Chapter 38 – Nightfall

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It was boisterous enough that the Hollywood moment where everyone stops and turns to stare at the stranger who just walked in didn’t happen. Actually, that moment usually doesn’t happen in any case. The dwarven musicians kept playing and their human tambourine girl kept dancing. The crowd kept cheering and drinking.

The inside wasn’t exactly three-star Michelin standards, but it was probably swept out daily, which was a good sign. The patrons of this establishment were a bit inexplicable though.

At first, I thought for a moment that it was a different type of establishment, because most of the crowd weren’t cheering the musicians. They were clamoring over two nearly naked women, one cat-kin and one human, who were dancing on one of the tables. But no, it seemed those girls were just drunk customers.

The human girl was quite tall and blessed with a fairly amazing shaggy mane of golden hair and a sleek athletic body, while the shorter cat girl had copper hair, orange tabby ears and tail and a rack almost as big as Amelia. Those things would have been dominating the attention, except I bet any leg-and-thigh men in the room had their eyes firmly on the statuesque human.

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As well as any guys with a thing for women with split abs, I might add.

I found an empty spot on a bench seat. The dwarve to the left of me was asleep, while the cat man to the right was hooting and enjoying himself.

Mosts of the customers fell into two categories: cat-kindred and dwarves. I don’t think that’s a demographic you could find anywhere outside that place. Those that were nearby did turn and eye me with concern, but generally the rest continued carrying on as they had been. Which is to say, making a lot of noise. There may not be two other species in this world capable of matching the boisterous partying of either dwarves or cat-kindred.

On second thought, maybe they do go well together…

I waved to the serving girl, another human.

While I was waiting, the cat girl snuck in and untied the string panties of the human girl from behind. It turned into an ad hoc wrestling match, but the cloth was liberated and tossed away quickly. Naked girl immediately conceded and kept dancing. After seeing the cheers her partner was getting, the cat girl quickly stripped off her own panties and tossed them away too.

To answer the important question of whether it matches the hair or the ear and tail fur… it seems that for cat girls, there isn’t any.

The serving girl arrived, and just tipped her head. Not even a ‘welcome’.

“I’d like an ale and something to eat.”

“Three silvers,” she said, holding out her hand.

I retrieved a quarter-gelder coin. Carson had said it was worth three silvers. Apparently he was right; she took it and walked into the back.

Having heard a female voice next to him, my neighbor had turned my direction. He looked ready to hit on me or something, but then his eyes seemed to focus, and he got a better look.

“Ah… uhm,” he grabbed his tankard and downed it. “Time to leave.”

The human girl apparently tired of dancing and got a cat man to help her down, but he didn’t let her get back on her feet. He kept her in a princess carry, actually hefting her up for the crowd to cheer for, as if she were a prize he had won. Then, his neighbors had their hands all over her. She seemed to be having a blast.

Just as taciturn as before, the serving girl returned with a tray holding a bowl of stew and a hunk of bread and a tankard of cloudy ale. Both landed in front of me with a decided lack of finesse.

I looked up at her, but her eyes were on the fun happening across the room. I now understood her bad service manner. She was intensely irritated.

I ate bread soaked in stew alternating with spoonfuls of stew on its own, while watching a cat man capture the cat girl and take her off the table as well. She became as popular with the men in reach of her as the human girl was.

Things finally settled down over there and decreased my worry that I was about to witness a drunken public gang-rape. The two remained naked, sitting in the laps of cat men, but drinking more ale while happily allowing themselves to be groped. I hoped they knew the guys whom the laps and hands belonged to.

The serving girl returned and put a silver coin down beside me.

To my questioning glance, she answered “Master says that was the last of the stew and the bread was old, so we’ll only charge two silvers.”

“Thank you. Does… that sort of thing happen a lot around here?” I asked, tipping my thumb toward the two naked girls.

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I couldn’t hear her entire answer because she turned to walk away, but the words “… damn adventurers…” were clear.

Around the time I was sopping up the last of my stew with the last of my bread, a couple muscular cat men carried the two girls upstairs. I hoped the human girl was prepared for a cat-kin baby.

I waved the server over again. After stopping her from taking my tankard for a refill, I asked, “Do you do anything to look out for girls like that? I mean, they didn’t look like courtesans to me.”

“Courtes… you mean prostitutes? No, they’re no whores. I told you, they’re adventurers. You don’t hafta worry about the guys that took ’em. Those guys aren’t kidnappers. They’re just gonna give those floozies a nice ride.”

“You’re sure…” I asked, still worried.

She gave a tired grin, her eyes softening slightly. “Yeah, I’m sure. They’re good guys. Probably pushed the other guys off ’em to protect ’em from getting sold or something. Those girls just gonna pay ’em for the service a little.”

The way she was talking, I had a guess. “You know those two men?”

She nodded and finally grew a slight smile. “They’re my regular customers, ’cause they were my husband’s party members, ma’am. Even though their partner’s been dead two years, they keep bringing my daughter and me money when they have some. Even though they paid me his share long ago.”

I scratched my cheek, remembering something about the clannish cat kindred. “I though cat men normally only worked with their own kindred?”

After holding my eye for a long moment, she asked, “… so?”

“Oh.” So, this girl didn’t mind cross-species marriages. That daughter she mentioned was a little cat girl. The unreformed otaku side of me wanted to see the kid, now.

“So,” I asked, “There’s lodging here, right?”

She folded her arms and shook her head. “All sold out, ma’am. We have a big room in back, but not for you.”

Huh?

- my thoughts:

There had to be a tavern at some point, right? This is an Isekai!

Check out my other novel: Tales of the ESDF

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