This is an interval story. –
“The tea is ready. Please enjoy it, Maria-sama.”
“Hnn? Thank you~…”
Together with the tea, there were also the handmade cookies made by Emily-san. When I throw the cookies into my mouth, it makes one expression melt. Emily-san homemade cookies were really delicious.
“… Maria, when you eat them you looked very happy. It seems it was the right choice to prepare them.”
“These handmade cookies are really delicious. Listen, Erika-sama. No one can eat such delicious cookies every day. You know what, how about adopting me as your child?”
“I don’t have any wish to have such a big kid.”
Erika then drinks the tea while looking amazed. “Oh this is indeed delicious,” she gives an impression like a noble would.
“… Well, I’m happy with all of this, but is this really alright?”
“Well, for a merchant like me to drink tea in a noble mansion, furthermore, inside a noble private room…”
That’s right. This was not only Erika-sama mansion, but the room I stayed was actually her private room. I was hesitating whether or not a mere merchant like me should enter.
“Oh, you asked that this late of time? How many time have you enter my room already?”
“No, well, that is not the problem…”
After coming to Terra, before I realized it, it was a custom for me to visit and enjoy tea together with Erika-sama.
… Well you know? I thought it would gonna be “Nothing is free in this world.” That was what we Kato merchants believe. At first, I would refuse the invitation, though I appreciate her. But to enter a noble private room to enjoy tea time, no one would easily reply ‘sure’… Not to mention the nervousness…
“Umm… I appreciate for the offer, but for me to go to a stiff place like that…”
“Isn’t that good. You can relax, you don’t have to be formal.”
That was what she said to me. Well, she was the ruler of this city? Thinking that there would be no loss for doing it while entering the mansion, I thought what kind of ulterior motives Erika-sama had…
“… In the first place, aren’t you quite a relaxed now?”
… Well of course. This mansion was very cozy. The tea was delicious, and the cookies were superb. Furthermore, there were two beautiful ladies here you know? If my father were here, he would go saying “The sake taste great, and the ladies are beautiful. Kato red light district the best!”, somehow I can sympathize with his feeling.
… Though he would end up being hit by my mother when he said that.
“… You. Your way of thinking smells of an old man you know that? Also, I have no such hobby.”
“Me as well, I like boys than girls. But you know, being ‘cute’ or ‘beautiful’ is indeed justice.”
“… Well since you praising my appearance… I guess I should enjoy it?”
Glad to hear that…
She smiled at me and sighed deeply… Wait a minute, why did you sigh like that while looking at me?!
“… But anyway, I’m surprised that this place is really comfortable…”
“Is that so?”
“Of course. After all, Erika-sama is a noble. Furthermore, you’re the elder sister of the current Queen, no? People who entered here usually could not calm down because of the tension…”
“Well, you have no reason to be that nervous…”
“Of course I would! Do you know how much I think about this?”
At first, even my hands were trembling.
“… Well anyway. But surprisingly, Erika-sama was different compared to what I thought. Of course, I mean it in a good way? Turn out, you’re a kind and friendly person…”
… I hope I won’t be mistaken as complaining. Was I too rude I wonder?
“Well, I don’t mind… Those who stand above the people called ‘nobles,’ but that does not mean I have to be high handed.”
“… I guess because you’re like this, the town turned good.”
“I’m talking about Terra.”
Normally, it would cost a lot of money to open a store. There was the taxes, but also the cost of creating the store, the cost of hiring people, and the cost of procuring the products…
“Taxes won’t be taken just because one had a store, and taxes only be taken when there is a profit. And if I employ a citizen of Terra in my store, some taxes would be exempted. You also prepare the land and the store, what we need was only a deposit of 10,000 white gold coins, goods, and some shelves…”
Because of that, I think everyone wanted to open a store. That was of course if you have the 10,000 white gold coins though.
“Thank you for the praise… But you know right? All those ideas were not mine. It was Kota plan, Kota was the one who acted, and all of that was Kota’s accomplishment. I’ve done negotiation myself, but that was all I did…”
Erika-sama said those words while drinking her tea like it was nothing. This person… did she even understand?
“… Isn’t that the most amazing thing?”
“… About what?”
“This was what my brother had been saying to me all this time… he said, ‘even if the person was the enemy of one’s parent, use it as long they are usable’…”
“Hee… Isn’t that good words, very merchant-like…”
“There’s continuation to these words you know, the continuation is ‘as for the side of being used, they need to have the magnanimity to be used even if the one who used them are the enemy of their own parents.’…”
“Listen, Maria, no matter what, human have the tendency of getting over their own head whenever they gained success. It would be a mistake when someone thought that they’ve become an excellent human being, a person that could do anything by themselves… We merchants had the skill to make money, other than that, we’re just ordinary humans. When you met someone better than yourself, lower your head, and beg them to teach you their knowledge. Being able to use people that were also the enemy of one’s parents? Having the magnanimity to rely on the enemy of one’s parents? No matter how kind we put it, no human being held no grudge…”
She remembered when her brother told her that, he looked smart and dignified, where usually such appearance only appear when he did business talk. I wonder if he was fine back home?
“… Such words filled with implications eh?”
“It seems standing above other people are hard things to do. For example Kota-han, he had come from Yameto alone without anything? Say, such human, normally would they obediently listening to someone else orders?”
“Because he has no other way you see. Terra finance was at the brink of collapse, I thought anyone who could save it was good enough for me.”
“From there, did you ask Kota-han to teach you straightforwardly?”
“If I borrow your brother words, then yes, I would lower my head as much as necessary.”
For the sake of this town, as long as this town improve even for just a slightly, she said…
“… I’m beat~.”
“Really now? For example, I cannot make tea nor cookies you know? Since that was the case, I should as someone who could do so, and thank them for the delicious things they made, isn’t that common sense?”
I raised both of my hands in surrender when I heard her say those words. Really, she was incredible, this noble… For better or worse… She was a likable kind human being.
“… Alright then, Erika-sama.”
“What is it?”
Just a little, shall we get along?
“About Kota-han, do you like him?”
Hearing those words, Erika-sama spit her tea. No, wait, Erika-sama? You’re a noble you know? To spew your tea like that?
“…Erika-sama, here a handkerchief.”
“*Uhuk*… A-Ah, thank you, Emily. Maria!”
Erika-sama glared at me with a red cheek. She looked adorable somehow. I wonder if I had disrespected her?”
“You, what are you saying so suddenly?!”
“Eh? Did I say something weird?”
“O-Of course you did! F-For me to l-like Kota…! What kind of a weird question is that?”
“Is that so? Well, Erika-sama, you were previously in trouble right? You cling to the last straw that could help the finance of Terra?”
“Didn’t you realize? It was as if a dashing hero riding a white horse come to save the troubled Erika-sama? In those stories, isn’t it normal for the girl to fall in love?”
Well, I think the way he saved the finance of this place was fairly too realistic for being a hero story.
“Err, Erika-sama? Why did your face turn sour?”
“No you, ‘dashing’ you said… If nothing, he’s more like a stray dog?”
“A stray dog?”
“… It’s nothing…”
She said that while clearing her throat with a cough.
“… Sure, I think Kota is a great person, and I appreciate him. You can say that I respected him. However, that does not mean that I would yearn for him…”
“Is that so? Why? Because of his face?”
“It’s not because of his face, how rude… By the way Maria. Just for reference, what do you think about Kota’s appearance?”
“Kota-han appearance? I don’t think he has bad looks? I guess a standard middle level?”
“A normal one huh?”
“In fact, I feel like he was too normal? But, he is a very attractive person, after all, Kota-han has something more fascinating than his face, no?”
I could understand that by looking at how he developed Terra.
“… Such a weird question. I guess you’re right… As Maria said, Kota is very attractive.”
“Then why? It can’t be, do you have someone you like already? Such as a Fiance?”
Thinking about it, Erika-sama was the eldest daughter of the previous king. It was not unusual for a political marriage.
“”Angelica-sama… I was being given considerable kindness from the Queen. When I got the territory and rank, she told me that she wanted me to marry the person whom I truly love. That’s why, despite being the best material for a political marriage, I’ve never been troubled by it… And I have no one in mind right now.”
“A license to marry anyone huh? That’s good but then… Why?”
Since there was no obstacle. And she thought of Kota-han as an attractive man. Well, married aside… did she have no wish to get closer to him?
“It’s okay, I will keep everything a secret.”
A lady’s mouth was a hard one to open.
“I can’t trust him, no, that’s wrong… Hmm, don’t get me wrong okay? I do appreciate him, and I think he is a great person. I also respect him. However…”
“You see… About Kota, I can’t seem to understand what he is thinking?”
“I see… I guess I understand…”
“See? I understand that he could think something that nobody could. Certainly, I might not fully understand his ideas. However, he didn’t ask me anything, he didn’t talk to me either. Of course, if I asked he would talk, and he always consults with me with the result, but…”
As a partner, that would be a failure right? She said…
“… I guess so~… Though for me, that is too hard I think?”
She didn’t want to be just a beautiful bride, I could sympathize that, though I was never expected her to be one. Anyway, I also was like that so I cannot say anything…
“Let me ask in reverse then, If Kota-han talks to Erika to whine… What are you going to do?”
“… I-I would be happy… I think?”
“D-Don’t grin like that at me! After all, we’re talking about ‘that’ Kota you know? The one who could do anything by himself calmly… I think it would be cute for him to rely on me even if just a little bit!”
“I guess so~… I bet he would be cute eh~…”
Yes~, I won’t say anything anymore…
“Please don’t tease Erika-sama too much, Maria-sama…”
I was not particularly teasing her though, but well, she was adorable…
“That is what we call teasing…”
“… Emily… I’m glad you’re protecting me, but you said “don’t tease me too much?” does that mean you realize I was being teased since earlier and you kept silent?”
“… I heard from Kota-sama, in his hometown, there’s this thing called Lemon Tea, would you want to have some? ”
Emily-san sliced some lemon and presented it to me while ignoring her lord spectacularly. No, wait, Emily-san? Are you alright doing that?
“… It’s fine…”
… I think your lord mind it though…
“Emily-san, did you just call Kota-han as ‘Kota-sama’? If I’m not wrong, you called him ‘Matsushiro-sama’ before? What with the change?”
“Ah about that…”
“… Oho? What caused you to change your mind?”
She returned my question with a subtle smile on her face. What was that face? Were you in love or something?
“… About that, I guess it is a secret of mine.”
“Oh come on? Tell us!”
“I humbly decline.”
It was said that a good woman had a lot of secrets, after she said that, she had a mischievous smile on her face.
“… Is that true? Emily?”
“That… About Kota, do you love him?”
“Oh? What’s this Erika-sama? Do you perhaps, Jealous?”
“That’s not it!”
“I mean, this is Emily I’m talking about. I was wondering if you hate Kota. I’m glad that you’ve changed your mind… But…”
Saying that Erika-sama showed an awkward face, I guess it cannot be helped, let me help~…
“Come on, Emily-san… Like or dislike, let us be direct. About Kota-han, what do you think of him? Let us hear your answer.”
By making the question similar to what I asked Erika-sama, we create a common ground… Jealousy aside, but it seems Erika-sama was curious about Emily’s affair… Though it would be bad if we force it more than this…
“About Kota-sama is it?”
Saying that Emily-san stared at empty space for a while.
“I guess it would be, like a Lemon?”
She then placed a whole Lemon on the table.
“The outer skin is very thick, one cannot understand the inside unless we opened it…”
… I see… A perfectly fitting phrase, I guess?
“Because we could only see the surface, it may appear cold, a difficult person to understand.”
Still, inside the thick skin was actually stuffed with a soft thing.
“… He is a very kind person you know, that Kota-sama…”
… What’s with that face of yours! That was absolutely the face of a maiden in love!
“… Then, Emily-san. Isn’t Lemon sour?”
“Then, isn’t that mean, the man known as Kota actually a sour person?”
I tried to make fun of it a bit…
“Certainly the Lemon is sour. However, that sourness, whether it is ‘harsh’ or ‘ah this is nice’ when you taste them depend on each individual taste?”
“… Then, for Emily, he feels pleasant then?”
As if it was nothing, she replied me with a beautiful smile on her face, more beautiful than even the previous one…
“Now about that… It is a maiden secret.”
… Khuuu, You were too cute! Geeez!