Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 30: Hut Building
It had rained yesterday and the day before. Ashiyowa walked around the bald mountain, checking its condition. He touched the soil, trying to determine which parts had become weak, and examined the roots of the grass barely clinging onto its surface. With the cane he carried around, he pulled himself up off the ground. He was about to call out to the chamberlain (the same one always by his side) when he realised something.
“―What is your name?”
“I am called Inochi1,” the elderly chamberlain answered, kneeling respectfully. Under the harsh sunlight, Ashiyowa stared at the tanned man who accompanied him.
“That’s a wonderful name.”
“We Grey Wolves all receive our names from the royal family.”
“What are the others named?” Inochi summoned the other chamberlains and guards.
“Introduce yourselves to Ashi-sama.” Each person knelt and gave their name.
“Nukumori, at your service.”
“Hoshi, at your service.”
“Koseki, at your service.”
“Michi, at your service.”
“Haruka, at your service.”
Ashiyowa was impressed. “Everyone has such nice names…”
Ashiyowa’s name was given to him by the old man who raised him. Somehow, it felt out of place after hearing all these new names. ‘Ashiyowa’ was a reminder of his physical disability, but the names of the Grey Wolves were nothing like that. It felt as if each of their names was a blessing.
“Lafoseine-sama’s name means ‘sunbeams’ in the ancient language of La Seine,” the chamberlain continued. He must have noticed the dark expression as it briefly flashed across Ashiyowa’s face.
“Then, what about ‘Lesheine’?”
“His Majesty’s name means good fortune and happiness.”
―Fortune and happiness.
“Ah, is that so…” Ashiyowa could imagine Lesheine being born surrounded by joy and happiness. Committing their conversation to memory, Ashiyowa glanced at Inochi.
“I want to plant trees on these mountains. To make things easier, we should build a hut at the foot of the mountain where we can rest and sleep.”
The chamberlain bowed. “Very well, Ashi-sama. The hut can be built in five days. As for the trees, we can order the seedlings once you’ve decided which kinds you’d like.”
“T-that’s alright. I’ll be doing everything. There’s no need to bother others.” The chamberlain hesitantly raised his head as Ashiyowa waved his hands in a panic.
“I’d just need a tool that can help me cut the trees down. Once the hut is built, I can look after the seedlings.”
“Aniue-sama, you don’t have to trouble yourself…,” the chamberlains gulped.
“It’s fine. I should be the one doing it. It is my wish, after all.” Ashiyowa only hoped he could get permission from Lesheine. He would ask during lunch.
Lesheine had come down from Ryokuryū to Ryokuen Palace and was now listening to Ashiyowa’s request across the dining table.
“A hut? What about the tents?”
“I just thought it’d be too cold during winter…”
“Ah, that is true. Are you planning to build the hut by yourself?”
“Yes,” Ashiyowa answered resolutely. Lesheine could see he was determined.
Ashiyowa was in green summer clothing embroidered with yellow petals. The sash was a light yellow, and the ensemble truly complemented his tall figure.
Having joined their bodies several times, Lesheine once again invited Ashiyowa. Ashiyowa averted his eyes, his cheeks burning as he turned Lesheine down.
Should I try insisting? But sneaking glimpses of Ashiyowa’s pale nape, tinged pink between strands of black hair, he felt like waiting a little longer.
“Well then, let us prepare the materials for you. Please use them. You’ll also need some tools.”
“Leshe, I can build it myself.” But Ashiyowa ended up accepting Lesheine’s offer to use their materials and tools, just in case.
“I understand. But if there’s anything you need, don’t hesitate to ask.”
“I will…Thank you,” Ashiyowa replied, biting into the Sanmei fruit Lesheine had nudged into his mouth.
With Lesheine’s permission, the timber for the hut was promptly piled up at the foot of the mountain. The tools to cut, measure, and shape the timber were also delivered.
Ashiyowa asked a chamberlain for clothes he could work in; something he could sweat in and which was also easy to move in. Working in the long-sleeved robes he usually wore would probably get him hurt, but the clothes he received from the chamberlain seemed no less luxurious in Ashiyowa’s eyes. Only, they did have shorter sleeves and undergarments and came with the straw sandals and hat he wanted.
It was hot during the day, so he would work in the early mornings and late evenings, up until sunset. Each day, Ashiyowa woke up in the tent that they had set up in the forest. He would wash his face and change his clothes before taking a carriage to the mountains. Over there, he would make plans for the day while eating breakfast. As soon as he was done eating, he would start working. Some chamberlains and guards would watch over him as he examined the plans he had drawn up, using a ruler to create marks.
“Aniue-sama, where did you learn to do this?” a chamberlain asks as he offers Ashiyowa some cold juice on his break.
“The old man I used to live with taught me how to build huts.”
“Drawing plans, setting up, using tools; he taught you all of this?”
“Yes… Though, we didn’t have all these tools to work with back at the mountains,” Ashiyowa replied before taking a sip of the juice. It was only then he noticed how dry his throat was and gulped the rest of it down at once.
The old man was strict, the scariest teacher he knew. That’s why there were to be no compromises when it came to choosing which trees to log, cutting down the trees, carrying them, and choosing where to set up the hut. Even the tiniest mistake would result in a slap on the wrist.
If could build a hut back then, despite being younger and thinner at the time, he should be able to do it now. Though he was slightly concerned about the mountain’s surroundings, Ashiyowa made steady progress towards the image of the hut he held in his mind.