Lutz’s Anger and Gil’s Anger
“Man, we’ve got a lot to carry today . ”
Lutz, who came to pick me up this morning, looks down into a basket piled high with cloth . The basket, which is the one he uses when he goes to the forest, is packed with cloth-wrapped bundles of clothing . There’s the clothing for Fran, Delia, and Gil, my blue robe and sash, and the three-piece outfit that I’d bought just yesterday .
My new outfit is cute, and it has a sort of traditional local charm to it, but it isn’t covered in patches, it’s covered in beautiful embroidery, and the sleeves are long and flowing . It is not the kind of thing that kids in this part of town wear . If I put this on and wandered around outside, I can’t even begin to imagine what people would start saying .
Since we’re even being cautious about showing these to our families, Lutz and I are wearing the same street clothes we always do . We’ve headed to Benno’s shop, where we’ll get changed in Lutz’s storeroom there .
As we do things in the north side of town, our garments and other personal effects are, bit by bit, becoming high-class . That’s just what to be expected, since high-class goods are what are used in that part of town . However, if we’re not careful, and people start thinking that we’re usually carrying around highly priced things, our trips to and from our homes will start to get more dangerous .
A child’s first set of apprentice’s clothes are often new, specially prepared by parents in celebration of their child’s baptismal ceremony, so they don’t draw much attention, but if a child starts growing up and still keeps wearing new clothing, then, probably, they’ll catch the eye of a robber . So, I think it might be a good idea for me to ask Benno if he could get me some sort of place for me to store my things .
“So,” I ask him, ”based on all that, would you be able to rent me a room for cheap?”
While Lutz is upstairs in his own room, changing, and I’m here in the back office waiting for him, I decide to try asking if I could rent a room from him . Benno, grappling with a pile of paperwork, shoots me a look, an extremely skeptical expression on his face .
“Sure, I could rent you a room, but if you want something cheap it’ll be in the attic, right? …Can you really go all the way up to the attic, every day, just to change your clothes?”
I groan quietly to myself, remembering how I still get out of breath climbing up five stories to get home .
“If I take it really, really, slowly, it’ll be alright, I think . ”
“Not in the slightest . Don’t you have a room in the temple? What do you do when you have visitors over?”
I’d made arrangements for going to the temple to donate my mana and read books . I don’t have anything arranged for receiving any sort of visitors . I tilt my head uncomprehendingly, and Benno looks up at me, setting his pen down .
“Even when Lutz comes to pick you up, under ordinary circumstances, he should be sent to your room, right? How have you been doing it?”
“…Lutz was asked to wait outside the gates, and a gray-robed priest came to get me . Ummm, in other words, I thought it might be okay if we worked things out so that the library could be my room?”
“And that happened?!”
“I mean, I just really wish it would happen…”
I know that there’s no way the library, full of expensive books, could ever be my room . It’s just a wish .
Benno sighs . “Well, whatever . …If you don’t have a room, then today you’re going to go talk to the head priest and ask to borrow one . ”
“Lutz is already going to the temple today to talk with Fran about how to manage your condition . ” “Alright . I’ll ask him about it . ”
The conversation dies down a bit, and Benno picks up and rings the bell on his desk . After a moment, one of his female employees steps through the inner door .
“You called for me, sir?”
“Help her get changed,” he orders . “Maïne, use that screen over there and get changed . Getting up to the attic is too much for you . ”
Eh? You want me to get changed here?!
I choke down the words that threaten to fly from my throat . Benno, having given his instructions, picks up his pen and gets back to work . Briskly, the woman spreads out the screen, setting up a changing area for me . With how matter-of-factly everything is going, it feels like I’m the weird one for finding this bewildering, and I can’t really come up with any good way to object .
“…Ummm, Mister Benno . I’m thankful for the offer, but I’m sure I can make it upstairs if I take it slowly, you know?”
“Don’t waste what little energy you have right before you head out . ”
Benno smashes through my feeble resistance with a single sentence . Maybe he’s doing this out of concern, or maybe consideration, or maybe because I’m a little girl, so if I just tell myself I don’t need to be embarrassed I won’t be embarrassed, right…? No, no, I’m still pretty embarrassed!
“What will you be changing into?” asks the woman . “These? …Alright, everything’s ready . Please come back here, if you will . ”
“Make sure you’re all ready by the time Lutz gets back down,” says Benno .
With no time for me to object, everything’s been set up for me to get changed . I give in, heading behind the screen .
“…Then, thank you very much for your assistance . ”
I just want to get this embarrassing thing over with as quickly as possible . If I let this woman help me, then I can get changed in no time . If I get my dress off and the blouse on immediately, the blouse will hang down past my butt so even if someone were to see me I won’t be indecent .
The woman helps me button up about half of the many tiny buttons on the blouse, helps me adjust the length and waist of the skirt, and helps me tie up the laces on the bodice . Finally, we put the hairpin Benno gave me in my hair, and everything is complete .
“I’m all done, Mister Benno . Thank you . ”
Holding my folded-up street clothes, I step out from behind the screen . Benno looks up from his desk, slowly looking me up and down .
“…Well, that works well enough . ”
“Eh? Eh? By ‘that works’, do you mean I look like a proper young lady? Do I look really cute?”
“As long as you’re not talking . ”
I shut my mouth, putting my street clothes into the basket . Mark enters the room, bringing Lutz with him .
“Pardon my intrusion,” he says . “Ah, Maïne . You’ve finished changing, I see?”
“Thanks to Mister Benno’s help,” I reply .
He pauses, looking over at Benno . “…Master Benno?”
“Maïne, you idiot!” says Benno . ”Don’t skip the important part! All I did was call Matilda in . ”
Benno, roughly scratching his head, looks pointedly over at Matilda as she puts away the screen . “Ahh,” says Mark, nodding, before pushing Lutz, having changed into his apprentice’s clothes, in front of him . Benno glances briefly at Lutz, making sure that he’s carrying a particular wooden tablet, then nods .
“Alright, Lutz, today your job is to go to the temple and have a talk with Fran, one of Maïne’s attendants, about how to manage her physical condition . Have you finished the summary of what you’re going to explain to him?”
“Yes, Master Benno . ”
Lutz bows politely, just like how Mark does, then picks up his basket and leaves the room . Seeing him acting like a model shop assistant makes me feel a little proud . I can understand, at least a little bit, what a parent must feel when they come to watch their kid at school on parents’ day .
Aaah, Lutz is growing up, too…
“Wow, Lutz, your posture and tone are really good,” I say, as I follow him out of the shop .
“I’m not there yet, but this is part of my job, too . ”
Lutz huffs proudly, smiling . I think it’s wonderful that he’s able to be proud of his own hard work . I’ve definitely got to follow his example .
“You’re doing so well being polite at the store . I’ve got to do the same and try to talk like a young lady at the temple, too . ”
“…Can you do that?”
“When I tried, Mister Benno didn’t tell me I failed, so I don’t think it’s that weird . But it’s something that I need to practice so that I can get used to it . …When we get there, I’m going to start talking differently, so even if it doesn’t really fit me, you’d better not start laughing . ”
If Lutz starts laughing, then my rich girl act, which I’m still very much not used to, will instantly come crumbling down .
“…Do I need to talk politely, too?”
“Mister Benno really surprised me with how careful he was being with his words when he was talking with nobles . I think you should aim to be pretty polite, maybe?”
When I arrive at the temple, all three of my attendants are waiting for me in the courtyard beyond the gates . As I wonder to myself how they’d managed to do this when nobody’d contacted them in advance, Lutz kindly informs me that the Gilberta Company had sent a messenger ahead of us . It seems that even when returning home, word must be sent in advance . Noble society is too much of a pain in the ass .
Now then, how do I greet them? “Hello,” maybe? “I’m back,” perhaps? Hmmm…
“Heh heh, I got you in trouble, didn’t I?”
I’d planned to use my rich girl voice for all of my interactions at the temple today, but Delia ruined that plan from the outset . I make a confused noise, tilting my head . Fran steps forward, pushing Delia aside .
“Welcome back, Sister Maïne . I am glad for your safe return . I have truly been awaiting your arrival . ”
I quickly pull myself together . “I thank you, Fran,” I reply, taking care to speak as eloquently as I can . “Has anything of note happened while I’ve been away, perhaps?”
Fran crosses his hands before his chest, bowing slightly . “All is well,” he says .
“What is well?” interjects Delia . “She had a visitor come by, but she didn’t have her attendants with her! Now that was a public embarrassment, wasn’t it? Heh heh, this makes me so happy . ”
Based on how she’s puffing out her chest, this seems like it should be an exceptionally embarrassing event, but I don’t recall feeling particularly embarrassed at all . Instead, I learned how skilled Fran is, and actually felt rather relieved that neither of the other two were there to cause problems for me .
“…Fran was there, of course,” I say .
“Hmph! That just meant that now everyone knows you can only bring out one attendant . You couldn’t even offer them flowers! I’m sure your visitor must have been very disappointed . ”
What does “offering flowers” involve? Even just from context, I don’t really feel the need to know, though . Benno made acquaintances with the head priest, pleased the head priest with his gifts, and seized the initiative in the conversation about distributing the profits of Maïne’s Workshop, so that was entirely satisfactory, wasn’t it?
I don’t really understand, but it looks like Delia wants to hear that she did in fact cause me trouble . This is a huge bother, so there’s no better way to get this over with than as quickly as possible .
“Argh . Yes . That was a problem . I’m in a lot of trouble now . ”
“Heh heh . Wasn’t it?”
“Sister Maïne,” says Fran, “what―”
“You’re causing me trouble, Delia . Even now . ”
Fran looks down passively, seeming to understand what I’m going after . I glance briefly at the clothing in the basket on Lutz’s back, then look evenly at Delia, slowly tilting my head to the side .
“How can I get you to work for me seriously, Delia?”
“There’s no way I’d ever work for you, now is there?! You’re some kind of idiot, aren’t you! Too stupid . ”
Delia smiles triumphantly, turns around, and leaves to go off somewhere . She didn’t say any goodbyes, just doing whatever she wanted, so just like before, even though I wound up driving her away, I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty . It’s actually a bit refreshing .
“…Hey, Maïne,” says Lutz . “Who was that?”
“One of my attendants,” I reply .
“What? Someone like that can be an attendant?”
Lutz, dumbfounded, watches Delia as she heads off into the distance . His resolve to speak politely seems to have completely crumbled away . I understand completely . If I don’t put some willpower into it, my proper young lady speech isn’t going to come back either .
“I apologize for my impertinence,” objects Fran immediately, perhaps feeling that his profession had been insulted, “but she is very much outside the norm . ”
Being an attendant is a job that requires one to be an excellent individual, like Fran is, so it’s likely that Delia, who had her eyes set on becoming the temple master’s mistress, is indeed outside the norm .
“Fran, here, is an excellent attendant,” I tell Lutz . “Delia has certain problems, though…”
“Hmm . So they’re not all like that, huh? That’s good . ”
As soon as Lutz voices his understanding, the other problem child butts into the conversation, pointing straight at Lutz .
“And how about you, just kinda barging in here? What gives you the right?”
“…Who’s this?” says Lutz, making an unpleasant face .
Given that the two of them are the same height and build, and they’re having this conversation here, I’d assume that Lutz has already figured out that this boy is Gil .
“An attendant,” I reply, matter-of-factly .
“Please think of this one as unusual as well,” says Fran .
“You mean you’re the only decent one?!” cries Lutz . “What’s up with that?!”
I have no follow-up . To Lutz, who sees that two out of my three attendants are outside the norm, it obviously looks like Fran is in the minority . As Fran and I stand there, at our wits’ end, Gil turns to yell at Lutz .
“What’s up with you, you outsider!”
“I’m Lutz . Maïne’s associate . I’m the one primarily involved with managing her condition . I’m here because Master Benno asked me to talk with her attendants about how to manage her condition as well . And you, an attendant who can’t even manage a simple greeting…”
To Lutz, who had been nervous about having to introduce himself to a nobleman, this must have seemed like a huge anticlimax .
“I’m sorry, Lutz . It’s because I’m still inexperienced as a master . ”
“Isn’t supporting you with that something your attendants are supposed to be doing? Do you really need someone like this who can’t even do the work he’s assigned? If he doesn’t want to work, get rid of him . That other girl, too, she’s not thinking of anything but how to cause you trouble . ”
It is exactly as he says, but since these attendants were specifically assigned to me, I can’t get rid of them so easily .
“Well,” I say, “their stupidity is actually kind of helpful, in some cases, so it’s all good for now . ”
“…Helpful?” he says, skeptically .
“Delia is the temple master’s spy, for example, but whenever she does anything, she immediately tells me about it . I definitely prefer that over someone who actually sneaks around in the shadows . ”
I really do prefer these kids over people I’d have no control over at all . “What a pain,” he mutters, shrugging .
“…Hey . Tiny . You making fun of us?” says Gil .
Gil glares daggers at me and Lutz . I’m pretty sure that he’s pointing out my stature when he said “tiny,” but I don’t feel like giving him the dignity of a response .
“Fran, I have a favor to request of you,” I say .
“Certainly, Sister . What do you wish me to do?”
“Don’t ignore me! Stop being stupid!”
Gil lunges forward, yelling, and grabs my arm, pulling with all his might . Given the differences in our physiques and our strength, he has no trouble pulling me, with my body barely big enough to be a four- or five-year-old, off-balance .
“Yaagh!” I yelp .
As I’m yanked off my feet, Lutz is there to grab me, and we fall to the ground together . I sit there, squashing Lutz, blinking uncomprehendingly, not quite processing what had just happened in that single instant .
I slowly look around me . Fran, who I had just been talking with, looked like he had reached out to grab me, but didn’t make it in time, so he’s just standing there, looking at me, with his arm outstretched . Gil stands there in shock, looking back and forth between me and his hand, as if he can’t believe that he’d been able to send me flying so easily .
“Maïne, you okay?” asks Lutz .
“You caught me, so I’m all good . You okay?”
“Yeah . So that’s one of your attendants, huh? Looks like he needs some discipline, doesn’t he?”
Lutz’s tone of voice is no different than it usually is, but a fierce anger burns in his eyes as he looks at me . It almost looks like the color of his eyes is the tiniest bit lighter . Realizing just how angry he is, I flinch back .
“He really does, but I don’t know if he deserves the kind of time, effort, and caring that would take… plus, I don’t really have the strength to do it myself . ”
“Alright, then, I’ll do it for you . ”
From the way he’s speaking, he’s itching for a fight . He helps me stand up, looks me over to make sure I’m unhurt, and hands me over to Fran . In the next instant, he leaps towards Gil, punching him square in the face .
“You idiot! What were you going to do if she got hurt?!”
In the poor parts of town, there are, of course, tons of quarrels between kids, but there’s a tacit understanding that you need to keep a close eye on your opponent if you get in a fight . After all, in the poor parts of town, your body is ultimately the source of your income, so it is strictly forbidden to go too far in a fight .
This time, Gil clearly went too far . If he’d just kept talking, then Lutz would have shrugged it off and shot back a few of his own . However, Lutz had been told, both by my family and by Benno, to protect me, and Gil had dared to raise a hand against me in front of him . When I’m supposed to be his master, too, on top of that .
“What are you doing?!” yells Gil .
“That’s my line! What kind of attendant attacks his master, idiot?!”
Since it’s only natural that Gil should be paid back for attacking me, I stay quiet as I watch Lutz beat up Gil, thinking to myself that it would be great if this got him to behave .
“Sister Maïne,” says Fran, “um, should you not stop Master Lutz—”
“Why would I do such a thing? Is it not my duty as Gil’s master to discipline him? All that is happening is that Lutz is kindly doing it in my stead . I’m very happy for his help . After all, I lack the strength to do it myself . ”
I also don’t care enough, though, I add, in my head . Fran nervously looks back and forth between me and Gil, who is being slapped senseless .
“You wish to discipline him… right? You could send him to the reflection room, or withhold the gods’ blessings, or…”
“The reflection room?”
“You… you musn’t resort to violence!”
It seems that even discipline is greatly different between the poor parts of town and the temple .
“Lutz, that’s enough,” I say .
“This guy still doesn’t get it . He just keeps saying ‘why are you hitting me’ over and over . ”
“Fran says disciplining people in the temple doesn’t involve hitting them . ”
“Huh? Discipline is discipline, right?”
“It looks like it’s different here . ”
Lutz clucks his tongue disappointedly as he takes his hands off of Gil . Apart from that first punch, the rest of the hits had been with an open palm, so Gil doesn’t have any obvious injuries .
“Seriously . Not only does this guy not do the things he has to, he tried to hurt you . He’s the worst . I can’t let a dangerous attendant like this stay with you . Get rid of him . ”
“She doesn’t do what she has to either!” yells Gil . “She’s doesn’t give me anything she’s supposed to!”
He stands up, holding a hand to his face, glaring at me . It seems like, once again, there’s another bit of common knowledge that I don’t know .
“Say, Fran . What, perhaps, am I supposed to be giving him?”
“What,” says Gil, before Fran can respond, “you seriously don’t know?! How ignorant are you!”
His squawking does nothing to advance the conversation . He should be fully aware that I don’t know any of the things that are considered common knowledge in the temple, but he’s still yelling about it . What an idiot .
“Gil,” I say, “how stupid are you?”
“What did you—?!”
“I said it myself, didn’t I? I don’t know the common knowledge here . So why are you still thinking that I should know about this? Shouldn’t it be obvious, right from the start, that the daughter of commoners isn’t going to know anything about what goes on in the temple? Are you still seriously expecting me to know that?”
Gil grinds his teeth, glaring at me, unable to retort . Lutz steps between the two of us, as if he’s protecting me from Gil .
“So why are you acting all self-important and yelling about the things she’s ‘supposed’ to be giving you? What does she owe someone who doesn’t even bother doing his job? How did you come to the conclusion that someone who doesn’t do anything is owed anything?”
“The blessings of the gods are given equally to everyone! Even though you get them sooner if you go up the ranks, everything is equal! It doesn’t matter what your job is!”
“Huh?!” replies Lutz, a challenging tone in his voice .
Lutz and I exchange glances, neither of us understanding what Gil is trying to get at . I glance over at Fran, who is still standing next to me .
“Fran . Might I ask you to explain this to me, perhaps? What might I be expected to give to Gil?”