It had been a week since Mear-san departed. Everyone was a bit lonely at first, but the daily rush soon pushed that feeling aside. We’d known ahead of time that she would eventually leave, so we’d gradually phased her out of the schedule before she quit. There were no problems caused by her absence.
Today was my holiday, and I was looking around at some shops. As usual, I was looking for new skills, but apart from that, I was checking on current market trends — what was scarce, and what was abundant.
I was going to talk to Klua-san after this, anyway. We had an appointment. When we first signed the contract, we hadn’t intended to meet so often, but now we met about once a week. Having finished looking around in the market, I headed to the restaurant that was our meeting place.
Klua-san was waiting right at the entrance, so focused on fussing with her bangs that she didn’t notice me at first. Our eyes met once I got close, and she straightened up with a smile.
「Relius-san, thank you for taking the time to meet with me.」
「You really don’t have to go to all this trouble, you know.」
「No, it’s my obligation. I’ve already made our reservation, so please.」
The conversation started the same way it always did. At her invitation, I went on inside. It was the same restaurant where she drank herself under the table before.
That was probably why she seemed to tense up a little.
「Did you want to drink any alcohol today?」
「I, uhh… no, I’m not drinking.」
She turned away, pursing her lips. It was a rather cute expression… made me feel like teasing her more.
Maybe… Ristina-san was feeling the same way?
That cheeky junior suddenly came to mind.
No, she’s just making fun of me all the time, it’s different.
「Something wrong, Relius-san?」
「Ah, no. It’s the new part-time worker in the inn, I can’t do anything about her cheeky personality.」
「Yeah. She likes to make fun of people, but I can’t say anything because she does her job so well.」
「Really? Now that you mention it, for some reason I feel like I’d enjoy making fun of you.」
「Uh… did you also have that kind of personality?」
I might prefer if Klua-san was the one making fun of me, since I know she’s a kind girl. Ristina-san isn’t like that.
「Well, I’m half joking.」
In other words, the other half is serious. I really wouldn’t mind if Klua-san made fun of me. On the contrary, I had a sense that I’d like it, but I’ll just keep that to myself.
「So, what’s our business for today?」
「Huh…? Oh, right!」
Klua-san was biting her lip. I’d been gathering information about the market beforehand so I wouldn’t lose to Klua-san’s merchant knowledge. Even though I’m a craftsman, I’m still close to being a seller.
If you checked the market situation and figured out a new product for us to sell, all you had to do was talk to me, you know.
「Lately, there seems to be a shortage of abnormal status recovery potions in this city, right? Has that situation been resolved?」
「Wha—!? Uh, uhh… yes, I seem to recall that. The supply of those has currently dried up, so lately people haven’t been able to clear the D-rank labyrinth.」
「O-oh, so that’s how it is.」
We’d been told clearing the labyrinth was difficult, but was this actually the reason why? It certainly seems closely related, and if you really thought about it, you probably could have figured it out on your own. However, the only reason I’m even thinking about this is because that part of her answer would seem at first glance to have nothing to do with my question.
It is indeed difficult to be a merchant.
Klua-san bowed her head while I was thinking about that.
Klua-san was beet red and looked down.
What’s bothering her?
「We talked about this before, didn’t we? I should just be having a meal with a friend.」
「I was thinking I’d like a bit more time to talk with you, so I apologize! I didn’t come here specifically to talk about business!」
R-really now? She seemed like such a serious person, so I thought this whole meeting was about business.
I shook my head at her trembling apology.
「In that case, I was saving you some trouble.」
「Huh, really? How do you mean?」
「Yeah, I had also thought of studying the market to match your expertise! I only have knowledge about re-tempering weapon and stuff, so I would have had a hard time if I ended up needing to do more than that.」
Our drinks were brought over, juice for Klua-san and a glass of alcohol for me. We tapped our glasses together for a toast.
「W-well then, let’s just have a casual meeting today…」
Klua-san agreed and took a swig. I took one myself, gulping down the contents of my glass. I ordered alcohol because… well, I just wanted to drink for some reason.
Looking at Klua-san, she was kind of… shaking. Huh? Even her face was already beet-red.
「H-huh… is that… alcohol again?」
Klua-san stood up with a strangely drawn-out voice, and sat next to me. So close! Her chest hit my left arm and she hugged me tightly.
My head was about to melt, but I had to keep myself under control, or I wouldn’t be able to carry her to the inn like last time. I desperately sent an order to my hand that had instinctively been about to sink into Klua-san’s chest, and instead gently grabbed her hand.
「Wh-what happened to you, Klua-san?」
「Please listen! It was when I was helping in the market last time…!」
Then, Klua-san exploded her complaints all at once.
「One of them almost touched my butt! What’s with that perverted bastard!」
This was a total non-sequitur. I didn’t think the conversation would have shifted this much in just one bite. I guess you were almost sexually harassed when you were serving someone, huh?
「I see… Well, you are an attractive woman, so I guess it was kind of inevitable, huh?」
「Am I really that attractive, Relius-san?」
「Which part of me!?」
「Your beauty and loveliness?」
I can’t really speak of more details. Please, let it end with that!
「He~e, is that all?」
She has a bright red face and comes close to me in a teasing way.
Of course that’s not all. The most attractive thing about her was obviously her chest and butt. Her face still had a youthful sense about it, and her body was overall smoking hot. There wasn’t a single unattractive thing about her.
「There are other parts, aren’t there?」
「Come on, where is it~」
She held me even closer. A soft sensation wrapped around my left arm.
Guh… hold on, me… don’t lose your sense of reason…!
She’s just getting drunk. She’s an important merchant partner.
Don’t do anything. Don’t do it, me.
I finally grabbed Klua-san’s shoulder and smiled.
「You’re always thinking positively about your work, aren’t you? When you remember that, you’ll feel better.」
「Oh… I guess so.」
Klua-san’s complexion was completely red, and she restored her normal posture.
Good. She was convinced by that.
I sighed in relief and stared at her. She had a blank face, like she’d fall asleep at any moment.
「Please just relax today, Klua-san. I’ll prepare an inn for you.」
「…Y-yes, thank you.」
Klua-san nodded like a child. I wondered why. She had a bit of a somber expression as she drank more alcohol.
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