18-32. A Boy in Labyrinth City (6)
"Let's go for another round!"
Gon had been cursing after the not so well first hunt of Beria, but he soon switched mood since nothing good would come out of it anyway.
Gon's group went to alchemy guild to borrow baskets this time.
"They're all worn out."
"Uwaa, there's even some with holes. And this one's cord at the end of the rope."
All the good baskets had been loaned out, so they only got the barely hanging ones to pick.
"Who cares so long they can carry stuff."
"Yeah. Still better than using your clothes."
Gon and Keros picked baskets in relatively decent shapes.
"Wonder if it will hold up?"
Shina sounded uneasy about her raggedy basket.
"Lemme have a look."
I picked some straws laying around the basket storehouse and twisted them into an improvised webbing to do a temporary repair.
"Wha, Sharon, you're amazing!"
"I've done something like this a lot during winters."
I asked Rasa to pick some more straws to make extra webbing.
Gon and Keros are gonna need them for sure.
Our second Beria hunt went smoother due to experience from the first one.
All of us got one copper coin each this time. Needless to say, the extra straws came in handy.
"Alright, time for another go!"
In a good mood with a copper coin in hand, Gon ran out.
We ran after him, but it seems the guys are starting to get tired, besides me.
And sure enough, my worry turns into reality--.
"I can't go on anymore."
Zaki and Keros were the first to go down.
"Sorry, me too."
Then Shina who had been working hard all this time.
"Get it together you guys!"
Gon yelled at them as they laid about in exhaustion.
"I'll do it."
I went with Gon to continue the work.
I realized after watching up close, he's got quite the brute force. I'm confident I won't lose in stamina, but I'm really no match to Gon in term of raw strength.
I gotta build up more muscles too. My lil' sis refused to teach me how to pump up more muscles saying 'you can't turn into a beefcake'.
--You won't get taller if you train excessively.
I had to give up when she told me that.
"Alright, these are enough for us."
Gon stuffed the leaves in the basket and happily ran off.
"Wait up, Gon."
"That's some stamina."
Keros, Shina and Zaki who joined up with us midway through ran after Gon unsteadily.
"...You stamina monsters."
Rasa shakily stood up while cursing out.
"Hold it, Rasa. Let's rest up for a bit."
I suggested thus to Rasa seeing his staggering legs.
"You won't last long if you force yourself. You gotta grasp your pace first thing first."
Thus I persuaded the stubborn Rasa.
I only noticed my own fatigue after sitting down myself.
Man, I'm not one to lecture others...
Shina's group also sat down over there. Rests are important.
A little while afterward, we suddenly heard lively voices of children.
"We got them! It's Sand Rats!"
Looking around, some children even younger than us seem to be doing something behind a rocky area.
Curios, I went there.
"What are you guys up to?"
"With Arisa-type traps! We got so many!"
Apparently these children are hunting rats using traps.
This Arisa is apparently a legendary 'Banchou' stronger than even demon lords. What's a Banchou anyway?
Seeing as Rasa recovered enough to walk, we went back after fetching Shina's group along the way.
The leaves dried up a bit since we took our time, so our wages were reduced by one dime.
Gon and I wanted to go for the fourth time, but the rest of the guys couldn't anymore so we left them in the city.
Today alone I got three copper coins and four dimes, Gon got three copper coins and two dimes, Zaki and Rasa got two copper coins and four dimes each, and Keros got the least at two copper coins and one dime.
The work was quite tough but that was enough to afford our dinner at least.
"Alright, let's get eating!"
With Gon's energetic voice, we all headed for the food stalls in the square.
Nice smell wafted as we got closer to the square, prompting the rumbling of our stomachs. I'm famished too.
"Meat skewer's the best!"
"Can't believe a portion this big is only one copper coin!"
Gon and Keros bought food at the first meat skewer stall they found.
Lost to the tasty looking skewer, I too bought my share.
Not sure what kinda meat is this, but it's so good sprinkled with precious salt.
Meat juice plus salt simply permeate throughout your body. The slightly charred taste and scent only add to the flavor.
"You too Shina, get a bite yerself."
"No thank you. I mean I don't wanna empty my pocket here."
Zaki and Rasa chose to save up as well.
After we were done with the skewers, all of us bought some hearty soup and lightly baked bread. One copper coin each.
The soup has a lot of potato and bean inside. With some scrap meat.
Shina bought two boiled potatoes instead of bread.
Gon didn't have enough food so he used up all his remaining money for boiled potatoes.
"Are you, Gon?"
Looks like someone he knows from his village.
"Ooh, Shina came with you to this Labyrinth City too huh! You guys got no money yeah? Come, I'll treat you!"
"Fer' real! I'm going! Shina, you come too!"
"Mind if I tag along? I'm Gon and Shina's friend!"
Gon and Shina were invited by their acquaintance, Keros craftily wedged himself in.
"Ya guys wanna come too?"
"Yup, I'm full already."
"I'd like to wash up before it gets dark, so."
We got invited too, but the timid Zaki declined while I and Rasa had our own reason to.
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
"Shouldn't it be there with that out of place crowd?"
As the guild taught us, we went to a riverside where many other explorers are washing their bodies.
Rasa and Zaki came too.
"Let's hurry up and get in the water."
Zaki took off his clothes and went in the shallow river.
"Sharon, Rasa, get in here! It's so cold and feels nice!"
I wrapped my clothes around my helmet and dagger then coiled it around my neck. I can't let my lil sis' parting gift get stolen.
Rasa went in the river fully clothed.
"Your clothes gonna get wet."
"It'll dry up right away."
Rasa washed himself with his clothes on.
His drenched clothes clung on his body. I'm getting nervous for some reason even though we're both boys.
I strongly shook my head and washed my face with the cold river water.
The clothes on my neck got drenched.
Gotta wash my clothes too.
"Phew, that was refreshing."
We're drying ourselves on the riverside all freshened up.
Under a bridge upstream, there's a cloth hanging just above the water surface.
"Stay away from there if you wish to live on."
A young man cooling off on the nearby riverside gave that warning.
"Oy oy, whatcha doing scaring newbies."
"Don't worry about him, go on and take a look."
"Yeah, it's a test of courage."
A frivolous looking group of men near the young man stirred Zaki up.
"Aw, the kid's scared."
"Kid can't help it. It's impossible for cowards."
"Go hide under your mom's skirt if yer' scared!"
"I-I'm not a coward!"
Goaded by the men, Zaki walked up toward the bridge.
"H-hold on, Zaki!"
"You'd better not."
"Shut up, don't stop me!"
Zaki wouldn't heed my and Rasa's warning.
I had to grab Zaki's shoulder to stop him.
"Get off me! --Ah."
Zaki brushed my and Rasa's hand, but we lost our balance and fell down beyond the hanging cloth.
There were several naked women under the dimly lit bridge.
In a panic, I grabbed Zaki and Rasa, and rolled to the other side.
"W-what? What happened?"
"It was a bathplace for ladies."
Looks like Zaki didn't see it.
Rasa was completely calm even after witnessing women bathing.
"Capital punishment for peeping toms."
"Die ten thousand times over."
Some women with their clothes on came out of the cloth while cracking their knuckles.
While other women are peeking out their faces from the cloth. Angry faces, embarrassed faces, 'can't believe this guy' faces, all kinds. Most are angry faces.
"W-we're truly sorry!"
I grabbed Zaki and Rasa's head and bowed altogether.
My head got violently grabbed up before a slap hit my cheek hard. My vision blurred for a moment as I hit the water surface. Taste of iron filled my mouth.
Looks like I got slapped right into the river.
"I'll forgive you with that much this time."
"Those idiots took you for a ride anyway, didn't they?"
The scary ladies went back beyond the cloth after telling us, 'There is no next time'.
I came out of the river while stroking my swollen cheek.
Rasa is unharmed for some reason.
Well, I did see them naked and Zaki was the cause, Rasa only got dragged into it after all.
The day after--.
"My body hurts."
My cheek is no longer swelling, it's full body muscle cramps.
Looks like the burden from that work isn't really like farmwork.
When I came back from drawing water, the guys had woken up already. Gon's group who went with their acquaintance had gone back last night.
Everybody got muscle cramps, but none was bad enough to leave them immobilized.
We had breakfast at the food bank and psyched up for the work today.
"Let's do our best at Beria hunting today!"
"I'm not going."
Gon and Keros declined as I declared that in a high spirit.
"You're working somewhere else?"
"We're heading in the labyrinth."
"Gon! Did you forget about Lost Bandits? Haven't we decided to head in only after the beginner course?"
Shocked by Gon's words, I spoke out with some strong tone.
"We're diving in the labyrinth along with Gon's acquaintances."
"Those people yesterday?"
"Yeah. We'll be with Piqe-nii and the others, we're gonna be fine."
"They're veterans who've been going in for two years!"
Guess it should be safe since they're going with people they know?
"So it's just you two going then?"
"U-um. Me too."
Shina spoke while hiding behind Gon.
Dunno why she's so nervous, I'm not going to get angry at them from getting a head start.
I chatted with Gon's group as we walked before they went their separate way.
"What about you two?"
I speak to Zaki and Rasa.
"I'll stick to easy job for now. My body won't last if it's everyday."
Zaki went in the guild after saying that.
"Let's go, Sharon."
Rasa was going with me, so we two went to borrow our baskets before heading to Beria fields.
We managed somehow with just two, but clipping the bulky leaves took some time.
We were done with the second round longer than yesterday.
Today three rounds were our limit.
"Oh good, there you are!"
For some reason, Zaki was waiting for us as we turned in our Beria leaves.
I asked the rough breathing Zaki.
I've never seen him looking this flustered.
"Like I could calm down now! It's terrible!"
◆◆◆At a certain poor village◆◆◆
"Hello there, Reina-san."
Akindo-san acts courteously even toward children like me.
Which he has been keeping for four years running, since he first met my two year self.
"Well then, let's get down to business right away."
I open my Item Box to fetch the product and handed it over to Akindo-san.
I can trust this person since he doesn't price gouge even with children.
"Seven jewels and one gold ingot. The jewels have been polished to perfection, and the gold ingot is pure enough to be tradeable anywhere. You've gotten better, I see."
"It's all thanks to my Unique Skill. The credit doesn't belong to me."
Knowing purity just from a glance, Akindo-san is not normal.
How he doesn't try to hide that fact is likely his way to show his trust on me.
"Overusing Unique Skills would be--."
I don't plan to turn into a demon lord.
Having a final battle against hero-turned Rom-niisan would have been amazing in itself, but I'd like to take a romance route over battle this time around.
"Would that much be enough to afford my request then?"
"High grade magic cores and elemental stones, was it? Which element would you like?"
Wind would be the choice for vacuum slices and cyclones, and explosion-inducing fire elemental is hard to ignore as well, but practically speaking, thunder is the way to go.
"Lightning one would do. And a water stone too if possible."
I may have my Item Box, but Rom-niisan would need ways to get water.
"Oh I've got plenty of water stones on hands, I'll throw you one as an extra."
"Thank you, Akindo-san."
And now, I have obtained the elemental stones I had been wanting for all this time.
'W-what do you think you're doing lowlifes!'
I ended a skit playing in my head, put away elemental stones and magic cores in my Item Box and turned my gaze at the smiling Akindo-san.
"May I ask you one thing, Akindo-san."