In the late afternoon, I went to cancel my entry in the Senbatsu Tournament.
“Thank you for your time.”
After offering the perfunctory word of thanks, I am now leaving the Student Affairs Office.
“So, how’d it go?”
Hyoro and Jaga, who were waiting outside, gather to me.
“Apparently the tournament pairings have already been decided, so they couldn’t do it.”
I sigh heavily.
“Well, cheer up. Just think of how popular you could get if you do well!”
“That’s right. ‘Troubles are just opportunities in disguise.’ That’s what they say, right?”
I shake my head.
“It’s not about winning or losing. I simply don’t want to enter at all.”
“Haah, there’s no helping it then. I’ll introduce you to a good shop, how about that?”
“G-, good shop?”
Jaga reacts with wide eyes.
“Not THAT kind of shop! It’s that store that everybody’s talking about nowadays, Mitsugoshi Co. I hear that they sell amazing products that nobody’s ever seen before. For example, there’s a confectionery called ‘chocolate’ that’s supposedly sweet and tastes absolutely delicious.”
(T/N: Mitsu’go’shi lol)
“A sweet confectionery? Sounds good……”
“Stu~pid. What’s the point if you eat it yourself?”
Hyoro smacks Jaga’s head.
“You’re supposed to give it to a girl as a present. Let me teach you something good. As long as you give girls something sweet, they fall right into your hands.”
“I, I see. As expected of Hyoro-kun! I’ve learned something new today.”
“I know, right?”
So says Hyoro proudly.
“So with that, let’s go, Sid!”
“Let’s go, Sid-kun.”
Both of their eyes are glittering.
“Fine, let’s go.”
With a sigh, I agree to go along.
I wonder what this world’s so-called ‘chocolate’ is like?
Led by Hyoro, we proceed down the royal capital’s main avenue. In the early evening, the crowds are huge, and all the stores in prime locations are filled to bursting. The one with the most bustle out of even all of them turns out to be the rumored Mitsugoshi Co.
“Uwaaahh, how impressive.”
A gorgeous, brand-new building that towers over all its neighbors. Furthermore, it seems very tasteful – even a bit modern, perhaps. How do I put this, this is a place that makes me feel every bit as out of place as I did in those brand name stores back in my previous life.
And the line at the entrance. Every single person lining up is either a noble or someone clearly connected to a noble. A single look is all that’s needed to see that they are high class customers. At the end of the line, there is a lady in a uniform holding a placard. According to that, it seems that we’ll have to wait 80 minutes.
“It says that we’ll have to wait 80 minutes.”
That was me.
“Which means we have exactly enough time to get back to the dorms before curfew.”
That was Jaga.
“We’ve already gotten here. Let’s just line up.”
And that was Hyoro.
“But there’s a rumor that lately there’s a slasher around. Going back too late……”
“Stupid, we are three magic swordsmen together. Even if he attacks us, we’ll beat him at his own game.”
Hyoro pats the sword on his hip with a ‘pon pon.’
“I, I suppose.”
“Hey, what’s this about a slasher?”
I interrupt their exchange to ask.
“Apparently, there’s someone going around the royal capital at night and killing random people. He’s supposedly quite skilled, and there’ve even been knights who fell victim……”
So explains Jaga in a softer voice.
“Heeh, that sounds scary. Guess I won’t be going out during the night anytime soon, then.”
A slasher incident?! That sounds fun as heck! I definitely must take part.
“Ooii, let’s line up already. Else we’ll miss our curfew.”
Hurried by Hyoro, all three of us join the end of the line.
“H-, hey, l-, lady. You’re p-, pretty. W-, w-, what’s your h-, hobby?”
Hyoro immediately tries to talk up the lady holding the placard, but his advance is effortlessly handled by a business smile clearly polished over a hundred battlefields.
But then for some reason, the lady gives me an actual smile.
“Dear customer, would you be willing to lend us a bit of your time?”
With dark brown hair and eyes of the same color, she is a beauty with a calm vibe and an elegant face.
She is wearing a simple deep blue mini-one piece adorned with the company’s logo. It somehow makes me think of the cabin attendants of my previous life.
I ask while pointing at myself.
“Yes. It’ll only take a short while, we only need you to help fill out a questionnaire.”
‘Questionnaire’? I think this is the first time I’ve even heard of this concept in this world.
“I don’t mind, but……”
“Thank you very much.”
“I, I, I’ll also help!”
“M-, me too!”
Hyoro and Jaga, appealing with all their might.
“Only 1 person is needed.”
The lady links her arms with mine, then walks me to the head of the line and straight into the store.
When I take one last glance behind, I see Hyoro and Jaga staring at me with pure despair on their faces.
Following behind the lady, I enter the extremely well-decorated store.
The showiness is toned down on the more obvious spots, while careful attention has been paid to even the smallest corner. Overall it generates a calm and sublime feeling. Even I, as a complete amateur in such matters, can see that it’s been done with incredible taste. And as I’d expected from the outside, the style of the interior is indeed a bit modern.
I am guided straight through the sales floor to the backdoor for employees, but the products that I caught glimpses of were…… oh, man.
The popular chocolate is a given, but there is also coffee and cosmetics and soap and a variety of things that I’d never seen before in this world. There are also clothes and accessories and shoes and even underwear with tasteful designs that look both novel and beautiful. It’s basically a complete lineup of everything that even I can tell would sell like crazy in this world.
Whichever way I think about it, this is…… oh, man.
In the very near future, this company will become a hegemony. This I can guarantee.
Passing through the door for employees, we proceed down a hallway; up an amazing staircase like the one in that movie about a lavishly decorated passenger liner; down a wide, well-lit hallway with a red carpet running down it; before finally coming to a gigantic door with refined engravings all over it and polished to the point of glowing.
There are two beautiful ladies standing in front of that door. The two of them give me a bow, then slowly open the door.
Beyond is an enormous space.
There are rows of pillars like in those Greek temples, and the marble floor is absolutely sparkling.
And on either side of the red carpet that continues into the depths of the room stand two rows of more beautiful women.
The moment I step into the room, all of them kneel simultaneously.
“Umm, the questionnaire……?”
At the far end of the room, there is a huge chair.
The chair almost looks like a piece of art, what with the highly detailed engravings all over it, as well as being lit up in a madder red color from the twilight sunlight shining through a skylight.
It is currently unoccupied.
But next to that chair, there is a beautiful elf with blue hair. With a style like a model’s, and wearing a voluptuous black dress, she is giving off a polished and refined air.
I know that face.
“Apologies for the very long wait, my lord.”
She kneels as if she is an actress.
After Alpha and Beta, Gamma was my third practice partner.
With her wise-looking face and intelligent blue eyes, anyone can tell with a single glance that this girl definitely has a sharp mind. And she is none other than the brains behind Shadow Garden.