← ch 014 ・・・・｜・・・・ ch 016 →
Same old evening time. Same old scene inside C-Mart.
Evenings at C-Mart were busy, but I was leaving the customer service to the idiot elf.
I was in the middle of tallying up the day’s intake.
It’s not that I wanted to do it.
Truth be told, I had next to no interest in whatever local coinage we took in.
But I also thought lumping it all into an urn or can would be too negligent.
And anyway, if I didn’t count it up, the idiot elf would come after me. She would be all like, “Are you sure this is OK? Are you? I could be skimming profits? So if you don’t count the money, is it OK to think that means you trust me?”
The idiot elf’s smug look was unbearable, so I was choosing to tally it up every day to make sure she wasn’t swiping any of the money.
I could have counted it after I closed for the night.
But then it would be dark and hard to see. And, more than anything, it would be annoying to do something so fiddly in the middle of kicking back and basking in my accomplishments.
Counting money by LED lantern was really difficult. It was hard to see the difference between gold and sliver coins.
So I counted up what I had by evening and pretty much closed out.
As for the intake from evening on, I handled it separately, so all I had to do was count that and I was done.
I am so smart.
Something about one of the silver coins I was counting felt…off.
It was silver-colored and should have been a sliver.
But its shape was wrong somehow. And so was its size. It was bigger than a gold.
The pattern of the embossing, which seemed more detailed than even your standard gold coin, was of…a person’s head?
“Hey. Isn’t this silver kind of weird?” I called out to the idiot elf.
But she was wrapped up in helping a customer and didn’t notice.
“Hey. Over here. Hey!” I called out again.
But she didn’t turn around.
I kept raising my voice until the idiot elf turned towards me.
“Oy! Listen up! I said, ‘Listen’! Listen to me!!”
“Oh, for… What is it?”
The idiot elf had rung the customer up and seen him off with a bow.
Only after that did she turn my way.
“I don’t interrupt your hobby time, so please stay quiet and keep it, and your big grin, to yourself.”
“When have I had a big grin? That makes it sound like I enjoy tallying everything up— But whatever. Enough about that. Take a look here.”
“Yes? What is it?”
“Isn’t this silver coin kind of…weird?”
I showed the silver to the idiot elf.
The idiot elf seemed to notice the wrongness.
She took the coin from my hand and started to scrutinize it, holding it up to the light to stare at it and check it all over.
Then, for some reason she opened her mouth.
“You bit it!”
“What the…? Are you crazy? What is wrong with you? I know you’re hungry, but you can’t eat money!”
“That’s not it! I was testing how hard it is. This is hard. My teeth didn’t leave a mark. But they would have if it was pure silver. So it’s not that.”
“Oh, I see. I was worried you had lost your mind.”
“This means it isn’t a silver coin, it’s a platinum coin.”
“The silvery color could also make it a mithril coin, but any magic user would—ahem! That is, I would know mithril on sight. This is platinum.”
I had no idea what that meant.
“So it’s not a silver coin.”
I thought about it.
Thought about it and…grasped the gist of what was going on.
“In other words, one of our customers switched a silver coin for a fake?”
“Why would you say that? Are you an idiot, Master? Platinum coins are very valuable. Worth quite a lot.”
I was shocked.
This was news to me.
“Hold on. Isn’t the money here only coppers, silvers and gold?”
“There are also tin and lead coins, though you rarely see those. And for high value coins, there are platinum and mithril. A platinum is worth 144 gold. A mithril is worth 1728 gold. But you only see those used in trade among wealthy merchants.”
“W—Wow. Just wow.”
I was blown away. I never knew that.
Well. Of course I wouldn’t know something I had never heard of before.
“So anyway. Why do we have a platinum coin?”
“Well. It was in today’s takings.”
“How would I know? Some customer paid with it.”
“Master. Did you give them change for it?” the idiot elf asked. I glared back at her.
“How are you sure it was me? Maybe you’re the one who took it by mistake?”
“I wouldn’t have made that mistake. If anyone made a mistake, it was you, Master.”
“I mean, you couldn’t tell the difference, right? Didn’t you think it was a silver?”
She…had me there. So I shouted, “I—I said it was weird! Because I thought so! That’s why I asked!”
“But if you didn’t think it was weird when you took it, then…?”
Put on the spot like this, words abandoned me.
My head seemed to bubble with foam. I became incapable of thought.
Maybe…it had been me?
What had she said? One platinum was how much again?
Wasn’t it, uh…
One hundred forty four gold?
What if I had taken a high value coin and not given change?
This wasn’t like mixing up a thousand and ten thousand yen bill. It wasn’t at that level. It was far, far worse.
A massive mistake. A stupendous one. Practically fraud.
But I never meant to defraud anyone. Not in the least. Really! Believe me!
“I believe you, Master,” the elf girl said. “Hold on. Let’s think back. Both of us. Did you have any customers who paid a single silver? Please try to remember.”
The elf girl tapped her temple and closed her eyes gently.
I also tried to calm my mind and think back.
“I…didn’t have any,” she said.
Had had one.
I remembered now.
There had been some brat shopping while slurping at a candy.
After looking all over, he had bought a compass. Just your basic, magnetic compass with its needle fixed northward. As the compasses were from a hundred yen shop, I had put them out at a copper each, and apparently the brat had thought they were a toy.
That brat had gone and paid for a one copper item with a silver.
Thinking of the trouble he was putting me through, I had counted out eleven coppers in change and tried to hand them over, but he had spouted something ridiculous about not needing change.
So I had thrust the eleven coppers into his pocket.
“There was one! That brat! It was that brat!” I shouted and was about to run out to the front when—
“Hold on, Master.”
The idiot elf grabbed the back of my collar.
Gack! I’m choking. You idiot! You absolute idiot!
“Was it really him? You’re sure? There weren’t any others?”
“I’m sure! I just remembered this, but when I took that brat’s silver, I thought something was weird! It was bigger than a normal silver!”
“Then that must be it. By the way, by ‘brat’ you mean that well-bred little gentleman from this afternoon?”
“That’s right! That brat was so obnoxious he deserves to be called a fucking brat!”
“That doesn’t sound like who I meant, but…maybe they’re the same?”
“I’m going to go find him!”
“Let’s split up and look for him.”
We rushed out of the shop. I went down the road to the left. The idiot elf went right.
Leaving the shop to itself was no big deal.
Everything had a price tag. There was a memo pad. And a basket for money. Customers would come in on their own, pick up something on their own, write down what it was on the memo pad and leave money on their own.
So no big deal.
◇ ◇ ◇ ◇ ◇
I ran around the marketplace. I checked anywhere someone might be.
But I didn’t find him.
I searched the area until it it got complete dark.
It amounted to nothing in the end.
I doubted that the idiot elf had found him either.
I slowly trudged my way back to the shop.
Was I going to have to live out the rest of my life forever remembering the sin of having misappropriated 143 gold and 11 silvers?
◇ ◇ ◇ ◇ ◇
The idiot elf and someone else were standing in front of the shop waiting for me.
“You took your time, shopkeeper.”
It was that fucking brat.
Strangely full of himself for a little kid, he sniffed haughtily as he got a look at me.
“Aaah!?” I shouted, pointing at him.
“You have kept me waiting. Wherever did you get off to?” the brat said.
“I guessed that he would be getting a room around this time. So I searched the most expensive inn this town has,” said the idiot elf.
“So, shopkeeper. What is it? I came out of my way because I heard you needed something,” said the brat in an incredibly overbearing tone. He was maybe all of ten.
His ears weren’t pointed. He was a human.
He was, without a doubt, the age he looked.
So why was he—why was this fucking brat—so full of himself?
“I thought it best you speak to the Master directly. I’m very sorry for the trouble,” said the idiot elf.
Well, I couldn’t fault her judgment.
I rushed into the shop.
I snatched up 143 gold coins and 11 silvers.
The idiot elf had put aside 144 gold in a box, so taking one out made 143!
I thrust the 143 gold and 11 silvers at him.
But the brat wouldn’t take them.
“Did I not say I have no need of change?”
“Who cares! Take it!”
“Is the shopkeeper here always like this?” the brat asked, looking up at the idiot elf next to me.
“Master is always like this with everyone. Because he’s an idiot.”
“Don’t call me that!”
“Hmm. But I have my own position to consider. I couldn’t possibly go back on my word. All right, let’s do this: I shall donate that money towards the development of this shop. In the future, you will offer better goods. Would you mind that?”
All I could understand through my rage was that this fucking brat had no intention whatsoever of taking his change.
“OK! I’ve got it! Candies are always free for you! Come by any time! I’ll give you a candy!”
“And, take this! For now! In return for coming to the shop!”
I held out a candy on a stick.
I remembered how this brat had been slurping at a whorl of candy stuck on the end of a stick when he came to the shop before.
My offering looked different but it was still candy.
The candy was from the other side—the sort of a ball on a stick called a ‘lollipop’.
“Hmm. I’ll accept that.”
The brat appeared to be smiling.
Well, look at that! Brats sure do love candy!
I made him smile!
“Goodness me. He was exactly as the hero Sayne of Phantom Beretta described,” muttered the brat as he set off down the road to the right.
Say what? He knew that phony adventurer?
No wonder he was so full of himself. Birds of a feather flocking together. The high and mighty attitude was contagious.
As the brat walked off, a number of adults who had been standing by a ways off trailed after him.
They weren’t a random mob. More like…bodyguards?
So the brat was apparently some sort of highborn little lordling.
Which would explain his arrogance, I supposed.
In any case, smiles had returned to the vicinity of C-Mart.
That satisfied me.
“Master, we found him. Aren’t you glad?”
I gave a nod to the smiling idiot elf.
That’s right, this was all thanks to her, wasn’t it?
She had been the one to find him. I had failed.
Also, there was something about that fucking brat.
I could swear I had seen his face before somewhere. But…where?
I gave up thinking.
The area had grown completely dark.
I went into the shop with the idiot elf.
It was time for dinner. I would add an extra—no, two extra—cans of food to the idiot elf’s wages tonight.
◇ ◇ ◇ ◇ ◇
T/N: The author says that 1 copper is worth approximately 100 yen. Which would make one mithril coin worth around 24,880,000 yen (or USD $248,800).
← ch 014 ・・・・｜・・・・ ch 016 →