Treating in the Tavern
Claude understood that they had only gotten such a huge haul during their trip mainly because of good luck. Welikro was the one to thank for hunting that deer at the stream during their first night there, while Claude had miraculously survived a struggle with a huge black python in the ruins. The blacktiger fish they caught was also a gift from the heavens. He highly doubted that they would experience the same luck on every one of their trips.
Additionally, Borkal also played a huge part in selling all that for that huge a sum. He had expertly used the opportunity when the crowd gathered to auction off the goods. That way, the shop owners of the town wouldn’t be able to pressure him to sell them for a lower price. Instead, the price only hiked with each bid. By then, the shop owners could no longer back out of it and had no choice but to purchase the goods for a huge sum in order to protect the reputations of their establishments before the crowd.
The auction at the docks was essentially a live show where those shops could advertise their brand. Chirp Leather for example had their reputation tank after leaving the auction without buying anything. The hunters in town would definitely have Mila’s Tailor’s as their first pick to sell their deer skins as they were the ones who bought them for the highest price. Their second choice would be Wakri, who had purchased two torn-up goat skins for six riyases. Chirp Leather could only count on licking up the crumbs left over by their other two competitors in the future.
The total profit of 17 thales and eight riyases was far out of Claude’s expectations. He had thought that getting eight or nine thales for those items would be rather good in itself. Yet, the auction at the docks had doubled that amount, leaving him with three thales extra after he paid back his debt with his share of the money. That amounted to Morssen’s monthly public service salary.
It’s no wonder father was acting so weird last night and didn’t scold me for hiding the hunting trip from him. He probably found out about the prices those things sold for at the docks. I better go get some new books, lest he lecture me on not keeping my promise to him to buy books with the money he gave me…
That was the main reason Claude treated his friends for lunch. He wanted to buy a few books in town while he was at it.
“Alright, I brought four money pouches here with your shares of the money. I’ll give them to you guys when we reach school,” Borkal said with a nod, “But Claude, do you want me to distribute the money you will be paying us back right away?”
“I’ll leave it with you for now. We can use that for some snacks and delicious food when we leave school for some lunch. After all, we can’t always get you to pay for them…”
Eriksson agreed. “Claude’s right. Since we made quite a bit ourselves from this trip, let’s use that sum to pay for our restaurant bills.”
“I’m fine with that as well,” Welikro said, “But Boa, I’d like to have four riyases and five sunars. I’ll leave the other four thales with you and get it from you when I need it.”
“Why?” All three of them looked curiously at Welikro.
He said a little shyly, “Well… If I keep the money on me, my sister would definitely take it away for safekeeping. That’ll be the last time I ever see it. Something like this has happened quite a few times in the past. The allowance my father gives me almost always ends up with my sister. It’s been more or less a thale in total already.”
They were speechless upon hearing his plight.
Borkal said, “Alright, I’ll safekeep it for you. Just take it from me when you need to buy something.”
When they reached school and entered the classroom, they were welcomed by applause from the other students, something that Eriksson relished with delight.
“What are they doing?” asked Claude with a blank stare.
“They were also there at the docks yesterday and called us the four brave warriors of the second year cohort. Did you know how terrifying that python skin looked when it was put up? Even the adult hunters wouldn’t dare to face off against something like that. Naturally, it’s all thanks to you,” explained Borkal with a whisper.
The four warriors of Year 2? Can it get more cringeworthy than that? Claude felt his face flush with embarrassment. He only barely made it through the three morning class sessions, as every instructor that came into class would call out their names and express praise and admiration over their bravery. Even during break time, the other students, including the girls, were talking nonstop about them.
Welikro didn’t seem to mind it. Being the airhead that he was, he reacted rather slowly to all that. Claude on the other hand wasn’t used to being in the spotlight. As a transmigrator, all he wanted was to keep a low profile. Only by hiding in the masses could he feel safe. He had no choice but to endure it and hope that all this would pass with time.
Borkal and Eriksson on the other hand revelled in their newfound fame and recounted their trip nonstop to their friends. Had it not been for Claude’s quick reaction, they would’ve almost revealed the fact that they had camped at the magic tower ruins. Even though they were drunk during that night, that didn’t limit their imaginations at all. They made up all sorts of stories about the two nights they spent at the foot of Egret, dazzling their fellow schoolmates with terror, suspense and intrigue.
Claude firmly believed that a new set of urban legends about Egret would soon be birthed, such as haunted cries from the forests during the middle of the night, dark silhouettes that could be seen at the foggy mountains, a fog that remained even though the sun rose, and so on. The storytellers were happily raving on while the listeners didn’t bother to think hard and scrutinize the stories. It never occurred to them how the four boys could return unscathed if the place was really as scary as terrifying as Borkal and Eriksson had made it out to be.
With much difficulty, Claude managed to weather through the classes until noon break came. The food served in the canteen was bland as usual, so the four of them left through the rear wall of their school to get some delicious food downtown.
“Where should we go to eat?” asked Welikro.
“Why don’t we go to a tavern? Didn’t Eyke sell our blacktiger fish to one of them? I really want to try out its taste,” suggested Claude. Since he was paying, they shouldn’t have any objections about it. He didn’t expect Borkal and Eriksson to say no to his plans though.
“No way, Claude, do you want to get scolded? Want to bet that at least half the people there will recognize us? I’m sure that your father and mine will be dining there right now,” said Borkal.
“I think my father will be there as well. He already made plans with Pjard yesterday afternoon. Pjard said that he would leave a huge portion of the fish for my father, who will be coming over with a few more friends to taste the fish we caught,” said Eriksson a little disappointedly. Like father like son, Eriksson’s father liked to bathe in the limelight as much as his son did.
Claude slapped his forehead. How could I forget? The tavern was a regular place for the townsfolk to gather. Given that Pjard had bought the blacktiger fish for a high price, the tavern would definitely be filled with the upper class townsfolk for the rest of the day who wanted to have a taste of that rare specimen. Claude’s father, the chief secretary of the town, would most likely be invited to have a meal there. Going to the tavern now was practically asking to be scolded by his father.
There were many taverns in Whitestag, seven near the docks alone. However, there was only one the townsfolk referred to simply as ‘the tavern’ or ‘the old tavern’. It was the first tavern that was also named after the town, Whitestag Tavern. It was said that the tavern’s history stretched as far back as the town’s own, with it being passed down through more than ten generations before ending up as the property of the only dignitarian council member of the town, Sir Fux. Being the council member as he was, he didn’t know how to manage a tavern, so he left Head Chef Pjard in charge of it.
Pjard was quite the fantastical figure. He came from the royal capital and his family owns a luxury restaurant there. Ever since his childhood, he had researched culinary arts with great fervor. As Sir Fux had studied in the royal capital when he was young, he became good friends with Pjard.
Later in his life, a noble lady with a passion for delicious food fell in love with the young Pjard. But as expected, that relationship didn’t earn the blessings of her parents. She was a noble lady after all, and her falling in love with a lowly chef whose status and family background was far inferior made her noble house become the laughing stock in the royal capital.
And so, the noble lady resolutely decided to elope with the young Pjard!
That ended up with Pjard’s family suffering the wrath of the girl’s family. Their luxury restaurant soon closed down. On that front, Pjard had to thank Stellin IX for greatly suppressing the scope of what nobles could do. At the very least, his family members were safe from any harm. All the nobles could do was to apply financial pressure on them.
For love, Pjard had left his family behind in the royal capital to Whitestag for Sir Fux’s help. In time, he took over the managing of one of his core properties: the old tavern of Whitestag.
The moment he took over the joint, Pjard fired all the maidservants who made a side income through sensual and intimate services and convinced Sir Fux to give the tavern a huge renovation. He also recruited a lot of new servers and trained them strictly. Three months later, the old tavern was born anew and it became the most elegant and pricey joint in Whitestag. The rich townsfolk flocked there in droves and the tavern became a central location for interaction between people of high society, a place where they could talk big business while having a good meal!
“Thanks for the reminder, Boa. Where shall we have lunch then?”
“Didn’t you say you wanted to go to the bookstore after the meal? Why don’t we go to Big Fork, the restaurant next to the bookstore? The mutton ribs and marinade noodles they serve there sounds delicious,” suggested Eriksson.
Big Fork wasn’t the real name of that restaurant. The people of Freia usually named their own shops and establishments after their family names. Originally, that restaurant was known as Lunbards Dinery after the owner, Lunbards. But to catch the attention of potential customers, they put a gigantic fork at the entrance of the restaurant. In time, people came to refer to that place as Big Fork instead of its original name. That was one reason not to display random objects at one’s storefront…
While there were noodles in that world, they were mostly handmade by kneading flour into dough and separating them into blocky shapes with sticks before being sliced into thin pieces. They could be consumed after cooking them in the pot for a while and pouring some sauce over them. It wasn’t so different from the noodles Claude had in his past life, but the sauce didn’t taste nearly as good.
The mutton ribs on the other hand tasted finger-licking good. For drinks, black wheat ale and honeyed red tea were served there, each costing one sunar. As the four of them still had classes after the break, Eriksson and Borkal went for honeyed red tea instead of ale.
Claude finished five of his mutton ribs in quick succession and wolfed down a huge bowl of noodles. Borkal ate more or less the same as he did, only two mutton ribs less. Eriksson and Welikro on the other hand craved marinade noodles for some reason and each ordered two large bowls of it.
When the bill came, Claude paid three riyases and four sunars in total; one sunar for each mutton rib, of which they had 12 in total, six bowls of noodles at three sunars each and four sunars for four honeyed red teas. That sum was equivalent to three days’ worth of Morssen’s salary. Though the prices of Big Fork were a little high, Claude was still satisfied that he managed to treat his friends to a great meal.