Chapter 149 Forced To Be Mature
Raised in Dungeon Volume 4
My name is Susan Lambert, ten-year-old girl. I was a poor peasant who worked at a food tavern on the main street of Barkaley region.
My job was to take the dishes, put down the drinks, and clean the tables and floors.
It wasn't a famous tavern, nor did it have amazingly delicious food. But this tavern managed to draw a steady stream of customers due to its modest price.
Since the prince did the dungeon raid a few months ago, Barkaley region has become more crowded, and the tavern had also become more bussier.
Most of our visitors were dungeon explorers, often showing grim and gloomy faces when they entered this tavern. I wonder what they had gone through in the dungeon?
The owner of this restaurant, whom I usually call Master Rodion, is a fussy, sullen, cynical, and grumpy old-man. But whenever a customer entered the tavern with a gloomy face, the owner always provide exceptional service by offering the customer his original soup for free. It was truly remarkable to witness the immediate transformation in their demeanor as they indulged in the savory broth.
I had the opportunity to taste the soup myself. The taste was rather ordinary, but its warmth calmed my body. Perhaps the tavern's master possesses a god's blessing that soothes those in need? I couldn't say for certain, but I can attest that the tavern's fanbase has been created solely because of the soup. People come to this tavern not for the food or service but for the comforting warmth that permeates the moment they step inside.
Then this time...
In the middle of a rainy day, this tavern was visited by a rather unique person.
A boy with black hair and a long black scarf, he seemed to be a little older than me and younger than my brother. As I took a closer look, his eyes were a pretty red color but dark and plunging.
"Ah… So kids also make that gloomy faces too," and that was worse than the dungeon explorer who came to the restaurant.
"Susan! Why are you daydreaming?! Bring me a towel!" that boy entered with master who was also wet from the rain.
"Wait a minute!"
I wonder what that kid was going through that could make him put on such a glum face? Is he also a dungeon explorer? But big brother said a kid can't be dungeon explorer yet.
He put on the towel I gave him and gently wiped his body and face.
"I think you should just take off your bandana-"
When I tried to take off his bandana, he hit my hand instead.
It hurt so much... I wanted to cry.
"It's okay," he said. When I heard his voice, I held back my tears because he seemed to be in more pain than me.
His hair was black; I'd never seen anyone with black hair before. Are there many of them outside the city? I can't help but be mesmerized by his looks. Black hair, red eyes, and pale skin. Everything he had felt foreign and unique.
"What do you want?" he asked, aware of my gaze.
"Nothing! I'm sorry."
Before I knew it, Master Rodion had returned to the kitchen. And as I had guessed, he was making soup. Master's soup was a potato and mushroom leek soup, I believe only this tavern selling this soup. The reason the master wanted to give it away for free was because it was simple to make, and the ingredients were cheap.
"What is this?" asked that boy as I placed the bowl before him.
"It's the tavern's original soup. Master Rodion wanted to give it to you for free, please eat it."
As usual, whenever I gave this food to people, I would immediately go away and watch them from a distance.
That boy's gaze lingered on the soup for quite a while, probably he did it in 5 minutes. I don't know what he was thinking, but his face looked increasingly sadder.
And finally with a heavy heart, he picked up his spoon. I watched him closely, observing how his hands shook as he ate and how his breathing became shallow and uneven.
And then I saw it…
he was crying…
the tears streaming down his face, his body racked with sobs that no one could hear. He strated to eat the soup with devour, and his tears were still flowing non-stop as he ate it. Rather than the other people who came, he was overdoing it.
Those dungeon explorers... then this boy... what has he gone through? What kind of pain could drive him to such despair?
After eating, he just stayed there until the store was about to close. Until finally master engaged him in conversation. Because after closing I still had dishwashing duties, I couldn't hear him very well, but after that the master told me everything.
His name was Allen; he was a so-called other-worlder; master said he might have just gotten stuck in this world and had no way to go home. So that kid, Allen, will live and work at this tavern for a while.
"So that's it... it must be pain for him to be separated from the family," I said.
Then master looked at me with his scary eyes and said "What about you? You live alone too. Why don't you stay at the tavern? I don't like your habit of being late either."
Master, he's scary and often scolds me; I hate him! But I can't quit this job. Even though I'm tired, I have to keep doing it because I live alone. I need money to continue living.
"I don't want to. If I stay here, what if brother Arthur suddenly comes home and finds I'm not there?!"
"Arthur is probably dead! Just give up; you have to think about your own safety!"
"No! There's no way brother is dead! He must be alive somewhere! I heard it from the people who went to the dungeon!"
After that, I went straight outside. Leaving Master behind.
'She is only ten years old, but circumstances have forced her to be mature,' thought Rodion.
That's right... Initially, I didn't live alone. After my parents died, I lived with my older brother; his name was Arthur Lambert. His earnest desire was to enrol me in the academy, but the paltry earnings from his stint at the bar thwarted his aspirations, so that dream slowly faded away.
Then suddenly, in the midst of uncertainty and struggle, a glimmer of hope shone upon us.
One day, the prince visits this region and declares he will doing a dungeon raid. The cherry on top was that each participant in the raid would receive ten sacks of wheat as a reward. The very thought of it was exhilarating. With ten sacks of wheat, we could save money and mitigate our expenses until winter. This would allow my brother to pursue his long-standing ambition of take me to the academy. That way, big brother can focus on earning money for my school.
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Honestly, I wasn't keen on going to the academy; my heart yearned to remain with my brother forever. I can't let him bear the burden of sustaining us alone. But he said,
"You have talent and amazing god's blessing; I'm sure you'll be successful someday if you go to the academy."
It seems like people who get God's blessing at the age of 10 are considered talented, and so am I. And somehow, the dream my brother made became my dream too.
That's when I realized that I had to earn money so that the wheat we saved wouldn't go to waste.
I worked at this tavern and earned a decent salary. I keep the money because I'll use it to reach my dream.
Big Brother didn't come back after the dungeon raid.
No, he didn't die. People saw him; our neighbors saw him alive.
Prince Leofric took him to the capital.
I don't know what he did, but I hope he returns soon.
Living alone is cold and lonely.
I want you to come back soon and hug me again like you used to...
"It's so cold..." I muttered on the way home.
The tavern is located near the main road of the Barkaley region, while my house is in a remote area far from the main road. I had to go through a narrow alley to get home. No guards were patrolling around because it was far from the main road. So every time I came home, I always ran fast. I often felt like someone was following me, but I seemed to run faster than the average person, so I was always safe. Once I got home, I felt safe because my neighbors were a good family. No one dared to touch my house while I was away because of them.
After running and running, I arrived home.
And every time I arrived, I always stayed silent in front of the wooden door. I waited and hoped...
When I opened this door...
I hoped Brother Arthur was already inside, asleep, waiting for me to come home.
But of course, when I opened the lock, I immediately realized.
"Ah, he's not there."
Our house was only two plots. And the two of us slept together in front of the door. A straw mattress was covered with a cloth that could be seen once the door opened.
I closed the door, walked slowly to the mattress, and lay on it.
"Brother... when are you coming home?" I said, crying through the tightness in my heart.