PIASPM Chapter 3
“My lady, nanny is back!” Ahin excitedly exclaimed.
At the sound of the younger girl’s voice, Millen lifted her head just in time to see Linda coming down from the stairs. Her eyes followed the older woman as she made her way on the first floor’s landing and then entered the dining hall. Linda then took her seat and sat down beside them.
“How are our guests?” Millen asked her nanny after the latter settled down.
Linda gave her a pensive look before responding, “The unconscious man is seriously injured. It was fortunate that Thanos rescued them…” She then took a deep breath and continued her speech while arranging her bangs which were mercilessly poking at her eyes.
“…the man wasn’t completely unconscious though, but he didn’t complain while he was receiving treatment, and so we treated the wound while he was still awake. The red medicine is effective, but we know that it causes a lot of pain when applied to the skin. Nevertheless, he didn’t shout, not even once and endured it all in silence. I think his wound is infected.”
Just then, Linda noticed that the iron pot was boiling and so she stood up and walked over the stove to tend to it. As she was stirring the pot, she glanced at Millen’s direction and said, “My lady, let’s eat first. Thanos still has a long way before he can finish tending to our injured guest. He told me he will eat later so we should go ahead.”
“Alright, let’s have dinner.”
Ahin helped Linda set up the table once again and served the meat stew in bowls. The nanny then glanced at the cat that was purring contently in Millen’s arms and asked, “By the way my Lady, who is that cat? Is it Benji? Or Buzz?”
Linda took him from Millen’s arms, and gave her mistress a confused look. The older woman was never good at recognizing the cats of their inn, as a matter of fact, it was usually Thanos who was more familiar with them and even often won the “cat naming game” each time they played it.
“Linda, Benji is a bit taller than this one, and Buzz has white fur. As you can see, this one has black fur, and his eyes are rather charming and playful. Then who else would it be other than Peggy?”
“Ah, this cat is Peggy! Well, I think it’s pretty docile, right? I always thought Peggy would be a bit more active though. Perhaps, it is sick?”
Even though Linda was not familiar with cats, Millen thought that her affinity with them was better than that of Ahin’s. At the very least, her nanny could understand the cat’s disposition.
She gave her nanny a thoughtful look and slowly reached out to pat Peggy’s black fur, “I think it is because of the weather. Peggy is very in tune with nature.”
The thunder continued its violent rampage from outside their inn and produced a loud symphony of cracking sounds, and soon the beating of lightning and thunder grew louder and Millen could sense the change in Peggy’s mood, it grew more gloomy as seconds ticked by. It became quieter than usual, it even jumped out from Linda’s arms and curled up on one of the chairs. Peggy was slightly trembling too and it wore a depressed expression on its face.
Millen crouched down and was at eye level with the black cat. She started to stroke its black fur and whispered, “Peggy, thanks to you, we were able to take in the laundry and the herbs before the storm came. Thank you.” She then comforted it by lightly kissing Peggy’s soft pink nose. It purred and made a pleasant sound of approval and also noticeably relaxed.
Seeing this, Millen had a thought that perhaps it curled up into a ball because it wanted her attention and for her to comfort it. It then moved to sit on Millen’s chair and the young Lady let it.
Instead, she settled for scratching the back of its ear. Just then, Linda’s voice broke the affectionate atmosphere between the two, “My Lady, let’s eat.”
Upon seeing the fact that her mistress cannot take her seat because Peggy was on it, Linda splashed a bit of cold water on it and shoo the cat away so her mistress could comfortably sit. Peggy was startled by this and shot a glare at Linda’s direction. Still, it recognized that Millen should also be able to eat comfortably. Therefore, it settled on the stone floors and sat beside its mistress’ ankles.
Millen knew that although Peggy was just a cat, it was still capable of showing her courtesy and respect.
After they had eaten, Thanos finally entered the dining room and caught their group in the middle of drinking tea.
He washed his hands meticulously until there were no longer any traces of blood left on them. He then strode over the dining table area and Millen stared up at him expectantly, “The other man was also good at treating injuries; it seems like he has adequate experience in handling such conditions as well. Therefore, we were able to finish treating his wounds safely,” Thanos started.
“…judging by the injured man’s features and bearing, I reckon he isn’t old enough to gain much experience in battlefields, so it is highly unlikely he would have been exposed to, nor used to wounds of such grave nature. Despite this, it also seemed like he was a man who has learned to endure great pains, perhaps he was even trained to face it, because there is no way an ordinary man would have a pain threshold and fortitude as strong as his.”
Linda, who had helped him earlier, chimed in, “You did a good job, Thanos.”
Millen then gestured for Thanos to take a seat and then Linda and Ahin left for the kitchens to fetch his meal together. He sat down at the empty seat and glanced at her with serious eyes, it seemed like he wasn’t done with his report, “He wanted to pay for the herbs he used. He offered quite a large sum for them too. I accepted his offer.”
Millen’s eyes widened in surprise, “We don’t really get paid for the use of our herbs and medicine, mostly because we don’t make business from it, and I never intended to make money through it either.”
“His wounds are deep, so I have already used a lot of herbs to treat them. Although he seems to be recovering well, I know he will be needing a lot more in the future.”
She understood what Thanos was telling her. Their guest was suffering a wound that wouldn’t heal with a simple treatment. If it did, then they could dismiss treating him as just a favor and they wouldn’t need to ask for payment. However, if one was to stay for a few days and used a considerable amount of medicine, it would be difficult to see it as just a random act of kindness and they would ultimately find them strange for being so generous.
Millen bit her lower lip as she wondered just how much it would cost for them to treat his wounds. Since she never tried selling any of her herbs and medicine, she does not know of their value in the market, “How much do you think we should charge, taking into consideration the herbs and medicine he will need in the future as well?”
“Since his injuries are serious, I told them I will report back after observing his condition for a few more days. I know we don’t sell this medicine outside, and it would be more appropriate if he were to receive the medicine here, that way we can oversee his condition too. Don’t you think it is more appropriate this way? I told them that they can only receive the medicine here.”
Millen nodded her head, they couldn’t just let their guest go with just a bag of medicine and herbs, they were not knowledgeable enough to use it and nor would they find those in any market if they needed more. Also, since they do not sell those, it was dangerous for outsiders to know that she was capable of making such medicine and herbs with great potency. Most of all, if he stayed at the inn, they would know better about the effects of the treatment on him.
Ultimately, the injured man would fare better if he does his recovery in their establishment.
“It’s so effective, therefore, I thought it would be less suspicious to receive payment for it my lady. If you don’t agree with my judgment, please tell me now.”
Millen always liked that Thanos was quick on his toes and wise. He had good foresight that was innate, therefore she often found herself trusting his judgment. Millen nodded her head at him, “Do as you wish.”
“He also asked us to clear the entire third floor and keep all the rooms therein vacant. He says he will give you a generous amount for the accommodation and the vacant rooms. He says he’ll also pay for the treatment we gave him and added that he wanted the place to be as quiet as possible so he could focus on his treatment and recovery.”
“If that’s what they want then they need not worry about it, neither do they need to even ask for it. I doubt we would have any other guests coming in, especially with this weather.”
As Millen glanced around the dark halls of their inn, she could not help but let out an amused chuckle, “They seem to be quite desperate to spend their money. Clearly, this place won’t have any other guests any time soon.”
Millen gathered that their guests were determined to keep their privacy regardless of the cost and even without considering the fact that it was highly unlikely they would have other patrons any time soon. It became more apparent to her that money truly is not an issue for them, especially when they were willing to spend it so unnecessarily. They also could probably afford not to care about the fact that the inn was remote in itself.
It was located deep in the depths of the forest, and they did not advertise its existence, nor were there any signage that indicated to strangers the way to reach them. Furthermore, the only distinguishing feature the inn possessed to indicate that they were a business was a small wooden sign board that was perched at its entrance. Therefore, unless the cats personally led people to their inn, it was impossible to get any dealings.
In other words, it was the cats who were in charge of their solicitations. If the cats did not see them as suitable guests, then their inn wouldn’t have any clients. Any clear headed man would know that such demands only led to reckless spending. However, for a rich man who does not want to take any chances, perhaps it was just a small price to pay for their own peace of mind.
“We are going to get rich soon, my Lady.” Ahin, who just came back with a hot steaming bowl of meat stew laughed gleefully as she placed the food in front of Thanos.
Millen supposes the younger girl had heard that their new visitors were willing to spend a lot of money on their inn. She then stood up from her seat and laughed as well, “Well, only if he stays here for about a week do I think we can earn enough money to cover two months’ worth of living expenses.”
Millen never considered deliberately ripping off their customers before, but she decided it was not morally wrong to let wealthy customers spend their money as they pleased. After all, who was she to tell them what to do with their fortunes?
She then stretched out her arms and let out a long yawn, “Today has been quite eventful, and we have our hands full with our new guests. I reckon we should postpone the ‘cat naming game’ to some other time. I’m going to go up and rest now. Good night.”
Millen bid her farewell to Ahin and Thanos while the latter continued with his meal.
As she climbed the stairs to her room, Linda followed closely behind her. The two soon settled into their nightly routine wherein her nanny proceeded to prepare her hot bath and then her bed for sleeping.
Millen’s room had a small bathroom attached to it, and so Linda went in there to fill the bathtub with warm bath water and sprinkled it with rose petals that they plucked earlier that day from their garden.
As the older woman stirred the water of the bath to make sure the temperature was just right, she faced her mistress with determined eyes, “My Lady, please order some of your cats to guard your door tonight. Ten cats would probably suffice, and please choose the fierce, alert and wakeful ones.”
Millen gave her nanny a surprised look as she took off her hat and entered the bathroom. She then let out a lighthearted laugh at Linda, “Nanny, why should I do that? It sounds rather silly.”
“I want you to remain vigilant. It isn’t safe.”
“Are you still wary of our guests? Do you think he’s a noble?”
“I went to his room to help with his treatment earlier. They didn’t just wear hunting clothes, but they also had both bows and swords with them. Of course, I know that Thanos will keep an eye on them. If it turns out that he is just a wealthy young man, then perhaps there is nothing to be careful about. However, I think it is still not time for us to let our guards down.”
It was a statement with many hidden meanings, and Millen was someone who was not naïve enough to not recognize her fears. She pouted a little at her nanny as she took off her shoes, “Linda, you’re needlessly worrying.”
She knew that even if her nanny didn’t express her concern, the cats would still roam around the premises of their inn, just like they always did. They’ve always done that every day and night, and they never missed their rounds regardless of the situation.
She was already safeguarding herself as well as the inn from the guests even if Linda did not remind her of it.
Linda then stepped behind Millen and started to pull the strings of her dress with her skillful touch and helped her remove it. Her clothes were not made of expensive and high-quality fabrics, however, she did make it all by herself. She even used lace that she spun herself, and it was simple but beautiful, “What did Thanos say?”
“He tells me the same things you do. He also means for me to be careful until he’s certain they bring us no harm.”
As soon as her dress slid off of her body, Millen went straight into the bathtub with the help of her nanny.
She settled her body comfortably in the warm waters, and breathed in the scent of fragrant flowers that floated in the air. Somehow, the storm outside her windows made their fragrance more poignant and she felt herself sinking into its embrace. She pulled up her knees and tucked it under her chin, while she then glanced at Linda who was busy folding her discarded clothes, “Don’t worry. Even if you don’t say it, I already know it.”
Millen continued to sit in the warm waters and hummed a song. Her fingers played with the rose petals floating in it, too.
Thanks to their wealthy new guests, they wouldn’t have to worry about money for a while. It eased her mind and she is certain that despite their apprehension, the others are also happy about it.
“I’m glad to hear that. Then I’ll head back down to the dining hall now. Get a good rest, my Lady.”
Linda then left the room and let her continue her bath alone.
Millen was enjoying her solitary time just basking in warm waters when she heard a soft clicking sound of her room’s door, as well as its soft creaking sound as it opened. After she heard the door closed again, she peeked out to see who had broken the silence in her quarters.
A dark shadow emerged from the doorway and slowly made its way at the edge of her tub, it was Alex.
The big and black cat strode across the bathroom floors and settled underneath the curtains with its back against its mistress. Alex settled at a distance far enough from the bathtub to give her some privacy. Still, it was close enough for the two of them to be able to communicate comfortably. She couldn’t help but feel proud that it had the sensibilities of a human being, “Alex, what did you find out?”
‘The man with the strong physique was very careful and didn’t talk much, so I couldn’t get a lot of information from him, nevertheless, he gives off an impression that he is an escort knight, and his wounded companion appears to be a nobleman. It felt like they were running away from danger’.
Millen tried to conjure the image of the injured man in her mind. She did not even see the face of the alleged nobleman; however, she did see what the knight looked like.
Suddenly, she felt an unexplainable curiosity to see his face tugged at her chest. She wondered if her interest on him sprung from Ahin’s relentless praising of his looks earlier that night.
However, she was pulled out of her musings by Alex’s voice speaking to her once more, ‘Fortunately, they don’t seem to have any evil intentions, still, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being careful.’
“There is nothing wrong with being careful… Why do you always say that Alex? Whether the customer is naive or stupid, whether they have bad intentions or not, you always say that.”
“I know you worry a lot Alex, but this isn’t any of your fault. If I’m being honest, I’d say this is all my fault.”
Millen’s mood became sullen and the bathroom’s atmosphere thickened, “It’s okay, Alex. I won’t make the same mistake again. So don’t worry. I will act wisely this time.”
Millen then closed her eyes and sunk deeper into the waters while her thick, lavender-colored hair floated around her. Oftentimes, when she did not want to show her sorrows, she would either cover her face with her hat or sink deeper into the water.
* * *
The rain that had poured heavily all throughout the night, only stopped at dawn.
The dark skies that swept the land the night before did not even leave a shard of dark clouds, as if there never were any in the first place. Once again, it was a clear and refreshing morning without a single darkness in sight.
As the sunshine poured generously in the forest and the grass glistened with fresh dew, the people of the ‘Cat Inn’ started their work diligently once more.
Thanos and Kai had earlier inspected the premises around the inn to see if there were any damages left by the storm, they also searched if any of the inn’s insides were flooded while the women prepared breakfast.
All the cats living in their inn were back to running around the forest grounds. Some of them were even walking around the garden, while Alex, just like always, hovered around Millen in the dining hall.
When Thanos, who had been in the guest’s room since early morning, entered the premises, Kai who was sitting at the table greeted him, “Uncle, how are they?”
The people of the inn were particularly interested in their new guests, mostly because Millen told them that they were most likely noblemen.
“His condition has improved.”
Millen, who was just casually staring out of the window, stirred and quickly approached Thanos. She then asked, “He’s not suffering from a fracture is he?”
“No, he’s not, my Lady.” All at once, Thanos dropped a bag full of coins on the table, in front of Millen and informed her, “It’s money for yesterday and today’s services. I also got paid for two days’ worth of medicine.”
“Wow, this is amazing!” Kai’s eyes widened in surprise as he stood up from his seat and came closer to look at the bag that Thanos brought with him, but before Kai could take a look at its content, Thanos spoke up, “It’s all gold coins too.”
Thanos informed them swiftly, it was obvious to them that he could not hide his excitement as well.
“All gold coins?” Kai’s mouth was completely wide open as he stared inside the contents of the bag. He was dumbfounded at the bright light that shone and greeted him.
Millen also found himself collapsing into her chair and gasped out, “It seems like a perfect guest has arrived.”
She then asked Kai to make them some tea, and the young men went into the kitchens to do so.
The young man brimmed with excitement as he did his bidding.
Millen found herself in a good mood too and slightly pleased that the medicine she had made with good intentions and spent countless nights on was worth all of her blood, sweat and tears. For this reason, she pondered whether her deceased mother was looking out for her and brought her such good fortune.
“My Lady, I have one more thing to tell you.”
“What is it?”
“They said that they lost a precious horse during the accident. So, regardless of whether the horse is alive or dead they want to find it. So, can I help search for it?”
“Precious you say…how precious is it?”
“Precious means it’s like family.” The image of her cats came into mind as Thanos explained to her the relationship their guest had with his horse. It was the same way Millen viewed her cats, and she too had also experienced the grief of losing a family member, therefore she had no heart to refuse their request, “Let me help him as well.”
“How can my lady be so sweet?” Linda, who carried a large basket with her, arrived just in time to hear Millen and Thanos’ small exchange.
She muttered her words with such a vague tone that it was hard for Millen to decipher, whether it was a compliment or a reproach, “I don’t understand nanny? Why does your remark sound so scathing?”
Millen gave Linda a small smile as she fidgeted with the brim of her hat that was pressed over her head. Her nanny put the basket down on the table and started to pat her on the back and continued her nagging, “My Lady, the money is good, but we’re still not sure what kind of people those guests are…”
“It’s okay. Alex told me that they have no evil intentions.”
“If that’s what you say, then perhaps it’ll be fine.”
When it came to Alex, the cats’ captain, everyone at the inn trusted his intuition. This was because Alex was no ordinary cat.
“And even without your reminders Linda, the cats will continue to stick next to Thanos all on their own to guard us. So don’t worry.”
“Of course I’ll obey you my lady if that’s what you and Alex think. I trust the cats as well, so we will take good care of those guests.”
Millen smiled at her words. She was comforted by the fact that Linda had high regards for her cats. After all, it is the best she could expect.
At the end of the day, only she could relate to her cats completely and unconditionally. Much like her cats who can only depend on her, Millen too had only herself to comoletely trust. She and her cats were the same, they only had each other.
-To be continued
Translator: Byoun Editor: Nineknights