Wen we finally got to Lambert-san's shop it was a bigger and more up-market store than I had expected. When I plucked up my courage and entered Lambert-san was the only one there.
"Ah, Mukouda-san, welcome. I've been looking forward to you coming here."
"Ah, thanks. Uh, Fer's with me, is that okay? "
"Oh, definitely. Please come in." Lambert's shop was big and there was plenty of room to accomodate Fer who immediately curled up in a corner out of the way.
"Well, actually I was thinking of replacing my bag..."
"Well, what kind of bag are you looking for?" Lamber-san inquired.
"Well, I'm looking for something like this shoulder bag and about this size." I showed him the bag Sui was currently sleeping in.
"How about these?" He showed me some shoulder bags. They all looked like messenger bags. The mouth could be opened pretty wide with large flaps so they looked like it wouldn't be a problem for Sui to get in and out. The belt slung on the shoulder was also nice and wide so it wouldn't dig in. I asked Lambert-san what kind of leather they were made from.
"That one is Red Boar leather." he answered. It's a soft leather unlike cowhide, quite dark-coloured. It feels quite comfortable to me but would Sui like it?
Lambert-san showed me another bag. "This is Bloody Horn Bull's leather." Oh, that's a coincidence, they're one of the subjugation requests we just accepted. It felt just as soft as the Red Boar bag but it's made from thicker material. It was a deep black colour.
"And here's one made of Giant Deer leather -" This is a light brown leather, almost beige. It was hard and firm, a bit like tanned cowhide. It looked quite stylish.
Lamber-san went on to show me some other bags, telling me about the materials used for each one. "This bag is made from Sand Snake leather." Sand Snake-skin has beautiful scales peculiar to snakes. I'd like something small like a wallet or something made from this sort of skin, I thought to myself.
He showed me one final bag. "And here's my personal favourite, Black Serpent skin. Black Serpent is a high-ranking demon so it takes a lot of time and effort to tan the skin and finish it properly. Even though the price is high it's very popular. See how it shines. Splendid, isn't it?" Oh, so that's Black Serpent? A scale pattern unique to snakes shimmered over the black leather. Unlike Sand Snake's leather, it was glossy. It was very much luxury goods. I wanted something made of it but maybe not a shoulder bag.
"Lambert-san, everything you've shown me is wonderful. "
"Thank you. I'm proud of the products our craftsmen make. We like to think we're the best. "
"So, what about the price for the bags?"
"The Red Boar bag is 2 gold coins, the Bloody Horn Bull bag is 5 gold coins, the Giant Deer bag - 4 gold coins and 5 silver coins, the bag made from Sand Snake skin would be 8 gold coins and the Black Serpent bag I showed you is 17 gold coins."
I told Lambert that the prices seemed reasonable, well with the exception of the Black Serpent bag. The Sand Snake-skin bag is also expensive, but it seems it costs more here since transportation to this city from the south of the country where Sand Snakes can be found increases the price substantially. Still, it's clearly popular since the scales of this snake are beautiful. The Black Serpent and Sand Snake leather have a sense of luxury, and I feel that it seemed a bit too fancy for a bag I'm going to use all the time to carry Sui around in. Still, for an accessory like a wallet or a purse, maybe...
"Red Boar's leather is low in price and recommended for everyday use. Bloody Horn Bull's leather has a fine black finish and the leather is soft and comfortable to the touch. I'd recommend this if it's a gift for someone special." Lambert-san pointed to the bag made from Giant Deer skin. "I should add, although Giant Deer leather is stiff to begin with, it will become more flexible as it ages and the color will darken naturally so if you're going to own it for a long time it would be my choice."
Indeed, I personally think the Giant Deer leather is a superb material but it's maybe too hard for Sui. I'd buy it for my own use otherwise. Given that it's for Sui though, it's going to be either Red Boar or Bloody Horn Bull.
"Lambert-san, I-" Sui interrupted me, wriggling in her bag.
"Ah, hold on Sui," I turned back to Lambert-san. "Can I take my Slime out? It's my contracted monster."
"A- a Slime?" What have you got against Slimes, Lambert-san? You've got a strange expression on your face.
"Well, have a look..." I showed Mr. Lambert-san the contents of my cloth shoulder bag.
"Oh, I see," Lambert-san nodded. "The bag you're buying is for your contracted monster so a soft leather such as Red Boar or Bloody Horn Bull may be better for it, yes?"
"Well, that's what I'm thinking too, so I figure the one to choose which is more comfortable for them should be Sui herself."
I pulled Sui out of her cloth bag and held her up. "Which bag should I buy for Sui?" I asked her. Sui jumped out of my hands and quickly slid into the bag made from Red Boar leather.
"Sui thinks this one is good-"
"Oh, Lambert-san, sorry."
"No, it's okay, is it the Red Boar bag you want then?"
"Yes, please ... Oh, and I'm looking for a sheath for a knife..." I explained to Lambert-san that I wanted a knife sheath that could be hung on a belt.
"Oh, something like this?" Mr. Lambert showed me a sheath on a belt made of Giant Deer leather. "How about it?" I thought it would suit me nicely.
"How much is it?"
"The buckle is very finely made so it will be six gold coins."
On close inspection the buckle was very well crafted as Lambert-san said. It was kinda pricey but I had money to burn right now so what the hell...
"I'll take it too."
"Thank you for your custom."
I was invited by Lambert-san to look around the rest of the store.
"Ah……" My eye fell on a Sand Snake-skin wallet. Oh, that looks nice. Because this world only uses coins and not paper money, it was a simple palm-sized purse to keep coins in. The scale patterns were even nicer than the ones on the bag. I wanted it...
"Do you like it?" Lambert-san was in salesman mode. "Sand Snake-skin obviously. Since it's smaller than the bag it only costs one gold coin and five silver coins." He held it up to the light, showing it off. "The scales are particularly beautiful."
1 gold coin and 5 silver coins? I'll buy it, I'll buy it. "This too, please."
Looking around the inside of the shop, I saw rows of shoes lined up on the shelves.
"You also sell shoes here?" I didn't think they'd sell shoes.
"Yes, because they're leather goods." Lambert-san seemed puzzled that I thought only shoe shops sold shoes.
I've been wearing a pair of cheap leather shoes I bought at a chain store since I came to this world. They were getting worn out from walking on this world's unpaved roads and mountain trails. I could buy sneakers at the Net Super but anyone looking at them would think they're weird. It would be better for me to have footwear from this world. I decided to purchase ankle boots made from Red Boar leather costing 1 gold coin and 5 silver coins.
Lambert-san added up my purchases on a scrap of paper. "A shoulder bag and a belt with a knife sheath, a wallet, boots... that's 11 gold coins..." he smiled and tore up the tally sheet. "For you it's no charge."
"Huh?" Wait, what?
Lambert-san's face grew serious. "Mudouka-sama saved my life. Besides I heard from Rashu-san, I thought that the meal you made for us was premium meat but I didn't know it was Black Serpent and Rock Bird."
"No, that was just what we always eat." I explained. "Really I'm uncomfortable not paying for such fine items."
"I cannot offer you enough for saving my life so accept these gifts please." Lambert-san's eyes gleamed. "Next time you come to buy from my shop you'll pay dearly, I assure you." he laughed.
I gave in. "Thank you, Lambert-san, in that case I will accept your kind gifts." I'd just saved myself 11 gold coins. Lucky. I should save people's lives more often.
"To change the subject, I'd like to discuss some business propositions with you Mukouda-san...." Lambert-san was suddenly in Merchant mode.
"I understand you only hunted a Black Serpent for its meat?" he asked.
"Well yes but it was Fer who hunted it, not me." I pointed at Fer who was sleeping in the corner.
"Would you be willing to sell that Black Serpent to me directly? "
"Well, the Adventurers Guild..." I explained I had already sold it to them.
"Ah, that's unfortunate." Lambert-san sighed. "For monster materials, basically Merchants buy them mostly through the Adventurers Guild but right now there is a shortage of Black Serpent skin. Buying directly from Adventurers without going through the Guild is something the Adventurers Guild and my fellows in the Merchant Guild frown upon officially but in practice they turn a blind eye to small amounts of trading of that sort. If Mudouka-sama gets anything I particularly desired such as Black Serpent I'd like to buy it from you directly..."
You're asking me to do something that shady, does that mean that Black Serpent skin is in really short supply?
"Are you really so desperate to get hold of Black Serpent skin?"
"Yes. Goods made from Black Serpent skins are popular despite being expensive, but the amount of skins on the market right now is quite limited." Lambert-san's face clouded over.
This pressure is getting really bothersome.
"Saying that it seems that the Adventurers Guild here recently purchased a Red Serpent, an upper-class variant of the high-ranked Black Serpent." Lambert-san went on. "I've worked with Red Serpent skin several times in the past, that stunning leather, it makes me sigh..." The expression on Lambert-san's face is so revealing.
I'm sorry but I feel a little uncomfortable at seeing the obvious lust on his features.
"However," he went on, "There's no way I can afford that Red Serpent skin even when it did come on the market. I heard that the entire skin was bought by the Marquis of Brauer at a considerably inflated price." He sighed. "You know, I'm somewhat envious of him."
Sorry, Lambert-san but I sold that Red Serpent to the Adventurers Guild too.
"Mukouda-san, if you hunt more Black Serpents please consider selling them to me directly. I'll pay more than the regular price you'd get from the Adventurers Guild." Lambert-san reached out to grasp my hand.
"I understand. If you're okay with it, if we get any Black Serpent I'll bring it here first." I said desperately.
After that was agreed I got the items I had purchased (well, they were actually gifts) and we finally made it out of Lambert-san's shop before he could get me to agree to any more under-the-counter deals.