Lufin wine was sweet and easy to drink.
Its fresh fragrance tickled the nose, it reminded a bit of pure fruit juice.
But it had a good amount of alcohol, blending that adult taste into it.
It appeared to be extremely popular among women, and yeah, with that taste I could really understand that.
And as a fruit wine, it didn't have the bitterness of beer, either.
"Ahh, this is pretty good," I splendidly emptied my mug in one go and ordered another from the staff.
"You're good yourself, missy, but I can't let you beat me."
Seeing me drink, the handsome guy increased his own drinking pace to catch up to me.
So~~mehow I can see ulterior motives there.
Don't think you can do whatever you like with me even if I get smashed!
"Would you not say drinking while judging the state of a lady is unmanly? ——or did you have some inappropriate thoughts?"
With quite an amazing smile, Ilya warned the handsome guy.
Ah, a beauty glaring at you is intense...
"Heh, don't rush me, we're just warming up, right, Misses?
The handsome guy was rather bold, it seemed.
Please look after me, Ilya.
"——still, a match is a bore if we don't bet something, like those boys over there."
I could see a vein pop on Ilya's temple.
She was still smiling, but...
"...what would you have in mind?"
"Heh, nothing much. If I win, the miss here and I spend the n-woah."
"Hahh? Did you say something?"
Ilya-san, if you stab knives at people's hands, you might cut off some fingers, you know?
Ilya was smiling after she stabbed the knife from the food between the handsome guy's fingers.
Nono, that's scary, okay!
"Wow, that's scary, blond Miss."
"Well, calm down. I like the women, but I'm no monster. A date in the evening is all I want. How about that?"
That show-off winked again.
It looked quite catching, so I couldn't laugh.
But it looks like it didn't work on Ilya.
"You're a tough one! Hey, how about you, silver Miss? We're talking about you here?"
While they were talking, I had emptied another big mug.
This is so nice...
"Ahh~, this might be delicious.... eh? Ah, a date? Ah, having fun, right? Sure~"
I wonder what she has, I'm in a great mood here...
"Hyahaha, you get it, Miss."
In high spirits, the handsome guy also ordered his second mug.
"Then if I win~, you're going to settle the bills for everyone here tonight, okay~"
Whooooooo, the people around us cheered.
I answered by waving back.
What is this~, I'm in a good mood~
"H-hoh? You sure know how to play the game, silver Miss? Sounds fun, I'm in!"
With the terms clear, the handsome guy's eyes turned serious.
His cheek muscles seemed to be twitching, though.
Anyhow, he looked motivated.
His eyes were glittering.
We daringly glared at each other.
Next to us, Ilya seemed upset for some reason.
"...hey, blond Miss."
"Humans can smile like that?"
"It would seem so."
Next to me, Ilya and the handsome guy were talking.
What is that all about?
"Ahahahaha! What's with you, you keep your hat on even inside? Ahahaha!"
"This is my style! Hey, silver Miss, aren't you drinking too much!? Are you alright!? Uargs"
With a pale face, the handsome guy held his mouth.
Wimp. He should've had two mugs less than me...
"Well, ignoring who is more smashed, the match is decided, is it it not?"
"Ridiculous, this is... I... against such a Miss? Uargs."
"Is it not?"
Pressured by Ilya, the handsome guy nodded while he kept moaning.
"Urg... a man doesn't go back on his word. I just need to pay, alright? Alright?"
"Ahahaha, have you heard that, guys~~?"
Whooooow, the cheers rose again.
"You heard the lady! Eat more~! Drink more~! Today, everything's that dude's treat!"
It turned into a hearty revelry.
Ahhhh, what is this, I feel really good...
Ilya, what's with you? You look so kyeewt...
"Ilya, come on~ you're not gonna drink with me~?"
"If I drink as well, the wolves around us will get wrong ideas."
"Hmm? I don't really get it, but well, alright."
Still, this is boring~
Having nobody to drink with is boring~
There's someone good~
——The case of Takeshi
"Damn, my head's killing me... shit."
"Don't drink with such a depressing face."
First, I headed to the boy who had lit the fuse to the drinking matches.
It looks like he's drunk quite a bit, but he's lost to the other one over there.
I think the other one said he'd chat me up in case he won, but the girl was considerately keeping him company.
Hah, this is beyond hope...
"Woah, who are you!?"
"Oh shut up, Takeshi. You sure you're alright with losing to him?"
"Who's Takeshi! I've never even heard the name!?"
Apparently getting talked back to with a frown comes with some pressure.
"Who cares about names."
"That's way too arbitrary! Ouc-, shit, my head rings..."
"Pathetic, you're really pathetic. Won or lost, you're beyond hope. Are you stupid? You think that's cool?"
I think if Takeshi had won, he'd have gone out with that girl, was it?
Oh, well, who cares about the details..
"Shaddup. What would a woman know of my feelings!"
"Hah, you can't win, drown your worries in booze and bother strangers with them. Of course she won't look at you then."
He vigorously reached for my collar to draw me up——and stopped as Ilya lay her knife against his throat.
Ilya's so cute~~
"If you have this much energy, then direct it at her."
"Have you ever told that girl your feelings?"
"...but... Cyra likes him..."
Takeshi visibly faltered.
I took a big gulp from my mug.
Ilya's face looked a bit displeased.
"But you still like her, don't you?"
"There's no guarantee. But it'll never be over like this, will it? Your love."
Ah, come to think of it, back when I was in the soccer club, I get the feeling I'd been asked for advice like this a lot.
I'd listened to people's worries so much it had tired me out.
I still couldn't leave them alone though.
"Have some courage. And if it's still no good... I'll join you when you drink your worries away again."
I made an encouraging, good smile.
Oh, who cares.
——The case of Kenji
When Takeshi had formed some sort of resolve, the other boy had shaken off the girl and moved to a seat at the counter.
"You drinking, Kenji?"
He looked at me quizzically when I sat down next to him.
"Weren't you going to chat me up if you won the match?"
"Heh, I know, you used me as an excuse. You're also quite the pussy."
"What would you know about it!"
He hadn't done anything in particular, but Ilya was warningly knocking her knife's grip against the counter.
It made a pretty good sound.
The faces of the staff cramped, though.
"Dunno. You think keeping quiet and running away is manly?"
"Are her feelings or your feelings ever going to settle if you're acting that vague?"
I ordered the next big mug from the old guy at the counter.
Ilya seemed about to cry.
"I'm an outsider, so in the end whatever I say is irresponsible. If I were in your shoes, I'd probably be lost, too. But you know," I stopped for a moment and smiled at the boorish Kenji. "If those two are important to you, then treat them with your utmost sincerity. Otherwise you'll regret it."
Kenji looked like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
"Sorry.... you're right. You're a good woman, Sis."
"Have a good love, Kenji."
I raised the mug in my hand for a toast.
By the way, what am I doing here?
When I returned to the table we'd been at in the beginning, I patted the handsome guy sitting there with his head hanging, on the back.
"Owouch! Wait, no? Wait, what are you doing, silver Miss!"
"Why so gloomy? Thanks to you, at least those two boys' mood has cleared!"
"Hahh? And your tone...?"
The handsome guy quizzically looked at Ilya.
Ilya shook her head in exasperation.
"Sometimes, relaxing like this is fine, too..."
I took one coin from the leather bag hanging at my waist.
I flicked it onto the table.
"It's been a blast. If this isn't enough for everyone's tabs, you pay the rest."
A noticeably loud cheer arose around us.
Without turning towards them, I say bye and waved as I left, my back toward them.
Instead, Ilya made a proper bow, though.
"Sis... you're so cool."
I left the dining hall in a pretty good mood.
——The next day
The moment I woke up, I was assaulted by a furious headache.
"My head hurts... what's... going on..."
Ilya looked at me with a difficult mien. Why is it you don't answer me!?
"Did she do something, dragon lass?" Till, who had returned at some point, looked at me through half-opened eyes.
Just what had happened to me!?
"It was nothing of importance, but... I believe it would be better for Milady to abstain from drinking."
I didn't catch the latter half properly, but Till nodded exasperatedly.
"One will head out again. You at least make the dragon lass's class-up," Till said and strode out of the room.
Her harshness kinda makes her cute, that Till...
"Mmm... I wonder when we have to checkout. If we stay another two nights in this room, maybe we should make reservations already."
I took the coins from the leather bag on the shelf.
"Hm? Isn't there a gold coin missing...?"
"...you are imagining things, Milady."
"I-I do? If you say so, Ilya."
This is weird...
Anyway, my head hurts and I can't think properly.
"Sorry, Ilya. May I lay down for a while?"
"Of course, Alice-sama. Should I bring you some water?"
"Hehe, as I thought. I like this Alice-sama."
"But that one really is..."
For some reason Ilya blushed. Then she quickly got up from her chair to get water.
I don't really get it, but there's a lot for us to do today.
As Till said, Ilya's class-up is indispensable if we're thinking about the future.
We need to quickly find the Ruins around here and get it done with.
If it's Ilya and I as we are now, there's no way we can't make it.
Also, I want to take an easy job from the Guild here.
Have to pay traveling expenses.
Besides, leaving aside whether I buy it or not, I need new equipment.
I picked up the Lightning Rod at my bedside.
"Since it's cracked, I guess I can't use it anymore..."
In fact, when I had recklessly gone out on my own and thrust it into the mouth of that bear, it seems the lightning jewel cracked and it doesn't give off lightning strikes anymore.
With that, in combat it's nothing but a wooden stick.
No matter how much I mainly fight with magic, it's still harsh.
"But I still don't want to throw it away..."
I gently put the rod back and sighed.
Either way, there's a lot to do.
It wasn't the time to remain in bed.
But thinking really made my head hurt...
Ilya came back with just the right timing.
While being healed by Ilya's smile, I took the glass and drank.