Karan wanted to eat something sweet, for no particular reason.
Well, there was one. She was very jealous when she heard Bond talk about the ice cream he ate in the casino. [Eh? Isn’t that just a little unfair?] she thought, like a child having a tantrum.
She imagined a scene where she was gallantly walking on top of a red carpet as she listens to the sound of a chic piano. She walked to a bar counter, sat down and is presented with beautiful ice cream made by a veteran patissier.
Just imagining this filled Karan’s mouth with a sweet taste. Loss in her thought, she started muttering to herself.
“Calm down Karan… You just want to eat something sweet…”
“What did you say, Karan?”
Tianna and Karan were riding one of the stagecoaches that circulated around Labyrinth City.
The casino would be closed for a while, courtesy of Leon’s rampage, and other places that served good ice cream were not within walking distance. Even if they were, they would not be good enough to justify their prices.
That was why they decided to head to the northside of the city.
Karan was going by herself, but walking so far north was inconvenient, so Tianna volunteered to be her guide.
“We’re getting off at the next stop. The fare is two hundred dinnar.”
Most people like them, adventurers, settled down in the south, due to it being easier to travel to labyrinths through the southern gate,
In the northern side however, there weren’t many labyrinths, which meant fewer monster attacks, and with that, a more affluent population.
Tianna had traveled there a few times before, but Karan was new to the area. Not everyone was brave enough to visit such a place with an adventurer’s wallet.
“When you want to eat something sweet, look for sorcerers.”
“When making sweets, you need to closely follow a process and weigh things more precisely than when you’re cooking. You need to use a scale, ice or fire magic, and stuff like that, so people studying magic often switch occupations and become patissier,”
“That’s why you shouldn’t go near the guild or blacksmith streets when you want something sweet. Ah, and don’t worry, it’s not that expensive.”
Karan didn’t trust Tianna ‘not that expensive’, but could not fight the allure of sweets. The moment she decided to be brave, the conductor announced the next stop with a sluggish voice.
“Next stop Sabbath hill. Sabbath hill.”
Sabbath hill. Despite the dangerous sounding name, it was a stylish place frequented by young people.
It had many schools for children of nobles, including ones exclusively for magic, but it also had a shopping district where high society students could do their shopping and play around.
Young sorcerers with tidy robes with no dirt from traveling, monster blood, or chemical burns from experiments happily talked as they smugly walked around town.
Tianna quickly walked through Sabbath hill.
The students sensed danger coming from them and moved out of the way, but also looked on with curiosity. Karan started feeling awkward and out of place.”
“Are they adventurers?”
But despite the curious looks, they were not being mocked, rather, they were drawing attention in a good sense.
It was not like she was not out of place, but it tickled a little.
“The casino is closed, so we had no other choice but to come. Ah, do you want to do a little shopping?”
“Do you come here often?”
“If I have money.”
“Being a sorcerer sounds expensive.”
“That’s quite true. Even if I had more money, I doubt any sum would be enough.”
Tianna let out a strained laugh as she looked at Karan. Tianna was even smaller than the students, but her refined movements and posture, and the quality of her outfit were real.
The students walking opposite to her made way for her, feeling she was not just some nobody.
Obviously, this aura around Tianna was not just for show. She was thrown out of a noble household, but had the toughness to keep going, and was able to mow down monsters.
Her eyes looked different than Nick and Sem’s, and Karan respected her.
“I want to stop by that place.”
Tianna pointed towards a mass retailer of magic items.
It only sold consumer products, so obviously, it was not the kind of place where you could find artifacts like the Sword of bonds or Telepath Stones. They were everyday items like candlesticks that did not need oil or magic bottles that boiled water.
“What are you buying?”
“A jar where I can keep meals and bread and stuff like that. The inside is filled with cold air, so food keeps for longer.”
Karan wanted one as well. She liked to eat in restaurants and taverns, but she also liked going to stalls and bringing food home.
“And I want to keep food that Sem or Nick make.”
Sem and Nick were usually in charge of cooking when they were out exploring labyrinths.
Nick was used to labyrinth exploration, and was good at cooking outdoors. He knew how to cook dried meat, or meat from rabbits and birds they hunted with ingredients like wild grass, and how to make dry bread and other preserved foods very tasty.
Sem knew a lot about medical care and medicinal herbs, so he was in charge of everyone’s health. He also used to take care of children in the temple, so he was good at cooking for several people.
“Don’t you cook for yourself?”
“I can’t be bothered.”
“I want to hire a house maid to take care of that sort of thing, but I still don’t have the savings to afford that. What do you usually do Karan?”
“In the morning I eat with Nick in the market. For lunch and dinner…. I eat out.”
“So you can’t be bothered either. Ah, this one’s good.”
Tianna grabbed a jar. On the side of this white porcelain jar there was a magic stone, the core to activate this magic item.
It had a simple design without a lot of ornaments, but had flower petals carved around the magic stone.
Magic items were always designed to attract attention to the fact that they were magic items. Karan couldn’t tell a good magic item or household item from a bad one, and envied Tianna’s discerning eye,
And then, a man with a nice physique passed behind Tianna. The store was narrow, and the man forcibly trying to get through, hit Tianna’s back with his elbow.
“Shut up little girl! You’re in the way!”
Tianna almost dropped the jar, but Karan grabbed her, who then glared at the man that bumped into Tianna.
“You’re the one that needs to be careful.”
A dragon person’s glare was more intimidating than just any man.
Karan was still young as a warrior, but her experiences in the Labyrinth City definitely made her stronger. The merchant man broke out into a cold sweat, and was completely frozen in place.
“…Ahh, I don’t care, just go away.”
The man ran with his tail between his legs, and the employee that heard the commotion apologized.
“I’m very sorry for the trouble.”
“It’s fine, it wasn’t your fault. By the way, how much is this jar?”
“Let me see…”
The employee started negotiating, even as he was scared by Tianna’s bright smile.
“Thanks for that, Karan.”
After finishing Tianna’s shopping, the pair went to a nearby sweets shop to take a break.
The ice cream they were served was even grander than Karan imagined. On a white porcelain plate there were two flavors of ice cream, pink raspberry and pure white vanilla, with wafers.
The menu called it rosy cheek strawberry and skull vanilla ice cream.
The name was a little unsettling, but the menu had an explanation. It’s motif was ‘Even if you wake up with rosy cheeks, your white skull will start showing as the day progresses’, a poem about the listlessness of daily life.
But apparently the patissier that thought of it wanted it to be a positive message to the young people that frequented that place, ‘you never know when you’re going to die, so eat ice cream while you can and enjoy your life’. Most of the menu carried that kind of message.
Whichever way you look at it, it was delicious. The flavor and acidity of the raspberries was very strong, and it felt like it prickled the tongue, but when eaten with the wafers and vanilla, it became surprisingly smooth. Apparently, the rusticity and strong flavor of the raspberries was meant to symbolize life, and the refreshing taste of the vanilla was meant to symbolize death.
Karan felt like she wouldn’t get along with this patissier, but he was so good at his job that it could bridge the gap in their ideology.
…Karan was so focused on her ice cream, that it took awhile for her to realize that Tianna was speaking to her.
Tianna laughed at this half-hearted reply.
“I’m talking about what happened earlier when I was buying that jar. People look down on me when I’m alone, so I find it hard to stand up for myself.”
Karan didn’t understand at first.
She genuinely just wondered if there were idiots out there that didn’t realize how great Tianna was.
“Because I’m so short… Nick says he’s short and doesn’t have muscle, but he’s way better off than me. Right?”
Tianna mumbled as she scooped up ice cream and ate it.
This felt much more appropriate for a girl her age than when she smoked and enthusiastically gambled.
“What do you mean ‘oh that’?”
Karan felt a little inferior to Tianna. There were many things she lacked compared to her, but what Tianna thought about was not that much different than her,
Karan knew that Tianna understood the world around her a lot better than her, but still, she had trivial concerns about her daily life, and desires like wanting to eat something. Everyone was like that, even people that looked at her with antagonistic eyes. No one was perfect, and people with those kinds of weaknesses could be surprisingly strong, like Karan and Tianna.
Said Karan, as she patted Tianna’s head.
“I don’t really get it but alright.”
“It’s fine. It’s fine.”
Tianna let out an exasperated sigh, but didn’t seem too bothered as she continued to eat her ice cream.