Love Triangle (With One in the Dark)
“We’re home Sister”
“Oh, welcome home. Did you get everything you needed?”
“Yep. It’s all right here.”
As Chelsea and Kyle returned home, Cindy, a sister from the church met them at the door to greet them. She is one of the nuns in charge of running the orphanage and helped raise Chelsea and Kyle since they were young.
“……are you really okay with this Kyle? Giving money to the institution is one thing, but handling the shopping too……it’s the money you’ve earned. How many times have I told you that nobody would blame you for spending that money on yourself?”
“More times than I can count at least Sister”
The vast amount of money Kyle makes on his adventures gets put back into the orphanage. In truth, what Kyle has made so far would already have granted him a comfortable life out on his own, but this friendly boy wasn’t just donating most of it to the orphanage, but also regularly helping out with field work and paying off any surprise expenses that may randomly crop up.
The sister was grateful for the thought, but it also worried her. What kind of future awaits such a young man who spends all his time helping out with his old nest? Cindy ended up talking to Kyle about it every time this kind of situation popped up, but Kyle was being stubborn. No matter what she said, Kyle would give an embarrassed smile but otherwise make it clear he had no intentions of stopping.
“In a world swarming with monsters, we need orphanages. That’s why I want to help out as much as I can. Besides, I’m already an adult. I am thinking about my future and moving forward one way or another.”
In other words, “You have nothing to worry about.” Kyle laughed, and across his expression, Cindy saw flashes of an adult’s sturdiness.
It made her think back to the past. When Kyle first arrived at the orphanage, he was just a scared, hurt kid like any other. His parents were eaten by monsters, and a shadow was perpetually cast over his expression.
Yet at his roots, he has always been a kind child. The sadness of losing his parents was swept away in the river of time, and he became a good man who could take the initiative in reconciling fights between the other children. Recently he has been feeling uneasy over an adventurer girl his age, but put that aside and he was like the perfect son to Cindy whom she could be proud of.
The thought made Cindy tear up a bit, and she brushed her hand against her eyes before anything could spill over.
“Honestly….when did you grow up to be such a splendid man?”
“Geez…..don’t cry Sister. I’m not that big yet, and I’ll always be grateful for what you’ve done for me. So please, I want you to accept my sincerity.”
“Hah……if you go that far, how can I say no?”
There was nothing else that needed to be said after that. Cindy decided to head back and prepare dinner, but in that moment――――
“Kyle—! A guest for you—!”
A child who had been playing in the orphanage’s garden suddenly opened the door and shouted loudly. A second later, a flood of other children came rushing in from the door one after another, all shouting for Kyle.
“Brother, a guest—!”
“She’s really pretty!”
“Kyle! When did you manage to get close to such a transcendental beauty!?”
“Hey, I know that lady! She’s super famous!!”
Kyle and Cindy shared a confused look as a squadron of young boys and girls continued to excitedly rush in while talking over one another. Soon the children who had been playing inside were filing down into the room as well, creating a spot of chaos in the orphanage.
“Yes yes, calm down everyone! We know a guest has arrived, so there’s no need to be so noisy!”
“Hold on, what’s all the fuss about?”
As Sister Cindy was giving up on corralling the noisy children, a girl with long black hair tied at the sides walked in. It was Liana, another child of the orphanage who had begun living here around the same time as Kyle.
“Oh, Liana. Actually――――”
“Pardon the intrusion.”
Just as Cindy was about to confusedly explain a situation she did not quite understand herself, a familiar cool and glassy voice spread across the room and brought all the rambunctious children to a stop instantly. When Liana and the rest turned their eyes, a white-haired beauty who had materialized in the front doorway stole their breath away.
“Are Kyle or Chelsea in right now?”
“Shirley!? Eh!? What are you doing here!?”
“Shirley…….? Shirley, that…….”
Kyle quickly grew flustered when he realized Shirley had stopped by, and Liana’s gaze began darting back and forth between the two of them.
“It appears that Sophie and Chelsea’s belongings were mixed up when we met at the store earlier.”
“Eh? Oh! They did!”
It wasn’t until after rifling through the contents of her bag and seeing that nothing she bought was in there that Chelsea noticed the mistake. On a second look, the design of the bag Shirley was holding was strikingly similar to the one in Chelsea’s hands. With as similar as they were, it was no wonder the girls had gotten them mixed up.
“I’m sorry to make you come all the way here.”
“It’s not a problem. It took almost no effort on my part at all.”
The distance between the old inn and the orphanage was a pittance for someone like Shirley who regularly traveled by using physical strengthening magic to speed across rooftops.
“I’d like to at least thank you with some tea…..but it’s already almost dinner time, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it is around that time.”
Kyle’s downcast expression caused Cindy to pull a face like she’d seen something truly unusual, but Liana turned unusually moody in contrast.
Although they were by no means direct acquaintances, Cindy knew Shirley, the Demonic White Sword, by reputation. The strongest swordswoman in the Adventurer’s Guild and a hero of the village. And yet despite her accomplishments, she has no interest in accumulating any honors nor does she see any value in advancing beyond B rank. All of that, plus the tales of her incredible beauty, is about all the information Cindy was aware of.
“Hey, Chelsea. Perhaps, the adventurer Kyle is always talking about is……”
“Yep. This’d be her.”
“…….So then, the woman who caught his attention recently would be”
“Yeah, it’s Shirley”
After taking care of them for so many years already, all Cindy needed was some verbal confirmation from Chelsea, who is especially close to Kyle compared to the other children, to be sure.
Although Kyle hasn’t been particularly liberal with the details, he has mentioned how a veteran adventurer saved him from impending death his first day on the job. The special feelings he had developed for this benefactor of his could be guessed from the way he talked about her.
The swirling black clouds over Liana’s head were only deepening over time because of how shyly Kyle spoke with Shirley. This worried Cindy a bit, but before anything else, as the director of the orphanage, Cindy had to thank Shirley directly for saving Kyle’s life.
Cindy and Shirley were both busy, so the most Cindy could do before was send a thank-you gift with Kyle acting as a middleman. With her standing right here though, it would be only natural for Cindy to offer her thanks again and apologize for the delay――――
“Oh right, she’s also Sophie and Tio’s mother.”
But before Cindy could say anything, Chelsea dropped a bomb that caused Cindy and Liana to freeze in their tracks.
Sophie and Tio had visited the orphanage a couple times before to visit Chelsea, so Liana and Cindy knew who they were.
Both girls are good kids. Very adorable and shockingly polite. They had heard that their mother was a great adventurer, but this was their first time hearing that that person was Shirley. It was obvious after you point it out though. One look and the family resemblance between them was clear to see.
However. While neither of them knew when exactly the Demonic White Sword began living in this city, they did know that Sophie and Tio’s mother was young when they were born and was only thirty years old now. In other words, Kyle was, with a woman twice his age who has children…….
“K-Kyle…..? With a married woman……!?”
“Huh!? Married woman!? What are you……Chelsea!? What did you tell them!? I told you to keep quiet so nobody misunderstood anything!”
“…….Ah. Sorry, I forgot”
To be fair, the reason why information in the orphanage was so fragmented was because Kyle had put a ban on anything concrete from being said.
In a flustered rush, Cindy folded her hands together and began praying to the Sky Goddess. Kyle, who she had thought had grown up with a good, virtuous head on his shoulders had become a man who flirted with married women.
“You’re wrong! This person is a single mother!”
“Oh, is that right? …….thank goodness. Thank, thank goodness.”
Apparently there were outside issues that lead to a divorce or something as such.
The age difference is still concerning, but it’s a small, insignificant matter when it comes to love. And with as young as Shirley looked, there would most likely not be any issue socially with their age difference. Cindy decided that for now, she would stand aside and watch over them.
“Hey hey! Miss, you’re an adventurer aintcha? Show us your sword, your sword!”
“Pretty hair. It’s like snow!”
“Um, I must prepare dinner, so if you would excuse me…….”
“……..So, you’re Shirley then?”
A swarm of young children had gathered around Shirley’s ankles, peppering her with questions as they marveled in the presence of such a beautiful adventurer, but Linea alone stood out. She glared at Shirley, her voice cutting its way through the children’s excited voices.
“Hm? I am……?”
“…….sorry……. Kyle, and me, this…….”
The crowd of children parted, not wanting to be in between Shirley and Liana with how scary Liana was looking. Liana raised her face, vigorously jabbing her finger towards Shirley’s face while shouting out loud.
“N-No matter how beautiful you are, I’ll never admit it! My……My pride as a teenager will never allow me to admit defeat against someone who has already reached thirty!!”
Liana’s finger trembled in the air, and after she shouted her piece, she ran away further into the orphanage. Shirley watched on shocked because she had no idea what any of that was about, but Cindy and the kids of the orphanage all watched Liana go silently, their faces indescribable masks.
“……um, was there something she was trying to say, or?”
“……..My apologies. It’s kind of, there are all kinds of personal circumstances with her family, and she is mixing them together with you. And well, it’s nothing you should have to worry about, so put it out of mind. I will be sure to talk to her and take care of it later.”
In this way, a love triangle was formed with one of the related parties being completely in the dark on the whole matter.