Chapter 2 — Coming of age, a ceremony needed for emancipation. Part 9
It never crossed my mind that there could be someone who could so nonchalantly call out to a pair like us. A girl in a sailor uniform being accompanied by an enormous white wolf.
Ignoring his getup and his attitude, there was either something very weird going on in his head, or he just had a lot of courage.t Nonetheless, he was a truly bizarre character.
If at that very moment, someone had told me that he was a traveler coming from an entirely different world, I would have been convinced–––and I had a hunch that it wasn’t too far away from the truth.
Both of us stood still and I only turned my head to look at him, saying in a fairly loud voice as I held my hair back:
“I don’t have any money.”
“Ah, it’ll be my treat. A special service to celebrate the opening.”
His sunglasses glistened as they reflected the setting sun.
It seemed that he was one step ahead of us.
Not only had he utilized the fact that I had no money, but also implied that he wanted something other than money from me.
Reluctantly, we walked over to the stand.
I had been unable to read the handwriting on the sign earlier, but it was still illegible even from up close.
‘Tea Shop’ was written vertically, and beside it… a symbol that resembled a megaphone was there.
“It’s an elder rune known as Peorð1.”
‘Tea Shop Peorth’, it felt like a rather decent name in all honesty.
“I see,” I said as I sat at the counter. Shiro hopped onto the seat beside mine.
The bandana guy didn’t seem to be bothered by it at all as he swiftly served us two cups of black tea.
Warm steam and the gentle scent of tea rose in puffs, as it mixed with the cold wind scattering away.
I held my cup with both hands, wrapping my fingers around it I lifted it up. It’s warmth passed through the ceramic, slowly seeping into my fingers, and without realizing, I had already let out a relieved sigh.
On the surface of the dark orange pool of water, my habitually cold and deadpan face was reflected.
I pursed my lips, then lightly blew out, causing small ripples to extend across the surface of the tea as my image vanished.
“Still, that’s a friggin’ large wolf you’ve got there. Is he perhaps your boyfriend?”
…A friggin’ large wolf, huh.
“He’s my husband.”
“Hmm, that makes sense.” He immediately appeared convinced. “He looks like a wolf that really suits you girlie—he reminds me of a red wolf that I always saw over in that northern country.”
“A red wolf?”
“He was quite an interesting dude, but also rather violent. He almost chomped me to death that other time. I heard he was around here so I came to find him, but I can’t find him no matter where I look.”
“I see,” I replied monotonously as I took a sip of tea.
It tasted so good, it surprised me.
I could drink it even without adding milk or sugar. Or rather, it was such an exquisite flavor that I wouldn’t dare to add anything to it. It had a very sweet fragrance, and a warmth that permeated my entire body.
At first, I thought it would be a rather low quality product, judging from the person who prepared it, but in this, I was really surprised.
It probably even showed on my face.
“It’s tasty, right? Being able to make that is probably the only thing I can really boast about.”
It was hard to make out with his sunglasses on, but I could clearly imagine his entire face smiling brightly.
“It is tasty,” I reluctantly muttered as I pushed my hair back.
He loudly clapped once, delighted.
“Now, now, there’s nothing that brings more joy to this ol’ man than a gloomy beautiful girl like you missy, complimenting me.”
“My name is Saki,” I cut him off.
“I see, I see, that was rude of me, I’m–––”
“I don’t need to know that, I’m not interested.”
A loud sigh came from him, then he spread his arms and looked towards the heavens.
“You might be beautiful, but you really have such a bad personality.”
“I get that a lot, though only the last part.”
He sighed again, then shook his head as if to recover his mood. After that, he pointed at me.
“By the way, would you like to try working part time here?”
I slowly swiveled around to look at the surroundings.
Apart from me and him, there was no person in sight, child or grown, nor were there any cats or birds. I couldn’t even spot a single bug.
1. Peorð (ᛈ). Known as the rune of fate. The Anglo-saxon rune poem also describes it as “Peorð is a source of recreation and amusement to the great, where warriors sit blithely together in the beerhall.” Return to the text.