Translator: Imlartis Editor: Queenie
When we told the lady and the princess that we’d start the investigation at the scene and do as much as we could by ourselves, they both agreed. The next day the lady showed up once again and bowed her head apologetically but she also seemed somewhat relieved. At night we contacted the princess once more and were told to be careful not to do anything dangerous but somehow got her approval.
It seemed that the absence of Royal Court’s Head Magician had left a big hole in the Black Lotus Court and there weren’t any free people left to select as his replacement. Normally there weren’t any problems with duties rotation, however, the magicians who could leave on a business trip as his replacement were all busy. That was natural. The investigation taking two weeks had only been a pretext at first, but now there was no guarantee that it would end in this period of time.
「I’m thinking about what’s to come.」the princess said.
I felt very apologetic.
Taking this into account, me and the boy set out on a few days of deciphering at the ruins. Every day we secluded ourselves at the ruins and continued deciphering the magical language, but to be honest, we didn’t make any breakthrough.
We knew that the magic square could make one younger. The man turning into a boy was clear proof but the problem was how to turn the boy back into the man. Should we decipher the magic square or look for a different solution? We had too little information to choose the latter, so in the end we had to choose the former.
That said, no matter how earnestly I broke down the magical language and how earnestly the boy later deciphered it, the amount of magical language was so enormous, that I could see no end to the transcription. It was an overwhelming task. It might be because the art of transcribing magical language required a considerable amount of concentration but I got a headache. I blinked my eyes to get rid of the pain and swallowed a sigh. I can’t, I can’t. I mustn’t do that.
I glanced sideways at the boy. He was at a perfect distance, just out of my reach and was silently writing down what he deciphered on a piece of paper with a serious expression on his beautiful face. I was sure that it wasn’t my imagination that he looked somewhat happy. I too was quite lively myself… I thought but shook that thought off right away. It was sarcastic and the boy hadn’t done anything wrong.
There was no sign of the boy turning back into the man and that only spurred my anxiety. These past few days, thanks to the immeasurable grace of the lady, there wasn’t any need to go shopping. We only had to go back and forth between the ruins and the mansion, but all this time the conversations between us were kept to the bare minimum. The boy kept calm and was working so hard on the investigation, that it made me wonder whether the uneasy expression the boy showed me right after he woke up and his words and actions filled with concern for me were just an illusion. When I thought about how my interactions with that man increased step by step after our marriage, it made the boy’s behaviour all the more boring and somehow it made me anxious. When the boy was 9 he enrolled to the magic academy and we only interacted through letters. When I thought about that, the boy’s reaction seemed only natural. Besides, the Filmina that the boy knew was the 10 year-old Filmina, not me, so it couldn’t be helped. However, it still depressed me when he got scared whenever I reached my hand out or when he replied with silence when I spoke to him. For the time being, I should have been satisfied that he didn’t mind me calling him Edi and wasn’t showing hostility towards me.
It wasn’t a situation where I should be anxious, but before I noticed, I had already gotten depressed and my thoughts had become negative. As I swallowed the sigh I was about to let out, the boy’s sunrise coloured eyes suddenly turned my way and I stiffened reflexively. It seemed that I’d stared at him too long without realizing it. He looked at me with suspicion. I glossed over it with a smile and pulled the package laying next to me closer.
「Edi, shall we take a break and eat lunch?」
Sunlight didn’t reach us in the cave and with the white flowers as the only reliable source of light, the passage of time became vague, but through the feeling of hunger one could somehow guess the time. This time, rather than feeling hungry, I’d just run out of concentration, but fortunately, it seemed that my words reminded the boy about his hunger. I stood up, walked over to the nodding boy, sat down next to him and put the lunchbox and the water bottle in front of us.
「We give our thanks to the Goddess who is in high Heavens for this blessing.」
「We give thanks.」
After saying the prayers with our hands put together, I opened the lunchbox. Inside, thanks to the lady giving me wheat flour, was the first cake salé I made since coming to this world. I handed a piece out to the boy. He made a slightly bewildered face at the fact we were having pound cake for lunch, but he still took the cake salé from my hand and took a small bite.
It seemed that the taste was completely unexpected for him as he blinked a few times. He thought it was a sweet pound cake, but in reality it was a salty pound cake made with a copious amount of cheese. For sure, anyone would have been surprised. While thinking that maybe I should have told him something before handing him the cake, I took the water bottle and poured that man’s special herbal tea, which I got from the lady, into two cups.
「How is the taste?」
「That’s great. I’ll leave the tea here.」
I guessed that since that man liked it, the boy would like it too and it seemed I wasn’t wrong. Relieved, I brought the cake salé to my mouth again. The salty taste of cheese and bacon worked perfectly together and it turned out delicious. I still have some of each leftover, so I shall I make a quiche tomorrow? – I thought while sipping the tea.
Both of us didn’t say anything further and we continued to eat in silence. The boy must have noticed something, as he suddenly turned his head towards the passage leading to the cave’s entrance.
I asked, but he didn’t answer. Instead he opened his mouth wide and stuffed the rest of the cake he’d been holding inside. Then he put on the coat he’d taken off and pulled the hood on deeply. Seeing his actions I thought 「Could it be….」and I also looked towards the passage. Soon I heard someone’s approaching steps.
I’d heard that the whole area had been declared off limits by the lady. Then why… thinking so, I readied myself. Soon the owner of the footsteps showed up in the open space. Seeing that person I opened my eyes wide.
「Yo, big sister.」
He smiled brightly and raised one hand in greeting. It was unmistakably the boy Juri with whom I’d parted ways the other day and whom I hadn’t seen since then. Maybe me opening my mouth wide in surprise was funny because he laughed. Then he approached us without hesitation. I knew that the boy next to me was clearly on his guard.
「The lady asked me to come and check up on you. Have you been well?」
I see, so he was the lady’s messenger. Now I understood why he’d shown up here again. The only ones who knew that the boy had black hair, or even worse – pure black hair, which was a big taboo on the Nibbiellata Island, were the lady and Juri. It was obvious why the lady would choose Juri to act as her messenger.
I analysed the things after calming down. Meanwhile Juri sat down and was staring at the lunchbox. I saw clearly that the boy by my side was openly looking at Juri with distrust. However the person concerned – Juri – seemingly hadn’t noticed his gaze and looked towards me with sparkling eyes.
「Um, big sister, is that your lunch? Could I maybe get a bite?」
「Of course. Don’t mention a bite, why don’t you take a whole piece? Although I don’t know whether you’ll like it…」
「Awsome! Thanks big sister.」
He quickly stretched out his hand, brought a piece of the cake salé to his mouth and his blue eyes widened. He quickly munched on the cake and swallowed. Then he looked towards me with his blue eyes.
「Did you make this, big sister? It isn’t sweet but it’s amazingly good!」
「I’m glad you like it. Would you like some tea?」
I poured some tea into my cup and passed it to him. He drank it in one gulp and let out a big sigh of contentment.
「Delicious! Good for you, you can eat such things anytime you want.」
Juri said and looked towards the boy who had been stiff since before. Juri continued right away, as if he hadn’t noticed the boy getting startled and flinching.
「Honestly, what’s with this get up in such a hot and humid place?」
I didn’t have time to stop him. Juri suddenly stretched his hands, tanned by the sun, towards the boy and pulled the hood off the boy’s head. His pitch black hair came into view. The boy tried to pull his hood back on straight away. Juri looked at him with surprise and continued.
「I’m telling you not to hide it. Your face is beautiful so it’s a waste.」
The boy’s hands froze in place. The hood gently fell out of those hands. The sunrise coloured eyes stared at Juri in a daze. I too, once again at a loss for words, looked at Juri. With both of our gazes on him, Juri tilted his head in bewilderment. The three braids dangling on his temple swayed.
「…Nothing. Please eat as much as you want. I’ve already eaten enough. Edi, you too. It isn’t good to not eat properly.」
Juri’s eyes were sparkling as he stretched out his hand and took another piece of cake salé. I wanted to say that I was the one who owed him thanks.
I looked down at the boy next to me who was still frozen. As I put a piece of cake in front of his eyes, he came back to his senses with a start and took a breath. He then took the cake from my hand and proceeded to eat in silence. His hands were trembling slightly and he was looking down as if he was intentionally avoiding looking at Juri. One wouldn’t be able to tell at a glance, but I guessed that on the inside the boy must have been very confused. It was an obvious reaction. Up till now the only person in his life and of similar age, who hadn’t been afraid of him was me. There was no way he could’ve kept his cool.
Speaking of, Juri since the beginning towards the boy… To be exact, even at the time he met that man, he hadn’t been afraid. His reaction had been unique among all the reactions of Nibbiellata people that I’d seen up to this day. It was a reaction that made me both grateful and happy, however, why?
In the meantime, the cake disappeared in the stomachs of Juri and the boy and both of them let out a sigh of contentment. I poured the herbal tea into the boy’s cup and as I was passing it to him Juri got up energetically.