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Here, a release 3 days ahead of time. Enjoy.
On my way to the castle, I thought about what to do about the request.
Bringing Noa and Shuri to the capital… If we rode on Swaying Bear and Hugging Bear, getting here should be no problem. With the four of us, two people could ride on each bear, and the journey shouldn’t take too long.
Still, maybe it would be okay to reveal the Bear Gate to those two. If I did, traveling would become much easier, and we could spend the extra time doing other things. I had to consider this carefully, though, as it was an important tool I had to keep a secret.
I continued to ponder which to choose all the way to the castle gate. As usual, the soldier at the gate noticed me before I even came close. Well, my outfit could most likely be seen from a mile away, so that wasn’t anything special.
Just I was about to greet the soldier myself…
「Oh, if it isn’t Eleanora-sama.」
He called out and saluted at someone behind me.
Came a response.
Turning around, I saw Eleanora-san standing right there with a big smile on her face.
「Eleanora-san? How long have you been there?」
「Huhu, Yuna-chan. I’ve been walking behind you this entire time, but you never noticed. It was quite funny.」
「It’s rude to stalk someone like that, you know.」
Even thinking back, I really never noticed anybody following me.
「Your backside is so cute, though. Especially with how your small tail sways around as you walk.」
「Please don’t look at people’s butts!」
I rebutted and covered the tail on my outfit.
Admittedly, I also liked looking at Swaying Bear and Hugging Bear’s tail sway but only now did I realize how embarrassing it was having someone stare at my own butt.
「It’s cute, though.」
She said disappointedly as my tail disappeared from her sight.
「Anyway, why did you follow me without saying anything?!」
「At first, I was going to catch up to you and call you, but then I noticed your tail and ended up staring at it all the way until we reached the castle.」
「So, are you here for work, Eleanora-san?」
「Yes, more or less. My job isn’t only to take care of your shop, after all.」
「You’re still doing your other work properly, right?」
「Yuna-chan, don’t be so mean. I always do all my work properly.」
『Always』sounded a bit suspicious to me, but it did make sense for her to be here for other work. Still, whenever I saw Eleanora-san, she always appeared to be slacking off…
「Let’s not just stand here and chat. Shall we go to Princess Flora’s room?」
Eh, didn’t she come to the castle to work? I really wanted to say that but couldn’t bring myself to. I was too tired of her shenanigans, so I ignored her. Even if Eleanora-san was skipping out on her work, that was His Majesty’s problem, not mine.
Both of us were let past by the gatekeeper and headed inside.
「By the way, I didn’t know you could make candy from just sugar. How did you find out about that?」
Was she trying to fish for more information about me?
Either way, I couldn’t tell her it was something I had learned from another world.
「That’s a secret, of course.」
「Oh, too bad then. Still, you should be careful to whom you reveal your recipes. Your dishes are all very special and peculiar, so some people are surely going to be very curious about them. If something happens, just let me know. I will do anything within my power to help you.」
Was Eleanora-san concerned about the students making the cotton candy recipe public?
「Please do take care of me if something happens.」
I accepted her offer.
「Of course. When you make something new, bring it to me right away, okay?」
Was that her real motive behind her offer?
It was very difficult to understand what Eleanora-san was thinking. I hoped Noa and Shia didn’t grow up to be like her.
「Yuna-chan, did you just think of something awfully rude?」
「Nope, I thought that you were being very kind and considerate.」
She looked at me with doubt. Not like I could tell her what I actually thought just now.
I broke eye contact, and we continued heading towards Princess Flora’s room.
「Yuna-chan, can you look me in the eye properly when you talk to me?」
「If you’re not coming with me, I’ll go by myself.」
「I’m coming too!」
「What about your job?」
Even though I hadn’t intended on asking, I ended up doing so anyways.
「It’s fine, I already did what I needed to do for today.」
As we walked down the familiar hall towards Princess Flora’s room, we saw what looked like a Swaying Bear plushie walking on its hind legs towards us. Next to it was Anju-san.
「Oh my, Eleanora-sama and Yuna-san?」
When Anju-san greeted us, the Swaying Bear plushie spoke up as well.
Since when could plushies speak…
Magic was a scary thing…
Okay, enough joking around.
Princess Flora poked her face out from behind the plushie. She had been walking down the hall while hugging the plushie in front of her, so it only looked like the plushie was walking and talking on its own.
Princess Flora noticed me and happily rushed to me with the plushie still in front of her.
Running while hugging onto Swaying Bear like that looked awfully dangerous, though.
Now that I thought about it, I naturally responded to being called 「Bear-san」. I had acknowledged it to be my name at this point…
Would she at least stop calling me that when she got older?
「Why are the two of you here?」
I asked Anju-san while hugging the princess and patting her on the head.
「We were going for a stroll.」
「You were going for a walk while holding a plushie?」
「Yes, we were going on a stroll with Bear-san.」
Princess Flora said happily and continued hugging the bear plushie.
I felt bad that Hugging Bear plushie wasn’t here together with the Swaying Bear plushie, but I didn’t think that could be helped. The princess was so small that she was barely able to hold one of them and walk at the same time.
「Did you come to visit Princess Flora today, Yuna-san?」
「I finished a new picture book, so I brought it here.」
「A new picture book?」
Princess Flora and Anju-san both sounded very happy when I revealed my reason of visit.
I had expected princess’s reaction to be as such, but Anju-san surprised me. She didn’t really have to go that far, did she?
「Princess Flora, since Yuna-san brought you a new picture book, shall we return to your room?」
「Or, we can do it after you finish your stroll.」
「I wanna go back to my room.」
While still hugging the Swaying Bear plushie, the princess reached out her hand and tugged my outfit.
It looked like she really wanted to see the picture book. I was really glad I had decided to draw another book seeing her reaction.
「Okay, let’s head to your room, then.」
Princess Flora grasped my Bear Hand and we walked to the room together.
「Yuna-chan, you’re so sweet with children.」
I thought about my actions and realized I couldn’t really deny what Eleanora-san said.
Was I being too kind to children? Still, was there anyone out there who wouldn’t feel warm inside just seeing this smile?
I was sure Eleanora-san would also spoil Princess Flora if that smile was directed at her. I also didn’t think my level of kindness was anything out of the ordinary, so I decided it wasn’t an issue.
When we made it to her room, the princess released my hand and walked over to her bed.
Sitting on the bed near a pillow was the Hugging Bear plushie. It looked like Hugging Bear had to watch the room all alone while everybody else went out for a walk.
Princess Flora placed the Swaying Bear plushie next to the pillow, then grabbed the Hugging Bear plushie.
「When we go outside, Princess Flora brings around Black Bear-san, and when we’re in her room, she switches to White Bear-san.」
Anju-san explained for me when she noticed my baffled expression.
「Why such an arrangement?」
「Well, if we go outside, the plushies might get dirty, so if it’s Black Bear-san, it won’t appear as dirty, I guess…」
Anju-san had a hard time giving an explanation.
Well, since Swaying Bear had black fur, it was true that dirt wouldn’t be as obvious on it than on the white fur of Hugging Bear.
「And that’s why she keeps White Bear-san inside the room and takes out Black Bear-san.」
While I now understood that she wasn’t ditching Hugging Bear on purpose, I now felt bad for Swaying Bear.
It didn’t feel like a good reason to bring only Swaying Bear out was because its fur wouldn’t get dirty, but maybe it was still better than the Hugging Bear getting dirty?
If dropped, Hugging Bear indeed had a high chance of getting dirty, so it somewhat made sense for that to be the reason.
Princess Flora returned to my side while holding onto the Hugging Bear plushie and looked at me expectantly.
Without further delay, we moved to the table where we could easily read the picture book.
「Here you go, volume three of the picture book.」
Princess Flora joyfully took the picture book out of my hands and sat down on a chair.
She then very carefully opened the cover. Anju-san stood right behind Princess Flora and looked at the book over her shoulder. She must be curious about the contents too, huh.
「Eleanora-san, are you going to need this picture book?」
「Yes, I plan to distribute copies soon, so don’t worry.」
Anju-san said happily.
The princess turned the pages of the book slowly.
Anju-san, who at first looked like she was going to read it with her, went away for a moment and soon returned with freshly-brewed tea.
I relaxed next to Princess Flora while drinking the tea.
Was His Majesty going to come find me today? I did see a guard running off earlier.
I pondered for a while as I sipped the tea.
「They parted from Bear-san…」
Princess Flora said sadly.
She turned a few pages.
She sounded a lot happier again. I guess she got to the part where Bear-san reappeared.
Once she was finished reading, she immediately turned to look at us.
「Can Bear-san really turn that small?」
For the moment, nobody answered her.
Any regular adult would know that bears couldn’t shrink. If we explained that to Fina or Shuri, they would be able to understand at their age, but what should we tell Princess Flora, who was still very young?
「Princess Flora, Bear-san cannot become smaller in the real world.」
Anju explained in my stead.
「But the Bear-sans turned small in the book.」
Anju-san looked over at Eleanora-san and me, conflicted on how she should explain.
The princess was clearly treating my Bear summons like they were real bears. To begin with, it was difficult to explain the difference between them, especially to a young child like Princess Flora.
「Princess Flora, normal bears can’t turn small. Yuna-chan’s bears are just special. Also, the bears in the picture books are even more special.」
「Yes, they’re special bears. Real life bears aren’t like them.」
Eleanora-san stepped in and took over for Anju-san.
However, even to that, the princess simply tilted her head. Explaining things to a child sure was difficult.
For children who didn’t know about Swaying Bear and Hugging Bear, they would just read the picture book as something fictional and that would be the end of it. Yet, for Princess Flora, who knew that my bears could become small, that was not the case.
「Bear-sans can’t turn small?」
She asked and hugged her Hugging Bear plushie.
「My Bears are just special. Other bears really can’t become smaller, no matter what.」
I tried to explain to her as gently as I could.
The princess seemed to be somewhat convinced at this point but still wore a confused expression. She didn’t perhaps learn about bears turning small from somewhere else too, did she?
If she had asked about what happened to the people who escaped from the carriage in the story, I was going to push it onto Eleanora-san or His Majesty to explain it. However, this was really unexpected.
Anyhow, Her Highness decided to finally show up soon after, which was still much later than expected, and His Majesty came in even later. It looked like I wasn’t going to be able to escape them today, either.
Both of them thanked me for bringing the new picture book but were also noticeably disappointed when they saw I hadn’t brought any food this time around. Did they think I could just take out a new dish every time I came here?
In the end, I had to pass around some chawanmushi, which they all ate contentedly.
Only two days left before volume 3 goes on sale.
I look forward to your continued support.
She finally managed to give the picture book to the princess, and then Princess Flora is more concerned with the small bears than the villagers that ran away. Lol
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