“See ya. Thank you very much.”
“Yeah. You guys may be having it rough, but hang on, okay?!”
It seems like the innkeeper is misunderstanding here. He pushed our backs with warm words and we left the inn.
Even if we call it lodging, it was a horse shed.
It is not like there’s a key or we have them safekeep our items, so it is not like there’s any obligation to do the checkout procedure, but I decided to at least say farewell to the innkeeper.
The innkeeper spoke normally, so the Hisame event should have disappeared, but it is hard to say for sure when it was just a short conversation.
Since I have the chance here, I decided to confirm with the number one blabbermouth of this city.
That person is obviously…
“Oba-chan, two apples!” (Souma)
“Right on. 100E! Hm? And here I was wondering who you were. You are the one from yesterday…”
The information network of the city, the greengrocer Oba-chan.
“Yes, sorry for bothering you before.” (Souma)
Saying this, I received 2 apples and gave one to Ringo.
They are both called Ringo which makes it confusing.
Ringo received it and looked at it with passion, and I once again faced Oba-chan.
For now, it doesn’t seem like she is going to be talking about the house of Hisame.
However, I can’t say it is completely in the clear, and since I am here, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to gather information.
I once again talked to Oba-chan.
“By the way, have you heard new rumors about the princess?” (Souma)
Oba-chan makes a wry smile at my words.
“What are you saying? There’s no way a new rumor would be going around from one day to another.
…Is what I want to say, but…”
“There’s something?” (Souma)
After what I said, Oba-chan did a pointless ‘this is just between us, okay?’ and spoke to me in a lowered tone.
“The princess has been a bit of a truant lately. There’s been talk about how she is giving trouble to the people of the castle.”
“Ahaha, I see.” (Souma)
We are talking about Maki here who, despite being a weak 7 years old, has seized the path of a troublemaker, wrote Maki Mikami in crayons at the walls of the neighborhood, and was thoroughly scolded by her parents.
If she really switched places with the princess, there’s no way she would be staying still.
By the way, writing Mikami was apparently a spelling mistake, and her parents and I have been teasing her forever about this, but considering her age at that time, her writing in kanji could actually be considered intelligent.
Despite her being like that, she was strangely good in her studies.
Anyways, with this, the chances of the princess being Maki are now higher.
(Are you…really here in this world…?) (Souma)
I direct my gaze at the castle.
If I remember correctly, Princess Shermia should have a room for herself at the Rihito Castle in the center of the capital, at the higher floor of the west tower.
Living at the highest floor must be a royal pain in the ass, but well, to be blunt here, that’s plainly for event scenario convenience.
(There’s no way her of all people would stay put at a place like that.) (Souma)
If only I could get in contact with Maki in some way.
While I was thinking that, I noticed that there was a simpler method to know if the princess really is Maki.
I brace myself and ask.
“B-By the way, what kind of person is Princess Maki? Now that I think about it, I haven’t asked about her appearance after all.” (Souma)
Oba-chan made a baffled expression at my belated question in every sense of the word as she answered.
“You really don’t know anything about the princess. Maki-sama is a small and cute black haired girl.”
Cute and has black hair. It does match Maki.
But even Hisame matches the description of black hair, and just from her being small doesn’t exactly set anything in stone.
“Is there anything else?” (Souma)
When I asked further, Oba-chan thought for a bit.
“Hmm, right. When speaking of other traits… Ah! How could I have forgotten such a defining trait?”
“A defining trait?” (Souma)
Did she have a trait that stood out that much?
I think back on it and Oba-chan moved her face even closer. She whispered to me as if she were talking about an incredible secret here.
“I said the hair of the Princess-sama is black, but you know, the surprising thing is that that black hair…”
Oba-chan cut off her words there as if teasing me, and then said all dramatically.
“Has really beautiful split hair!!”
“…Excuse me?” (Souma)
Did I hear wrong?
I think I heard an incredibly rude comment there.
“Uhm, what did you say just now?” (Souma)
“Split hair, split hair! The Princess-sama has split hair!”
Oba-chan looks at me as if saying ‘incredible, right?’.
I don’t get it at all.
“Ah, you don’t know what split hair is? Split hair is like a hair that is split out like a tree branch—”
“No, I know that! Anyone has split hair—” (Souma)
I noticed it after saying it out loud.
Now that she mentions it, there were white hair or bald characters in the game, but I feel like they didn’t go as far as recreating split hairs.
If that’s being taken as a peculiar trait, then that means there’s the chance the people in this world don’t have split hairs.
On the other hand, if it is exactly like the game, my appearance should have been scanned with an exclusive machine to replicate it faithfully.
I didn’t take care of my hair at all, so it wouldn’t be strange for me to have split hairs that are not present in this world.
And if split hairs are that rare of a thing, there’s the chance they treasure it like a four-leaf clover.
Could it be that’s why Ringo was strangely interested in my split hairs?) (Souma)
No, we are talking about Ringo here, so it was possible she might simply like split hairs, but if it is true that split hairs are rare in this world, the chances of the princess being Maki are even higher now.
I was excited by the unexpected clue, but this is actually not the time for that.
Danger really was coming at me from unexpected places.
The fear that assaulted me was…
“Oh my! Now that I look closely, you also have split hairs! Heeh, that’s rare. Show me for a bit.”
It was in the form of a huge woman.
“Eh? W-Wait…” (Souma)
The greengrocer Oba-chan was looking intently somewhere around my eyes.
Speaking of which, Hisame approached me in a similar fashion, but when this old lady does it, the intensity is on another level.
“What are you getting all embarrassed about? It is alright, it is alright. I am not going to eat you or anything.”
Oba-chan approaches me while shaking her big body and saying this.
Her mouth was curled up in a grin.
Those glaring eyes like that of a bird of prey at ready.
Contrary to her words…
(I-I am going to be eaten…!) (Souma)
I felt a threat to my body.
A white something moved in between me and Oba-chan as if to block her way.
And then, a voice that barely has any intonation reached our ears.
“No… That’s…mine.” (Ringo)
Ringo stretched out her arm as if covering the gaze of the old lady.
“Speaking of which, you were also there before…”
Oba-chan was caught off-guard by the sudden intrusion of Ringo, and her attention was diverted from me.
I hurriedly took distance from Oba-chan.
“T-Thank you for everything. We will be going now!” (Souma)
I pulled the stretched out hand of Ringo and left the greengrocer with hasty steps.
Once I couldn’t see the old lady after turning at a corner, I finally sigh in relief.
“Sorry about that, Ringo. You honestly saved me there.” (Souma)
When I thanked her, Ringo shook her head.
“…It is important…after all.” (Ringo)
“I-I see.” (Souma)
No matter how rare it may be, I feel like the only one who finds so much worth in split hairs is Ringo.
Split hair is simply wounded hair to begin with.
I will at least point it out to her.
“But this is my hair, I’ll have you know.” (Souma)
“I know.” (Ringo)
She answered immediately as if there wasn’t even the need to think about it.
I wasn’t sure there, but it seems like she really did come in just because I was troubled there.
Ringo really is way too much of a good girl; so good that it is wasted for her to be following me.
“Ah, right.” (Souma)
I still haven’t given Ringo the money. In the first place, I still haven’t readied a crystal for her to put in the money and an adventurer bag.
She helped me out a lot in the Golden Subjugation Contest, so how about I give her those quality of life things as presents at the Item Shop?
“I want to go to the Item Shop next. Is that okay with you?” (Souma)
When I asked this, Ringo nodded silently.
I pumped my fist internally at that response.
If I prepare the crystal and bag, I will be able to return my favor to Ringo a little bit, and there’s also one thing I want to try out now that I have leeway in money.
I have been thinking about it the whole time.
At the times when I dive deep into a dungeon, there would be many times when I would think stuff like: ‘if only I bought antidotes’, ‘aah, if only I hadn’t been stingy and bought those medicinal herbs’, ‘if only I had bought a rope to get out of this hole’; there would be a lot of things I would regret about.
But most of them would be after the fact.
By the time I regret it, the items would be unreachable.
That’s why it would be nice if there were a skill or tool that allows you to buy stuff at a store no matter the place, but games with that are far and few in between.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t exist in Nekomimi Neko either.
But this is what I think.
Maybe there’s actually a more simple method. Even if it won’t be exactly the same, it might be possible to do something similar…
In other words…
“Excuse me! Give me everything in the store!!” (Souma)
At this moment, we began our shopping that forgoes any self-restraint.