|Author: Sasaki Ichiro||Original Source: Syosetu|
|Translator: Mab||English Source: Re:Library|
The central avenue of the imperial capital was cluttered with stores and outdoor vendors, bustling with activity. This was the so-called Open-Air Market.
Well, they were outdoors and not in a proper establishment, but these vendors were not the shady kind you’d see on the back streets. They were all legitimate shops that had received official business licenses from the Commercial Guild. …Although, that made me want to see those shady shops, but of course that was out of the question, so I scratched that out from our trip today.
The vendors, which really were just tables covered with cloth, sold various things. Some sold alcohol, some meat or vegetable, some were putting on daily necessities for the locals, some others souvenirs for travelers, there were weapons, armor, and even large beasts of burden… There was a great variety of things, so much so that you’d think that there was nothing the market didn’t sell.
And they didn’t just sell goods, they bought things as well. Evidently, one vendor had a man with a thick accent inviting people to look at the bulletin board with the purchase price of demon beast materials written roughly in chalk next to him.
In between those vendors, there were street performers performing their tricks and receiving alms, little children selling flowers and matches in their baskets1 , there was even an oddly familiar peddler doing a paper play. The place was a dizzying flurry of activity.
It had only been 10 days since the passing of the emperor, and yet the marketplace was filled with the excitement and revelry of a festival, but, well, even if a political figure died, the people still needed to tend to their daily lives, and of course the wherewithal to support their daily lives as well. So, on the contrary, the fact that the people were able to go about their usual lives was a testament to the city’s stability and abundance of logistics.
As if to reflect this, the customers who shop, haggle, or simply just chill out at the stores were not limited to housewives or maids, but also adventurers and travelers looking for bargains, wandering fairies, and many others. People of various nationalities and races.
“WHOAAAH!” The chaotic excitement of the place warranted an exclamation of admiration to escape from my and Luke’s mouths.
“I did hear about it, but this is simply amazing. I didn’t expect the market would be this…lively.”
“…indeed, it is an amazing sight. It’s like a comiket venue.”
And here we have two country bumpkins being dumbfounded by the big city, expressing our awe — although, strictly speaking, Luke was born and raised locally, but it was apparently his first time here.
Monika, my lady attendant who was standing one step away from us (Royce suddenly introduced her to me, she is a cool-type cute girl), gave us a faint smile.
“Dragon Fang Dagger?! Really?!”
“You idiot. They’re just a sham, I’d bet they recycled some old land drake bone to make those daggers. More importantly, that fur-sleeved dress is cute, don’t you think?”
“Hah, that? That looks hard to move in and easy to get spoiled if you ask me.”
“Haah, it’s my fault for hoping you understood fashion…”
Two figures frolicked before the vendors, exchanging such conversation, and they were… not me and Luke, but rather Jesse and Eleanor the adventurers.
Obviously, it was not safe to have just a single maid as a guide for the underaged scion of a nobleman and a high-class young lady(?), so Royce hastily arranged adventurers to guard us. Who turned up were the trio I met yesterday — though it was probably because they and I knew each other, hence why Royce chose them. I don’t know what kind of strings he pulled to be able to summon them in just a single day, but he’s quite a capable man. That much I know.
“And to think Jill is a noblewoman, huh.”
Whilst I was lost in my rejoicing for unexpectedly meeting their party again, with them supposedly accompanying us as our escorts… I realized that, with how things were, it felt like we were the ones who accompanied their outings.
“Sorry about them, they’re such childish brats.” The only one who stood in her station beside us, with her beloved club slung over her shoulder, was Laika as she chuckled and lowered her head to me and Luke.
“Aah, it’s okay. I’m also caught up in the atmosphere that I lost the appetite to shop, so seeing them like that is fun, it’s like I’m the one who’s shopping.”
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Luke covered for them with a smile, and Laika gave him an approving look from the side.
“Oh, Luke. You brought money for shopping?”
“Yes. I try to always carry some cash with me whenever I go out.”
Luke tapped his chest lightly.
“Better be careful there, young mister. The folks here dot the i’s and cross the t’s… you don’t want them spotting your treasures and crossing you for them. I’ll keep my wits about, of course, but you better be on your toes as well.”
After lamenting about it deeply, Laika put on a huge grin that filled her big face then whispered something in Luke’s ear.
“I’m telling you to better protect young lady Jill, young mister. Keep an eye on her, or else some bad guy might kidnap and sell her.”
I’m sure Laika meant that for Luke’s ear only, but her normal voice was loud enough, even whispering I could hear what she was saying clearly. I wonder why she did that. Do I really look that dull?
“I-, I understand. —Here, Jill. Grab my hand so we don’t get separated.” Luke nodded with a serious expression on his face, took my hand so that we didn’t get lost in the crowd, and began his heroic escort.
I mean, I really appreciate it that you’re concerned about me, but… Laika, why did you just wink at me all meaningfully like that?
Well, that was how we spent the time until it was almost time for lunch. Monika suggested going back to the mansion or arranging a restaurant, but I took it to myself to ask Jesse and his party to bring us to a certain stall.
“Oh, young miss. You’re here again?” The owner of the stall casually called out to us.
It was a street stall facing a park, a short distance away from the open-air market, where the adventurers and I had our kebab-like dish yesterday.
“Yes. It was quite delicious, I’m afraid you’ve had me hooked.”
“I’m glad to hear that. You make me want to give extra.”
I disregarded Monika and Luke who looked surprised with how casual the stall owner and I were, and ordered the same meatless veggie kebab I had yesterday, and two portions of meaty kebab for my companions.
“Here you go. Eat it while it’s hot,” I shoved the kebabs into their hands, ignoring how dumbfounded they looked, and dug into mine. “Mm, yum!”
“Being able to eat meat for two days in a row: happiness. And it’s job expenses, to boot!”
“Now, now. I get your feeling, but know some restraint.”
Jesse and his party, forming a triangle around us, brought their lunches to their mouths, alert with the surroundings still.
“Damn right, it is. Here, the drinks are on the house.” The owner gave us enough citrus drinks for all of us —Monika and I hurriedly helped her— and we accepted it and distributed the drinks.
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“…thank you very much.” Luke received the glass, somewhat out of it.
“…Umm, is this really okay?” Monika looked at the kebab and the glass of citrus water she had received, looking ashamed.
“Well… for us to dine here? Not to mention, I’m sitting at the same table.”
“? Do you not like it?”
“Ah, no, I do think it is delicious, but…”
“I see no problem then. A meal is delicious when it is eaten together. Moreover…”
“…truth to be told, the food in the mansion isn’t that good.”
Upon hearing my confession, Monika looked stunned for a moment, before her cool persona collapsed, and her shoulders started to tremble.
“You…you’re right…ku ku ku ku… Indeed, that Roland…chief Roland…can’t cook good food for the life of him…”
“Right? It’s not about having thin or thick seasoning, it was simply made sloppily. If possible, I would rather do the cooking myself.”
“You cook, young lady?!”
“Eh, is it that weird? During my stay with my mentor, Luke’s great great grandmother, it was always me who handled the knife and tended the fire. She never said she hated my cooking.”
I took a sip of the citrus water after telling her my personal story and Monika’s face lit up.
“You too, young lady?! I also always helped my grandmother and cooked for her when we lived together!”
“Heeh, I guess we’re the same then. I’m happy to know we hit well. Here’s for a good relationship.”