Chapter 101: Learning the Local Customs of a Foreign Land is an Ongoing Struggle No Matter How Long You’ve Lived There
Hm… leisurely bathing in a large bath does feel good.
It had been a while.
With the heat from the bath still coming off my skin, I strolled out of Woodrest.
Inventory is the best. I don’t need to worry about going back to our room to put away luggage~.
My bags of clean clothes are always with me so I can easily change into anything I own at any time.
The only thing I have to worry about is drying my towel.
Even though I just throw it into Inventory, because Inventory has time-stop it won’t dry by itself.
I’ve been trying different ways to instantly dry it with magic, but I haven’t been able to whittle the time down to under 45 seconds without affecting the towel poorly.
There have been too many times where I pull a towel out and it’s still wet…
Well, such minor inconveniences don’t negate the fact that Inventory is ridiculously convenient.
Because I have a lot more personal clothes now, that I’ve accumulated in the months I’d been at Nyl City, I’ve begun putting them in separate bags. Like, a bag of shirts, a bag of pants, etc. This way, multiple clothes will take up only one slot without me having to play mind games with Inventory.
Of course, these bags aren’t magic item bags or anything so they can only fit what physics will allow.
But I don’t have THAT many clothes, just enough to want to consolidate things a little.
Hibiki-chan, on the other hand…
Well, I understand wanting to keep the cosmetic clothes from the game in the previous life.
The thing is, Hibiki-chan was a social player – that is, a player who enjoys hanging out with others, taking advantage of the game system to make small player events and just having fun in ways that weren’t strictly limited to what the game intended.
For example, using the combat animations of magic-castors to put on firework-type displays, or have a feast with buff-food.
A lot of social players, especially the women, would carry around sets of outfits to change into depending on the events they would randomly find themselves joining.
And also, Hibiki-chan was an avid collector of costumes.
I have consolidated all my clothes into outerwear, shirts, pants, underwear/socks, and shoes.
Hibiki also consolidated her clothes, but her categories are: fancy/elven dresses, cloaks, miniskirts, longer skirts, fancy tops, casual tops, thick outerwear, light outerwear, vests, innerwear/underwear/bras/lingerie, gloves/scarves, stockings/socks, high heels, flats, and boots.
Hibiki-chan… that’s 15 slots in your Item Bag.
And she’s using luggage bags to fit them all in, which are several times bigger than my cloth, messenger-bags.
And her luggage bags always look like they’re going to explode…
Ploids City has a lot of elven goods, so hopefully Hibiki-chan can pick up a Wardrobe like the one some of the traveling merchants had.
It can hold a lot more clothes than the luggage bags she’s using, and when a Wardrobe is expanded you can see all the clothes hanging up without having to shuffle through them.
It’s basically a transportable closet.
Although I think Hibiki-chan will need multiple Wardrobes…
They’re expensive, but with our abilities, we can probably make enough by going hunting in the labyrinth a few times.
I’d like to get one too, since they seem convenient, but I don’t really have a need for it.
Although I promised Midori to send her one if I find them for sale.
Most adventurers wouldn’t want one despite its convenience, though.
Even before you expand it, it’s about the size of a coffin.
Although that’s no problem with other-world gamer cheats.
Yeah, I really do want to start heading over to Ploids soon.
And if it’s frustrating for me, I can’t imagine how it feels for Orvowel, who is making no profit right now.
Sure he sells a little here and there, but not much.
Warden’s Post seems like a pretty well-stocked town, so he can’t really sell much more than some salt and lime.
I walk around the forested clearing, heading towards the Wardens’ Headquarters.
When I get there, I see Hibiki-chan in front of it; seems she’s already gone out and done her gathering quest.
Not surprising, since gathering quests are easy for someone with Hibiki-chan’s mobility.
“Was everything okay?”
Hibiki-chan nods in response to my question as I stroll up.
Like many others, mostly apothecaries and merchants, Hibiki-chan is sitting on a spare bit of ground, laying out herbs and stuff on a blanket.
After finishing placing the herbs she had in her hands out on the blanket, Hibiki-chan looked up.
“There wasn’t any problems. The forest is still unusually quiet, and I didn’t even see any monsters.”
This was probably a source of disappointment for Hibiki-chan.
Even though she turned pale and weak the first few times she went hunting with the Valor of Arms Brigade, she’s long since gotten used to killing monsters. In fact, she gets disappointed if she doesn’t bring something down herself now.
“Quiet … that might not actually be good, huh?”
I said idly as I knelt next to the blanket and looked down.
Plants aren’t really my thing. I don’t know what half of them are, and the ones I do know are directly related to being added to the fire in a forge in order to bestow certain properties to certain alloys.
… Yes, I’m probably sick. It appears my grandfather’s illness is hereditary.
“The Wardens said the same thing, but they think we might have scared the demons into hiding.”
“Hm… Seems like we’ve made it a little more complicated.”
If they hide and bide their time, Warden’s Post will be on edge, waiting, until who knows when.
It wouldn’t be good to just up and leave like this, or like, I don’t know if they’ll let anyone travel from here with the threat still out there.
Which is a bit of pain. Like, we’re adventurers, we can deal with something like this – is what I think, but if it was some inexperienced adventurer saying the same thing, I can understand why the Wardens would be reluctant to let them go.
And you can’t just make exceptions for everyone, right?
What a situation…
Eh? We could just completely ignore it and leave anyway because probably no one could stop us?
Mm… well, there’s something called ‘reputation’, you know?
The Wardens are connected to the Guilds, though somewhat loosely, so it wouldn’t reflect well on us, right?
Hm? They’ll forget about it with all the adventurers that come and go throughout the Guilds?
No, well… Ragnall is famous AND easy to remember, so…
Also, we did kind of go head to head with the demons, and Hibiki-chan and I are believed to be fluent in whatever the demon language is.
Anyway, because we’re too conspicuous, there are some demerits to just up and leaving this situation.
I’m beginning to see the point to Seimei-san telling me to keep a low profile.
Although it might be too late.
“By the way, Hibiki-chan, what are some things that only women would want to do with their lives?
Hibiki-chan blinked and tilted her head.
“Where did this come from all of a sudden?”
“No, well… I was just thinking that I don’t really know what I want to do with my life, now that I’m a girl. Although I wonder why I started thinking about it now?”
I sat back on my heels and tilted my head as well.
“Hehe. People say journeys help you find yourself, after all.”
“We might have left on a journey, but we’re not going anywhere right now.”
Hibiki-chan giggled, setting out more herbs to dry.
I keep forgetting, because she looks like a 3rd year high school student, but she’s actually a 3rd year middle school student.
Although you might say they’re not that far apart, both mentally and physically, they actually are. Especially for girls, I think.
“Hm… things only women can do with their lives… that would be giving birth and being a mom, right?”
The lower part of my abdomen clenched. No. Thank you.
Hibiki-chan laughed at the look on my face.
“I didn’t say it was every woman’s goal, but it IS the most obvious woman-only goal, right?”
“I guess being a housewife, too, in Japan. Although, I don’t know how it is here. Proving that you’re just as good as guys in something is another thing that only girls can do.”
“Isn’t that basically being the best at something? That’s true for both genders.”
Hibiki-chan shook her head and said,
“Mm… Hibiki thinks it’s different, just a little.”
I don’t really understand…
Hibiki-chan dusted her hands off.
“Girls can basically be whatever guys can be, so maybe it’s not really worth worrying about it? I mean, just because you changed genders it doesn’t mean everything changes about you, right? Although I wouldn’t really know.”
“Maybe, but it’s something I never thought about. You know, as a kid you want to be Jackie Chan, but your gender changes so suddenly you wonder if you want to be Michelle Yeoh or if you should think about becoming Yoon Eun-hye.”
“What’s with that example? Although I understand, kind of?”
Right, gender changing isn’t something that happens to everyone.
Hibiki-chan thinks for a bit before saying,
“Well, you can think about it, but if you get too caught up in thinking what’s changed because you’re a girl now, you might end up accidentally abandoning the things that are ACTUALLY important to you just because you don’t think a girl should be doing it … or not. I don’t really know.”
“If you’re going to be philosophical, stick with it to the end.”
“It’s a strange topic, so it’s okay to be unsure about it, right~?”
“By the way, it’s rare that you’re not at the forge.”
Because there’s a crazy, fluffy wolf-man fanboy there. How could anyone get anything done in a situation like that?
Instead of that, I said,
“Well, I can’t really do what I want, and there isn’t all that much to research here.”
“Un. Hibiki understands. Even though there are a lot of herbs, the apothecaries here are mostly focused on wound medicines and stamina pills. Even though I thought I could finally do things, like in H○rry P○ter, it looks like I’m going to have to wait until Ploids to see about some of the more interesting medicines.”
“… Interesting… medicines…”
Hibiki-chan has her super cutesy, girly parts, like enjoying fashion, but then she finds things like medicines interesting.
I’ll let Seimei-san field that one.
Let’s set that aside for now.
“Yeah, so I guess we all want to get to Ploids faster.”
“What about Ragnall-san?”
“I think Ragnall wants to get out of here, at the very least.”
“But it won’t be good to just leave here without trying to help, right?”
It’s good that Hibiki-chan understands.
She has a good brain on her, for still being in middle school.
“ “Hm…” “
We both think through the problem.
“Miss Jun, so you were here.”
Geh. It’s the deep elf. Desmond.
Not that I don’t like him or whatever, but his excitement when I had fixed his sword was just like the Trelzt the wolf beastman, so forgive me for pulling back a little.
Although that might not be fair, since Desmond’s sword seemed to be something important that he thought would be broken forever.
I guess it’s not weird that he freaked out so much?
Another thing he has against him is that uselessly sparkly ikemen aura.
Although it’s not to the degree where it would make Masaki and his gamer friends say “go explode”, nor does it feel like a try-hard attempting to be a refreshing ikemen.
How should I say it… like… a sparkly aura that comes from just being a rare, magic-heavy elf? Which is what he is.
Being an ikemen or bijou due to race… how enviable.
Even though he’s the kind of ikemen that isn’t sickeningly sparkly, and even though I’m a girl now, any guy just naturally pulls back a little bit from an ikemen, right?
Un… I’m beginning to lose my ability to judge the natural responses of either gender.
Ah, no, I think I’ve said that before, so it can’t be considered ‘beginning to’.
Anyway, that sparkly guy came up and stood next to Hibiki-chan and me.
“I wanted to give you my thanks once again, but am I interrupting something?”
“Ah… no. We were just discussing when we’d start heading over to Ploids. Or like, you’ve already thanked me from before, so…”
Desmond shook his head.
“Although you don’t seem to understand what you’ve done, it doesn’t excuse me from showing you the gratitude you deserve for what you’ve done. Though I don’t think I am capable of reciprocating the great favour you have shown me.”
Somehow, this is kind of turning into a pain…
It’s not like I fixed that sword for YOU – but it’s not like I can just say that and he’ll let it go, huh?
“Fufu. It seems that Sir Ragnall’s description of how you would react is spot on. But I suppose that would be the normal reaction, since you don’t seem to understand exactly what you’ve done. It seems that I should explain. First, just with the abilities you showed, all the countries and strongholds of this world would give over half of their assets in order to drag you over to their side.”
Unlike how he appeared before, Desmond is the logical sort, huh? That’s good, I’m saved. I’m not so good with the hot-blooded, emotional type.
But what’s with that over-exaggeration?
… And like, Ragnall, what are you saying about me behind my back?
“You really seem to underestimate yourself. You did, by yourself, what usually takes 50 people who have trained for at least 5 cycles of 10 seasons to do, and you did it just on a whim. It usually takes them at least 4 seasons, and you took 30 minutes. Also, there is a stronger likelihood of song-smithing failing than succeeding. If I were to say it quantitatively, adding up all the time that was necessarily invested into the talents necessary for forging such a sword, you have done in under an hour what would take most people 2504 seasons.”
Um, 2504 seasons… 626 years?
Ah, he took all the time needed for training each of the 50 people separately… un, it’s technically the correct way to count the amount of time invested, but since 50 people can train concurrently, it would only be 12.5 years for their training, right?
Waitwaitwait, that’s not the point. Heeeh, so I did something that would ordinarily take one person 625 years to do… no, wait, before that, one person wouldn’t ordinarily be able to do this by themselves?
Are? I’m starting to get confused.
“Ah, I see you’re finally starting to understand the ridiculousness of what you’ve just done.”
Laughing reservedly into a hand, Desmond seems to be satisfied with something.
What that is, I’m not sure.
“That’s only discussing the ability you showed in order to replicate the abilities of deep elven sword-singers. We’re not also discussing the fact that repairing a spirit sword is much more difficult than forging a new one. Or the actual historical and political value of this sword.”
A heat appears in Desmond’s eyes as he stares down at the sword, Gaoithe, in his hand.
It’s a smoldering heat that seems to have some resentment and burning anger mixed in, but before I could confirm it, it disappeared as he replaced the sword on his hip.
In a word, a blood-grudge?
To think a refreshing-type ikemen could harbor a blood-grudge. It’s a bit of a surprise, but people can incur grudges just by breathing so let’s leave it for now.
Un. The sword has a deeper history than I know about, definitely.
“… Even if you say all that, though, just because it was difficult for others to do, it wasn’t quite so bad for me, so does it really hold that you should hold those two things equal?”
Ah. Desmond’s face has gone completely blank.
Instead of him, the person who responded was Hibiki-chan.
“Jun-kun. You have a really warped sense of value.”
Hai, I understand that, Hibiki-chan, but this is how I am.
“I-indeed, Ms Hibiki is right. Compensation shouldn’t only be given as the measure the creator views her own abilities. Considering the impact it has on others as well as the scarcity is also important.”
I understand it, I do, but doing things without even being asked to… is that really something you can demand compensation for? I mean, it’s totally like a doctor coming up and forcing treatment and then demanding payment.
Is it my imagination or do I hear a combination of voices saying, ‘Then don’t just go around doing whatever you want!”
It must be, since I think I hear Masaki, Seimei-san, and Ragnall’s voices, and they aren’t anywhere around here.
“Right now, I don’t really have a pressing need for money. If anything, I’m more concerned with reaching Ploids faster.”
Is what I decide to say.
From what Desmond’s insinuating, I could probably ask for Japan’s national budget and get it, just for whimsically messing around with a sword.
“How convenient. It just so happens that I am also looking to return to Ploids soon. Truthfully, after escorting the Inourian Surveyor from Ploids to Warden’s Post, Aidan, Aislin, and I were planning on picking up another escort request heading back to Ploids City immediately, so this matter also concerns us. However, that doesn’t really help me in repaying your favour. Anyway, we’ll set that aside for now.”
Set that aside, you say… the way you say it, I can’t hope for you to forget it, huh?
“At any rate, I do have a method for tracking down the demons, but it might take some time, and I’ll need an escort.”
Oooh, you’re starting to sound more reliable now, Desmond. But ‘some time’…
“What do you mean by ‘some time’?”
“If we’re lucky, just a few moons.”
Noticing the looks on Hibiki-chan and my faces, Desmond hurriedly says,
“It can’t be helped. The range is too small, so we’ll have to move around the forest. There is only so much distance we can cover a day.”
“If it’s range, then with Hibiki or Jun-kun’s magic, the range would be bigger, right? Because our MP – I mean magic power is a lot.”
“… Even if that’s true, it’s a Light Magic spell, so…”
He totally doesn’t look like he believes us, but he’s trying to refuse without directly saying Hibiki-chan’s a liar, huh?
I resist using any of the Analyze skills to look at his MP.
Because stronger adventurers are capable of realizing the movement of magic. At least, that’s what the guards at Nyl City told me.
But he can’t have more than 1,000 MP, if I remember what Lor taught me.
“Jun-kun can do it, then!”
“Only small-minded people would automatically doubt without any proof!”
Uwah. Hibiki-chan has him on the ropes.
Desmond looks pretty doubtfully at me.
“… Can I confirm this?”
“Ah… yeah, but how?”
Desmond holds his hands out.
“Place your hands here, right, and…”
A light glows from our hands, then gradually moves up my arms, over my entire body.
Hm. The feeling of something probing towards my hara is uncomfortable.
Even though I trust Desmond won’t do anything bad, or like, I can tell that the spell he used can’t do anything other than observe, only a fool would just let a foreign spell into the most vital part of your life, right?
Desmond seems shocked that his spell was reflected.
“Such control! Even the elders aren’t … … … ”
Hm? Oi, you went kind of quiet there, and your face seems to be turning grey.
I accidentally let out a scream as Desmond grabs my wrists strongly and stares fiercely into my eyes.
Close! Too close! I’m getting flashbacks to Toel! Don’t blame me if I hit you!
“You… can it be? Have you been made an avatar?”
Shoot. How did he find out?
Before I can say anything else, Desmond clasps a hand to my mouth. And erects a soundproof barrier around the three of us.
“<Sound Containment>! No, don’t say anything else! Why aren’t you hiding it – no, do you even understand-?! Do you even realize the implications-”
Oooh, he’s panicking, he’s panicking. He can’t even finish a sentence.
While he’s doing that, though, he neglects to remove his hand from my mouth, so I can’t really say anything…
Hibiki-chan finally broke through his panicking after watching the scene.
“… Hibiki thinks that teaching Jun-kun some common sense might offset the cost of the sword. For her own safety.”
The fact that I can’t even deny it is a little frustrating.
Gender awareness is one thing, but I don’t think Jun’s ever going to learn common sense. S/he never learned it in Japan, so I think there is little chance s/he’ll learn it now.
Ah. Lol, that last bit is a bit hard to detect since the story’s from Jun’s POV so I was going to have it be explicitly stated later, but I wonder if this counts as a spoiler?>