The next day we arrived at the city of Claire as Fer had predicted. I presented my Adventurers Guild card at the entrance to the town and got in without problems, well apart from the guards explaining to me that as Fer and Sui were my contracted monsters, if they caused problems in the city I'd get the blame and be punished appropriately for their misdeeds. I'd been told this before when entering other towns, of course.
The town of Claire is mostly a spinning and weaving town with dedicated stores selling yarns and woven cloth built next to shops selling finished items of clothing and the like.
"Fer, how about we go to the Adventurers Guild first?"
"Umu. Let's find out about the requests they want us to deal with." Fer still had the Dungeon City of Doran on his mind, obviously but I couldn't take my eyes off the shop displays here. However, business first so I asked a shop clerk in a store nearby and got directions to the city's Adventurers Guild.
* * * * *
All attention was on Fer when we entered the Adventurers Guild and I was roundly ignored as usual. I was used to it by now. Really. When I showed my Guild card at the counter the receptionist (a cute little Beastwoman with floppy dog ears) asked me to wait a moment before she scurried off.
"Oho, I've been waiting for you." A little old man with a moustache and a long flowing beard headed towards me, speaking in a loud voice. Was he a Dwarf? I had heard they existed in this world but it was my first time seeing one in the flesh.
"A message came from Willem of Carerina, saying you were on your way to us." Willem of Carerina? Oh yes, I remembered that the Guild Master of the Adventurers Guild of Carerina was called Willem. The Dwarf, although short and obviously not young had a strength and dignity about him that impressed me. He caught my frank stare.
"Ho, is this your first time meeting a Dwarf? I'm surprised, we're not that uncommon in this country. You're headed to the Dungeon City of Doran after you leave here, right? There are quite a few Dwarf Adventurers and blacksmiths there." So there are Dwarves who are Adventurers too?
In Carerina I'd caught sight of Beastmen Adventurers a few times but never a Dwarf. Johan-ojisan had spoken of elves but that was another race I'd not encountered personally. Maybe when we got to Doran, a much larger city, I'd run into more of the other races in this world. Elves, maybe, I had a vision of elves as handsome men and beautiful women. If possible, I'd like to make the acquaintance of beautiful elf women...
"Oh, I forgot t'introduce myself." the Dwarf said with a start. "I'm the Guild Master of the Adventurers Guild of Claire. Name's Rodolpho. Nice to meet you." Saying that, Rodolpho-san took hold of my hand and shook it vigorously. He may have been getting on in years but like Johan-ojisan back in Carerina he still had his strength, I thought to myself as I surreptitiously massaged my fingers to restore the blood circulation.
"Right, we can't talk here, let's go to my room." He turned and stumped off. We followed Rodolpho-san into what was obviously his Guild Master's office. I sat down on a chair opposite his desk while Fer lay down in a space beside me and closed his eyes. Rodolpho-san studied the pretending-to-be-asleep figure of Fer with a keen eye.
"Hmpfh. I had heard all sorts of rumours, about how someone had taken a Fenrir as a contracted beast, then Willem got in touch about you and your companion there." He shrugged. "I was still skeptical, I thought it was too unlikely to be true but... well, I can see that's a legendary monster, right enough." He looked at me. "And I've heard you've got a strong Slime as another contracted demon, is that so?"
If I had heard the same rumours I'd be incredulous too until I came face to face with the legendary monster in question. Of course the legendary monster was Fer, a cry-baby who hated to be washed, a glutton who ate everything in sight, a slave-driving black-company boss who dragged me into impossible battles, who... well. Sui, of course had been growing and evolving so fast I was as much surprised at her abilities as the Guild Master was.
"So, you just arrived and it's impolite of me to hurry things along but can I discuss the request with you straight away?" Rodolpho-san said, getting down to business.
"Yes, please do." I said.
"Actually..." he explained that the object of the request was from a business called Bruno Company, a major customer of the Adventurers Guild in this city. The aim was to obtain the thread of a Venom Tarantula. The request was complicated by the fact the Venom Tarantula's habitat was the Forest of Ishtam to the north of the city, a dangerous place. The forest harboured many dangerous insect monsters like the A-ranked Giant Centipede as well as Venom Tarantulas.
"Insect monsters have few materials that can be profitably harvested and no Adventurers want to go into the forest because of the risks of being poisoned for little or no return, especially if they ended up facing A-rank monsters like the Giant Centipede I mentioned." Rodolpho-san sat back in his low chair. "Bruno Company have been pestering me about this request for a while now and it's getting to be a real problem for us."
Clothing made with Venom Tarantula thread is said to be the highest grade, used for aristocrats' dresses and outfits. A sudden order came in from an aristocrat who was a regular customer of Bruno Company and they panicked when they found they had no Venom Tarantula thread cloth in stock. Rodolpho-san had tried his best to collect Venom Tarantula thread to meet Bruno Company's needs but he was still a little short of the amount needed. So that was his request, basically. The Venom Tarantulas in the Forest of Ishtam had been left untouched until now because of the dangerous nature of the place but everywhere else had been picked clean, there were no Venom Tarantulas left elsewhere to hunt.
"So will you accept this request? Bruno Company is a regular and very lucrative customer of the Adventurer's Guild and we'd hate to disappoint them on this." Rodolpho-san looked troubled.
"Fer, what do you think?" I looked down at Fer who had opened his eyes. He had been listening to every word of Rodolpho-san's explanation, of course.
"Eh, bugs... I'm not fond of hunting bugs because they're mostly inedible. However the Venom Tarantula is one that can be eaten and they taste OK so that's something, and their bodies are huge too." Fer licked his muzzle, never a good sign when he was discussing large nasty monsters and the edibility thereof.
Edible spiders? "Can you really eat Venom Tarantula?"
"Well, as Fenrir-sama says," Rodolpho-san interjected, "insect-type monsters are not usually suitable for people to eat but among the edible types the Venom Tarantula is said to be the most delicious. Cooking it in salt is the recommended method of preparing them, apparently." Rodolpho-san thought for a moment before continuing.
"As I said earlier, there are only a few materials that can be harvested from an insect monster... Venom Tarantula's most important product is its thread of course but it also provides meat and there's a poison sac too, as usual in such an insect monster. The Venom Tarantula is B rank so there's no guarantee of a mana stone though." Rodolpho-san leaned forward. "Because the request is urgent the usual price for subjugation has been raised quite a bit. What do you say?"
It sounded like he was really desperate and I was keen to help out since I had just arrived in town but it would be up to Fer to do all the hard work.
"So Fer, is this a difficult request for you?" I asked Fer telepathically, already guessing what he'd reply.
"Don't be an idiot." He gave me That Look. "There's no such thing as a difficult request for me." He licked his muzzle again. "Anyway, if you're doing the cooking I'm expecting it to taste delicious, got it? Let's accept the request."
"It seems to be fine, we accept the request." I confirmed to Rodolpho-san.
"Oh, really? You've saved me." Rodolpho-san's relief was palpable.
"You sound like you're in a hurry so we'll get it done quickly for you." I offered.
"I am sorry to rush you but thanks for doing so."
I looked out the window of the office, it was approaching evening time. "Fer, how about tomorrow?" I asked him telepathically.
"Umu, that's fine by me." he confirmed.
"Well then, we'll go to the Forest tomorrow." I told the Guild Master.
"Wonderful. Come back safe, please."
"Oh, could you recommend us an inn where I can stay with a contracted monster?"
"Hmmm," Rodolfo-san thought for a moment, "I'd recommend the 'Spinning Wheel Inn' for you." He described how to find it and then after another knuckle-crushing handshake we left the Adventurers Guild.
"Fer, I want to have a look around the clothing shops before we head off to the inn." We had returned to the area with clothing shops I had visited earlier. As a city specialising in spinning and weaving the clothes on sale here were of noticeably better quality than anything I could have bought in Carerina. They were still quite plain in style and cut but the dyes and colours used were bright and solid.
"Oh, this looks good ... Fer, I will be in this shop for a while." An ivory shirt and dark-green trousers in a shop display had caught my attention. Everything I was wearing then was a dull brown-ish colour and the new clothes looked very desirable. Another thing was that all the clothing on display in this street was new, not second-hand as it was in other areas of the city and indeed in most clothing stores in other cities.
"Do you like them? One shirt is a gold coin and five silver coins, the trousers are 2 gold coins." the shop clerk explained. "If you bought our goods in another city they'd be twice the price but since they're made here they're a real bargain." He was trying hard to make the sale but I was ready to buy regardless. The cloth felt superior to the clothes I was already wearing, thicker and warmer too. The price seemed a bit high but I had plenty of money after all. I bought 3 shirts and 3 pairs of trousers in the end. The shirts were all ivory-coloured, the trousers were olive-green, a dark blue and a dark grey colour. It was impulse-shopping but I was quite satisfied with my purchases. I'd wear them tomorrow, I decided.