The waiting maids working in the inner palace held Zenjirou in high esteem.
Daring to lay it on the line: They were regarding him as an “easy-care master”.
He wasn’t nitpicking about their jobs. He wasn’t giving out orders on a whim. He didn’t scold them when a given task wasn’t completed on time due to some circumstances as long as they explained it with a legit reason. And he didn’t forget to thank them when they completed a task.
Individually, these points were nothing special, but an accumulation of such trivial considerateness yielded a “comfortable environment”.
As such, it was only natural that Zenjirou was held in high esteem by the waiting maids.
However, nothing, whatever it may be, was ever “perfect” to the last detail. Thus, it wasn’t like the waiting maids had no complaints at all in regard to him.
He rarely let them into the living room or bedroom. He didn’t give straight orders due to his modesty. And his taste in food gravely differed from a person of the Carpa Kingdom as he came from a different world. All kind of “complaints” came up when each maid was cited.
But most of their opinions would surely unite when the entire team of waiting maids had to name “the one complaint that they considered as the worst”.
Namely: “His abnormal ‘fondness of baths’.”
On a certain midmorning, a couple of waiting maids were cleaning the ridiculous large bathroom of the inner palace with heart and soul. As the Carpa Kingdom had high temperatures, physical labour tended to be done during the relatively cool morning or evening.
The water had been drained from the two baths, which were large enough to be mistaken has small pools, and the barefooted maids scrubbed the slimy floor with long scrubbers for all they were worth while sweating on their foreheads.
It was a stiff job without the slightest appeal.
“Aw, Ugh, my hips hurt~!”
It was understandable that the young maids would utter words of complaint.
A petite maid with a short haircut wailed, whereupon the tall maid scrubbing next to her replied with a snapping tone.
“This place echoes, so keep your ridiculous loud voice to yourself, Fay. To begin with, you’re short, so you should have it better than me. I’ve to work stooping the whole time.”
The petite maid with short hair— Fay was told off like that by the tall maid.
As to back up her words, the tall maid— Dolores took her right hand off the handle of the brush and tapped her numb hip with a clenched fist.
In fact, Dolores did have a point. The higher up your hips were when cleaning a low place, the greater the strain.
Although that was indeed the case for cleaning stooped with just a cloth, a size difference hardly affected the burden when cleaning with a long scrubber. Her nerves, too, had been stretched by the monotone and tough labour. In other words, she was just venting her anger.
But the girl called Fay wasn’t so well-mannered that she would quietly put up with that outburst.
“Say what? Your voice is way louder. The volume of your voice is proportional to your body size after all, you mountain!”
“As if. If that were true, your voice should be too faint to even reach my ears.”
“I’m not that small!”
Even while cursing at each other, the two of them were still moving the scrubbers in their hands for now, which was truly praiseworthy.
Because they were
The middle-aged waiting maid, who had worked her brush quietly in one corner of the bath, wordlessly picked up the water bucket at her feet and splashed about its entire content.
Fay and Dolores jumped up with a scream when the cold water suddenly hit their bare feet. The older maid must have held back, seeing as the water didn’t splash on them any higher than their skirt.
The middle-aged maid glared at them with half-closed eyes and breathed her words with a sigh.
“I don’t see your hands moving. Do your job.”
“Y- Yes, I am sorry, Olsha-sama.”
“F- Forgive me, Olsha-sama.”
The scolding from the middle-aged maid in charge of cleaning, Olsha, wasn’t really all that harsh, but Fay and Dolores flinched exaggerated as if they had been hit with a whip.
In charge of cleaning, Olsha was an average woman of middle age without any striking traits in particular.
If there was such a thing as a trait, it would be how she always kept her eyes half-closed as if she was sleepy.
The tight-lipped and inexpressive waiting maid quietly returned to her own task, her interest lost after confirming with a glance that her subordinators quickly got back to work.
She was neither as faultfinding as her fellow supervisor Ines, the maid in charge of cleaning, nor did she rule as iron-fisted as her other fellow supervisor Vanessa, the maid in charge of cooking.
But even the “Three Troublemakers” wanted to stay clear of her glare by all costs.
There was a good reason for that. Olsha judged the work of young waiting maids as “good or bad” by observing them inexpressively and wordless.
And if by chance she decided that the “modus operandi of a maid was inappropriate for the inner palace”, she would stay apathetic to the core and calmly report to Supervisory Maid Amanda that someone “failed”.
Olsha’s stance was as following: A job was something you learned by observing and then doing it yourself. Instructions were only necessary once at the beginning. And a superior had the responsibility to distinct between capable and useless subordinators.
Her way of thinking was the complete opposite from Vanessa, whose purpose in life was to drill the skills into the young waiting maids, or Ines, who considered it her greatest obligation to guide the other waiting maids.
Fay and Dolores, part of the infamous “Three Troublemakers” known for their easy-going and lax attitude, also reflexively straightened their backs when receiving such a “scolding” from Olsha.
In the end, the waiting maids, starting with Fay and Dolores, were making an effort to do their job because of it, so it might actually be a good management in itself. Although the young waiting maids on the receiving end could do without it.
For a while, only the sound of brushes scrubbing over the wet floor could be heard in the bath without anyone saying a word.
That was nothing unusual for Dolores, who was in pretty good control of herself, but even Fay, a bundle of pure energy, was shut up, which definitely spoke in favour of Olsha’s self-assertion.
However, Fay wouldn’t be called the “Head of the Three Troublemakers” if she could maintain a diligent working morale in silence for long.
She may not be so stupid to neglect her task when she had just been scolded, but she started to get distracted bit by bit. Suddenly, she remembered that she hadn’t heard anything of her other roommate Rethe yet, ever since they had started cleaning the bath.
The scatterbrained Rethe certainly was a girl of few words and did things at her own pace, but even so, it was strange that she didn’t speak a single word during work.
Carefully continuing with her task, Fay sneaked a peek at the side. Rethe was diligently working her brush while her huge breasts, distinguishably even through her maid clothes, swayed. Because of her drooping eyes, she was usually looking somewhat silly, but now she kept an expression as serious as possible.
(Huh? Why’s Rethe so serious?)
Witnessing the unusual behaviour of her roommate, Fay inclined her head puzzled.
And while Fay kept her small head inclined like that, the big-breasted girl with drooping eyes finished cleaning her assigned area and approached her while her footsteps made splishing and splashing sound on the wet floor.
“I’m done with my side, so I’ll help you out. Fay-chan, where do you want me to start?”
Usually at her leisure, Rethe now called out to her with a relatively quick tone.
This was definitely weird. Her roommate with the drooping eyes was by no means such the diligent type.
Fay forgot to answer her question and asked back in a whisper.
(Hey, Rethe, what’s going on?)
Rethe widened her dropping eyes in reaction to the question, which implied the meaning of “you have never been this serious”, and replied disappointed.
“Have you forgotten, Fay-chan? If we don’t hurry up with our job, we’ll end up last for the ’shopping’ at noon.”
That one word made Fay, but also Dolores, who was scrubbing nearby, raise an exclamation of surprise.
After a moment of surprise, its meaning dawned on the two of them.
Yes, they had forgotten.
A merchant came to the inner palace once every three months and today was that day.
* * *
A couple of minutes later.
“Fay-chan, Supervisory Maid Amanda will get mad at us when we run in the hallway!”
“It’s all your fault for forgetting your wallet, Rethe! Aw, we’re totally late!”
“In the first place, we would have had all the time in the world if you had not forgotten about today and took the cleaning seriously~”
“Whatever, just hurry up. We have no time to waste!”
Having finished cleaning the bath in a rush, the “Three Troublemakers” were now running down the hallway in the inner palace. Having said that, their opinion of running was actually subjective. For an onlooker, they were “walking at a fast pace” at best.
Despite everything, the three of them were still waiting maids of the inner palace. They would never cross the line. Nonetheless, they sometimes did came pretty close to that line, which earned them the alias “Three Troublemakers”.
Anyway, the three walked down the hallway as fast as their standing as maids of the inner palace allowed them to. At the rear entrance, they changed into their outdoor shoes, then crossed through the courtyard under the dazzling midday sun and headed for a separate building.
The inner palace of the Carpa Kingdom was relatively small, considering the size of the country, but that didn’t mean it only consisted of a single building standing by itself.
Castle walls surrounded several buildings and their yards, the main building, where Zenjirou lived, at its centre. The entirety of it was called the “Inner Palace”.
Right now, Fay and the two other girls were heading towards the building that stood at the very edge of the inner palace.
That house was partly merged with the outer wall of the palace and served as a gate, connecting the isolated inner palace with the outer world. Due to that, the young waiting maids were normally forbidden to go near it unless they had a special reason.
When they quickly crossed through the yard, a group of three young waiting maids was coming back from the house Fay and Co. were heading to, chatting with each other.
The three maids ceased their chitchat, as they also noticed Fay and the others approaching quickly, and showed them a different smile than before.
Each of the smiling maids waved their hand and proudly showcased the textiles and small phials of perfumed oil they had bought just now.
In contrast to them, the “Three Troublemakers”: Fay, Rethe and Dolores were all scowling.
They had been beaten to it.
The merchant brought a lot of one-of-a-kind items. Rare items sold well, even in a different world.
Even if he had some “good stuff” in stock, it would have already found their way into the hands of the other waiting maids. And judging by their smug smiles, that event was more than likely.
Moreover, Karina covertly held up her index and middle finger in a “Victory Sign” when she passed by them. Needless to say, the phenomenon of a “Victory Sign” initially didn’t exist in this world, as there wasn’t even the Latin alphabet. Such particulars represented the influence that Zenjirou had on the waiting maids.
Since her co-workers looked like the cat that got the cream, Fay felt the urge to yelp at them, but she clearly had other priorities right now.
It would be way too foolish if some other girl stole a march on her again while she snapped at her co-workers, who were already done with their shopping.
“…Let’s go, Dolores, Rethe!”
“Ah, wait, Fay. Even if this is the courtyard, you shouldn’t be running like the wind. If the Supervisory Maid catches you, you’ll be done for!”
“Aw, Fay-chan, wait~”
Dolores and Rethe also quickened their pace, chasing after Fay, who stormed off unfazed.
* * *
When Fay and the others entered the large room, a middle-age merchant with an amble belly gave them an affable smile as he sat cross-legged on top of a red carpet, all kind of articles spread before him.
Textiles in all various colours. Perfumed oil in metal phials as thick as a thump. And accessories such as rings or necklaces.
With a beaming face, Fay was about to rush over to the merchant at full speed when she noticed the silhouette sitting near the wall at the last moment.
The person glaring at her so strongly that you could feel the tension in the air was no less a figure than Supervisory Maid Amanda, the overall superior of the inner palace.
Her sitting posture on top of the carpet with a straightened back and knees together was as perfect and inhuman as ever. To the point that it made you wonder if even the wrinkles in her clothes obeyed the will of the middle-aged head maid when seated.
Normally she worked in the main building of the inner palace, only concerning herself with instructions for all the waiting maids and the preservation of Zenjirou‘s comfortable lifestyle. Why was she here now? Because her duties also encompasses the negotiation with the merchants and their oversight.
Right now, there were no more than six soldiers with short spears present, but Supervisory Maid Amanda had the exceptional right to assume command of them in this room.
In face of the fierce glare of the maid, who put her life on the line to keep the order in the inner palace, and the drawn weapons of the armed soldiers under her control, the plump man of middle age left his obvious business smile unchanged, a sign that he wasn’t a purveyor to the court for nothing. At least his dauntlessness was remarkable.
The merchant, still sitting on the carpet, smiled at the new arrivals.
“Well, well. It is a pleasure to see you again, Fay-sama, Dolores-sama, Rethe-sama. I believe that I have some items you will fancy this time as well. Please come and take a closer look.”
Saying so, he beckoned them to sit down in front of the carpet with the displayed goods.
That he instantly remembered the names of his customers, whom he only got to see once every three months, distinguished him as a capable merchant after all.
Guided by his smile, Fay and the others kneeled on the carpet.
Supervisory Maid Amanda was constantly pressuring them from the other side as if to say “You know what happens when you bring shame on the waiting maids of the inner palace…“, so it cramped their “Three Troublemaker” style, but they had been looking forward to the once-every-three-month shopping so much that they could conquer that pressure.
“Oh my, I’ve never seen a cloth like this. A bit unusual, but still nice.”
“You have good eyes, Dolores-sama. That design has recently started to become quite popular in the capital. Despite its popularity, there is a short supply of it, so that piece is the only one I have right now.“
“I guess I will get a comb? A few teeth broke on my favourite one the other day.”
“Then I recommend this one, Rethe-sama. It has been cut from the carapace of a marine turtle and not only does it look beautiful, but each tooth has been carved meticulously, so it is well-suited for brushing hair.“
“Hmm, what should I get? A cute ring or necklace is all good, but I can’t wear it during work…”
“In that case, Fay-sama, how about this hairband? Unlike a ring or necklace, it will not get in the way with your work and you can still look all fashionable.”
As the three of them let their sparkling eyes wander over the displayed articles, the corpulent merchant immediately engaged in some sales talk.
He casually recommended a comb with few teeth to Rethe, who kind of had curly hair, and a hair accessory suitable for even short hair: an Alice band to the shorthaired Fay. Yet another sign that the merchant knew what he was doing.
Thanks to the merchant’s well pronounced words, the three girls gradually forgot about the pressure coming from Supervisory Maid Amanda. They put both their hands on the carpet, leaned forward and watched the goods carefully.
As they were practically on all fours on top of the carpet, greedily stared at the articles and opened their brought wallets to count their money, they hardly looked anything like “refined waiting maids of the inner palace”, but Supervisory Maid Amanda didn’t show the slightest inclination to reprimand them for now.
When all was said and done, Amanda, too, wasn’t as unreasonable as the young waiting maids feared.
She was flexible enough to turn a blind eye to some things during activities like this one, which served as a stress reliever.
“Hey, what do you think looks best?”
Dolores held various clothes against herself and asked Fay and Rethe with an excited voice.
“Ehm, I think the one with the blue line on it looks great.”
“Hmm? The cloth itself may be better, but I do not think it would suit you, Dolores. This brown one would look better on you, in my opinion.”
The enjoyment from satisfying your own desire to buy something with a limited budget existed even in the different world. Then again, the shopping surely would lose all its appeal when you had an unlimited budget and could take everything you wanted.
After wracking their brains for a while, Fay and the other two had finally decided on what to buy. At that moment.
“Yes, thank you very much for your purchase. Please have a look at this next.”
Keeping his friendly smile, the merchant said that and started to line up small phials that shone silver, in front of them.
“Uwah, so pretty. I only have a silver phial of perfumed oil as a hand-down from my mother~”
Silver phials of perfumed oil. The young waiting maids widened their eyes upon seeing them.
The phials used for perfumed oil were basically classed in the following ascending order: wood, copper and silver. The wooden phial with perfumed oil was mainly for commoners and thrown away after usage. Fay and the others hardly ever owned one of these, since they were lower rank nobles.
However, even with their sense of value, the silver phial was undoubtedly classified as a “high-class item”.
The shrewd merchant deepened his smile as the eyes of the young waiting maids lighted up.
“Please, feel free to touch them. They are filled with the finest perfume oil I could get my hands on. Each phial has a different oil in it.”
Saying so, he urged them by spreading his hands palms up.
“Yeah, we spent most of it already…”
The girls mumbled sadly, whereupon the person, who had stayed silent the whole time so far, spoke to them from the side. It was Supervisory Maid Amanda.
“Don’t worry about the money. It’s a present from Zenjirou-sama. You can pick one you like.”
Their reaction to these words was yet again dramatic.
“Eh? No way!?”
Their earlier depression vanished and they leaned over once more, intensely examining the silver phials of perfumed oil lined up on the carpet.
All the phials were almost of the same size, around as thick as a thumb, but the patterns drawn on them were as manifold as there were stars in the sky.
One had a design that looked like a spider web. Another one had twined ivy vines engraved on it. Yet another one showed the bas-relief of a Water Dragon lifting its head. And so on.
“To put it simply, we have, starting from the right, ‘Rosa Unguis’, ‘Warm Chamomile’, ‘Peppermint’, ‘Red Lily’, ‘Spikenard’, ‘Sweet Horned Dragon’, ‘Blind Snake’, ‘Water Dragon Jewel’ and ‘Sweet Mouse’.”
“You kidding me!? Sweet Horned Dragon?”
“The Water Dragon Jewel is mine!”
“Ah, I love peppermint~ Still, the Sweet Mouse…”
The waiting maids’ interest was focussed on the animalistic perfumed oil. In the eyes of the merchant, that was to be expected.
Picking or even cultivating plants made it relatively easy to make botanical perfumed oil. In contrast to that, hunting animals was dangerous, so animalistic perfumed oil was considered a luxury.
Strictly speaking of favourite fragrances, some people would take botanical perfumed oils over animalistic perfumed oil any day, but when they were offered something they usually couldn’t afford, for free, it was human nature to choose the most expensive one.
In fact, it was pretty unusual that someone would be torn between a rare, expensive high-class item and a common article matching one’s own preference, just like Rethe was right now.
Supervisory Maid Amanda rolled her eyes to the narrow-minded reaction of the young waiting maids, but decided not to speak up “here”.
“Okay, Sweet Horned Dragon it is!”
“The Water Dragon Jewel… It’s too good to be true…”
“I have made up my mind. I will take the peppermint after all~”
In light of the beaming smiles of the excited maids, even Amanda had enough compassion to not lecture them about “manners” and “etiquette” right here. Besides, she shouldn’t really be scolding her subordinates in front of an outsider, unless they took it too far.
Swallowing her words of reproach, Amanda declared to the waiting maids, who just finished their shopping, with a tone as inexpressive as her face.
“I see you three have made your choice. Then do not forget to thank Zenjirou-sama and use it carefully. However, make sure that you use half of it together with the ‘soap’ during baths. Afterwards you report your opinion to Zenjirou-sama. Understood?”
Soap. Zenjirou was most enthusiastic about making it as of late. He somehow had succeeded in making a slimy version, but his self-made soap still somewhat reeked of oil and couldn’t be really used as it was yet.
Hearing the reason behind the present of high-class perfumed oil for everyone, the Three Troublemakers each showed a different reaction.
“So that’s how it is.”
“Eh? Together with the soap~? What a waste~”
“Do you understand?”
As they sensed danger from the cold stare of the Supervisory Maid while she asked again,
“Understood, Supervisory Maid.”
the Three Troublemakers straightened their backs and lowered their heads together.
When the young waiting maids left, the room became quiet at once.
The six guards, standing in each corners of the room and flanking the door, were not allowed to speak here without Amanda’s permission.
So practically, there were only Supervisory Maid Amanda and the middle-age merchant in the room. As long as neither of them opened their mouth, the silence went on forever.
But Amanda seemingly had no intention to keep silent.
“Allow me to express my gratitude once more: Thank you very much.”
Supervisory Maid Amanda made a perfect textbook curtsey, which conjured an amiable smile on the merchant’s face under his deep black moustache.
“Don’t mention it. Instead, it’s a great honour for a merchant to be able to do business with everyone working in the inner palace.”
Saying so, he shook his hand in front of his face, as if to put her off.
Not daring to deny him, the Head Maid Amanda withdrew with these words.
However, she had been right to thank him.
This man was more or less a “purveyor to the court”. While of common birth, his fortune outranked a poor noble. He was a prosperous merchant.
Needless to say, he only dealt with high-class articles. Normally, he would never sell items, which the wallets of the young waiting maids could afford.
To make a reference to modern Earth: It was the same as calling Harry Winston or the manager of a high-class jeweller’s shop like Bvlgari or Cartier to your own house to buy a single jewellery worth under ten-thousand yen. It just wasn’t worth the effort.
Nonetheless, the smile of the merchant was by no means fake.
“I mean really mean it. As a matter of fact, Her Highness Aura regularly purchases at my store, so I’m never in the reds and above all, the deal with Zenjirou-sama got me something worth its weight in gold.”
Something the merchant got from Zenjirou. Namely, things from Earth.
For example: A flat button with four holes.
The Carpa Kingdom only knew of protruding ornamental buttons, so a flat button with four holes had the potential to cause a small culture revolution.
And speaking of flat buttons, they could even start a new fashion style, where buttons were hidden on the inside, and most importantly, a flat button on working clothes “didn’t get in the way”. That alone was already a huge advantage.
The merchant was devising a plan to design a military uniform with flat buttons and sell these to the army in the not so distant future.
Other than that, he was also shown things like screws, the screw-cap of a PET bottle and the pump of a shampoo dispenser. Each of them had the fault that it required advanced skills to reproduce, but once a mass-production was possible, it would undoubtedly become a ground-breaking invention.
If even only one, no matter which, brought about the expected result in the future, he would recover all of his preceding investments in no time.
“I am overcome with joy when this lets me stay in favour with Zenjirou-sama from now on, too, really.”
Not leaking the inner thoughts about his ambitions, the merchant respectfully lowered his head with an attitude as humble as his words.
* * *
Zenjirou was infamous amongst the waiting maids for his fondness of baths.
And not only because they had to trouble themselves to clean and heat up the bath every day.
The main reason was that someone from a different world was suggesting — which was practically an order — his bathing customs to the people of this world, namely the waiting maids, albeit unconsciously.
The act of “washing one’s body with water” was already established in this region, as it was humid and abundant with water resources, but unfortunately, its climate was ridiculous hot.
Due to that, even most noble ladies would rather bathe in “cold” than in “hot” water.
Of course the maids, brought up in such an environment, would show reluctance when they were “suggested” to take warm baths every day.
Nevertheless, it had been a year by now since that bathing culture was “suggested”. The opinion of the waiting maids in regards to bathing in hot water, had slowly started to change.
“Fuh, we’re finally done for today!”
“Ah, I knew it, no one else is around anymore.”
“No surprise. Look how late it has gotten.”
It was late at night. The voices of Fay, Dolores and Rethe resounded in the pitch-black changing room. By this time, their master Zenjirou and Aura had obviously finished their bath already, but the same was true of their fellow waiting maids.
Well, it was self-evident. After all, they had were on “bath duty”.
Just like a cook only ate after all the guests were gone, the people in charge boiler only took a bath after the normal bathing hours were over.
“Okay, let’s get it over with already!”
“Nope. Wash yourself properly. Zenjirou-sama is surprisingly neurotic when it comes to cleanness.”
“You heard her, Fay-chan. It is finally our turn to bathe, so let us take our time and enjoy it.”
Even amidst the darkness Fay and the other two remembered the layout of the room and quickly took off their maid clothes, which were dirty from the soot of the firewood for the boiler. While chit-chatting, they were stark naked in no time.
After she got naked, Dolores then fumbled around for the “LED lantern” standing in the corner of the room and reached out for its switch.
“Ehm… Should be around here. Ah, found it.”
As soon as she said that, the changing room was lit by a dazzling white light.
“Ah, right. Zenjirou-sama gave us permission to use this light the other day.”
As the light of the LED lantern was a bit too bright for her eyes that had been used to the darkness, Rethe blinked a few times while she smiled happily.
Just like she had said, Zenjirou had recently allowed the waiting maids to use the LED lantern during their bath. Before, they had entered the bath amidst the illumination of oil pans.
Prior to this, the lantern was used as few as possible, keeping the lifespan of the rechargeable dry cells in mind, but after asking the waiting maids to try out the slimy soap, he had no choice but to revise his decision.
The floor, where they were cleaning themselves, had become extremely slippery, ever since they started to wash their bodies with soap. Slipping inside the bath wasn’t to be underestimated. The safety of the waiting maids couldn’t even be compared to the lifespan of the batteries after all.
“Okay, I’ll carry the light.”
Saying so, Dolores covered the front of her naked body with a towel in one hand and lifted up the LED lantern with the other.
“Ah, Dolores, you forgot your perfumed oil.”
“Geez, carry it for me, will you. I got both my hands full.”
Fay, too, pressed a towel against her body with one hand and grabbed the two small silver phials with perfumed oil with the other.
“Ah, wait for me!”
Falling behind, Rethe trailed them.
Guided by the light of the LED lantern in Dolores’ hand, the three disappeared into the bathroom.
The bathroom was right behind the door of the changing room.
A lot of vapour fumed over the large bathtubs and the temperature inside the bathroom was even higher than outside. All the more right now during the hottest season with ongoing sultry nights.
Thus, it was no wonder that Fay instinctively scowled.
“Aww, Damnit. What an oppressive heat. Let’s get it over with already and get out of here.”
With these words, Fay quickly headed over to one of the two bathtubs.
“Hey, why’re you heading straight for the cold bath? We’re going to wash ourselves with warm water first, Fay!”
Fay, with her bare bottom exposed, was scolded like that by Dolores.
Dolores placed the LED lantern on the counter at the wall, then picked up a wooden tub and walked over to the other bathtub.
“She is right, Fay-chan. Come over here. It feels great to wash your body with warm water.”
Amongst all waiting maids in the inner palace Rethe was probably the one, who enjoyed the warm baths every day the most. As she had loved taking baths even before she was chosen as a waiting maid for the inner palace, Rethe was one of the few girls, who had adapted themselves to Zenjirou’s “suggestion” without any trouble from the very beginning.
“Well, it’s not like I can’t understand your aversion of hot water in this heat, Fay, but it is a fact that the warm water cleans your hair and body better. So resign yourself and get over here.”
On the other hand, Dolores didn’t like it either, but recognized the significance of a warm bath as practical.
“Geh, fine. Damn, I’ll make this ordeal quick! Or rather, we’ll run into the department heads if we don’t hurry.”
Fay was being reluctant to the end. To begin with, she preferred to bath in cold water and briefly and quickly at that, so it was only natural that she would suffer agony in a hot bath.
“Right. At least in the bath, I want my peace.”
Upon Fay’s remark, Dolores shrugged her slender and naked shoulders with these words. Each department head, beginning with Supervisory Maid Amanda, had a lot of duties, so they took their baths at a later time. As long as Fay and the others finished their bath orderly, they wouldn’t get into the awkward situation of running into their superiors at the bathroom.
Fay plunged a wooden bowl into the wooden tub with the slimy soap and scooped its content.
“Ugh, this stuff really stinks.”
“That’s why Zenjirou-sama bought us expensive perfumed oil to eliminate the smell. C’mon, let’s try it out now.”
“Ehehe, I have ‘peppermint’. I am so excited~”
Each of the three filled their small bowls with the slimy soap, then opened the phials of perfumed oil that they had gotten today.
A person with a sensitive nose would definitely frown now as they opened the three phials of perfumed oil with different smells close at hand all at once.
However, Fay and her friends had no such noses. If anything, they facial features relaxed a bit when the fragrances whitewashed the smell of the oil.
“SNIFF, SNIFF. So this is the ‘Sweet Horned Dragon’ scent. It really gives of a high-class scent.”
“Pshaw! I got the Water Dragon Jewel. It’s said that a fisherman once found a single jewel washed onto the shore and could buy a new house and boat with it. Hmm, I wonder how much you could buy with this phial?”
“Mine is peppermint. Yes, it has a nice fragrance. I really like this smell the best~”
After opening the lids, the three maids brought their faces closer to the phial and soaked themselves in the scent for now.
“Hey, hey, Dolores. How does your Water Dragon Jewel smell? Let me try it.”
“Ah, I want to nose it, too! I am next after Fay-chan!”
“Sure, but lent me yours, too.”
The three of them had each something different, so they circulated it one by one. In that regard, the waiting maids of the different world weren’t all that different from high school girls in Japan. It was practically the same as the scene often witnessed in family restaurants or cafés, where they said: “Hey, hey, let me have a taste of yours”.
For a short while, they exchanged their phials of perfumed oil and enjoyed the three different scents.
Completely forgetting the fact that they were sitting naked in the bathroom, they made merry, claiming “I like this scent” or “that’s not my taste”.
As the small towels were only resting over their groins to let them move their hands freely, Fay’s modest chest, Dolores’ practically flat chest and Rethe’s breasts, which were so voluminous that it made you wonder if they contained her friend’s share as well, were exposed in all their glory.
Who knows how long they sat there and savoured the perfumed oil.
“Oh? What are we amusing ourselves with the perfumed oil for? Today we’re supposed to mask the smell of the soap with it.”
Like always, the first one to return to her senses was Dolores, the most sensible amongst the three.
“B- But are we really going to mix it with the soap? Such a waste!”
The reason they had procrastinated so far with useless prattling might have been because their minds unconsciously told them it would be a “waste”.
“I agree with you, but we don’t have a say in this matter. C’mon.”
“Just a little bit will do for now, right?”
Even while grumbling, the three of them slowly tilted their silver phials of perfumed oil over the wooden bowl filled with the slimy soap.
PLOP. One drop fell down and blended in.
“No good. That did nothing.”
Another drop fell down and blended in.
“Mhh? Maybe a bit more?”
With utmost care and drop by drop, they stirred in the precious perfumed oil.
“Good, the oil smell is gone.”
“Yeah, it is…”
“Aw, it used up so much already…”
By the time the perfumed oil had whitewashed the oily smell of the slimy soap, the content of the phials had decreased by around one-tenth in one sitting.
The large consumption of their precious perfumed oil left the waiting maids with a sad feeling in their hearts, but their sacrifice was by no means in vain.
“Yeah, smells good.”
After Dolores finished washing her body with the soap refined with perfumed oil and rinsing off the foam, she sniffed her own arm and smiled satisfied.
“Well, of course. I would break down crying instead if it didn’t smell good after we used so much of the perfumed oil.”
On the other hand, Fay was still regretting to have used so much of the perfumed oil, so her face only showed a faint smile.
“Yeah, but still, this so-called soap is really amazing. Look, my skin is so smooth when I run my finger over it. And thanks to the perfumed oil, it is not stinky anymore. I would love to use this every day!”
Factoring in her original love for baths, Rethe was completely fascinated by the perfumed oil soap and said so happily while she confirmed the sensation of her own skin.
“Well, don’t let it get you down, Fay. In the end, we got it for free from Zenjirou-sama. Not like we paid for it out of our own pockets.”
“You may be right, but it’s still a waste. I mean, we finally got our hands on some high-class perfumed oil we normally could never afford.”
Although there was still a tinge of regret present in their exchange, the three of them thoroughly rinsed the soap off their body, then headed to the bathtub together.
The three waiting maids lowered their bodies into the bathtub that was so big that it seemed possible to swim in it.
As Fay preferred cold baths over warm ones, she was already giving sidelong glances at the nearby cold bath, but apparently decided to stay with the other two for a while longer.
Laying face-up and resting her head on the edge of the bathtub, Fay voiced the question she suddenly thought of while she unruly kicked her spread legs with splish-splash sounds.
“Ah, reminds me, I wonder what Karina got. She had such a smug face and even showed a V-sign, so it must be something really good. Do you two know anything?”
“Yeah. I only know it from hearsay, but it seems to be ‘Musk’.”
Dolores, her long and straight hair tied up so it wouldn’t get into the water, passed on the gossip she had heard like it was nothing special.
“EHH!? No way. Musk!?”
“You mean, THE musk from the northern continent?”
Fay and Rethe exclaimed in surprise alike.
Musk. That was an aroma gained from a specie of deer called the musk deer. It was commonly agreed that animalistic perfumed oil was generally more high-class than botanic perfumed oils, but the musk aroma was undoubtedly speaking for itself in that regard.
The South Continent mainly had big reptiles living on it, but hardly any large mammals. Consequently, there were no musk deer on it either.
In other words, all musk perfumed oils were imported from another continent without exception.
It was said that one out of ten ships sunk during the overseas trade, so imported goods were extremely expensive by necessity.
Compared to Fay’s “Sweet Horned Dragon” or Dolores’ “Water Dragon Jewel”, the musk perfumed oil was a notch above. Just by wearing it at a high society party, it could become quite the talking point.
“Damn, that little devil Karina! I’m gonna so borrow some from her later!”
As she had gotten hot in her excitement, Fay pushed up her right fist in a jerk and stood up in the bathtub.
“Hey, don’t stand up so suddenly! The water’s splashing all over me! Geez, you’re getting out already?”
Dolores grimaced from the hot water splashed on her face and wiped it. In response, Fay
“As if. I’m just getting in the cold bath, because it’s so hot. Otherwise I’m going to die from the rush of blood to my head.”
said that and moved over to the cold bath like she had declared.
Now that she had mentioned it, Dolores, too, noticed that her body was feeling rather hot.
She might have a bit of trouble to sleep at night if she were to leave like this. It would be a good idea to follow Fay’s example and cool off her body in the cold bath before leaving.
“What about you, Rethe?”
Standing up as well, Dolores asked their other roommate on this occasion, too.
“Yeah, I want to refresh myself in the cold bath, too, but… I cannot shake off that feeling that I have forgotten something.”
“It is called forgotten, because you cannot remember it!”
Rethe repeatedly cocked her head left and right — whereby her breasts floating in the water rocked every time — with a somewhat uncertain expression while she said that, but in the end she was unable to resist the charm of a cold bath for her flushed body and she went over to the cold bath together with Dolores.
“Hyah, this rocks!”
“Hmm, guess so. By the way, Fay, Rethe seems to have forgotten something. You know anything?”
“Hey, at least give it some thought before answering. Wait, there you go again with the paddling. If Supervisory Maid Amanda were to see you like that, you wouldn’t get away with just…”
Dolores suddenly realized something when she had gotten that far in her sentence and fell silent with a grimace.
“Supervisory Maid Amanda…?”
“Ahaha… Dolores-chan, I… I just remembered what I had forgotten…”
“Now you don’t say. I was just coming to a realization myself…”
Dolores, screwing up her face, and Rethe, smiling dryly, were unexpectedly looking in the same direction.
Namely, at the door connecting the bathroom with the changing room.
“What’s gotten into you two?”
Fay, the only one not comprehending the situation, was still splashing around with her doggy paddling.
The faint sounds coming from behind the door to the changing room were surely not their imagination. Since their co-workers, the other young waiting maids, had already finished their bath, there was only one culprit left for the noise.
At this rate, Fay’s waiting maid days were in danger. Dolores couldn’t be that heartless to her roommate, so she gave her a warning with a sigh.
“Fay, here’s some friendly advice: Stop swimming around and stay put. It’s too late to escape now.”
It happened when Fay put down her legs and inclined her head puzzled.
The door opened with a clatter and several silhouettes entered the bathroom.
“Oh! I knew someone was here from the clothes in the changing room, but it’s you guys, huh.”
“Good grief. I will not tell you how to spend your free-time, but you have an early morning tomorrow again, so have a bit more moderation, will you.”
“Oh come on, Ines. Doing some naked bonding with the young ones is important as well. It’s been a while, so why don’t we have them wash our backs?”
Led by Supervisory Maid Amanda, Ines, the cleaning department head, and Vanessa, the cooking department head, followed inside. And further in the back stood Emilia, the gardening department head, and Olsha, the bathing department head, wordlessly.
All senior maids in charge of the inner palace were assembled here.
“O- Oh, right. With the soap and stuff, it got pretty late…”
Fay finally grasped the current situation, too.
“Pardon me for leaving first.”
Dolores gave the appearance of being polite.
“Ahaha… I, I will excuse myself now, Supervisory Maid.”
And Rethe attempted to leave somehow. With a ray of hope, the three young waiting maids got out of the cold bath, lowered their heads quickly and made a stab at the exit.
However, there was no way the Head Maid would let them leave in peace.
“Hold it right there! Now that we are all here, I will verify if you can wash yourselves properly. After all, you may be called upon by Zenjirou-sama any time.”
“Indeed. This specially extends to you, Fay. You have a tendency to find it bothersome to care for your body and hair.”
“Well, it’s a done deal. There’s no harm in learning how to take care of your body while you’re young. Steel yourselves and come over here.”
After being told that by the group of superiors, they had no option but to do so.
“Please take care of us…”
Heaving heavy sighs, the three troublemakers headed determined over to their beckoning seniors.
The enjoyable bath time with just the young waiting maids had turned into a tense bath guidance from the department heads.