Chapter 94: Ashley’s Friends
Paul: :Two Pair.”
Henry: “.......Full House.” We lay out our cards on the table. With my hand, I win the round, and I take the chips placed on top of the table.
Paul: “Dangー Completely lost that one. Let’s go another round.”
Forte: “Yes, let’s.” It is in the late afternoon at the Bear’s Keg Inn, and I am playing cards with Ashley’s buddies ー Paul and Forte.
These two are staying at the Bear’s Keg Inn, and we’ve become pretty good friends. They just got done visiting all the touristy spots, and because they had nothing else to do, I was hanging out with them but……
Henry: “.......strange…….even though the odds have been good, why are my chips…….”
I won the last round and gained some chips, but my 20 chips are now just 5. ……...if I didn’t win that last round, it would have been game over for me.
Forte: “Henry, you’re too easy to read. You raise when you have a good hand, and you drop out as soon as you see a weak hand. You need to learn how to bluff.”
Paul: “But because of that, it seems like I can avoid being in last place. Between the guys in my Party, I seem to be the weakest.”
Forte was completely dominating the game in 1st place and gave me some friendly advice while Paul was smirking and trying to get me riled up.
Henry: “Sorry. I don’t have much of a Poker Face.”
That’s why I shoot my hands straight. And in a Casino, there’s a ton of people so even with this tactic, I can win some and lose some, but with just 3 people, this is definitely a poor strategy.
Lana: “Here you are! Here’s your tea and raspberry pie. Enjoy!”
Henry: “Oh, it’s here.”
Lana brought the tea in a pot and enough cups for everyone at the table, and also brought a pie already cut into serving slices. We move the cards and chips to the side and make room for our order.
The delicious aroma of a fresh baked raspberry pie filled the air around us.
Forte: “Then let’s take a break from Poker and enjoy our dessert.”
Paul: “Yeah, let’s eat while it’s still hot………..oh man, this is great!”
Paul takes a bite of the pie, and his eyes glisten with joy.
I follow and take a bite of my pie slice. The sweet and sour raspberry and the flaky, crunchy pie crust combine in my mouth, and it’s amazingly good. I wash it down with the tea and take another bite.
Forte: “Wow, this really is delicious. I can understand now why Henry recommended it.”
Henry: “Hey hey. I haven’t wasted my time while residing here for a while. I’ve tasted every item on their menu. They’re all good, but the dessert is especially great.”
Apparently, the Inn Master and Chef, Mr. Nord, trained really hard to learn dessert recipes to convince Mrs. Linda who loves sweets.
Lana: “I appreciate the compliments, but I can’t approve of doing gambling when the weather is so wonderful outside…….”
Henry: “It’s okay. The person with the most chips wins a drink, so we’re not betting real money. This is just for fun.”
I smile and wave a hand to reassure Lana’s concern.
As soon as one person runs out of chips, the last place has to buy drinks for the other two, and the 2nd place buys a drink for the 1st place.
Compared to the illegal Black Gambling sites, the bets are so peaceful that it makes me yawn. There are laws against gambling, but those are not so strict that they would frown upon what we’re doing right now.
Lana: “Well, not only that, but it’s such wonderful weather, so why not go outside and enjoy it a bit? That’s all.”
…….and Lana’s main concern was not quite in the direction I was thinking.
Henry: “This morning, I swung my spear so much, I’m tired, and I don’t want to walk.”
Forte: “I naturally prefer the indoors.”
Paul: “I lost a lot of money at the Casino yesterday, so today, I have to conserve.”
The 3 of us immediately lay out our excuses.
Lana lets out a sigh and turns around to walk away.
The 3 lazy men left behind drank the tea and ate the rest of the pie as we chatted.
Forte: “But really, that girl Lana is such a good girl. She’s cheerful. She’s really good at conversing with customers, and usually, when someone makes a comment like that, it would get on my nerves, but she words it so well that I can’t get mad at her.”
And Forte gives his comments once Lana goes into the kitchen. It’s true. She’s very good with handling customers.
Paul: “She’s pretty cute too. That’s too bad. If she was only about 5 years older…...maybe I’ll drop by around that time again.”
Henry: “If you lay a hand on her just for fun, I’ll have to break that arm or leg.”
Paul raises his hands in a surrender gesture, but I know he’s joking.
Henry: “Hmmmmm.” But now that I think about it, in about 2 or 3 years, there will be guys hitting on her. The drunks at the tavern are known to harass the female workers no matter where you go.
…….of course, if anyone like that appeared here, I would have a nice long “talk” with them though.
Forte: “Henry, you’re making quite the scary face right now.” Henry: “Oh, sorry about that. It’s nothing. …..but really, sweet things really hit the spot.”
I ate a lot for lunch, but sweet things really help heal a tired body.
Paul: “That’s right. I heard you were training today. You’re working really hard.”
Forte: “You were getting instructed by Ashley’s Master right? ……..wait, that reminds me. Where’s Ashley? I thought he was going to join us this afternoon.”
Henry: “He was completely knocked out from the on-going fatigue. He plans to sleep through the afternoon.”
It’s been 3 days now since Mr. Ricardo’s training began. It’s around that time when it’s harder to recover from the fatigue, and today, Ashley’s sleeping it off at his family’s house. Jend is in the same boat.
Forte: “Ashley’s pretty tough…...but it must have been an intense training then.”
Henry: “Yeah, it is.” Since day 2, they been swinging a practice sword that has extra weights.
Forte: “.......but you’ve been doing the same training as Ashley with that big beefy body of his, and you seem to be fine.”
Henry: “I have confidence in my stamina.”
It’s just a matter of getting used to it. I’m pretty tired out myself, but I had too many instances where I had to keep moving around even in this situation. So I’m able to intentionally ignore the fatigue building up in my body.
Henry: “Why don’t you two join us? If it’s Ashley’s friends, Mr. Ricardo won’t say no.”
Paul: “We came to this town for vacation. Please don’t drag me into that kind of hardcore training.”
Forte: “I can only use Magecraft so it’s a shameー really it is.”
I jokingly invited them, but as expected, no one took the bait.
I smile and chuckle at the two’s reaction as I take another bite of the pie.
It was quite a large pie, but there are 3 active Adventurers here. We eat it up without any trouble.
Once we are done, we grab the deck of cards once again.
Henry: “......alright, let’s continue. I have a feeling that my great comeback is about to begin.”
Forte: “Your bluff is way too obvious.”
Paul: “If we catch you cheating, you automatically lose.”
It’s true that my strategy is not working here.
But Poker in general is all about your hand which is based on luck. So now that we had a tea break, I felt my luck greatly rise……….or at least it feels like it did!
……..since I had no intention of going into this with a pessimistic attitude, I rally myself up, and engage the next round with full gusto.
In the end, it only took 2 rounds for me to lose all my chips. ……….I guess Forte was right about my bluff. HA HA HA.
“ “ CHEERS ” ”
Forte and Paul lift up their beer mugs bought with my money, and I raise my glass too, but……...ergh.
Forte: “Wowー I think having a Heroic Warrior buy your drink makes it extra enjoyable.”
Paul: “Yeah, yeah. Well, I didn’t really gain or lose anything, but just from having someone else buy your drinks, it tastes at least twice as good.”
UGHーーー tomorrow. I need to bait them to play Shogi with me. I can win with Shogi.
And I harden my resolution for a rematch as I drink down my ale.
A refreshing, bitter taste fills my mouth, and it feels great as the liquid rushes down my throat. I let out a <EXHALE> of satisfaction, and feel the Flowtier Ale’s distinct floral scent tickle my nose as I do so.
Hmph, I guess drinking something this good will make losing a bet not matter anymore.
Henry: “Lana, can I have a refill!”
And I ask Lana for another as she passes by.
Paul: “Oh, a refill on my ale as well!”
Lana: “Yes sirー”
Paul follows and puts in another order as well.
Forte: “You two are so fast. It’s such a good drink. You should all enjoy it more slowly.”
Paul: “Ha! Like I want to drink small sips like that all night.”
Forte: “To each their own.” Forte lets out a small sigh of disappointment watching us guzzle down the ale. I’m sure this exchange is pretty common between the two. Paul can be rough in the way he talks, but Forte doesn’t seem bothered by it at all.
Henry: “Forte, can you not drink that much?” Forte: “No idea. I don’t plan on bragging about how much I can drink any time soon.”
Paul: “Henry, this guy can drink if he wants to. He’s a slow drinker, but whether it’s ale, wine, or whiskey, he’ll drink at the same pace all night long.”
Forte: “......I only do that when we’re celebrating. If I do it all the time, I would be broke in no time.”
And the two continued to talk and drink when I saw two familiar faces arrive at the Bear’s Keg Inn.
The two came in looking around the dining hall, and when they saw us, they waved their hands and walked over.
They slip by the crowded tables and seats without trouble and head this way.
Ashley: “Hey, looks like you already started without us.”
Jend: “Good evening, gentlemen.”
It was Ashley and Jend.
We say our greetings back at the two and…
Ashley: “Paul, can you squeeze over so we can sit?” Paul: “Sure.” They move the seats, so the two can sit with us. We were sitting at a 4 person table, so it’s a little crowded, but they brought two open seats, and we all gathered around.
Paul: “What, I thought you were out cold this afternoon.” Ashley: “I’ve been sleeping since noon, so I’m awake now. My body’s still tired, but I can’t sleep any more. It’s a good opportunity too, so I wanted to introduce you guys to my junior.”
Ashley raises his chin at Jend.
Jend: “Oh, hello. I’m an Adventurer in the same Party as Henry. My name is Jend. I am Brother Ashley’s junior disciple.”
Paul: “Yeah, we heard. I’m Paul. Nice to meetcha.” Forte: “I’m Forte.” When they were all done with introductions, the ale that I ordered for the two arrive.
And we all raise our glasses for another toast.
Paul: “It’s Jend, right? If you’re Ashley’s Junior Disciple, you must be pretty strong, right?” Jend: “I have some confidence, but I’m still far from the top. ……...especially since there’s someone I can’t beat right next to me.”
Jend glances my way.
Forte: Well, a Heroic Warrior is usually at the very top of the Adventurers, and typically, Adventurers in their 30s with plenty of experience move up into that role. ……...considering that Henry reached his status at his age, I think that’s absolutely normal. No need to beat yourself over that.”
Jend: “But if it’s just weapons, I think I’m almost caught up to him though.” Maybe another half year…...no, maybe a year at most. I want to stay on top, but Jend’s putting his all into his sword skills, and he’ll catch up to me in no time.
Of course, if we’re allowed to use Magecraft or other methods, I don’t plan on losing to him for another 10 years.
Ashley: “Yeah, in fact, as far as weapon skills go, there’s really not much of a difference. Since I have more experience, I think I’m still a little above as far as Adventurers go but……..I’m pretty certain that he has more talent than me.”
His pride feels a tinge of pain from the acknowledgement, but Ashley is also excited and happy for the improvement he sees in his junior disciple.
Paul: “Wow, so he’ll become something big in the future.”
Ashley: “Yeah, he’ll be going to Ligaleo eventually.”
And both Paul and Forte can’t hide their astonishment.
Forte: “It’s a place where Adventurers who try to become wealthy or ‘protect humanity from the Demon King!’ go, but why do you want to go there, Jend?” Jend: “It’s nothing special. I just want to see how far I can get and get stronger…….that’s about it.”
Paul spews ale a little as he hears the words.
Paul: “You guys are so alike. He’s saying the exact same thing Ashley said when we first met him.”
Ashley: “Agh, hey, Paul.” Paul: “But be careful out there. Don’t be like a certain idiotic someone I know, and over-estimate your strength and end up almost dying.”
……..with “a certain idiotic someone I know”, Ashley’s shoulders drop as he looks downwards.
Ashley: “I’ve already apologized about that time over and over……..can we drop it and forget it now?” Forte: “No, Ashley. As a general example of what never to do, you should not forget about that incident.”
Ashley: “That’s true but….”
With Forte’s logic, Ashley is at a loss for words.
……..well, it’s already passed so they can laugh about it now, but most likely, he probably poked a Demonic Creature he shouldn’t have.
Well, as far as risk assessment, I’ve been hammering down on that point for my Party. Besides, with Ferris in our group, I can’t see how Jend is going to risk her safety with a crazy expedition.
Paul: “And what else. Oh yeah, it’s good to want to be stronger, but you can also lay your eyes on more ordinary goals.”
Jend: “Ordinary?” Paul: “Yeah, in fact, Ashley and his girlfriend have been saving up money for their wedding, and since then, his motivation has been through the roof…..”
Ashley: “Paul! That’s enough!”
Red-faced, Ashley stops Paul from speaking further.
………..I see. Marriage, huh. Yeah, I can see how that’s motivating.
Forte: “That’s right. He decided to come back to his family after his engagement with Miss Karen.”
Ashley: “Forte, you too?! C’mon guys!”
Ashley tries to desperately stop his Party members from spilling any more details.
But I already heard enough. If it’s like that, it’s customary to ask for more juicy details.
I wickedly laugh internally and start my interrogation about Ashley’s future wife.
But after getting a few drinks down, it suddenly becomes Ashley’s nonstop talk about how wonderful his girl is.
And as a result, the rest of us heard much more than we wanted to……….but, that’s not so bad either.
Semi-retired Adventurer Lives Leisurely
Written by Hisagushien
Translated by: ChonkyTranslator
Book 8: The Flame Swordsman