Among the nobles in their final school year at the magic academy, there was a certain young lady of a viscount house.
Her father was an inveterate womanizer, and her mother was a songstress famed for her beauty across the town. She was born a commoner. But after the second prince Joel was born and she was acquainted with him at the academy, she was taken away from her mother and formally entered the viscount family in the hope that she would become the prince’s favored wife in the future.
The viscount’s wife did not accept her. Her birth mother sold her for money.
But despite her home life, the young lady still stood strong, head held high even when her family treated her with such antipathy. She grew to become a kind girl.
Inside a room in the girls’ dorm of the magic academy, the glow of a lantern lit up a chessboard, the light unusually warm and hazy.
Slender fingers moved a piece.
Her icy gaze was fixed on the board, but her clinical thoughts were of a game much, much more vast.
“…m-milady, t-the food is r-ready…”
From a corner of the room came the fearful voice of a maid younger in age, a girl who still hadn’t outgrown her freckles.
The young lady’s cool gaze flicked away from the board for a moment, and she replied frostily.
“…I’ll eat later. You can retire for the day.”
The maid shivered. She hastily bowed and returned to her servant’s room, as though running away.
With her thoughts interrupted, the young lady faintly sighed, her slim back leaning back on the chair. She arranged several pieces on the board.
“How many shall remain, I wonder…”
“Lady Sharon, please wait.”
“How fortunate that you haven’t left… lady Sharon, I apologize for the trouble Karl has caused…”
“N-No, there’s nothing you have to apologize for… if anything, I should be the one to…”
“It’s nothing. We are schoolmates, after all. I only did what was expected of me.”
“…wonderful. As a fellow noble, I truly wish my brother could be half as honorable.”
“Ah… it’s really nothing…”
“I will make sure to have the Mercia family send our formal gratitude to your house on a later date. And also… lady Sharon, if I may…”
“…no, please pay it no mind. I shall have to return to his Highness’ side now, so if you would excuse me…”
They both should grow a spine already.
Greetings, everyone. I am Fleurety, lady Sharon’s maid and her protector from the shadows.
Today, I am inside a store near the Third Dungeon.
Milady is standing stock-still in the middle of the road, so deep in her melancholy that she doesn’t even notice she’s being surrounded by snot-nosed urchins. I do wonder what she might be thinking, but I have something I need to do first.
“Sir shopkeeper, how about this price?”
“You’re kidding, maid lass. This city isn’t that starved for salt. We have dungeons and all.”
This shopkeeper is already in his forties and the skin on his head has lost much protection from the sun, but he’s still quite the formidable opponent.
There is a branch of the Explorer’s Guild near the dungeon and they do buy salt too, but I can generally get a better deal by selling directly to merchants. It’s why I’m here.
“Even with this quality, sir? My salt has just been mined from the dungeon. Oxidation hasn’t set in yet.”
“Come now girl, didn’t I say there’s not that much demand? Considering the quantity my shop usually handles, buy only that much salt is just going to lower my brand quality.”
Emphasis on ‘generally’. If one doesn’t have the necessary skills to negotiate with the merchant, one might even get haggled down below the fixed price that the guild would buy for.
“My, my… like the merchandise over there, you mean?”
“…maid lass, just what are you implying?”
The shopkeeper narrows his eyes and glares daggers at me. I simply respond with a beaming smile as I take glances at the pots of salt he has on his shelves.
“Do you really need me to say it, sir…? I’ve heard that sometimes, the salt might be mixed with a certain something to create brand distinction and make them taste nicer…”
“…ten percent more. That’s the best I can do. If you don’t like that, go to another shop.”
“Twenty percent. I’ve seen how much they sell for around here, sir. You’ll still be profiting more than enough when you resell my salt.”
“Now, now, pretty little maid… don’t you think you’re getting in over your head juuuust a little bit?”
“My, would I have to sleep with a dagger under my pillow tonight?”
“Hah, you jest. I’m doing honest business here, cut it out with the false accusations. My store even has dealings with a trading firm that supplies for the royal family. Imagine if their customer blacklist has one more maid on it…”
“A trading firm, you say? The one providing food for the palace this month? …I’m sure the firm wouldn’t be supplied those salt, right, sir?”
The shopkeeper grimaces. My smile brightens.
“Don’t be so glum, sir. I can throw in a little something for you too.”
I open my bag to let him see what’s inside.
“Looks dried… what is this?”
“Perhaps you haven’t had many opportunities to see this, considering how far away from the sea we are and that the country also doesn’t import salt. This is seaweed, sir.”
I look at his scalp.
“It’s something very good for you, sir shopkeeper.”
My shopping trip ends without problems.
I sold the salt for seven golds and four silvers. Combined with the sales of monster materials, we have quite a bit of funds now. And not only that, the shopkeeper even threw in some spices. What a kind man.
I walk toward milady, still brooding, and give the gawking urchins some rock candies to shoo them away.
“Lady Sharon, apologies for the wait.” I call at her.
“…eh? Ah.” Milady returns to reality. She turns toward me with an overcast smile. “Welcome back, Letty.”
“I managed to get quite a good deal, milady, so I’ve also bought some of your favorite baked sweets. We will have a feast tonight.”
“Thank you, Letty. No more monster meat, however.”
Milady is a bit fussy, isn’t she? I give her a broad smile.
I understand how she feels.
“I shall not make the mistake of revealing the ingredients’ origins again.”
“No, that’s not what I meant!”
Well then, after I did a psychological check-up on miss Hina with a little pharmaceutical aid, my conclusion is that there is nothing wrong with her mind.
How strange. A sensible person would never have said something like that.
And I don’t think I misdiagnosed her either. Her whole body was twitching, her eyes were vacant and without focus, and she was drooling with her mouth set in a dopey smile by the end, so surely that was enough medication.
Oh yes, don’t worry, I only used a weak spider poison. It’s all-organic. Hina won’t be having any long-lasting after-effects. After all, poison can be medicine in the right dosage.
Not like I’ve ever studied pharmacy, however.
So, Hina said that this world is an otome game, but she just couldn’t recall the identity of the one to have whispered something so ridiculous.
Honestly, I half expect I can shake her head and hear the one single brain cell she has rattling in there.
All the same, I wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand just because it sounds absurd. An exemplary maid is one who can prepare for anything and everything.
It’s impossible for a world to be an otome game, but it is possible for a carefully-managed Sandbox world to look like a game. While I’m not sure how large this one is since Sandboxes can vary in scale, considering that there are certain people here who can’t die, the possibility of an Administrator is very high indeed.
…truly, so much trouble.
I think I shall continue to keep myself hidden until the investigation is finished.
“Letty, are you done with your preparation?”
Currently, I am helping milady with her morning bath.
It is a task that requires my utmost concentration. Today is the day my Lady Sharon’s Beautification Project, which has started several days ago, enters its final phase.
I carefully, meticulously wash and rub hair treatment into her locks of silver. I caress and exfoliate milady’s skin with a washcloth made from the best spider silk. And now that milady is dozing off, I begin to massage every single corner of her body with a specially-made aromatic oil that I got directly from the Maid Chief.
Yet even with all that I must do, I cannot take too long. A lowly maid’s duty must not take up her mistress’ precious morning time, and if she has to use all her magic to bend spacetime to accomplish her tasks, so be it.
“Milady, it is done.”
Milady awakens to see that her hair has already been styled, her uniform already on her. She seems surprised.
“Milady has slept quite well.”
As she takes nibbles and sips of the breakfast I’ve made — cafe au lait, fresh orange juice, and a bagel sandwich — she looks at me with blushing cheeks, her glare still showing dissatisfaction with my answer.
Even until now, milady continues to be rather embarrassed whenever I help her change her underwear. I suppose that might be what had displeased her.
“It is simply a maid’s duty, milady.”
“I know you’ve chosen to serve me, but Letty, you’re, umm…”
Milady turns away and continues her words in a near-whisper.
“…you’re also… my friend… so… you know…”
“Thank you for the feast.”
“What feast?! What are you talking about?!”
Feasts for the eyes, milady, feasts for the eyes. Including but not limited to the times you get dressed, for example.
Well then, to explain what milady meant when she spoke of ‘my preparation’, it is the arrangements for me to join her in class.
And the reason why is because the Kingdom has decided that, as a part of the Partner-selection process, all the middle-school students summoned from Earth would be transferring into milady’s class of noble students in order to help them acclimatize to this new world.
“Letty… what about your uniform? I thought they gave you one?”
Indeed, the country has provided me school uniforms. Milady is asking only because I am still in my maid attire.
“A maid needs only one uniform, milady.”
“…is that fine?”
It is, it is.
And honestly, the maid uniform I made with my own threads is of better quality, at any rate. Of course, I’ve also secretly replaced milady’s uniform with the material. She is now stab-proof… as long as it’s a knife doing the stabbing.
“Umm… do I look strange?”
As today is the first day I accompany her to class, milady is being quite nervous. She acts just like a mother doing a school visit with her child for the first time, though in all honesty, I would say she’s the kid, not me.
I wouldn’t tell her that, though. Silence is golden.
“No, milady. If anything, you look more radiant than ever today.”
“G-geez, stop that, you say that all the time. Come on, let’s go.”
She’s perfect, of course. I’ve taken days to make sure of that.
The marquis’ daughter, lady Sharon, strides through the school hallway with echoing footsteps. Commoners and low nobles hurriedly make way for her.
Milady has perfected all that there is to know in being a noble, and she often give pointers to her juniors quite harshly. It is the reason why she has gained a bit of an intimidating reputation.
But today, something has changed.
The moment the students of low nobility who have fearfully given way to her take a look at her and truly see her, all their faces immediately flush pink, both the boys and the girls.
“…Letty, are you sure I don’t look strange?”
Upon noticing their unusual gazes, milady turns to me and asks, her worry apparent. I smile sweetly.
“I am, milady.”
We come to the classroom. I silently open the door and as she crosses the threshold, all those who catch sight of her immediately quieten. A moment later, the room erupts into chaos.
“…Sharon, is that you?”
The first to approach her and speak is the prince Joel, after he recovered from his daze.
“Yes, umm… yes, his Highness Joel. I am Sharon.”
Milady, despite her confusion, still replies with her usual grace.
Good, good. Everything is proceeding as planned.
As milady has been neglected from her childhood by the trash that calls themselves her family, her hair and her skin have not had the care they deserved.
That isn’t to say that milady wasn’t beautiful; she still was. I simply helped her beauty to regain its true glory by managing her meals, improving her nutrition, and caring for her hair and skin when she used to have to do it by herself without really knowing how. Milady is a new woman now.
And how. Just look at the reactions of this whole room.
Let’s begin, milady. The stage is set for our counterattack.