Translator: Kell | Editor: Ryunakama
I tossed a copper coin—the price of the fruit—to Theo. To make buying and selling from the small boats easier, prices were uniform all across the board, with goods costing either a copper coin or a silver coin.
I wonder if this is also Lord Torres’s policy. I didn’t know that many port cities, but Ideaverna was the first one that had canals that extended into the city.
On a side note, I had actually seen a town that floated on the sea, built by aligning logs together.
“They call Ideaverna the Port of Survival,” Theo began. “It is said that long ago, a king who was thought to be dead came back from this port. That’s why the ships that leave here never sink.”
“The currents are calm around here, and there are no shoals to run aground in. Even storms are rare in these parts. If a ship sank, it’s probably because of awful maintenance.”
Theo frowned at me. “Why do you gotta ruin people’s fantasies? The Port of Survival sounds so cool! Must be nice to sail and visit different places. Then eat lots of tasty food.”
“You want to be a sailor?”
“They say little guys make for good sailors. But right now, I’m hoping that the saint will take a liking to me and hire me as a chore boy.”
“You’re one clever kid. I didn’t know you had that in mind.”
“Well, yeah. If I show that I’m useful, it’s possible, right? I’ll think about becoming a sailor if that doesn’t pan out. Traveling while getting paid is the best.”
“In that case, merchants travel while making money too. Even traveling entertainers travel while selling their craft.”
“Oh, I see. So you can travel no matter what you do. Then I want to be a doctor.”
I almost answered that it wasn’t possible, but managed to catch myself.
After medicine left the jurisdiction of the Church, a trend was born where you needed a written certificate from a reputable doctor—one under the patronage of the Church, of course—that said you were indeed a real doctor in order to declare yourself one.
The only way to get that certificate was to graduate from a school that demanded high tuition fees, or to become an apprentice of a renowned doctor and have him write a certificate after years of hard work.
A doctor without a certificate was considered a quack. Worst case, they would be exposed as a witch or sorcerer who deceived people with questionable techniques. Such was the current relationship between doctors and the Church.
In other words, there was not a single chance that Theo, a poor orphan, could become an actual doctor.
“I’m gonna be a traveling doctor,” he said. “I’ll go to villages where there aren’t enough doctors, and I’m going to help people who are sick. I could go with you. I’m pretty useful, aren’t I? How about we go together? Not a bad idea, right?”
Theo looked at me with a twinkle in his eye. He wasn’t actually serious. He was simply talking about his dream.
“Yeah.” It was the only thing I could say. “But let me tell you, it won’t be an easy trip.”
“That’s fine. Not like I’m having it easy right now either.”
He was right. His father was dead. His mother joined bandits and wasn’t waiting for Theo anymore. She probably married another man, leaving Theo with no place to belong to.
He was indeed useful. If he was serious, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have him around.
“Hey, Theo. Are you actually—”
“Oh, that looks good! I’m gonna buy some.”
The topic changed in an instant. Theo and Zero were quite similar in that regard. Perhaps Zero was childish.
After arguing about something with an old man at a stall, Theo came back to me with a smug look on his face. In his hand were fried fish on skewers. A lot of them.
“I told him I had a huge pal, and he gave some extra. You can have your share. Being strong sure is awesome.”
“Why you little…”
No wonder the owner of the food stall was looking at me like I was some sort of an animal. There was no point in covering my face and acting like a normal human when I was gonna draw attention to myself anyway.
“So, you have something in mind?” he asked.
Theo’s words were always abrupt and subjectless. I had gotten used to it, but not enough to immediately understand the intent of his question.
“Zero’s gift! What else? I’m asking if you already have something in mind.”
“I’ll just check some food stalls and choose something that looks delicious.”
“I told you, it’s gotta be something tangible! You’re such a nincompoop.”
“Where’d you even learn that word?”
“My mom used to say that to my dad.”
“I see. So your dad’s just like me.”
“Mom was always mad at him,” he said with a horrified look.
What do I even get her? Theo suggested something tangible or shiny, but clearly the gems that Zero had would be worth more than any jewelry I could afford.
“Don’t tell me you haven’t actually thought about it.”
“I mean, I’ve never given a woman anything before. It would just gross them out. Besides I might just even annoy her.”
“For someone so big, you sure are spineless. Have you ever given anything to anyone?”
“If you mean pain, fear, and despair, then yes. A lot.” I laughed.
“I’m being serious here.” He glared at me.
I was at a loss for words. “No, sir.”
Theo facepalmed. “You’re so helpless for a grown man!”
“There’s a lot of things that even grown men have never experienced!”
“Don’t you have anything in mind? There’s lots of standard gifts you can give. I’m sure you can at least imagine what would be good even without the experience.”
Standard, huh? I might just have something. Standard things that a man gives to a woman. I recalled a song a bard sang at a bar. He mentioned something about a kiss and singing songs of love to a maiden in love.
“Oh, by the way,” Theo said, “no kisses or singing.”
Wait, really? Damn, that was close. I quickly closed my mouth. Other standard stuff. Not food, but something tangible…
“L-Like pretty flowers?”
For a moment, I felt coldness in Theo’s gaze. His eyes were saying, “What is this guy on about? Does he not feel embarrassed just saying the words ‘pretty flowers’?”
“Oh, well… that’s fine, I guess. I think giving pretty flowers is nice.”
“Stop! Don’t look at me like that! Forget it! Erase it from your mind! Pretend you didn’t hear anything!”
Theo averted his gaze and let out a wry, unchildlike laugh. What is this feeling? I’ve never been so embarrassed before!
“Forget it! I give up. I’m not giving her a gift! I mean, why do I have to apologize anyway?!”
“Oh, quit sulking. What are you, ten?”
“I’m not sulking! I’m the one who’s pissed to begin with. I know she has her own way of thinking, and I can understand baiting others to see how they would react…”
“What are you mumbling about? I thought Zero was your partner. Come on, I’ll help you pick something. There’s some stalls down at the harbor. They have better stuff than the boats in the canals. We might find something rare that Zero would love. Let’s go!”
Theo pulled on my arms.
I really didn’t want to go, but the saint’s crest was necessary to return to the castle. I could’ve easily shaken Theo’s hand off, but I had no other choice except to follow him quietly.