“Big sis Gloria!”
Vivian popped out from under the blanket and placed her head on Gloria’s slender yet sturdy thighs. She blinked her eyes cutely and asked, “Are we continuing with the story today?”
Gloria patted Vivian’s head, then covered the girl back up with the blanket and said, “Don’t catch a cold now. This autumn is a lot colder than usual, and winter’s coming soon.”
As a high-grade witch, Gloria herself was insusceptible to extreme temperatures. Her own magical power was enough to shield her from most environments, but Vivian was still only a formerly weak little girl who had just started learning magic. Gloria pressed her legs closer together to make it more comfortable for Vivian, then caressed her hair and said, “We’ll rest a bit today. There’s something I want to talk to you about.”
Vivian nodded and replied, “Is it about big brother planning to leave?”
“You’re a lot smarter and more sensible than other kids. I’m sure you know it will be a dangerous journey.” Gloria looked into Vivian’s eyes and asked, “Do you really want to travel with Soran to Autumnfall?”
Vivian replied almost instantly with a serious look, “Yes. I’ll go wherever big brother goes. He’ll protect me, so it’s okay if it’s a bit dangerous.”
Gloria also had a serious expression as she said, “Soran’s a pretty good rogue, but there are still many dangers he cannot deal with. This time, a two-headed ogre appeared, meaning something serious must have occurred. You two traveling alone is too dangerous. There are also many monsters that normal adventurers can’t deal with in the forest near Autumnfall. Soran won’t be able to defend himself, let alone you, if you cross paths with one.”
Vivian startled for a second after hearing that, then suddenly showed a dignified face.
“It’s fine. I can protect big brother! I’m a lot more powerful than before!”
Oi, that’s not what I meant, Gloria thought to herself.
Gloria had rehearsed what to say a few times before entering the room, but for some reason she could not say it after looking at the determined Vivian.
Protect Soran? You’re just an eight-year-old. Honestly, I’m not sure if Soran will feel happy or ashamed of himself after hearing that either.
“Silly girl,” Gloria pinched Vivian’s cheeks and said, seemingly slightly annoyed. “Then why don’t you ask Soran not to go? It’s obvious traveling will be dangerous, and you two are not strong enough to travel so far on your own. Why don’t you two stay here, or follow me to the North? That way, you can continue learning magic, and Soran will not have to take such a big risk. As you two don’t have any relatives in Elfenland, living there will be harsh, if they even let you in in the first place. I know Soran cares a lot for you, so if you ask him, he might change his mind.”
Vivian was hesitating. She nervously bit her thumb, but Gloria stopped her and patted her head. “Don’t bite your finger.”
Vivian laughed and stuck her tongue out in embarrassment, then answered seriously, “Big brother must have his reasons for going there, although he did not tell me why. But he must be right.”
Gloria pinched the bridge of her nose after hearing the little girl’s reply. She almost wanted to punch Soran in the face.
“No one will always make the right decisions. As a mere adventurer, there are plenty of things Soran doesn’t know. There are two-headed dragons, moonsabers, and many more weird monsters in the forest of Elfenland. If you meet them, it will be really dangerous!”
Vivian pouted and looked away.
“Big brother is always right. Even if he’s not, he’s trying his best for me. Don’t speak badly of him! Big brother is the best big brother in the world, and he will become the strongest big brother too!”
What Vivian said was sort of unreasonable, but from her expression, it seemed she really believed Soran would become a powerful person.
Gloria sighed and said, “Sometimes I really doubt if you two are siblings or not, but now I have no doubts about it. You two have the exact same temper.”
Vivian remained silent, but she seemed proud of herself when Gloria said she was like Soran, as though it was something worthy of praise.
What Gloria did not truly know was Soran’s role in Vivian’s mind. He was her big brother, but more often than not he was like a father too, shielding her from any and every danger. In others’ eyes, he was just silent rogue who had great agility and was sometimes merciless, but that was about it; no one could really remember his face because the way he acted was simply too inconspicuous.
However, there was one girl who would remember everything about Soran, and that was obviously Vivian. She remembered how Soran had taken care of her, how Soran had taken her out on afternoons to chase butterflies, how Soran had made funny faces to cheer her up and make her chuckle, and many, many more things. Back then, their mother was still sane, and despite being poor, they were still living a normal life.
Then the day came when they became orphans. Soran, who was barely a teenager at that time, along with Vivian, who was just a kid, roamed the streets. To make a living, Soran had done just about everything he could. Vivian could still remember his ferocious look when he had his first fight, and his tender voice when he soothed her tears afterward. She could recall Soran’s trembling hands, as well as his nervous yet joyous look when he committed his first theft.
She could also remember the first time Soran had killed someone to protect her. He shuddered in fear all night, only holding her tightly without getting an ounce of sleep. Vivian could do nothing but cuddle in his bosom at that time. After that incident, the times when Soran would laugh got fewer and fewer, and his previous warmth was replaced with a cold, expressionless face. He would only show his soft-hearted smile and dimples when comforting Vivian. It was a smile that would warm anyone’s heart.
To Vivian, Soran was her big brother, but also something more. There were things outsiders could not understand, and there was no need for them to understand either.
“Big sis Gloria,” Vivian timidly peeked at Gloria and asked in a small voice, “how about you come with us? If we meet something big brother cannot handle, you can protect us! Big sis is so strong, there must be no problems! Ahh, it must be boring to stay here every day, doesn’t big sis want to go see the elves?” she added innocently.
Gloria could only laugh bitterly at Vivian’s suggestion.
“Hey, I’m telling you two not to go there. Why did it suddenly become me going with you?”
Vivian took another peek at Gloria, then bashfully said, “Then what if we really meet some monster that even big brother and I cannot defeat? Vivian will get eaten by monsters, and I can never meet big sis again!”
Vivian then pretended to sob, but frankly her acting was terrible. She rubbed her eyes, but no tears came out, and she also took peeks at Gloria from time to time. Gloria obviously knew she was acting, but because Vivian was just too cute and her acting almost made the entire scene comedic, she could not help but smile.
Gloria lifted Vivian up, placed the little girl face down on her lap, then slapped Vivian’s butt lightly.
“Stop pretending! You little cheeky girl!” Gloria stopped for a while, then continued. “Let me think about it.” 【Charisma Interference activated】【Persuasion successful】
Realizing she’d failed her original objective and was almost persuaded by Vivian, Gloria honestly felt slightly discouraged. She was about to leave when Vivian tugged her sleeve and said, “Big sis Gloria, can you sleep with me tonight?”
“Hmm, okay.” Gloria hesitated, but ultimately ended up sleeping next to Vivian.
Gloria covered both herself and Vivian with the blanket, and Vivian immediately cuddled herself against her bosom like a little kitten. Vivian sniffed and said, “Big sis smells good.”
Gloria did not reply and only closed her eyes while embracing Vivian. Sometimes she simply could not steel herself when facing the little girl, and she did not know why. Perhaps she really liked her. When Gloria first saw the thin, bony Vivian, she felt pained, as though her motherly nature had been awakened. As they spent more days together, Gloria could feel that the little girl was influencing her with her cheerfulness and stubbornness. Gloria really enjoyed staying with Vivian; the two did seem to be similar in many ways.
“Big sis’ chest is so soft. It feels nice when I touch it.”
Vivian did not seem to be too sleepy tonight and was playing with… the pair of things in front of her. She was at an age where she was curious about any and everything. Vivian’s memories of her real mother were vague; she could not even remember her mother’s face. Gloria though had satisfied Vivian’s desire and need for a mother, a caring and gentle woman who would spoil and teach her things.
Vivian’s butt got slapped once again. She took her hands back despite wanting to fondle Gloria a bit more.
Gloria’s cheeks were slightly reddened. She looked at Vivian with a tired expression and said, “Stop moving around, and no touching. Once more and I’ll cast Sleep on you.”
Vivian finally stopped moving and closed her eyes. She hugged Gloria’s arm and pulled herself close against Gloria’s chest, then quickly fell asleep. Kids at her age needed a lot of sleep after all.
* * *
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