|Author: Sasaki Ichiro||Original Source: Syosetu|
|Translator: Mab||English Source: Re:Library|
I held out my hand to her, but Monika only looked at it, mumbling “No, well…” and her eyes began to swim.
I tilted my head. Monika smiled awkwardly as if steeling herself for what was to come —of course, not in a negative meaning, but more like preparing to burst through the obstacles ahead— and reached out for my hand.
“I’m pleased to serve you, young lady.” Well, I guess that’s what our relationship is. I lamented as we shook hands.
“Aah, it is really delicious. This is the first time I’ve had this dish, and I didn’t expect it would be this good…” On the other hand, Luke, who had been watching us from the sidelines with a smile on his face, popped the kebab into his mouth and immediately praised it.
“Hu-hum. There is a reason why I fancy it.”
“Yes, I can see why. By the way, for our afternoon plans, would it be possible to visit a place where we can browse and explore for a while?” With a hearty appetite that belied his appearance, Luke quickly devoured his kebab and apologetically made a request.
“Hm~m, I guess we can go out.”
Jesse suggested, and Eleanor agreed. “Right. But things are a bit more expensive out there.”
“I’m fine with that.”
Whilst chewing the kebab in my mouth (chewing the food a lot makes it easier for you to feel full even with little food), I wondered to myself if Luke had something he wanted to buy. Then again, unlike me, Luke is a proper noble, through and through, so he wouldn’t need to go to the market even if he wanted something. Which meant he really only wanted to window shop.
After taking a break and finishing our meal, we went off the main roads and into the branching back alleys. This was what they meant by out.
A quick glance around told me that the goods being sold here were, amongst other things, agriculture products farmers brought in, homemade jams, and sometimes baked treats. There were also peddlers dressed in exotic costumes who seemed to have come from outside the city, as well as wanderer fairies who built caravans and traveled around —such as cat-sìth the cat fairies and dwarves.
This was generally a place where unique, irregular merchants would open their stores.
Still holding hands with Luke, whose eyes were sparkling, I was walking along, window shopping, when somehow my eyes fell on the woodcarvings and ornaments laid out on one of the carpet vendors.
“How is it, missy? All the rings and necklaces have genuine gemstones!”
The ring offered was adorned with a stone called the “Water Fairy’s Tear”. It was, indeed, a genuine water mana pyroxene, but it wasn’t that rare. In fact, a kid could find a rough one if they searched the riverbank for half a day.
Nevertheless, it could provide some use for recharging my mana to some extent, and as a user of water-based magic art, perhaps I could expect it to amplify my arts to some slight degree.
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(Perhaps I can reuse the base ring and swap the pyroxene with a purer one that I have on hand…)
“What’s the matter, Jill?”
“Ah, it’s nothing. I just happened to look for a plain-looking ring like this one.”
I was comparing it with other rings on the wooden stand when Luke picked it up and asked the shopkeeper.
“How much for the ring?”
“Oh, quite the good eye you have there, boyfriend. Normally I’d charge you two gold coins for that, but for you, I’ll give it for one and a half.”
From behind, Eleanor and Monika said: “Eh, that’s too expensive.” “That should cost around 1 gold coin,” and commented on its appropriate price respectively, making the shopkeeper’s face aghast, but Luke dismissed them and pulled out a gold and a half-gold coins from his pocket and handed them over.
“Thanks for the purchase! Good for you, missy. Your boyfriend is so generous.”
With a complacent smile, the shopkeeper clutched on his earnings, before he turned a polite smile my way.
He seemed to have misunderstood something. I wanted to correct it, but before I could, Luke presented me with the ring that he had just bought first. “It might not be worth the value, but will you take it for me?”
“Is it okay for me to receive it?”
Hmm, I guess I made it too obvious that I was desiring it. I did a bad thing, didn’t I? I can’t help but ask again.
“Yes. It is to commemorate today.”
Well, if he said that, then it is plain rude to refuse. “Thank you very much. I’ve never worn a ring before, and it is a present from you, Luke. I will cherish it.”
Luke stiffened up after hearing my answer and took my left hand trying to put the ring on my ring finger. Hey, mister, that’s the wrong place to put a ring.
Well, I didn’t need to point it out, as the ring was too big to properly sit there. I pulled it out and put it on my middle finger.
“Don’t lose spirit, sir Lucas. You can make up for it during the real thing.” For some reason, Luke got depressed, and Monika tried her best to cheer him up. These two tend to get into a world I don’t understand.
At any rate, I resumed the walk to look for something to give him in return, when I noticed a strange crowd of people ahead of us.
Screams, groans, and the sound of something being banged onto something could be heard around one corner of the street.
“That sounds like trouble. It’s probably safer to steer away.”
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Leika, who was obviously not interested in getting into trouble, stopped Luke and I from approaching.
But then, the sound of something being kicked loudly echoed, accompanied by a huge collective gasp from the onlookers. From the gap between them, I could see something rag-like being thrown to the hard floor.
Wait, no. I looked closer and it was not a rag, it was a young girl of at most 8 years old. She was skinny, barefooted, and her neck was adjourned with a ring made of leather —I detected faint traces of mana, so it must be a Magic item. A rugged steel chain extended from the magic item, the end of which was held in the hand of a rather ill-dressed, bulking man.
“Get on your feet, you useless wretch!”
Perhaps the girl was riddled with some kind of illness, or maybe the guy simply didn’t want to touch the rash that covered her skin? Either way, he was pulling on the chain to make the girl stand, but she seemed too weak to move properly, and only faintly moved her limbs.
Upon closer look, I can see some fox-like ears and a skinny tail peeking out from her golden hair. Was she perhaps a fox beastfolk?
The onlookers —some of whom were even in the uniform of a knight lineage— did not stop it from happening, but kept on watching with clear contempt in their eyes, it was as if they were looking at a pebble on the side of a rock.
“How awful. How could they do that to such a young girl…” Luke gasped, his hand on mine trembling from righteous indignation.
“…she must be a slave. But, abandoning her just like that is pretty cruel on its own.” Laika squeezed the words out, her eyes muted and brooding at the sight.
The word felt disconnected to me, it felt no more real than dragons and fairies were, and I couldn’t help but to look at the faces of the people around me—Luke, Jesse, Monika, they all looked mortified.
In my previous life, I had only heard of the concept of slaves in stories, and even in this life, there was no such thing as slaves around me — at least not in Tenebrae Nemus nor in the village.