”I cried a lot the day he left.
But crying makes you hungry, doesn't it? So my mother made us some porridge.”


 It wasn't the usual brown rice with mixed grains in a clear broth.
It was white rice, with the grains still intact, with green onions and eggs mixed in.


 ”I remember it was so delicious that it was frustrating.
I cried while eating it, and even had seconds.
Before I knew it, I was crying tears of joy.”


 And after I finished eating, I was shocked to realize what had happened.
I had been cursing my parents for selling my beloved brother, but the most despicable one was myself.


 ”Thanks to the money from selling my brother, we were able to get some land where we can at least eat.
After that, I think someone helped me out.”


 The second brother took over the land, and the third brother, who knew how to read, write, and do arithmetic, though not very well, is now an apprentice to a low-ranking official under the county magistrate.
And I'm here working as a maid.
As long as we have the income from our siblings and our parents' side jobs, we won't have any trouble feeding our family.
It's good, as long as we forget about the fact that we cut off my older brother.



 ”…? Is something wrong?”


 After listening to my story, the servant looked somewhat puzzled.
I tilted my head at his attitude.


was it hard for you?”

 ”I'm used to it.
People get used to anything, don't they?”


 Time is a cruel force that washes away any sorrow, any despair, any anguish, any regret.
It fades away.
It makes people forget.


 What's important is the present and the future, more than the past.
After all, people have to eat to survive.


 Perhaps it is the wisdom that people acquire in order to live.
Holding onto the past indefinitely is torture, and there's no point in living in a world where people are constantly tormented by such things.
If people don't forget the bad things, they won't be able to keep going.


 ”Anyway, it's getting quite dark, isn't it?”


 I stand up.
Before I know it, the sky has gradually turned from madder red to bluish purple.
A cold wind caresses my skin.


 ”My name is Yukine.
That's my real name.”


 I said my name in a humming voice.
My true name.


 ”Suzu is a so-called alias.
It's for curse prevention while working.
And apparently, Suzu sounds cuter and has a better ring to it than Yukine.”


 Personally, I prefer the name given to me by my parents, but it is necessary for my job.
It's all part of my salary.



 ”You don't have to force yourself to introduce yourself.
Unlike me, you've been stripped of your name, haven't you?”


 My fake name was meant to protect me, but this man before me is different.
It's a denial of his identity, a denial of his past.
It means something completely different.
And what is the point of introducing myself by my real name?


 ”Why introduce yourself now?”

 ”Because my brother told me.
It's not polite to use a false name for someone you owe a favor to.
Besides, we'll only be friends until the day after tomorrow.”


 And I didn't know if I would ever see him again.
The man in front of me was in a position to be eaten alive by the monster next year, or next month, or even a few days from now if he was unlucky.


 That is why I introduced myself now.
I felt like there was no other opportunity.


 ”Well, it's a kind of parting gift.
You don't have to be grateful, though.”


 I laughed self-deprecatingly, and he laughed too.
There was no hint of irony or self-deprecation.
There was no sense of strength toward his own fate.
He simply seemed to be smiling bitterly.


 But somehow, I felt like I lost again.
It was frustrating…
but I wouldn't show that emotion.
It is better not to get closer to him than necessary, because he is a servant.


 Even if we got close, it wouldn't change anything.
But still…


 ”I'll be heading back to the house now.
What about you?”


 I asked, holding a basket.
If he planned on going back with me, I wouldn't have minded chatting a bit longer.


 ”No, if you'll excuse me, I'll be staying here a little longer.”


 He did not, however, meet my expectations…
Well, not quite what I expected.


 ”Rejecting someone's kindness like that, despite being a servant…”

 ”I understand how you feel.”

 ”Are you being sarcastic?”


 I scoff, my eyes narrowed.
Unfortunately, his words didn't affect me as much as the ones he had just said.


 ”I'm not forcing you, but may I ask why? If you're out of work, there's no need for you to do patrols.”


 It was a half-hearted inquiry.
I didn't ask for an answer.
It was just sarcasm.
But I did get a response.


 ”I was planning to continue for one more time.”


 I tilted my head for a moment, not understanding what he meant.
Then, in the next moment, I realized the meaning behind his words, and my cheeks flushed red once again.


 ”What kind of pervert says something like that in front of a lady?! You pervert!!”


 I spat out with a disdainful expression, feeling embarrassed.
I turned on my heel and hurried away, feeling ashamed.
I run away.


 ”Oh, after all, a servant is just worthless, aren't they!?”


 I spat out in disgust, as if cursing myself whom I had allowed to be so carefree until a moment ago…








 ”…she's gone.
That was close.”


 The maid walks away indignantly, and I let out a sigh of relief.
Then I hurriedly take it out what I had hidden in my pocket.


 In my arms, there was a white spider larger than a clenched fist.
It looks a little fatigued, but when it sees me, it immediately began to wriggle its legs energetically.
Its carefree appearance irritates me.


 Feeding the damned white spider was inevitable.
Of course, it was.
Look at these legs…


 ”Haha, this is after just a few days, huh.
I'm getting pretty far from being human, aren't I?”


 When I took off my hakama for treatment, my leg was in terrible shape.
The muscles were crushed and bones were partially visible.
The bone itself was probably cracked.
However, it had disappeared now.
The skin color was still reddish-black and painful, but the gouged, crushed, and polished flesh had already regenerated.
The bones pain was also gone.


 ”Maybe the earth mother god was overreacting, or…”


 Have I myself taken another step towards becoming a monster? Whatever the case may be, the speed of regeneration was so bizarre that it would have been impossible without the use of some secret potion.
And when I feel it, I am also aware of the horrifying sensation of crawling under my skin.
The feeling of being eroded and inundated, of being painted over…
I immediately wanted to swallow a pill and let the spider suck my blood.


 ”Well, in the end, it was a self-destructive act.”


 I chuckle to myself.
When I was called out from behind, I was quite shaken inside.
I had no idea what would happen and how Uemon and the others would get wind of it if the maid saw what I was doing.
So, intentionally, I was desperate to cover it up with something bad.


 Although I feel as if my dignity has been brought down to the depths by this spur-of-the-moment excuse…
for the sake of my mental health, I'll leave it at this point.
I can't help it.
After all, we'll only see each other in a few days.


 ”In any case, the content of my excuse is terrible.”


 At least I could have said it a little better.
What's “Kawatsurumi”? It means mast*rbation.
Sexual harassment.
Is it an erotic game? …Well, this world is an erotic game.


 I sigh from exhaustion.
Look up to the sky.
And then calm myself for a moment.
Being shaken up makes me think foolish thoughts.




 After a moment of silence, I regained my composure and reflected on her personal story.
Then I sorted out my complicated feelings.
…I see, so that's how it's all connected.


 (In the original story, she was the only one left alive in her family, right?)


 If the description of her family is correct, she should have been a single woman at the start of this story.


 ”Am I the cause of this?”


 I murmured while holding my head.
I chuckled bitterly.
I see, so in a roundabout way, her personality changed because of me.
The situation is different now.
Worst case scenario, she has the option to go back home.
But anyway, I should try to be more resolute.


 (However I never imagined that I would be in this position…
No, the number of siblings wasn't clearly stated in the original work.
So it's not clear if I'm a minor role or a complete irregularity.)


 However, my existence is still doubtful and may not be drawn in the background of the screen.
In that sense, it may not make much difference.


 ”Good grief…
I didn't recognize her until she told me her name…
As a brother, I'm ashamed of myself.”


 Of course she didn't recognize me to.
We broke up when we were young, and I even wear a mask.


 To be honest, as someone who's looking through the lens of the original work, it's embarrassing that I didn't recognize her.
But she has grown into quite a lady.
As her older brother, I am certainly proud of her.
It's more like her to be strong-willed, and I'm just glad that she seems to be doing well.


 ”I see, everyone is safe…”


 And I sit down where I am and let out a sigh of relief.
It was a sigh of relief that came from the bottom of my heart.


 ”I'm glad…
I'm really glad…!!”


 The words spun were filled with deep emotion.
They were sincere words from the bottom of my heart.
There was no pretense, it was my true feelings.


 To be honest, I never thought I would see her again.
I had given up on the possibility of ever seeing her again.
No, even if I couldn't see her in person, I was prepared to never know what happened to her after that.
That was my biggest fear.
In this world, people don't know how they're going to die.
Life is so fragile.


 ”…My fears were unfounded.”


 My self-mockery, however, had not a trace of negative emotion in it.
There was only relief.
That's all there was in it.


 After all, this is a world where the lives of commoners are often treated as expendable.
It is also a harsh world, where one little problem can quickly bring down the lives of those who live there.
In such a world, the fact that our family of tenant farmers in the pioneer village were able to become self-sufficient farmers was nothing short of a miracle.
The amount of rent paid by the tenant farmers, in addition to the land tax, makes a significant difference in the amount of food support they have at the end of the day.

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