More than a week had passed since Eru came to this world.
For Yasutaka, it seemed that Eru was getting quite used to this world in those few days.
These days, Eru has been exerting most of her effort into learning Japanese so Yasutaka guided her by buying children’s hiragana and katakana alphabet books for her and teaching her single-character words in his free time.
Eru also seemed to find it fun to learn Japanese by frequently asking Yasutaka “What is this?” and “What is that?” while looking at pictures and illustrations, and mimicking how Yasutaka pronounces Japanese.
Even right now, Eru could be heard practicing her pronunciations of 「a」 「i」「u」「e」「o」 while looking at the hiragana poster stuck on the bathroom wall as she bathes.
Also, Eru seems to like baths, enjoying it slowly while practicing her Japanese daily.
While thinking that Eru’s awkward Japanese was charming, Yasutaka studied for the incoming mid-term exams in his living room.
As expected, it’s a student’s duty to study. For the sake of going to the same school as Aoi and Takashi, he unreasonably asked his parents to let him stay here, so he must be able to present good grades to his parents.
To begin with, Yasutaka’s grades were by no means bad. Although his grades were certainly lower than Takashi and Aoi’s, if viewed from the entire year’s standings, his was still above average.
Also, his childhood friends would come over during the weekend under the pretense of group studying. They would definitely study but, aside from this, they must also have fun.
Still, it seemed Eru hasn’t been waking up from flashbacks in the middle of the night and has been sleeping well.
As he was thinking about such things during his study break, Eru who had just stepped out of the bath entered the living room while drying her wet hair with a bath towel.
「Haa~ The hot water was pleasant. The bath felt good too.」
Maybe because she just finished her bath, Eru’s cheeks were flush as she smiled. Maybe because she was in a good mood, her ears were flittering.
Seeing Eru like that, Yasutaka’s heart was shocked and noticeably throbbing.
The post-bath appearance of a girl his age ーー or so he thinks ーー made his heart race intensely.
The smell of shampoo wafted from her wet hair.
Suspending on the pastel yellow pajamas are a pair of, although not large, soft-looking mounds on her chest.
The white skin peeking through from her neck and feet are slightly tinged with red.
Yasutaka has seen Aoi’s post-bath appearance many times when Takashi and Aoi stay over but in some respects, Eru’s post-bath appearance was different from Aoi’s.
If he was asked where, he would be stumped for an answer but there was definitely something about Eru that was different from Aoi.
Having thought about it, Yasutaka recalled that a few days ago, something must have happened since Eru was acting strangely distant.
Did something happened while I was at school? Any instance our eyes met, Eru’s face would turn bright red and she would blatantly avert her gaze.
But then, Eru went back to normal the next day so maybe it wasn’t that big a deal.
「? Is something the matter?」
「N, no, it’s nothing, u, un.」
Yasutaka who was captivated by Eru, reflexively answered, frantically dodging the truth.
「Is that so? Your face looks a bit red though…… Ah! That’s right, Yasutaka-san! Please look at this!」
What Eru happily wanted to show Yasutaka was the bathroom-use hiragana poster she was studying while taking a bath.
「The words here…… I can already read the Japanese characters perfectly!!」
With an e
「Ooh, that was great. You were able to master hiragana in just a week. And? How about writing?」
The instant she heard about writing, Eru who looked proud turned despondent.
「U, umm…… M, my writing is still a bit bad……」
Ehehe, Eru grinned, embarrassed.
While Eru smiled sheepishly, Yasutaka decided to have her advance to the next step.
「Well, since you can now read hiragana, next lesson is memorizing katakana.」
Yasutaka took Eru’s hiragana poster, flipped it over, then returned it to Eru.
Written on the opposite side of the poster is the Katakana syllabary, and seeing it caused to Eru blink in surprise.
「U, um…… What is this? I think it certainly resembles the table of characters on the other side but……」
「As I’ve said, this is Katakana. Written on the chart was Hiragana. Both of them are Japanese characters.」
「Wai, please wait a moment!! Why are there 2 sets of alphabet for one language!?」
The languages Eru had studied until now never had more than one kind of alphabet, and now there were two.
Even on earth, most of the languages that exist only have one kind of alphabet and those with two alphabets are the minority.
「Japanese uses different alphabets to suit different purposes. Apart from Hiragana and Katakana, the largest obstacle would be Kanji.」
When studying Japanese, learning Kanji would undoubtedly bring tears to anyone’s eyes.
The number of Kanji learned through compulsory education is at two thousand characters even though these are only the commonly used ones. The fourth level of JIS Kanji has more than ten thousand characters. It’s said that the total exceeds fifty thousand character when the Kanji mentioned in the Chinese-Japanese dictionaries are included.
Yasutaka was struck with the idea to show some of the kanji written on the notebook beside him.
「T…… it looks somewhat complicated and peculiar but…… are these really characters?」
「That’s right. For example……」
Yasutaka pointed at the character 「人」 written on his notebook.
「This character is 「Person (ヒト)」…… In short, this stands for 「Human ( 人間）」. Besides this……」
As he pointed at some kanji, Yasutaka taught her the pronunciation and meaning of each one.
「I see. Each and every character has its own meaning. Incidentally, if this 「人」 character represents humans ( 人間 ), then how is 「Elf」 written in kanji?」
「No no. The kanji for elf doesn’t exist.」
「Eeeeh!? There’s a kanji to represent humans, so then why isn’t there a character to represent elves!?」
「Well, you see, it’s because there aren’t any elves in this world.」
「Eh……? There are no elves in this world……?」
It’s true that up till now, Eru has not seen any other race other than humans in this world.
However, she thought that the majority of the inhabitants in this town were human, and that the Fairy species such as Elves and Dwarves, and Demi-human species such as Beastkin were just fewer in number.
In Eru’s world, humans were the most numerous and still the most prosperous of the races, nearly all towns and villages were inhabited mostly by humans. Towns with only Elves and Dwarves exist, however, they are exceedingly fewer when compared to the human towns.
Furthermore, there are some humans that discriminate and ostracize Fairy and Demi-human species, treating them as inferior species. Villages and towns with only those kinds of people exist.
「The, then, how about dwarves? Mermaids? They’re our enemies but, how about ghosts, goblins and ogres?」
「I heard a little bit from Takashi and Aoi but Eru’s world really does has many intelligent creatures. However, humans are the only intelligent creatures in this world.」
「O, only humans……」
A world with nothing but humans.
For Eru who has lived in a world with a diversity of races, it was unimaginable.
Having become aware that there were only humans in this world, somehow shocked Eru.
Though, since it didn’t seem to be too serious, after handing Eru a glass of cold tea, Yasutaka decided it was now time for him to take his bath.
Having arrived at the dressing room, he took his clothes off.
He placed the clothes he took off into the washing machine. Since Eru had learnt how to use the washing machine recently, she’s been doing the laundry while Yasutaka is at school.
Frankly, Yasutaka was grateful for that.
After washing, it’s only natural to dry the laundry afterwards.
Some among the laundry are, of course, Eru’s clothes. Her underwear included as well.
The day after Eru first stayed at his house, Yasutaka washed the clothes Eru wore when she arrived, and hung them in the garden. Among those were her underwear.
Underwear of a girl of the same generation certainly made him nervous but, he was still able to handle it directly and hang it.
The underwear at that time was one from Eru’s world so, taking into consideration Yasutaka’s strong image of this world’s underwear, he couldn’t think of them as underwear because of the feel and design. For that reason, he was able to hang them relatively calmly.
However, now is different.
Now, she wears underwear from this world. Naturally, Yasutaka was very conscious ーー through the persistence of the likes of TV commercials and scattered advertisements ーー that it was underwear, something that Eru had been wearing for virtually the whole day.
There was no way Yasutaka could handle them himself.
Therefore, Eru’s role of hanging and bringing in the laundry was how it would naturally turn out.
Although Yasutaka’s underwear was included in the laundry, it seems that his underwear isn’t like the other world’s underwear, so Eru doesn’t consider that underwear as underwear. It was washed, hung, brought in, and neatly folded everyday.
「It was really great that the first thing I taught Eru was how to use the washing machine……」
Yasutaka honestly thought so.
Having removed all his clothes, he put his underwear in it’s dedicated net.
When he did, he caught a glimpse of the underwear that Eru had placed inside a while ago, his face reflexively blushed.
「……From now on, I’ll take a bath first……」
He muttered such while grabbing the door handle to the bathroom.
At that moment, he noticed something unfamiliar on top of the washbasin across the bathroom.
Yasutaka examined the thing he picked up.
It’s around 30 cm in size. It was some kind of tube that seems to be made out of leather and sloshed like water when it was lifted up.
Upon closer inspection, the top part was thinner and bound with a leather strap.
Yasutaka didn’t know this but it was called tool called a water sack, an item used as a water bottle in Eru’s world.
There were natural water bottles made of bamboo used by Japan and China in ancient times. For that reason, he was not familiar with the water sack, however, in places in this world where bamboo does not grow, such as Europe, who actually use the tool called a canteen, were.
A typical water sack in Eru’s world is made from the bladders of certain magic beasts and animals then reinforced with leather. Since bladders were originally organs that held liquids, it was the most suitable for water sacks. Of course, the bladder is cleaned thoroughly as it’s being processed into a water sack.
Driven by curiosity, Yasutaka unfastened the leather strap.
And the moment he peeked inside, something from inside jumped out and clung onto his face, causing Yasutaka to reflexively scream.
In the living room where Eru was looking at her new task, katakana, Yasutaka’s voice suddenly resounded.
That scream came from the direction of the bathroom! Eru ran through the hallway with all her might and leapt into the bathroom without hesitation.
「What’s wrong!? What ha…………ppe……ned……?」
Eru saw something when she leapt into the dressing room. There was a transparent liquid that clung onto the face of Yasutaka who was collapsed on the floor.
「E…… a…… u…… oo……?」
Having seen Yasutaka’s immodest appearance, Eru’s face was dyed red in an instant.
She reflexively covered her eyes with both her hands, and through the gaps of her fingers, caught a glimpse of Yasutaka’s entirety.
Eru who had, in various ways, reached her limit, screamed louder than Yasutaka did, and noisily rushed out of the dressing room.
Yasutaka could do nothing but silently watch Eru run away.
On the face of such a Yasutaka, shook and jiggled a transparent liquid.
From dashing out of the bathroom, Eru who was red from her face to her chest burst into her room just as she was, dove into her bed and pulled the futon over her head.
「I, s-s-s-saw it…… Yasutaka-san’s…… I saw it……」
Within the darkness of the futon lied a figure of an eternally red face Elf-san who was muttering something spell-like.
Footnotes:A, I, U, E, O is the vowel order in Hiragana. I have no idea how to say Ehhen in English. Ahem is wrong (for me). But anyway it’s just a sound she made since she’s proud.