༺ Who Is Naru’s Mom? (2) ༻
Cariote thought Salome was an unusual teacher.
Maybe because she was in her early twenties?
Her blond hair had a pinkish hue.
Her eyes were blue.
Judging from her posture, she might have easily passed as a noblewoman, but her eyes were sharper than normal.
‘This woman is stronger than I thought.’
Different people have different criteria for assessing others.
But for Cariote, who had spent most of her life hunting demons, the most important criterion was their strength.
And when Cariote assessed Salome, she seemed to be quite strong.
The teacher’s uniform may have covered her body, but it couldn’t hide the well-trained physique from Cariote eyes.
‘These are not the muscles of a warrior, martial artist, or even a hunter. They are lean and flexible, without any unnecessary fat.’
It could be compared to a cat.
Cats could make incredible leaps, and their movements were always swift.
Did you know that a cat can absorb the shock from falling thanks to its flexibility?
In Cariote’s eyes, Salome was just like a cat.
‘No wonder she was the one teaching the children. Compared to her, the other teachers are quite weak. But that teacher over there with a sword is also quite strong, though.’
She quickly assessed every teacher in the room.
Then, Salome, the teacher asked her.
“Are you really Naru’s mother?”
Teacher Salome’s expression was neutral.
She looked back and forth between Cariote and Naru.
‘They do look similar……!’
Indeed, Cariote and Naru’s faces were so similar that they could easily pass as mother and daughter. Their sharp noses and dark eyebrows were also identical.
Salome couldn’t help but notice these details.
‘How is she so pretty?! There’s no way Judas could marry someone like that! Who is she? The secret lover that he hid in his hometown? His wife from Barbaria?!’
In Salome’s eyes, the woman who introduced herself as Naru’s mother was quite capable.
The boots and leather pants were chosen because of their efficiency.
The tank top that clinged to her large breasts was full of pockets, and the cloak she wore only helped to prove that fact.
Above all, her exposed midsection revealed her well-defined abdomen, clearly developed by a lot of ‘practical’ expertise.
‘She’s no ordinary woman. Although, most barbarian women must be like that. But what kind of a person is she? I can’t see any openings in her stance. Even if I sneak attacked her, I would be blocked nine out of ten times.’
With these thoughts, Salome concluded her evaluation.
At this moment, Cariote spoke.
“Oh I forgot to introduce myself, I’m Cariote, the Demon Hunter.’
She introduced herself.
But Salome however, was shocked beyond words.
Salome had heard of the Demon Hunter before.
The one who had killed the Beast King Yan-Mott during the war in the Ancient city.
The same person who also played a key part in the Alubaba thieves incident.
‘So this woman is the Demon Hunter, I see. It makes sense. Such a woman being Naru’s mother makes it completely understandable how Naru fooled my eyes and managed to hide that coin purse.’
Even as she admitted it, Salome felt a strange emotion bubbling in her heart.
This woman was Naru’s mother.
That meant she was also Judas’ wife.
Ignoring her conflicted feelings, Salome spoke.
“Since you’re Naru’s mother and there isn’t much time until the class begins, I’ll be blunt with you. Naru here stole money from the other kids. I guess educating your daughter is not your strong point eh?”
Cariote thought about Judas for a moment.
Specifically about Judas educating Naru.
—Naru, if a kid is bothering you, just stab them with your butterfly knife.
—Naru will slaughter them all!
Even to Cariote who has experienced a lot of battles as a Barbaroi, Judas’ style of education was brutal.
No, can that even be called education?
Wasn’t it better to call it corruption rather than education?
“I’ve heard from Naru that her father would be happy if she stole things. Honestly, what kind of an upbringing is that? Didn’t both of you fail in your parental duties? Are you even qualified as a mother?”
“……Are you saying I’m not qualified to be her mother?”
“Ms. Cariote, this Graham Academy is not for the faint of mind. Allowing the children to run wild like you do in Barbaria won’t help them here. They might even grow to become criminals.”
Salome’s words felt like a dagger piercing Cariote’s heart.
“Do you want your child to grow into a criminal?”
Was that how a teacher’s advice feels?
Since she had never gone to school, Cariote couldn’t know.
But those words troubled her.
“There’s nothing wrong with the Barbaroi style. My mother raised me like that, and it’s the way many of our people are raised.”
“No, there’s definitely something wrong with it.”
She firmly believed that the way Naru was being raised was faulty.
Had Salome been Naru’s mother, she wouldn’t have enrolled her in a place like the Graham Academy.
Naru was like a rough gemstone that could be shaped into something beautiful.
‘Why even waste Naru’s talent here, when she clearly has the potential to become the next Queen of Thieves? What a waste. If I were her mom, I’d make her the greatest thief this world has ever known.’
What a disappointment.
Salome was genuinely frustrated by this.
And she also thought that Naru’s potential was lost on her mother, Cariote.
‘A good hunter she may be, but she’s a total failure as a mother. Hmm, maybe I should kidnap Naru and raise the kid as my own? After all, kidnapping a child should be a piece of cake for me.’
Salome was a master thief.
So, kidnapping a child should be an easy task.
But every time she tried to envision her plan, she hit a roadblock.
The roadblock that was named Judas.
Stealing something from Judas, Naru’s father, was nearly impossible.
‘If I can’t steal Naru from him, what if……I steal her mother’s place instead? Yes, that’s it! I’m a genius! This is the perfect plan!’
In Salome’s eyes, she was indeed an attractive woman.
But that was all.
‘She’s stiff like an arrow and tough as a rock. She’s not womanly at all. And compared to her, I know Judas’ weakness. Yes, stealing her place will be a walk in the park.’
With these thoughts, Salome decided to change the topic of the conversation.
“So, let’s assume that was how things went. Now let’s talk about Naru’s father, His name was Judas, right? How is your relationship with him Cariote?”
“Why are you asking me that?”
“Because the relationship of the parents is important for a child’s education.”
Checking their relationship.
And then she would proceed to poke holes in it — That was Salome’s scheme.
Then, she asked Naru.
“Naru, do you like your mom?”
“Naru loves her mom! She loves her mom more than she loves pork cutlets!”
Salome realized that Naru’s intelligence was not her strong point.
Of course, this was a good thing for Salome.
Because it might create an opportunity to use the child and create a small opening for her.
“Naru, who do you love the most? You Mother or your Father?”
“Ah…..Nhgg….That….Naru doesn’t know……”
Naru clutched her head as if she was in pain.
Seeing this, Cariote frowned.
“Is this relevant?”
“Yes, it is. It helps us understand which side the child is more attached to. Now, let me ask you this. How many times a week do you and your husband share a bed?”
Cariote frowned once more.
No matter how she thought about it, this wasn’t a question to be asked in the presence of a kid.
“Naru can’t hear anything!”
Who knows what might have happened if she hadn’t covered Naru’s ears in time?
Cariote was feeling very uncomfortable.
‘Is this the kind of stuff they talk about at school? No, no matter how you look at it it’s a bit strange. This teacher Salome, she’s anything but normal. Could she have some connection to the demons……?’
As her hunter instincts were triggered, Salome spoke again in a serious tone.
“What’s wrong, Naru’s mother? You have to be honest with me.”
She was still a virgin after all.
But Salome, unaware of this, chuckled inside.
‘Zero times a week? Well, that makes sense. A woman stiff like her might have bored Judas quickly. The only thing this woman has that is better than me is her big breasts. That’s why I’ll win.’
Ding— Dong— Ding— Dong—
At that moment, the bell rang.
It meant that the first class was about to begin, so she had to get ready.
“Well, that should be it for now.”
Salome was about to wrap up the conversation while gathering the info she had received today.
That’s when Cariote asked her a question.
“Your name is Salome, right? Can you show me your credentials and prove to me you really are a teacher in this school?”
“Oh, are you curious about the qualifications of the person teaching your child? There’s nothing wrong with that. I have a recommendation letter from the headquarters of the Western Teacher Association. Would you like to see that?”
Salome opened a drawer on her desk.
Then, she pulled out a recommendation letter and a teacher’s certificate.
The teacher’s certificate was genuine.
But the letter was a well-made forgery crafted by the Shadow Council.
‘Would she see through this when even Elle Cladeco was fooled?’
Cariote frowned as she studied the documents.
Salome’s heart went – Badump, Badump at this.
Of course, she did her best to suppress her heartbeat.
She couldn’t let a seasoned Demon Hunter like Cariote detect it.
It was a tense moment in more ways than one.
But Cariote nodded after examining the documents, as she handed them back to Salome.
“They are both authentic. I can attest to that.”
Finally, Salome sighed in relief.
‘Of course, they are authentic. What best Demon Hunter? She’s as clueless as the rest of them. Zero times a week girl. She must have breasts for brains too. If it were me, I would have—.’
Salome was stunned for a moment.
But she quickly recomposed herself, sorting out her emotions before the Demon Hunter noticed it.
‘What I want is Naru, not becoming Judas’ wife! Just like he took my family from me, I’m going to take his. Every single one of them!’
To do that, she needed to get close to her target.
Salome decided that she would approach Judas tonight.
* * *
Cariote’s thoughts wandered as she left the teacher’s office.
‘That letter was a fake. The ink used in the Academy is natural. However, the ink used in the letter was a well-made forgery. It must be hard to get some blessed natural ink.’
In other words.
Salome was a fake teacher.
Cariote didn’t confront Salome immediately for fear of her reaction.
Because children being held hostage was a very troublesome thing.
‘What is her purpose? Why would she need to impersonate a teacher? Is she connected to the Imps infiltrating Freesia?’
With these questions in mind, Cariote asked.
“Naru, what kind of person is Salome?”
“Hm? Teacher Salome is scary……She hit Naru’s hand!…… But Naru was in the wrong, so maybe she is a good person?”
“Is that so?”
“But Cariote is a good person too! It would have been nice if Cariote was Naru’s mom! Thank you for being Naru’s mom today! Thank you Cariote!”
Naru grabbed Cariote’s leg and hugged it tightly.
For a woman who had felt nothing but the cold steel of her weapons and the screams of demons for years, Naru’s hug was quite the lethal blow.
In truth, Cariote liked cute things a bit too much.
As a Demon Hunter, that could be considered a fatal weakness, so she never revealed this to anyone.
“It’s time for class!”
So many cute kids.
It was at this moment that Cariote decided — That school was a really nice place.
Then, Naru said.
“Cariote, you’re going to be a great mom too!”
“……No, that’s probably never going to happen.”
Salome’s words still echoed in her ears.
Did she really have the qualifications of a mother?
Honestly, Cariote didn’t have the talent to educate someone.
So even if she had a daughter, she wouldn’t be able to raise her well.
If only she had been given a proper education……
“Naru, I once had a younger sibling that was just like you.”
“But she’s dead now. A demon took her. If I had taught her better, maybe she would still be alive.”
Cariote felt deep regret.
A regret that has haunted her dreams even to this day.
At that moment, someone ran over to Naru.
The two kids hugged each other.
And Cecily soon asked.
“Is this the woman you saw back in the sewers?”
“Yeah! She’s Naru’s mom!”
“Naru, you said you didn’t have a mom. You said you were a half-orphan.”
“But today Naru has a mom!”
“Wow! That’s cool!”
The kids giggled at each other.
Watching them, Cariote realized the difference between their generations.
‘……Is this how kids talk these days? More importantly, I also saved this Cecily from the sewers that other day. She’s so cute, almost like a doll.’
Cecily became flustered as Cariote stared at her.
“What, What is it?”
Cariote pulled back her unconsciously stretched hand.
Then she crouched awkwardly.
“Cough-. I, I was just checking for injuries from last time, just to make sure you weren’t hurt. But you seem healthy enough.”
“Oh, Hey Ms. Hunter, we are having a party at the mansion tomorrow evening. You can come too, as a gratitude for saving me, I hope you’ll come.”
“Naru will come too!”
A kid’s party.
Cariote thought about her duties for tomorrow and nodded.
“I’ll think about it, Anyway, it’s time for class, so go inside the two of you.”
The children soon filled the classroom.
Leaving Cariote alone.
‘I should take a closer look at this school…..There’s something suspicious here. But I don’t think I’ll be able to move around like this……’
Soon, Cariote eyes fell into a clothing collection bin located outdoors at the school.
Looking inside it, she found what appeared to be uniforms used by high school girls.
‘It would be a bit uncomfortable around the chest area, but it should be good enough.’
She wasn’t as good as a real thief.
But as a Hunter, Cariote was quite adept at disguise.
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