Chapter 43: I wonder why Twintails suit Little Girls more than Women.
Ossan’s ‘suggestion’ was to send along Nars, the half-kobold, and have me learn about magic ores and how to collect materials while I was Labyrinth diving. Oi, Ossan, do you really think I’ll have any leeway to learn about other things while I’m learning how to fight in a Labyrinth?
I feel like no matter what world I’m in, people have a desire to power-level me with the best efficiency possible. I wonder why that is.
I was surprised to find out that Nars was a Rank F Adventurer. It seems like he’d go into the Labyrinth every once in a while to gather special materials for magic ores. Recently there’s been more monster activity so he didn’t feel like going in alone, but there should be no problem going into the Labyrinth with him along with another party of Adventurers, as long as we kept it to the first few floors.
Niera returned later in the afternoon to tell me it was an “OK!” Just like she said, at first Jericho and the others weren’t too enthusiastic about guiding a newbie Adventurer, but when she finally let them know it was me, they quickly agreed to it. Or like, you should tell them who the commissioner is from the beginning, right? She must have done that just to be mischievous.
“Weeeell, like I said, there’s some circumstances that makes taking you around more appealing, too. Because the monsters have been more active than usual, and we always end up having to leave materials behind …”
… You just wanted me for my Storage (Inventory), huh?
Niera continued on.
“Also, Jericho and the others know you and your strength, so they know you’re not just going to come in and screw around and get us into some trouble or something. And if Nars is going to be there, we’ll get a chance to see how a dismantler properly handles things. Since it’s like that, we’re thinking … 8,000 ecrue a day for both of you.”
Oooh, a big discount! Kind of. It’s under the usual price for this kind of escort commission for 1 person, but like they said there were a few benefits for them as well, and they do know I can take care of myself. Like that, the price only takes into account that they’ll be showing me how to manage in the Labyrinth.
By the way, it was settled that in exchange for Nars showing me his encyclopedic knowledge on materials for magic ores and how to dismantle, I would pay for his escort fees.
I feel like, instead of actually wanting compensation for his help, everyone’s just trying to hammer it in that services need to be paid for. Not that I’m complaining. They’re already letting me use their forges and hammers for free.
While we were waiting for Niera to return, Ossan taught me the value of that naginata that I handed Niera. It seems that the blade itself was worth 400,000 ecrue. Since the pole wasn’t that extravagantly done, the value of the naginata as a whole was somewhere around 430,000 to 450,000 ecrue. Normally you’d price it a little higher, but considering that I did have some investment in it, if I wanted to provide a discount I shouldn’t ever lower it more than 25%.
Though 400,000 ecrue is rather high priced for a steel blade, it seems that there are magic swords that have been sold for over 500,000,000 ecrue. It seems, like everything else in this world, once magic is thrown into the mix the price increases drastically.
The average plain steel sword made by the average Rank D (the most common Craftsman rank) smith would price between 70,000 to 120,000 ecrue. The average magic ore sword made by the average Rank D smith would price between 150,000 to 200,000 ecrue. Ones with enchantments or engravings are even more expensive.
Well, the ones sold by Helward’s forge are more like 300,000 ecrue for a plain steel sword and 600,000 ecrue for a magic ore sword.
I’m starting to understand. Heh… so Helward’s forge was to that kind of degree… Wait, what?!
And then, that blade I just forged for Niera was … what?!
Ugh … and now that the numbers are actually starting to sink in, how can I expect to make those things for the girls? Won’t it end up being, like, a 75% discount or something?! They’ll definitely refuse that; even if I try to insist that it’s for all they’ve done for me, a discount of anything over 100,000 ecrue will definitely make someone pause uncomfortably. (1,000 USD, or 110,500 yen)
“Well, just make cheaper ones, then, Jou-chan.”
Easier said than done! For me, that is!
Anyway, right now I’m in front of the Guild.
It’s the next morning after Niera and Ossan have tried to “teach me all about money.”
I had stopped by the food carts for breakfast and a thick, sweet, fruit covered soup-pudding-like thing seemed like it would be popular with the girls, so I bought 12 servings (for the 8 girls, Maryiste-san, and 3 younger assistant-like girls), as well as some lightly fried meats wrapped in crepe-like things, and buckwheat cakes.
With the excuse, “If all of you want to train your bodies, it starts with nutrition!” I now carefully select the best foods with nutritional balance I can find to give them. Because they refused to let me shoulder any of the construction costs on the store, I have to find different ways to help alleviate the stress on their budget.
Of course it’s not always going to be food from the food carts, but since the girls stay up so late every night, rather than forcing them to make breakfast by buying ingredients it’s better to have something ready-made so they can free up some time, right?
What? Make them breakfast myself? Do you want to poison them or something?
Well, though I’m worried about their finances since the hole in the building is an unexpected expenditure, The Queen Mary’s actually does really good business. Each girl earns, on average, 15,000 ecrue a night, but the price breakdown is more complicated than that. Each girl earns 20% of the price of drinks and food her patron orders, as well as 80% of the price for other services… Anyway, because The Queen Mary’s provides room and board, that’s why the commission percentage is low for the consumables.
The Queen Mary’s girls make quite a bit, especially compared to the other girls in the night business. Most other women can barely make a living, at 2,000 ecrue a night. Personally, I think it’s because Maryiste tries to advertise the girls’ personalities, not just their bodies.
Also, The Queen Mary’s is a well-known shop for its high-class feel and the fact that they offer services other than just sleeping with their clients. The girls have been taught social etiquette from all sorts of countries and classes, so sometimes Adventurers will come just to drink and mingle with the girls in order to improve their abilities to interact with people closer to Nobility.
It really reminds me of certain hostess clubs after all, with men coming to improve their English while flirting with foreign women.
By the way, it’s not like the girls were high-class to begin with. I found out that most of them were from the slums, or slaves whose masters died in the Labyrinth.
Apparently, Maryiste doesn’t hire just any girl asking for a job. She is very strict on her criteria of personality and beauty. But just because she picked you doesn’t mean you can stay. If you fail to learn everything Maryiste requires for social etiquette in 5 months, you are let go. Because of that, all 8 of the current girls have stories about how hard it was train themselves to this degree.
The girls’ manners are really too perfect when they are asked to turn them on. Jarna and Erina-sama have even been called to be female escorts in Noble parties before. To think about capitalizing on this kind of trait, Maryiste, who exactly are you?
Young girls like Torinelle are considered apprentices until they come of age (15 here), and have until then to learn all the bare requirements Maryiste allows, or else they are also let go. To be honest, even if they’re let go, what they’ve learned in terms of etiquette and accounting already give them a boost if they try to find other lines of work.
That’s why Maryiste is even stricter on screening younger girls; there have already been two who took advantage of the free schooling by causing a scene to be fired as soon as they turned 15. It’s not like I’m comfortable with idea of young girls working in brothels, but I can’t say I approve of taking advantage of other people like that.
Well, those two girls have apparently been seen as untrustworthy, and though they found jobs it seems like every time anything goes wrong or money gets misplaced, they’re the first to be blamed.
Well, yeah. What did they think would happen if they pulled a stunt like that? Maybe if it was a seedier brothel they could have gotten away with it, but Noble VIPs visit this shop (in disguise), you know?
… Ah, I’ve started thinking about other things while waiting. I ended up coming too early so I’ve had time to let my mind wander. I guess I’m a little nervous about my first Labyrinth dive.
The Morning Watch bells have only just sounded right now. Even so, there doesn’t seem to be as many people about as during the Farmer’s Watch 3 hours earlier.
Not that there’s no one around. Slowly, little by little people trickle in towards the Guild. I guess all other laborers and shop attendants start earlier, because only the Adventurers look like they’ve just woken up.
“Jun-san. You’re up early like usual.”
These Adventurers aren’t any different.
Kristaff stifles a yawn as he waves at me. Behind him is Niera and a Featherkin onee-san, Miinalya I assume. She has feathery, light blue hair, and now I can see the feathers where ears normally are.
“Jun-san. Nice to meet you, I am Miinalya. Thank you for all the help. Call me Mii or Miina.”
“Ah no, all of you as well have helped me out greatly, and I’ll be in your care.”
She’s a frank, cool woman, huh? Heiran, the Featherkin from The Queen Mary’s was more bubbly, so somehow I was imagining that kind of person.
Let’s see. In game terms, Niera is a fighter, Kristaf and Jericho are tanks, and Miinalya, er, Miina, is a wizard, if I remember correctly. They just need a healer … is what I think, but actually there is no healer class. Most “healers” in this world are more like doctors. Lor laughed outright when I asked if there were healer Adventurers. He said he was trying to imagine one of those scrawny bookworms in a Labyrinth without a heavy escort, and he just couldn’t picture it.
It seems like healing magic is something else this world could improve on. Though I say that, it’s not like our world had anything like it, and anyway I’m probably the least qualified person to try to spearhead healing technology. Though I sometimes played support roles in game, I never played healing roles.
Though I’m not saying that healing magic in this world should be like that in a game; it’s more like I never had much interest in it, so I don’t think I’d stick with researching healing magic.
With no healer class, they have a pretty good balance.
Niera smiles sleepily, saying,
“Jericho is already inside confirming some details about some other commissions we took, so after Nars gets here, we can go.”
The three Adventurers are still shaking off their sleep, so a silence settles in as they stretch lazily, waiting for Nars. Even though this time would be good if we discussed things I should know about diving in the Labyrinth … well, the best way is to learn through experience, I guess.
The one who finally broke the silence was Miina.
“Nn. Money-grubber at north-west.”
Coming down the road, rather nonchalantly, is a man who gives off a “white” impression. Isn’t that Ragnall-san?
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Niera and the rest know him. As expected of an A Rank Adventurer; he’s famous.
He grins loosely and waves when he sees us loitering in the Guild entryway.
“Oooh, hey, it’s 2nd place!”
Hm? 2nd place?
“Not all of us can work as tirelessly as you just for the sake of money. We’re already doing pretty well with the amount of commissions we take!”
With that last exclamation, Kristaf launches a punch at Ragnall’s face, but Ragnall catches it easily with a laugh.
“Tch. Your reflexes are too good, as usual.”
Kristaf sighed and rolled his eyes as he withdrew his punch.
… Their relationship isn’t bad, I think?
“So what are you doing, Ragnall? Not heading down to the Labyrinth? That’s unusual.”
Niera asked with a laugh.
Ragnall’s face went stiff.
“Ah … well, I’m heading there, but I have to wait for someone, unfortunately.”
“Wait for – Ooooo … you’re accompanying the princess today? My my, if you don’t like it, you really should stop taking that girl’s commissions.”
Ragnall makes a complicated face.
“Hmmhmmhm… well, I can’t take too many long-term jobs at the moment so the commissions I can take have dropped, and she pays really well…”
Somehow, it sounds like a tedious job. Or like, you could totally hear, “If I wasn’t paid so much, I’d never do this,” in the spaces between his words.
“Fufufu, you see, Jun-chan, there’s this girl who’s really into Ragnall, and she pays super well for him to escort her through the Labyrinth like it’s a date, even though she’s capable of diving through the first level all by herself~!”
Niera explains it to me loudly so that Ragnall can hear it, and he gives her a dirty look.
“Heh… what kind of person is she-“
A bundle of pink and red came flying towards us, target-locked-on to Ragnall. Though he didn’t even budge when it hit him, Ragnall still made a face like, “Oof!”
“Ragnall-sama, sorry to keep you waiting!”
It’s … a loli? It’s a loli, huh? A beautiful girl with deep-red hair in twintails, around 12 or 13 years-old. Unlike Torinelle’s normal, good-girl aura, this girl has a coquettish nature about her that just makes you think, “Oh, a loli-hime has arrived.”
Although … this loli is dragging around a lance nearly as tall as herself with relative ease.
She looks coolly down her nose at the rest of us. Ah, correction. She’s glaring at Niera and Miina.
“Did you need something, Grandmother?”
Niera was the one who responded to that.
“Listen, I’m only 26, I’m not that much older than you are!”
Um, Niera, I don’t think that’s very convincing for her if you’re double her age. I decide not to say anything.
“Ara, I’m sorry. I didn’t think you’d already be at the age where you’re running out of time. Do take care not to be too forward when dealing with men or they’ll get the wrong impression.”
The loli-hime grabs Ragnall’s arm and tosses her hair, while Niera is left smiling, a cramp in her cheeks.
Hm? This is … a jealousy template? Uwaa, first time I’ve seen it in real life.
Hmm… sorry, Ojou-chan. I get that you’re going for Ragnall, but I’m pretty sure he’s not going for anyone under the age of 15. And isn’t he part of the oppai-faction?
I glance up at Ragnall; he definitely does not look like he’s enjoying it.
Somehow I feel kind of sorry for him, but I guess that’s what you get when you’re only focused on the money. The loli-hime was able to take advantage of it splendidly… but is it really so horrible that you have to make that face?
… It kind of makes me want to whistle and say, “Yo, popular guy!”
That would be kind of mean, huh?
Ragnall glares at me. Oops. I guess my smirk showed a little. I put an, “I don’t know what you’re talking about” look on my face and look away innocently.
…! A-are? Somehow the loli-hime’s super glaring at me?
She asks that, a frown on her face and the hand not holding onto her lance on her hip.
“This is Jun-san. We’re taking her around the Labyrinth today.”
Not waiting for me to struggle to figure out how to introduce myself, Miina responds for me instead.
“Hmph. You look pretty weak. No wonder you need a group like them to drag you through the Labyrinth. Well, do your best. Ragnall-sama, shouldn’t we be off now?”
Ignoring the rest of us, whose faces were all cramping when she called me weak, the loli-hime drags Ragnall off into the Guild Hall. Right before she enters, she shoots me a dirty look and clings closer to Ragnall’s arm.
“It doesn’t look like she likes me at all.”
I can’t really get all that worked up about her attitude. How should I say it; she’s like a brat with very grown up manners, but she’s still a brat underneath. If you get mad at just that much provocation, you’ve definitely lost.
Niera laughs tensely.
“Ahaha, she’s like that with all the women who approach Ragnall, whether or not they’re interested. Well, she’s that kind of little girl.”
“… Huh? With me too?”
Somehow … I feel like I’ve come to terms with being a girl, but it never occurred to me that I would be seen as a potential love rival by a jealous, love-struck loli.
It’s not like I’m insulted…? It’s more like I can’t even begin to understand what just happened.
To be honest, I’m still trying to come to terms with the fact that this kind of girl exists outside of love comedy manga.
“… She doesn’t have to worry so much, does she? Are there really that many girls after Ragnall?”
That might have been a little rude for me to say, but girls usually obsess like that over ikemen, right? Ragnall’s, well, he’s not really an ikemen. He’s not an ikemen … right? Hm… does my opinion count as a girl’s opinion in regards to men’s attractiveness?
“pfffffft! Pu-kukuku …! I guess he’s not your type, huh Jun-chan? Well, when an aggressive girl gets attached, she sees every woman as an enemy. Especially a little girl like that. You know, she has that, ‘If I like something, everyone must like it too,’ way of thinking.”
Trying not to laugh at my kind of insensitive remark, Niera ends up letting out a really weird laugh instead.
Maa, I guess little kids, boys or girls, are all kind of like that. I mean, unable to understand that other people have other tastes. But it’s kind of annoying when they force their opinions on other people.
Miina crosses her arms and shrugs, saying,
“Well, it’s not like I dislike her as the daughter of a Noble-sama.”
“Oh, so she is a Noble-sama, then.”
I had thought so. Her clothes and armor where definitely a grade above everyone else’s … even though the Valor of Arms Brigade is Rank B and Ragnall is Rank A. And since I could tell with my untrained eyes, they’re probably more than just one grade higher in quality.
“Yes. Even though she’s a Noble-sama and acts high-handed sometimes, she doesn’t really look down on Unaffiliateds and commoners, and even obsesses over THAT Ragnall, who has no magic abilities to speak of. For a Noble-sama to value strength over magic is very strange. Well, it’s probably from her father’s influence.”
So that’s it. Un. If you’re obsessed with how strong people are, Ragnall, who climbed up to Rank A without any magic, would naturally be appealing.
… Hang on. He climbed up to Rank A without any magic? Even though I got dropped several ranks just because of my lack of magic knowledge … for Craftsman ranking, though.
“Ah … who’s her father?”
I ask Miina that out of curiosity.
“I’m pretty sure he’s the Knight Captain of Carnus.”
Aah … THAT guy, huh? Considering how excited he got over a non-magic, steel sword, ah, so that’s it. I understand.
“Well, like I said, I don’t dislike her as the daughter of a Noble-sama … but as a person I find her really annoying.”
Ah… somehow a really black feeling is coming from Miina as she scowls at the door Ragnall and the loli-hime went through. Only Niera is able to laugh light-heartedly in response. The oppressive aura is making Kristaff and me really uncomfortable.
“Sorry, sorry, I was caught up in finishing giving the junior apprentices instructions. I’m not too late, am I?”
Good timing Nars-san!
<A/n: Thank you RiahW and Ed for your donations!>