Ch. 166: Ageha’s Past and the Present
At the Sagiri Family home…..we arrived at Ageha’s family’s house and were welcomed by their servants and helpers.
With Mrs. Akane’s guidance, we were led to a certain room.
Akane: “This is our guest room. Please relax and make yourselves at home. I will go make some tea.”
Henry: “Oh… please don’t mind us.”
Akane: “No, you are our guests. If I do not welcome Little Teo’s friends, my husband will reprimand me.”
Mrs. Akane chuckled as she closed the sliding door silently.
As I heard her footsteps move away from the room, I let out a deep breath.
Teo: “Here, you can make yourselves comfortable with these cushions.”
And Teo went over to a stack of thin cushions in the corner of the room and began placing them around the table in the center of the room.
Unlike a house on the mainland, the Rishu custom requires guests to remove their shoes. It is common for them to sit on the floor as well…….and well, unlike camping outside, it feels strange to sit on the ground indoors.
Henry: “Here, let’s try this. ……..oh.”
The cushion felt very nice underneath me as I murmured in satisfaction.
Cyril: “Wow! It’s thin but so fluffy to sit on!”
Henry: “Yeah, it is.”
………hm? Flat but still soft? Cyril: “? What is it, Henry? You’re just staring at me.” Henry: “........it’s nothing.” Ugh, I had some weird thoughts racing through my head just now. It’s still mid-day. Go away, stupid desires.
………..but thank goodness. She must be distracted by the cushions' soft feel. She’s been a lot more keen about my thoughts, but she didn’t catch on just now.
As I reflected on these things, Jend began moving his shoulders in a circle as he began grumbling.
Jend: “Fwew～ but yeah. We can finally take a break. It wasn’t as bad as Henry’s experience, but riding that ship was tiresome.”
Henry: “Really? You didn’t look any different than usual.” Jend: “No, no. It was mentally tiring. The rooms were small, so I felt cramped, and I wasn’t able to move my body for 2 whole days.”
Well, for Jend who trains hard every day, he must have been itching to get some exercise during that entire time. Since I was seasick for most of the journey, I didn’t realize it, but my body was fidgeting for some exercise too.
Henry: “For Teo……..I guess you’re used to it.”
Teo: “No, if it was a regular cargo ship, I would usually help out in return for letting me ride so……..I wouldn’t mind going outside to swing my sword a little.”
Teo gently caressed the knife she carried on her belt. We left most of our gear at the front entrance, but she still carried this around.
It was a knife specially made by Mr. Gordon. It is incredibly sturdy and yet razor thin. It’s a weapon meant to pierce through the cracks and joints of tough fur or armor. Frankly, it’s a weapon for assassins.
On top of that, the blade itself was specifically designed so that it was hard to perceive, and if she were to pull that blade out during the night, I’m not sure if I would be able to see it.
Teo: “Well, there’s really not a place where we would be able to move that much, so we will have to be patient. We could go to the yard, but……we will probably scare all the helpers.”
Henry: “Hm? But isn’t this Ageha’s home? It’s also the home base of the Cloudy Plains Style, so isn’t there a Dojo here?” That was my assumption.
Teo: “Ohー This is the Sagiri’s business residence, so there’s not a facility like that. The training for the Cloudy Plains Style is……actually performed on the Cloudy Plains Mountain where the Sagiri’s main base used to be. Over there, we have a large dojo at the house, and the mountain itself serves as a natural training ground.”
Henry: “Oh, I’ve heard of that mountain.”
Since we decided to go to Rishu, I got some bits and pieces about the Sagiri family and the general area.
The Sagiri Family had established themselves by serving as something like spies in the civil war that was going on 50 to 60 years ago.
And that Sagiri Family’s main base was the Cloud Plains Mountain. Even today, there is a house over there near the mountains.
Nowadays, they are incredibly successful import and export merchants, so the house at the mountain has not been used as much……is what she told me.
Teo: “Apparently, Sister Ageha would spend all her time at the mountain since she was little, and trained day and night. Though Grandpa Hayate was already retired, she nagged him for lessons until he gave in.”
So……Mr. Hayate would be Teo’s grandfather, Shiden’s, brother…….I think.
But nagging her grandfather for training sounds just like Ageha.
As I thought about these things, I heard someone let out a disappointed sigh outside our door.
The door slid open, and Mrs. Akane, who seemed to be holding back a headache, came back.
Akane: “........I apologize for the wait.” On a large, circular wooden platter sat a steaming clay tea kettle and 6 tea cups……ummm, they were not a familiar shape, but I think she brought snacks too. The tea kettle and cups are things I’ve seen in Teo’s family store, so I recognized them immediately.
Mrs. Akane poured tea into each cup and passed it to each of us.
Akane: “Please have some of these snacks. They are called ‘senbei,’ and we purchased it from our favorite vendor.”
Henry: “Senbei……I see. Yes, thank you. I would love to try some.”
Inside a round, wooden bowl, there was something black wrapped and stuck to it. As I sniff, a delicious aroma fills my nose.
As I bit down with a <crunch>........oh! It’s a little hard, but very delicious.
And following up with a hot tea, they balanced each other very well.
Cyril: “Oh! How delicious!”
Jend: “I think it’s made from rice. It goes very well with the green tea.”
Everyone else seemed to take a liking to it as well.
Teo was used to it, but even I could tell that it was one of her favorite snacks. She looked extremely satisfied.
Akane: “I am glad that you like it.”
Henry: “Yes, thank you very much.” After finishing my first, my hand naturally stretched out for a second one.
The third……..I passed because Teo looked like she wanted more.
And as I sipped the tea, we returned to stories about Ageha’s younger days.
Akane: “Really, she was such trouble as a child……..and she did have talent, and by the time she was 10, she was good enough to give my father-in-law a hard time. I know he was quite aged by that time, but during the civil war, he had made a few legendary episodes by the end.”
Well, I knew very little about the civil war, but as far as legends go, Ageha was definitely in the process of building her own fame. Her sneak attack and beheading a Demonic General is not something anyone else can do.
Akane: “And well, I know that she has gained the title of Hero of Legend, and that is her choice but……..she really did teach us the hardships of child-rearing….”
And Mrs. Akane ended her story in deep reflection and a heavy sigh.
………but…….was it just the stress of raising a child? I couldn’t help but feel that raising Ageha came with a whole slew of other stresses, but……….I kept that opinion to myself and my mouth shut.
But then, Cyril raised her hand promptly to ask a question.
Cyril: “That reminds me, Mrs. Akane. There was something I was meaning to ask you. Could I ask a question?” Akane: “Yes, of course. Umm, you were… Miss Cyril, correct? What can I do for you?” Cyril paused with a long “ummmm…..” as she went back and forth about how to proceed.
Cyril: “Um, Miss Ageha likes going for the throat, but do you know why?” ………..oh………she did it. THAT’S the question you wanted to start with?!
But I was curious about it myself. Ageha would just brush us off with, “There’s no particular reason.” but if it’s her mother, she might know something.
…………not that the information would benefit us. But as someone who has had to defend my neck numerous times from a sleeping Ageha, I’d like to know the reason too.
Akane: “...........? The neck, you say?” Teo: “Oh, Mrs. Akane. Sister Ageha would invent weird moves like ‘Ageha Neck Slash’, do you remember?”
Akane: “I knew about that, but it was just one of her moves……….wait, huh? What’s happening with Ageha right now?” ～～～!! To think that even her mother didn’t know?!
WーWait…. Actually, that makes sense. In Rishu, the Demonic Creatures only spawn in a very specific area. That’s why the civilization here had the time and resource to do a civil war……..and Ageha’s obsession with going for the throat would mean that she would go after animals and……..and humans(?) here.
………and even Ageha wouldn’t go that far. Thus, in Rishu, she didn’t show that side of her personality.
And though she does constantly and obsessively go for the throat, she doesn’t really advertise herself or go out of her way to let others know about it either………..so………isn’t this situation………bad?
Akane: “MーMr. Henry, if you will please. Please let me understand this in detail. I thought her Hero title of “Beheader” was just because she beheaded the Demonic General’s head, was it not?” ……….and Adventurers who climb up the ladder of fame receive a nickname in the form of an unofficial title.
And it’s something we Adventurers start poking fun at someone and their general character, and it ends up with, “Well, they’re that kind of guy so how about a title like this?” And it becomes the norm around the Adventurers circles and eventually sticks.
And within a year of starting her Adventurer career, Ageha already established her title as “beheader.” There was no one who argued against how fitting it was.
And since becoming a Hero of Legend, her rumors spread further, but she was the “beheader” from the beginning.
…………and how was I supposed to explain that to her mother? Henry: “Ummmm, so……yes…..well…….it’s………um…….”
I look around the room as I desperately try to come up with a proper answer.
I even glance around the room at my Party members, but…….they all kindly broke eye contact and look away.
………..what should I do…. I know Mr. Simon asked me to talk about Ageha to her mother, and I readily agreed because I thought that Ageha’s demented desire…….or rather, twisted obsession........wait, we’ll just call it a “preference” ー I thought her relatives knew about this already!
And now, assuming that she knows little to almost nothing about Ageha’s……..even conservatively choosing the insane episodes wrought with her escapades openly to her mother would……..
…….yeah, if I was her family, I would probably pass out and faint.
And Mrs. Akane must have read my thoughts.
Akane: “It looks like Ageha has been acting MUCH more freely than I have imagined. …….let me go make a new pot of tea. I believe you all are departing this evening? If you do not mind, I would love to hear the stories about my foolish daughter. Please allow me to hear every detail you know.”
Mrs. Akane’s eyes lowered to a cold, steely gaze as she stood up.
I wanted to assure her, but there were no words or proper moments.
………and well, free-spirited is a very mild term for Ageha, and the episodes that came to mind did very little justice to the word. But to be fair, could any parent imagine their daughter doing what Ageha did? I think that’s an impossibility of its own.
For instance, right before an expedition, Ageha would announce, “Today is a good day for chopping headsー so we’ll call today Head Chopping Day!” And proudly stated her words with her arms crossed and chin high. …………and well, these are just words, and just the beginning.
Cyril: “Henry……I think you’ll be held responsible for today.”
Henry: “Responsible for what!! This is all Ageha’s super stupid fault! It’s not mine!”
Cyril placed a reassuring hand on my shoulder as she spoke softly.
And from the bottom of my soul, I objected.
CHONKY TL LiT (Lost in Translation)
1. Cushion Seats (zabuton) (座布団) (ざぶとん) - cushions to place on the ground so you can sit on it. The traditional living rooms with tatami flooring will have low tables in Japan near ground level, and the cushions are thin and comfortable enough to sit on while gathering around the table.
If you're wondering why people bother sitting on the ground, consider that space is very limited in Japan so the living room can also serve as a bedroom. Furniture must be compact enough where you can prop up tables against the wall so you can pull out the foldable futon mattress, sheets, blankets, and pillows, and in the morning, yes, you fold it and put it back. The zabuton cushions just make it easier to serve as chairs versus having actual chairs clog up precious living space. Western style houses are being built in modern day Japan, but the space shortage is still a reality in most major cities.
2. Senbei (煎餅) (せんべい) (rice-crackers)
The snack is rumored to have been around since the 8th and 9th century, as a Japanese Monk, Kukai (空海), brought it over from China. Coincidentally, it would be around the same time cookies became a thing.
You basically mash rice together, flavor it with soy sauce, and bake it over a fire until it’s dry. The crunchy, soy sauce flavored snack goes well with seaweed, and you will find a variety of different kinds and packages all throughout Japan. Similar to chips in the U.S. (think of all the flavors and shapes), the interpretation of “senbei” is fluid, and the difference between Japanese crackers and senbei can be very gray. The most traditional kind is round, soy-sauce flavored, and sometimes wrapped in dried seaweed, but certain regions of Japan might contest that definition.
Semi-retired Adventurer Lives Leisurely
Written by Hisagushien
Translated by: ChonkyTranslator
Book 11: Preparation for the Conquest