A Day of Punishment
You could very well call it inevitable.
After our reunion, Shion-san led us through the ruins straight to the exit.
Finding out what else the ruins held would wait for another time.
The exit wasn't that far away.
On the way, we encountered bears twice, but with Shion-san, they posed no problem whatsoever.
...really none whatsoever.
I'm not going to be surprised anymore.
But this time, it was Shion-san's turn to be surprised.
"Eh!? One hit!?"
Her eyes widened at the power of the Thunder I had let loose from behind her.
Apparently my Thunder does have the power to fell bears in one hit.
Well, that still doesn't give any new, weird ideas.
And then we returned to Rinnal.
To my home (temporary).
"And this person, he was so worried about you, Alice-chan, he went round and round and round in circles, you know? He just should've kept you here in the first place, right?"
Aunty was talking to me with a smile on her face, but I just couldn't get myself to say "yes".
I only apologized.
I profoundly apologized to Uncle, too.
There was this weird feeling of guilt pushing me.
By the way, Shion-san had found uncle acting suspiciously, cornered him with questions and found out about my outing that way.
She'd managed to find me because apparently I'd still been partied with her and through looking at the Status, it seems you can roughly locate your party members.
No, really, I'm sorry.
I clenched my fists, resolved myself and presented Uncle my head.
It's still scary though.
I mean, I don't think (leveled up to) level 6 me's armor stand up to an attack from level 38 Uncle.
"Some recklessness suits you young'uns just fine."
And then he made a sombre face and went into the house.
Behind us, Aunty and Shion-san were whispering.
"Oh? He clearly loves Alice."
"Come on, that man. That's so wrong for his age."
I'm not into men...
The next day, I was prohibited from adventuring.
As punishment, I was to help all around the house, run errands and the like.
It's a punishment in name, but since I'm a freeloader I think helping out is natural. They're really a nice family.
"For the floor, it's okay if I sweep it with the broom and clean it with a cloth afterwards, right?"
Since it's early in the morning, I'm to start with the cleaning.
Unsurprisingly my long hair would get in the way, so I got it tied into a ponytail with a ribbon from Aunty.
No, I never said I want a ribbon!?
Aunty did it for me, okay!
"Oh my, you're so cute, Alice-chan!
"Eh, really? Really..."
It's fine that she's happy over it, but I can't honestly share that feeling. Is that due to my male heart?
I don't want to lose it, that feeling.
My eyes met Uncle's, who had taken position on the sofa in the living room.
With his dandy face he gave me an approving nod.
... it's not like I care, but doesn't this guy have a job to do?
What day is it again today?
For now, let's ignore the sloth and start working.
The house is built with wood, so the cleaning is basically the same as it was in school.
By the way, we get water from the well.
It seems there's abundant underground water that's easily tapped with a hand pump.
The pump is right in the garden, so the labor is not that heavy.
...if you have normal Endurance and Strength.
Filling the bucket and carrying it back inside is quite exhausting.
There may be more than plenty of water underground, but I should still treasure the water I fetch.
Alright, everything's prepared, let's start cleaning from the high places.
I began wiping the tops of the shelves and the window frames with a cloth.
"Windows, huh... I wonder how they make the glass."
"Well, with alchemy of course."
Of course, huh, is that so.
Shion-san had come out of her room, replied to my murmur and gone back into her room.
When I turned around, Aunty was sewing at the living room table.
Her hands were glowing.
She was changing the Petite Panther's Furs I had provided into a Leather Robe.
There's no denying it's handmade, yet different from being sewn stitch by stitch.
Fantasy, is amazing.
And Uncle, still sitting on the sofa, gave me a thumbs up.
Whatever, just get to work.
After cleaning the bath, I cleaned the kitchen and then the rest of the house, apart from everyone's rooms.
Because I got up so early, the sun hasn't completely risen yet.
This world isn't yet enslaved to time through clocks.
When the sun may or may not have completely gone up, the church bell rings, and when it may or may not have gone down, it rings once more.
So in the morning, the bell rings with sunrise.
Well, I like it better when the time flows leisurely like this.
The Japanese are too hectic.
For lunch, I ate a bit of the bread Aunty had prepared.
I again confirmed once more that the food isn't that different.
The bread was just like baguette, with some sort of meat and something like lettuce sandwiched in it.
I really want mustard.
As far as appetite goes, I really can't eat anymore since my body shrunk.
One slice of bread, cut so that it fits on the palm of my hand, is the limit.
Uncle and Shion-san are total gluttons though, they eat uncut breads whole.
They must have a high Engel's coefficient.
From noon, I was to run errands.
With that, I should learn a bit about the price level, too.
Aunty gave me 100 Rook and sent me on my first errand.
1 Rook = 1 copper coin.
100 Rook = 1 silver coin.
10.000 Rook = 1 gold coin.
That's how the money in this world works.
I received one silver coin and put it into the small pouch hanging from my belt.
All things considered, this is a tranquil town.
Well, my family home was in the boonies, so it's no big difference to there.
"Ahhh, there's a weird Silver Hair! Silver Hair, Silver Hair!"
On the way, some weird stupid brat picked a fight with me.
It's annoying, but I don't want to cause Shion-san trouble, so let's not be rash.
Why did you just introduce yourself so triumphantly?
You're just Stupid Brat with somewhat reddish, frizzy hair.
"... ehhhm, Kal-kun?"
"You, what grade are you in?"
Maybe I should tear him a new one after all?
I wonder, do I gain proficiency from releasing magic against humans?
I'm suddenly in the mood for some inhuman experiments.
I'm also reflecting at the moment!
I'm not going to cause problems!
"Alice~? Silver-Haired Alice~! So weird!"
He ran circles around me as if he'd found something funny.
Just when I had started to rather seriously think about bringing hell on earth upon this brat, someone hit him over the head with their fist.
"You're an embarrassment, so stop! I'm really sorry!"
A girl with the same somewhat reddish, frizzy hair as the stupid brat.
Her skin is a healthy light brown and the freckles suit her superbly.
His sister, probably, earnestly apologized for the stupid brat and dragged him away.
That's one of the things that happened.
And like that, I went along the main road and toured the shops. Although it was noon, there weren't many people around.
A fruit store, a vegetable store, a butcher, there was even a fish dealer.
Since they have fish, does that mean there's a sea nearby?
I can't think they'd refrigerate the fish and carry it from afar.
For the time being, I went around the shops without buying anything.
One rinnal costs 3 Rook.
A vegetable that looks like nothing but a large radish costs 1 Rook.
A fillet of unidentifiable meat, 5 Rook.
4 Rook for a mackerel-looking fish.
Well, even if I buy foodstuff for the whole family and go back, there'll be change left.
They left what I buy to me, too, since I'm in charge of dinner for the day, so I guess I'll make curry. I can make it after all.
Just when I was about to start buying, a large carriage came onto the main road.
It seemed unusual for the residents as well, as it gathered a lot of stares.
Of course, I'm part of that crowd, too.
The carriage has a splendid design and is a pleasure to behold for a newbie at other worlds like me.
... is what I thought at first, but there's something slightly ominous about it.
Taking a closer look at it as it comes closer, the load area is built like a cage.
It remains a fact though that it's extremely impressive.
A cage blending into that design.
That's my impression.
And the coachman handling the horse as well the man sitting beside him are considerably suspicious, too.
The coachman wears a quite unsociable, cold expressionlessness, but with his black hair and black eyes, well, he's handsome.
He still has a mean look in the eyes.
Age-wise... maybe around Uncle's age?
He still has a mean look in the eyes.
I stared at him too intensely, so our eyes met.
Well, I don't care.
The man in the prime of his life next to him brought about the intensity of a mafioso, so to speak.
He had his hair all swept back and covered one eye with an eye-patch like Captain Hook.
His appearance implied there was no way he could be anything respectable.
Ahh, I mustn't get involved here.
If I do, Shion-san will be mad at me again.
I'm not interested! To get back to my shopping I... was on the verge of turning around.
I was on the verge, but.
As the carriage went past me, I could finally see what was on the loading area and turned back.
As I was the only person moving weirdly amidst the staring crowd, the person on the loading area shifted her attention to me, too.
She is around my age now?
Shoulder-length blond hair.
Tired green eyes, despaired of the world.
Her breasts don't have the volume of Shion-san's, but her body is round where it counts and tight where it's right; a model figure different from mine.
Like an exhibition piece, she was carried in the cage.
No, she was put on exhibition.
Maybe she picked up my murmured words, or maybe she guessed them, but she sorrowfully cast down her eyes.
The carriage just continued down the street.
Finally the people turned audience noisily returned to their daily work.
Among them, I continued to look after the carriage until the end.
Before it disappeared, I think "She" turned around and met my eyes once more.
- ↑ Engel's coefficient: Engel's law is an observation in economics stating that as income rises, the proportion of income spent on food falls, even if actual expenditure on food rises. (quoted from Wikipedia) In other words, Uncle and Shion-san spend more than average on food.