There’s nothing as suspicious as something that’s free.
There’s no investment without an ulterior motive.
Donations out of goodwill make my hairs stand.
Those are words that all the people working in an orphanage have learned.
The orphanages that are managed in Tsige have ones that are receiving their support from the city, and there’s others that are privately funded by an individual.
The orphanages managed out of pure good will go under really quick.
Sadly to say, pure and clean orphanages that have the right teachings, and receive only the money as donations without accepting the interference of anyone, is impossible to achieve.
The core orphanages of the city, in other words, the efficient orphanages, have the Merchant Guild and the major companies managing them in the shadows.
The orphanages that receive the assistance of the city and are managed by an individual, the private orphanages, are under the influence of several companies, and it is almost always that they are pushed by personal gain and motives.
There’s also orphanages with a terrible environment that only aim for the support money.
That’s why they expect definite returns for providing funds and goods, especially in private orphanages.
Answering the other party’s support with specific gratitude and action at that very moment, and trying not to create a debt, is a common thing.
Especially the cases of sacrificing a few children to save many of the others.
Because if you don’t put the good and the bad together, you won’t even be able to raise an orphan.
Ideals normally lose to reality.
“Lime! Welcome back. What’s the matter? It feels like you came back sooner than normal.”
A girl who noticed the identity of the visitor the fastest called out to him.
Lime waved his hand and passed the door, and was surrounded by children in an instant.
A woman with simple but clean clothing and Lime; the two of them had children crowding around them.
The Weitz Orphanage was suddenly covered in liveliness.
A few years ago, Lime would go by the anonymous name of Long Legs Old Man, but after properly working for the Kuzunoha Company, he has been providing them support with his name in the open.
Lime is from the Weitz Orphanage, moreover, a success story in Tsige. For the children, Lime is a hero.
“Seina, how many times do I have to tell you to stop the ‘welcome back’s… Well, that’s fine for now. Hey, you kids! Split them properly with each other, okay?!” (Lime)
Lime hands over presents centered mainly on sweetness to one of the oldest ones.
The child that was given this confirmed the inside and had their eyes shine, and then, runs deeper inside together with the children.
For this kind of presents, it is best for them to be consumables.
Due to his own experience, Lime always makes sure to bring food whenever he comes.
“You don’t need to bring anything, you know. You put so much money every month. I hope you are having a proper lifestyle.” (Seina)
The woman who is the same age as Lime is Seina.
The two of them are childhood friends of this orphanage, and when Seina grew up, she stayed in the orphanage and continues to look after the little ones.
Lime chose the adventurer path, succeeded, and continues to put money in the orphanage like this.
He internally respects Seina who chose this way of living.
He simply became the one-in-a-hundred survivor, while Seina chose the safe and steady path of supporting the orphanage.
The amount of children you can save by remaining in the Weitz Orphanage, that is just one of the many private orphanages, is extremely limited.
That’s how Lime thought in the past.
That’s why he chose to become an adventurer which had the biggest chance to obtain money in this city.
A lot of his comrades as well.
But the result was tragic.
Numbers went down as fast as they came, and people who would step into the wrong path appeared one after the other.
In the end, the only ones who managed to struggle their way to the top of the adventurers were Lime and a few others.
Also, the orphanage took a lot more money than Lime expected.
Forming parties, maintaining his equipment properly, and buying new equipment when needed; it took Lime his all to just keep doing those things while providing support.
Even the Weitz Orphanage, when compared to other public or private orphanages, was in a state that couldn’t escape from financial issues.
He even made an enemy out of the Rembrandt Company due to his hurry.
The Lime in those times was always angered.
If asked what was his anger towards, it would be towards all of his surroundings.
The reason why Lime was feeling nostalgic right now was most likely because the time to finally reveal to his childhood friend Seina what has been inside his chest all this time has come.
Lime faced Seina seriously.
“…What? Don’t tell me you really are hanging on the edge to the point that you can’t live properly? Want to eat here?” (Seina)
“Don’t be stupid. I am working with the top of the top, the Kuzunoha Company, you know? I am getting quite a good salary, so don’t worry.” (Lime)
“Top of the top? Don’t you mean, the top of the top in fishiness?” (Seina)
“Hey now, I have been telling you every time but, don’t talk badly about the company. It isn’t the kind of place you think it is, really.” (Lime)
“…I wonder. I don’t understand that Tomoe person well. The representative-san hasn’t even shown up once here.” (Seina)
“Boss is busy after all. He is currently in Tsige, but the Dusk—Ah, he is wrapped in some other matter. Big Sis Tomoe hasn’t said anything unreasonable, right?” (Lime)
“Dusk…do you mean the Dusk Street? That’s no joke. The Kuzunoha Company comes and goes there?” (Seina)
Seina spits this with clear discontent.
For the residents of Tsige, the Dusk Street is one of the taboos.
Just like how demonic beasts attack livestock in farms at night, the people of the Dusk Street sometimes would sneak into orphanages and kidnap children.
There’s no countermeasures that can be made.
If they hire adventurers to increase the security, it would happen less, but most of the orphanages don’t have the leeway to keep the pay.
Moreover, against people of the Dusk Street, you would need strong adventurers like the ones that enter the wasteland.
Thus, even if they notice their intrusion, they can’t even fight back.
Because if they fight back, not only the children will be stolen, even the employees might be killed.
They have no choice but to clench their teeth, hold their breath, and allow their crime to succeed.
For the sake of survival.
That’s why, the closer a person is related to orphanages, the stronger the hatred they have towards the Dusk Street.
“It is not like they are coming and going. In the first place, I am still giving out from my own pocket, but the Kuzunoha Company is providing funds and goods here, right? I don’t understand why you don’t like them.” (Lime)
Lime also hates the Dusk Street.
He would like to destroy it if possible.
But it is not possible.
Even if at a glance it looks like you destroyed it, they are surely hiding somewhere.
And then, as if mocking their enemy, they would hurt your important things and people.
There’s no better measure than to just ignore them.
Also, Lime is working in the Kuzunoha Company now.
Being with them, even the Dusk Street feels small in comparison, so he stopped minding them as much as before.
Rather, leaving aside her opinion about Raidou who she hasn’t properly met yet, it bothered him more the reason why she didn’t like Tomoe.
“That person said that she would of course get something in return from this, so if there’s any talented children we should tell her.” (Seina)
“…Well, giving out money and receiving that much is a natural thing, right?” (Lime)
It is like the minimum requirement in order to have companies give money.
Lime has not directly touched into the relationship between the Kuzunoha Company and the Weitz Orphanage.
He knows that Tomoe, the Forest Onis, and the dwarves sometimes come here, but Lime trusts Tomoe, so he hasn’t pursued the topic.
Also, if he wanted to know, he could just ask Seina who he gets along with and the director of the orphanage.
“The first time she came, she said this and left 100 gold coins.” (Seina)
“100…I see.” (Lime)
“It was the first time I met with that company, so I couldn’t just trust them simply with your name, right? Right then, I introduced her to a few intelligent children that could work at their place as soon as now.” (Seina)
“I see.” (Lime)
And yet, there’s not a single Weitz Orphanage child in the Kuzunoha Company.
Or more like, there’s no hyuman employee currently.
Due to the proposal of Tomoe, Lime himself has put his hand into an inhuman power.
At a glance he looks like a hyuman, and there’s no one in this city who has seen through it, but he in essence is a demi-human.
Then, what happened to the children that were introduced to Tomoe?
That’s where the doubts Seina has for Tomoe are, is what Lime thought as he waited for her to continue.
“And then, Tomoe-san said ‘wouldn’t this child be more fit for this path?’, ‘this child would be for this path’, ‘the one of before would be this’, and would suggest jobs for them.” (Seina)
“Then, she said that she would check out places that would fit them if they were willing. In the end, she didn’t take a single one with her.” (Seina)
“I got scared, so I tried investigating a bit, but the places she suggested them to work at, none of them were related to the Kuzunoha Company or anything like that.” (Seina)
“Aah…I see.” (Lime)
‘A habit of orphanages, huh’, Lime thought as he laughed.
She must have seen them as lacking to be part of the Kuzunoha Company, or she really thought about what fit them better when she did that.
He doesn’t know what intentions Tomoe had when she did that, but Lime finally understood the reason for Seina’s doubts and suspicions.
The Kuzunoha Company wants this, they are asking for that, they want this in return, they want us to do this; they would give out similar demands like that, yet, in the end, they don’t look for anything.
Not creating any benefits, having no hidden intent; it was a state where they were purely supporting the Weitz Orphanage.
However, if Tomoe were there, she probably would have said unhesitantly that Lime alone was enough worth.
“I was told that there was extra food and clothing, so to take it, but when I went to check, there were 3 carriages jam packed for both dried food, fresh vegetables, and clothes that didn’t look like they have been used at all.” (Seina)
“…That’s…ah, it is that. Big Sis told me that she gave presents to the orphanage as part of my bonus.” (Lime)
“At that time, she brought 5 professional cooks, staying for three months to make food for the children and teach them how to cook. Thanks, Lime.” (Seina)
“I-I see. As long as you are happy.” (Lime)
Lime found it hard to speak.
By the way, these two are not in a romantic relationship at all.
The closest word to describe their relationship would be ‘siblings’.
‘No matter what blood we carry, we grew in the same place’, that kind of thing.
“What’s the objective of Tomoe-san -no, of the Kuzunoha Company? Could it be that there’s actually an incredible child here with a special talent? Or are they aiming for our land? Or could it be that their target is the director, or an employee like me?” (Seina)
Seina’s suspicions were natural.
Tomoe was going to finance the orphanage and support it, so she must have been showing courtesy there.
But there was no point in going through the trouble of making a thorough plan that would erase any doubts and suspicions from the orphanage.
That’s why she provided them funding and goods with a random excuse she thought up at that moment.
The Weitz Orphanage in the eyes of Tomoe, and the Kuzunoha Company in the eyes of Seina; Lime understands the view and thoughts of both sides, that’s why it was hard for him to find a way to explain this…no, to make her understand.
“The Kuzunoha Company expects a crazy lot from me, you see. Boss, who learned that I came from the Weitz Orphanage, said that he couldn’t just leave them be.” (Lime)
“You know…I was very serious when I was asking you.” (Seina)
Lime spoke out the explanation that wouldn’t create much waves but isn’t completely a lie, but before he could finish what he wanted to say, Seina completely denied it.
“…I am also answering pretty seriously here though.” (Lime)
‘That was hard to swallow, huh’, Lime reflected that it indeed wouldn’t be convincing.
But, how to explain it?
How can he have Seina, who is having pointless suspicions, understand just how deviated from common sense his workplace is?
(Or more like, in this situation, I don’t think I can bring out the matter about the Mist Town and Asora.) (Lime)
His original objective was this though.
Lime was holding his head in pain internally.
There’s no conspiracy.
Seina recognizes that they are receiving quite the support, but the company isn’t affected financially at all by this.
And in reality, for Tomoe, the support she is giving to the Weitz Company is simply a reward to Lime for his good job. That’s all there is to it.
Lime understands that it is trifling money that, in Raidou’s eyes, is an amount that there would be no point to even register in the account books.
But for the childhood friend in front of him, the Kuzunoha Company is nothing but an unknown existence.
“I should have spoken more about the Kuzunoha Company and Boss properly…” (Lime)
“By Boss, you are referring to Raidou-san, right?” (Seina)
“Yeah, he is not the kind of person you think he is. I assure you of that.” (Lime)
“Right now we have more than 200 children. To be precise, 216 since yesterday. No matter if it comes from you, Lime, I can’t just trust plain words.” (Seina)
“Even if you tell me that…” (Lime)
“Fine, I get it.” (Seina)
“Oh, really?” (Lime)
“Bring that Raidou-san here once.” (Seina)
“I have to talk with him personally at least once. If it were an easy to understand company, it would be one thing, but they are donating as if it were purely out of good will.” (Seina)
“Bring the Boss here? You…” (Lime)
“Cause you know, if I were to ask Tomoe-san that, it feels like she would refuse instantly without a say in the matter.” (Seina)
‘Figures’, Lime concurred.
There’s no way Tomoe would agree to a matter that would take the time of Raidou, or for a small matter like something related to Lime.
Moreover, there’s absolutely no profit for Raidou or the company.
What can he do even if he were asked?
“He is really busy! I am telling you the truth!” (Lime)
“But he is currently in Tsige, right?” (Seina)
“Also, if you were to be rude to Boss, I would be troubled too.” (Lime)
“It is okay. I won’t have the children there, and I know my way around outside too, you know?” (Seina)
“Honestly speaking, it is true that they are mostly donating out of good will though…” (Lime)
Lime mutters these words in a tone so fleeting it could disappear in the wind.
It was as if his soul was coming out from his body. A pitiful figure.
“That’s impossible.” (Seina)
“It is not…” (Lime)
“Then why are they not asking for anything back, yet they don’t announce that they are providing an incredibly generous amount of support? What is the meaning behind why the good will they do is not publicly known, not only here but other places too?” (Seina)
“Boss doesn’t really look for a meaning to it though…” (Lime)
“Anyways! This is something I can only ask of you, Lime. I am counting on you!! If you have something to tell me, make sure to do so with the Representative-san in tow!!” (Seina)
Seina slaps his shoulders hard and then goes inside the orphanage.
She implicitly told Lime to leave too.
His soul was about to leave his body, and his usual fearless visage was not there.
Lime who was filled with hope ended up shouldering a heavy problem.
“…Right, let’s go to the Adventurer Guild.” (Lime)
The words of Lime that could be taken as his daily working habit, or him escaping from reality, were pitifully swallowed by the ground of Tsige.