Living My New Café Life With My PTRD-41
I’m just saying, but this was totally harassment, right? I did somehow manage to arrive at a city, but... as I stood staring at the city, I noticed a few things.
The walls made of spiked logs suggested that I found myself in a rather rural location. A lengthy clearing showed signs of deforesting, likely as a way to prevent attacks from jumping over the walls. Surprisingly, the buildings I saw past the walls seemed almost modern with being made of brick and mortar unlike the walls. None of these were an issue though. The issue was the gate... rather... the line in front of the gate.
As I looked at the line, almost everyone in line showed off beefy muscles. With figures like prominent bodybuilders and clothes to reveal those thick arms, it looked like a bodybuilder fair or something. That was fine. Even that was fine. What wasn’t quite fine...
What just wasn’t quite fine... Was that everyone in sight sported bunny ears. Nope, not a single female in sight. Every single person was a hulking man... except with bunny ears, skintight clothing, and bunny tails. Well, I suppose worst case scenario, I could run, but if every city was like this, I’d never get to work at a café again without taking the plunge.
I quietly joined the line of muscles, though the person before me did glance back at me with a raised eyebrow for just a moment, they turned around shortly as if not seeing anything of interest. As the line moved, a few more muscles joined the line behind me, some carrying carts and others arriving relatively empty handed.
Yes, I said that right—they were straight up carrying carts with their bulky muscles. It was a rather surreal sight if I were to give my impression. Everything about this world just seemed so off for no real reason. None of them really seemed to take much interest in me though. Sometimes you’d hear some bickering from the front as some person or another ended up arguing with the guard. Those were usually ended pretty quickly though. A few of them were knocked out and pushed into a hole that I didn’t notice earlier. Scary.
Finally, after the twin suns moved halfway through the sky, my turn came. The guard looked at me with an eye raised and looked at the walking muscle behind me before he spoke, “Yours?”
“Nope, not mine.”
The guard turned back to me and examined me closely—specifically, he examined my neck.
“No collar. A stray then. So, what business do you have in Avenhull?”
Avenhull? Fort Bird? Was the name supposed to be some sort of horrible joke? Oops, got a little distracted. Looking back at the guard, I gave him my best, professional smile and answered, “I am looking for work. Preferably in a café.”
“A stray working? Are you sure you are strong enough to do that? Won’t you get hurt? I can recommend a few places to look if you want to find an owner. There is one couple that recently lost their child and are looking for a new pet to give their affection to.”
Wait just a moment here. This guard makes it sound like humans are just pets? What made his words more disturbing was that he sounded seriously worried for me. It wasn’t like cafés were that dangerous to... okay, I did die in a café, but that was because some jealous goddess and her stupid husband killed me. Still, I needed to respond.
“I should be fine, I have plenty of confidence in my strength. I love working at cafés, so I would prefer to work at one.”
The guard appraised me, examining me carefully before shaking his head while pulling out a pen and paper.
“I really don’t recommend it, but at least sign this document stating that you understand that your life may be at risk from working and will absolve the city and any hiring company of any responsibility for the injuries you receive on the job.”
I had to sign a contract just to work? Well, that didn’t seem like a huge problem, so I grabbed the pen and wrote... Rather, I didn’t write as the pen and paper both just disintegrated. I started at the empty space rather dumbfounded and the guard just stared at the space with bulging eyes.
“Right... that won’t work then. Maybe... Can I try again? This time with my own way of writing?”
The guard brought out another paper for me to sign. This time, I took a meat bullet out of my ammo box and tilted it a little. Slowly, red blood dripped onto the paper and I carefully traced something that looked like a signature. The guard took the paper... and sniffed it. Uh oh.
“This smell. You... wouldn’t have happened to killed rabbits before, would you?”
“Uhhh... just on the off chance that maybe I have, would that be an issue?”
“Oh, a stray that can kill rabbits? How surprising. Rabbits are pretty strong, you know. They have a vicious bite and if you kill one, the entire herd will go after you, even sending their young and newborn. So you either have to wipe out the entire herd or die. Well, this is perfect. There is a café that not only needs a new waiter...ess, but also needs some meat for lunch. There has been quite the meat shortage recently, so even a single rabbit would help.”
“Huh? Wait. Isn’t that totally cannibalism?”
“What are you talking about? Oh, I guess maybe it is because you are a stray. We are different from rabbits. We are rabbitmen. Don’t you see these beautiful muscles?”
The guard made this pose showing off his bulging muscles. It was honestly gross with his bikini armor, but I ignored that. I hoped he wouldn’t talk too long.
“As you can see, we rabbitmen have great muscles. We love fighting and are clearly more civilized than rabbits. Rabbits are vicious, rely on numbers, and are strong, but don’t have such fine muscles. Comparing us to rabbits is just silly. We don’t look anything alike despite sharing rabbit in our names.”
I wanted to shout, “Then what do you call those ears and tails?”, but I decided to refrain from doing so for now. Let trivial things go by. Let trivial things pass on by.
“Our ears and tails are clearly different. Look, at our ears! See how the tips are slightly curved forward horizontally? Rabbit ears curve vertically! Look at our tails, look at these fluff patterns. Rabbit tail patterns are completely different!”
Apparently I did accidentally end up shouting. Oops. I really couldn’t see these differences myself, but maybe it was just because I’m not used to seeing them. Well, either way, it did sound like I had work lined up, so I decided to steer the conversation back to that subject.
“So, where is this café that you were talking about and do I need any special recommendations or anything?”
“Right, we were talking about that. Just tell them Lupus sent you. Take this main road about four streets in and turn right. You can’t miss it, it has a coffee cup sign.”
I started to walk towards my destination, but the guard seemed to have more to say.
“But really, be careful. You hear it all the time. Some pet or another wants to buy a gift as appreciation for their master, secretly get a job, and their bones snap from the strain of work or some customer accidentally bumps into them or they otherwise get hurt. Don’t push yourself. If you ever want help finding a master, come find us guards, we’ll help you out.”
I guess it was nice that he seemed to really care about my well-being, but it was also kind of insulting. Still, I headed over to the café in question and found it rather easily. The roads were simple gravel roads at first glance, but were surprisingly easy to walk on. The surfaces of the buildings were all treated to look like stone, but on closer inspection, they were actually all wood. Actually, I suspected that the road’s stone was actually wood shaped to look like gravel. It was nice and the town gave off a fresh cedar scent.
I really hoped to explore the town a little. I did wonder a little a bit about other towns, but I supposed I would first prepare and save up a little. I looked at the café entrance and slowly opened it to peek inside. A bell rang gently and a muscle man looked up from the counter.
The voice from the man boomed, rocking the bell and rattling my head. I could hear my PTRD-41 ringing on my back and I couldn’t help but lean on the doorway for support. Oddly, none of the guests in the café seemed particularly disturbed. Though on closer look at some of the closer patrons, I noticed something stuffed in some of their ears.
“Feel free to take a seat anywhere!”
“Umm... I’m here about a job. Lupus sent me.”
“Oh! Lupus recommended you? That is a surprise. Have you worked at a café before?”
“I have, but—“
“Great, I’m almost finished with this veggie steak.”
“I was also told that you are in need of rabbit meat?”
“We are. Even a single rabbit would help, but...”
“Oh good, let me set them out then.”
I quickly pulled out bullet after bullet of rabbit meat, removed the dangerous parts and presented them to the owner. Although the owner gasped at first, he quickly recovered and examined each bullet as I presented them.
“Weird packaging, but these all look reasonably fresh. I can definitely use these. Looks like there is some blood so the quality won’t be as good. If all of them are the same, I can give you 4 Peppers each.”
“Wait, aren’t peppers toxic to rabbits?”
“Yes, they are very toxic, so we keep them to ward off rabbits.”
“I see... I’ll sell you what I have for now then.”
“Great. Tuberosu, your steak will be done soon.”
“Hey old man, forget about that, I want some real meat. Let me order some real meat!”
“I haven’t had meat in weeks! I need some too!”
I guess rabbitmen really liked their meat. I continued to take out the meat bullets while the owner cooked. A surprisingly rich and hearty aroma spread through the air and a little bit of drool leaked out the corner of my mouth. Just a little.
Once each order finished, I made sure to discretely wipe my mouth and deliver each order to the appropriate guest. With my PTRD-41. I was surprisingly deft with it despite how little I used it. I guess the imprinting also including that.
Although the patrons initially gave me stares of confusion, they eventually cheered and laughed at it. Even calling my actions cute.
I repeated the action of delivering the food, preparing more meat bullets, and sometimes pouring tea—out of my bullets. The patrons laughed at it and even joked that they should make this a regular thing.
By the end of the day, I made plenty of acquaintances and the owner handed me a bag full of peppers.
“Good work, stray. You should head back now. It isn’t safe to wander around in the dark.”
Ah, it really was dark outside already. I really hoped that there was an inn or something open this late. I realized that I never did ask about inns here.
“Ah, would you happen to have any inns you recommend? And directions?”
“What? Where have you been staying?”
“I just got to town.”
“Lupus recommended you when you just got to town? You must be pretty impressive for a stray. Well, no helping it. You can stay with me tonight. I have a good pet bed, hope you don’t mind sharing it with my pet, Alice.”
Beggars couldn’t be choosers so I responded positively, “Oh, well, I guess I don’t mind.”
“Great, follow me upstairs!”
The owner waved for me to follow him as he went up the stairs in the back of the café. As he opened the door to one of the rooms, a human jumped out and tackled the owner. Of course, the owner didn’t even slightly budge, but that was clearly a blue eyed, blond haired human that tackled him, not some tiny pet.
“Alice, meet... Sorry, I never did get your name.”
“My fault, I never did introduce myself. I am Arnice Grimwold.”
“Oh, your name is like Alice’s!”
The owner mused a little, “It sure is similar. Well, Arnice will be staying in your bed tonight. Get along with her, okay?” With that, he walked into that same room he opened.
“Okays! Come, Arnice! Alice will show you her bed!” Alice walked over and grabbed my hand before leading me to a rather nice, fancy bed. She jumped on, trying to drag me with her, but I stopped before actually getting on. Remember what the guard said, I let her pull my hand, but I avoided the bed.
“Alice, please let go. I just realized something.”
“I can’t use the bed. I’m cursed so that if I use anything other than this on my back, it breaks.”
The owner jumped into the conversation there, “Oh, so that is why you used that to carry the dishes. Well, not a problem. You can go to the church tomorrow and have it removed.”
I shook my head, “That won’t work. The goddess herself gave me the curse that I can only use this weapon.”
“Ah, her husband made a move on you then.”
“This happens that often?”
“Indeed. Sometimes every month, sometimes once a year, but it is well known. Unfortunately, sometimes they don’t survive. Merchants occasionally see falling human girls that just don’t survive the fall. They make good pets though since they are usually sturdy, but there is always some curse on them. Rarely, they keep pieces of their memories, so we learned about why they appear through them.”
“I... see... Well, I’ll just sleep on my PTRD-41 then. Hope you don’t mind if I take up some floor space.”
“Alice will sleep with you then!”
“That is... Won’t it be uncomfortable?” I glanced at the princess styled bed that seemed perhaps a little too comfortable, then at the slab of wood that the owner called a bed. It seemed some owners really gave their pets everything they had.
“Alice doesn’t mind! She has lots to talk about!”
“I see... Well, don’t feel obligated to stay with me.”
“Alice understands! So please tell me all about your life so far! And if you remember anything about your old life, Alice wants to know too!”
“I suppose I can start with...”
And so we talked late into the night until we finally drifted off.