Translator: Silver Editor: Namorax
「The Next Journey」
On the second floor of the elder’s mansion, there was a large dining room connected to a kitchen area, and we were all siting at the wooden table in the center of that room.
Ariane and Chiome were sitting on both sides of me while Ponta was on the table, happily wagging her tail as she was buried in the meal in front of her. Ariane was petting Ponta’s head as the little fox stuffed her face.
I’d taken off my armor a while ago and was currently wearing traditional elven clothing as I ate my breakfast with relish.
I noticed that Chiome was giving me a strange look, so I took a bite from a piece of bread and turned toward her.
“Is something wrong, Chiome-dono?”
When I asked her about it, Chiome’s expression became confused.
“No, it’s just that I’ve never seen an undead eating regular food as if it’s natural, it’s just a strange sight to see……”
Chiome stared back at me, a skeleton with a piece of bread stuffed in its mouth.
What she said was actually reasonable, considering the faint blue lights floating in my eye sockets and my lack of everything, from my skin and muscle to internal organs. However, despite all that I could still taste and swallow everything I ate.
When I came to this world in my game avatar’s body, it wasn’t in a human form. Instead, it was that of the special 『Skeleton』 skin I had been using at the time.
“Arc lacks the corruption of the undead…… Can’t you tell, Chiome-chan?”
Ariane stopped petting Ponta’s head for a moment and voiced a rather emotional defense of my situation to Chiome.
“The People of the Mountains and Plains have the ability to sense the 『Corruption of Death』 but I can not detect the foul scent of the undead from him……”
Chiome’s small nose twitched a little as she tilted her head to the side.
“If he were an undead, why would he have needed to take a bath after today’s training session? Do you think that mere bones could produce sweat?”
Ariane grumbled something before she gave Chiome a look that demanded her agreement.
Chiome nodded and looked up at me after mumbling something herself.
When our eyes met, I immediately looked down at my own form.
There was no way this body produced sweat, it’s just my personal habit to bathe after exercising.
Before I could start preaching the health benefits and rejuvenating effects of regular bathing had on the body and soul to Ariane, Glenys walked into the dining room with an old parchment in hand.
When she reached the table she held the parchment out to Ariane.
The parchment was made of a type of paper that wasn’t seen in human cities or villages. A map with a peculiar route plotted out was drawn on the rather thick parchment.
“This map has the route to the Dragon King’s tree drawn on it. Though you know the way through the cavern, take this just in case.”
Ariane nodded at that explanation as she took the map and we began to look over the mapped-out route.
Chiome maintained her emotionless expression as usual, but her twitching cat ears betrayed how anxious she was as she studied the map.
The Dragon King’s tree Glenys had mentioned was a rare type of tree that grew in the presence of a Dragon King. After centuries of absorbing the dragon’s essence, the tree’s spirit had been altered.
According to the village elder Dylan, even the land around the Dragon King’s tree had acquired special properties and a certain spring had gotten the ability to remove all forms of curses.
My reward for rescuing the kidnapped elves from the humans was receiving the directions to the spring, which were drawn on the map Ariane held.
After making our preparations, we’ll be setting off on our Journey tomorrow.
Whether or not the effects of the spring were genuine, I questioned if it really was a curse that resulted in my skeletal body. Though it was still too early to rule anything out, it’s highly possible that I’d be stuck with this body for the rest of my life. I suppose any possible solution was worth a try.
“It’d take a while to get through this cavern. I never realized just how far into the mountain range it actually spread……”
Ariane made that observation as she diligently looked over the map.
Seems that she’s been through the cavern before.
“Oh, Ariane-dono have you been to the area before?”
“Yes, my elder sister took me there several times when I was still an apprentice warrior. We were able to gather a lot of magic stones to power magic tools there……”
As Ariane reminisced about her past, her eyes narrowed as if she realized something. She turned towards me and began speaking in a sing-song manner.
“If you intend to bathe here regularly, then you should be the one that collects the magic stones from now on～”
Ariane’s merciless gaze focused on me as if I were a manservant.
I was being indirectly charged for the bath’s fuel expenses. Baths were a luxury in this world and they required firewood or magic stone furnaces to boil the water. If I want to enjoy baths I would have to accept her proposal.
If things went well and the curse was removed, feeling hot water on my skin again would no longer be a dream.
“Yes! I’ll be sure to collect enough magic stones to cover my bathing expenses.”
When I clenched both my fist in excitement Ariane narrowed her eyes again and let out an exasperated sign.
“Really, why do you like baths so much……”
The last bit of what Ariane was saying became inaudible as her voice trailed off.
“Well, we have some tools in the basement that will be useful for tomorrow’s journey, you’re welcome to take them.”
Ariane, Chiome and I rose from our seats when Glenys said that.
Ponta had finished her breakfast a while ago and had been cleaning her fur until now. She immediately jumped to her feet and followed us down the stairs.
The mansion’s basement entrance was hidden behind one of the support pillars on the first floor and opened up to a long spiral staircase.
Magic lamps were placed along the stairway at equal intervals, so it lacked the gloomy atmosphere of a certain feudal lord’s basement into which I had snuck previously.
When the heavy wooden door at the bottom of the stairway was opened, we were greeted with shelves crammed full of various items.
“By the way, what preparations should we make for the trip?”
While looking over the various artifacts, I asked Ariane that question, making her look away from the item she had picked up and stare at me.
“For the first part of the trip, we’re going to need this lamp.”
As she made that comment, she handed me a lamp with a handle attached to it, a lantern I think. However, there were several transparent crystals in the lantern’s glass case and there was a small switch on its bottom.
When I flipped the switch, the crystals in the glass case began to emit a powerful beam of light. It was a magic tool befitting a fantasy world.
“Oh, this is impressive.”
“That’s a 『Light Emitting Crystal Lamp』. The lamp is an elf-made magic tool, a high-quality item to say the least. Only a few wealthy humans have access to it.”
Chiome stepped forward to provide an explanation for the magic tool just when I started to make shadow puppets with it.
Given how rare it had been to see street lamps in human cities, a lamp easily comparable to a flashlight would be considered quite the luxury good. When all of this is said and done, it might be a good idea to save up some gold coins and purchase a few elf-made magic tools. However, an exclamation from behind me returned me to the present.
“Hey, are you two just going to fool around or are you going to help me?”
When I looked back I saw that Ariane was looking rather annoyed as she held two more lanterns and tossed a leather pouch to me.
“Ah, my bad.”
After apologizing and taking one of the lanterns from her, I opened the drawstrings of the pouch to find that it was filled with some kind of purple dust.
“What’s this used for?”
“『Magic Stone Fuel』, a necessity to power magic tools. Finely crushed magic stones are the most used type of fuel for elven magic tools.”
When I asked about the strange purple dust I was holding, Chiome once again stepped forward and answered.
“The elven variety of the fuel can produce an abundant amount of energy, but the technique required to stabilize it requires a lot of magic power to perform. If you use human-made fuel, it’ll damage the magic tool and extended use may even lead to the magic tool exploding.”
This stuff was like jet fuel then, and after Chiome finished her explanation Ariane proudly puffed out out her large chest for some reason.
Hearing praise for superior elven technology seems to have pleased her.
“What’s the matter, Ariane-dono?”
When I questioned Ariane about her strange behavior, she immediately returned to normal and simply said ‘It’s nothing’, before heading to a shelf in the back of the room.
While watching Ariane pick and choose items necessary for our journey, I was about to ask Chiome questions about the things Ariane was picking up when I recognized something sitting in front of a nearby shelf.
It was a sack of golden coins. I noticed it because coins were dimly reflecting the room’s lights.
When I picked one up to examine the engraved crest, I realized that this was gold from Rhoden Kingdom.
“Ah, those. That’s a fraction of the gold coins we stole from that feudal lord’s castle. Father had us set some of it aside in case you ever needed it, Arc.”
Ariane stopped selecting items for our trip and explained everything when she turned around to find me holding some of the coins.
“Well, shouldn’t this cover the fuel charges for the bath?”
When I thought I had come up with a perfect compromise, Ariane looked surprised for a moment before sighing.
“Why are you so zealous about bathing…… Arc, can’t you just hunt monsters and collect magic stones to cover the cost? Isn’t there something else you can use the money on?”
I placed my hand on my chin and thought about what she had said for a moment.
She wasn’t wrong in saying I could simply hunt monsters in the cavern we’d be passing through to cover my bathing expenses.
There was no need to spend the money on magic stones. In that case, it would be more reasonable to buy elven-made magic tools for convenience.
Fortunately, second-hand tools seem to be readily available so I should be able to live comfortably with the money…… No, even then having a proper bath in my home will be my top priority.
I made up my mind, but Ariane just let out an exasperated sigh when I told her my plans. I was quite serious about my decision, though……
We had several more exchanges like that as our preparations steadily advanced.