I Work As A Healer In Another World’s Labyrinth City - Chapter 28
「Maaan, it was incredible y'know? The monsters were like 2 meters tall, as big as a bear. And I slashed them like *zubaaa*, right? Yeah, it's only a little but this sword has some adamantite in it. I bought it not long ago with the money I saved up.」
A few days ago, having missed out on the Huge Slime hunts, Ruruka was grumbling about taking on a monster subjugation request from the knight brigade. She came back around to the hospital just now;apparently she completed it.
「Well, they were surrounding us, but I only got a few scrapes. I was thinking that being the only tank for a party sure is tough.」
As Ruruka says that, she glances at Yuel, who's sitting next to me. What's with that look? I'd like you to stop looking at Yuel with those greedy eyes.
「I'm not giving you Yuel... wait, what? Hold on. Didn't you tell me there weren't many dangerous monsters near the city? Why were you fighting monsters like that?」
I have a feeling Ruruka said earlier that there weren't any dangerous monsters on the outskirts of town. But now she's saying that she fought against 2-meter-tall monsters, and moreover that they had her surrounded.
「A-Ahaha, well, you see... at first we were just going to hunt small fry like goblins and kobolds on the outskirts of the forest, but since the reward from the knight brigade was so high, there was a lot of competition from other adventurers. It wouldn't have been worth it, so we went a little deeper into the forest. Then it started to rain and some fog rolled in, and so we kinda got lost and ended up deep inside the forest. The fog cleared up pretty quickly so it turned out okay, but it was nearly a disaster.」
Ruruka laughs as she says such a thing. To laugh about flirting with disaster in a forest where monsters appear, is she brave or is she just carefree? Nah, Ruruka's party might just be capable enough to be surrounded by monsters and come out with only a few scratches. She's likely confident that she won't be done in so easily by the monsters around here. Still, she did get wounded.
「Well, even deep in the forest, strong monsters almost never show up around here. Guess we were unlucky. Ah, but we'll prepare for the worst from now on so it's fine? ...Alright, I talked my head off, could we get to the treatment?」
As she says that, Ruruka places her fingers on her shirt's hem and prepares to lift it. I indulged Ruruka in that long conversation... and finally the wait is over. But at the moment, Yuel is right here. What we're going to do now isn't something that Yuel should watch.
「Oh yeah, Yuel. I'm kinda thirsty. I'd like to drink hot tea, could you go brew me some?」
「Hot tea, is it?」
Yuel responds questioningly. It's still spring, but the temperature is rather high today. She's probably wondering why I specifically asked for hot tea on such a hot day. It's so that Yuel won't see what we're about to do.
「Yeah, hot tea. I want to drink some piping-hot tea, steeped in boiling water. Get it to a proper boil, got it?」
Yuel responds enthusiastically at my words and runs off to the kitchen. It's not like I don't feel a little guilty, but there's no avoiding it. That's right, it's unavoidable.
Now that I think about it, when's the last time I had a discount negotiation with Ruruka? I feel like it was quite a while ago. Around two weeks? I can't let this opportunity go to waste. As I'm thinking about it-
「U-Umm, you... don't really have to give me a discount today, okay?」
Ruruka blurts that out.
Then she shows me the wound on her abdomen. She only raises her shirt a little. Just the tiniest bit.
What in the world happened to this girl?
Yuel is in the kitchen, and Eris is out making house calls to elderly patients. Previously she didn't hesitate to negotiate a discount even when it was a tricky situation where Eris might have been watching.
「I-It's 400 Zeni, you know?」
「Yep. You raised your prices, right? I understand. Heal, please.」
400 Zeni is a high price compared to what it used to be. And usually she would rush into discount negotiations without hesitation. For a wound on her abdomen, Ruruka would show off by stripping her shirt until it just barely covered her breasts, starting with her perfectly tight abs then exposing her elegantly thin waist. Then when I raised my voice again, she'd lift her shirt a bit higher, giving me glimpses of underboob. I'd be in agony, and at the end of my rope I'd reluctantly, with great hesitation, lower the fee. That's how it's supposed to go.
So what's going on this time?
Ruruka can barely look me in the eyes, and she's only lifting her shirt a little. Forget about seeing underboob or waist, not even her belly button is visible. All that I can see is a patch of flesh, no larger than my palm, in the gap between her shirt and her shorts. There's a small cut on it.
「Hey, Shiki... get on with it...」
While I'm looking at the wound on her belly and pondering, Ruruka mutters at me.
What's up with her? Did she decide to change her image to become pure and lady-like or something? Sure, I like it better when there's some shyness, but it's not like Ruruka wasn't shy before. Showing herself to me while still being shy about it, that attitude was great. So why...
「Hey, it's fine if you want a discount?」
I unintentionally let that slip. It's not something that should ever be brought up from the hospital's side, but I'm unable to let it go unsaid.
「I don't have much money... but Shiki, if you get turned on... you can just go to that... brothel, right? So I figured we should stop. N-Not like I'm bothered by it or anything, okay?」
「A misunderstanding! I'm telling you, that was a misunderstanding...!」
「Whaat, so that's what it was? Ahaha, I jumped to conclusions, huh.」
「...As long as you understand.」
While Yuel was steeping the tea, I managed to sort out Ruruka's misconception. I sorted it out, but...
「Master, I've brought your tea.」
The minute we finish our discussion, Yuel comes in carrying my tea on a tray.
Then she plops down right next to me as usual. What was the point of fixing the misunderstanding if we have no time left for price negotiations? I receive precisely 400 Zeni from Ruruka, pat Yuel's head for bringing me the scalding tea, and down it indifferently.
After Ruruka goes back, I continue doing medical treatment at the hospital. In the past few days, the number of customers at the hospital has risen a little. It's probably a result of the monster subjugation requests that the knight brigade has been sending out. Rather than the hospitals near the center of the city, this one near the outer edge is no doubt easier to use for the adventurers who've been hunting monsters outside the city lately.
Between sips of the piping-hot tea that Yuel (under the impression that I enjoy piping-hot tea) has been tirelessly making for me every time my cup is empty, I treat patients' injuries. I use Heal for light wounds, an occasional High Heal for more severe injuries, and Heal again for tongue burns.
That's how we've been spending our days.
That night, a knocking noise wakes me up. It's still dark outside. Feels like it's late at night.
「...It's from the entryway. Who could it be at a time like this?」
On the neighboring bed, Eris sits up and rubs her eyes sleepily. Indeed, I can hear a noise coming from the direction of the entryway. Someone must be knocking on the front door, even though it's this late at night. A visitor at this hour... though since they're expressly knocking on the door, there's no way it's a prowler or burglar.
「Shiki, Shiki! Please, get up!」
Then I hear a familiar voice. It's Ruruka's. As I wonder what might have happened, I head to the entrance.
「What's the matter, at a time like this?」
When I open the door, Ruruka is there, out of breath and shoulders heaving. It looks like she ran all the way to this hospital. From her expression I can tell that she's desperate and in a hurry. I don't suppose she was unable to endure her young body's urges and came for a ’’night visit’’.
「Thank goodness, you're awake! Please, come with me! Fran and Sera... they collapsed!」