Dreamweaver Chapter 141
Morning in the real world, in a certain dwarf city located in a certain mountain…
Lately we have taken more time to relax in our own private room. It’s kind of fun.
We make small chat while get ready for the day.
Due to fears of water contamination dwarven cities don’t have hot springs or public baths but instead early in the morning a single bucket of how water is delivered to each room. We then use that to do sponge baths, with the last parts of the water being available to rinse out the hair of the girl’s.
It sounds different from what I’m used to but hot baths cost a lot more money and seem unnecessary right now. But maybe soon if I had access to more equipment or more housing options that will change.
Carefully I’m able to sponge bath each of the girls.
It’s a highlight of the morning.
First I’d used the summoned box to pull out alcohol wipes, which I used thoroughly and carefully over each other the girls enjoying going over their figures carefully. Then they reversed and did the same for me. We also use Sunghee’s adventuring skill of sanitize on both the bucket of hot water and the sponges before starting since we don’t know how thorough the inn employees are. We also used Sunghee’s summon heatstone ability to place a magic summoned hot stone in the hot water bucket to keep the water from becoming cold any time soon.
Carefully I then wring out the two sponges for sponge baths that come with the big bucket of hot water. Then I’m able to carefully and slowly wash some of the hot wet sponge across Sunghee’s shoulders.
“Ahh, that’s soo good. Thank you very much,” Sunghee said quickly. She has a slight nod and is almost like reverent.
In a tiled off section of the room that has a drain she’s sitting on a stool, receiving my attention. And next to her is Rina, patiently waiting for her turn too, also on a stool.
“That water is wonderful,” Sunghee responded.
Both of them are in front of me over the tile while completely in the nude while I take turns washing hot water through the sponge over their back and shoulders.
“Ahh, I wish we could do this all day,” Rina giggled.
“Yeah but the hot water won’t last. If only I were a water mage huh?” I speculated aloud.
“That would be cool right?” Sunghee said. She also giggled right after.
It still is taking time to get used to seeing Rina with Asakura’s looks and face. But it also makes things more tempting and naughty.
Next I do the armpits of both of them.
High humans have no armpit hair it seems. It’s not that it was shaved or waxed off either, but it’s kind of odd to see what someone would look like with no body hair, though the head hair is like ours.
I let them both clean off between their legs first before I do it because they are both afraid they are dirty and while they want me to look at and see those spots they still don’t want me to do it without making sure its squeaky clean. I don’t see why they have that fear though. Both Sunghee and Rina have beautifully shaped asses and hips that are worth staring at.
“Umm, that feels wonderful but you forgot our arms,” Rina said.
“Oh that’s true huh? But I kind of want more attention on our hips and chests compared to our arms,” Sunghee said while snickering. Rina gave her a scandalized look. Both she and Rina start giggling like little kids. I’m starting to think they get along too well.
The hot water sponge baths continue.
So I washed both of their arms carefully. While using the sponge on their arms it forces both of them to sit sideways so their boobs are visible seeing me. This is my favorite part though I don’t tell them that. Both of them have wonderful boobs. Side boob views are a treasure too.
“Hum, should we have him do our legs first or our boobs?” Sunghee winked at Rina.
Rina blushed. “Oh, I can’t look! It’s too tempting!” but even though she said that, Rina is peeking between the fingers covering her face and eyes.
Both of them are moaning like crazy by the time I do both their hips and legs. The pheromone effect can transfer with water in the touch, I found out. But if it’s a lot of water I doubt it will hold true.
“Um Shun, you forgot our nipples and boobs,” Sunghee is blushing again.
“No! Anything but that!” Rina mocked back in return.
They giggle again.
Carefully I take my time to get plenty of water while getting ready to sponge bath both upper chests of the girls.
Naturally the boobs are done last so I can enjoy it and look forward to that part the most. It’s like when you save desert for after the steak dinner.
But at that point both of them have felt my hands roving over their bodies too much and have become sex starved maniacs.
Somehow in the process both my women end up throwing me onto the bed so they can begin their sexual assault.
And this is how I’ve been living a daily life of heavenly wonder.
Like usual, Sunghee is ahead of me, and Rina is behind me as we descend the stairs in the morning. It attracts a lot of attention with the local adventurers already in the common room and sometimes there is a lot of chuckling. But there’s a lot of jealousy and scowling too. Still this is kind of fun in a way. It’s like a major way of showing off and prestige. Some of the few girl adventurers in the room seem to be wondering why they are with me or if there’s something special to what I have over them.
Then I see Gyle waving to us from the back. Just like before he’s chosen the back corner again. I wonder why he does that?
We greet each other and do the normal pleasantries before sitting down.
The waitress gives us all daily specials that had been pre-ordered while Gyle is clearing his throat. He has some kind of small chalk tablet that he’s got some notes on. Gyle has no clue why we’re so happy and I won’t tell him why. He still looks dour.
“So Shun. I have some things to go over,” Gyle sniffed.
“Uh oh, something bad?” I cringed. It’s not usual when someone comes to me unless there’s a problem.
“Well… last night I couldn’t stop thinking about how you guys were targeted by that guy,” he’s stroking his chin.
“Hmm it was wonderful relieving him of his money wasn’t it Shun?” Sunghee asked to confirm.
“You mean that Duelist guy?” I confirmed.
“That’s the one,” he noted.
“There aren’t a lot of guys like that is there?” Rina asked nervously.
“Unfortunately you need to be careful. You are all pretty girls. People will notice you quickly. I think that was part of it. But it wasn’t the only clue. It might not be the only time we have to transfer inns,” Gyle said.
“So pretty girls get stalkers and become targets of criminal activities easy?” Sunghee is …I think I can feel an undercurrent of anger. I think she even knows where this conversation is going but she’s caught up in it and her hand is a tight fist around her cup.
“I…feel kind of scared talking about this,” Rina said.
“So just don’t ever be separate from me and Sunghee,” I said.
“Got it,” she said.
“Well on another note. There was another detail we overlooked,” Gyle started to say while taking a sip of ale. “I think partly you were targeted because of your clothes made you stand out as foreigners. It made you an easy mark for him. For people like him, he would think that someone that doesn’t come from here would be more vulnerable because you might not know the systems of this area, how people think, and there’d be no connections to worry about complaining you didn’t come home. And most importantly if there’s a chance that you survived and accused him then if you didn’t speak the locals language then there’s a chance you might not even be able to ask for help. If there’s a court summons too then someone without the local language would have a harder time proving he was guilty too,” Gyle finished.
“That rat bastard,” Rina said.
“Gyle is totally right,” I admitted.
“But even though he’s right that doesn’t mean we should have to give in,” Sunghee said. “Besides I like these school uniforms from…uh…your home area, more than I like the more traditional medieval clothes of this area.”
We’re considering what he just said. The girls are upset even more now.
Sunghee speaks up. I can feel her fingertips lightly touching the back of my hand almost soothingly, “Shun, you need to get more people in the team to help us stay safe.”
“I agree,” Rina said.
By team do they mean…more girls? There’s no way I’d accept guys next to my hot women. It’s obvious they would try to steal them from me.
“I understand,” I said, looking Sunghee straight in the eye. She gives me a lover’s smile back. Rina also has her arm round my back.
It seems OK so far. Neither of them are pushing too hard. Do I really need to worry about this?
“Why is it everything with you guys is about ecchi stuff?” Gyle shakes his head sadly.
“Sorry,” I said.
But then Rina said something odd to Gyle. “So you don’t mind that Shun has more women than you do? It won’t affect your judgment or being willing to help us?”
I hadn’t expected that to come up. Both Sunghee and I have wide eyes as give her a ‘shut up’ look.
Actually it could be a valid question if you look at what people will do when they react to someone else having more than they do. How will Gyle act actually?
Gyle just laughed. “Well it wouldn’t hurt if you introduce me to that dwarf girl. I understand that people that trust each other and cooperate will somehow always prosper. I can be patient and I’m OK with you guys having each other,” he finished.
He seems sincere but I’m not a mind reader.
“Good answer,” I said.
“So to sum up our business did you make a decision on the two other team offers?” Gyle asked carefully.
“Let’s work that out now. In this area do they just make a promise to meet up or is it custom to meet them first for a sort of feel things out from first look at least a day before going with them in the dungeon?” I asked.
“That’s a good idea. I like it,” Sunghee confirmed.
“As do I,” Rina said.
“So you mean to meet them at least a day before going inside?” Gyle considered it carefully.
Then he nodded, “Some professional teams do that. Not a lot of the newer teams do but if they know proper etiquette it could help in landing some of the bigger jobs by putting up a good show beforehand.”
I didn’t know there was a complex social structure around dungeons like this. Such a thing as going in without a meeting to promote trust will never happen, he explained.
“Then let’s do it. If you can send them a letter for us to both. We don’t want to cut either out yet until we know it’s a sure thing. There’s a chance something could change their mind or not look good when we see them closer,” I said.
“It’ll cost you 20 copper each for a letter and 5 additional copper each for the runners. And the runners can only go as far as staying with the mountain city,” Gyle said.
“Eeek,” Rina let her voice slip.
“That’s a lot,” I said, considering its paper cost?
“Well…don’t you have a kid at your uncle’s shop that can be used as a runner for a discount? And maybe if your uncle already has paper he can get us a discount too, if we agree to give his shop first dibs on the next quote we get for a weapon?” I suggested.
I could see the gears in Gyle’s head turning. “It’s a deal!” he chirped.
“So how much will we actually save?” Sunghee asked.
“Should shave off another 10 copper for each letter. I grew up in that shop so I already know the paper cost, which he buys in reams of papyrus,” he said.
“Nice,” Rina looks happy since we saved some and the mood is infectious.
But I thought of another way to sweeten the deal. Instead of giving Gyle the full exact amount I gave him 1 silver piece instead. I guess it’s OK if Gyle gets some small change profits as long as he isn’t too much of a cockroach.
Gyle is reaching to his money purse for change when I stop him.
“Use the rest the same way the next time this comes up,” I stated.
He chuckled. “Oohh, you are shrewd kid. Way beyond your years. I think sticking with you is going to be profitable!”
“Thanks,” I said trying to be humble and not let me head swell. I didn’t like prideful smug types.
“So now that we’ve all finished our meal, let’s go check out the job board,” I said.
“You know Shun…I’m wondering why haven’t we heard from Svinn yet? We were supposed to be involved with the dwarven military right?” Sunghee asked quickly.
“Yeah we were,” Rina said.
“That’s another thing to worry about,” I said.
“I can’t help you with that. Being a dwarf doesn’t give me privileges to order them around,” Gyle said.
“And there’s no letter or update from Svinn?” Sunghee asked to Gyle.
Gyle shrugged, “I have no idea why. It might just be they are giving you a breather from the first job. Dwarven military does do a rotation job system with time for resting. He may be following protocol or there may be a problem with their intelligence operatives still figuring out their next move. It’s also probable that they don’t see the need to micro manage you if you are doing good already. But if you weren’t so strong or as assertive with others they probably would assign some things.”
“So bottom line, there’s a chance we could still a military summons any day right?” I asked.
That’s scary. Any day we could get called to a battle.
“Is it like a part time draft?” Sunghee asked.
“Ahh it could be like that huh?” I said.
“Yes. I was thinking they also might be ashamed of what happened with the Moose and Jimmy scenario too. Or they might be purposefully lax to call it in later when they really need it,” he said.
“Well let’s go see the job board at least,” I said.
It takes us a good fifteen minutes of wandering around.
Gyle goes to read the jobs for us that are all on a massive bulletin board with what looks like some kind of wooden chips on each job posting.
“The number of wooden chips corresponds with how many teams can do the job,” he said.
“Ahh that makes sense,” Rina said.
“And the ones with no chips at all?” I asked, noticing some of them were different.
“Those are jobs with infinite or near infinite needs like for ore farming, anything to do with mining, or even food resource farming or food production it’s very common that the job will be infinite use,” he said.
“Well if the jobs are backed by someone paying for them, how can they be infinite?” I asked.
“Usually those are normal jobs like bringing food from the dungeon, or stuff like finding ore in raiding kobold or goblin mines. Like this one here,” he said pointing out one in particular.
Sunghee and I looked at each other. “So there are goblin and kobold settlements near here?” I asked him while looking her. I’m worried about how she’ll take this.
She steps closer and links her arm in mine. “We can deal with it Shun.”
“We thought we had them all exterminated. I guess it’s like they say, when you think there aren’t any goblins left it’s a sure thing that they are just breeding faster to make up for it,” Gyle said.
“Well doing a job like that could be extra dangerous since there’s a lot of military movement in this area. Those resistance pockets could be full of the enemy smuggling fighters in this area,” Sunghee said.
“That’s a good possibility too. That’s kind of why I’d like to avoid doing the ore jobs today even though they’d be good normally,” he said.
“OK. I’ll listen to your advice. We can wait on that. We’ll come back to that one later,” I said.
“Just get on with it. We don’t have all day,” Rina said patiently.
“Hey there’s more to it than that. If you pick the wrong job its game over,” Sunghee said angrily.
“Right, sorry,” Rina said.
“Well this one is pretty good,” Gyle said. He’s looking at a particular one.
“What? What is it?” Sunghee and I both are anxious.
“Escort team duty for farm veterinarian to help with treating local cattle farm’s sick cattle. Farm is known to the vet, and communication established. But missing cattle are in the area and this is an issue. This is a well managed farm, but this time of year bunches of cattle often get stolen in the night by kobold and goblins. Farm vet will treat any of the wounded cattle, cattle farm hands will also recover and search, but without escort duty vet cannot operate a search pattern with farm hands. Escorts will be given generous stipend of commission of 40 % per market cost of cow.”
“That’s what it says,” Gyle said.
“Isn’t that a bit high?” Sunghee asked.
Gyle nodded. “Normally it’s not that high. It might be placed that high because of the dangers involved. I mean a normal vet wouldn’t charge 40% of the animals replacement cost every time they did something right?”
“But isn’t there a catch somewhere? I mean 1 gold is a bucket of money. How can it be that easy?” Rina asked.
“Well there is a special problem to consider with this…the vet gets priority on expenses because of it being a special profession that requires extra education,” Gyle said.
“We don’t get the full 40% then?” I guessed.
“Yeah…after expenses and the vet’s share it will be more like 20% per cow. Actually probably less even,” he admitted.
“That’s a big difference,” I complained.
“Sounds like the veterinarian is padding the expenses,” Rina argued.
“He might be, but it’s considered legit in a dwarven community. A lot of people have respect for medical fields, even if it’s for animals. For professions like that there is likely a standard too,” Gyle said shrugging.
“A farm? Is that even profitable?” Sunghee questioned.
“Farms are like dirty right? With weird smells?” Rina asked.
“So we may need farm boots right or some kind of work boots?” I asked Gyle.
“That’s out. New boot costs would clean out the reason for doing the job,” Sunghee said dourly.
“I guess we better read the next posting,” Rina said sullenly.
“Wait! Stop! We have to do this job! This is a serious opportunity!” he said.
“What the hell?!” I exclaimed.
“How can working for farmers be an opportunity?” Rina and Sunghee both asked at once.
“The market price for a meat heifer right now whole before being chopped up into little bits is 1 gold each,” Gyle said.
“Eh?!” both girls exclaimed in shock.
“I wonder why it’s that high,” I said. They wouldn’t want to just give us the money for free would they?
Not too long after that…
We find ourselves studying a map while riding the back of a cart pulled by two mountain sheep with a dwarf dressed in peasant’s vest over leather clothes and a …is that a dwarf version of a cowboy hat? There’s such a thing as not letting your kids dress you too. This guy didn’t learn color coordination very well.
Weird…should they have that here with the cowboy hat? Is that more influence from other world summoning? I guess some cowboy town got pulled into the dwarves area or other areas I think as we ride in the bumpy cart.
It’s fascinating to discover what’s going on though. First we had to get into the cart and ride to the surface. That too was an eye opener in that I didn’t know how close we were already to the surface. The dwarven city much like the gnomes’ village was in a mountain on the surface, but just in a much bigger cavern.
The gate guards had to give us special shades as we were about to leave the cavern gates to go to the surface.
“What are these for?” I asked.
“You’ve been underground for probably weeks or months. It will hurt your eyes to be in the sun again,” Gyle said.
Duh…I get it now.
“He’s right,” Sunghee realized. She’s probably seen a situation similar to this I think.
“And you have all your farms on the surface or just some of them?” I asked Gyle, who has been talking to the vet.
The vet himself seems like a pretty nice dwarf with a full round beard that makes him look goofy. As we study him we see he’s some kind of medical alchemist that has knowledge of anatomy and surgery. From Sunghee I hear explanations that most doctors and healers are this same system since it’s believed healing magic is so rare that it’s not even believed to exist by a lot of people.
The vet’s cart has all kinds of tool bags, and herb concoctions, the other bag near it has bandages, and then another has some kind of herb pastes and things like that in another bag that’s full of sealed clear jars with lids on them. All of it has a funny smell that’s really strange but not bad because of all the pastes and medicine stuff. It’s a smell you can’t find at any other place except maybe a medicine shop.
It takes us a good two hours of travel in his cart to get out to the farm.
The farmer is an older hill dwarf named Kudzoe. His sons are the farm hands, all of them using horses. They all greet us with hearty handshakes and piercing intelligent eyes. We let Gyle talk to them with the Vet for the small talk opening niceties while we hang in the back.
The farm people look at us questioningly and with doubts but I can hear Gyle arguing in our behalf.
“That’s unexpected. I thought dwarves only use mountain sheep?” I guessed looking at Gyle and the veterinarian dwarf.
“We use whatever is a available. On the surface horses are good because they are cheaper than the specially bred mountain sheep that take a long time to breed and train. We get horses from trading with the native tribes near here and they do a good job keeping us with plenty of riding mounts,” Kudzoe’s son said.
“Ahh that makes sense, if natives here are horse tribes then that would provide some economic relief,” Sunghee admits.
The dwarves are going over the map carefully while we watch. This is Gyle’s job, as well as the ranch dwarves, and the vet’s. They have an idea how the animals think and can predict likely places the animals might go, in order to search for them. That’s not a skill we have, nor do we know much about herd animals.
“It’s kind of funny though that those short dwarves are herding cattle bigger than they are themselves,” I said to Rina and Sunghee.
“They work hard and make up for it with the horses. The horses also work better with cattle too than other steeds,” Sunghee explained. Sunghee easily shows us that she knows about horses.
“Oh, I see,” Rina said.
I guess this isn’t the first time that Sunghee has seen dwarves in action with horses, though in spite of having ridden them herself.
The weather out here is really nice too after being cooped up inside the mountain fortress city. We can feel the fresh air and cool breeze coming down the other mountain valleys around us.
It feels weird to be above ground though after this long. I almost feel naked somehow. It’s been like weeks, no months since we were above ground last right? The other two also feel weird about it.
The dwarven ranchers give us all boxed lunches and let us use some of their horses; but of course it’s clear from the beginning that we don’t get to keep the expensive horses.
But there’s trouble when we’re trying to figure out what to do with Rina. She’s too klutzy to be on a horse by herself when we were getting set up. They also took her horse away so she won’t hurt herself or the horse. The head ranchers sons have huge smiles on their faces as they invite her to sit with them.
That makes both Sunghee and I feel threatened. I think I almost popped a vein, but managed to keep my cool.
“That’s OK, she’s riding with me,” Sunghee said.
Sunghee just made points for loyalty.
But Kudzoe’s sons are now giving me a pitiful look.
“Eh? You know how to ride?” Kudzoe asked.
Sunghee nodded, “I’ve done a wide variety of search operations, which include using horses in the past. I forgot to tell you that earlier Shun, sorry,” she said the last part to me.
“No problem. It’s good to know. You have a lot of skills,” I said.
She blushed. “Thanks.”
I was relieved because I didn’t actually know anything about riding myself though they seem to be telling me there’s nothing to it, as long as we’re not attacked. If you aren’t an idiot or a klutz and if the horse has already been broken in, then it’s not that bad. Even teenagers should be able to do it, or younger kids with some supervision.
The first hour there isn’t any sign of trouble. Yet, still no sign of the goal after leaving the ranch. The dwarves don’t seem alarmed yet. They expected some travel time.
It started to get a bit warm. Then there’s a feeling of not liking how the horses smell after awhile. We continue to progress but stay wary. The longer we’re out here and the further we get the more the dwarves are careful about going into areas that could have predators. Kudzoe’s sons are fair in scouting ability but we’re providing the muscle so I don’t know if they will help us fight.
The same with third hour, with no cattle saved or sighted beyond the ones they already have at the ranch house.
We’re heading to some box canyons that have good grass in. The ranchers believe that’s where they may have fled to for safety. It’s classic predator evasion instinct to stay alive for the cattle.
But that’s where things go south. We sometimes drink from our canteens now in small mouthfuls to save resources. It’s now peak heat in the day.
I had just put away my canteen to hang from the back of the saddle again when the first alarm went off.
The ranchers are shouting and getting armed. We all know it will be a skirmish but I can’t see where they are coming from. I am thankful though that I managed to buff our team before we’d headed out. But we hadn’t buffed the ranchers because that may put us on the radar.
They are pretty alert huh? I’m impressed with these people. I didn’t like what he said right after that though.
“Undead!” screamed one of the rancher boys.
“What?!” we’re shocked.
We’d expected goblins or kobolds. The job even suggested that they didn’t think it was something as bad as undead. How common are undead anyway, I thought.
“Watch it Shun. The horse may be trained for martial activities and weapon use, but I don’t know about magic,” Sunghee shouted.
Crap she’s right.
I turned sideways before casting my volleys of energy missiles. First volley hits the line of undead skeletons, and three of them go down. The skeletons are moving much faster than I’d expected as they rush out of the brush towards us. The skeletons are trying to charge us where they’d laid an ambush in the tall grass approaching us. We have time for me to hit and unleash two more volleys after that. Now nine undead are down but the dwarves are falling back.
What gave the undead the idea to do a strategy like this?
“Pull back!” Kudzoe ordered.
He’s right to do this. He’s not an adventurer and this part is our job. But there are a lot of skeletons. I counted thirty before we’d downed nine of them. Using the advantage of horses we’re able to do a fighting retreat before they can close. Gyle shot down two others using his crossbow, and Sunghee is making sure Rina doesn’t panic and fall of the horse.
“Back to the creek. We can do better there. Undead won’t like the body of water. That will give us an advantage,” Kudzoe commands. The vet is staying next to him and looking very nervous. The vet looks to us to protect him. He’s a noncombatant.
We managed to keep firing volleys until we reached the creek bed while in careful controlled retreat and guerrilla tactics. Eventually only about four undead are left which are finished off by Sunghee and Gyle.
All of them were skeletons though, how did that happen? Is that normal for this world or something more to investigate? The dwarves seem to have accepted it, judging by their facial expressions. There’s the heat of the battle anxiety but no shock like, ‘how could there be a skeleton here?!’ kind of looks.
“I see some tracks here, some of the cattle came this way,” one of the rancher’s sons pointed out. We follow the creek as it goes towards the hills again.
But then we see the cattle bodies lying in the creek. I’m so glad I didn’t drink from that water. The dwarves are concerned. They look like crying when they see their precious cattle butchered like pigs, with the carcasses half eaten and mutilated in the water.
“Yep, sure enough those are undead bites. Not kobolds or goblins at all,” Gyle confirmed to us later after the dwarves had a small powwow talking among themselves.
I heard some of the dwarves swearing after Gyle said that. Was what he said a big deal?
“So does that change the mission? I’m concerned if it’s different from what they thought they may try to weasel out of the deal,” Sunghee said.
“No they won’t do that. These are honest folk. Their survival depends on being able to get guards when periodic skirmishes in spring and summer popup. They are proud of their honor too, so don’t worry,” Gyle replied.
“And most of the skirmishes are in this same spring and summer events?” I asked.
“Usually yes, but not always. In the spring there are more skirmishes because of need for food after the winter by wolves, or goblins and other hibernating critters. But in summer it’s just violence and pillaging. Sometimes there might also be something like that in the fall as animals or animal like demi-humans try to fatten up for winter for hibernation as well. With skeletons I’m not an expert though,” he said.
“Can they even afford it? You said this was good pay, but if it’s like 1 gold per cow and they just lost what 12 cattle carcasses at that river, will they be able to recover any time they need to hire mercenary guards?” I asked.
“I feel bad that they lost some too,” Sunghee noted.
Weird that the rancher dwarves are quiet; I think it’s because we’re hired muscle they don’t get too friendly because they don’t know us. And there’s also the fact that in war they have this attitude like you get demoralized if you get to know peoples’ names before knowing they will survive the next battle. Even the vet seems to have a look like that, I think.
“Hey I can see that money maker mind of yours. That’s good. They plan for losses when they plan for the year for how many cattle they need, how many potential losses are average, and how much the city needs. We’ll be OK, but yes they do feel bad. In the end they are good at what they do however, and will make a way to live for themselves and even prosper still once calving season hits,” Gyle admitted.
I think we just sighed in relief.
12 cattle…worth 1 gold each. That’s a big loss here just in what we found. It amazes me that cattle sell for so much. Maybe that would be a better business than adventuring. Gyle tried to explain it to me but I was only half listening while trying to watch for undead. Regardless of the explanation, it seems there’s a reason why cattle sell for a lot. You can make a lot of meat with a thousand pounds of cow. And yes they really do weigh around anywhere from 800 pounds to 1,200 pounds for these types of steers.
And according to the reports there were about 29 head of cattle missing. So we’re worried if there will be more carcasses half stripped of meat like we see here.
We may yet have a chance to find more live cattle, is my hope. I don’t want it to be like we came out here for nothing.
If it weren’t for that it would be really peaceful here. There’s a lot of trees the closer we get to the hills, but there’s a lot of beautiful grassland here too where the creek pulls away from the mountains.
Another hour later our patience paid off.
“Woot! Found one alive!” one of the ranchers said. Then there’s a cheer among the ranchers.
That’s when we had a second skirmish because of undead hearing them cheer.
I barely got my magic missiles off before three skeletons came out of the brush after the rancher boy. They fall dead at his feet with Sunghee’s intervention along with my quick reflexes. If I’d been any slower he might have been hamburger to them.
Now the ranchers aren’t giving us anymore crap about looking like newbie kids anymore. Kudzoe hugs his son in gratitude and tears thankful he’s alive. The ranchers will probably accept us after that thanks to his own idiot son running ahead carelessly. The kid is now bawling, which also an’t be helped since I guess he’s the youngest son. He is a good worker but looks like he’s about seventeen in human years…I’m not sure how the conversion to dwarven works.
“Will saving his son earn us a bonus?” Sunghee whispers to me.
“That’s a very good question,” I whispered back.
We’re lucky; there were two more cattle near this one, which we rescue without any trouble. From here it gets harder though because we have to also be patient with the ranch hands while they manage the survivor cattle that are behind us, but they also have to scout ahead of us. That means more danger because the ranchers aren’t pro soldiers either, though they are armed to protect themselves defensively in spite of the job.
We shoot down five more undead a couple minutes later from both Gyle’s crossbow and my magic missiles. It goes without saying that we aren’t letting Rina shoot anything with her sling because of fear she’ll hit and panic the cattle or non-undead targets. Or she might hit us or spook her own horse.
It’s still good for her to get the experience of being out here and the experience of riding though.
Towards afternoon we’ve gone a few more miles and then stumble upon four more live cattle.
The vet and Kudzoe start getting teary eyed and emotional. They think somehow we’re going to be OK and that they won’t be bankrupt.
“Damn it!” I hear one of them say.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
The vet points out some huge black fleshy abscesses the size of my fists on two of the cattle. Damn that’s freaking ugly, I thought.
“What’s that?” I asked Gyle.
Everyone is suddenly ape shit serious and looking like they’ll cry again.
Undead bites are poisonous to cattle, they explain to me. They won’t turn into undead themselves but they sicken and will poison anyone that eats their meat with whatever undead cooties are floating around inside of them before they die. Seeing that happen to the same cattle these people have lovingly cared for all year is a crushing blow to them too. “They’re in despair now even though they are well off financially; it’s more than money to them, because it’s a way of life of unity with nature. They care about their animals,” he said.
We try to not get emotionally saddened to while the vet and Kudzoe are crying but trying to hide it. The vet personally didn’t know the cattle, but he’d probably staked his whole life on wanting to heal and save this family from the problems their animals had.
“So there’s no cure for poisoned undead bites in cattle?” I asked.
“Not even for heal magic, if there was someone that could do that still in this world. See how their skin is all gray around their eyes? And the eyes look all milky instead of lively? They’re already about to die. Not even your skills will work here Shun. I’ve seen this before,” Sunghee whispered to me before I did anything stupid like revealing my abilities.
Good to know…
The vet and Kudzoe get back on their horses. They are both comforting each other in heartache. They are also discussing how they’ll isolate the poisoned cattle from the others. They want to burn the bodies before other animals eating the meat will be affected, even if it’s just wolves. Even though some of the cattle are going to be losses, the vet still brings benefit from helping keep the undead plague from getting into the rest of the herd.
“We need to go back,” Kudzoe said.
“But there’s still a few more, we can do it,” I said.
“After dark it’s not safe to leave the compound,” he said.
“Can you give us just ten more minutes to check the last box canyon?” I asked.
He grimly gives in. He doesn’t know Sunghee is a badass and I’m trying to be one but not quite there offensively.
My team and I ride ahead with one more rancher kid acting as scout.
There’s another ambush near a copse of trees there, but Sunghee had been watching for it and warned me ahead of time. That alertness skill she has is pretty awesome. I’m thinking of upgrading it, if I get a chance.
This time I use my barrier fence spell to cut the undead off from attacking the boy. He manages to retreat while Gyle and I shoot down five more. Four kills from me, and one for Gyle. But they are starting to get to the edges of the fence so I changed the spell and rerouted the fence in front of where the undead had roamed too, though it had cost a lot more mana.
By that time we shoot down four more. I got two, and Gyle got the other two. We managed to also herd the undead a bit farther away from us since they have to go around the fence.
But this type of fighting burns mana quickly. So I have to be careful I don’t burn out. The mana barrier fence is workable but I’m guessing each shot burned like 8% of my mana. 8 percent is really bad. So using it three times with a magic missile volley for each one is almost ten percent mana.
I’m currently performing pretty good though. A lot of the other mages would have been done for the day after just three magic missile volleys. I’ve got the extra mana from the shared mana pool upgrades connecting my mana pool to a percentage of each girl’s in the harem. Plus a higher regeneration rate.
I reroute the mana barrier fence again but this time the remaining undead are too far apart in two groups so I can only get one fence up. Then we concentrate firing upon the east group that doesn’t have a fence.
Two volleys go off from my magic missiles as they get closer. Now there are only six of them left on the east, but Gyle is having a reload cool down still on his crossbow.
I let loose one more volley and then Sunghee finishes off the rest with throwing knives, and her new weapon the shortsword while at the same time keeping Rina from falling out of the saddle. Considering she was multitasking she’s kind of badass. And Rina really might have fallen out of the saddle too.
One more barrier fence spell later and a few more volleys and we’ve finally dispatched all the undead.
But I’m tired and feeling sleepy. That’s what happens when you burn a lot of mana quickly. It’s hard on the body.
“Where are they coming from?” I asked Sunghee and Gyle.
“We don’t know. We’ve never had undead in this area before. Dad heard rumors from another ranch that there were sightings but we thought it was just bar tales, since he was that type of guy. You know like…I caught a fish ‘this big’,” the rancher’s other son said. They all laughed knowingly. They also glance at the ones that claimed fish like tails of such sizes too, which made them blush.
“So you guys thought it was just talk?” Sunghee questioned, wondering why they didn’t thought it was real.
“Well the guy who claimed he saw undead, also claimed he’s a prince of darkness too if you belief that sort of thing. He’s also the town drunk and a homeless guy and sometimes looks for alcohol bribe money,” the kid said.
“I wouldn’t have believed that either from a guy like that,” I said.
“Ahh, I get it,” Gyle said.
“Prince of darkness huh? That’s cute,” Rina snickered.
“Not if you’re the real prince of darkness its not,” Sunghee giggled.
“I can see why that might cause some doubt. I mean not everyone can be a prince of darkness right?” I said to Sunghee.
She laughed while we’re rounding up the last two cows.
The terrain out here is beautiful. I wish it was safe to live out here actually. Everything is really green and the trees are tall lodgepole pines and aspens. When the breeze filters through the aspen trees there’s this calm tinkling like sound from the way the aspen leaves flutter in the wind.
And if it weren’t for the undead I’d want to take a nap in the grass out here.
We finally managed to eat lunch by ourselves at the family compound.
“You know you are going to need to upgrade your fence after this,” Sunghee told Kudzoe.
He frowned, “we do every year. That and repairs on the current fencing but it gets harder every time it seems. We have a lot of cattle to protect, but you know there’s just too much need for fresh grass as the herd grows all the time. Then more need for more land, while the government keeps asking for more and more beef all the time. Well…we’ll work it out at any rate. This is just the complaints of an old man, thanks for helping us,” he said before we left.
“You think they’ll be OK?” I asked the vet. I can tell he feels bad because there were quite a few bitten cows.
“Well it feels bad to not be able to help them more. We lost a few that are alive barely that won’t make it through the night. They’ll have to burn the poisoned cattle to make sure that the water and grass around here don’t get infected. It’s kind of sad when you can’t do more,” he said in anguish.
“It’s not the only herd we have. That was just the ones that were out lost. So overall it’s a good year,” one of Kuzoe’s sons tells us before we leave.
Kudzoe is amazing! What a great man and strong person! He lives out on the frontier both fighting evil and farming while raising his family. Even with the losses they are making it somehow. In some ways I want to be like him! Ranching sounds nice too. And the mountain valleys and the trees here have bewitched me somehow. I feel the desire to retire and farm.
Well, not that much but it seems cool to have the ranch out in the mountains kind of life in some ways.
Oh but if I did that, I can’t get enough milk can I? That would be tough. I need to build my harem size first.
It’s near dark when we reach the adventurer’s office with the signed paperwork from Kudzoe.
“Just a minute while I process this paperwork please,” the receptionist says.
Status; 7 salvaged cattle workable for job reward, and 3 cattle with bites which had to be put down because of incurable undead poisons and infections.
Final total 4 cows workable for reward
It wasn’t technically all of the projected numbers of cattle but they expected some to never be found again, was how it was explained to me.
20 silver per share x 4 cows = 80 silver
When I see the share going to the veterinarian I am a little depressed. Cattle could be a good business if I ever decide to retire. But they are a lot of work.
80 silver split between 2 licensed adventurers (Sunghee, Shun) and 2 assistants (Gyle, Rina). Assistants get standard rate while licensed get premium rate.
Gyle gets 13 silver 33 copper
Shun collective share (slave enchantment active) through auto loot acquires 66 silver 67 copper.
My money bag total, 135 gold 85 silver 67 copper
We were lucky the vet had lent us boots and coveralls to wear which we had to return. And it seems the four cattle we rescued are already pregnant with baby cattle for next spring or something like that. I wasn’t able to clarify the calving season dates exactly with them. I don’t even know if it’s the same on this world as it is on ours, but the cattle do look similar.
Damn. It’s so hard to make money! Commission is good and better than an hourly wage; but at any time this thing could have gone south all for a bunch of silver. Still this was a pretty good job but there aren’t a lot of jobs on every street corner that just dump out free gold. And being all day in the saddle hurts. Then we have to go take baths so we don’t smell like horses.
I don’t like the smell of horses on me, though they are fun to ride until your but hurts from being in the saddle.
I also find out from the dwarves that a good 1,000 lb steer will provide enough beef for a person to have about a half a pound a day for 800 days, and the rest being like bones and guts that they don’t’ use or use for other things besides food. It also seems there’s a range of poundage for the full grown cattle of between 800 pounds and up to even 1,200 pounds if they’ve had good feed though 1,000 pounds isn’t a bad range to base an average on. Still, that’s probably optimistic efficiency but does paint a picture. And there might be storing problems for all that meat over time too. Thus, the justification for the steep price of beef in this world is that it will provide enough protein for a working man for that long for only a 20 silver investment of a rationed small section of the steer that will last for a small period of time’s rationing.