Claude the Confused
Claude lied on his bed and watched as the little snowhound engaged in a death battle with his old slippers. He had brought it back since three days ago and Claude finally realized that the old man Mokro only talked about the dog’s good points. However, he didn’t mention its most unique characteristic: it’s innate capability to take a house apart.
It was no wonder Claude felt that the three lardor snowhounds were similar to the huskies in his previous life. In fact, they were probably ‘brothers from the same family’. What stupefied Claude was how his little snowhound wasn’t cowardly like huskies were. Instead, it had the propensity to get mad at others even though it was only two months old based on its size.
The slipper on the ground was Morssen’s. One day, Morssen was annoyed by the snowhound who was blocking his way while playing around, so he gave it a kick to the side. Eh, kick’s a strong word. It’s only a push with the leg… But because of that, the snowhound started hating Morssen and would always bite his shoes all over the place whenever he came back. The little one also bit Morssen’s poor old slippers to smithereens before it fully vented its hate for Claude’s father.
Almost everyone in the family apart from Morssen liked the little fellow, not including Arbeit, who was still living at Sir Fux’s. The snowhound became the target of Madam Ferd, Angelina and Bloweyk’s target of affection, as was apparent from the names they called it.
Claude’s mother called it Pluto, the way Claude named him. Mokro asked Claude what the snowhound was to be named before the snowhound was taken away, and that was the name he came up with right away. In his past life, the husky his boss owned was also called Pluto, and he didn’t really know why he used that name either.
His siblings were thrilled at their new snowhound and Angelina asked him what it was named. When Claude told her it was called Pluto, she thought it an ugly name and decided to call it Snowflake, citing its snow-colored fur as the reason. Claude laughed and said that no male dog would have such a feminine name, but he couldn’t do anything about his sister’s preferences. Bloweyk on the other hand didn’t really care for the name and only called it ‘little puppy’.
The door to his attic opened slightly. Angelina poked her head in and asked, “Claude, is Snowflake here with you?”
“Come in, it’s playing with the slippers.”
When she pushed the door open, the little snowhound rushed forwards to greet her while wagging its tail nonstop. The snowhound knew who treated it the best and had already put Angelina on the very top of its list of dog butlers. The little girl soon started playing with their little pet.
After half an hour or so, their mother’s voice rang from below, calling for Angelina to go to sleep. So, Angelina carried the snowhound with her and prepared to go downstairs. Ever since Claude brought the snowhound home, his sister had him get her a small wooden box and put some pieces of torn linen cloth into it to use it as the snowhound’s bed. She then placed the box beside her little bed so that it could accompany her and Bloweyk throughout the night.
Claude said, “Anna, don’t hug Pluto to sleep. Tell Little Blowk the same. It’s already torn apart two blankets, one bedsheet and one pillow already. if you continue to do so, Mother won’t let us keep it anymore, understood?”
The girl nodded fearfully. “I know, Claude, I won’t hug Snowflake to sleep. Tell mommy to not abandon it, okay? It’s still so small.”
Claude waved his hand nonchalantly to gesture her to go downstairs. Abandon it? Impossible. Even though Father, someone who likes dogs the least in this house, wouldn’t abandon this little snowhound. Three days ago when Claude went to the jetty with his new pet, Borkal said that one lardor snowhound could sell for three or four thales in the prefecture capital. A snowhound like Pluto with pure white fur could even sell for one whole gold crown.
That day, he gave each of his friends one turkey while bringing one back home for his mother to make soup with. He had always loved chicken soup, but turkey soup tasted far better than the normal farm-raised chickens.
He gave the other hare to Pegg. That day, Eriksson had wanted to ask them to stay for a barbecue, but Claude refused to join because he wanted to bring the snowhound back home.
He asked Borkal why Supervisor Mokro was willing to trade the snowhound for only one hare if it was so expensive. Borkal reasoned that the supervisor probably needed a favor from Morssen.
After the snowhound was brought home, it became the center of attention for his mother and siblings. When Claude told his father about the matter, Morssen laughed and said that Supervisor Mokro of Poplar Ridge Farmstead was eyeing for a permanent stall space in the open-air market. However, they still didn’t have enough to afford that kind of space.
The open-air market was like the farmer markets in Claude’s past life. They were also one of Morssen’s policies which won him his third management award.
The place where the open-air market stood used to be an empty space and in time, hawkers and merchants would start peddling in the area. However, there was no order whatsoever and hygiene got really bad. The place brought lots of public safety risks to the town. So, Morssen, then a normal bureaucrat, suggested for the empty space to be converted into a proper open-air market where regulations would be enforced and rent for stall space would be collected as income for the town hall.
After that, it grew to become the largest market in Whitestag and was also the biggest place to buy or sell agricultural goods. The income provided from rent collected of that place was also rather decent. When Morssen was made the chief secretary of the town, he called for an expansion of the open-air market and diversified the stall spaces into temporary and long-term ones. Long-term stall space was rented for a term of one to three years while temporary ones could only be rented for one or two days to a month.
Claude no longer bothered to ask. It was obvious that Mokro had been unable to reach out to Morssen, so he used an expensive snowhound to establish that connection. Whether Claude gave a hare in return or not, Mokro would gift him one snowhound anyway. While trading a snowhound for a hunting catch sounded good on the surface, the disparity in value of those two things was obvious to anyone.
Claude couldn’t care about whether Morko had been eyeing the stall space from the start. But since Morssen already found out about it, he would help out if he felt like it and even receive another gift from Morko in return. It wouldn’t be a problem either if Mokro didn’t want to help out, since it was technically a trade between Claude and Mokro. Even if the value of the hare couldn’t be compared to that of the snowhound, Mokro had gone through with the trade willingly. Claude didn’t force him to do it, and he wouldn’t be willing to give the snowhound back either.
The month-long horsemanship classes held in school ended. The afternoon sessions in school returned to normal and the students wouldn’t be able to choose whether they wanted to attend the classes or not and couldn’t go home earlier like before. They could only rest for the last day of the week, so they would have to consider the distance of the place they wanted to travel to.
Eriksson’s small fishing boat was complete. All that was required was painting and drying. It should be seaworthy in another ten days or so. By then, the four of them would be able to go sail into Lake Balinga for fishing during the last day of the week. Eriksson also said that the wetlands near the lake had lots of aquatic birds like ducks and egrets, making the place a good place for hunts.
Perhaps due to his adventures at Egret and the days he spent hunting turkeys and hares following his return, Claude felt that the peaceful life was no longer suited to him. Ever since his father told him about his plans for the future, Claude found himself looking forward to his departure for Nubissia two years later, regardless of the fact that he was going there to enlist in the military. At the very least, his desire to explore and experience this new world could be satisfied.
There’s still two years of waiting, huh… I can only start to plan for my journey to Nubissia after I graduate… Claude sighed before he started to play around with the fishbone dagger in his hand.
The dagger, the locket-shaped wooden plaque and the fish-shaped pen holder were the three magical items Claude bought from Wakri’s shop. They cost him one thale in total. But no matter what Claude did, he wasn’t able to verify whether they were truly magical items. Claude even suspected that his eyes were tricking him in seeing the glow that emanated from those things.
Eriksson confidently said that the wooden plaque was something that was used to mark rooms in inns and ship cabins. Claude thought the same when he gave it a wash, but it didn’t seem right to him. If it really was a door plaque, it should have some sort of number engraved on it.
But after closely inspecting the plaque, Claude found that it wasn’t made of wood, but rather a kind of wood-like stone. They looked like the kind of fake-jade plastic ornament that adorned some carpets in his past life, being lightweight but tough while having the smooth texture of jade. The plaque seemed to have been polished before, given its smooth surface, and on its back was a hexagram engraving.
Claude felt that if any of his items were magical, that plaque had to be it. But no matter how hard he tried to use his mental power on it, he didn’t notice any changes on the plaque at all, much to his disappointment. It appeared that the strength of his mental power wouldn’t allow him to appraise whether the plaque was truly a magical item.
As for the fishbone dagger, Claude tried many ways to test it. He even considered tossing it into a kiln to melt it down to see what would happen once. After seeing the mithril dagger sold at Hans’s shop, he was almost certain that the fishbone dagger of his was a normal mithril dagger that was even inferior in quality to those sold at Hans’s.
It wasn’t sharp and didn’t cut through metal like butter. There was also no poison sealed in the blade. He gave one of the hares he caught a cut but the hare survived fine even after that. He also didn’t feel any strength or physical boost when he held the dagger in his hand. Had i not been for the dull, dark glow he saw on the dagger when he looked through the shelves with his mental power focused, he wouldn’t be able to resist the urge to toss the dagger into Mike’s kiln at Big Hammer to rid himself of the trouble.
He had already disassembled whatever parts he could. He removed the fishbone hilt from the blade and didn’t notice anything odd about it either.
Claude even considered binding the items with blood. After making a cut on his finger, he squeezed some blood out on the three items and didn’t notice anything apart from the pulsing pain from his wound. It was then when he came to understand that he was in a western magical fantasy world rather than an eastern-themed xianxia novel.
After sighing, he put the dagger back into his drawer. He spaced out for a good moment, not feeling the slightest urge to sleep.
Claude saw the two dictionary-thick diaries within his drawer. After some thought, he picked up the one marked as the first volume, lit the oil lamp on his table, and prepared to read it like he would a biography. Perhaps he would find sleep easier after doing some reading.