The things that suddenly come up are really the most annoying thing in the world.
(Stop bothering me with more annoyances already.)
Maomao, with no cause to rebuff, squinted at that personage.
The gentle mild-mannered man in his thirties didn’t have his usual air of calmness. He was out of breath.
His clothes were stained with mud, ripped in various places, and soaked in blood.
His horse collapsed from fatigue.
There was nothing short of abnormal to see the man who is the adjutant of this country’s tactician like this. As if he had rushed here in a great haste, he was being tailed by guards from the south gate. He must have cut through them since he had been making a beeline towards Rokushoukan.
“What’s happening?” Maomao only came out because of the commotion outside. However, she was the only person in the pleasure district who has a connection with this man. In other words, it seems he was here for her.
The feebly breathing mild-mannered man, Rikuson, smiled in relief for an instant and took out a letter from his breast pocket.
And then, just like that, he lost consciousness.
Maomao accepted his letter, squinting.
“What’s up?” The madam came up to her with a grimace while gnawing on a toothpick as if she had just eaten.
Maomao made the same expression as the crone. “Hey, those officials, can you drive them all away?”
“Depends on the money.”
“This big bro, isn’t he carrying money?” Maomao said irresponsibly.
With that, the crone appraised Rikuson. She determined that his clothes were first class despite being slightly dirty, then checked his face and fingertips. Her head was a little tilted but she seemed to accept him after a short observation and went off to persuade the officials.
“Something troublesome again, huh.”
Ukyou came to talk to Maomao when she tried to carry the unconscious Rikuson under her arms. He took over and carried Rikuson off to the pharmacy for her.
After Ukyou put him on the floor, Maomao stripped Rikuson of his clothes. When she had taken off his upper garments and was about to untie his sash, Ukyou came to stop her.
“Maomao. It’ll be pitiful for him if you take off his bottoms so give him a break,” he said.
“Don’t you need to check since he’s fainted? Even if he doesn’t have any cuts, he might have bruising.”
From what she could see, Rikuson’s injuries were arrow wounds. They were all scrapes, no deep punctures. There was no discolouration on his skin – she thought that the possibility of poisoning was low, but she couldn’t just leave him like this.
In response to Maomao who was treating Rikuson’s injuries indifferently, Ukyou clutched his forehead. “I get it. I get it, so I’ll check the bottom half. I’ll be quickly done so go outside.”
“What young lady is he?”
Will he bite off his tongue if people saw his skin?
“Isn’t this guy Fox-dono’s subordinate? I know already. Wouldn’t it be pitiful for this guy if he gets bullied afterwards in the distant future? Besides, isn’t it better if you check out that letter properly?” Ukyou said.
Maomao helplessly went out of the pharmacy with the letter she got from Rikuson.
She sat on the seat where Rihaku and the kamuro usually drink tea and stared at the contents of the letter.
Yet more troublesome matters were written on it.
Why did Rikuson the military official show up at the pleasure district covered in wounds? There are much more reliable people elsewhere.
The reasoning for that was written on the easily understandable letter.
Rikuson’s reaching here was suspicious. And even if he got here, he wouldn’t be able to explain the situation immediately so this letter would have to have been prepared in advance.
And she could plainly see that Rahan was the writer of this letter. Seems that guy is calculative.
The shape of the characters also looked like they had ideal numbers – that abacus flipping man has good writing. Though his handwriting was good, there was nothing self-identifying to it so the rows of neat model writing became characteristic on its own.
Rikuson and Rahan, and with that, another person – a certain personage who makes Maomao blatantly contort her face whenever he comes to her mind.
Let’s summarise the contents of the letter.
Rikuson, Rahan, and one other person – the monocle-wearing old man – had set out for a certain estate. And then they were attacked by the owners of the house and captured. Only Rikuson was somehow able to break out and went to call for help, but…
The problem was the landowners.
For Rahan, his parent and grandfather. For the old man, his younger brother and father.
In other words, the adversaries were the previous clan heads who got expelled from the Ra Clan.
It was no wonder he purposely came to the pleasure district without notifying the imperial court.
It was a dual-hour after his injuries got treated when Rikuson woke up.
It was too cramped to sleep inside the pharmacy, so they lent him a vacant room in Rokushoukan. The room fee would be collected later.
“I’ll immediately chase you out if the talks sound unmanageable.”
The crone who said that had Ukyou stand guard. Then she went out.
When Maomao thought that Rikuson had opened his eyes, he sat up with gusto. As if he was affected by his arrow wounds, he knit his brows and pat his bandaged arms.
Maomao presented him some cooled water. Rikuson, with movements that were unexpected for the usually mild-mannered man, took the water and poured it down at a breath.
Maomao opened her mouth after a pause. “I read the letter.”
Rikuson lowered his face at her words. He squeezed his fists. “…my sincere apologies. I am worthless.”
No, it’s the idiots who had set out willy-nilly without escorts earlier who are at fault.
“Before that, what do you want to do? That is currently more important.”
It must be due to the family quarrel that he showed up at Rokushoukan. It was widely known in the imperial court that you honestly don’t want to have that clan as an enemy. At the same time, you feel that you won’t want to have them as allies either.
And so, even if he were to openly seek for help, he wouldn’t know if there would be people who will lend a hand – on the contrary, there’s no doubt that there would be more people who will see this as a blessing.
They were a clan with no benevolence at all.
No, all that benevolence got absorbed by her adoptive father, Ruomen. It might be more correct to say that there was nothing left over for the rest. Ruomen’s benevolence seemed to be a counterbalance for those people’s misfortunate disposition.
Since Ruomen lives in the medical office of the imperial court, Rikuson had to have come to Maomao by process of elimination, but they’re calling at the wrong house.
Rikuson coming here to seek help like so as a subordinate, was far from worthless, rather, it was far too much, Maomao thought. If she was him, she would abandon them, and watch from a distance with an air of flawless indifference and not get involved.
“You say that those two are confined, but I can’t do anything. Just what is up?” Maomao asked.
The letter didn’t say that much.
After Rahan’s grandfather and father were driven out by the current family head, they left the capital and quietly moved to an estate in the countryside. Of course, they had deserved a lifestyle of such an extent, but it seems it was unthinkable that such an action would come out of it.
While she said that she could do nothing, she developed an interest in how things turned out this way. She watched Rikuson intently, listening carefully.
Ukyou was leaning on the wall next door. The head manservant who takes excessive care would commonly stand guard like this whenever he tries to stick his head into Maomao’s troublesome matters.
Rikuson didn’t look like he wanted to speak indiscreetly with Ukyou before them, but he opened his mouth in resignation when he saw that the head manservant wasn’t going to budge.
“…there were talks of meeting from them before.”
Rahan’s grandfather had requested to meet their estranged relatives after ten odd years. The subject was to forgive and forget about everything that had happened up until now and be on cordial terms.
That was obviously a pretence. She didn’t think that those relatives of hers would be that much of a fool.
“Since, for Rahan-dono, they are his parents.”
Does that abacus bastard even have feelings for his family? Maomao tilted her head, but when she tried to think deeply about it, he had been separated from his parents at a young age and forced to become an adopted child. If you think about it normally, Rahan should be hating that monocle tactician instead.
She ended up forgetting about it since she got completely used to seeing it as normal.
At least, if he has feelings left for his parents, Rahan might suggest hearing their story.
And so it was said that the two careless glasses-wearers only had this mild-mannered man when they thought about who to bring along as an attendant.
“…aren’t you working on your holidays? It’s fine to refuse, you know?”
“It’ll be troublesome if I refuse as is. Before I realised, everyone else had already hurried out of the room. I had thought about getting different escorts, but there was that gentleman’s personality to consider.”
And that was why this poor man who got the short end of the stick was covered in wounds.
It’s obviously better to bring escorts if you think a bit more, Maomao thought. Considering their social statuses, it wouldn’t be weird for them to get assassinated one day.
However, what would come out of it if the landowners captured the two glasses-wearers? What would happen if they returned to being the family head? That weirdo monocle seems to be a prominent high official within the military circles; it’s not like he got into that position together with the family headship just like that. Even in the worst case where they take over, the military circle was made into a type of ecosystem with the monocle’s ability. Everyone around them would only take it as a blessing and would come to crush the Ra Clan.
To not understand that much – could Rahan’s grandfather and father be idiots?
“Oi oi, don’t forget the important stuff.”
The one who spoke at that part was Ukyou, the outsider.
“Forget what, you say?”
When Maomao tilted her head, Ukyou sighed in amazement. “They can just make allies. A big connection.”
Rikuson opened his mouth for the wordless Maomao. “The other party wants to adopt you as a daughter. It looks like they want to forge a connection with the imperial brother.”
It seems they caught wind of what Jinshi did from somewhere.
Maomao scowled with all her might. “Oi, stop that,” Ukyou slapped her brow.
“Counting on that, is good thinking on the fox’s over-optimistic calculation.”
“There’s that too, but in this world, people who are driven to the wall will do anything.”
There are people like that. They exist, but others don’t want these people to spring up.
“For the most part, isn’t it bad to not even bring escorts along?” Maomao asked.
“I have nothing to say about that. But, even if we did bring some along, I don’t know if we can deal with them all properly,” Rikuson answered.
“Don’t speak with hidden implications, I’ll be happy if you speak without beating around the bush.” Ukyou spoke for Maomao.
“For some reason, we were surrounded by followers who were beyond their position. Even if we employed mercenaries, I don’t even think we have that much extra money on hand,” Rikuson said.
And, amid that, there was also a little problem on why was it only this mild-mannered man who escaped successfully.
Rather, she also considered that he could have been purposely made to escape. Couldn’t their fired arrows be a way to purposely spur him outside?
And so, if he was set free with the assumption that he would rush to Maomao’s place like so…
Maomao glanced out the window.
More people walk around at night in the pleasure district. It wouldn’t be strange to have dubious shadows there.
As Maomao scratched the back of her head, she stuck her head out of the room.
“Oiii, Chou’u,” Maomao called out to the muddy children who had returned.
“What—?” Chou’u was carrying a fishing rod and an old bucket. There were crayfish crawling inside. Looks like that’s what they will be eating today.
“Stay here today. Meimei-neechan is grinding tea today, so she’ll let you sleep in her room,” she said.
“What? So sudden.”
“I have to boil medicine in the middle of the night. Can you sleep properly with the bitter stench of broth?”
When Chou’u heard that, he seemed to understand.
“Oh my—. I’m also on break today.” Pairin, who had been nearby, came closer and hugged Chou’u. As usual, her voluptuous body was peeking out from her dress.
“Pairin-neechan is no good. It’s still too early to eat him,” Maomao said.
Chou’u still doesn’t know much. As if she had noticed that Pairin was sticking onto him, Zuurin came up unaware and went to tug at Pairin’s sleeves in a bid to free him. It seems this one understands the meaning of “edible”.
“Hey, what’s eat?”
“Go roll around at Meimei-neechan’s place for now.”
“Heyy—, what about meeee?”
Maomao ignored Pairin-neechan and sneaked a glance at Ukyou. He nodded.
It was helpful that he has good judgement.
That night, thugs entered the dilapidated shack in the pleasure district.
Maomao quietly submitted and was simply taken away.