Translator: Adam Seacord
It would have ridiculous to compare my life to others, but mine carried its own share of tribulations. I had to consider the straightforward lady knight Layla of House Lambert and the mysterious character who placed a surveilling magical item in court, as well as growing the business of the Spider’s Web, and my own future.
I supposed that I should consider myself lucky that many of my troubles were business-like, and even those that I did not yet have a solution to, I was eager to find one. I had begun to think from that sort of perspective after I met that man who belonged to the circus.
He was by no means small, but at least too heads taller than me. He was a large man. There were a few large men on Gustav’s mercenary team who prided themselves on their muscle mass, but this man was drastically bigger than them. He was from the southern region like Chana, but unlike her (who had mixed blood), he was most likely a pure-bred southern man.
Nubia, this large man, had skin like coal and worked as a guard for the circus. I did not discover that he had killed a woman he used to love, and that he was raising the daughter of the woman he murdered until they will pushed to the very brink of their lives.
「So, this is the circus… Wow, it’s much more amazing than I had heard.」
I could say that I was blown away. Along with the blaring of the trumpet, someone who must be the ringleader continued his flowing breeze of a speech. He was striding a gigantic animal called the elephant… An animal from the southern continent, that was so huge it could be called a monster. Naturally, the crowd’s gaze were drawn to him on his pedestal. I couldn’t see him well from my angel, but the ringleader must be a little older than middle aged, but he moved much younger than his age.
In any case, when I saw the size of this elephant, and smelled its stench… I could tell that it wasn’t a monster transformed by magical powers, but only an animal just like a cow or horse. Although, I hesitated to breathe when the stench hit my nose after a year or so without interacting with any livestock.
In the old parts of town where I held my shop, the merchants held considerable power. And even though things in the newer parts of town may be slightly different because there were more adventurers and travelers, I still hear that the merchants are the ones holding the reigns. That was clearly telling of the vital economy created by Earl Abram giving much freedom to the merchants.
It helped me a lot that Layla had introduced me to the merchants in the old parts of town. I never expected all of my encounters to be pleasant, but having anyone that I could interact with pleasantly signified business deals and information coming my way. So, going to see the circus was another way of getting to know the merchants in town. In fact, the opening performance was dedicated to the shop keepers and their families, as well as their employees. Of course, this wasn’t something the merchants put together on their own. Most likely an idea of Earl Abram of Olivia, who worked for him.
This was present as a preview for some of the citizens to attend the opening performance along with Earl Abram and the people of the castle… But in actuality, it was most likely to make arrangements regarding deals between the merchants and the circus. There was considerable time blocked out for meetings after the performance, before the circus opened to the public the next day.
The circus needed a large crowd, and they boosted the economy considerably, and the merchants who already conducted their businesses in town would come into play, for better or for worse. That’s why the merchants from the new parts and old parts of town were allowed to attend this event.
Although, I doubt this will affect my shop all that much…
「Hey, Elliot-kun. Your first time seeing this elephant creature, too?」
Said Old-man Jemma, one of the big names among the merchants in the old part of town. He conducted the Jemma Firm, which distributed booze and food to local shops. Although small in stature, we moved surprisingly well. He seemed nice enough, but he seemed to speak without any filter, so by the time I would try to answer anything, the subject of conversation had often been shifted.
「Hey, Dryer. Did we finish working out the pop-up shop locations with the folks over in New Town?」
「Yeah, I’m closer to them, so I gotta let them have a piece of cake or two, but it’s business, after all. Newbie, you’re not putting up a tent, right?」
Through a third party, the conversation came back to me.
「Yes, since I don’t carry any food items. I was hoping to put up a sign or something, but I doubt many people would walk all the way from New Town to Old Town.」
「No no no, that won’t do. They’ll be people from all around. Maybe even businessmen. Why don’t you ask, say, that girl Daria to advertise and point people to your shop for you?」
「Wha… Oh, no I could never…」
Thrown into conversation out of nowhere, Daria blurted out, taken aback. There was a rumor going around, more among the shopkeepers than customers, that a cute young girl tended the counter at Elliot’s magical items shop. She had become famous unexpectedly, just from me asking her to take over some paper work when I was busy, or to greet people coming in the door while I was tending the counter. Daria looked just like a human, but she was in actuality a flesh golem, created from the body of Daria, the country girl. She only retained fragments of memories as a human girl, and although she has day-to-day knowledge to survive, she didn’t have memory of speaking with me while she was a human, or being used as a sex toy… Probably.
Therefore, she always soaked up anything I taught her without question. I wasn’t sure if this was a characteristic of golems, but while she understood and retained information like a normal human, she was exceedingly proficient in memorizing words, numbers, and even images. If I had her sit in on a meeting, she could almost certainly recreate the entirety of it, and if I showed her an item closely, she could recreate an adequate blueprint. Because of that strength, I had had her working more as my secretary, in addition to watching the store. Especially, Daria was in charge of most of the bookkeeping and scheduling that I wanted to keep hidden.
The young and humble, and although not strikingly beautiful, cute Daria was very well liked by the shopkeepers, who were all a considerable age. In all honesty, she was more well liked than I was.
「What’s wrong? Jealous Elliot-kun won’t let you out?」
Old-man Jemma teased, and everyone laughed. Compared to the other shopkeepers, both Daria and I were young. If I was in the numerous Jemma Firm, for example, I would have only just finished an apprenticeship. Since I was the odd one out trading in magical items, my young age didn’t arouse much suspicion. I had given a few extra years when I had told them my age, but I was still a baby to them.
Which was one of the reasons for the shopkeepers to make entertainment out of speculating my relationship with Daria. I understood that they didn’t look down on me any way, and this was only there way of being friendly.
Old-man Jemma would especially be brazen about it: 「So, you’re going to marry some big merchant’s daughter? If not, hurry up and shack up with that girl already, 」he would say.
Daria would lose her words each time, but she seemed to be enjoying the recognition that she belonged to me. Speaking of, I had begun to notice that Daria was gradually increasing her repertoire of facial expressions.
「Um, everyone, the show is about to begin, so maybe we should enter the…」
「Yes, you’re right. Jemma-san, everybody, why don’t we follow that elephant into the tent…?」
I doubled down on Daria’s suggestion to change up the scenery. Their conversations were never malicious, but always droll.
「Hmm, it’s tempting to see Elliot-kun blush from ear-to-ear a little longer, but not worth giving up the circus, I must say. Now, then. We’re here by Earl Abram’s good will. Let’s enjoy ourselves. 」
A single word from Old-man Jemma, and the shopkeepers of Old Town and their families, along with their notable employees.
Oh, that’s what it is.
This old man, although he spoke and acted differently, had something in common to that old geezer Gustav.
「Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. What you’re about to witness is a fleeting mirage unfolding on the city of water gates, woven together by the Dreaming Horse Acrobats. Come see it all, come hear it all, forget about all your troubles and worries of your earthly life, as we invite you into the world of dreams!」
A round tent was posted, held by a giant pillar in the center. The round arena below it was the stage of the circus, and seats surrounded in on a gentle incline, like a bowl. Although a few torches were lit inside the tent, no sunlight came through it, leaving the interior rather dark even during the day.
Do I recognize the ringleader’s voice…? No, I grew up in the country, I shouldn’t know a circus ringleader.
I had considered whether or not I met him while I provided refuge for those criminals in that dungeon, but I would have remembered letting a circus through. As I was thinking such things, I began to feel like the ringleader was looking back at me. How the mind can play tricks on us.
In any case, their torches are most likely lit with flames. Could I sell them some magical lanterns?
As my mind began to wonder, someone jumped out from behind us.
A beautiful song flowed through the air. It might have been sung in a language of the South. Although it was a quick-paced, passionate yet bittersweet melody, the young voice of the singer breathed joy into the song as well.
The gaze of the crowd immediately converged in our direction. To be specific, they were looking towards one of the supporting pillars that held up the tent on the side, behind our seats. The band marches into the arena, and starting playing to accompany the song. The drums followed, beating a rhythm that conveyed a sense of suspense.
「Allow me to introduce our first act… The flying songstress, with the second most prolific voice in our circus, the daughter of birds, Nem will dance in the air.」
I turned around, and she flew, almost simultaneously.
White wings zipped in front of my eyes. Then, her voice followed her body. Cheers erupted, with even some screams. Of course her wings were a costume; a girl in a white costume sung and danced through the air all around the tent.
I understood what was going on, in my mind. Griping a thin rope lowered from above the tent, she will jump to and from small platforms set way up high in the tent. Sometimes, another member of the troop will throw a rope, and she would fly threw the air for a few seconds before grasping the new rope. This was an act called trapeze.
「Once upon a time, there was a woman so beautiful, that she arrogantly consider herself as beautiful as the gods. She would boast that her, and her daughter’s beauties would equal that of the goddess of the river. The kind goddess paid her no mind, but the other gods were furious. They told that for a mortal to compare herself to a god was arrogance, and that her soul was rooted in evil. 」
The ringleader eloquently adds narration. It’s an adaptation of one of the church’s parables that was also preached in this region. I remembered the story: The mother and daughter had become licentious after being lost in their own beauty and they were no longer virtuous. They fought over the mother’s husband and the daughter’s father for his sexual attention. As a result, the mother and daughter had their wings cut off by the still virtuous father, losing their beauty buy regaining their heart… It was something like that.
「The woman and her daughter had become evil. They had long lost their humanity and the law of the gods. Oh, pity them! The one man they both lusted over was once her husband, and once her father!」
With that, a large man with a fake sword appeared on stage. He was covered in bright-white armor and helm, but his skin was as black as cold. He was most likely a pure-bred Southerner.
Watching the songstress flying in the air, he shook his head in dismay, and thrashed his sword about in agony. While I was looking away, the songstress’ costume had changed its color. She probably had a thin piece of fabric folded into the wings. Half of her costume was red, and the other yellow. By accentuating one side or the other in her jumps, she was performing both the mother’s and the daughter’s part by herself.
A few other young girls had started jumping around in the air, as well. Their skills lesser than that of the songstress, they kept a low profile and flew close to the edges of the tent. Still, they were inferior only to that songstress’ incredible talents.
「My, my, that songstress sure is something. She looks pretty young… The same age or younger than miss Daria, here. Her singing isn’t bad, either. 」
Old-man Jemma mumbled next to me. For his age, his eyesight was unbelievable… And he also seemed to understand the lyrics of the song.
「Do you understand the lyrics?」
「I do. I’ve never been to the southern continent, but I’d hear the language in the capital now and again. The ringleader’s narration was changed for this region, but the lyrics are completely different. Her song is lamenting a love that will never come fruition. …But, that songstress sings in a way that makes it sound all cheery.」