6-6. Tavern and Rumors
Satou's here. On the old computer game, tavern was only useful for changing party members, but on TRPG, it was the place to gather information for the scenario.
Since drunkards are talkative.
"Thanks for waiting, Nana."
Uh, did I make her wait too long.
Maybe thanks to the hood she's wearing, there is no weird guy trying to pick her up, but she looks quite bored. Nana picks my arm and begins to walk.
"Let's go, master."
We're walking while linking arms. Umm, Nana-san? My arm is in heaven.
Since the long cane I've bought for Mia at the beginning is being a hindrance, I switch it to my other hand.
"I've learned it when master was in the shop."
What's this, I feel a bad premonition.
"When man and woman walk together, they unite their arms."
She's saying so while having, "How's that" face, I can even hear the sound effect.
<TLN: Google キリッ for more accurate expression ;)>
I understand what she has learned, but there's no particular reason to part our arms, so let's go shopping while being like this.
Since Nana is looking like she really want to get praised, I read the mood and praise her. It's subtle, but She looks satisfied. And I'm also satisfied with the amazing feeling.
First, let's buy clothes for Nana and Mia.
However, there's no shop which sells ready-made clothes except the second-hand ones in this town. It seems you have to tailor them if you want new clothes. I think Arisa has said she could make clothes, so I decide to buy cloth and materials for sewing.
They're selling underwear normally, so I buy shares for the two. These underwear are called drawers right? Feels like I've entered Alice's Wonderland.
Next are tools for manufacturing things.
By asking a pedestrian for the location, I've bought various tools for woodworking, metal carving, leather crafting, and blacksmithing.
I've also bought glue, nails and other materials, but beside nails, they're expensive. I've also wanted to buy some hinges, but they were out of stock.
Necessary things for blacksmithing like furnace or anvil were not available, so I couldn't buy them. Though even if I could, there was no way to carry them anyway.
Since we would be standing out if we bring lumbers to the inn, I pay for it to be sent to the hotel.
"Nana, shouldn't we go to next shop soon?"
"Master, please wait a bit longer."
"Is it fun?"
"Yes, very. It's so fluffy and soft... yes, cute."
Since Nana is fascinated with the wood shaving waste from the wood planing, and doesn't seem to want to move, we spend a bit of time in the wood workshop.
If the workshop old man didn't get her the thinnest and long wood shaving, she might be looking till dusk.
I purchase bottles and containers for putting medicine since I incidentally catch sight of them on the next workshop we've gone. The price around here is cheaper than on Seryuu city. It might be because the woods that act as fuel are cheap.
We go to the general store at the end.
I was taught in magic shop that there might be cooking books there.
Nana who have been restlessly looking around inside the general store, wanders to a particular display case.
"What's the matter?"
"Master, what is this?"
While saying so, Nana pick up something to her hand, it's a wooden barrette.
It's carved with simple design and three pale small stones are fitted in. The stones are not gemstones, but river stones with stripped patterns. It looks like jade so I appraise it, and the result is actinolite. The name sounds as if it could be used as catalyst for light magic, but it's just a pretty stone.
The market price of the barrette is two copper coins. There are 5 other wooden barrettes, but they're all priced the same.
It's a bit plain for decorating Nana's honey-colored hair. I think she'll look better with a silver barrette.
Nana is looking at that barrette without getting tired.
The store's old woman who see that begins promoting.
"Fe, fe ,fe, I also have ones made from silver, or adorned with gemstones, do you want to see it?"
"Right then, since you're offering, let's take a look at it."
She puts out three expensive barrette made from silver, I try putting one on Nana's hair. Yup, the silver one does match her well.
"Oh my, you have truly beautiful wife."
"That's right, I'm still charmed sometimes."
I've certainly got used with the beautiful faces of Lulu and Arisa, but Nana and Mia are quite pretty too. She's not my wife, but I don't need to retort to every lip service.
Nana strokes the first barrette with her fingers in rapture even while we're having that conversation.
You like it that much huh.
I'm sorry for the old woman for bringing out the other things, but I purchase the wooden barrette instead.
I also buy several blue braids as souvenirs since it was placed nearby. It's just right since Lulu usually tie hemp cord on her hair when she's making breakfast. There are also ribbons, but I stop. I've given some to Lulu as present before, but I've never see her wearing it. It probably wasn't to her liking.
Now then, the main thing is the cooking books, but it's different from what I've imagined. Rather than recipe books for what delicious foods from what towns, or what kind of materials are there, it's a gourmet guide book instead. Of course, I buy it, but it doesn't seem usable for improving my cooking.
"Are you looking for curious foods? Then how about some herbs or pickled vegetables?"
The old woman brings out some bottles and jars sealed with string from inside a shelf.
Around 20 kinds of things like, garlic and leeks pickled with oil, pickled cabbage and Chinese cabbage, and yellow powder that looks like dried mustard and others.
Even though so many come out, there's no pickled plum. Too bad.
There are also sweet things like honey, or
green-tea powder-like sugar called Ugi, I'm buying them.
Furthermore, somehow I'm coaxed to buy a tool for extracting fat from meat. Old woman, you're good at business.
Since I've bought so many things, I thought that I'd carry them many times over to the inn but the old woman calls manly man from the shop's back and has him to transport the groceries to the inn.
Right, I almost forgot.
"Do you have a lute?"
The old woman points at Nana. It's put together on the same desk as the barrette. Not seeing it even though it's right in front of your eyes, it happens often eh.
I purchase the lute and string for Mia. I try playing the string and, [Tiin], sounds comes out.
>[Musical Performance Skill Acquired]
"Ehehe~ Look, look at these bounties!"
The wagon is loaded with a lot of ingredients and woods and tools I've bought.
The thing that Arisa present are eggs inside a basket. There around 20 of them.
"They're a bit expensive, but I've gotten some duck eggs~ with this we can eat egg dishes!"
"Eggs are fast to go bad, so let's think what to make before. How long can we keep it?"
"It's already winter, so about 2-3 days?"
"We could make something like karaage or croquette."
"C, can you make it?"
"If I know the recipe I could, but I can only vaguely remember the ingredients and the process."
I tried to bring up the subject to Arisa, but it seems she doesn't know.
"Uh, I should've kept trying to cook for myself without giving up."
I barely remember that I should use eggs and flour. No, or was it potato starch?
Since the storage can preserve things, I should just get five eggs inside and do trial and error during the journey.
Later, I'm taught by Liza that eggs can be stored for several months. Don't modern eggs have short expiration dates? I don't know if it's because parallel world, but I won't complain the long-lastingness.
We decide to eat dinner at the tavern on the first floor of the inn that evening. Since there's an empty space on the back, we join two tables and sit there. Mia sits on the chair furthest back. Since it'll be full of people later, she's not good with crowd.
The meal consists of moderate amount of tenderloins with boiled vegetables, fish and radish soup, stir-fried vegetables, dried berry, flat bread made from Gabo fruit, and pickled Gabo leaves. The aren't a lot of meat, but the stomach-filling tenderloins are popular with the beastkin girls.
At the opposite side of me, Mia continues playing the lute that has just been bought even though it's dinner, she probably likes it.
"Mia, it's dinner, so eat your meal."
She nods at my words, but doesn't let go of the lute. Her performance is over, but seems she's wondering whether to continue or eat.
She opens her small mouth while starting to play the lute. Since she looks like a cute young bird, I put a bite-sized vegetable on her mouth.
She chews it hard while playing a song. I wonder if it's an elf tune, it's a tune with wanting to hurry home feeling.
My sleeves is pulled from the side, and when I look there, Arisa is opening her mouth while point her finger there.
"Eat it yourself."
"Doing that only to Mia, isn't it unfai~r?"
Can't be helped when you say it like that. I give her a mouthful of pickled Gabo leaves. It's sour and bitter, the taste is unique. She probably won't ask for another with this.
She's saying, "Mugu", and, "I want something sweet please.", but she doesn't say she want another, so it's a success.
"Aan, nano desu."
What comes into my view is Mia, with Pochi and Tama who are sitting on each sides of her opening their mouth. When the three are lined up like this, they really look like young birdlings. I put a mouthful for each one in turn.
Following them, Lulu also doing, "Aan", while looking shy. I want you to stop opening your small mouth while pining your hair and closing your eyes, I would imagine something different. Liza is also doing, "Aan" since it looks interesting, but I have no comment. Since she doesn't look uncomfortable, there's probably no problem.
My sleeve is pulled again.
I thought that it was Arisa again, but it was from the opposite side. Over there, Nana is doing, "Aan", while presenting a dish.
I see, since Nana couldn't eat, she's serving it instead.
Umu, I'm fine with feeding little girls, but if they look like adult beautiful girls, the destructive power is high. I eat the dish while feeling bashful.
Violet-san on the opposite side seemingly can't stand my attitude, and she's saying things like, "Flirting is forbidden", or, "Riajuu should just explode.". Since those kinds of slightly peevish protest came out, another, "Aan", is prohibited.
The one who took advantage of this in the first place is you, Arisa, you know?
Mia is concentrating on eating her foods with Liza's warning. I'm a bit shocked that she's paying heed to Liza's word than mine--I might be spoiling her too much--the dinner continues while I'm feeling like a father.
Mia who finishes her dinner first starts playing some musics. The beastkin girls and Arisa are eating their second round of meal.
At first the music was calm but then it turns cheerful after a request from the drunkards. Even though Mia is playing with expressionless and uninterested face, she still receives the drunkard's impulsive request.
Once Mia musical begins, the visitors begin to increase until it's full house, even though it was empty when we just got here. Arisa is judging the drunkard request properly. She's doing it while having meals, skillful.
And then, when they've finished eating, Arisa leads Pochi and Tama to match the song and sing together cheerfully while joining shoulders. The three are wearing hoods, so they look subtly suspicious. I thought that I remember this song, it's the anisong Arisa sung during our trip.
"What a fun song huh."
"It's a song from the hometown of those girls."
The merchant-like man on the seat behind starts talking to me, so we're chatting while putting sake to our cups. I'm drinking normal juice, not sake. The sake here (ale), is too sour, or rather, it's acid it's undrinkable.
The stories in our chat are mostly harmless, but there are also some interesting ones. In summary, the chats are like these.
"I've just been through baron Muno's territory and I was offered to buy slaves from several villages there, it was terrible."
"The harvest this year isn't bad, I wonder why."
"Speaking of slaves, if you bring out slaves from baron Muno's territory, you need to pay tax. Farmers who want to go to other territory also need to pay tax. Was it emmigrant tax. The border soldiers even specially inspect for it."
The merchants exaggeratively shiver for almost buying slaves themselves.
I thought it was supposed to be marquis according to that travel journal, so I asked.
"Don't you know young man? They were certainly marquis up until about 20 years ago but the whole family of marquis Muno were attacked by large flocks of the dead, and the castle and the soldiers, everyone were massacred."
"I forgot the title, but it was even made into books and drama."
"At that time, it became an uproar and was thought to be an attack from the demon lord, the groceries and medicines prices went up and I made a big profit."
It's an imprudence story, he seems to be an unscrupulous merchant.
"I also remember to feel relieved that the king had ordered the holy knights to dispatch, limiting the dead army from overflowing to other territories."
"All related families of marquis Muuno, including the collateral family who married into another families, died of mysterious cause. The current baron supposedly has absolutely no relation to the old one. He's either a nephew or younger brother of the neighboring duke, he has succeeded the family name to manage the territory."
That story sounds familiar. What comes to my mind is his (Zen's) bleached bone face.
I've become a listener, while properly chiming in sometimes and pouring sake, I press them to continue.
"There's a strange rumor about that dukedom. There's a man who will buy corpses of anything."
"Isn't that just a simple rumor? There's a forest which became a place for burial custom due to some faith, and the rumor started from someone who saw the proceeding they said."
"Is that what it is, so they're traveling on the highway where monsters and wolves appear for several days while carrying corpses, faith is an amazing thing."
"Something that can't be said to merchants like us."
However, "Corpse Buying Man", that looks like something that would become a novel's title.
Speaking of the duke, I've heard a rumor in the morning.
"It seems that there's a fighting tournament on the dukedom, is everyone familiar with that?"
"People surely gather there, but merchants do too."
"Thus, merchants' number are reduced in other place. I intend to fill that gap for my business."
I've thought that this is a world where the money circulation takes time, but it seems there are many ways to gain money.
Mia's performance has stopped before I notice. The surrounding are urging her, but looks it's too much, she says one word, "Tired.", and sleep on my lap. I think you don't need to go as far under the table though.
We take that chance and go back to the room. Arisa says, "We got a lot of offering~.", while showing a bowl with a lot of coins. They're mostly pennies, but there are some copper coins mixed in. Quite generous, those drunk old men are.
I let Mia sleep in the room. There's no 8 person room as expected, so I rent two 4 person room. The three beastkin girls and my room, and Arisa and the others' room. We had various disputes during the room's distribution. I'm afraid that I'd think something impolite if I see Nana innocently sleeps on the bed.
I've thought of doing something on the night town stealthily, but I'm prevented by Pochi and Tama. "Let's sleep together nodesu." with gleaming eyes, they bind both my hands. The wire-puller is Arisa without a doubt, but I can't shake off the two who approach with innocent faces.
I pass on the adult's night once in a while~.