The start of Volume 3! As always please point out any mistakes and i’ll fix them.
Prologue: New Routine
I wake up slowly.
The sun is starting to rise, the regular elves are still sleeping. But I have to wake up early and work.
As I wake up, Lucie who is sleeping in the same futon starts to stir.
Winter has started for real. Powdered snow started to fall last night. The heat retention capabilities of this house are bad, so we are sleeping together. Cuddled and wrapped around a blanked. It traps the heat of two people, so it’s warm.
Actually I just said that as a pretense to sleep together with her. We can have a lot fun without actually crossing the line.
「Cyril, good morning. You’re already going out?」
「I’m sorry for waking you. I have to go and lecture the firefoxes on the raising of goats and cultivation of turnips. I think today will be the last day 」
Since then, almost every day, I have gone to the firefoxes place and taught them how care for the goats and turnips while making a performance of it.
They already learnt how to do their jobs. The mental side also seem to have stabilized. I thinks is already alright to leave them alone now.
「Is that so? That’s good」
「Cyril, recently you’ve been pushing yourself too hard. Going out early in the morning, after coming back you go directly to do your doctor’s work, after that you do the chief’s job, and when that’s over you go to the workshop and work some more, I’m worried you’re going to collapse soon 」
「Thanks for worrying. But, it’s alright. I’m not doing more than I can handle」
「Is there nothing I can do to help? Even if I can’t teach Kuu-chan and the others, if there’s something I can help with I’ll do it」
「I’ll accept these feelings. But this is the firefoxes job. Elves can’t help. Aside from teaching how, I’m also not doing anything」
「Okay, do your best」
「Right, I will. I love you Lucie」
「I love you too」
I lift her hair a little and after kissing her on the forehead I get out of the futon.
I say by reflex.
I miss Lucie and the futon. I stifle the feelings of wanting to go back to bed, and adjust my clothes and get out of the house.
After leaving Elucie, I soon arrived at the warehouse the firefoxes are borrowing.
I want to prepare another kind of housing for them soon.
No matter how much they get along, keeping over fifty people under the same roof for so long is sad. They all need privacy.
But for that I have to know how much houses to build, and where to build them.
If I build the house one by one inside Elucie, we’ll receive antiphaty from the elves. I’ll have to consult Loreu and Kuu and decide later.
Thinkin these things, I knock at the door of the warehouse.
「Cyril-niisama, good morning」
「Good morning. Cyril-niisama」
Doing so, the door opens vigorously and three little firefoxes hug me.
The first one, has blond wavy hair at shoulder length. A lively eleven year old yellow fox girl called Kemin.
The second one, with straight semi long silver hair, a cool and expressionless twelve year old silver fox girl called Yukino.
The third one, with long black hair tied up behind her, a gentle ten year old black fox girl Kurone.
These girls cling to my left arm, right arm, and torso, and sniff around for smells while wagging their tails.
Ever since I declared my engagement with Kuu, they started to get strangely clingy. They had this feelings of admiration before but always kept a step away because I’m an elf.
But, with getting engaged with Kuu, the person they admired became the husband of their beloved Kuu-neesama, so by extension I became their niisama, so now they fawn on me honestly.
From the beginning, little girls long for a reliable father figure. There’s only me for a figure like that so they ended up fawning on me.
The three of them are different types, but even among the firefoxes who are filled with beauties the three are cute enough to stand out. Amongst all the elves and firefoxes, aside from Kuu and Lucie, there are none more beautiful than them. From what Kuu told me, even among the firefoxes the three are popular and favoured, their strength is also high so they have high expectations of them. It seems they really wanted to send the three with the main group.
But, Kemin wants to be together with Kuu-neesama! And she struggled violently so much that surprised everyone. Yukino, with an unusually strong sixth sense, felt a bad omen from the main group and rejected it. Kurone, to let her mother go with the safer main group, prefered to say with Kemin and Yukino whom she got along with and came here.
Kuu also likes them a lot,
「They are all very good girls, I think of them like my own sisters」
I also don’t feel bad being hugged by them. It’s good that they’re young. When they’re young like this they aren’t conscious yet of being women so can fawn like this without feelign bad for Kuu and Lucie.
I pat their head strongly, Lucie likes to be patted gently but these girls seem to prefer a little more rough.
「Good morning. Everyone is so lively today as well」
「It’s because Cyril-niisama came today」
「Yukino is also happy you came」
「Cyril-niisama should live here too. Be alway together with Kuro」
With the gentle Kurone’s word, even the grow up firefoxes around looked over with expectation.
「I’m sorry. But I’m the chief of Elucie, and I already have a important person」
「……. Too bad」
The three get despondent.
「Everyone, don’t trouble Cyril-kun too much. Come, let’s get ready to leave」
After Kuu said that, the three girls let go of me.
「Well then, let’s go everyone. This time, it will be different, i’ll not give too many directions. I’ll be checking if you guys can do what you learned so far, so pay more attention than usual」
「Cyril-kun, we understand. Everyone is okay with this right?」
The firefoxes all nod to Kuu’s question.
But, Kemin, Yukino, and Kurone are making long faces.
「What’s wrong you three?」
「Eh, hm, Yukino has, something she wants to say」
The yellow Kemin is not lively as usual, so the silver Yukino says.
「Kemin, that’s not fair. …… Cyril-niisama, if Yukino and the others become able to take care of the goats and turnips without help, will you not come anymore?」
「Yukino-chan, is that true? Kuro, still can’t do it alone. Cyril-niisama you have to stay」
The three little firefoxes, seem to be afraid that I would leave.
「The three of you, Cyril is busy. Don’t trouble him too much. Even him coming now is already taking too much of his time 」
「But, Kuro, don’t wanna」
「Yukino also doesn’t. Kuu-neesama also, will be sad if she can’t see Cyril-niisama」
Kuu rebuker them, but their faces didn’t return to normal. Seeing that I wanted to do something for them. So I’ll have to do something a little troublesome.
「There’s no need to worry. It’s true that I won’t come because of the turnips and goats. But, to I’ll come to play with my cute little sisters every day」
The three hugged me again. What’s this, this warm feeling filling me up, I’m going to want to spoil them even more.
Speaking of which, when I was making the gift for Lucie, a few prototypes were left. I’ll them that as gifts. Compared to the one I gave Lucie the quality is a little lacking, but they should be happy. I’m certain they’ll show me cute smiles.
I’m happy. Is this how older brothers fell?
「Cyril-kun, can I ask you something?」
「Sure, go ahead」
The three girl colorful hairs and tails. While enjoying the girls particular smells I answer.
「Could it be that, Cyril, you like children?」
「Of course, I like children. I want to have some as soon as possible. If they are Lucie’s or Kuu’ children they’ll surely be very cute」
「Hm, if you give an answer like that is probably fine…… Let’s go, for real this time」
Then, I left for the goat’s pen with the firefoxes in tow.
After passing through the barbed wire, we walk a little and reach the goat’s pen.
In the firefoxes’ hands, there are wooden buckets.
After opening the door to the goat’s pen, the strong smell of goats comes out.
「Okay, everyone slip up to do your jobs」
Kuu takes command, and they go to each goat and squeezes the teats with her hands and collects the milk in the wooden buckets.
From each goat, they can milk one or two liters.
There are ninety females, everyday, we can get about 150 liters of milk.
Because they became used to doing this everyday, in less than a hour, they seem to have finished milking all of them.
「Come now, let’s get the goats out.」
Then, we throw the doors open, and the goats are chased out. The goats go into the woods in search of food and disappear.
Within the barbed wire area, they should move and feed to their heart’s content.
During that, the firefoxes divided in two groups. The first group is the clean up crew. They gather the food leftovers and excrement, and carry everything in one go to the cesspool. Then they use water to clean the floor. Lastly they refill the water tanks and put the dried up maple leaves on the feed bins.
The second group, is responsible for processing the milk.
I go along with the second group.
「Ah, Cyril-niisama thanks for coming. Yukino is doing her best」
They carry the milk in the wooden buckets and throw it all in a big container. Yukino has been heating it up for a while.
Using a handmade thermometer I made myself, the temperature is kept at 65ºC. In the thermometer there’s colored water which rises as the temperature increases, very simple.
「Yukino, you have to hang on for a long time, but do your best」
If you drink it before it’s been sterilized, it will hurt your stomach. If we could rise it to 100ºC, it would be over in a minute, but it could cause protein denaturation changing the taste of the milk. To prevent that we have to keep it at 65ºC for about thirty minutes while slowly stirring it.
「Heave ho, heave ho」
You can see sweat forming in Yukino’s face.
She’s been using magic continuously and you need to concentrate to keep the temperature stable. It’s a harder job than it looks.
If the firefoxes weren’t here, I would sacrifice taste and nutritional value by giving up on pasteurization and quickly using high temperature flames to sterilize the milk. To maintain the temperature constant using firewood is too troublesome so I wouldn’t do it.
However, so that everyone could have even a little better tasting milk. She’s giving her all without holding back.
And she followed through till the end.
「It’s done. Cyril-niisama, did you see it? Until the very end I kept the thermometer on the red」
「Good work. You worked really hard」
「Yukino, did good?」
「Yes, you did, yes you did」
I pat her head. Among the three girls I like this one the best. I like quiet kids, I like the color silver, and I like how she looks.
In the firefoxes, there is a variation of the color of the tail and hair. And certain colors seem to have stronger magic powers. The color hierarchy goes like this, Gold Yellow≧Silver>Black・Yellow・White>Red・Grey. And yellow is the most common, gold yellow there’s only Kuu and silver there’s only Yukino.
「Yukino, won’t you become our daugher?」
「What about Kemin and Kurone?」
「Hmm, three is a little difficult」
「Just Yukino then no. ……. It’s really a shame, but I’m sorry」
「It’s a joke. Don’t think about it too hard」
I’m actually half-serious. I considered the idea of the elves adopting young children as a measure for reconciliation. I meant it as an example of that.
Even without that reason, it’s true that adopting Yukino would make it comfortable. Having just one firefox in the house would make it cool in summer and warm in winter. There’s also no need to use firewood every time you cook something. If I felt like it, I could build a freezer and by lowering the heat every day something similiar to a refrigerator could also be made.
Above all, she’s cute and she hugs me, and being together with her is healing. And young like her, Lucie would not get jealous. Probably not. No, for some reason I’m getting worried. …… Let’s check with her. If I do this wrong I could be stepping on a landmine.
「Cyril-niisama, please check if its alright, if it is we’ll start to bottle」
「Yes, it’s well done. Even I can’t do it this well. Yukino is incredible」
「Yes, Yukino, incredible 」
Then we entered the phase of putting the processed milk in glass bottles.
「How many today?」
「Today, you guys will need two hundred and twenty」
「Almost everyone drank it then, good」
Right now, they bottle the milk everyday, and then distribute amongst everyone. The rule is that at the evening the elves leave the empty bottles in front of their houses and the firefoxes collect them. If they don’t leave the empty bottle, they don’t receive milk the next day. So only when they want milk the next day, the elves leave the empty bottles.
I made the bottles using Kuiro and there’s not many of them so they’re quite precious. If they don’t drink the milks is a waste to give more so we decided on this.
「The sterilization is over, praise Kuro too」
The black haired Kurone, says from a little farther away. Then runs over carrying the empty bottles. As if looking at a heartwarming scene, the adult firefoxes follow behind her carrying the rest of the bottles.
After washing the bottles, they’re go through a cycle of boiling water, Kurone is responsible for this job. Washing the bottles in mid winter, it’s a simple job but still hard.
「Kurone also did good. Everyone, just a little more」
「Do our best」
Then the bottling starts. The warm milk that Yukino heated up is cooled with magic, then it’s scooped out with a ladle and put in each bottle. Each bottle holds about 500ml.
There will probably be some leftover today.
「Today’s the firefoxes turn to get the cheese」
「You’re going to put cheese on the barley porridge?」
「Yukino heard it. Kemin working at the kitchen and said there would be cheese. 」
「Looking forward to it!」
The firefoxes start to get excited while bottling the milk.
The milk that is left over is turned into cheese. But we can only make a little. So the cheese is distributed in a four day rotation basis. The cheese made from the first three days goes to the elves, and the cheese from the fourth day to the firefoxes.
The little things each race started to do on their own. Because of this rule, the uncooperative elves, even though they normally don’t drink they started to force themselves to drink only on the day before the firefoxes turn, just to leave the empty bottles. I’ll have to do something about that. I heard that some even throw away the contents entirely.
「Yukino-chan, make it tasty. Kuro likes cheese」
「Leave it to me, Kuro. Yukino likes it too so i’ll do my best」
After the bottling is done, Yukino and Kurone start to make cheese.
The milk remaining after the bottling, is heated up to 65ºC again.
「I’ll add the vinegar」
「Bring it on」
Then, after warming it up enough, Kurone throws in a small dose of vinegar. After a while a lump of mass white as snow floats up. That’s what will turn into cheese.
Kurone stirs the pot slowly. After a while the separation is complete and the quantity of the white lump increases.
Then it’s filtered through a piece of cloth, after the liquid drains a solid body of cheese remains. The components of the milk are separated so the liquid gets transparent yellow.
This liquid is also full of nutrients and sour because of the vinegar so it’s easy to drink. The goat’s peculiar smell comes from the fat so the smell is also gone.
For the people who won’t drink the milk no matter what, I plan to distribute this liquid.
This time, we made what’s called cottage cheese, a type of cured cheese. There’s a good amount of protein and calcium, and a soft fluffy texture with a gentle taste, a cheese that’s so easy to eat it you can become addicted to it.
Then they wrap the cheese very cautiously. I’m certain lunch will be very lively.
「Everyone, good job. So, go and deliver. There’s no need me to accompany you right?」
「We want you to come with but we’ll endure it」
Then, Yukino, Kurone and the other put the bottles in a cart and walk towards the village. It’s hard work for girls, but i’m sure they can do it.
「They really don’t need me anymore」
They are all good girls and very enthusiastic, they also learn the jobs fast. Even without my help today they did everything well.
Next, let’s take a look at the turnips.
「Everyone please step away from the greenhouse. I’m coming in」
In the turnip field, Kuu starts to gather fire mana and use magic.
She’s melting the snow that piled up on top of the greenhouse. If she didn’t, the sun wouldn’t reach the turnips.
The turnips are being raised at the greenhouse.
Even you say you can plant them during winter, it’s a little late to be planting it so it needs mild temperatures and sunlight.
「Ah, Cyril-kun, you came」
Kuu sees me, and calls out.
「That’s right. On the goat’s side is already fine」
「This side is also going well. Here, take a look」
At the place Kuu points at, the firefoxes are removing weeds from around where the turnips are starting to sprout. Inside the greenhouse turnips are growing, but the weeds that normally don’t grow in winter are growing too.
「Even so, Kemin is really working hard isn’t she?」
Like Kuu said, Kemin is in the middle of the greenhouse using fire magic.
It’s a magic I created especially for the greenhouse, a large ball of fire. I also left a thermometer here so three times a day, they check it and use the ball of fire to adjust the temperature. Unlike my own magic theirs is a little more crude so It doesn’t even last half a day.
But, thanks to them, I don’t have to call out Kuiro so I’m grateful.
Using this magic and the greenhouse, I think we could even grow potatoes if we tried.
But the magic is difficult, so the only firefoxes who can use it are Kuu, Kemin and Yukino only.
「Cyril-niisama, you came!?」
After creating three balls of fire, Kemin comes over completely exhausted.
「Have to take a look here too」
「Yukino and Kurone are doing alright? Yukino keeps her own pace and Kurone is always in daze」
「Both of them are doing their jobs really well」
「Really? That’s good」
Kemin looks relieved and pats her own chest. She’s the leader of the three, so she probably worried.
「Then, I have to work hard too. Cyril-niisama see you later」
After saying that she goes back to the greenhouse and starts to pull weeds with the rest of the firefoxes.
She should be tired from using magic, but she’s working even harder than the other firefoxes.
「She’s a good girl」
「Yes, Kemin is a little sister I’m proud of 」
Kuu sticks out her chest. She also wanted to help with the weeds but, Kuu has the duty of looking over everything. She tried to help but the other firefoxes stopped her.
「Kuu, tomorrow we’ll be holding a war council. I want you to come as the firefoxes’ representative」
「Understood. They’re coming after the snow clears right? The hateful………. Empire.」
「That’s right. That’s why, we have to sharpen our fangs. If we continue like this, we’ll certainly lose. That’s why we have to discuss some things」
That’s right. If they have more than two thousand, we can’t win on a head on collision. That situation has not changed.
But that’s based on the premise that we force a head on collision. Right now I don’t intend to do that, actually I have no intention of fighting fair.
「Cyril-kun, you’re making a dark face」
「A little. I’m thinkin of a evil plan. The empire soldiers will probably face a fate worse than death. Even if they live, they’ll never be able to fight again. It will break their minds. A plan like that」
「I see. That’s…… good. It’s good to let them feel a bit of the suffering we did 」
In Kuu’s eyes a gloomy light remains. She’s usually fine, but inside her the flames of revenge are still blazing.
Hatred does not give birth to anything someone said but, it’s joined together with the joys of life. And it’s not about losses and gains. If you don’t do it, your feelings won’t settle.
「The turnips look fine. As long as the timing of the fertilizer is not wrong, it should be alright. Thank you, with this I can also relax」
「If you to thank someone, thank those girls. They be happy for being praised by Cyril-kun」
I nod, and walk towards the firefoxes who finished the work and are leaving the greenhouse. Let’s praise them a lot.
I confirmed that on the both the turnips and the goats fronts, the firefoxes are doing their job well. With this the firefoxes will get their independence and will be able to find a place they belong. If they can do that, I’m certain the elves will accept them.