10 – The Hero Hiding from the Bunny Eared Ogre
The sensation of a small finger prodding me followed that voice.
As a sign of good sport as the loser, I surrender without resisting.
「Ahaha, you’re the first one I found mister Hero.」
She was a bunny-eared girl with droopy eyes.
She’s called Carro.
One of the kids we rescued on the day I met Eleanor.
I hang my head in defeat.
『Of course you are… I mean, I was shocked when you said your plan was to hide behind the curtains…』
Said the surprised Mika, who I was holding close to my chest.
Hide and seek.
It is a game where there is a seeker and people who scatter to hide.
The seekers, also known as the ogre, will count to ten, and in the meantime, the others will go look for a place to hide, finding the optimal spot.
[TL Note 1: Hide and Seek in Japan is slightly different where the seeker is called the Oni or ogre, rather than just “It”.]
They hold their breath, knowing that they must never be found and devoured by the ogre as they wander around searching.
A characteristic of this game is the fact that those who have been found cannot do anything.
In a real situation where someone was found by an ogre under such conditions, they would launch a counterattack in order to facilitate an escape, provided they are not scared stiff, but I guess that is forbidden in this game.
Learning how to hide is good, but I think they should also learn how to handle being found.
Even the War God said so.
Strategies are still not enough, even when prepared to handle the worst-case scenario.
「Hiding your body behind a curtain would definitely be impossible.
‘Cause of the legs sticking out, right? That’s why I used Wind Magic to float! Luckily, these curtains are long, so I could float up and still have my whole body hidden, so there was no problem.」
『I don’t think that was the issue.
You could clearly see the curtains bulging from the outside.』
「I thought about that.
I chose the farthest room from the ogre’s starting point.
Since ogres tend to search nearby, I used Wind Magic to blow up all the curtains that Carro was searching in.」
『Wow, you put a lot of thought into this.』
「With this, she would have witnessed many bulging curtains with nothing inside by the time she gets to me, so she would gradually think that it is useless to search them.
I’m not the only one hiding.
The curtains, which were probably empty anyway, would be less and less attractive to her, and she would focus her search elsewhere.」
『You’re putting so much effort into a children’s game… This isn’t a desperate situation like the time you went Orc exterminating.』
「But that’s exactly why I was so shocked.
Carro, when you say I’m the first one…」
Carro, who doesn’t even look ten years old when compared to a human child, smiled and nodded.
I haven’t found the others yet~.」
「How… Tell me.
Those who cannot learn from how they were defeated cannot grow… Please tell me.
I cannot understand… How was I the first…」
Of course, just like last time, it is easy to completely disappear from children if I took it seriously.
This time, though, we made compromises and went with only the commonplace Wind Magic, leaving room for the possibility of discovery.
Carro stroked her fluffy rabbit ears and explained.
「Carro has good ears.」
「…I was careful not to make any noise.」
「But there was! There was a voice.
It was Mika’s.」
The holy sword that I held to my chest when I was hiding was already back to hanging on my waist belt.
I gripped the handle tightly.
「It was you.」
『W-whatever do you mean~?』
「Wait, I remember now.
It’s just as Carro said, you made a sound.」
『Gr… I couldn’t help it! The cloth was touching my guard area and it tickled!』
「The sword that stopped the horn of a large charging beast without a single complaint lost to a curtain?」
『Hey! Are you saying holy swords can’t have sensitive skin?!』
「All I’m saying is you could’ve held it in… Wait, what skin?」
While we were having that conversation, we noticed Carro laughing.
「You two are funny.」
Taken aback by her smiling face, we put an end to this pointless argument.
We each made a vow.
I vowed to think about where I hide and Mika vowed to do her best to stay quiet.
End of discussion.
「You know, despite only playing on one floor, it’s pretty wide, yet you heard Mika’s voice so well.」
I say in admiration and Carro’s face lit up with a smile.
People say that smiles are as dazzling as the sun, but in Carro’s case, it felt like a pleasant breeze.
「Carro has the best ears in the village, y’know.」
After saying that, her face starts to look sad.
Crap, I made her remember…
Her village was wiped out in a war between two Demon countries.
I don’t have anywhere to call my hometown and I don’t remember the orphanage at all.
And so, I can’t fully understand the feelings of those who’ve lost someplace or someone important.
However, I still dream of the moment soldiers or mercenaries, who were thrown into battle alongside me, lost their lives, and of those who died before I could heal them with healing magic.
People still say that Mika is the strongest, but it’s not like I could save everyone and defeat anyone since I was five.
I could imagine that the pain of those who had lost their relatives and close ones is much heavier than mine.
I don’t know what to do at a time like this.
But what I’ve often seen is someone putting a hand firmly on someone’s shoulders or rubbing their back.
But just as I reach my hand out towards Carro, she tilts her own head towards my outstretched hand.
…Guess it wouldn’t hurt.
I stroke her head.
I touched her ears a little.
I guess it had an effect because a smile returned to her face.
We leave the room and walk down the hallway of the floor we borrowed to play hide and seek on.
「Carro is sad, but not lonely.
I have everyone and mister Hero.」
While saying that, her tiny hand gripped mine tightly.
「…Bad guys won’t show up anymore as long as I am here.」
「But still, if there is a bad guy who’s after you kids…」
I consciously give her a smile.
「Eleanor and I will beat them up again.」
Carro gave a big smile that looked like her whole face was smiling.
『Hmph, we aren’t strangers anymore.
I’ll protect you too.』
「Mika, you’re… Uh, yeah, th-thanks?」
『Hey, why’s your reaction different from when Rain said it?』
The conversation went on.
Before long, we found everyone.
They were found in easy-to-spot places like under a desk, inside shelves, or in a big pot.
To think that I was still the first one to be found…
「Hey, do you guys mind teaching me another game?」
By the way, I was the ogre once a while ago for hide and seek, but I found everyone quickly and it ended really fast.
Heh… Don’t think you can escape a Hero so easily.
「…Well, maybe use the park?」
Went a voice.
I looked at the source and… hmm?
Was there such a child before?
There should be six children.
Huh? There are seven children present.
It’s a girl with horns and purple hair.
I feel like I’ve seen her before… Man, I’ve been thinking that a lot lately.
Wait, but in her case, I really did see her recently.
That’s right, she’s-
『Isn’t that the Demon King’s daughter?』
It’s just as Mika said.
I think she was there when I greeted the Demon King.
I didn’t have a chance to talk to her though.
「…Can we…play together?」
She asked with puppy dog eyes.
I looked around at the other kids and nodded.
「Lead the way.」
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