Volume 2 Chapter 3: 【Misunderstandings are the Spice of Love】
-Translator: MiaoMix [Comments will be in Pink]
-Editor: Options [Comments will be in Blue]
>> Satou here. Love comedies of all ages tend to use misunderstandings or disagreements to push the story to a climax. In reality, I’m afraid the relationship might end right there! <<
I can hear the sound of people outside. Did I oversleep a bit?
While savoring the warmth under the covers, I think about last night.
Not only did I learn a lot of knowledge yesterday, but also how Arisa became a slave.
Just before Arisa fell asleep, I tried asking, “Would you like to be freed?” But she says that under her 「Curse」, it would be impossible.
If she were to be freed, it would violate the condition of the 「Curse」, and she would die a painful death. It seems to be a hex-like skill. [^Curse]
At big cities like the Duchy or the Capital, there may be someone who can cancel or override 「Curse」, so we’ll think about freeing her from slavery when we get there.
When I first found out Arisa was hypnotizing me with magic, I planned on sending her back the next morning, but after hearing about her tragic past, I’m not so heartless that I would abandon a helpless Japanese girl in this turbulent world.
This kindness may be my downfall, but I’ll deal with that when it happens.
The advantage of being Level 310 and having wealth rivaling a nation will trump everything.
As if to flatten that almost arrogant determination, the door suddenly swings open with a bang.
—without knocking at all.
“Satou-san, are you awake? Your lover is here!”
Martha-chan is already so energetic this early in the morning.
Behind her, Zena-san is mumbling, “I… we’re not lovers...” while scrambling to cover Martha-chan’s mouth.
I sit up to greet them.
A little cold— Right, Arisa took off my shirt yesterday.
“Ooh, what a nice body!”
Martha-chan admires my bare chest with interest. As for Zena-san, she is standing in the back covering her beet-red face, but her eyes are peeking curiously through her fingers.
As a soldier, shouldn’t she be used to seeing men naked?
“Excuse me, I have been inconsiderate. I will put on something right now.”
I push myself up, trying to get off the bed.
—Feels warm to the touch.
Looking down, I see a half-naked little girl. My hand had landed on her chest— Oh yeah, she fell asleep like this last night.
Seeing the little girl sleeping on my bed, Zena-san’s face turns from pink to blue.
“... Goshujin-sama… if you’re that rough… I’ll break...”
At the same time, Lulu talks in her sleep with impeccable timing.
Looking over, I see her fast asleep facing away from us, having just turned over. Her short clothing is raised up, completely exposing her cute butt— speaking of which, she isn’t wearing underwear!
Not only that, there are red stains on the sheets…
What? I didn’t do anything to her though?
“In-, in-, indecent! Satou-san is a big idioooot~~~!”
Zena-san cries as she bolts out of the room.
Martha-chan only scratches her head and says, “Pardon me~ Please take your time~” before shutting the door.
—First time I hear someone say “indecent” in real life.
As if this weren’t any of my business…
“Goshujin-sama, can I get some clean cloth? Lulu seems to be on her period.”
I give her some cloth from the bag.
“Thanks. Shouldn’t you give chase? If you don’t hurry, she’ll be quite mad, you know?”
We’re just friends and not lovers though.
Still, I don’t want a friend to think of me as a lolicon, so let’s go clear the misunderstanding.
I can’t just run out half-naked like this, so I put on the shirt near my feet. I shouldn’t have to explain, but my pants were on the whole time.
Checking the radar, I see Zena-san running out the inn into Central Boulevard. As expected of a soldier, she is fast on her feet. In a few seconds, she will pass right in front of this room.
—This function is so convenient, it would be scary in the hands of a stalker.
While contemplating this pointless problem, I hop out the window just in the nick of time. [^window]
Then, blocking Zena-san’s way, I land carefully. I catch the startled Zena-san, and cancel the momentum with a dance-like spin.
>>> Skill obtained 「Dancing」
“Zena-san, it’s not what it looks like.”
Zena-san has her hands on my chest trying to push me away in rejection. There’s no force behind it— Can’t let go now.
If I do, “unwilling to believe yet wanting to trust”— such a paradoxical maiden heart will surely react negatively.
“But, that cute girl was on the same bed with you!”
“She probably got on the wrong bed!”
Just sleeping on the same bed as a child is not a problem, okay?
My shorts stayed on the whole time yesterday too. I really want to scream out my innocence.
—I am not a lolicon!
“There was that black-haired girl too! Ooh, uh...”
“If you mean the older sister with bad sleeping habits, it seems to be that time of the month for her.”
It’s not really something you can say out loud, so I whisper into Zena-san’s ear.
Zena-san finally relaxes. [^stud]
“Bu-, but, men alway buy female slaves for nightly service, Lilio said!”
—Curse you, Lilio.
In my head, I yell at Lilio, who seems to be patrolling outside 「Seiryuu City」 right now.
As Zena-san’s guard and probably best bud, Lilio probably said that to protect her innocent friend, but enough with the baseless accusation!
“That’s not the case at all. I bought those sisters to serve as maids. Liza and the others do well as guards, but they can’t be sent on errands.”
Her mind understands, but is her heart still unconvinced?
If I blurt out “I would have bought mature women if I wanted to do that” right now, it would probably only anger her, so let’s drop it.
“Your outfit today is quite refreshing! All those frills give a clean yet elegant look. It really brings out your charm, Zena-san.”
In this case, I will muddle the issue by showering her with compliments.
Embarrassed, Zena answers, “But that’s… It’s just clothing…” yet she looks somewhat delighted.
“You look good, but this seems a bit thin. Don’t you feel cold?”
“No, it’s fine, because I have trained.”
That’s not the right line for a girl, Zena-san.
You have to grab the guys arm and say “I can stay warm like this, no?” to tease him!
“Right, that store over there sell pretty nice scarves. Why don’t we go see? I’m sure it will fit you, Zena-san.”
“Really? Let’s go see!”
Nice, I’ve changed the subject!
It’s the store Martha-chan went to on my first day in 「Seiryuu City」.
Then, after comparing dozens of scarves and shawls, I buy the pink scarf Zena-san chose as a present for her.
Though there is a bit of back-and-forth before she accepts it, she cheered up by the time we leave the store.
...Women sure take a long time to shop, no?
Back at the inn with Zena, I see Arisa waving, standing some distance from the entrance. She seems to be in front of the carriage path leading to the courtyard.
“Welcome back, goshujin-sama. Seems like the misunderstanding is cleared. That’s good.”
Hearing her speak as if she wasn’t the cause of the problem, I give her a light flick on the forehead.
“I’m back. What are you doing out here?”
“We were hungry, so I came to find Liza for some food.”
“Did everyone eat?”
“Yeah, Lulu is stll eating. Well, she doesn’t have much of an appetite...”
Right, it would be hard to digest cheese and smoked meat when she isn’t feeling well. I give Arisa several 「Coppers」, asking her to buy some fruit for Lulu.
Meanwhile, I go back to the room to change.
Zena is waiting for me in the tavern on the first floor of the inn having a fruity drink.
Back in the room, I pour water from the 「Bottomless Waterskin」 into the bronze basin to wash my face. I don’t seem to have bed hair, so I merely put some water on it. When I have time, let’s look for hair gel in this world!
“Sorry for the wait, Zena-san”
“No, it’s fine. I was just chatting with Martha-san.”
After saying “I’ll be out of your hair now”, Martha-chan returns to work.
In her place, Arisa comes in from the entrance, and I have her go fetch Liza and the others.
Lulu doesn’t look well, so I let her stay in the room to rest. I also ask the young maid Yuni to bring water up to the room, giving her a couple of 「Micro Coins」 as the tip.
When Zena-san and I walk outside, Arisa has already brought Liza and everyone else.
“Use this money to buy some clothing and everyday items for everyone. Leave the haggling and calculating to Arisa. Liza, you make sure Arisa and the others don’t get pickpocketed or harassed by kidnappers.”
I hand a bag containing about ten 「Silvers」 to Liza. Another bag for Arisa has about two 「Silvers」 worth of change.
Since it’s dangerous to keep all the money together, I use the trick I learned from traveling abroad.
I agree to Arisa’s hushed request to grant her permission for using detection or concealing magic as a safety precaution. Oh yeah, I didn’t revoke the order after forbidding the use of magic last night.
“Pochi will guard too, no desu!”
“Alright, you two stay near Arisa then.”
“Yes, nano desu!”
I pet the enthusiastic Pochi and Tama.
Hmm, since they bathed every day in the citadel, their hair is smooth and clean unlike when we first met.
“Another thing. If you see the sorcerer who can use 「Life Magic」, have her use cleaning magic on you.”
Saying that to Arisa and everyone else, I give them a couple more 「Silvers」 to pay for the 「Life Magic」.
“Oh, goshujin-sama. Is it fine if we buy some snacks with the change?”
“One 「Large Copper」 at most. It’s almost lunchtime, so don’t get too much snacks.”
After energetically responding “Yeah~”, Arisa starts on a shortcut toward 「Tepta Boulevard」.
With Pochi and Tama at her side, just like a neighborhood bully. Liza following behind them would be the parent.
“Seems like your slaves are easy to get along with, huh?”
“It might not be proper behavior for slaves, but it’s less stressful this way.”
If I’m serviced like a king in his palace, I’m confident I would become a useless heap of trash, so I’m okay with this.
Judging by all the knowledge about about slaves Nidoren taught me, this should be within the acceptable range.
“So are you on a break today?”
“Yeah, since we’re finished with one stage of the dungeon survey, I have all of today off.”
Zena-san answers merrily, but with only a half-day break before this after she escaped the dungeon, the working conditions seem more cruel than at a heartless corporation.
I won’t say anything since she doesn’t seem to mind, but I do worry about her over-exerting herself.
“Are you going back to your team tomorrow?”
“No, I’ll have to hand things off to the new Dungeon Department. At the earliest, it will probably take five more days before getting back to County Patrol.”
According to Zena-san, County Patrol may either go on a longer, two- to three-day excursions, or a short one-day patrol.
Teams with Arcane Soldiers are usually sent on longer trips, so we won’t have many chances to meet once she goes back on her team.
—I remember now, Arisa said she wants to go to a dungeon.
“Zena-san, about the dungeon, can people who are not part of the army not enter right now?”
“Yes, seems like it will be closed for several months at least. You don’t mean, there’s someone you know who still hasn’t come back?”
“Oh, no, that’s not the reason. I was just asking out of curiosity. Sorry to make you worry.”
Apparently, Arisa’s wish won’t be granted here.
For the beastgirls’ situation too, how about going to the 「Dungeon City」 after I finish touring 「Seiryuu City」?
It’ll be sad to leave Zena-san here, but I can come back to visit!
“Satou-san, do you have any plans today?”
While contemplating such things, I answer Zena-san’s question without much thought.
“Hmm, I want to head to to an all-round agency to ask them to find a house or lodging that can accommodate demi-humans. I can’t keep letting Liza and the others stay in the stable, after all.” [^nandemoya]
“Uh-, um, is it alright if I come along?”
Clutching her hands, Zena-san looks up anxiously.
“No problem, but are you really fine with using your vacation day on something like this?”
Still, I don’t think it would be any fun accompanying me on house-hunting... Since she is responding with such a bright smile, I won’t push further.
With Zena-san on my side, we head to the All-Round Agency across the gateside plaza.
“Hello, is anyone here right now?”
Not seeing anyone on the first floor of the All-round Agency, I call out to the people inside.
I know people are on the second floor through the radar, so I was exactly as loud as I need to be. Thanks to the 「Broadcast」 skill I obtained, it doesn’t hurt even if I yell loudly.
A soothing voice on the second floor yelling out “Coming!”, then the sound of footsteps going down stairs.
Inside the All-Round Agency, there is a wooden reception counter near the entrance, with a set of sofas and a heavy-looking office desk further in.
Various documents are piled up on the sofa set table. It gives off the air of an old-school private investigator’s office.
“Thank you for waiting. I am Nadi of the All-Round Agency.”
The one who descended the stairs is a twenty-something woman with her red hair tied in a bun. She is wearing a white shirt, as well as a deep green skirt with suspenders.
“So, how may I help you today?”
“Yes, I would like you to help me find housing or lodging—”
I add on that I would like some place that will accept demi-human slaves and is decently safe.
Preferably in a quiet area, but that’s not as important as the first two.
“If you have demi-humans with you, it has to be the west side or the parts of the craftsmen sector that border it. The west side has safety concerns, so I don’t recommend renting there.”
Nadi-san says while going through a thick file on real estate.
I’m surprised she has files on this— it would be rude if I say it out loud.
“And what is your budget?”
“Let’s see, I’m thinking around two 「Silvers」. If that’s not enough, anything under one 「Gold」 is acceptable.”
“I have a few places in mind if that’s the case.”
At the slightly high-end 「Gateside Inn」, the rate is one 「Large Copper」 per night, so accounting for the the number of people, I came up with two 「Silver」 budget.
I thought it would be more than enough, but Nadi-san’s reaction seems to suggest that it is barely enough.
“These three properties, I think they fit your requirements. Only...”
Nadi-san hesitates before explaining.
Seems like all three are problematic.
Since I took the time to come, I’ll let her show them to me before deciding whether to actually rent.
The first property. A two-floor house on 300 *tsubo*, whose previous owner was murdered by a criminal guild. With the vines covering the stone fence, my first impression is of a gloomy mansion. [^tsubo1]
Checking the three-dimensional floor plan on the map, I find a large hole on the wall, not visible from the front door.
I suppose that’s where the killer broke in, and left it like that after the act.
Since it seems to be blocked by potted plants from the outside, I lead Nadi-san towards the hole while she is giving a tour of the interior— of course, I pretended to be lost.
At the second property, the rental carriage passes directly in front of the house without stopping. It’s right in front of the road that leads to all the brothels.
Just as Nadi-san start to explain, Zena-san stiffly orders the driver, “Please leave this place.”
The way she is lowering her reddish face is kinda cute.
The third property is a haunted, broken-down shack near the outer wall.
Once the house of a noble a century ago, this is the largest building among the three, yet I still wouldn’t want to live here.
Part of it is that I can’t stand horror and gore, but more importantly, a criminal guild has set up shop right under this mansion.
Hiding out within are mostly murders and other criminals with heinous records.
My guess, they are here to wait out the storm, and spread the rumors of ghost sightings.
The dots on the radar are behaving oddly. They have gone past the mansion’s range.
Incredulously checking the 「Map」, I discover a tunnel that leads out of the city. Maybe it has been there since the noble’s time. It must be a route for smuggling.
I stop Zena-san who is about to enter.
“The atmosphere here feels eerie. Let’s not go in. It could be cursed.”
Hearing me say that, Zena-san’s face shows surprise. Yeah, it sounds nothing like what someone who had been through a dungeon infested with skeleton monsters would say.
“Did you know that if there are any ghosts or other undead monsters, you can donate to a temple and ask them to perform an exorcism?”
Nadi-san suggests a solution true to this Fantasy world, but even if I ask priests to come, the criminals would just hide underground.
Let’s write an anonymous tip later, and alert the guard office.
Surely, the skill 「Covert Operation」 will come in handy.
In the end, none of the properties we visited were satisfactory, so the tour ended there.
“—If your budget is two 「Silvers」 per decade, there must be other options. I’ll visit the merchant's guild this afternoon to see if there are some nice properties.”
If Nadi-san is that confident, I’ll come to the All-round Agency again in the evening.
I thought their prices were two 「Silvers」 per day, but apparently rent is calculated per decade— every ten days.
Right, I really should have made it clear.
Since there’s not much to do until the evening, I ask Zena-san if there’s anywhere she wants to go. The restaurant before needs reservation, so it’s probably not an option today.
Seeing Zena-san at a loss for words, Nadi-san gives a recommendation.
“The plaza up ahead has been hosting a flea market since yesterday! There’s a lot of unexpectedly good deals, so the owner and I would usually go pick up cheap goods on the last day.”
Hearing Nadi-san add “It’s a great place for a date!”, Zena-san blushes hard.
Since we have the time, I decide to go see the flea market with Zena-san before going back.
According to Nadi-san, the flea market has an outdoor stage performing the ever-so-popular romantic drama “Tragedy at the March of Mouno”. [^march]
Since the flea market will be crowded, I decrease the range of the radar while enlarging the display, showing me every movement within five meters. This way, I can clearly tell whoever comes close.
“Goshujin-sama, nano desu!”
Pochi and Tama tackle my waist.
Behind them stand Liza and Arisa.
“Oh? Where are the things you bought?”
“They were pretty heavy, so we brought them back to the inn already! Look, look!”
Taking off her hoodie and handing it to Liza, Arisa does an in-place spin.
Her peach-yellow skirt fan out, revealing her thighs, but a child’s legs holds no allure at all.
They probably bought new clothes on 「Tepta Boulevard」.
Pochi and Tama also open up their hoodie, and show me their new outfits. Tama is in a cute frilly pink dress; Pochi in a white shirt and yellow skirt similar to Martha-chan’s style; and Liza in a sturdy-looking military-esque outfit. Pants are worn under the skirts.
Pochi and Tama want to imitate Arisa and show off with a spin, but since the crowd is getting thicker, Liza stops them.
“All of you look cute!”
While placing my hands on Pochi and Tama’s hooded heads, I praise them.
I’m not being polite, they really are cute.
“Oh, and the wig?”
“Ehehe~ It’s to hide my ominous hair.”
Yeah, Arisa is sporting a blonde wig.
Obviously, it’s meant to hide her purple hair.
“It’s fine, right?”
“Yeah, of course.”
To avoid trouble, this is a necessary expense.
“Also, there’s something I want~”
Arisa presses her flat chest against me, and looks up with puppy eyes.
“Don’t stick to me. What do you need?”
I pull Arisa away, and ask what she wants.
Zena-san’s questioning gaze hurts a lot. I’d be troubled if Pochi and Tama start imitating.
After making sure Zena-san doesn’t mind, I go check out what Arisa wants to buy. I am brought to a stall where karuta-esque cards are displayed. [^karuta]
With the young owner’s permission I pick one up to see.
The front has drawings of things like “Well” or “Bucket”, while the back has the corresponding words in Shiga language.
The drawings are black and white, but by emphasizing the characteristics of the drawn objects, they’re easily distinguishable. The card for “water” is a little intelligible, but that seems to be one of the few exceptions.
One set contains a hundred of these cards, each hand-drawn with much care.
They seem to be suitable for teaching Pochi and Tama how to read.
“Quite interesting cards.”
“It’s my own idea! It was originally meant to teach the kids in my hometown how to read.”
He explains that he originally used charcoal to draw on scrap lumber. When he realized he can sell them, he commissioned an artist he knew to craft an entire set, planning on making a pitch to the merchant’s guild.
However, they were unable to reach a deal on the production cost and selling price, so the pitch failed. Each set costs four 「Silvers」 to produce, yet the guild thought it was only worth one.
“Every one of these cards are hand-drawn?”
“Yes, that is a given...”
If he can make block printings, wouldn’t the cost go down a lot?
Just as I am about to make the suggestion, Arisa pulls on my hand to stop me. She puts a finger to her lips.
“You’re going to suggest block printing, no?”
Arisa speaks with a hushed tone, so I play along and also whispher.
“What’s wrong with that?”
“I have never seen block printing during my time in the castle. It’s dangerous to carelessly spread around technology, you know?”
“There are stamps, but not block printing?”
“That is what technology is like.”
I vaguely remember that in Earth’s history, more than a millenium passed between the appearance of the first stamps and the invention of the printing press. Applying the techniques of one field to another probably takes a long time.
I do wonder why the Transmigrators and Translocators who came to this world before me never promoted the printing press or block printing.
Arisa has experienced failure on this front before, so let’s listen to her warning and forget about block printing.
The hushed talk ends here, and I turn to the young owner again.
“Sorry, the subject seems to be too dry for her.”
“I should be the one apologizing. Not many people are interested...”
Too few people are interested? I thought it would be a hot buy.
“We’ll buy one set. How much?”
His gloomy expression lightening somewhat, he suggests four 「Silvers」 for the set— Isn’t that his cost?
“Is it really fine? Don’t you make no profit from this?”
“It’s fine. I just want my customers to understand what’s good about my product.”
His depressed mannerism is a little too much to bear.
It’s a waste that such a great idea might go up in smoke.
“What do you plan on improving for the next batch? Since there seems to be some demand, the issue must be the cost. Maybe look for a cheap material, or develop a low-cost production method? Trial and error is an enjoyable process!”
As I’m paying for the cards, I say something unnecessary… It’s fine to just give advice, right?
After seeing some light return to the young owner’s eyes, we leave the store.
I give the flash cards we bought to Arisa.
“What else do you want to buy?”
“Just some small things. If they’re within budget, would a sewing kit and a hand mirror be fine?”
“Yeah, whatever you need as long as it’s within budget— Well, you can go over with the hand mirror.”
Since it’s too much trouble to use the water in the basin to check out my reflection every time, I actually do want one of those.
There are “broken mirrors” among the loot from 「Dragon’s Canyon」, but they’re too dangerous to use normally.
Separating from everyone else who are going to keep shopping, I prepare to take Zena-san to the Theater, but Arisa calls after me.
“Goshujin-sama, are you going to watch the outdoor play?”
“Yeah, that’s the plan.”
“In that case, have you bought the tickets at the market entrance?”
So they’re selling tickets over there?
Since there are a lot of people, we could probably get in by going with the crowd.
“I heard from Lilio, we can just pay one 「Micro」 when we enter.”
“That works too, but you’d have to stand at the back! The tickets are two 「Coppers」 each, but you can sit down to watch.”
“It costs ten times more just for a seat?”
Despite Zena-san’s surprise, I think it’s more like standing is much cheaper.
I’m not sure how long the play is, so getting seats is probably better.
Since Arisa and everyone else want to go see it too, we’ll buy six tickets in all— As I announce this, Liza volunteers to go buy the tickets for everyone.
After giving the twelve 「Coppers」 in a bag to Liza, we start toward the outdoor stage, while looking around the flea market.
I feel a little sorry for Zena-san, but just like that, we browse the market with third wheels in tow.
I did try apologizing to Zena-san about it, but seeing her joyously looking at the stalls holding Pochi and Tama’s hands, she doesn’t seem to mind at all. Even so, let’s not forget to appease her again later. [^pets]
The quality of the items sold at the stalls in this flea market varies a lot.
Mixed among some seemingly low-cost bone accessories, there turn out to be some cute silver earings.
“These go quite well with your blond hair!”
Zena-san happily puts them by her ears asking “Look good?” while I answer with praise.
Next to us, Arisa claims that she wants something too, so I get her a ribbon from the next stall over.
Of course, not just Arisa, everyone gets one, including Lulu who’s resting back at the inn.
Zena-san puts down the earrings reluctantly. If she would ask directly like Arisa did, I would have an excuse to buy them for her.
While Arisa and the others run to the next store holding Zena-san’s hand, I take this chance to buy the earrings. They’ll be a present for her on the way back!
After meeting up with Liza who has bought the tickets, I get her a tassle for her spear as thanks.
At every store, I can buy at prices much lower than what’s suggested by the 「Evaluation」 skill. It could be because this is a flea market, or maybe it’s due to the effect of the 「Negotiation」 and 「Haggling」 skills.
On the way to the outdoor stage, we ran into pickpockets and scoundrels twice. Since the 「Radar」 will alert me about the approach of anyone with ill-intent, they were quickly disposed.
After tying up the criminals, we left them to the brawny men patrolling the area, hired by the organizer of the flea market.
It’s fine to deal with these criminals using harsh methods, but we had to be a little more careful with the men trying to hit on Zena-san.
Still, before they can even put a hand on Zena-san, either Liza or I would brush them away, physically.
“O fair maiden! I wish to admire your smile under the brilliant sun, not under moonlight!”
“Yes, Zen, my love. Please use your magic to whisk me away from this cage-like castle!”
On the stage, an actor in a magician’s robe is conveying his love to the black-haired actress in a dress. Their passionate acting really outshines the shabby full moon stage prop.
...Zen, huh? After meeting Arisa, I can’t help but think about the kanji whenever I see a potentially Japanese name. With Zen, it could be either “禅” or “善”.
I don’t care much for tragedy, so while I tune out the play, I think about various things.
On the other hand, Arisa and Zena-san probably enjoy this genre, as both of them are leaning forward, absorbed in the story.
Since this tragic romance is based on a true story, the characters are somewhat complex. Unable to keep up with such a story, Pochi and Tama started napping on my lap.
Although Liza is facing the stage at full attention, she isn’t really watching the play, but focusing on the smell of kebabs coming from the direction of the stage.
Every time the fragrance of grilled chicken is carried over by the wind, without fail, her eyes would narrow as if having found prey.
While I tease the napping Pochi and Tama by pinching thier noses, the play continues on stage.
“I have you at last! As a mere commoner magician, you dare kidnap Princess Lilutiana, the fiancée of I, Marquess Mouno! Your crime is unforgivable!”
A scene where an chubby actor, apparently portraying the Marquess, and his knights have cornered our protagonists.
Our hero stands on a cliff, as indicated by the props, bravely raising up his staff to protect the heroine. For some reason, a woman in a servant outfit is behind the two.
—This servant lady is probably an important flag!
The chubby actor waves his hand dramatically at the end of his line, and background hidden behind black curtains is revealed.
Zena-san and Arisa suddenly shrink back, each grabbing one of my arms.
The background depicts people being executed on the guillotine.
It seems a bit distasteful, but judging by the cheers and gasps coming from the crowd, people actually like it.
This city really has a high tolerance for violence.
“Father! Mother! Accursed Marquess, you even laid your hands on my younger siblings and relatives!”
“You have no right to be angry! You are a commoner rebelling against I, the Marquess. It’s only natural that a rebel’s family would be executed! You should be thankful for me graciously sparing them from torture!”
Red liquid drips down our hero’s eyes— How does that work?
The hero’s magic summons a violent gale, blowing the knights guarding the Marquess to the side of the stage.
Of course, it’s not real magic, but a simple stage effect created through props and background music, but the audience still cheers.
Since there are real magicians in this world, I wish they’d use real Light or Wind magic in the performance.
“Bastard, you don’t deserve to command those knights! Well, no one can protect you now. I shall carry out vengeance for my family!”
The hero raises his staff.
Then just as expected, the woman playing the servant makes her move.
Intentionally facing the audience, she slowly draws her hidden sword.
The audience tries to warn the hero “Watch out!” Yeah, I know the feeling.
Zena doesn’t make a sound, but seems to be deeply invested in the story. Her grip on my arm is getting tighter. It’s starting to hurt.
Obviously, the hero cannot hear the audience, and continues toward the actor playing the Marquess while chanting his spell.
At that moment, the servant actress runs up and stabs the hero in the back.
“Curse you! You were on the Marquess’s side!”
“It’s because the princess deserves someone better than you!”
Despite being stabbed, the hero admonishes the servant actress with a clear voice. And when he finishes his line, he dramatically keels over in pain.
Finally, the heroine runs to the hero’s side.
“My sword was coated with the deadly poison extracted from a wyvern’s tail. No one can save him.”
The servant says to the audience in exposition.
The heroine is huddled over the suffering hero, unable to stop crying.
“My love, let us meet again in the next life—”
The hero kicks the bucket.
“Your highness, let us return to the Marquess.”
“Never! I belong to Zen. The Marquess shall never have me!”
The heroine screams, then stabs herself with the sword that had killed Zen.
The audience— especially the female crowd— exclaims out of their emotional investment in the heroine.
Pochi and Tama are spooked by this sound, panickingly looking around, but I quietly assure them, “It’s just cheering for the play”.
The two of them immediately put their heads back down on my lap. As I scratch the back of their ears, I look back to the stage.
I was told that this is a tragic romance, but the plot is really beyond help.
I thought this was the end, but there is apparently more.
The body of the hero left on the cliff has come back as an Undead, taking revenge on the Marquess’s family one after another.
Just as the servant once again stabs the hero’s chest with the poisoned short sword, the hero exclaims “That poison is useless against my undead body!” and returned the favor, cleverly mirroring that scene in the first half. How interesting.
But, in the very end, just as the hero is about to succeed in his revenge against the Marquess, a paladin suddenly appears and defeats him, completely out of nowhere.
Apparently, more than a few people agree with me, as the audience begins to boo.
Some seem to be booing with a smile. Seems like deriding the Marquess and the Paladin during this scene is an unspoken rule.
Oh, it’s not over?
“My life ends here! However, I shall take this land with me! I 「Curse」 thee, Marquess Mouno!”
Black smoke blasts out from under the hero, and when it clears, the background has become a scene of ruin.
“O Paladin! I can’t stand to see mine citizens suffering in my stead. For them, I’m willing to do anything!”
“Ooh, what a noble resolve! As expected of the head of the Mouno House that has existed since the time of Our Founder Yamato-sama!”
I feel like the Marquess suddenly did a 180. The Paladin too, for praising him without reserve.
At last, the play finally ends on this note: “the Marquess sacrifices himself to cancel the 「Curse」 on the march”.
After the play ends, Arisa, who had been watching intently, says she is thirsty, so I give her some juice and let her rest in the shade.
“Zena-san, here’s yours.”
After thanking me, Zena-san takes the clay cup and downs it in one go.
Like I thought, Zena-san was quite thirsty too.
Liza, who went with me to buy drinks, also hands Pochi and Liza cups of juice.
I’m a little hungry, so I go to a nearby stall selling something like flatbread.
The smell of soy sauce on the grill attracted me. This is gabo flatbread, apparently made with the Fantasy vegetable gabo berry. The price is only one 「Micro」 for two, quite cheap.
They come in two flavors, plain and green onion with soy sauce, and I get one of each. The crowd after the play ended had bought all the food, and left not a single one ready.
The thin, okonomiyaki-like pancake from the neighboring stall looks good too, so I also put in several orders. They’re called “Krups”, which I have never heard of. [^okonomiyaki]
While I’m waiting, a middle-aged woman also waiting for her Krups makes conversation. She was sitting right in front of us.
“Oh, weren’t you the one sitting behind me? Are you a foreigner?”
“That’s right. I’m the traveling merchant, Satou.”
“My, aren’t you polite—”
After introducing herself, in order to kill time waiting on the Krups to be ready, she explains to me why the play came to have such a disastrous ending.
“That play just now, wasn’t the ending quite ridiculous?”
“You mean how the paladin came out of nowhere, and the Marquess had changed character?”
“Yes, the truth is—”
According to her, when this play was written twenty years ago, the original ending had the Magician successfully taking revenge on the Marquess before being defeated by the Paladin. But due to opposition from nobles, the ending changed to the current one.
What’s more, Princess Lilutiana was originally just a commoner, and the conflict began when the nefarious Marquess tried to snatch her away after her marriage.
—I see, so the story was later twisted and that led to those weird developments, huh.
When the flatbread and Krups are ready, I thank her and return to where everyone else are.
“What did you buy?”
“Original and green onion Gabo flatbread, and something called Krups.”
Everone reaches curiously for the sliced Gabo flatbread.
Zena-san declines with a bitter smile, so I take a piece myself like everyone else.
It’s so bitter, every time I bite down there’s a strange vomit-inducing taste.
Maybe it’s acceptable for locals who are used to this, but not me. I turn on 「Pain Resistance」, hold my breath, and swallow.
I take a sip of the juice to flush my palate.
When I feel alive again, I look around, seeing the beastgirls eating normally but with odd expressions, and Arisa chewing with a teary face.
“Arisa, if it’s too bitter, spit it out here.”
“Thanks, this is impossible for me.”
Taking my handkerchief, Arisa quickly disposes of what’s in her mouth.
Speaking of which, Zena-san did warn me “Gabo berry is disgusting”. The smell was covered by the soy sauce so I got careless.
On the other hand, the Krups taste pretty good.
It looks like a more thoroughly cooked thin okonomiyaki, but the dressing is not Worcestershire sauce but miso, so maybe it’s best to treat it as an entirely different dish.
While we much on the Krups under the shade, we excitely chat about the play.
“That series of classic blood-pumping scenes really took my breath away~”
“Seeing Princess Lilutiana take her own life right after Zen the Magician died almost made me cry.”
Zena-san wipes her slightly reddish eyes.
“Eh~ when that happened, she should have kept the sword and taken revenge on the Marquess! When she died, everything’s over for her.”
While stuffing her cheeks with Krup, Arisa retorts Zena-san.
“It’s crunchy and tough nano desu!”
“What kind of stock did they use? There’s a hint of meat.”
On the other hand, the three beastgirls are focused not on the play but the Krups.
“In my opinion, the Marquess who tried to break up the lovers is to blame for everything, no?”
“But, since Princess Lilutiana rejected the fiancé her family decided, didn’t the tragedy start from there?”
Perhaps due to the differences in Arisa and Zena-san’s values, their tones are becoming more emotional.
Arisa’s “Love trumps everything” and Zena-san’s “A noblewoman should marry for the good of her house” are clashing against each other.
“In that case! Zena-tan, you mean rather than mine goshujin-sama, you would be willing to marry the fiancé your family decides on?”
“...I-, I don’t have a fiancé though.”
Against Arisa’s question, Zena-san mutters weakly.
Well, Zena-san and I aren’t even lovers, and I won’t even consider her an option before four or five years have passed.
“Could it be, you joined the army to avoid getting a fiancé? After all, like in every neighboring country, resignation is impossible until five years after enlistment.”
Arisa sure knows a lot.
“What does resignation have to do with having a fiancé? Soldiers can still get married, no?”
“Women here have to stay home after marriage.”
I see, so it would be impossible to get married during the five years in service. Until it’s almost time for retirement, no one will bother her with the subject, huh.
High-class nobles are another story, but as a low-class noble, Zena-san probably doesn't need to make such a decision so urgently.
“As a woman, if you don't have the resolve to give up everything for the one you love, you wouldn’t be able to love anyone!”
“But, I can't ignore the House’s wishes either...”
“If you play the good girl any more, someone might steal away your love!”
Arisa has gone a little overboard, I think, so I lightly flick Arisa’s foreheat to stop the bickering.
“You’ve gone too far.”
I understand Arisa’s feeling, but she can’t force Japanese values onto a country with a completely different culture.
I apologize to the teary Zena-san, and I make Arisa do so as well.
She was a little reluctant, but still says “Sorry” to Zena-san in the end. She is surprisingly frank.
>>> Skill obtained 「Mediation」
>>> Title obtained 「Mediator」
Perhaps thinking we are arguing, Pochi and Tama are becoming restless.
“Do you want more Krups? Or, how about the kebabs over there?”
“Krups are tasty, but kebabs are better no desu!”
“Allow me to go purchase them— goshujin-sama?”
I merely suggested to ease the tension, but the beastgirls quickly react.
Especially Liza, who has already gotten up to go to the kebab stand.
—She’s way too fast.
I give the money to Liza and tell her, “Get one for each person.” Arisa leaves with Liza after declaring “Leave haggling to me!”.
“I’ll help nano desu!”
Pochi and Tama also get up to go along.
After struggling with the tough, sinewy kebab, Zena-san finally relaxes her expression, but seems to still be bothered by Arisa’s words.
[^Curse]: The kanji of the skill 「Curse」 actually reads “Coercion”.
[^window]: Uh, wasn’t the window too small to even fit his head? I don’t think they changed rooms… Ehhhh, as they say in Japan, 気にしたら負け.
[^stud]: I don’t think Zena relaxed because she trusted him. Remember, Satou has her in his arms, and is whispering into her ear. I think he could make up any excuse here and she would just melt.
[^nandemoya]: A *nandemo-ya* (何でも屋), a business that would fulfill any kind of request for a fee.
[^tsubo1]: About 1,000 square meters or a quarter of an acre.
[^march]: A march is the territory of a marquess. Also, a marquess is one rank above a count.
[^march]: A march is the territory of a marquess. Also, a marquess is one rank above a count.
[^karuta]: [*Karuta*](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karuta) (from Portuguese “carta”) are Japanese playing cards. One type of these cards has illustrations on one side, and corresponding phrases on the other. Trivia: *Uta-karuta*, a type of card pick-up pame, is the focus of the anime *Chihayafuru*.
[^pets]: Moral of the story, as long as there are really cute pets, girls don’t mind if you bring third wheels to the date.
[^okonomiyaki]: [Okonomiyaki](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okonomiyaki) is a Japanese savory pancake.
[^pets]: Moral of the story, as long as there are really cute pets, girls don’t mind if you bring third wheels to the date.
[^okonomiyaki]: [Okonomiyaki](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okonomiyaki) is a Japanese savory pancake.