It was Gaoshun’s son, Basen, who knocked on the doors of the pharmacy while carrying several volumes of illustrated books.
Maomao presented a tattered zabuton to the young man who was displeased as usual, and served him tea.
“Jinshi-sama is busy.”
Seems like, Basen wanted to say that Jinshi had no free time to come here, in other words.
Still using the eunuch name Jinshi, meant it was an alias, but above all, would also have to be that he cannot mention his real name. His blue-blooded name cannot be lightly spoken of before the townspeople.
The eyes of the courtesans of Rokushoukan were sparkling towards the guest who was different to the usual handsome man and his attendant. The madam especially – Maomao could understand that the crone was flipping the abacus in her head while acting nonchalant.
Unlike the time with Jinshi, the door of the pharmacy remained open, so it was clear what was happening inside.
“It’s the things you mentioned.”
Basen took out the thick books from the cloth bundle. Out came the illustrated books she recognised.
She picked out the insect illustrated book from among the array of bird, fish, insects, and plants.
What Maomao was fundamentally interested in were the ingredients for natural remedies. Though she had read the plant illustrated book like she could taste it, she only flipped through the insect book.
However, Sazen said that the court physician had researched locusts. It should be there.
However, she couldn’t find it. No matter how many times she read over it, she couldn’t find it. In the end, even Basen started to flip through it.
“…is it not there?”
“It’s not there.”
“Didn’t you say it had it?”
Even if she said so, there’s nothing if there’s nothing.
How could this be? Could she have been deceived by Sazen?
No, there is no merit for that man to do such a thing.
“Did somebody take it while this was in storage?”
“Who would be interested in this kind of thing?”
“The people who like it like it.”
However, that would also be hard to think of. If they were to specifically go steal from that place, there should be expensive things that would be more understandable.
She groaned, then noticed a shadow coming towards the pharmacy.
From the willowy sashaying despite her voluptuous body, it was Pairin-neechan.
Maomao contorted her face. She could see the madam at the back was making no move of stopping Pairin. It seems they are finally done with the appraisal of Basen.
Pairin-neechan is a very pleasant courtesan. She is the oldest courtesan in the Rokushoukan, but her beauty, still fascinating to many gentlemen, has yet to wane. The mongrel, the military officer Rihaku, is a good example.
She is also known as the best dancer in the capital.
She is kind to young courtesans and kamuro, a good elder sister, but…
That courtesan also has a flaw.
Pairin, who appeared relaxedly, stood behind Basen. And then, her neat, beautiful fingers slid across Basen’s cheeks.
Basen shivered and spontaneously, while sitting, flew up. He might not know, but he gave her something useful, to hop while sitting.
“Ah, I’m sorry. There was dust on your shoulders.”
It’s a lie, definitely a lie.
Was there a need for her to touch his cheeks?
From her sashaying movements, her femininity drifted about.
Her eyes were smiling gracefully, but Maomao was reminded of the eyes of a hunting carnivore.
Her older sister had been grinding tea for the last few couple of days – in other words, she had no guests. It wasn’t that she couldn’t sell, rather it was shameful to have a high-class courtesan take guests every day.
In other words, how should she say it?
This courtesan seems to be dissatisfied about that.
It meant she was frustrated.
“Wh-what? Just what!?”
“Oh my, it hasn’t come off yet. Come on, I’ll take it off for you, so stay still.”
Inside the cramped pharmacy, Basen shrank back, and Pairin chased.
So things wouldn’t get knocked over, Maomao put the mortar and grinder onto the shelf before Basen came over. She propped the teacups and tea snacks onto the tray and carried it.
(You can have a free service for the first time.)
No, he didn’t have that composure. She didn’t know if Basen’s face was red or green. It’ll be amusing if Rihaku came in right now, Maomao put on her shoes and ate the tea snacks she was protecting. It was just like the madam to give out confectionary that was of a much lower grade than when Jinshi came. Even so, it was superior enough. The senbei with a faint aroma of shrimp was to Maomao’s liking.
(Oh my, it’s the first picking of the season.)
She somehow inferred that, but she was confident. While thinking so that’s how it is, she leaned against the wall, grabbed another senbei and washed it down with tea.
The kamuro were looking at her enviously, but there was no way they could do it before the madam. It can’t be helped, she stopped taking another one and decided to leave it.
“Ahhh! Whatever, I’m leaving. I’ve already passed over what I am supposed to pass over.”
As he tugged away his loosened sash, Basen left the pharmacy.
Pairin sat down reluctantly.
“Even though he was the long-awaited first picking…”
It seems he really was the first picking.
If it wasn’t for this side of her, she would really be a good elder sister. It feels that she is getting worse year by the year.
“Even though it’ll be paradise if he falls into it once, right?”
The madam also said regretfully.
(No, wouldn’t that be no good?)
Rihaku needs to save up his coins quickly and redeem her, Maomao thought.
Sazen was sweeping outside.
While he was unsatisfactory to work as a manservant as he still didn’t have enough strength, he was made to do work that wasn’t different to the kamuro. That was the way the head manservant, Ukyou, did things. Were he be satisfied with this, he won’t be useful as a manservant and will eventually be dismissed. Those who are indignant with this and try to learn other jobs are properly favoured.
Seeing how Sazen was humming as he held the broom, no matter how you see it, he could only be on the dismissed side.
Sazen, who changed out of his filthy appearance and shaved his beard, looked many years younger.
“The books have been delivered.”
Saying so, Maomao showed him the books that Basen had brought over just then. With a thud, Maomao set down the books that were wrapped in a cloth bundle.
“It is different to what you said.”
There were fourteen volumes in total, counting in the ones that Sazen had possessed. However, they didn’t have notes on locusts. Maomao was pretty sure that when she was in that research room, there were fourteen volumes, so the numbers shouldn’t be off.
“No, that shouldn’t be.”
Sazen stripped of the cloth wrapping and checked the contents.
He squinted, and stared.
“Oi, that ain’t all of it.”
“That’s all there was in that room.”
Maomao had also counted. She couldn’t be wrong.
“No, this book.”
Sazen took the insect book. The insect illustrated book had two volumes; none of them had notes on locusts. They were labelled with numbers: “One” and “Two”.
“The insect illustrated book should have three volumes.”
“…what the heck.”
If it’s like so, then it wasn’t in the room from the start. At least, in the time point Maomao came, someone had already taken it out.
“Uwahh, who is it? To have taken that kind of thing away.”
“Wouldn’t that be you?”
“No, it’s not that. When the elderly man was around, it was surely there.”
The elderly man would have to be the court physician who got banished from the inner palace. If she remembered correctly, she heard that he had researched immortality.
“Could it have been in the elderly man’s coffin”
“Why would you do such a thing?”
“It’s a custom in my hometown.”
No, she wasn’t interested in Sazen’s hometown.
However, she was interested in the elderly man that Sazen mentioned.
“Speaking of which, how did he die?”
Could it be old age? He’ll be around the same age as her dad if he’s alive, so it won’t be particularly strange.
“About that. It looks like his experiment failed.”
“If you make something like the elixir of life, you will need to experiment, right?”
Maomao had a mysterious thought.
The resurrection drug that had been used on the children with Chou’u included, about that.
Chou’u still had numbness in his body, but the medicine that revived you after your dying once, naturally, would rarely go well. There is no other way to than to increase the success rate by repeating the experiment countless times, Maomao thought.
Then, how did he test out that experiment?
Animals? Or, he would have to test it out on similar humans, right?
“Oi, what is it? Uugh!”
Sazen’s face stiffened. She wondered why, but she soon understood.
The corners of her mouth had quirked up more greatly than usual.
She was grinning.
“Hey, who dealt with his body?”
“I don’t know. Most of that was done by that person.”
Sazen scratched his head roughly.
“You’ll know if I say Suirei-san. She was the elderly man’s assistant.”
Maomao inadvertently slapped Sazen’s back with all her strength.
“Oww! What was that for?”
“I got it. Don’t shirk on sweeping.”
Maomao rewrapped the books into the cloth bundle, and quickly returned to the pharmacy to prepare a letter.
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.