wounds were not made yesterday or today. The children’s bellies, bulging despite their scrawny frames, were the same as those of the malnourished children I had seen on TV.

I can’t believe… that someone would do this to a child…!

……… I see. If you don’t want them that badly, then I will take them.

“Richmond.”
(What is it.)

“Let’s bring them home with us.”

◇◇◇

“I’ve cast a healing spell, but both of them seem to have lost a lot of their strength. They won’t wake up for a while.”

I took the children to one of our guest rooms, which had two beds side by side, and while Richmond was performing cleaning and healing magic on them, I was in the kitchen making rice gruel for the children.

Then Richmond, who had finished the healing, came in and told me how they were doing.

“Thank you very much. The children’s lives were saved thanks to you, Richmond.”
“What, if it’s your wish, I will do whatever it is, Kanade.”

The kind Richmond smiled at me warmly, so I decided to use my skills to make a feast for him today.

“Let’s have your beloved sukiyaki for dinner tonight, Richmond!!”
“Ohh, sukiyaki is my favorite!! Please use lots of tofu, leeks, and itokon (itokonnyaku noodles)!!
“Yes, yes. We have plenty of meat and alcohol to make a delicious sukiyaki!”
“You’re going to put alcohol in too!?”
“Just a small dose, though. Look forward to it.”

There are two types of sukiyaki: Kansai-style and Kanto-style. In Kansai-style sukiyaki, the beef is first cooked in beef fat, and then the meat is added to the sukiyaki with warishita (sukiyaki sauce).
In Kanto-style sukiyaki, the warishita is simmered, the vegetables are added, and the meat is added last. Richmond likes Kanto-style sukiyaki more, so I will make Kanto-style sukiyaki today.

“Haah~ Thanks to Master House, who is getting richer in ingredients and seasonings every time I level up, I can now cook at the same level as when I was in Japan. I’m a fortunate girl, aren’t I?”

I can’t accept that there was no sake, although itokonnyaku already appeared, but I was glad that I got it nonetheless.

When the sukiyaki was ready, I came to the room where the children were, carrying rice gruel for them.

They might still be sleeping, but I knocked before opening the door.

On the bed, instead of the child who had fainted from being startled by the dragon Richmond, the other one was waking up and restlessly looking around.

“Ah, you seem to have woken up. How are you feeling?”
“… Where, here?”

I smiled at the anxious child.

“Here is my home inside the Demon Forest.”

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