Black Iron’s Glory

Chapter 38 - Return Trip

Chapter 38

Return Trip

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Don’t worry, daily chapters will continue through the holidays as well!

After Borkal gave his lecture on the history of currency, Eriksson and Welikro took their share of the shaliuns as a memento for their trip to Egret. There was nothing more memorable than the shaliun gold coins Claude obtained after killing the python.

Claude himself didn’t care about his two shaliuns as he had thirty more hidden away. Initially, he had wanted to count on Borkal to sell those coins for money to go on another shopping trip at Mock’s Goods.

He suspected that there were some more items in the inventory of Wakri’s shop that was similar to the magical cookbook, but they were just stashed away because Wakri didn’t know what he was dealing with. So, Claude wanted to go and give the shop a thorough check to see if there were more benefits to be obtained.

But now that Borkal had made such a sentiment with Welikro and Eriksson showing their support of keeping it as a token of their memorable trip, Claude had to think twice first. He was worried that if he got Borkal to trade his two gold coins in for money he could use, the three of them would suspect that he had kept some gold coins for himself and didn’t bring them out.

The human mind is hard to predict. It wasn’t that Claude was paranoid, he just didn’t want to risk worsening the relationship with his friends. The excuse he used proved to be perfect. His friends believed every bit of it. Even if he were to get Borkal’s help to trade those two gold coins into money, they might not necessarily suspect him. But that would no doubt leave a thorn in their minds and he wouldn’t want something like that to happen.

The transmigrator sometimes found it really laughable that the three people he trusted the most were the three youths of his age. He considered them even more reliable than his parents. It wasn’t that he didn’t think of bringing those two coins in town to exchange them himself, but he reasoned that things might turn out even worse if he did that. It wouldn’t take half a day before the whole town found out about him trading those two shaliuns away.

There was nobody else more suitable than Borkal to help him trade the coins away. Not only would Borkal come up with a story to hide the origins of the coin, he would also do his best to get the best price for Claude. However, those three knew Claude’s financial situation quite well. There was no real need for him to trade those coins in after all, and he couldn’t possibly tell them his real goal of spending them at Mock’s Goods for items peculiar in nature.

What he wanted was to maintain their friendship without revealing the truth to them. There was no way he could explain how only he could read the diary of the magus or how he found the location of the treasure from the ruins without revealing that he had talent for magic.

After much consideration, Claude said, “Boa, I only want to keep one of the shaliuns. Can you help me out with the other one? I want to have some spare cash on myself. You know my father and my elder brother. I don’t want to have to get into an argument with them over spending money all the time.”

Borkal drunk a mouthful of wine and said, “Alright, I’ll ask around for you and get you a good price. I think some of my father’s friends would be interested in buying some rare collectible. A shaliun gold coin is a rather good choice.”

Claude smiled. “Great, I’ll wait for your news. After you make the deal, I’ll treat you all to a good meal.”

Borkal and Eriksson drank the most from the two bottles of wine. Soon, they collapsed on the ground, dead drunk. Welikro and Claude only took a few sips and were still sober.

After tucking the two drunkards in their blankets within the tents, Claude and Welikro sat back beside the bonfire. The night breeze blew rather strongly, causing it to feel colder than usual. Claude put on the mantel Eriksson took off.

“Why didn’t you drink more wine?” asked Claude.

“I didn’t feel like it. During noon, an accident almost happened to you because of my carelessness by leaving you here alone in the ruins. I feel really bad for that, so I thought it best to stay alert during the night. If something does happen to us, it would be too late to regret it if I ended up drunk like those two.”

“Are you going to be on night watch the whole night?”

Welikro smiled and said, “Yeah. Look at those two. They look like dead pigs. Are you still counting on them for night duty? I don’t think they’ll wake up even if they sleep all the way till morning. Hangovers from blackcurrant wine hurt especially bad. I already got a feel of that when I secretly drank the ones my father bought. So, I only took a few sips just now and let them finish the rest. Speaking of which, Claude, you didn’t drink much either, did you?”

“I’ve never liked drinking after all,” Claude said as he turned the python skewer in his hand continuously to ensure that the meat was evenly heated, “I just wanted to get a taste of it. There’s no point in ending up dead drunk. Do you know how the feast my father held ended up like? Many of the guests puked all over the place and I had to do the cleanup. The smell was obnoxious. It was from then on that I didn’t really feel like drinking anymore.”

“My father likes to drink a lot and he would get drunk often. But, he’s pretty fine when he’s drunk. He won’t puke or cause a mess when he’s drunk and will only find a place to lie down to sleep. But with my elder sister being in charge of our household, she forbids my father from buying any alcohol. So, my father can only secretly save up some money for a quick fix,” said Welikro.

Claude didn’t know what to say. He didn’t feel like criticizing the abnormally diligent sister of Welikro. After all, it was Welikro’s family member, not his. He had no right to mouth off about her.

“You better get some rest earlier too. I’ll keep watch, so don’t worry about it and sleep well,” said Welikro as he patted on the matchlock gun he held.

“I don’t feel like sleeping just yet,” Claude said, “I doubt I’d be able to fall asleep. Let me finish smoking this python meat first. I want to bring them back for Anna and Little Blowk to have a taste. Come to think of it, our trip to Egret is a real bountiful one. We’ll be bringing back deer jerky, snake jerky and those four goat legs.

“Additionally, the herbs and skins can net us quite a bit of money. We’ll no longer have to make such a convoluted excuse to get money from our families like we did this time. I can also pay you guys back for the money I owe and we even each got a shaliun each as a keepsake. We really did make the right choice to come. It’s too bad that the break to celebrate the kingdom’s restoration is far too short. I doubt we’d be able to find a chance like this in the future.”

“You almost died during the afternoon you know. Aren’t you afraid?”

“I do feel scared when I think about it. But at that time, I couldn’t afford to bother with something like that. It was incredibly simple: kill or be killed. At yet, here I am, smoking the python’s meat like nothing has happened. So, what’s there to be afraid of after defeating the python?”

“Well said. How about this, Claude, if you can get your family’s permission, I’ll ask my father to let you come with us on our hunt during winter. What do you think?”

“We’ll see. It’s only the end of the 5th month right now and there’s still half a year’s time to the winter break at the end of the year. Who knows what will happen then? There’d be no point in making plans now. Also, even though my father has dignitarian status, he doesn’t let us buy any guns. I can’t practice shooting regularly like you can. As for school… Well, our gun training only starts next year. Sigh, if I didn’t have Eyke’s gun with me back then, I really would’ve died.” Claude really felt the desire to possess his own gun.

“Actually, there’s a way,” Welikro said, “You can get someone who has dignitarian status and buy a gun through him. Register the gun under that person’s name. In other words, that person’ll be your guarantor. You can get a gun legally that way.”

“If my father finds out about that, he will freak out,” Claud said, “Also, I don’t have money for a gun.”

They put that matter to rest. Welikro knew that without Morssen’s permission, there was no way Claude could get a gun of his own. WIthin Whitestag, nobody dared to risk offending the chief secretary by becoming the guarantor for Claude for his gun.

Claude stood up and washed the pot before using it to boil water. That was the same pot Borkal and Eriksson used to boil their python fangs the night before. He had to make sure to disinfect it beforehand.

After the water in the pot boiled for a while, Claude poured the water away and began boiling fresh water a new. That was the drinking water for tomorrow. After the boiled water cooled, Claude poured it into their water sacks. He filled the pot with water once more and tossed the two deer bones left behind from yesterday into it before hanging the pot above the fire.

“Are you making bone soup?” asked Welikro.

There was half a pack of flour remaining. The flour was packed in sacks of 5 catties and the packaging used the same material as the butter wrappers. Claude poured the remaining flour into an empty bucket before filling it with some water from another bucket.

“We’ll be having some soup tomorrow to keep our stomachs filled. We can have a proper meal when we get to the boat. I’ll be making some more food, so how about some grilled meat pancakes?”

Given his limited equipment, Claude made some pancakes using the bottom of the pot and cut off some goat meat to grill before packing them up. That would be the lunch they would have on the return trip. The flour that remained were pinched into little chunks and tossed into the pot.

Eriksson and Borkal woke up during daybreak, complaining about their aching heads and shouting for water. Claude served them some of the soup he made and they stopped grumbling. After another hour or so of sleep, they woke back up looking rather down and unenergized.

Claude and Welikro had already packed their things. They were going to go back today, but the huge haul they got was quite the burden for the four of them.

“Two buckets, four sets of wooden plates and bowls, a pan and a pot. These were all taken from Old Sunny’s boat, so we’ll have to bring them back. The two tents and four blanket are our own so we can’t leave them either. THe rest is some scraps and our haul: one deerskin, two goatskins, one python skin, four goat legs and some jerky. How should we bring all this stuff back?” asked Welikro in troubled fashion.

“We also have to be alert while we’re at it. Why don’t we cut some long branches and make carrying poles out of them? We’ll have two doing the carrying with another two keeping watch, switching our roles as we go. Since we’re only going down from the hill, it should be much easier than going up. We’ll just take some rests when we’re worn out.” Claude didn’t have any bright ideas either.

They had spent some two hours getting to the top of the hill and it was rather unexpected for them to use almost the same amount of time to descend. That was mainly due to Eriksson and Borkal crying tired all too often and asking to rest. In the end, Claude carried two buckets with the utensils in them while Eriksson and Borkal each used a carrying pole to carry their spoils. Only Welikro was left on guard with his gun in hand.

By the time they reached the boat docked at the waterway, they rested for a good while before departing. Eriksson once more assumed the role of the captain. The undoing of the dock lines saw Claude and Welikro become the hard-working rowers. After the boat left the waterway, Eriksson suddenly recalled the nets they tossed into the lake.

But when they reached the location where they left the nets, they were flabbergasted. The net was gone, but to where?

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