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Chapter 5 - Reel Trust

'Hey, those jerks don't have another training facility around here, do they?' Henry asked.

'If you keep talking like that, they won't help you next time you're in trouble,' I responded, keeping my eyes on the water.

'Man, who cares?' Henry huffed. 'They're just a bunch of stubborn hardasses who stomp all over people's hard work.'

He began fidgeting as he riled himself up thinking about the other day.

'Doesn't it tick you off, too?' He turned to me.

'You picked all those mushrooms, and they just took them away.'

'Well, we broke the rules.' I shrugged.

'Man, how can you be so nonchalant about it?' he sighed. He didn't even have the energy to be annoyed at me today.

'Ugh. I'm getting nothing here.' He gave his line a sad tug. 'I can't focus anymore.'

'Don't they ever get hungry?' I asked, looking out at my own line. It hadn't moved the whole time we'd been out here.

'Are we even doing this right?' Henry asked. It was a good question; one I didn't have the answer to.

A small breeze gently nudged our otherwise-immobile fishing lines.

'Okay,' Henry said, getting up, 'I'm gonna go find someone who can help us.'

He left his fishing pole and started walking farther up the river bank.

We were back in the Le Locle Canyon. After our disastrous mushroom-hunting mission, we had pulled ourselves together and decided to go fishing in an attempt to catch something good for Clementine.

After a while, Henry returned with company.

'For things like this, it's best to get help from a pro,' he explained, 'so I found us one.'

From his hat and jacket, to his rod and the tackle box slung over his shoulder, the man Henry brought back with him was the very picture of an expert angler.

'I found him fishing just a bit upstream,' Henry told me. 'He said he's from the Fisherman's Guild. Can't get much more of an expert opinion than that!'

The fisherman smiled. 'I'm always happy to help out young anglers like yourselves,' he said.

We exchanged greetings, then it was time to get down to business.

'So, what exactly are you two after today?' the fisherman asked.

'A rare fish,' I told him, 'I want to give it to someone.'

'That's a little vague.' He scratched his chin. 'But I'm definitely on board with giving a fish as a gift. If you're after something rare, though, you'll need the right bait.'

The fisherman picked up our fishing poles and examined them.

'Progressive rods, hm?' He furrowed his brow a little.

'That's all we were able to rent in town, sir,' I told him.

'Are we really gonna call him 'sir'?' Henry whispered to me.

'What bait are you using?' the fisherman asked.

'Worms,' I replied.

The fisherman raised an eyebrow, then shook his head at us.

'Are you sure you're trying to catch a big one?' he asked.

'We thought we'd get some bites if we came around lunch time,' I told him, matter-of-factly.

When the fisherman heard this, his other eyebrow quickly shot up to join the first one. He then gave an incredulous sigh and pulled a spare rod out of his pack.

'Here, use this. It's a Metal Trident Rod. It's specifically made for catching big fish,' he said, handing me the fishing rod. 'Use live, medium-sized fish as bait.'

'What about me?' asked Henry. 'What do I do?'

'You'll be catching the bait fish,' the fisherman told him, 'You can use worms for that one, but you'll need to go to another spot to catch it.'

Henry seemed to be a bit disappointed he got the less important job, but he did as he was told and moved a bit downstream.

'You should get a bite from the little ones over there in no time,' the fisherman called out.

Sure enough, after a minute or two, I heard Henry struggling. He'd gotten something. The fisherman and I walked over to watch. Henry put everything he had into pulling his catch up until finally, with a mighty pull, he yanked it straight out of the river. Droplets of water flew into the air, sparkling in the sun like diamonds. His battle won, he hoisted his prize up to get a better look at it.

'A boot?!' Henry's face puffed up with indignation.

He angrily tossed the boot to the ground and sulked for a few minutes before he cast another line.

Eventually, he caught some smaller fish, and I prepared them as bait for the Metal Trident Rod.

I cast my new line and waited. Ten minutes later, I felt a sharp tug on the line. My rod started to bend.

A shadow appeared in the water and the surface of the river began to thrash. I waited until the line stopped moving, then tugged with all my strength. A huge fish flew up from the river. I dragged it to the shore and held it up for everyone to see. The fisherman, impressed by its size, let out a whistle.

'Those long whiskers and pointed teeth...' he mumbled to himself as he took a good look at the fish, 'That's definitely a garvelze.'

'Is it rare?' I asked.

'It's rare to catch one here,' he said, still examining the fish. 'They're known as 'Lakebottom Brawlers' and true to the name, are usually found in muddy areas at the bottom of lakes.'

I was elated to have caught such a rare fish, but the fisherman's expression was more serious.

'Is something wrong?' I asked.

'I' to make a request.' The fisherman straightened his posture. 'Would you let me have this garvelze?'

Henry and I looked at each other in shock.

'Hey! You never said anything about charging us!' Henry glared at the fisherman.

'Don't misunderstand, please,' the fisherman said, 'I'm not trying to scam you or anything of the sort. I want to bring this fish back with me to the Fisherman's Guild.'

'Trying to add someone else's catch to your collection?' Henry's brow was still furrowed. 'That's pretty lame, wouldn't you say?'

'Oh, I agree. That's not the reason I want it, though,' said the fisherman, still bearing the same serious expression on his face. 'I'm interested in the ecosystem here. I'd like to find out why a lake-dwelling fish is all the way out here.'

'Also,' he continued, 'this fish has a bit of a reputation as a man-eater.'

'A wh-what?!' Henry jumped a good arge away from the fish as it flopped on the end of my line.

'It's only an urban legend,' said the fisherman. 'They'll cough up trinkets from time to time. If it happens to have eaten anything valuable, I'll let you have it. How does that sound for payment?'

'Are you seriously trying to bribe us with some dead person's jewelry' Henry exclaimed from behind a nearby tree.

'No, no. Please listen.' The fisherman remained calm.

'The man-eating part isn't true. The fish will just swallow shiny objects that fall to the bottom of the lake.'

'Yeah, a likely story.' Henry still regarded the fisherman will a suspicious glance. He then turned to me. 'What should we do?'

I had no reason to trust this random fisherman, but he didn't seem like the kind of person who would lie to us.

'All right,' I said, 'you can have it.'

'Thank you. I'm in your debt.' He took off his hat and gave me a short bow. 'Where will I be able to find you to deliver your payment?'

'We're usually in the restaurant in town,' I told him.

'Understood. I'll be back in a few days,' the fisherman said as he began to pack up his supplies. 'I need to transport this fish quickly, so I'll be headed out now.'

I took another look at the fish.

'Will this fish...die from the research you're going to do?' I asked.

The fisherman simply laughed at my worried expression.

'Oh, no,' he said, 'I'll see to it he's well taken care of.'

He waved to us one last time before heading off, the fish in tow.

'You really think it's a good idea to trust that guy?' Henry asked as we watched the fisherman leave. 'You know there's a chance we'll never see the guy again, right?'

'I bet that fish is happy it went to someone like him,' I said, mostly to myself.

'What are you talking about, man?' said Henry, raising an eyebrow at me.

'If you're right and he never comes back,' I shrugged, 'then that's just how it is. We'll just have to go fishing again.'

'Just like that?' Henry sighed. 'I'm a little jealous how nonchalant about it you are.'

'Do you know why I like Clementine so much, Henry?' I asked.

'Huh?' Henry seemed taken aback by the question.

'I have no idea why, myself,' I admitted. 'That's just how it is.'

With that, we started packing up and heading home.

Henry was silent for the entire trip back.

第5巻  「引き寄せられた出会い」
「俺はどんな竿を貸してもらえるんですか! 師匠!」