Akira was strolling with Sheryl in the Kugamayama citys lower district. He was fulfilling the promise he made the other day.
Since the report said that one of the bounty monsters was spotted in the wasteland somewhere near the city, Akira decided to watch the situation for a while before going out to the wasteland again. He was worried that his bad luck might get him to meet that monster the moment he went out to the wasteland. Accompanying Sheryl doing shopping was also for wasting time while waiting for the situation to get better.
Sheryl and Akira were heading to the market around the big Hunter Office branch that was attached to the wall. The area around this Hunter Office was a relatively safe area compared to the other places in the lower district. Because of that, most of the expensive shops and stands gathered around this area.
But to be more precise, the truly luxurious and expensive shops were located inside the inner wall and it was impossible for Akira and Sheryl to go there. So in short, the shops in this area were only expensive compared to the standard in the lower district and they gathered here since this area was relatively safer compared to the rest of the lower district.
Sheryl was walking happily next to Akira when Akira suddenly asked her.
“Although you said that youre going to buy shoes, are you sure you want to buy shoes there Only expensive shoes are available over there, you know”
In reality, Akira never shopped in that place and he knew almost nothing about the shops in that area. It was all information provided by Alpha.
“Thats what I found in the network. Well, Im not sure if that information is fake or not though.”
It seemed that Alpha could not affirm nor refute the information that she told to Akira.
“Alpha, Its rare for you not being able to say anything about it.”
It was rare for Alpha to say something like that, Akira wondered. Sheryl looked hesitant as she said.
“I couldnt find any shoes that matched the clothes that you gave me. I guess that place should have fitting shoes for me. If its too expensive, Ill just give up.”
Akira looked over Sheryl. She was wearing one of the clothes that he gave to her. It was true that compared to her dress, her current shoes looked old and shabby. Since it was shoes that she bought from Katsuragi, they were more tailored towards exploring the wasteland. Not to mention, since the size of the dress was bigger than her actual size, her overall appearance looked a bit weird. But it was rather understandable since Akira could not find old-world shoes that might fit that dress.
Although it also depended on the condition of the clothes, most of the old-world clothes were considered expensive goods. So in order to get shoes that might fit that dress, she might not have any other choice but to go to the market around that area.
When a small child from the slum city went to one of those expensive shops, he or she would normally get kicked out. Even for Sheryl who came in that dress, the chance of her getting kicked out was still pretty high if they knew where she came from. That was also one of the reasons why she was going there with Akira. If she was accompanied by a successful Hunter, the chance of her getting kicked out would be considerably lowered.
Akira and Sheryl continued walking through the lower district toward their destination. The shop that they were heading to was a shop that Alpha randomly picked from the network, Alpha was actually guiding Akira there.
Of course, Sheryl didnt know anything about it. Seeing how Akira did not hesitate as they proceeded through that area without getting lost, she thought that he must have frequented that area to the point that he remembered the layout.
They eventually reached their destination. It was a luxurious looking boutique. If he was the past Akira, he would have hesitated to go in. But since he was once invited by Shiori to a luxurious restaurant, Akira was able to enter that shop without showing hesitation.
Sheryl quickly followed behind him. To be honest, she was feeling very nervous, but since she had learned how to hide it, she entered the shop with a calm expression.
A female clerk quickly welcomed them as they entered, she was Kashua, the owner of the shop.
Kashua glanced at Akira. [He is a young boy Hunter with an augmented suit and properly maintained rifles, there should be no problem.]
Kashua then turned her attention to Sheryl.
[There is something strange about her appearance. The dress that she is wearing seems like an old-world dress, in short, an expensive dress. And she sure has put extra effort to make such a big dress look less weird on her. But compared to that dress, she is using shabby and dirty looking shoes. But anyway, she must be here as the Hunter boys companion. So, there should be no problem.]
Kashua identified Akira and Sheryl as worthy customers. Thus she put on her business smile as she welcomed them.
“Thank you for coming to our shop, what can we do for you today”
“Uhh, were here looking for girl shoes.”
After Akira said that, Kashua turned to Sheryl and looked at her shoes one more time.
“But of course! Please come in, Ill guide you to the shoe section.”
Kashuas expression did not change as she guided Akira and Sheryl through her shop.
Sheryl followed Kashuas guide. Not too long after that, she was sitting on a chair having a hard time deciding among all the shoes lined up in front of her. All those shoes were recommended for her by Kashua. Sheryl was making a super serious face, all of those shoes that Kashua recommended were wonderful shoes. Even Sheryl was able to know that much, but because of that, the price of those shoes was also pretty high and she could not pay for those shoes with the money that she brought with her that day. She also noticed that Kashua slowly lowered the quality and the price of the shoes that she was recommending to Sheryl every time she brought a new pair of shoes.
One of the reasons why Sheryl was looking for new shoes was for selling the relics that Akira entrusted to her. She would be able to make a better impression by wearing matching shoes when selling those relics. She knew very well that putting a good overall appearance would be beneficial during a negotiation. In order for others to not look down on her, she was searching for shoes that would fit her dress. She was thinking hard on how to do that with the limited amount of budget that she had.
While Sheryl was busy doing that, Akira was walking around the shop, browsing the apparels there. Inside that shop, mannequins were used to show how the dresses would look when they were put on. Akira frowned a bit when he looked at those mannequins.
Alpha noticed that and thought his reaction was a bit weird.
“Akira, whats wrong”
“Nothing, Im just wondering why I dont feel anything when I look at these mannequins Is it because they are just mannequins”
“Do you want me to try it on”
Alpha changed her dress to the same ones that the mannequin in front of Akira was wearing. Although the size was adjusted to fit on her body, it had the exact same design as the one on the mannequin. She then stood beside that mannequin.
Akira looked at the mannequin and at Alpha in turns. But just like before, he did not feel any big change in his impression.
“Yep, it doesnt change much. Its not that bad but not that good either, just a normal dress. This shop is supposed to be an expensive shop in the lower district, right”
“Well, the clothes here are at least not as cheap as your underclothing.”
“Even if its an expensive dress judged by fashion experts for having a good design, it still looks normal to me, I dont feel anything at all. As I thought, I might have no fashion sense.”
Akira remembered that the meal he had when he went to that expensive restaurant really blew his mind. He could agree that those meals were worth the money.
But that was not the case for fashion. Of course, their prices were not the same as the meal that he had in that luxurious restaurant, but he was expecting something more.
Alpha once again changed her dress, this time, it was an expensive-looking dress appropriate for a high-class lady. Walking through the lower district in that dress would warrant extra escorts, or at least, you would need the influence to let people know not to mess with you in order to ensure your safety.
“Compared to the last one, what do you think about this dress”
“Not bad. It does look expensive, I at least understand that its on a different level compared to the other common clothes around here. If I find this kind of dress in the old-world ruin, Im sure itll fetch me quite a lot of money.”
For Akira to think about how much money it would bring in case he sold that dress when he was actually asked about his opinion on the dress, it seemed that his way of thinking had really adjusted for his Hunter job. That might be one of the reasons why he had a bad sense of fashion.
“If thats all you have to say after seeing my dress, I guess you have gotten used to it, huh.”
“Gotten used to it Well, I do feel like Im starting to get used to your clothes though…”
“I think that youre misunderstanding something here, its true that my dress is nothing but an image, but its still a high-class dress. When youre not worried about the expense for the fabric, you can get a very luxurious dress, as a matter of fact, the design and the outlook of my usual clothes are way better than the current fashion.”
“Basically, since you always see me in high-class clothing all the time, youve gotten used to it to the point that it dulls your fashion sense. Maybe.”
“…So in conclusion, my fashion sense is broken, right Well, I guess its fine since now I know the reason why.”
Akira pouted a bit, while Alpha was smiling teasingly at him.
“Isnt that fine After all, every time you want to look at a beautiful girl, you can always look at me anytime, right”
Akira smiled bitterly, he could not refute that.
Kashua, who was with Sheryl up until now, suddenly approached Akira.
“Excuse me, would it be alright if I ask you a question”
“Sure, what is it”
“Excuse me for being rude, but, may I know how much your budget is for today It seems that your companion is worried about the price. If I know the budget, I might be able to adjust my recommendation accordingly.”
It seemed that Kashua thought Akira would be paying for Sheryl. Akira then glanced at Sheryl, she was staring seriously at the shoes in front of her. It seemed that she was really at loss on what to do.
Akira thought for a bit and said.
“Inform me if it costs more than 1,000,000 Aurum.”
Kashua froze for a bit when she heard that.
“…1,000,000 Aurum Is that correct”
“Yes, Ill be paying with my Hunter ID. Ah, if I have to pay with cash, Ill have to go for a bit to withdraw the money though.”
“Please dont worry, we also accept payment through Hunter ID. Just for confirmation, may I borrow your Hunter ID”
It was a common thing for Hunters to lose their IDs during a fight in the old-world ruin. But Kashua was actually asking Akiras Hunter ID to confirm whether he could really pay that much. It showed just how much surprised she was since it was something that she would never do normally.
After all, it was as if she was asking if Akira could really pay that much money. If she had asked that question to a short-tempered Hunter, it would not be strange if that Hunter got angered. Kashua suddenly realized that fact as she tried her best to keep calm and show a friendly smile to Akira.
But Akira did not feel offended by it and casually handed over his ID to Kashua. Kashua then used her information terminal to read Akiras Hunter ID. When the result came out on her information terminal, she was so surprised that she froze.
She then somehow returned back to her usual smile and returned Akiras Hunter ID.
“Im sorry for bothering you so much. Ill recommend shoes that suit the aforementioned budget. Please do ask me if you have any questions.”
She then lightly bowed at Akira and left.
Alpha then asked Akira.
“Are you sure youre okay with that Shell make you pay close to the upper limit of your budget, you know”
“Its fine. I think Sheryl is buying shoes today as preparation so that she can sell relics that I entrusted to her at a better price, right”
“I think so.”
“In that case, then this is a needed expense. If it will really help her sell the relics, then I have no complaints at all. And also, this is for confirming something.”
“I want to know how much she can change with 1,000,000 Aurum and how Ill react to that. If I dont feel anything at all even after spending that much money, I have no plans to make any comment about fashion nor spend too much money on fashion in the future.”
Akira thought that if even 1,000,000 Aurum fashion did not give him any noticeable impression, then it only meant he really did not have any fashion sense at all.
“Hmmm. Itll also be affected by the fashion sense of the clerk in this shop though, dont you think that there are too many unpredictable factors”
“If that happens, then its my bad luck in choosing a weird shop.”
“But Im the one who picked this shop, you know.”
“Well, that only means that my luck is so bad that we cant do anything about it even with your ability. Which also means that I really should give up on my fashion sense.”
Akira smiled lightly when he said that.
Alpha looked exasperatedly at Akira who suddenly decided to test his luck there. Although it was not something that might endanger his life, it might lower his evaluation of her ability.
Alpha was pondering if she should do something about it.
Kashua did not go to Sheryl after she talked with Akira, instead, she went right to the back room only for employees. The moment she passed through the door, her business smile changed to a real smile.
“Celen!! Are you awake!”
After Kashua said that, a young girl dragged herself out.
“Onee-chan, youre too noisy! You do know that I worked all night yesterday, right”
Celen looked annoyed as she stared at Kashua. But Kashua ignored her and said.
“Get changed into something presentable and get out there.”
“But its your turn to watch the shop at this hour, you know Just let me sleep, Im really sleepy.”
“Just do what I say, quickly. And also, Ive told you many times to call me miss manager, remember!”
Although she seemed annoyed, Celen did what she was told to. When Kashua saw that, she quickly went back to the shop.
Sheryl was staring intensely on the shoes that Kashua recommended to her. Every time Kashua brought different shoes to her, the quality and the price of those shoes were getting lower and lower compared to the previous one. Since Kashua did not recommend any other shoes, Sheryl thought that there might be no cheaper shoes in that shop.
Although Sheryl had enough money to pay for the shoes, those shoes were not good enough fit for her dress. But still, they were at least better than her current shoes.
She still had to use the rest of her money for something else. So she was at a loss whether she should spend half of her current money for the shoes.
Right when she was still pondering on what to do, Kashua came to her. She brought another pair of shoes to recommend to Sheryl.
“If those dont suit your taste, then how about this”
Sheryl thought that Kashua brought cheaper shoes as she turned to her. But her expression quickly changed to bewilderment.
The shoes that Kashua recommended looked obviously high-class. There was no mistaking that it cost way more than all the other shoes that she had recommended up until now. It was understandable since she brought the most expensive shoes in her shop.
Sheryl apologetically said to Kashua as a way to signal her that she wanted cheaper shoes.
“Uhmm, Im really thankful for recommending these shoes to me. But it might be a tad too…”
Right when Sheryl was about to saytoo expensive, Kashua suddenly interrupted while still smiling at her.
“Im sorry that I might have overstepped my bounds, but I have asked your companion as to how much hes planning to spend today. Were really sorry for only recommending cheap shoes up until now.”
Sheryl looked even more confused.
From Sheryls reaction, Kashua thought that she was feeling apologetic for making Akira pay for an expensive pair of shoes. That was why Kashua then told Sheryl that it was not a big amount of money for Akira, after all, as a businesswoman, Kashua also had to respect Akiras wish to buy Sheryl that level of quality shoes.
“Please wait for a bit here, Ill bring other shoes too.”
After she said that, Kashua placed the most expensive shoes in her shop on top of the table and took all the other cheap shoes off the table. She then bowed lightly to Sheryl before stepping away to replace those cheap shoes with the second most expensive shoes in her shop.
Sheryl, who did not know what was going on, was staring at Kashuas back as she left that place. She then turned to Akira who she thought should know what exactly was going on.
Akira was browsing the apparel and eventually found himself standing in front of the male underclothing section. Expensive looking underclothings were lined up in front of him, of course, those underclothings were way more expensive than the ones that he usually used.
“Should I buy some underclothing too”
“I wont stop you, but I wont recommend wearing them under an augmented suit. Since its not for Hunters, Im sure itll get torn in no time.”
“Well, thats true. I guess its better if I dont buy it then.”
Akira then placed the underclothing in his hand back to the rack. It seemed that there were no goods that might suit his needs.
“Putting that aside, Sheryl is staring at you, you know.”
He glanced at Sheryl to check on her. It seemed that she wanted him to return to her, thus he decided to walk back to Sheryl.
After Akira returned, Sheryl asked him what was going on and understood the situation. It was a good thing for Sheryl since it was hard to find the shoes that fit her needs with her current budget. But it was not like she could honestly feel happy about it either.
“…Is it really okay”
“Yeah, like I said before, if it helps you sell the relics, then its alright. Theres no need to worry about it, just think of it as a small debt, you can just subtract it from the sales after you sell the relics.”
Sheryl smiled in relief.
“I understand. Ill take you up on your offer then.”
She already had a bunch of favours from Akira that she needed to repay. Thus it was easier for her if Akira himself made that request.
Kashua returned with the second and third most expensive shoes in her shop. Celen who had finished changing her clothes eventually dragged herself out, still looking extremely drowsy.
Celen tried to remember the prices of the shoes that were lined on top of the table. She then looked at Sheryl and Akira before glancing at Kashua while thinking.
[Just because he looks like a Hunter with a lot of money, arent you a bit too excited Well, I do understand your feeling though.]
Not all Hunters had a lot of money or were willing to spend a lot of money. But from time to time, there were peculiar Hunters who visited that shop. Some of them had their money perception distorted after getting lucky in the old-world ruin and returning back with a lot of relics. Some of them spent so much money on their equipment that they did not mind spending money at all. These Hunters showed less resistance when they had to pay expensive goods and they were merchants favourite customers.
Because of that, all shops would encourage those Hunters to spend as much money as possible when they were in that phase. Of course, that was leaving high-ranking Hunters aside. As long as they did not look like they were going to die anytime soon, shops would treat them hoping that they would do business with them for a long time.
Kashua was also recommending all kinds of other things to Sheryl. Although Sheryl did not have to worry about the budget any longer, she still did not want to buy anything that she did not actually need. And also one more thing, it did not prevent her from being at a loss on which one to pick.
Celen scanned Sheryls outlook. Leaving her shoes aside, Sheryl was using old-world relics. But the size of her dress did not fit her and it was obvious for anyone who worked in the fashion business. And now that she noticed it, Celen could not shake her mind off from it.
She then made a suggestion to Sheryl.
“Excuse me, if its okay with you, I can readjust the size of your dress while youre browsing.”
Sheryl glanced at Celen and then looked at her own dress. Akira suddenly asked a question.
“Is that okay”
But then another person answered Akiras strange question with her own interpretation.
Kashua smiled confidently as she said.
“I can reassure you that Celen is very skilled in adjusting clothes. Im sure youll find her work satisfying.”
Celen glanced at Kashua and sighed before she added.
“That dress is an old-world dress, right After I readjust an old-world dress, it would be considered as a normal dress and its price would fall. If its one of your assets, I would not recommend readjusting it. But if I may readjust its size, it would look better on you.”
After Celen warned Sheryl and Akira of the downside of readjusting an old-world dress, Kashua looked at Celen.
[Whoah there, youre the one who offered it so why would you say something that discourages them now]
[What will you do if they ask for compensation later because we didnt warn them Or more like, isnt that your job as the manager to tell them that]
Kashua and Celen were still smiling while talking through telepathy, they had been stuck together for years after all, so they could more or less read each others minds.
Although Akira had given that dress to her, as a Hunter who hunted for relics, it might still offend him. So Sheryl asked for Akiras opinion.
“Akira, what do you think”
“Well, its your dress, so its up to you what you want to with it. But that aside, what are you going to do about your clothing while shes readjusting that dress”
Now that Akira mentioned it, Sheryl realized that point. The readjustment would take some time to finish, and even if she returned back to her base to change first, she did not have any other dress that she could wear to go to that shop. After all, it was unthinkable for her to go there with a slum city outfit.
Of course, she had the choice of taking her measurement there and then asking Akira to send and retrieve her dress, but that would mean she would have to bother Akira again and that was not preferable for her.
In reality, Akira did not think that far when he said that. He was just simply asking the question that came up in his mind.
Celen then said to Sheryl.
“If its about that. I should be able to finish readjusting around the evening if I start now, while Im doing that, you can browse and try the other clothes in this shop.”
Sheryl could not decide, so she asked Akira again.
“Uhmmm, is it okay if I ask you to wait with me until its finished”
“Sure, I have no other plans for today anyway.”
“Thank you very much.”
Sheryl smiled as she thanked Akira and asked Celen to readjust her dress.
After she let Celen take her measurement, she handed over all her clothes except for her undergarments to Celen. She then tried all the clothes that Kashua recommended.
Sheryl would ask for Akiras opinion every time she put on a new set of clothes. Akira was only sitting on a chair while waiting for Sheryls dress to finish. Although Sheryl asked about his opinion again and again, he only gave a dull reaction every single time.
Akira had no confidence in his own fashion sense, Sheryl knew that very well since that one time when she went to Higaraka residence ruin with him. Because of that, she did not really get bothered by Akiras dull reaction as she kept enjoying herself showing her dresses to him and asking for his opinion. Of course, she planned to buy any clothes that incited a reaction from Akira.
Kashua received a message from Celen through her information terminal. She then excused herself and went to Celens place.
Celen, who had finished the preparation to readjust Sheryls dress, was staring at it while waiting for Kashua. It did not take long for Kashua to come. Seeing how Celen had not started yet, Kashua, who thought that Celen would have already started, lightly scolded her.
“Celen, is there any problem You havent even started working on that dress”
Celen calmly replied.
“Ive finished the preparation and Im about to start. But theres one thing that I want to ask first.”
“What is it Theyre waiting for it, so make sure to finish it fast.”
“How much should I ask for readjusting this dress”
Kashua looked confused since Celen asked a strange question.
“How much do you ask Of course, as much as you need for adjusting that dress, isnt that obvious”
Celen hummed for a bit and then rephrased her question.
“My bad, that was a poor way to say it. After adding the prices of everything that he is going to buy, does he have any extra money to pay for this adjustment Wait, maybe its the other way around. After subtracting the cost of this adjustment, does he have extra money in his budget to pay for the other stuff”
Kashua looked like she was caught off guard.
“He did say to tell him if its over 1,000,000 Aurum, at most, you only charge about 300,000 Aurum for readjusting dresses, right Im planning to make him spend the rest of his budget though. Celen, how much are you planning to charge him”
“If theres no limit on his budget, Im planning to ask for 1,500,000 Aurum.”
Kashua was surprised since Celen asked for 5 times more than what she was expecting. But she quickly snapped back to reality and fl.u.s.teredly asked Celen.
“…Hah! 1,500,000 Aurum! You must be kidding, right!”
“Im not kidding, thats why I called you here. I can still stop here. You should tell them and ask them whether they want to choose to only adjust the dress or are they willing to go beyond their budget to make the readjustment and pay for their shopping as well. Its your job to talk with the customers after all.”
“No no no, wait for a sec, why do you need that much money in the first place You already made a rough prediction when you offered to readjust that dress, right”
“That is where I made a mistake. I can only say that I made a bad prediction back there. This dress is made of a way better fabric than I expected. So I need better fabric and a more complicated technique to readjust its size. I have no plans to sell my skill cheaply, you know. Especially after seeing her undergarment, that thing is a high-quality undergarment.”
“How much do you predict it cost”
“Its just my guess but it should at least cost about 10,000 Aurum.”
“That isnt too expensive though. My undergarment is still way more expensive than that.”
“I saidat least. Depending on your luck, it might cost you more than 1,000,000 Aurum.”
Kashua looked obviously surprised.
“…Youre joking, right”
Celen annoyedly replied.
“I never joke when it comes to fashion. In order to make a precise prediction, I need to check the quality of its fabric, its elasticity and smoothness, and if it has an old-world logo on it. Thats why I cant say for sure. But if its one of those superior-quality undergarments that would even cause a fight among those people who are sitting on the top, it would be nothing strange if it costs more than 1,000,000 Aurum or maybe even a few Chrome.”
Celen made a serious face when she said that. Clothes that were sold in Chrome were on a completely different level compared to the clothes in that shop. Of course, Kashua thought that Celen only mentioned that as an example and it was not like Sheryls undergarment actually cost that much. But since Celen even brought up that example, she could not help but think that Sheryls undergarment must be quite expensive. Even Kashua could understand that much.
“…Can you… Like, check it more closely”
“Do you really think I can just ask our customer for permission to check her undergarment closely just because we want to know how much it costs although it has nothing to do with readjusting this dress at all And in the first place, its your job as the manager to ask that if you really want to know.”
Kashua panicked, she thought that Sheryl was only a potential customer, but now it seemed that she needed to be extra careful handling Sheryl.
“How exactly does someone with that cheap shoes get her hands on something so expensive”
“Maybe she received that as a gift. That would also explain why the dress is not of her size too. The person who gave her this dress and her undergarments might be that Hunter who is with her, he might have found them in an old-world ruin. And since he didnt find any shoes, theyre here to buy shoes. Well, its all just my guess though. If it still bothers you, you should ask him.”
“Hmmm, that would explain everything though…”
“The real problem is whether that Hunter knew the worth of that undergarment when he gave it to her or not. In case if he knew, then I cant afford to mess up readjusting this dress. Although we did warn them that itll reduce the worth of this dress, Im sure theres a limit on how much reduction is acceptable. Theres no mistaking it that its worth will get reduced from an old-world dress into just a high-quality dress. Of course, Ill give nothing but my best effort. But Ill need a special technique to work with this fabric, and thatll cost more than usual.”
“So its whether he knew the real worth of his gift when he gave them, huh It seems that you think that he does though, is there any reason for that”
“If he knew, then thatll explain why hes expecting to pay about 1,000,000 Aurum for the shoes. Everything makes sense if thats the case. But its up to you if you want to consider the other possibility.”
Kashua actually agreed with Celens opinion. If that Hunter knew the real worth of that dress and came here to buy a few shoes suitable for that dress, it would indeed cost him around 1,000,000 Aurum.
She suddenly realized something there.
“…Wait for a sec. Im the one who will have to confirm that and ask if hes willing to pay more, right”
“Well, thats your job. Good luck, just tell me if theyve made their decision. But if they decide not to do the adjustment, Ill come with you to apologize too.”
Although Celens voice was neutral, she was actually pushing the problem to Kashua. Somewhere in her expression, she did look like she felt sorry about that.
Kashua placed both of her hands on her head as she walked back to Sheryl and Akira.