“Aime, did you silk it?”
I handed Rille-nee a bowl of dried (not silk) broadleaf which I had worked hard to pulverise.
She sprinkled some of it in the mortar and used a pestle to mix it evenly with the sticky substance. She was making an ointment to apply on wounds to reduce inflammation.
It has been five years since we moved in with Gis-nee.
I was ten years old and Rille-nee was 17 now, and nowadays we are able to mix simple medicines.
Rille-nee and I both know most of the medicine that is sold in the apothecary, and we are now experienced employees. We mixed medicines while tending to the store while Gis-nee was out stocking up on medicinal herbs.
It was fine even if a customer suddenly came in.
“Help me, Ridill!”
A young man appeared while holding onto one of his arms and shouting noisily.
I let out a sigh, and Rille-nee honestly looked surprised.
“Rossi? What happened this time?”
“The cart fell over while I was transporting it, and I scraped my arm. Can you apply some medicine to it?”
“Yes, yes, where?”
I climbed over the counter and took his arm before Rille-nee could. Rossi looked unhappy when I took his arm, but I smiled back at him, saying that I knew what he was up to.
This guy was the son of the owner of a transport company and a regular at the apothecary. Every time he got injured in some way or another, he wanted Rille-nee to nurse it for him.
A lot of customers have been acting like this ever since Rille-nee reached a marriageable age.
It was good that the apothecary was making money from this, but I didn’t want them to think that they could easily touch Rille-nee.
And the problem was that she didn’t even know she was being targeted.
Rille-nee has always been extremely cute, but when she got older, she became more attractive since she became cute and ‘pretty’.
Unlike the time when we were living on the streets, her skin was fairer, she was starting to develop more, and she wore her long hair in a bun when she was working, and the nape of her neck was showing, which was coquettish.
She was also honest and humble, kind and caring, and she gave off a soothing aura. Everything about her was popular with men.
I didn’t want her to tend to the apothecary by herself, no matter how reliable she was.
“I was just making medicine for grazes.”
“Then, will Ridill apply it for me?!”
I pushed my thumb as hard as I could into his wound when he tried to lean towards Rille-nee, and the adult man looked at me with teary eyes, but I pretended I hadn’t done anything.
“I’ll put it into a bottle for you, so you can apply it yourself. We don’t do treatments here. Oh, that’ll be 3000 beles for the bottle.”
“That’s twice as much as usual!”
“We’re short on medicinal herbs. Sorry.”
Rille-nee said apologetically and Rossi couldn’t protest anymore.
I’m not ripping you off because you annoy me, really. I’m an honest businesswoman.
“By the way, what are you doing—ouch!?”
I stepped on Rossi’s foot when he finished shopping and was about to say something disturbing.
You’re not even in a relationship with her and you’re asking her out at night. How courageous, you thoughtless asshole.
“What are you doing, little sister!?”
“I’m not your little sister. Get out if you’re done here. And you’re acting too desperate by getting hurt on purpose, not only do you get wounded, but you also look pathetic.”
Did you think I wouldn’t notice? How naïve. But I was too nervous to leave it to Rille-nee.
Just then, Gis-nee came back through the entrance.
Then, Rossi suddenly started to panic and said in a slurred voice, “See you later,” before rushing out.
“Rossi came again?”
Gis-nee looked at his back while dumbfounded.
“He always comes when you’re not around. He must be scared of you.”
“Then, it’s hopeless for him.”
“Yup, it is.”
Rille-nee was slow and that part of her was starting to make me really anxious.
It was cute when she was puzzled though.
“By the way Gis-nee, we’re really running out of herbs.”
I changed the conversation away from Rossi and talked about the current problem we were facing.
“We’re running out of everything for the ointment.”
“We’re also out of capts nuts, zarok and unora.”
“Unora is the herb you use in your experiments, right?”
“I was hoping we could get some more.”
The rat poison that I had made during my experiment has always been a best-seller.
However, perhaps it was because I kept making strange coloured liquid, but before I knew it, Gis-nee lost confidence in me, and she wouldn’t let me mix ordinary medicines by myself. She told me that I couldn’t mix unless she or Rille-nee were watching.
She seemed to think that the medicine would be laced with poison if I were to touch it.
I made that poison by accident!
“――― If that’s the case, then it will be faster if we go to harvest them than wait for the peddlers to arrive.”
Gis-nee said after she checked the herb stock.
We harvested the herbs in the forest outside of the castle gate and have been doing so whenever the peddlers were late.
However, I was forced to stay at home most of the time due to my young age.
But I’ll make them take me with them this time since I was already ten.
“You need my help too, right? There’s a lot of stuff I want to harvest.”
I smiled and held out both my hands.
I don’t know why Gis-nee sighed as soon as I did.
“… I’ll take you with me if you listen to what I say.”
“I will! Has there ever been a time when I didn’t listen to you?”
She confirmed. I don’t remember.
I have a feeling that being young wasn’t the only reason why she hasn’t taken me with her in the past.
“I don’t know what you’ll do if I take you with me.”
“I won’t do anything!? Huh?! I haven’t caused you any trouble?!”
“You won’t cause trouble, but you’ll do something unexpected right away.”
“I said I won’t! ――― I got it, I’ll do everything you tell me to do today, Gis-nee. I’ll behave myself, so please, take me with you!”
“Alright. Don’t forget what you just said.”
Gis-nee finally gave me permission after I desperately begged. What’s with this lack of trust?
Well, it was fine as long as she took me with her.
I like experimenting inside, but I also love to do field work.
I left the walled city for the first time.
The city gates were located on the east, west and south sides of the city and were opened during the day and closed at night. The gatekeeper simply asked people what they wanted to do, as if it was an immigration check, but people were basically free to come and go as they pleased.
We left through the south gate. The gatekeeper glared at Rille-nee and I, he used to chase us away a long time ago, but that doesn’t happen now.
Gis-nee was here and Rille-nee and I were both dressed nicely. Today, I was wearing pants, a cloak and shoes with firm soles since we were going harvesting, so I didn’t look like a child who was up to no good.
I don’t think I have changed at all, but the change in my appearance has made a huge difference in the way I was treated. I felt a bit conflicted about this, but I forgot about it as soon as I walked through the gate.
I saw vivid greenery that appeared in early summer.
It was a sea of grassland with a breeze blowing over it.
It was a complete change from the cramped city scenery of houses and stores lined up tightly together and was a truly refreshing scene.
“You can see a big river all the way over there.”
Gis-nee pointed to the east.
I could faintly see a large blue stream of water in the distance.
“That’s where the city’s water comes from, and the fishermen catch fish from upstream.”
“Livestock are raised on the grasslands. Traus is a kingdom that is thriving in the livestock industry, and there are many grasslands where farmers grow beans and other crops while raising livestock. They collect a lot of fur and pelts which are used for trading.”
As we walked along the grassland path, which was occasionally sloped, Gis-nee taught me about this Kingdom.
The grasslands were generally in a poor condition. The reason why beans were the main crop in Traus was probably because they can grow on relatively infertile land compared to wheat.
However, there was a large forest a short distance down the road, so I guessed that the grasslands weren’t that infertile.
A road wide enough for a carriage ran through the forest. There were farming villages ahead, and I wanted to take a peek at them, but our destination was the forest.
We harvested herbs in a place where we couldn’t see the road.
We won’t be able to get out if we go in too deep and we don’t know what might be lurking around. Gis-nee brought her sword with her as a precaution, and Rille-nee and I both had daggers on our waist belts.
“Don’t disappear from my sight. Especially you, Aime, don’t run off no matter what you find.”
I received a warning, and even Rille-nee looked worried while standing nearby.
I was a little excited and looking around restlessly since it was my first time out of the city. But that was okay.
I learnt how to harvest the herbs from Rille-nee, who had already been here before, and put what I had harvested into a basket.
I put any interesting plants I found into a separate bag to take home.
Wow, this is fun!
There were a lot of plants that I couldn’t find in town. I wanted to live in the forest.
There were even some rare fungi like red mushrooms.
There were some that were dangerous to touch, such as the mushroom that looked like podostroma cornu-damaeEditor’s note: In case anyone wanted to know what a postrodamus corn thing was: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podostroma_cornu-damae, so I had to wear gloves while I was harvesting. The gloves were for adults, so they were a bit big, but it was fine.
When I leaned forward after putting on my gloves, I suddenly felt uneasy.
Then, I realised.
“Aime, what’s wrong?”
“Don’t come here!”
I held out a hand to stop Rille-nee.
The mushroom wasn’t red.
It was lying on its side… with blood leaking from its arm.
And the owner was nowhere to be found. It looked like it was fake, but it wasn’t, was it?
I heard a low growl from the inner part of the forest.
My vision suddenly rolled, and I was thrown backwards as Gis-nee drew her sword and slashed at the beast that had suddenly leapt out from behind a tree.
Rille-nee ran up to me.
We stared at Gis-nee’s back in amazement and saw a sabre-tiger-like beast.
“Don’t move, you two!”
Gis-nee sharply commanded.
Hmm, I mean, shouldn’t we call for help?
The beast looked bigger than the tall Gis-nee. Its well-developed canine teeth that were protruding from the side of its mouth would probably penetrate her stomach if she were to be bitten.
No matter how I looked at it, this wasn’t an opponent that can be dealt with by just one person with only a sword.
It might be dangerous to move, but there was no one I could just stand here. I grabbed Rille-nee’s hand and immediately ran to call for help.
At that moment, Gis-nee’s sword suddenly flashed.
What happened afterwards felt as if I was dreaming.
Gis-nee swung her sword, which emitted a pale phosphorescent light, and the light flashed through the air like a whip, cutting deep into the beast’s body.
A horrible howl followed.
The howls stopped when Gis-nee quickly ran to the side of the flinching beast and swung her sword as hard as she could at its neck.
“Whew… are you alright?”
She said considerately.
… Stroong! Is she a cheat?!
“G-Gis-nee are you alright?”
Rille-nee timidly handed her a towel, which Gis-nee took and wiped the blood off her face before replying coolly, “I’m fine.”
“… Why did you quit being a soldier if you’re this strong?”
“Adults have a lot to deal with.”
She wiped the blood from her sword while looking distant and sheathed it.
Then, she examined the dead body that I had found. I looked around nearby, and found the body hidden under a bush. I also found some scattered luggage.
“It’s a peddler. Perhaps this was why the herbs never reached the city.”
“Wh-what should we do with this body?”
I asked fearfully from behind Gis-nee.
“We have to hold a funeral service for him, but we don’t have the tools right now. I’ll have the soldiers know and leave the rest to them. There are other beasts around, so it’s dangerous. Let’s hurry up and get out of here.”
We were still in the middle of harvesting, but we couldn’t stay here any longer.
“Normally, fierce beasts are supposed to be exterminated, but… have they moved here from somewhere else?”
Gis-nee complained as she carried the beast, which was as tall as she was, on her back.
She was carrying it back with her since it would be easier to explain the situation.
Isn’t it enough just to tell them? It was a little scary to see the beast’s blood trailing behind her and on her clothes.
She wasn’t just a strong, independent woman. She was a superwoman.
“――― Say, what was that sword glowing thing back then?”
After I had calmed down a bit, I asked Gis-nee about what was on my mind.
“You saw it too, didn’t you Rille-nee?”
“I did. It was amazing.”
“It’s a magic sword.”
“A magic sword?”
We looked at the sword on Gis-nee’s waist.
It looked like an ordinary double-edge sword, but the important part was the beautiful green jewel embedded in the halt.
It wasn’t just an ornamental jewel, but a ‘magic stone’ with special powers.
In other words, it had magic and the light I saw earlier was the effects of that magic.
I saw something that looked like it belonged in another world for the first time.
So, there was magic in this world.
“Do ordinary people have something like that?”
“No, normally only soldiers have it. Magic stones are natural gems and are valuable, so they’re managed by the state. I forgot to return this when I quit my job as a soldier, so I just kept it.”
It was like bringing home a uniform from a part-time job. Their management was too sloopy.
“Are you a mage, Gis-nee?”
“Even if you’re not a mage, there are artisans who can process magic stones, so that you can use their power.”
That sounded really interesting.
I wonder what the logic was behind that power.
By the way, I believed in this kind of mysterious power in my old world.
Scientists on TV shows often claim that ‘if science can’t prove something then it doesn’t exist’, but I believed it was strange.
Wonders that can be theoretically proven become science, and the fact that something can’t be scientifically proven doesn’t immediately prove that it doesn’t exist.
Or perhaps I should say that no one can prove that it doesn’t exist.
A true scientist would believe that miraculous things are possible and think of ways to prove it.
At first, Newton’s theory of universal gravitation was called a mystical force, and even Galileo was forced to deny Copernican theory.
Everything was always considered mystical until it was proven. I believe the world of science expands as we believe in it and investigate it.
If I could, I would like to ask about the theory of magic.
Magic must be proven with theory in this world and wasn’t mystical since people can use it. I was extremely curious.
But Gis-nee didn’t seem to know much about it.
Maybe it was the same as modern people who can use computers even if they don’t understand how it works.
|↑1||Editor’s note: In case anyone wanted to know what a postrodamus corn thing was: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Podostroma_cornu-damae|