~Arc 3 - Autumn of Newcomer, begins~
"Seiren, Saryuu. I know it's very sudden, but starting from today, there will be a freeloader staying in our house for a while."
My father said that during breakfast at the end of September. Speaking of calendar, the week of Autumn Banquet is coming soon in a few days, but well, it might be similar to what we called autumn equinox in the other world, a lively period of time with autumn festivals.
"Yes, actually… Yesterday, my distant relative sent me a letter saying that he'd come to stay for a while."
"A distant relative?"
I have heard that the Shikino are really our distant relative, but if the one staying is one of the Shikino, then just say so.
Or rather, there doesn't seem to be anyone from the Shikino to come and freeload here. Taigsan has been really busy ever since he became the feudal lord and we haven't met again ever since. We exchanged letters once a week, though. Because I got mad the other day that he used the same day service each time, he restrained himself from using it as expected.
I felt a bit lonely, but… well let's leave that matter aside. First, let's focus on the current topic on hand.
My father understood that I didn't know any other distant relative than the Shikino, so he properly explained about it to me.
"He's from another house in Shikino. He's their eldest son, his name is Leo. He is 23 years old, so he's relatively close in age with Seiren."
"Leo-san, is it?"
"Well, he is not a bad person, but… he's a bit pushy and his character is strong. I have more or less told him about Seiren's circumstances, but then he said that even so, he'd still like to meet you…"
After saying that, Tou-san scratched his silver hair as if he was troubled over something.
Or rather, I can understand how pushy he is from how he suddenly wants to come here, but about his character…
Since my father was unusually faltering like this, I wonder if he is a quite amazing person.
Perhaps Saryuu was also thinking of the same thing, so he tried to ask Tou-san. I see, so you also have never met him, huh.
"By a strong character, what kind of "strong" is it?"
"…Well, you'll understand once you meet him. However, please don't be rude to him."
Aah, yup. Well, though we called him a freeloader, he was still one of our people who came from the same feudal lord house like the Shikino, after all.
How do I say it, so you don't feel like telling us what kind of person Leo-san is until we meet him ourselves, huh, Tou-san? Meanwhile, Kasan…
"Seiren and Saryuu will also be surprised once you meet him, for sure. There are various kind of people in this world."
She also didn't want to tell us-. What a fun smile she was making over there.
Seriously, what kind of person is coming? Really, just spare me.
"…I'm worried, Nee-sama."
It's natural for us to be looking at each other and heaving a sigh. Really, these parents of mine…
Anyway, the matter will remain unsettled with us just sighing around, so first, let's try asking the maids. They might know a little bit of that person.
"Leo-sama, is it?"
"Yup. Alicsan, Minosan, do you know him?"
"As far as it goes, only the rumors. He seems to be living in the capital, but we have never met him, not even once, though."
"Master has gone to the capital to do some business several times, so he met him during one of his visits there, right?"
The two of them have never met him directly, too, huh? Since he is the eldest son of a good house, I wonder if he's always been staying around his house only? Ah, Taigsan seemed to have a hobby of going around jis territory, but it might be a bit different.
People of the capital, huh? I have never been to the capital before, but the capital that I know is different after all, so I think.1 No, well, I mean there's no skyscraper in this world.
Even then, I thought a little bit. How nice it would be if he doesn't make fun of us just because we are country bumpkins.
"From what the Master has told us before, it seems that he is a considerably good person and that it's fun talking with him."
"Is that so? Alicsan knows about that much, only?"
"Yes. What about Minoa?"
"For the time being, I have only heard the talk about how he's going to come here tomorrow, so we were told this morning. But at that time, Yuzuruhsan told me to not throw a basket at him."
"…So he's a kind of person that's quick to retort, huh?"
A good person with a few strange points, huh? Taigsan was generally like that, though.
…Huh? Did I tell Yuzuruhsan that we almost threw a basket at Taigsan in summer?
Ah well, it isn't strange if the matter leaked out from somewhere. Yup.
However, I couldn't really dig any information from the maids.
After eating lunch, I tried to attack Kuon-sensei with the same question. When I did so…
"I know him more or less, but I was told by the Madame to let you know about him when you directly meet him later on. Saryuu-sama also asked the same question this morning."
"Gwaah, you're forbidden to speak, huh-?"
How mean. Kasan, don't go all out for weird things like this.
Or well, Kuon-sensei, don't show the same smile as Kasan, that seemed like you were enjoying the situation. Do you also enjoy watching our reactions? Damn it.
Or perhaps I should say, just what kind of person is he, for them to go this far to not tell us anything? Good grief.
"And obviously, it's also useless to ask Yuzuruhsan about it, right?"
"That's right. Now then, let's start studying-!"
Kuon-sensei laughed and opened the textbook. Recently, I have become able to read books bit by bit, and that's rather fun.
The maple leaves could also be seen even here during autumn. The maple leaves' appearance was honestly something bad for the servants, but that's because it's troublesome for them to clean up after the fallen leaves, so it can't be helped. Incidentally, we can use them to make a bonfire, but there's no habit to make baked sweet potatoes here. Umu, how disappointing.
After Kuon-sensei's lesson was over, I had a bit free time until dinner, so I took a leisure walk around the mansion. Alicsan is coming with me and I have her tell me various things, so it's fun.
"Even still, their red color is still pretty. Do we also view those leaves?"2
"Yes. It's called the Autumn Flower Viewing in here."3
"Oh-, I see."
I see, so it's not like they're seeing the red-or-yellow-colored leaves as flowers, huh. When you put it that way, I think it's something like autumn-leaf viewing in the other world.4 Even if they aren't doing that flower viewing, the autumn festival is coming soon, so it seems that the town will be bustling with people.
Because that incident happened during the Spring Festival, I might not be allowed to go and see the Autumn Festival, right? It's a bit unfortunate, but it can't be helped.
A rustling sound could be heard from above. I thought it was relatively far away, but in no time, it quickly approached… It's a horse-. It's coming straight to me!
Nearly at the same time as when Alicsan grabbed my arms and pulled me back, the horse managed to stop right in front of us, somehow. Unlike Genjirou, this horse's all pitch-black that at a glance it seems like a huge crow. The person who rode on its back, control your horse better! Since I was thrown strongly by Alicsan, my waist felt like it'd come out, damn it.
"Please be careful! It's dangerous!"
"Oh my, I'm sorry. Come on, Hanako, don't be so riotous just because it's our first time coming here."
Hearing the response from the man as Alicsan reprimanded him, I tilted my head in my surprise.
Though the tone is a woman's, the voice is unmistakably a man's, despite it being a bit high-pitched.
This is, could he be…?
While I was thinking about it, the person who rode on the horse's back—that seemed to be called Hanako—came down.
"Oh my, maid-san, I'm sorry. This is my Hanako-chan. Please look after her for a moment."5
"Eh, ah, yes."
"Hanako, you too, please stay calm. I won't ignore it if you do that again."
Alicsan gulped and held the reins. Hanako also became calm, but what the heck is going on? Did she get scared because of her owner's previous threat? That seemed to be the case.
Or, this person, for him to be able to come inside our premise, did he clear Jigen-san's authentication? While I was wondering about it, that person walked until he was right in front of me.
"Can you stand? Are you all right?"
"Ah, I'm all right… Thank you very much."
He doesn't seem to be a bad person as he asked me if I was all right while holding out his hand to help me. In any case, when I stood up with the help of his hand, the person in front of me is considerably taller than me… he's also taller than Taigsan.
…He's also wearing a prettier make-up than me. The make-up applied isn't that deep but the eyelashes are long, and his lips look vibrant. Whoa, I'm going to lose my appeal.
His red hair—I wonder if he dyed it?—had no crease at all and it was slightly shorter than my hair, but it grew long until his shoulders. On top of his unbleached shirt, he was wearing a burgundy long vest, and he was wearing dark blue slacks. Overall, he was quite stylish.
"Really, I'm so sorry. I should have been more careful."
"Wa, haa… uhm, me too, I'm sorry for not paying more attention to what's above."
"No, Ojou-chan, there's no need for you to apologize… eh, oh my."
"Nnn?" He said as if he noticed something and he slightly bent his waist so that his face could meet mine at the same height. He took a long hard look at me before finally asking.
"Speaking of which, the maid-san called you earlier, but are you really Seiren-chan?"
"…Who might you be?"
Spare me from that "-chan" behind my name—I held back before I could say that as I needed to stay alert for now. Nah well, I mean, with what happened at summer, and a lot of other reasons.6 Oh, well.
Perhaps he understood that I was on guard, he lightly shrugged his shoulders. He returned to his straight posture and combed his red hair upwards.
"Oh my, haven't you heard the story from Uncle Mondo? That a handsome young relative is going to sleep over?"
"I didn't hear about the handsome young man part, but I have heard the story about a distant relative coming here."
By a handsome young man, is he referring to himself? I wanted to say, "Don't call yourself handsome!" but it was a bother to do, so I only told him what I've heard today honestly. Then, that person clapped both of his hands and laughed. Ah, he was cute when he laughed, this person.
"Yes, yes, that's it! I'm Leo, pleased to meet you!"
Then, he winked. Whoa.
I see, so this person is Leo-san, huh? Certainly, his character is strong, Tou-san. I reflexively turned my gaze into a distant look.
Or rather than saying that it's a secret until I meet him directly, isn't it because they don't understand how they should explain about him well?
"Can I call you Seiren-chan?"
"Ah, yes. I'm Seiren, pleased to meet you."
The moment I reconfirmed my identity, I was hugged by Leo-san. No, this situation, how am I supposed to react? No matter what the circumstances may be, there's no way I can beat him, and perhaps my power would just be overmatched.
"Oh dear-, what a cute and polite child you're-! Oni-san wants to look after you!"
"Eh, eh, eh?"
"Wai, L-Leo-sama! Please get away from Seiren-sama!"
"Leo-sama! If you're coming, please give us a notice beforehand!"
Perhaps hearing Alicsan's yell as she was holding on to Hanako, Yuzuruhsan rushed off from the mansion.
Ah, by giving a notice beforehand, perhaps it's like: 'I'm coming soon, so please get ready-,' or something like that, made by the person coming. The servants have lots of work to do, huh? Ah, I tried to escape from the reality again today.
…Orphanage director. There are also effeminate men in this world, huh?
Or rather, a crossdressing man? I don't know well about it, too.
Or perhaps I should say, this person is our freeloading guest, huh-?
"Oh dear me, if you're being such a cute Ojou-sama like this, then come and let me put you inside a box. Good grief-."
Being torn away from me, Leo-san puffed out his cheeks. Yuzuruhsan dropped his shoulders, and I could understand his feelings.
Oh well, so I'm going to be under the same roof as this person? Will I be all right?