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Chapter 151 – The Price of Pride
After leaving the adventurer’s guild, we headed for the outskirts of the commoner’s residential area. We were headed for Calmon’s house on the northwestern edge of the town.
Since we had only just entered the town of Sarz and had suddenly gotten caught up in a troublesome disturbance, we had not had a chance to look around the town.
We did not know this, but we were told that as you go to the outer edges of the town, land prices go down, and security worsens.
“So that means Calmon is poor.”
“Well, I guess so.”
Tig, the tiger-beastman, confirms Myrril’s blunt comment with a wry smile.
“However, it’s a big deal just to have a wife and kids. Being an adventurer living on the floating weeds is not a business where you can make a living. People say it’s big when you win, but I’ve never heard of anyone winning.”
“Yes, that’s right. Life is short and not even thick. It’s like an insect that only chirps in the summer.”
Louis also laughed at their own financial situation with a bitter expression.
Seeing Myrril and me at a loss for a response, she waved her hand, telling us not to worry about it.
“So, if you decided to quit the adventuring business and return to your hometown, that would be great. Huh, Tig?”
“…Well, I guess.”
Tig, who is a hard-headed yet disciplined man, is probably concerned that this farewell might turn into a funeral with the intervention of the bandit guild.
I would never let that happen, though.
Passing through the gaps between the intricate barracks, we come to a house that looks like… a housing complex, a tenement, or a poorhouse, one step short of a poorhouse, nestled against the edge of the city wall. There was a sleigh there, the kind Santa would ride in.
“Nora, hold that side for me.”
“I can’t reach it that way, Dad.”
There was a clever-looking young girl, maybe ten years old, and a stout-looking woman in her thirties or so.
Helping them to secure the load on the sleigh is Calmon, the bodyguard we met that night.
It is the first time I have seen his face in the light, but with his tired skin and gray hair, he looks older than I expected.
His broken right arm seems to have healed, but it is not in good shape yet.
“Hey, Calmon. I’m here to help you.”
“Tig, huh? I thought you came here to laugh.”
The man’s face stiffens as he looks back at us.
“I’m glad you’re alright. We heard you were leaving Sarz, and we’re here to see you off…”
“I-I’m so sorry!”
Calmon tries to jump down on his knees, but Myrril and I catch him from both sides in the air.
“Stop it! What are you doing with your arm that’s just about healed!”
The ground was muddy from the melting snow. If he were to get down on his knees in such a place, it would make us look like the worst of the worst.
I don’t want to deny that I am a villain in the eyes of a certain race, but at least I don’t want people who are not my enemies to look at me strangely.
“B-but I… I’ve said something that may have provoked the wrath of the demon god! So please, just leave my family alone!”
“T-that was just a joke. Don’t take it seriously. Okay?”
Mir-neesan is looking at me with a smile like a Buddha. But her eyes aren’t smiling at all.
This is not good.
“Takifu. What did you say to him?”
“Ah, ouch, ouch, ouch…!”
“How dare you treat me like a demon god!”
After being punished by Myrril’s fists on my temples, we were invited into Calmon’s house by his wife, who had a look of dismay on her face.
They were in the process of moving out, and there was only a bed (like a large bench) in the room.
His wife is Rufia-san, a healthy beauty with wheat-colored kinky hair and some freckles on her face.
She and Calmon were childhood friends, both from Lafan, a port town in the eastern part of the Republic.
“Here you go.”
“Oh, thank you.”
Their daughter is Nora-chan, 11 years old. She is wearing a large apron and trying her best to serve the guests, which is quite cute.
“Nora is a great girl, right? Takifu?”
“Yes, you’re right. Nora-chan, I’ll give you some sweets.”
Reading Myrril’s eye contact accurately, I pull a large bag of chocolates and dried sweets out of storage and hand it to Nora-chan.
“Yay, thank you!”
“You look like some kind of kidnapper, you know?”
That’s terrible. No, I thought I sounded like that myself.
It was almost lunchtime, so I served a simple light meal and recommended it to Mr. and Mrs. Calmon and the Battlecry. We use a large cardboard box instead of a table since the table seems to be already loaded.
“Thank you very much, Takifu-san. We had already loaded up all the dishes and cooking utensils, so we thought we would have our meals at the food stalls.”
“That was just fine. Also, that box contains preserved food, snacks, and water, so you can load them together later and eat them at your leisure.”
The snacks lined up were wild chicken sandwiches and white stew with root vegetables, both made by the Casemaian ladies. They had made a large quantity of these for our long trip.
“…Wait a minute, Takifu, where did you get this much food?”
“I told you this guy was a merchant, right? So it’s a business secret.”
“Is that so? The kingdom’s merchants are amazing.”
“…No, it’s not like that.”
The only one who barely questioned it was McCain, a relatively rational shield user. The others didn’t care and probably didn’t think anything of it.
“Wow, this is delicious!”
“The sauce in the middle is different. I’ve never had anything like it.”
The meal and snacks were well received, and a satisfied Nora-chan seemed to be in a good mood as she wrapped herself around Moff after the meal.
I served them a pot of herbal tea and asked Calmon about his future plans.
“So, Calmon, I heard you are returning to your hometown. Do you have any money to support your family?”
“We just have to go back to my parents’ house in Lafan. My father is a hired fisherman there, and my wife’s family has a small farm. We are not rich, but we have enough to eat.”
Lafan is a port town, right? It’s perfect for my seaside paradise plan to enjoy fresh seafood. But it’s winter, so we can’t go swimming. I’ll have to wait for another chance to go swimming. And, as Myrril-san requested, a sea serpent hunt.
“If you have your own boat instead of being a hired hand, will you be a fisherman too, Calmon? We have some requests, so it would be nice to know someone who knows a fisherman.”
“I’ve been fishing since I was a kid, so it’s not like I can’t do it. Where would I get the money for that? Even a second-hand boat costs at least twenty gold coins, and a new boat at least a hundred gold coins.”
“Hey, Takifu, what are you wasting time on?”
I tried to give it to him right in front of his house, you know? But you got angry, so I had to stop talking. So, it’s all my fault if you ask me.
“If it’s money, it’s here. That’s what I came here today to talk about.”
When I handed him the bag containing the heavy gold coins, he froze and stopped moving.
“First, one. And two, three… and this one is in silver, so use it to buy what you need for your move.”
I put the second and subsequent ones on the floor, thinking they were too heavy for his right arm, which was still recovering from the injury.
At first, the wife looked at us suspiciously, but when the gold coins spilled out of the bag that Calmon had dropped, she froze next to her husband as well.
It was heavy, so I could have given it to him after we got to Lafan, but he would need the funds in advance as well. Above all, leaving a familiar town with no money and leaving with warm pockets are two different feelings, aren’t they?
Three bags with a hundred gold coins in each. And one bag with a hundred silver coins in it.
This was still quite small compared to the total amount we had taken. The adventurer’s guild said that the total amount of damage was several thousand gold coins, but in reality, the figure was completely different.
However, most of the coins the bandits had accumulated were bulky, small denominations. I could have given more to Calmon if I had used silver or copper coins, but that would probably have interfered with the move. I’ll have to share those with the guys from Battlecry, as well.
“Hey, are you okay, Calmon?”
Louis and Tig poked at him, and Calmon and his wife, who had been frozen, reactivated.
“…Calmon, I’ve never seen this much gold in my life.”
“Me neither… I mean, hey, Takifu, wait a minute. What’s this?”
“What’s that? It’s your share of the business. I had it, and I’m here to give it to you.”
“Why the hell would I get a share for a failed request? And for such a large sum of money?”
“I’m telling you, you risked your life to protect…”
“I didn’t! I killed my client!”
Calmon was about to close in on me, but Myrril-san stopped him with a flick of her finger.
“Don’t be a fool. It wasn’t that scum and villain you were protecting. It was the pride of an adventurer, of a man.”
Next to us, the Battlecry guys nodded their heads. I’d only known them from the East-West squabbling, but Tig and the others seemed to approve of Calmon. I mean, otherwise, they wouldn’t have risked their lives to save him.
“You did a good job, Calmon. To tell you the truth, you are the only decent one among the people in the west. I’ve seen you get the short end of the stick so many times before, and I think this finally makes up for it.”
“You deserve to get what you deserve. Accept it with pride.”
Seeing Mr. and Mrs. Calmon receiving the money with tears in their eyes, I felt a bit of a weight lifted off my shoulders.
“Also, I think it would be better if your wife kept this.”
“…What is it?”
“It’s a precious metal. It’s for use in case of emergencies. Nothing very expensive or rare.”
“On the other hand, it’s hard to trace.”
Myrril-san, you’re so blunt.
“Thank you very much. I will do my best not to sell it.”
I thought it was quiet, but then I realized that Nora-chan was asleep, curled up under Moff.
“I appreciate you for giving me this money, but it’s a lot of money. If I get my hands on this kind of money, I’ll attract a lot of troublesome people.”
“Hmm. That’s not a big problem.”
“You don’t think they’ll come?”
“No, I don’t think so. On this trip, the bandit guild will be after you for sure.”
“But that’s our problem, so don’t worry about it. You can look at it as if you were on a big boat.”
I told Mr. and Mrs. Calmon, who were not quite sure what this was all about and how they were going to be involved, about the plan again.
“The money includes an apology for acting as bait. Of course, we will be responsible for escorting you. We won’t let anyone touch you or your family, so please bear with us for a little while.”
However, spending the night in a cheap tenement with a lot of money is a security and crime prevention issue, so we decided to have Calmon and his family and the Battlecry stay at our regular inn, the Wolf’s Tail Inn, for the night.
Moff will watch over the sleighs loaded with their belongings at the stables.
“We would leave tomorrow morning. Have a good meal and get some rest tonight.”