□ □ □ □
The interior of the house was also white. It gave me a headache. It messed with your depth perception, which made stairs pretty dangerous. They said that black was a manly color, but both black and white were no good in my opinion.
We continued to walk down a white hallway and went through a white door and into a white dining room.
“Bring three cups of hot tea.”
“Yes, Master Adlus.”
We had passed several maids on the way here. They were all light elves as well.
The cook in the dining hall was also an elf.
“You really have no one but light elves here?”
“They are elves who live on this continent. The longer you live, the more wounds you have to show for it. I offer them protection. It has started to attract others.”
So, I guess this scene around us was the result of all that.
“And if you die, Daniela is more than welcome to live here.”
“I will take care of myself.”
“We’ll see how long that lasts.”
We both ground our teeth and glared at him. But Adlus looked unperturbed.
I had to be careful…
“Here is your tea.”
The cups were placed on the white table without making a sound. The maid gave me a menacing look before she left.
It was clearly his fault!
“Hmm…it is good.”
“It’s an original herb tea that’s created from herbs grown in my own gardens. It’s the first thing that I taste every morning.”
Adlus had a very elegant way of holding his tea cup. I tried my best not to look like an idiot while I held mine. Yes, it was pretty good…
For a while, nothing happened outside of the tilting of cups in our hands. It was just as I was going to ask for a second cup, that Adlus opened his mouth.
“I am grateful to you two.”
“I believe that my philanthropic efforts had led me to think too highly of myself. And it took meeting you two to remind me of what I was. Yes, you two. I made a fool of myself to many during the tournament. But it turned out to be quite educational for me.”
He said all of this with the most serious expression. Yes, our first meeting had been terrible. Then we fought and made peace. And then we fought side by side in Namila village. I saw him as a comrade now, but I also found it awkward to reply when he talked like this.
“Excuse me, is there more tea?”
Hey, I wasn’t the best at reading the room either, but even I knew that this was one of those moments.
“Daniela… It’s quite rare for Adlus to open his heart like this, you know? It’s like he’s getting very introspective now that we are leaving. Don’t you feel sorry for the guy? Look, he just seems very embarrassed due to your ill-timed interruption…”
“Wait. You have clearly done worse just now. See? Adlus is now shaking with anger.”
“No, Adlus shakes like that when he is sad. You see, he’s usually a very proud guy, and yet he pushed that all aside in order to bare his true feelings to us. I was about to thank him for it and everything would have concluded happily. But you ruined the atmosphere, Daniela.”
“I do not agree. You are the one who destroyed it, Asagi. I have lived longer and have more experience than you. I can read the air. I knew very well that Adlus had become filled with emotion and was about to speak. It was evident with the very first word that poured from his mouth. I knew this was going to be a lengthy confession. And so I wanted to ask for more tea, so that I would not have to interrupt him in the middle of his story. After all, would it not have been severely awkward if I did it when he was nearing the climax of his revelation?”
“I suppose you have a good point there… Daniela, you’re really smart.”
“You agree? Then Asagi, you would be wise to follow my lead and ask for another cup of tea as well.”
“That’s true. Alright.”
□ □ □ □
In spite of that outburst, we did get our second cups of tea.
“Well, I think you learned to just be yourself.”
“Indeed. It is not like you to put on airs in that way. You are the proud and arrogant Adlus. And you are still a comrade.”
“Uh, no. I might have been a little more honest than usual, but I had no intention of coming off…oh, never mind. Yes, perhaps I was acting a little strange. But it’s been a long time since I’ve met people as strong as you…and so I feel a little regret at the thought of your departure.”
Adlus stared at his cup that he had placed on the table. His voice was quiet as he watched the surface of the herb tea. His face was calm and quite different from the red-faced man who was blowing a fuse a moment ago. As I was more than capable of reading the room, I watched and kept quiet.
“Do come back. Because I don’t intend on leaving this city. You will always be welcome.”
“And yet you tried to kick us out a second ago.”
Said the completely unperceptive Daniela. I elbowed her.
“We have no idea when it will be, but we’ll return. We like the city just as you do.”
“Of course. This is a very comfortable place. And there are many light elves…”
A place with lots of people like Daniela. Perhaps that gave her a sense of comfort too.
Every place was special to me. In my old world, life had been boring. But here, everything was special, not just the places, but also the people.
“I will pray that you have a safe journey. And don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it. We will always be on your side.”
As we left the white house, I recalled Adlus’s last words.
It really had been a horrible first impression. We had been flinging death threats at each other. Things only got worse after that. And then came the tournament. But things changed dramatically after that. The battle had resulted in a degree of respect and acceptance, and then there was the stampede.
“He’s an okay guy.”
“His words are not great, but his actions make up for it. Someone who was bad to the core would not be able to do the same.”
And hey, we had put on a good show during the tournament, right? And we were victorious at Namila village as well. Our time in the imperial capital would not have been as interesting without him.
“Still, his sudden turn back there was quite awkward to see.”
“Yeah. Well, thankfully, it’s about time to go and meet Manager. We can get something to eat.”
And so we headed to our final destination in order to meet Manager and Lemon.
Meat, Meat, Meat, Meat.
□ □ □ □
That being said, we’ve really come here a lot.
“That’s not like you, Asagi.”
“Sorry. The road was really crowded.”
There were more people now then there was during the morning. The street in front of this restaurant was especially busy.
“Alright, since we’re all here, let’s go inside.”
“Ah, could you wait a minute? There’s actually one more person…”
Manager stopped Daniela just as she put her hand on the door. She looked puzzled. Had we invited someone else?
“I can see by your expression that you don’t remember.”
“Ah, there he is!”
Lemon said, and I turned around to see someone with reddish-brown hair. The face underneath it looked all kinds of disgruntled.
“What do you mean, ‘oh’? Eh!”
“Uhhh… Well, um. Hey, it’s nice to see you, Rex.”
I hadn’t seen him since Reserentrible.
“And you said that we’d meet again in the capital!”
“Yes, I did say that…”
“I was waiting, you know!?”
I bowed, but it didn’t save me from getting bashed.
“Damn it, you bastard! You’ll have to pay for the meal now!”
“Sure thing! I’ll pay for everyone.”
“Alright, let’s go eat some meat!”
It was supposed to be a farewell party for Manager and Lemon. But it turned into something closer to an Asagi Apology party…
□ □ □ □
As the sounds of sizzling meat filled the air, Daniela and the others ate happily. My mood wasn’t quite as joyful. I felt left out in a way.
“Haaa… And I was so looking forward to seeing you again, Asagi…”
Rex said as he drained his first cup.
“Hey, I was happy to see you too. And it was really unexpected.”
“But you were in no hurry to see me again?”
Hold it. It doesn’t matter if he’s acting like an obnoxious girlfriend. He’s not exactly wrong.
“I think you have made your point, Rex.”
Even as she flipped the pieces of meat on the grill with a serious face, Daniela took the time to come to my aid.
“Do you know that an Automata was sold at the auction house?”
“Aye, there were rumors of it all over the city. People have been wondering where it was found and who bought it.”
“I cannot tell you who bought it, but it was Asagi who sold it.”
“What!? Is that true!!”
Rex shouted as he slapped the table.
“Where did you find such a rare item!”
“It was in some old ruin that’s north of Replant.”
“Liar! There is nothing there! It’s just a tourist attraction!”
“It’s underground. I flipped over some rubble by a giant pillar and found the entrance. It led underground and I found the thing.”
He must have gone there too. It was because he knew of the place that he looked so disappointed.
“By the way, there was another one, so you can pick it up if you go.”
“Though, there are no more reactor cores. I sold them all in the auction.”
His emotions were going up and down like crazy. Was he going to be alright?
“Who cares about any of that?”
“The point I was trying to make was that the Automata led to a certain conflict. In other words, we had no time at all to rest after the events in Reserentrible. And even after the matter was solved, there was the stampede. Between the dungeon and now, we have hardly had any time to rest.”
End of explanation. Daniela immediately started filling her cheeks with meat.
“Still, it was my decision to get involved in all of these incidents. So I’ll take the blame. Sorry.”
“Bah, it’s nothing. Besides, if we’re being honest, I knew you had gone to Namlia village. Everyone was talking about Adlus, Light Wind, and Silvergreen going.”
Rex threw some meat into his mouth and washed it down with his ale.
“Well, at least I caught you before you left. So it was all good in the end.”
“Didn’t I say it was? Now, stop sulking and eat! You’re the one paying for it, after all!”
“…Uh, alright. We’ll eat all the meat in this place!”
“Hey, Asagi. Do not take my portion!”
□ □ □ □
As Rex and Daniela had started a war over the best pieces of meat, I decided to move next to Manager in order to avoid being caught in the crossfire.
“I still can’t believe that you’re leaving.”
“Sorry. I know it took you a long time to finally catch me.”
“It’s fine. In fact, I’m glad you’re leaving.”
She said with a grin, but her disappointment was still evident. She had told me that she traveled all the way here from the north in order to find me. Thinking about that nearly made me hesitate, but of course, she wouldn’t allow it.
“…By the way, why were you two and Rex…”
“We were at the same inn. We even had dinner together a number of times.”
“I see. That’s an interesting coincidence…”
So that’s why she had brought him here. He had probably been loudly complaining about me not coming to see him.
“Yes, I brought him all the way here to see you. I hope you’re grateful?”
She seemed happy. It was probably the wine.
“Still…we will miss you.”
“I’m sure we’ll be back eventually… But won’t you also travel again?”
“Yes… Lemon and I have been talking about going out together. It would be nice. Have you decided?”
Manager tilted her wine glass in Lemon’s direction. Lemon placed some meat onto Manager’s plate and answered without pausing to think.
“I’ll go with you. It should be so much more interesting.”
“Well, there you have it. We will be leaving soon as well.”
“Right… Well, if you ever happen to see us, let us know.”
“Of course, we will. You’re the only one here that I’ve known for a long time. I don’t need to feel any more lonely than I already do.”
Both of us were not from this world. And that would never change no matter how far we went. Cultures, values, views… And there were things you only learned in the place that you were born.
“Now, enough of that sappy stuff. Lemon, Asagi is paying tonight, so you best take advantage of his generosity. Don’t put everything on my plate. Eat up.”
“Uh… But I’ve been cooking it for you, Rindo.”
“Then I suppose I’ll have to cook some for you.”
Such good friends…
“I’m going to go get some air.”
“We’ll be ordering more meat, just so you know.”
“Yeah, order as much as you want.”
I stood up and handed some coins to the waiter in advance. It was more than enough. And then I opened the door and stepped outside.
It was still not quite midday. And yet Manager and Rex were drinking. Well, it was a special day…I think.
The town was lively today as well. It always was, and I never tired of seeing it. I felt like I was really settling into the scenery. Of course, I would probably still stick out if I walked around in it.
I couldn’t help but sigh as I looked up at the clear blue sky. The milky cloud rose into the air and dispersed.
I leaned against the wall and slid down until I was in a sitting position. After a while, I heard the door creaking. When I turned to look, I saw Manager standing next to me.
“Aren’t you busy making more orders?”
“Lemon and Daniela have that covered.”
“That’s good to know.”
They were elves, so perhaps they needed to eat more to live longer. I just wished she took more vegetables as well.
Manager seemed like she didn’t have any reason for being out here. She just sat down silently.
“Sitting here like this really takes me back to that time.”
“Back… What time was that?”
“You know, the next morning after the typhoon.”
Now I remembered.
I had been on the night shift when a giant typhoon attacked Honshu. I had gone to the convenience store, like I always did. Only the rain was horrible from the moment I left the house. Still, there was a high-school student who worked there part-time who was waiting for me. So I couldn’t exactly cancel.
As there was no avoiding getting wet, I just put my shirt, pants, and socks into a plastic bag and rode my bicycle while holding an umbrella in one hand. I remember peddling desperately and then rolling into the store and pushing out the highschool student. And that was the start of my night shift.
I was very familiar with the job. Most of the necessary work could be finished in two hours. When I looked up at the clock, it had just reached midnight.
“Alright. I can take it easy now. After all, no one’s going to come here at night when there’s a typhoon out there. Hehe.”
So, I could expect to be able to just sit in the office and look at my phone the whole time. Thank you, Mister Typhoon! It was as I was leaning back in my chair with a smirk on my face, that divine punishment came down upon me.
A black out.
“…It really was terrible.”
“Seriously. I was just about to go to sleep when I hear your frantic voice on the phone. And then I had to go to the store.”
“But, I really wouldn’t have been able to do anything if you didn’t come.”
“Well, you’re not wrong.”
Nothing worked in the store. Not the cash registers or the refrigerators. As we wouldn’t be able to do anything if customers came in, I quickly put a sign on the door to show that we were closed.
“In the end, we had to stay there and watch the store until morning.”
“Liar. Manager, you went right to sleep.”
“I did? I don’t remember that.”
You don’t remember because you were sleeping.”
I remember her telling me to wake her up in the morning. I thought it was rather heartless of her, since I had called her there for help, but she was quickly fast asleep and would not wake up.
“But I do remember one thing. The next morning. The sky was so beautiful…”
After the typhoon had passed, it was as if the clouds and all the dust had been blown away cleanly. And the bright sunlight shone down from a pure blue sky. Me and Manager looked up from the parking lot and stood there speechless…
“It was just like how the sky is now.”
“The air is so clean here… It really reminds me of those days.”
“…Do you still want to go back?”
“If it was possible, yes. But I’ve already decided to live here. Well, if that ever happens…maybe I’ll visit the old store.”
“Haha. That will never happen…”
Manager sighed. I suppose it was the end…of our talk. She was telling me to stop asking questions. And so, even though I had opened my mouth, I didn’t say anything.
“There will be a pile of cooked meat right about now.”
“Have you rested enough, Manager?”
“Yeah. I should eat as much as I can.”
“Alright, let’s go back then…”
I got back on my feet and went inside the store. But when I turned around, she was still looking up at the sky.
□ □ □ □
We were nearing the end of our little barbecue party. It was time to leave. When I looked around, I saw that Rex was quite drunk and red in the face. Manager looked like she had eaten a lot and was satisfied. Lemon must have had some of Rex’s drink, because she looked tipsy. Daniela was still eating.
“We should go soon…”
“What? I am still cooking here.”
“It’s nearly midday. We won’t reach Yukka if we don’t leave soon.”
“Hmph… Very well, just let me finish these ones.”
Yukka was far away. I think it was around four days. So I intended on using Legs of the God Wolf at some point along the way. And by that, I meant we would be skipping the giant tree with all of the blood apes. I did not want to camp anywhere close to it.
Once the last piece of meat was cooked and eaten, we picked up our things and left the restaurant.
“My, to have paid everything in advance. You’ve really grown, Asagi.”
“It was just a whim.”
She slapped me on the back. I couldn’t tell her it was something I had read in a magazine during my night shift…
“I wonder how much growth you’ll show next time we meet?”
“Haha. Oh, I’m sure I’ll be the strongest man in the world.”
“You already are.”
Lemon said with a laugh. Her legs seemed very unstable. However, Daniela was stronger. I still had a long way to go.
“I’m going to try, anyway. Good luck, Lemon. You too, Manager.”
“Yeah, and you. Daniela as well. I look forward to meeting you both again.”
“Aye, Rindo. Goodbye, Lemon.”
“Yes. Please be safe, Daniela and Asagi!”
Manager and Lemon waved. Rex looked like he had eaten too much, but he raised his hand shakily.
“Don’t say anything…I’m going to hurl…”
“Well, good luck. And drink some water.”
I handed Rex a handmade cup of ice water. This might not have been the neatest way to say goodbye, but at least everyone had really enjoyed the meal. I was happy about that. Even though I wished some had drank a little less.
“Well. All of you, see you again!”
I adjusted my bag and turned back and waved. The three of them stood together and waved back. Lemon smiled. Manager looked a little sad. Rex looked sick. I turned back to get one last glimpse of them several times, but they were quickly swallowed up by the crowd. I suddenly stopped.
“…I know. Let’s go.”
I looked back and saw that Daniela was standing in front of me with her hand extended. I held it and we walked, side by side.
Hunting the wind dragon. The Imperial Sword Tournament. Reuniting with Manager. The Auction. Dungeon exploration. The truth. Guarding the mansion. Stampede.
A lot had happened here. But today, we were setting out to our next adventure.
Yes, that was by far the longest Jack of all Trades chapter yet. About 4x longer than usual! Hope you enjoyed the chapters. Thank you geekdivaherself for the warm comments and donation! It means a lot! I hope everyone has a great Christmas/Holiday and happy near year!