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There was once a mother duck. This mother duck had no children yet for none of her eggs had hatched.
She waited patiently day and night for her babies to hatch. One day, as she was sitting on her nest of eggs the mother duck felt something move beneath her.
CRACK!! CRACK!! CRACK!! CRACK!!
Filled with happiness, the mother duck watched as, one by one, her eggs hatched. She was so excited to lead her children to the pond and teach them all the ways of being a duck. Unfortunately for the mother duck, one egg was left to hatch. This egg was larger than the rest. This egg was browner than the rest. Her little ducks impatiently waited for two more days and nights.
"I want to go to the pond, Mother," one baby duck quacked.
"Let's go! Let's go!" two more quacked excitedly.
But the mother duck made them all wait, for she promised herself that she would love all her children the same.
At the crack of dawn on the third day of waiting, the large brown egg began to vibrate. It shook and shook as all of the ducks watched in awe.
Then suddenly: CRAAAAACK!!!
Out from the large brown egg popped a large, strange looking head of a bird that didn't look much like a duck. This baby's beak was a little too long, his feathers were a little too scruffy, and his face was a little too ugly!
But, nonetheless, the mother duck promised herself that she would love all her children the same.
ugly ducklingShe led her children into the nearby pond and began to teach each duckling how to be a proper duck.
She taught them how to quack. Each duckling quacked.
QUACK!! QUACK!! QUACK!! QUACK!!
The ugly duckling quacked.
All of the ducks in the pond stared at the ugly ducking and began to laugh. The mother duckling sadly took her little ducklings over to a different part of the pond. The other ducklings were giggling and making fun of the ugly one. Two nearby ducks swam by and pecked at the ugly duckling's feathers.
"This one looks nothing like your others!" one jested.
"This one is ugly!" the other scoffed.
The ugly duckling hung his head in shame. The mother duckling became very embarrassed of her ugly duckling and made him stay in the corner of the pond while the others practiced swimming, diving, quacking, and splashing.
One evening, as all of the ducks in the pond had gone to sleep, the ugly duckling decided that it was time for him to leave. He knew he was causing his mother distress and he did not want to live in a place where he felt unwanted.
So the little ugly duckling ran away.
He waddled far away from the pond where he was born. He waddled through small marsh plants and large river reeds. He waddled over bundles of sticks and piles of dung. All this waddling made him dirtier than ever.
He approached a new pond that was filled with a family of different ducks. These ducks were happily swimming and quacking. He advanced one of the ducklings who looked to be just a bit larger and older than the ugly duckling.
"Hello there!" beamed the ugly duckling to the other duckling. With this, the new family of ducks turned and stared at the ugly duckling.
"And who are you?" asked the mother duck.
"What are you?" asked the father duck.
"You sure are ugly!" all the ducklings chimed in.
As this family of ducks began to quack and laugh at the ugly ducking, he waddled off again in search of a nicer family to call his own.
He waddled far away from the pond with the family of ducks. He waddled through small marsh plants and large river reeds. He waddled over bundles of sticks and piles of dung. All this waddling made him even dirtier than before!
Next the ugly duckling came to an even larger pond filled with a family of geese. The goslings were a brown-gray like he was! Happily, the ugly duckling waddled to the water's edge, plopped his little body in the water, and swam towards the family of geese. He advanced one of the goslings who looked even larger and greyer than him.
"Hello there!" the ugly ducking happily exclaimed, greeting the gosling. With this, the family of geese turned and stared at the ugly duckling.
"And who are you?" asked the mother goose.
"What are you?" asked the father goose.
"You sure are ugly!" all the goslings chimed in.
As this family of ducks began to honk and laugh at the ugly ducking. Before the duckling could waddle off the geese surrounded him and the father goose said, "Though you are quite strange looking you may stay with us! You are more than welcome to join our family."
The ugly duckling couldn't be happier. The geese were very kind to him though their honks hurt his ears.
Many days and nights passed and the ugly duckling was living happily with the geese. He loved to play with the goslings and the mother and father treated him like their own. Everything was perfect. Until…
After taking one trip around the farm, we are now going to visit the farm's workshop that produced the cheese and butter.
Different from the other world, we are not being told about trivial details such as wash your hands properly or wear a white coat on top of your clothes, but I'm still doing them just in case. In any case, it's because we are handling things that can be eaten.
The middle-aged man and woman who seemed to come from the neighborhood are stirring the goat's milk in a huge pot, and they seem to be stirring the solidified part to sever it despite not really knowing about lactic-acid bacilli, and I watched from afar.1 As expected, when I got too close that I could smell it, I lightly coughed.
"Seiren-samaa, here, a handkerchief."
"Ah, sorry, and thank you, Orizsan."
I used the handkerchief that she gave me to cover my mouth. It would be bad if my cough contaminated the food. It would cause the cheese to go to waste.
The butter's ingredient was put into a container with a big lid, and it was greatly jolted. Since it's hard to shake it with bare arms, from what I can discern, the container seems to be jolted with magic power.
"Is it magic, Gadou-san?"
"That's correct. This way, we can preserve the same quality for all of our products."
I see. I thought that it was a method used anywhere else, but well, so long as it's a convenient and safe method, then it's good. After all, it's quite a terrible thing to have the ground jolted like this.
Anyway, at the cafetaria next to the workshop, they let us to taste a sample of the cheese and butter. There are also some baked breads that the neighboring family sold and some goat's milk too. This feels nice, it's kinda heartwarming.
Once I gulped down the cheese, ah, I thought of something. Godou-san's cheese got a heavy flavor, but when it was added to this morning's salad, the flavor perfectly went well with the fresh vegetables, but Gadou-san's cheese can be eaten as it is just fine.
"It's true. It really is different than Godou-san's cheese."
"Isn't it? That's good, Ane-sama also understands it."
You look so happy, Saryuu. Yes, well, with this, you will be able to understand how different they taste once you've eaten it. Since they are brothers, I thought that they'd be able to make it taste similar, but the cheese tasted totally different.
"I think that Gadou-san's cheese tastes light. Saryuu seems to like the one with heavy flavor."
"Yes. Light flavor is also fine, but I guess I just like the one with heavy flavor more."
"Both Saryuu-sama and Seiren-sama possess good tongue. Thank you for being able to clearly state the difference."
Gadou-san also nodded happily. Not only Godou-san's cheese, but perhaps the taste of the cheese will turn out different, depending on who's making them. Well, that's the thing with handmade products.
"I also like this one. It would be nice to have Gadou-san's products stocked up, too, and both of the products can be used properly, depending on what type of cuisine is being made."
"Understood. First, let's buy it in small stock, and then let's try to discuss it with the lord and chefs."
"Yeah. If Seiren-ojousama said so, then it was worth making all o this."
It's good that Minosan simply nodded, but I was somehow surprised by the fact that Gadou-san looked extremely happy.
No, I mean, it isn't something that can be exaggeratedly celebrated… I think. I'm just the feudal lord's daughter, that's all.
…Although I was quite embarrassed, I properly ate everything. The butter that was smeared on top of the bread tasted refreshing, and I thought that it was possible to eat the food with a lot of this butter with the way it tasted.
The breads over here have solid flavor, but it felt like the butter enhanced and supported the flavor. Unexpectedly, it can also be toasted, but… I wonder if it won't burn the breads that were once baked? I've never seen it ever since I came here, though.
So, we bought the cheese and butter that I liked as souvenirs, and left behind the farm.
Looking at Gadou-san and Gonzou-san who came to send us off without knowing, I let out a small laugh. This little one, I wonder if he's in his cool down period after he came running here? Somehow, he has a refined face.
"Well then, thank you very much for coming."
"Thank you. I had so much fun here."
"No, don't mention it. Seiren-sama and Saryuu-sama, please come and play here again. Kuon-sama is also welcomed."
"Yes. I hope that my grandfather will be able to come here too, next time."
Saryuu and I, then Kuon-sensei and Gaou-san exchanged words. Wouldn't it be nice for Jigen-san to come here even for once?
"Gonzou. Please train hard until next time."
(T/N: Damn, Gonzou is cute. I want to keep him.)
What's with that, Gonzou? Do you seriously want to have another go with Minosan? Well, I don't know if it's categorized as a cold water for an old man2, but don't overdo it.
"Seiren-sama, Saryuu-sama. We're leaving soon-"
"Thank you. Well then, shall we go?"
At the cue from Orizsan who's finished with the preparation of the carriage, we started to move. Just like how it was when we went here, us siblings and Kuon-sensei got on different carriages than the maids, and we departed.
"Please come back soon, take care!"
Towards Gadou-san's voice that seemed to be quite reluctant to part ways with us, I slightly bent myself towards the carriage window and waved my hand.“What a pitiful creature…”Upon hearing that voice, I opened my eyes.
Ara? Didn't I die? I am pretty sure my skull was cracked… or something like that.
It’s pitch black…. with a spectre of white in front of me.
Eh? Was the voice…. this thing’s?
“Who or what are you? Are you God?”
“… Something like that.” it vaguely responded.
Whoa, what a vague response, Is this some kind of scam?
"No, missy, this is not a scam!"
"!!" EH?! It can read my mind?! So it really is God! In that case—
“Don’t worry, I won’t make any complaint to you regarding my life. I thank you enough for granting my wish to end my life. So can you let me sleep in peace now? Or make me disappear already. Whichever you prefer, I don't mind.”
Inside my mind, suddenly a pop out sound effect just like that of a game appeared.
☆Special Event [Meeting with God] has triggered!
☆Achievement unlocked [The Long Awaited Death]!
Uwaa– have I spent too much time playing games… it's scary.
“What? No way I can do that! You have endured such a life and even gave your life in order to save the others. Besides, what killed you was a result of my miscalculation during my experiment with the meteorite… How can I not give you my compensational reward for that?”
Uhm… so… were you so bored you had to play with… A METEORITE?!
That's taking games to another different level, you know… if I were to say it, it's totally on God's level!
And wait, so the thing that actually killed me was a meteorite? That… is pretty cool. Hooray for my anti-mainstream death!
I hurriedly return from my own exasperation. It would be rude to keep God waiting, right?
“Yeah, so I will let you reincarnate. If you do not reincarnate, you will just vanish like that. Poof! Reincarnate, or disappear! The answer is obvious, right? Ask away anything you want from me. I cannot give you much such as cheat to make yourself way too overpowered, etc, non, non! That is cheating! I have had enough of those reincarnated people with cheats! However I will grant you one power you wish! How does that sound?”
Honestly, is this some kind of a joke?
This is not funny… not a slightest bit!!
Well, I guess I have read stories where the main character reincarnated with some kind of cheat and was able to live to the fullest and happy… or became a legendary person.
In this case, I should ask some kind of cheat to make my life convenient, right?
Anyhow, someone with this kind of situation is expected to wish for something for their next life. In hope that they can live… happier this time.A hunter and his basset hound approached the pond. The hunter began firing off shots at the geese and the hound chased the birds around the pond trying to catch one. The ugly duckling could do nothing but sit still. As the hound approached him, sniffed for awhile and cocked its head, "What are you? You sure are ugly!" it said before it ran off in search of a real goose.
In the midst of the hunter's ambush, the ugly duckling sadly waddled off once more.
He was growing larger; his feathers were coming in and the ugly duckling was able to fly off the ground. However, the ugly duckling had become very weak and hungry; he did not have enough strength to fly.
Instead he waddled his way to a small house where he took shelter during the night.
In the morning, the ugly duckling awoke to the sounds of human chatter.
"What is it?" an old woman asked.
"A duck, perhaps?" her husband replied.
"Just what we've needed!" the woman exclaimed.
With that, the farmer and his wife allowed the ugly duckling to live with them in the hopes that the duck would lay eggs for them to eat.
They waited and waited… and waited. But nothing happened. The ugly duckling never laid eggs; he did, however, grow larger and harder to take care of.
Though the farmer and his wife had grown fond of the ugly duckling, they had no more room him in their house.
And so, they shooed him out.
"Go find yourself a family that will love you!" shouted the farmer, sadly, as he shut the door.
The ugly duckling hung his dead and waddled far away from the farmer's house. He waddled through now frozen marsh plants and large frozen river reeds. He waddled over frozen bundles of sticks and frozen piles of dung. All this waddling made him colder than ever.
Miraculously, the ugly duckling had survived the cold winter. With spring, all of the frozen ponds melted and the frost evaporated from the marsh plants and river reeds. The ugly duckling was still sad, however.
He approached a crystal clear pond and saw a family of the most beautiful birds he had ever seen – swans.
As he sat by the water's edge, he didn't even dare to ask these birds if he could join, for he knew if he was too ugly to live with ducks, geese, and humans, he was surely too ugly to live with a gorgeous bevy of swans.
Suddenly, a swan gracefully glided through the water over to where the ugly duckling was sitting.
"My, my! Your feathers are the whitest I have ever seen. How they gleam in the sun!" the swan exclaimed to the ugly duckling.
Confused, the ugly duckling wandered to the water and peered at his reflection. Much to his surprise, he was not an ugly ducking, for he was not a duck at all! He was a beautiful white swan with a long and elegant neck.
He entered the water and joined his new family.
One day, as the swans were swimming, a man and his wife came strolling by with their child. The swan recognized this couple as the farmer and his wife.
They approached the edge of the pond and began to feed the swans breadcrumbs.
The farmer looked at the once ugly 'duckling' and said, "It looks like you found yourself a niche - a family. You are the most beautiful swan I have ever seen."
For the rest of his days, the swan lived happily with his new swan family and was greeted often by the farmer and his family.
I am not the kind of protagonist in stories like that.
By no means, I have never considered myself a main character of any story. A person like me is suited to just be a boring side character that will easily be forgotten. After all, I hold no interesting value. I am not a likeable person, either.
That's why, my answer is obvious.
“It sounds more like a punishment to me, so I will pass. Please, just let me rest in peace already,” I sighed, and I proceed to lie down on the nothingness.
Fumu, so you can actually lie down here, eh? That is pretty nice. I love this afterworld already.
I heard a surprised voice.
Uh, no wonder. If you plan on making someone the main character of the typical reincarnation story, definitely cross me out. God, you should have known better than anyone…
“Don’t you… have any other wish?”
I cannot see any facial expression from the light, yet I get the feeling that God feels a bit dejected. Or is it just my feeling?
Hmm, if this will be the last story of me, then I guess I can ask something, right?
After all, I cannot deny the fact that I am curious of something…
“About my cell donation… how is it going? Are there people who feel glad by it? Have I saved anyone? Was my existence meaningful?” I asked.
“Ho ho… I see, so you are curious about that, eh,” I see the spectre of light wavering—no, flickering– as it laughed.
“Yes. You said I can wish for one thing.”
“Ah yeah. Wouldn’t it be great if you find it out by yourself?”
How in the world would it be possible to do so?
Is it going to show me the fate of my cell donations? Whoa, this light is God, after all!
Let me guess : it's gonna be shown like how cinemas show movies, right?
“Yosh, it’s been decided! Ahoy, aboard to the reincarnation train!”
Excuse me, God… Hello? Earth to God?
"Go and enjoy life!" said God, making use of the time I spent being dumbfounded by the development.
WHAAAAAT?! NO, THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANT!
WHO. EVER. SAID. THAT. I. WANT. TO. BE. REINCARNATED?!
Someone, please give God a common sense!
I am about to voice out my objection with a loud voice—and I want to try to point my hand at the light—just because… I want to try the pose of my favorite character from a certain video game…
But apparently, I have no chance to do so.
The darkness quickly melts away as I am being pulled by force—an unknown force—towards a source of light—the world, I presume?
"YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!"
–is the last sentence I managed to shout with my last energy.
Inside the rattling and moving carriage, I tasted the smoked cheese that's among the souvenirs we bought. Oh, it smelled like chips, it felt nice. Tou-san, how about drinking sake with this?
"Seiren-sama, is it delicious?"
"Ah, yes. Since the original cheese tastes refreshing, when it's made into a smoked food, it smelled of wood and felt nice."
(T/N: Seriously, Seiren? O.O I can't really imagine that kind of smell for food…?)
"Hee. May I taste it?"
"Sure. Kuon-sensei should try this too, eat it."
"Oh my, is that alright? Then, I'll do so without any hesitation."
It's not like they are for me to monopolize, though. When I give them to Saryuu and Kuon-sensei, the two of them put one piece each to their mouth and then opened their eyes as if they were being astonished by the taste.
"Oh my. This might be a delicious accompanion to sake."
"I guess I can also eat it during study break…"
Yosh, seems like they also like it. It also feels nice to know that it's bit-sized that can be easily picked up to eat, the smoked cheese.
So, I was taking another piece into my mouth. When I was chewing it, Saryuu's line of sight matched mine.
"Ane-sama, did you have fun at the farm?"
"Yes, it was a lot of fun. The horses and the goats are both very adorable."
The moment the word "horse" left my mouth, Saryuu pulled his body back, but it's understandable why.
Well, it's not like I don't understand his feelings, but there is no need to react like that… or well, I guess I can say that because I've never been nudged by a horse.
"Nah, I mean, aren't they cute enough when you see them?"
"I, is that so. I just don't want to get that close to them, though."
…Ah-, he's turning blue. With this, I think I won't ever see Saryuu riding on top of a horse, I guess.
Taigsan looked perfectly cool so I thought that Saryuu would also look cool when he's mounting a horse.
"Saryuu-sama. If you can overcome your fear of horses, you might be able to give Seiren-sama a ride, you know?"
When Kuon-sensei whispered those words, Saryuu's movement instantly stopped. No, please wait a moment, why me?
"Yo, yosh, then I will do my best!"
"Wait, Saryuu. Are you okay with me being your riding companion? Perhaps some other girl would be better…"
Towards my younger brother who easily got motivated, I thrusted my comment in a panic.
After all, the one who will be riding the horse together with you when you've gone through all the efforts to conquer the trauma is your big sister, how would that play out?
"Because I have never really associated myself with other women except for Kasama, Nee-sama, and the maids."
"…So it's like that?"
"That's right. Although I think that so long as you go out to the city, there will be ladies whose age are close to Saryuu-sama."
Both Saryuu and Kuon-sensei said that with an expression that seemed to say, 'isn't that obvious?'. Ah-, well, there are no things such as schools and part-time jobs like the other world, huh. With that, there are no chances of associating with people from the opposite gender.
…But hey, I went to school and worked part time, but I only had a few friends. Isn't that no good?
"Well, I guess there are various reasons…"
I sighed a bit and continued to chew the remaining cheese inside of my mouth.
While we are all noisily chattering with one another, the carriage finally arrived back at the villa.
When I got down with Saryuu's help, I saw another carriage that I've never seen before, stopping by in front of the villa. It is similar to the one we're riding on today, but that carriage is colored in black with golden plant pattern painted on it. Ah-, for some kind of reason, it reminded me of a bowl or stacked food boxes. I think that my way of thinking is quite poor.
Anyway, the villa's front door was opened, and there was a person coming out of it. The person was a middle-aged man with quite a sturdy body, and.
Upon taking a look at that person's face, I froze on the spot.
The orphanage director?
Why is this person here, at this kind of place?
Remember to click the cat to get rid of the ugly duckling?
——————————-That's what I can decipher from this Japanese sentence: ご近所さんらしいおっちゃんやおばちゃんが大きい鍋で山羊の乳をかき回してるところとか、乳酸菌だか何だか知らないけど混ぜて固まったやつを切ってるところとかを、ちょっと遠くから見させてもらう。If anyone has a better translation, please tell me. ↩ It's a Japanese proverb that means "something imprudent for old people". ↩