The next morning, when we had finished our preparations and moved out of the inn, we saw something ridiculous happening at the entrance to the dungeon.
「Please take me along!!」
「Please hire me!!」
「With only one silver coin, I’ll accompany you anywhere!!」
There were dirty children looking like they were desperately trying to get hired by adventurers entering the dungeon. All of the children were carrying a big bag on their backs, which was bigger than their body, and other than that, everything else about them looked rugged.
But the adventurers seem to have already hired someone from a faction, so they shoo away the other children, by kicking and beating them to drive them away, even laughing about doing that as they entered the dungeon. It is the first time I’ve seen something so cruel being done so easily.
「Those… those are the 『Stray Baggers』, right? Those are just children… 」
「I didn’t expect it to be like this…」
There were around a dozen children of around 5-10 years old. There are also some smaller ones sitting on the walls. Counting them all……there should be around 50 of them.
「Nn? Ah, did you bring it?」
One girl, who was kicked, was currently crying. I approached her and offered to heal her, but she refused.
「U, uhm……please don’t!! I don’t have the money to pay!!」
「I don’t need it. That’s why don’t go wild」
「It’s fine, you know」
Cielo gently held her hands. The girl is still frightened, but we quickly healed her injury and released her.「Hora, go now」 and after bowing several times, she ran towards her friends.
Then, the tallest boy among them approached us.
「Thank you for healing Run. You guys are also adventurer’s right? I’m Ashia. I’m the organizer of the orphans」
「Is that so, I Aidle. Also, can you tell me why are you all working as Baggers? It seems everyone is living a harsh life」
「……Because we don’t want to rely on just sympathy」
Ashia is looking down depressed as while explaining. It seems that Ashia was the child of a prostitute. Such children are usually raised until the prostitute wants to meet adventurers again or they have grown to a certain age, then they are thrown out, usually in the alleys.
These children are too small and can’t do anything on their own, not to mention fighting demons. The most they could do is to become 『Stray Baggers』 and enter the dungeon with the adventurers. That’s just how rotten this city has become.
「If the bags we carry fall apart, then so does the income that would provide us with our daily food. Some children may end up dying if they can’t get a job for a few days. However, this is the only thing we can currently do. The injured, weakened and younger ones still need to be fed and taken care of……」
「What about orphanages?」
「There are none in a city like this. Orphanages are seen only as gold mines……」
I see, this place is indeed not considered a country, so there’s no protection for the people. There’s no point for a merchant to lend his land in order to create an orphanage. They only care if they find it profitable to stay in this business, and they don’t really care about kids.
「Then, why did Ashia decided to be everyone’s organizer?」
「……there used to be a leader other than me, but that person, after entering the dungeon……died. That’s why I took over even, though I know that I’m not as good as that person……」
As he said so, tears started falling down from his eyes, though after noticing it he immediately wiped it off. Hmmm, this again……it’s quite heavy.
「What they are saying is true Ojou-chan」
It was the Ojii-san from yesterday that spoke to me.
「Eh? Jess-san, the hut?」
「I asked another person to watch over it. Anyway, I was on good terms with that person. Now then, you kids should listen to me, you can’t just let anyone hire you, you know? Being an adventurer is a job about profits. Those that are naïve enough to be easily hired are usually left to die in the dungeon. It won’t even leave a bad aftertaste to them.」
What he said was certainly on point, and as I have expected he was a good person. But unfortunately for him, I’m an idiot and I do things my way.
「Arena, La Veil, Cielo, Mika! Do you know what I’m about to do now?」
「Ah…it couldn’t be helped, I got it……」
Cielo didn’t get it. That couldn’t be helped, I’ll just have to show her the power of a fairy again.
「Ashia, are all the orphans present here right now?」
「Eh, yes. I can’t leave them on their own after all」
「Alright, Ashia, gather everyone here. Now, DASH! 」
「Eh, ah, yes!!」
Ashia, who was surprised, immediately went to gather everyone in one place. After a few minutes, all of them were gathered. Jess-san looked worried about what I was planning.
「Oi, what are you trying to do?」
「Well, I just came up with a great plan.」
I don’t do anything that I find to be pointless, yet I’ve always been doing reckless things. Now then, it seems like Ashia finally came back along with a lot of children. There’s 1, 2, 3, 4……53 people in total. Some are still toddlers, but older brothers and sisters are carrying them wrapped in cloth.
「Well then, I’ll be making an announcement. Starting today, all of you will be hired by me, and that includes the young ones. I’m going to help get all of you out of this situation, so make sure you’re prepared.」
「I will also be paying 1 gold coin per person, so everyone should go in the dungeon with us. I will definitely adhere to what I say. I will also make sure that everyone doesn’t suffer anything painful or is put in any kind of danger」
The children were troubled trying to comprehend what I’ve just said, but they also didn’t rush to make a decision. Everyone who knew Aidle couldn’t help but smile. La Veil and Arena are reacting as usual.
Jess, who had a worried atmosphere, approached me.
「You, do you know what you are talking about?」
「Of course, I said it after all because I can do it」
「No, you don’t get it. Going inside the dungeon with a big group of people, a group of 50 is insane. Not to mention, paying 1 gold per person? What’s the point of paying them large amounts of money? Or is your aim something else?」
The first half of what he said was his worries about the children, on the other hand the second half was him being suspicious about our actions. Hmmm, maybe he’s acting as a guardian for them?
「First of all, the 1 gold coin was because we probably won’t be able to return in just a day. It’s something like an extension fee. It’s just a proper compensation for the work I will be giving them」
I then took out a bag of gold coins from my pocket and showed him what was inside. The moment he saw the inside, Jess’s eyes changed.
「As for why I’m taking everyone along, that’s a little secret. I also want to teach them. You shouldn’t worry because I won’t be hurting them if they make mistakes. Finally, it’s because we have the power to do that. La Veil」
I and La Veil showed our adventurer’s cards to him. The moment Jess saw our ranks, he looked back and forth from our cards to our faces. I also raised my hood to show him my face.
「This is who we are. It will be fine. Or, do you have any more problems about it?」
「……Certainly, I can understand why you didn’t want to go there」
What he said was probably because of the issue with the guild, but I don’t really care about them, after all they’ve been neglecting the children after all.
「Anyway, we probably won’t be selling anything we collect after entering when we go out」
Giving up on the argument, Jess couldn’t help but hang his head in defeat. Now then, what about the kids? Ashia seems reluctant but he looks at me probably understanding the situation.
「Aidle-san. Why are you doing this?」
I’m not sure why. I just want to do it because I feel like doing it. Well, let’s just make an appropriate excuse. There’s also no way Arena would just ignore this situation.
「Well, it’s because my bestfriend wants to help Run-chan…… probably? Then I’ve thought of a good idea. That is to help everyone that I could help by hiring all of them to do all kinds of things. Besides, some of you guys know how to detect and disarm traps right? That’s why if we all go together, it will be safer and everyone would be able to learn. We are all powerful individuals, so we have the power to protect you all, and we have the financial power to hire everyone. That’s the reason」
「Ah, um, what about Aidle-san, what’s the merit for you」
「Can’t I be allowed to help children without that?」
I mean, it’s fine to take care of some kids, right? Even though everyone was at the age that they should be playing, they were instead driven to live harsly, a life or death situation. It’s normally impossible to do it, you know?
「Well, if you become stronger you would have more advantages, children must become adults who can lead the future of someone else. I don’t want you guys to grow the same way as the parents who abandoned you. And, what do we do? Create a one way ticket to a new future.」
「I, I’ll go」
The child who was helped by Arena raised her hand. Her face may look kind of grim, but you could see determination in her eyes. Those are good eyes.
「You see, I can feel it, these people are not bad people. If people like them want to help me, the I will do my best!!」
The determination of that one girl begins to move other children along. One by one, they raised their hands calling out 「Me too」, 「Me, me」.
The last one left. Their Leader, Ashia. As the person who leads everyone, he’s still conflicted about putting everyone at risk.
「……are you really sure you’re OK about this? You’re not just trying to fool us, right?」
「I don’t really like doing that kind of stuff……besides, there’s still other things that you would need. Arena」
I and Arena took out a lot of food and presented it in front of them. Arena then pulled Ashia close while showing her most angelic smile.
「It’s OK…It’s OK……」
Arena, since becoming an adventurer has always donated her money mostly to facilities caring for children. It’s not only for the underprivileged children, but because she loves children in general and wants to see them smile.
When I heard about it, I almost donated all of our money to various facilities, but I was stopped before I was able to do it.
Ashia, whose head was patted by her for a while, hugged Arena and started to cry. Soon after other children were also patted and hugged, by La Veil, Cielo, and Mika. I also patted the heads of some children.
After that I moved my sight to Jess and asked for a final confirmation. I gave him a bag which is an equivalent entrance fee for the number of people entering.
「This is fine, right?」
「………………Fine, do whatever you want」
Jess grasped the bag, without raising his face, and went back to the hut. Sorry about this……is what I’ve heard him saying as he left. One other person tried to complain but he punched him in the face to shut him up.
Now then, it should be time for us to go inside.
「Every one, let’s do our best today」
「Now then, let’s start the adventure!!」
In this way, our first dungeon exploration started.
Ｑ．Please state what you like about children.
Aidle: 「Their gesture of grabbing on to your clothes.」
Mika: 「The teary eyes as they look up to you is Justice」
Arena: 「Their Smile～♪」
Cielo: 「Their pure eyes, I think? 」
La Veil: 「Everything」