In Love With the Strongest Man

Translator: Shizukuku

Editor: Helen

Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!

Arc 2 Storm

Chapter 12 The Assassins Guild

“Hey, Ideal, what happened to your cheek?”

I felt something was off, and I noticed a distinct scratch on his smooth, statuesque, white cheek.

“A scratch— Don’t tell me it was you, Akane!”

“Meow, he deserved it. Don’t worry about it, Mew-ka.”

“I got what I deserved. Don’t worry about it, Shuka-san.”

I was nervous that my cat had done something wrong, but both of them responded to me in a noncommittal manner. The words overlapped so perfectly that I wondered if they had rehearsed it. While I was perplexed, Akane took several sniffs and looked at me with a huff.

“Hmph… Hff! Uuuuu Mew-ka is smelly, meow. Take a bath.”

“I wonder how I smell that bad…”

I tried sniffing myself but couldn’t quite figure it out. Akane, however, continued sniffing and huffing.

“You have too many threatening pheromones. You should wash the inside of your tummy.”

“Tummy… Akane, what?! Akane-san?!”

“I’m afraid of all that muddled jealousy. Hurry up and wash it out, Servant Number One.”

“…Hmm? Akane, did you call me Servant Number One just now?”

“Meow, you caught me!”

Akane, who was lying on the bed purring, tilted his head to the side.

“No good, meow?”

“There’s no way…!”

“Meow! Purrrrrr, purrrrr…”

My heart throbbed as Akane purred in contentment. Akane was strong, free, and selfish. That was what I loved about him.

“Hurry up and come back to me. Hurry, meow!”

And then, there was also the way he whispered things like that to my back.

* * *

While I was washing up in the bath, the maid told me that she had sent a messenger to the brothel where Langetsu was staying. Langetsu would be coming as soon as he finished his work in the morning, and Ideal invited me to have tea in the greenhouse until then.

The greenhouse was softly lit by sunlight. Ideal and I sat facing each other across the tea set.

Akane was curled up in my lap, of course. He was no longer huffing but instead, dozing off with his tongue sticking out a little bit.

“Thank you for going out of your way to invite Langetsu to your mansion. I heard you even arranged for a carriage.”

“Would you like to see him sooner? …I’m sure I’ve caused you a lot of worry.”

“Thank you for your concern, but I’ve waited for twenty years, so a few days is nothing new. And we both know the other is still alive now.”

“Please arrange for a faster carriage.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Did you hear what I said?”

Although I had told him not to worry about it, Ideal quickly instructed the servant to do so for some reason. Puzzled, I drank the tea he recommended before it got cold. The aromatic flavor of the tea leaves spread softly. Instantly, a certain memory was stimulated in me.

“This… It couldn’t be…?”

“Ah, yes, it has quite an unusual aroma. It’s a rare tea, but I just happened to have it on hand.”

“Ideal, how old are you now?”

These tea leave were only distributed in a small area of the Land of Angels. An old friend of mine from the demon tribe favored this tea, and he would nag me to buy some for him whenever I found some.

—Twenty years ago, I entrusted a boy with black hair and red eyes to that demon.

I had deliberately failed a nobleman’s request and kidnapped that child. No doubt. I remembered it now. That boy was skinny and dirty, but he definitely had the same unusual combination of black hair and red eyes.

“I’m twenty-two.”

“…Right. That’s right then.”

During our time together, I had sometimes wondered if Ideal was, in fact, the child of that time. If so, his kindness to me would make sense. In a way, I may have saved his life. But his age was different. The child was about five or six years old then. If he were alive today, he would be at least twenty-five years old. He wouldn’t be Ideal’s age.

“What does it matter?”

“No, nothing. I was just thinking that it’s nice to be young.”

“You’re still young, Shuka-san.”

“I’m already thirty-two years old.”

“You haven’t even hit the halfway point yet.”

“Ehhh, isn’t this the halfway point?”

If they lived until old age, a person’s life span would be roughly sixty to seventy years old.

Despite that, Ideal said, “You should live to be at least a hundred years old,” and Akane meowed in agreement.

A peaceful period of uninteresting conversation ensued. When the pot of tea had been replaced, Ideal suddenly asked me something.

“Shuka-san, who are you?”

“…Me?”

“Yeah. At twelve years old, you were taking requests from the nobility, you had older subordinates, and… you weren’t just an ordinary person, were you?”

The question was asked with the same temperature as the chit-chat we had been having. In other words, I didn’t have to answer if I didn’t want to. Normally, I wouldn’t answer. But, I felt that I could talk to Ideal. As long as it was only about me and not anything that would cause trouble for my hometown. In front of me was Ideal Fierte, the Hero of Salvation.

It wouldn’t be fair for me to be the only one who held the information about the other party.

“Just so you know, it was a long time ago. Now, I’m just a small man with no power, nothing more than a vagrant.”

I prefaced with that, and then I began to organize in my mind as to where I should begin to tell the story.

“—Have you ever heard of the Assassins Guild?”

“Ah, I heard about them when I was little. If you did anything wrong, the Assassins Guild would come and punish you.”

“I see. Well, you know what, I used to be a part of that.”

The Assassins’ Guild—that was the most widely known term for my hometown.

Commercial guilds, mercenary guilds… There were various guilds in each country, but the assassins guild was equally treated as a fairy tale in every country. It was similar to the story about the monster that would come if one was too noisy at night, or something like that. Fairy tales to scare children.

“Huh… it actually exists?”

“Well, in reality, it’s not all assassinations—or rather, it’s rarely assassinations. The main work we did was intelligence and so on. It’s a low-profile thing.”

“Intelligence… and you used to have subordinates, didn’t you? Were you a big shot? At the age of twelve?”

“Yes… I was the head. Only for a moment, though. It’s an old, rusted glory.”

It was unexpectedly embarrassing to talk about the past. I didn’t see the point in talking about how great I used to be. As long as I couldn’t prove it, it was no different than a lie.

But Ideal didn’t doubt it at all and just looked at me with wide-open eyes.

“Head?! You were the top…!”

“I told you it was a long time ago. Don’t take it too seriously. And soon after—well, what happened? I became a merchant. But I guess all those intelligence skills I learned came in handy.”

Twelve years old and the head. It sounded like a great thing, but in fact, it was a bad thing. Being too young to be the head had created a lot of backlash. The village was divided, and I was cursed because someone had set me up. 

If only I hadn’t become the head. I would be lying if I said I never thought that. But there was a child who would have died in the not-too-distant future if I hadn’t been set up. If I saved that child, my life might have been worthwhile. I hoped he was doing well. If the curse could be lifted in the future, I would like to visit him to see how he is doing.

“—Shuka-san, that…”

Ideal was about to say something, but he was interrupted by the sound of rumbling steps that suddenly echoed through the air.

A horse came trotting up to the greenhouse, making a wild, dusty sound.

“Shuka-san, it’s terrible!”

“Langetsu?”

Riding the brown horse was a familiar man. His blond hair was disheveled as he rolled off his horse, falling to the ground.

“The village… Our village is…!”

“Calm down, what’s wrong with the village?”

I ran out of the greenhouse and picked Langetsu up in my arms. The older man was trembling, his face pale and bloodless.

“The village was attacked from the outside— The village has been destroyed!”

[End of Arc 2]

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Stephanie
Stephanie
5 months ago

Thanks for the update