Hearing both the report of Beren and the talk of the sword, I could feel my confusion increasing steadily. But salvation descended upon me.
The sound of a chime that didn’t match the atmosphere of the room rang, and after that, a voice called out.
It is the waitress.
A call telling us that the meal is ready, and to contact them when we are ready to go.
Beren’s report had been turning into a lecture about the history of the dwarf blacksmiths and what was popular at that time, so this was truly good timing.
This sword, that’s name seems to be Einkaref, still continues sonorously speaking about his own personal history in a merry manner.
If I keep a bit calm and composed, and simply whisper inside my heart what I think, he won’t hear it, but if I don’t put much mind to it, and just think without caring, it will be picked up by him too.
Seems like the rules of speaking with the sword are like that.
Obviously, I have only tested it a bit and checked its reaction, so I might be mistaken.
But…because the inside of my head has already been read by third parties so many times, I am pretty loose about those kind of things. But well, since there’s the part about privacy, it is a plus that I have found a safe sphere in this mental conversations.
“Then, we will continue after eating, how about it, Waka?” (Tomoe)
“Good. Let’s have them bring it now then.” (Makoto)
Tomoe received my acknowledgement and rings the room’s chime to request the preparation of the meal.
A few minutes after…
A number of people I don’t know where they were in standby had entered into the shed along with the scent of food.
This is the shed and the corridor is quite long, so in what kind of way did they get here so fast?
This level of speed could be considered a feat already.
The darkness of the service business is deep.
It surpasses the line of being impressive and turns into scary.
“Beren and everyone else, where are you going?” (Makoto)
As if natural, Beren, Hokuto, and Shii stood up and were about to leave the room.
Even though we are going to eat now.
“We were thinking about eating in a separate room. Eating together with Waka-sama would be too much of an honor.”
“…Hah? I don’t really mind so let’s eat together. The food tastes better when everyone eats together.” (Makoto)
“It is fine. I don’t mind it, and Mio will be asking for your opinions on it later, so we can do that while eating and that will save time. Tomoe is interested in what Hokuto and Shii have to say, so we can get some light reports while eating. See? Lots of benefits.” (Makoto)
…Regarding Tomoe, she probably has an evil plan like identifying what dishes she likes the most and pillaging them from the others anyways.
Leaving me aside, I pity Iroha-chan.
I want to avoid the route where Tomoe aims for the share of Mio and it turns into a monster fight.
I will have these three work as lightning rods– no, as insurance in case Tomoe isn’t satisfied with only her portion. Yes, insurance.
Well, what I said a moment ago was also how I truly felt.
“I-Is it really okay to accompany you?”
“Of course.” (Makoto)
“Too long-winded. Waka said it was okay-ja. Just sit already.” (Tomoe)
“In that case, we will change our clothes immediately—!!”
“They are telling you to sit down, right? Good grief. Also, we are all family here. There’s no need to mind how you are dressed-desu wa. Right, Waka-sama?” (Mio)
Mio and Tomoe joined in convincing Beren and the others who are crazy nervous.
Mio did some smooth movements with her folding fan, making them swim in midair, and had them seated by force.
W-Well, as long as the results are good…
After that, I nod at the words of Mio.
“Everyone from the company is like family, so there’s no need to mind your clothes.” (Makoto)
We will be having our meal in a Japanese-style hotel, so they will probably be bringing the dishes in small trays. We will probably have respective trays for each one of us.
In that case, we can just eat without minding much.
It is exactly as Mio said, we are all family, so there’s no need to mind our clothes.
“Pardon the intrusion. Is everyone going to be having their meal here?”
“Yeah, please do the preparations.”
I nod at the waitress-san that asked for confirmation.
Saying this, she turns her gaze towards the corridor.
Tomoe voices her interest.
The two waitresses brought some big rounded thing that seems to be made directly of wood, and places it on top of the big table.
Eh? Could this be…
“There’s a small space between the table and this. Is this a part of tonight’s plans for dinner?” (Tomoe)
“Yes. This is a device that is used around Kannaoi since a long past. Like this…”
No doubt about it.
In the middle of her explanation, the waitress-san places a hand on the round shaped ‘table’ and turns it.
Just as Tomoe said, there’s a space in between, so the round shaped table revolved.
It is not like I have seen it that many times, but…this is that. The thing you see at chinese restaurants. <Rotating trays, a.k.a Lazy Susan>
In that case, today’s dinner is not Japanese-style…but chinese?!
So it really is a chinese restaurant!
I completely thought that they would be bringing things like nabe and sashimi, and maybe sushi.
At any rate, a rotating tray, it reminds me of the Showa era <1926-1989>.
‘When talking about a feast, it has to be chinese food’, maybe a Wise from that kind of era was involved in the food here.
“It is rotating.” (Tomoe)
“Yes. The dishes are placed here and distributed in order. It serves for that function.”
An expected explanation.
And while at it, the many dishes were being lined up one after the other.
Dishes that are considered the art of fire and oil, in a sense, nostalgic dishes.
By the way, when it is called chinese food <chuuka ryouri> it means that it is chinese food that was changed to fit the taste of the japanese, and when it is called chinese cuisine <chuugoku ryouri> it means that the food is made exactly as its roots. <I left the difference as -food- and -cuisine->
There was one guy in my archery club that was specially fussy about this.
He was saying things like: ‘don’t nonchalantly go to stores that make sichuan cuisine, it can kill your tongue’, or something like that.
I didn’t understand what he meant.
In the first place, is sichuan cuisine and chinese cuisine any different?
Chinese food will obviously be different though.
*Mapo tofu* tastes good though, is that so bad? <Part of Sichuan cuisine.>
For some reason, I ended up worrying about a pointless mystery.
“Sauteed octopus, deep fried chicken, and that’s…sweet-and-sour pork? Ah, ebi chili! I see, so that was chinese too. Also…mayonnaise shrimp? Isn’t that from the Heisei era? I hope it doesn’t simply look like mayonnaise shrimp but is actually a weird syrup that tastes sugary. I will get angry with you if that’s true, okay “mayonnaise shrimp”?” (Makoto)
“There’s dishes here that you can easily find in other restaurants around the city, but all the ones here are made with the best ingredients and by the number one chef in the present age. I can vouch that this will definitely become a good memory for your journey, so please take your time enjoying it.”
The waitress-san turned her gaze and made a gently smile at me when she heard about how I knew a number of the dishes here, and simply gave supplementary information.
In other words, she is saying: ‘our food is different from other places, you know. Hehe’.
Ah, the fried rice arrives.
A fragrant scent… This…it smells a bit like they singed the soy sauce.
That means they have decent amount of knowledge in the flavoring.
Might be a particular style of this world though.
And there’s also…is that the dessert?
Annin tofu and Agar are cut in cubes and floating in some sort of transparent syrup along with some fruits, like a chinese-style fruit punch.
This is a guess that relies on a past that already feels pretty far, but it is probably not so off.
Next is…the black and big iron pot that has some sort of red food making gentle boiling sounds. The looks are similar to mapo tofu.
But a part of it is different from the one in my memories.
A darkish powder has been sprinkled all over it, and maybe it was cooked beforehand, there’s clear vivid red chili pepper placed on the sides.
Well, that’s probably decoration.
It seems like there’s minced meat in the tofu, so maybe it is the regretful-type of mapo tofu?
In the end, the round table that was pretty big was lined up with dishes one after the other, and after preparing a massive amount of plates, the waitresses left.
I woke up Iroha-chan, and after the customary: ‘Itadakimasu’, we began dinner in our first day at Kannaoi, at this room that’s completely filled with the scent of chinese food.
When there’s a rotating tray, the revolving will create fights.
The moment Tomoe and Mio were at my side, I could tell this future.
With something as simple as what direction I turn it to, sparks would fly.
I moved away as soon as possible, so it ended only as sparks though.
It is true that going around and around is a pretty interesting gimmick, and as a result, everyone had fun with it.
The food was mostly good as well.
It was truly chinese food.
The bon bon chicken was good, the sweet-and-sour pork was on the sour-side which is to my liking, and the deep-fried chicken-looking one was carefully made and the skin was crispy. No complains.
It must be made differently compared to the deep-fried chicken until now. It was cut in chunks after all.
Ah right, the ebi chili was good too. The thickness of the sauce was not much, and the shrimps used were pretty big. Yeah, that one was nice.
But…the mayonnaise shrimp and the mapo tofu…you guys were no good.
You damn sweet cream in the guise of mayonnaise shrimp, perish.
I felt as if this was the grudge of Shiki who was left behind.
Also, the mapo tofu that I felt as if each spoon I brought to my mouth hurt and numbed me, this was the first time in this world that I felt I was fed poison.
This is the worst.
The waitress explained that ‘there’s a lot of people that get addicted to this dish’, those guys must have something wrong with their tongues.
Must be that black pepper-like thing, yeah. Moreover, it was hard to get used to it.
The hot taste of the chili pepper was plenty enough already. Just what in the world where they thinking when they made this monstrosity?
Tomoe, Beren, and Hokuto said something weird like: ‘I can understand how someone could get addicted to this’.
That mapo tofu poison must have taken out their tongues, definitely.
(And you see, the things I like to eat the most are famous swords. At present, I can eat almost all weapons. But it is not like you can always find those, you know. That’s why I normally eat materials in order to distract myself from hunger. If I had to choose from those, it would definitely be the scales of dragons. If you try putting me inside a warehouse full of dragon scales, I am confident I can empty it all in one night. Seriously.)
Probably because he was provoked by our happy dinner, the self-proclaimed Incredible Dragon Slayer Sword speaks about his own likes in food.
A sword is talking about eating…
That feels kind of bizarre already.
This sword, Einkaref, can eat.
This sword is a weapon that was made with a special tree as its core.
The name of that core was Parasite Tree.
This tree parasitizes on demonic beasts, takes over its body, and changes it into nutrients for its own body. Attacks other organisms, devours them, and increases its own power; a strange tree.
One time, there was a dwarf who learned that a magic clad crystal was considered as a parasitic target as well, and was utilized as an ingredient for crafting which attracted the attention of everyone.
And so, the equipment that was born from this were quite powerful, but at the same time, in order to continue showing their capabilities, they had to continue feeding them.
What a pain.
According to Einkaref, the equipments that are masterpieces in that category can predate on strong weapons and outstanding materials in order to increase their power even more, though the increase variates between each one.
Einkaref said that, in his case, his affinity with dragons is high.
Eating plenty of the dragon scales that are his favorite, and also nails, fangs, and horns, he increased his Dragon Slaying power…but after the death of Iori, there were no masters and he was forced into a long sleep at the dwarf village.
Being unable to continue eating, falling into a dormant state was unavoidable, and in that time, his ability as a weapon had plummeted.
Moreover, the equipments that were made from the parasitic tree all had some will of sorts, and only people that are able to communicate with them can properly utilize them.
In other words, their masters are incredibly limited, and maintaining their performance capabilities is difficult.
Hence, this trend didn’t continue for long and the use of parasitic trees for weapons was discarded.
It is truly an understandable and obvious end.
But in the knowledge that Beren has, the weapons made from the parasitic trees suddenly faced an abnormal decline in their power, and the reason of it was not understood, so they were steadily thrown away.
The reason was most likely because they were not used for battle in a good while and because they hadn’t found an owner for a while so they entered a dormant state.
From the dwarfs’ perspective, they had done the proper maintenance, so they couldn’t understand the reason why their performance decreased.
Right now, at this very moment, Einkaref was telling me the reason why this happened to him and the other weapons.
I don’t know if it’s because of him being a sword or because of the parasitic tree part of him, but thanks to my ability to speak with a variety of things, I can communicate with him.
It seems like it is easier to speak with me compared to his time with Iori, so the sword has been talking a storm.
At the time when Beren was wrapping up the matter of Einkaref so Hokuto and Shii could begin their report, I spoke about a variety of things with the intention of giving out supplementary information, but Beren’s eyes flew wide open. His mouth was also wide open.
It is unusual of Beren to make faces like that.
And then, Tomoe asked me to reveal how I knew that information, so I told them that I spoke to the sword. At that moment, a hard to describe atmosphere covered the room.
No well, isn’t this the usual?
It would be one thing if something big happened, but…it is about me, so I would like it if you were able to cope with about anything. Just kidding.
Ah, the fried rice was normal.
Everyone had praises for it, but for me, it had a taste that I seriously could only describe as normal.
It is a bit of a pity.
“I now understand the reason for the performance decrease. But as a blacksmith, hearing about a weapon that eats materials and cannibalizes on other weapons just…sends shivers down my spine. Seriously.” (Beren)
I heartfeltly agree with Beren’s words.
“And so, Hokuto and Shii, you said that you encountered strange mercenaries. The first one sounds like the ones we came here for, but the other ones, I have no idea. What are the ‘people of Apple’?” (Makoto)
When Hokuto and Shii did some consequential sweeping of the mamonos that were coming out from the grand labyrinth in Kannaoi, while walking to the settlements of hyumans until they reached here.
Regarding the state of the hyumans they saw on the way, well, there wasn’t anything special to mention.
We kept Iroha-chan company, so we have gone around a good amount of places. What they said was within what we already know.
What piqued my interest were the two parties they encountered and fought together with, the mercenaries.
One of the parties called themselves Picnic Rosegarden. They had quite the ability, and were going around defeating the mamonos that came out from the grand labyrinth.
And the other one was…a group of two that called themselves people of Apple.
Hokuto and Shii both said that they have ‘outrageous’ ability, and one has the looks of a dancer and the other a sister.
Both were women.
Tomoe muttered: ‘it is them huh’.
Maybe she has met them before, or she saw them in a memory of someone; whichever it is, it seems like she has an idea of who they are.
“Waka, about that Apple—” (Tomoe)
The moment when Tomoe was probably going to speak about those people, Iroha-chan lifts her hand nervously -along with a frail voice.
“What is it?” (Makoto)
Iroha-chan and Tomoe always have bad timing and interrupt each other.
It seems like she has something to say, so this time, instead of Tomoe, I urge her to continue speaking.
“About those Apple people, I probably have met them-desu. Uhm…they saved my life once. A silver haired person that, even though she is dressed as a dancer, is an expert at sniping, name’s Haku-san; a person that has the same silver hair, is dressed in a priest outfit, and provides incredibly precise healing, name’s Ginebia-san.” (Chiya)
Tomoe nods lightly.
I see. She learned of them when she read Iroha-chan’s memories huh.
“Meeting those two, I…” (Iroha)
It seems like Iroha-chan had been betrayed by the adventurers she hired at the outskirts of Kannaoi, and at that time, she was saved by the Apple people.
That’s why she was able to come all the way to Mizuha huh.
Even so, I feel like the speed they moved at was way too fast.
Those two probably have some sort of…teleportation-like technique to mobilize.
Iroha-chan obviously knows this, but it doesn’t come out in her story. In exchange, she told us that those two are no longer in Lorel.
She said they headed to the north.
If they are mercenaries, it is a valid possibility that they went to the war’s front line.
But for some reason, my intuition is telling me that’s not the case.
Whichever it is, there’s no point in minding people that are not even here right now.
The most I would do would be to have someone investigate about the Apple people or the keyword ‘Apple’ from tomorrow on.
Now then…it is already reaching the time where we can’t avert our eyes from the cave, dungeon, grand labyrinth.
Staring at Iroha-chan, she looks back at me with wonder.
I have already contacted Shougetsu-san and the others about Iroha-chan, at worst, we won’t be able to journey together anymore.
Thinking about it rationally, there’s no way we could bring her with us to the labyrinth.
It seems like the city of Kannaoi is also having a number of issues, and there’s signs of Tomoki scheming something.
It is probably better to deal with this in a Koumon-sama way, divide the duties in: Beren’s group at the city, and us for the labyrinth.
What is the correct answer?
In this kind of moments, it really helps out that Tsige is currently in a lull state.
The latest report of the situation I received was that there’s no real need to enter the defensive, and they are currently using the negotiations and raids cleverly to produce an advantageous stalemate.
It is the situation that Rembrandt-san wished for. That’s ideal.
…Right, the matter of Tomoki and Iroha-chan occurred after we arrived here.
In other words, irregular events.
In the first place, the Kuzunoha Company and I have come here in order to gather the cards that Tsige currently needs. Can’t go changing that.
Just like Mio who suddenly said she wanted to go to the kitchen while the meeting was about to enter its second half. Yes, just like Mio who turned around on her way just to say that she will be back by bath time. Truly a person that doesn’t change.
Since she was looking at my reactions, there’s no way she will be going to the kitchen to learn how to make the mapo tofu.
If I teach her the normal recipe later, I will be able to rest at ease…probably.
“First, the grand labyrinth. If it seems like there’s enough spare strength, we can investigate the city at the same time. Only if we have the spare strength, that is.” (Makoto)
“As you will. I think that’s a good plan. Even if there’s the need of everyone here to beat the labyrinth, we still have more personnel. Let’s leave the people I chose as spares just in case to these guys here. You can do it, right?” (Tomoe)
Beren and the others return an affirmative answer at the confirmation of Tomoe that felt as if she was putting pressure on them.
It is true that if there’s the need to, we can increase the amount of people.
I unconsciously tried to divide the work with only the people that are here.
The amount of times Tsige can step in strong has increased and the independence is growing closer. That’s why, first, we have to secure the cooperation of the mercenary group.
After that, let’s do all the miscellaneous business we have here. In my opinion, it feels like it will mostly be about Tomoki, and that depresses me.
We have decided on our plan.