After only a few minutes of walking about, I find myself in front of the florist’s house. Yes, this is definitely the place.
It looks like it’s not quite time for them to open up shop; the shutters for their entrance had been let down. I walk around the house and to the back, where I find a door. I knock twice.
“It’s the High King. I am here about the job interview. Please, open this door.”
I don’t necessarily think that this is how someone just short of an interview should be acting, but I nevertheless decide to put my conduct as a High King to the forefront.
I wait for about thirty seconds, but I don’t get an answer. That’s odd. This should be the exact time for the interview. I try turning the doorknob. Realising that it’s unlocked, I quietly open the door.
The inside is just a little dark. Tons of flowers had been laid out in the open, but there’s no sign of any human presence. That’s when a single sheet of paper lying inconspicuously on the floor catches my attention. I pick it up. This is what it says:
“The store is closed indefinitely. Please, spare me my life. – The Shopkeeper.”
The shopkeep ran away!
He must’ve fled the moment he found out that the High King was planning on paying him a visit, believing himself to be in some sort of danger. Really, what a bother. I’d only come here for the interview… Well, it’s not that I don’t understand why he’d want to run away.
I spend some time walking around the store, but there really isn’t anyone inside. I’m not quite sure if the employees here heard of my coming and decided to play hooky, or if the only one managing this store in the first place was the store owner himself.
Either way, doesn’t this mean that there’s no one to open trade here? Taking another look at the map, I confirm that this is the only florist in this village. There’s bound to be more than a couple of people who’d be inconvenienced by this.
I give the matter some thought, then raise my head when I’m done. Alright, I’ve made my decision. I’ll make sure to play the florist in the shopkeeper’s stead. Under any reasonable circumstances, someone like me who hadn’t even gotten the chance to be interviewed would be far from qualified to work at this store. But since my interview’s been left in the dust along with me, I don’t really think that anyone’s going to complain. Probably.
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I’d gone out of my way to come here. So, I might as well just work before I go home.
I raise the shutters and declare the store open for the day. While I do manage to find something reminiscent of a changing room, there’s no way I’d find a uniform that’s my size. So, I choose to make do with what I have and make my appearance in my current attire. I’m a little nervous when I consider that I’ll have to run everything myself, but people do tend to associate the customers that would come here with a more docile image. I should be fine.
That reminds me; I’d taken up a part-time job at a convenience store when I was still a human, hadn’t I? Oh, that takes me back… Then again, the manager and I hadn’t really seen eye-to-eye. I wound up quitting in under a month.
But the problem I’m having now is that I’m totally inexperienced in this sort of thing. What do I do if a customer asks me something about flowers? It wouldn’t take me long, however, to realize that this anxiety’s a bit absurd…
The door to the shop opens, and a single customer walks in. It’s a young woman that looks to be in her twenties. Here we go… keeping in mind the six core elements of customer service I’d learned during my work at the convenience store, I give a large smile and respond.
“Welcome to –”
“Hiiiieh! S-S-Sorry to intrude!”
The woman goes pale as a sheet, almost as if she’d seen some sort of monster, and runs off at the speed of light.
Come on, isn’t that a little much? I mean, I’m well aware that I’m a monster. But there’s still no rule that says that monsters can’t work part-time, is there? It doesn’t matter who does the selling; flowers stay flowers.
“You think so too, don’t you?”
My question goes out to the flowers assembled in front of me. Naturally, there’s no response.
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A whole hour goes by like this. In that time, dozens of guests come in. Each time one of them sees me, they run away as fast as they can. Somehow, I’m getting more depressed by the second.
Wait, why am I even doing this again? My original plan was to up my image, wasn’t it?
“… Let’s stop here.”
Suddenly feeling empty, I decided to cut my part-time job short. I could probably stand here for twenty-four hours, and no one would come to buy any flowers. That’s not much different from closing up shop, is it? I let out a sigh and lower the shutters to the store.
But for the record, I’d done my job. I’ll just take my due wages and leave. I open the drawer under the counter, take my portion of copper coins, put them in my pocket, then use Teleportation to leave the store behind.
I appear in front of the village where the interview for the general store job is supposed to take place.
What, yer still gonna do this?! Yes, I know that anyone would probably love to make that sort of rebuttal right about now, but if I go back to the castle without getting a job, then all of Rina’s efforts would have been for nothing. And I had told her that I’d see it through. Even if I have to admit that I’d be walking on a delicate line if we’d be talking about whether or not I’d seen the florist job through.
Still, I want to avoid repeating what just happened at all costs. I cross my arms and hum to myself, trying to figure out if there’s any way I can make this work out.
The sound escapes on its own. Hey, that’s right. I can just use my Transformation spell to turn into a human, can’t I? That way, nobody’s going to be afraid. How the Hell didn’t I think of something this simple earlier?
I activate my transformation spell, calling to mind the form of the old, human me. My body changes, from the High King to the human I once was. I don’t really have a mirror I can use to check on myself, but the spell should have been a success. With just a mite of nervousness gnawing at me, I enter the village.
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Oooh, nobody’s running away when they look at me! Even better; some of them are actually greeting me, if only a little! Oh, I’m so moved! I can feel the corners of my eyes growing warmer.
But, as I’d explained earlier, I can’t cast any spells in this form without being forced back into my true form. In practice, that means I’m pretty much barred from using incantations. Well, there shouldn’t be that many situations that require magical intervention anyways.
Once I’d walked for a good stretch, I stumble across a group of about ten men with a thuggish demeanor squatting on the roadside. It looks like you can find people like that anywhere, no matter which world you’re in.
I notice the men whispering among themselves in hushed tones while glancing in my direction. When I’d still been human, I’d had plenty of encounters with thugs. Probably because I’d had the sort of face that made me seem like far too easy of a target. That’s why it really isn’t hard to work out what they want to do. Whatever. I’ll just move ahead and pay them no mind.
The men move to surround me, each of them wearing an unpleasant grin.
“Heheh, kiddo. If ya wanna go any further, ya need ta pay the toll.”
“Come on, turn out your pockets!”
I let out a small sigh. I knew it. It’s this old pattern.
If I’d still been in my High King form, then I really doubt things would have turned out this way. Really, my looks have been backfiring on me all day long. It’s almost time for my interview, too. If I wind up being late, then who’s going to take responsibility for it?
“… What if I say no?”
“Then we’d have to do just a lil’ of the good ol’ ‘Preyin’ on the Weak’ bit.”
“If ya don’t wanna get hurt, turn ‘em out already.”
I let out a smile against my better judgment. The only money I have on me right now is the scarce number of copper coins I got from the florist’s. I can’t say I’d mind handing that much over, but that alone would be pretty boring.