Sugar Sweet

Translator: Reo

Editor: Cale

Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!

Part 1: Honey Milk Encounter

Chapter 1: The Beginning

“I’m in trouble.”

The forest was quiet; not a single gust of wind blew through it. The muttered words strangely echoed.

Hearing the detached tone of that voice, anyone would have wondered whether he was truly troubled or not, but there was no way someone would be here, so deep in such a dense forest. Of course, if by some coincidence, a million to one chance, a person did miraculously show up, it would be more helpful if they were to ask him – “Are you really in trouble?”

“Well, there’s no one,” Sui sighed.

His cellphone was out of range and even if he looked at the map in his hands, he didn’t know where he was currently, so he couldn’t rely on it. Sui was irredeemably lost.

In the meantime, he decided to sit down. He’d been walking for a long time and his legs hurt. Fortunately, there was a large rock nearby that could serve as a temporary seat.

When he took a deep breath, the brisk air filled his chest. Leaves dyed red and gold covered the trees and the ground. If he had just been taking a leisurely walk through the forest or had been viewing the autumn leaves, the splendid scenery would have been more than pleasant. Sadly though, he did not come here for that.

Head hanging, Sui recalled something – a fairytale his grandmother had read to him in the past. In this fairytale, a pair of siblings walked through the forest, scattering bread crumbs in order to find their way back. If only Sui had had a piece of bread in his pocket, maybe it would not have turned out like this?

He couldn’t even imagine such a scenario. Sui didn’t eat bread, let alone carry it around with him.

A tree rustled and shook. A single ginko leaf fluttered in the air.

Maybe, just maybe, is there someone there?

Something that was not human appeared just as he had that thought. The black shadow standing on the tree flew off a branch, tearing into the vermillion sky. It was a crow.

If Sui had wings like it did, he too might have been able to escape from this forest through the sky.

At this rate I wonder if I’m going to die here? Well, it’s possible.

At that passing thought, Sui hurriedly shook his head.

No, I can’t die. He fixed his train of thought. If he were to die in this forest…

Though it was the beginning of autumn, Sui could still bear with this degree of cold, so he could probably avoid freezing to death. Which meant, for better or for worse, that he’d either get eaten by a beast that hadn’t shown up yet or starve to death. 

From the start, Sui had a fuel-efficient constitution and a small appetite, so it might take a number of days for him to starve to death. But, even then, it was painful just imagining himself gradually getting thirstier and hungrier, slowly becoming unable to move.

Sui didn’t want to suffer or feel pain. If possible, he wished to avoid dying in such a way.

Trying to avoid such an end, Sui kept walking, holding on to the hope that if he continued walking, he’d eventually reach some place. He’d already been walking around for more than five hours. He should have arrived somewhere by now.

Sui had entered this forest at around 15:30. The sky was now beginning to be dyed bright red by the setting sun. Looking at the clock on his phone, he should have been walking for more than five hours. It was strange – the sky hadn’t changed since sunset.

In the first place, is this even a sunset? Sui felt that the shade of the sunset was slightly different than the one he knew.

Since a long time ago, Sui had liked the sight of the sky painted red. Those moments when he looked up on a whim and the vibrantly beautiful, warm world spread out before him filled Sui with a mysterious and lovely emotion. There were numerous times when the scarlet color reflected on the asphalt on the road from school or on the flowing river that flickered and shimmered, and he’d look up at the sky and think – is it that time already? Aah, it’s beautiful. 

Which is why, even now, he thought that the red shade of the sky stretched out above him was beautiful. There was a sense of discomfort though. Also, it was really weird that the sky hadn’t changed no matter what time it was.

This is almost like a different world than the one I’ve been living in.

Fantasizing in this way, Sui exhaled. Whether this was a different world or not, his situation hadn’t changed.

Should I just build a log house over here?

I’ve always had a small appetite so I can live with nuts and berries as my main diet. Then, I’ll train myself to fight against beasts and maybe I can become a self-sufficient forest-dweller who is capable of protecting himself.

As Sui escaped reality in such an outrageous way, he heard the sound of leaves rustling.

Is it a crow again?

As he was thinking that, little by little, the sound of rustling grew closer.

A human? A beast? Sui held his breath at the growing sounds in the once quiet forest.

Will I be forced to attack even though I still don’t have the strength to fight a beast? Is my life going to end here?

As he stood on his guard, Sui thought he saw the shadow of a person. Was it an illusion he had created in this extreme situation?

Sui leaned his tired body forward slightly and strained his eyes.

“You over there, who are you?” the words came flying out in a sharp voice.

A human.

Sui hesitated a bit, then shouted as loudly as possible. “I’ve lost my way.”

Perhaps the person believed him or they had been looking for a lost person, but the shadow slowly came closer.

The person who had appeared, pushing aside the nearby thicket, was a young man.

Beautiful. The moment Sui saw that young man, he forgot about everything and could only think that.

The young man had beguiling white hair that shone under the sunlight. His eyes were covered by a piece of cloth but, looking at the contours of his face and the arch of his nose, there was no doubt that he had a handsome face.

He was so beautiful, like a spirit of the forest, that Sui suspected that the man was actually an illusion he himself had created.

“What is it?” The young man asked suspiciously.

With a start, Sui came to his senses and shook his head vigorously.

“Um, well.” As he became flustered, not knowing what to say, Sui suddenly noticed that there was blood soaking through the sleeve of the young man’s shirt. Looking closely, there was a large gash there.

Perhaps noticing Sui’s gaze, the young man said – “It just got caught on a tree. It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it,” and hid his arm behind his back.

“Please wait a second.” Sui tore his own sleeve.

“Huh? What are you…?”

Sui grabbed the startled young man’s arm.

Looking at it closely, though it was bleeding, the cut itself didn’t seem that deep. 

Sui didn’t know the correct medical treatment but for the moment, he tied the torn bit of his sleeve around the man’s arm. He didn’t know if it would completely stop the bleeding but it should help out a little.

“It’s fine already.”

It was unclear whether he could see with his blindfolded eyes but the young man stared at the arm Sui had released. Then, after a bit, he muttered, “Thanks.”

“…right, you, what are you doing in such a place?”

Oh yeah. When the young man repeated his question, Sui remembered his situation and his bewilderment that had flown off somewhere.

“I’ve lost my way.”

It occurred to Sui that he had used the exact same wording as he did before.

“Excuse me?”

“What?”

“Perhaps, are you also lost…?”

It was highly possible. After all, he was here, deep inside this dense and mysterious forest.

It may or may not be a reassuring thing that the number of lost-buddies had increased.

The young man chuckled, “Am I someone who’d get lost?”

What does that mean? Sui tilted his head at that self-assured and confident answer.

The young man turned around on his heel.

“Follow me.”

“Eh? Where to?”

“It’s already late. Though beasts don’t usually come here, it’s still dangerous.”

“Are you familiar with this area?”

“I wouldn’t say familiar, I live here.”

“Live here…?”

Could he have been a tough guy that had gotten lost in the forest way before Sui did? Then, are Sui’s escapist thoughts from before going to come true?

What an amazing ability to take action. As Sui was admiring him, the young man turned around and flicked Sui on the forehead. 

Taken by surprise, Sui held his forehead, dumbfounded.

“It felt like you were thinking of something stupid.” Saying that, the young man’s lips twisted into a somewhat mischievous smile.

He then turned around and started walking again, and Sui followed behind.

Maybe he shouldn’t be following a stranger 1. But, somehow, the young man didn’t seem to be a bad person 2. And the young man was the only person around that he could rely on.

Anyway, if he couldn’t come up with a way to escape this forest, he’d just stay like this and die. In that case… Sui half felt that it didn’t matter and half expected it to turn out alright. He had no idea what kind of place he’d be taken to but, for now, he decided to wait and see.

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