“Go! Turn! Meteor Arrow! Turn!!!”
Tianna yelled as she held her ticket tight. She encouraged the dragon she bet on, with bloodshot eyes you couldn’t see even when she was on an adventure.
But she wasn’t the only one, Tianna’s voice became one with all the other cheers and shouts around her as they enthusiastically watched the dragons speed through the racetrack.
Maybe Meteor Arrow heard those shouts, because it let out a roar and energetically kicked the ground with its black luster scale covered hind-legs.
It turned the corner wide as it rapidly overtook the dragon in front of it, and took the second place as it approached the home straight.
Meteor Arrow dashed and its speed kept increasing, until finally…
“First place Meteor Arrow! First place Meteor Arrow! It came back from behind to win it all!!!”
Tianna screamed. This was a decisive race.
This dirt course was always dry after a few days of good weather. That, the big turn near the end, and the slight incline in the final straight line put Meteor Arrow in a big advantage, according to Tianna’s research.
“Hahaha!!! I did it!! I did it!!!”
“Ooh, it looks like you’re in good form. Share some of that luck with me will you?”
“Oh, old man Tahke, it’s been a while.”
The old man that came to talk to her was a tipster that frequented these dragon races.
People like him would usually get kicked out of such events, but he was not acting as a tipster all year round and mostly just offered some comments from time to time, so they would let him stay. He was very interested in predictions based on Tianna’s research, and the two became friends in the dragon races before they knew it.
Tianna saw the cigarette between his fingers and snapped her fingers to light it with 《Ignition》 magic.
“”Ahh, that’s convenient.”
“Aren’t cigarettes expensive?”
“I got it as payment for a prediction. Want a puff?”
“…I’m a bit scared because it looks like the sort of thing that will get you addicted with a small puff. And I like pipes better anyway.”
“Aren’t those a pain to clean? …Anyway, I haven’t seen you around in a while. What happened?
“I found honest work.”
“Hou, you found a job?”
“I’m an adventurer now.”
“Eh, a lady like you? …No, I can see it.”
“What, are you surprised because I’m a noble? Well, I’m having more fun now, and this adventure and horse racing lifestyle suits me pretty well.
“That’s what really matters. But don’t get carried away because work is going well.”
“It’s alright. Now, I’m really only doing this as a hobby.”
Tianna was a little too happy, and invested the money she received from this race into another ticket, forgetting to save some of the profits.
At least Tianna put aside money for rent, living expenses, and expenses related to adventures, so she wouldn’t be in trouble if she lost the money she gambled. Tianna had learnt from experience.
This was why Tianna didn’t worry as she watched the races with her soul on fire.
There was a tavern street near the adventurer guild Fishermen, and on it were taverns for adventurers and stalls, bustling from evening to night. That was where Karan was walking.
In every bustling street there were places you wouldn’t be able to see at a glance. Places in the back, without specialties or showy signs about sales, that for some reason remained open,
Karan opened the door to one of those places.
“…Welcome. Are you alone?
Karan nodded to the man with the sour expression, who led her to the counter with a curt attitude.
It looked old inside, but not unhygienic, and while the evergreen oak counter was full of scratches, it looked like it was cleaned thoroughly.
Karan looked satisfied as she sat down.
“Wine is fine.”
Restaurants in that area served wine instead of tea.
The climate in the areas around the Labyrinth City wasn’t very good to grow tea, so tea was more expensive, and it was standard for restaurants to serve diluted wine before a meal.
“Here. What will you have to eat?”
The wine was brought not in a glass, but in a wooden cup. It was rough, but the non-pretentious atmosphere was comfortable.
“Fried rice with mountain boar.”
This restaurant used wild animals in its cooking, which adventurers weren’t very fond of.
Pig meat served around the Labyrinth City was a lot tastier than the wild animals adventurers hunted while on adventures.
That was half right, but half of it was a misunderstanding on their part because they didn’t have hunters with them, and didn’t know how to properly prepare the meat.
This restaurant was opened by adventurers that didn’t like that trend, but their cooking skills were just as good as pros. Their food had a different taste than luxurious gourmet food, and it was a place for connoisseurs.
There were even rumors that Single Meal Fifth was a regular customer.
“…It has a distinct smell.”
A fragrant smell mixed with wild animal smell reached Karan’s nostrils, and a bowl was brought to Karan.
Indica rice dyed yellow by the seasonings, potherb, and meat placed on top. Like the katana, a lot of rice dishes came from the south, but this one comes from nomadic tribes to the west, and tastes a little different than the southern style. Right next to the plate there was soup made from bone juices and onion.
Karan took the spoon and filled her mouth.
The meat didn’t have a lot of fat, and it tasted good.
It was a peculiar taste, but the spiced rice, ginger pickled in vinegar, and dried grapes all came together nicely when chewed together, even though they all had strong flavors. This was a great place without anyone to disturb her meal, so Karan fully enjoyed her moment of freedom and pleasure.
“Oh, Sem, it’s been a while. Isn’t it about time you started working?”
Melissa, the woman in the hostess bar, said to Sem with a happy tone.
“It’s alright, I’ve been working as an adventurer.”
Sem visited one of his regular hostess bars for the first time in a while.
Sem had a nice face, and he could use healing magic, but he was prone to falling to depravity, so the girls in the hostess bar were surprised to hear Sem was working regularly.
Ever since he arrived in the Labyrinth City he did nothing but destroy his savings with his self-indulgent lifestyle, so Melissa thought he was going to end up running out of money and dying on the street.
“If it’s honest money I have no problem taking it. How about you start spending it on drinks?”
“Then let’s open a bottle.”
Sem sat Melissa next to him and started drinking. Maybe it was because it wasn’t very busy, but Sem saying he would open a bottle drew in all the idle hostesses.
“Hey hey where did you go on your adventures?”
“I want to hear it too!”
“Alright my kittens, I’ll tell you.”
And then Sem started telling his adventures, or rather, boasting about his heroism.
‘I slipped and fell’, ‘There was this big oni dozing, believe it or not, and I thought I was dead’, ‘I thought I was in big trouble but…!’ etc, almost like he was telling a fairy tale to a child. This was Sem’s modus operandi.
Sem used to take care of the kids in the orphanage, and told stories before they went to sleep many times, so he was very good at telling his experiences in an exciting way.
Hostesses tend to be tired of listening to men bragging about themselves but surprisingly, that wasn’t the case with Sem’s tales, that took them back to their childhoods. Sem’s tales of heroism were a little cynical and facetious, but the girls still found them exciting.
“That’ll be all for tonight.”
“Eh… Right at the best part?”
“I might keep going if you get me a drink for free.”
“Good grief, you really are slick.”
Melissa poured alcohol into Sem’s cup.
“…Your face looks different doesn’t it?”
“Oh, does it?”
“I mean… You used to look like you’d become some weird woman’s boy-toy someday, but now you look normal.”
“Fufu. That’s a compliment isn’t it?”
It was getting late, but for the women of the red-light district and the men looking for a good time, the night was just beginning.
Sem was enjoying himself from the bottom of his heart.