Chapter 2-2

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Even though she had already gone home once, Alice turned up in front of the school building so that she could go to the cake shop with Masaki.

They took the bus that was heading towards the station for a little while.

They used the Ring Gear‘s navigation to decide what route to take.

They alighted from the bus in front of the shopping district.

Although it was called a shopping district, it was a three-story building and there were streets on the roof. Its layout couldn’t be seen well from the ground.

Compared to the 60-story school building which was composed of 10-story buildings with their ceilings joined, it looked more compact from a distance.

The shopping district on the roof was no different, but some of the shops were big whilst others were inside shopping complexes.

There were many buildings where part of the first floor was dedicated to displays.

Western clothes, electronics and musical instruments.

Since it was an academy city, there were lots of stationery shops and sports shops.

As it was now after school, it was crowded with lots of students. It wasn’t just full of high school students; he also saw middle school and university students.

The atmosphere changed a little as they walked following the navigation instructions.

The number of shops that sold famous brands of clothes and accessories started to increase. It was slightly different from the image of an academy city, but there must have also been demand for those shops.

The shop they were looking for was in the middle of the high-class street.

There was a sign on the building.

“Is this Café de Mancio? It’s much bigger than I thought it would be.”

Since it was a cake shop he imagined that it would consist of one or two floors; however, the entire shop spanned ten floors.

Alice frowned.

“…At the very least, the atmosphere isn’t what I expected it to be.”

It was nothing like the snug shops that suited Alice’s tastes.

“Although the shop is big, I think the decor is nice.”

Although it was impossible to build a ten-story building with bricks, it seemed like only the outside was…the walls were made out of bricks, the windows had wooden frames and letters were lined up on the glass. It was probably French.

He couldn’t deny that he thought atmosphere was important.

“…What do you think?”

“Well, I haven’t tasted their cake so I’m not sure.”

“…That’s true.”

When they entered the shop, they saw that the first floor was for customers with take out orders.

There was a line of cash registers.

There were probably around 30 people lined up. They were mostly girls, but there were some guys amongst them.

––Huh?

Masaki got an uncomfortable feeling.

There was something about the shop that was different from a normal cake shop.

Of course, it was unusual for a cake shop to be doing this well at a time other than its opening or Christmas.

However, it wasn’t that…

Alice also seemed to notice it.

“…There’s something strange about the customers.”

“The faces of the cake shop’s customers should be happier.”

The people in the line looked serious.

Their eyes were bloodshot.

It was as if they were starving beasts.

It couldn’t be because all of them were unable to endure their hunger. It was strange.

A female waitress approached them.

The girl who was dressed in a composed brown maid outfit quickly bowed.

“Welcome. Welcome to Café de Mancio. Would you like a Plum Special?”

“No, I haven’t decided on what I want yet.”

“In that case, will you be using the café?”

“Erm…”

When she looked fleetingly at Alice, she was expressionless.

“…I’ll leave it to you.”

She muttered.

As for Masaki, he wanted to look around the shop and was curious about the drinks.

“Okay, if the café isn’t full.”

“Certainly. I’ll show you to your seats right away.”

They followed the waitress up the stairs, which were rounded into a semi-circle. A window seat on the third floor was prepared for them.

The furnishing was simple and there were elegant wooden tables and slightly small cloth-covered wooden chairs. There weren’t any pillars or walls interrupting the view of the interior, and the wooden floors and white walls were done just like a small French patisserie.

There was a painting of a landscape hung on one of the white walls, and the sound of a quiet violin solo filled the area.

“Huh?”

“Ah, so you guys came too?”

They saw a familiar face when they looked at the seat next to them.

He glared at them while holding the menu in his hand. No, he might not have been glaring, but the sharp look in his eyes made it seem like he hadn’t chosen a cake.

“Thank you, Suou-senpai.”

“Well, sit down.”

“Ah…yes…erm…”

The waitress that guided them smiled.

“Is he your friend? Would you like to sit together?”

“Ah, yes…are you alright with that, Alice?”

Alice shrugged.

“…If Masaki-kun wants to.”

“Thanks.”

They decided to sit at Suou’s table.

Since Masaki was sitting next to Alice, the two of them opened up one menu. Nowadays, paper menus were rare.

It was in alphabetical order and there were no photographs. Although it might not have been customer-friendly to do that, it fit the atmosphere of the place.

There weren’t any photographs, and care had to be taken when reading the notes because of the style of the letters.

However, the notes were in French. Masaki had studied a little French, since it was necessary when learning to cook, but…

“Hmm, I’m not that fluent in French…”

“…The Ring Gear has a translation function.”

“Ah, I see.”

But wouldn’t there be customers that were confused by the French menu?

Alice made a window appear that overlapped the paper. They read the Japanese translation.

“We were asked if we wanted a Plum Special at the entrance, weren’t we. It seems like it’s a special menu item.”

Masaki leaned forward.

He ended up touching Alice’s shoulders slightly.

“…Hm.”

“Sorry.”

“…It doesn’t matter…I don’t…mind.”

“Then it’s fine.”

Suou snorted.

“Humph… it seems like they have some reason to put the Plum Special at the bottom.”

“Isn’t that the most delicious item? If that’s the case then I’d like to eat it.”

“That’s fine if the reason it’s popular is because of its taste.”

“What do you mean?”

“There was a small investigation before we came––The ‘rumor’ that Koori talked about might have spread around considerably”

“Erm…it was that it could make wishes come true or help you find a lover…wasn’t it?”

“Yes…and there was also a rumor that it could help you level up. What a suspicious story, it’s just like a burnt cookie.”

Suou frowned.

Alice didn’t seem to be interested in it as she put down the menu.

“…I’ve decided.”

“Well then, I think I’ll have the cheesecake. I’m interested in the Plum Special, but I don’t feel like waiting for it.”

“If I eat something else, I’ll be able to tell how good it is.”

Suou raised one of his hands and a waitress came immediately.

They ordered enough cake for three people along with black tea.

It was brought out to them before long.

Masaki had a cheesecake, Alice had a pear tart and Suou had a Mont Blanc. They all chose the type of tea that would suit their cake.

As for the taste––

“Hmm.”

“………”

“Humph”

It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t bad either. Even though it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t anything other than not bad. There was nothing special about it. What was on the plate was like something made in a factory that was arranged nicely––that was the impression he had.

“What do you think of it? I think that it’s ordinary but…”

“That’s right.”

Suou put his fork down.

Alice had only eaten two mouthfuls before drinking all of her tea.

“……”

Although it felt wasteful, he heard that there being leftovers would convey a message to the shop.

Given the situation, he was more worried about the Plum Special. Was the taste so different from the other cakes that people were lining up for it? Or was it because of the rumor? Should he line up for it?

Masaki was seriously concerned about it.

At that moment, someone else approached the table.

It was a young man in a snow white chef’s outfit.

The customers around them started to get excited.

He had slightly wavy long blue hair, a tall nose and blue eyes. There was a mole next to the corner of his eye and he had a refreshing look. He was tall with wide shoulders.

He was a so-called pretty boy.

The smile he wore was like the murmuring of a small stream.

“Welcome to Café de Mancio…I’m honored that famous Level 7s have come.”

“!? I see, you’re…”

Suou glared at him.

Alice wasn’t the type of person to be especially nice to someone she was meeting for the first time.

Although it might have been rude, he couldn’t help but ask.

“Excuse me, who might you be?”

“I should have introduced myself first––I’m the Patissier that owns this shop, Café de Mancio, Jean Daniel Belmondo.”

The good-looking young man with blue hair bowed his head respectfully.

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