The grass is always greener on the other side.
309 – Is a bird in a cage happy or not?
After Kushitani-san left carrying sensei, nobody made a move to speak. Everyone wondered what was best, but having no answer they retreated into silence. However, the reactions between them split into several groups. In one group, their gazes wandered around. They gave the impression that they really had no idea what to do and decided to let the matter take care of itself. In another group, their gazes turned on Kudou-san. Even those gazes were split into two kinds – those who seemed to be gazing at Kudou-san as if criticising her, and those who seemed to be gazing at her as the class-rep and having some kind of expectations as to what direction she will pursue next. Needless to say, there were different degrees of enthusiasm shown in those two kinds. Finally, there was the majority group, who were gazing at me. Well, I guess so. It would naturally be my role to continue the discussion. I just wanna leave it all to others though!
Argh, urgh. For now I’ll return to my seat and sit down. Perhaps because I did something I’m not used to, or perhaps because I was talking my head off, somehow I feel totally worn out. Can we call it quits here already? We can’t? …….Okay.
「……You sure are kind.」
The one to break the awkward silence, was someone unexpected. Or no, maybe not so unexpected?
「In that case, why…. No, never mind……」
Yamada-kun, the one to break the silence, showed an expression of mixed feelings and then sunk into silence with an unreadable expression. With that expression showing that all sorts of feelings were jumbled up together, I couldn’t read what Yamada-kun had wanted to say. Or maybe I should say that it looks like Yamada-kun himself hadn’t sorted out his feelings. Since the time when I had pushed him aside he had simply kept the same stiff posture, and then finally sat down on his chair weakly. It was like he sat down with a thud, as if he really was sitting down in exhaustion. Ooshima-kun gently patted Yamada-kun on the shoulder out of concern. In response, Yamada-kun gently patted Ooshima-kun’s hand in return, perhaps as if to tell her not to worry. Stop flirting, dammit.
「Class-rep, why don’t you sit down too?」
Oni-kun spoke out to Kudou-san who had been standing until now. Kudou-san made an expression like a lost child for a moment, and after that she followed his advice and settled down on her seat.
「Well, I’m sure that everyone also has things that they want to say. Since we were living outside the elf village, we only know from rumours about how life was like here anyway, so I can’t say that I understand how everyone felt. However, I’m sure that you can tell from sensei’s attitude just now that she hadn’t shut everyone in here because she wanted to – that she hadn’t done this out of malice but out of good intentions. I hope that you can at least bear in mind that she was desperately trying to do this.」
Oni-kun made a calm speech. There were various reactions – those who listened seriously and those who somehow seemed to accept it uncomfortably.
「But, you know, that still doesn’t get rid of the fact that we were shut in here, right?」
Indeed, the one who brazenly responded to oni-kun like that, was Shinohara-san. In response to those words, Kudou-san made a startled expression. Back in their previous lives, the diligent Kudou-san and the uninhibited Shinohara-san got along badly. It seems that hasn’t changed now either.
「Yeah but, you know, if things had continued as they were then that Po… Po… Polimas or something guy was about to use us for something, right? From the way you guys are talking about it, it sounds like it was for something nasty. So doesn’t that mean that sensei was unknowingly an accomplice in all that? Are you saying we should forgive her because she didn’t know?」
Oi? What the hell are you saying? ……Shall I kill her?
「We’re in a fantasy world and all, yet we were kept caged like animals.」
「Even if you call it protection, it was still confinement.」
There were voices whispering support for Shinohara-san.
「But, we were guaranteed all of life’s necessities, so it wasn’t that bad, right?」
「It wasn’t quite what you would call the slow life, but I wasn’t really dissatisfied I guess.」
「I can’t really criticise her after she looked like that you know.」
On the other hand, voices in support of sensei could also be heard. The ratio was about half and half. However, the way both of them were saying it, it was a discussion like they both understood that either option wasn’t that good. They certainly had no small amount of dissatisfaction in their lives here. Despite that, they couldn’t go all-out to criticise sensei either. That’s what it felt like.
If I had to say it, then the boys are showing more dissatisfaction. I guess boys do yearn for adventures and stuff after all huh? They’re sending envious looks at Tagawa-kun who worked as an adventurer outside at least. Or perhaps it’s precisely because there is a successful example in Tagawa-kun here that they think so. It gives a feeling of “If only I could get outside, then I could do that as well”. Would it really go that well…?
「I better warn you, but it’s not easy living outside, okay?」
Oops, Tagawa-kun already spoke up.
「Hey dude, it’s totally unconvincing when you say it.」
One of the boys tossed out that retort. Certainly. When a successful guy like Tagawa-kun says that, it only sounds like he’s boasting.
「Okay then, let me ask you this – have you ever spent an entire day groaning in pain? Or maybe something lesser like getting a bone fracture or a really big wound?」
In response to Tagawa-kun’s words, the boys amongst the reincarnators exchanged glances.
「There was this one time when I made a mistake during work and fractured a bone.」
「Okay, try imagining this then – that is a daily occurrence.」
In response to the boy who had come forward, Tagawa-kun nonchalantly said that.
「If you wanna be an adventurer, then injuries like that are a daily occurrence. Even if it’s cured by magic you’ll soon get a similar injury. Unless you can get used to being constantly bruised and wounded, you won’t be able to go on. By the way, if Asaka hadn’t been there for me my heart would probably have broken ages ago.」
Is he talking seriously, or is speaking fondly? I’m hesitant to decide which.
「Since I had something that I wanted to do no matter what, I started down the dangerous path known as the adventurer. However, I often regretted that. There were many times when I felt that I was about to die, and if Asaka hadn’t been there I don’t know how many times I would have died in practice. If you want to be an adventurer just because you yearn for it, then I’m telling you this for your own good – give it up.」
Tagawa-kun says that while surveying the boys. Hmm-mm. So which is it – is he talking serious or speaking fondly?
「I’ve been talking about the peculiar occupation known as the adventurer until now, but even apart from that it is dangerous outside. Due to the nature of my adventurer job, I’ve been to many places and seen many tragedies. People killed by monsters, people killed by bandits and so on. That doesn’t just affect the people who died either. There’s also children who lost all their relatives, and children who were abandoned for financial reasons. Class-rep, your family was poor, right? If you hadn’t come here, I wonder what would have happened to you?」
Tagawa-kun said something cruel to Kudou-san. She hung her head without being able to refute him. After all, Kudou-san had been sold by her own parents. Since she knows she was sold to the elves, it’s highly conceivable that she could have been sold to someone else. In that case I’m sure she wouldn’t have been sold as a baby, though perhaps once she had grown a bit older it would be possible, and where she’d end up sold to would be a matter of luck. It would have been fine if she had been sold to some prestigious merchant based on her intelligence as a reincarnator. However, considering the good looks that the reincarnators have, it’s highly likely that she could have been sold to an indecent place.
「But Tagawa can only say that because he’s experienced living outside, right? We never even had that choice.」
In response Shinohara-san’s words, the reincarnators again started getting noisy. Oni-kun clapped his hands to quieten those reincarnators.
「At the end of the day, I think it’s meaningless to talk about which would have been better. After all, the past cannot be changed. There is no way to change the fact that we are alive here right now. And that also goes for those who aren’t here – the people who have died. I think it’s better to think that it’s because you are alive that you have the luxury to talk about which would have been better.」
Simply being alive is a luxury. Having heard that, the reincarnators fell completely silent.
「You, who killed Yuugo, or rather Natsume, are saying that?」
Except for one person.
Author’s note: Please think of Shinohara-san in the web novel as being a different person to the one in the published edition.