My days started to change slightly after that event. My days remained the same in the mornings and afternoons, but when it was time for Bart and his crew to go hunt, they would take me to the mayor’s mansion instead. Alistair wasn’t always with me; he would come with me only two days out of the week.
“You’ve earned enough to eat, right? Can’t you just slack off a little?” Even if Alistair was told this, it seemed that there was something that he had to save money for no matter what, so he would go out on hunts even though he would sometimes spend time with me.
The children, who heard that the mayor’s mansion was now opened to the public, began to gather there at night. The first kid who came to the mansion was the black haired kid I’d met when I first got to town.
He always wore a hat even though it was summer and his appearance wasn’t very neat. The first time he brought two children with him, and the next just one. He slowly brought more children with him each time he visited, but he would always watch them play as he leant against the wall. He’s a mysterious boy.
Nevertheless, he would be a little happy when Alistair came to the mansion instead of going on hunts and the three of them, including the mayor’s son Ray, would build blocks together. Only at those times would Alistair and the black haired boy smile like kids their age.
“They can’t kidnap Lei when there are a lot of children around.”
“Hah, are you planning to make all the kids in town her shield?”
“Nope, I’m trying to protect all the children in town at the same time.”
The mayor and Bart had such a disturbing conversation.
Speaking of which, I was dragged along by the mayor’s daughter, Amy, and introduced to the other girls in town. The girls were pretty big because there weren’t many who were as young as me and their parents didn’t let them out of their sights.
“Lei’s rug dragon is pink. Why is mine green!?”
They would argue over trivial things like that, but fights never broke out. The girls would take out their rug dragons, change the clothes on their rug dragons, have tea and walk around the garden sometimes. My days were filled with fun.
Still, everyone went back before nightfall. Work would also finish by then, and it was normal for people to enter their homes before Hollows came out at night.
But right now I was being taken care of by hunters. Once everyone goes home, I’m by myself. Of course, the mayor would feed me, Amy and Ray would try to stay with me for as long as they could, and if I so wished, I could take baths there; they even told me that it would be alright for me to stay the night.
But I didn’t want to depend on them. I actually wanted to go to work with Bart and Alistair. My real home is in Kingdom, but my family in Lentforce is Bart and his crew.
I guess two weeks had passed since I’ve started living like this. It was night time, and most of the town children had gone home; the only ones left were: Ray, Amy, me and the black haired boy.
“Noah, you’re not going home?” Ray asked questioningly since Noah was still here even though he always went home at this time.
“Yeah. There’s something I want to try today.”
“What? This is rare.”
Ray and Amy were like rich children, and there were some things that they didn’t understand, but they were really helpful because they were the mayor’s children. Both Alistair and the black haired boy named Noah weren’t good with the helpful side of Ray.
So I’ve never seen them get along because they want to. But what does he want to do?
“I want to see a Hollow.”
“That’s-!” Ray stepped back a little because he was surprised.
“I have no magic, so I can’t be a hunter. I’m not an apprentice, so they won’t take me out of town just because I’m interested in seeing Hollows.”
“That’s because it’s dangerous!”
“Yeah. I know. That’s why I don’t have a dad.”
Apparently, his situation is complicated.
“This is just inside the barrier. They don’t usually come here, but a lot of kids have been coming here lately, right? I thought this place would be safe and I could probably see a Hollow here.”
“Well, I’ve certainly seen Hollows before when I went close to the grounds. But the Kingdom barrier isn’t stable. You don’t have magic Noah, so you might step out of the barrier without realising that it’s unstable.”
“Still, no one will take me out of the barrier. Alistair is already an apprentice hunter and is able to step outside even though we’re the same age!”
Noah, who was usually aloof, had exposed all his feelings bare. Ray looked at him painfully and finally looked as if he’d made up his mind.
“I’ll look for someone to go with you. So don’t go off on your own.”
Ray went to the playroom to call someone.
“You’re so lucky. You get taken out on hunts even though you’re so small,” these were the first words Noah said to me.
“It’s not like Lei goes because she wants to. She has to go because she has no parents,” Amy answered for me.
“They don’t take me along with them even if I have no parents,” nothing can be done even if he says that.
“Noah, they said it would be fine if you’re only watching. The two of them will go with you.”
“Amy, Lei, you two stay here,” Ray said as he and Noah followed two adults to the garden.
“Boys are hopeless.” Amy shrugged.
“There’s nothing good about seeing Hollows. They’re just beings that take on the shapes of humans and living things while sway towards the barriers.”
“Eimyy. Hab chu sheen?”
“Yeah. I was shown those things when I was smaller.”
We talked as we waited, but they didn’t return so Amy, and I got restless.
“Shall we go check it out a little? We can just look for Ray and Noah without going near the edge of the barrier.”
Amy and I held hands as we quietly walked towards the garden. Children usually played in this garden and it was maintained well. However, there was a large prairie before the mansion and with the trees around it was extremely dark at night.
On the right side of the prairie was Wellington Mountains. Near that, just on the edge of the barrier were Ray, Noah and the two men.
*WHIRR* I sensed the presence of the Hollows, which I couldn’t sense when I was inside the house, and saw that they were swaying towards here from the mountains. The adults pointed at the Hollows as they spoke to Ray and Noah, who had both stepped backwards instinctively. They’re probably talking about what Hollows are and how to be careful of them.
The Hollows started gathering in front of the barrier where the four were standing, probably because they sensed humans around. But some of them separated from the group and started loitering around.
“They’re not interesting after all. The only thing that’s eerie about them is that they sway around, right?”
“Let’s go back?”
It happened then.
Someone suddenly grabbed me from behind and covered my mouth with their hands. I glimpsed at Amy and saw that she, too, was being held by an adult and they had their hands over her mouth. We couldn’t talk as we were quietly being carried away. Notice us! But the four people who were enticed by the Hollows didn’t turn around to look at us.