Chapter 10: Awkwardness Rather Attracts The Prey
X X X
“Okay! Now all I need is a box over here to put the money in…”
With my work clothes on so that I didn’t mind getting dirty, I set up my stall in my usual spot and set about preparing to sell my takoyaki.
Based on my recent experience, I made a couple of innovations.
First, was the payment system.
Since there were no ticket vending machines or pay-as-you-go machines like in Japan, you could only pay in meso, which was the currency of this country.
That was why I put a small box for this purpose…
“If it were in Japan, where public order is good, I don’t think there would be many robberies, but here the case may be different…”
This country’s security did not seem to be that good, with bandits and mysterious groups attacking the residences of noble families.
It was a moment when I realized once again how nice and peaceful Japan was.
I also made various other tweaks to my set-up, so that I could make takoyaki more efficiently compared to the last time.
“It’s time to get started.”
I muttered to myself and poured the batter into the hot takoyaki pan.
Right when I was preparing for takoyaki a girl wearing a modest dress and a hat came towards me from a distance.
—Isn’t it too soon for the customers to arrive?
As I moved the takoyaki pan, lifting the corners of my mouth slightly, the girl stopped in front of me.
I couldn’t see her face because of the hat, but she had long, soft pink hair, huge b*****s that couldn’t be kept hidden, and a thin waist.
She was probably one of the very elegant girls among the commoners.
What’s with this sweet scent and this vibe…?
She couldn’t be!
“M-may I have one of those tako-aki, please?”
The girl lifted her head and looked at me.
She had a beautiful face with pale skin.
And she had round blue eyes deeper than the ocean.
“How come you’re here?”
The one who appeared before me was Alice, dressed like a commoner.
“I wanted to see you again…”
Alice’s eyes were shimmering with embarrassment like a maiden’s, but she was trying desperately to catch me.
I looked around with my mouth half-open in confusion.
The maids who had been escorting Carol were now dressed as commoners as well and were watching us from a distance, giving us glances, as if they thought of us as their children, with very warm, kind, and sad expressions on their faces.
“I see… but it’s not safe here.
Alice is the eldest daughter of the duchess, right? You should be in a safer place…”
Hmm… I should take a temporary leave today.
Even though I had gone through a lot of trouble to prepare for it, well, it can’t be helped.
As I was smiling bitterly, Alice, staring at me with her round eyes, replied,
Masta… ahm… I can’t let Haruto-sama get into trouble.
I looked at Alice, who was at a loss for words, and as I looked back at her, she seemed to make up her mind and turned her beautiful eyes to me and said,
“Allow me to assist you!”
X X X
“Oh! Hey, brother! I’ve been waiting for you! I haven’t been able to forget the taste of this takoyaki since that time! I wish you could make it every day!”
“I’m glad it suits your taste.
We are in a kind of testing period right now, so for now it will be about two or three times a week.”
“I see… Ah, hot! I’m sure if you opened a restaurant in the Royal Capital, it would be very prosperous.
I don’t want people to know too much about such a delicious dish though.”
“Thank you so much, for appreciating it so much.”
“I’ll have to pay this beautiful lady for it, right?”
The stall was overflowing with people, and two of the stern adventurers I met the other day came to see me again.
His face was completely that of a yakuza, but he seemed to be a good person at heart.
“By the way, brother, I never expected you to have such a beautiful wife? I guess a gentleman always gets a good lady.”
As soon as she heard the word “wife,” Alice, who was in charge of collecting money beside me, jumped up and down in surprise.
She then glared at the two adventurers.
“W-what… that look… Did I say something wrong?”
“Brother… Your wife is a bit scary.
I guess she keeps you on a tight leash…”
“Ah, this lady is not my wife.
I just know her.”
“Oh, is that so?”
“I thought you guys were newlyweds because she kept giving you hot glances…”
“What did you just say?”
“N-nothing! See ya later!”
With that, the two stern men left, eating their takoyaki with relish.
Alice said she wanted to help me with the people who came rushing in.
So I went with the flow and asked her to do the accounting work.
Then she nodded with a twinkle in her eye and here we were.
If she stayed next to me, I could protect her if someone were to harm her.
However, she was the eldest daughter of the duchess, so she was not suited for this kind of dirty stall work.
But she was doing her best, though awkwardly.
But, the expression on her face when she received the payment from the men was very bone-chilling.
After repeatedly making takoyaki, selling them, and making them again, we ran out of ingredients sooner than I had expected and we were sold out.
The response was tremendous again today.
I never thought we would sell out so quickly…
As I sighed in the aftermath, Alice showed me a box full of coins.
“Here’s 56,000 meso.”
Thanks for your help.”
I said a few words of thanks, but Alice’s expression was dark, which made me curious, so I asked,
“Is something wrong?”
“… I gave you trouble… I didn’t mean to glare at the customer and it seems I didn’t do well… I wasn’t much use to you, I shouldn’t have come… I’m sorry for thinking only of myself…”
Biting her lips, she lowered her head.
Despite her noble status as the heir to the Duke’s title, she came here dressed as a commoner to meet me.
I would have preferred that they just forgot about me and live happily ever after… I have been thinking about it, but today, Alice’s behavior made me realize something.
It would be arrogant of me not to accept their goodwill.
To pretend to be ignorant of the fact that they were thinking of me would probably lead to hurting them.
Thinking of this, I took out the 5,000 meso from the box she gave me and handed it to Alice.
It’s for the part-time job.”
“I don’t deserve…”
“Alice, you did a good job.
Thanks to you, I was able to concentrate on making takoyaki.”
Alice was hesitant, but I put 5,000 mesos on her hand.
Her hands felt so soft.
I didn’t understand why my fingers were so different from Alice’s, even though they were the same.
But I must not enjoy this soft feeling.
I had to tell her how I felt.
I took my hand away from hers, looked into her deep blue eyes, and said,
“Thank you so much for coming.
I’m so happy that a duchess came to see me dressed like this.”
“I’m fine with just Haruto.
It’s a little embarrassing to be called -sama like that.”.
“… Then Haruto.”
She wiped tears from the corners of her eyes and looked at me with a cheerful expression.
“I would like to invite you to my house.
I will prepare a party that will live up to the Medici family name.
A party just for you, Haruto.”
You don’t have to go that far.”
“No… I want to make Haruto happy.”
Her deep blue eyes that seemed to suck you in, had a mysterious power that could drown you if you were not careful.
Looking into those eyes I found something dark, something uncertain, calling me in.
“Then, I’ll take your word for it… thanks for inviting me.”
The intense gaze that she had shown earlier had gone silent, and now she was completely a normal girl.
I was really glad.
It wasn’t the look of despair that she showed at that time…
As I was relieved, Alice mumbled, wriggling her body.
“Well, you know… we should set a date while we still can…”
At that moment…
The siren went off.
[Emergency! Emergency! A large number of undead monsters have appeared.
Commoners who cannot use magic, please move to the evacuation center ASAP! Adventurers, please come to the guild hall to receive emergency quests! I repeat! This is an Emergency…]
“What’s going on?”
“Undead Monsters! It’s impossible for undead to appear in this country! How’s this…”
Undead monsters were dead monsters that for some reason came back to life.
“Alice, how strong is an undead?”
But it depends on the type, you have to be class 3 or higher to be able to fight properly.
And if they are in large numbers…”
“Okay, I’m off.”
“To hunt monsters.”
“… I’m coming too.”
“I’m a class 5 wizard.
This time, I’ll be useful to Haruto!”
I couldn’t say anything to her, when she exuded an aura as if she were a melting pot of blue flames.
Alice had lived in this world all her life.
That meant she must know a lot of information.
Besides, she was a class 5 magician too.
I should trust Alice.
Assist me then.”
With that, I left the food stall alone and walked briskly.
“Yes, I’ll assist you forever, Haruto.”
I thought I heard something behind me and turned around to see Alice following me.
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