Chapter 109 – The Gorgeous City, ‘Kujo’
It was a pleasant night, the chirps of insects echoing. Hildegard guided me….. or rather held me by the collar and dragged me to a wooden fence-like wall that seemed to be fairly sturdy.
Then she let go of me and began to touch the fence.
“….What are you doing?”
“Kid, don’t worry about it.”
She said without hesitation and just kept patting the fence.
….she was still patting.
“….You…. don’t happen to know the exact location of the passageway, do you?”
Maybe she didn’t know exactly how to enter, or she was just really bad at finding things, but Hildegard stopped moving.
“From what I saw this morning, your skill is quite good. So slash it!”
She folded her arms and ordered me to cut the fence, signaling at it with her chin.
“You’re not really explaining yourself well….“
“…If you cut it here, they’ll know there’s an intruder.”
“They’re dumb, but they’re not that idiotic. They must have figured out I’d be breaking in any time now. So a little brute force is unavoidable.“ She replied.
“But weren’t we going to use a passageway, a hole? Won’t doing this just bother the people who made this?”
Personally, I didn’t really see much difference between this and forcibly passing through the gate’s guard in the morning.
“Hmmm….. It’s just that the arrangements have changed.”
“The arrangements have changed? Before we even entered the city? ….maybe you should actually rethink that plan. We did nothing but ear rice balls and grilled fish and fall asleep.“
Hildegard impatiently told me to cut at the wooden wall by quickly nudging her chin again at its direction.
She was indeed a very pretty girl…
“Wait a minute. Let me check it out a little more….. There must be some kind of trace left of the passageway you talked about, and I’m sure I can find it if I can examine this wall more carefully.”
…it seemed that men would always toil for pretty women.
I began patting the wall for Hildegard, who had become completely sulky.
In the dark, with my night vision, I can get it done before the patrolling guards arrive. It’s an easy task.
“……The patrolling guards will be here soon. Give up and cut it.”
“Oh, I’m so frustrated!“
“Stop yelling, you idiot!”
I got my head smacked.
Damn it! This was driving me crazy! I’m not able to find any mechanisms or passageways!!
I’ve checked every inch of the wall and confirmed that there’s no gap big enough for a person to fit through. So there must be some kind of mechanism, or trick that allows one to be able to pass through.
I could just jump over the wall with Hildegard in my arms, but I can’t allow that anymore! I’ll definitely find anpther way in!
“Nonsense! Why don’t you just cut it down instead of looking for it with bloodshot eyes, you stubborn bastard?!“
“I won’t! I’m here to change my attitude… I can’t just destroy everything!!“ (1)
“I don’t care.“
“That’s cold! That’s not words someone who’s trying to break in with me should say!”
“Why don’t you believe in our collective power? We can do this! Just hang out with me a little longer! I’ll get you in safely!”
“…we’ve spent enough time on this. You and I both failed, just admit it and get on with it—”
An entire part of the wall behind me shifted to the side as Hildegard stomped around and lectured me, red in the face.
“….Oh, Hildegard-sama! All of us have been waiting for you. Welcome.”
“….Mhmm, let’s go!”
The person who appeared from behind the open wall was a gentle-looking girl about Celestia’s age, and as soon as Hildegard saw her, she readily entered through the open passageway.
As usual, while dragging me along.
“It was a sliding door…. hehe, it’s all blank…. I’m burnt out, hehe, all blank….”
“What, what is that kid doing….? Why is he laughing like that… creepily, in an exhausted manner?“ The gentle-looking girl asked.
I guess this is what…. is called a sense of defeat…..
“Leave him alone. Tell me what’s going on. Where are they?“ Hildegard asked in return.
“Yes, I will. But for now, let’s go to the inn. Follow me.”
The mysterious girl was followed by the clumsy Hildegard closely.
It was just as Marco and Marie had told me.
“….This place is amazing. No wonder Hildegard likes it.”
The view in front of us was pure Japanese style.
Shrines, castles, houses with tiled roofs, pine trees, brothels……
A nostalgic but somehow different landscape from that of Japan.
A city that had flourished over a long period of time based on the culture of a country far to the east, a culture which was said to have been brought here by the first Sword Saint, Jube.
The gorgeous city, Kujo.
In fact, I brought a sword that matched the Japanese atmosphere of this city.
“The sword you carry is also from the culture that this city was modeled after. The cherry blossoms are in full bloom this time of year, and the tourists who come to see it are bombarded with so much of this culture continuously during their visit that some become slightly sick of it.”
“I don’t know how to put it, but this place… sure is beautiful.” I muttered.
Cherry blossoms in full bloom…..
They may not be the cherry blossoms I know, but they were blooming in a very similar color scheme.
From the top floor of the ryokan (2) Hildegard runs, ‘Kagetsutei,’ I folded my arms together and took in the magnificent view of the city.
The moon floated in the darkness, and the streets were lit by red lanterns.
The brightness of the ambient lighting made me feel strangely relaxed and calm.
“Hildegard-sama, your kimono is ready.“
The sliding door of the Japanese-style room opened.
Instead of the girl from before, this time, a rather well-built and good-looking boy in a kimono-style dress that looked like a ryokan uniform bowed his head.
“Hide, or….. actually, Kokuto, follow me.“
“Okay, let’s go!”
Even if I refused, I’d be dragged along anyway, so I rather actively listened to what she said.
For some reason, the boy looks at me with widened eyes, but Hildegard took me with her to another Japanese-style room before I could think about his peculiar expression.
“Oh, um, why is this kid here…..?”
In the room, several girls, wearing luxurious kimonos, were waiting for Hildegard.
They were all giving me suspicious glances.
“He’s going to work here too.”
“Yes?” I exclaimed.
“I told you I’d give you a job.”
“Hilde, are you really talking like that again? I’ve never heard you mention that before. Besides, I have other work to do–”
“You’ll have to get him something to wear, too.”
She cut me off and walked up to the almost too revealing kimono she usually wore that was prepared for her.
I guess… there must be a lot of kids at this ryokan, right?
“Hey, did you hear that?”
“Oh, yes, I’m sorry! I’ll have it ready right away!”
The girls looked at me in astonishment, but Hildegard’s fierce glare made them jerk into alertness again.
“Wait a moment. Tamaki will be here soon with a change of clothes.”
“I’m fine as I am. I could just wash my clothes in the river nearby.“
“Kimonos are common in this town. You will attract attention in that way.”
Saying this, she boldly began to take off her clothes.
“Well, I’ll wait outside the room for you to finish changing, call me when you’re done.”
“No. No. You might jump off the roof and run away. Stay there.“
“It’s pretty high up here….?”
Well, I could do it, but still…
Then, the girls who had been watching the situation looked at each other and began to dress Hildegard fearfully.
Of course, I did not look at her. There was no need to be rude and peek at her while she was getting dressed.
The only person I peeked at was King Light, because I wanted to see how he changed his clothes. The only thing that stuck with me is that he had quite the hairy chest.
Hildegard, who had just finished getting dressed, looked more bewitching and devilish than usual, perhaps due to the effect of her red kimono.
“What’s the matter, are you speechless with awe?”
She said with a smug look on her face and an arrogant attitude, puffing her chest out in pride.
“Yeah. You don’t look at all like a girl who had been desperately flapping at the fence. The kimono looks great on you, and that butterfly hair ornament—”
I tried so hard to compliment her, but she just smacked me on the head!
“Oh, uh, Hildegard-sama. I found a change of clothes for the child there….. We had a new recruit just a few days ago, so I could only find a spare adult kimono for him…..”
The girl named Tamaki appeared with an adult kimono.
It was not a samue (3), but a plain-colored kimono that was easy to move around in.
“Give me that. That’s fine.”
“It’s not fine…. If I’m going to wear it, I want it to look nice…..”
Hildegard dressed me herself, leaving the short-sleeved shirt and stretchy pants I was wearing on, putting the kimono on top.
Then she quickly fixed the hems that were too long with strings and the the like.
“Oh….you’re… good, Hilde.”
“….work with that for now. What can you do?”
“What can I do….? Well, I think I’m pretty versatile, but I’m most confident about being a bodyguard. I can take down any ruffian with just the tip of my finger.”
A chuckle escaped from those around me. I didn’t mean to lie, but I think I showed a unique gap between my appearance and my words.
“We don’t need professional security unless it’s an emergency…. Hey, put him in the kitchen.”
“Oh? That’s not a bad idea. That’s not so bad. I’m rather excited.”
I’ve been losing my mind over Celestia’s soup stock for so long, that I wanted to learn how to cook for real. Plus, I might get an idea for a new dish for the casino. Two birds with one stone.
“Cooking….? Laundry and cleaning seem more appropriate for a newcomer…..”
“He’s much better with a knife than the rest of us. He won’t get hurt. Put him in the kitchen.“
“As you wish, Hildegard-sama. The kitchen work should be over today, so I will inform the chef first thing tomorrow morning.”
It was kind of strange to see an older-looking girl that was taller than Hildegard looking down at Hildegard and being so afraid of her.
“If it’s tomorrow morning, then…. I’ll just go sightseeing and make a little extra money.” I muttered.
“Are you trying to run away? Tamaki, bring a chain…. or a stake.“
“A stake…..? I’m not Dracula. I get why you asked for a chain, but why a stake….?”
“What are you going to do to earn money when you’re so little, kid?”
“I just want to make grilled onigiri (rice balls) because I have leftover rice and sell them to late-night workers. Some of them might get hungry at night.”
“….fine. But be back in two hours. I don’t trust you, so leave the sword.”
“….I’ll try to make you trust me.”
I borrowed her kitchen and headed towards it, feeling somewhat helpless at Hildegard’s behavior.
Kokuto went out with Tamaki, his guide, to begin selling his goods.
She saw them off and began listening about the current situation in the town from her subordinates.
“Kaede, where is she?“
“Yes, Madame is staying in the highest grade room of the ‘Supreme Pavilion’, and has left the search for Hildegard-sama to the people who came with her. She seems to be holed up in her room.“
“I guessed so. The Supreme Pavilion is the only inn that can tolerate her selfish and wishful behavior.“
Hildegard stared at the moon in the dark night while thinking about her foe.
After Kaede, a girl about the same age as Hildegard informed her about the current situation, the boy next to her opened his mouth.
“She came here once the other day….. She was acting as if she was waiting expectantly for Hildegard-sama. Please do be careful.”
“Is that all? That woman, she must have ranted before declaring something.“
“…’wash your neck and wait for her’.”
At the older boy’s words, Hildegard’s gaze sharpened.
“Hm. I’m not going to wait for her. I’m going to go out there and behead every last one of them myself.“
“I’ll come with you.”
“No need. Work here as usual.”
She immediately rejected his offer and drank the tea offered by the feminine boy, Ran.
“Oh, I’ve gone to the dojo anticipating times like this! I’ll be helpful! Please take me with you!“
“Don’t you understand that if you go there, you’ll just die?”
At the words of Kaede, who was a girl who usually had a competitive disposition, Hide, who had been desperately pleading with Hildegard, lowered his voice.
“Don’t make a fuss, don’t fight over trivial things.“
Hildegard stopped them as she took a bite of the wagashi (4) that Ran gently offered.
Hildegard continued speaking as the two apologized, their foreheads pressed against the tatami mats,
“I understand, but Kaede is right. You can’t even defeat the guard at the Supreme Pavilion, let alone her… I don’t know what she might do. I hear she’s got some troublesome cronies.”
Kaede began speaking in place of Hide, who is speechless at Hildegard’s sound argument,
“It is said that the [Obscure Ghosts] had their entire mansion destroyed. It was done by a man with a fancy haircut who was requested to do so by a brothel girl… I’ve gathered information from various sources, and it’s said that he’s unusually strong, unable to be harmed at all, and no one in town has been able to handle him or do anything to him. If my information is correct, he’s one of Madame’s associates.”
“….I see. I’ll take Kokuto to the shrine tomorrow. I’ll take care of some things and we’ll get rid of them later.“
“I understand…. Please be careful.”
Hildegard bit back a sigh, not caring about Kaede’s anxiousness.
“That strong man has been in and out of brothels all day,“ the quiet Ran, who was next to her, blurted out.
“Well, that makes it easier to find him. Either way, later– Wait, where did Kokuto say he was going?”
—Anyone with common sense would not expect a child to walk up to a brothel to sell his wares, but she asked nonetheless.
“I haven’t heard, but…. he’s still a very young child (5), so I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.”
“….well, that’s good.”
“That boy Kokuto seemed like a smart kid, I’m sure he’ll get bored and come home soon. No normal child would even think of going to a brothel.“
“Yeah, right. If he was a normal, decent child…“ Hildegard muttered.
Those words reminded Hildegard of Kokuto’s attitude towards her, which was no different from that of most people.
It was not normal, and anyone who knew him would think of the possibility that it might happen.
Although she thought it would never happen….
“Oh, so this is a brothel…”
(1) For those wondering why he’s so persistent, remember the giant outer kingdom wall? *cough* that he broke *cough* and he thinks he has to pay a ton of money for *cough*
(5) For those wondering, they made a pen*s joke here about how he’s too young to lift it and it’s flaccid or something.
Andddd! Chapter 109 is done~