Before dawn, Ian woke to find his bedding – and himself – sprawled across the living room in a completely different position than a few hours prior. Actually, his head was precariously close to a leg of the coffee table. Considering the movement in his sleep and the fact that he could not recall dreaming, he had likely experienced a vivid dream.
Looking around, he saw Edmund and Gaelan in the same places as last night. Both slept soundly. Gaelan was snoring and Edmund was breathing heavily.
Unusually alert, Ian whispered to himself, “I’ll go take a shower.”
A few minutes later, he was standing with his right hand against the shower wall with steaming water cascading over the crown of his drooped head. With closed eyes, he listened to the drum of water droplets in silence. Gradually, he sank into a pit of reflection.
What am I supposed to do? He asked himself. I swear… every time I find something good, it manages to escape me. Not to mention I dragged others into it this time. “Haaah… I need to stop repeating that in my head.”
He clenched his left hand into a fist until it bled. “Man, I seriously don’t know where to start.” A tear mixed into the water cascading around him. His weak inner self was showing itself now. After spending a month in Regnoras learning new things and training like a madman, what results were there besides superficial ones?
Then, remembering one of the first things he had learned from blacksmithing, he muttered, “There are no mistakes…”
Once more, he fell silent. Saying what Gaelan had taught him did not make him feel much better, but it did calm his mind enough to think rather than wallow in self-pity.
“Remake it… do it again…” Ian muttered while envisioning himself hammering hot metal. “Look ahead, and forge a future… Hah… haha… What is this, some sort of melodramatic motivational speech?”
Raising his head, he opened his eyes to look at the tile wall where his right hand was. He removed his hand from the wall and closed at like he would when grabbing a hammer. Then, he raised his arm. He swung it down. He raised it. He swung it down.
“Haaah… Yeah, that feels good.”
Following the short act of swinging an imaginary hammer, he let his hand fall limp at his side and raised his eyes toward the moisture coated ceiling.
I suppose I haven’t gotten this far on my own. Dunno why I’m so hesitant to ask for help even though there’s nothing wrong with it. But, who could give me a hand here?
Closing his eyes again, he thought about all the people he knew. The only person he thought of that might be willing to help him was Alayna. As a result, he grunted.
“Ugh, I hope she doesn’t get mad if my first time calling her since we last met is to ask for help.”
With that course in mind, he finished showering and got out. A minute later, he was standing in the kitchen with his freshly charged smartphone.
“Oh, right. Better check my jungle account while I’m at it. Let’s see… Meh. Not too bad I guess.”
About a quarter of his last batch of tools had sold, bringing in an average of thirty dollars apiece. Of course, most of the ones that sold were made by Gaelan in his spare time. That being said, the grand total in profit was close to eight hundred dollars. If he sent the new batch of tools to the jungle warehouse, that total might increase. The profit was enough to pay the rent if he used half of his remaining savings as well. “Actually… do I even need to worry about rent anymore? The portal is gone, so there’s no reason to care about this place.”
Ian heard a loud yawn from the living room and looked over to see Edmund was awake and stretching.
“Good morning,” Ian said.
“Oh… good morning,” Edmund tiredly replied. “You look less stressed than last night.”
“Ah, well, I decided to call my sister to ask for her help. Having a course of action is, well, comforting in a way,” Ian said, grinning slightly.
“I see. That is true,” Edmund muttered while lowering his gaze. Then returning his line of sight to Ian, he asked, “Do you mind if I use that shower thing again?”
“No problem. Pretend this is your own home.”
“Very well. Thank you,” Edmund said with a grateful nod. Then, he meandered toward the bathroom. The guy came across as more subdued than normal. Perhaps it was due to being in an unfamiliar place.
Looking back at his phone, Ian grimaced and said, “I guess I should call her now.”
*Ring* *Ring* *Ring*
[…Hello?] Alayna answered. Her voice sounded tired and irritated.
“…Hey, Alayna.” Ian hesitantly greeted.
[Oh my god! Ian?] Alayna asked in surprise.
“Yep. Didn’t think you would be asleep still.” Ian said.
[You know it’s Saturday, right?] Alayna asked.
It’s Saturday? Maybe I should start checking what day it is, Ian thought. Then, he answered, “I didn’t know. Were you sleeping in?”
[Not really. It’s barely past seven.]
“Oh, I guess that is considered early, isn’t it…” Ian said, placing a finger across his lips.
[How early have you been waking up, exactly?]
“Uh, around five or six I think. Maybe earlier. I wake up to roosters.”
[…You’ve become a hick.]
“Kuhuk…” Ian grunted. “Did not.”
[You did. Anyway, are you calling ‘cuz you want to hang out with me?] Alayna asked. The expectation in her voice was nearly palpable.
“Kinda. How many seats does your car have?”
[It’s a Hoverscape, so eight. Why?]
“Think you could give me and some guests a ride somewhere?”
[‘Some guests and I’, you mean?]
“Grammar N***… But yeah, I feel bad for asking like this, but it’s a bit – no – a lot of an emergency.”
[Uh, I guess? Today?]
“Yeah. Is it possible?”
[You are lucky I didn’t have plans today.]
“Thanks, Alayna. You’re my favorite sister.”
[I’m your only sister…]
[I’ll see you in an hour or so, then?]
“Awesome. Thanks. Oh! Before I forget, could you maybe bring a few sets of clothes for my friends?”
[What? Female friends?]
“Yeah, and I’m worried their current clothes will stick out a bit.”
[Uh… I guess I’ll figure that one out when I get there. What are their sizes?]
“How should I know?”
“No. Absolutely not.”
[Wimp. Then guess. If they aren’t my size, then I’ll pick up something for them.]
“Well, one of them is about the same as your height, and the other is short. Like, 150 centimeters short.”
[Wow. Good thing you aren’t a secret pedophile or something… right?]
“She is nineteen,” Ian replied while rolling his eyes.
[Measurements. I need to know her sizes.]
“I told you, not gonna happen.”
[How big are her breasts?]
“Bi- hey, that’s rude, isn’t it?”
[Okay, so she is short but has a nice rack. Got it. See you soon~]
Single most tiring phone call of my life… Ian thought. “Well, I guess I’ll make some coffee.”