Wednesday, November 9, 2022 @

Chapter 8, Part 1 (With Illustration)

 "You stink. You should take a bath right now."
 That was the first thing gorilla princess said to me when I reported my return on my knees in front of her room after being summoned as soon as I got back.
 ...Seriously, isn't it too much to ask? I mean, I did wash my body in the river several times on the way back, you know? Besides, I had to keep my body clean to prevent my injuries from festering, so I was very careful about hygiene.
 "Oh my? I don't mean that in a sarcastic way. After all, you smelled really bad."
 There, I hear the sliding door open slightly. I gulped but kept my head down. The reason? Well, it would be natural if I could see warm air leaking through the gap of the sliding door, and her bare white feet looking well-circumscribed in her shriveled kimono.
 What I'm trying to say is... this girl is in the process of changing after taking a bath. She's probably wearing only a haori or something like that. Or rather, it's a morning bath. What a luxury.
 "Princess, I don't mean to offend you, but I don't think it's right for you to open the sliding door and talk to me in such an appearance."
 Mainly because it makes me look worse.
 "Oh my, what do you mean by such an appearance? Do you have eyes on your head?"
 The girl giggles and lets out a nasty, taunting laugh. No, a gorilla.
 "Don't worry. I've prepared a means to get rid of them. So, no one could see me change my clothes because I'm using my own shikigami instead of a maid to do so. But you really stink. You stink, you smell like a filthy b*tch."
 The last part of her tone was truly unpleasant, as if she had smelled a garbage heap. But then... suddenly, I saw her fingers move from the shadowy movement on the floor.
 The next moment, a blue-white flame bursts out right next to my face. Then, with a flick, two charred shikigami fall to the floor and float into my sight. They twitch and move like living creatures, but in the end, they are completely charred and lose their power.
 "This is..."
 "You can't even detect such a simple concealment technique? Although I don't ask a servant like you to be involved in a war with her, I don't want that filthy thing up in my room."
 Who put this on me, most likely Kizuki Hina, but she is not the kind of person who would use such a technique. So someone from the faction who pushes her is the one who did it? No, the two sisters, Hina and Aoi, are the two strongest candidates now, although there are other candidates as well. But then, can I deny the possibility that a preliminary candidate of the second line might have put these on me? However, this Gorilla princess has identified these shikigamis belong to sis (anego-sama) (or its faction)...
 "Princess, please accept my apologies. It's my fault."
 "Yes, I know."
 Gorilla princess accepts my apology as a matter of course. Well, that's true, but don't you want to defend it?
 "Anyway, don't worry. I don't expect that much from you right now. So, I can at least teach you the basics of how to detect concealment. Of course, you won't get a second chance."
 She giggles, and smiles again, this time with a happy, self-deprecating smile. In other words, I'm the one who will be burned if I fail the next time after she teaches me. Well, she is a very kind princess. D*mn it!
 "....Thank you very much, Princess."
 Anyway, I'm not a child to be sarcastic directly with my mouth, though in my heart, so I'll just show my formal gratitude without heart. Unlike other people, the servants are expected to wear out their skills, so they do not have many opportunities to learn this kind of technique, and therefore, the information is strictly controlled. Then, if I don't seize an opportunity like this to get in with the higher-ups, there's nothing I can do. In that sense, the guidance of the gorilla princess, who was far superior in talent, even if it was just for fun or whimsy, was as valuable to me as gold.
 "Don't mind it. But... still, what's with the mask?"
 The gorilla princess then asked about the fact that I wasn't wearing a mask, as if she had finally noticed.
 "I lost it the other day on a mission. I'm going to get a new one."
 "Ah, I see. ...Oh, right."
 With that voice, I noticed from the movement of the shadows that the gorilla princess had sat down. And the next moment something appeared in my field of vision...
 The next moment, a fan opened in front of me. The beautiful cherry-patterned fan spread in front of my eyes, and the fan-made me raise my lowered head upward.

 "Oh, yes, I wonder if you have a face like that? In a sense, your face is familiar to me. I mean, you usually wear masks so much that I forget your real face."
 My head was moved by the fan, and my gaze fell on a close-up of the gorilla princess, who was looking at me with the eyes of a merchant examining the good and bad of a thing.
 Her cherry-red hair was slightly longer than semi-long, slightly wavy, with long eyelashes. And her white skin, which was still warm after a bath, was shiny as if she had been anointed with perfume oil. She had a thin smile on her face, and her bright but dark peach-colored eyes were narrow and half-open, and she seemed to be mean and nasty. The smell of sweet flowers tickled my nostrils as if she had been taking incense in the bath or something.
 Well, this gorilla is pretty funny, but the illustrator did a good job on her face, and I've seen her for years, so I don't react to her good looks now. ...No, I was a little disturbed to see her shoulders and collarbones after her bath, especially the upper part of her folds, even if the tips of them are not visible by the fan. I mean, her cleavage... if not a C, then a D? Besides, she's still in her growth phase, right? Seriously.
 "Oh my, you're not responding much, eh?"
 "As a servant, it's only natural. May I be so presumptuous as to ask what kind of response you're hoping for?"
 I ask her, trying to keep my attitude calm. To begin with, I've seen her nude many times in the game, and I even bathed and groomed her while she ran away from me when she was a brat, so it's a little late for that now.
 "Well, I thought you would cry tears of blood or something since it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for you to see my soft skin like this."
 "Tears of blood may be difficult, but I can make myself cry, shall I do it?"
 "Are you kidding? It's not cool to watch you do that just because you're told to. Okay, fine. Get out of here and take a bath."
 The gorilla princess pulls the fan away from my chin and closes it with a snap. At the same time, she spins around and turns her back toward me, wearing only a haori. Again I kneel, bow my head, and obey her command... but first I ask a question.
 "May I ask you one more question, if I may be so bold?"
 "Oh my, what is it?"
 The gorilla turns away as if she has already guessed what I'm going to ask, and turns around with a pleasant smile on her face. Ugh, that pisses me off.
 "Unfortunately, the servants' bathroom will be open around dusk. It will be difficult to take a bath until then."
 "I know that much. But I will not give you impossible orders."
 "I've got some hot water I just used. Use it. No one will complain if you use the leftover water."
 Hey, wait. What does that mean? I have a bad feeling about this...
 "Princess, what does that mean...?"
 "I've been burning incense and brewing bath salts in the room, so the smell may be strong, but it's better than what you're smelling right now."
 No, that's not it. I mean, seriously? Wouldn't it be too bad if someone found out about it?
 "Don't worry about it, I've already placed wards to keep people away from the place. And I can't stand it if you're avoided by that smell. So, if you smell the same next time... what will happen to you?"
 I bowed my head reverently with a cold sweat on my face at her words, and I could recall the expression of the power gorilla with a nasty smile on her face as it was...

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