Volume 4 Chapter 22
“Heheh, today is my off day.”
When I woke up, there was a pretty girl sitting beside my bed.
The sunlight coming through the window shined on her, making her smile look even more radiant.
For the first scene I could see after waking up, it was the best.
“Morning. You seem pretty happy.”
“Yep, it is the off day I earned after working so it makes me even happier.”
“And, coming to my room first thing in the morning, perhaps you want to take me somewhere?”
“Yep! But it wasn’t my idea. I just met prince Rahsa a while ago and he said happily that we will go to an amazing place today.”
“Ohh, Rahsa did? I see.”
Amazing place, eh… I hope it isn’t amazing in a weird way.
“Nn? You don’t seem to be too eager.”
“No, it’s not that. Just a little sleepy still. I was working till late yesterday, you see.”
Laying out the plan on how to go about making Vain’s dad’s sword.
“That’s amazing. You’re already a professional. Why not shift occupation to that?”
“I will think about it.”
I did not want to make Iris wait so I quickly finished changing clothes and headed to Rahsa.
“That’s right. It is held annually around this time of the year. I am not really interested in it but since you are here this time too…. It seems to be an event one should partic.i.p.ate in at least once, to know the n.o.bles as well.”
n.o.bles… you are royalty, though.
After Iris had come happily saying she had received an off day, this time Rahsa is saying this with a happy face. I can’t really refuse then, can I?
Should I try partic.i.p.ating even though I lack the etiquettes of a n.o.ble?
It is a rare opportunity after all.
“Yep, if you two want to, I can go as well.”
“Really?! You’re okay too, right, Iris-san?”
“I am not a n.o.ble though. Is that okay?”
“Of course! I will do something about that. And besides, it is a ball where you hide your ident.i.ty after all. Please choose a dress and mask as you like. There are tons of those in this castle.”
Certainly, I don’t doubt that. They will prepare something for me too so I probably won’t have to worry about the dress code.
‘Hey, you! What is with that, dirty looking clothe?!’ ‘This is a party, you know! A party place! This!’
It looks like I won’t have to deal with such embarra.s.sing things.
When I go to an unfamiliar place, my thoughts just go crazy.
“Then, let’s go pick a mask right now. Since we are doing this, how about keeping each other’s masks a secret? You can look forward to meeting each other coincidentally at the hall that way.”
“Ohh, that sounds like fun.”
Yep, really fun.
But, that’s like finding the most pretty person and the most n.o.ble-like kid, right?
That would be easy.
And the two of them would just have to search for a person who seem like they do a lot of smithing.
“Let’s meet there then, after changing. We have quite a lot of time left so you can take your time dressing up.”
And so, we started preparing separately inside the castle.
Like always, Supatifila-san will be looking after me. I am quite grateful to her.
“Sorry, for having you stick with me even with this.”
“It’s fine, it’s my job after all.”
I somewhat feel even worse after being told that.
She guided me to my private dressing room.
There were various items lined up, from shoes to hats. Rahsa said it was okay to pick any from here but there are so many, I cannot decide which to pick.
“I will just go with a black tuxedo to be safe. Could you get me one for my size?”
“Since you are going, why not challenge yourself with red?”
……..Won’t that make me look like a magician?
“….I will go with it then.”
I will be hiding my face anyway so it might be good.
“What should I do about the mask? I think I will go with this white one to not stand out much.
“Since you are doing this, how about going with a more characteristic one?”
“Like that bear there.”
Bear?! A bear mask at a masquerade ball?!!
And it looks a lot like a mascot-like bear mask too…
“……I will take it.”
Well, I am what you would call an amateur at this. So it would be better to leave it to Supatifila-san since she is probably more knowledgeable. Without going with masks which would look like I am trying too hard, the bear one will look quite lax and nice, right? As expected of Supatifila-san!
“All that’s left is a hat, right?”
“Right. How about wearing a silk hat to be safe?”
“Yep, that sounds good, let’s do that.”
“Are you okay with that?”
Why?! You are the one who suggested it!
“Since you are doing this, how about going a three-cornered hat? Like a pirate.”
I see. Adding some wildness to cuteness and n.o.bleness, right? I can also hide my hair color with it properly too.
“…….I will go with that then.”
It’s no longer my coordination but I guess it is fine. With this, if the other people are going with the safer combinations, the possibilities of me biting my tongue rises.
After that, Supatifila-san helped me with the other minute coordination. The theme seemed to be smart and gorgeous. Was it just my imagination, or did she look like she was having fun?
“Then, we still have time left so let us head to the hall at ease.”
“Right. I leave it to you.”
She prepared a carriage, and I looked at the cityscape from inside while on the way to the hall.
I wondered if Iris and Rahsa were already heading there too.
I was curious as to how they dressed up.
I realized when I looked outside, that everyone was wearing masks.
Not only n.o.bles, it seems like a similar event was being held all throughout the capital today. I see, so the fun things are not only among the n.o.bles.
Crossing the busy city full of people with masks, we arrived at the old hall.
At the entrance, there was a line of people. Masks… Or rather, there were a lot of people who were completely dressed up. There were some birdman-like dress ups too…
That’s a relief, I am not the only one who looks weird.
Getting off the carriage, I bid farewell to Supatifila-san. It seemed like she will come pick me up when it is over.
When I said ‘Sorry.’ she replied with ‘It’s my job so.’……. I am very sorry.
“Can I have your name, sir?”
After a while of standing in line, my turn came.
“Yes, you are in the invited list. Please wear this around your neck.”
It looks like a necklace with magic stones in it, I wonder what it is…
“It is a magic stone which can change voice. It only has power enough to last a day but rest a.s.sured it will work perfectly during the party.”
I see, they even change your voice.
Face, voice, and you can even act like a woman with the use of heels.
This…. I probably won’t be able to recognize Rahsa nor Iris like this…..
Leaving that aside, I guess I will look forward to new meetings.
As I entered the hall, I noticed that it was dimly lit and a crowd of people were packed in a narrow s.p.a.ce. Everyone was talking in a low voice but it was quite noisy as a whole. But, it is just the perfect amount of noise to have a wonderful meeting and talk about secrets.
Now then, since I also got some tomato juice in the entrance….. Hmm? Why tomato juice?
We-well, I should pull myself together and try talking to someone.
I tried checking my voice before doing that but I found out it was too rough. This voice was too rough!
Even though there were pretty ladies over there too, because of my voice the hurdle just rose so much.
But, it is supposed to be like this so would it be better this way?
“Excuse me. Can we talk for a bit?”
A stylish man wearing a silver mask came asked me. He appeared to be quite cool but his voice was very high pitched, making it really interesting.
“Ah, no, sorry, I was just surprised by your rough voice.”
“I bet. I also feel really uncomfortable talking with it.”
“I am also having a hard time getting used to this high pitched voice. By the way, can I ask something?”
“Yes, go ahead.”
“By any chance, did you meet a woman named Iris?”
……Prince Arch!! This guy is definitely prince Arch! Now that I look properly, his pretty blonde hair is showing a bit from his hat!
So he also came to the ball…..
What do I do? I don’t really know where Iris is and I don’t feel like helping either.
“……..I talked to her, just a while ago.”
“If I am not wrong, she said something about not feeling good and leaving…”
“What?! Darn it, I was too late….”
The person who is probably prince Arch–or like, definitely prince Arch, sat on a sofa on the sides, depressed.
He became more depressed than I thought he would be.
I kinda felt sorry for him…
“….Ah, sorry. The woman I talked to earlier was called Irin. I do not know of a woman named Iris.”
“Really? That is a relief! Then I still have a chance. Person with rough voice, I am grateful to you.”
He hurriedly went to the ring of the hall.
Bye bye, person with a high-pitched voice.
Well, now that the bothersome man has also left, I should go have fun by myself.
I guess I will go talk with pretty ladies while searching for Rahsa and Iris.
When I looked around the room, I couldn’t see anyone’s faces so they seemed pretty.
Honestly, I do not know who is who at all.
I wandered around the place while drinking the tomato juice.
And at that moment, I felt a shock–exactly as if my body was screaming.
‘This person is definitely a beautiful person’ my beautiful person sensor was screaming.
A pretty woman wearing a blue dress and a cute usagi (bunny) mask.
That person is definitely pretty.
You can’t have an aura like that unless you’re quite pretty. Maybe, that is Iris.
“Can I have a little of your time, lovely usagi-san?”
“Ara, that’s quite a rough voice. If it’s a little, then sure, k.u.ma-san (bear).”
Befitting of her aura, she replied with a clear and pretty voice. Hmm? She is using a magic stone, right?….. That kinda feels unfair. Even though I got a beast-like voice. This just makes it like the beauty and beast, doesn’t it?
“I couldn’t help but speak up, seeing such a delicious usagi.”
If I am doing this, might as well take on the role properly.
“Will a small bunny be enough to fill your stomach?”
Oho, looks like she is taking it.
“I desire quality more than quant.i.ty so there is no problem there.”
“Fufu, well then, I shall accompany you for a while.”
Making a toast with her carrot juice, she drank it at once.
Her gestures looked really elegant. She was not Iris, probably. Iris won’t do it like that. She must be a young n.o.ble.
“Do you not feel a little insecure? Coming into such a place alone, being a usagi.”
“Ara, even though I look like this, I am quite strong, you know? And besides, I am quick at running away.”
“Is that so? Sorry for being unnecessarily concerned.”
“That’s right. Even if it’s k.u.ma-san, I could finish you with one attack, you know?”
“……I will be careful.”
She seems to be quite the strong-willed woman. If this is backed by actual strength, I must be a little careful. To not go through a painful experience.
“Do you come to these parties often, usagi-san?”
“No, I just came on a whim… And, with a bit of expectation. I do not come to these recently. I liked them before, though.”
“Before? Did something change?”
“Women are creatures who are always changing, you know?”
I could feel a somewhat heartrending feeling from her. I wondered if she was searching for someone…. In this hall.
“By the way, your gaze seems a little impatient. Even though you have me talking with you here.”
“Ara, did I make you notice it?”
“I have only been looking at you so of course, I would notice. If it’s fine with you, shall we search together?”
After gazing at her empty gla.s.s, she looked up again.
“Are you okay with that?”
“I can’t leave a woman with a sad face.”
“Even though you can’t see my face….”
It seemed like she laughed just a little. I just felt like that.
“I have not met that person in a while. I do not even know if they are in this hall. However, it seems they are in the capital. And so, I thought just maybe, and came to this place.”
“Don’t be so sad. I am sure he is in this hall as well.”
“How can you say for sure, k.u.ma-san?”
“Wishes are something which are accepted, usagi-san.”
She looked into my eyes for a while. It seems like my kind words resounded in her heart. That made me happy too, if it makes her happy, even if a bit.
“….You are a wonderful person, k.u.ma-san. If I had not met that person, I might have wanted to deepen my bond with you.”
“I see. He must be a wonderful person. I am also staggering from woman to woman like this but, actually, I too have a person I long for. And so, I know how you feel. For me as well, if that person was not there, I might have wanted to know you more.”
“…..Such a bad k.u.ma-san.”
“Then, Usagi-san, please tell me how the person you are searching for looks like. I am sure they are in this hall.”
“When you say it with such confidence, it makes me feel like he is actually here as well. Umm, his unique characteristic…
I already asked but… this is a masquerade ball. Even if they have a unique characteristic, won’t they hide it here? Hmm? Can we really find him?
“Right. He usually has soot stuck to his sleeve.”
“….I am sorry but will there really be such a person here where the n.o.bles have gathered?”
“You do not need to be so respectful. Of course, you are absolutely correct but, he is not just any n.o.ble. He is a somewhat… weird person…. That is what’s good about him, though.”
Soot in his sleeves, eh? Sounds like quite the mischievous guy.
“In this dimly lit hall, it would be difficult to spot such a thing. Are there any, more, kind of easy to spot characteristic?”
“Easy to spot….”
After pondering for a while, she thought up an answer.
“It would be difficult to spot with all the hats but they have red hair.”
“Nn? Did something happen?”
Red hair and soot, eh…. I do have a clue…
“Usagi-san, sorry about this so suddenly but can I know your favourite food?”
“Favourite food?…. That would be potato.”
“Officially, I go with chiffon cake. But my answer to close friends is potato. To someone who likes potatoes as well, I can answer in more detail too…. Eh–Wa–k.u.ma-san?! Why are you running away?! k.u.ma-san!!”
Before I realized, I had started running.
From the woman I felt was pretty, run!
From that woman I thought would definitely be pretty, Eri—run, run!!
You do end up meeting unexpected people at unexpected places, huh?
Being a man, one should not go from one woman to another. They would definitely go through a painful experience.
At the place I had arrived after running for a while, I let out my breath and decided to stop fooling around.
I should find Rahsa and Iris quick and after enjoying that, I should withdraw as soon as possible.
I have had my fill today. So this is what they mean when they say ‘when your blood runs cold’.
I am done with that. So done. Now then, where is Iris and Rahsa?