Chapter 7:

Finally Venturing Outside

Nol and Voyd: A Quiet Fantasy Life Isn't So Quiet After All!

(Sorry about the delays! Finally healed up enough that sitting around doesn't cause me too much pain, though walking is worse now.)

Waking up on the counter, I looked around to see my shop somewhat more trashed than before. I suspected a few of the vict--self-volunteered test subjects attempted to flee while I slept, given the path of crushed glass and wriggling bodies. Well, I suppose that the wriggling bodies gave away what happened so no need to suspect anything.

It should be obvious, but I had no desire to have a bunch of experiments running rampant in the world. I am a proper researcher and fully understand the dangers of having experiments running around. Besides, it would be pretty unethical of me to allow a bunch of innocents involved in the experiments.

I’m sure some might wonder about the experimental subjects, but rest assured. They are in perfectly good health. They are probably writhing on the ground in extreme pain as their muscles randomly calcify and their minds are bombarded with various chemicals, but rest assured, they are in perfect health. They’ll stop trying to flail wildly once their muscles completely turn to stone. Oh, one stopped moving, they must have… Ummm... I forgot that the heart was a muscle. And the diaphragm. Oops.

* * *

Well, thankfully, I woke up in time, so an antidote and some health potions worked fine. Seriously, how do my antidote potions work? No matter, I healed all the test subjects and locked them up carefully, fused their bodies to the cage and put a bunch of nutrient mush and healing potions just in case I was late in returning.

Now that some of the issues were cleared up, I wanted to take a bit of a trip out and visit various places. I could make potions while I was walking around, so I figured it wouldn’t particularly slow down my restocking progress. While I didn’t believe that I’d have too much of an issue with my life as is, I wanted to go and visit the various parts of town and see the state of the residents. That would help me with prioritization of various potions.

With that in mind, I’d go and look around. Obviously, I didn’t need to go and check on prices this time, so I could skip those areas. Today’s goal was more of a general survey on the demographics, so I planned to move quickly.

* * *

With a skip to my step, I greeted some of the guards I passed while I first decided to visit the poor section of town. The smell was a bit annoying, so I made a misting potion and a healing potion with a nice floral scent and some deodorizer potion. Sorry, but I’m no light novel protagonist that can deal with the smell without a care in the world. I’m just an ordinary researcher. I made a note to do some research on cleaning potions.

I saw many different sights there with sickly kids digging through the trash, beggers coming up and asking for coins, a kid attempting to ruffle through my clothes when I was distracted for some reason, and even had a group of men surround me.

Yep, I had a group of men surrounding me. The one in front of me event went and said, “Hey missy, those are some fine clothes on yer back. Don’t struggle and this can be over quick.” Yep, that typical trope of some hooligans trying to kidnap some girl that wandered into the slums. Now, the usual tropes would either be that I end up kidnapped or I defeat the hooligans without any problem, but that seemed boring. Instead, I just smiled at Mr. Kidnapper and responded with the kindest voice I could muster, “Mr. Kidnapper A, does that mean you are volunteering to be a research subject for me?” I gave him just the slightest tilt of my head to indicate that my words were a question.

“Little brat. Are you making fun of me?”

“Ah, it seems negotiations have failed. Ah well.”

No problem, as long as they attacked first, I could justify anything I did as self defense as long as I didn’t harm anything else. I gave him the sweetest smile I could muster and put out my cutest “Nya” sound.

“Let us rip them to shreds.”

“Food, food, feed me your arms.”

“Eye, eyes, the sweetest jam.”

The men surrounding me twitched slightly as additional voices came out of me. Oops, it seems I was slightly more irritated than I thought at these men. Well, I needed to wait for them to attack me, but a few of them seemed a bit uneasy.

“Bluffing won’t help you here, brat, get her.”

At that, the men rushed in towards me. Ummm… wouldn’t all of them rushing at me just cause them to get… Yep, two of them collided with each other. Most of them did manage to avoid tripping each other up, so I suppose they were used to this. The moment they moved to attack though…

Suddenly, several of the men burst into a spray of red and a small object flew down next to me as a hand grabbed mine.

“Close your mouth, I’m going to jump.”

As the hand pulled me towards the new person, I felt a second hand grab me from behind the knees. In an instant, I found myself in almost a princess carry just moments before the small object burst into a cloud of smoke. I felt a strong jerk as the scene changed into a blur.

We landed a little ways from the cloud of smoke and they set me down. Then, with a quick, “We are running,” the person grabbed me by the hand and dragged me along. Almost literally as I stumbled for a moment. Noticing that, they slowed down so that I could keep pace, but I was otherwise able to keep up.

For a moment, I wondered if this person was working with the group from before, but given the burst of red, it seemed unlikely. That didn’t mean this person acted out of good will though. Still, it didn’t seem that they meant any immediate harm, so I followed along. I watched the scenery rush past us and just barely held the urge to spill my gut contents.

When we finally stopped in an alleyway, I spammed my deodorizer potions at the surroundings, on my clothes, and into the air. I also drowned my clothes in healing potions to wash away the smell. Call me a spoiled princess if you want, but it stunk bad.

“Ummm… I hate to be ungrateful, but do you mind if I wash you as well? Because quite frankly, you stink. Really badly.”

“Huh? Is that really the first thing you say to the person that rescued you? Not like I was rescuing you for gratitude, but are you some sort of sheltered princess? It can’t be that bad.”

“It is really, really bad! Imagine you took a ‘Rafflesia’, mixed it with the contents of latrine, threw up in the mix, cooked that mix in the sun for half a day, then smeared honey on the mix before dumping it all over the streets.”

“There is no way I possibly smell that bad! What even is a ruffle shot?”

“It is a plant that attracts flies by producing a horrific stench like rotting, sweaty feet. And it smells that bad to me! Come, we are going to wash you. Thoroughly!”

With that, I marched towards my shop. I felt like I was going off track a bit, but this was important. Actually, more importantly than going off track, where was I? Ummm… I turned around and looked at my supposed savior.

“By the way, do you happen to know how to get out of the slum area?”

* * *

A while later, we made it back to my shop where I pushed my savior into a corner of the shop and quickly set up a bath for them. It was a makeshift bathtub made of various components and filled with heated healing potion. I shoved my guest into the bathtub, stripped their clothes off, and handed them some cleaning items before setting to work on a washing machine.

The important part of a washing machine is to spin the clothes and knock the unwanted bits off either with gravity based impact or some sort of impact object, including other clothes. At least, that was the extent of my knowledge on the matter. With that in mind, I decided to make a manual washing machine. Using some energy, I produced several parts and pieced them together, filled the machine with the dirty clothes, washed my hands off, and then filled the machine with healing potions and cleaners.

Definitely not my best work, but I ran the machine regardless. I cranked the handle to the side and the inside of the machine spun while beating the clothes back and forth. The potion immediately turned a pure black. Like, super gross. Actually, if the clothes turned… I glanced over at the bathtub. Yep, pure pitch black. Super gross.

“Yep, change of plans.”

Looking at the wall, I pressed my hand on it and released several controlled exp[l]otions into the wall before jumping out of the way. A line of holes appeared in the wall and they soon formed a rectangular line in the wall. Pressing my hand on the new piece of wall, I moved it into my inventory and looked at the back side of the shop. It seemed surprisingly open, so I dug a bit of a ditch there using similar methods before dumping the black liquid in and covering the hole near the wall. After that, I dragged my guest out of the bath, put her in a different ditch, then poured healing potion on her.

Oh yeah, my guest was female it turns out, but that wasn’t important. I cleaned out the bathtub next, shoved it back into the shop, and finally dropped my guest back in after refilling the tub.

“Let me know if the potion turns black again.”

Next, I returned to washing the clothes, dumping out the black water, and repeating until the clothes were relatively clean. Next up was the armor. That needed to be cleaned separately, so I rinsed it out outside, scrubbing it clean and deodorizing it. I also changed out the bath water a few times during this process, but after a few hours of cleaning, everything was nice and clean. Except the ground outside, but I poured some potions that would hopefully soak into the ground and fix that. I’d need to do some experiments and find the best treatment later.

I repaired the wall, dried out the clothes by dropping them into my inventory, then out without the potions and handed them back to my guest to wear. Once she was done, I handed her armor back and finally her weapon--also cleaned.

With that spot of trouble dealt with, I looked at my guest and decided to have a proper conversation.

“So, see how much cleaner everything is? You can actually see the blade properly and it will likely cut better, you don’t smell like an amalgamation of everything rotten, and your hair is nice and soft. Isn’t that so much better?”

“As much as I hate to admit it, just maybe you are the slightest bit correct.”

“So, I assume you saved me expecting payment for your trouble. I noticed that you had a little tag, Miss Carol. I take it to mean that you are a registered explorer for the ruins?”

“Indeed. I just returned from a long trip when I saw you. I figured that a noble would be able to pay a decent protection fee, but…”

Miss Carol looked around her and grimaced.

“You aren’t a noble, are you?”

“Nope, I’m basically just someone hired by the state to sell potions. I probably could pay you though.”

“Is that so? In that case, I believe that an appropriate fee would be 3 silver leaves.”

Silver leaves? Oh, I think I had some. They were flattened silver pieces that made it very obvious as to their purity. While coins were somewhat easier to carry, they could be relatively impure depending on where they were minted. Silver leafs, on the other hand, made it easy to identify impurities.

3 silver leaves was quite expensive, but likely still far less than the cost of a ransom or the cost of buying a slave. Although I suspected Miss Carol was overcharging me, I had the money and I figured that this could be the start of a friendly relationship. From what I saw, she was fairly skilled. She was registered as an explorer, so I could trust her as a guide in the ruins later. I was curious as to what interesting ingredients I might find in a monster inhabited ruin.

“Very well, I believe 3 silver leaves is fine to commemorate the beginning of a good relationship. You adventuring types, whether hunters or explorers, all use potions. As an alchemist, I need materials and test subjects and possibly a body guard to gather those.”

“Darn it. You noticed.”

“That you overcharged me?”

“I just raised my prices a little. Even I want to move out of the slums eventually.”

“Well, you should work on building a long lasting relationship instead of trying to cheat your potential clients. It will give you more stable funding in the long run.”

“I know that!”

I smiled gently as I drew 3 silver leaves from my inventory and handed it over. She grabbed it and huffed as she stomped her way out with a “Goodbye!” Oh, but she did end up closing the door gently even though it looked like she wanted to slam it shut. A bit of a cute action.

* * *

I finished cleaning the shop up shortly after night fell. As I was preparing to take a nap, the door opened slowly. A timid face peeked in.

“So, this is a bit embarrassing, but… do you have a spare room? They trashed my place.”

I glanced over and, after thinking for a moment, smiled gently, “Welcome home.”