Along the way to the southern port city of Amar, I stopped by a small town at the foot of the mountain. I decided to share a room with a girl named Sharle, though it didn’t really matter since it’s only for a night.
Once I entered the room I booked, I immediately activated the TSS and went to the avatar menu to change into something lighter. It was a bit inconvenient how I couldn’t take off the power suit without the TSS, but without it, I would be more or less a regular person. I replaced my googles with a bluetooth earpiece. While I wore this, the amount of information that could be displayed, such as ammunition count or map information would be decreased compared to just wearing the goggles.
Even though I wasn’t wearing the goggles, the map display still floated right there just like usual… In VMB, any headgear without goggles tended to have some sort of downside. Though, there were some players who liked the extra challenge in combat. This kind of headgear was usually worn in non-combat areas. Normally, the only way to see the UI in-game without goggles or similar gear was by activating the TSS.
I’ve noticed this a while ago but due to parts of the game assimilating with my body, I was now able to switch my different google views, such as NV and IR, with a mental command instead of switching it normally. And now, I could see the map without even wearing goggles.
“I’m becoming more and more like a monster, aren’t I–”
Compared to when I first arrived in this world, I no longer felt as much disgust in regard to what I was becoming. The feeling would surface a little when I noticed the inhuman changes such as these.
Could it be, I thought to myself, and after removing my power suit, tried to exercise a little .It seemed that the power suit’s strengthening effect could not activate unless I’m wearing it. I wondered if it was impossible to begin with, or if it needed a little bit of time to unlock… I didn’t know.
“You, what are you doing in your underwear like that?”
My whole body trembled upon hearing that voice. Glancing at the map, there was indeed a dot in the room. When I looked toward the direction of Sharle-san who was sharing the room with me.
“A-A light exercise before going to bed?”
“I see… But, people only do that kind of thing when they’re staying in a single room, right?”
“You’re right… Are you going to take a nap as well?”
“No, I’m not! I just came to check the interior of the room! I’m going to go shopping in the town, so keep the door locked!”
Sharle-san said before she disappeared back into the hallway.
“— Time to sleep.”
I locked the door as Sharle-san advised and laid down on one of the beds that were separated by a small table with a lamp. For the first time in a while, I slept in a bed until it was time for dinner.
I awoke when I felt hungry. When I checked the time it was already 20:00. My room was on the second floor — but the noise coming from downstairs still reached here. It was about time. I put my power suit back on and changed into an acceptable suit of clothes before heading down stairs.
There were many round tables in the tavern, of which most were occupied by men who had just finished their daily work. I looked for a vacant table and found one occupied by just one person. Sitting at that table was a red haired girl, Sharle-san. Since there weren’t any other vacant tables, let’s just join her.
“Sharle-san, do you mind if I sit here at this table as well?”
Sharle-san didn’t appear to have eaten yet. She was just drinking what seemed to be a fruit wine when I called out to her. She responded by looking left and right —
“There seems to be no other empty seats, so go ahead.”
I sat across from her and asked the waitress for dinner as she moved about. There was only beer and water to drink. Normally, I wouldn’t want to drink alcohol when I had to operate firearms, so I rarely drank liquor. But considering I was at the tavern, it’d be boring if I ordered plain water. I ended up ordering beer then asked Sharle-san if she wanted to add anything. We then waited for our food.
It was nice and all to wait for the meal… Although the silence between Sharle-san and I felt a tad bit awkward. It’s not that I expected that we would have a friendly conversation right away but she didn’t seem to have any intention of talking. Instead, she stared at me while sipping her drink.
“What is it…?”
And once again, seemingly isolated from those around us, the silence between us continued.
“Customers, thank you for waiting patiently~”
The waitress finally came with trays with food in each hand and served us. The beer also appeared before me, ready to be drunk.
“Ara, this brother. It’s nice to have people thank me like this. You’re so kind.”
“Is that so? Then please give me a bottle of this, I feel like drinking a little after so long. You can keep this for yourself.”
I handed the waitress two silver coins.
“Really~! Thank you kind brother~!”
The waitress put her arms around my neck and gave me a light hug as I sat. She then proceeded to ;eave after saying “I’ll be right back with the order~”. Alright, let’s enjoy dinner now. A bowl of vegetable soup with black bread and a plate of roasted thigh of some sort of bird. It must have been sprinkled with some spices as I could tell by the simulating fragrances—
I heard a muffled response.
“That glass is already empty?”
Ah, so that’s how it is…
“Brother, sorry for the wait~”
The waitress returned with the bottle of beer and a stand. She placed the stand on one corner of the table and laid the bottle on top of it. On top of the bottle was a wax with a sign on it instead of a stopper.
“Enjoy your meal and drink slowly~”
The waitress left with a small wave and onto the next order.
“This bottle is actually bigger than I thought– I don’t think I could finish it alone– Ah that’s right, how about Sharle-san join me? Also, order some food for yourself in the meantime. It’ll be on my tab, unless you’ve already eaten dinner?”
I made a blatant attempt to cover her. Sharle squinted at me as she pretended to sip on her glass. Probably to guess what my real intention was.
“Are you by chance trying to get me drunk?”
“I’m a C ranked adventurer.”
“And I’m a D ranked adventurer.”
“Even if I’m drunk, I’ll still kill you if you attack me.”
“Rather than you, I’d prefer to attack that sister earlier.
“Am I not attractive in your eyes?”
“I’m not attractive in your eyes?”
“I’m not interested in young girls.”
“… You prefer mature women?”
“At least the same age at minimum.”
“Do you really not want to attack me?”
“I won’t. Are you going to eat or not?”
Instead of Sharle-san, it was her stomach that replied.
“Big si~s, I’m ordering another serving of dinner here!~ A large one!”
While I watched Sharle stand and shout her order with vigor while swinging her empty glass, I dug into my meat after taking a sip of my beer. The bottle was pretty big, maybe two to three litres worth of beer. With the size of the glass, there was no way I could finish it in two or three chugs. But thanks to the delicious food, drinking it couldn’t have been easier. It was the same for Sharle-san as she ate what I ate and chugged her drink.
“Puhhaa~! At first, I thought you were one of those ill-behaved young noblemen, but it turns out you aren’t! Ah, pour more beer!”
“Yes, yes — sure, here you go.”
“You, what is your name again?”
“Ah, so that’s your name. You said D rank, which means you’re allowed to explore labyrinths already. Where have you been exploring so far.”
“I was based in the Fort City of Barga”
“Barga? I heard in passing that the Wolf Labyrinth has been conquered. And you left without trying to earn more money during the Harvest Festival?”
“Yeah, there is another place I need to be. I’m on my way to Amar.”
“Eh? I’m also heading to Amar.”
I received an empty glass from her, filled it, and handed it back.
“Here you go.”
What? This girl can actually say thank you?
“So, our destination is the same huh~, I see – I see! Then, I will escort Schwartz there! Of course, there will be a charge! Crossing the mountain will be tough for the D Ranked Schwartz after all. There’s a magic mine over in the mountain, and monsters tend to appear frequently there. But it’s going to be fine, cause you have the C ranked me to escort you. No more worries~”
“Eh? You don’t have to.”
“No no no, you’re probably overconfident in your strength, but that’s normal for a new adventurer. You probably feel strangely confident after surviving a few battles. Compared to me, you don’t even know how many dead or alive situations I’ve gone through.”
“But thank goodness, you’ll have me to teach you the fundamentals for being an adventurer. But of course, it won’t be for free!”
At that point, I realized that there was no use in rebuking her. Before I knew it, an escort contract from this town to Amar that included adventurer and survival training, such as handling prey, had been made. All I wanted was just to head toward Amar as soon as possible… But I bet she’ll just say. ‘Me too! I can certainly make the journey faster!’ if I tried to reject her offer.