— 4 —
Train Girl was in a good mood for a while after I called her an angel, but as we continued through town, her behavior started to become noticeably strange.
“Souma, this way is… Ah, nothing, nevermind.”
She frequently glanced up towards me, as if she was uneasy about something.
I walked on without paying too much attention to her, but…
“U-Um, why don’t we go that way instead? Like, towards the main street?”
“Huh? Ah, but…”
She suddenly tugged on my hand, trying to steer me in a different direction.
I wondered what had caught her whim, but her expression showed that there was some sort of purpose to her actions.
“Weren’t you looking enviously at the weapon store or accessory store before? If you have no plans for today, we can shop around those stores as much as you want!”
Saying that, Train Girl pulled on my arm.
It seems like she had seen through my desire to visit the other stores after we had left the item shop yesterday. I had initially believed she was quite insensitive to these things, but she was unexpectedly perceptive.
Maybe this was Train Girl’s way of being considerate, but there was a place that I needed to check out first.
“We can go to the stores later. In order to be able to shop around without worrying, there’s a place I have to take a quick look at.”
Located opposite from the church south of the town, it was just north of the town.
In the direction we were headed towards was the station for what was said to be the fastest vehicle in this world, the Skyboat.
“The Skyboat is dangerous!”
As we reached the station, those were the words that Train Girl said immediately.
“I mean, isn’t it strange for those clumps of metal to be flying through the air?!”
“Ah, mm. I guess.”
She started spouting words like what someone who feared airplanes in the real world would say. However, I couldn’t say that I didn’t understand her sentiment.
To put it simply, the Skyboat was something like a flying yacht, a ship that moved by mana hitting its sails.
Opinions were split on why they hadn’t just made this a normal airship. They must’ve wanted to flaunt their originality.
And when it came to originality in Nekomimineko, its existence essentially serves to annoy and exasperate the players. Applied to this Skyboat…
“Also, this boat sometimes falls!”
The capacity of a Skyboat was around 20 people. It rides on the waves of mana in the air, called the mana flow, in order to stay aloft. But, since the mana flow was erratic, it wasn’t possible to make the boat too large, and schedules were often erratic.
In addition, the smallest of things would cause the mana flow to shift, so the chance of an accident was nothing to scoff at. In the game, the chance of a crash landing was marked at close to a surprising 30%.
“And when it falls, it’s usually in a nest of monsters! It’s one thing if you have a Teleportation Stone like the merchants do, but riding the Skyboat without one is just suicide!”
“I don’t think it’s as bad as that though…”
For example, if I were to ride this from Ramlich towards the capital, it would still be fine if it crashed near Ramlich. It would take some time to make it back, but the enemies here were at most level 50. It wasn’t impossible to make it back alive.
However, in the off chance that it crashed closer to the capital, then only the worst awaited.
The first time I had boarded this boat, it had fallen handsomely out of the sky. While I had no idea what was going on, the boat made an emergency landing, and the other passengers used Teleportation Stones to return to town one after another, leaving me by myself in an unfamiliar field. Still unable to process what had happened, I tried desperately to make it back to a safe area… and died.
I only found out later that I had landed in Slime Forest, where, at worst, the enemies reached level 120. There was nothing a player who was barely level 50 could do… I honestly don’t even want to think about what had happened then.
Let’s just say that there’s no way for a player from Ramlich to survive if the Skyboat crashed somewhere like that.
“I think that there’s something wrong with anyone who would ride something like this!”
That was why I could understand Train Girl’s forcefulness… But.
“Um, you do realize that this is the station for the Skyboat right?”
The glares from the people around us were extremely scary.
She must’ve felt bad about it as she lowered her voice, but, surprisingly, her determination did not waver.
“I don’t mean to insult this boat, but I really don’t think that anyone should ride this boat!”
Isn’t that’s insulting the boat… But, the atmosphere didn’t permit me to say that out loud. What’s more, her voice became louder again.
“Uhm, so, are you more of a carriage person?”
“C-Carriages are no good either!”
I wanted to cool her down by changing the topic, but she somehow became even more excited.
“C-Carriages are… It’s animal cruelty!”
“A-Ahh, mm. Poor horses. Yeah.”
They’re being worked as workhorses after all.
What a philanthropist you are, Train Girl.
“Carriages are no good, but, e-either way, the Skyboat is dangerous!”
Train Girl was heating up without pause. At this rate, it’ll only be a matter of time before we’re thrown out of here. I frantically tried to soothe her.
“L-Let’s calm down a little. I’m not really thinking of getting on that thing and going somewhere right this moment. I’m just checking it out for the…”
“No! Once you check it out, I’m certain you’re going to end up wanting to ride it!”
What am I, a kid?! …That’s not important now.
“I can tell you really dislike the Skyboat, Train Girl. If you hate it that much, it’s okay if you go ahead to the main street.”
Why are you making such a hurt expression?
Did you want to be together with me that badly? Though we’re both loners, Train Girl and I are very different types of loners, so there are times when we can’t understand each other.
Still, nothing good could come from Train Girl continuing to hang around this place.
So, how can I convince her? I racked my brains, and tried to suggest something that would be easy for her to accept.
“Uhm, like, we haven’t sold the drop items from the Cave of Trials yet, right? It’d be a big help if you could sort that out or something, you know…”
“I… I guess I could do that.”
I didn’t expect it to work, but it seemed to have an effect.
This must also be because of her long history of being a loner, seeing how she loved to be useful to others.
Just by looking, I could tell that the joy of being given a mission was clashing with the angst that came along with leaving me here alone, causing a severe conflict within her.
“I-In that case, you’re not allowed to do anything like board the Skyboat while I’m not here, okay?”
She looked up at me with an insecurity on the level of a puppy drenched by rain.
I didn’t know what she was so worried about, but it didn’t seem like she was about to head off immediately. I answered her as gently as I could, and, finally, she nodded.
“…Okay. Then I’ll go on ahead, and sell off the items we got from the cave.”
“Mm. Thank you.”
Train Girl already had all of the drop items from the Armor Knights. At first, she had said something like we should at least split it because I was the reason we were able to get those items, but when I replied that they were a pain to deal with so take just it all, she quickly agreed.
“I’ll head over soon. Take care.”
Suppressing my actual thoughts, I sent her off, and Train Girl replied:
“Roger! Ah, but you better come soon! If you don’t, I’ll slander you all over the bulletin board in the plaza!”
Leaving behind some ominous words, Train Girl ran back down the path we came from.
After Train Girl disappeared out of sight, I let out a sigh. I hadn’t expected Train Girl to be this prejudiced against the Skyboat. If I had known, I would’ve come up with some excuse to act separately from the very start.
Maybe this was part of the reason why Train Girl never left Ramlich in the game.
“Okay, never mind that, where’s the departures schedule…”
I searched for it, and immediately found it.
The next departure was tonight at 9. The following was the day after tomorrow at 8am, then noon on the day after that. The next one was another three days later. As you can see, it was rather irregular.
Focusing on just the irrelevant details, it was indeed Nekomimineko quality.
A one-way ticket to the capital was a staggering 50000E. It wasn’t an amount that couldn’t be covered by what I had left of Melipe’s legacy, but, to a beginner adventurer, this was a steep cost.
But, considering that the boat would crash 30% of the time, they might not be able to keep up business without charging this much.
…It had an unpleasant sense of realism.
By the way, using the Teleportation Stone that Train Girl had briefly mentioned, it was possible to move from town to town instantly.
However, that generally did not show up as a drop item until mid-game, and in the rare cases where it was up for sale, it would normally go for over 300000E. With my current status, that was definitely out of my league.
The other means of transportation would be either through walking or via carriage, but there were a bunch of events with carriages that could make it even more dangerous than walking, and walking would end up taking an extremely long time.
I once tested this after clearing the game by taking the shortest path possible, but even then it took close to two whole days in game time. There were also fields along the path that my current self wouldn’t stand a chance in, so, all in all, the Skyboat was the top choice for going to the capital.
The departure time and the path that the Skyboat took changed every time, and the danger could vary greatly depending on that.
For a while, I stayed there analyzing the departures table and route chart, relying on my vague memory to determine which had the smallest chance of an accident.
“That took longer than I expected.”
I had become a little too absorbed in checking the routes for the Skyboat. After I came back to my senses, I hurried to the weapon store, but Train Girl was not there.
I thought she’d come here since there were many weapons among the drops, but maybe she went to a different store first. Or maybe she had already sold the weapons and moved on to a different store.
I considered going to another store to look for her, but the many weapons that decorated the walls caught my attention.
Well, she knew that I wanted to come to the weapons store anyway, so she might come searching for me here.
Giving myself that excuse, I started to inspect the weapons that lined the wall.
“Yo, kid! You seem to be having trouble. Need any help?”
As my eyes gleamed at the weapons in front of me, a bald old man called out to me with an overpowering voice. With his muscular build, eyepatch, and bald head, he gave off an impression that made one think he’d be better as an adventurer than a weapons store owner.
“Give me a bit more time.”
However, I ignored the pressure coming from behind me, and continued to glance at the array of countless weapons.
Though I was used to weapons in game, the impact from these weapons that had now become real was way different from those in-game.
Perhaps it was because I knew in advance that these were real, the weight, glimmer of the blade, and even the unique feeling from holding each and every one of these weapons gave me the feeling of fear and exhilaration. The sight of these swords, spears, axes, and the such lined up by type could only be called a work of art.
Among them, I turned my eyes towards the highest priced weapon.
Written on its tag was <Piercing Spear 6000E>, and its shape and price were both as I remembered from the game.
It would not have been strange if the price had changed now that this world had become reality, but it hasn’t seem to have happened yet.
As I looked at the Piercing Spear, a bantering voice came from behind me.
“Haha! I’d give up on that one, kid! That one costs 6000E you know. It’s not something that a newbie adventurer like you could afford.”
Hearing that, I finally realized.
Now that I think about it, I was still wearing beginner equipment, without having changed out of it. That must be why he had called out to me.
(Hmm, what should I do…)
Trying to argue that I wasn’t a beginner now would be awkward, and I was as good as a beginner from my level.
But even I had a bit of pride. Isn’t it human nature to want to land a surprising comeback after being belittled so much?
I was just thinking that I wanted some weapons, so this was perfect.
I stopped looking at the weapons on the wall, and turned towards the bald shopkeeper.
“Hmm? Kid, what…”
As if stopping him from saying any more, I forcefully continued.
“I want one of the most expensive of each type of weapon in this store. Could you calculate my bill?”
I said it to him straight, and for a moment the shopkeeper was wide-eyed, as if he could not comprehend what I just said. Then, he scratched his bald head as if troubled, and said:
“Ahh, sorry, kid. You see, I’m also a customer…”
I felt so humiliated.