Chapter 26: Every Country has its Own Bathing Customs
I take my leave from Grandpa Harulf and Pieta and head off looking for the bath house.
Pieta tried to insist that he would take me there, but since I learned the ability to ask for directions this morning, I declined. He looks a bit disappointed. No, well, you should stop slacking off and go back to the forge, right?
When I enter a girl at the front desk calls out to me.
“Welco~me! Is this your first time here?”
“Alright, alright, here’s a quick explanation. There’s two public baths, split into girls and guys; that’s 800 ecrue with no time limit. Private baths are available off on rooms to the sides of the public baths; that’s 1,000 ecrue for 30 minutes. If you’re here just to wash clothes there’s an area in the front; that’s 300 ecrue for 30 minutes, but it’s free if you have purchased bath time. Soap is 50 ecrue and towels are 100 ecrue. Dear customer doesn’t look like you have any, but just in case if you need to wash vehicles or animals you have to take them around to the back, and an attendant will wash them. The price is variable, so please discuss it with the attendant.”
Hm. Rather than a public bath it’s a wash-everything-shop. It’s probably much cheaper to have a central place for washing than digging out plumbing into every house in this mountain-like region.
“Then 30 minutes in a private bath, also a soap and towel please.”
At 1,000 ecrue for 30 minutes the private rooms are expensive. I thought about it for a moment, but it’s a necessary expense. Because my body is female. Because I’d have to go into the female public bath. Because it will be far too awkward. Let’s set that trial aside for another day far into the future. Like when I don’t have a choice but to bear it.
“Right, right, then that’s 1,150 ecrue. Here is the key to the private room on the girls’ side, room B3. The timer will start automatically once you lock the door. Also, will you need a voucher for washing clothes?”
“Right, right, okay. Thank you very much!”
I paid my 1,150 ecrue, a bit slowly since I’m still figuring out the money, and take the key, the soap and towel, and a small silver-colored plaque.
I head into the baths, down the hall and to the left. Right is for guys, left is for girls.
I have never been more self-conscious in my life. Some small part of me is still expecting to be thrown out of the girls’ bath, but no one bats an eye.
… Am I supposed to be happy about this? Or not?
After turning down the left-hallway, to the right is the group changing room and beyond it the girls’ public bath. To the left are 5 rooms.
I unlock the room with “B3” written on it and enter. There’s a small section for changing. Yosha! I can undress in private too. I was worried there for a bit.
It’s dark inside. I don’t know how to turn on the lights just yet, so I leave the door open.
I want to find the light switch, but I also want to inspect the bath equipment. 30 minutes is a really short time for undressing, washing, and then soaking, so I’ll need to be quick about things. I’ve also heard stories in the other world about how some people go to other countries and make a complete mess of the bathroom when they shower. Seems like in those countries the bathroom doesn’t have a drain in the floor and you’re supposed to use the shower inside the bathtub. Anyway, I need to carefully look over how things work in this bath to avoid being a nuisance.
I take off my boots (these really are ridiculously long) and enter. Further in from the changing section, partially separated by a screen, there’s a tub. Next to it is an area for washing. It’s Japanese in style.
The tub is already filled with water. Hm? It looks like there’s something on the tub. I touch it and it lights up. Scary!
It’s too dim to be the light for the room…
“Oh, do you not know how to use the bath?”
A voice from behind me calls out. I turn around, then turn around quickly again.
“U-uh, yeah, sorry.”
My face feels hot. I apologized on reflex. The woman framed in the doorway behind me is only wearing a towel. Why is she only wearing a towel?! If you came from the public bath, you should have gone through the changing room first, and if you came from a private bath you should have gotten changed there first!
“Hehe, you should have asked the receptionist. Here, this controls the temperature of the bath. Put your hand on the stone and say ‘More’ to increase the temperature and ‘Less’ to decrease it.”
Wow. I wonder how this stone works- Oneesan, you’re way too close!
Ignoring my face, frozen from her brushing against me to demonstrate how the stone work, the woman turns to the washing station beside the tub.
“And this is the same. Turn on the water stone with this panel, then increase or decrease the temperature. Fill up the bucket with the tap to rinse yourself off. Do you have any questions?”
“N-no, I’m – Oh, about the light…”
“Ah, the room will light up when you lock the door. It’ll turn off automatically when your time is up, so don’t get caught unaware. There’s a timer there next to the tub.”
It’s a water-clock timer.
“O-okay, um… thank you… um…”
She smiles; I notice that, but end up looking to the side of her face. I just don’t know where to look!
“I’m Kriea, the manager of this bathhouse. I, and the rest of the staff, are all here to help.”
“Th-thanks. I’m Jun.”
Does she walk around in a towel all day because she’s the manager? … I think I just thought something rude.
“A new adventurer?”
“Well, welcome to Nyl Labyrinth City, and enjoy your time.”
She bows – wait, wait, the towel is riding up! – and leaves.
… I honestly don’t think I could recognize her again. I spent the entire time trying not to look.
I close the door and lock it, and sure enough the lights come on. To be efficient, I don’t bother with placing my clothes neatly and just strip. I also take out the change of clothes I’ll use after bathing.
The water stone is amazing. What’s with this? How does it work? I wish I had more time to investigate, but I really don’t want to feel hurried in the bath so I only use it as I should. How regretful. Maybe I’ll ask the staff later … or the manager if she puts on clothes.
I thoroughly wash myself to make up for the week. This is the first time I washed myself since coming to this world, but I’m not really enjoying it. Somehow I feel like I’m doing something bad. What is this sense of shame?
It’s only at times like these that I’m forced to face the fact that I, a high-school boy, have become a girl.
… Let’s not think about it too hard. Please.
I try very hard to pretend to be elsewhere while washing myself.
The soap is a small bar soap with a flowery scent. There’s no shampoo, so I make do with the soap for my hair too.
After several minutes of excruciating embarrassment, I finish giving myself a good scrub, rinse off, and get into the bathtub.
I was really fast, despite being thorough, and despite not really knowing how to feel about my body. There’s still plenty of time to enjoy the bath.
Fuuu… it feels so goooooood.
When I couldn’t take a bath it didn’t really bother me at the time, but really, it feels the best to be able to take a bath everyday. Well, I’ll need a lot more money since the private baths are so expensive … maybe I’ll just go to the public bath instead.
I spend a few minutes just staring into space. Hm… this might be a good time to investigate if I can organize my Inventory. I can bring out whatever I want by thinking about it, but I’d like to organize stuff so I can easily see what I have if I want to.
The Inventory, looking very much like a game interface, opens.
Oooh? Now that I take a good look, there are four tabs in Inventory. All, Lockbox, Materials, and Wallet.
“All” is a list of everything in Inventory, even the things in the other tabs. It’s the default that Inventory opens up to. I spend some time dragging the items around. Looks like I can arrange them how I want by dragging with my finger. What a game-like function.
“Lockbox” I’ve used. Like I noticed before, there are 10 slots. Currently I have the Guild Card and ID Plate in there. It seems to be a secure area that people can’t steal out of. To be honest, I question its necessity. I don’t think there will be many people able to get into Inventory itself.
“Materials” is empty. I instinctively poke at the title and an explanation pops up. This is really game-like handling. “Organizes your crafting materials” it says. Because of its game-like feel, I can’t help but think about the game I should have been playing. Mourning Star had a big crafting and social emphasis, now that I think about it. Well, Masaki was never into crafting, but he always bought player-made stuff.
“Wallet” was also empty. Hm… I switch back to “All” and try to drag a stack of big copper coins I had onto the “Wallet” tab, just like dragging computer files around.
『CURRENCY: ECRUE (BIG COPPER) REGISTERED』
After a long time, it’s the system warning(tentative)! I drag every type of coin I have into “Wallet”, prompting a “Currency Registered” alert message flashing in my field of vision for each one.
After I finish dragging every last type of coin, though there wasn’t that many, I switch back to “Wallet”.
Copper: Big(10), Med (15), Small(25)
Silver: ..Big(1), ..Med (2), ..Small(9)
Oooooh, this type of function is convenient. Gold coins aren’t listed. I guess I need to “register” them first. Also, the money disappeared from my “All” tab. Hm. How do I access it then? I think about taking a big copper coin out, and it appears in my hand. The “Wallet” now reads
Copper: Big(9), ..Med (15), Small(25)
Silver: ..Big(1), ..Med (2), ..Small(9)
I think about putting it back in, and it disappears. The “Wallet” also returns to the original numbers. How nice. How nice but … I only have 3,575 ecrue left.
I am extraordinarily thankful I don’t have to worry about finding a place to sleep for a while. Buying all the equipment really reduced my funds, just like Old Man Harulf said. And I don’t even have armor. Well, can’t be helped. If I just eat the bare minimum off the food stalls, I’ll last 7 days until I get paid for the swords.
Resilient Body, do your best until then.
It’s strange. In the other world, I was very conscious about money. It’s not like we were very poor, but Grandma was always counting the balances in the check books. Debating whether or not to buy older foods closer to their expiration date because they were cheaper was a daily occurrence. In this world, I feel like I’ve become very indulgent recently.
Well, I guess that’s natural. Since coming to this world, I’ve been able to easily trade my services and actions for both money and a room to stay in. I started out with no money in the beginning and was able to make more than enough for basic needs in just a few days. In this world, money feels more like a convenience than a necessity.
Like, you can’t eat money, so how much is it really worth? – that kind of feeling.
Also, I only have my own expenses to worry about now. There aren’t any utility bills or estate taxes to pay; there’s no need for saving any money as long as I can make it later.
But it’s still surprising how I adapted so soon. Maybe it’s because the currency is so fantasy-like that it’s taking me a while to see as currency? Or maybe I inherited the wasteful spending of Grandfather after all.
Mm… there’s still about 1/3 of the time left to go. Around 10 minutes? I’m reluctant to get out until I absolutely have to. Baths are important, you know.
I wanted to check out the changes to my Status while I had some time to myself, but 10 minutes is too short. I’ll do it after making sure The Queen Mary’s is safe.
… Come to think of it, there’s something else I wanted to do.
I’ve been using magic recklessly, but I haven’t really used magic. You know, the type that wizards attack with in games. Fire Ball or Ice Wind or things like that. If I had to say, all I’ve been doing is manipulating raw magic power. Barrier is just hardening magic power (kind of? Magic power and mana are still kind of like mysterious objects to me), Augment Body is just circulating magic power through me.
But there should be those types of magic in this world. I’ve seen two people use fire-like magic already.
Holding my hands out of the tub, I take a deep breath and focus my attentions on them.
“Um… produce fire…?”
I’m a little shocked.
What’s with that? Recently, it’s like as long as I think about it I can do it. That’s how my magic went. Just thinking about making fire magic should have caused something to burst into flames.
Looking at the wooden walls around me, I’m slightly relieved that didn’t happen.
Hmm. What’s up with this …
I spend almost all of the remaining time trying to activate fire magic.
Though I keep telling myself that all the things I have are already cheats, I am still a bit disappointed.
Let’s go find Lor and ask about it tomorrow.