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「I’m willing to pay however much you want for it.」
The old man said something unbelievable. That answer was the hardest one to reply to. I didn’t even need the money, so I was partly joking when I asked.
「Master, I think it’s best for you to state the price. We don’t know how much the seller will ask for, after all.」
Dogrude-san and Rodis-san both tried to get Letobell-san to take back what he said. If I had been a corrupt merchant, it would have been possible for me to state some insane price for it. Even so, Letobell-san refused, and wanted me to name my price.
「I said I don’t care how much it costs. How much will it take for you to sell it to me, Young Bear Lady?」
He looked straight into my eyes. The situation had been reversed as I now felt like I was the one being evaluated. Was he trying to test me? Should I give him the regular price of a picture book, or charge him a bit extra?
「What will it be?」
Hmm, before I realized it, I had been dragged into the old man’s territory. Had it been a mistake to take out the picture book? It was impossible to haggle against a merchant of his level. It felt like I would immediately lose if I just stated a price at random. If it was truly meant for his granddaughter, then I was more than happy to just give it to him for free. Still, at this point just handing it over would be annoying.
「No matter the cost, huh. In that case, I’ll receive the payment from your granddaughter.」
Letobell-san was surprised by my unexpected answer. I felt a sense of accomplishment at seeing his surprised expression.
「I don’t plan on making money off of these books. I drew them so that children (or rather, Flora-hime) would be happy reading it. That’s why I ask you to let me decide on its price after seeing how happy your granddaughter is after she receives the book.」
「Don’t be stupid, who decides the price of something based on that?!」
「If your granddaughter won’t be happy to receive it then I won’t give it to her no matter how much money you’re willing to spend. Likewise, if she shows me a wonderful smile, I’ll give it to her as a present.」
「Hohoho, are you sure about that? My granddaughter’s smile is second to none!」
Letobell-san smirked, seemingly fascinated by my proposal. His strong appraising gaze had completely disappeared at this point. Even if I saw his granddaughter’s smile, I had no intention of wavering if it didn’t look genuine.
「A child will never show you their true smile if you simply throw money at them.」
Letobell-san laughed at my comment. He then turned to me and bowed lightly.
「I apologize. I was testing you.」
Letobell-san apologized to me. So, he really was evaluating me like I had thought.
「I wanted to know what kind of person you were. You’re acquainted with His Majesty, and you have connections to the guild master of the capital’s Adventurer Guild. Not to mention the fact that you’re an adventurer, yet you are an artist who can also draw picture books. As a merchant, I’ve met many types of people, but I’ve never met a girl like you.」
Well, I was probably the first one wearing a Bear Suit to come around.
「You can tell what kind of person I am just from my answer?」
「At the very least, I could tell whether you’re good or bad.」
Did he see me as a good person, then?
「If I had named an absurdly high price, what would you have done?」
「If it was an affordable amount, I would have bought it regardless. If not, I would have simply refused. Still, your answer surprised me. It’s been a while since I laughed like that. I never thought you’d base the price on my granddaughter’s smile.」
「It needs to be a good one, or it will be a no go.」
She had to give me a real smile.
「My granddaughter will pay you many times over, don’t worry.」
That isn’t a grand doting parent, but a doting grandparent! The feeling of having to win or lose was completely gone now, but Letobell-san probably still thought it would be his victory when his granddaughter showed me her smile. For me, it would also be a win whenever I saw someone genuinely smile when they read my picture book, and if by chance the granddaughter showed no interest in my book, I would have to consider it a loss.
「Anyway, it seems like His Majesty is quite interested in you.」
Yes, that did seem to be the case. Though I had said it without much thought at the time, it seemed their promise not to reveal my identity had been kept. It looked like many merchants wanted to get their hands on my book, but they couldn’t get it because of His Majesty’s protection. Yeah, His Majesty must have sent out an order to not spread any information about me around for sure.
「This picture book was originally made for Flora-hime, but His Majesty saw it and got it duplicated for a few more people.」
「I see, that explains why it comes from the castle itself.」
Letobell-san said with a nod, finally understanding the full situation.
「Can I ask you one thing, though?」
「Why don’t you sell more? This book would surely sell. Not to mention it has the backing of the royal family.」
「I don’t need the money, and I don’t really want the contents of the book spreading around too much.」
After hearing my explanation, Letobell-san looked me over again.
「That’s funny, considering your outfit.」
「No, that’s exactly why.」
After that, I asked everyone in the room to keep quiet about the picture book, and they all agreed. It was per His Majesty’s orders, so nobody wanted to oppose him. Also, if I was going to give the book to the old man’s granddaughter, she would have to do the same.
Finished with the picture book negotiations, Dogrude-san finally remembered he still had to give us the bracelet back. Sanya-san immediately took various gemstones out from her item bag and placed them on the table. I didn’t know how valuable they were, but Dogrude-san picked them up one by one to examine them. 「This should be enough.」 he said, and took a couple, returning the rest to Sanya-san.
「Thank you for keeping your promise.」
「With this, I also kept my promise with Miranda-san, so I’m glad we were able to do it this way. Promises are very important to us merchants.」
Hearing Dogrude-san’s words, Letobell-san laughed out loud, probably since he had said the same thing just earlier.
「Thank you, Yuna-chan. Without you, we wouldn’t have even made it here in time, much less be able to procure the painting.」
It was thanks to Swaying Bear and Hugging Bear that we had gotten here so early. Had we gone by horse or carriage, we wouldn’t even have reached the city yet.
「Please give your thanks to Swaying Bear and Hugging Bear next time we ride them.」
Finished with our task here, we now just had to return the bracelet to Ruimin. That way she would leave no regrets behind here, and we could head straight for the Elf Village. We thanked Dogrude-san and were about to head back to the inn when Letobell-san stopped us.
「Well then, Young Bear Lady, could you meet with my granddaughter now?」
Wasn’t this a bit to quick?
「I would like to see my granddaughter’s smile as soon as possible.」
His face had “Don’t run” written all over it. Well, I guess there was nothing for me to do once I got back to the inn anyway.
「Okay, I’m fine with going now.」
「Sanya-san, you can return to the inn first, so Ruimin can be at ease.」
We had spent a long time out here already, so she was probably already worried at this point.
「Will you be okay going by yourself?」
She asked, even though she should know that I can take care of myself by now. What could she possibly be worried about?
Well, I was happy she was worried about me, though.
「I’ll be fine.」
「Well, if someone tries to pick a fight with you, don’t fight them, okay?」
Oh, that was what she was worried about, huh. I couldn’t promise her that, unfortunately. It was a habit I had picked up back in my gaming days. Still, I did choose who to fight and who not to, so she didn’t have to worry that much.
I parted ways with Sanya-san, who headed straight back to the inn, and got into Letobell-san’s carriage to meet with his granddaughter by myself. The sky was still cloudy, but at least the rain had stopped, so the carriage moved quite smoothly. Rodis-san sat in the coach seat while Letobell-san and I sat inside.
「Your name is Yuna, right? Why do you wear an outfit like that?」
Everyone wondered about that, didn’t they? I decided to just respond as usual.
「It’s a long story, you see.」
「I still find it hard to believe that you’re an adventurer. Not to mention that you’re rank C. You’re stronger than most of the adventurers in this area.」
「It just happened by chance.」
I was sure he wouldn’t believe me even if I had told him the truth, so I just made something up. I started thinking about it recently, but maybe it would be better if I just lived in peace so that my rank didn’t go up any further? Or wait, maybe it was possible to demote my rank?
「I won’t probe too much into it if you aren’t willing to share. I’ll also let you know right now that you also don’t want to hear about my life experiences up until now.」
There wasn’t any deep reason behind not sharing it; I just didn’t want to talk about it. As for his end of the story…
「By the way, how old is your granddaughter, Letobell-san?」
Even though he asked me questions about myself, I had nothing to talk about, so I changed the topic to his granddaughter.
「She’s turning five this year. She’s so cute! She looks just like her grandpa!」
Are you sure about the cute part? If she was similar to an old man, she could hardly be called cute, right? Had he said something like the bridge of her nose looked similar to his, that would be believable, but just saying she was cute and looked like him… Without me asking further, he then began to talk about just how cute his grandchild was. Hmm, I had changed the topic, but he was still annoying. If we didn’t arrive at our destination soon, I would lose my mind on the way.
As I let his boasting go in through one ear and out the other, the carriage finally stopped. Thank god, we arrived before I lost it.
「Oh, we arrived already? There’s still so much to talk about.」
It was okay, I had heard enough. We got off the carriage, and I finally noticed that we stopped in front of a tall building. It looked like it was about five storeys tall.
「The bottom part is my shop, and the top is my home.」
In other words, the entire building belonged to Letobell-san.
「Rodis, I leave the carriage to you.」
Letobell-san proceeded to lead me up the stairs into his home.
「I’m sorry, but could you wait in here? I’ll bring my granddaughter over.」
Letobell-san left me in a wide room, and rushed off to fetch his granddaughter. I decided to take a look around the room while I waited for them. The room was decorated with various paintings and vases, but I couldn’t tell whether they were good or bad. Maybe it would be a good idea to decorate the Bear Houses with stuff like this. Hmm, would it maybe be better if I decorated them with bear-related things? I felt like Fina and Shuri would most likely like that better. In that case, should I draw some stuff myself to hang it up? Eh, I didn’t really want to decorate my own place with my own drawings. Maybe I could get Fina and Shuri to draw something instead? As I looked around the room, pondering on what to do, the door opened, and Letobell-san returned.
「Thank you for waiting.」
Hiding behind Letobell-san was a small girl. I took a look at her and thought to myself: yeah, they looked nothing alike.
At least they got back the bracelet successfully now.
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