As I leave the room, I lose my way while descending to the lower floor.
The kitchen should be downstairs. Wandering around, I encounter another maid who leads me. I’m saved.
Even the dinning room is incredibly spacious. The table is as long as those seen on television.
Sitting in the seat of honor is a middle-aged man sipping coffee. He is dressed in all black and sports a fashionable mustache.
Well, this must be Lian’s father.
To his side is a woman with her makeup done perfectly, jewels adorning her chest, fingers, and head. Is this Lian’s mother? She’s gorgeous, but the quirked brow and corners of her eyes make her seem nervous.
Facing opposite of the woman is a young man with green eyes and long silver hair. I guess this is Lian’s elder brother. At the sight of me, his whole face lights up into a beckoning smile. The chair next to him is free. Sitting there should be okay.
This is such a splendid breakfast.
Somehow, it looks like the breakfast of a hotel. Scrambled eggs, ham, and salad are served on large, shiny, and white plates. Heaps of fruit. Fluffy bread. Baked pastries decorated with beauty in mind. And they’re presented buffet style.
That being said, I’ve never eaten breakfast with a fork and knife before.
I’m so nervous.
My hand trembles, dropping the fork from the tension. How embarrassing. Not understanding the etiquette, I look at Lian’s elder brother who’s sitting next to me, his hands in prayer. Then he calls out my name with a smile.
Lian’s elder brother is extremely handsome. Just explode already.
Judging from his looks, this elder brother is probably in high school.
“What is it, my cute Lian? Today you’re acting quite mature.”
“Eh, ah, r-really?”
“That’s right. Are you not feeling well? Will you be taking a break from school today?” As he questions me in the voice of a handsome guy, he strokes my head.
He caresses my cheeks. He goes on to caress my nape with graceful hands.
For some reason, I feel tremors running down my spine, and I have the urge to escape. How scary. It’s an instinctual fear.
“No, I’ll go to school!”
“Is that so? Too bad. I thought I could play with Lian the whole day today…”
He’s still stroking my cheeks, his face drawing near. I want him to release me immediately.
In my heart, I decide not to get too close to Lian’s elder brother.
I leave the mansion.
Standing by the gate are three children. They greet me energetically.
Their names should be Jaiko and Gian…Well, since those are male trousers… Maybe Gian’s a boy? Little G? Then, there is a mini Suneo look-alike from Doraemon.
The three of them line up, turning toward me to smile.
Oh, I remember.
These guys are the three bullies.
Also, they’re Lian’s underlings—I mean, my friends.
Right, currently I am Lian.
That’s why I need to act like him. Don’t let anyone be suspicious of me.
Lian’s personal preferences and traits… How do I imitate these?
Ahh, what were they again? Remember. I have to remember.
Oh yeah, he’s kind of cheeky. Yes, that’s it. That’s right.
He has an audacious attitude and gives off the impression of disgust toward everything, the epitome of a rich young master.
In that case, I ought to act conceited… Probably.
“G-good morning everyone.”
First of all, I turn toward them with a smile. Elegantly and full of grace.
The faces of the trio flush red.
“Ahh Lian is also beautiful today!”
Am I really that beautiful? In my opinion, Lian’s elder brother is what you’ll call true handsomeness. Yet, is Lian also on that level?
Well, since this village is so close to the frontier, the handsome guy standard may be rock-bottom low.
There’s definitely such a possibility.
The trio adores Lian.
As I watch them, their cheeks dye red.
For the moment, they aren’t suspecting me. It seems fine for now. Uh huh. Let’s keep acting like this in the future.
However, keeping up an act is pretty exhausting…
I scan the area.
The scenery of the tranquil countryside stretches on.
This is definitely the starting village. Without a doubt.
The game is composed of two parts. The starting village arc and the main story.
Even if you do a speed run of the starting village arc, it takes more than five hours to complete it.
There are various things that take up time, such as long movies, in the beginning. So, players actually start playing the game once the main character is twelve years old.
In other words, by chronological order, I wonder which grade I’m in right now? Currently, how old am I?
I’m talking about school.
The village’s school.
There, primary education continues until the student graduates at twelve years of age.
So, that means I’m about twelve right now.
Students ages thirteen to sixteen attend middle school at a neighboring town. That’s for sure.
At the age of seventeen, Lian will return to his village, memorizing the lord’s tasks with the help of his father. The main character will help out in the church and orphanage and work at the ranch. He will also continue to deliver milk in the morning. What a hard worker. This elder brother seems to have tears flowing out. (T/N: He refers to himself as an elder brother here.)
I calculate at least six years until he’s eighteen years old.
No way! I have to stay in this world for six years?!
It’s not just a long level.
My thoughts are becoming awfully distant.
This is too cruel, goddess!
I’ll sue you for fraudulent job description!
“L-Lian?! Your face is blue. Are you not feeling well?!”
“T-the color of your face…:
“A-are you okay?!”
“N-no, I’m fine. My consciousness was just floating away—I mean I’m just dizzy. I’m okay. Thank you for your concern.”
For the time being, I’ll just keep smiling. A smile costs zero yen. Feast your eyes on this.
As long as I have to accompany them, I’ll have to build as good of a friendship as possible.
The trio’s cheeks flush once more.
What the heck.
Is Lian’s smile that easy to use?
Perhaps, it is limited to these three, or something.
Currently, I’m still not sure.
For now, let’s aim to do things with elegance, like a refined member of the upper class.
Careful not to show my shameful side.
I can’t relax…
Ahh, so tiring… But I must persevere.
I don’t want to be killed by magical beasts.
“So, everyone. Shall we go to school?”
Though I memorized the map of the village from the game, it’s not very useful. In reality, there are many paths both wide and narrow. There are also more private houses and buildings. Thus, I don’t know the way to school. Because of this, I line up with and follow the trio nonchalantly.
After walking for a while, I can see the church beside the idyllic road, where the houses and shops align in neat rows.
O-over there is…!!
I hold my breath.
It’s a familiar moss-covered and dilapidated church made of stone.
Within the church resides an orphanage under the care of a kind old nun.
The main character is also one of those children.
I witness the figure of a boy trying to enter the church.
That’s the main character, the future Hero!
No, well, that’s only natural but.
Though it’s only natural!
Do I really have to nurture and guide him until he’s eighteen?
Can I do this?
Even if I don’t want to, I must.
I can do it. I can do it.
I can be Lian.
I am Lian. Lian. I can do it. I’m going. To become. Lian!
Anyway, looks like a small handsome guy is still a handsome guy after all. He’s a miniature hottie.
Shiny blond hair.
Clear blue eyes.
A healthy skin tone.
Too bad his face has no expression… Somehow, he gives off a cold aura.
When he grows up, he’ll surely become popular with the ladies.
I’m not jealous of him. I’m really not.
He’s the main character so he’ll be the future Hero.
However, as a child he’s still shorter than me by one head.
On his shoulder hangs a light brown bag.
I wonder if he’ll be back home in time for his part-time job in the morning.
The church takes care of around ten children, so its economic situation should be quite dire.
To help out, even the children have part-time jobs in the morning and evening.
In this world, there are no laws regarding working standards.
Thinking about it again, it’s a dreadful world. I tremble.
It doesn’t matter the age; as long as one can move, one can work. As long he has a job, it doesn’t matter.
Whether that’s good or bad depends on the time and situation.
According to the game’s plot, the main character should be working as a milk delivery boy in the morning.
He’s a working boy. How hardworking.
Do your best. I’ll cheer for you within my heart!
Survive the starting village arc somehow, and become a splendid Hero. I am requesting this of you. Everything rests on your shoulders.
I’m begging you.
Oh but, I’ll do as much as I can as backup. Since I can’t act publicly, I will in the shadows. As an adult, I can’t possibly entrust everything to the children and let them be.
Now, I should look forward to talking to him soon.
What was the main character’s name again?
Ahhhh?! I remember now!
This is the starting scene of the game!
It’s where the player can finally control the main character with his own hands!
I played this game four times, so I remember most of Lian’s lines.
Alright. Is it acting time?
I am Lian. Lian.
Say something impertinent. I will become him.
Should I cross my hands, tilt my head up a bit, and look diagonally? I wonder. Do I seem cocky?
Alright. L-let’s go. For now, I should take a look and enter.
I take a deep breath. The main character’s name is Alfred.
“G-good morning, Alfred. Are you working in the morning today too? Poor people are strange.”
Clear sky-blue eyes look over this way.
The giant Jaiko, the medium-sized Gian, and the mini Suneo stampede in front of the future Hero Alfred, blocking his way.
“Hehehe. Poor people are pitiful!”
Ah, what brats.
Jade shoves Alfred’s chest.
Alfred, whose body is thinner and shorter than mine, went down like a piece of cake.
Ah but, I must not help the main character.
I’m Lian. Lian.
Uuu. My stomach hurts already.
I stand near Alfred’s head, folding my arms and looking down.
“Y-you’re weak. Short and emaciated, you withered branch. Isn’t it better to eat more?”
Yes, you should eat more.
Those three disagreeable brats recycle my lines. Brats.
“Just a slight push from Gian and he’s already down. Even though he’s a guy, he’s pitiable. So slender. Looks just like a girl!”
Looks just like a girl! Those three repeat these words. It’s said in beautiful harmony.
You guys are known to appear as a set unit, right?
The color of Alfred’s pupils changes.
The clear, blue pigment sinks into an indigo hue reminiscent of the night sky, golden star-like grains of sand blending with and scattering through the irises.
His gaze becomes sharp.
He looks pissed.
That’s right, mad.
His anger is becoming strength.
“Huh. If you’re upset, then get stronger. Get strong enough so that even if you’re shoved to ground, getting up is not a problem, withered branch boy.”
I smile as I look down at him. I’m an unpleasant guy, if I do say so myself.
The gold blends with the indigo, his eyes narrowing and sharpening. He glares at me.
H-he’s just a child but he already has such a strong glare! But I mustn’t back down here.
While experiencing a cold sweat in my heart, I narrow my eyes and laugh.
Surely, this should be fine. This is fine, right? Right?
“Well, we’re going ahead. You shouldn’t be late either. Now, let’s go everyone.”
I turn from Alfred and begin walking. The three bullies chase after my shadow.
Woww… I’m exhausted!!
But the first contact with the main character is cleared!
Somehow, it went successfully. I think. Yeah.
The first story should follow the game’s to a T.
There’s no mistaking it. It should be pretty much the same… Probably.
Since I can’t ask anyone, I’ll have to make a judgement by myself.
Some way or another I didn’t expose my shameful side and wipe away the cold sweat, my heart steadying a little.
Ending notes: Holy… how do you read this name ジャイ○ン. Jane?? Jay?? What’s with the circle? Although this chapter started off fairly easy to read through, the names really messed me up. Pretty sure I butchered them… Last but not least…枯れ枝君. “Withered branch-kun” is the literal translation I came up with. I don’t know how else to name it?
HUGE thanks as always to Nome for checking the lines!
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