|Author: Sasaki Ichiro||Original Source: Syosetu|
|Translator: Mab||English Source: Re:Library|
Along the pathway, dazzlingly green and moist from the rain and morning dew, three people and one beast (plus one still in its egg) were slowly trodding into the depths of the forest.
The one leading the group was Maya, a huge black cat that was about four to five mertes long —Regina’s familiar, a caru that was high on the food chain here in the Tenebrae Nemus (according to Regina, there were still Ancient Dragons further up, there was even the Forest King that might or might not exist…)—. Followed by a barrel completely covered with a black robe —carrying a rucksack with a pet egg under the robe— and holding a staff in one hand, AKA me. A bit later behind was the pretty boy, he was holding nothing, and then the dragon knight who was holding a basket made of rattan standing on the back, guarding us from the rear.
Thanks to Maya’s glare as she led us, the demon beasts that had been lurking around here —with here being the borders of the forest, comparatively safer as anyone with enough experience, equipment, and the number could come and about— such as goblins and orcs and anything in-between would flee in panic, losing heart to ambush us.
Because I was told to lead our guests with Maya and thus walked right behind her, I could see most of what was going on in the bushes and behind the rocks with my mana detection, but the boy behind me —he was about as tall as I was. I could tell he was practicing some kind of martial arts from how he carried his steps, but he was definitely an amateur in terms of magic— seem to have no idea what was going on in our surroundings, and kept stopping nervously whenever he heard the occasional rustle.
On the other hand, the knight-like man strolled lightly as if he was on a picnic, complete with the rattan basket in his hand, despite us being in the Tenebrae Nemus. He seemed to be as aware of his surroundings as I was, and would keep looking at the forest and me alternatively, finding something amusing.
Was he a…magician? For that part, his mana wavelength was pretty lacking, not much different from that of an ordinary person. That said, it wasn’t an excuse to let my guard down. My senior who trained in the same ancient martial art dojo as I looked nothing short of easygoing happy-go-lucky people —fatty old men and even bald-headed old pops— they showed not a single hint of ki or fighting spirit usually, and yet they were strong like demons.
Regina ordered me to guide those two into the hermitage in case they were unfamiliar with the forest, with the same breath that she used to unleash all the rage in the world for waking her up twice, but…I had a feeling they would do just fine even if I weren’t here.
“What’s the matter, Father? What has made you laugh?”
“No, I just found something so unusual it’s amusing, you see.”
In response to the boy’s question, who looked back at him with a questioning look, the father —they were father and son, after all— replied vaguely as he casually turned his gaze towards the demon beast hiding in the treetops and us.
“It has been a long time Great…Grandmother. I am happy to see that you are in good health.”
While the knight bowed to her with the utmost elegance, Regina, still sitting in her easy chair in front of the fireplace, returned it with the biggest yawn I had ever seen.
“Hmph. Happy my foot. I don’t have enough sleep, no thanks to you. For crying out loud… Look at you crashing into my place unannounced, Jean and Mabel must’ve failed to raise their children!”
Her usually grumpy face became even more dreary because she was woken up from her sleep. The man only laughed off her blatant attitude and swearing that Regina didn’t even bother to butter, taking it head-on as if he was accustomed to it. The boy, though, having only been staring around at the room and at us with interest, shrank back at her yell.
(Aah, my condolences…)
As I stood in the corner of the room with Maya, watching the situation unfold, I imagined the internal shock and confusion of the boy who seemed to have zero immunity to this kind of insult. I closed my eyes deep under my hood, empathizing with his feeling of being victimized.
“Haha. My deepest apologies for that. My parents have always had a laissez-faire attitude. Even now they have quickly given up the reigns of the family and are living a comfortable life away from the imperial capital. Good god… They shoved all the troubles onto me, and yet they keep urging me to bring their grandson to play with —regardless of my busy schedule. Whoever did influence them to be like this, I wonder.”
“Is that a snide on me?!”
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“Ahahaha, of course not! Not at all. How could I dare to be so disrespectful to the great Founder… My oh my, I apologize again if I have offended you. —Do forgive me.”
He bowed his head, all courteously, but I couldn’t tell how honest he was. Somehow, the phrase ‘sly dogs outfoxing each other’ came to mind.
With that being said… I glanced at the parent-son pair, who were obviously of a high-ranking knight or aristocratic household, and then I looked at Regina —and found some slight resemblances. I sighed lightly under my hood.
Putting aside Regina’s rough and abusive attitude, taking account of her personal belongings, casual mannerisms, and high education that was clearly only available for people of the upper class… I had my ideas, but it seemed that she was indeed someone who hailed from an aristocratic household or something similar.
“So what business does the busy Dragon Knight have in this hut deep in the Tenebrae Nemus?!”
“Not exactly a business, per se. Recently, Fubuki has become an adult dragon —so as we were on a long ride on her, I decided to stop by and visit you as we passed by, great-grandmother. Also—” The man held out the rattan basket he was carrying to Regina, “I brought you the pie that my wife made and some southern fruits.”
“—hmph.” With a disgruntled look, Regina took the basket. Seeing that she didn’t complain out loud, though, she must’ve been quite happy to receive it.
“Right. Should I introduce my son? This is my oldest, Lucas, who will be eleven this year.” The man then pointed to the boy, the latter standing still and tense like a pole.
“Hmph. Just a brat wet behind the ears. Bring one that has more meat. This one doesn’t look appetizing at all.” Baring her teeth and gums, Regina let out a chuckle. Considering the place, the way she looked, and the fact that her joke almost didn’t sound like a joke at all, it must be frightening.* (Though I would’ve been eaten deliciously on my first day here if it weren’t a joke.)*
“Come on, Luke. Say hello to your great-great-grandmother.” Although he looked hesitant for a moment…the boy, Luke (Lucas), stepped forward with unfaltering steps.
“Pleased to meet you, Great great grandmother. I’m—My name is Lucas Leonhardt, son of Eilmer, grandson of Gianluca—”
“Forget it! Old people like me have a hard time remembering things if you keep blabbing like that. You’re Jean’s great-grandson, Lucas. That’s all I need to know.”
Tiresomely waving one hand, Regina interrupted Luke’s greeting and turned a frown in my direction. “Don’t stand there like a scarecrow, Jill! Get your a̲s̲s̲ in the kitchen and get that aromatic tea ready!”
“—Y-yes. Right away.” She didn’t hold back to yell at me with enough volume to make me straighten my back and leap to the kitchen.
I had an impression that the knight —Mr. Eilmer seemed impressed when he saw my footwork.
“I’m sorry for the wait.” When I returned to the living room after brewing a pot of tea for the group (obviously, myself omitted), I found the three of them seated around a round table that seemingly came out of nowhere.
I put down the teapot and a small jar of candied fruit on the table and quickly headed to leave the room, but Mr. Eilmer called for me right away. “Forgive me if I may ask, but was it you who looked up at us, young miss?”
“…Yes. That would be me.”
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Well, hiding my face now would be a bit too late, but they were quite high up before, so I was clutching onto the faint hope that their memory of it would be overwritten if I hid my face like this.
“If it is good with you, may I see your face again?” No, no, no. It’s not good, that’s why I’m hiding it. Please read the mood, mister father.
I glanced at Luke and found that he, too, was also looking at me expectantly. Just how strange their tastes could be, this father-son pair?! If nothing else, that’s proof that they’re Regina’s blood!
“…The face of the likes of me will only sully your eyes.” So, I just told them the truth, bowed, and turned to leave.
““—Ha!”” In that instant, the father and son looked at each other and laughed.
What’s with their rude attitude? They probably never thought they would be rejected. I don’t think they’re bad people, but they seem to be insensitive…and the disgustingly easygoing type that people of high status tend to be.