|Author: Sasaki Ichiro||Original Source: Syosetu|
|Translator: Mab||English Source: Re:Library|
“Huh—?” I have been here for over four months. For the first time ever, I heard a voice that wasn’t Regina’s, so I rushed to the window, opened the poorly framed window, leaned halfway out, and cast a glance in the direction of the voice.
“SOMEBODY~~!! STOP THIS CAAT—!! IT’S GOING TO EAT MEE~~~!!!!” A dark-haired man dressed like a peddler was caught by Maya.
I turned to Regina for help, bewildered by Maya’s merciless attitude, considering that the caru normally wouldn’t be so unquestioning.
The moment she heard the man’s voice, Regina looked like a penniless widow who had been caught by a debt collector, with a huge frown on her already dour face.
“…Maya! Don’t eat that thing! You’ll upset your stomach!”
She got up from her chair cumbersomely, walked to the window with long strides, then shouted at Maya.
Hearing her voice, Maya vexedly stopped her hands (tentacles) from twisting around the man, but still kept her eyes on him without letting him go from her restraints. Seeing Maya’s attitude, I came forward to Regina with a question.
“…umm, could it be, that is the food you said to be Maya’s favorite?”
“Like hell! I meant vermin and pests that go out in the rain!!”
When she shot me glares sharper than daggers, I reflexively stood straight like a pole just entered my mouth, and when I followed the direction of Regina’s gaze next—a pot that had completely slipped out of my mind was boiling and spilling out colorful bubbles—I could feel my spine freeze over.
“What a rain, huh?”
The man wiped the drops of water from his body with a towel he had brought with him, before he dragged a chair from the corner of the room, sat on it, and set aside his luggage—a knapsack made of canvas with a karakusa pattern—acting as if he was at his own home.
“No one said you can sit.”
When Regina clicked her tongue, the man bowed his head “sorry for the trouble~,” without a hint of remorse. He looked… around the age of 20, but he had an ageless air about him, like an old cat somewhat.
He claimed to be no more than just a peddler, but it was suspicious that he would visit a witch’s hermitage in Tenebrae Nemus where even adventurers would avoid. Maya also stayed vigilant, leaning close to Regina’s feet with her claws outstretched, ready to pounce at any moment.
“A paltry peddler such as I has to find a way to make a living, even if that means going to this hut in the middle of nowhere, you see.” He laughed merrily, but not a single word he said sounded legitimate.
Seeing I was tense, clasping my staff close to my shoulder—I already had my hood on and hid my face before the man entered—Regina lightly sighed, and reluctantly…or rather, in a tone that suggested she didn’t want to approve it herself, she shucked her chin to the self-proclaimed peddler and talked.
“As you can see, he’s shady, he lies more often than he breathes, he’s worse than a swindler, and he is untrustworthy to no end, but, tentatively, and very unfortunately, he’s somewhat of an acquaintance of mine.”
“…you sure ridicule me a lot.” The peddler, for his part, didn’t seem to take any offense from it and only laughed lightheartedly. As expected of Regina’s acquaintance, his nerves must be stronger than steel.
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I took Regina’s words to heart and lowered my staff for the time being.
Perhaps sensing the atmosphere relaxed slightly, the man said in a casual tone. “That said, I’m so cold right now. A cup of hot tea must be delicious on a day like this.” He was quite blunt in his demands.
Since he was a guest, I thought I should brew some herbal tea, but, “Don’t waste tea for him, Jill!” Regina sensed my intention and stopped me.
“You’re uninvited. Drink rainwater if you want!” She hurled with a voice hoarser than the thunderclap.
“Well, I drank enough rainwater when I was mauled by your cat, you see.”
“You want to drink more, then?” Maya raised her head slowly at Regina’s words.
“—On second thought, my stomach is already full from the rainwater. I’ll decline the tea.”
“Which means you’ve no business here. Get the hell out.”
He raised one of his feet away from Maya, waving his hands in panic, and then Regina sullenly pointed to the exit.
“No, no, I’ve come a long way, at least take a look at my merchandise.”
“Hmph. I bet it’s the same phony junk as ever. You’ve ruined my amrita just by coming here!”
In contrast to Regina’s unwelcome attitude, the peddler rubbed his hands further—which only made him look fishier—and smiled amiably before he bent down and opened the mouth of his knapsack.
“I knew you would say that, so I brought you a genuine, up-to-date product today. Come, try it first.”
“Hah, I’ve long gone past my worldly desires, and I can manage my own needs already. Stop wasting—”
“Newest and fresh from the imperial capital, these cosmetics are right off the shelf. This one will make your skin look 10 years younger, it’s a pretty rare and most recent product that’s out of stock even in the imperial capital.”
With eloquence, jars of cosmetics were laid out on the floor one after another.
“…” When she compared the products and their logo, Regina fell silent without blinking, and then stared into the narrow eyes of the peddler. The man puffed his chest with confidence.
After a pause of a few seconds, there was a sound of air leaking from her pouting lips, followed by an eerie laughter. “Fu fu fu fu fu fu.”
“Ha ha ha ha ha ha.” Following her, the peddler also laughed unnaturally.
After a brief exchange of laughter, Regina suddenly turned serious and, in a voice that almost sounded sweet, whispered. “…let us talk about their details and test their effects.”
Ah, Regina is a woman too, huh.
“Very well. Leave it to me. —Oops, I almost forgot. The young lady over there is Jill, correct? I passed by a pioneer village on my way here, and I was entrusted with a letter from the daughter of the village chief there, addressed to Jill.”
“From Eren?!” I was surprised.
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“Yes, that was her name.” With that, he produced a letter wrapped in oil paper from his chest and handed it to me.
He even went out of his way to wrap it in oil paper to keep it from getting wet in the rain. He might look and sound shady, but perhaps he wasn’t that bad a person…or so I thought, but then, “Hmph, don’t let him fool you. He’s a scoundrel through and through!” Regina, as though reading my mind, quickly warned me.
“No, no, I won’t do anything bad to a child, you know.”
“I doubt it. —Whatever. Jill, I have to deal with this fool for a while, you go to the compounding room and read your letter there.”
Taking Regina’s suggestion to the word, I left the drawing room and headed to the compounding room in the back with bouncy steps.
The rain still showed no sign of letting up, but my heart was warm as if there was a sun in it.