Arachne – 6

Siren – First Part


The stagecoach shook and rattled.

My butt jumped off the floor and slammed back down whenever the carriage hit a bump.

Man, humans really are amazing. How can they handle this sort of transportation without even breaking a sweat?

If I were a normal human being, I think my butt would have been in pieces by now. Totally.

Yes, welcome back. The spider monster womanArachne, Arakura Shiori (24), is here.

And if you can remember me as the owner of Arachne Tailor, Shiori Arachne, I would be very much honored.

To speak of my whereabouts, currently, I am on the path leading to the port city, Jiza. To be precise, I’m inside of the stagecoach going there.

For a stagecoach with a capacity of 8 passengers, it was quite empty. Aside from me, there’s only a pair of mother and daughter, plus a man in his thirties.

Of the mother-daughter pair, the girl looked to be around 7 years old. Perhaps because she’s not used to the horrible shaking of the carriage, she seemed extremely distressed, and it wouldn’t be surprising if she started crying at any moment now.

“Mom… Mommy… My butt huuuuurtsss…”

“Endure it. Weren’t you the one who wanted to go to the town?”

“B-Buuuut… Uuuu…”

Her eyes were pretty much flooded already.

True, this carriage was shaking terribly. It’s a bit too rough for children, I think.

I did want to help somehow… but I didn’t have any springs or rubber tires.

If there were at least some cushions… Ah, wait.

I did have them. Cushions.

I put my hand inside the large hemp bag that I’m using to carry around my musical instrument, and started to create threads from my fingertips.

I granted the threads some viscosity, then wove them into a fine sheet of fabric.

Next, I knitted the cloth into the shape of a bag, then shrunk the bag’s opening.

Viscous threads would harden and turn into a material similar to rubber after some ten-odd seconds or so. When they do, my air cushion will be finished.

One disadvantage is that the threads I create from my fingers don’t last for very long.

After a month, its composition will change, and the fabric will deteriorate.

Well, it’s just for the duration of the ride anyway. There shouldn’t be a problem.

The threads I create from my butt can last for quite a long time… In fact, it seems like they won’t degrade even after several hundred years, so if the cushion I made here is well received, I’ll think about adding it to my line of products.

First, let’s see how the little girl like my test prototype.

“…Excuse me. If you don’t mind, please try using this.”

I pretended to take my home-made air cushion out from the bag as if it has always been there, and give it to the mother.

“Thank you, umm, what is this?”

“Yes, this is a prototype for one of our store’s products. First, you’ll need to blow air into it.”

*Pfffffff*… When the girl saw me using all my strength to inflate the cushion, her eyes lit up.

“Waaaaa!! What’s that?! Looks funny!!”

“This thing is, *pfffff*… supposed to be like this… *pfffff*… And done!”

Once the bag filled up with air, I tied up the opening to finish the job. It looked like a thick seat cushion that’s about to burst.

“Here, this is for you. Put it under your seat.”

“Y-Yes… Like this?”

“Right, that’s it. How is it?”

“… Amazing, it doesn’t hurt at all! Mommy, this is really fluffy!”

“… My, my… No air escapes this bag at all… J-Just what is this made of?”

Alright. The girl’s mood got better instantly, so I could consider this a success for now.

“Excuse me, umm, can we really have this…?”

“Yes, please take it as an advertising gift, since this is the prototype for a new product of our store. I think this cushion will only last for around a month, but the official product should last for years.”

“Store…?”

“I’m sorry for my belated introduction. I am Shiori Arachne, owner of the Arachne Tailor.”

“Oh my… That recently famous shop…? Which reminds me, I’ve heard people said that a girl who looks just like an angel is running that store!”

“A-Angel…”

It wouldn’t be a problem if I were an actual kid, but mentally I’m an adult woman.

Anyone would feel embarrassed if people told them they’re an angel, and I’m no exception.

“Oh? Miss, I thought you were a bard like me. Turns out I was wrong.”

The man in his thirties talked to me.

The good-looking lady-killer with brown hair was wearing some slightly gaudy clothes colored red-white, and in his hands was a harp.

“There, that thing peeking out of the bag. I haven’t seen anything like it before, but it’s a stringed instrument, right? I was convinced that you were also in the same trade as me.”

“Aaahh… You’re talking about this shami-… this instrument? It’s just something like a hobby to me…”

“Hobby?”

“Well, something like that.”

While giving some vague reply to the bard, I recalled the happenings of last night.

“Aaaaaaaaahhh… Nothing to dooooo…”

I unintentionally let slip a complaint while lying on the bed.

My work is going well, so normally I don’t have any free time…

But the problem is that I have nothing to do during the holidays, or when I close my shop for the day.

Since this world doesn’t have BL… ahem, light novels or television or the internet.

When I’m not working, I have absolutely no way to pass the time.

“So something to do beside those things… Karaoke? Yeah, that’s a no go…”

Hmm, what’s next?

A hobby that I was doing back in that world that I can also do here would be… embroidery… but I’m doing that as my work now.

A long time ago, I did learn to play some Japanese traditional instrument for a little while… But this world doesn’t have those instruments.

“Hmm? If it doesn’t exist, can’t I just make it…? Luckily, I can use my threads as the strings… Hmmm…”

Once the idea popped up, I immediately got to work.

I jumped right off the bed and grabbed some materials from the storeroom that looked like they might be useful.

“If I remember correctly, the neck and body was made from the slightly hard type of narra wood, I think…? Then let’s use some fully grown Sword Wood… Ivory for the string winders? …  The fangs from a Stampede Beast should work as a replacement. The bridge and the pick would be made from… tortoiseshell… turtles, is it… Adamantite Turtle materials… oh, I’m out of that. No wonder, I don’t often go hunt aquatic monsters. So for the time being, let’s use some hard wood… Rosewood would do… Then I’ll think about the shell once I get them, yeah. Next is the skin. I think it’s normally made from skins of a small animal like a dog or cat, was it? Then the skin of a Firefox should be fine.”

I voiced my decisions on the construction of the instrument out loud, while using my claws to cut and shave the materials at the same time.

Just like always, my sticky threads worked perfectly fine as an adhesive, and the creation of the instrument went quickly.

Possibly because I was absorbed in the work, two hours went by in a blink of an eye, and this traditional Japanese stringed instrument with a long neck and a slightly small body – a shamisen – was almost complete.

“And finally, stringing it up. A shamisen’s string is made from multiple threads of silk, so my threadArachne silk is exactly the best material to use… And done!”

Well, it’s not like I ever made a shamisen back in my old world… I only learned to play it as a hobby, so what I created was only a ‘shamisen-ish thing’.

It’s probably good enough to pass the time with.

And so, I got right to it and played a few songs.

Personally, instead of those performances specifically written for the shamisen, I actually prefer enka, so let’s begin with enka songs such as Kita 〇 Yado kara or Tsugaru Kaikyou Fuyu〇shiki!

.

.

.

.

.

.

Whoa!

I completely lost track of time.

It was in the evening when I began making the shamisen.

And right now, dawn was already breaking.

Which mean I pretty much played and sang throughout the night.

The sound-proof barrier covering this work room is always active, so I probably didn’t annoy any of my neighbors…

Oh man, enka really is nice. That unique sort of vibrato1 just sends shivers down my spine.

But, yeah… I really wanted to use tortoiseshell for the pick and those other parts.

Perhaps because I used good materials, but this shamisen-ish thing almost managed to replicate the sound of an actual shamisen, even though I just made up the design as I went.

Which just made it all the more frustrating!

If only I could make the bridge and the pick out of tortoiseshell, just how much better would it sound?!

Once that thought showed up in my mind, I could no longer sit still.

“Right, once morning comes, let’s go to the sea. There should be several species of turtle-type magical beasts living in the ocean.”

After hanging a ‘Temporarily Closed’ sign on the shop door, I began to make my preparations to go to the port town of Jiza.

…And that was why I’m currently being rocked back and forth inside of this stagecoach.

To be honest, running in Arachne form would be far faster, but doing that on the road in broad daylight is obviously out of the question.

“Hmmm, I was hoping you can perform a song for me, since I’ve never seen that instrument before… but it looks like we’ve already arrived at Jiza. Miss, do you have any business in town?”

The traveling bard guy’s eyes were sparkling with curiosity.

Yeah, just like a little kid’s.

Maybe because of his occupation as a bard?

“…No, after this, I plan on getting on a ship to Shuren island.”

The island of Shuren is about half as big as Japan’s Sadogashima2.

There are constant ships going from Jiza to the island, and trade between the two is well developed.

…Of course, my objective lies between the town and the island, in an area of reef called the “Dead Ocean”, a holy site for oceanic monsters. My plan is to silently disappear from the ship mid-way through.

My destination is quite far from the path the ship takes, so I’ll have to swim for quite a distance, but I have no other choice. Ships can’t get inside this reef full of rocks.

The ship will just get stranded if it tries to force its way in.

“Oh, you too, miss? I’m also going to Shuren island. So we’ll be accompanying each other for a little while longer.”

“Yes, so it seems.”

“Well, let’s get along… My name is Harn. A traveling bard, Harn Trad.”

He smiled, showing rows of pure white teeth, and stretched out his hand.

When I gingerly grabbed it, he tightly squeezed my hand and gave me a few vigorous shake.

“S-Shiori Ara-rachne. S-Stop, bit my t-tongue!”

“Ah, whoops, sorry! So your name is Sshiori Ararachne then!”

“… It’s Shiori Arachne.”

“Oh, sorries. Shiori!”

“Aaaah… Well, nice to meet you, I guess.”

Looks like the world has forced a traveling companion upon me.

“Sis, thaaaaanks! ♪”

The destination of the pair of mother and daughter whom I’ve given the air cushion to was in Jiza, so they parted with us near the harbor.

Seemed like the girl really liked that cushion. She hugged it close to her chest, even when it was time for us to say goodbye, and energetically waved her hand. So cute.

Her mother also bowed to me repeatedly as they left.

“…Right, let’s get on the scheduled ship, miss. It should leave soon.”

“Indeed. The weather is good too, it seems today is a good day for a voyage.”

“…Yeah, it’ll be good if that was so.”

Harn didn’t look happy, somehow.
Perhaps there’s something weighing on his mind.

While occupied with thoughts about the bard, I followed him and got on the ship.


Footnotes:
1. A sort of quavering voice, often seen in enka.
2. Sadogashima is around 850 square kilometers, so half that.

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