Behind the Scenes of Life in Another World from Zero
The moment Emilia realized that her precious insignia had been pulled out of her pocket, she ordered her lesser spirits to chant and aimed an ice pellet at the back of the miscreant.
“It’s dangerous everyone, so don’t move!”
The silverbell-like voice called for caution, and the people on the street, who heard it, stopped moving. A petite girl with fluttering gold hair and a black ribbon moved through the gaps between them, running like the wind. Icicles created with mana were shot at the feet of the girl on the run. Making a sound similar to an arrow flying through air, the icicles approached the girl with the speed of a bullet. But the girl ran, ignoring the attacks as if she knew that the person attacking had no intention of hitting her. The icicles that missed their target gouged into the wall of the nearby shop and the ground, then began losing shape and disappearing.
After a moment of silence, the people who had stopped moving started making a fuss.
“What is it!? Is it a fight!?” a bystander shouted.
“What the hell are you doing in such a crowded place!?” another person yelled.
While listening to that, Emilia chased after the little figure that had escaped into an alleyway.
“Gosh! What’s up with today!” she exclaimed. I got separated from the girl accompanying me, the money in my purse got spent on food and drink, and I thought I was getting along with the nice cat girl, but now I am in a situation where something I hold dear got stolen.
“You seem busy, Lia,” muttered one with the appearance of a palm-sized cat while leisurely washing his face on Emilia’s shoulder.
The one muttering near her ear was the Great Spirit, Puck, who was the girl’s contracted spirit.
“I’m in trouble, Puck! My important insignia got stolen! I’m going to be in a looot of trouble if I don’t get it back, and Roswaal will get mad at me!”
“If you think he’d just get mad, you should give it some deeper thought… And the child who stole it seems to be quite skilled, too. Look.”
Emilia, who had been chatting with Puck after jumping into a back alley, stopped suddenly. A dead end appeared right in front of her at the end of the maze-like path.
I’m pretty sure I ran down the same path as the thief, and I’m sure the road didn’t have any twists or turns near the end, either.
“We might have missed a side street, or she might have quickly climbed over the wall,” Puck posited.
“I… I can climb walls too,” Emilia hesitantly replied. “I need to catch up or else…”
“If she took a side path, then climbing it would just be a waste of time. You know that, right? We need to think more carefully here.” As Puck said that with his short arms crossed, they heard a high-pitched guard’s whistle coming from the front street. It was probably blown by a guard from the Royal Capital Guard who heard the commotion caused by Emilia’s magic.
“We could get into trouble if the guards find us,” Puck said. “What do you want to do?”
“If I explain the situation, I wonder if they’ll help me find the insignia?” Emilia wondered.
“They would help you, but I don’t think that’s a good idea. You know the reason why without me having to explain it, right Lia?”
“…I know. It’s because I’m a candidate. It would be troublesome if they found out about me losing my insignia.”
“Good job.” Puck clasped his soft paws together and complimented Emilia with a silent clap.
Emilia puffed up her cheeks and looked up at the wall in front of her, then snapped her fingers and created a staircase of ice.
By the time the guards came running towards the dead end, the silver-haired girl and the ice staircase were gone without a trace.
“We’ve gotten away from the commotion-filled street and alleyway, but…what should we do now?” Emilia asked.
“Isn’t it better to meet up with the maid?” Puck replied. “I think it’ll be easier to find that girl than the person who stole the insignia since she stands out so much.”
Emilia and Puck were having a strategic meeting regarding what to do next in the street across from the merchant’s street, the street where the insignia was stolen, after getting away from the guards.
“It would be great if Ram could give us a hand,” Emilia said. “But would that be fine? I feel like I’ve been breaking Roswaal’s orders really often.”
“Don’t stray away from your attendant. Don’t waste money. Don’t cause a commotion. Not losing your insignia wasn’t something he thought of mentioning. Hmmm, there’s no way you’ll be able to escape from being scolded, don’t you think?”
“I’m starting to feel like I should solve this on my own.”
“Being afraid of your mistake from before being exposed and then making more mistakes because of that… I think you’re clearly walking down a path of destruction with nothing stopping you.”
Emilia pouted at Puck, who kept being a killjoy, but his arguments were sound. It would be far wiser to report the current situation with a mindset to be scolded rather than making the situation worse. However, that might result in the worst possible outcome for Emilia.
“But what would I do if Roswaal gives up on me because he thinks I’m useless?” Emilia asked.
“I can’t let that happen. Roswaal is my ally now, but it’s possible he might step down from that position before the royal selection happens. I don’t want to owe him anything more until it starts.”
Emilia envisioned the devious guy in her mind who was her guardian. He and I share the same interests, and I don’t want the balance of power to be tilted towards either one of us.
“Ah well, my daughter is someone who chooses to walk down a thorny path,” Puck said after shrugging his shoulders at Emilia’s thoughts while wagging his long tail.
Emilia smiled and lowered her brows at the response of her family with whom she had been with for a long time. “I’m sorry to cause you trouble all the time,” she said.
“That’s something you shouldn’t say… Well then, we must do our best to find that thief. I wonder what we should do. The sun will go down if we keep searching blindly around the vast royal capital. Do you have any plans?”
“Let’s see… How about we keep our eyes wide open and search reaaally hard?”
“That’s what it means to search blindly, Lia. I was able to get a quick glance at the thief, but they seemed like a child from their appearance. And the thief’s clothes didn’t seem that clean.”
“Do you mean that she is someone who doesn’t have money? You are right about that since she stole something.” Emilia nodded at Puck’s deduction, agreeing with him, then clapped her hands right after that when she understood what he wanted to say. “Oh, that’s right! Since she is someone who doesn’t have money, she must be from the slums I heard about when I was being guided around the royal capital! It’s a place where people without jobs or houses gather. You’re implying that the thief might be from there!”
“That’s just what I’d expect from you, Lia. Even I couldn’t predict that you’d be able to guess what I was thinking…”
“Alllright, let’s search the place called the slums. And after that…”
After deciding what to do, Emilia was about to start walking with high spirits, but she stopped the moment she took a step. Her gaze was directed across the street at a small figure. A small girl was crouching there helplessly with a tearful face.
“I… I know, Puck. I’m veeery busy now. I don’t have time to worry about a girl in trouble at all. I need to hurry up.”
Emilia started making excuses, even if she hadn’t done anything, after being called by Puck, who was glaring at her. And even if she did say that she had no time to care about the girl, she showed no sign of moving, making Puck sigh.
“No matter how hard one tries, my daughter will always be a kind girl, so why don’t you go talk to her?”
“Is it alright?”
“If you ask whether the timing is good or bad, then it’s bad. But if you ask whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing, then it’s a good thing. So go ahead and perform your good deed that’s bad timing-wise.”
Emilia’s face brightened up, and then she went towards the young girl after getting the go-ahead from Puck. The young girl noticed Emilia looking down at her, and looked frightened at the sight of a stranger, but… “I know I might just be being a busybody, but aren’t your father and mother with you?” she inquired while smiling kindly at her, as if she had forgotten her own situation.
As a result, Emilia had to go through a lot of trouble to get the lost child to let her guard down. It seemed like her parents had disciplined her well, as she was reluctant to talk to strangers. To overcome that obstacle, they needed to take the first step, which was to tell each other their names. After overcoming that, Emilia made small ice flowers and ice sculptures of animals using her magic, which eased the tension, and finally won the little girl’s trust by using her trump card: Puck dancing.
People mistook the ice flowers and ice animal sculptures as some sort of a street performance, so she received some change from people passing by who stopped to look. And after that, she got some skewers from a food stall using the change she’d earned and enjoyed them with the little girl.
“Lia, Lia. Have you forgotten your objective by any chance?”
“No…no, I haven’t forgotten. Look, she is completely relaxed now, just like I planned.”
“You know you don’t look very convincing with sauce around your mouth, right?”
While holding the little girl’s hand, they somehow managed to arrive at the fruit shop run by the girl’s father. The girl leaped at the huge man with a white scar on his face, and the man—the girl’s father—thanked Emilia profusely. The little girl’s mother, who had been separated from her, was in the shop, too, and both parents bowed to Emilia, making her feel nervous.
“You are my daughter’s savior, so I want to repay you. You can ask me anything,” the girl’s father said.
Emilia shook her head, saying she didn’t want anything in return. But it was an unexpected stroke of luck when the father told her that she could ask him anything. After she told him a bit about her situation, she was given the location of the slum and the name of the loot house.
“It’s said that it’s a place where light-fingered people turn the goods they steal into money, but I wouldn’t recommend going there. I mean no ill will, but I think it would be wise to give up…”
Emilia wanted to say that it wasn’t something that she could give up on, but she hesitated since nothing was going to change even if she told the family about her situation. It would make them worry, too.
“I understand. Thank you for the warning. It’s such a shame, but I guess it can’t be helped.”
“Yeah, it’s better that way,” the father replied. “I am sorry that I couldn’t be of help… Hey?”
The father nodded in relief when Emilia pretended to give up. And then the little girl slipped past him and extended her hands towards Emilia. There was a red flower ornament in her hand. Emilia looked at the young girl’s smile, then at the flower ornament, and was at a loss as to what to do.
“Please, take it. It seems like my daughter wants to repay you in her own way,” the mother of the child said, urging Emilia on.
Emilia timidly took the flower ornament, and the little girl gave her a big smile.
“Thank you. I’m reaaally, happy.” Emilia held the flower ornament to her chest and gave the little girl a heartfelt smile that came from the bottom of her heart.
Waving goodbye to the little girl’s family, Emilia headed towards the slum after carefully putting the flower ornament away. The streets became less crowded, and you could visibly see the atmosphere beginning to deteriorate.
“Hmmm, as expected from the slums,” Puck said. “The people living here are both poor in pocket and character.”
“Don’t say rude things, Puck. It’s disrespectful to the people living here,” Emilia scolded, but she couldn’t say that the environment in this district was good, either.
The ugliness of the cityscape that had been left to rot after being built with minimum effort felt cramped, especially for Emilia, who had lived for a long time in the forest.
“The loot house, was it?” Puck asked. “It sounds bold from the name itself, but should we search for it?”
“Yeah, I couldn’t get any details about its location since I didn’t want to make her father worry,” Emilia replied. “But will the people here even listen to me?”
“Giving money in exchange for information is the norm, but we don’t have any.”
“The change I got was exactly equal to the cost of the two skewers. It being the exact amount is reaaally such a coincidence,” said Emilia proudly, but Puck had a hard time coming up with something to say.
At the moment, their search pace for the insignia was going steady. The search for the parents of the lost girl, which could be said to have been a mere detour, had paid off and they were able to get useful information through that.
It would have been nice if they could find the girl who had stolen the insignia at this steady pace, but…
“Who have you been mumbling to for quite some time, young lady?” a man said.
Emilia’s steady investigation was finally interrupted by someone with obvious malicious intent. A middle-aged man with a scruffy beard and dirty clothes had blocked the narrow alley in front of Emilia, who had stopped. On top of that, two more men appeared behind her, sandwiching her.
“It would be better to talk with us than with an imaginary friend. What do you say? We won’t hurt you… Huh? What’s a fine pearl like this doing here? Seems like we’ve found ourselves a good one, boys.”
“A fine pearl…? I don’t think I’m round anywhere… Am I fat?”
“A lot of money has been put into her appearance. We really hit the jackpot. She’s first-class inside and out.”
Not even hearing Emilia’s worry that had come out due to her misunderstanding, the middle-aged man moved towards her with lecherous breaths. Now feeling the presence of the two men behind her slowly inching closer, she put her back against the wall.
“Hee-hee, looks like you’ve given up,” the goon said. “That’s fine. Even if you’re dumb, I’ll adore…”
“There’s not much time left before the evening, and I can’t push Puck too hard. So, it might hurt a bit, but…”
“Huh? The ones doing painful stuff will be us…”
That was the end of the nonsense spewed by the middle-aged man. Emilia had shifted the position of her foes to her side rather than at her front and behind by leaning against the wall. She brought her long, slender leg up, then swung her heel down on the head of the enchanted man.
The sharp impact made the middle-aged man’s eyes roll to the back of his head, then he collapsed to the ground, shocking his two companions. Using that to her advantage, Emilia quickly moved towards one of the men and gave his chest a hard push, flipping him over. The last one extended his arms towards her, but her flowing silver hair that danced in the wind slipped through his fingers.
“Take this!” Emilia shouted, running up the man’s body without stopping, landing a kick on the man’s jaw with the top of her foot as she backflipped off of him, which slammed him into the wall. After landing, Emilia, went towards the man she had pushed.
“Don’t move! If you move then…ummm, what should I do?”
“If you move then I’ll give you a terrible time in place of this kind child. Is that clear?” Puck threatened the man, his fur standing on end, from Emilia’s shoulder, as she hadn’t decided on what to say yet. Seeing how his companions had gotten beaten up and that a spirit showed up, the man lost the will to resist.
“Ask us whatever you want. We’ll tell you whatever you wanna know. He-he-he…”
The man smiled subserviently, and Emilia clapped her hands as if to say that the situation was lucky for her. “So, can you tell me where the loot house is? It would make me happy if you knew something about it.”
By using somewhat violent means to take care of the evildoers, Emilia succeeded in finding the loot house.
Emilia, her hand on her waist, tilted her head at the loot house in front of her. “I wonder if I am reaaally lucky today.”
“If you were lucky, then your insignia wouldn’t have gotten stolen to begin with. But it’s true that you were able to reach here without incident… Maybe you’re lucky in a bad way?”
“What does ‘being lucky in a bad way’ mean, for example?”
“It’s kind of like having to endure pain equal to the amount of success you get… Like you fell down and hurt your feet, but you were able to find a coin because of that.”
In Emilia’s case, it was due to bad luck that her insignia got stolen, but finding the person who’d stolen it so quickly was something only good luck could pull off. So, the only problem left was—
“What I do now will determine whether I can get it back or not.”
“Yeah, that’s what it is. We have a bit of time till sunset, so use me well.”
With Puck’s reassuring words, Emilia nodded and went towards the door of the loot house. It was quite a large building adjacent to the outer wall of the royal capital. According to the villains Emilia had beaten, the owner of the loot house was a huge man who was used to rough situations, and that fast girl might even be there, so they couldn’t afford to not be cautious.
“───” Emilia’s hands reflexively went towards her chest, since it was where she’d placed the red flower ornament the young girl gave her.
Even though nothing had been solved yet, Emilia recalled the various events that had occurred in the royal capital on her way here. She got separated from Ram, who was accompanying her, she played with the cat girl, she got her insignia stolen, helped a lost child, and then arrived here in the loot house. Good and bad things happened all in a single day.
Let’s act in order to end this day with a ‘It was a good day.’ I need to pull myself together since there will be no one on my side in here—
“Lia, the person inside has noticed us,” Puck whispered into her ear while she was standing in front of the door, confused about what to say when she went inside. Before she could reply to that, they felt someone running towards the door. And then the door opened—
“—Don’t open it! You’ll get killed!”
Right after that, she heard the desperate cry of a desperate-looking boy, making her lose her nerve. That’s really rude. Does he think some kind of short-tempered person is at the door?
Seeing Emilia standing in front of the door, the blonde girl getting hit by the evening glow backed away. Emilia followed the girl into the loot house and looked at the faces inside.
“—I would never do something scary like killing someone out of the blue,” Emilia said in a quiet voice with a pout.
What happened after that was not Emilia’s story but the story of another boy. However, as a result, Emilia would get to know that the dense day at the royal capital would end with ‘It was a good day’ as well as ‘It was a tough day’. And one more thing: that the determination she had before she stepped into the loot house that there was no one on her side inside would be proven wrong by the boy with a bright, cheerful smile who said, “—I’d like to know your name.”