Chapter 9: That Thing that Appeared on Yakitori Holiday
Victor-san sits in front of the statue of the goddess every day. He has been sitting there reading for over ten days. When I’m asked to bring him tea, we chat a little.
It is said that occasionally, magical power wells up from the earth. However, no one can see it, so people can only vaguely sense the intensity of the magical power through the behavior of wild animals or by saying, “This area feels. . .” It seems rare for it to well up in the middle of a town like this.
When I asked about the effects of continuously being showered with golden powder, which is the magical power of the earth, he said, “I feel like it’s working.” He mentioned that it’s easier for him to circulate magical power within his body compared to before. That’s a relief.
The ordinary and peaceful life at the inn, the Aura, soothes my heart, which tends to feel anxious in this otherworldly place.
The long-awaited day off after two weeks finally arrived.
Since I am technically responsible for Victor-san, I informed him, “Today, please ask someone else for assistance.” He asked me where I was going.
“To the market. Last time, I couldn’t fully enjoy it.”
“I apologize for ruining your holiday that time. I was in a rush to find you. I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine. I’m not angry either. I believe in forgetting the past. Well, whether I can truly forget or not is another story.”
Victor-san seemed hesitant and continued mumbling, so I caught on.
“I see. You don’t want to be alone, huh? You want to go out with Onee-chan?”
“What? Who’s Onee-chan? I’m not lonely! I just feel like I need to apologize for ruining the previous holiday.”
“Got it. Shall we go to the market together? I really want to explore the entire market.”
“Sure. I’ll accompany you. I’ll also look for a book or something.”
The arrangement of food stalls in the market is never boring. Here in the Kingdom of Kholdar, there is a variety of food influenced by both Western and Southeast Asian cuisines from my previous world. While the meals in the palace are Western-style, it seems that the commoners’ meals have many Southeast Asian influences.
As I was walking around, I found a stall selling something like grilled skewers. They were skewered on thin sticks, sprinkled with spices, and grilled.
“What a wonderful smell!”
“Do you want to try it?”
“I want to.”
Victor-san bought two different types and came back.
“Let’s eat while it’s hot.”
“Thank you. How much was it?”
“It’s on me. It’s an apology for interrupting your previous holiday. Today, eat as much as you want.”
“Thank you. Then I won’t hold back.”
I took a bite of the piping hot meat. It resembled chicken but had a slightly different texture. It had a more animal-like chewiness. The spices nicely masked any gamey taste, making it delicious.
“It’s delicious. I wonder what kind of meat this is.”
“That’s rock pheasant. It’s a bird that lives on rocky terrain and eats leaves and nuts. It’s delicious, right?”
“A duck on rocky terrain… Well, it certainly is delicious.”
“Do you want something to drink? We have alcohol and juice.”
“Then, something not too sweet and cold.”
While watching Victor-san heading towards the stall, I noticed something. Above his head, there was a small bird, about the size of a hornet, with a dark red color. At first glance, it looked exactly like a bee.
I quickly borrowed a piece of paper and a pen from a nearby stall owner and scribbled a note.
[There’s a dark red bird flying above your head. Wait there for a moment, I’ll do something about it.]
I left the note on the table and stood up. Knowing that the bird was there, Victor was being monitored by a wizard. Did they also see me?
I watched Victor from a slightly distant spot in the bustling market. He returned to the table with the drink and glanced at my note, momentarily stiffening his expression, but then he pretended not to notice. Good, good. Don’t look up. I’ll help you now.
I hurriedly searched for what I was looking for in the market. Once I found it, I quickly made the purchase and ran back to Victor’s vicinity.
Victor was calmly drinking tea at the table. He seemed to have noticed me, but he pretended not to and continued as if nothing happened. I quietly circled behind him and, at the moment when the red bird was looking the other way, I put a hat tied with a string on the end of a long stick over the bird’s head.
“I did it! Victor-san, I caught the red bird!”
Victor-san stood up and peered into the hat on the ground where I lay.
“Oh… It seems it disappeared after all.”
The hat was empty, with only a faint golden powder lingering in the air.
“Haru, thank you. I’m not in perfect condition right now, so I didn’t notice the surveillance bird. If it’s a bird of that color, I can tell who’s controlling it. But why are they suddenly monitoring me?”
“Victor-san, before that, let’s change our location. It’s dangerous for both of us to be having a conversation while I’m swinging an empty hat in mid-air and you’re peering into it. We’re attracting too much attention.”
“Understood. Let’s go to a proper establishment. It’ll be harder for them to monitor us there.”
As we headed towards the restaurant, I suddenly thought. Did the surveillance bird only monitor Victor? Or am I also being watched?