Ch 93 -- Mukouda, Buying a Bath.
I headed for the Irario Company's store the next morning, accompanied by Fer. According to Lambert-san it was the only shop in the city that sold baths. His directions to get there were on spot-on but it was a big shop and not easy to miss regardless. I stopped to admire its impressive architecture for a moment before I went in.
A store clerk dressed in a smart uniform turned to greet us as we entered. His expression froze as he caught sight of Fer, not surprising for anyone first on seeing such a large monster. He recovered his aplomb quickly though as you might expect from someone trained to be a salesman in such a high-class establishment and he quickly came forward to greet us.
"Can I assist you in finding what you want?" He was very polite.
"Uh, can you show me some baths?"
"Baths, certainly. Please come this way."
It was pretty clear store-clerk-san didn't think I looked wealthy enough to afford a bath but he seemed fine with letting me look around. I followed him into an area of the shop at the back where there were a number of baths lined up on display. There were three sizes of bath, large, medium and small. The one I had seen in Lambert-san's house was a small-sized bath, it seemed. I thought about it and decided that a similarly-sized bath would suit me. Even stretching out by myself I'd fit nicely into such a bath.
"A small bath is enough..." I muttered, looking at the range of baths on offer.
"We have several such baths in stock so please take a look." The store clerk overheard my comment and quickly directed my attention towards the small baths on display. He really knew his stuff, I thought to myself gratefully as I looked them over.
The first one was the cheapest, a simple pottery-brown-coloured one costing 300 gold coins. As Lambert-san had said, baths were quite expensive, even the most basic ones. The next bath I looked at was a deep green colour, a very relaxing shade but it cost 370 gold coins. A different colour made the price rise significantly. I asked the store clerk and he explained that making a large piece of pottery like a bath with a smooth uniform colour was very tricky and this resulted in an increased cost.
Although colored baths were more expensive, they were more attractive than the simple pottery-coloured one and since I had a lot of cash on hand I decided the green one would be on my list. The next one I examined was a pure white bath. It looked like a normal bath like the one I had back home in Japan and it had an air of hygienic cleanliness about it. It cost 430 gold coins, even more than the green-coloured bath I had my eye on.
The clerk explained that this white-coloured bath was a new product, only recently coming on to the market. In order to produce the white colour a special material was mixed in with the clay. That material was rare and expensive hence the higher price for the finished product.
The next bath I looked at was a luxurious model with a floral painted finish under the glaze. It looked expensive but I was still surprised when I saw the price tag -- it cost 500 gold coins. It seems that it's harder to paint such decorations rather than simply colouring the pottery with a single colour and it takes considerable artistic skill to achieve an attractive effect. There weren't many craftsmen who could do such a fine job hence the higher price. I appreciated its looks but it was the sort of bath a nobleman's home might boast to display his wealth and taste to others. I'd be taking my bath with me as I travel so such elegance would be pointless. I turned back to my first candidate, the deep green bath. Yosh.
"Excuse me but I'd like to buy this green bath." I said to the store clerk.
The store clerk was a bit surprised that an ordinary-looking guy like me who just walked in off the street wanted to buy something as expensive as a bath with so little hesitation but he was a professional and rallied quickly.
"It costs 370 gold coins, you understand." Does someone like me have 370 gold coins to pay for a bath? was what he was obviously thinking but he was very polite and didn't let his doubts show.
He he he, thanks to Fer-sama's hard work that amount is small change to me.
"Yes, it costs 370 gold coins, right?" I took out two hemp bags from my Item Box. The bigger bag held 300 gold coins and I took 70 more gold coins out of the smaller bag before presenting them to the astonished shop clerk.
"W- well, allow me to verify the amount, customer-sama." The clerk counted the gold coins carefully, stacking them in piles of ten on the counter.
"...370 gold coins..." He nodded. "Yes, that's the correct sum. Would you like us to deliver the bath to your home?" He was smiling broadly now and I wondered if he worked on commission. Ganbatte, store-clerk-san and perhaps next time you'll not pre-judge a customer by his appearance.
"No, it's okay, I'll put it in my Item Box and take it with me. I won't need it delivered." Besides, I was living in an inn and I didn't have a home like Lambert-san's to have it delivered to.
"Ho, having an Item Box, how I envy you."
"This bath will just about fill it up though, but it comes in handy." Actually my Item Box seemed to be almost unlimited in capacity -- it currently contained half a flock of Wyverns as well as a mountain of meat from the herd of Bloody Horn Bulls and other monsters Fer had subjugated (not to mention Chimaera-san and Orthros-san) but I wasn't going to let others know just how big it was if I could help it. Of course people like Johan-ojisan and the Guild Master knew but I didn't want it more widely known as that could become troublesome.
I put the bath in my Item Box and politely thanked the clerk for his assistance as he escorted me to the door of Irario Company's store. Success! The long-awaited bath was mine!
Once I was away from the entrance of the Irario Company's store (and hopefully out of sight of store-clerk-san) I spontaneously struck a victory pose, my hands raised in V-signs. I couldn't help it. Yahoo, I had a bath!
"What are you acting so happy about..." Fer asked, puzzled by my behaviour. I couldn't explain it, he wasn't Japanese so he could never understand but Japanese people and baths are, well... I had finally fulfilled my heart's desire, I had bought a bath. Now to use it, but... ah, there was nowhere in the city I could actually take a bath, was there? The inn, no... We'd have to go outside the city somewhere.
"Hey Fer, I want to take a bath. Let's go out of town to a quiet place in the forest, somewhere there's no Adventurers or monsters around. Can you find me somewhere like that?"
"Outside the city, that's nice." Fer was a country boy at heart. "Right then, climb on me."