Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Arc 1 The Strongest Man and the Cursed Merchant
Chapter 6 Appearances
“I’ve caused you a lot of trouble,” I muttered.
“Not at all. How’s your leg? Does it still hurt?” Ideal responded.
“My leg? Ah, right, my leg.”
I had forgotten all about my leg from the moment I woke up until now. When I raised the hem of my pants, there was a familiar brand. It was etched darkly, but that was all. I felt neither pain nor heat.
“It seems to have calmed down. Did you do something?” I asked.
“Yeah. Shuka-san, that’s a… curse mark, isn’t it?”
Knowledge of curses wasn’t widespread.
Until I was cursed, I thought they were the stuff of fairy tales.
Even if I looked for a way to break the curse, there was too much mystery and not much information available.
“I’m familiar with curses because my… family is a bit special.” Ideal admitted.
“Familiar?! Does that mean you might be able to break it?” I asked.
“That… I won’t be able to break the curse anytime soon.”
Looking at the troubled expression on Ideal’s face, I knew that my curse was impossible to break.
I couldn’t hide my discouragement, and Ideal hurriedly tried to reassure me.
“I can temporarily suppress it, I think.”
“Eh? So, can you do it?
“Yes. I mean, I’ve already been doing it. The pain in your leg is only temporarily suppressed for the moment.”
Ideal lowered his eyebrows and looked at my ankle.
“Does that mean the pain is going to come back again?”
“If you suppress it regularly, you should be fine, but… the method is a bit…”
“Kissing… we’d have to…”
Ideal’s words suddenly trailed off.
I could have sworn I heard him say kissing.
A kiss to suppress the curse.
No, that couldn’t be it.
“Sorry, explain that to me again.”
“It’s kissing. ‘Mucous membrane contact and the exchange of bodily fluids’, to be exact.”
“Mucous membrane contact and fluid exchange.”
What kind of nonsense was this?
“I think if you don’t kiss me at least once every half day, your ankle will start hurting again.”
“…Just to be sure I’m not mistaken, you’re serious?”
“I’m serious. Very serious.”
Ideal was covering his mouth with his hand so I couldn’t really make out his expression.
But I sensed that he wasn’t lying. There wouldn’t be any reason to tell such a strange lie in the first place.
“But I’ve never needed to kiss you before.”
“True. But it’s the nature of the curse. It seems like certain conditions have been met, so it’s gotten stronger.”
“I see. Well, I understand the gist of it.”
Ideal seemed reluctant to elaborate, so I stopped myself from asking for more details.
Since he said that his family was special, it might have been a secret that could only be passed down to other members of the family.
Even though I was the victim of this curse, there was a limit to what I, a third party, could be told.
“However, I am troubled by the fact that the curse is getting stronger…”
Ideal said that the curse had become stronger and that’s why it was becoming painful.
–Did that mean that the disgust directed at me from others would also become stronger?
If they hated me even more than they did now, I would indeed be in danger of losing my life.
Once every half day… a kiss…? I thought to myself.
–In fact, this was the first time I had ever kissed someone.
Before I turned twelve, I was all about work, and, after the age of twelve, I couldn’t even shake hands with another person because of my curse.
So that had been my first kiss.
Kissing was so sweet, so horrible, and so irresistible.
It was an unknown sensation, as if my mind and body were going to melt into a soggy mess and mix with Ideal.
Doing that kind of thing once every half day.
How was I going to stay sane?
Beyond that, I had an even bigger problem.
“I… don’t have any money.”
“I should ask now. How much money will I have to prepare for you to kiss me?”
In a secret place a short distance from the town, I had buried the money I had saved up a little at a time over twenty years.
But even after twenty years, it was only the tears of a small bird, and it would be far too little to beg for Ideal’s mercy.
At my words, Ideal looked surprised and saddened.
“I don’t want your money,” he insisted.
There must have been a lot of people who would pay any price to get a kiss from this beautiful man.
And I was just a dirty little man who was rarely even treated as a human being.
“I really don’t want it. I can’t go into detail, but it was my ancestors who created that curse. So Shuka-san’s suffering is my family’s fault. There is no need for Shuka-san to pay a price to lighten the burden.”
Ideal knelt down and looked up at me, taking my hand as I sat on the bunk.
“Please, Shuka-san. Let me kiss you.”
–My heart pounded harder than I’d ever felt before.
What the hell was this?
I must have been even more surprised than I had thought.
“‘Please let me absolve my family for their sins. Of course, I don’t think this will be enough to ease Shuka-san’s suffering, but let me help make things a little easier.”
My heart kept bouncing like a wild rabbit.
Thanks to that, it took me a while to process what Ideal had said.
I wondered how he received my voice, which had stumbled forth from my thought-stopped mouth, when his expression suddenly brightened.
“Are you sure? Thank you, Shuka-san!”
“Eh? No, I’m… uh, …right. Then, please.”
Whatever his ancestors did or didn’t do, it had nothing to do with Ideal.
So I really didn’t think it was necessary for Ideal to do this, but… Ideal was smiling so happily that I stopped myself from saying it.
The curse that his family was involved in, it was apparently of great concern to Ideal.
I was sure this would help me too, so I decided to take advantage of his kindness for the time being.
“Leave it to me! Oh, but… Shuka-san doesn’t mind kissing me, does he?”
“I don’t mind. It’s just kissing, it’s not a big deal,” I agreed.
That was such a lie.
It was too much of a big deal.
How could I say that with a straight face when I had just fainted from being kissed?
However, that didn’t mean I was going to tell him that it was my first kiss.
–I’ve heard that the first time is a hassle.
Having been cursed and abandoned in the wild before I had reached sexual maturity, I had acquired my sexual knowledge mainly from bar room gossip.
While scavenging in the trash behind the tavern at night, I would hear crude mercenaries talking openly about sex.
According to them, first-timers were a pain in the ass.
It was annoying to be misunderstood.
If you’re going to be with someone, it’s a hundred times better to be with someone who is used to it.
I remembered hearing several mercenaries agreeing with those words.
I have to pretend I’m used to these kinds of things and be careful not to mistake myself for someone special or anything like that. I warned myself.
I would take advantage of Ideal’s goodwill to suppress the curse and lighten his burden of guilt.
I didn’t want to cause any more hassle or inconvenience.
“Kissing…” he inquired, “Have you done it before?”
So I immediately responded to Ideal’s words.
“Of course. I kiss people all the time.”