Chapter 14: I’m Going on a Journey at long last (Not yet)!
All kinds of things happened throughout the following three years. It kinda sounds like a memorial poem that’s recited during graduation, but really, it’s been all kinds of things.
I guess the worst was that man almost finding out about various things. Unrelated to what could have been exposed in specific, everything would have been bad, but the alcoholic drinks, seasonings, and sweet food would have been a disaster. I somehow managed to avoid it by taking various defensive measures while conspiring with the booze- and sweets-loving servants and maids.
All of it was the fault of that dumb Sword. He’s got my gratitude for teaching me many new things, but he likewise caused me a lot of trouble.
"It’s soon ’bout time for the wine to be ready, right?"
Given that he recently started to repeatedly pester me about this, I decided to open up one barrel, although I wanted to let it rest for a bit longer. After a freeze disinfection treatment, I filtered the wine and bottled it up. As for the bottles, I ordered Sword to buy them since he kept meddling, poking his nose into the brewing matter in a fervent desire to take part in it.
Liquor and distilled liquor. Latter might be impossible to make without me being around. If you tried to make it without magic, it’d require quite extensive facilities. Former is possible if you don’t mind failures. All you have to do is to crush and mix the ingredients, and leave them alone after bottling it all up. Making sure that saprophytes don’t breed is a major pain, though.
I strictly ordered the cook and servants to store the bottles in a cold place, threatening them that it might turn into poison or rot if left out in a warm place, or explode in the worst case.
The next day after I handed Sword the wine.
"Time for me to head out soon." He suddenly informed me.
"Is it correct to assume that you mean leaving this area?"
Now that he mentions it, this guy was an adventurer, wasn’t he? Then again I’ve never seen him do any adventuring. Most recently he’s become more of a liquor warden.
"Wanna come with me?" He asked, once again all of a sudden.
It caused me to blink my eyes.
"You been plannin’ to leave that mansion anyway, no? Or did you have a change of mind?
If not, how ’bout coming with me. I may look like this, but I’m a fairly decent adventurer, so I’ll teach you the ropes while stayin’ with you, if you become an adventurer."
I had planned to leave the mansion in around two years.
For women, puberty kicks in once they hit an age of 12. That still doesn’t mean that I’d be an adult, but my body would have stopped growing to a certain extent, and it’d also clear up the changes in my physical condition after having entered this body. So I’d planned to act depending on that knowledge, but…
"…It’s just that it’d be two years earlier than planned."
"Plans goin’ amiss is an essential part of life, right? So, you comin’ with me?"
He’s got a point. Also, it’s safer to go with a guide rather than traveling alone. I think the guide part overpowers the difference of two years.
"Okay, I’ll go with you."
When I agreed while looking straight into his eyes, Sword laughed out loud, "As usual, you got no femininity, whatsoever, totally actin’ like a guy. Anyway, let’s go then."
He held out his hand, but I slapped it away.
"You think I could go with you on a beck’s call!? Even if I might’ve been a freeloader, I’ve still got to settle quite a few things!"
This guy has kept me company for three years, but he’s as selfish and whimsical as on the first day! How often does he think has that this character of his has given me trouble!?!
The time for preparation is too little on all accounts, but I must get at least some things ready.
Then again, most things…were not really all that important. I borrowed some clothes and tossed them into the wonderful magic item called magic bag I had received from Sword.
Afterwards I visited the kitchen. Spotting me, the cook stopped what she was doing, seemingly having perceived that something unusual was going on, and came up to me.
"I’m sorry. The liquor brewing is over. I’ve decided to leave this mansion together with Sword."
"…Is that so? Then allow me to deeply thank you for having graced us with imparting your magnificent wisdom upon us until now, Lady Indra. What shall we do about the remaining liquor?"
"Do as you see fit. I’m not going to stop you from brewing or anything. I think it’s going to become fairly difficult without magic, but if you simply let it ripe after crushing the ingredients and allowing them to ferment, if you sterilize the storage containers with hot water, and if you don’t mind a change in taste, I think it should be possible for you to still brew. You people are rather interested in drinking it right away than allowing its taste to mature by storing it away."
The cook burst out into laughter, and then bowed her head once more.
"…? What? You’re letting me go so easily? I had clearly expected you to hold me back from leaving."
The cook smiled wryly, "We have been informed about this matter in advance by Sir Sword. He told us that he would take you with him, and that we should take your future course in life into account."
Huh? He did that? Unexpectedly he wasn’t someone following sudden impulses?
"I see. If he has told you about it in advance, he must have given it some thought, I guess.
Keep the recipe hidden. However, you’re free to do whatever you want with it and its results. That’s all you’ll hear from me."
"…Milady, please make sure to lead a healthy and happy life for many years to come."
I shrugged my shoulders, "I don’t know about the part with the many years to come. …This world is anything but kind."
While the cook had become speechless, I loosely waved a hand at her.
As far as Sword laying the groundwork for me was concerned, it saved me a lot of trouble as I didn’t have to call together each and every single servant since he likely informed the rest of the staff, too. The last one remaining was the last boss – Earl Springcoat, the master of the house.
His daughter always pounced on me whenever she found me even when I tried to steer clear of her, but her father stayed away from me for most of the time.
…Oh, I found a butler!
"What about Earl Springcoat?"
"He is currently in his office."
"Then I’ll go to bid my farewell to him."
The butler’s eyes widened, and then he bowed deeply at me.
"If I leave without extorting at least a small sum of money in celebration of my departure, I won’t be able to get my revenge for my mother, right?"
"…For the sake of your mother, you say?"
"As a means to extort some money from him, yep."
When I answered with a laugh, the butler revealed an awfully cramped and forced smile. After leading me up to the office’s door, the butler knocked and informed that man about the reason for my visit.
"Lady Indra has said that she would like to bid her farewell."
I stepped into the room, facing him, who had turned around with a puzzled expression, with a scornful laugh.
"Good day, Earl Springcoat. It is my great pleasure to still see you in fine health despite your senility. …I, Indra, have decided to officially take my leave from this mansion on this occasion. As such I am calling upon you to receive but a small amount of a congratulatory gift for my departure."
That man stared at me in a daze.
"…Who are you?"
Wow, it looks like his senility has become so bad that he doesn’t even know who I am, huh?
"It appears that your dementia has progressed quite a bit since our last meeting. I have introduced myself just moments ago, but allow me to remind you, my name is Indra."
"…You!!! What have you done with your hair!?"
Why is he bringing up my hair now of all times?
"I have been using this haircut for the last three years. I asked your daughter to cut them for me."
"…Primrose did this!? As if she’d do something like that!!"
"Why are you deciding things to be as they suit you? Even an old, demential man like you should know that you cannot change the truth of it being sunny outside just by insisting that it’s raining."
He started to audibly grind his teeth.
"I’m not here to talk about something as unimportant as your daughter having cut my hair because you wouldn’t give me money to get it cut by a barber. Cough up the jewelry of the dead woman and the allowance you didn’t pay me so far. I’ve been telling you that I’m leaving this place, so get going and hand over the cash with a little extra on top. That’ll be the end of our relationship. …You’re happy that you can cut your ties with me, right? So, pay up."
Me saying so caused him to become dumbfounded.
"…Y-…Y-You…Y-You were…a man?"
"What are you babbling about, you demential geezer? Let me tell you once more," I breathed in deeply, and clearly stated, "『HAND OVER THE CASH』 ――You heard me now?"
As if having come to his senses all of a sudden, he started to shout at me, "There’s no way I’d do that, is there!? In the first place, you say you’re leaving this place? It’s impossible for you to make a living after leaving this house, isn’t it…?"
He probably thought that lame ending would impress me or something.
"That’s none of your concern."
"I forbid it!"
"It’s not your choice to make."
"What was that…!?"
"I’m very clear on 『who gave birth to me』. But, you said it yourself in the past, didn’t you? You might have forgotten because of your dementia, but my brain cells are still young and working, so I remember how you told me, 『You don’t know whether I’m your father, do you?』. Why would I, the daughter of a woman who used to be the daughter of a Ducal House, need permission from you, an earl who denies being related to me?"
He was furiously gritting his teeth, seething with anger.
"You not being my father is convenient for me. However, you have embezzled and stolen the jewelry and money you should have handed over to me after my mother of ducal origin died, haven’t you? Give it back, all of it."
The man was lost for words, standing stock still, apparently frozen on the spot.
At that moment, the butler, who had gone off somewhere without me noticing, returned and bowed.
"Over here you have the allowance and inheritance that is rightfully yours, as well as Her Ladyship’s jewelry, Lady Indra."
That man and I simultaneously stared at the butler.
"Master," the butler stared at that man with an unusually blood-curdling look, "unable to endure your and Her Ladyship’s treatment, Lady Indra collapsed after her body and mind broke down, and yet she miraculously came back to life. And then she turned her back on you, Master, and decided to leave this house, even if it meant discarding her nobility. She has put that decision into practice as of today. The only thing you can do is to kindly send her off. …I believe you should also be able to understand as much."
The man trembled in furious anger, but then he suddenly grabbed one of the bags the butler had brought with him, and flung it on the floor.
"There you go! Pick it up! Like the beggar you are! Hurry it up and get out of my eyes!"
He made a huge racket as he ranted, so I kicked up the bag, making it smash against his jaw, just to fly right into my hands. Just as planned. Good job, me.
The man groaned while holding his jaw.
"How about you drop everything on the floor? I’ll kick up all of it so that it lands in my hands, of course after hitting you." I told him coldly, but probably because the pain was too much for him to bear, he didn’t reply, nor did he carry out my suggestion.
Since it couldn’t be helped, I took the rest directly from the butler.
"…Milady, if…you wish to liquidate Her Ladyship’s jewelry, would it be alright for you to do it right now and here?"
"Very well, then please take this in exchange."
"It would cause some trouble if the jewelry of a lady, who used to be the wife of an earl and the daughter of a ducal house, was to circulate in the city…"
That seems to be the issue here. Personally I’m fine with it as long as it’s money. Or to be more precise, I’m fine as long as it’s enough money to allow me to lead a 『normal』 life.
Just when I had put the money into my magic back and started to walk off, "Elder Sister! Is it really true that you’re going to leave!?"
Primrose aka birdbrain burst into the room.
"Yes, it is. Make sure to do your best at learning noble etiquette. Goodbye."
"No way…! Don’t go!"
"Dream on. I don’t wanna stay in this mansion a second longer!"
"I’m here, am I not!? And yet you still want to leave!?"
"If you tell me that you and that man get lost after making me the head of the family, I can put some consideration into staying, I suppose."
In response, Primrose started to tremble, and screamed, "Elder Sister, I totally can’t stand you!"
"Pfft," I laughed through my nose, "then I’ll pay you back by coming clean. I never liked you, and it doesn’t look like this is going to ever change. So we’re equal on this!"
Everyone in the room froze when I made that declaration.
"…Elder Sister, you dummy!!!" Primrose yelled while shaking furiously, and then dashed out of the room.
Now then, time to go, huh? All nuisances are gone, so I’m going to get out of here quickly.
Once I arrived at the usual spot, he was already waiting for me.
"Surprisingly early, aren’t you?"
"No, that’s what I should tell you, right? …I couldn’t tell how much time and effort it’d take to extract the money, but it went unexpectedly smoothly."
On the way here I ran into the small accident of getting caught by the head maid. Somehow I got a farewell gift from her. She said that it was from her, the butler, and the other servants. Change of clothes and money.
As she explained it with, "It is our thanks for the delicious cooking, liquor, and sweets," I accepted it without reservation.
I think it’s easy to make starch syrup, so please keep the sweets coming without paying any heed to the liquor team.
"Okay, let’s go then? …Don’t slap me this time, gotcha?"
He held out his hand once again. Accepting my fate, I reluctantly grasped it.
"It’s true that I’m a child, but…I think it wouldn’t be all that wrong to describe me as a lady at the age of ten, don’t you think? So why would we need to hold hands?"
"A child shouldn’t act like a grown up, so give it a rest, will you? It doesn’t fit your character, you know?"
What kind of character does he believe me to be?
When I directed a glare at him, he laughed and stroked my hair.