We arrived in Totomi just before dusk, and by the time we found a place to stay and left our carriage, it was already completely dark outside. After finishing our meal at a random restaurant, we walked down a sparsely populated street towards our destination, a brothel.
"For a main road, there are surprisingly few people around," I commented.
"Well, no one with business in the eastern residential district would be out at night," Ronald-san replied.
"Residential district? Aren't we heading towards a brothel? Isn't this supposed to be a commercial area?" I asked.
"I told you this morning, the people who run the Flower City (Hana) don't take kindly to newcomers. There are many old-fashioned people among them, so if you do business in the city, they'll give you the stink eye. That's why they operate in remote areas where they won't attract the attention of those people," he explained.
"So, what's the business model for running a brothel while traveling? Do they rent vacant houses each time they come to the city, or are they doing it outside?" I inquired.
"That's something you'll find out when you get there. But don't worry, it's not a sketchy place. It's a good place for beginners too," he reassured me.
"No, I'm not interested in playing around..."
I just wanted to hear their stories as a curious observer, and I'm not interested in the brothel... not that I'm not interested in the brothel, but at least I'm not going to play with them today.
"What are you talking about, Master Neil? Do you think they'll take seriously someone who isn't even interested in playing around?" Ronald-san beside me asked.
"That's why I have Ronald-san, my acquaintance, to vouch for me," I replied.
"Young master, it's good to be curious, but I'm only here to talk about the matter of attracting business. Anything else, please handle it on your own," Ronald-san chimed in.
As we walk along the dark night street talking like this, and the entrance to the city comes into sight, I find three horse-drawn carriages parked by the entrance.
Around the carriages I saw three women, one of them was dressed like a prostitute, but the other two were guards or maybe they had swords on their waists.
"Are you sure that's them?"
"Yes, it looks like they were in Totomi as planned.
Ronald-san approached the carriage, and one of the women who seemed to be his escort approached us.
"Hey Niya, long time no see," said Ronald-san.
"Ronald, it's rare to see you in Totomi. I hadn't heard about the nobles gathering in this city ," Niya replied.
"I've come here today for some business with you," Ronald-san said.
"You have business with us?" Niya asked.
The woman called Niya's eyes turned to me behind Ronald-san's back.
She is a woman with short hair and slit eyes.
"Hey, hey, stop threatening Master Neil," Ronald-san said to Niya.
"I'm not intimidating. This is just my natural expression," Niya replied.
Niya-san turns her face away from me with a grim look on her face.
"Master Neil, Niya's face is like this, she doesn't mean to glare at you, so please forgive her," Ronald-san explained.
He changed his name from "Young master" to "Master Neil" because we were in public. He's usually carefree and unlike Diana, but seeing this side of him makes me realize that he's Diana's father... and if I were to say that in front of Diana, who hates that kind of talk, I would get a very unpleasant look. So, it's clear what kind of recognition Ronald-san receives from his daughters.
"Is Moona the only one available now?" Ronald-san asked.
"Yeah, Iko and Mio are serving customers. You said you had something to do, but you're not going to play around, are you?" Niya asked.
"I wish I could, but as I always say, my wife holds the purse strings, so I won't play, but Master Neil will play instead" Ronald-san replied.
"Um, can you not decide for me?" I interjected.
"...I don't think he meant it that way?" Niya-san looked at Ronald-san with a puzzled expression when I denied his words. Then, Ronald-san pushed my shoulder to keep our distance from Niya-san and whispered in my ear.
"Come on, Master Neil. You have something you want to ask personally, don't you? I'll talk to Niya about the invitation, so you can take care of your own business in the meantime."
"Well, if we've come this far, wouldn't it make sense for me to accompany you as the ruler of the colony? It's a bit much to leave negotiations to Ronald-san alone," I said.
"Why are you so conscientious here? If you're a man, you should take advantage of opportunities when you have them. You've only slept with Diana, haven't you?" Ronald said.
"..." Although I've also slept with Lewya and Mei, I couldn't say such a thing, so I remained silent. Perhaps Ronald-san took my silence as agreement and continued talking.
"It's also good to have experience with experienced women around here," Ronald-san said. "In the past, when things started to get dull at night, I took Lord to a brothel and he received guidance from a prostitute. He became so passionate with his wife after that -"
"Stop it!" I interrupted, my cheeks flushed. "I don't want to hear about my parents' private life!"
Seriously, it was surprising to hear that my strict father had struggled with his sex life with my mother in the past, but the idea of my father receiving guidance from a prostitute made me feel uneasy.
"Master Neil, you should improve your manhood not only with Diana but also with an experienced prostitute at least once," Ronald-san continued, ignoring my outburst. "Hey, Moona! Come here and entertain Master Neil!"
Before I can even reply, Ronald-san calls out for a prostitute, who comes toward us with her ample breasts swaying in the air.
She has chestnut-colored wavy hair, droopy eyes, and a gentle impression, and she speaks to me with a smile on her face.
"Oh Ronald-san, did you bring someone else instead of playing with me again?" Moona-san asked.
"I contribute to your sales, don't I?" Ronald-san replied.
"That may be so, but... he's an aristocrat, isn't he? Are you sure he want to work with us? I'm sure there's a more appropriate place for a nobleman," Moona-san said, looking me up and down.
"Master Neil is a man who values essence above all else. He's not interested in a fancy restaurant for nobles who care about appearances, right?" Ronald-san said, looking towards me.
"Huh? Oh, yes."
I answered reflexively, but to tell the truth, I was a little curious to know how much difference there was between a mass restaurant for commoners and a high-class restaurant only for aristocrats.
However, I couldn't say that I was interested in the high-class restaurants as well, so I nodded my head in an appropriate manner.
"I'm glad to hear that," said Moona-san, smiling as if relieved. She took my hand and led me towards the carriage. I was conscious of not wanting to break the flow of our conversation, so I just followed along.
"Are you nervous?" Moona-san asked with a chuckle.
"N-no, well... I've never been to a place like this before," I replied.
"Oh, I see. Then I'll have to give you some special 'services'." Moona-san wet her lips and stuck out her tongue as she looked at me with heated eyes.
As my heart pounded at the sight of Moona's female face, Niya-san interjected, "Moona, I've told you before, don't go overboard with the 'services'."
"Yes, yes...I've been scolded," Moona-san said with a sigh.
From their conversation, it seemed like Moona-san was known for providing extra services, and Niya-san had to remind her to be moderate.
My heart is beating fast and my imagination is growing, wondering what the two are talking about.
Out of the corner of my eye, I catch a white-haired woman staring at me.
Her emotionless gaze was fixed on me, as if she were following a random spot in her field of vision with her eyes.
The strange look caught my attention, and I was so focused on her that I accidentally bumped into Moona-san's back as she stopped walking.
"It's alright. Be careful where you step," Moona-san said, pointing at a small wooden box on the ground.
I looked down and noticed a small wooden box, probably to make it easier to climb onto the back of the wagon.
"Many visitors stumble over the crates because of the darkness. Come on, this way."
Drawn in, I use the crate as a springboard to climb into the back of the wagon.
Inside, the space was separated from the driver's area with a thick curtain. A bed without legs was directly on the floor, and a sweet aroma, like incense, filled the inside of the carriage.
I think I have smelled it before, but I can't quite remember when.
"This smells different," I said.
"This is the aroma that enhances both of our moods. When you smell it, don't you feel your body getting warmer?" Moona-san said.
I tried to take a deep breath and felt a warming sensation deep inside my body.
It could just be a placebo effect, but I couldn't help but feel a heightened sense of arousal after hearing about its supposed effects.
"By the way, may I have the money in advance?" Moona-san asked.
"Ah, yes... So, how much is it?" I replied.
Since I had no intention to play around, I did not have much money on hand, but I wondered if it would be enough.
"It'll be five platinum coins per session," she said.
"Five platinum coins? Isn't that cheap?" I asked.
"If it were a high-class establishment, they'd charge dozens of platinum coins, and for nobles, the payment would even be in gold coins. But for a place like this, I think this is usually the going rate," she explained.
I see, the average worker's daily wage is about that much, so it might be a reasonable price.
Well, I have never played in this kind of store in my previous life, and this is just my own image.
"Is there anything you would like? Do you want to be dominated, or do you want me to pinch you with my breast?" she asked.
The words "Do you want me to pinch you with my breast?" made my eyes naturally turn to Moona-san's ample breasts.
Mei was also a big girl, but not to the point where I could have someone squeeze her breasts together.
I had once thought about experiencing that sensation, but I quickly pushed that thought aside, remembering my original purpose for coming here.
"Well, if you're asking about my preferences, I actually wanted to talk to you about something," I said.
"You want to talk? Sure, go ahead," she replied.
I sit down on the bed alongside her, and she puts her hand on my groin.
"Um, why are you touching me?" I asked.
"Well, this is that kind of place, isn't it?" she said.
She stroked me with her fingertips and touched me through my pants.
I knew if I let her continue, I would once again be swept up in the moment, unable to voice what I wanted to say. So I grabbed her hand, pushing it away from me.
"I just...! I just wanted to talk to you... well, I heard that Moona-san and the others are 'Ihomono'."
As soon as I said the word "Ihomono," I didn't miss the moment when Moona-san's body stiffened.
She seemed to realize how obvious her reaction was and quickly put on a resigned expression.
"I don't have to ask you who told you, did you hear from Ronald-san?" Moona-san asked.
"Yes," I replied.
"Unfortunately, we don't have the kind of power or information that Master Neil is expecting," Moona-san said.
"No, what I want to know is not about that kind of talk," I clarified.
The usual reason for a nobleman to make contact with Ihomono would be to obtain information and power from other worlds, and that's what Moona-san probably thought.
In order to clear up the misunderstanding between us, I told her the purpose of my visit.
"What I want to know is the circumstances of how everyone came from your original world to this one," I said.
"The circumstances? Why do you want to know about that?" asked Moona-san.
"Why do I want to know? Well..."
I realized that it was a strange question to ask, and it was natural for Moona-san to be suspicious of it.
I can't tell the truth, and it would be unnatural for me to remain silent, so I make up a reasonable reason.
"I was just curious about how the outsiders came from the other world," I said.
"Did you come all the way to see us just to ask that question? I'm sure you can find that kind of story if you do a little research," Moona-san explained.
"Well, there are plenty of oral traditions and other sources of information, but it's rare to hear directly from the person themselves," I explained.
Moreover, information transmitted orally only conveys what is known, and it is rare for answers to be given to questions that arise.
But if I could directly ask the person in question, then that would be the most accurate and ideal way to resolve my doubts.
"So that's why I wanted to hear your story. How did you end up in this world?" I asked.
"Um...wait a moment please," said Moona-san. She closed her eyes and began to think.
I wonder if there is something in the story of how she came to this world that is not good for her to talk about. After observing her for a while, Moona-san suddenly opened her eyes.
"I understand. Let's talk," Moona-san said.
"Are you sure? You seemed to be struggling with something," I asked.
"Yes, it's nothing serious," replied Moona-san.
Although a question arose in my mind about why she showed such distress if it was not a significant issue, it was not essential to ask at the moment.
What was important to know was how she ended up in this new world. Suppressing my curiosity, I listened to Moona-san's story.
"It's really not a big deal, and nothing special happened. I was supposed to be asleep on the bed, but when I woke up I was in a strange forest," Moona-san explained.
"When you woke up, you were already in another world?" I clarified.
I have heard many stories of how and why Ihomonos come from other worlds, but most of them seem to have been transferred in a way that they are unaware of, such as while they were sleeping or when they woke up they were in another place, and Moona-san and the others are no exception.
"Are the other people who came with you from the same world?" I asked.
"Yes, five of us, including myself, came to this world together," confirmed Moona-san.
"Were you all sleeping in different places before?" I inquired
"No, we were all sleeping in the same room," Moona-san replied.
"Was it a dormitory with five people in one room?" I guessed
"Well..." Moona-san hesitated
Seeing Moona-san looking lost in her answer, I quickly retracted my question, thinking that I had touched a point she didn't want me to touch.
"If it's something you don't feel comfortable talking about, you don't have to tell me! I'm not trying to pry too much," I said.
"Thank you for your concern. It's just that I'm having a hard time explaining the situation we were in before we arrived here," Moona-san replied.
"Come to think of it, what kind of world did all of you come from?"
I was so focused on the background that I had not been aware of the situation, but I was curious and asked a question.
"The world we came from was a world where the land was ruled by invaders from outside. In that world, human beings had fled to the depths of the underground, and a large number of people were crammed into a limited space. That's why only a few people have their own personal living space, and it's common for several people to share a room."
It seemed that they had come from a much more difficult world than I had imagined, one that was invaded by outsiders.
“Excuse me, what was your position in that world?” I asked.
"I'm just an ordinary citizen who survived, so I don't have much knowledge, so I can't be of any help in this world," answered Moona-san
Well, it means that there's no one who was invited like me.
In the first place, I still don't really understand why I, unlike the other Ihomono, received contact from a being who claimed to be a god and ended up being reincarnated.
I've heard that my soul is not normal and that's why there was a deal among the gods, but what kind of impact will it have on the world by bringing me to this world or by making me disappear from my original world?
I don't think they would just randomly make humans disappear or appear, but I wonder what's really going on.
The gods' thoughts are not something that humans can measure, and there's a possibility that it might not even be that significant.
"Master Neil, your face is stern, are you all right?" she asked.
"He? Oh, yeah, sorry, I was just thinking about some things," I replied.
From the beginning, it was unlikely that I would be able to solve my doubts even if I spoke directly to the Ihomono.
I have no understanding of the reason why I was invited to this world, nor do I have any understanding of the reason why they came to this world.
To solve my doubts, I need to first understand them.
"Ugh...why do Ihomono from this world appear?" I muttered.
"We don't know either, but could it be that Master Neil is a follower of the Pentis faith?" Moona-san asked.
"No, I'm simply wondering why you come to this world, I don't hate you like the people of the Church," I replied.
"I see... I'm glad." Moona-san said.
As an Ihomono, the existence of the faith is not desirable for Moona-san and the others
She seemed relieved when she learned that I was not a member of the Church.
"Is that all you wanted to ask, Master Neil?" Moona-san asked.
"Yes, I think so... maybe no more." I replied.
I thought about whether there was anything else I should ask, but nothing else came to mind. Moona-san stood up, put her hand on her clothing, and smiled at me.
"Shall we 'go'?"
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