Chapter 15: The fat aristocrat is frightened of baths

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It looked like a small temple or a detached palace.

The stone structure was meticulously crafted, and the front entrance was adorned with sculptures inspired by myths and divine creatures.

It was said that the current king commissioned its construction to turn the naturally occurring hot spring into a public bathing facility for the people.

After five years since its completion, the grand public bathhouse had become a beloved feature of the people’s daily lives.

People constantly passed by Mitrof as he stood there, stunned.

Families and men taking a break from work could be seen going in and out, while groups of women laughed and chatted as they entered the baths with up to ten others.

Now, it had become the liveliest and most popular spot in the city.

“This is… amazing.”

“It sure is—I don’t know of any other place as lively and cheerful as this—Every day feels like a festival.”

Grace pointed toward the square in front of the public bathhouse.

The square was bustling with people, not just for meeting up or taking a break, but also because of the various stalls and vendors lining up around the perimeter.

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It seemed that it was not just food and drinks but also a flea market.

It was a fresh sight for Mitrof.

He sniffed around with his nose.

The smell of meat and bread cooking is mixed with the stimulating scent of spices.

However, there was also a strange bitterness that couldn’t be described drifting in the air.

“…What is this weird smell?—I’ve never smelled it before.”

“That’s the scent of boiling water coming from the underground—at first, you might want to hold your nose, but you’ll get used to it soon enough.”

Without hesitation, Grace pushed through the crowds of people, and Mitrof hurriedly followed.

Everything was interesting.
As he looked around, he was afraid he might lose sight of Grace.

The exterior was made of stone, but the interior was made mostly of wood.

There were several reception counters stretching out.

Grace paid the bathing fee with ease and received a cloth and a small wooden cup for wiping the body.
There were two of each, and one was handed to Mitrof.

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Inside the cup was something like yellow butter.

“Is this soap?”

“Yeah, it is—it’s what we use to wash our bodies in the bathhouse.”

Mitrof brought his nose close to the sticky soap.
It had a refreshing scent, like citrus.
On closer inspection, chopped peels seemed to be mixed into it.

As they walked further into the back from the reception area, there was a place to take off their shoes.
From there, they had to walk on bare feet on wooden boards.

Soon, the path split into left and right, divided into male and female areas.

“Well then, Mitrof—let’s end it here for today.”

“Huh, here?”

“I want to take a leisurely bath—besides…” Grace grinned.
“If you take a bath, you’ll understand—making an appointment is bothersome; it’s easier to just come and go on time.”

Mitrof bid farewell to Grace as she walked toward the women’s bath.

Feeling a little nervous, Mitrof followed the backs of the other men walking along the hallway.

The space soon widened again, and there were several shelves lined up.
It was the changing room.

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A strange smell, a mix of the scent of new wood and the odor of the hot springs that Grace had explained earlier, wafted through the thick steam.

The bathhouse was immediately visible from the changing room.

Men strolled around naked, and the sound of water rippling like a flowing river echoed throughout the space.
Conversations could be heard here and there.

Mitrof followed suit, taking cues from others in the room and claiming a spot on one of the wooden shelves before stripping down to his birthday suit.
He also removed his gauntlets with care.

Once fully exposed, he felt more like a regular cityfolk and strode into the bathhouse with his head held high.

The floor was covered in chill-inducing tiles.

“Wow, this is amazing.”

The bathhouse was spacious, and the ceiling was high.
Steam rose all the way to the ceiling, making it difficult to see.

There were secluded areas to the left and right, and a particularly splendid bathtub stood in front of Mitrof.

It was like a large circular fountain that one could find in the middle of a city, with multiple men soaking in it.

Mitrof thought he might join them but realized that he had a cup of soap in his hand.

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Upon closer inspection, he saw that there were several wooden stools lined up along the wall, which the men were using to wash themselves.

Mitrof slowly sat down facing the bath, where a groove had been made at chest height and hot water was continuously flowing out of it.
Mitrof took a bucket, scooped some water, and poured it over his head.

“Hot!”

An elderly man nearby laughed at him.

“Hey, young man! You don’t rush into the bath like that!—You need to slowly warm up your hands and feet first!”

“…I see.”

Mitrof realized that everything was different in steam baths.

He took another scoop of water, washed his hands, and poured it over his feet as he gradually got used to the hot temperature.
The hot water actually felt good.

He rubbed his body with a towel and soap, and the dirt fell off in flakes.
The dirty skin that had covered his body was also peeled away, leaving him feeling refreshed and renewed.

He then used the soap to wash his hair.
He had just finished the soap in the cup.

He poured hot water over his head and washed away all the dirt from his body.
Then Mitrof stood up, and he noticed a box placed against the wall.
It seemed that the cup he had just used should be returned there.

He put the cup away and placed a cloth over his shoulder, imitating other men.

Finally, Mitrof headed towards the central bathtub in the bathhouse.

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