~ What has gone before ~
· My new genitals had a workout.
· I was raised to Level 2 for some reason after I completed my first day in a different world.
* * * * *
"Urggh, I overslept." How long had I been asleep? I was still only half-awake but it was bright daylight outside. I must have been really tired after the previous day's events. I jumped out of bed and left the room still wearing my pajamas.
The inn was about 50 tsubo or about 165 square metres with about two-thirds of the floor area dedicated to the bar area with a door to the main street in front, the rest being for the living area at the back where Sumirensan and Erim-san (and me too now, I realised) resided. I had been told by Erim-san yesterday there was a stable on the back of the main building for horses. Since it was currently empty Minoko was living there.
There were no signs of anyone else in the back rooms. I supposed the residents would have been up doing errands and chores a long time ago. I hadn't planned to get up early but as a freeloader here who was supposed to work for my keep it was embarrassing to be the last to wake. I walked quickly down the corridor and opened the wooden door at the end to enter the tavern area at the front of the building.
"Good morning! I'm sorry, I overslept! " I announced. As I feared, I was the last to get there. Wearing an apron Erim was standing behind the bar counter cutting up vegetables and other ingredients with a kitchen knife, obviously getting food ready to serve at the bar. Sumirensan, dressed in a long skirt was sitting on a stool out in the middle of the tavern floor. The other tables and chairs had been moved into a corner to make space for Minoko who was sitting next to Sumirensan.
"Good morning, Richy-chan." Sumirensan returned my greeting with a gentle smile like sunbeams filtering through dark green trees. "There was no need to hurry to get up today. Take your time."
Seeing her sitting there serene and elegant my mind flashed back to last night as I remembered her nakedness and my idiotic foolishness (and the blindfold and her hands and...) and I felt my face flush.
"Richy-san, good morning." Erim interrupted his preparation work, opening the partition door between the bar counter and the floor and hurried out to greet me but he stopped, looking puzzled.
"Hullo? Richy-san's wearing my pajamas?"
"Oh this? Didn't Sumirensan ask you? She borrowed the top for me from your wardrobe after all, Erim." I stretched out both arms right and left to show him it was a comfortable fit on my body, but the sleeves were so long my hands were hidden in the cuffs.
"Maybe it's a bit too big in the sleeves but... It's not too baggy, is it?"
"W- Well, maybe." Erim seemed distracted for some reason, an awkward smile on his face as he looked away towards his older sister, unable to meet my eyes. Was he annoyed?
"I wore it without asking you, was that wrong?" I asked worriedly.
"N- n- no!" Erim burst out.
N-? "Ah, are my nipples showing through again?" I looked down, trying to see for myself. The cloth the pajamas were made of was thicker than the material of the dress I was wearing yesterday so I didn't think they would be standing out --
"They aren't! Richy-san, acting like that... it's too cute... mumble" his voice tailed off.
"Sorry? I didn't hear the last bit you said."
"Well, uh, it looks good on you, or rather you look... ummm."
"Well, moving on!" Erim said briskly. "It doesn't smell strange to you? If I knew Richy-san was going to borrow it I would have deodorized it thoroughly."
Erim seemed excessively apologetic about possible smells so I brought the sleeve of the pajama to my nose and sniffed deeply trying to detect any odours while he watched anxiously. There wasn't an unpleasant smell, but... was it because Erim cooked in the tavern? Besides detergent I detected a faint smell of food, of cooking oil and seasonings. The smell of Erim's work had somehow transferred to his sleepwear. I was surprised, it seemed my sense of smell had improved after I was reincarnated as a Succubus. To check further I leant forward and put my nose against Erim's chest.
"Ri- Ri- Richy-san !?" Hmmm, the smell was stronger on his work clothes than on his pajamas, not surprisingly. As I sniffed Erim's chest the food smells suddenly brought back memories of the ramen noodles I had been eating at the Tenka Ippin chain restaurant when the truck came through the wall and killed me. I wanted to eat them again but of course I'd never get the chance again, would I? Knowing it was impossible just made the cravings worse somehow.
I was jolted out of my nostalgia when Erim said "Hey?" and I stepped back, flustered, realising what I had been doing.
"Ah, it's just... this body seems to have a, well, call it a fetish for smells. Ummm, don't take that in a weird way, please." I waved my hands, trying to explain. "Anyway I'm used to a man's body odour so the smell from your pajama top isn't disconcerting to me."
"You're accustomed to the body odour of a man... how?" Erim looked puzzled. "Do you have any brothers!? "
"No, I am an only child." I explained.
"Well, was it Takuto-san!? Was it that you saw him so often you remembered what he smelled like?" Erim seemed rather excited for some reason.
"Takuto, eh? Why are you bringing him up again?" I enquired.
"I'm desperate! Please tell me!" Erim's angry expression frightened me so I hurried to explain.
"Well, I didn't see him that often, maybe once or twice a week. I didn't get out very much."
"That is, once or twice... that often..." Erim muttered, his eyes far away. What should I do? I didn't know why Erim seemed resentful all of a sudden. Muttering something like "I'll absolutely not lose" Erim went back to the other side of the bar counter. Sumirensan, who had watched our exchange, giggled and then laughed outright.
"You're an imp, Richy-chan, aren't you?"
"Yes, well... unfortunately, I'm not human anymore." I sighed and she laughed again.
"Uhufu, I didn't mean it in that sense. But you're so adorable when you do things like that, really cute."
"You're calling me cute again... I thought you were going to stop doing that? "
"Yes but I've had time to think about it since last night and I came to a conclusion." Sumirensan said brightly.
"...What kind of conclusion?" I asked, dreading the answer.
"It's better this world is destroyed than I refrain from calling things cute when I see cute things. That's all."
"Is it really that important for you to say such things out loud?" Maybe Sumirensan could survive by just thinking those kind of thoughts and not speaking about them to me if I asked her? As I sighed I heard my belly rumble. I'd have to get something for Minoko to eat so I could drink some of her milk.
- Or so I thought. Minoko was already consuming something, licking noisily at a soup bowl. Was it water? It was the wrong colour for that, some kind of amber.
"What is that?" I asked anxiously. I didn't want Minoko to be poisoned or-
"Minoko-chan was interested in it." Sumirensan explained. "It's something I was playing around with, trying to come up with a new taste."
"A new taste?"
"Alcohol." Sumirensan gestured around the tavern. "I mostly sell drinks as they come, in bottles or casks but I sometimes combine different kinds of alcohol, mix in fruit juices and other things to make them taste different."
"Is it like a cocktail?" I asked.
"Kakuteru?" the word was obviously unfamiliar to Sumirensan. She shrugged. "It's somewhat of a hobby of mine, I don't call it anything in particular. I even try to cook sometimes but Erim's much better at that than me and all that happens is I make a mess and get in his way." Sumirensan smiled. "No man will ever take me as a bride if I can't cook, right?"
Sumirensan spoke with no sign of being disheartened but it was clear to me that her current unmarried situation worried her somewhat. Women don't talk lightly about such things after all. As a man I'd be wary of offering advice but, well, my present circumstances meant I could talk about such things with her woman to woman in a way even her younger sibling, Erim couldn't.
"Maybe this world has a similar saying to the world I came from." I said in what I intended to be a serious tone of voice. Unfortunately what I said came out in my new super-cute voice. I coughed and tried again.
"In the world where I came from there's a proverb, 'failure is a stepping-stone to success' (Shippai wa seikou no motto)." Aaargh, I still sounded like a child but press on, press on. "There are things that you can learn from failure. Even if you make mistakes you can discover what you did wrong and move on and do better the next time. You know what you're not good at so why not learn the basics of cooking from Erim, a bit at a time?" Yup, that sounded good.
"'Big breasts for sexual intercourse is my motto', you say (Chippai wa seikou no motto)?" Sumirensan replied, affecting a shocked expression as she deliberately mispronounced the proverb as a Japanese schoolboy might. "You're very bold this morning. Besides as you learned well last night, small breasts like mine are equally entertaining, wouldn't you agree?"
She shrugged her shoulders and moved to stand up. "I don't know what I can learn from you but if you're worried about me let's go back to your room and you can, uh, 'educate' me in such things."
"That sort of crude joke isn't suitable for the morning," I said as frostily as I could.
"Hehe, I am sorry." Sumirensan settled back down on her chair with a smile. "But I was only half joking."
I laughed out loud, surprising myself but I was also relieved that Sumirensan's expression was no longer tinged with sadness.
"Has Minoko been drinking all that alcohol?" I asked, changing the subject. Was it OK for her to do that?
"Yeah. This kid is a real booze-hound." Sumirensan said. "No matter how much she drinks she isn't affected. She'd make a great bar-hopping buddy."
I didn't know much about alcohol but clearly Minoko had consumed a lot more than I would have been capable of drinking. Of course any time I had been somewhere alcohol was being served I'd hadn't been allowed to drink because of my age so my experience had been limited to watching others indulge. But watching Minoko drinking I realised I was different, in a different world so maybe I could actually drink alcohol now? I cleared my throat.
"Can I try some of that?" I asked. Sumirensan studied my face for a moment.
"I've been drinking since I was twenty years old which is the usual age for this world. In the world where Richy-chan came from at what age were you allowed to drink?"
"Well, it was twenty years old there too." I admitted.
"In that case, no you can't." Sumirensan declared.
"But here that's a rule that only applies to humans, doesn't it?" I argued. "It doesn't apply to me now the way I am."
"So you're claiming you're a Succubus only when you think it's convenient for you, Richy-san?" Sumirensan said archly. "I'm disappointed in you." That shot me down real quick.
"Although, thinking about it, you're going to be working in this tavern and it's not impossible you might end up drinking booze by accident or if you make a mistake." She went on. "Maybe it would be a good idea to find out now if alcohol has much effect on you or not before you deal with customers."
"Okay!" I said eagerly.
"However, if you do get dead drunk I will carry you back to my room and nyan-nyan your helpless body, Richy-chan. I'll lock the door and hide the key to prevent anyone getting in or out. I've got some implements there that mustn't under any circumstances be shown to children which I could use on Richy-chan's soft warm flesh without let or hindrance. If you're okay with that-"
"It's best to keep to this world's rules after all." I declared. "Let's just agree we've never had this discussion, shall we?" I wondered what 'nyan-nyan' was. Something to do with cats? Some sort of technical term? I didn't recognise it but the way Sumirensan's eyes lit up when she said it indicated I probably didn't want to find out what it involved.
"Wise decision, Richy-chan." Sumirensan declared. "Still, you really should be careful when it comes to alcohol."
"Is it because I might become addicted or end up suffering alcoholic poisoning?" I asked.
"Well there's that possibility," she nodded, "but in the case of girls, you have to worry about your chastity than anything else. A man who offers alcohol to to a girl, well they always have ulterior motives."
"Surely not." I said. "There must be people who just want to have fun together and a drink or two helps them socialise."
"That's such a naive idea, Richy-chan," Sumirensan suddenly licked her lips. "Maybe I should let you have a drink or two and then take you back to my room..."
"Are you so sure..." I felt my trust in humanity waver. Did all men become animals when they were drunk?
"I'm certain of it, 200% certain." She waved her hand around the tavern floor. "I've seen it happen more often than you can count." Sumirensan's words had an authority I could not deny. Erim standing at the counter nodded in agreement while he stirred a pot of something savoury.
The idea that I might face such a danger suddenly struck home. The way I was now, female, cute, of course men might well... I remembered the orc and Erim's party leader the day before, the way they had reacted to my new form, what might have happened to me if Minoko hadn't intervened. But surely...
"For girls, the world outside their door is full of danger. And for you, Richy-chan, who have come here," she glanced at Erim who was still at the counter cooking away but listening to our conversation, "from the countryside, young and naive, the risk is magnified tenfold."
"Oh don't try and scare me with such stories, please." I scoffed. "If this town was really like that I'd not be able to walk around by myself at all."
"Wait, wait. You were thinking of going for a walk outside? Without asking me about it?"
"Why, is there a problem?" I wanted to wander around the town, a place I had never seen before, that's all.
"It's not a good idea. A young woman like Richy-chan walking around alone especially at night, who knows what sorts of orcs, trolls, goblins, slimes and Perromena you might encounter. It would be like you were parading around naked." Sumirensan shook her head.
"Would it really?" I asked, horrified.
"It's too terrible to contemplate." she said, wiggling her fingers. "Especially the Perromena with its slimy clutches."
"...What is a Perromena?" I asked, dreading the answer.
"They are amphibious monsters with ten tentacles." She held up one finger. "The tip of one of their tentacles is their reproductive organ." She poked her finger at my groin and I stepped back. "It inserts this tentacle in a female Perromena's vaginal orifice to fertilize it. However," Sumirensan went on, "they will attempt to penetrate females of all races with their tentacle, not just their own females. The only good thing is that they can't fertilise their victims but that's a small comfort for those that are attacked this way."
I put my hands over my ears, not wanting to listen to any more but Sumirensan continued. "You see it's not just a reproductive organ but also a feeding mouth, consuming female secretions which they have a taste for, especially those of human women and girls."
"Thank you for the detailed explanation." I said after my heart had stopped thumping in my chest. "I am thoroughly terrified now."
"Good. Even if you've never been threatened by a Perromena's tentacle, you faced the same sort of danger from an orc, didn't you Richy-chan? You were scared, weren't you? Such dangers are always lurking just around the corner for young girls even in the places they might feel most safe. For a girl who is sweetly walking alone at night the risk is intolerable. She should go home immediately and be scolded all evening for her carelessness."
Hearing Sumirensan describe the dangers lurking in this world I wondered if even this house was really a safe haven. As I considered my perilous situation Erim exclaimed "Never fear!" in a loud voice.
"When you go out I will travel with you, Richy-san and stay with you at all times. If anyone wishes to harm you I will stop them even if it costs me my life!" He banged his fist on his chest in emphasis.
"Oh, yeah, thanks," I said, "But you're quite weak aren't you?" His face fell at my blunt assessment of his ability to protect me.
"Richy-chan, you should keep this in mind." Sumirensan interrupted. "At first glance Erim here seems harmless enough but he's just as dangerous as any male you might encounter on the street outside." She shook her head. "If he had spent time around women of his own age he'd be more restrained but sadly he's just a wild animal at heart."
"Aren't you supposed to be on my side, Sis!?" Erim burst out.
"I'm protecting this cute naive child here, Erim." Sumirensan said. "She needs my support right now more than you do."
"How can you say that!" The two siblings bickered away as I considered my situation. Was Sumirensan really being serious when she outlined the dangers I faced in this world, for me, a newly-created female creature, not human but definitely human-looking and, I had to admit it to myself, incredibly desirable to humans. I smiled bitterly. My experiences of the night before had taught me that it wasn't just male humans who were a threat to my, uh, 'chastity'...
Still one thing was firmly decided - my curfew was to be 5 o'clock in the evening. I had to be back in the tavern by that time without fail according to Sumirensan. When I protested being treated like an elementary school kid Sumirensan's simple rebuttal was "Do you want to be covered in Perromena slime instead?"
No, I shook my head. I'd settle for being treated as an elementary school kid.
* * * * *
I worried about whether it was better to be sticky or slimy all that night but I decided in the end it wasn't worth bothering about the difference.