Translator: Kurehashi Aiko Editor: Queenie
It was the end of the day and the sun was slowly beginning to disappear behind the horizon. I can’t say for sure that today’s tour was as enjoyable as yesterday’s one, but I sure ate a whole lot at that restaurant. That is why I was now gently touching my stomach and regretting having eaten so much.
After that we went to another place that Juri-kun recommended, much to my terror filled with many food stalls. I had tried every single dish from every stall and every single one was delicious, and I was surprised that many of the dishes here were unique to the isle’s capital city, that you wouldn’t find them anywhere else. There was a whole lot of seafood since the Isle was surrounded by the sea, each seasoned with pepper and salt, meat skewers, deep-fried shrimp, octopus rings and much, much more. I even packed some of the dishes to take with me back home. Anyways, I knew that I would be returning to the Governor’s mansion really late tonight.
By the time I was full and couldn’t eat anything more, it was already late sundown. At my side, Juri-kun was counting coins that were resting in the palms of his hands. I gave him the same amount as yesterday, plus a little extra for the tickets for the play. He would look at me from time to time and smile happily.
「I know! Big sister, do you still have time to spare?」
「Eh? Umm, yes, I have the time. It should be alright.」
While I was puzzled by Juri-kun’s sudden question, he put the coins in his pocket and smiled brightly at me again.
「Then please come with me for a moment. I shall take you to a rather special place!」
「Special place? I mean, sure, but why?」
Big sister, earlier today you looked like you were depressed. It’s not good for your stay here and feel like that. So I hope this place will help to cheer you up, even if it is only for a little bit.」
Seeing him so enthusiastic about the idea, I simply couldn’t bring myself to refuse him. When I nodded my head, Juri-kun smiled brightly and took my hand, taking me back to the carriage and told the driver where to go. Before long, we have arrived at a small, run-down temple at the edge of the town, right next to the thick bushes of the forest.
「This is it, big sister. We get off here.」
Juri-kun gets off the carriage and I follow suit. The sun was about to completely disappear behind the horizon, and it was casting long shadows on our feet. I failed to notice it until we actually arrived, but this place seems to be located on a small island that was connected to the main one via a thin stretch of land. The view from this place was also completely different than what we saw from the balcony when we first came here. It surely was beautiful, but since I now know about the legend of this Isle it also felt kind of lonely to me.
「Juri-kun? What is this temple? Is this the place you were talking about?」
I turned my head from the setting sun and looked at Juri-kun, who quite unexpectedly shook his head in denial.
「No. This church is long abandoned, there’s no priest here to do the services for the people. But we need to go that way for now.」
Juri-kun walks down a small path that leads amongst the trees without any hesitation. I follow after him, but if I were to come in here alone I would have never been able to find the right road. I also had to lift the hem of my skirt to avoid the twisted roots and low-growing branches.
We got to the back of the church and the path seemed to have ended there, but Juri-kun did not stop on moving forward, going alongside a wild path that was made through the grass and thicket. This was something I would normally refrain from doing, but Juri-kun took me by the hand and helped me to get through it.
「It’s alright, see, it’s right there, but you must watch your step. It’s quite difficult to walk properly here.」
Juri-kun pulled me by the hand and continued to walk forward. He said that it was hard to walk in here, but he was walking so smoothly that it was actually difficult to believe his words. The path was gradually sloping upward, and even though I was wearing low-heeled shoes it was hard for me to walk properly. And the slope was just going up and up and up.
Before long my breath became ragged and beads of sweat started to crop out on my forehead. And no, age had nothing to do with it. I was still young, so it was purely the lack of exercise on my part. Sure, reading, sewing and embroidery are all indoor hobbies, but there was virtually nothing that prevented me from incorporating some light exercises to my daily routine. Just when I thought I had reached my limit, we arrived at the slope’s summit and I opened my eyes wide.
As I blinked my eyes a few times in surprise Juri-kun let go of my hand and approached a huge rock wall that was right in front of us. There, he grabbed hold of a huge wooden board that was laid against the wall and pulled it to the side. I was at a loss for words. There was a small cave behind the wooden board, with its size just barely enough for an adult to fit inside of it.
「Juri-kun? Is this……?」
「This here is my secret base. You are the first one I have ever shown this to, Big sister. It’s been a while since I last came here, but I cleaned it up last time, so it should be nice and cozy in here.」
Juri-kun said that in a proud voice as he made a gesture that seemed to invite me into his secret base.
The inside of the cave was so beautiful that for a moment there I thought it was made artificially. There was moss and plants covering the walls, ceiling and floor of the cave, so apparently they didn’t need sunlight to grow properly. The moss also emitted light, so the inside of the cave was slightly illuminated.
Since I had come to this island I have seen lots of different plants, and the ones here were also the ones that I have never seen before. Some of them were really beautiful to boot. Their pollen was flying in the air and was glowing brightly in the darkness.
I wonder on what principle were those flowers emitting light? I know that back then in my old world there were flowers like that, so maybe it was the same? Thinking about that will actually get me nowhere.
After passing through a short corridor, we seemed to have arrived at some more open space from where the fresh air was gently blowing. That space was filled with many pieces of furniture such as chairs, tables, desks and drawers, all made out of wooden boxes.
「Amazing, isn’t it? I’ve been bringing all of those things here bit by bit over time.」
Juri-kun smiles while turning on a portable lamp that was standing on the desk. Seeing him like that, I smiled as well.
「Yes, it really is amazing. It’s really amazing that you’ve managed to do this, Juri-kun.」
「Hehe, but you know, big sister, that’s not all. I plan on making this place more and more comfortable than it is now.」
「So it’s going to be even more amazing?」
I think that something like this would be more than enough for a ten-year-old boy, so what could possibly be even more amazing than this? While I was cocking my head in wonder, Juri-kun took the lamp with one hand and went to the back of the cave, where there seemed to be nothing.
「Juri-kun, what are you……?」
「Come and take a look.」
Putting the lamp on the ground, Juri-kun pressed the moss that was covering the cave’s walls, sending something sticky into the air. I was wondering why would he do something like that, but in the next moment my eyes opened wide in amazement.
「Look, if you do that, they will glow even more!」
The voice of Juri-kun got carried throughout the cave. When I look at the place he put his hand on, I can see that there was now a clear passage there, one that was not there a moment ago. I wish to say that it was a strange and magical sight, but that was not really the case here.
Since I was born in this world I have seen so much magic that there was hardly a thing related to it that could have surprised me. And that was nothing but truth. This place wasn’t a big deal either, since the laboratory of that man and the hidden room at the Great Temple were about the same when it comes to their atmosphere So I just follow after Juri-kun, who was walking down the aisle with the lamp in his hand.
This passage was even more artificial than the previous ones that we have passed through. The walls here were polished and held in place neatly, and there were even magic stones placed at even intervals to give the passage some light.