The General Store of a Pioneer Village and a Birthday Gift (Part 2)

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Author: Sasaki Ichiro Original Source: Syosetu
Translator: Mab English Source: Re:Library
Editor(s): Silva

With how open Regina’s disgust of that place was, it instead made me full of curiosity to see what it held. “Curiosity kills the cat. I dare you to tell me you want to go there; I’ll leave you to die,” Regina immediately warned me, and seeing even Maya the Caru nodded her head as if agreeing to her master, an unfathomable sense of fear began to grow in me.

With no other choice, I replied thusly. “I-, I understand. I’ll keep it in mind.”

“We’re heading for the pioneer village that’s just up ahead,” Regina added, indicating with the end of her cane. All I could see was an endless field of grass, however. “It’s a small village, it hasn’t been there longer than 15 years, but it has everything you need. Take this opportunity to remember the way, Jill, since it will be you who frequents the town to buy things.”

“I’m happy to head out for shopping anytime, but how many kilomertes away is it?”

I had heard that the distance to the horizon was about four kilomertes for an adult, but I couldn’t spot a single village, or even fields, even if I stood on the tip of my toes. Seeing me asking the question nervously, Regina grinned and answered.

“I don’t know the exact distance, but I could reach there on Maya’s back in 30 minutes.”

Maya lifted her nose proudly. However, hearing that, my eyes went dark. 30 minutes… It took Maya, an S-rank demon beast, thirty whole minutes…?!!

I knew it was vain to ask, but just in case, I raised my question. “Erm, I understand that you will be riding Maya, but in this case, what about me…?”
“You’ve got those nice, supple legs! Work them on!”

…yup. Exactly the answer I had expected.

Then, with my exhaustion at an all-time high, we walked for more than four hours without a single break, almost at a snail’s pace, and somehow managed to reach our destined pioneer village.

♢♦♢♦♢

Surprisingly, what was grown in the village wasn’t wheat, but rather upland rice. Apparently, the staple food in this village was rice (although of the long-grain variety close to the original strain) instead of wheat. As a former Japanese, I felt comforted by the scenery, which I could say was my ancestor’s landscape.

“Jill! Put up your hood before you enter the village. Magicians are subject to suspicion already, we don’t need your face to attract more attention (after all, having a white skin with no blemish, pinkish blonde hair, and jade green eyes is as conspicuous as it can be).”

Rebuked in a strong tone of voice, I slipped on the black robe that matched Regina’s that she gave me on our way out and pulled the hood over my head to cover my profile.

(She’s right. An ugly ragweed like me would only be a nuisance and ruin everyone’s mood if I go out in public…)

“Yeah, that’s good enough.”

After Regina, on top of Maya, nodded in approvement, I followed her towards the entrance of the village. There were two men who looked to be in their 20s and looked like farmers standing in front of the log-paneled gate, chatting away in their spare time. They stopped chattering when they noticed our arrival, seemingly wary of us for a moment, but when they saw Maya and Regina riding her, they promptly relaxed their shoulders.

“Heya there, miss Witch of the Forest. Are you here to go shopping today?”
“Yeah. Also, my apprentice will be taking that role from now on, so I thought I’d stop by and say hello.”
“Oh. I didn’t know you had an apprentice, old lady. Quite the small boyo too. What’s your name, kid?”
“Ah, I-, I’m Jill.’
“Oops, so you’re a small missy! Makes sense, since you’re the witch’s apprentice. My bad!”
“Right, miss Witch. The barriers on the outskirts of the village collapsed in the rain the other day, so the village chief is wondering if you could take a look at them.”
“Hmph. Maybe I’ll stop by on my way back.”
“Please do.”

How should I say this… A witch living in a forest infested by demon beasts, an S-rank demon beast as her familiar, and her apprentice who was hiding her face the whole time. With the uniform black-theme between the three of us, this group would normally be very suspicious, and yet what’s with this welcoming atmosphere the gatekeepers gave us? Shouldn’t they at least have me pull down my hood so they could see my bare face? Instead, they simply let me into the village after we finished the conversation. Is this okay? Is this really okay?

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Now then, while indeed we said shopping, it was still a small village. All it had was a row of stores consisting of the general store, a tinker, and a pharmacy. Regina first stopped by the pharmacy and sold off the medicinal herbs and day-old decoctions we had brought—almost at the price she demanded—and then we went around to several houses of people she seemed to know to buy grains and vegetables. Everytime, I was forced to socialize with those people.

Finally, we stopped at the general store and purchased some small items (such as sugar, salt, pepper, vinegar, soap, etc) and put them in the bag I was carrying—a magical tool that could hold anything of a certain weight and size and still retained its original look and weight, basically Doraemon’s dimensional pocket. When I was putting them in, Regina looked at me with a frown, as if she had noticed my presence once again.

“Jill, haven’t you grown a little bigger in the last month?”

“Have… I?” To be honest, all I was watching for was my weight, so I didn’t pay much attention to my height or pretty much anything else.

“Now, now, children her age grow up quickly. Since you’re here, why don’t you fix this to her size, if you don’t mind second-hand clothes that is.” As the grocery store proprietress suggested, she pulled out some women’s clothes (obviously, I guess) from the store’s back and pushed them against me through my robe to check my size.

I looked at Regina for an answer, but surprisingly, she indirectly agreed to the store proprietress’ suggestion, but not without a snide remark. “By golly, you’re just one unnecessary expense after another.”

“Then, how about this one?”
“Isn’t that a tad too big for her?”
“She’ll grow into it pretty soon. Sweetie, how old are you?”
“I’m 10—no, I turned 11 last week.”
“Oh my! So this is a birthday present then?!”

When the proprietress looked at her with a gleam in her eyes, Regina waved her hand with a disgusted look.

“Nope, just a coincidence. Right, you had that rag you stockpiled just in case but ended up not selling, didn’t you? Do you still have it?”
“Aah, the ribbon? I do, why?”
“Can I look at it again?”
“Sure thing. Just wait a second.”

The proprietress retreated to the back once again—perhaps taking some time to look for the item, or perhaps taking time to clean the item that had been collecting dust in the storage—and came back with an emerald colored ribbon in her hand. Regina took one look at the ribbon, then glanced at me, and then spoke in a casual tone.

“Yeah, I’ll take that too.”

Her casual tone made the proprietress’ eyes wide open. “…One of these amounts to half of your grocery for today, you know? Are you sure?”

“Hmph. She’s going to run an errand for me from now on. This is just an investment, so she won’t think she can rip me off.”

The proprietress shrugged her shoulders at Regina’s remark and was about to lump the ribbon together with the rest of the grocery, when Regina yanked it from the side and carelessly tossed it in my direction. I quickly grabbed it in the air.

“Stop using that dirt smeared handkerchief. You’re shaming me, your mentor.”

Which meant this was a gift for me. It took me a few seconds to understand the meaning of the words she said.

An emerald ribbon…the same color as my eyes. As I was staring at it dumbfounded, the proprietress turned a huge smile at me. “Isn’t that wonderful, sweetie. It’s a birthday present.”

“Ahh! …Thank you very much, mentor.” I bowed my head, holding the ribbon with both hands, expressing my heartfelt gratitude.

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How should I say this… as Princess Syltianna, I had the memory of receiving mountains of gifts every year, and yet I had no ‘happy’ emotion associated with those gifts. I don’t know if Syltianna never had that emotion to begin with, or if that association was lost when the two personalities were merged, but I do know that this is the first time ever I (Jill) have received a gift from someone.

I was so happy I almost felt tears spilling out, and yet Regina only remained silent and looked outside the store, not losing her devil-may-care face. However, Maya, who was stationed outside the store, was wagging her tail in a good mood and squinting her eyes.

Incidentally, it was only a bit later that I learned that familiars and their masters shared a certain amount of emotional subtleties.



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