Chapter 2-24 : Business Competition Ⅰ (part 1)
The next day, after completing some errands, I headed to the cave where Ice Fang Bats live with Iris-san and the others, and made my debut as a mysterious masked rookie Collector with a fake name of “Shinjini”.
*/Shinjin means rookie or newcomer, and Sarasa simply changed it a little.
I’m using a fake name because I don’t want that merchant to find out that I can hunt Ice Fang Bats by myself.
I’m covering half of my face with a mask, so I thought I quite stood out among the Collectors who were gathering at the entrance of the cave, but then I noticed that people didn’t pay much attention to me.
The reason is…
Yep, as you guessed. It’s because this place is super stinky.
Therefore, I’m not the only one wearing a mask. I’m also wearing a robe with a hoodie for extra cover. This kind of outfit is actually pretty common here.
I haven’t seen anyone holding an umbrella so far. It seems that most people prefer to wear robes or coats to cover their bodies from the “stinky falling objects” in the cave.
People are not paying much attention to me, but the robe I’m wearing looks more neat and clean compared to theirs, so I feel like I stand out a bit.
「Alright then, Store Ownー」(Iris)
Iris-san almost called me “Store Owner-dono” like usual, so I cleared my throat loudly to warn her.
I put quite an effort dressing like this to cover my identity. I can’t let anyone find out before I even enter the cave.
「ーWoops. I mean, Shinjini. Shall we enter the cave now?」(Iris)
「Umu. Let’s enter.」(Sarasa)
When I replied to Iris-san in a dignified manner, Kate-san put her hand on her face to hide her expression somehow.
However, I could clearly see her shoulders shaking. It looked like she was trying to hold back laughter.
I was trying to talk like Master. I know it doesn’t suit me, but it can’t be helped, right!?
I changed the way I talk to hide my identity!
Geez. I want her to learn from Andre-san and his party members. They stay cool even thoughー
Hm…? Hold on…
I turned my gaze to Andre-san and his party members.
They are tapping each others’ shoulders and acting like they are laughing at something else, but I know they’re definitely laughing at me!
「Ugh… Le, Let’s go!」(Sarasa)
We couldn’t talk freely since there were so many Collectors near the entrance.
I stepped into the cave and started walking a little quickly to go deeper and find a place with no people as soon as possible. Iris-san and the others immediately followed me from behind.
Our destination is the innermost part of the cave where there are a lot of old Ice Fang Bats.
There are three reasons why we are aiming for that place.
First, is to avoid competitors as much as possible.
Most Collectors usually target Ice Fang Bats around the age of five, which live not too deep into the cave, because most Collectors find it troublesome to go deeper into the cave. Therefore, if we go all the way to the innermost part of the cave, there should be no competitors.
The second reason is to conserve the bats.
If we only hunt young Ice Fang Bats, I’m afraid it will affect their population because they are in a reproductive age only when they are young.
The last reason is to efficiently make that merchant spend his money.
As I said before, the older the bats are, the higher the quality of their fangs, meaning that we can sell them at a high price.
「Store Owner-dono, don’t you think this cave is very deep? It’s deeper than I expected.」(Iris)
「Geez, I told you to call me Shinjini.」(Sarasa)
「But there’s no one here except us now.」(Iris)
「Well, you’re right, but…」(Sarasa)
After we passed the place where we hunted Ice Fang Bats for the first time quite a while ago, we could no longer see other Collectors.
So we actually don’t have to bother to keep hiding my identity, but…
「Iris-san, I have a feeling that you will make the same mistake again, so I want you to continue calling me Shinjini.」(Sarasa)
「You’re right, Iris would likely make such a mistake again.」(Kate)
「Mumu! I’m not that careless, okay!?」(Iris)
Iris-san looked at me and Kate-san with an annoyed face.
It looked like she didn’t want to admit that she was quite a careless person.
「Kate-san, Kate-san. Look, the person who carelessly made a mistake right away even before we entered this cave is in denial.」(Sarasa)
「Ara ara, how untrustworthy.」(Kate)
Seeing me and Kate-san nodding to each other, Iris-san pouted her lips.
「Gununu! Okay, I admit I was careless back then, but…! Andre-san, please say something to them!」(Iris)
「Hmm, I think we should keep calling her… Shinjini, was it? It will only make us confused if we change the way we call her from time to time.」(Andre)
「He’s right. Not only you, we may also make the same mistake if we don’t get used to calling her that.」(Gil)
「Besides, we’re not necessarily alone in this area, so it’s best to be careful.」(Gray)
「I, I see… I guess you guys are right…」(Iris)
Iris-san nodded to Andre-san as if she was convinced.
As expected from veterans. They are not as old as they look but I know I can rely on them!
「By the way, I wonder why this cave is so deep.」(Andre)
「You guys never get to the deepest area?」(Sarasa)
「Yeah. We often work with Iris-chan and Kate-chan but we don’t usually go too deep.」(Andre)
「We never go further than the place where we went to hunt bats with you for the first time.」(Gil)
「There isn’t much benefit in going deeper. Besides, taking the bats’ corpses to the entrance will take more time.」(Gray)
Taking the bats’ corpses to the entrance is the most troublesome part in hunting Ice Fang Bats after all.
One of the Ice Fang Bats’ drawbacks is that they have more unnecessary body parts than necessary ones. After all, their fangs are their most valuable body part.