This time there’re quite a few rather….shocking developments. Nyahahaha~ enjoy~
Kiriko Epawsode 8: The Swindler’s Surprise
A navy blue scarf billowed out around me as I walked out of the change room. Clinging to my body was a short-sleeved, black shirt with golden linings that extended to the top of my thighs. On my bottom half, I wore a pair of black shorts, coupled with another pair of black, thigh-high stockings. Around my waist was a thicker corset-like binding made of leather, from which a belt hung, extending around my body and hanging underneath my bottom. On my forearms were a pair of metal arm guards.
Incidentally, while the black shirt and thigh-highs were made of very flexible material that clung to my body, unlike the usual cotton or nylon clothing that one might find on earth, they seemed to be stronger and more resilient to cutting and piercing attacks.
Upon seeing my new appearance, Conrad stared silently for several moments before letting off a rather simple compliment. Nodding in acknowledgment, I began to stretch and move around, twisting my limbs to ensure that the new equipment wouldn’t restrict my movements when fighting. Finally satisfied after doing several flips dexterously in the limited space provided within the clothing shop, I landed in front of the middle-aged shopkeeper to discuss the price of the equipment.
“So, how much for all of this?”
Surprised at my sudden landing, which was only centimetres away from him, the strawberry blonde man gaped for several seconds before hesitantly replying.
“A-Ah, yes. All together with the discount, your total comes to…95 Kin.”
Hearing the price for the equipment, I went silent. Though I certainly did have enough money to cover the cost, having earned 114 Kin from yesterday’s slime massacre, upon considering how I had yet to buy a proper weapon yet, spending such a sum seemed extravagant. Not only that, but starting tomorrow, I would be required to pay for both room and board to stay at the Guild. I furrowed my eyebrows, calculating roughly how much I would need to earn in order to obtain enough funds to cover both my stay and a proper weapon. However, I soon realized that, not only did I not know what the usual price of weapons was in Auksas, I didn’t even know what kind of weapon I should buy to fight with. Though I had used the weapon provided by the Guild the previous day, I didn’t believe that a mere dagger would be sufficient for all of my battle needs in the near future.
Well, leaving aside the issue of a weapon…a single room at the Guild for a night is roughly…15 Kin. Food…5 Kin per meal sounds about right…which means…assuming I eat 3 meals per day, my maximum daily expenditures would come to around 30 Kin.
Upon concluding my calculations, I was hit hard by the reality of my situation. While I had been aware that I would definitely need to find a more lucrative quest than exterminating slimes to complete today, I hadn’t realized just how urgent my need for money was up until now. After all, if I bought the equipment I was currently wearing at the stated price, I wouldn’t even have enough money left for a single day’s worth of expenses. That said, I could just remedy my lack of money by skipping meals, but…
Not eating is detrimental to your health! If I don’t eat, I won’t have any energy to do anything!
Having been raised in an environment where food was always easily accessible, starving myself was one of the least desirable situations I would want to be in, especially when I had to do a physically demanding task like slaying monsters. While I was fully aware of how spoiled I was acting in my current situation, it was one of the few things I was almost completely unwilling to give up on. That being the case, I would likely have to scrape to save every last Kin that I could to ensure a minimum standard of living for myself.
Yosh, that being the case…
A determined look surfaced on my face as I clenched my right fist, intent on squeezing every last Kin I could from the middle-aged shopkeeper.
The strawberry blonde-haired man gave an uneasy expression as he apprehensively called out to me. Hearing his call, I slowly raised my head towards him, unveiling my expression that had been hidden underneath my long bangs.
As I exposed my calm and innocent smile to the middle-aged man, I called him out with a soft, feminine voice. Upon hearing my voice and seeing my smile, however, the man, against my expectations, jumped violently as he began to tremble with increasing intensity.
“Could you make is just a li~ttle bit cheaper? Please~?”
Bringing my hands together in a pleading gesture, I unleashed an almost sickly sweet voice while asking the shopkeeper to give me an even bigger discount. As I did so, I hit the older man with a pair of watery eyes, sending my most heart-rendering gaze towards him.
The older man went silent as he gave me a vacant stare. Then, deciding that I had to deliver the final, heart-crushing blow in order to seal the deal, I brought my clenched hand up to my face while speaking my last line in a quivering voice.
“Is that…no good?”
The strawberry blonde man covered his face with a hand, as his spine bent backwards, unable to withstand the power of my bargaining technique. His body still continued to tremble, though now, it seemed to be for an entirely different reason compared to before.
“I-I’ll give it to you for 70 Kin.”
A wavering voice leaked out of the older man. Judging from the convulsions that appeared to be attacking the man right now, it seemed that this would be the lowest possible price that he would offer. Jumping at the opportunity, I grasped the shopkeeper’s free hand as I smiled brightly and exclaimed.
Hearing my happy cry, the older man collapsed to the ground, clearly shocked at the price he had sold a full set of perfectly good equipment for. Unwilling to give him time to reconsider, I quickly guided him over to what appeared to be the cash register, handing over my Guild card to complete the transaction. Still dazed, the man typed in a few numbers into the machine, and upon taking my card, pressed it against a red rectangle situated at the top of the apparatus. A clear ringing sound played out as the transaction processed. As I received my Guild card back from the clearly overwhelmed man, I checked its balance, which clearly indicated that I still had 44 Kin remaining.
Smiling darkly to myself, I stowed the small card away into a hidden pocket within my new attire.
Despite having gotten used to it, a small exasperated sigh escaped my lips as I listened to the numerous notifications which assaulted me following my successful bargaining.
“Is something the matter, Kiriko?”
Noticing my sigh as he walked towards me, Conrad tilted his head as he rested a hand on my shoulder. Shaking my head, I murmured, “It’s nothing” while walking towards the exit after grabbing my old, tattered clothing from the change room. As I did so, Conrad, having seemingly finished his browsing of the various “travel packs”, followed behind me out the door without purchasing anything.
……just why did he come here?
Finding Conrad’s actions odd, I gave the pale blonde-haired youth a cursory glance.
However, his face remained unreadable, showing nothing but a gentle smile as he looked back at me. Strangely feeling slightly miffed at his expression, I strode forward, walking ahead of Conrad as we exited the store.
The noonday sun hung high in the sky, blinding me momentarily. Thinking about what to do next, I quickly decided to head back to the Guild to do some research on 【Paletia】 . Just as I was about to bid Conrad farewell, however-
The golden-eyed youth called me out, stopping me in my tracks.
“Actually, I was wondering if……if you wanted to do a quest together.”
Tilting my head, I looked back at Conrad while giving an inquisitive gaze.
“Yup, it’s quite a lucrative quest too. Since you just bought all your armour, you’re low on funds, right?”
Well, he’s not wrong, but…
“Do you mind if I ask why?”
After all, being a local, Conrad should know tons of adventurers who used Au as their base. With his friendly personality, it shouldn’t be that difficult for him to find a group to tag along with on quests.
“Not really, but there’s not much of a reason…”
Observing the blonde-haired man’s expression, it appeared that he wasn’t lying. At the very least, it didn’t seem like Conrad had any bad intentions. Judging from how he had acted in the clothing store, it was possible that his sole purpose in coming here was to invite me to go on the quest.
I do owe him for helping me out too……ahh, whatever. He’s not a bad person, and he doesn’t have any bad intentions, so it should be fine.
Deciding to trust in the golden-eyed man, I nodded before realizing that I didn’t know what quest he had in mind.
“By the way, what quest were you planning on going for?”
“Ahh, it’s a simple slaughter quest. We’ll be hunting the Black Demons.”
My eyes sparkled as I repeated the name of the quest monster. I couldn’t help but feel at least a little excited about seeing monsters with such a fantasy-like name.
Black Demons, huh……I wonder what they look like? Will they have pointy tails and bat-like wings? Ohh…I wanna see them now!!
“Well, you’ll know when you see them. They’ve been causing quite a bit of havoc over at old man Jared’s fields lately, so we have to thin out their numbers a bit. Let’s go immediately!”
Suddenly, Conrad gave a rather eager expression as he began to push me in a completely different direction. Though it felt a bit unnatural, I allowed him to do bring me along as I pondered upon his words.
“Hurry up, Kiriko! It went that way!”
Swearing incessantly, I dashed and jumped, stabbing downwards at the neck of the dark creature. My blade swiftly sliced through its neck, easily decapitating it. However, despite the loss of its head, the creature continued to run about, sending me toppling off its back.
Numerous profanities flew out of my mouth as I landed, disgust clearly displayed on my face. The monster’s decapitated head also continued to twitch, as its antennas swayed from side to side like the golden fields of wheat that surrounded us.
At this point in time, however, it simply felt like the head was mocking me, saying, “Is that all you can do? Pathetic”. Irritation boiled in my stomach as fury threatened to burst out of my body.
Fuck! I really want to burn these things to death! They deserve to die, these freaking—
Sparks began to rise from my flesh as I involuntarily activated my [Scorching Retaliation] skill. However, upon remembering Conrad’s warning prior to starting this quest, I reluctantly extinguished the flames.
“We’ll be fighting in the wheat fields, so you can’t use any fire magic! Preferably, stick to close combat only so that we can minimize the damage to the crops.”
Right now, I couldn’t help but think that the golden-eyed man had some sort of grudge against me. Not only had he brought me on a quest to battle these disgusting……things, he just had to bring me on one where a good number of my strongest skills were sealed.
Glancing around, I clicked my tongue as revulsion coursed throughout my mind at the scene before me.
A vast field of wheat spread out across the land. The golden stalks of the crops displayed their magnificence as the sun shone down upon them, causing the plants to glow with a heavenly hue.
However, tainting the scene were countless black demons, silently devouring the beautiful straws as they crawled about.
Their black bodies shimmered in the daylight as it reflected upon their dark shells.
Their long feelers, which sprouted from their tiny heads, moved in an agitated manner.
Their beady, black eyes glanced around at the numerous blonde adventurers that were currently assaulting them as they attempted to consume the delectable produce.
And lastly, their 6 long, hairy legs which supported them as they skittered around the landscape.
Their shape, which could easily be said to be the nightmares of many, truly did seem to make their nickname as ‘demons’ to be completely fitting. Yet……
IT’S A FREAKING INSULT TO ALL OF DEMONKIND WHEN YOU CALL THESE THINGS, “DEMONS”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Indeed, the true identity of the so-called “Black Demons”…
Oh, but don’t get me wrong. They weren’t just cockroaches. They were monster cockroaches.
Back on Earth, the biggest cockroach one might see would be about 5-6 cm in length. However, the cockroaches here……were at least the size of a large dog.
In spite of their large size, however, the pests seemed to be able to move around at similar speeds to their Earthling counterparts. Their hardiness and persistence to live on also appeared to greatly resemble the insects from my memories. Needless to say, it was absolutely revolting.
Bringing my leg down with a drop kick, I finally managed to smash the headless roach’s back, promptly ending its life. A dark green fluid spewed out of the cracks on its body as it crumpled to the ground.
Receiving Conrad’s words of encouragement, I returned a rather dull response. In contrast, however, the gaze which I turned upon the golden-eyed man flared with displeasure. Seeing that, Conrad paused momentarily, his body turning stiff.
“W-Well then, let’s move the body to the wagon and then go for the next target!”
Avoiding eye contact, the youth quickly turned towards the giant cockroach’s body, picking it up with one arm. As he began to walk towards the drop-off area situated within the town’s monster barrier, I followed after him in a sullen silence, protecting him and the carcass from the attacks of the surrounding ‘demons’.
Though this quest is pretty lucrative, it’s also a really big pain in the ass…
After all, each successfully delivered roach was worth a whooping 20 Kin. Disregarding the revolting appearance of the monsters, they weren’t terribly dangerous to fight, and were fairly easy to kill.
“AH! HURRY UP AND COLLECT THE BODY BEFORE—”
“It’s no good, they’re swarming it agai—”
—collecting the body in one piece was quite difficult.
Though the giant insects didn’t eat humans, they did participate in cannibalism. Whenever one of them fell to the attacks of the many adventurers, they would swarm their dead kin and begin to rapidly consume them. Hence the reason why I had to protect Conrad as he carried the dead roach to the drop-off point.
Still……this scene never fails to be absolutely disgusting…
My face cramped as I watched the prey of another group of adventurers get consumed by a mound of cockroaches. Sickening crunching noises rang out together with the frustrated hollers of the blonde muscle men.
“Hm? What is it?”
“Why exactly does the Guild even need the entire body to redeem the reward? Isn’t this just a slaughter quest? Taking an antenna for proof of slaughter should be enough, right?”
After all, in my previous slime slaughter quest, the Guild only requested that I bring back Slime Essences to prove that I had actually killed the slimes. In this particular quest, due to size of the cockroaches, the Guild actually had to provide wagons near the quest location in order to transport all the corpses away. Not only that, but they had to station personnel to record which adventurers killed which cockroaches, and do other logistical work. Surely it would lead to a deficit on the Guild’s part.
Finally arriving at the drop-off point, Conrad paused momentarily as he tossed the cockroach’s body onto an empty wagon, nodding at the nearby Guild employee.
“It’s because the value of these monsters lays in their bodies.”
“For example…the shells of the Black Demons can be refined to make armour. Because there are so many of them, the armour is relatively cheap. Their meat is cheap and also pretty nutritious, so the Guild uses it to provide free meals for new adventurers.”
“……wait. WHAT DID YOU SAY?!”
My voice reached a fevered pitch as I practically screamed the question at Conrad. However, it really, really couldn’t be helped. After all……I was one of said new adventurers……
“A-Ah…speaking of which……for some reason, even though it’s free, a lot of new female adventurers tend to avoid the free meal……”
Though Conrad seemed have to murmured something under his breath, his words were lost to me as my mind fell into a spiral thinking about what I had eaten for breakfast. As far as I could remember, there had only been two things on my plate which I had been unable to identify. That is, the fruity ‘meat’-looking thing, and the sour drink.
However, regardless of which part of my meal had been the ‘Black Demon’ meat, it did not change the fact that I had eaten a part of one of these 6-legged…
A sour feeling began to crawl up my throat, as a queasy feeling assaulted my stomach.
Keep it down, calm down, caaaaalm down…
Curling up, I covered my mouth with a hand in attempt to prevent myself from spilling the contents of my breakfast all over the ground.
“Err……Kiriko? You okay?”
Noticing my distraught state, my golden eyed companion walked over with a concerned expression.
Swallowing forcefully, I began to breathe in and out slowly while focussing on removing certain fact from my mind.
Un. Food is food. What doesn’t kill me will make me stronger. Even if I puke now, it won’t do anything except make me feel worse. It’s not like the co—thing tasted that bad anyhow. Un. Un.
My mind whirled as I did my best to brainwash myself out of the deep disgust that was making my stomach churn violently. Some things really are better left unknown…
As I remained buried in my thoughts, a calming sensation suddenly began to spread out from my head. The disgusted thoughts within my mind instantly evaporated, only to be replaced by a haze in which I could only think about how warm the hand currently petting my head was.
Dazed, I looked up at the owner of the hand, and was greeted by a pair of amiable golden eyes.
“You okay, Kiriko?”
“Let’s go get the next one then, alright?”
“Un…” (TL: Okay…)
Nodding timidly, I followed after the blonde-haired man as he turned around, searching for the next target of our hunt.
After we had successfully managed to hunt several more of the oversized bugs, the sun began to set as orange and gold streaks painted the sky. The surroundings had also quieted down, as numerous adventurers had already left for the day.
The number of demons had also dropped considerably, due to the rather excessive ‘harvesting’ that had been going on during the afternoon.
“Haa, shall we call it a day?”
Seeing that the cockroaches had begun to retreat to their nests, I turned to Conrad.
“Hm? Ah, yeah. Sounds good.”
A trickle of sweat slid down his face as he responded. Having fought the six-legged monsters for the entire afternoon, it was only natural. Rather, I was exhausted too.
All I want to do right now is go back and eat and shower…
Spacing out, I looked blankly off into the distance, thinking to myself wistfully. The wind blew gently across the plains, blowing my tied-up hair to the side.
“—!? Kiriko, watch out!!!”
The exact moment I had let down my guard and began to enjoy the blissful quiet which surrounded us, my blonde-haired companion yelled out, disrupting the tranquil atmosphere.
Unable to react in time due to my confusion, a large body slammed into me, throwing my petite frame to the ground. Disoriented, I could feel a firm, warm feeling pressing against my torso. As a heated, disorderly breath exhaled into my ear, I flinched and slowly began to open my eyes.
“Tsk…what the heck is that thing doing here…”
The youth let out an agitated voice as he looked at something a short distance away from us, still lying on top of me.
As blood began to rush to my face, I let out an uncertain voice, looking up at Conrad’s rather handsome profile.
Close….he’s freaking close!!!!
My mind screamed as I attempted to recompose myself. Nevertheless, as if to disrupt my feeble endeavors, his body shifted, pressing even closer against me.
“Shh, over there.”
Just as I began to think about what solid abs the blonde-haired youth possessed, he brought a finger to his lips as he whispered to me urgently. Slightly confused, I raised my body to find out what exactly was reflected in his golden eyes.
There stood a true monster.
A sleek black skin covered its body, glimmering in an foreboding manner as the sunlight bounced off of it.
Underneath said skin were masses of bulging muscles, convulsing in an agitated manner, as if to testify the violent potential concealed within them.
As it stood up and looked around with a pair of beady black eyes, the long feelers situated on the creature’s head twitched.
A putrid scent, similar to the smell of rotting waste, cloaked the towering being.
A large trench gouged out the earth behind the monster, apparently having been formed as it sped to its current position.
The moment I saw the earthly scars, I realized.
That that was precisely where I had been standing earlier.
That, if not for the golden-eyed youth’s actions, I would likely have been blasted away by the force of the monster’s movement.
However, though I realized that Conrad had saved my life, currently, only a single thought was capable of surfacing within my mind.
ISN’T THIS TOTALLY COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT?!!!!!!!
After all, the anthropomorphized cockroach in front of me was most definitely something I had seen once before.