—Ilias wakes up to the brightness coming in from the window.
It is morning. I have to wake up.
I lift up my body and it is the usual scenery of my room I am used to seeing.
But something is different from usual. My physical condition is slightly bad.
I think about the reason why and remember what happened yesterday.
I rose up the same way as usual, but noticing that he hadn’t returned yet, I was thinking about what to do.
I continued waiting, thinking that he might come back, wondered if I should go out to search for him, feared missing each other, and continued waiting.
In the end, he returned right before the day ended.
After that, he took me out to somewhere called Dog’s Bone.
I remember the waitress I met, the liveliness of the place, and the delicious food and the taste of the alcohol…and then the conversation I had with him.
—It was fun.
The people of the Ragudo Division were all kind to me, but I haven’t had any relations when I am off-duty.
I am being shunned by the others.
If I were to get along with them outside of work, I feared that I might end up causing them trouble.
But it is not like everything was that.
There’s definitely people out there who shun me.
However, there were actually people who accepted me and respected me.
My lips loosened.
“And so…” (Ilias)
My memories after that are hazy. I don’t remember walking back here.
Even when I was at an age where I could drink alcohol, I didn’t go out of my way to drink. I got swept away by the alcohol after a while of drinking it…
My consciousness was cut off at the end…
Aah, how can this be?
“I drank myself unconscious, huh.” (Ilias)
In that case, he carried me…
I woke up clean from the shame.
I placed my right hand on my face and sighed heavily.
Let’s wake up for now.
I get up, go down to the 1st floor, and wash my face.
I return to my room and change into my work attire.
It is not a time where I can make breakfast. Let’s go buy fruits in the market or something.
Right, I should thank him—no, I should apologize to him.
I arrived in front of his room and knocked on the door lightly.
No response. Is he still sleeping?
Speaking of which, my first meeting with him was me waking him up when he was sleeping.
“Fufu, now that I think about it, he is a deep sleeper.” (Ilias)
I end up smiling, remembering the past.
It is soon going to be time for me to leave. I would like to talk to him about dinner so that we don’t miss each other here.
I feel bad about this, but let’s wake him up.
I opened the door and spoke to him.
“Are you still asleep? It is about yesterday—” (Ilias)
But he was already not here.
What was left at the side of the window were the clothes he was using yesterday. They have been washed.
Since when did he wake up? In the first place, I was that fast asleep that I didn’t even notice someone doing the laundry in my own house?
A sigh leaked out.
Argh, being told I lack tact can’t be helped!
But you know, the muscle pain is horrible!
Thanks to that, I ended up waking up before the sun rose.
I didn’t feel like going back to sleep, so I did the laundry immediately, and decided to go out.
A yawn is going to escape me. It might be better if I take a siesta around noon for 1 hour.
By the time I moved to Dog’s Bone, the sun had begun rising.
Is Gozu awake? If he is, maybe I should ask him to give some of the leftovers from yesterday.
I arrived at the store, and met a familiar person at the same time.
The wife of Cara-jii.
“Oh, you wake up early, boy.”
“Good morning. Same goes for you.”
“Waking up earlier than your age is a staple after all!”
The wife gives me a guts pose.
She is really energetic. I would like her to share some of it with me.
“I wanted to manage the ingredients and the preparations, you see. What brings you here, boy?”
“Aah, I wanted to talk with Gozu to confirm the number of customers yesterday, the sales, and the funds management with the salary of everyone of you being the first thing to consider.”
“Oh, if it is that, I will do something about it. Despite appearances, I am good at management, you know?”
She does look like she is properly managing the salary of her husband after all.
Wonder how much allowance Cara-jii is getting?
“Well then, I will just ask how’s the progress and leave.”
“There’s still a bit of leftovers from yesterday. Eat before you go.”
I thought I shouldn’t be intruding here, but I got the invitation I wanted.
“Then, I will take you up on that offer.”
“At any rate, salt is really handy. It really tightens up the taste by just using a bit of it on pretty much any dish, and it amplifies the flavor.”
“I actually wanted to not only make dishes that use salt, but also seasonings that are made by using salt which would increase the array of dishes that can be made though. I have to decrease the price of salt first for the sake of that.”
“You can do something like that?”
“It is not certain, but I plan on making moves to achieve this from here on.”
“Then, I will put my hopes in that. Everyone hesitated using salt when they heard about the price, you see.”
We talked about that as we entered the store.
“Good morning, Madam Domitorkofucon! You look dazzling today as well!” (Gozu)
Gozu welcomed her while saluting.
Hmm, this is the owner, huh.
I hear about the sales and expenses from Gozu while having a meal.
We talked about the direction of the store with the wife of Cara-jii joining in.
With how things are, there should be no issues with the management of the money.
The employees have increased in number abruptly, but it seems like they will be able to maintain profits from it.
If I had to point out an issue, it would be that the amount of ingredients transported will increase, but they have apparently already arranged a cart.
It doesn’t seem like there’s anything for me to do in the near future.
“Now, if we could increase the recipes for women and supper, the percentage of customers coming would increase. If I think up anything, I will write it down on paper and bring it here.”
“E-Even more?” (Gozu)
“What are you talking about? We are plowing through!”
A 2 meter tall man trembling profusely against an old lady; what a nice picture.
“Right, I have to give you your share, Nii-chan.” (Gozu)
“You don’t have the leeway with the increase in employees, right? I am fine with just getting the money I used for the salt.”
I will be able to eat food made with salt here after all.
That being my payment for the manual labor of these few days is enough.
“Even if you say that…then, please come eat here any time you want. It is on the house whenever it is open.” (Gozu)
“I see, then I will come when the place is packed.”
“You really hold your ground, oi.” (Gozu)
That said, let’s enjoy a meal here every now and then.
I am currently a freeloader after all. It is about time I get a job.
I get the money for the salt, the basket, and two days worth of wages, so the money in my pocket is now slightly on the plus side.
That said, if I take away the expense of buying food outside and the dinner, it is not like it increased that much.
I have to return this money to Ilias in the end. I have to think up a way to earn money.
“Well then, I will be heading off on a journey to earn money.”
“Yeah, be careful… No, if you are troubled with money, at least accept the compensation.” (Gozu)
I am heading to Ban-san’s place. When it is about a topic that will make money, relying on a merchant is the basics.
Despite having come here 3 days in a row, Ban-san received me with a smile.
“I have visited Dog’s Bone. Imagine my surprise, that was some wonderful change.” (Ban)
“You have gone there already? That was quick.”
“Of course, what I can trust the most is what I have seen with my own eyes after all. Even so, I was completely dumbstruck by the personnel…” (Ban)
They are the wives of famous knights after all. The ones who know would be understandably frozen by this.
The ladies themselves were burning with motivation from the lively lifestyle they haven’t had in a while, and they can even earn some spending money, so it would be two birds with one stone.
“My work is gone thanks to that. I am now free, so I was thinking about bringing out a different proposal here.”
“Is it about the exploration of the unexplored lands? You already have a target?” (Ban)
“Yeah…but I would like this conversation to be kept a secret.”
I spread the duplicate map of Dokora on the desk.
“This is…” (Ban)
“It is a copy of the map from the bandit alliance’s ringleader the other day. The knights had made bases on forests and mountains to escape from the hands of the knights. And they also investigated the information on the surroundings as the meticulous people they are.”
“I am impressed you managed to obtain this. But this is impressive. To think their perimeter of activity was this wide… No wonder the knights of our country were having a tough battle here.” (Ban)
“The investigations to the bases will be performed today and tomorrow to retrieve the stolen things, but the marked caves that aren’t being used as bases will most likely be left untouched. I am thinking of investigating those ones.”
“Next would be the order of the investigation. Fumu, it reminds me of the time when I saw a treasure map!” (Ban)
“A treasure map, you say. Were you an adventurer in the past, Ban-san?”
“Yeah, my talent as a merchant was higher, so I have settled now, but I was pretty wild in the past.” (Ban)
I wonder why. Aren’t the specs of the people I meet way too high?
I feel an incredible sense of familiarity from Gozu and Saira, but maybe they also have some sort of specialty too?
Aah, the eye of Gozu for alcohol is evaluated highly by Ban-san too.
Maybe Saira actually has talent as a tailor.
“But this is careless. Did you not think I would get ahead of you?” (Ban)
“When that happens, that happens. I will just accept it as Ban-san being ‘that kind of person’.”
“Hahaha, that’s scary. Then, allow me to act as a good helper.” (Ban)
“The problem is, even if I want to investigate it, I have no confidence in my skills and stamina…”
“I see. So you would need mercenaries or something of the sort.” (Ban)
“The funds to hire them too…”
Costs for personnel, food, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses; I have nothing of those.
There would be no issues if I had a knight like Cara-jii, but I can’t have him work for free all the time.
“How about bringing in interested sympathizers like you, Ban-san?”
“It would be possible to divide the costs like that, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea. However, bringing in sympathizers has the possibility of the information leaking to other businesses.” (Ban)
Right, there would be people who would try to profit by getting ahead of us.
There’s the need to create a hierarchy in this plan beforehand.
“I can prepare one or two trustworthy adventurers. It will be on a small scale for a while, but let’s check the results with that first.” (Ban)
“Right. I will think about the funds at that time.”
“So you won’t try to make me put in the money for that, huh.” (Ban)
“If I depended too much on you, it wouldn’t really be considered much of a team.”
I can’t just bring out an idea and end it with that.
After obtaining the resources, Ban-san will be moving as the core.
If I am already being piggybacked by Ban-san from the point of the investigation, the necessity of my presence would be gone.
I have to solve this one on my own somehow.
“But I feel like I will be depending on you on the arrangement of the first adventurers and their pay though…”
“Regarding that part, I will just bring it out as a reward for the future increase in the supply of salt.” (Ban)
The best result in this plan would be to find resources at an early stage.
If there’s good prospects, there’s even the choice of a loan.
If we pull it off well, we might even be able to convince the country.
In that case, it might be better to learn as much information about the geography as possible, and improve my sense of smell.
After that, I had Ban-san tell me about the mines currently being used, and other detailed talk.
“Ilias, have you received a response from the helper regarding the ceremony?”
Ilias showed a face of ‘oh no’ at the words of Lord Ragudo.
Speaking of which, the time she was together with him was short, and a lot happened, so she had no chance to tell him about it.
“Not yet, huh. Weren’t you off-duty yesterday?” (Ragudo)
“My apologies… Actually, he was out the night before and only came back in the evening…” (Ilias)
“Could it be that you were waiting in vain for a whole day?” (Ragudo)
Lord Ragudo sighed.
Wasting a rare free day like that is not good.
“You can leave for today.” (Ragudo)
“Aah, right. Let me change my wording. The mission of Lord Ratzel today is to tell the helper about the invitation and to get him to accept. There’s not much time left. Commit yourself to just that alone!” (Ragudo)
Ilias leaves as if running off, and Lord Ragudo smiles kindly as if saying good grief.
She is a lot less stiff than a few days before. Just what happened in that short period of time?
Lord Ragudo thinks of Ilias like a daughter.
Seeing that good change of hers, Lord Ragudo felt appreciation towards this young man he had not seen yet.
“…I wonder what the king will do?” (Ragudo)
He has told the king about the book.
The king entrusted the book to Lord Ragudo after making a complicated expression.
He was given the order to chase after the origins of the book, but there was nothing more than that.
The king is looking forward to meeting that young man.
May they forge a good relationship if possible…
Now then, it is the beginning of an adventure.
According to Ban-san, there’s apparently nearby areas where dangerous monsters don’t show up.
There was a single cave that matches this when I confirmed the locations in the map.
And so, I have decided to move by myself in order to reduce the costs.
This high motivation despite the muscle pain. I am so active I would like my Japan self to learn from this.
I greeted the gatekeeper and exited the gates.
Ban-san is also following me by my side.
When I told him I would go check it out a bit, he said he would let me borrow a horse.
But once I told him I couldn’t ride a horse…
“Then, I will go too. It has been a while, so I want to move my body too!” (Ban)
It seems like his switch got flipped while I was explaining the adventure plan.
Is that okay, president of a trading company?
We went in a different direction from the usual, through the path towards the mines.
And then, after advancing for around 1 hour, we got down from the horse once it was a third remaining until the mine, and entered the forest.
“Is this horse not going to attack people?”
“It has been trained to escape to the city, so don’t worry.” (Ban)
That’s a relief.
Cara-jii’s horse is wild and I remember it almost biting me when we were heading back.
Compared to that, the eyes of this horse are kind.
We separate from that horse and advance through the forest.
Maybe because he was a former explorer, he is not losing to Cara-jii and the others in terms of speed.
No, if we are talking about his walking speed, he is above them.
Moreover, he is making it so it is easier for me to follow.
Was he in a scout position when he was an adventurer?
I also can’t feel a single bit of hesitation in his trek.
“You are skilled at this.”
“Of course. Can’t say the same for battling, but if it is scouting work, I wouldn’t lose to the young ones even now.” (Ban)
We got through the forest and the number of trees decreased.
Rock surface came into sight, and it began to change from a flat path to a mountain trail as we went up.
I was huffing and puffing while trying to keep up, and we safely arrived at the base we were heading to.
This one is different from the caves we have found before, it is full of bare rock around. It is more of a crevice rather than the entrance of a cave.
From here upwards, it is pretty much a rock mountain. There’s no information further up in the map of Dokora.
It probably means this is the limit to the base candidates they could hide in.
“Now then, let’s go.”
The both of us held torches and entered the cave.
A narrow pathway continued on inside.
It is one-way and easy to advance through, but there was only bare rock and nothing worth of note.
But it would be nice if there were a path that leads lower though…
“It seems like it is just a pathway.”
“Right… Oh, it is a dead end.” (Ban)
How can this be? Is it already a dead end?
We did hit a cavity that was big enough for one room, but the path was cut off there.
Looks like the first investigation ended in a blank shot.
“Hmm, this is a shame. It probably was not used because it was too cramped as a base and it is only long.” (Ban)
“Right… It would have been different if we had seen minerals on the rock surface though…”
“Can’t see anything of the sort…oya?” (Ban)
While Ban-san was observing the wall, he seemed to have noticed something.
“Is something the matter?”
“This is…this place alone has a wall created by magic.” (Ban)
There’s something like that? -is what I thought as I looked at the wall pointed out.
But I can’t tell the difference between other walls.
It looks like the same material to me.
“It looks the same to me though…”
“Hahahaha, right? Right? But a pro in that field can tell.” (Ban)
What Ban-san took out while saying this was a thing that looked like a stake with a twist at the head as if to hook onto something.
It reminds me of the stake used to set up a tent.
“They most likely used earth magic to create a wall using the ore around, but…hmph!” (Ban)
He stabbed the stake on the wall with force.
The next thing he took out was a hammer with fancy ornaments.
Ban-san gave me the bag he had and faced the stake.
“Move away a bit. It is dangerous.” (Ban)
I silently take distance.
Ban-san swung down the hammer after taking a deep breath.
When he did, a thunderous sound echoed and the wall crumbled.
“It is an Enchanted Hammer that amplifies the impact tens of times. It is a priceless treasure when breaking through walls.” (Ban)
“Something as convenient as that exists, huh.”
“The detriments are that it uses a decent amount of mana and can’t be used when holding a magic seal stone though.” (Ban)
Aah, so that’s why he had me carry his luggage.
And it seems like it can’t be used by a Japanese guy with negligible mana.
Kuuh, I thought I could use magic and battle if it is with a weapon infused with magic!
There was a pathway beyond the crumbled wall.
“This is…fumu…” (Ban)
I understand why Ban-san is falling in thought here.
Right now we are here to search for resources.
But what we found was a passage that was purposely hidden.
The bandits most likely turned back at this point.
“Alright, let’s go.” (Ban)
Aah, the eyes of Ban-san are those of an adventurer.
He most likely wants to satiate his curiosity rather than having it end in a missed shot.
That’s the same for me, so I nodded and continued.
After going ahead for a while, we saw a light further beyond.
Looks like we got through the mountain.
We got out of the cave and were dazzled by the light of the outside, but I tried checking the surroundings.
There was a new forest here.
The density of the plants aside from the trees were giving me a docile impression when compared to the forest we were moving through before.
Hmm, I wonder what this feeling of emptiness is?
Was that a pathway utilized in the past?
“Is this the end?”
“…No, wait for a bit please.” (Ban)
Saying this, Ban-san moved to the forest.
I can’t just be left behind, so I follow after him.
Ban-san seemed more like he was checking the forest rather than advancing through it.
And he is nodding over and over as if extremely interested.
“It seems like we have made quite the important discovery.” (Ban)
I obviously tilt my head.
“Please look at the map here.” (Ban)
He takes out a big map.
It doesn’t have detailed information like the map of Dokora, but it gives you an idea of the whole topography of the Taizu region.
“We advanced through here. Judging from the amount of time we were walking, we would be around here.” (Ban)
He said this and the place he pointed at was…the mountain range.
“The inside of the mountain range.”
“Yes. In other words, this forest is a hidden forest surrounded by the mountain range.” (Ban)
I see, so there’s a space within the big mountain range, and there’s a forest in it.
This can certainly be called a discovery, but…
“Isn’t it just that there’s an unknown forest nearby?”
“No, I checked the plants around here, but they are different from the ones found in the Taizu region.” (Ban)
I observe the trees and plants around once again.
Now that he mentions it, this does feel different from the forests I have been walking through these past few days.
Right, this place is close to there.
“The shape of the plants resemble that of the ones in the Black Demon Lord Killer Mountain.”
“Ooh, I am impressed that you know.” (Ban)
“Yeah, I was attacked by a slime there.”
“I am impressed you survived!” (Ban)
Aah, this reaction is nostalgic.
But that’s true.
The trees are not transparent and are not luminescent.
But the plants seen at my feet were close to those.
“Well yeah, luckily.”
“It is not a place where luck can save you, but…cough. The plants here reside in locations with high mana. I thought there were no other places in Taizu aside from the aforementioned mountain where these ones would grow in though…” (Ban)
“Basically, you are saying there’s the possibility we can find rare plants?”
“Yes, this will become a new business opportunity!” (Ban)
Ban-san is extremely happy here.
Aah, he has begun to investigate the area with that intention now.
But if we manage to not get food related stuff like salt but rare medicinal plants, that in itself would call for big profit.
To think we would draw an unexpected jackpot in this exploration we thought of as a missed shot. Must be the positive karma from my good actions!
I nodded as I headed towards Ban-san who was about to disappear from my sight.
I then lost consciousness from the sudden blow that assailed me.