She’s so Cheeky for a Commoner! 16
The first task we received after joining the Order of the Academy was to investigate a certain rumor that had caused a commotion among the students.
“I recently saw a ghost appear late at night…”
A… G-Ghost…? I was by no means proud of it, but the truth was that I was terrible with ghosts.
As a result of a certain event in my past, ghosts and other supernatural phenomena scared me beyond reason.
“I-Is that so.
Even as I felt unnerved, I tried to remain sensible and calm.
If the commoner found out about my fears, there was no telling how she’d abuse it.
“Where were the sightings reported?”
“My friend said she saw it at the stairwell between the 2nd and 3rd floors, but I saw it in the dorm’s kitchen.”
“Hm, looks like it’s appeared all over the place.
Any distinguishable qualities?”
Even as the commoner efficiently continued the investigation, my mind was wracked by the suspense that “it” might appear even now.
That said, I wouldn’t allow myself to abandon my duties.
I was the proud heiress to House François, and now a honored member of the Order of the Academy.
This was my duty, and I had the responsibility to carry it out.
“Well… At first, I didn’t realize that it was a ghost… But it seemed suspicious so I went to take a closer look and got splashed by water.”
“W-Water, you say?”
Perhaps it’s the sad soul of a student who once drowned in the academy’s river?”
“Claire-sama, is something the matter?”
“N-No, it’s nothing.”
I did the best I could to downplay the little scream that leaked.
Come to think of it, I actually had heard a rumor about a girl who had gone through exactly that.
Though I felt sorry for her, I’d ask that she refrain from spooking the people of the present.
That’s right, this wasn’t about me being afraid, it was about respecting the boundaries between this life and the next… Really, just who was I trying to appease with that excuse?
“Thank you for the valuable information.”
“Please, make sure to deal with it.”
“… Au revoir.“
After that, the commoner and I continued our investigation.
The common themes were, “at night”, “the kitchen or a nearby stairwell”, and “some phenomena involving water”.
“Well then, should we check the scene of the crime?”
“… Wouldn’t it be better for you to go on your own?”
“What are you saying? Isn’t it obvious that it’d be more efficient if we searched together?”
I had hoped to avoid directly inspecting the scene of the crime, but the dense commoner failed to pick up on my hints.
If this were Lene, she surely would’ve noticed even if I had maintained my silence.
Coincidentally, Lene was busy helping my father and could not be with us.
As I distracted myself with such thoughts, we arrived at the dorm’s kitchen.
Though things seemed no different from usual, something about it just felt eerie.
“Alright, we’re here.”
“Oh, looks like the door is locked! Well, I suppose it can’t be helped… We’ll loop back―”
“… So you did.”
The commoner took the key, inserting and twisting it to unlock the door with a click.
As though oblivious to my reservations, she opened the door to the kitchen.
At a glance, the kitchen appeared no different than how it normally was.
“Claire-sama, would you search the area near the entrance? I’ll check deeper in.”
“Don’t think that you can just order me around!”
“I mean, would you rather…”
“… Well, if you absolutely insist, I’ll leave it to you.”
It was frustrating to make such a concession to a commoner, but it’s not as though I could control my fears! That said, this was my duty.
I very cautiously investigated the area near the entrance.
Nothing seemed to be out of place… just as that thought crossed my mind―I saw it.
“Eep!? Commoner! You! Rei!”
In my panic I called the commoner by her name, but that was the last thing on my mind.
“What’s the matter?”
“Th-That…! … Hey, what are you smiling about?”
“Ah, my bad, Claire-sama is just so cute that I couldn’t help myself.”
“Consider the time and place before you speak! But more importantly, that!”
I pointed toward a surface―the kitchen door’s frame―and the blue gelatinous substance that was stuck to it.
“I wonder what that is… It doesn’t seem to be a regular stain.”
Though I was trembling in fear, the commoner unbelievably stretched her hand to touch it.
“Don’t you dare touch that! What do you plan to do if something bad happens!”
“Oh? Are you worried about my safety?”
“I just don’t want to get caught up in whatever happens!”
I unwittingly let my true intentions leak, but what else was I to say?
“Alright, I understand, we’ll just have to leave it to the Analysis Department.”
Borrowing chopsticks and an empty jar that were in the vicinity, the commoner collected a sample of the blue substance.
The Analysis Department was a facility on campus.
As its name suggests, the facility accepts samples and performs analysis.
While its roots were in studying nature, ever since magic gems were discovered, magical phenomena―magic stones, monsters, and spells―became the primary focus of their research.
Lene’s brother, Lambert, also worked under this department and spent his time there researching monsters.
“Hm, it doesn’t seem like there’s anything else here.”
“Let’s hurry and leave.”
“Okay, but let’s come back at night.”
“… What did you just say?”
I could not believe what I heard.
I was already this scared investigating in the day, and she wanted to come back at night…?
“Don’t you think we might be able to find the truth if we come back at night?”
“B-But… What do you intend to do if the ghost actually shows up?”
“If that happens we can catch it or exorcise it.
Besides, has anyone ever really seen a ghost?”
“I often hear about sightings.
They claim that a friend of a friend bore witness…”
“Ah… So ghost sightings fall under the paranormal here too? Even though it’s meant to be a fantasy world… How strange.”
The commoner tossed those words out casually.
“The strange one here is you! What are you mumbling about? Besides, shouldn’t we leave this kind of thing to the military?”
“Sure, maybe if we were dealing with the undead, but it’s just a ghost so the Order of the Academy should be more than enough.
Just think about it, there’s no way ghosts really exist.”
“Th-That might be right, but what about that gelatinous substance…“
“It’ll be fine! I promise to protect you.”
“Are you trying to make a fool out of me!? I am fully capable of protecting myself!”
The commoner’s calm and collected attitude was so infuriating that such words escaped my mouth.
Ahh… Why did I have to back myself into a corner like this… Though I regret my words, it was too late.
“Alright then, the real investigation happens tonight.”
“Haah… Why do you seem to be having so much fun…”
Nighttime, well past the regular curfew, the dorms had settled into an eerie silence.
We returned to the dorm’s kitchen and attentively kept watch.
“… There appears to be nothing here…?”
“So it seems.”
“Hey, there doesn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary… I’m sure the people who reported the sightings were just mistaken!”
“Hmm… but well, I think we should keep watch for the rest of the night, just in case.”
I seriously began to doubt the commoner’s sanity.
She wanted to spend the night at the location of a ghost sighting? Surely she spoke in jest.
“It’ll be fine.
We’ll tell Lene and ask her to bring some proper bedding.”
That was clearly not the problem here! … Hold on.
“This was your plan from the start, wasn’t it?”
Truly, nothing in this world was more frustrating than that commoner’s joyful expression.
“I’ll go ahead lay out our sheets then.”
With that, the commoner promptly laid out some bedding… Hey, wait, I said wait!
“Well then, shall we?”
“Hey, you’ve only set up enough for one! You have enough for two, so do it properly!”
“Eh? But then I wouldn’t be able to share a bed with Claire-sama!”
“Yes, and that’s how it should be!”
“Geez, you’re so selfish….”
“Me!? You’re saying that I’m the one in the wrong!?”
Just how many times have we had this exchange? But well… the silly exchange had somehow served to ease my fears.
“Claire-sama, please go ahead and tuck yourself in.”
“What do you intend to do?”
“I just feel like a bit of a bedtime snack.”
The commoner lay an apron over her pajamas, grabbed some ingredients from the kitchen’s cold room, and began measuring them.
“… I didn’t know that you could cook.”
“It’s nothing special, most commoners can.”
“… I suppose you’re right.”
Among noble children, it wasn’t uncommon for the girls to make a habit of baking sweets.
I however, had never once managed anything in a culinary capacity.
Realizing that I had lost to the commoner yet again, I felt a little down.
“Ah, but recently I’ve been trying some new recipes.
It’s actually quite fun!”
“Is that so? Quite a fitting hobby for a commoner.”
Just as those spiteful words left my mouth, a question came to mind.
“… Hey, aren’t you serving me around the clock? Just when would you find the time to cook?”
“Well, secretly, in the middle of the night.”
“Ahh… I… see…?”
Suddenly, everything seemed to click into place.
“In the middle of the night… in the kitchen?”
“Could it be… That the ghost haunting the kitchen is…?”
“Yup, I think they mean me!”
“I’m going back to my room!”
Absolutely ludicrous! Surely the commoner had known that she was the cause of the uproar the whole time.
What a troublemaker! Unwilling to keep up with her farce any longer, I jumped off of the bed and tried to leave the kitchen.
That very moment, a blue mass shot past me.
“Eep! I-It’s here!”
“Claire-sama, calm down and take a closer look.
It’s just Relaire.”
Just as the commoner said, when I took a closer look I found that the blue mass was her familiar, Relaire.
“So that gelatinous substance too…”
“Yes, it probably came from Relaire.”
The body of a water slime is indeterminate.
It wouldn’t be strange for some of her to stick should her body come in contact with something hard or sharp.
Now that I knew the secret, it didn’t seem scary at all.
“… What a troublesome pair.
Really, the pet never strays far from its master.”
“I’m sorry that I kept it a secret.
As an apology, please give this a try.”
In the face of my exasperation, the commoner offered a dark brown baked sweet.
“And? What might this be?”
“My new creation.
I do hope that suits your tastes.”
“What do you think you’re saying? For something to suit my tastes it’d have to be on the same level as Blume or―”
Even as I spoke to spite her, the sweet fragrance wafting in the air lured me to try a bite.
When I did so, the mellow flavors of chocolate spread and filled my entire mouth.
“!? It’s delicious!? Just what is this? Inside the cake there’s a thick syrupy…”
“It’s a dessert called Fondant au Chocolat.
Hiding within the chocolate cake is warm, melted chocolate.”
“Chocolate is still the latest and greatest of the new sweets available in Blume’s menu.
To be able to make use of that and create another dessert… Really, just who are you?”
Now that I thought about it, this commoner was shrouded in mysteries.
She had forced a change of heart within my father, outdone me in both our contests to ask me to make a seemingly meaningful promise, and just now had made use of an ingredient that a commoner should have no access to, to create this unknown delicacy.
When I shot her a suspicious glare,
“Who am I, you ask? I am but a slave to your love, Claire-sama!”
“Hey, don’t think I’ll just let you gloss over the situation with your jokes!”
This dessert really isn’t as good once it cools down.
I’d ask that you eat it quickly.
I’ll prepare some tea.”
“Goodness… But I must say, this dessert is absolutely wonderful.
I’ll give praise where it’s due.”
After that, I enjoyed my late night tea and, with the commoner’s drivel acting as a lullaby, I departed to dreamland.
“Got ‘em! The sleepover date was a huge success.”
“… How noisy… Mmnm… Mm.”
Just as my consciousness began to slip, I heard the commoner say something disagreeable, but I was already surrounded by chocolate in a happy dream.
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