A lot of food was lined up on a table in Sea Anemone. It was not made by an employee trying to show off his talent, but rather by a chef, who due to a certain set of consequences, was temporarily out of work and was invited there.
“It looks great.”
“Thank you. It’s the first time in a while that I got to flex my muscles…”
The chef, Gowen, responded to Nick’s compliment.
He worked in the casino that was completely wrecked during the fight with Leon. Most people there would be too focused on gambling to really care about food, so he would mostly cook light meals and snacks, but since the casino was closed, he had time to spare.
Redd got to know him when he was looking into the cost of the damage done to the casino, and offered him a temporary job, to cook for parties.
“It really shows your sense of color and arrangement…. I do know someone who can carve drawings into fruits and vegetables but…”
“He’s a tattoo artist. I can introduce him to you.”
“But this truly is brilliant. Oh how I wish you would work here…”
Mumbled Redd with jealousy.
On the main table, there was seafood mousse served in a glass, cocktail salad with labyrinth vegetables, octo horned boar spare ribs cooked with herbs, oysters cooked with shell, sea bream with angel mushrooms, paella with benten wheat, and more. The assortment of food instantly gave the place a more high class feel to it.
On the small table next to it were cream cheese pie, various fruits, and the ice cream that Bond enjoyed before.
“Alright. Does everyone have a glass?”
Said Nick while looking around to lead a toast. Every member of Survivors except for him, was sitting on a sofa. Ada and Reina, who had completely settled in this bar by now, also looked like they were having fun. Twin Sword Scott, who was gradually convinced to come over, relaxed like he was at home. On the counter and empty chairs were Redd and his employees, having fun talking.
And lastly, one very important person was now inside the bar.
“Oh my, you really can never have enough free drinks.”
Said a laughing Olivia as she was poured a drink.
“You… Where did you disappear to? We’ve been having a lot of trouble you know?”
“No no, I have been doing a lot of serious work. I have been running around talking to old acquaintances to make sure all of you don’t fall under suspicion and get captured!”
“Well… Because of this, the official story is that I was the one who defeated White Mask, and all of you assisted me… It’s not like we can talk about what really happened without mentioning you, right Bond?”
‘Tehe’, said Olivia with a cuteish gesture, but all she received in return was five cold stares.
“Ah, alright alright. There is a lot left to explain, so I’ll make time for that later.”
Said Olivia unabashedly, to which Nick sighed in a purposefully exaggerated manner.
“Ah, what a pain… I’m starting to not care…”
“Hey, hey! Let’s not go that far!”
“Then, let’s actually talk about this later, seriously. Right now, we’re celebrating. After all, a lot has happened…”
Nick stopped. A lot really did happen.
A lot happened in the abandoned area. The kidnapped children, the dead child, spreading a disease while offering treatment… Nargava died while bearing a lot of contradictions. For a moment, Nick even felt that maybe it was not the time to be having a banquet.
“A lot happened, so we’re having fun now. That’s fine, right?”
Said Ada, as if seeing through Nick’s doubts.
“Call me sensei.”
“I’ve graduated from your classes. And you kept quiet about Olivia too, didn’t you?”
“Of course I did. But it’s her fault.”
Ada said as she looked at Olivia who was drinking and laughing loudly.
“Geez, you’re already getting started uh… Cheers. Now do whatever you want, that’s all!”
Said Nick apathetically, and everyone raised their glasses.
The banquet finally started,
“Geez, this is giving me a headache. There’s so much to be done.”
“It’s fine. Adventurers aren’t supposed to mind the small stuff so much.”
Ada interjected, but Nick only shook his head.
“Not everyone can be like that, right Karan?”
“Yes. It’s good to have people that are annoying and won’t shut up about the small details too.”
Nick called Karan, who approached them with a smile on her face.
“There you have it.”
“Are you sure you want to be proud of that? Oh well, I guess I get what you mean.”
Said an exasperated Ada to a smug looking Nick.
“Nevermind that Nick. These oysters are really good.”
Nick took a mouthful of the oysters that Karan handed him.
He did not hate seafood at all. When he was younger, he traveled a lot with his parents, so he was used to it as well.
“Ah, it’s spicy.”
At first it was smooth and creamy, but the spiciness that followed it was too intense. The fat and spiciness mixed inside his mouth, and his body became warmer.
“Is there anything to drink?”
Almost at the same time as he said this, Karan pointed towards some drinks.
It was cold white wine, and a refreshing flavor passed through Nick’s throat.
“I could get used to this luxury.”
Oysters were rather expensive. Animals with more vitality and less flavor were easier to transport, but delicate things like oysters required sorcerers to keep them cool.
“It’s not a big deal. I heard they had a good haul.”
“Eh… It’s before the festival, so that’s a nice omen.”
“Right, you… I mean, all of you, have been here for less than a year. During the summer, monster activity drops. They undergo Estivation.”
“Ah, I know about that.”
“That means it’s the perfect time to make a lot of noise. There’s fireworks by the lake close to Sticky Goo Gate, and a lot of stalls around town. It’s fun.”
“I wanna go!”
“Ou, go go. I mean, the adventuring business pretty much grinds to a halt anyway…”
Back when his party was always low on money, Nick hated those days when they could not work, but not this year. They had just finished a big undertaking, and all their wallets were feeling packed, so it was the perfect time to go have fun.
“Oh dear, you have all sorts of work to do before that, don’t you?”
“Leon’s trial is about to start, and the rough estimate of his reparations is about to come out too, so we have to squeeze it for all it’s worth.”
“If we don’t, there won’t be enough money for reparations. There’s the casino and the passersby that got hurt too. We have to make sure to sell every magic item and piece of art that Leon had stashed away. But that’s only after the trial ends.”
“Does that guy really have that much hidden?”
Redd curled his lip.
“That boy really is talented when it comes to unearthing new things. His collection will make you drool with envy.”
Nick thought it was ironic.
“Thankfully, he seems to be willing to cooperate with the sale. He even suggested an auction during the festival.”
“If he had kept himself straight and worked hard he could’ve been a notable adventurer or merchant by now…”
“It’s part of my job to get people like him back on the right track. But before that, he has to pay his dues.”
Said Redd with a smile, but not the usual alluring smile, rather a calm one, of someone who is passionate about his work. Not many people possessed both.
Nick was starting to realize why many people became regular customers in this transvestite bar.
“Good luck with that. I have to go see Leon again, so I’ll take some stuff for him.”
“Oh, what business do you have with him?”
“We have some agreements.”
“Hmm… It’s nothing related to the trial is it?”
“Probably not. I’ll explain later.”
“Alright then. Let’s not talk about work any more. Look, things are getting interesting.”
In the direction that Redd pointed were Tianna and Bond, who caught some employees and started gambling with cards.
They were cleaning up the chips on the table, and the woman sitting across the table seemed frustrated as she gulped down her drink.
“Me next me next!”
“You’re not cheating are you?”
“Of course not, it’s just skill!”
“Fufufu, exactly. It is all a matter of intellect.”
Nick sighed and turned over to Tianna and Bond.
“What are you doing? This is a party, you know?”
“Eh, no, they challenged me! I’m not taking advantage of amateurs that don’t know any better or anything!”
Tianna frantically shook her head, but Nick knew what they were doing, and stared at Bond.
“No, hum… All I am doing is remembering the cards that come out and telling her the chances. It is by no means cheating.”
Said Bond while whistling.
Nick was exasperated, and forcibly picked Bond up and took him away.
“W-what are you doing!?”
“You can’t count cards. Stop that nonsense and just have fun.”
“We’re not playing for money, it is all about who pays who’s drinks, so it does not go against my ethics function! I like this kind of game once in a while!”
“Yes! Everyone’s kind of doing whatever they want.”
Nick looked around, and like Tianna said, he saw people having fun the way they wanted. He sighed, thinking about how he had some frustration pent-up inside.
“It’s too soon to slip out to an after party Nick.”
Sem went over to Nick, maybe sensing his listlessness.
“Oh, right. If you see a girl you want to take home I can help…”
“No, it’s fine, just go have fun.”
“I will. You too.”
Said Sem as he approached some employees.
Nick decided to enjoy himself as well. First, he wanted to continue eating so he went over to Karan and picked what she recommended. Bond was still making a racket, so Nick shoved a desert in his mouth to calm him down.
He then sat down and started enjoying the banquet.
The night wore on, and Survivors truly got the feeling of a job well done.