Chapter 10 – The Girls’ Everyday Gossip
The following story occurred whilst Shirley was on her way to the Jewelsaad Mine.
The private school that was constructed in this town is relatively large by the standards of the Kingdom, with 40 students split into six classes across three grades.
One of the main reasons why there are such a number of children in this adventurer’s town is because of the sizeable orphanage that used to exist on the site the school was built on.
In this world, orphaned children are not uncommon. All the more if they are the children of soldiers or adventurers. The Guild Master bought the orphanage and developed into a school some time ago in order to better support the children’s futures, and it’s this school that Shirley’s beloved daughters attend.
It was ten years ago that the mother and her two daughters had arrived. Raised with such tender love, Sophie and Tio had grown to become beautiful and well-mannered children.
Even if they didn’t quite understand the full scope of what being an adventurer means, they understood that their mother was putting her life on the line every day for them, and did their best to relieve the burden on her in whatever small ways they could despite being only ten years old.
Those girls are also quite the celebrities at school amongst the children around their age. It only makes sense, with their snow-white hair and rare good looks.
And those stunningly colourful eyes draw gazes from all around.
“O-i! You grey haired old lady!”
“You have the same colour hair as my grandma!”
“Hey! Don’t call it grey hair!”
But of course, standing out so much leads to its own problems for those children.
Ten-year-old boys will often go to lengths to tease and provoke the object of their interest, not quite understanding their own feelings.
Because of those circumstances, it’s rare to see those two girls ever hanging out with boys.
Even though all the boys want to talk to the two beauties, they would have to face the jealousy and pressure of the other boys.
But even if a boy plucked up his courage and managed to approach them…
“Mm. Sorry, I can’t.”
Many a boy has been sunk by that refusal.
Originally the girls in the class were jealous of the twin’s beauty and the attention they got, but eventually, let go of that envy after seeing they had no interest in boys. So long as it’s only other girls who get close, that silly mother of theirs will be relieved as well.
That way, despite their complicated past, Sophie and Tio had an enjoyable school life with many friends. Of course, being a student has its fair share of troubles.
“Right then, tomorrow’s test will be 50 questions on the continental common tongue, so I expect you all to prepare properly. Anyone who gets less than half correct will have to take supplementary lessons, are we clear?”
All the male students raise groans of protest at the homeroom teacher’s announcement at the end of the period.
Not just a surprise test, but the threat of supplementary lessons! The homeroom teacher kept his cool as the class threatened to revolt.
“The test will assess how much you’ve been paying attention in class. By the way, even if you have something ‘urgent’ to do at home, that’s okay. I’ll simply schedule your supplementary lessons for another day.”
As the students boo him loudly, the teacher strides out of the room with a laugh.
After school ended for the day and the students packed up to go home, Tio slumped over her desk.
“…I wish all the world’s tests were destroyed.”
“I know how you feel, but you can’t run away from reality.”
Sophie looked on as her younger sister tried to cast a curse under her breath.
For Tio, studying is a Sisyphean task. She does try to study seriously because of everything her mother goes through in order to let her go to school, but she can’t help it if something is beyond her.
“I know it’s important to read and write, but I hate how hard it is to remember everything.”
“There’s no point in complaining, everything in class relies on reading and writing.”
Unlike math where learning a single formula can unravel many calculations, literacy requires memorizing all sorts of spelling and grammar rules.
Tio is surprisingly fit. If one only took physical education into account, she would be an outstanding student, but when she has to sit in class for a long time she has a tendency to fall asleep.
“It’s so hard to stay awake during regular classes, I don’t know if I could make it through a supplementary lesson…”
“Ah, jeez. If you really don’t want to do the supplementary class that much, why don’t you work hard and focus on the test? I’ll help you study.”
“Ohh, Sophie’s beginning to sound like an older sister…”
“Of course. I am Tio’s older sister, after all.”
Tio looks up with those sleepy red eyes at her sister, who is puffing out her thin chest and has a proud look on that pretty face of hers.
Although Sophie and Tio were born on the same day and have very similar faces, their personalities are wildly different and they also have differing strengths and weaknesses.
Compared to Tio who excels in athletics, Sophie is the best student in their grade.
Although Sophie isn’t incredible at athletics, she can’t be described as bad at it and is considered an honour student at the school. Just when was it that she began to take pride in being the eldest of the twins?
“Hey, mama. Between me and Tio, who is the older sister?”
“You were both born on the same day… But since Sophie came out first, I suppose you’re the older sister.”
Before they entered school for the first time, Sophie had suddenly remembered that conversation she had when she was younger. From that time on, she tried to carry herself as an older sister.
“Anyways, mama said that even adventurers need to know how to read and write, so let’s do our best!”
Both of them hold the same dream for the future, unbeknownst to Shirley. They want to adventure side by side with their mother and travel the world as a family.
They heard from the adventurers who lived in the Deficit House that although the world is a cruel place, it is many degrees more beautiful.
The Crystal Valley, where the very rock seems to shine.
A beautiful natural garden of flowers known as the Fairy Paradise, found near the peak of a mountain no ordinary human could climb.
The King of the Sky whose plumage is like a rainbow, bringing luck and happiness to all those who see him.
Because of how dangerous it is, Shirley would surely be opposed. However, it would be a lot of fun if the three of them could see those sights together. Even that mother of theirs who doesn’t care about things other than them would be able to enjoy herself.
“Mm… Okay, I’ll do my best to study. I’ll escape the supplementary lesson with all my might.”
“You put a lot of emphasis on the last part, but oh well. Then, let’s go home-”
“Oh, if that’s the case, how about we come along with you?”
As the twins get ready to leave, they’re approached by two girls in the nearly empty classroom. There’s a third girl with a shy smile standing behind them.
“Lisa and Chelsea?”
“Mira as well. What’s up?”
All three of these girls had been friends with the pair of them since they entered school.
“Ah, well, it’s just that we didn’t want to take supplementary lessons either. We were hoping that Sophie-sensei could teach us.”
The tallest girl amongst them, Lisa, asks with both her hands clasped together. The girl with narrow eyes, Chelsea, leans against Sophie’s back.
“Heeey, pleeaaaase? If I study alone it will just be a waaaaste, I really don’t want to take supplementary lessoooons.”
“Wait, Chelsea! You’re heavy!”
The girl with the rare black hair and eyes helped peel Chelsea off Sophie… Even though she didn’t do anything wrong, Mira still apologized.
“Sorry about this, you two. Can I also study with you?”
“That’s fine, but it’s unusual to see Mira together with those two. What’s wrong?”
“Oi oi, Tio? What does that mean exactly?”
Ignoring Lisa, Tio asked Mira.
Disregarding Lisa and Chelsea who were just as bad at studying as Tio, Mira was quite a studious girl, if not to the same degree as Sophie is.
Since she was already good at studying, she had never needed to join these last-minute study sessions, so something must have gone wrong.
“I was trying to help Chelsea and Lisa study but… It’s just too much for me to do on my own.”
“If that’s the case it’s fine… You’re okay with it, right, Tio?”
Tio nods, there’s no problem.
“Then, where should we study?”
“Oh, I should have said earlier, but my house is no good today. My dad is throwing a party and it’s going to be really noisy.”
“My house is a no go as well The younger kids will make too much noise, studying would be impossible~”
“Sorry, my mum and dad are working from home, I don’t think we’d have a place to study properly.”
“Well, that just leaves our place.”
In that way, with a triple greeting, the guests entered Shirley’s place at the Deficit House.
One of the three rooms was used as a living room, and the girls sat around the large table in it. As Sophie and Tio prepared drinks for the rest of the study group and delivered them on a tray, Chelsea looked around and asked
“Is Ms Shirley not here today?”
“Nope. She had to go far away for a guild request.”
“Usually she would help me with studying.”
Shirley was known to turn down requests just so that she could help Tio and Sophie study, whenever she was away during a test Tio’s grades would suffer.
“But, isn’t it great? Being able to study with a strong adventurer who also has a G-cup… My brother who is an adventurer always talks about her. I wish I had a mother like that.”
“Mmm, yeah, it’s grea- Why do you know mama’s bust size!?”
“Eh!? I just thought they were really big when I first saw them… Are they really G-cup!?”
“Woah, really!? I knew they were big, but that’s crazy!”
And so, a lively discussion began about that woman’s bosom. As Tio who often used that same bust as a pillow weighed in with “They really are comfortable to sleep on”, she suddenly realized something herself.
(Speaking of mum, where did she study?)
Her mother isn’t just capable of reading and writing, she’s well versed in the history and economy of all the neighbouring countries.
Not once since having arrived in this town at the invitation of the guild master had she ever seen her mother studying.
Even if it wasn’t something that worried her, she couldn’t help but wonder. Her train of thought was interrupted when Mira spoke over the throng.
“A-anyways you three. If we waste any more time, we won’t get any study done at all? Right?”
Before they had realized it, the study group had become a fan club for a thirty-year-old mother of two. After being admonished by Mira, the rest of them quickly took out their textbooks and study notes.
Ugh… Argh… As Sophie and Mira did their best to teach the other three who kept groaning like zombies, eventually after two hours their concentration waned and the subject drifted back to the original topic.
“Listen, can you not make such sounds whilst looking through mama’s underwear?”
Inevitably, the guests started to explore the house. After Sophie snatched back the bra that Chelsea had been admiring, she found a box with a layer of cloth on top of it it that she pulled off.
“It’s a treasure chest!”
As if it was something out of a story, it really did look like a treasure chest.
“Lemme see lemme see… Hm? Something is carved on it?”
“The Hero’s… Toolbox? What does that mean?”
“Ah, that’s mama’s toolbox for work, you won’t be able to open i-”
“We have no choice but to open it! Let’s do this, Chelsea!”
“Why won’t it opeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!?”
They both tried at the same time to open the lid like they were treasure hunters, but it didn’t even budge, like it had been welded shut.
“Looking closely, there’s no keyhole, does she really use this?”
“There has to be one somewhere…”
After failing to find that elusive keyhole, Lisa and Chelsea had to give up on opening the treasure chest.
But the two of them soon eyed new prey… On the well organized bookshelf, there was one book that read ‘Daughters Growth Record’ on the spine.
As they leafed through the book, they were surprised to see images on the pages that looked like they were taken from the scene itself.
“This is a picture, right? Did Ms. Shirley have a projector?”
A state of the art magic tool that was developed and began to circulate about six years ago that made it possible to capture images of landscapes and people, but they were hideously expensive making the number of owners incredibly small.
“No. Mrs. Martha, the woman who runs the inn… It’s her hobby, she took all those pictures.”
Before they knew it, all of the girls were reading through the book.
There were four photographs on each page, and under each of them in beautiful handwriting was written a time, date and brief description, which roused old memories for the twins.
They looked through the book for a long time, but just before they were about to return to studying, Lisa noticed something.
“Isn’t it weird that before eight years old, it looks like Tio is the one dragging Sophie around?”
“That’s true… Looking at this, you would think that Tio is the older sister?”
Sophie’s shoulders jump with a start.
Every single photograph in the book is of the twins, and in the pictures taken before entering school, there are many shots in which Sophie is tugging on Tio’s sleeve or holding her hand whilst crying.
“Hmm, seems like Sophie might be the big sister now, but it was the opposite before?”
“T-that’s wrong! Those pictures are misleading!”
“Can you still say that after looking at this?”
Chelsea points at a newly turned page. On that page was an image of Tio comforting Sophie who was crying next to a bed with a large stain dried on it.
“Sophie, six-years-old. An incident on a certain day. Martha seemed amused when she gave me the photo.”
In the attached caption, Sophie’s embarrassment had been recorded for posterity.
“W-Why are you keeping pictures like this mamaaaaaaaa!?”
Sophie’s face turns bright red and she tries to grab the album.
Since she had never actually looked through the growth record book, she never could have imagined that it contained such embarrassing photos.
“I-it’s okay Sophie! Everyone had leaks sometimes when they were kids!”
“Thank you for trying to comfort me Mira… But please don’t say ‘leak’ so clearly…!”
“Really though, Sophie and Tio’s positions really did reverse.”
“Wasn’t it weird when Sophie started to say that she was the older sister?”
Tio looked at the ceiling as she thought hard, then answered:
“Even if it was a little weird at first, maybe it is for the best that Sophie is the older sister. It was a real relief to me to see my crybaby sister start to become a little reliable.”
Even if she should have gotten angry at the last part of that speech, Sophie just whimpers softly.
Her dignity as the older sister had just completely fallen apart.
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