Afterwards, Karan started following Fifth. She went to the same places and ordered the same things.
Mutton on skewers
Shrimp and mushrooms simmered in oil.
Fried mackerel sandwich with vinegar sauce.
Fried rice with celery and mutton.
Every single one of them surprised Karan with their sensational flavor, and no one treated Karan poorly because of her shabby appearance. This was because Fifth deliberately chose places that welcomed adventurers and outsiders.
Fifth was well aware that Karan was following him, and while usually following an adventurer around would only lead to someone getting yelled at, Fifth didn’t feel like doing it after seeing how much Karan liked the food. He intentionally picked places that wouldn’t treat her poorly and always made sure Karan could hear him when he ordered his meal.
Having that said, Fifth had no interest in guiding her around town or helping her without compensation just because she was an adventurer without a party just like him.
Colleagues were rivals and therefore enemies, and he didn’t think it was a good idea to give her the impression that she could expect charity from her colleagues.
But just letting her copy him wasn’t a problem, and Karan kept enjoying her food without noticing Fifth’s kindness.
Suddenly, Fifth entered a clothing store, with awful unnaturalness.
“It’s about time I buy a new coat! I can’t go into nice restaurants looking so messy!”
He said loudly, and didn’t really think she noticed, but Karan took the bait and thought “Yes! I have to be careful about my clothes!” and bought a new jacket too. Karan really liked the old one, it was scratched but it wasn’t dirty, and Karan thought the scratches gave it a nice style. It didn’t look so shabby with the arms she had equipped.
Karan was like Fifth’s disciple, whom he taught how to eat alone without saying a single word to her directly, but that would not go on for much longer.
Fifth went to various restaurants in this manner on his days-off, but eventually he would go back to exploring dungeons. Karan was also running out of money.
Karan knew just enough about adventuring to remember to go to the adventurer guild ‘New beads’.
She had zero experience accepting jobs or inviting other adventurers, she left all of that to her former partners… Rather, any time she tried to help they would say ‘Leave those sort of chores to us’.
Karan now understood that this was not kindness, they were intentionally keeping her in the dark about how to be an adventurer so she wouldn’t leave their party.
That turned Karan into a whirlpool of suspicion, and made her think every person that approached with a friendly face was doing so to trick her.
She was convinced there was nothing to gain from trusting anyone other than loners like Fifth.
“Dragon lady, do you want to join my party… Eek!?”
Karan shot a terrifying glare at the man with the sugary tone. Dragon people were very intimidating even at the best of times, and experienced dragon warriors could make low level monsters run with their tail between their legs with their eyes alone. It was in itself a powerful attack.
New adventurers couldn’t handle the air of intimidation around Karan, now that she learned there are bad people in this world.
Karan needed to recruit party members and go out on adventures again or she was going to end up with no money. She had no other skills other than fighting so there were no jobs for her and no other options. Having that said, she still couldn’t lower her guard when someone approached her, and was always cautious like they were trying to eat her.
In the end, she couldn’t approach anyone and rejected every invitation. When ‘new beads’ closed, she was shown the door.
Everyone that was in the guild when it closed went to the tavern next door. Karan went there once and the food wasn’t good at all, but it was tradition to go there when you formed a new party in “new beads”.
Karan decided to eat dinner there. It was very cheap, and she needed to rein back her gourmet eating habits.
As expected, the food was bad. That she could handle, but she hated and felt ashamed of herself.
In the table next to her sat new adventurers that had never met each other and were having a good time, which did not help things.
“Here’s to our new party!”
“I was the strongest in my village and I’ve been taking down goblins and orcs since I was young. You can count on me”
“Yes! You have my trust pal!”
They were excited about their new partners and the adventures ahead. Their drinks and porridge tasted good for sure.
Having hope in your heart will make any meal taste better, no matter how bad it really is.
Looking back, when she was following Fifth and eating alone, her admiration towards him made the food taste even better.
Nothing would taste good in this miserable situation.
Karan unintentionally let out those feelings of bitterness.
““““Humans can’t be trusted!!!!””””