You placed the lid back on the donation box before you slung the FN FAL onto your back. There were about 1,500 yen in donations, which was more than yesterday, but still not much.
Still, you suppose that you should be thankful. The shrine is so far away from the village that it’s any wonder that people would even bother to donate and pray.
You began to walk down the steps that stretched up to the shrine and down towards the soft sandy beach that bordered the entirety of Genso Isle. There was a long path along the beach that leads to the seaside town of Yume Village.
The day was still fresh and the sun was still high in the eastern side of the sky. On one side was the calm waves of the ocean. On the other was the thick foliage of the Forest of Magic. Travel along this pathway was long yet generally safe thanks to the series of talismans set along the fence that separated the beach from the forest.
It was part of your daily routine to make your way towards the village if nothing else but to keep close maintenance of this fence. Occasionally you would pass by fishermen stationed along the shore, safe in the knowledge that no youkai will sneak up from behind.
They were the main source of revenue and faith for the shrine, alongside hunters and a few village guards. A few of the fishermen waved at you and you saw more and more as you neared the village.
Finally, after a long trek, you reached your destination.
A massive stone wall laid before you. It was about ten meters tall and encircled the entire village. Along the side of the wall that faced the ocean was a large harbour that extended out into the waters.
You stood in front of the east gate, the steel wall was currently raised while the two guards stationed there laid causally to the side, there focus entirely on the radio between them. They lazily waved you in as you made your way through the gate.
The village was as lively as ever. The streets were full of life, the shops were open and everyone is out to live a brand new day.
And for you, a brand new day means work, again.
 Pass by the Grilled Eel Stand, the fridge was empty and you haven’t had breakfast yet.
 Get over to the bounty board and see if there’s an extermination contract that needs doing. Your wallet was feeling light this morning.
 Go to Suzunaan, you might be able to get free food from Kosuzu.
[x] Go to Suzunaan, you might be able to get free food from Kosuzu.
Well, you can’t hunt youkai on an empty stomach after all.
You began to make your way to the local book rental shop.
It was located west of the marketplace located in the center of the village which meant it was a bit of a walk just to get there. Still, easier to get to than Rinnosuke’s place.
The village was the same, as always. There was the ramen shop run by the mechanical creations of a kappa so shy that they spend the entire daylight just hiding in their cellar, your favourite pub that’s only open at night, and that one blacksmith who’s currently in a partnership with a certain rival shrine you’d rather not think about.
There was one thing that you noticed. There were a lot more outsiders than usual and there was a general trend across them as well. They were carrying large backpacks filled to the brim with food, equipment, and personal effects, had their noses stuffed into maps and were asking the villagers all sorts of different questions.
Genso Isle was usually quiet. Not many people from other islands passed through, mostly just sailors and traders.
It wasn’t long until one of them started walking towards you. A man in his early twenties wearing a kimono with a hakama. “Hello miss,” he started. “You seem like you know your way around this place. Mind if I ask if there are any shops in town that deal in ammunition?”
“Ammunition?” You noticed a rifle strapped to his backpack. A Model 1895 lever-action, it seemed to be brand new. He must be from one of the larger islands to afford an expensive import like that. “There’s a shop called First Shot just north of the marketplace. We get most of our bullets from the other islands so it might be a tad expensive.”
“That’s fine,” he laughed. “I got plenty of money to spare!”
“A lot of money huh,” you said with a fake smile. “Are you from Neo Edo perhaps? I heard their economy was booming recently.”
“Yup, I’m from Neo Edo,” he laughed heartily. “I guess it’s kinda obvious huh?”
“Yeah, in a place as small as this, you know just about everyone,” you said. “Well, I got to go now, I have somewhere I have to be. Goodbye, and I hope you greet time in our quiet little village.”
“Thanks miss,” the man said before he turned around and headed to First Shot.
You quickly but quietly whipped out your hand towards his unprotected backpack. The moment your hand struck the backpack it sunk in and formed a gap held together by a pair of red ribbons. Immediately, you pulled out your hand and closed the gap. Grasped in your fingers was a handful of bills and a single onigiri. A quick count of the bills told you that you were now in the possession of an extra 5,000 yen.
You tucked the yen bills into your sleeve before taking a small bite out of the onigiri. It should suffice for the moment. At least until you reach Suzunaan.
You pushed aside the noran and entered the shop. Kosuzu sat at a front desk, her focus currently on an odd piece of literature, perhaps another daemon book.
“I see you’re back, Chika,” she said. “Let me guess, hungry, right?”
Your stomach answered for you, letting out a loud, deafening grumble.
“Knew it, you should be more careful with your money,” the woman laughed. “I swear, the bad financial sense seems to run in your family…”
“It’s not my fault that replacement parts for gas-operated battle rifles are expensive,” you pout. “Everyone around here uses either Type 38 or Type 99 rifles. You gotta place special orders for those kinds of things at the shop and they charge extra for foreign-made guns.”
“Why don’t you ask the kappas for help?” Kosuzu said as she stood up from her desk, book in her arm. “They are quite fond of creating and tinkering with complicated devices.”
“No,” you replied. “Nope, not happening. The last thing I need is a kappa getting a little overzealous and slapping on random stuff onto my FN FAL. Like laser sights, and night vision and maybe even an under-barrel magic furnace. Then they’d charge me an exuberant amount for the amount of pre-war tech shoved onto the poor thing.”
“You’re probably just overthinking it,” she said. “Wait here for a while. I’ll come back with something to satisfy your hunger.”
It took about 30 or so minutes for her to come back. In one hand was a plate full of gyoza while in the other was a bowl of egg on rice. She had you seated where she used to be, behind the front desk of the shop. You gently placed your FN FAL in the corner of the desk before clapping your hands together. “Thank you for the meal,” you said before digging in.
“Hehe, I had a feeling you might come today. So I prepared some food ahead of time, and egg on rice is relatively easy to make.”
“Thanks, Kosuzu, your cooking is as great as always.”
“No problem,” she laughed. “By the way, while you’re here, wanna hear a bit of gossip?”
“Sure,” you said.
“Have you noticed the sudden influx of outsiders in the village?” She asked.
“Yeah, a lot of people passing through, why’s that?”
“Hehe, I heard that the kappas found something interesting when they were out scavenging the ruins,” she explained. “They say it was an extraordinary find. So extraordinary that they’re keeping it under wraps at Youkai Isle. Not even Mamizou and her group know what it is, I bet she’s looking into it for her gain.”
“So… The people coming here, they’re salvagers?”
“Salvagers, treasure hunters, people of all kinds. The mere fact they’re keeping it under wraps has piqued both their curiosity and imagination. They have come to see if they can find their big find.”
“Some of them look pretty well off, why would they be looking for high paying salvage?”
“Maybe it’s the thrill of adventure they’re seeking?” She answered. “I know I did a lot of things in my youth for the sake of my curiosity.”
“Uh… Hello? Is this Suzunaan?” You both turned to see a newcomer coming through the entrance. “I know this is a book rental shop but I wanted to enquire if you also sell books as well?”
“Welcome to Suzunann, I’m pleased to inform you that we indeed sell books in addition to renting them out,” she replied. “We have a wide selection to offer. Everything from pre-war classics, political essays to The Complete Collection of Agatha Chris Q. I’m sure we can find whatever you’re looking for.”
“Thank you, ma’am. Might I ask about books pertaining to local geography and history…” They both walked deep into the store. You set your focus on the food, you weren’t lying when you said it was good. The gyoza alone was heaven in your mouth. You were going to enjoy it one bite at a time.
You finished your business and cleaned up after yourself before saying your goodbyes to Kosuzu. You made your way towards the bounty board in the center of town.
There were fewer contracts than usual but at the very least, they’re better paying than the last few weeks. Perhaps your luck will around this time.
 A feral youkai of unknown origins have been attacking travellers going through the public roads outside of Yume Village. Come see the Head of the Border Guard for more information. 50,000 yen.
 There’s a contract for hunting down a pack of Kyonshi before they grow too big and become a threat to the humans on Genso Isle. Come to the Village Chief for more information. 100,000 yen.
 Pre-war military droid recently spotted at the northern shores of Genso Isle. Mostly operational and dangerous. Come see Nitori Kawashiro at the harbour for more information. 250,000 yen.