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Thomas hid the baby chimera within his brown shirt he didn’t want to stain. He walked home shirtless, and coughed every time the chimera would make noses to cover for it.

 

He ended up bringing it into his house, and shut his door. He placed the chimera on a couch, and flattened the shirt around it to expose it. Soon enough, he would have to smuggle it outside the walls, in order to fulfill his promise.

 

The baby chimera didn’t want to move, and nestled itself into the flattened shirt. Somehow, it seemed depressed.

 

“How much do you understand..” Thomas muttered to himself.

 

He picked the chimera from its armpits, and hung it in the air to make sure it wasn’t injured. The baby chimera screeched at him and opened its mouth wide, but it was too young for flames to come out and it only let out smoke.

 

The baby chimera wasn’t injured, but mud had stained and dried onto its little goat paws. Thomas didn’t want mud in his apartment, so he went to bathe it.

 

The chimera made pitiful noises as it was being washed, and its eyes were wet.

 

“You can’t even protect yourself. I’ll let you go when you at least grow a stinger,” he chastised the pitiful thing as it tried to scratch him who was bathing it with its paws.

 

“What do I even call you? I can’t go around shouting ‘chimera’.. Chim?”

 

The baby was still trying to scratch him and wiggled its tail around. Every once in a while, smoke would come out of his mouth aimed at Thomas.

 

“From now on, you are Chimney. Any objections?” he asked the chimera with a deadpan face.

 

The mane of the baby was still growing, but it could already store filth in it so he made sure to wash it thoroughly. Both male and female chimeras would grow a mane, but this was a female.

 

“You’re hungry, aren’t you?” he asked as he wiped Chimney dry with a towel. As he expected, Chimney didn’t answer back.

 

Thomas dropped Chimney back on the couch before getting dried pork meat and jiggling it in front of Chimney. The chimera that looked displeased about being wet immediately turned over a new leaf and reached for the pork meat.

 

He brought the pork meat closer to Chimney’s mouth, and she latched itself onto his finger.

 

..

“Chimney?”

 

The baby chimera wasn’t looking at him but was obviously listening.

 

“No biting,” he said in a voice that made the hairs on Chimney’s back rise.

 

Claudia would always chastise him on how never smiled, and how he always had the face of a dead fish unless he was really angry.

 

Chimney squeaked and ran back to her nest that was Thomas’ shirt.

 

Thomas sighed. He needed someone to take care of Chimney. If Catherine paid a surprise visit, Chimney would immediately be killed.

 

He didn’t have any friends, only acquaintances in the slums.

 

He placed a bowl of water and a few dried pork meat slices on the ground and checked on Chimney. She seemed satisfied as she was licking her paws after eating lots of meat.

 

“So much for mourning your mother, huh,” Thomas huffed, obviously more impacted by the situation.

 

He walked to the apothecary to get some anti-venom for a chimera’s stinger venom, in case Chimney suddenly grew one.

 

Even if he had already left the slums, Thomas had still gotten his house from a place that was close by.

 

He preferred going to the slums’ apothecary to support the elderly couple running the local shop. They always had what he needed, but their stock was limited. They had a variety of items, but only one or two of each.

 

When he got deep into the slums, he started seeing children playing football and women doing laundry outside.

 

Thomas breathed the air in. The smell was bad, but it smelled like home to him.

 

When he got close to the apothecary, the thin walls carried out voices.

 

“Drop these in the dog’s ears twice a day, it should be better in three weeks, alright sweetie?”

 

Soon a young boy walked out of the apothecary with a small vial he cherished in his hands. He obviously didn’t have any money, but still got the medicine.

 

The people of the slums weren’t bad people, most of them were just unfortunate. Soon after the boy had left the apothecary, new voices commenced.

 

“Don’t touch that!”

 

“Hey, give it back!”

 

A little bell rang as Thomas finally opened the door. There were little kids running around in patched clothes. An old man was reading a book by the counter. He immediately coughed as he heard the bell ring. Four kids; two girls and two boys quickly lined up and bowed.

 

An old woman who had been chasing after them just before he entered looked at the children approvingly and nodded her head twice.

 

“Welcome, custo.. oh if it isn’t Thomas!”

 

“What can we do for you today? Sorry for the hassle, these are our grandchildren.” The woman smiled warmly, like a grandmother would.

 

The apothecary was in a worse shape than it was the last time he had visited. Half the shells were empty, and some of the most common items weren’t restocked.

 

Thomas tried to smile, but it obviously didn’t come naturally as the children all hid behind their grandmother. It seems Claudia is right, he thought to himself. He wasn't good at smiling.

 

Thomas had been their loyal customer ever since he became a monster hunter. While him and the couple were already comfortable with each other, he had never seen those kids before and didn’t know how to act.

 

“Anti-venom for chimera, do you have it?” Thomas wasn't sure if they had it seeing the empty shelves, but there was no harm in asking. Besides, it had always seemed as if this place had more uncommon items than the common ones.

 

Unexpectedly, the man jumped on his feet from the chair like a young man and dashed towards a shelf.

 

“Ah, chimeras! The most fearsome monsters, indeed! When I was a boy, it was said that the chimeras had the ability to summon a mountain of gold out of nowhere!”

 

“Here you go again with your stories..” the wife shook her head, as if it couldn’t be helped.

 

On the other hand, the children who were standing in line all looked at their grandpa excitedly, wanting to hear more.

 

“This should be it..” he said as he took out a vial, which was covered in dust.

 

He narrowed his eyes on the label and confirmed with a nod.

 

“Ha! Remember when you said we shouldn’t buy it ten years ago, Elna?” the husband looked to his wife, bragging like a child.

 

The woman rolled her eyes. “Ten years? Honey, it’s been at least thirty.”

 

When the man made a confused ‘Eh?’ sound, the woman began laughing.

 

As if ashamed he had been bamboozled like that, he turned to Thomas while trying to hide his flustered look. “Here you have it! That’ll be three silver coins.”

 

Three silver coins? And how much of that was profit?

 

Thomas had gotten forty gold coins from the chimera subjugation, even when he ended up not having to do anything. Life truly wasn’t fair.

 

Ten bronze coins amounted to a silver coin, and ten silver coins was a gold coin.

 

Thomas paid the man, whose eyes glistened as he took the money. He obviously loved money, but never told an unfair price. They understood how important apothecaries were for the people of the slums. Even though their items weren’t of the same quality as the apothecaries the nobles used, their medicine always worked.




--



“What a nice young man!” the old man crossed his arms with dignity as the children began playing again.

 

“You only say that because he always buys your weird stuff!” his wife noted. Her husband had a hobby of collecting weird medicine, it was something like a kid with their toys.

 

“That is.. that’s simply not the case!”

 

There had been an empty jar by the counter, just in case. One of the little girls grabbed the edges of the counter and tried to reach up on her toes to see properly.

 

“Grandpa, I found the chimera!” the little girl yelled happily, thinking she had won some sort of a game. The jar was filled with a mountain of golden coins.

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Chayle

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