After finding some rather delicious pancakes with interesting tangy Mizris jam from the kitchen, I briefly watch Kiku train against ghostly enemies in the yard. Her movements with her twin blades have become even more confident and almost... furious. She is highly focused, and doesn't notice me, so I decide to leave her alone.
A maid 'politely' informs me that the baths are available. I do stink a bit for various... reasons, so I have her guide me to the men’s changing room and even check the sign carefully. The last thing I need is strolling into the girl’s side, which is exactly what would happen with my luck.
When I hear that the place is actually a magical hot spring, I get a bit excited, since I never actually got around to my long overdue Japanese holiday at home due to finances. I'm happy to have an opportunity to try one out!
It's fantastic as I expected. The heat feels like it might strip the skin from my bones when I first immerse myself, but it's at the high end of tolerable, which, considering my obsession with hot showers, is quite a boon.
I lazily lounge for a while there. The steam also does a number on my sinuses, and all of my grogginess is lifted. It very much reminds me of a hydrotherapy suite and sauna I visited once.
I decide it’s nearly time to get out after about another five minutes, but as I stand up, I notice a weird red glint in the corner of my eyes.
Following the glint, I see that, behind a rock, an ornate looking staff has been propped up, partially in the water.
It has a black steel shaft, similar to Aria's spear, and a twisted golden design at the head that somewhat reminds of the Caduceus, but with more of an angelic wings theme. This wing motif surrounds quite possibly the largest garnet I have ever seen, as big as half my palm. I don't think it’s a ruby. Rubies are redder and have a swirly colour invoking the intense heart of a forge, but this has a uniform redness. Well, assuming the gems are the same here... who knows with the weird fruit types?
But even if that’s just a garnet, this staff would still be crazy valuable back on Earth.
Is this bath secretly the manor's treasury?
Jokes aside, I can't imagine it is supposed to be lying around here, so I'll take it to a maid.
I pick up the staff, and I feel a mildly excited buzz in my nerves. Like something crawling over my grave. Weird. Is this... a reaction from the spirit that Seria forced inside me? It feels like that. And it would make sense that a staff like this is magical considering its fine craftsmanship. And does this mean I can detect magic by touch now? Interesting...
I carry it to a bench and drop it for a second as I dry off and wrap myself in a towel, and then pick it up to leave.
Suddenly, the door opens up, and the large housekeeper I saw briefly yesterday appears. Jorges, wasn't it? He is still fully dressed (thank god) and appears to be nervous, as he is sweating and puffing like a boiled teapot.
"Ah! Ser Etranger! I do apologise!" He bows deeply.
I shrug. "No need, I was just leaving. Is there a problem?"
"No... I was just looking for Micha... I mean... ahem, the Ojou-sama's... her... her..."
He realises I am holding a staff.
"Her staff? Is it this?" I enquire, offering it to him. "It was in the bath."
"Yes... that is it... hahhh..." he sighs in relief "I cannot believe she left it... ahem! I am sure she had a good reason to..."
I grin. "You really don't have to stand on ceremony for me. Please take it to her."
His eyes go a bit shifty.
"Err... this is rude of me, but could I please ask you a favour, good ser?"
I roll my eyes. If you think about it, the situation here is pretty evident. Rishya has lost her staff, and panicking about how she probably needs it for our journey, is likely imprinting this onto the house-staff.
"You want me to take this to her?" I ask.
He goes a bit wide eyed, and then bows deeply. I am a being used as a scapegoat but I am much less likely to have any enduring troubles with her, so it’s sensible.
"That's fine. But please wait outside and guide me to her room when I am dressed."
"Absolutely!" He happily says, as he bows even deeper. I don't know how he manages to fold like that with his weight.
I promptly redress myself and then follow Jorges to the second floor.
I knock at the door pointed out to me, and open it. The bedroom is really quite majestic, navy blues and sea greens, a big painting of a voluptuous looking blonde noble woman on the wall (her mother?), and a four poster bed. It screams affluent ojou-sama.
Rishya was clearly pacing anxiously and is facing the nice view over the vineyards. Perfect for an ambush!
"Have you found him!? You better have!! I can't be without Michael!"
Oho... I knew it when Jorges was acting suspiciously. She calls her staff Michael.
I stroll over to her, and probably wielding an internet-troll face, I tap her on the cheek with the staff from behind. I'm such a child sometimes, haha...
"Kyaaa! What are you DOING!!?" She spins round rapidly, looking furious.
"Returning Michael, milady."
"Ahhhhhhh!" She recoils with a rapid shift to an expression of shock, and there is a 'pang' as she hits the window pane lightly. Her chest shakes as she does so.
Ooh... she must really be rattled to call me with a -sama if she hates me. Great result!
Seriously, I need to get out the habit of bullying girls I like. But it's just so fun!
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- Purveyor of dubious medicinal snake oils [since 1885]
Bio: A strange englishman with an unusual degree of ambivalence over tea, he is a second-generation nerd, and the unfortunate owner of a berserk, leaking imagination that occassionally requires vomiting up as new designs for games and worlds. He limped through university on a humanities degree, and though he often expected a career surrounded by paper, he did not expect that paper to be mostly forms and meeting minutes full of content so dross it could bore you to tears. On the other hand, being in the civil service does teach valuable life skills, like the ability to turn a single concept into fifty-seven pages of content, something which synergises surprisingly well with more creative forms of writing as long as it is restrained. Also the creator of an Anime RPG called Aniventure, and the writer of Yuusha Youjo on this site. Praise be! Or something...