44-Episode 42 Rain Sound

When dawn breaks, the city remains shrouded in darkness due to the thick clouds that cover the sky. It was as if time had stopped.
The low roar of distant thunder was the only sound that reached my ears.


I re-carried the basket that was digging into my shoulders and plowed through the forest that I had recently become accustomed to.

'Oh, big brother!

Two brothers are standing at the entrance to the slum, and when they see me, they run up to me.
They're the guards.

'Hey. How are you doing?
'Well, there's nothing to do.
'That's a good thing. Peace is best.'

They are the oldest of the siblings, and unlike the other siblings, they seem to have a more relaxed atmosphere. They are said to be fourteen years old. They are one year younger than Loretta.
It's their duty to protect the slum while Loretta goes out to earn money.

'Ahh... I wish I could go to work too. ......'

That's what my brother muttered to me as he led me back into the slum.
These guys look like hamsters for all intents and purposes.

...... First of all, we need to improve the position of the slum dwellers so that they can get jobs.
Even if they do get a job, it won't last long. There's bound to be friction somewhere.

'Oh, yeah. I've got that job for you. Get me some men with good hands.'

He hands his brother the basket on his shoulder.

'What's this?
'A net.
'A net?
'Oops, correction. It's a net and a treasure.

In the basket, there is a net of the Sea Fishing Guild with a large amount of seaweed entangled in it.
This time, too, there is a great deal of wakame and kelp entangled in it. ...... What kind of fishing methods do they use to get so much seaweed entangled? ............ It's not like they're all over the place in Japan. It's not like they live everywhere in Japan. You'll find a lot of seaweed entangled in the water, so much so that you'd think they were purposely gathering it up.
Perhaps the growth of plants is remarkable in this world. Vegetables can be gathered all year round.

We avoided the pitfalls and walked into the slum.
When we pass through the pitfall zone, we see a row of ramshackle houses, with young siblings appearing one by one.
There are so many of them.

It's impossible for anyone to feed them.
They'll have to do the work themselves. ......

For now, I lecture them on how to remove the seaweed entangled in the net, how to repair the net, and how to dry the collected seaweed.
As usual, the hamsters absorbed these techniques quickly.
I see. No wonder Umaro is so passionate about education.
These guys are greedy. They want to work more than anyone else.

...... I feel so bad that I can only give them jobs like this.

Just as we were about to leave the slum and reach the sunlit pavilion, the sky finally lost its temper.
A heavy rain began to fall.
The sound of pounding rain engulfed the city.

I was forced to run as fast as I could as the rain relentlessly drenched me.
I stop worrying about this and that, and just run forward. When I kicked over the puddle and ran into the grounds of the sunny pavilion, I saw two food carts standing quietly in front of the store.

For a moment, I felt my ...... heart fluff up with excitement.

'...... d*mn.'

Turning away, I opened the door to the sunlit pavilion.

'Sorry Jeannette, can I get a towel ......'.
'Welcome home, master.'

The person who greeted me with these words was ............ Natalia.
In addition,......, what the hell is this guy thinking? ............ On the chest of the dress Natalia was wearing, there were these words.

I'm not sure what to say.
It's cheap!Delicious!Cute!
Stir-fried vegetables 20Rb~!
Now open for business in District 42!
Open all year round!
You have to come here!Bring your friends and family!What are you wearing?

...... What are you wearing?

'...... Oh?I'm not sure if you've seen this before, but I'm sure you'll find it interesting. ...... Excuse me, you have a strange face.

'The more you rephrase, the more rude you're getting!
'Was I wrong in my greeting?
'Before greeting, there's something wrong with you, you know.

In the first place, why are you here?

'I just remembered that your daughter had some clothes lent to her here before. I asked the manager to lend me some.'
'Did you want to try it on too?'
'No, ......, that's not what I meant. ............'

Natalia's hand gripped my shoulder tightly.
Her thin, white fingers dug into my shoulder. '...... Ow, ow, ow!

'It's a man's item, isn't it?And there's only one man in this store, right?Yes, that's you.
'............ What?Am I getting mad at you?
'At the time, I was stopped in my tracks by the strange wording. .................. Anata no clothes wo ojousama ni sasame desu ne?
'Scary, scary, scary!I had no choice but to do it back then!It's better than Estella catching a cold!
'After that, these clothes were returned to you. .................. Did you smell it?
'I don't sniff!What kind of pervert are you?
'I sniffed it just now!
'Don't sniff it!
'Unfortunately, there was no scent of the lady, only your scent. ............ I felt a slight desire to kill you.'
'Don't remember it on your own.

What the hell. What the hell is this guy doing here?
I thought I'd turn him away quickly. ......

'...... Koho,Koho. ............ Excuse me.'

If you look closely, you can see that Natalia is somewhat languid and her face is a bit red.

'Are you catching a cold, by any chance?
'It's just my imagination.
'Then you're excited to wear my clothes.
'It's a cold. I've been feeling a little sick since this morning. Please don't make accusations that trample on people's dignity.

It's a cold after all. And you're out of line. Even I get hurt sometimes, okay?Don't forget that.

'Ah, Yashiro-san. I was just in time.'

Jeannette comes out of the kitchen with a medicine chest.

'I'm a little nervous about which medicine to give you ......, Yashiro-san, can you take a look at it for me?
'Oh, medicine.'
'The lady asked me to get it for her. ...... No matter how many times I told her not to worry, she wouldn't listen to me.

The Sunken Pavilion has all of Regina's medicines.
Estella knows that, which is probably why she sent Natalia there.

'Didn't you get caught in the rain?
'Only a little. But I'll be fine, I'm wearing this home today.'
'......, are those my clothes?
'It's okay. I can put up with it.'
'No, it's not ...... your emotional problem, it's ...... well, it's fine.'

It seems that I've been strangely favored.
If you make T-shirts with the characters, they might sell well.

'Maybe you weren't feeling well when you helped me yesterday?

The mantis man got tangled up with me and I almost swung my blade.
If Natalia hadn't shown up then, I wouldn't be here now.

Would she have been in bad shape then too?

'Yes, ............ a little, I suppose.'
'I had no idea.
'I was only able to exert about six minutes of my normal strength.
'...... Are you a monster?

Six minutes with that thing, ...... I don't even want to imagine what this guy would be like if he showed 100% of his strength.

'Then sit down for a minute. I'll take a look at you.'

He sat Natalia down in a chair and put his hand on her forehead. The soft, thin hair touches the back of her hand and tickles.

'............ What are you doing?'
'I'm looking at your fever.'
'I don't have a fever.'
'No, you do, I'm sure of it.'

'I don't have a thermometer, so I can't be sure, but it looks like a slight fever.

'You might need some antipyretics.
'I don't need antipyretics, please give me antiseptic.
'I'm throwing you out in the rain, you son of a b*tc*.

Natalia, with a cool face and a hateful tone, still looks somewhat dull. Her gaze is not as sharp as usual.
She puts her hand on her cheek and presses down her lower eyelid. If this area, which is densely populated with capillaries, is whitish, there is a risk of anemia. ...... You're okay for now. I hope you're eating good food.

'............ What are you doing?
'Don't bother asking me that. I'm sure it means something, so just stay calm and let me examine you.'
'I thought you were going to kiss me because you touched my cheek and stuff.
'You do?

That's a ridiculous accusation.
But my reaction to such an accusation came from next to me.

'You won't?I'm glad to hear that. ......

It's Jeannette.
What is this guy thinking? ...... I stared at Jeannette's face in disgust.

'......What's ............ that?I'm not saying that I'm glad, I'm just worried that I shouldn't be doing that to my customers,.......'
'All right, all right!Don't make a fuss, just sit down for a minute.'
'Yes,......, sorry.'

Apparently, Ginette was thinking the same thing as Natalia.
I don't want to be treated by kissing a sick person and saying, 'I've got your cold.
And I don't want to catch a cold.

'Then open your mouth a little.
'............ deepki......'
'No, I won't!I just want to see if your throat is swollen!Stick your tongue out for a second and say 'Ah'.''
'.................. Ah'.

Good, honest.

I saw that his tonsils were swollen and red.
It must be hard to swallow spit with these.

'You had tea at your place, right?Dilute boiling black tea with water, make it lukewarm, and then gargle.
'Black tea, sir?
'It has a sterilizing effect.

Green tea is famous for its catechins, but black theaflavin has an even stronger bactericidal effect.
There's no such thing as an 'iodine solution to rattle after I'm back' in this town, so gargling black tea is perfect.

'Regina's medicines didn't have any general medicines, so ...... do you want to bring back some antipyretics for now?'
'No, sir. It's enough that you told me about the treatment.'
'No, just take your medicine.'
'I'm a servant of your daughter. A servant can't use something as expensive as medicine for personal reasons.'
'No, medicines are basically for personal use only.

It's for personal use when an individual gets sick.

'I was just asking to make sure, since your daughter was exaggerating. I appreciate your concern.
'Regina's medicine isn't that expensive, just take it.'
'No problem.'

This ...... guy is stubborn.

'In the first place, Estella is the one who wants to spread Regina's medicine, you know?She even went to the trouble of baiting me to dispel my distrust of Regina. If you use it and spread the word about the effectiveness and convenience of this medicine, it will be in line with Estella's intentions.

All you have to do is cooperate with your master.
' When she said this, Natalia looked surprised.

''I'm surprised. I didn't know you could think so much for your daughter. ......'
'No, I mean for Estella's ...... sake, just take your medicine.'
'Well, ............ let's have some medicine for your throat.
'What about antipyretics?
'The fever really isn't that bad. I don't think you should rely too much on medicines.

Well, that's true.
Too much medicine might make you sleepy. Although I have no way of knowing if Regina's pills contain antihistamines.

'Jeannette. Give me something for my throat. And get her some warm water. Oh, and something light to put in his stomach.
'Yes, sir!I'm home.'

Ginette scurries off to the kitchen.

'That's very thoughtful of you.
'No, it's just part of the business. Don't worry about it.'
'Business, sir?I heard there's no margin included in the price of the medicine.
'If the reputation of the medicine increases, people will come here for the medicine, right?We don't take any margin because we prefer to keep the price of medicine as low as possible, but there is a profit to be made when customers come here.

'Some people don't buy anything, do they?'
'I'd say more than 80% of them do.'
'At ......, why?'
'The resistance to entering a place you've never been before is much greater than the resistance to entering a place you've been before.

Some private restaurants make an effort to invite customers to come to their restaurant once by offering bleeding services with no regard for profit. They collaborate with other restaurants in the same area and hold events where customers can taste wine and sample food.
If you can get them to come to your store, great.
If not, it would be better if they know the products and the name of the store at the product exhibition.
Anyway, it is very important to have people remember your name.

'It certainly took a lot of courage to enter ...... Regina's store.
'Because there is not a single thing that is not suspicious.'
'That's a good expression. But we really wanted to secure a medicine that the residents of the territory could use without worry.
'So that's why you went to see Regina.'
'Yes. Just .............'

Natalia's expression clouded, as if she remembered something from that time.

'As soon as the owner came out, she shouted, "Whoa~, a beautiful boy and a cool maid, here we go! The owner of the shop, as soon as he came out, shouted: 'Wow, a beautiful boy and a cool maid, this is it!' He continued: 'Of course, the beautiful boy is being developed by the older maid .......' He left the store at that point, closed the door, and never came near it again.
'That was a wise decision on your part, squire. You're a good man, you know that?

...... What the hell is that idiot doing?

'After what happened, I don't trust any of her medicines, but ...... if your daughter trusts her, I'll have to change my mind.'
'You may be resistant at first, but ......'

The short denial cut off my words, and the look straight at me blocked out the next words.
As time passed slowly, I waited for Natalia's next words.
I waited for Natalia's next words, as if it were natural for me to do so.

'...... You trust me too, don't you?

The look in her eyes as she asked me this question was the most gentle I had ever seen, and it showed a glimpse of the feminine in Natalia,
I don't know if this was her true expression or if she was just weak from a cold, but the gentle smile on Natalia's face was very feminine and beautiful.

'Ah. Regina's medicine works well. Your cold will be gone in no time.'
'Well, ............, I'll trust you.'

Natalia's gaze drifted away from me and toward the kitchen.
I followed her gaze and saw that Ginette was just about to emerge.

'Sorry to keep you waiting~'

Nice timing. Or rather, it was too perfect.
If I turned around just in time, does that mean that ...... Natalia had noticed Ginette before she showed up?Can you read my mind?Scary.

There's lukewarm water and cut fruit on the tray.
I picked out the medicine from the medicine chest that Jeannette had brought earlier.

'............ I feel strange.'
'What's that?'
'I'm the one who takes care of your daughter. I can't believe I'm being taken care of like this. ......'
'In order not to interfere with the care of that young lady, you're supposed to quickly get over your cold.'
'I see. ...... Makes sense, doesn't it? Now, if you'll excuse me.

Natalia took a mouthful or two of cut fruit, then picked up the medicine.

'If I use the potion, it will help you, won't it?
'Ah. Maybe that's why Estella sent you to me.

It's not a far-fetched idea.
But Estella was probably genuinely concerned about Natalia.
The fact that Estella was busy meant that Natalia, who was supporting her, was even more busy.
She wouldn't leave someone like that alone. ...... That's the kind of person I think Estella is.

Natalia holds the medicine in her hand and stares at it.
A little bit of anxiety on her face.

'Will it please you,......?'

I reply in a light tone of voice. That's about right for Natalia right now.
After a few moments of silence, Natalia turns to me, leans forward a little, and asks me with serious eyes.

'...... Do you get compliments?'
'Hopefully, yes.'

She leans in further and finally stands up, jerking me closer and closer, asking at very close range.

'Will you sleep with me and give me a hug?
'I don't know about that!

How much do you want?
You deserve a compliment.

He sat Natalia down and suggested that she take her medicine.

'Yes, it is. Let's have it.'

She sits down, straightens her back, puts the powder in her mouth in a very polite manner and pours it down with warm water.
But then he stood up quickly and looked at me with sparkling eyes.

'I'm cured!
'It works that fast!
'What a wonderful medicine!As a matter of fact, I didn't tell you, but I was in so much pain just now that I thought I was going to die, but the moment I took this medicine, the pain I was in just now dissipated like a lie!

'That's just hype!It's not allowed in my country!I mean, it's a complete lie!
'No, sir. It's true that I felt that way. That's how I felt!
'I don't trust your subjectivity!
'Besides, I've been so fortunate that I'm about to have a boyfriend!
'You're making me stink even more!
'I've never had a boyfriend, and I'm of age!
I'm not sure what to do.

In addition, Regina's medicine doesn't contain any side effects like getting a girlfriend,......, of course.

I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to do that.
'Stop it!It's obvious that it will only bring bad publicity!

Could this guy possibly be a ...... moron?

'I just want to share this excitement with everyone. ......'
'Forget it, just go home and sleep quietly for today. See?
'How do you know that I'm a bad sleeper!You peeked at ......, didn't you!
'I didn't peek, and I don't know!Go home and sleep!
'If you sleep too long, you might get muscle pain.
'How much are you moving while you sleep?

'Ah, I slept well... .................. Where am I?' I hope you're not going to be like.

'Well then, I'll do as you say and go home and get some rest.'
'Oh, give my regards to Estella.'
'Answer me!I'm just saying hello!

I can't decide if this guy is brilliant or an idiot.

'So, Natalia. I'll lend you some clothes and an umbrella.

Ginette offers her umbrella. ...... Oh, you're lending her clothes too?

So, the noisy and unusual guests left the sunshine pavilion and returned in the pouring rain.
Totally .......
He was so eccentric that my depressed mood was completely lightened.

It would have been too much to pretend to be an eccentric ...... for this purpose.

'What are you guys doing at ......?

There were two shadows in the kitchen, peeking into the dining room.
Magda and Loretta.

'...... strong enemy. We should avoid confronting them if we're not in good shape.
'Natalia, I'm a little scared, so let's see what happens .......'

That's why she's been laying low.
No, do your job.

Well, there's no one else here, so it's okay.

The rain was getting heavier by the hour, and by the afternoon it was pouring down like a bucket.
Oh, no. Maybe we won't get any more customers today. ......

I've heard it said that the weaker you are, the worse it is.
Even though the mobile vending business has hit a big wall and profits are declining, ......

In the end, not a single customer visited the sunny pavilion that day.

The gloom and doom of the clouds that hid the sky seemed to infect my spirit.
It was a day with too many ...... negative elements to be dismissed as 'just another day like this'.

I sent Loretta home early today. The rain was getting heavier.
The rain is getting heavier and heavier. Loretta was showing concern, but I forced her to accept it.
Tomorrow, the tide will turn again.
I felt like I had to force myself to think that way.

But instead of the tide changing, ......
The biggest disaster of the day came when I was cleaning up the store after closing.

It was the worst news I'd heard in days.

The sound of violent door slamming echoed through the store.
Perhaps he was trying not to be overshadowed by the increasing intensity of the rain, or perhaps he was in a great hurry, but whatever the case, it was not a simple knock.

When I opened the door, I saw Bertina standing there, wearing a cloak.
She was soaking wet and shivering slightly.
But the shivering did not seem to come from the cold.

Her face was pale.
Bertina, always calm, clung to me as if distraught.

A wet hand grips my shoulder.
Bertina's hands are so cold I wonder if they're made of ice.

'......The children are ...............'

With that one word, the atmosphere in the dining room changed drastically.
The blood drained from Jeannette's face, and Magda's expression was expressionless but tense.

As for me, my heart was beating pathetically fast.

No one could say anything, just stared at Bertina.
All we could do was wait and wait for the next words that would come.
It may have been only a moment in time, but it felt like a very long time to me.

I don't want to hear anything.
But I want you to tell me quickly.
I stared at the trembling Bertina with such mixed feelings.

''Give the medicine to ............ the children ...... and ......... ...'

Ginette gently laid her own hand over Bertina's on my shoulder.
That alone seemed to bring a little blood back to Bertina's face.
Her distraught mind must have regained some of its composure.

'I'm sorry, .......'
'No, no. So, ...... what's going on?'

I felt Jeannette's hand tighten.
Jeannette must have been scared to hear those words.
But she couldn't help but ask.

Bertie, who had calmed down somewhat, slowly began to explain the situation.

'The children have collapsed. Ten people in the church, all of them. ...... They had high fevers, diarrhea, vomiting. ...... They were all getting weaker and weaker. ......... ...If it continues like this,......
'Oh no......'
'What about Regina's medicine?Didn't the church have some leftover medicine?'

The urgency of the situation made me forget to speak respectfully. But Bertina didn't seem to blame her for that, and shook her pale face.

'...... It didn't work. The medicine didn't stop the vomiting, the diarrhea, or the ...... fever. ............'

The medicine didn't work?

'Is it an epidemic...... or ............ is there anything you can think of that might be causing this?'
'Yes, there is ...... actually ............'.

This was the culmination of the worst thing that had happened in the last few days, as Bertina recounted.

'The heavy rains have caused the river to overflow and the canal to collapse. It seems that this has caused muddy water and sewage to flow into the well.
'Has the drinking water been ...... contaminated ............?'

Outside the store, the sound of heavy rain continued to rumble incessantly.