Chapter 15:

The General's Treat

The Second Route

“How should we treat Deliruu-kun for his rescue of Lunis?” Lina settles on a new topic as the sun rises to midday.

“There is no need for such,” I reply. A treat is a rather waste of time.

“Aw,” Risho teases, “you know you want some kind of reward as a mercenary.”

“He wouldn’t dare to be so shameless, will you, General?” Tina asks.

“Ah, haha,” I nervously rub my lap. But a reward is nice too.

“Well, if it’s only a treat, then I have an idea,” Rina volunteers.

“Oh, what a surprise. What can Rina suggest for me?” I ask enthusiastically. Since this is the rare Rina who volunteered, I will gladly accept anything she will give me.

“Nevermind, you can go ahead and die,” Rina faces away from me.

What’s with the sudden change in attitude?


“I have a suggestion!” Lina raises her hand. “Maybe we could go into a restaurant for lunch?”

I guess I could settle for Rina’s sister…

“No, I have a better idea,” Tina raises her hand too, “we could all train in swordsmanship.”

You can go ahead and die.

“That’s boring,” Risho interrupts, “let’s all go in a public bath.”

“No!” the other three yell.

“Yes! I shout at the same time they yelled their rejections.

The other three glare at me and shouts, “What!?”

“No, I mean no!” I laugh nervously. Whoops, I almost messed up. But dang, I really wanted to go, not because I want to see them or anything!

“How about we go to a hair salon instead?” Lina suggests.

“A hair salon?” I ask.

“Yeah, I have been meaning to cut my hair around now,” Tina states as she plays with her hair.

“I don’t mind,” Risho says.

“B—but a hair salon? You have those around here?” Even an undeveloped world will have one of those? There is a lot of conveniences to be expected from magic.

“Of course! People in this town need to maintain their hygiene after all,” Lina states.

Well, seeing those would be cool, “But—”

“No, but’s,” Rina interrupts me.

“Ugh, fine,” I reluctantly succumb since it’s Rina, “but why a hair salon?” I mutter.

We arrive at a shop named “Lawid’s Salon,” and the employees lead us to our seats.

The salon itself isn’t much to be expected. As to keep the medieval mood, the interior is covered in wood. The surprising thing is how modern they tried to make it. They painted the walls and ceilings white and placed mirrors in front of the chairs where the customers will have their hair cut. They are some intricately designed silver decorations spanning on the wall, and there is a large painting of a crocodile, that seemed quite out of place, behind the counter.

But I can’t really perceive this salon as modern. The floor is still the brown, wooden floor. The ceiling is literally the roof, and I can see the beams supporting it. The pillars are not painted at all, leaving them bare. The windows’ wooden borders are thick and they didn’t have glass. The doorway doesn’t have a door. Maybe they tried finding a glass door, but their budget didn’t allow them to have it. I mean, glass is quite expensive to make, but it can’t be that expensive, is it?

The tools used for hair hygiene are quite old-fashioned. Mostly they only used scissors instead of the modern electric razor. Of course, how could a medieval-aged world have attained such technologies? But hey, they still do have a sink, where they wash our heads, with flowing water produced by magic.

“First, we have to wash your hair before we trim it,” a woman motions me to seat with a sink behind it, “this way, please.

“Uh, sure…” I seat down awkwardly and place my head on the indent of the sink.

“I’m going to start now,” the woman proceeds to massage my hair with warm water and mix some kind of fragrant shampoo.

I look up and see what I am not mean to see and quickly try to look down at what is in front of me. “This is embarrassing,” I mutter. Wait, did I hear a giggle? I look to my side and see Risho’s and Tina’s hair being washed by two other women employees. “Isn’t there a male employee in here?” I ask the one washing my hair.

“We do have one, sir, and he will be trimming your hair,” the woman washing my hair replies.

“Oh, that’s a relief,” I say, but I’m far from relieved. I’ve been itching to get out of this chair and this place.

Soon after, it is Rina’s and Lina’s turn to have their hair washed while I, Tina, Risho start to have our haircut.

“What kind of cut would you like to have, sir?” the barber asks.

“Ah, just trim the sides and the back short trim a little bit on top, leave some hair over here,” I motion to the left side of my face, “yes, that would be it.”

“A fade cut you mean? I got it,” The barber then proceeds to skillfully use his scissors.

Ten minutes pass, and I look at myself in the mirror, “Thanks, this is exactly what I wanted to look like.”

“Thank you, sir. I’m glad you liked it,” the barber bows.

“This way sir,” the same woman that washed my hair motions me to the sink.

“Wait, again?”

“Yes, sir, to get rid of the excess hair.”

“Oh,” come on!!

After she finishes washing my hair, I awkwardly sit down outside the shop feeling the cool breeze going to my head, “It’s cold,” I shiver as I wipe my head.

“Just noticed? Typical for a thick head,” Rina remarks.

“Wha—” I sigh and I look at Rina who somehow is beside me, “woah, you look like a different person.”

“Cheh, whatever,” Rina faces away from me.

I lightly pat her head, “You look more like a kid now,” I can’t help but mischievously smile.

“H—hey! What do you think you are doing?” Rina quickly removes my hand from her head.

“Your head looked like it needed a pat.”

“E—excuse me? And who are you calling a kid?” Rina furiously asks me.

“Now, now, no need to tease my sister,” Lina comes up to me and flips her hair around.

“You look…” I inspect Lina’s hair closely, but notice no change, “the same?”

“What? I look the same?” Lina fixes her hair around, but no matter how hard she tries, I couldn’t see any change.

“Jeez, you have poor eyes do you?” Rina pouts.

“Eh, it’s seriously—”

“Deliruu-san! How do I look?” Risho enters the scene with a spin making her hair dance.

“Woah…” I admire her in awe. Risho has her hair around the shoulder’s length and expands in a semicircle around her head. She even has bangs covering her forehead too, “You actually look like a different person.”

“Th—that’s all you had to say!?” Risho impatiently asks.

“W—well, what should I say?”

“That, ‘You are beautiful,’ or something?” Risho crosses her arms.

Why did you lower the pitch of your voice though? Were you trying to mimic me?

“Where is Tina?” I ask to attempt to change the topic.

All of us look around but fail to find her, but I notice a white helmet with a white mohawk on top and realize that it is Tina, “Tina!” I holler, “over here!”

Tina comes to join the group, “Yes, what is it?”

“Uh, didn’t you have your hair cut?” I ask.

“Yeah, yeah, I sure did,” Tina nervously answers.

“You know you keep hiding in that helmet,” I reach out to take off Tina’s helmet, but she avoids my hands.

“No, now is not the time,” Tina steps away from me.

“What do you mean? It’s just a haircut,” I say.

“It’s embarrassing,” Tina fidgets around.

“If you say so then…”

“No! This isn’t fair!” Risho shouts and forcefully takes Tina’s helmet from her head in one fell swoop.

“No!” Tina bashfully covers her head with her arms, but all of us can see her new hairstyle.

Her hair is cut short until her chin and has bangs covering some of her foreheads. I start to compliment her, “You look like a differe—”

Tina smacks the top of my head, “You are just going to say that!?”

All the girls glare at me for a moment, and I shrink in fear and embarrassment, “Yes, w—what is it?” I raise my hands to my face to avoid their eyes.

“You look better like that,” Risho states.

“Huh?” I react.

“Yes, don’t you agree, Lina? He looks more handsome now.”

I cringe. Don’t look at me now! Stay angry!

“Does he?” Lina answers, “he looks the same.”

“Hey, now!” I lower my head. It’s too embarrassing! And don’t laugh!

“Let’s have a late lunch, I’m quite hungry myself,” I invite.

“Sure! Let’s go!” they say in varying unison.

We enter a better-than-average restaurant in town. I would say, it is between the average and the fancy restaurants I have dined in. So it’s not overbearing or underwhelming. It is just right. A waiter leads us to an appropriate seat that can contain five people, and I suddenly realize something, “I don’t have any money.”

“Welcome to Kach’s restaurant!” the waiter enthusiastically greets us and hands over some menu cards, “Here are our menus. I am your waiter, Ivan. Happy to serve you!” The waiter gracefully bows.

I take it back. It is a fancy restaurant. I think to myself. I look over to the items in the menus while the others do the same. I am sure they are looking at the food itself, but I am looking at the prices. Two hundred silver? Three gold coins? Eight hundred silver? Dear heavens! I pray to thee, give thy humble servant a miracle!.

“Sir, could you please give me your attention for a moment?” I look up to the waiter to fulfill his request.

“Aren’t you Aeko?” the waiter asks.

“Me? Aeko?” I point to myself to confirm if he meant me.

“Yes, you! Don’t you remember me?” he gestures to himself, “didn’t we meet each other at Zinta years ago? I’m glad you ended up here in Lunis!” the waiter enthusiastically recalls about his friend I haven’t known of. Also, where is Zinta? I recall seeing that name somewhere.

“A-ah, haha… yeah sure. I remember you. How could I forget? We did some crazy things and that,” I nervously laugh.

“So you do remember!” the waiter laughs freely in comparison to mine, “since it’s been years, my old friend, I shall treat you to meals. The meals are on me!” The waiter promptly leaves behind the restaurant’s kitchen room.

“Do you know him?” Tina asks.

I whisper back, “No, I don’t, but can we pretend that I do?”

“Sure, but why?” Tina asks.

Lower your voice, dang it.

“Just do it in favor please, I beg you,” I plead.

The waiter returns with a huge plate with a huge lobster in it. “Here is our best dish for you!” Ivan leans to my ear and whispers, “Introduce me to the girls, will you?”

I jolt but maintain my firm seating, “Sure! Sure! yes!” I awkwardly face the girls and the waiter. “Ah, right, this is my friend, I—Ivan… Ummm… and Ivan, this is Risho, Tina, Lina, and Rina. Uh, they are my… uhh… friends, yes?”

“Mhm, that’s right, Aeko is amazing when he defended the town of Zinta, but sadly, the town is no more,” the waiter laments.

“Wait, what do you mean by no more?” I ask.

“You haven’t heard? Must have been a journey, huh? Well, they were wiped out by the Snow Knight mercilessly,” the waiter falls on his knees and begins to sob on my lap, “Aeko, where have you been? Aeko, why did you leave?”

“Uh, well…” I tremble at a loss for words.

“I mean, I do understand why you left, but,” the waiter sighs and stands up wiping his tears, “the past is the past, and there is nothing we could do about it.”

I think I have heard that somewhere before, I can’t recall when. Could it be I have said it before? I couldn’t remember.

“Aeko, are you okay?” the waiter kneels to me, “you are spacing out.”

“I’m sorry. I did, but I am fine though,” I refocus my blurry eyes. I just recalled a painful memory I didn’t want to remember.

“So you do remember. I’m glad you haven’t forgotten. Just so you know, I have no grudge against you. Never will I have. You have been the best defender you could be,” the waiter puts on a warm smile, “then, let the feast begin!”

The girls start slicing the large lobster to serve themselves and start eating on their plate, but I couldn’t get myself to eat it, “Um, may I have a different dish?” I ask Ivan.

“Sure, no problem! What is your request?” Ivan asks.

“I would like to have steak and a side dish of salad, please,” I request.

“Oh, right! Your taste hasn’t even changed at all! I’m glad! Coming right up, medium-rare!” the waiter promptly leaves.

Woah, he even knew how I wanted it to be cooked, but was I that similar with this ‘Aeko’?

My food arrives and we all eat in peace, albeit Ivan waiting over our table. It’s quite uncomfortable being watched while eating, you know, Ivan? Once we finish, Ivan offers us drinks, “Would you like cold tea with ice, our dear customers?”

“Cold tea with ice?” Risho asks, “What is that?”

“It is just your normal tea served hot except that we used cold water and place our specially produced ice!”

“Isn’t that just iced tea?” I blurt out.

“Iced tea! Aeko, you are a genius! It sounds catchy too!”

“Oh, iced tea…” Risho trails off.

“I want to try it!” Rina raises her hand exuberantly.

“Me too,” Lina and Tina simultaneously request.

“Then, iced tea, coming right up!” the waiter starts to leave, but I interrupt.

“Wait, can you bring me a cup of milk as well?”

“Sure!” the waiter promptly leaves and returns with six glasses, five iced tea, and one milk.

The rest of the girls drink their iced tea in satisfaction.

“Woah! Never knew cold tea would taste this good!” Tina exclaims.

“I should be able to make my own when I produce my ice,” Lina states.

“Sister, please makes some of this at home! It tastes so good!” Rina nudges Lina.

“This tastes so nostalgic…” Risho trails off.

“Thank you! This is the special invention we wish to spread in the town! Oh, general, please spread the word to the Queen if it would be appropriate,” the waiter humbly bows.

“Sure! Definitely will be a pleasure! I will make sure to arrange a special order for this drink!” Tina answers.

“It would be an honor!” the waiter bows again.

Risho looks at me with the two glasses I have ordered in hand, “What are you going to do with that?”

“Ivan, I shall show you a new drink,” I say jovially, and Ivan watches closely as I pour the milk into the iced tea and shake it gently, “this is called improvised milk tea, or milk tea for short.”

“This is genius! Does it taste good?” Ivan keenly asks.

“See for yourself,” I take a drink from the glass and taste a mediocre homemade milk tea, “from where I’m from, they had more ingredients than just this. They would add creamy milk, tapioca pearls, some sugar, and ice cubes,” I say as I set the glass on the table.

“You truly are a genius of drinks! You thought me before how to make iced tea, and now milk tea! I will be back! I shall create one of these from myself! Excuse me, my dear customers,” Ivan rushes back to the kitchen room.

“I taught you that?” Just who is this ‘Aeko’ guy?

Lina stares at the milk tea on the table, “I’m curious. What does it taste like?” Lina carelessly takes the only milk tea and takes a sip from it, and all of us stare at her in shock.

“Lina…” Rina grows alarmed.

“Lina, that’s—!” Tina’s face becomes red.

“The glass, Lina,” Risho belligerently points out.

“Hm? The glass?” Lina takes the glass from her mouth and her eyes go wide in realization, “Oh!” she squeals.

“You pervert!” Rina slams the table glaring at me.

“I—I didn’t do anything!” I wave my hands in the air in panic.

“How dare you violate my sister!” Rina stomps over to my seat and starts punching my arm.

“Ow! Ow! Hey now!” I struggle with Rina while I block her attacks with my palms.

Tina weakly laughs while Risho glares at Lina. Lina vigorously wipes her mouth as if it was the most disgusting thing her mouth has ever touched. I couldn’t blame her though.

After the ruckus was over, we leave the restaurant with the moonlight brightly shining on the streets. We have been eating and chatting for so long that we lost track of time, but we leave the restaurant satisfied.

“That was so good!” Rina says in a satisfied voice.

“I feel like I could not eat for seven days,” Tina states.

“How about you, Deliruu-san?” Risho nudges me.

“Yeah, my steak was fine,” I say.

Risho comes close to my ear and whispers, “You didn’t have any money, did you?”

“Huh? Money?” my voice raises, and I quickly lower it, “of course I had, it’s just that…” I trail off.

“Oh? You are a lucky man,” Risho says teasingly.

“Oh, yeah, about the contract,” I face Tina, “could you deliver five hundred gold to the Lunis’s Mercenary Guild?”

“Huh? Why?” Tina asks.

Yes! I have successfully digressed.

“I made a contract with them to defend with me,” I bow my head slightly, “I’m sorry if I had done a rash thing to hurt our finances.”

“It’s no problem,” Tina responds, “five hundred gold coins is no problem at all.”

I sigh in relief, and we all return to the inn to lodge our night there. When we are at the inn’s door, the messenger whom I rode with to Lunis quickly runs to me, “Genera— Bari, I have an urgent message! Please hear quickly!”

“Oh, hello! I’m sorry for leaving you out there,” I slightly bow my head to apologize.

“It’s all fine, General, but I must tell this message to you right now,” the messenger quickly opens a crumpled envelope, “it’s from the Queen, and it’s also addressed to you, General Tina.”

“We will hear it,” I say.

“Ugibiris’s Army has been spotted one thousand miles west of our Kingdom. They are currently camping at the Desert of the Fox as I write this letter. They pose a huge threat and are estimated to arrive in one week. I command that all the horsemen return to protect the Kingdom and mobilize all our forces in our Castle Mountain. The number of men we are facing is estimated to be five hundred thousand. We need you now quickly and with speed. Safe and swift travels, from the Queen.”

We all stand in shock due to what he has heard.

“We have to get back now,” I say to Tina.

“I agree,” Tina faces the other three, “friends, we are taking our leave now.”

“Wait!” Risho calls out, “Deliruu-san, I shall come with you.”

I face Risho and dismissively wave my hand, “You don’t have to—”

“I know I’m a weird person,” Risho looks down to the ground, “it’s just that you don’t understand, but I understand. And all I can do, and all I want, is to be by your side.”


“I promise you, I shall be by your side, no matter what!” Risho looks up to me in tears and clenches her fist to her chest, “Please allow me!”

“T—then, sure,” I say weakly. Her resolve’s too great I just have to allow him.

“Thank you, Bari!” Risho bows to me.

“O—okay,” I straighten Risho’s posture and face the two sisters, “then we should be taking our leave then.”

“Wait, we will come,” Rina says.

“Rina?” Lina faces Rina with eyes of concern.

“We will come with them, sister.”

“Rina, are you sure? If you don’t want to—”

“I want to!” Rina raises her voice, “don’t bother about me. You always worry about me, but it’s time for you to stop it. I’m not a kid anymore. I don’t want you to miss out on this opportunity. I know you wanted to return for a long time, and I prevented you from that,” Rina sniffles as tears start to form, “I want you to do what you want to do, not for me, but you.”

“Rina…” Lina hugs Rina tightly as the moonlight shines on them.

“I want to meet sister Sina too…” Rina says.

“Then, we will all be leaving!” Tina wears her white helmet, “I have some horses on standby!”