After reporting to the guildmaster, I went to my favorite material shop.
It's nice how I could stop by on my way from the guild since it's located nearby but the place is hard to find hidden in a narrow back alley.
Inside, the store is dimly lit, with an occult atmosphere and a questionable interior design choice.
It looks like a witch's store no matter how you look at it. From all angles.
I personally thought it's pretty nice inwardly though.
Alma is looking around curiously at the eerie looking shopkeeper and shop. Doesn't seem like she's scared.
The old woman shopkeeper laughed eerily and let out an evil looking smile as she appeared behind the counter.
"Hhi, hhi, hhi, welcome. Oh you've brought a girl with you today, that's the one you always huddle up together at the inn?"
"Quit it with that easily misunderstood phrasing. I'm here to shop, also got some news for you."
I usually speak using polite tone with other people but that slips up whenever I'm talking with this old woman.
Nothing to do with skills or anything, just comes naturally.
"One Spark Wolf's horn and a small vial of Fire Frog's oil please."
"That again, used up the last one already? Those things shouldn't come cheap for a rookie adventurer. Hhi hhi."
"Yeah? Then how 'bout throwing me a bone here. I'm gonna be your loyal customer."
"No can do. I don't get many customers coming here, barely scraping by selling at this price point. Hhi."
"Then put up some lights inside this store, would you. What's up with this cave-like atmosphere, are you even trying to run a business?"
"Too many guests are also a pain."
Can't tell if she's running this store for money or as a mere hobby.
She wrapped my order and handed it over.
"Here you go, that'll be 7200 en. You're gonna be financially ruined if you go out of control with your spending, careful now. That much oil is more than enough for lighting, Hhi hhi."
"Are you telling a joke there? That's a miss if so. Here you go, 7200 en... Aah, almost forgot, apparently there's gonna be a Stampede from the Magic Beast Forest in three days, you'd better start preparing to take shelter. Like packing up and stuff."
"Oho, that doesn't sound good. Where did you get that info from?"
"We just got attacked by ten or so magic beasts coming out of the forest earlier you see. Might have been a close call if not for this horn and oil."
"Hhi hhi! Well done surviving that. Good to hear our items came in handy."
"So yeah, found out it's an omen for a stampede after reporting to guildmaster. Apparently, been happening frequently in other places."
"And now it's Guruoz's turn eh. I suppose I should evacuate from this street then. Appreciate going all the trouble to notify me. Hhii hhii hhii."
"You're welcome. Ah, here's some snack if you will. It's thanks for the horn and oil. I mean we managed to escape with our lives thanks to them after all."
It's my special-made candied sweet potato-like in an oil wrapping.
The potato isn't as sweet as actual sweet potato but after baking and sprinkling it with sugar and big sesame seeds, it came out nicely sweet and flavory.
I was gonna eat it as today snack, but well it's the least I could do to this store for saving our hide.
...Kinda feel like I've been getting into cooking lately. Guess that's how it goes in a world with few recreations.
"My, my, are you sure? This can't have come cheap."
"Eh not really, I made it myself. While I wouldn't say my own cooking's crap, it shouldn't taste bad either."
"You're an adventurer, yet can cook? Quite resourceful of you. Aah right, I have something else for you. Here you go."
She handed me a pouch with something inside.
From its feels, there's some sort of slightly smaller glass marble-like objects inside? There's a few of them.
"And this is?"
"A parting gift. Don't you go die on me in the Stampede, wouldn't want to have less customers and profit."
I took one ball out, it was a dark brown small ball.
Checking with Menu display, this is...
"...If it's profit you want, why'd you hand out something this pricey. Each of them should cost at least 500 en easy."
"It's a prior investment, hhi hhi. Expecting your patronage in the future, hhihhii."
"Ou, much obliged. Thanks, granny."
"Hhi hhi hhi."
She saw us off with her seemingly evil yet actually gentle looking smile and laughter.
Honestly speaking, I feel like the old woman's the second person I get along well with in this town after Alma...
Into older women? That's a misunderstanding.
"She looks, a bit scary, but she's really kind."
"Yeah, she'd often teach how some stuff works whenever I visited too. She does look eerie though. Have you never been there Alma?"
"It's hard to find, and even if I did, I wouldn't be able to afford the items there."
"Aah, well yeah. I don't see a lot of of customers coming, guess it's just that kinda minor shop. It's got some handy stuff though."
We made our way to the next store while chatting.
Next up, gotta stock up on foodstuff.
The matter of preservation is a non issue. Our inn's got a refrigerator-like object.
Sold as a magic tool, by pouring your MP, it can cool the insides for a few hours.
By the way, each person has a reserved space inside and you have to tag your name on your belongings.
Items without a tag get disposed of in three days, so you gotta take care.
You need to pay 50 en a day to use it, well we're only using it until the Stampede is over anyway, no biggie.
After buying enough meat, vegetables, grain, and spices, we decided to go back to the inn.
It's just past noon and all, we can start training and devising strategies for the Stampede after lunch.
No wait, first of all gotta think up how to interact with Alma's parents coming tomorrow.
Man, so busy.
As I was thinking that, I noticed something weird on our way back to our inn.
The ground, it's shaking a bit...?
Write write write write write write.......
Write write write write write write.......
Sounds of writing brushes by two people filled the room.
What an unpleasant BGM, I'm getting depressed just listening. Dammitall.
"Geez, just how much it's gonna cost to cover transports like carriages and steed carts for the town's evacuation. Aah, Stampedes are crap, crap I say."
"How long are you planning to grumble. You have mountains of work ahead of you, less yammering, more moving your hands."
"I know already. Heck, you help too! Forget picking herbs, we gotta prepare for sheltering the populace!"
"And that is precisely why I'm here writing. Don't liken me to a slowpoke."
"Tch. All this work is way over my capacity. I'm gonna take an extended vacation once this whole Stampede thing is over, just you wait dammit."
I kept moving my writing brush on the huge amount of Stampede-related documents while feeling envious of Filsdaim's Clerk Skill.
Aah, my right hand's gonna suffer an inflammation.
"The stampede is indeed a threat, but it may not hold a candle to those two coming to this town. I cannot imagine how they would react when they see Kajikawa together with her."
"Just gotta hope to god they don't see them going into the inn together. I'm quivering just imagining how they'd rampage."
"Well they say whatever will be, will be. By the way, don't you think your desk has been shaking since awhile ago, are you fidgeting?"
There's this faint sound of shaking.
"I ain't. Woulda love to tho'... Hm, wait, it is shaking, an earthquake?"
"No, the tremor has been gradually increasing in power. It doesn't feel like a quake."
...I've got a bad feeling about this.
"No way, you telling me the Stampede's started already...!?"
"That is not a possibility. The magic beasts bearing the omen have only been sighted today. It would take three days for the actual Stampede at the latest. The Boss's existence won't stabilize until then, the same reason you cannot fight it yet however."
"T-that's right... Then what's this shaking about?"
"The Stampede might have been a better deal for us. Kajikawa, don't you die on me."
"Eh? I-it can't be... Didn't they say they'd be here tomorrow!?"
"It's those two we're talking about here, reducing that time by half is not outside their capability. They truly spoil their kid. Hoo hoo hoo... I'll be out picking some herbs."
"You're not getting away on your own! Finish your documents first if you hafta! Heck, I'd love to run away myself!"
Dammit! Ya better not step on a landmine there Kajikawa!
Or else, we're all dead meat before Stampede! Seriously!
Do do do do do.........
"D-don't you think the shaking's getting worse?"
"...I was told it would be tomorrow."
"Eh, come again?"
Do do do do do do do.........!
"You're here too early, mom, dad."
"Oh my dear daughter oooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!"
The two showed up bringing with them a cloud of dust before I could understand what Alma muttered.
What are those.
What are those.
A blond beautiful nice body woman, and a black haired muscular man are heading our way at an incredible speed while yelling out loud.
Are those Alma's parents? Haa, they sure look lively.
Can I run away now?
The two got here as I tried to escape reality.
"Alma-chaan!! Have you been well!? Are you eating all right!? Are you injured anywhere!?"
"Alma!! You've grown even prettier since the last time we saw you!! Dad's been worried sick some vermin buzzed around you!"
"You're too loud. Please lower your voices. Also, it would be great if you do away with this theatrics."
A scene of two high tension parents and an expressionless deadpan daughter is unfolding before my eyes.
The difference in temperature gonna make catch a cold.
"But it's been so long since we saw each other! How could mom go against this feeling!?"
"Exactly right. I'm so excited to see you I'm gonna cry! Uuu...!"
"You're exaggerating. For now, let's go someplace easier to chat at. Hikaru, these two are my mom and dad."
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
Still confused by the huge difference in tension between them, I replied when my name was called.
My whole body felt chill in that moment.
The chill down my spine exploded throughout my whole body.
Creak creak creak... Almost felt like I could hear that weird sound as the two parents moved their heads at me.
Their gazes are crackling the air.
So scary, way scary.
"Who would this man be?"
"The heck are you?"
Their voices were so deep, I almost let out 'hiiie!'
This much pressure just from them talking. Feels like my body's getting crushed. Someone help.
"I-I, um, I'm Alma-san's friend, Kajikawa Hikaru."
I could barely stop my stammering.
Alma's mom replied to my reply.
"Just a confirmation, you two are not in a relationship are you?"
"No. She has been helping me in many ways ever since I arrived here half a month ago, and now we're working together as friends."
"Mom, your delusion is running wild. There's nothing between me and Hikaru."
I could feel the two's pressure loosening when Alma said that. Nice follow-up, Alma.
Thought I'd die here. These two are so scary even that hobgoblin or that weird bird look like ants in comparison.
"Oh, well. And here mom was sure Alma-chan is into older men. I suppose I won't get to see my grandkid for quite a while still."
She's getting disappointed, but uh Alma mom, you were expecting a relationship instead? I mean, what's up with grandkid.
That pressure earlier was hostile no matter how you look at it though?
"Lunati! What are you saying now! A boyfriend is a hundred years too early for Alma!"
A hundred years.
Is he telling her to stay single her entire life? That's way too sad you know?
Ah, yep, these two are bad news for sure. Utterly and completely.
Way scarier than I imagined. So much so, you'd think they'd kill me from just exchanging words.
Way stronger than I imagined. So much so I could tell without checking their stats.
Drives home how weak I am.
These two leave such a deep impression. Their characters are the total opposite of Alma's.
And yet, you can see Alma's features on them.
"Guildmaster said you two would be coming tomorrow, why here already?"
"We ran all the way here for the sake of our beloved daughter of course."
"Frankly, me running holding Lunati's way faster than a carriage."
Faster than a carriage...?
Considering their running speed earlier, they're probably telling the truth.
What kind of physical strength these two have. They're superhuman level.
"Hikaru has introduced himself, you should too."
"Aah, excuse me. I couldn't contain my excitement after seeing our daughter. Nice to meet you, I'm Lunatiara, Alma's mother. It seems our daughter has been in your care. I hope you continue to support her in the future."
"Same here, the name's Dukeris, Alma's father. Salutations... I trust you do not hold any sort of untoward thoughts on our daughter, do you?"
"N-nice to meet you too..."
Alma mama seems relatively friendly while Alma papa's way scary.
His expression and voice are very composed and yet I could sense the 'Make a move on Alma and you're dead' aura prickling my skin hard.
But man, the people in this world sure have long names despite lacking family names.
<<It is common in this world to name their kids by incorporating both the parents' names. Combining nicknames, abbreviations of both is the preferred way.>>
So like a combination of first and middle names huh.
Hm? I thought Alma was Alma Tina, where'd that come from?
<<Short and easy to say abbreviated names tend to be preferred, in case of Almatina, it might be from Al Matina.>>
Ah, that's the delimiter huh. Kinda confusing.
"Have you two been out shopping together? You get along so well~."
"Un. We were just done. We're heading back to our inn now."
"Hmph, your inn...? Oy, what's the meaning of this you, depending on your answer---"
"We're just staying at the same inn... I'm begging you please don't put your hand on your sword's grip."
Can't Alma papa do something about his tendency on jumping the gun.
I'm gonna get cut down sooner or later at this rate.
...For now let's treat them to lunch and work on their mood. Gotta try the favor from feeding plan.
Wonder if our foodstuff stock will last till the end of Stampede...