Familiarity was troubling. To speak of how troubling it was, she had lost her sense of danger.
Maomao was sipping tea while she sat sandwiched between thugs. They were her abductors. The interior of the rattling horse-drawn carriage was cleaner than expected.
“Do you have anything savoury?” she asked.
Just then she said that she wanted to drink tea, now she desired something savoury. As a result, everyone around her looked at her in amazement.
A thug spoke. “Oi, btch, do you understand your position?”
Maomao nodded as she ate the jerky he handed her. “I’m acting like this because I understand that. Your general attitudes towards a guest would be more problematic, is it not?”
She had assumed a polite tone of voice because she thought that it would work out better for her. Certainly, they were a bunch of people who had ordered her to come with them with an authoritative attitude, but their treatment of her was courteous.
“Am I not a guest?” Maomao ascertained, looking at the man who had spoken to her. He seemed to be the leader of the group – he was the only one among them who looked like he had a good upbringing.
Also, there was his fox face that gave her an unpleasant feeling.
(A relative of the Ra Clan?)
Maomao wondered about that. Since this was about that tactician, she could surmise that the followers under the expelled former family heads had been left alone. Even if there was blood relation worth mentioning, that man would ignore them if they lacked talent.
Seeing how the thug was saying nothing with a face twisted with vexation, he had to understand that Maomao had value. At least, he won’t be violent, Maomao thought, belittling him.
She couldn’t look outside as there were no windows in the carriage, but seeing how the journey was relatively smooth, they must be travelling on a road-like path.
How much time passed? There was nothing she could do in particular, so she slept. There was nothing she could substitute as a pillow so she requested an overcoat, which she rolled up and used. It had a faint aroma of incense, so it turns out his upbringing really wasn’t bad.
It was just that it was too hot to not even open a window in this season.
Maomao woke up, rubbing her drowsy eyes. The man opened the carriage door.
She went outside yawning.
There was an estate before her eyes.
An isolated estate that wasn’t in a town.
She could see that she was on farmland from the fields around her. She could see small houses dotted here and there in the distance, but they were too far apart to be considered a settlement.
(I see, huh.)
Splendid the estate may be, it’s regrettable that it’s surrounded by the countryside. Such a place would be nothing but humiliation for a high official driven away from the capital.
Maomao thought as she sat on the ground.
“What are you doing?” the man asked sullenly.
“Nothing. There are pretty bellflowers(桔梗, kikyou, platycodon grandiflorum),” she answered.
“Are you interested in flowers?”
“They make good medicine.”
The garden looked well-kept. The bellflower is a star-shaped flower with buds that resembled balloons. Maomao used to always play with those buds, crushing them before they bloomed. Then she would get scolded.
The roots of this flower can be used as a natural remedy. Its roots were also big so it looks like good medicine can come out of it.
“….go inside for now.” He looked like he wanted to say something, but she knew nothing about that. For the time being, she entered the estate as she was told.
“Here.” He led her into a room with an elderly man, a middle-aged man, and a middle-aged woman. The elderly man and the woman squinted hard at Maomao as if they were appraising her. The middle-aged man seemed timid, with 八-shaped eyebrows that she recognised from somewhere.
“Are you Rakan’s daughter?” the elderly man asked.
“You got that wrong,” Maomao replied seriously.
The elderly man’s face twisted. His wrinkles were deep, so much that his long beard couldn’t cover them all. He could have got them from ageing, but it looked like they were deeply carved in due to his personality. “Oi, what are you doing? She told me that you got it wrong.”
“Th-there’s no way! I made sure to bring back the right person!” the man said to the elderly man hastily.
The women, seeing that, eased her fan towards her lips. She must have originally been a beauty, but it was regrettable that she was oozing with the forcefulness of her personality. There was a white twisted cord at the end of the handle of the fan. Maomao squinted her eyes at that. It was a white cord accessory that resembled the lady’s sash.
She was bothered by it but decided to leave it for later.
“Father-in-law, would my son make such a blunder?” the woman asked.
When Maomao considered it normally, the elderly man would have to be the nuisance of a previous family head. He looked nothing like his sibling Ruomen. It would be appropriate to consider the middle-aged man and woman as Rahan’s parents.
When she did so.
Maomao looked at her abductor’s face.
“Yes, I did not make a mistake,” he said.
She had thought that his fox eyes were unpleasant, but there was another person with the same eyes. The thug looked exactly like Rahan.
That said, she heard that Rahan is the nephew of that weirdo, but there was also the possibility where that nephew would have siblings. As far as she could tell with his age, this man would have to be Rahan’s older brother, but–.
“Are you the older brother?” she asked.
“Is that bad?”
It seems to be the case.
Maomao squinted. Rahan’s brother didn’t look stupid, but how to say it, he’s mediocre. Even if you say it nicely, as far as being excellent, it’s hard to say that he’s outstanding.
(In a way it’s good fortune.)
It was correct that he wouldn’t become the weirdo tactician’s adopted son, but wouldn’t that be a disgrace for the person himself?
Rahan’s brother was frowning when he heard the words ‘older brother’.
“The person called Maomao who works as a pharmacist at Rokushoukan. Am I not mistaken that you are that person?” the elderly man asked.
“It’s certainly as you say.”
That was not wrong.
She confirmed the elderly man’s words.
“In that case, you would have to be the daughter my younger brother Ruomen had raised there?”
She also confirmed that. It was a little offputting that her dad Ruomen’s older brother is this kind of person.
“Aren’t you Rakan’s daughter?”
“That’s wrong.” She clearly denied this part.
Everyone tilted their heads.
“I heard that guy produced a daughter with a courtesan though. And that she was brought up by Ruomen.”
“It’s definitely true that I was borne from a courtesan’s belly, but in that case, there would be no way for me to know who my father is.”
“That’s quite true.”
She finally heard Rahan’s father’s voice. He had a somewhat slow way of speaking but he resembled someone.
“Rakou(羅紅, Luo Hong),” the elderly man said what looks to be Rahan’s father’s name in a deep voice. It seems he got displeased by his words of agreement with Maomao.
Rahan’s father went silent. She felt a sense of familiarity with this man from the part where he lacked fox eyes. Speaking of who, his face was more like Ruomen’s.
Nonetheless, it was complicated that everyone had similar names.
“Isn’t it fine either way? Leaving that aside, the issue would have to be her connection with the imperial brother, right? However…” Rahan’s mother squinted. “I can’t help feeling it doubtful.”
Why, to this girl, her eyes said.
Even with flattery, there was no way Maomao would suit the man who was beautiful enough to topple nations. She knew that best even if that was left unsaid. Even she wanted to ask.
“So if we had mistaken her for someone else, shouldn’t we let her go back? Since I have work to do.”
“No, that cannot do.” The elderly fiddled with his pure white beard as he glared at Maomao. “The point is, it would be good if my clan has a connection with her. It’s of no matter what kind of person she is; if she accomplishes her role it’s no problem.”
“So it’s something like that, Father-in-Law. It would be better if I had given birth to a daughter so we don’t have to do such a bothersome thing.”
How’s it fun to associate with a clan of weirdos? – she was going to say that but stopped. What’s to say, if she ended up saying that, they would take it as that he had an interest in Maomao rather than the clan. Those who are excessively self-conscious do not know their social position, Maomao snorted.
Since the conversation was showing no signs of progress at this rate even if she denied it, Maomao decided to bring up a different matter.
“By the way, is the middle-aged fox-eyed monocle weirdo and his nephew here?”
“…the hell are you on about?”
For some reason he countered.
“In that case, would you understand if I say the board gamer fool who can’t hold his liquor and the abacus man who’s only attracted to physical appearances?”
The atmosphere became utterly silent.
She didn’t think she got it wrong in terms of description, but.
It can’t be helped, so she changed her speech once more.
“Is Rahan and his uncle here?”
It would be rude to call him adoptive father when the real father is in front of her, so she took some consideration.
“Want to see them?”
“It’s fine if I don’t. It seems they’re alive here for now.”
Everyone tilted their heads at Maomao’s response.
“I’m tired from the long journey, so it won’t be a problem if I rested, right? Please show me to a room if you have one. Also, I would be grateful if you prepare me a light meal and hot water for a bath.”
And while I’m at it, shall I also request for a change of clothes? she added and the gazes around her turned painful.
“I’ll say it once more. Do you understand your position?” Rahan’s brother said.
“I understand. Which is exactly why I’ll try my best to gain some weight to become a little more attractive.”
So give me delicious food, Maomao said in a roundabout way as she gave a faint smile.