It is often said that the best part of travelling is meeting people.
I believe it’s important to connect with others while travelling since we all feel uncertain when travelling to places that aren’t connected to us.
“――― Cheers to the blessing of the Sky God!”
Still, I wonder how many times these people have to toast until they’re satisfied.
While Rille-nee and I were having dinner in a corner of the inn’s dining room which was packed with round tables, the travellers, who had hit it off, chanted the name of the nation’s God and raised their mugs whenever the conversation got lively.
We entered the northern part of the Henshelwood ruled by Chancellor Leonard on the fifth day of our journey and are making good progress to the capital.
We were staying overnight at an inn along the way today.
There are inns, teahouses, and other resting facilities for travellers along the road, so we don’t have to camp out even if we don’t make it to a town. As expected of a nation of commerce.
There were other walled cities on the grassland besides the place where we were born, and we will reach the next city tomorrow if we take the carriage service that brought us here again.
The inn we were staying in tonight was a very large two-story building that could accommodate groups of peddlers. Even though it was dirty and not very luxurious, it had a nice dining room and separate bathrooms for men and women.
The men and women bathrooms are often combined in smaller lodgings.
Rille-nee and I got to the inn early because of the carriage service, we got hot water before it got crowded, then headed to the dining room for dinner. It seemed that there were a lot of guests tonight at the inn.
They had already started drinking by the time the sun had set.
I thought we would be able to finish our dinner before this happened, but we got seated with people who smelled like alcohol.
“The alcohol tastes good when you drink it with young kids.”
The young man sitting next to me at the small round table said something that sounded fatherly and raised his mug.
Then he strummed the small guitar-like stringed instrument and started humming something.
“Do you want some too~?”
A strange Onee-san was bothering Rille-nee by pushing a mug at her. She was wearing a plain, grey cloak, but I could see through the gaps that she had a big chest and was wearing something revealing underneath.
I could also smell alcohol from a nearby table. We were sharing our table with a group of high-spirited travelling entertainers.
They filled about half of the seats in this large dining room and the people who had been toasting the other guests earlier were also travelling entertainers.
“Ah, umm, you don’t have to worry about us…”
Rille-nee refused the drink without hesitation but her words no longer reached the completely drunk Onee-san.
I couldn’t ruin the mood since they were drinking so happily, so I introduced myself and went along with the conversation, but it was quite annoying. We were done with our dinner, but they wouldn’t let us leave.
“It’s hard to travel with just the two of you, isn’t it? Join our entertainment group~!”
A bald old man with a slightly strange accent sat in front of us and kept trying to get us to join his group. He was the leader of the entertainment group, and his name is Raj-san.
Apparently, he hadn’t heard us when we told him that we were going to the capital, or maybe he had forgotten while he was drinking.
“You two sisters can do it! I’m sure you’ll be able to attract customers just by standing there and looking pretty. What do you think of the slogan <The Pretty Red-Haired Sisters>?”
“It’s no use even if you ask me.”
“Don’t worry~. The younger sister is pretty too!”
He tapped me on the shoulder, but I backed away since it hurt. Aren’t you just calling me cute in another way? Well, I’m not going to become an entertainer though.
“It’s true that you have beautiful red hair that men would love.”
The sexy voice was followed by a shriek from Rille-nee. She had just washed her hair and let it down, and the girl sitting next to her was touching her hair.
I believe her name is Camilla-san. Her long hair was also red. She seemed to be a singer. She laughed in a low tone and poked Rille-nee’s nose, “C~uteeeee.”
“That innocent expression will definitely attract them. Hey Leader, why don’t you let me make a trio with these girls~? Isn’t having a captivating and cute trio nice~? It’s like showing the growth from a girl to a woman~.”
“That sounds interesting!”
“I told you we’re not going to become entertainers.”
I had a feeling that we might actually join their entertainment group if I didn’t make myself clear, so I said this on behalf of Rille-nee.
“But you’re joking about becoming a mage, right~?”
The Onii-san next to me, Bane-san, was a bit annoying since he played his instrument every time he spoke.
“It’s true. I’m studying hard right now”
I held the notebook in my hand. I shouldn’t have done this while studying, but I brought it with me since I wanted to learn what I can while eating.
They asked about our plans, so I honestly told them about our plans to take the entrance exam for the magic school and working in the palace, but they didn’t believe me for some reason.
I explained that you can enter magic school regardless of your status if you can pass the exam and that it isn’t only nobles who work at the palace, but the travelling entertainers thought I was joking.
“School? That’s a place that we can never go to~.”
Bane-san flipped through the notebook and shook his head when Camilla-san asked him if he could read.
“You girls are smart.”
She seemed impressed, but just being able to read isn’t something to be proud of.
“There’s nothing difficult written there. It’s just a poem.”
Bane-san had a different look in his eyes.
“I have to memorise a poem for the exam.”
“You have to memorise a poem? Nice, that sounds interesting! Try reciting it to me!”
He stuck his instrument.
I wasn’t good at reciting poetry, so I just read the text out loud, and Bane-san shouted after the first verse, “I know this poem!”
“It’s a famous poem. Isn’t it Colut’s <Love Song to the Moon>?”
Then, Bane-san played his instrument again and started singing.
Camille-san hummed along softly.
The chatter in the dining room suddenly quietened down and everyone listened to their song.
I wasn’t really interested in abstract and roundabout poems. Seriously, why is the exam about this poem? But when I listened to the poem in this way, I realised the beauty of the words.
It was honestly a great poem. The tune was smooth and made me want to sing along.
Oh, I might be able to remember the poem easily now!
Eventually, all the other travelling entertainers started singing, and I sang along with Rille-nee while looking at my notes. This was a fun way to learn.
After the song, Bane-san and the others bowed to the crowd like actors on a stage, and people praised them on their performance.
“Thank you very much. I think I can remember the poem now.”
I sat back down on my chair and thanked Bane-san. The young man, who was drunk on alcohol and praise, waved his hand in the air.
“No need to thank me. Just lend us your sister for a night.”
“I see. So, I can thank you by smashing that instrument.”
“No, no! I’m sorry!”
I stood up and he quickly hugged his instrument. I won’t let you get cocky.
“Aime, don’t react to every joke.”
Rille-nee scolded me, but she was probably hoping that things would end well.
“Aha, the older sister is strong! This one seems like she’ll become a good woman too. I like them, I want them in the group.”
The leader of the group, Raj-san, listened to our conversation and said something fishy. It does feel like he was being serious, but I’ll let it slide since he’s drunk.
I sat back down and continued with the conversation.
“Did you write that beautiful song, Bane-san?”
“Yes! Or so I’d like to say, but no, I learnt it from my master. Hehe, my master used to work for a noble as a musician and he knew many songs.”
“Oh… then you probably know other poems that have been turned to songs, right?”
I actually have a few more poems that I need to memorise for the exam. It’s not like I can’t memorise them in the normal way, but it’s kinda hard to remember something that I’m not interested in, and they’re all really long.
When I told him the titles of the poems I wanted to memorise, Bane-san knew them all. All of them were poems famous among the educated, and musicians employed by nobles can sing them.
“Hehe, do you want to hear them? Of course, you do!”
“Don’t let her listen for free.”
Bane’s companion from the next table tugged his arm when he tried to play his instrument. It was a thin man with bluish-black hair and almond eyes.
He came to our table with his chair and smiled at us.
“Why don’t you play with me before you listen to Bane’s hum?”
The man, who called himself Salim, fanned out the cards that were in his hand.
… No, I want to study.
Salim-san, a throwing sword performer, invited me to play a card game that is often played among the travellers.
I’ve seen people play it many times in the dining room of an inn and in the carriage. Rille-nee and I never played it since people bet food and money while playing instead of just using it to pass time.
“I don’t know the rules.”
“I’ll tell you, so play a game with me.”
I tried to refuse, but he kept insisting. I guess I have to play.
“I’ll play if we don’t bet anything.”
“No, that’ll be boring.”
“Then, I can’t play. We don’t have money. We’re going to the capital to earn money.”
“You don’t have to bet money. If you win, Bane and the others will play whatever you want, but if I win, you two will help me with work tomorrow.”
The leader, Raj-san, answered for some reason. So, you’re trying to get us with this? Drunk people make really bad jokes.
Then, before I knew it, Salim was holding a thin scalpel-like throwing knife and pointed the tip at me while it was still in its sheath.
“I want to use you as a target. I’m sure people will love it if I aim at a piece of fruit on your little head!”
His target was me! The sight of an adult throwing a dangerous weapon at a child is just plain disturbing! William Tell is unethical!
“Then, can your older sister dance to my song~?”
Rille-nee, who was being hugged by Camilla-san, panicked.
“I, I can’t dance!”
“It’s ~ alright~. Men love it when young girls flutter their dresses.”
The entertainers seemed alright with anything as long as it made their performance good.
What should I do?
It was more troublesome than betting money, but I want to learn the poems for the exam, and I actually want to have a little bit of fun. There isn’t much entertainment in this world.
“――― Can you tell me the rules first? I’ll decide whether I want to play or not after that.”
I was a traveller myself, so I wanted to enjoy these once-in-a-lifetime experiences. But I don’t want to become the target of a throwing sword, so I’ll have to be careful when playing.