Fii was in trouble now.
And of course. It was impossible to enter the sauna with them and not have her sex revealed. She had really gotten careless.
Fii had to break out of this somehow.
(I’ll use Doug, and then find a natural excuse to go home…)
Thinking this, she turned towards Doug but found him blue in the face, opening and closing his mouth as he shook his head in great panic.
(Why is he more panicked than me…)
He was being so obvious with his dismay that Fii could even hear him muttering, “What do I do? What do I do?”
Before anybody noticed, Fii struck her elbow into his side and whispered at him to compose himself.
Her voice finally calmed him down, and he nodded repeatedly in understanding.
Although he was still sweating everywhere and his eyes were wider than usual, at the very least it wasn’t as obvious as before.
For now, Doug had settled down.
Fii now understood painfully well that she couldn’t rely on Doug.
His honest personality made him easy to manipulate, but he was useless in any complex plans that required lying.
While calming him down, Fii concluded that she had to break out of his crisis with her own strength.
To be honest, she wanted to go too.
Fii had only used a sauna a few times before, but it was more relaxing than bathing in cold water, and it was better for fatigue too.
In that case, she could just go later. Perhaps it might not be bad to go with just Doug.
“Speaking of which, there’s a book I want. Can we stop by the bookstore?” asked one of the members.
“Yeah, sounds good. We still have plenty of time.”
It was around 5 right now.
The apprentices didn’t have a curfew, but if they stayed out too late, they would get an earful from their instructor. Normally it would be better to get back before the dining hall closed at 9.
Leaving the dirt-paved road of Lowtown, they entered a back lane between the mess of wooden houses.
The area looked similar to the dangerous place Fii went to with Conrad-san, but the atmosphere was totally different.
The voices of children and women came from houses and street corners, and she could hear the sound of hawkers in shops. The whole place was lively and cheerful.
This was where Slad and Gheith had grown up.
Since they knew the place well, they smoothly navigated the labyrinthine paths without a worry.
To Fii, Doug, Remié, and the like, although they had come along often, they still weren’t too familiar with the streets. Because of that, they just obediently followed those who had grown up here.
After making a number of turns, an old wooden building was visible at the end of a small path.
Its merchandise comprised worn out old books and simple booklets made from paper and glue.
The booklets were like the halfway mark between hastily made newspapers and properly printed books. Those who grew up here called them ‘scraplets’, and they were apparently well acquainted.
The older books were placed further inside while scraplets lined the front of the store.
A white-haired old man owned the place.
“Oh, found it, found it. It’s this, it’s this,” cried the boy who wanted to come here.
He had immediately looked over the scraplets and happily picked one out from there.
“More of these silly scraplets? Read a proper book for once,” scolded the old man.
“What’s your problem. You’re the one who sells them. And I even brought a bunch of knight friends to an shop like this. Geez, be thankful once in a while,” grumbled the boy.
Apparently the two were acquainted.
“Oohh, welcome to my humble shop. It’s small, and only sells second hand books, but please have a look,” bowed the old man when he noticed the aristocrat apprentice knights.
Perhaps because of her appearance, he mistook Fii for a noble as well. Officially she was just a commoner though.
Still, nobody bothered correcting him, so Fii didn’t care either. She wasn’t exactly a noble, but royalty was very similar.
“Keh! I’m your regular, but look at how you treat me.”
“What I really want to sell are just these old books. People who read nothing but those vulgar scraplets aren’t real customers.”
“Shaddap! It’s these damned scraplets that you’re living on!”
Although their words were harsh, everyone could tell they were close, so everybody ignored them and browsed the books.
It was at places like these that a person’s tastes would really show.
Slad and the other Lowtown apprentices were looking at nothing but scraplets. Most of the commoner boys from other areas were the same.
Remié and Doug were more interested in the old books. The two of them just seemed better bred.
Remié liked a lot of things, so he had a look at cooking books and various novels, but Doug was looking at nothing but novels about knights.
Gorms looked at both the scraplets and the books. When he did look at the books, they were mostly things like books on military history or tricks to strengthening your body.
Since Fii didn’t have any particular tastes, she just went to see if they sold the books that the Captain and the others at the 18th recommended to her.
After browsing for about half an hour and talking to the shopkeeper, in the end it was only the first boy, Slad, and Remié that bought anything.
They felt a little apologetic, but the old shopkeeper didn’t seem to mind. He saw them off with a smile.
They had been rather welcomed.
“What did you buy?” Fii asked Remié.
It turns out he had bought a book on embroidery. He liked plush toys but was too embarrassed to buy them. Apparently making them himself was his new goal.
(Looks like he’ll be last on the rankings as well, this time.)
As for Slad, he had apparently bought the new instalment of some action story.
Speaking of which, his room had a lot of these scraplets. Scraplets were only held together with glue, so it didn’t take long for them to fall apart. But Slad took care of him, and the old scraplets on his shelf were still pristine and readable.
“Is it interesting?”
“Yeah, it’s super interesting. Want me to lend you the series?”
As for what the first boy had bought―――
“What the heck…”
“It’s a book with rumours and occult stories from different countries!”
Just a look at his scraplet was enough to see all kinds of suspicious lines.
『Suspicions regarding the circumstances of Prince Domash’s accidental death! It was no accident, it was an assassination!』
『A mysterious person who appears on street corners. The truth behind Balsmashshootman!』
『Unloved by the King, and locked in the inner palace! The grudge that drives the vengeful spirit of the second queen to roam the Capital each night!』
A glance was enough to tell that they were all incredibly fake-looking.
But the boys all read through it with sparkling eyes.
“Oooh! Amazing! They’ve apparently confirmed the existence of a mysterious giant creature in Borden Lake!”
“Ooohh! That one that people have been talking about?”
“In other words they’re f-, finally planning to capture it!?”
“Yeah. Apparently the survey team is recruiting people right now. And apparently amongst the members is the legendary hunter, Luvisess, as well!”
“UOHHHHH! I WANNA JOIN TOO!”
Fii had a look and listened in, but when she saw the boys getting engrossed over obviously fake stories, she couldn’t help but feel astounded. Fii now understood how the old shopkeeper felt a little.
TLN: ‘scraplets’ in the raws is written in a similar way to ‘magazines’, but the word actually used instead means ‘scrap paper’.