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Chapter 18: Emergency Food Distribution
The next day, Basara would be organizing the personnel, and I would be mainly in charge of the food distribution with my cooking skills when it officially starts, but today I decided to check the ingredients.
The guild members are also going to go out to the zone next to the town, which several of them have already cleared and found to be easy, and will start killing monsters and collecting ingredients soon, so I’m here today to check it out.
The ingredient collection will be done by the members who are free, both hardcore and casual. This time, when I said I’d go ahead and check it out, Heath tagged along, probably because he’s bored. I had planned to check it out in advance with Nachi, but Mao had invited Nachi into town saying that he wanted to talk to him for a while, so maybe Heath was just trying to cover for him.
The zone that Heath and I headed for was a grassland, and there was a nice breeze blowing. It was a little refreshing to see Heath outside my house or a place where I’d normally be attacked by thugs.
I glanced at Heath who was standing next to me. We are now on top of a hill. Underneath, we could see monsters that look like grass, insects, or deformed cows. They seemed scarier now as they had become more realistic, but during the game, they were so weak that even I could kill them.
“Which one do I kill?”
“The cow-shaped one right there! ‘Cause, we can get pork.”
It looked like a cow, but the item that it dropped was pork. When I pointed, Heath nodded. And then, I didn’t know what he was thinking, but he unexpectedly reached out and touched my cheek. I looked at him in surprise. Mine and Heath’s hair was swaying in the wind.
“You helped me out here, right?”
“Back when I was a novice.”
When I heard that, I gulped involuntarily. Indeed, I did. When Heath, who had apparently just started the game, was about to be attacked by a bee-shaped monster that could be seen in the distance, I used my spear as a physical weapon to defeat the monster.
But I thought that Heath had completely forgotten about it. When I muttered that in surprise, Heath let out a long, small sigh.
“Do you even remember it?”
“ーーEven though you’ve been helping out that many people every day??”
“I do remember.”
“But there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t see you helping someone.”
Heath said, and then, quite unusually, raised one edge of his lips with a gentle look. The moment I saw his gentle smile, my heart thumped. The smile on his face looked too beautiful.
“I made myself strong so that someday, I could be the one to protect you, as a thank you for protecting me that day.”
“I have never forgotten about Neji.”
Heath let go of my hand and then looked over to the grasslands. I was drawn in and looked over too.
“I hope we can get out safely.”
When I casually said those words, Heath glanced at me again.
“That’s right. I’d like to meet the real you.”
I’m pretty sure I turned bright red when he said that. I feel the same way. But I was too embarrassed to tell him, so I could only slightly nod.
Thus, began the days of food distribution. I mainly serve pork curry and white rice. In no time, a long line of people began to form. It seems that there are many people who have managed to survive despite only having some food until now. I cooked, and Ango handed it out.
There were some tables in front of the store, but they were all full. It was a great success. I know I shouldn’t be happy about it, but I am. In a corner of the room, Nachi looks like he’s in low spirits. It’s clear that he’s contemplating on something. I wanted to ask him what’s wrong, but I’ve been too busy making curry the past few days to talk to him properly. At night, Nachi just went back to his house.
Suddenly, I heard a voice call out to me, and when I looked over, I saw that Minami had just walked up to me.
“Umm… I want to talk.”
“What’s wrong? Is it okay if we talk while I’m cooking curry?”
“It’s okay. Actually, umm… my boyfriend is in [Melodias].”
“Ah, Hina, right?”
Melodias is the guild lead by Basara. I, too, had heard that Minami and Hina from over there were dating. Then, Minami nodded at my question, his cheeks flushing.
“In fact, he asked me if I’d like to switch guilds… I also want to be with Hina more… Th-that’s why. I really like Mashed Potato, but I think I want to switch.”
“Oh, I see. I’m going to miss you, but… Yeah, I understand. You can always come back here. Be happy.”
Minami looked relieved after I smiled at him.
In fact, this is not the first time that guild members have reported that they are switching guilds. Since the days when the food distribution started, several more people have now stated their intention to switch guilds. The most common reason was that they were going to their boyfriend’s guild, but there were others who have expressed their wish toーー join a guild of hardcore players. It seems that people who have been spending their time as casual players, even at high levels, are being inspired by the hardcore players who are trying their best to conquer the game. I thought about it and glanced at Nachi’s profile. I’m guessing that’s what troubles Nachi too. I guess he’s worried about Mao. I wish I could be of help to Heath too. But I don’t have that strength…
It was at dusk when I returned to the guildhall that I realized that my guess was correct.
“Neji, you knowーー… I heard from Mao. It seems that there is still a lack of priests.”
In our room, which we hadn’t been in together for a long time, Nachi began to tell me that.
“I’m not planning on switching guilds, but I can form a party, so I’m thinking of going to support the attack too.”
“Nachi… I see. Be careful?”
“Yeah. Thank you. I won’t be able to help with the food distribution, but… will that be okay? Neji.”
“Rest assured. I’ll be managing the guild properly until Nachi comes back, and I’ll consult with you if anything happens. You don’t need to worry.”
When I smiled and nodded in agreement, Nachi smirked.
In this way, the vibe inside Mashed Potato started to change little by little.
TN: Finally, after 18 chapters, Heath converses properly with Neji. I really want to teach every ice-cold fictional character that Communication is the key.
Editor: Our baby Nachi is finally starting to grow his wings and on his way to join his Mao :>
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