Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Part 4 – Langue de Chat of Truth
Chapter 11 – Prayer
“This book is due two weeks from today,” Sui unlocked the tag and handed the book back to the customer.
He watched the customer’s back as they left, making the bell on the door jingle. When they were gone, he stretched his arms out.
“It looks like you’ve gotten quite used to it,” a regular customer, who visited the library once every few days, stopped flipping through his book and laughed.
“Thanks… to you?”
This particular person came to read books but rarely borrowed them.
“Oh, yeah. I’ll give you this.”
Rummaging through his pocket with a rustling sound, he took out a piece of candy that had gotten rather crumpled.
“It’s curry-flavored! It’s good. Packs quite the punch.”
Although he had a feeling that it wouldn’t be tasty1, Sui took the candy for the time being and bid the customer, who didn’t borrow any books today either, farewell.
A week had passed since he had begun working at Kasa’s mini-library. Loaning books, organizing them, receiving them back, inspecting them, and then organizing them again. Though they were all simple tasks, it was hard work. Sui, however, was having fun and thought that he was pretty much getting used to it.
There were still times when he had to go through a heavy pile of books and his muscles would hurt the day after, but it was becoming less time-consuming.
There were quite a lot of regular customers, some of which would greet Sui or give him candy. Among them were also people who would poke fun at him, saying things like, “I’d like to get serviced with a smile,” and he would try his best to give them a fake smile.
Sui had started asking around about his grandmother’s friend, but so far, nothing had come out of it. Having gotten nowhere, Sui had asked Kasa about it, but he had no information either.
Where in the world could this friend be? Did they move to the magicians’ country? Or maybe, did they also pass away?
He’d heard that magicians lived much longer than regular humans, but he was also told that that was just their average lifespan. It seemed that if they were sick or injured, they could die young as well.
Personally, Sui hoped the friend was alive.
In Sui’s hometown, his grandmother had been adored as the owner of a small bookstore. But there weren’t any people that she was particularly close with, as Sui’s parents and grandfather had passed away long before she did.
Of course, Sui wanted to deliver the pendant as his grandmother had requested. However, he also wanted to hear stories about her from that person; that one friend of hers unique enough to make such a request for.
Sui wondered what kind of person they were and how the two had met.
He felt a bit frustrated, wishing he had some sort of clue, even a small one.
Kasa had been making good progress on the picture frames and would show them to Sui from time to time. He was working on engraving an ivy pattern on the cut and refined wood. It required delicate and careful work and was extremely exhausting, so Kasa was less energetic than usual during break time.
Break time for Sui and Kasa had essentially become snack time. This was because every day Sui went to the library, Red would hand him a snack without fail. It was a product of Red’s kind thoughtfulness as he knew that Sui preferred sweet, easy-to-eat snacks over a hearty lunch.
Every morning when Red would hand Sui a bundle of sweets, he could feel his heart grow warmer and would get excited to open the bundle during snack time, wondering what kind of sweet Red had made that day.
At the same time that Sui had finished inspecting a book, the chime indicating that it was break time, rang out.
First, he flipped over the sign at the entrance, and then he went up to the second floor.
Kasa had already started preparing the tea.
“Good work, Sui-kun~”
“You too, good work today, Kasa-san.”
“I really did work hard today~ Well now, what kind of snack will we have today?”
Kasa also looked forward to the snacks that Red made. Since there were always quite a lot of snacks, Kasa would brew some tea and they’d eat them together. Red hadn’t said anything about it, but Sui thought that he probably made the snacks knowing that both of them would be eating them. He thought that, despite everything, Red did care for and cherish Kasa, his childhood friend.
With the tea set on the table, Sui opened the bundle of sweets.
Inside the plastic container were–
It was a white and thin, cookie-like sweet that was long and elliptical. It looked like a cookie, but Sui felt that it was a bit different from the cookies he knew.
“This is called Langue de Chat2,” said Kasa, looking at the container from across the table.
There were times when Sui, who had little knowledge of cooking and baking, didn’t recognize the snacks that Red made for him. At times like these, Kasa would teach him just as he did now.
“Langue de Chat?”
“It means a cat’s tongue. Apparently, it got that name because the shape looks like a cat’s tongue. By the way, you’re right about it being a type of cookie.”
“A cat’s tongue…”
Sui picked up a cookie and took a long, hard look at it.
“Red’s been making all kinds of things, huh? Is he aiming to be a pâtissier or something?”
Sui also felt like Red was making a lot of things. Today, in addition to the Langue de Chat, he had made cheese omelets and boiled gyoza soup for breakfast. Speaking of which, the omelet had been a bit burnt, which was unusual. Still, Red’s cooking was delicious and he seemed to have cheered up after Sui told him so.
“Itadakimasu.” With a snap, Sui bit into the cookie. It had a rough texture and melted inside his mouth.
Kasa smiled as Sui nodded and he too bit into the Langue de Chat.
“Well, well, he did a pretty good job.”
“It’s a mysterious cookie.”
“You might be feeling that way because there aren’t a lot of other cookies that feel like they’re melting inside your mouth like this.”
“Ah. That’s right!” Kasa clasped his hands together and headed towards the kitchen to grab some chocolate. “This goes well with chocolate.”
He broke off a piece of chocolate, put it on one of the cookies, and brought it to Sui’s mouth.
Sui opened his mouth, saying, “Aaah,” and Kasa threw the cookie inside.
Crispy and crunchy and thick, the flavor of the chocolate and the Langue de Chat melted together.
“It’s good, right?” Kasa said proudly, stuffing the same cookie and chocolate combo into his own mouth.
“Speaking of which, what’s the difference between a cookie and a biscuit?” Sui asked the question that had been on his mind while looking at the Langue de Chat.
“I think it’s the amount of sugar and fat in each one,” Kasa answered, swinging and dangling the cookie in his hand.
“Could you say that things that are handmade are cookies? Hmm, well the definition is rather unclear. Actually, in other countries, there isn’t any clear distinction between the two. Some say cookie, some say biscuit – either is fine. By the way, there are countries where a soft, bread-like pastry is called a biscuit too.”
“Eh? Isn’t that just bread?”
“Well yes, but if you say that that’s bread then won’t cake be considered bread as well?”
“Cake is cake.”
“Ahaha, Sui-kun just doesn’t like bread.”
Both Sui and Kasa took another bite of the cookies in their hands.
“The real world is chock-full of troublesome things like vague definitions. Take books for example – some say that manga and literature are two different things. That reading manga is low-brow and to be fond of literature is high-class. Even if both of them can be considered books.”
“I know what you mean.”
When Sui had helped out at his grandmother’s bookstore, there would sometimes be parents who would push their children, who wanted to get manga, towards famous children’s books instead.
Though the value of the two cannot be compared, people attach their own value system to them.
“Even in the world of magic, there are differences in the way healing, attack, and knowledge magic are evaluated. What I’m saying is – aren’t they completely different things? In a magical society, where small conflicts often happen, the first two, especially attack magic, are favored, while those who use knowledge magic receive the cold shoulder. I’m totally fine with the fact that I don’t need to get involved with any conflicts though.”
Kasa took a sip of his tea and let out a sigh.
“It’s not that I agree with the idea of a seniority-based society, but I think that the merit system is also… it could be ok, depending on how you implement it, but the way Ulshia does it…”
Kasa blinked, coming to a sudden realization. “Sorry, I ended up complaining.”
“It’s no problem. Um, is Ulshia the name of the magician’s country?” Sui had heard it before from the people that came to the library.
“Yup. I don’t like it there. Leaving was the right choice.”
“Did you live there before?”
“I mean, that’s the only place where there’s a magic school,” Kasa said sullenly, resting his chin on his hand. “I had no choice. I lived there for a while after as well, but that place is really… both Red and I have a special hatred for it.”
“Red-san has also been there? To that country?”
Kasa choked on his tea. It seemed like it had gone down the wrong pipe.
“Are you ok?”
“I, I’m fine. No, well, Red said he was interested in it, so I kind of took him with me as a prank. I remember a lot of things happening back then.”
“Is that how it was?”
Anyone would be curious after hearing that there was a country of magicians. Sui, too, was curious, but from its reputation, Ulshia didn’t seem to be a nice place.
Some of the people who came to the library would often say things like, “I need to go to work in Ulshia after this,” with a faraway look in their eyes. Sui felt they didn’t really like the place either.
“I think that Kasa’s magic is amazing. It’s a power that protects books.”
“Thanks. There are a lot of people like me who use knowledge magic and live out in the boonies so they don’t really care about it. It frustrates me though. There are some people who say that knowledge magic isn’t actually magic. Well, in my case, there’s also the thing with my eyes.”
Kasa lightly touched the eyepatch over his right eye.
“First of all, the magicians from around the world who are considered strong are called Almighty and can also use knowledge magic. Knowledge is undoubtedly one of the sources of their strength. Things like strategies and negotiations are all based on knowledge, and there are definitely some disputes that can be solved through discussion. If people keep belittling knowledge magic like this, they’ll just end up recklessly beating each other up and destroying the country.”
Kasa’s bluish left eye was staring at a distant point beyond Sui.
“Also, there are some amazing people who use knowledge magic. Like my teacher. That person doesn’t have any attack or healing abilities, but their strength is undeniable. They’re living proof that there are endless possibilities and merits to knowledge.”
With the affectionate way Kasa was talking, Sui could tell that he really respected his teacher.
“You really like that person, huh?”
“Eh?” Kasa’s eyes opened wide and he immediately denied it, “No, no, no. Well, I mean, if you say it like that, I guess yes. I just simply respect them…”
Kasa’s cheeks were tinged slightly red as he looked at the ground. As Sui tilted his head at his strange behavior, he cleared his throat.3
“A-anyway… even though I said that there are different groups that specialize in different types of magic, you don’t really need to understand them. I don’t. The thought process of those that use healing magic is a mystery to me. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that we’re all magicians. If people could just acknowledge that and help each other out in times of need, a peaceful magician’s country without strife could have existed.”
He laughed, both exasperated and a little bit sad.
“There are people like that over there as well. I’m sure of it. People who mark others as inferior and trample over them in order to help themselves. There are abusive people too. People with great skills that utilize them to do bad things instead of bringing happiness to others. That’s why Sui-kun, don’t trust people so easily, ok? Neither magicians nor regular humans. In the end, they’re both the same in the end.”
The majority of the magicians that Sui knew in Akebi were kind. Sometimes though, there would be scary or cold people as well. This wasn’t limited to magicians – it was the same the whole world over.
It would be nice to live in a world where everyone could trust everyone else; if there was a world full of love. But not everyone can live by being kind to everyone. Their experiences, their heart, and their sense of justice are what differentiate them from others. Still, Sui wished that, for kind people like Kasa and people like Red who had saved him, the world would become a place that, at the very least, wouldn’t make them sad.
There wasn’t much that Sui could do to make this happen; he could only pray. Still, Sui had come to love those two enough that he was willing to do anything to give them even the smallest bit of support.