Sky of the Wolf: Chapter 2
Editor: Gold Swallow
First published on Ainushi
I know my friend’s not gonna read this, but
Happy Birthday Rids!
Sun (Rio POV)
The day begins early in the countryside.
We lived in a house near the forest, and it took half an hour on foot to get to our nearest neighbors. Living in such a countryside, my mornings too began early.
It gradually became colder in this season. It was a season when I, only having a thin quilt, always fell asleep as I shivered, and would wake up while I loosened my body that seemed to have frozen.
However, my difficulties seemed to have eased this year.
“Mmn〜 natural hot water bottle.”
Placing my chin between his two ears, I hugged the warm body tightly.
His tail swayed as I touched it and it dropped on and petted my stomach.
Thanks to careful maintenance, the ruffled tail was now soft and smooth.
At first, I’d given Neil his own room. But I’d hear him tossing and turning in bed and jumping out of bed at midnight.
When I went to check on him, he was trembling, seemingly frightened of something.
His small body was curled up, and his ears were limp.
Since then, I’d been hugging him to sleep every day. Neil, who’d been uncomfortable at first, too slept soundly at ease once a few days passed.
I’d begun this because I couldn’t leave him alone, but the perks were perhaps all mine. The bed my parents used was quite wide, and it’d be nice if I could savour this feeling of hugging Neil till he grew up.
His ears and tail were the cutest. Neil was quiet, but he was smart and helped out in many ways.
———Meals and life gain excitement when you aren’t alone, and only good things had happened since Neil came.
When I giggled in satisfaction, his ears twitched as if ticklish.
There were many troubles working as a subordinate to a pharmacist:
gathering medicinal herbs, sorting and drying them; roasting and grinding seeds with medicinal properties; finely chopping plant roots, drying out the extracted juices and turning it into powder. Even when it came to drying, everything was fixed; some needed to dry in the sunlight, some in the shade (its effectiveness would decrease if you cut corners). In any case I had to take the pains to do it one by one.
When my father worked here, this was my mother’s job. She was weak, but my delicate mother still did this job while my father ventured deep into the forest to get expensive parts of magical beasts such as their livers.
The three of us, although we couldn’t live luxuriously, at least had enough income to live a comfortable life.
——At least, if I was like my father, I could have given Neil a much better life.
Asking for the impossible couldn’t be helped. I grieved that my height was like that of a woman and my body was slender even by a woman’s standards.
Winter passed, spring went by and even when the season changed to summer, Neil was still here.
It was quite heartwarming to see him doing his best to help— working in the fields, foraging for medicinal herbs, and even drawing water from the well.
Especially in summer, but weeds and medicinal herbs grew rapidly, and I’d be left with no time to do other work after mowing and gathering, and even if I shouted ‘I’m busy as a bee!’ year after year, I didn’t do so even once this year.
———I wasn’t a bee this year because I had a wolf to help out.
Chuckling at my own thoughts, I once again sent him to the fields today.
A suntanned body with a slightly oversized straw hat, after half a year, his body finally seemed of normal stature.
His cute ears and bushy tail were hidden, so I thought Neil looked completely like an ordinary country kid right now.
He could be considered a slightly beautiful boy, but that was it.
———That’s fine. That’s how it should be.
Because I hadn’t yet asked his circumstances (his voice hadn’t returned in the first place), I didn’t know if he was in danger or not.
Beastmen were targets of discrimination in this country, but my father lamented that they were also traded amongst a few people with strange tastes. He was quite worried about his Beastmen friends who visited at times.
Although we were separated from human habitation by half an hour’s distance, rumours would begin to make rounds if we were seen.
Even my father’s friends only showed their ears and tail within the house, and came under the cover of the dark to avoid people’s notice.
The fact that Neil was a Beastmen and that he’d escaped from somewhere, both needed to be hidden.
———I’ll protect Neil.
At least while he stays here at the very least.
Thinking carefully of such things, I straightened my crouching back.
“Neil———! Let’s go home———!”
The sky was still bright, but it was already time for dinner.
Because I’d work as I taught him cooking little by little, preparations took quite some time.
We couldn’t afford luxuries such as meat, but, with the blessings of the forest, the food we made from putting in our time and efforts, I must admit was delicious.
Today, shall I teach him how to use a knife?
I think he was 9 years old when I first met him, but he seemed around 11 right now. I don’t know whether Humans and Beastmen grew at the same rate, but I’m sure the dexterous Neil won’t hurt himself.
Once again, I shouted even louder this time.
Even though usually, when I called him once, his face would suddenly pop out of the grass, and he’d run up to me, grinning.
I called out many times, but there wasn’t a reply (it was obvious since he couldn’t speak), and unable to bear my anxiety, I ran out.
Was he, by any chance, found out?
There weren’t any signs of anyone having come, but if it is a human trafficking syndicate, they could snatch him away without leaving any traces.
Pushing my way through the grass, my hands were grazed. Twigs scratched my cheek.
The weeds in the field had been neatly pulled out; there was no mistaking that he had been here till the time for work ended.
‘Maybe he hasn’t been kidnapped‘, I felt a little relieved.
I had told him not to venture too deep into the forest, but maybe he’d lost his way, or had been injured such that he couldn’t move.
“Neil! ———Please reply!!”
Despite knowing it was impossible, I shouted, putting in all my hopes.
Please, Neil, be safe.
My panting breaths were noisy. It’d be nice if the sounds of my heart stopped too.
Swallowing my spit, I listened carefully.
I held my breath so that not a single sound, even a sigh, didn’t escape my ears.
A faint, distant voice. Neil was calling out.
I ran in the direction of the voice as if pulled by it.
Neil was crouching under a tree.
He didn’t seem to have any injuries at a glance. Overwhelmed by relief, my legs gave way and I hugged him tight as I fell.
“Neil, Neil…! ………Tha-nk , goodness….”
Tears welled up, I frantically held them back so that I at least didn’t cry.
As I buried my face in those small shoulders, he patted my back softly to soothe me.
“………Rio, were you worried?”
Stupid, such a thing, isn’t it obvious!!
When I shouted in reply, my back was once again patted. He’s cheeky for a brat.
‘Sorry, I was chasing rabbits and lost my way.‘
‘I knew Rio would come, so I waited.‘
Hearing his intermittent words I felt relief knowing he wasn’t hurt or anything. Neil was commendable for having followed my words to the tee: if you get lost, don’t move and sit still in one place, and make some noise to let me know of your place.
He was commendable, but because he was important to me, I wished he hadn’t caused me so much worry.
I realised an important thing as my heartbeats calmed down, and raised my head with a jerk.
“————Neil, your voice!!”
Because Rio said to reply, I gave it my all and it came out.
‘I also caught the rabbit.‘
Because his grinning face looked proud, even though I was about to cry just now, happiness welled.
Unable to endure it, laughter spilled. My hand was pulled, and a soft sensation fell on my lips.
“〜〜〜Hey, that’s wrong. It’s on the cheeks for family.”
Gee, just where did he learn it wrong?
While muttering, I saw the rabbit Neil had caught.
The round and plump rabbit had been caught and tangled up in vines. It seemed to have struggled quite a bit.
————Meat, how long has it been since I last had it? It looked delicious.
Today, we’ll roast it fresh, and tomorrow we shall smoke the dried meat. Shall I make its fur into a scarf for Neil?
Patting the one who’d unexpectedly contributed to this good fortune, we walked towards our home, hand in hand.
 Not sure if this note is needed, but he uses an obsolete term for half an hour. 半刻 instead of 半時間.
 Ohkay, I’ve taken way too many liberties with this one and the line before, just to make it sound alright in English. The raws have the saying 猫の手借りたい, which literally translates to “(I) want to borrow a cat’s hand.” The meaning is along the lines of being so busy that you’re even willing to take help from a cat, that’s well known to mess up stuff (cat owners know). The next line then says that “(I) don’t have a cat, but (I) have a wolf’s hand.” Now you know how much I switched up the meaning.(Hurrah for animal puns)
 Again, not a necessary note, but the onomatopoeia here is ‘Pon-Pon’. PON-PON. DO YOU KNOW HOW MOE IT IS!? Like, damn, it’s so cute~
So more floof in the second chappie too…buckle up for some angst in chappie 3 tho〜
So, Chapters will be released every Saturday at 4:30pm UTC for now ( ^ω^ )
Also, check out Moonlight on the Snowfield! It’s an awesome story, and tho it has a weird start, the plot’s pretty great〜