Chapter 1-16 : Critical Situation Ⅱ (part 2)
「Fufufu. Do you mean you’re happy to be saved, but you don’t want to live in debt? Don’t worry, it’s not like I will cut your entire salary, you know?」(Sarasa)
「S, Store Owner-dono, when should we pay off our debt?」(Iris)
Iris-san raised her hand anxiously and asked me such a question.
「Umm… I don’t know how good you two are as Collectors…」(Sarasa)
「We’re pretty skilledーー No…」(Kate)
「It’s not convincing at all since I got terribly injured while working… But we promise, we’ll do our best!」(Iris)
With a slightly stiff face, Iris-san declared her determination.
I think they have confidence in their skills since they came to this village to enter the Great Sea of Trees.
So I guess Iris-san got seriously injured on her first time entering that place is just bad luck and has nothing to do with their skills.
「Rest assured. I won’t rush you to pay the debt.」(Sarasa)
「R, Really? I’m sorry for the trouble, and thank you so much!」(Iris)
As soon as Iris-san made a relieved faceー
ーher stomach growled.
Her face then turned bright red.
Heeー I didn’t know Iris-san could be this cute~
「Are you hungry?」(Sarasa)
「Ah, no… Umm….」(Iris)
「I have food in stock, would you like to have some?」(Sarasa)
「Eh? No, no. I can’t cause you more trouble!」(Iris)
「She’s right. You’re generous enough for lending us rooms. We will eat outside by ourselves.」(Kate)
「But you guys have to save money, right? It’s not a big deal, so please don’t hesitate.」(Sarasa)
「But, are you sure…?」(Iris)
「Of course! Lorea-chan, can you prepare the meal?」(Sarasa)
After seeing Lorea-chan walking toward the kitchen, I turned to Iris-san and looked at her whole body.
Umm… Her body is still kind of dirty.
「Iris-san… No, Kate-san too. You two can take a bath before eating.」(Sarasa)
「Both of you are gonna live here for a while, so don’t hesitate to take a bathー No. You two MUST take a bath! I don’t like it if there are girls with dirt on their bodies living in my house!」(Sarasa)
「Uhh… Am I that dirty…?」(Iris)
Iris-san looked down.
My outspoken words might have hurt her feelings.
However, I think I have to tell both of them firmly about this.
Hygiene is important for alchemy after all.
「I wiped your body yesterday, but it’s hard to say that it completely cleaned your body.」(Sarasa)
「Hm!? So… the one who wiped my body was…」(Iris)
「Yup. It was me. You were so dirty, so I removed all of your clothes and wiped every inch of your body.」(Sarasa)
「Eh!? I thought it was Kate!」(Iris)
Iris-san glared at Kate-san, but Kate-san shook her head.
「W, Well, you were already naked before I knew it, so…. Ah! But I was the one who dressed you in nightwear!」(Kate)
It looks like Iris-san didn’t want others to see her naked.
She dropped her shoulders.
I don’t understand why she’s so upset.
It’s not like she has been seen by a man.
Anyway, I should prepare a bath for them.
I left them, went to the bathroom, and filled the tub with water magic.
When I came back to the store area, Iris-san didn’t look gloomy anymore.
Kate-san must have said something to cheer her up.
「The bath is ready. You guys can use it now.」(Sarasa)
「Thank you very much… Also, thank you for wiping my body yesterday.」(iris)
「Well, alchemists are like doctors after all, so it’s natural for me to take care of an injured person like you, so you don’t have to worry about it.」(Sarasa)
「Yes, I know… but still…」(Iris)
Iris-san smiled bitterly.
Looks like she is still embarrassed.
Well, I can understand.
Actually, I was also a little embarrassed when I removed her clothes and saw her naked.
However, it was only for a short time because I was immediately overwhelmed by how intense the situation was.
「Iris, you said you won’t worry about that anymore, didn’t you? Let’s take a bath. Store Manager, thank you for preparing the bath.」(Kate)
「No problem. Please clean your body as well as possible.」(Sarasa)
Kate-san then helped Iris-san walk to the bathroom.
◇ ◇ ◇
「Can you tell me about the monster that attacked you yesterday?」(Sarasa)
After Iris-san and Kate-san finished showering and eating, I asked them so.
From what Kate-san told me yesterday, I could guess that it must be a Hellfire Grizzly, but I asked them once again just to be sure.
「Umm. It looked like a bear with four arms, and it was about twice my height. That bear was really big.」(Iris)
Iris-san stood up and raised her arm, trying to tell me how big the monster was.
「…Even though you’re quite tall, that monster was twice as tall as you, huh…?」(Sarasa)
「Yes. Also, its body was about one meter in width.」(Iris)
「Its fur was red, and it spat fire from its mouth. Its body was hard to cut, and it also has claws that were strong enough to deflect Iris’ sword away.」(Kate)
「Aa! That reminds me! Where is my sword!?」(Iris)
Kate-san shook her head awkwardly.
「I’m sorry. I couldn’t afford to collect it…」(Kate)
「I see… No, it’s okay. I never thought that I would lose it…」(Iris)
Iris-san made a pitiful expression and let out a big sigh.
I think Kate-san is amazing enough to be able to retrieve Iris-san’s severed arm in such a dangerous situation.
「Hmm… Those characteristics… Plus, it also has poison in its claws… There’s no doubt that it was a Hellfire Grizzly… How far was the place where you met this monster from this village? 」(Sarasa)
「It wasn’t that far, right?」(Iris)
Iris-san turned her gaze at Kate-san to confirm.
Kate-san thought for a moment and then nodded.
「Yeah. I don’t think it was that far from here. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to bring Iris here. I was running desperately that time, but I think it was less than twenty minutes to get here.」(Kate)
「That’s pretty close… Sarasa-san, are we gonna be okay…?」(Lorea)
「Umm….. They’re not that strong as a monster, but…」(Sarasa)
Listening to what I said, Iris-san looked at me with her eyes wide open.
「What!? That bear is not that strong, you say!?」(Iris)
「Yes. But as a monster, not a beast.」(Sarasa)
Monsters and beasts.
Although there is no clear definition about them, generally, creatures that cannot be killed by hunters, and creatures that pose a threat to humans, are classified as ‘monsters’.
To put it simply, “if the creature is strong, it’s a monster”.
Hellfire Grizzly is also a kind of monster.
However, according to Iris-san, the Hellfire Grizzly she met was about below average in size from the normal Hellfire Grizzly, so from my point of view, it shouldn’t have been a threat.
「Was it your first time seeing a monster?」(Sarasa)
「Yes. Honestly, I’m confident with my fighting skill though…」(Iris)
Iris-san and Kate-san nodded at me and showed a slight depression.
But I don’t think they need to be depressed like that.
Being able to escape from a monster when you have never seen one before is lucky enough.
Monsters are dangerous after all.
「But normally, such monsters should live deeper in the forest. It would be really bad if they entered this village…」(Sarasa)
「Sa, Sarasa-san, they won’t come, right? The villagers will be just fine, right?」(Lorea)
「Umm… I don’t know…」(Sarasa)
I wanted to reassure Lorea-chan, but I couldn’t just lie to her.
After I answered her honestly that I don’t know, Lorea-chan began to panic.
Even though she has never seen a Hellfire Grizzly before, she knew how dangerous that monster was after seeing Iris-san’s terrible condition yesterday.
Even Iris-san, who said that she was confident with her fighting ability, almost died fighting that monster, so I can understand why Lorea-chan is so panicked.
「I, In a case like this, should we ask the feudal lord for help?」(Lorea)
「I also think so, but I don’t know if the feudal lord will help us…」(Sarasa)
The current situation is like “There are monsters in the forest”, but the people who potentially become victims are the Collectors who go there, knowing that it might endanger them.
That’s why the feudal lord wouldn’t really care about this matter.
It’s hard to get the feudal lord’s attention by just saying “The monsters might endanger us” because deploying soldiers costs a lot of money.
A competent feudal lord will deal with a problem before it damages a village.
An ordinary feudal lord will deal with a problem after it damages a village.
An incompetent feudal lord will ignore a problem even after it damages a village.
However, if a village disappeared because of a feudal lord’s incompetence, that feudal lord would receive punishment from the king, so that would most likely not happen.
「Do you know what this region’s feudal lord is like?」(Sarasa)
When I asked Lorea-chan so, she shook her head.
Well, it’s normal that a young girl like her doesn’t know about the feudal lord here.
Iris-san answered me in place of Lorea-chan.
「From my point of view, the feudal lord here is almost at the level of ‘incompetent’.」(Iris)
After Iris-san made a merciless evaluation of the feudal lord, Lorea-chan made a little surprised face and looked down.
Lorea-chan must be worried about the safety of this village because she was born and raised here.
Not only her, I’m also worried because the probability that the next victim would be one of my acquaintances is not low.
For example, Ells-san’s husband, Jasper-san, often went into the forest to hunt.
I don’t want to see Ells-san’s sad face after losing her husband…
「…Alright. I’ll go kill that monster and use its body parts as materials for alchemy!」(Sarasa)
Iris-san, Kate-san, and Lorea-chan simultaneously looked at me with shocked expressions.