Hanare Gatai Kemono - Chapter 4 [v1]




Chapter 4

DYRIA felt his usually good habit was a little unpleasant today for the first time. He woke up before dawn the day after his arrival at the Golden Wolf Castle. However, because there was nothing he could do, he just laid around with Ash, who was also up later than usual.

Ash slept soundly in a bed that was much softer and more comfortable than the one he had at home. He was thoroughly refreshed after a hearty breakfast.

"Dyria, I'm done studying. I don't want to read anymore, can I play outside?"

"...Are you really done reading?"

Normally, the boy would read more slowly, chew on the book, and tell Dyria about the story, but today, Ash seemed somewhat distracted and unable to concentrate.

Perhaps it was because of the abrupt change in his environment. He typically begins studying math after reading, but he didn't even glance at the study materials they had taken with them. His tail was wagging and his ears were twitching.

"Ash, come here."

"What?"

On four limbs, Ash dashed across the room, straight for Dyria's feet. He hadn't done that at all since he was able to walk on two legs. Even though he's usually well-behaved, he's not doing what he normally does today...

"You don't have a fever."

Dyria checked at the boy's eye and oral cavity. After that, he touched his armpits, groin, ears and little hands. His body temperature was quite normal, or is he about to get a slight fever?

This place was warmer and sunnier than where they had lived till a few days earlier. Perhaps Ash's body was attempting to adjust to the new, unfamiliar environment.

For the time being, it seemed necessary to keep a closer eye on him.

"I'm fine, Dyria. But I want to play outside. Can I play?"

"No, we don't have permission to go outside. Let's just play quietly in the room for now."

"Then I'll ask Yudha when he comes."

"We'll do that."

In the living room, Dyria and Ash were accompanied by two maids waiting in the corner of the room. Initially, Yudha had more than a dozen maids waiting on them, but he asked him to reduce them to two. Ash would start to cry out of discomfort if there were too many strangers in the room.

When Ash noticed the two women standing in the corner, he pulled up a chair with Dyria's assistance and invited them to sit down to rest. As expected, they couldn't seem to say no when Ash asked for such nice things. The women sat down, thanked the little one, and started embroidering until Dyria came over to ask them questions.

"Should I consult with Yudha about things like permission to go out?"

One of the women replied briefly, "Yes."

Yudha appeared in military uniforms in the morning, probably before the kingdom's civic service.

He gave a brief glance to Dyria and Ash, who were having breakfast, and then said hello to Ash before heading to work. Even though it was only for a short time, he went to the trouble of taking a detour instead of going directly to his office.

Yudha was in a great mood, for this was the first time he had met and greeted Ash while the boy was awake.

Before he left, Yudha promised to return after work, so Ash decided to ask Dyria if they could go home.

"How long are we going to stay here? Are we going home tomorrow? What are you going to make for dinner?"

"We'll have dinner here too, baby."

"I want to go home. I want to eat Dyria's dinner... And my friend is home alone. Can we go get him?"

"It looks like we're going to have to stay here for the time being. I'll do my best to have someone bring your friend here, so let's try to be very patient, okay?"

"Is this my daddy's house?"

"That's right."

"Where is my daddy?"

"Well..."

"What about my daddy's dad? And my daddy's mommy?"

"I..."

"Ash's dad is Dyria's husband, isn't he?"

He was stuck for an answer.

As Dyria searched for the right words, the door to the living room swung wide open.

"Yudha!"

Whether it was because of the Golden Wolf's peculiar smell or because he was sensitive to the same bloodline, Ash perked his ears and tail up and turned his face toward the door. There, Yudha appeared. He'd returned after work, as promised.

"Ash!"

Ash wagged his tail before leaping into Yudha's chest when he saw him extend his hands. "Yudha, welcome back Yudha!"

"I'm home, Ash."

"Did you finish your work, can you play with Ash?"

"Oh, I did. Look, I brought you something."

"Apricot! Dyria, look, apricot! Apricot! It's the first time I received apricots!"

Ash laughed cheerfully as he held three or four apricots in Yudha's arms.

"Ash, they will break if you squeeze them too tightly. Let's eat them."

"Eat them?"

"Yes, eat them."

Yudha took an apricot out of Ash's hands.

"Woah!"

Yudha ate the apricot in one bite with his large mouth. Ash attempted to do the same.

"Ash, it has seeds in it, be careful."

"I will!"

It was a tiny fruit full of soft flesh. Yudha licked the fruit juice dripping down Ash's jaw with his long tongue. 

Ash began to dance in delight after tasting one of the apricots. It was chewy and delicious!

"He seems fine, his appetite is good."

"I don't know... I think he has a slight fever."

Dyria looked at Yudha and whined.

"Is that so? Ash, how are you doing, baby? Are you feeling ill? Do you have a stomach ache, or do you have a headache?"

"I ate a lot of food! And, Yudha, um... Can I ask you something?"

"Ash, get down from Yudha. If you want to eat the fruit, cut it up, place it on a plate, and finish it before making your request. It's not appropriate to behave like that."

"Sorry..."

Yudha apologized for no apparent reason.

"I'm not saying it to you, Mr. Yudha. Ash, you have to listen to me, do you understand?"

"Oh... Dyria, are you mad at me?"

"I'm not mad. Now, ask the maid to cut your fruit."

"Yes."

Holding the fruit with both hands, Ash asked Yudha to take him down from his arms and rushed toward the two maidens in the corner of the door. One of them began to play with Ash still in Dyria's sight, while the other began to peel and cut the apricot on a small table that Ash couldn't reach.

For the first time, Ash was frantic to play with other wolves like him. Yudha's maidservants were well-behaved and appeared to be kind to Ash.

"...You use a rude tone for me, but use a rather strict tone for Ash."

Only when the boy was still sleeping, in Yudha's perspective, was Dyria kind with him. In the morning, however, his demeanor shifted to one that was far more formal and stern. It even seemed a bit cold. Dyria tenderly stroked Ash's hair, glanced at him lovingly, cared for him gently, and hugged him with a strong will when he was curled up against him... But, as soon as Ash awoke, almost too soon, he would turn into a very strict teacher.

"Ash is still a child. He has to be educated so that he can grow up to be a decent man in the future."

"Is that all?"

"What?"

"No, I was under the impression that you were just incredibly skilled at concealing your true feelings. You know, you always have an excuse for every question I've asked you."

"...I don't know. Don't make assumptions about me without my permission."

Dyria turned away from Yudha and continued tidying up his belongings which had come to a halt in the middle of the day. It was a small trunk that he brought from home.

"Are those Ash's clothes?"

"Yes."

"...So small."

"Because he's still small. But my Ash is the biggest of all the kids in the neighborhood."

"I like seeing you smile."

"......"

"Every time you talk about Ash, the corner of your mouth lifts up a bit."

"Hey..."

"You're beautiful."

"......"

"I like that you put on a happy face, Dyria. But tell me, where are your clothes?"

Yudha only saw Ash's clothes strewn everywhere, but he couldn't find Dyria's.

"......"

"Dyria..."

"Ah, well, my clothes..."

Dyria, confused by the man's baffled expression, pointed to the trunk's corner.

"Is that all? Is that even enough?"

"Three pieces plus what I'm wearing right now are enough."

"Were you in a hurry and didn't have time to bring more?"

"No, I only have this since the beginning."

"...I'll get more clothes for you."

"You don't have to."

"But..."

The difference between the clothes in the trunk was too obvious. In Ash's case, the fabric was soft and appeared to be comfortable to wear, and he even had slippers that fit him perfectly. Dyria's clothes consisted of shirts, pants, and military shoes.

"The clothes from this country are very comfortable and stylish, I'll get some for you."

"I'm sure they'll be huge."

"Not a big problem. That can be fixed."

The beastman's clothes were too big for a human like Dyria.

"By the way, do you want me to assist you with putting the clothes on the rack?"

"This is fine as it is."

Dyria hadn't used any of the clothing racks that were set up in the room. He simply tidied the contents of the trunk.

"I know you're only doing this for Ash..."

"That's right."

"So, when Ash wants to go home, you will leave right away?"

Dyria turned around and stared at Yudha. Even though he had looked all the way up, he couldn't see the wolf's face completely. Yudha bent down and grasped the shorter hand when he realized this.

"Did I scare you? I'm just curious because you're packing up your things with such a sad face."

"It's not... I just... I packed this small suitcase just in case Ash wanted to return home. So I can take the trunk and leave the castle immediately. I left the other half here in case Ash decides to stay and live here permanently. When it's time to throw it all away, I'll have less luggage, fewer memories, and less regrets."

"Why would you throw them away?"

"If you have old things next to you from your old life, you will feel an emptiness that will not allow you to live. If you move to a new place, you should forget about your old life."

It's easier to live like that. Just looking ahead.

"Because that's how you've been living until now?"

"That's right."

“Is that why you just need those three pieces of clothing? So you won't remember anything about your previous home? What do you think will happen to you if you throw away those three clothes and move in here permanently? Would that frighten you?"

"I'm not going to stay."

"And why not?"

"Why would a grown man in his twenties need to be cared for in this castle when it's more than obvious you don't need me?"

"You are Ash's father. If Ash lives here, you must live here too."

"Ah, yes. I'm only here since I'm Ash's biological father. Makes sense."

"Where were you going to live if not here?"

"Well, if Ash is here, I'm thinking about renting a place somewhere in town and live there until he's older..."

"Why do you need to live apart?"

"Because... Because I always thought that was the best thing to do. Didn't you search for him? Well, there you go!"

Dyria thought that was better for Ash's growth. He didn't think he was welcome in this castle. Yudha was only nice to him because he needed to deal with royal affairs, and he didn't give him any explanation. The baby is a wolf, and the pregnancy happened by accident. Dyria's presence here would eventually confuse Ash later.

The royal family had a very different way of living and upbringing which may be far stricter since they are all beasts. Dyria has his own philosophy, education and mindset. Maybe they're the polar opposites of one another.

If he imposes two completely different things on Ash, the child will be confused and say, "What you said is different," "What I have to do is different," and "I don't know which is right."

"So, if Ash wants to prioritize the life he wants, he's probably better off without me."

Dyria wanted to watch over the boy from afar and be there to help him whenever he needed it. But he didn't feel like he should be around him all the time.

"I won't let you part from Ash."

Yudha grabbed Dyria by his shoulders.

"It hurts..."

"I'm sorry, but I won't allow you and Ash to live apart. I didn't bring you here to do that, but... You should still be here! Ash needs you and so do I. I know you want explanations and you will get them eventually, but now... Please, at least think about your baby for now."

Yudha seemed to be in a lot of pain at the thought of Ash and Dyria. Dyria could tell simply by looking into his eyes.

"...Yudha."

"What is it?"

"It seriously hurts."

"Sorry."

Yudha gently removed his hands from Dyria's shoulders.

"...You take everything too seriously."

"Of course, it's about you and Ash."

"......"

"Dyria...do you really want to leave Ash?"

Is he a burden to you?

Do you want to leave Ash here and be free?

Those were just...some silent questions that somehow Dyria understood.

"I'd be lying if I say I never thought so."

"......"

"But he's cute."

Very, very, cute. He cherishes him.

The fluffy ears that sought his voice, the disheveled tail that couldn't be combed at all, those round sparkly jewel-like eyes, and the tiny voice that called Dyria every night and giggled while clinging to his feet.

Everything, everything about his baby is cute.

So he couldn't let him go.

He didn't want to go.

He didn't want to let him go.

But for Ash's future, he was prepared for anything.

"Listen to me... Three days from now, I will meet Empress Kushinada."

"...So?"

"She is... Ash's great-grandmother. She wants to see the child, and this is important. She's the one we're trying to convince. When we do, then I'm going to tell you the truth about you and me. I'm just asking for time."

"The truth?"

"All of it."

"Can I be there?"

"It's going to be difficult."

"Can I wait nearby?"

"In the next room."

"Will you be there for Ash?"

"Absolutely."

"Don't let her hurt Ash's heart."

"I understand... Hey, are you sick?"

"I told you Ash had a slight fever."

"No, I'm talking about you."

"......?"

"Your face is red."

"Ah, maybe because I was playing with Ash until a while ago? I'm not used to the heat because it's warmer here than where I used to live."

Dyria was born in a snowy mountainous region, and the remote town where he had spent the past five years was a field surrounded by forests and mountains. It was chilly in the mornings and evenings, even in the spring. It was his first time living in a city like this. He felt a bit suffocated.

"For the time being, spend a little time for yourself and try to get used to this place. I'm also going to check on your condition every day, as much as possible."

"You're a busy man, aren't you?"

"But I still have time for you."

"...for Ash."

Avoiding Yudha's hand that was about to touch his cheek, Dyria turned toward Ash. He didn't like the way Yudha treated him. The words coming out of his mouth were always sweet. 

In spite of his strong appearance, his choice of words, his concern for Dyria, his casual voice, everything was so sweet that it made Dyria a bit confused.

"What's wrong, Dyria? Do you want to eat apricot with me?"

"Your great-grandmother wants to see you in three days."

"Um... Who's great-grandmother?"

"I don't know. You should ask Yudha."

"That's right! Yudha! Let's eat together and tell me about Grandma! And Ash wants to go out, too! I want to roll around on the ground!"

Ash stood on tiptoe and took Yudha's hand.

Dyria stood behind them, a little envious that Ash was able to express happiness with someone other than him, wagging his honest little tail.

Ah, he knew it was natural for Ash to get along better with his own kind.

"Dyria~"

"Dyria."

Dyria was approached by two people who were calling his name.

"Come on, Dyria, let's go play!"

"That's right. Come on."

"...Okay."

"Hand in hand!"

Ash took Dyria's hand with his right hand and took Yudha's hand with his left one.

It was the first time he had held hands with another person since leaving his village years ago, and it was an odd feeling. Dyria received a gift from Yudha that evening. He got an icy candy that melted in his mouth. Something very similar to ice, but sweet.

"You looked like you had a slight fever, so I sent you something cold to eat. I hope it helps you have a good night's rest."

Yudha's attendant came to deliver the 'candy'—or ice cream, as people here call it—with Yudha's message written on it.

"Thank you."

Due to the coldness of the ice cream he had tasted for the first time in his life, Ash flinched and lifted his tail.

"It's delicious! It's delicious, Dyria!"

Ash was overjoyed. It felt good on Ash's feverish body, mouth and tongue.

"I can eat and see many things here!"

"...Ash, do you enjoy your life here?"

"Yes!"

"That's good."

Dyria stroked the little one's head. He put his hand on the small space between Ash's ears and massaged him back and forth.

He couldn't afford to miss out on this experience simply because he was lost in the moment. He was pleased to be here since it would give Ash a new way to grow.

tl/ed: Greenteaa/Mara


-     N O T E S     -

I'm seriously intrigued. Just who are you exactly...Yudha?