Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 43: His Arrival
It was late. Wang decided it was time for lunch and left, walking through the gates. On his way out, a familiar figure caught his eye. The man’s height, the cane he carried around: it all reminded him of one of his companions on his journey to the Royal Capital.
Walking closer, Wang noticed that the man did look very similar to his companion. He was talking to a wealthy-looking man, but it was hard to see his face, covered by the shadow of his straw hat.
A voice called out to him and Ashiyowa, now facing him, approached with a smile.
“It’s been a while, hasn’t it, Wang? I was thinking about you just now. Just wanted to know how you were doing.”
“Is that so, thank you very much for thinking of me. You seem to be doing well yourself. As you can see, I am now an official… I thought Ashi-dono was going to return to your hometown.”
“Well… I was supposed to but…” Ashiyowa made a troubled face, so Wang nodded and decided not to probe. Unlike when they first met, Ashiyowa now wore a well-made straw hat that had no stray strands poking out. His sleeves were pristine, and his sandals looked brand new.
“How have you been?”
“I’ve started making a hut. I’m also thinking of planting some trees around the area.”
“Ah, that’s good to hear.” It must be some kind of landscaping, Wang thought. At least Ashiyowa seemed fairly laid back. The Ashiyowa he knew was unaware of the Royal Capital’s customs and rules, so if he wound up begging on the streets, Wang wouldn’t have been surprised.
Wang’s initial thoughts, knowing Ashiyowa was here, was that he didn’t want to leave his acquaintance alone. His home was a little small, but surely Wang could help him out. But upon closer inspection, Ashiyowa seemed to have found a job here. A young nobleman stood behind him with an armed escort, which led Wang to the conclusion that he must have been hired by a wealthy house and was being treated well.
“―Ashi-dono, that cane…” Against Ashiyowa’s simple attire, the cane looked out of place.
“Ah, this was given to me. I would’ve been fine with a plain old wooden stick but…” The cane was engraved with coral and ivory patterns, and its smooth surface was made of black lacquer that shone under the light. It was very obviously a gift from a wealthy noble.
“That may be so, but it works well, doesn’t it?” The nobles who Ashiyowa served must have been drawn to his naïveté.
I’m glad he’s being taken good care of.
Wang smiled to himself.
They said their goodbyes and Wang left to get lunch.
He told Ashiyowa to visit whenever he was free; he’d happily welcome him. Before he ran off, Wang also said that he would accompany Ashiyowa if he wanted to visit the bookshop again.
He’s such a nice person.
Ashiyowa wore a big smile as he made his way back to Nukumori, happy to have been reunited with Wang. He was lost in thought when suddenly, he felt someone’s arms around him.
The man’s voice sounded familiar but lower than Ashiyowa was used to hearing. Ashiyowa let himself out of the man’s grasp and looked up and down at the owner of the voice. They seemed to be about the same height and had a similar shoulder length. Most of the man’s face was hidden by a black hat, and underneath, his hair was wrapped with cloth. The man’s clothing resembled a merchant’s. He wore wooden sandals and carried a bag on his back. A plain-looking sword tucked to his waist completed the look.
“What… What are you doing here?”
“Observing. Observing you, Aniue.” With a finger, the man tilted his hat and revealed his face. His playful expression and dazzling blue eyes met Ashiyowa’s.
Because the others showed no signs of surprise, they must have known that the Emperor would be coming.
“Aniue, who was that man just now? You seem close to him.”
“That was… He was… Since when have you been watching?” Ashiyowa wanted to surprise Lesheine with the gift he got, so he tried to postpone talking about Wang.
“Just a while ago, since Aniue approached the man. From a distance, it looked like you both got along quite well.” Lesheine placed his arms around Ashiyowa’s waist again.
Thankfully Lesheine hadn’t found the gift hiding in his purse yet, so Ashiyowa decided not to get upset at his unexpected appearance. Looking to Lesheine’s side, he noticed there was another Imperial guard following Lesheine the way Koseki had accompanied him.
“Aniue, this Reimei, the bravest hero on these lands.” Lesheine was pouting because Ashiyowa wouldn’t talk about the man, but upon noticing the direction of Ashiyowa’s gaze, he introduced the guard to him.
Reimei was a young man with a large build. His body was huge enough that Ashiyowa was convinced he’d be able to shield Lesheine from anything. He stood tall and carried himself with a sense of sharpness. But when met with Lesheine’s praise, his ears turned bright red and his head tilted down as he mumbled out an excuse. It was rather cute.
“Nice to meet you. Thank you for looking after Leshe.” Ashiyowa took off his hat and bowed, a gesture of politeness. But the chamberlains and guards seemed panicked, waving their hands around frantically.
The Emperor let out a small laugh and then tilted his hat low enough to cover their faces as he planted a kiss on Ashiyowa’s lips. He leaned for another, this time placing a hand behind Ashiyowa’s neck to deepen the kiss. Although they were on a fairly empty street, the chamberlains and guards immediately formed a wall around the two so no one would see.
“By the way, Aniue, you still haven’t told me who the man was.” Lesheine brushed his lips on Ashiyowa’s cheeks, then his ear, and waited quietly for his response.