Natsuki Subaru’s heart was now beating like it had never done before.
The speed of it, the pain it caused was only an illusion. The sound of its beat growing louder without end. If one didn’t listen closely there was only a bustle of noise, but among that bustle a certain sound stood out, resonating louder.
Lining up under the open air, the main street was giving off a feeling of being as busy as ever. A tide of people ebbing in and out with a great vigor not inferior to the last time he saw it. A great variety of races were mixed in, the hair styles were all eccentric, appearances overflowing with brilliant colors.
In my previous world I looked pretty average and could blend into a crowd, here it seems like black hair is rather unusual, looking out over the crowd I couldn’t find anyone else with it at all. The most common hair color seems to be blonde, with white and blue as runner ups, the number with green hair was a lot lower, and there were only one or two with pink hair. As I suspected, among all these people I couldn’t spot a single one with shining silver hair.
In summary, on this bustling street Subaru stood out like a sore thumb. An usual pair, one with with black and the other with silver. On top of this those two were…
“S-say, Emilia-tan… I know there are a lot of reasons but, could we stop doing this?”
Subaru proposed nervously, a cold sweat running down his brow while the other smiled in a pleasant mood. What he was referring to, was their hands firmly grasped together as they walked along.
The pair walked through the crowd of people, hand in hand. Looking at them as a strange they’d seem like an intimate couple. Normally this is something Subaru himself would flair his nostrils at, but
“Absolutely not! Since it’s Subaru, if I leave my eyes off you you’re definitely going to go off and do something ridiculous again. While we’re in the capital I absolutely won’t let you act on your own. Understand?”
“I’m sorry for being stupid on the carriage! I’m super-reflecting on it! Harsher than the seas, more dynamic than the mountains! But, but, but! If we keep this up my anxiety is going to go Mach 1!”
There was zero trust reflected in her eyes as he swung her hand up and down while pleading. Thus even now they were holding hands, his heart was on the verge of exploding. His joints throbbed in pain from his nervousness, he couldn’t help but worry that his palm was covered in perspiration and sweat.
Following Subaru’s attempt to disembark the carriage midway, the unconscious Subaru woke up to the tender sensation of being protected in someone’s lap.
Directly above, was the owner of said lap, Roswaal. Subaru spit out when he realized who he was receiving affection from. What had retrieved the falling Subaru from the air was Rem’s morning star (It’s amazing she could do this while in the midst of traveling at such high speeds. For this girl secretly coveting praise he commended her for saving his life.) After retrieving Subaru, the one to look after him was Roswaal, it was during this time that Emilia’s mood took a nose-dive. When Subaru woke up, “over there, sit” Emilia commanded and launched into a very very long lecture.
And above all,
“It was a complete 180° after getting disconnected from the divine protection; from then on he wasn’t protected at all, it was quite troubling. Dealing with that speed and vibrations for an hour and a half… I’ve spilled out all my stomach’s contents.”
As a result of his secret midnight visit to the kitchen the night before, all that came out was mayonnaise. And after that Emilia’s lecture filled his head to the point nothing more could fit in, from that he was truly and sincerely made aware of his actions. Subaru had fallen into a mostly groggy state. Because of this, no matter what you asked him his response would always be “yes, fall in love”, causing the party members to decide on a resolution, which leads us to Subaru’s current predicament.
“I can accept being accompanied by a guardian since I’ve acted rash on a number of occasions… but, at least could we stop with this hand-to-hand please?”
“Hmph, so that’s what you have to say. Even though back in the village you were so desperate about that date thing and getting me to hold hands with you.”
Amused by Subaru’s groveling Emilia looked like she was enjoying his reaction as she teased him. Presented with the aforementioned scene a few days ago Subaru groaned out ‘uguu’,
“That’s different! That was like, back then my manly power was overflowing. But now my gauge is completely empty, I’m weak, I’m useless.”
Covering his face with his other hand, Subaru ground his teeth cursing his own inability to eat the meal set before him. That aside, the fact that he was being forced to reflect on his actions weighed heavily on his mind. As a result his inner thoughts were jumbled, his pitiful figure hard to look at.
“Well moving on from that…”
Subaru easily abandoning his inner turmoil as Emilia looked around at the bustling crowd. Taking her free hand Emilia adjusted her hood to further hide her face, not forgetting to distance herself from her surroundings and prevent any recognition.
It was a little bit of a nervous act but there really isn’t something as being too careful. After all, there was the one case where she’d had her insignia targeted in the past. Since the location was the same it wasn’t all that unreasonable for her to be wary and stay on guard.
“Subaru, can you remember where the store you were talking about is now?”
“Yeah somehow or another, since we’ve come this far. I think we’re supposed to take a right here, probably.”
Shifting his attention away having his hand held, he tried to ignore the crisis going on with his sweaty hand. Like that he nodded at what Emilia’s words, gazing at the crowd of people he tried to shake his memory awake. Honestly, just from passing by familiar looking scenery he more or less had a grasp, although he couldn’t say with conviction. Even so, this was now the fourth time they’ve come down the same street. Pulling her hand along as they walked, his hesitation faded as they passed countless streets, each giving off a vague sense of familiarity.
Following his memory as they approached near the store, the unclear memories Subaru was fumbling with became clearer. The store’s entrance was plain and weathered by the years, with no distinguishing features to draw the eye it was buried in the throng of people. However there was one part that stuck out among the bustle, painted with striking colors the signboard appeared to have been redone with an extremely fresh layer of paint.
Last time Subaru saw the signboard he couldn’t see the words as anything but a child’s scribblings, now that he’d learned how to read this world’s letters he could tell that ‘Kadomon’ was written on it. Was is someone’s name or something? Subaru wondered about the store’s name. In any case,
“Safe and sound, we’ve arrived”
“Yeah. What, this is way more emotional for me than I thought oi.”
Barely managing to reach the store after so much difficulty, Subaru nodded and responded to Emilia’s quite comment.
Sticking their faces through the entrance, the two noticed the shopkeeper working busily inside. Turning his head, the man looked over at us. Seeing his face Emilia squeezed Subaru’s hand a little bit harder.
Subaru smiled wryly at Emilia’s easy to understand reaction. Certainly this person’s appearance leaves quite a bit of an impact. That she’d be on edge was something that was unavoidable. After all, running down the left-side of this middle-aged man’s face was a long scar that reached all the way to his chin, along with his bulky and muscular build it was hard to picture him as being involved in any sort of respectable line of business.
“Maa, even though he tries to sound pretty rough, he’s actually a scar-faced tsundere character who’ll end up looking after strangers unintentionally”
Each time he looped, four times in this case, this person’s face was what greeted him each time he returned. Even though this person had sometimes treated him quite coldly, Subaru knew from personal experience that despite his looks he was a really a good person.
Thinking back on it, you could really say that this man was really his starting point in this world. Thinking about how this person was technically the first person he met after coming to this world, it caused his heart to be filled up with emotion.
Deeming the pair as customers, the shopkeeper raised a shout and turned his delinquent looking face to them with a smile. Their eyes met. Suddenly all sound cut off from the outside world, he could feel the passage of his time slowly on his skin. As if space itself had been cut off, Subaru felt isolated like only the shopkeeper and himself were left in the world.
“Do you remember me?”
The question fired off from his trembling lips contained both anxiety and expectation.
The shopkeeper was surprised by Subaru’s words; eyes narrowing as he stared at him, searching his memories. Peered at by deep dark brown pupils, Subaru felt almost like he was being drawn in while he waited silently for his reply. Tightening up, Subaru’s tension was passed on to Emilia through his hand; swallowing her saliva she looked on at what these two would do next.
Slowly opening his lips, the shopkeeper put voice to his words.
“Nope, don’t know. Who are you?”
So easily, Subaru was thrown away and forgotten.
※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※ ※
One of the reasons Emilia accompanied Subaru as they walked along in the capital was so that he would earnestly work to fulfill the promise they made. They were able to stop him the first time he tried to follow along with them, but faced with Subaru’s unyielding nature this was the compromise they came to.
With that sequence of events Subaru managed to receive permission; he was in high enough spirits that he might very well start flying soon, but was shackled by the promise he made in carriage (of which his memory was rather fuzzy from all his vomiting) independent action was forbidden, causing him misery.
As a result, he was now bringing along Emilia, or rather, being brought along by Emilia. Tormented by stress, his heart felt like it would explode with embarrassment; this was what the so called ‘fulfilling his promises’ came down to.
Even though his anxiety had been piling up, faced with this reunion event flag that was unexpectedly broken Subaru crossed his arms in outrage.
“I’m over here trying to hold up my side of the bargain and this is how you treat me! I firmly request a better treatment!”
“Even if you tell me that, Nii-chan.”
Weary towards Subaru’s face swelling with indignation the shopkeeper flashed a bitter smile. While looking at Subaru like some annoyance,
“Two weeks ago, and we only spoke briefly you say? Now that you mention it, I do vaguely remember something like that…”
The shopkeeper shut his eyes, tracing his scar with his finger while he searched through memories. Apparent that he was trying with great effort to remember, from how sincere he was you could tell that this shopkeeper was a good person; Subaru still in a state of shock didn’t recognize this person’s virtues. Seeing Subaru was still absorbed in his own thoughts Emilia called out to the shopkeeper in his stead, “please don’t push yourself.”
Seeing the shopkeeper open his eyes she corrected her posture, her voice dropping as she knit her handsome eyebrows together
“Sorry, he’s always saying such unreasonable things. I didn’t think it was such a one-sided promise he made…”
“Hey hey, Emilia-tan, that’s obviously an excuse he’s using. It was a vow exchanged between men. No matter what conditions it was exchanged under, if men didn’t do everything they could to uphold it then they’d go out of fashion… really, this is the Stalingrad of a man’s spirit.”
Subaru kept deprecating the shopkeeper incessantly. Seeing Subaru like this Emilia glared at him to shut him up, puckering her lips like she was angry.
“Subaru stop having such strange expectations. You met with this merchant person once for how long? This is the capital, not some village shop near the mansion.”
“Oi oi, don’t act so pretentious old man. With a face as scary as yours there’s no way you’d have a thriving business… ouch ouch, I’m sorry!”
Finally, Emilia punished him for his rude outbursts. Having his ear pinched Subaru immediately raised the white flag; the shopkeeper looked at her in admiration, letting out a sigh.
“Nii-chan, just how much of a rude brat are you… ah I remember!”
As if he’d come to some conclusion he swung his hand abruptly, pointing over at us.
“You’re the kid that was flat broke. You left without even buying anything, you ungrateful little…”
“I promised to buy an appa next time didn’t I? Right? Right?”
Subaru was happily jumping around from being remembered, taking Emilia’s hand that was pulling his ear he held both her hands as he started to dance. Emilia was thrown off by these unfamiliar steps Subaru took the lead drawing her closer; the shopkeeper showed off his teeth in a wide grin, “that’s right, that’s right.”
“I see, you’ve got quite the sense of obligation. So you came all the way out here to buy some things. Alright, I’m in a good mood so I’ll throw in a special! How’s 1 appa for 2 copper coins, and 20 appa for 38 copper coins sound to you?”
“Aramaa, what a deal! Then if we bought 200 it’d be 380 copper? This is amazing Emilia-tan!”
“That’s only if we buy 200… And don’t make me dance in public, it’s embarrassing!”
Subaru was overdoing his sales-pitch. Shooting it down, Emilia pried her hand from Subaru and interrupted his dance. But, immediately after, as if rethinking it she grabbed his hand again; truly an earnest personality.
“Maa, let’s leave it at that. I’m gonna have you buy some appa though. I’m already looking forward to it… well I’ve already eaten a few already.”
Each time he’d looped he came face to face with it and would always end up having one for breakfast. There was no avoiding it. By the way, an appa is an apple, he’d tried it once and there was no difference. The only change was the minor difference in naming.
While Subaru was off in his own world dreaming like this the shopkeeper brought out a crate filled with appa, taking out a sack to signal that everything was ready. Leaving the other’s impression aside, the trader had the view that as long as he could do business earnestly everything was fine.
“So in the end, how many will you be buying?”
“We’ll go with 10 big ones. I’m paying our promise well in excess.”
Smiling at Subaru’s generosity, the shopkeeper started stuffing the red fruit away in a sack. Subaru thinking it was about time to pay started making his preparations. Regretfully he had to let go of Emilia’s hand (he’d grown quite fond of it by now), turning to her he noticed she was unexpectedly fidgeting around in with her breast pocket.
“What are you doing trying to take out your wallet, Emilia-tan?”
Taking out a leather bag from her clothes, Emilia inspected its contents; hearing his words she cocked her head in a confused look.
“What do you mean… If I don’t take out money how are we going to pay for it?”
“That’s wrong, wouldn’t it be weird for Emilia-tan to pay? It’s my shopping, so it’s only natural that I’d… hey Scarface, what’re you doing giving me that look!”
At his insistence that he pay in Emilia’s stead, for some reason the shopkeeper’s eyes glazed over.
Brushing off Subaru’s accusation he shook his head,
“I’m pretty certain I said to come by when you made some money… bringing along this girly with money to pay for you, can’t say I approve.”
“Didn’t you see our lover’s quarrel just now! I just said I’d pay! Really, I did!”
“Even if you say so, I haven’t seen you practice takin’ out your wallet much. I bet you’re one of those types, pretend like you’ll pay when you’re in front of a girl to keep up appearances.”
“I was only slow, what’s with that evil explanation! I’m not so ill-natured that I’d let myself be spoiled to that extent!”
Complaining about the shopkeepers prejudiced opinion, Subaru rushed to take out his wallet. He really wasn’t supposed to get paid for another few days but while they were still traveling to the capital Roswaal gave him an advance so he could have some extra spending money. It was quite a sizeable amount, as expected of a noble. Subaru shuddered at how high his wages were.
Then again, it could be that this times’ wages were factoring in Subaru’s contribution to resolving the forest demon-beast incident, he wouldn’t put it past Roswaal to do such a thing. This world didn’t have something like direct deposit banking so he couldn’t confirm it, but in reality Subaru was stealthily amassing a small sum of money. Although the person in question doesn’t know about it.
“If 1 appo is 2 copper coins… then would 10 appo be 2 silver coins?”
“Oi oi, don’t tell me you don’t know the exchange rate between currency? Right now 1 silver coin goes for 9 copper ones.”
“Let’s see here… so that’d make it 2 silver coins and 2 copper coins. Here.”
The coins jingles as he took them out of a leather pouch and handed them to the shopkeeper. As the shopkeeper stared in amazement, Subaru tilted his head in puzzlement at the shopkeeper’s behavior.
“I’m going to say this myself. Nii-chan, you better not trust strangers so easily. The fluctuation in currency exchange rate is listed at the market’s entrance, written on the billboard there. You came here without even reading that… you’d be prey to a less scrupulous merchant.”
The shopkeepers warning, rather than honest, it was more like worried. Hearing this Subaru nodded his head in understand, “aah”.
It’s true that he’d believed him just like that and was about to pay up. In his previous world things had a definite price that you could have confidence in when buying and selling, it seems like he’d been far too trusting. Back in the stores around the village, the people were all quite insular so the idea of conning didn’t really exist, but like it or not this is how it was in the capital. The biggest city in the entire country. Of course that means there are also people with evil motives, nothing strange about it.
“Pops, you’re a really good guy after all.”
Smiling ear to ear, Subaru showed he thought highly of this scar-faced character.
He waved his hand violently, “cut it out”.
“It’s not something I did on purpose. It’s just that when a customer goes out of their way like this to hold up a promise it’d hurt my sleep if I knew they were keeled over dead-broke in an alley somewhere. Get it?”
“I’ve got it, you’re a male-tsundere.”
“Hurry up and take this and get outta here, scram! This is the exact change, thanks for the business!”
The first half was a rude statement, the second half was treating the customers as gods. Seeing the shopkeeper like that Subaru laughed from the bottom of his heart as he took the bag of appa. Leading Emilia by the hand they departed from the shop. We’ve stayed a bit too long I think, any more and we’d be obstructing his business.
“Thanks, old man. Let’s meet again if our fates allow it”
“If you buy something again you’re welcome anytime. Live carefully.”
He waved his hand lethargically at us, as if to drive us off. As we drew further away the crowd gradual began to obstruct our view until the figure of the well-natured shopkeeper completely disappeared.
Subaru checked the sack again, and turned to face Emilia who had been silent up till now.
“Arere, what’s wrong Emilia-tan?”
“Are you really that angry that you didn’t get to pay? You know letting you treat me there would have looked bad. I’d be some guy who mooches off women… wait a minute. Would that be amazing if we both spent money on each other and bought gifts? Damn! I should have let Emilia-tan buy the appa and then I could have bought something stylish for her.”
Like a ring, or a bouquet of flowers, or… the only things that filled his head were overly excessive things that’d pop up in bishoujo-games. While Subaru was off fantasizing Emilia-tan shook her head no.
“Subaru… you’re really quick with calculations.”
“When you were talking with that scary-faced… ah, sorry. When you were talking with that merchant about money, you did your calculations instantly. I knew the answer to it too, but that was still incredible.”
“So your true thoughts come out, I can understand just how deeply you were impressed. Hmm… so I’m unexpectedly good with arithmetic.”
This was quite beyond expectations. Subaru didn’t think of himself as all that smart, but it seems that’s not the case. This is the difference between the educational standard here versus modern day Japan. He’d heard something like this in his former world too, that Japan was comparatively pretty good with mental arithmetic… Subaru accepted this reasoning with a nod.
“Hehehe, just thinking of my devilishly good intellect Emilia-tan’s heart must be exploding. I guess it’s true in every era, a man’s gotta’ have both guts and smarts. My oh my, is my cheat ability finally here?!”
Now that I’ve understood the circumstances, I keep my cool and don’t become self-conceited. That’s me. Natsuki Subaru.
He reminisced over his achievements proudly, although these weren’t entirely achieved through his efforts. His lovely pleasant lifestyle in this world was about to begin.
“I’ll fight with an abacus, raise the curtains on this mathematical fantasy world adventure. Catching the slight fluctuations in the market I’ll… this is super lame! My spirit is broken!”
He was finished with that. Over. He didn’t have the knowledge necessary to do something like make an abacus in a world without abacuses. And even if he did he didn’t have the influence to cause the invention to spread. In the first place, Subaru’s only good subject was fine arts.
“My climb upward hasn’t even started yet… this tall tall mountain of abacuses!”
“Subaru you really… I can’t tell if you’re amazing or not amazing.”
After raising the curtains on his grand adventure the curtains were lowered immediately, seeing Subaru like this Emilia sighed tiredly as she put her hand to her forehead. Taking a short pause, she shook her head and regained her energy, “alright then” she began.
“So we fulfilled the promise, next is…”
“Aa, the loot house right?”
The slums. Remembering the incident that happened on the first day he was summoned, Subaru gripped her hand harder; feeling the warmth from her hand.
“Even so, is it OK if I accompany you over there? If I’m being completely honest, the public order over there is pretty bad and they’ve got hoodlums walking around all over. It’s a little bit worry for a king-selection candidate to be going alone…”
“Even if you say that, no matter where I go it’s not going to be any different.”
Emilia frowned at him asking something like this so late in the game, taking her fingers she lightly pinched the hood covering her silver hair.
“I’ve got this blocking people from recognizing me, most people won’t be able to tell my identity. It’s not something handmade by the royal magician just for show you know. It’s really amazing, this thing.”
“Handmade by Ros-chi… somehow hearing that made its value fade a little in my mind.”
“Hey! You shouldn’t say things like that; is what I want to say.”
Struggling to hide that she felt the same way, Emilia stuck out her tongue shyly. Taking damage from her extreme cute surprise attack, Subaru clutched his chest as if his heart exploded.
TL: Emilia-tan major fairy!
“Yes yes, there you go saying things I don’t understand again. I do realize that rather than me there’s another person you’d rather be with.”
Fending off his praise as a joke, Emilia laughed like it couldn’t be helped. Seeing her smiling weakly, Subaru shook his head “Oi oi”.
“Are you stillllll saying that? I’ve told you countless times that Emilia-tan is the one that I want to date. How can I get through to you?”
“I don’t think you should go around saying your important feelings so casually like that. With the proper partner, and a proper attitude, you need to choose the proper words. Promise me?”
Thinking his words were just a hollow decoration she closed down the subject quickly. With her creating a wall between them like this, Subaru couldn’t step any further through. In any case, the only way he could think of showing his affection any more than this would be to pour his heart out completely.
“Doing such a high hurdle, with my prospects of succeeding low and not having made any preparations, this doesn’t seem to be something I can overcome through sheer guts…”
In the first place, Natsuki Subaru’s motto was to never fight a battle he couldn’t win. Subaru made an excuse like that as he fled from having to face Emilia against here. When faced with this wall, rather than going around, or breaking through, it was full retreat! Like that, in the distance between Emilia and Subaru was laid out as a wall.
“Nn-then, *cough* shall we head off to the loot house?”
Clearing his throat, he pulled himself together. Deciding on the next destination Subaru’s lips bent upward. Emilia looked at his reaction questioningly.
“It’s nothing, just that when I checked the number of appa in the sack, there were 11.”
Plump, big, and ripened to a bright red. The number of these fruit totaled 11. The one who put the fruit in the sack was the shopkeeper himself, Subaru couldn’t possibly imagine him messing up like that, which meant…
“That old mans a super good guy after all”
Suburu said while closing up the sack, he laughed when reminded of the tough-mugged Scarface.
The budding, hazy feeling he had before became clear.
Yep, making good on this promise was the right choice.