Chapter 19 An Unexpected Reunion with Akane, a Girl with Broken Heart

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"I'm taking the day off... ugh..."
 
 Alvin, looking pale from the hangover, leaned his elbows on the desk and slowly drank some water.
 <Running Wolves> members were having breakfast in the inn's dining room.
 
"Al-kun, are you okay...?"
"I might be sick for half a day..."
"Even Renka-chan..."
 
 Renka is not as pale as Alvin, but she's not looking good either. Milis is working tirelessly to take care of them.
 
"I'm sorry for Emily... that's why I decided to stop her..."
 
 Shinji looks apologetic as he fills Alvin and Renka's cups with water from a jug. In addition, Emily, the root of all evil, left by herself and cheerfully said, "I'm going away! Because I have a quest to do!" No wonder she was treated as a disaster.
 
"Well... but that liquor was delicious..."
"I think it cost about three gold coins...? I've been buying it as a favorite for some time, so it must have cost about that much..."
"Three gold coins... no wonder it's so good."
 
 Regular liquor costs three silver coins. And for cheap liquor it costs only one silver coin.
 One gold coin is worth the same as ten silver coins, so the price is about thirty times higher than cheap liquor.
 
"Um...I drank a lot, do I have to pay?"
"She brought it in without permission and served it without permission. So, don't worry."
 
 Milis asks Shinji with concern, but Shinji shakes his head.
 The two of them behaved exactly the same as usual, as if last night's events had never happened.
 There was no way that Alvin and Renka could have known, and the conversation continued.
 
"Well... let's split up. I'm going to stay in my room and be quiet..."
"Me too..."
"I'm going to take care of Al-kun and Renka-chan."
 
 The two of them stood up and walked towards their room. Milis turned away from Shinji and went after them.
 
"I'm going to go into town. See you at night."
 
 Shinji said to the three of them as he walked into town.
 
 
***
 
"Hmm... nothing much going on."
 
 Although he went to the city, Shinji had nothing to do and had much spare time.
 The city has not changed much since he can remember, and he has no plans to upgrade his equipment. Originally, he had planned to start a simple quest today.
 
 Suddenly, a nun with dark red hair appeared in Shinji's vision.
 She was carrying a shopping bag full of what looked like foodstuffs in both arms, and looked very heavy. Shinji recognized her face.
 
 Akane, the girl he had rescued from the goblin's nest.
 
 One of the vegetables fell out from the bag that Akane was carrying. She walked ahead without noticing the vegetable that had fallen into the bag.
 
"You dropped this. Sister...Akane?"
"Eh? ...Thank you very much... Um, how did you know my name?"
 
 Shinji picked up the vegetables and called out to Akane, who turned around. Akane's face was tense and she was wary of Shinji.
 She was in charge of protecting the captive girls with Milis and Renka, and under the circumstances, it's no wonder she doesn't remember him.
 Shinji kept his voice as calm as possible and bowed to Akane, trying to act like a gentleman.
 
"I'm Shinji. I'm a member of <Running Wolves>. I've only seen your face from afar, so..."
"Renka's friend..."
"Yes... So, you dropped your vegetables."
"Oh, thank you... Well...here..." 
 
 Although Akane's guard has relaxed a bit, her expression is still as strong as ever as she holds the shopping bag towards Shinji. When Shinji moved his body forward to get closer to her bag, Akane's face showed a hint of fear.
 He stopped himself from approaching her and asked a passing woman to put the vegetables back into her bag for him.
 
"Um...I'm sorry. I'm a little scared when men approaching me. I'm practicing to get used to it, but..."
"...I think it can't be helped. I'm glad we could talk."
 
 Akane looks apologetic for making him feel uncomfortable. Shinji shook his head and said, "Don't worry about it."
 A few of the tension in Akane's face began to fade away as Shinji's gentle manner took over.
 
"Where are Renka and the others...?"
"Today is a holiday, so we're going our separate ways, and I'm sure the three of them are at the inn. If you want.... I can give them a message."
"Well then.... I'm at the monastery on the outskirts of town... can you tell Renka I'd like to see her?"
"Certainly."
 
 Shinji nodded firmly and smiled.
 Akane also gave Shinji a fragile but adorable smile. 
 
"I'll leave you to it then.... Shinji-san, thank you for your help..."
"Well, take care of yourself."
 
 Shinji bows lightly and watches Akane walk away.
 
 
***
 
"You met Akane!? Is it true!?"
"Yes. She seemed to be living in a monastery."
 
 After returning to the inn at night, Shinji joined the three of them and told them that he had met Akane in the city during the day.
 Renka was the one who was most surprised. Alvin and Milis couldn't hide their surprise either.
 
"You're so surprised... what's wrong?"
"Akane, she went back to our hometown after what happened, but I heard that she left the town for various reasons. The last time I heard from her was when she wrote me a letter saying she was leaving town but not to worry. Thanks God..."
 
 Renka explained the situation with a hint of anger at the many things that had happened.
 Shinji could somehow understand the situation.
 
 It's not an unusual story.
 One surviving member of the team is blamed by the other members' relatives, then because she is raped by monsters, they treated her as damaged goods. Some even leave their hometown because of it.
 It's a common story of misfortune in the world.
 
"So, she said she wanted to see Renka-chan?"
"Yes. She's in a monastery on the outskirts of town."
"All right. I'll come see her tomorrow! Al, can I ask to take tomorrow off as well?"
"That's okay. I still have enough money. We'll start our quest the day after tomorrow."
"Eh... thanks, Al."
 
 Alvin raised his thumb as he put a slice of meat in his mouth.
 
"I'd like to go too, but it would be a bother for her to meet so many people from the start..."
"I think it'll be fine if we all go to the monastery together and Renka and Milis go inside. But I think it's better for me and Alvin to stay outside since she seems to be a little scared of men."
 
 Renka and Milis' faces clouded when they heard that she was afraid of men.
 Alvin also remains silent.
 Shinji said nothing and continued eating.
 Quiet meal continued for a while.
 
"... Anyway, I'll try to meet her"
"Yeah...! I'm looking forward to see Akane-chan!"
 
 The three of them nodded with a small laugh at Milis, who was trying to make the place a little more cheerful with her happy voice.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai
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