On the day of departure, Maomao boarded a carriage with a bundle of belongings on her back. All medical equipment was to be prepared and packed separately. Most of her other necessities had been packed onto the carriage beforehand as well, so she only had her change of clothes and the book Yao and En’en had transcribed for her on hand. Maomao had planned to read to pass the time since she didn’t get motion sickness.
(I heard there will be four court physicians going.)
But in the end, she wasn’t told who they were. She had an idea about it, suspecting it was probably being kept under wraps.
She knew the identity of one of them, though.
“Ooooh, we’re boarding these ships?”
Tenyuu stuck his head out of the carriage. In the end, he was the only one who volunteered, so, as she had mostly anticipated, he was coming along.
(To be dispatching such a newcomer, well, not like I can talk about others.)
Although Maomao wasn’t included among the court physician numbers, she was also picked. Four court physicians and one court physician assistant. As Court Physician Ryuu had said there weren’t enough helpers, this must have been the result of his careful deliberations.
With the imperial brother—Jinshi—and the weirdo tactician going, this trip will be on a grand scale. There were three large sailing vessels. They will be going by sea, but these boats were the most magnificent she had ever seen. She could see that each of them had four to five masts, as well as a number of cannons. The models of the ships took on a lot of western engineering, while strangely emphasising that it was a Rii ship through its flashy colouring.
Was it big enough to hold several hundred people? They might be able to cram a thousand people on board.
“Wouldn’t the land route be quicker?” Maomao blurted out. No doubt in terms of distance, the sea route was more roundabout.
“It’s probably because of the size of the cargo. The bigshots will be staying for a long time, and there are a lot of gifts too.”
Suddenly, she heard a sullen voice. It belonged to a high ranking court physician. He was growing a beard and had a slightly uncouth look. The nature of his work was indoors, and yet his skin was dark like it was tanned.
She remembered him, but as they were assigned to different medical offices, she didn’t remember his name.
He was the second among the four people chosen.
“…I guess so.” Normally, she would evade it half-heartedly, but she had to remember his name from now on.
“I’ll be giving directions during this trip, so best regards.”
He has quite a haughty personality. Court Physician Ryuu must picked someone while considering not just skill but spirit. From his skin colour, this court physician might be from the western capital.
“The other two court physicians are already on board. I’ll be on the leading ship, Tenyuu will be on the back, and Nyannyan will be on the one in the middle. There will be another high ranking court physician accompanying the court physician assistant.”
“…” Should she correct her name? No, then she can’t mention that she couldn’t remember his name, so let’s just leave it as is.
“Um, a question.”
“Who is on the ship I’m boarding?” Maomao said as her face stiffened.
“The middle ship has the biggest bigshot. The younger one. You can’t imagine from the splendour of the ship?”
The middle ship was the largest and the most stylish.
“The younger one…” Should she be relieved?
So apparently, it was Jinshi, not the weirdo tactician.
“As for Grand Marshal Kan, if we go by what Ruomen-san said, he’ll be relatively quiet while the ship is swaying, so we can give him motion sickness medicine and nutritious fruit juice.”
It seems his constitution was roughly the same as Rahan. Not just wine, he was also weak with boats.
“Did you get the explanation for the ship?”
“Yes. It is furnished with a medical office, so the required equipment will be carried there. Also, we’ll be sleeping in the medical office too.”
“That’s right. Nyannyan can sleep in the attendants’ room though.”
“The medical office please.”
Since Jinshi will be present, he had to be bringing attendants as well, but—
(Did Suiren come along too?)
The elderly woman. The long journey would probably be hard on her. If not, Maomao could only think of Basen’s older sister, Maamei.
(I feel like I’ve heard that she has children.)
While Maomao wondered how it was, either way, there were no doubt other attendants around. She thought he would be careful about the personnel selection, but just in case, it would be better for her to distance herself.
“Ask the other high ranking court physician for the details.”
(No, who is he?)
Even though the report about the weirdo tactician was made public, why were the identities of the court physicians kept secret—she found it mysterious.
“Ehh, is that senior?” Tenyuu called out as he was boarding the ship.
“What? You’re unhappy about that?”
It was the middle ranking court physician who had been excessively aggressive the other day. He looked like an honour student, but it seems it had all been in vain. Of course, she didn’t know his name.
Who is the other person? she thought as she boarded the ship.
The sailors worked with fervour.
The bigshot will be staying in a slightly opulent room that protruded out to the deck. The ventilation also seemed good.
(It seems to be the most comfortable, but the easiest to aim at.)
She climbed down the stairs and went into the interior of the ship. The humid atmosphere clung to her skin. Perhaps to improve the ventilation, it hadn’t been partitioned by walls, but tacked through to a sorry degree.
(Most of the officials would probably be sleeping huddled here.)
It was the same with meals. Since the sailors were employed separately, they probably had free time when they have nothing to do. It seems board games will be even more popular.
There were also batteries established, which allowed the ships to function as battleships.
The several places partitioned by walls were probably the rooms for the attendants and the bigshot. When you consider the proportion of male and females, male numbers overwhelmed. She knew it was a consideration to avoid anything happening if men and women were to sleep together in the same space.
(I’m starting to get a little excited.)
At any rate, she thought she would get tired of this place soon enough, as she will be seeing it every single day, but it was normal for people to explore. Each wall had straw ropes and wooden floatation devices hanging from them.
The ship was a three storey construct. Including the bigshot’s room, it made four storeys.
The storey right below was roughly the same structure, but it had the medical office and kitchen. As she will be visiting the medical office last, she checked the kitchen. There were a number of caskets of water. There was a cooking stove. Its design was focused on smoke expulsion.
(It’s scary to use fire on a ship.)
Although materials used were hard to burn, you still have to be cautious.
Considering the number of people on board the ship, the kitchen was very small, so it seems the bigshots’ meals were mostly done.
It was probably enough for people of lower position like Maomao to have lukewarm soup.
When you eat food, waste will come out.
She wondered where the toilet was. There was an enclosure constructed on the bow of the ship. They probably planned to throw the waste overboard. She didn’t want to make a mistake and fall in.
The lowest storey was for cargo. Did it hold cannon shells, water, foodstuff, and the gifts to the western capital? She was surprised when she found sweet potato. The identity of the seller was obvious.
Once she had gone about to most places, she entered the medical office. There was a wall that could quarantine sick people when they show up. She opened the door. The owner of soft features was sitting on a chair.
For a moment, she thought it was Dad, but—
The individual who sat there was supposed to be in the inner palace. The quack doctor.
As for why there was a questioning tone, the quack doctor’s trademark, his loach moustache, was gone. It was smooth, truly smooth.
“Wah, don’t look. It’s embarrassing.” The quack doctor’s face turned bright red and he puckered his lips. His actions were exactly like a young girl who had cut too much of her fringe off.
“Uuuu. They told me to shave my moustache. That it’s strange for a eunuch to be growing one in the first place.”
“Well, it is strange.”
Since eunuchs have their symbol of a man chopped off, they lose their male physical characteristics. Their facial and body hair will thin, but there are also exceptions of course. Depending on the person, it seems they could retain one masculine trait on their body.
Even though the quack is a eunuch, he had stroked his very thin moustache like he was boasting that he was still growing facial hair.
“Even so, why is Court Physician-sama here?”
“There aren’t any consort in the inner palace we need to be paying attention to. As there is only Consort Rifa among the high ranking consorts, Ruomen-san alone will be enough.”
(Ahhh, a demotion.)
Court Physician Ryuu is truly cunning.
He had prepared the number of court physicians Jinshi had requested as there weren’t enough going to the western capital. As there is one reliable high ranking court physician, it won’t seem like there is another high ranking court physician missing.
So, he had decided to use the quack doctor who had the title of high ranking court physician just for show.
He might have also considered Maomao’s compatibility with the quack doctor, as he had crammed medical knowledge into her. Otherwise, could it be that he had the quack doctor come along since Maomao was going?
“Fufufu, this is the first time I’m travelling on a ship. I’m so excited. I don’t know what will happen, but it seems it’ll be fun with you, lass.”
Could the amazing part of the quack doctor, be this personality of his?
Also, she somehow had a feeling that he had the luck to survive anything that happens. He might be liked by some mysterious being.
“Well then, shall we have tea? We’ll have to boil water.”
“I think we’ll get shouted at if we use the stove without permission.”
“Ehh? Then, we’ll use a brazier.”
“I think we’ll suffocate if we light a charcoal fire here, probably.”
Since the ventilation is bad, it’ll probably be incomplete combustion. There is a window, but it’s small. The room itself is dim.
The quack doctor’s brows drooped. “Could it be that it is extremely inconvenient to travel by ship?”
“It goes without saying.”
The quack doctor was disappointed, and buried his face into the furnished bed. “Uuum, the bed is also hard.”
“There’s nothing we can do about it, so please give up. Rather, you’re already better off that you don’t have to sleep huddled together with other people. Ah, this shelf here, you can use it to store things.”
Maomao put her change of clothes into the shelf, and cracked open the book she got from Yao. She stationed herself in a place where light came from the window and sat on the bed as a makeshift chair.
“Ehhh, is lass reading a book?”
“It’ll be a while until we depart. Until then, someone will come to summon us?”
“Muuu.” The quack doctor puffed out his cheeks in disappointment as he took out a portable Go board. “Fine. I’ll be solving Go problems.”
It goes without saying that the book he took out was the weirdo tactician’s Go book.