Chapter 10:

Another Ally

The Swordmaster and the New God

      “Hey, I'm getting kind of hungry. Do you want to grab a bite to eat anywhere?” I was walking with Evelyn down the streets of Calpa. We were clearly in a district specializing in food, judging from the smell alone. The streets smelled of a mix of smoked meats and soups. That wasn't mentioning the array of restaurants lining the streets. Practically every building had tables and chairs outside, with workers putting the final touch on dinner.

      “Sure, I'm down. Do you know a good place to eat?” I asked.

      Evelyn smiled and grabbed my hand. “There's a place I know over here. It's absolutely incredible.” Her hands felt soft and petite. I wanted to keep holding them forever. It felt like sparks were running up my arm as she dragged me along to a small restaurant down the street.

      It was smaller than most restaurants but had a crowd around it. People were piled up against the entrance, calling for a table. Clearly, Evelyn had chosen well.

      Evelyn suddenly stopped and let go of my hand. She turned red as she realized her hand had grabbed mine, and turned away from me. She started muttering something I couldn't hear under her breath.

      “Hey, are you ok Evelyn?” I grabbed her hand, she looked up at me with relief.

      “Yeah, I'm fine.” Evelyn composed herself. “This place is called the Dancing Butterfly and it's my favorite place here in the capital.”

      “The question is how long will it be until we can get a table. I'm sure it won't be too long.” I said.

      “Oh, that won't be an issue. I'm friends with the owner. My small reward for coming here every day back when I was a low ranked adventurer.” She dragged me inside like she never got embarrassed by the action, and we walked toward the counter.

      The inside of the restaurant was just as small as the outside, albeit with elongated walls that stretched at least two to three times the width of the building. People crowded the restaurant at every corner, all chatting their time away as they ate their food. The aroma from the restaurant wafted over me. It smelled like a steakhouse, one with at least a five-star rating.

      “Oh, do my eyes deceive me, or is that you Evelyn?” An older lady in her early fifties came running over to us. She had bright red hair like Evelyn, with streaks of grey mixed in. Whenever I saw bright colored hair, I had to do a double-take. On earth, hair had to be dyed to get colors like that. Here, it was completely natural and commonplace.

      “Michelle!” Evelyn squealed and gave her a big hug. “ I didn't think I’d see you for a while, what's up girl?”

      “Turns out Ronoe didn't have many good quests to take, so I'm back here.”

      “Girl, this is why I told you to stay. They don't have much out in the boonies in Ronoe.” I wasn't sure if I'd call Ronoe the boonies, but I didn't say anything. For all I knew, farms weren't a thing here. We hadn't seen one on the way. “So who's this guy you got with you? He your boyfriend?”

      “B-b-boyfriend? Evelyn turned red as a tomato and looked down. Why was she acting so weird? I got that she was dragging me around earlier, but why was she getting so red now? Was there a reason she was so embarrassed? We were just walking together, I couldn't comprehend why she was acting this way.

      “Ok ok. I won't go any further. So you two need a table?” Michelle asked.

      “Yes please,” I answered for Evelyn, who was still looking down at the floor, face flushed.

      “Certainly. I have an empty one I'm saving for a reservation, but they can be pushed back a few minutes. Follow me you two.

      Michelle grabbed two menus from a counter and walked back outside. She weaved through the tables and stopped at an empty one with three wicker seats. She set the menus down and left us to serve her other customers.

      I pulled Evelyn’s seat out for her and then took my own. The chairs felt soft, like something you would find back on earth.

      “What would you recommend here? I'm still not used to the options here in Enfar.” I said, looking at the menu. Some of the options were things that I had seen a billion times back on earth, like steaks. Some of them were things I had never heard of, like roasted slime.

      “If cost is not an issue, then the electric bull steaks are a great option. The constant current running through them kills all the bacteria, so they are already partly cooked when you kill them. Some people like them raw, right off the bull. They're still really good, slightly cooked as well. Just don't do anything crazy like getting well done.”

      “Wait, people get steaks well done?”

      “So it's weird on earth too. That makes me feel a little better. Some people prefer their steaks well done here, but most of them end up getting arrested for some crime eventually. Only insane people would get their steak cooked well done after all.”

      “I don't disagree, but that's certainly a hot take.”

      “Am I wrong though?”

      We continued laughing together for what seemed like forever. I lost track of time as we talked. It could have been an hour, it could have been five minutes, I couldn't tell. Evelyn was just fine to talk to. She would listen to everything I had to say eagerly, and I would listen to her. It wasn't like with Austin, who would either reply with sarcasm or ignore you, she gave genuine responses.

      The crowd around us only got bigger with time. What started out as a small crowd, turned into a sprawling line all the way down the street. If I had to make a guess, I would say it was at least a three hour wait. The food must really be worth it judging by the number of people willing to wait in line. Evelyn had clearly chosen well.

      Michelle brought over our food after what seemed like an hour or so. She looked swamped, with more and more people coming in. From their mannerisms, however, they seemed used to this. Lines like that weren't one day things after all, especially at a restaurant like this. My steak’s aroma wafted over to me. The smell was incredible, like a premium steakhouse back on earth, owned by some celebrity chef.

      Evelyn had ordered some pasta that I didn't recognize. The noodles looked normal enough, long white strips, the sauce was what caught my eye. It was bright green, like radioactive waste in movies. It even seemed to glow.

      She caught my eyes looking at the dish. “This is called Fisen sauce. It's made from the fluorescent liquid that fishermen use to see in dark caves, and lure prey.”

      “Are those like angler fish?”

      “Yeah, but they walk on two legs and breathe with lungs and gills. Their light systems are different as well," she said,

      “Ok, sure. Who looked at the glowing fluids sticking out of their heads and went ‘ah yes, let's eat that?’”

      “All I know is that it's delicious. You want to try a bite?”

      “I'll pass.”

      “Your loss then.” She took another bite, enjoying the taste.

      We continued to eat, mostly in silence. The food simply tasted too good to speak in between bites. My steak was cooked to a perfect medium, with the insides being a perfect red. Apparently, in this world, cooking the steak required around thirty seconds on a hot grill for each side. Talk about an easy cooking job.

      Michelle suddenly came rushing over to us, several dirty plates in her hands. “I'm sorry to interrupt you two during your dinner, but is it ok if I add one person to your table? I'm running out of room here, and the line isn't getting shorter.

      “Sure, that's not a problem.” Evelyn sounded depressed as she spoke.

      “Thank you so much! I knew I could count on you, Evelyn. They’ll be right over.” Michelle rushed back into the restaurant, almost dropping one of her plates. I guess this was busier than normal, though you could never guess from the demeanor of the staff as they waited on the crowd of customers.

      Less than a minute later, a girl approached us from the restaurant. Her light brown hair blew behind her white skin as she walked. She had an air of someone of importance that surrounded her. It was like royalty approaching. I felt more intimidated by her than any knight or adventurer I had met so far, with her stern, but beautiful features.

      “I'm sorry to intrude. My name's Emilia.” She took the third seat at the table and sat down. Her voice was soft, but with a slight German accent.

      “It's ok, not a big deal. My name is Kazuma, and this is Evelyn.” I gestured to Evelyn, who waved her hand in greeting. Evelyn no longer exhibited a cheery disposition and looked to be in a sour mood, but I wasn't sure why. She had been fine just five minutes ago. What had changed other than Emilia coming over?

      “Nice to meet you both. I will say, I haven't seen a Japanese person in a while. I guess the rotation is back to you guys,” she said,

      “Rotation?” I had no idea what Emilia was talking about. Maybe she could help me figure some stuff out.

      “You don't know? Whatever is used to summon us is on a constant rotation, teleporting people here based on the latitude line they reside in.”

      “No. I've not been in Enfar for very long. I barely know how to get around in this place. The idea of a rotation for summoning heroes is way above me.” If it wasn't for Austin, who knows where I would be. I was just being dragged along by his coattails right now.

      “It’s ok. When I got here, I was in much worse shape than you are, especially considering I was only eleven when I got here.”

      “You were only eleven?” I looked at Emilia in shock. How would an eleven-year-old survive in this world? From what I knew, most Earthers started out as adventures, and most continued doing it until they found something better. How would an eleven-year-old survive as an adventurer? Granted, I hadn't looked at how much lower ranked requests pay. I hadn't looked into what higher ranked requests paid either.

      “I was lucky. My class, Apocalyptica, gave me incredible strength and an immediate S ranking at the guild. With a normal ranking, I would have been dead seven years ago when I arrived.”

      “So you’re S ranked too. I'm in a similar boat. I got a rare class, god, and was immediately put in S rank. I'm not sure I have the strength of an S rank though. My friend who got summoned with me, Austin, is only A rank, and is way more powerful than I am.” I said. I hadn't met another S rank until now. Normally in light novels, they seemed like celebrities, larger than life. Maybe Emilia was the exception.

      Emilia stayed quiet for a second. She seemed to be thinking of something, her mind somewhere else. “Hey Kazuma, I have a weird question. What's your luck stat at?”

      “100,690 last I checked. Why?”

      “I know this is out of the blue, but would it be ok if I joined your party for a little while?”