Chapter 16. A Place Where Warm Light Gathers (4)
“You might be a bit surprised by this street.”
“Yeah, but not because it’s bad.”
While thinking that Eos’ ambiguous words are strange, Astraea steps onto the street. They passed through a public square for a bit after leaving the fortress, but now continue onto a road lined with various shops. A shopkeeper is selling vegetables to the customer. It’s then that a high-spirited voice carries over from the shop next door.
“We finally have dried sea fish after a long time! Hurry, buy some at our celebratory price!”
“Ahaha, they’re more expensive than the usual. I’m not buying any.”
“What’s the problem? They’re always at this price at my store. The bases of your leafy vegetables are bulging out too much, y’know.”
“There wouldn’t be anything to eat otherwise!”
“Ahaha, you’re not wrong.”
Looking at how the shopkeepers casually joke with one another. Astraea notices that city is livelier than the one she usually does her shopping. The enthusiasm on that street tells her all she needs to know.
“Not long ago, everyone was living in fear of the Chimera. They’re cutting loose now.”
“Then… that’s good.”
“What’s this? You sound like this is someone else’s good fortune.”
Regardless, Astraea doesn’t know how to respond even if that gets pointed out. She merely defeated the Chimera out of her own convenience. While the act was beneficial to others, she’s clueless on how she should respond.
“But, you won’t be able to say something like that again anymore.”
“You’ll understand soon.”
Immediately after Eos says that, the man selling fish looks at him in shock.
“Why if it isn’t Vice Captain-san! What are you doing in a place like this!?”
“Today’s my day off.”
“If it’s your day off, then tell me beforehand! I’ll throw you a feast! After all, this city was saved by Vice Captain-san’s great efforts… eh, that young lady! Perhaps you’re the one who fought together with the Vice Captain-san?”
Eos merely smiles while Astraea is unable to respond. The man, however, is overcome with emotion and claps his hands.
“Dried fish… Please have my dried fish! Ah, wait, could the two of you be on an outing? That would make my fish a nuisance. Alright, I’ll send them to the fortress!”
“You, don’t take the lead like that! Vice Captain-san, young lady, my home vegetables are also quite tasty! They’re best to eat them with bread! I’ll also have some delivered from my home!”
This time, a woman with a firm build forces her way between the two competing shopkeepers.
“Aren’t you all forgetting something? I’ll send you good liquor! Is sweet liquor good?”
The woman holds up a bottle that most likely comes from a liquor store as she talks.
“T-thank you very much…”
“Whaat, it’s a sign of our thanks, not a big deal! Not to mention, disturbing your stroll around the city would tasteless, right?”
“Right, right, well, please enjoy yourself!”
“We’ll definitely send them to the fortress!”
What do they mean, ‘tasteless’! Astraea doesn’t have time to even refute as they soon return to their stores.
While she’s trembling all over, Eos remains entirely unperturbed as he says, “Then, let’s go.”
W-why is he so calm…!
Astraea wrinkles her eyebrows, wondering if she’s getting flustered on her own again. However, showing that emotion in her face is also vexing, so she replies with, “Yeah,” like nothing has happened.
Eos is a decent and kind person. While Astraea always gets angry at how he’s always saying something she doesn’t expect with unbreaking composure, standing beside him is not uncomfortable.
“…Somehow, Eos is unfair.”
Even if she’s asked what she means, she can’t explain it well. It’s just that whenever the notion that they could have had various more conversations had he been alive in the same era as her, an undeniable disappointment fills her heart.
Really, I shouldn’t have saved him.
In truth, she doesn’t wish she haven’t saved him. It’s just that she finds him very sly, to the point of making her want to explode on him.
Even so, back when she first rescued him from near death, leaving him there shouldn’t have been an issue. By that point, he was suffering from something no stronger than the common cold. She herself was just unable to do so which lead to her current situation. Hence, she can’t just say it’s all Eos’ fault.
In the end, I’m the one who’s half-baked.
She doesn’t want to undo the power she gained 400 years ago that granted her perpetual youth and immortality. Had she not been alive then, the world where Eos lives in now might have been impossible to create. That the people of the present can live with smiles make her happy. Still, knowing that she’s going to be the only person left behind on that world, that she’ll have to part with anyone she grows close with, is heart breaking.
“…Are you perhaps tired? It’s been a while since you walk this much.”
Astraea who’s caught walking absent-mindedly frowns.
“You don’t have to worry about that.”
“Then it’s fine, but it’s been a while, right? You don’t have to feel bad telling me that if you get tired.”
“Even if I were tired, I don’t know what you’d do if I told you, so I won’t say a thing”
Sorry, I can’t keep up… Astraea’s face burns at her unspoken thoughts. Wait a minute, what am I thinking! Astraea denies herself in a fluster.
“Ah, sorry, I know I invited you, but can we stop by the ornament shop for a bit? It won’t take long.”
Eos, not noticing the panic within Astraea heart, asks her while still looking ahead. He seems to have just remembered something.
However, from what Astraea has seen, Eos doesn’t openly wear what can be bought in an ornament shop. Just what the heck does he want to buy?
In the first place, Astraea is unfamiliar with ornament shops. Since they’re dropping by anyway, until Eos finishes his business, I can take my time and look around.
Despite her mindset, the ornament shop Eos brings her to is a sparkling world. It’s filled with rings with small gems rest atop delicate pedestals and necklaces give the impression that their chains will snap at any moment. She also can’t help but to think that the flower shaped brooches will crack at her slightest touch.
…A shop like this… and he enters without batting an eye…
Astraea can’t describe the store as anything but dazzling. It’s like the shop dedicated entirely to princesses from those stories. She can’t help but to think such.
Even so, a growing question takes root in her mind. What kind of business does Eos have in a shop meant for princesses?
The clerk seems to have already been told the reason for the visit. The clerk withdraws to a deeper part of the store after seeing Eos’ face.
…What just happened? I’m really curious.
Although Astraea is examining the accessories, she feels restless as she waits for Eos to finish his business. Unable to hear the interaction between him and the clerk, she’s clueless to what’s happening.
“Sorry for the wait. Shall we go?”
Eos, with a small bag in hand, seems to be in a good mood.
Just what did he buy? Astraea wonder to herself up until Eos asks her, “Mind if we stop for a bit?” He stops the moment he receives her permission and pulls out a box from the bag. Inside of it is a pendant.
“Look, I had them make a pendant for the magic stone.”
“Ah, so it’s that.”
“Making one myself seemed too hard.”
A thin wire surrounds the red magic stone, similar to the design of Astraea’s pendant. Since magic stones are too hard to cut, such a design has been in use for a long time.
“The shopkeeper was quite curious to the name of this jewel. When I keep it as a secret, it was mistaken for a treasured item.”
With a bitter smile, Eos puts on the pendant, placing the gem on the inner part of his garments. He then puts the box back in the paper bag.
“Won’t the box and bag become a nuisance? Since you were going to put it on right away, you could have taken it without it being wrapped up.”
“Well, I suppose I could have. At any rate, I’m done with my business, so let’s eat some meat. We’ll be arriving soon.”
“Hey, I just noticed this, but… that place won’t be strict about manners or such, right?”
The ornament shop had a high class feel even when viewed from outside. Their current location also carries an air of refinements. The atmosphere differs from the friendliness felt when she conversed with the shopkeepers earlier on.
However, Eos laughs.
“Different street will have different ambiences… I think the opposite can be true too.”
“You’ll probably understand once insude the store. Have you prepared your stomach?”
Astraea gets the impression Eos is teasing her, so she rams her fist into his stomach. Eos merely laughs without moving a millimeter.