“I Might Have Read About it in a Book”
The meals for Liztena Magic Academy are at the level of being called high class, and even upper nobility like Claudio and Ortensia often go to praise the chefs after eating. —And although it was surely a great and honorable glory for them to receive such praise, afterwards Lucy would always say to them, “I’m sorry to bother you all while you are so busy,” while Conrad, “I’ll help wash some of these dishes,” would occupy himself while they were there. It’s the result of growing up in different environments.—
This level of cuisine should be natural for a school that members of the royal family attend, but under the rules of the Academy, students of all social classes are to be treated relatively equally. Therefore, in order to avoid class discrimination among the students, it was easiest for the school to just ensure that every facility was stocked with only the best ingredients and first-class chefs to provide satisfactory cuisine to any royal or high-ranking noble that might come by.
…..is how it’s supposed to be.
“Somehow, this is…….”
Lucy was eating away at a sandwich she had just bought.
The bread itself was finely grained, and the vegetables inside were fresh having been picked only recently and chopped in the school kitchen. The meat inside was thick yet soft and firmly seasoned. Each ingredient put into this one sandwich was in its best possible condition creating the best possible product. The fragrance alone tickled the nose creating a praiseworthy meal from when you first picked it up until you swallowed it down.
If you were to ask, the chefs and pastry chefs working inside the academy had fans even overseas, and there was more than one wealthy noble who would cross those seas just so they might be able to have even a single bite of their cooking. After working for several years in the kitchens of Liztena Magic Academy, a person would never have to worry about cooking again, and they would receive a mountain of requests letters from prospective employers in this country and out.
When she had first heard that, Lucy was stunned. She did not realize she was in such a place.
She stared at the bread in her hand without thinking. Among the items sold in the dining hall, it was the simplest one, but this alone would have a price with at least two zeroes attached onto it at market.¹
Lucy knew all of that…….still, something bothered her and a crease formed in her brow. Taking another bite of the sandwich again, the deep taste spread through her mouth, the rich vegetables and spices tickled the taste buds as the meat melted on the tongue. Without a doubt each ingredient was calculatingly placed in order to produce the finest taste.
If you let one hundred people eat this sandwich, one hundred people would say it is delicious. Out of a thousand, eight hundred of them would be at a loss for words. This is a statistic that can be said with conviction……but something was wrong.
Even though Lucy had eaten the same sandwich the other day and enjoyed it so much that tears had overflowed along with her emotions, why in the world did she feel that it was lacking something when she ate it today?
If she were to say something against this sandwich made by the Liztena Magic Academy chefs, she would be beaten to death by gourmets around the world, but she was still unable to wipe out this unsatisfied feeling.
“Maybe you have gotten tired of that chef. Do you want to try something from the royal palace?”
“Claudio, you should not waste fine royal palace goods on such a commoner! If she won’t eat the tomatoes, she can eat the dirt they came out from!”
Absolutely! Ortensia started scolding Lucy. —Although Ortensia’s remarks were something akin to a parent scolding their picky child, since she herself had been secretly picking off the tomatoes of her own sandwich, her words held zero weight to them.—
Of course Lucy wasn’t dissatisfied with the bread, and she naturally shook her head at having a chef from the royal palace coming down to make her something better.
Whenever she took a bite, she found it delicious, that’s why she was so confused about the reason. She could not describe what it was that the sandwich was missing, and she did not know what to do to fix that feeling. So even though she still felt they were tasty, she closed the lid of her lunch box with two sandwiches still left inside.
Claudio watched her with an anxious look on his face. Ortensia looked at her stunned after covertly throwing a tomato slice over her shoulder. Only Conrad watched on with a calm look on his face, but he kept quiet while looking like he was thinking about something………before muttering a few words to himself.
“Today we will learn about the circulation of magic power.”
Those were the teacher standing behind the podium’s words.
A small box was resting in the palm of her hand, and as she raised it up to eye-level, a large question mark appeared over every student’s head.
“You need to acquire a sense for the magic power inside your body, and learn how to efficiently use that. This magic tool will help you to better understand the flow of your magic power.”
As the teacher continued to explain, each student’s thoughts naturally turned to their spells.
By knowing how the magic power flows through your body, a person can more efficiently use their magic power when casting spells, was the general lesson. The less magic power you use, the more spells you will be able to cast. Taking an interest in what the teacher was saying, Lucy’s sight inevitably fell on the box in her hand.
As far as she could see it looked like an ordinary box. Although a strange engraving was etched into the side, there were no shiny lights or fine gems that screamed, ‘Magic Tool!’
“We’ll use it one by one. Well…….let’s use our magic to make flower decorations.”
Making something beautiful, the teacher looked almost like a child as she brought forth her proposal with a smile, but everyone enjoyed the idea all the same. It was the first class that would have them use magic since enrollment. It would not be ridiculous to say that most of the students enrolled at the academy for this very reason.
However, Lucy alone was waiting for her turn while busily scribbling down on a piece of paper writing about the coffee she had brewed that morning. The amount of sugar she had put in the milk, the amount of sugar in the coffee, each morning Ortensia continues to complain that it is too bitter, so Lucy had been adjusting the added sugar she used each day.
“Um, I wonder if there is something else……. Since it’s just flower decoration it shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but it seems that there is someone taking an awful lot of notes.”
“You have been muttering to yourself since awhile ago. Come now, it’s your turn. Since you are a commoner, I have no expectations for what type of flower you will bring out, but at least have the decency to respond when you are called.”
Lucy shrugged her shoulders as Ortensia hurried her along, and she slowly headed to the front of the class.
She held out her hand onto the magic tool just as the teacher showed her, and after taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes. From beside her, she heard the teacher saying, “Please make it a beautiful flower. Then you can take it back with you and decorate your room with it,” but she pretended not to hear her. — “Just concentrate. You will be able to make beautiful flowers so long as you concentrate,” even though she had said that during the start of the exercise, wasn’t she doing just a little too much to distract the students?—
Even though Lucy was a little unhappy as she was unfamiliar with flowers, and her understanding of them extended not much farther than the fact that they are called flowers. At the very least, when she thought of beautiful decorations for her room, they were not the first image that popped up.
Still Lucy racked her brain looking for some image, but the more she thought about it, the more uncomfortable she felt as if someone was kneading her brain with their knuckles.
Lucy repeated the words a couple times to herself, but still no ideas came to mind.
But, eventually, what did come to her mind was……….a woman. The dots began to connect and the memories started to surface. The woman had beautiful black hair, and she had a gentle smile on her face. Her thin lips moved and formed the word ‘Lucy’.
She is……..um………that’s right, “The florist Elena.”
Lucy whispered her name as it returned to her………and she recalled that it was a name she had written in her notebook. Lucy had stayed with her a couple of years ago, and she took care of a flower shop while watching her. She had always treated Lucy like a lovable little sister, and when Lucy eventually had to leave her, she had wanted to write her so many times.
The decorations Elena made were always so beautiful…….
Lucy was able to keep pulling more and more memories from her trembling brain, but at the same time it was screaming in discomfort.
A wrinkle formed in Lucy’s brow, and she started to feel like her brain was trying to squirm its way out of her head. Someone had reached in through her ear and was trying to yank it all out, such a hateful feeling……,
“My, how pretty!”
As she heard the words, Lucy opened her eyes and all the discomfort disappeared as if someone had just snapped their fingers.
The teacher’s eyes were focused on Lucy’s hands. Excitement was dancing around in her eyes, and voices of awe and admiration could be heard all around her. When she opened her eyes to all this attention being focused on her, Lucy was naturally confused. She had no idea what had caused such a commotion, but then she looked down at her hands causing her to be speechless.
It was a flower decoration. Decorative flowers of a bright white and blue color surrounded by a ring of finely cut greens, it was a ring of beauty, and Lucy picked it up with the utmost care.
She knew she had seen it somewhere before…….
“Lucy, it’s an absolutely wonderful piece of work. What kind of decoration is it?”
Lucy looked between her lightly applauding teacher and the decoration in her hand.
What was it called? Originally this was……..
“This is……wreath……..yes, it’s a wreath. Decorating your walls or door…….is what it’s supposed to be for.”
“Wreath? I wonder if it’s a decoration from that country. Well, the flowers look as if they were processed rather than raw cut flowers.”
“Yes, certainly…..it’s soaked in a special liquid…..or something like that.”
Lucy continued to provide information that just wasn’t quite clicking with her, yet the teacher was eating it all up, crazy about the work in front of her.
A student with low magical power should be able to pull out one flower, and if they are able to attach a ribbon to it as well, then that would be a praiseworthy result. A full bouquet would be unimaginable. Yet in this situation, Lucy was able to pull out a splendid decoration unheard of in this country.
“Lucy, were you able to feel the flow of your magic power?”
“Starting from your lower back, it would have flowed through your body and out your arms…..that magical power produced this wreath of yours.”
“Inside my body, is it?”
“It is difficult to grasp that feeling in the beginning. I can’t remember the number of times I repeated this exercise before I got the hang of it.”
The teacher started happily reminiscing about her past days as a student while giving Lucy a little nudge on her back, ushering her off towards her seat.
Everyone’s lines of sight were directed towards Lucy as she walked back to her seat. They were all curious about the wreath, but with everyone having deemed it inappropriate to talk to Lucy, everybody remained silent. The only person with a differing reaction would be the high pride noble lady with a love of beautiful things who immediately started whispering things such as, “Wreath? Tell me more,” and “Flowers dipped in chemicals, so it’s different from artificial flowers?” as soon as Lucy sat down.
But the very fact that she was able to tell Lucy, “Show me,” was something that everyone felt envy towards, even though they would quickly avert their eyes when Lucy glanced towards them.
How annoying…….Lucy thought as she took her seat. She immediately handed over the wreath to Ortensia whose eyes were shining and yelled out a mystified, “Mi~!” while holding it in front of her. Lucy recalled Ortensia’s usual high-handed way of speaking and wondered how a single ring of flowers could make her look so much like a child, but she thought it best not to voice any of those thoughts.
“Well, it’s not a decoration I would show however. It is just a little unusual. And cute. And the flowers really are beautiful. Mi~. Miii~.”
“Please praise it using human language.”
“Should we put it on our door? I don’t really care.”
Let’s put it up, when Lucy asked that, Ortensia’s face lit up.
But with such a bright and charming smile–a smile more directed towards the wreath itself rather than Lucy–the second she became aware of it, Ortensia made a small cough before returning to her usual tone and expression.
“It is a childish bauble with no added decorations, but maybe it would work as a good door marker.”
“Yes yes, you are absolutely right.”
“Being cheeky must be a commoner’s habit…..but I have never seen a decoration like this before. What country is it from?”
Lucy tried to answer Ortensia’s question while glancing at the wreath…..but no words would come out.
“Lucy,” Ortensia tried to urge her on. Watching her to try and see what happened, Lucy continued to try and say something………
But she ended up just tilting her head to the side.
Lucy Blanchett could not remember.
1. Friendly reminder that the current American dollar is equal to 113.5 yen.