Alica-san’s expression turned dark all of a sudden. I thought that it was only an impression that came because she hung her head down or something like that, but still…
“Alica-san, what’s wrong?”
“…Uhm. This is just a rumour, but…”
When I asked her, Alica-san timidly answered. Hmm, what rumour is it? I’m curious.
“It’s about how Taiga-sama and Saryuu-sama’s wide age gap was actually like that in order to put Saryuu up to be Shiiya family’s adopted son.”
“What’s with that rumour?”
“It seems to be a rumour that’s been spreading in the territory of the Shikino family as if it’s the truth. At the very least, the fact about how Touya-sama liked Maya-sama seemed to have become a well-known fact especially among old citizens within the fief’s population.”
Really, what the hell is up with that?
About how Saryuu is actually the child that Touya-san made so that he could come to our household. So that his own son could become my mother’s son. No, what’s with that theory, I can’t really comprehend it.
Let me see…
Saryuu is 4 years younger than me, in other words, he was born 4 years after my disappearance.
It was known by public that I was [the feeble daughter that was recuperating in the countryside and couldn’t come in public], and because I couldn’t succeed the house with my condition, my parents welcomed Saryuu as their adopted child. While in truth, because I went missing, the Shiiya family had no successor, though.
What if that went as what Touya-san had expected, then…
“…That, did you talk about it to someone else?”
“No, I haven’t.”
This time, Alica-san answered me with a full certainty. She also shook her head firmly.
“Such a thing, it’s not like I can say it out loud even if my mouth is torn, right?”
“Isn’t it obvious? I have a sword with me, so it won’t be weird if this were to turn into a bloody event about this time, you know?”
“I’m so sorry!”
Towards Alica-san who quickly lowered her head, I decided to stop things here. No, as expected, I might have gone too far this time. I got the wrong target of my anger.
In the first place, the one who made that statement wasn’t Alica-san herself. She only heard that rumour from somewhere else. And that rumour was created because there was some suspicion to the Shikino family in regard to the incident of my disappearance.
…But well, Taiga-san and Saryuu, their age gap of 14 years is really so wide. That rumour about how Touya-san was someone who didn’t possess any good will wasn’t that strange, too. Although it was more like a slander.
“Anyway, Alica-san. Where did you hear that rumour?”
“There is a proverb in the place where I grew up, that there’s no smoke without fire.” 1
“…Is it about how there ought to be a reasonable reason as to why that rumour came to rise?”
“Yeah, something like that.”
Thanks to Minoa-san’s interjection, I managed to collect myself once more. I realized that there was one more person in this place other than Alica-san and I.
At the very least, it was the truth that Saryuu had become our family’s adopted child. At that time, apparently Touya-san was pleased.
But was he pleased because Saryuu became our family’s adopted child, or was it because he became [my mother’s child]? Well, because he became related to our family, he also became somehow related to my mother, that kind of thing, huh? If it was because of the latter, then if things didn’t go well, he’d be branded as a stalker, oy.
Because we are people of the Shiiya household, we don’t know what kind of thing is happening in the territory of Shikino family. However, if that kind of rumour managed to leak out from the inside, then it could become an information for us.
Even if they said that it was a lie, people would still wonder if that could possibly be the truth, right?
“Uhm. My family works as a farmer, but since our house was close to the Shikino family’s territory, they went to sell things there. And then, my parents told me that they talked about it with their acquaintance that didn’t want their identity to be disclosed.”
“Ah-. And then, the rumour was handed down to Alica-san who worked in the Shiiya family, huh. …I see.”
It was leaked from the inside, and it was easy to see how it could happen.
It was a story that became relatively known in the territory of the Shikino family. I didn’t believe that Taiga-san could be so careless as to leak that kind of thing out, so the origin of the rumour might be around Touya-san, huh. No, but if that was the case, it won’t be good if they didn’t remain tight-lipped, right?
Or perhaps I should say, stop making fun of my little brother. Damn it, the one who’s responsible for spreading this weird rumour, I hope you’ll remember this.
As his older sister or older brother, at the very least, it seems that I have developed a brocon. 2
Knock knock, the sound of a knocking could be heard. Before Alica-san could react, Minoa-san had already headed towards the door. After a while, Minoa-san turned around at us.
“Seiren-sama. Jigen-sama has come to visit you, would that be all right?”
Eh, at this time of the day, huh. I was taking a short rest right after dinner, but isn’t it around the time when the elders should be sleeping already?
I was thinking that since it might be a talk about the investigation and since it was already late, he could have come tomorrow.
“Let him come inside. Alica-san, can you prepare the tea?”
“Ah, yes. I will quickly prepare it.”
There was only one job that I could give to Alica-san in order to pull herself together after that talk. After sending off her back, I turned over to face Jigen-san who came along under Minoa-san’s guidance.
“Excuse me for disturbing you this late, Seiren-sama.”
“Ah, no problem. Since it’s this late, I thought that it would be fine even if you were to visit me tomorrow. Is it also fine for you to visit me this late?”
I stood up and gave my thanks. But still, magicians didn’t really change their outfits even when it was summer, huh? When I took a closer look, the fabric became slightly thinner, but as expected, there was still a long robe that accompanied it.
“Hohoho. What, it’s not like I will lose against young ones like you. At least until I could see my great-grandchild’s wedding, I won’t lose out and meet the God of the Sun.”
“For the time being, is Kuon-sensei looking for a husband?”
“I guess so. Because she is my cute and adorable grandchild, I wish that she would meet a good husband by chance, but that doesn’t seem to be that easy.”
Jigen-san who was talking about such a thing while sitting down was unexpectedly a doting grandfather. No, that’s fine, though.
Speaking of which, I don’t know anything about my grandfather and my grandmother. The other day, I only visited the family graveyard. If an opportunity were to come in the future, I would like to listen to my father and my mother’s reminiscent talk about them.
In front of me who was thinking about that thing, Jigen-san suddenly handed over an envelope. I was wondering where he put it, but it seems like it was inside the big sleeve of his robe.
The envelope that came out was—if I were to put it in words that I know—it was the most similar to a brown envelope. At a size around the college’s notebook, it should contain some documents, right? There was a seal with a pattern that resembled the so-called magic square.
“I visited you here because I’d like to give the report of the investigation progress. Because you seem tired from a one-day journey inside the carriage, I decided to write it in a letter. Please read it carefully along with everyone else tomorrow.”
“I’m sorry, you even had to take that into consideration.”
Whoa, in other words, it’s a letter containing the investigation’s result. I was saved that it arrived just in time.
But I wonder why he’d come all the way to meet me, though… well, I was a man, though. The only ones who know that are me, Jigen-san, and then my parents and Kuon-sensei. It didn’t spread out strangely, though.
Then, it won’t be good if I were to send him home straight after this, right? Fortunately, I have an excuse to restrain him some more time.
“Ah, there are Cheria fruits that Alica-san gave as souvenirs, would you like to try it? Also, she’s in the middle of preparing us some tea right now.”
“Ooh, can I?”
“Sure. They also look so fresh.”
Just in time, we noticed that Alica-san was pushing a cart on our way, and perhaps due to this timing, Jigen-san’s originally wrinkled face got more wrinkles as he laughed.
Well, then he drank the tea once. Since it seemed like he would still return even if I restrained him after handing over the documents, perhaps he had other business to attend. When I thought of it while gazing at Jigen-san, he squinted and showed a complacent smile. Uhm, did he find out about my speculation?
“I didn’t write it in the letter, but I have a small thought and immediately visited you to ask about it.”
“A thought, is it?”
“It’s about the person who raised Seiren-sama.”
Bu-, I was about to sprout my tea but I managed to hold it back, that’s great. After that, I properly drank the tea.
But still, about the orphanage director, huh. I wonder what kind of thought he has in regard to the person that he only knows about how he has the same name, same face, and same voice as Touya-san.
“It’s about that gentleman, I am thinking on how he might be a person of this world by any chance.”
For me to not dropping my cup down, I’m really great. After returning it to its plate, I stared at Jigen-san who was sitting right in front of me once again.
I mean, the orphanage director is a person of this world?
I wonder why that kind of thought arised again?
“For him to accidentally find a baby and then gave the baby the same name that she was given in this world just based on the embroidery on the baby’s clothes. And that person also has the same name, same face, and same voice as a certain someone from this world. If they had some kind of connections for some reasion, it won’t be weird, right?”
Now that you mention it.
Well, that’s also weird for coincidences to accumulate like that. No, it’s not like I can stay calm at a time like this, right? Perhaps I’m also trying to run away from the reality.
“Well, since I went to the other world, it won’t be strange if there was someone else who had also come there, though.”
“Yes, that kind of thing. Because there is no single proof of it, please consider it as a senile’s delusion.”
No, with that kind of a gaze, don’t say that it’s just your delusion, Jigen-san.
Certainly, there’s no proof at all.
However, if the orphanage director was actually a person of this world, then…
The reason why he had carefully raised me, could it be.
“Aah. Also, there’s something I’d like to ask from Seiren-sama.”
“Eh, ah, yes. W-what is it?”
Since the topic was abruptly changed, the process of switching my thoughts didn’t go smoothly for a moment. Or rather, will it really swing completely from the earlier talk?
“Do you still have your clothes at the time when you first returned here?”
“I, I still have it. Even if there might be no more chance for me to wear it, it’s still an important thing to me, so…”
“Oh, then that’s great. What I want to ask of you is… would you mind lending me that clothes?”
“Eh? Aah, well, I don’t mind at all but, why?”
My uniform and my shoes are stored in a deep and secret space of my drawer. They are the few things that I brought over from the other world, after all.
For wanting to borrow it, I wonder what will Jigen-san do?
“There are cases in which we can pick up things from the residual debris of magic that were left at the clothes of the person who was summoned over. There might be something we could pick up about the person who brought up Seiren-sama, so I was thinking that I should try examining it.”
“…Ah, you’re looking for an evidence.”
Although there is no magician in the other world, we are using science in exchange to that in order to find any evidence related to a crime. It can be picked up from the fabric of the worn clothes or any sticking residue, and many other things.
In this world, there are cases where the magic’s residue was left on the clothes or something like that. Because Jigen-san is a professional magician, he might be able to find something out from it.
I was a victim that was tossed to the other world and my gender changed as a result of my getting sweeped away. When you think about it, the one that would know most of the circumstances should be my belongings, huh.
“The closest one that could serve a purpose in this case should be my ring, but would that be fine?”
“But it’s Seiren-sama’s important amulet. If the need arises, then I will personally come to examine it.”
“…Thank you for being so considerate. I understand, then I will be taking out the clothes.”
“It’s okay, I will be taking it out myself.”
No, certainly, I’d be slightly worried if he asked to borrow my baby ring. Still, thank you very much.
I declined Minoa-san’s offer, went inside the bedroom to take out my uniform from its hiding place inside the drawer and took out the box in which I stored my shoes. After that, I thought for a while before pulling out my amulet pouch from the shelf.
If he’s looking for the magical residue hanging around me, then it is very probable that he would find it at my ring which I carried for quite a long time. I have never washed it, too.
“Here you go. There’s the shoes that I used to wear in this box.”
I put my uniform and the shoes I brought to the table… ah, since there are shoes, I brought it over and put it beside the sofa where Jigen-san was sitting. After that, I placed my amulet pouch on top of them.
“Also, please use this as well. I only wore those clothes for 3 years, but this was made at when I was around 10 years old, if I’m not wrong… That’s why, I’ve been carrying it around for 8 years.”
The thing that knows more about me compared to my uniform should be the amulet pouch that was made to carry around my baby ring.
Before I made this, I used the one that was made by the orphanage’s staff out of their good will. When I thought that I wanted to make it by myself for some reason or another and consulted the orphanage director about it, he gave me a cloth and a sewing set. Until it was completed, I pierced my fingers many times over.
“Ooh, I’m much obliged. I appreciate it and I will make sure to make use of it.”
Jigen-san lifted up the box and the uniform with both of his hands and raised them in front of his face as if he was very thankful of those items. No, if these things turn out to be useful, then I’d be very happy about it.
“I also don’t mind even if you have to mince it up, okay?”
“No, no, I won’t go that far. It might become loose and got some lints, but that’s about it.”
“Haha, if it’s only like that, then I don’t mind at all.”
“Once again, thank you very much.”
“Thank you for your cooperation. I will do my best for the sake of Seiren-sama and the Shiiya family.”
Jigen-san nodded deeply and his eyes contained an absurd degree of seriousness that I have never seen before.
For Jigen-san to come here and say those things, in other words… it is indeed a serious matter, right?
While Taiga-san is investigating what happened in the Shikino family in the past, Jigen-san is investigating their conection to my kidnapping.
No doubt that it will turn into a very serious matter if there is indeed a connection.