“Ria! Do your best at not tiring out~!”
As though the snow didn’t effect them at all, the people overflowing in Lunéville queued into a long line towards the guild branch’s stall.
While chocolate was generally thought of as being expensive, when it came to things that were both cheap and delicious, it naturally became popular in a flash.
With her eyes tearing up, a redheaded girl named Rachelle was scolding her partner, Ria, as she somehow handled the surging guests that filled her field of view.
At the same time Ria was slicing ingredients, skewering them, and submerging them into chocolate before setting them on the net that displayed their merchandise.
However, selling and selling, the guests were unrelenting. Even though she continued to make them over and over, they continued to disappear.
“Even if you say it like that, it’s no use! Even I’m just barely handling this!”
Backed into a corner, Ria called out the name of a girl that wasn’t there.
At that moment.
As for why Ilya quickly appeared in that manner, of course it wasn’t a coincidence.
When she opened the lid of the tray she was carrying, there were baked cookie sticks crammed together on it.
However, their fragrant smell spread out the instant the lid opened, stimulating people’s noses with a smell that didn’t lose to the chocolate’s sweetness. As a result, even more people were drawn over.
“Save me, Ilya!”
“Leave it to me!”
Catching Ria who had jumped at her as though to cling on to her, Ilya smiled with a smile that filled her entire face.
It wasn’t something like chivalrous spirit or sense of justice, there’s no mistaking that her prompt response was simply due to the pleasure of receiving Ria’s embrace… Although it looked like Ilya could go in to help at any time, it was just that she wasn’t shaken by her duties at the branch.
Above all, she was a woman who held cheat abilities.
To be accurate, she handled the customers—cheerful towards women customers, cold towards male customers—and cut the ingredients without any wasted movements, as well as mincing the chocolate.
“… There. Don’t slack off now.”
“” Oka~y. “”
While scolding Ria and Rachelle who had already started relaxing, she rotating in and gave them a bit of a break, resisting against the surging guests.
Then, around the time that the guests started to slow down.
A man showed up.
This human man had short green hair. His drowsy-looking eyes didn’t seem to suit his stocky build, but they held a sharpness lurking within that suggested a hint of wariness.
Just when it seemed the man didn’t know which item to choose, he looked around the stall restlessly, his gaze resting at a single point.
Despite speaking with a muttered volume, Rachelle, who was taking a break in the stall, turned to look at him as though jumping up. When she saw the man, her expression changed to one of astonishment.
Standing up, Rachelle ran over to the man named Blair, who had stepped out of the queue. Seeing her, Blair smiled softly.
“What about your work!?”
“I came out since I’m on break.”
“If you’d said that, we could’ve went around together…”
“… What’s wrong?”
Missing the later part of her whispered protest, even when Blair realized the girl’s change and asked what she meant, she merely pouted a little and responded with a short, “It’s nothing!”
The mood gushing from the two was, while not as much as the chocolate, somehow sweet.
” (Ilya, Ilya, I wonder why!? Right now I reeeeally want to leave!) “
” (Ria, that’s just envy.) “
” (I know that, baka~!) “
Not even going to stop Ria who was stretching her hand out towards their merchandise in attempts to deceive her bitter heart, Ria distracted the customers’ attentions. She was handling the customers rather pleasantly.
Rachelle had started to talk with Blair a little after that, but just as her feelings calmed down a bit, she started to feel gazes from the surroundings focused on them.
“” Jiii… “” 
In particular, she felt a sense of guilt towards Ilya and Ria’s gazes.
“Ah, umm… this is the first time I’ve properly met you two isn’t it? Umm, I’m Blair.”
“… Blair works as Lord-sama’s subordinate guard. Ilya-san should have spoken to him a few times by now, but you probably wouldn’t recognize him since he always had his helmet on.”
Now that Rachelle mentioned it, she couldn’t actually recall the man. However, for Ilya who wasn’t interested in men to begin with, most of the men she committed to memory were people related to work.
For Rachelle’s sake, Ilya wondered if it might be a good idea to remember his face if only to be safe. Ria spoke in a shuddering voice dyed in surprise.
“Ilya-san, did you hear that!? That child, when did she thrust her foot into the winner’s bracket!?”
“I heard, Ria-san. Rachelle…”
“” Is a dreadful child…! “”
“That sounds scary when you say it together!!”
“” Yay! “”
“Don’t ignore me~!”
It wasn’t that they were angry, they were just teasing her. The guilt that they had felt from Rachelle had already disappeared without her noticing.
Seeing such a spectacle, Blair, who had succumbed to anxiety when he heard that his sweetheart was being exposed to a huge task for the branch at a festival stall, laughed at himself for his shallow thoughts.
“They are good children.”
“W-well yeah… wait, unfaithfulness is no good though okay!?”
There was that kind of an exchange as he parted from the girls, but as soon as something was whispered into her ear, Rachelle grew obedient like a meek cat and saw him off.
Although Ilya and Ria continued to tease her even after Blair had left, Rachelle’s smile never faded from her face.
With the sky slowly submerging into a jet black darkness, just as points of light with the name of stars—not planets—began to twinkle, instead of sweets, more people started coming with the intent of ordering dishes suitable for liquor and cooking that did well at the branch. Time passed on by with a somewhat solemn ambiance. Did their idea of showing off their brand new town at special special prices pay off? With their newly constructed inns packed to the brim with guests, this first day of the Construction Completion Festival could be said to be a major success.
And then it was the next day.
“Don’t you think this is a little cruel?”
As it had become the second day, the personnel attending the stall had alternated.
It was just barely the time between breakfast and lunch after they had started business for the day. Cynthia and Clarice, who had been placed into a situation of being busy from the start, had quickly requested help.
“I don’t particularly mind, but…”
The one who couldn’t help but answer as such was Ilya, who had just arrived, carrying additional foodstuffs.
As customers had surged over to them as soon as they opened the stall, they immediately needed to replenish their stock of ingredients.
They were anxious over it turning into a situation where they ran out of ingredients since so many were used on the first day, so they decided to bring extra ingredients that were particularly popular with customers on the first day.
Due to the second day’s main attraction being a theatrical troupe at the central plaza, the stalls’ clerks were all able to savor a little relaxation as the amount of customers abated. It was the same for Ilya and them’s stall as well.
Ilya finished bringing additional foodstuffs, with Clarice preparing the ingredients and Cynthia standing at the stall’s front as the salesclerk.
Clarice exchanged some gossip with Ilya while tidying up the area a little after preparing every possible ingredient, but their topic changed as she suddenly thought of something.
“By the way, Ilya-chan.”
“What is it?”
“That powdered milk thing, it’s amazing.”
“Is that so?”
Even though the subject was somewhat lacking, it was enough for the two to talk about.
Clarice faced Ilya at with an angle that customers wouldn’t be able to see, the corners of her mouth raising into a smile.
“Recently, there’s been some loudmouth exercising their authority, so I think it will be more quiet now. They seem to be getting a bit angry though since it seems too good to be true, what do you think?”
“I don’t know. I just want for technology to improve in general by the spread of knowledge. I don’t know about anything else and I have no intention to interfere either.”
“Really? Someone casually finding a technology that hadn’t been known so far, but then just casually giving it away for free by teaching it to everyone…”
“” Ufufufufu. “”
Swordplay, magic, and even metallurgy, without fail, there were people that would appear to steal them.
Sometimes as disciples, sometimes as business rivals… and sometimes, as spies.
Clarice, who was a birdkin branch staff member, was a secret agent sent by the commerce guild to investigate the Lunéville branch’s cooking secrets that had become the talk of the town, a so-called spy.
Naturally, her true identity had immediately come to light through Ilya’s [God’s Eyes], but she tolerated it. As she’d just said, for her, technology wasn’t something meant to be kept to oneself. It wasn’t something to be monopolized, but to be shared with everyone. It was due to this thought that cultures could be urged forward.
Although Clarice had chosen to live as a resident of Lunéville after many twists and turns, Ilya utilized Clarice’s position as a spy to just pour cooking technology into her.
This was both Ilya’s wish, as well as Clarice’s. They both yearned for Lunéville’s tranquility.
It was a give and take.
“” Fufufufu. “”
Laughing today as well, they were mutually using each other’s positions.
(T-those two’s smiles feel scary somehow…)
Cynthia, who felt as though it was somehow dangerous, looked between the two back and forth. She decided to concentrate on serving customers, as though she hadn’t seen anything.
“Excuse me, could I have two of each?”
“Ah, yes. I’ll give them to you right now.”
Putting six skewers into a paper cup, she handed them over to the young man in exchange for their cost. Quickly looking around with a wry smile on his face, the young man had short red hair that stood out.
“Isn’t it a little hard doing this alone?”
“Eh? No, I’m taking turns with two others.”
“… Is that so? If you say so, that must be how it is.”
The youth, having spoken with an attractive smile, disappeared back into the crowd as he left.
She didn’t really understand what he was trying to say at the end there, but when she looked back towards Ilya and Clarice that were talking about something while working as usual, the two probably looked like they weren’t focusing on their tasks.
(… Un, that’s probably it!)
After all, not knowing what the two were speaking about while she was handling her turn in the rotation, and moreover that there was even a conversation, she’d forgotten before she knew it because it was so busy.
She had forgotten, but it was to her benefit.
That she had forgotten so many little things might have been from her invoking her ignore skill.
At any rate, in this way, the Construction Completion Festival came to a successful completion along with the branch’s food stall.
Ria and the other clerks talked about events that they were and weren’t able to go see with each other.
“Oh…? I… wasn’t able to look around on either day of the festival…”
Everyone there averted their gaze when Ilya murmured those words.
Feeling the change in the room’s mood, Haku’s innocent voice filled the silence.
- ‘Jiii’ is the audible ‘I’m staring at you intently’ onomatopoeia. Return