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I finished writing early, so I submitted this chapter in advance.
Maybe that’s a good thing, considering the amount of hours I worked on it?
Just a few days after I returned to Crimonia, Ruimin gave me a call.
『I’m glad I was able to reach you, Yuna-san.』
Ruimin sounded very relieved when I picked up. She had been concerned about not being able to contact me over such a long distance, so she wanted to try calling me even though it wasn’t an emergency.
I asked her how the village was, and she told me that ever since we had left, everything was peaceful and not a single monster had passed through the barrier. They had also decided to take turns checking on the Sacred Tree once every ten days, and that plan included Luca, too. Ruimin told me that when he first went through the rocky mountain to the Sacred Tree was, he was more astonished by my Bear House rather than the tree itself. Well, pretty much anyone would most likely be surprised to see the Bear House after exiting the cave leading to a mountain valley.
『Also, when we told him that you were going to come visit us from time to time he sounded really happy.』
Rather than me, wasn’t he more interested in my Bears? While that was better than him disliking me, is still made me feel a bit sad inside.
After chatting a bit about the happenings in the village, Ruimin promised that she would contact me when there were more Sacred Tree tea leaves available. Of course, I told her she could call me to chat with me about other things as well.
After ending the phone call, I relaxed at home for a while. I had promised Fina and Shuri that I would be drawing a new picture book today, so I invited them over.
Since I was using them as models for the story, I wanted them to check over the contents as I drew the book, especially since I would be using Shuri as a character for the first time. I didn’t want to write something they didn’t approve of and also wanted to ask their opinions. It would have been stupid if I worked on it alone and ended up writing something they didn’t like, after all.
I drank some tea as I waited, and just as I finished the cup the sisters arrived.
「Are you really going to draw it?」
Fina asked as soon as she entered the house.
「Princess Flora is waiting for the new volume; I kind of made her a promise I would get to it soon.」
「Yuna-neechan, you’re going to draw me too, right?」
「Yes, that’s what I’m planning on for this volume.」
While Fina seemed rather reluctant, Shuri looked forward to it very much.
First, I made a rough sketch of what Shuri’s character would look like. I would be troubled if Shuri said it didn’t look like her at all after I completed the volume. Then, I decided to discuss what I would put into the picture book with Fina.
「I was thinking of having the three of you go to the neighboring town. What do you think?」
「Three of us?」
「Yes, I also plan on including Tirumina-san.」
「I’ve never been to the neighboring town, though.」
「It’s not like what I’m drawing has to be true. Picture books can also include made up stories.」
Picture Book, Volume 3: Bear-san and the Girls
The girl’s mother completely recovered from her illness and was now living a very happy life.
Running around the house, there was the girl’s energetic, younger sister. (A cartoon drawing of a girl that looked like Shuri).
The little sister said she wanted to meet Bear-san, so the girl took her to the forest.
They arrived at the entrance of the forest and called for Bear-san, which answered their calls and exited the forest.
Little sister was not scared at all and happily ran up to Bear-san.
The girl introduced the little sister, and Bear-san let the girl and the little sister ride on it, playing with her to their heart’s content.
However, after a few joyful days, the girl’s family decided to move to the neighboring town where the mother’s friend lived, so they could find work.
The girl cried as she bid her farewell to Bear-san, which gently patted her girl on the head.
The girl’s family left on a carriage to the neighboring town, and Bear-san waved its hand from afar to say goodbye.
The girl choked back her tears while the carriage crested over a hill, leaving Bear-san behind.
The girl knew she had to do this to survive, so she tried her best to endure, not showing her sadness to others in the carriage, especially since it wasn’t just her family traveling but also some other people.
The carriage continued its trip towards the neighboring town; they moved further and further away from the forest Bear-san lived in, but they couldn’t return.
The girl slowly started to brood, and then, the carriage suddenly stopped.
The other people riding in the carriage began to panic.
An old man yelled out.
The mother embraced the girl and the little sister, while a few other people got off the carriage to run away.
「Run away, everybody! You’ll get killed if you stay here!」
The old man yelled at those who stayed.
More and more people escaped from the carriage, but when the girl’s family tried to leave, they were shoved back by others as they escaped.
Only the girl’s family remained inside the carriage.
「We’ll be fine.」
The girl’s mother held her two daughters tightly, her hands shaking in fear.
They could hear voices shouting outside, as well as the howling of the monsters. There was no way the girl’s family could escape now.
The carriage began shaking; something was hitting the carriage from the outside.
Just as they lost all hope, everything went silent.
The girl’s family were terrified to look outside.
A voice came from outside the carriage.
The girl let go of her mother’s hand and jumped out the carriage, where Bear-san was waiting for her.
The girl, with tears in her eyes, ran to Bear-san and hugged it.
The mother and little sister were worried about the girl and climbed down from the carriage as well.
「I’m fine, Bear-san saved us.」
The monsters were all defeated.
There was nobody else around, and they didn’t know what happened.
The horses were all gone and the carriage was a mess, but they could not walk all the way to the town.
At Bear-san’s loud cry, a black Bear-san and white Bear-san appeared from afar.
The mother and little sister were a bit startled, but the girl was not; she knew that Bear-san had called them.
Bear-san, Black Bear-san, and White Bear-san laid down and offered the girl’s family their back.
「Mother, Bear-san is letting us ride on them so we can get to the neighboring town.」
The girl said to her mother, and while the girl’s mother had been cautious of the Bears in the beginning, she now trusted them and climbed on one of the Bear’s back.
The girl’s family rode the Bear-sans towards to the neighboring town, only getting off when they were nearby.
「Thank you, Bear-sans.」
The girl said her thanks while her little sister refused to let go of White Bear-san; she didn’t want to part from them. Of course, the girl didn’t want to separate, either, but there was no other choice.
「Bear-sans are too big, so they can’t go into the town.」
The mother tried to pull the little sister away, but she clung onto White Bear-san’s neck.
「If only Bear-sans could become smaller…」
When the little girl said that, all the Bear-sans cried out and began to shrink.
They kept getting smaller and smaller, until they became so tiny they could all fit in the girl’s palm.
Now the girl’s family could carry Bear-sans into the town without having them noticed; they placed Bear-sans into their pockets and headed straight to the town’s gate.
The girl’s family explained to the guards that they were attacked by monsters and then went straight to the home of the mother’s friend.
A man greeted them happily, delighted to meet his old friend, and invited them to stay with him for as long as they want.
In no time, the girl and mother found jobs, and proceeded to live their lives in happiness.
All was well that ended well.
Jumping back to the beginning of the story, when the girl’s little sister Shuri, appeared, I made sure to draw her in a cutish, cartoonish style.
「Awww, so cute.」
Shuri was ecstatic to see herself drawn so cutely.
「So, Father isn’t in the same town as us?」
「Well I wanted to base this story on the trip Fina and I took to the capital. Since I couldn’t find a good reason for the family just to travel there, I decided to put Gentz-san in a neighbouring town to make things simpler.」
「That means we will only meet Father once we reach the other town, huh.」
「Yes, but don’t forget, at this point, he is still only the mother’s friend.」
Once I got to the point where I drew the scene of the girl bidding farewell to Bear-san, Shuri looked very sad.
「Are they really leaving Bear-san?」
「Don’t worry, Bear-san will come back at a later point in the story.」
Continuing on, I drew the page where they got on the carriage and were about to embark to the neighboring town.
「I thought for sure that Bear-san was going to appear and offer them a ride.」
It wasn’t the right time yet, though.
「They just parted from each other. Also, I don’t think the mother would want to ride on Bear-san when they haven’t actually met before.」
Next scene where they got attacked by the monsters was based on when Misa’s carriage had been attacked on its way to the capital.
I made sure to make everybody else run away, leaving only the girl’s family behind.
To make it more dramatic, I drew the carriage shaking, and monster sounds coming from outside. Finally, it was time to have a gallant figure dash over and come to the rescue. It was Bear-san, of course.
Bear-san quickly disposed of all the monsters and saved the girl’s family form the impending doom.
「I’m so very glad Bear-san came.」
「Bear-san is so strong.」
The carriage was left damaged and couldn’t be used anymore, but Bear-san couldn’t carry three people all by itself. Therefore, Bear-san called its friends over.
I worked hard to draw Black Bear-san and White Bear-san cutely.
「These are Swaying Bear and Hugging Bear, right?」
Fina and Shuri were delighted when new Bear-sans made their appearance.
「Shuri, who do you want to ride on?」
Shuri answered immediately.
「Why Hugging Bear?」
「Hugging Bear is white and pretty.」
She was right, Hugging Bear white fur was indeed beautiful.
That didn’t mean Swaying Bear’s fur was ugly or anything, it was just a different kind of nice.
「Okay, then the little sister will ride on White Bear-san.」
I then had the girl ride on the main Bear-san while the mother rode on Black Bear-san.
As I moved on to drawing the three of them continuing their journey to the neighboring town, Shuri suddenly perked up with an interesting question.
「Are the people who ran away okay?」
「You don’t have to worry about people who just save themselves and leave behind women and children. Still, I didn’t draw any corpses, so I will just leave it up to the reader’s interpretation.」
A great thing about picture books was their ability to spark the readers’ imagination and let them interpret things in their own, subjective way.
In this case, I thought it would be best to let the parents who read the book to their children answer the question in case the children brought it up. For the sake of the way the parents raised their children, they should decide if they would explain it as people safely getting away or to have them be killed by the monsters. How they answered such a question could leave a lasting impression on their children, after all.
Well, at least, that was how I explained it to Shuri. Truthfully, I just didn’t want to draw corpses in a picture book. Also, if I left other people in this scene, they would kind of ruin the Bear-san’s gallant arrival. Sometimes, I just had to lie to people to hide my my real thoughts.
The family safely arrived to the neighbouring town, but as the Bears couldn’t enter the town, they had to part ways again. As they were about to say their farewells again, the little sister said that she didn’t want to do it.
「I wouldn’t say something like that.」
「I know, but this little sister in the picture book isn’t really you, so she can be a bit more selfish.」
「If I don’t make her do that, then they will really have to part from the Bear-sans.」
It seemed like Shuri really didn’t want her image in the book to appear selfish, so I was forced to to use the parting-from-Bears card.
「Would you be okay if you had to live far, far away from Bear-san?」
「I… I would be okay.」
I knew straight away that was a complete lie.
Was she really that embarrassed to say something even slightly selfish?
「Really? And here I was, thinking of giving this to you as a present.」
I said and took out a Hugging Bear plushie from the Bear Box.
Shuri let out a big smile after seeing the Hugging Bear plushie.
「You don’t want it?」
Shuri replied without hesitation.
「I know you do. You looked like you really wanted one when you saw the children at the orphanage playing with them. I also have one for you too, Fina. I’ll give you Swaying Bear.」
「We made them together, didn’t we? Of course you should be allowed to keep a pair.」
「Thank you very much.」
Fina said and embraced the Swaying Bear plushie with joy.
「Shuri, now what would you do if I told you that you don’t get your plushie? Would you just let me take it away?」
「I don’t want you to take it away…」
「Right? The girl in this picture book feels the same about her Hugging Bear.」
After I explained it like that, she was convinced.
With Shuri on board, I continued drawing. In order to get the Bears into the town without trouble, I transformed them into palm-sized Bears.
「They’re even smaller than Swaying Bear and Hugging Bear in their cub forms.」
「They’ll be able to stay together with the Bears from now on, right?」
Without any further interruptions, I managed to draw the family entering the town and meeting the man based on Genz-san. Once I drew the scene where the girl and the mother got jobs and the new family started their new life together, volume three of ‘Bear-san and the Girl’ was finally complete.
「Yuna-neechan, this was amazing.」
「Yes, it was great. Wait, won’t Noa-sama get mad at us?」
Why did her name come up out of nowhere?
「The story is based on our trip to the capital, right?」
「Yes, loosely based. We changed many things.」
「So, what happens when Noa-sama finds out she doesn’t appear on her own trip?」
She did have a point…
「Eh, it should be fine. Fina, you were embarrassed and didn’t like that you were put in the story, right?」
「I’m sure that Noa would be embarrassed, too. Also, I don’t think she knows that this story is based on us, and I’m pretty sure she won’t get to see this picture book, either.」
Noa shouldn’t know anything about the picture books, so she shouldn’t find out about this one, either.
At the capital, only a handful of people owned one, and in Crimonia, only the orphanage had the books. The chances for Noa to see these books was be very small.
「If she doesn’t see it, it would be fine, but…」
「Fina, you worry too much.」
I tried to reassure and laughed.
Noa didn’t get her chance to appear in this volume. w
It’s a bit late now, but I never got to write volume 2 of the picture book, did I?
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