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Eating in Secret
When I returned to the Heart Family mansion with Roxy-sama, everyone was already busily preparing dinner. Since this was the case, I tried to be useful and asked the maids if there was anything I could help with, except they refused me and said, “No, it’s fine.” Then they pointed at my muddy clothes and told me to go take a bath.
Indeed, I had worked hard to harvest the grapes until dusk so both my clothes and I were covered in dirt. A young maid named Maya guided me to a bathroom designated for employees. The small bath could only fit one person and was overflowing with hot water. There was a unique scent different to fresh water.
“This, could it be?”
“Fufu, it’s a hot spring. In the Heart Family territory, there are several places with hot springs which have been connected to flow all the way to the mansion. This is one of the pleasures of being a servant of the Heart Family.
“That’s wonderful. So this is the rumoured hot spring…”
It was my first time seeing a hot spring. I scooped up a handful of the endlessly flowing water.
“Even though it’s transparent, it seems muddy somehow.”
“That’s right. It’s good for the skin. Even your mud-covered body will become all shiny and clean. Put your clothes into this bag. I’ll leave your change of clothes here.”
Having told me various things, she then left the bath and I changed out of my outfit. Hm? I noticed that the door was slightly ajar. There stood Maya, even though she should have already left. She was peeking covertly while smiling a little.
“Would you like me to wash your back?”
“It, it’s fine! I can do it myself!”
Seeing my stiff expression when I replied, she closed the door in a bored manner. That was a surprise… I wondered if she was caring about me. Well, it was good that the employees felt cheerful enough to joke around like this. It was the same atmosphere in the Heart Family’s residence back at the capital.
After washing off the mud from my body, I stepped into the bathtub. Sighhhhh… So revitalising. The warmth that enveloped me felt very comfortable. Like this, I wished I could be a child of this household. Although that was impossible.
I finished bathing and thought to help with dinner preparations, yet everything was already done. As a servant of the Heart Family, this was bad. When I stopped one of the maids to ask if there was anything I could assist with, they replied that there was nothing in particular that needed help. Either way, it seemed as though I was being treated as one of Roxy-sama’s guests. In the end, I was finally called.
“Roxy-sama called for you. Please go to the large room down this way.”
With my footsteps echoing, I walked over and opened the door. Inside, many dishes were lined up on a long table placed in the centre of the room. Roxy-sama was the only one sitting down. The maids stood in the corner of the room, ready to serve. I see… So that was what this was about.
Without hesitating, I joined the line of maids. Despite having been treated as a guest, I was still Roxy-sama’s servant. Waiting on my master was my duty. Fufufufu, let me show off the techniques that I had been taught at the capital city. Whether it was wine or soup… come! The time had finally come to show my true worth as a servant. Just as I thought this,
“Fate, come and sit here. Not there, here.”
Roxy-sama pointed to the vacant seat on her right. Eh, was it alright…? I looked at the maids all lined up. Then, everyone simultaneously pointed to the empty seat! It felt like they were telling me to hurry up and go already.
Resignedly, I sat down on Roxy-sama’s right side. Somehow, I felt uneasy. At the residence in the Royal Capital, it was not like this since I ate with the rest of the servants. It was my first time eating in such a spacious place while maids watched me. The basic manners that I had learnt were only from the serving side. I had never thought… that it would end up like this.
As my thoughts ran in circles in my head, Roxy-sama called out from next to me in a cheerful voice.
“Don’t worry about manners. Just eat however you like.”
“Is that alright?!”
“Yes, Fate eats a lot so if you worried about manners, it would take a lot of time.”
I was actually quite hungry. Then firstly, I picked up the bread right in front of me and brought it to my mouth. The buttery fragrance spread all over, it was delicious! As I continued eating bread with gusto, the awaiting maid poured some wine into my glass. I wondered if I was eating in such a way that it looked like I would choke. I downed the wine in one gulp.
“Whew, it’s delicious.”
“I’m glad to hear you say that, although Fate has yet to eat anything else besides bread.”
I ate the sautéed river fish recommended by Roxy-sama. …Delicious! It was a heavenly meal, however, there was something I was concerned about.
“Roxy-sama, um… What about Aisha-sama?”
At this, she sighed.
“It’s always like this. Whenever I return home, she would greet me merrily, however… as a result, she would fall asleep in the evening.”
As I listened to her, Roxy-sama noticed that I had stopped eating.
“It’s not something that Fate needs to worry about. It’s alright, she’ll be fine when tomorrow comes. It’s always this way.”
Roxy-sama spoke with a smile, yet I could tell that her real feelings were different. Right now, if I touched her hand, I would be able to hear her inner thoughts from the Mind-reading skill. I wanted to know. However, I considered what I could do even if I knew, and withdrew my hand,
“Now then, I’ll make Fate eat up mother’s portion as well. Come on, come on!”
“As can be expected, all of this is a bit…”
It seemed like she found it interesting when I ate and dishes were brought out one after another. Still, my stomach reached its limit halfway and groaned, giving up. It was probably the first time I had eaten so much since being born.
Like this, the fun meal with Roxy-sama was over and I was guided to an assigned room.
“It’s great that you came, I haven’t seen Roxy-sama look this happy in a long time.”
On the way, Maya said this to me.
Her father had suddenly died in Gallia and her mother was suffering from a severe illness. Moreover, she was busy with duties at the capital. The maids had mentioned how worried about Roxy-sama they were during her visit home this time. Being able to see the current situation, they were relieved that Roxy-sama seemed well.
“Please rest well.”
“Yes, good night.”
I bowed my head to Maya and quietly closed the door. The day of a Heart Family servant had passed without any incidents. Well then, a different period of time started now. I grabbed the black sword, Greed, that Maya had brought over earlier.
“Hey, you’ve got quite a happy face there. Make a cowardly expression. That way, Kobolt will come.”
“I’ve heard that even though it’s a higher ranked monster than the Goblin, it’s not incredibly strong. With my current status, I don’t think there will be a problem.”
“Your pride will trip you up like this. So, have you looked up where Kobolt would appear?”
“Yeah, I’ve researched it carefully.”
Throughout the day, I had casually asked about Kobolt while harvesting the grapes. It was said to be a dangerous monster that destroyed farmland and attacked people. Everyone knew this well. Each year, it would show up in a valley north from here and then head down towards us.
Yesterday, someone went to scout the situation and had seen several Kobolts. When I had commented on how dangerous that seemed to be, I was told that it was alright because the winds blew from north to south, and the Kobolts would not detect them as they were downwind.
For many years, they had suffered damages from Kobolt. Speaking only of Kobolt, it was possible that they were better informed than the warriors. With Greed in my hand, I waited for midnight to come.
“Yeah, let’s go.”
Quietly, I left the residence of the sleeping Heart Family. Today was another perfect hunting night with the moon clearly visible. I moved northward, climbing a narrow mountain path.
“Hey, Greed. I met a strange Gallian girl today. Her eyes looked like how mine did when I was the state of starvation.”
“Hmm, is that so… Then, what did she say her name was?”
“I don’t know. My Appraisal skill didn’t work. Do you know why and what it means?”
“It means she has something special. I can’t answer if you don’t know her name. Did she not say anything else?”
“She said until then, see you.”
“Hm, then you’ll definitely meet her again. It’s fine to forget about it until that time comes.”
“What’s with that?”
Greed remained silent, something he was skilled at. It felt like he surely knew something. However, Greed would not tell me like this so I had no choice but to give up.
With no other options, I concentrated on moving forward. Occasionally, I heard sounds coming from the bushes. It was probably a rabbit, fox, or some wild animal. If it was a monster, it would certainly have pounced me.
“This is the valley where Kobolts enter.”
“Finally, a different monster to defeat. It’s become monotonous killing nothing apart from Goblins.”
“I’m only assessing the situation today.”
Even in the shade of dimly lit trees where the moonlight could not reach, I could see clearly because of my Night Vision skill. No matter where they came from, I would not miss them. After a while, two Kobolts came down the valley, moving in the shadows of the trees. They had the face of a dog and long, blue fur. A dog walking on two legs… Not cute. As they approached, I used the <Appraisal> skill. Were they both the same?
Kobolt Junior Lv25
Skill: Strength enhancement (medium)
Changing Greed’s form into the Black Bow, I aimed at one of the Kobolts. The sound of a slight breeze could be heard, then the magic arrow pierced Kobolt’s forehead. One down.
<Gluttony skill has been activated>
<Status update: HP +880, Strength +890, MP +350, Spirit +400, Agility +780>
<Strength enhancement (medium) skill has been added>
With its companion suddenly killed, it seemed like the remaining Kobolt wanted to retaliate and its eyes darted around restlessly. Although I would not give it a chance. I continued by shooting another arrow. As though it had been sucked in, the arrow hit right on the forehead again. Kobolt fell to the ground, its movements ceasing.
<Gluttony skill has been activated>
<Status update: HP +880, Strength +890, MP +350, Spirit +400, Agility +780>
That was unsatisfyingly quick. Even though I waited for a while longer afterwards, no other Kobolts showed up. Only two of them… It was not enough.
“Isn’t this the time when they enter the Heart Family territory? There’s too few of them.”
“It’s likely that they are wary. Every year, the Holy Knights of the Heart Family drove them away. From that, they may be using underlings to investigate the situation to look for the right timing.”
“Ahh, is that so.”
If the companions they had sent as scouts did not return, then the rest of the Kobolts would not come. Next time I hunted them, I had to ensure that the Kobolts came in mobs.
My Gluttony skill was hardly satisfied, however, I had no choice but to endure it. I went back with an unsettling feeling of hunger.