The calm before the storm.
Past Arc ⑱
While Ariel and another person, a boy with green skin, were sitting in the shade of a tree reading books, a lively girl charged towards them. The girl was the youngest amongst the orphans, with slightly pointed ears. Following behind, perhaps chasing after the girl, was a boy who was the oldest amongst the orphans. On seeing the girl leaping at the green skinned boy whose back struck the ground severely, Ariel was less flustered than the boy who was running behind. The reason for that, could be understood by looking at the boy’s eyes. The boy’s eyes were dull and cloudy, not focusing on anything. Due to Potimas’s human experiments, the boy had completely lost his eyesight.
「Hey, Natalie! Running around so vigorously is dangerous you know!」
The blind boy separated Natalie, the girl with slightly pointed ears, from the green skinned boy.
「Kura, isn’t it also dangerous for you to run?」
With the blind boy, Kura, being like the pot calling the kettle black, Ariel softly pointed that out.
「It’s okay for me. Even if my eyes can’t see, I can still see things.」
Although Ariel didn’t really understand what Kura was saying, he often moved as though he could still somehow see, despite the fact that his eyes definitely couldn’t see.
「Even so, be careful.」
「Sure. But, she’s the bigger problem.」
Kura seized Natalie by the scruff of the neck, forcing her to stand up, then rapped her on the head with his knuckles.
「It hurts, so that’s natural. Come on, apologise to Gob.」
「Stop balking. If you do something bad then apologise. Sariel-san taught that, right? Just like how you were hurt when I hit you, Gob was also hurt when you suddenly jumped at him, Natalie. Do you understand?」
「It, it’s okay. You don’t have to go so far as apologising. I was just a bit surprised, and it’s not like it really hurt.」
Unable to ignore how Natalie looked when scolded, Gob, the boy with green skin who was in fact the victim defended her. Natalie’s face lit up in delight at the helping hand, but Kura didn’t allow it.
「That’s no good. Natalie must properly apologise to be forgiven.」
Overwhelmed by Kura’s absolutely unyielding spirit, Natalie reluctantly said “I’m sorry”. However, Kura wouldn’t go easy on her.
「You shouldn’t be saying that to me, right? If you’re going to apologise, make one to Gob. Also, such a half-hearted apology is no good either. Come on, apologise one more time.」
As prompted by Kura, Natalie turned to face Gob.
「It, it’s okay.」
Gob quickly forgave the meekly apologising Natalie. Seeing that, Kura smiled.
「Well done. I’m sorry for hitting you.」
Kura patted Natalie on the head. That was the spot where Kura had rapped her with his knuckles.
As if the meek Natalie from a moment ago had never happened, Natalie’s face lit up with a smile of joy.
「Gob-gob, let’s go over there!」
And so, with his hands being pulled, Gob was dragged off. While leaving, Gob turned his head back to look at Ariel in concern, but Ariel made a gesture indicating “Go ahead and play”. Ariel and Kura watched over them as Natalie and Gob ran off cheerfully.
「It’s dangerous so don’t run!」
As soon as Kura yelled that, Natalie fell over while involving Gob.
「Ahh, I told you so.」
「Not going to go help?」
「Gob is there so it’s okay.」
Although he said that, it didn’t really look okay to Ariel. Gob was panicking on seeing Natalie burst into tears after falling over. However, that was also a scene that happened all the time, so while it might not be entirely okay, perhaps it was still okay. Perhaps as proof of that, Gob desperately began to comfort the crying Natalie. While Ariel and Kura watched over them, Gob awkwardly managed to sooth Natalie, successfully stopping her tears. Afterwards, this time without running, they went to join another group of kids who were playing.
「Are you sure you won’t join them, Kura?」
「I’m too old to be playing around already.」
Kura shrugged his shoulders while saying that, but from the perspective of the world in general he was definitely a child. Although he was the oldest in the orphanage, he was definitely still at a suitable age to be wanting to play. Ariel guessed that Kura was staying beside her out of consideration.
In all the orphanage, Ariel had a particularly frail body. Although she had improved a lot since the time she couldn’t even get off the bed, she could only just about manage to walk around, so running about wasn’t possible. Reading a book under the shade of a tree was about her limit. For that reason, Ariel was often being watched over by the orphanage staff or by Sariel’s side. Speaking of Sariel, she was currently surrounded by boys and girls, and being mobbed. So Kura was being a substitute for Sariel who had her hands full.
「Just like how you gotta apologise when you do something wrong, when you feel gratitude you also gotta put that into words, right?」
While Kura was playing dumb, rather than answer him directly, Ariel repeated what she had been taught.
「Kura, just now, you were a bit like Sariel-sama.」
At Ariel’s words, Kura scratched his head, seemingly embarrassed. Ariel didn’t know this, but he had repeated Sariel’s words from when she had scolded Natalie previously.
Sariel’s expression didn’t change much, but she was popular amongst the orphans. That much was to be expected as she acted as a foster parent to the children, kindly taking care of them. Having come into contact with Sariel’s warmth, while Ariel was still reserved, she had regained human emotions.
The boys and girls who had been treated like laboratory animals, played and smiled like the children they were in the small miniature garden.
「What did you say?」
Gyurie asked in a trembling voice. The person being asked, returned the look with a cold expression, as if seeing something dull.
「We will cull the humans. That’s what I said.」
On that day, the dragons bared their fangs at humanity.