20.4 After Story: The Orchard of the Night and the Seasonal Flavor
“G, grapes and oranges! Don’t forget the apples… wow, the lemons look so splendid! I can smell the fruits from here!”
Noin pulled out a large basket from nowhere, and Dia jumped with excitement.
“There seem to be no other guests tonight. I think we can eat in this orchard. The fountain is for cooling the harvested fruits.”
“Wow, you can eat freshly picked food here, and not to mention, cool it, …Jyururi.”
For a while, the two set out to gather fruits.
Noin told her about last night New Year’s ball. Dia pictured the venue where outsiders gathered.
There were some dishes that Noin served at said ball, an the dish Dia picked during the trial period was popular with the demons of the duke rank.
After they finished harvesting, they sat on a crystal bench at the opposite side of the fountain.
On the cool bench, they laid some cushions which Noin also produced out of thin air. First, they at the chilled grapes.
Then Noin called her name in a quiet voice, just as he watched Dia finishing the first bunch.
“Is there something that you need to say to me?”
It was a total surprise.
Dia took a small breath and looked back at his purple eyes.
It was exactly because of her beloved person that she felt a feverish and painful mass in her chest, and also trembled in fear and sadness.
“…Just tell me when you’re ready. I’ll be patient if you can’t say it now, but not for long. Besides, I have no desire of releasing you. There are many things I can do for you, but you’re aware there are many things you’re unable to do by yourself, right?”
“Noin, for I am a very cunning human, I can’t say anything about it because I’m afraid of being abandoned by you if I revealed it… even so, you realized that I was worried about something…”
After listening to Dia, Noin sighed slightly before lifting Dia onto his lap.
The feeling of his chest against her back made her fear that her heart would spill out. His warmth gradually seeped into her.
“You don’t have to go anywhere. I told you, that’s the price.”
“But… if it’s you, you can get anything you want. Not to mention, when Noin is busy working, this useless human only eats and sleeps all day.”
“Good grief, you’re worried about that?”
“Even after learning that Noin is a king, I’m still undergoing my princess education. I thought it was only reasonable for me to lessen your work, but unlike the work of the human royal family, the work of Noin isn’t something that I can help with. …If I told you this, you might get tired of me.”
Dia, who complained with a sad voice, received an amazed, but also kind gaze from Noin.
Dia wondered why he was smiling gently and alsoas to why he seemed so happy.
“…Mu. Why are you suddenly in a good mood?”
“I thought you were tired of living with the outsiders—living in my castle. …In my castle, there are many who are involved in the food business—they basically come and go every day. As such, it’s inevitable for you to meet them, and some insolent fools might’ve said something to you… so that isn’t the case?”
“My… so you’re worried that’d cause me to hate living there?”
“…A little bit. But that doesn’t mean I’d release you.”
To Noin who asserted so casually, Dia was relieved.
If his attachment was unwanted, it might have come off as horribly cruel.
However, he was equal to a lifeline for Dia, as such, she wouldn’t go anywhere.
“Noin, I decide to be honest to you about this… actually, because inherently, I am still a human, I discovered an irreconcilable difference between us.”
“…What kind of difference?”
It was a difference in race.
Now that she had voiced her concern, it became even clearer that she couldn’t do anything about it.
Still, Noin’s voice remained calm.
Feeling guilty for his kindness, Dia’s heart ached dully.
“…The food of this season, there’s a favorite hotpot of Noin’s, right?”
Perhaps because her question was unexpected, Noin lifted his eyebrows.
“…It’s called Borabora Hotpot, right?”
“Yes. What about it?”
He asked in confusion. Dia squeezed her hands, and her eyes brimmed with tears.
“…I, I can’t eat that hotpot, it’s just too scary for me!”
“After investigating the Borabora Hotpot, my heart shattered—I just can’t eat that!!”
“But it’s Borabora, you know, the taste of the season. It’s delicious.”
“But isn’t that basically a humanoid!? A furry mushroom-like creature about the size of Noin, even if it’s a humanoid, it’s a living being! It’s a living being who build its own town, has a neighborhood association and also goes on excursions, you know!!”
Dia was shocked when she realized that the truth might not be understood by the Spirit, Noin.
Borabora was a bad creature who loved to bully human children, but it was also a creature which specialized in embroidery and sewing.
From its own body, a new individual would stem out. Even though it wasn’t considered cannibalism for Dia as she was a human, she still hesitanted to eat creatures who loved sewing.
Also, apart from the ethical point of view, Dia wasn’t strong enough to eat the mysterious humanoid giant fur mushroom.
When Dia complained so sternly, although stunned, Noin nodded quietly.
To Dia, who denied the favorite seasonal hotpot of the spirit, he didn’t show any signs of disgust or anger.
“…That’s what you were worried about.”
“Noin, you always attempted to feed me a lot of Borabora Hotpot. The taste of the seasonal dish is certainly very delectable… but I will refrain from eating it this year because I’m just too scared…”
“Good grief, why didn’t you say this sooner? You keep me on edge for almost two months…”
“Even if your fiancée can’t stand the Borabora Hotpot, you don’t dislike me?”
“Aren’t you basically the spirit of food? That’s why I thought food must be truly important to you…”
“Good grievances, did you truly think I would be disappointed in you merely because of that? Everyone has different tastes in terms of food. You can enjoy what you like and such without needing to feel guilty about it. However, I don’t know whether or not you like medicinal water.”
Even if Noin smiled at her and patted her on the head, Dia still found it unbelievable. That confession, which required a lot of courage, was received that easily.
Looking up at Noin with wavering eyes, Dia’s beloved fiancé smiled a fleeting, lustrous smile typical of an outsider.
Her field of vision shook gently.
The kiss they shared, and the breath they exchanged, it gave a mysterious sense of calm—perhaps due to the influence of the relief she had just felt.
Surrounded by magnificent fruit-bearing cypress trees and orange trees, only the trickling sound of the water fountain resonated under the vibrant moonlight.
The beauty of the quiet night washed away all the sad and scary things, leaving only the crisp and vivid beautiful nightscape.
They separated themselves, stared at each other, smiled, and kissed again.
I’m no longer scared…
Indulging in that feeling, Dia ate a lot of delicious freshly-picked fruits in the arms of her important fiancé.
After seeing the light of dawn in the beautiful orchard, they returned to the castle. Afterwards, Noin took a three-day vacation and spent all his time with Dia.
However, in the following week, Dia screamed because her Brother-in-Law had delivered a lot of Boraboras to the castle.
Seeing the rampaging Boraboras inside the package, the terrified Dia hid behind Dilvier who had a distant gaze. Then, he told her that only spirits enjoy such strange food—she felt a little relieved due to that.
***T/N: To simplify Dia’s main concerns after she started living in Noin’s castle… : 1.) THIS FOOD I CAN’T BEAR TO EAT!!!!!!! 2.) Can I keep that tail or nah 3.) …right, our races are different 4.) Princess education stuff 5.) etc.
Yeah, in our Milady Dia’s book, it’s either her way or the high way.