Translator: Kell | Editor: Weasalopes
Eve of Their Departure
「We are. Tomorrow.」Hikaru replied immediately. Seated on the counter, their eyes were level and straight. For a moment, Jill’s face stiffened before taking a seat next to him.
「Give me your strongest drink.」Her eyes were already glazed. Hikaru sensed danger.
「What I drink is none of your business, Hikaru.」
「Uhh… I… I guess…」
Not knowing what to do, Hikaru shot a beseeching glance at Lavia, who simply looked away. She probably meant to say “You’re on your own.”
「Hikaru-sama, you’re a cruel man, you know that? Jill-chan was restless all the time you were in the royal capital.」
「I-I wasn’t! I was just worried about him since he can be reckless. What if he was in trouble or he was dying? He looks perfectly fine, though.」
Although one wrong move in my fight with Lawrence and I would’ve been a goner, Hikaru thought.
「Thank you for waiting.」
An employee brought a glass filled with amber-colored liquid. At a glance, it looked like whiskey – a distilled liquor.
「So, you quickly got promoted and then leaving Pond. I see. Okay. Ugh.」
After stirring the glass a bit, Jill downed its contents.
「I’ll have some red juice.」
Gloria ordered “juice”, which was actually a cocktail – a liquor mixed with juice from a red fruits that looked like pomegranate. Apparently it had a refreshing flavor and was easy to drink.
「I knew… you were going to leave Pond one day… But there’s no need to be in such a hurry…」Jill muttered.
Hikaru was aware she cared for him more than others, but he didn’t think she felt that attached to him.
「…Sorry. When I think about the dungeon, I just couldn’t sit still.」
「You could’ve told me about how you wanted to get promoted, and I would’ve told you about safer ways to do that.」
「Well I didn’t do anything dangerous. I just bought the stuff I delivered to the guild.」
That was what he told Gloria anyway.
「How much did you spend? The money you got from the Red-horned Rabbit should be almost gone, right? Money is important for adventurers. Also purchasing from someone else could be dangerous too, you know. If he’s strong enough to hunt monsters, he could sell his loot in town. That way he can earn the people’s trust and can even get promoted. The fact that he doesn’t do that means he’s hiding something.」Jill said.
「She’s right. Unken said we need to be more vigilant if someone that strong is lurking in the area around the lake.」Gloria added.
Huh… I guess that’s one way to look at it, Hikaru thought. He had chosen an inconspicuous method to get promoted quickly. It seemed the adventurers he saw at the lake today weren’t just investigating whether or not Hikaru attacked other adventurers, but they were assessing how dangerous the “guy” he bought stuff from was.
「Okay, I might’ve been a bit careless.」
「It’s not like you to admit you were wrong. You just want to end the conversation quickly since you’re not coming back anyway, right?」
「Wait, what kind of person do you think I am?」
「It’s quite strange. You brought some excellent goods today as well, Hikaru-sama. But the adventurers we sent didn’t find your seller.」Gloria said, being nosy once again.
「Maybe they’re wary of skilled adventurers.」Hikaru replied.
「Perhaps. They must be shady people, then. It’s strange how they just send you back though when you carry so much money.」
The owner brought metal cups filled with red juice. Gloria took a sip.
「I’m being careful. If you keep on investigating, I think you’ll find them eventually.」
Hikaru wasn’t about to take Gloria’s baits. He simply gave her vague answers. Gloria gave a significant smile and said no more.
「Are you really leaving tomorrow?」Jill asked with a dejected look on her face, unaware of the battle going on between Hikaru and Gloria behind the scenes. She had already taken two shots.
「Whoa, slow down.」
「I want to get smashed.」
「Fine. I’ll pay for your drink.」
「In exchange, I’m going to choose what you drink. Chugging down strong liquors isn’t good for your health.」
「All right, fine. Choose away.」Jill said arrogantly, but smiling nonetheless. She seemed happy that Hikaru was worried about her and that he was going to pay.
「Is there a type of drink you like?」
「I drink just about anything, but I guess I’m not a fan of the sweet ones.」
Hikaru recalled the time the manager offered free food but reminded Jill that she had to pay for beverage. She really was a heavy drinker.
He ordered a drink that was three parts gin and one part vermouth, garnished with an olive. This world had beverages similar to gin and vermouth. If they were a little bit too sweet, he requested lemon or something similar squeezed into it as well.
There were refrigerators in this magic-filled world. But the maintenance costs were high; either you use magic or a spirit magic gem. As such only restaurants with high sales had them. Pasta Magic had a fridge. Hikaru could expect them to serve cold cocktails.
Back in Japan, Hikaru, who was so interested in the grown-up world, studied cocktails. He even used his father’s account to order alcohol online and taste them. He’d get drunk right away though, making him realize he had little tolerance. It was back then that he learned how to make cocktails.
「Oh… I haven’t seen this one before.」
There were cocktails in this world as well, but they were lacking in variety. Most people just had one kind of alcohol, or mix a bit of citrus juice into it.
Jill lifted her glass – unfortunately it wasn’t a cocktail glass – and took a sip.
Covering her mouth, she looked at Hikaru.
「It’s called a martini. Back in my place, they call it the king of cocktails. It’s refreshing, but also strong-flavored.」
Although one sip and I get dizzy, he thought.
「I’m glad you like it.」
「Yeah. Thanks.」Jill said, blushing. A smile blossomed across her face.
Phew. Looks like she’s in a good mood now. Then out of the blue, Hikaru felt an elbow strike his side.
(Ouch! That hurts!)
(My bad. I didn’t mean to do that.)
It was Lavia, who was seated on the other side.
(Wait, are you jealous?)
(You better watch out, or I might just elbow you by accident again.)
Hikaru felt happy knowing Lavia was feeling jealous. His side hurt, though.
「Hikaru-sama. Can you order something for me too?」
「You’re getting ale.」
Ale was a type of beer.
「Did I hear that right? Ale?」Gloria asked.
No need to give this nosy woman a cocktail. Hikaru ordered with a broad smile on his face.
「My treat… Ale for the lady, please. In the biggest tankard you have.」
A large mug, bigger than Gloria’s face, was slammed in front of her. She was smiling, but her face was twitching.
「Isn’t that great, Gloria? He’s paying for yours as well.」Jill said with an air of innocence. Gloria could only nod in agreement.
「So anyway, Hikaru-kun. You’re heading to Root Hubbard?」
「Yeah. I want to enter the dungeon.」
「You look worried.」
「Of course. Dungeons are dangerous. Don’t you know that?」
「And so is completing requests. 」
「I guess… but you tried too hard in getting promoted to rank E. It’s like you’re rushing through life.」
So that’s how I look like from other people, huh… I’m actually trying to play it safe. I need to take Lavia away from the Four Stars of the East and then leave the kingdom as soon as possible.
「Listen. You need to be extra prepared before entering a dungeon. Gathering information is crucial and you’ve got to bring certain items for emergencies.」
Jill seemed to be drunk. She was getting more talkative, going all mentor mode.
「Ointments, medicinal herbs, and potions. Although the last one is a bit expensive.」
He had never thought about himself getting injured. But there might be times when he would have to act separately from Lavia. If she gets injured then… Besides ointments, this world also had potions. The latter could heal wounds quickly.
「I can buy those at the Alchemists Guild, right?」
「Yeah. It’s around 1,000 gilans per vial. But it can seal up fatal wounds right away.」
「How do they make potions anyway?」
「They take a pill that’s filled with highly potent medicinal herbs and dissolve it in holy water blessed by a temple. Then a healer imbues it with healing magic. Something like that I guess. The magic goes away after a few days so they’re pretty much for one-time use only.」
The temple and Alchemists Guild are running a good business, huh… If I could buy a little peace of mind with 1,000 gilans, I definitely should, Hikaru thought.
And so Jill kept talking. She seemed to be getting excited as Hikaru was listening attentively.
Then she was fast asleep, head slumped on the counter.
「Oh, my. I’m going home soon. I’ll leave the rest to you, Hikaru-sama.」
「Wait a sec! You’re leaving Jill behind?」
「It’s rare for her to be sleeping carelessly. Maybe it’s because you’re here.」
Gloria looked at Jill like an older sister watching over her younger sister… Then again, an older sister wouldn’t leave her sister behind and head home. Gloria looked dead drunk, her face red.
「You’re such a lady-killer, Hikaru-sama. Paula and her friends were looking for you.」
The trio from the sticks. Hikaru hadn’t seen them since they parted ways after eating at this diner. He didn’t plan to meet them anyway, and there was really no point in doing so. They were grateful to him, but he couldn’t trust them.
「They want to continue adventuring.」
「They should just head back to their village.」
「What will they do once they’re back?」
「I mean, they have their homes there.」
Hikaru felt Lavia stir beside him. She didn’t have a home to return to. So did Hikaru. Unseen by Gloria, he held her hand. She was surprised, but she held his as well. Fortunately it was getting late. There were no other customers left besides themselves.
「There’s no work waiting for them in their poor village. They could even just be dead weight.」the manager said, drinking beer behind the counter.
「It’s common for families to send people away to the city just to reduce food expenses. Anyway, this cocktail’s delicious. Hikaru, you said this is from your hometown?」
「Y-Yeah… You can serve it here if you want to.」
「Are you sure?」
「Yeah. Anyway, do you know where those girls are from?」
「You mean the ones with you here last time? I just heard it by chance. Apparently their place is growing poorer each day.」
「Can’t they all just leave then?」
「They can’t. Nobles have a firm grasp on them.」
Ah, right. Hikaru traced Roland’s memories. Nobles didn’t like farmers leaving their domains. They’d offer favorable deals with tax collections and low interest rates on loans. But if a whole family left, the nobles would catch and beat them. They overlooked cases where young people left to work in the capital. Money would be sent back to their families at home, after all. Money would flow from the capital to the countryside.
「I just hope they don’t take unreasonable requests.」Gloria said, heaving a sigh. She downed the last contents of her huge mug.
Hikaru carried Jill on his back as they left the restaurant. Gloria tagged along, saying they should let her sleep in the Adventurers Guild nap room. With a point on Strength, Hikaru didn’t have much trouble carrying her.
「My, you’re surprisingly strong, Hikaru-sama.」Gloria said, sounding surprised.
Hikaru had his mind on other things, however. Jill’s face was too close. He could smell that fragrance unique to women. As much as he wanted to ignore it, he could feel two soft masses pressing on his back. The supple thighs he was holding were warm as well. He’d be grinning by now if Lavia wasn’t shooting icy glares at him from behind.
「Are you adventuring with Hikaru-sama? Uhm… what was your name again?」
Gloria moved closer to Lavia.
「You don’t have to add “sama”. I’m not an adventurer.」
Gloria tried to strike a conversation with Lavia, but the latter simply gave short, indifferent answers. Surely there wasn’t anything wrong with a young boy sounding like a girl. Hikaru was getting nervous, but he could only leave it to Lavia’s capable hands.
「We’re here. The key.」
「Oh, right. By the way, Renclaw-sama. You should drop by the guild once Hikaru-sama is gone.」
She wasn’t going to, of course. Lavia was leaving with Hikaru, after all. But people would start wondering about their relationship if they said they were leaving together, so they made it sound like “Renclaw” was staying in town. Gloria would forget about her soon, anyway.
「There we go. She’s sleeping like a log.」
There was a small bed in the guild’s nap room. It could be locked from the inside, and using a key from outside unlocked it.
「Hikaru-sama, what about Jill’s souvenir?」
She probably meant a gift from the capital.
「I suppose I can give her one.」
Hikaru left a bag with an accessory case inside that Lavia had bought by Jill’s bedside.
「That looks more expensive than mine.」Gloria muttered, but Hikaru ignored her. He thought about leaving a message, but refrained from doing so.
We might not see each other again. Maybe in the far future, after we leave the kingdom.
They then left the guild.
「Should I walk you home?」Hikaru asked Gloria.
「I can go home on my own, thank you. I don’t want to fall victim to your clutches.」she replied and left.
Hikaru almost said he wasn’t planning to do anything, but then he remembered the time he saw her naked and couldn’t say a word.
「What’s wrong, Hikaru?」
「I-It’s nothing. Let’s go back and sleep. We have to be up early tomorrow.」
It was getting late on their last night in Pond.
First thing in the morning and they were already busy. They went to Dodorono to pay him 30,700 gilans. He was quiet as he received the money, but exclaimed, “I’m going to make the best cloak ever!”
Next they went to Leniwood’s shop to get the Dagger of Strength Hikaru had left for maintenance. Together with the steel dagger he bought yesterday, he wore them diagonally at his back like an X.
They then bought consumables for a five-day trip. After hotdogs for breakfast, they would be all set.
「A B-ranked adventurer came by yesterday.」the hotdog stand owner said.
He probably meant Selica. You mean “came by again”. He didn’t say it out loud, however.
「She said she’s going to fully support my hotdogs.」
「I-I see. Sounds like they really like them.」
「It’s all thanks to you, kid. So thank you.」
「If you’re really grateful, then stop calling me “kid”.」
「Quit joking around.」
「May I know your name?」
If he gave his name, Selica might find out about it. But somehow he didn’t really mind. This hotdog stand had done a lot for him… Or rather, the opposite. He’d done a lot for the hotdogs. It was strange how they didn’t know each other’s names all this time.
「Hikaru… Mine’s Ernest.」
「I see. See you later.」
「Go get ‘em. You’re not coming back for a while, aren’t you? I can see it on your face.」
Their parting wasn’t solemn. He paid sixty gilans. Lavia seemed happy to have her spicy hotdog.
As always, Hikaru pretended to leave town first, then came back for Lavia with Group Obfuscation.
It cost 1,000 gilans for a five-day trip to Root Hubbard on a carriage, simple lodging included. Hikaru paid for two.
Five days later, just past noon, they arrived at Root Hubbard.
Money left: 34,990 gilans (+200,000 gilans)