Act 16: Childhood Friend’s Request
A few days after the search-and-destroy operation against the Dark Guilds.
“Ta-dah! How is it? Does it suit me?”
Lara’s cheerful voice resounded through Cordelia’s room in the morning. Lara’s outfit was that of a small, small maid, since she was very small herself.
Lara stayed at the Pameradia mansion even after the incident. Her reason was that, “I have no other place to return to.” She had never tried to talk about where she was from, so Cordelia didn’t ask. Cordelia thought of making arrangements for her to go home, if she had a place to return to, but if she didn’t then it made things easier. If she hired Lara formally, then she could create a place for her to be.
Thus, Cordelia’s researchers increased by one. Ronnie’s assistant Lara; only worked in the afternoons, right now. Her work was to make writing tools that were easy for children to use.
Lara only worked half the time, so her pay was also only half of the other servants, but her living costs were extremely low, since most of her necessities were provided to her and her salary was for her personal expenses. Lara had said that she didn’t need a salary.
What was she doing in the mornings? She learnt manners as a student at Aisha’s place.
“Aisha-neesan’s classes are really fun. She’s teaching me what a lady is.”
“Lara, it’s not Aisha-neesan, but Aisha-sensei. It seems like you’re having a hard time putting it into practice, even though you’re having fun in class.”
It was probably better to leave her to the servants so that they could teach her a 『Servant’s Knowledge』, but the servants hadn’t hidden their disturbance over how wild she was, ――― or rather, it was more correct to say that they were disturbed by how she interfered with their work. Even though she wasn’t uncontrollable, it was extremely difficult to teach her work.
Anyhow, Lara had no conventional wisdom of the noble world at all.
At that rate, none of them would gain anything from this. Thus, Cordelia decided to consult with Aisha. “Won’t you teach her some manners?” She’d asked.
Aisha liked children, so she gladly accepted. And, she proposed that they wouldn’t teach her about what a servant was, but about the mannerisms of a lady. She suggested that if Lara knew what a lady desired, then it would be quicker for her to acquire the mannerisms of a lady…… Now then, how much would this lively girl settle down?
“Oh, I’ll learn the minimum requirements. I want to be able to escort Ojou-sama. I have to learn the mannerisms if I want to do that, right?”
“Being an escort is a very trustworthy job, after all.”
“But…… I also want to learn martial arts after I’ve learnt some manners. Won’t you tell me where I could learn that? I only know how to assassinate someone!”
Yes, Lara was bouncing around as if she had a tail wagging behind her back, and Cordelia smiled wryly. Then, the laboratory door opened.
“I’m back ~, Ojou-sama. I’ve only received this much distilled water.”
“Ronnie! I can change the colour of the water lily now! You wanna see it, don’t you?”
“Woaah, wai, it’ll drop! Calm down!! And I told you not to go into the forest by yourself, when did you sneak……”
Ronnie was surprised by Lara, who leaped at him as she informed him of that, and quickly adjusted the items in his hands. Cordelia really saw an illusion of a tail and ears on Lara.
(…… Well, it’s fine for her to be a normal maid instead of an escort, but let’s not say that now.)
As for Lara, she probably said that since she wanted to get close to Cordelia, who was like her.
But, as she was staring at the two playing around, a gentle knock sounded at the door. Cordelia told Ronnie and Lara to be quiet, for the time being, and asked the person at the door to enter.
“Ojou-sama, you have a guest.”
“Hey, Dilly…… Oh, what? You have a small kid here.”
“Oh my, Vernoux-sama. Hello.”
The person Emina had shown in was Vernoux.
Vernoux stared at Lara. She seemed put off.
“Where’d you pick her up from?”
It seemed more like an innocent question than one of suspicion. His reaction wasn’t strange, as a really young servant was standing before him.
Cordelia answer nonchalantly.
“She’s a promising magician’s egg.”
“Hmmm? Well, that’s fine too.”
“Anyway, what may I do for you today?”
Cordelia asked that as she exchanged looks with Lara and Ronnie. Lara seemed to understand what kind of person Vernoux was, from Cordelia’s exchange. That was the result of her training with Aisha, and she left with Ronnie.
Vernoux stared at the two who were leaving while announcing what he came for.
“I came here to have my usual tea, and to give you a letter from Gille. My mother also wrote you a letter.”
“Ooh, from Sara-sama?”
“Yeah. It’s a letter of thanks, and also contains the invitation for the tea party.”
Vernoux said that as he handed Cordelia two envelopes. She received them while asking Emina to prepare some tea.
The letter was probably about the balm that she’d sent to Sara the other day. If she had included a tea party invitation, then she must have been very happy with it. She felt relieved, but she wouldn’t know how pleased Sara was with the balm until she read the letter. She was tempted to cut open the letter right then, but Vernoux was still there. Cordelia firmly held herself back.
Vernoux sat down in front of such a Cordelia.
“She said she liked the thing you gave her the most, Dilly. She liked the balm, but the aromatic bath was her favourite.”
An aromatic bath was one way to enjoy essential oils, it heated them up and vaporised them to spread the aroma. As a tool to do that, Cordelia gave Sara an incense burner that used a candle. At the time she gave her the tool, she also gave her a new essential oil, made from myrtle; a herb that grew on shrubs. Myrtle helped calm the mind and also filtrated the air. She only had one new essential oil, but she had also suggested different ways that Sara could blend the essential oils she’d received as samples.
“Mother is looking forward to what you give her next.”
“Then, I wonder if you want to take this back with you today?”
“Lavender lotion. Shake it well before use, soak it on a cotton and then gently apply it to the skin.”
“Okay. I’ll tell her that.”
The number of herbs that she’d harvested when she was eight had grown considerably with the help of the servants. Currently, there wasn’t enough space to cultivate them in the greenhouse, and some of them were being grown in a cultivated field, that she’d borrowed, at the edge of the Royal Capital.
It was very useful if she thought of it in terms of being able to experiment with whether they could be grown widely, outside of the mountain and greenhouse, but the field being away from the mansion was a tough issue for her. Regrettably, the field also had some difficulties, such as needing to watch it and keep up with the maintenance. But then, she could entrust it to someone, so that she could secure a steady harvest. Even though it wasn’t as bad as roses, she couldn’t possibly cultivate it by herself if she wanted to mass produce lavender, which had a low oil rate, in the future.
(But in that case, it would be good if I can entrust it to someone in the Pameradia fief.)
Cordelia thought such things, but Vernoux didn’t seem interested in cosmetics and asked no further questions.
However, he seemed interested in Lara’s work, which was spread out on the desk.
“What’s that? What are you making now?”
“That’s Lara’s…… The child from before’s research. I entrusted her with the task of making easy to use stationery for children who are starting to learn how to read and write.”
“This research seems much more interesting.”
Vernoux said that as he picked up the thin wooden cylinder. Then he changed the angle of the cylinder and stared at it.
“Is this black coal? No, something different……? To purposefully fill a piece of wood with something, you’ve come up with a good idea. However, rather than this thing, wouldn’t using ink make it easier to see?”
“Well, this will gradually be done.”
“Then, I’m looking forward to the completion. If this is the little kid’s research, then what are you doing Dilly?”
“I was thinking about a good present for my friends to heal their daily tiredness.”
“Hmmm. So, it’s not like you were doing anything urgent. You can send a message to mother later. I’ll just ask you to write Gille’s letter, so I can take it with me. So please read his letter.”
That was what usually happened, but Vernoux was pushy. However, if she didn’t do as he requested, then he would stay there forever while demanding tea and sweets. That would also be troubling.
Cordelia asked Emina to prepare some stationery for her, when she had finished brewing the tea, and she read Gille’s letter while Emina went to get those things for her.
『Thank you for the other day. Next time, I want to show you around the place that we talked about before, Star Fall Hill. Are there any days when you’re free at night? 』
Gille was probably continuing the conversation they had at the evening party.
Cordelia blinked her eyes several times and smiled wryly.
It was definitely a charming offer, but it was nearly impossible for a young lady to sneak out of the mansion at night. She didn’t know how to sneak out of the Pameradia House, which had a perfect system against intruders.
(Well, I wonder how I should reply.)
Breath, she though, and after hesitating, wrote a short piece like Gille had.
『If I can sneak out, then any time is fine. The guards are the Pameradia mansion are quite good, so it would be difficult.』
Of course, she was interested in 『Star Falling Hill』, and she was also interested in the white flowers, that Gille had mentioned before. Cordelia did have a flower in mind when she heard that it was a white flower that bloomed beautifully at night. And, if this was the flower that she was thinking of, then she really wanted to bring some stock home with her.
(…… But then, it’s impossible no matter how I think about it. If I talk about the circumstances, then I might be able to go with the condition of having an escort present, but Gille seems to hate being in the public eye.)
So, I guess I’ll just have to give up.
If she had been born a boy, then she would have more ways to sneak out…… For example, using Vernoux as an excuse, but if she did it then it would surely be misunderstood. It would become too complicated. And, she thought that it wouldn’t make her, nor Vernoux, happy.
“What is it? You have a really strange look on your face.”
“No, nothing. Anyway, I think Gille-sama was busier than usual today.”
“Why do you think that?”
“His writing is very rushed and it’s shorter than usual.”
Cordelia covered it up, since she couldn’t talk about the contents of the letter. Then, Vernoux looked as if he remembered something, “Ah……!”
“Gille’s getting busier too. He has to remember a lot of things.”
“If you put it that way, then you’re always free since you always visit, Vernoux-sama?”
“I’m not free, but it’s fine. Whatever.”
“If you were to ask me if it was fine or not, I could only answer that I wait for a message from you, before you come…… For now, the busy Vernoux-sama should go home as quickly as possible, right?”
Cordelia said that as she gave Vernoux the letter. Vernoux took it and held out his empty plate to Emina.
“I’m busy, but I haven’t finished eating the cake yet.”
“You’ve already eaten it. And two slices at that.”
“Don’t sweat the small stuff. It doesn’t really change much if it’s 2 or 3. If mother prepares some for Dilly, then she should prepare some for me as well.”
Cordelia felt extremely shocked at how much of a sweet tooth he was, and put her fork into her own cake. Today’s cake was mille-feuille crepe; it was a thin crepe filled with whipped cream, cream cheese and fruits. It was food of happiness.
(But, 『getting busier』, was it? From what Vernoux-sama said, Gille-sama is from a good house.)
Well of course, I felt that somehow from the fact that he’s been close with Vernoux-sama since they were young. It’s just that I could say that with certainty now. However, I still have no idea which House he’s from. There’s a possibility that he’s related to royalty…… No, I don’t want to believe that.
(Either way, even if I don’t know now, I will find out some time in the future.)
The scope of her actions was still narrow, since she was still a child. If she became an adult, then it shouldn’t be too hard to find it out.
“…… Well, if you say you’re not curious, then you’d be lying.”
“Did you say something?”
“Nope, just talking to myself.”
Cordelia was extremely suspicious about why Gille was hiding things about himself. However, she understood that he wasn’t doing it out of ill will. I wouldn’t be able to get it out of him if he didn’t want to talk about it. So, there is no need ask. She thought that as she held the cup of tea to her mouth, but her eyes met with Vernoux’s, who was staring at her.
“By the way Dilly. Actually…… I have a request today too.”
“…… What is it? I only have bad feelings about it if you’re suddenly getting all polite like that.”
It was rare for Vernoux to ask Cordelia for a favour, so she felt uneasy about it. Furthermore, Vernoux turned away from the gaze that had met his, and was silent.
Suspicious. He’s acting too suspicious.
“Would you come with me to the dance party celebration for Earl Hale’s daughter, Hazel?”
Cordelia nearly spat out her tea.
I know that name. Because she had the same name as a character that appeared in the game. However, unlike 『Cordelia』, she wasn’t pushy or malicious. Her most striking characteristic was that she loved to win, and often challenge people to matches. And her mini-games in the game were ridiculously hard and annoying.
Cordelia was already aware of her in this world.
She had met Hazel at the Flantheim House evening party. Hazel talked happily with Vernoux, just like she did in the game. If she had to point out a difference from the game, then it would be that they weren’t as tall, because they were younger than in the game. But, the fact that she wanted to remain by Vernoux’s side hadn’t changed…… Yes, just like in the game, Hazel was the rival for 『Vernoux’s Route』.
But, if that was the case, then Hazel wasn’t damaging to Cordelia’s life. However, only if the world 『normally』was attached.
“…… Hm, Vernoux-sama. I’m just asking to be sure, but is that party to celebrate Hazel-sama’s birthday?”
“Why are you inviting me?”
Yes, why do I have to be in a position where I get the attentions of ladies who are crazy about Vernoux-sama? That isn’t good at all. I want to politely refuse any actions that could lead to misunderstandings. This could be the first step to my peace being threatened.
She thought that, but then, on the other hand, it was a request from her friend, so she decided to just listen to what he had to say first. Yes, only listen.
Vernoux answered while his eyes shifted around awkwardly.
“…… Because, if I go it’s likely I’ll be stuck with dancing with her. No, I definitely would.”
“You can endure for one, or even two songs, can’t you?”
“If it only ended with that…… But anyway, she’s really intense. Like extremely. But if I take someone with me, then she might calm down a little. Or so I hope anyway.”
Vernoux, who had said that so desperately, must be really bad with Hazel. I feel like there are no other ladies who could make him this nervous. She thought that as she looked at Vernoux while putting her chin on top of her hands.
(…… Actually, an invitation to the Hale House’s dance party was sent to me as well.)
It was Hazel’s birthday party, and they probably took into account that she was still a child, because the time in which it was taking place was the same time tea parties were held.
Cordelia hadn’t talked directly with Hazel at the Flantheim mansion. Still, as someone who was also there, she received an invitation which stated, “Let’s deepen our friendship”…… Or so she wanted to believe. However, Hazel had probably heard Vernoux call her, “Dilly,” so she was probably a little curious about that.
(Hazel-sama’s eyes literally look like they were burning up when they looked at me, after all. It seems like it’ll be a big hassle if I go with Vernoux-sama to the party.)
She wanted to help her friend out, but she, herself, was cute.
“Why don’t you invite another lady?”
Therefore, she made a proposal that could be a price for his request. But, Vernoux laughed scornfully at her idea.
“The other ladies say things like, 『Why don’t you come with me, because it’s annoying to be with Hazel-sama』?”
“You don’t need to tell me something like that.”
“And it would cause a big misunderstanding. That’s why it has to be Dilly. This won’t cause me any difficulties.”
“Even if I go with you, there’s a chance that the people around you would misunderstand it.”
“It’ll be fine if I deny it. Hey, I’m the middleman between you and Gille, so you’ll do it right?”
Gradually, I feel like Vernoux-sama’s words are changing from 「request」to「demanding」…… She thought as she put a hand to her head.
“You’re not just being a middleman for me, so why don’t you ask Gille-sama? I don’t mind doing it directly.”
“Then, I’ll tell him that you didn’t give me his reply.”
“You’re so vicious.”
I wrote it, didn’t I? She stared at him. However, he only shook the envelope from hand to hand. You’ll do it right? Was what his actions were telling her.
Cordelia didn’t hide her sigh.
However, depending on how she thought, Vernoux was really pitiful. He was only 12….. No, he’d just turned 13, yet he needed to escape from the ladies.
(…… It is pitiful.)
I’m cute, but well, it’s not like I don’t sympathise with my friend’s anguish.
“I knew I could count on you, Dilly!”
Vernoux’s attitude changed the moment she agreed. His smiling face was somewhat a little hateful. I should have said no, after all, she thought, and also smiled, since it wasn’t possible to reject him now.
However, he’ll probably forgive me if I reduce his sweets next time he visits, in revenge, Cordelia swore in her mind. I’ll never be fooled by his tanuki mode again.
Happy Chinese New Year \o/