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Chapter 14: Dining Out
Aresh Indrak furrowed his eyebrows as he watched the weary man in front of him chew his meal.
They were at a restaurant in the castle town. It was not a high-class establishment befitting of an aristocratic knight commander such as Aresh…but it was cosy, clean, and offered a certain feeling of warmth in addition to its reasonable prices intended for the common folk.
This place had been founded by a man who used to work as a cook in Aresh’s estate, and it was a place of refuge for him. He hadn’t told anyone from the Third Knights’ Order about it. Only the worn-out man opposite him, Kondoh the otherworlder, had made him go this far.
The only reason Aresh took Seiichirou to the medical office and instructed him to eat his lunch properly was because he wouldn’t be able to sleep at night otherwise. Just leaving Seiichirou alone after yesterday’s incident wouldn’t have been right.
After all, Seiichirou had only gotten involved in this world because he was forcibly brought here by the country’s secret summoning art in the first place. It was against the knights code of chivalry to neglect such a person.
No, Aresh shook his head, feeling uncomfortable making excuses for himself. He had neither the patriotism nor the sincerity to talk about chivalry as though it mattered.
On the other hand, there was no budding affection between him and Seiichirou after being intimate either. It was merely a touch of concern that had caused him to follow Seiichirou around, and the result was ultimately this.
He had been dying, so Aresh used magic to heal him. And because it was Aresh who caused the resulting magic intoxication, he had been required to embrace Seiichirou to familiarize him with that same magical power.
After that, he made sure Seiichirou went to the medical office to check on his physical condition. Aresh had only taken it upon himself to teach Seiichirou how to select his meals because they could potentially cause mana poisoning.
That’s all it was. Nothing more.
The main problem, however, was Seiichirou’s behaviour. It went beyond Aresh’s expectations and left him no choice but to take care of matters himself.
Seiichirou went to work the day after he had almost died and even stayed behind to work overtime without eating a proper lunch. Aresh couldn’t help but think there was something severely wrong with that man’s head. Why did the people around Seiichirou allow him to be like this?
First of all, he was receiving financial support from the country’s government, so he shouldn’t have felt compelled to work. What on earth went on his head to make him cut down on his sleep and food intake just to work?
Looking at Seiichirou now, Aresh felt nothing but irritation. One could say that this happening was the first real upset in Aresh’s otherwise uneventful life.
Seiichirou, on the other hand, was stuck wondering why this was happening to him while chewing through his meal.
Aresh had suddenly appeared while Seiichirou was working overtime and dragged him all the way to a small restaurant with a nice atmosphere. Once there, he was instructed to “eat” the food ordered by the tyrant who had never bothered to listen to a word Seiichirou said.
His fragile stomach wasn’t even complaining of hunger after he had worked so hard to eat the buffet plate piled high by Aresh earlier in the day. The problem now was that he couldn’t afford to upset the big shot who had saved his life. So, reluctantly, he ate another mouthful.
“Oh, this is delicious…”
The food was so good that he involuntarily spoke out loud. Rather than just being delicious, this food suited Seiichiro’s palate more than anything else he had tried before.
It was without the thick and oily seasonings often found in this world. This style of cooking possessed a more mild flavour that was reminiscent of the Japanese food that Seiichirou was familiar with. The light taste of this stewed dish with whitefish was the first thing in this country that Seiichirou felt was appetizing.
“Eat this too.”
Perhaps Seiichiro had not gone unnoticed. From the looks of it, Alesh seemed to be in a slightly better mood now as he pulled more plates over to their table.
“I can’t eat that much,” Seiichirou protested.
But when he said that, Aresh’s eyebrows furrowed once again, and he fell silent. The sudden shift in demeanor had Seiichirou grumbling “just a little” and reaching for a leafy-looking vegetable dish.
As I thought at lunch, Aresh eats well. Is it because he’s a knight and his body is his greatest asset, or is it because he is from another world. Or perhaps it’s because he is so young?
“This is a nice restaurant.”
As expected, Seiichiro could no longer bear to continue eating in silence, so he tried to start up a conversation.
Seiichirou thought that Aresh seemed a little high and mighty, but he was a very important person after all, so Seiichirou had no choice but to put up with it.
He didn’t fully understand Aresh’s intentions, but since it was such a rare opportunity for them to be in the same place together, Seiichirou tried to broach the topic of yesterday’s and, for that matter, today’s incidents.
“I’m very sorry for troubling you this morning.”
Seiichirou felt awful about leaving the captain at the inn after he had been forced to engage in sexual acts with Seiichirou all in the name of saving his life.
“It’s a bit late, but thank you very much for yesterday, too.”
And, consequently, Seiichirou wanted to discuss the debt owed for such a deed, but where would he even begin with that?
“…How are you feeling?”
“Huh? Oh, maybe the nutritional supplements seem to be doing their job, I feel good.”
That was the truth. Even though Seiichirou had supposedly developed symptoms of addiction, his body felt great, save for his lower half, and his mind was clearer than usual.
“You nearly died, twice. Don’t be so overconfident.”
“Yes,” Seiichirou replied with the intention of assurance, but the number of wrinkles between the Knight Captain’s brows only increased.
“If you really knew what you were doing, you would take some time off. But on the contrary, you work until you’re the only one left in your department. What do you think you’re doing to yourself, huh?”
“No, I… yes. I’m sorry. I just wanted to catch up on some unfinished work…”
Aresh snorted in displeasure at Seiichirou’s reply.
“Why are you working in the first place?”
The question was so simple that Seiichirou was left blinking in confusion, unable to grasp its true meaning.
“You shouldn’t have to work, so why do you devote yourself to unnecessary labor in a country that’s not even your own?”
Indeed, he was right that this was not Seiichiro’s homeland. He had no obligation to work whatsoever.
“Well, maybe it’s a way to establish a meaning for my existence here, I guess.”
It was not that he had set out to help this country when he initially asked for a job. Seiichirou hadn’t the slightest desire for that at all. But, for him, working was synonymous with breathing and was an indispensable part of his life; it was ingrained in him.
Rather, “not working” wasn’t an option.
On the other hand, Aresh was only working because he happened to be exceptional at his occupation, so it made sense that his duties steadily increased if the need arose.
Their fundamental work values were different.
“The country won’t get rid of you just because you’re not contributing.”
As someone who hadn’t had a medical check-up and had just learned about the dangers of mana poisoning today, Seiichirou was not so sure, but at least now he knew that Aresh didn’t think the same way. Seiichirou nodded in response.
“I know. It’s not about that; it’s about establishing oneself or self-affirmation, whatever you want to call it. Anyway, I feel more relaxed when I’m working.”
“I don’t understand what you mean.”
I remember hearing that Aresh was from a marquis household.
He was indeed a beautiful knight from a noble marquis bloodline that possessed great magical power. In his case, many other factors would help reaffirm his place in society without him having to work at all.
“That’s just the ideology of a poor commoner, I suppose.”
Seiichirou tried to end the conversation saying that. He had never expected that they would ever be able to understand each other from the get go.
“…That’s why I said that you don’t have to work and ruin your health in the process. You’re from another world, and from what I’ve heard, you’ve been in poor health since you arrived. Thus, you shouldn’t have to work. What kind of management does the accounting department have running it?”
“…It can’t be helped. It’s in my nature to get absorbed in whatever I do. It’s something I choose to do voluntarily. Also, my physical condition is chronic, so please don’t worry about it too much.”
Seiichirou had to hold himself back from saying, “My workload has been increasing these days because of your knights.” Instead, he tried offering a soft smile in reply.
The accounting department was a white-collar bureau that encouraged employees to come in and leave work on time each day. It was only Seiichiro who voluntarily increased his workload and chose to stay behind on his own.
However, the results of the work that Seiichiro had done since he came to this world was actually quite substantial. The country’s finances were well on their way to recovering, and the accounting department’s director, somehow, still had his head. But no news of those positive aspects had seemed to reach Aresh.
The elites live above the clouds, so they must not know how the commoners of lower birth go about their lives is what Seiichirou thought but held back from saying.1
“If you want to prioritize your work, you should always be in perfect physical condition.”
That part struck home, so Seiichirou forced a meek, wry smile.
“Yes, I’ll be more careful.”
In the end, Alesh’s lecture continued until long after the meal was over.
As they were leaving the restaurant, Seiichirou tried to pay the bill, but the younger aristocrat glared at him and said, “Are you trying to embarrass me?”
Before Seiichirou could even recall that he had not yet paid the Knight’s Captain back for the day before, Aresh had already left.
“What the hell was that…?”
There was no one to answer Seiichirou, who was now all alone. He had no choice but to head back to the dormitory and mull over what to do next.
He hadn’t been able to talk about the restitution owed.
Before he went to bed, Seiichirou considered sending some sort of repayment through Helmut since he likely wouldn’t be meeting Aresh again.
However, every day after that, Seiichirou would have lunch and dinner with Aresh. He just did not know that yet.
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