The carriage finally made its way to the front a giant estate made of stone.
Leaving the wide entrance hall behind, I was guided through a hallway decorated with paintings to a parlor.
The man waiting inside stood up.
“I have been expecting you, Miss Marie.”
“It has been a long time, Master Julius.”
This fine figure of a man who lifted my hand and kissed it in an elegant gesture was Julius zu Eicher.
I’m indebted to him for all he did for Georg’s mother, and even after that case I continued to keep exchanges with him. Mostly in order to satisfy my private wants.
“Truly. You have become still more beautiful in the short time I have not seen you.”
You have become such a lovely lady, I can no longer thoughtlessly pick you up in my arms, he said with a mischievous smile.
Ooh, very skillful.
None of the other men in the family, neither Lord Eicher nor Georg, had the same skill. The head of the family was the type to speak with a force of attitude, and the current Georg was a naive boy.
Well, the man himself probably had no intention of settling down.
“I apologize for suddenly imposing on you. You must surely be busy, were you forced to changed your schedule?”
“No, I am overjoyed you decided to contact me.”
Or so he said, but I was conscientious of how high-highhandedly I forced him to accommodate me.
The man who loved his older brother’s family worried greatly about his sickly sister-in-law, his brother’s inability to be honest with himself, and his diffident nephew. Whenever he could, tried to be close to home.
However, when all problems were removed, his days were spent on trips to make his business bigger, happily traveling to various places.
“Occasionally Georg will even do nothing but criticize, telling me to be more appropriate in conduct.”
“Georg will, you said?” I questioned him.
I couldn’t imagine Georg ever doing something like that.
“Yes. Lately he has become more and more unendearing. I am happy with the growth of my nephew, but I am troubled by his incessant nagging.”
Seeing the way I frowned and kept silent, Master Julius grinned wryly.
“Hard to imagine, is it not? It must be because the Georg you knew was timid and gentle like a young girl. I think you will be surprised when you meet him.”
The last time we met was for Georg’s 9th birthday.
He was two years older than me, so he should be 13 years old now. In these four years this older boy would have certainly gotten bigger, but has the person inside changed as well?
“He should be working in another room today. I’ve kept your presence here a secret, so shall we go give him a surprise?”
Master Julius placed a finger against his lips, lowering his voice like we were having a secret conversation. He looked to be enjoying himself. Even though he was one of the finest men around, the boyish quality remaining told me he was still be the same gap moe person.
“Certainly,” I answered, lowering my voice in a similar fashion.
He broke out in a delighted smile.
“I have a lot of souvenirs for you. Whenever I happened upon rare ingredients and seasonings, I was reminded of you.”
“Would you like to see?”
Eyes sparkling, I took his bait.
Master Julius only procured goods that were rare to our kingdom. Sometimes, goods that reminded me of Japan were mixed in, so I was secretly hoping that the day I got my hands on sticky rice was close.
I cheerfully let him take the lead, when a lost voice suddenly came from behind.
It was a small voice that seemed like one could easily ignore, but the moment I heard it I suddenly remembered.
Which reminded me, I forcibly brought him with me. I was terrible for completely forgetting about him, lured by having what I wanted dangled in front of me.
“This boy is…?”
Following my line of sight, Master Julius took notice of Michael.
“An introduction is long overdue. This is my friend, Michael.”
“Mi-Michael von Diebold, at your service. Gr-great Temple’s…I am, apprenticed, to a priest.”
Michael bowed his head deeply.
I couldn’t think of a better way to introduce him…
“This is Master Julius zu Eicher. Master Julius, after all you’ve done today, it’s inexcusable, but…” I said, making a mess of my words.
He nodded cheerfully.
“I don’t mind.”
I felt guilty for taking advantage of his generosity, but I was glad I wouldn’t have to make Michael wait inside the carriage.
Once my head collected itself, I remembered the true purpose of my visit. Before I could ask him to show me what he had, I cut to the main issue.
“Medicine, you ask?”
As long as there was potential for the disease to spread, I wanted to do everything I could.
In other words, I believe the medicine available in Nebel had little effect.
It was nothing above wishful thinking to hope that medicine would exist in another kingdom, but surely there was nothing to lose by advancing the study of medicine.
Besides, with the lack of that miracle drug, it was better to have a lot of medicine to mitigate the symptoms and its weakening effects.
“The threat posed by Sckellz disappeared, and exchanges with the southwestern kingdoms have increased. If the number of people coming and going has increased as well, what flows in will not be limited to only culture and money. Don’t you agree things with less cause for rejoicing will also be included?”
“That’s true… There are things such as endemic diseases, and people will pick them up from the places they visit. Are you suggesting we should be prepared for any eventuality?”
“Especially in the south, where feverish maladies spread easily, I hear. I’d like to increase the variety of antipyretics and painkillers we have, and talk with Miss Irene as well.”
After hearing what I had to say, Master Julius said Hmm and fell into deep thought.
After a moment, he said, “Recently, I found something of deep interest, but…there is a little problem.”
I looked at him questioningly.
Not knowing where he was going, we followed.
Master Julius came to a stop before a room at the end of a long hallway. When he gave the solid door a knock, a boy’s voice invited us inside.
“You’re bothering me.”
I couldn’t see who was inside because of the back of the tall man in front of me.
“What do you want?”
“Ahh. I am here for the medicine in question.”
“I believe that conversation is over. No matter how effective it is, we don’t have spare money or time when we have no method of producing it, no location from which to harvest the raw materials, and no clue of how much variety there is.”
That means you’re on your own, he said, the words curt and dismissive. His voice was pleasing and clear to the ear.
“It’s a bad habit of yours to become too fixated on what you take interest in. If it’s not a matter of trade but your personal hobby, then do whatever you please.”
“See? Not cute at all.”
Master Julius turned to me and smiled wryly, allowing me to see the person inside.
A young man stood on the other side of a desk stacked with books and a rounded pile of documents.
Soft platinum blonde hair reached his shoulders, tied by a navy blue ribbon, leaving only the side of his face clear.
His build had also stretched out quite a bit, his body now that of a man’s.
This pretty boy with the intellectual air put down the pen made from the flight feathers of a white bird and looked in our direction.
His eyes clashed with mine.
Within a heartbeat he became wide eyed.
He stared so hard it seemed like he’d burn a hole through the spot I stood. I wonder what’s wrong? It was uncomfortable.
“It has been a long time, Georg.”
We met again at long last, and Georg has finally become a young man capable of grabbing the hearts of marriageable young girls everywhere.