A Tall Order
“Where do you want me to move this?”
Veena had spread a handkerchief on a suitable rock and was sitting atop it as she floated several trees with magic above her head.
“Oh, over there please.”
As she was asked, Veena moved the huge trees. Even though everyone else was sweating buckets moving material, she was quite comfortable perched atop her rock, doing her share with magic.
Even if it may look like she’s not working as hard as everyone else, no one seems to be upset about it, in fact, they seem to be admiring her with various “Ooohs~” and “I need to work harder to keep up!”.
“Ah, could we leave it to you to carve these up?”
Using wind magic, Veena carves through the trees like a saw.
It’s a trivial job for her.
Using her magic, she barely has to pay attention to what she’s doing.
If anything, she’d prefer to be hunting monsters. But, it seems she’s a minority when it comes to that. Even if it’s a simple thing for Veena to hunt monsters, for normal people any encounter with beasts like that is a struggle of life and death.
That being said, she’d rather do this than fight a dragon again.
As she thought that, she felt a presence.
(I wonder what that is. A monster… maybe?)
Sylph also responded, looking this way and that. Because the young dragon also felt it, it can’t just be her imagination.
They’re out in the mountain wilderness. It’s only natural for one or two monsters to appear. Rather, it’s strange that they haven’t’ seen any yet.
Veena kept moving and sawing the trees, but she was now vigilant. But, for some reason, an attack never comes.
What could this mean…?
She asked Miss Gremlin about it when she passed by.
“Monsters can be cautious creatures as well. Monsters instinctively avoid the strong and prey on the weak, I doubt we’ll be attacked if you’re here.”
That’s really not helpful for someone who is a hunter by trade…
At that, Miss Gremlin laughed.
“You’re not wrong about that. Maybe you should give up this whole hunting business? Since you can use magic, I’m sure there are other things you can do.”
Other things, huh?
Veena ponders it as she still uses magic.
Even if she said that, what other choices does she have outside of being a hunter?
She can’t hold any public position. She’s still a fugitive, after all. There’s no way she could take a job that required giving a real identity.
So, maybe she should leave this country and find work elsewhere? That’s impossible as well. Since she’s the eldest daughter of the Lilyfall family travelling with the princess of the Lafalis Kingdom, she can’t discount the possibility that they could fall into the trap of some political chess game abroad.
In order to live a simple life with Yua peacefully, being a hunter with no family name is the only way.
“…It’s impossible. I thought about it, but no other option makes sense.”
Veena shrugged her shoulders and got back to work. After Gremlin left, she glanced at Sylph.
(Well, she said all that about me, but really it’s probably this one’s fault that all the monsters are staying away.)
Veena continued to work rather indifferently using her magic, and as the sun began to set she packed up and went home. She repeated that the next day, and the day after, and the day after that. She continued to feel those cautious presences in the mountains.
— The morning of her fifth day of work.
After being seen off by Yua, Veena met up with the other hunters at the usual meeting spot, greeted by everyone including Kenkar and Gremlin.
Veena replied with a “Good morning” and joined in the work at today’s spot.
Veena wore a black dress, about as unsuitable for working in the mountains as possible.
After seeing off Veena, Yua is busy herself.
After getting back inside, her first task is cleaning. Sweep the floors, check surfaces for dust, wipe the floors and windowsills with a damp rag (using magic when she’s too short to reach) and finally dry it off with a towel.
After that, it’s time for washing. Using a washing board and bucket, she does the laundry down by the river where she’s greeted by various housewives doing the same thing.
“My, if it isn’t Yua. Working hard today as well?”
She had become very well acquainted with a woman she always sees doing washing here, so Yua smiled and answered.
“Ah, good morning. Thanks for your hard work, everyone.”
As she did, she got a bunch of replies back.
“Hoho, be careful now, the water is really cold today!”
“Yua, I have some leftover food from yesterday, you can have some.”
“Oh, my husband caught a pretty good fish yesterday, but you can have it.”
“Ah, um… Thank you very much…”
Yua put the items she received inside of the magical space.
Even if everyone was surprised to see it at the beginning, they’ve gotten used to Yua’s magic.
She’ll use that fish for supper tonight.
As she thought about it, Yua started washing alongside the other women.
“…It really is freezing.”
The water gets very cold in winter. Even just touching it can chill you to the bone. The woman next to her replies with an ‘Isn’t it?’, then joins in the customary conversation with the other women; complaining about their husbands back home.
Things like “Even though I’m doing this every day, my husband is an ungrateful lout” or “I really wish that man would help out a little more around the house.”
Seems like everyone has complaints.
Their dissatisfaction must build up day after day.
And this is the place they can let it all out.
But, she has very little complaints about her current life with Veena, so she just smiles as she listens to the woman’s stories of lazy husbands.
However, she can’t say she’s completely satisfied.
There was one thing she isn’t happy about.
Even if she understands why they have to keep the cover story of being ‘sisters’, she’s still dissatisfied about actually being treated like one.
Well, I guess it’s only natural.
They haven’t spent enough time with each other yet. She wants to be together with her more.
That’s her only real complaint.
When she finished her laundry, Yua said her goodbyes to the gossiping women and went to hang the clothing to dry at home. She was still too embarrassed to hang out her undergarments to dry outside, so she hangs them indoors.
When she finished, she made a boxed lunch for Veena and herself. Veena said that it would be fine to just take it with her in the morning, but Yua wanted to make one for her fresh.
Well, that’s just an excuse to go see Veena, honestly. If she went up there without a good reason, it would seem strange. ‘If you want to see me just come and see me, you don’t need any excuse’… Is what Veena would say.
But, for Yua, she doesn’t want to interrupt her work. That’s why she always makes sure she has an excuse.
After making lunch, Yua baked some cookies and was reminded of the past. When she was young, the cookies she baked looked distorted and strange, but now they were beautifully uniform and finished with brilliantly colourful frosting.
(Yep, I really did learn how to do it.)
Yua packed the cookies and lunches together and put them into the magical space.
Everything is ready.
Now, all she has to do is go to Veena.
But just then, she heard two knocks on the door.
Who could it be…?
Yua looked puzzled. Once again, two knocks.
(Ha… I just want to go see Veena.)
As she sighed, she opened the door with a “Yes, who is it?”.
Yua’s eyes widened with shock.
Why are you here…?
She wanted to say those words, but she swallowed them down, wary of the enemy in front of her.
She doesn’t know why they’re here, so she has to stay as alert as possible.
Then, the person in front of her laughs.
“You’re going to hurt my feelings if you react that way to seeing your cherished childhood friend, Yua.”
Yua stepped back, and the woman with black hair and red eyes steps forward uninvited over the threshold.
Her height might be the same as Yua’s, but her atmosphere is completely different. She had a strange sex appeal about her.
Yua knows this girl.
As she had said, it is her childhood friend.
“Why are you here, Leena…?”