Chapter 24: Spice Shop Meruru

“So we’ll line up the shelves from this side, and put the work tables here and here. Wouldn’t that make an awesome workshop?”
“How nice. What about the bedroom?”
“It’ll be next to the worktable. That way I can sleep whenever I’m tired!”
“Mariela’s bedroom, should be in the room, next door, okay.”
“Ehhh, it’ll be a pain to move.”
“It’s okay. I can, carry.”
“The things, huh. What about Sieg’s room?”
“Next door, to Mariela.”
“Isn’t the room that’s just up the stairs bigger?”
“It’s better to, make that the guestroom. We can, put two beds, so it’s good for guests.”

As they chatted, they assigned the rooms.

The rooms on the second storey were quickly settled. The large room in the east wing will be the workshop, and westward from the workshop was Mariela’s room, Sieg’s room, and the guest room in that order.

On the other hand, they couldn’t get a good idea for the living room and the bar at the back on the first storey. The living room was rectangular shaped, 6m by 14m, with a fireplace at the far end. She heard that aristocrats would place a long table in this kind of room and dine while sitting in a row, but Mariela was living alone with Sieg. She didn’t want such a large living room.

However, she thought that the fireplace was exquisite. She wanted to get nice and cosy in winter, sitting before the fireplace with a mug of sweet cocoa in hand.

“With such a large room, the fireplace won’t even warm it up.”
“We might, be able, to divide the room.”
“What should we use the new room for?”
“Guestroom?”
“Don’t we already have one on the second storey? Who’s going to come over…”

The two of them couldn’t get a suitable idea. It was a visual much too foreign for Mariela who had spent her life in a kitchen, a shop, and then a hut. It seemed as though Sieg was also the same as her. Although they had a lot of things they should get, there was so much that they had no idea what to buy first or where to start looking.

“Let’s consult the carpenter,” she said. The two had been meaning to pass all the tasks to another person from the start.

For the time being, they decided to go see a number of shops to buy the things they will need tomorrow, today.
Sieg needed a change of clothes and an overcoat, while Mariela herself only owned a set of tunic and pants. As her shoes and bags were in tatters, let’s go get something brand-new at Elva’s shoe store. They also needed a knife for harvesting and cooking and sewing tools—there were a lot of things.

They looked around the shop centre that was near their new home. While they shopped, they came across a signboard that stated: ‘Spice Shop Meruru’.

Was Meruru the name of the shop’s looker? She went inside, imagining a cute girl like Emilia from ‘Yagu’s Drawbridge’. This shop seemed to deal with spices and teas. There was a large selection of unfamiliar spices.

“Woah, how unusual!”
“Oh, new faces. Are you people from outside?”

A friendly, barrel-shaped, middle-aged woman came to receive them. The great majority of the items seemed to have come from the labyrinth. It also seemed to be the case for medicinal herbs, but you can get all kinds of plants in the world as the labyrinth floors each have different climates. This sort of low efficacy spice seemed to grow in the lower floors—apparently, it was perfect for novice adventurers to earn pocket money while they collect medicinal herbs. Thanks to that, spices were ubiquitous in Labyrinth City—even the grilled skewers from street stalls were deliciously seasoned.

“The sugar is a little expensive….”
“Sugar turnips need work to process. If you are using them for cooking purposes, the ‘coarse sugar’ I have here is good enough. I even use it in my teas.”

‘Sugar turnip’ is a vegetable that is cultivated in this region. Sugar is made from its broth. The scraps are made into livestock feed, while a small amount of sugar and “coarse sugar” is obtained from the broth. As the processing technique is undeveloped, the purification of the sugar is low and the cost is high. Coarse sugar also contains impurities. It has a peculiar taste so it is familiar in cooking as a cheap commoner flavour. Compared to two centuries ago, the processing technique seemed to have advanced, but there is still a lot of sugar content left in the coarse sugar.

By the way, orcs like sugar turnips, so they sniff out the stench and come out during harvest season. Naturally, there are traps set around the fields, and the garrison and adventurers hunt orcs. During sugar turnip harvesting season, there is a large supply of orc meat; Labyrinth City profits with it as a winter food reserve.

“Auntie, you ate too much coarse sugar. That’s why you look like an orc now,” the youth who seemed to be the shop assistant teased the barrel-figured, middle-aged woman.

“Shut up. Call me Miss Meruru in the shop. Come on, hurry up and do your delivery.”

The barrel woman was called Miss Meruru. Time was cruel.

They bought 2kg of coarse sugar and left the store.

 

 

 

Before they returned to Yagu’s Drawbridge, they stopped by at Herbal Store Gark. It was open, and yet there was no one around. How careless.

“Hello—. Is Grandpa Gark here—”
“I’m out the back. Come ’round.”

This was the third time she had come here, and yet she was called out to the backyard. She tried going there. There was a vat of boiling water with a giant bean pod suspended over it. A pile of five similar pods were on the side.

“Are these creeper seeds!”
“Yah, I got a huge haul. It’s nearly time for the labyrinth expedition, ya see. I harvested them back for them adventurers who will be going along for the ride.”

Creepers are blood-sucking plant monsters that have vines. The sticky sap inside the vines can be made into a high-grade rubber called creeper gum. Disposable creeper gum made from cheap weak young-shoots is a product sold widely in Labyrinth City.

The seeds of mature creepers are packed inside these pods, but the degree of difficulty to subjugate creepers that have matured enough to get seeds is rather high compared to getting mucilage from parent-shoots.

At any rate, creepers that bear seeds are intelligent. For a plant. Creeper seeds fly out from the pods to be sown in far distances. Seeds shoot out like rapidly thrown stones from the end of the pod. The creeper parent-shoot releases these seeds like bullets at prey. The barrage of seeds are similar to getting pelted with small stones, but pods hold 100-200 seeds, so when you’re under rapid fire it’s unbearable. You get paralysed when you get caught by the poisonous thorns in the vines after you get guided in by the rapid fire of seeds, and become creeper prey after getting your blood sucked—it explodes out into this demonic combo.

However, the efficacy and nutritional value of this seed is extremely high. It raises one’s original resilience exceptionally, and not only it is the raw materials for the ‘Regen potion’ that has a continuous recovery effect, if you eat a seed as is, you can also get an entire meal’s worth of nutrition.

“How did you get so much…”
“The intelligence of seed-bearing creepers circulate, right? So, alcohol will also circulate.”

It looks like you pour alcohol mixed with a sleeping draught to its roots, and when it falls asleep, you cut down the pods one-by-one.

“To think there’s such a method.”

The scales fell from her eyes. There were still a lot of things she didn’t know. Then what was the point of all the seeds she gathered from skirting around the perimeter the creeper habitat she did before?

“Ow ow ow… I made a teeny blunder and slipped up a little this time. Geez. They’re just a pesky grass and yet they drink so much.”

Probably injuries from projectiles. There was dark blood blotting through the seams of his left arm guard. She only saw a little from the gap of his clothes, but there was no mistaking that he had been pelted at.

“Oh no! You need to get treated now. Po… medicine, medicine.”
“Dis much is nahthing. It’s just a bruise. Don’t cha worry, I also have medicine on me. I hafta go dry the stray seeds.”
“What are you on about! You should get healed first! I’ll do the drying.”

“Oh, ‘s that so?” Grandpa Gark gave in to Mariela who was throwing up a fuss in her panic. He was unexpectantly weak to pressure. “Be sure to dry the pods one by one in moisture so we don’t damage the seeds. Watch this for me, make sure all the water doesn’t dry up.”

After saying that, he entered the house.

For a short while, Mariela and Sieg watched the pot as they were told.

(How dull. The other pods will degrade while we wait. Such a waste.)

“Sieg, do you know if anyone’s watching?”
“No one. But–”

《Training Space. Humidity levels 60%. Temperature 40 degrees. Dry.》

Faster than Sieg could say “It’s better to stop”, she used an alchemist skill on the five pods on the side.
When Sieg saw the pods drying before his eyes, he clutched his head.

“Haah, what, are you doing….”
“I’m not using ‘Drop of life’. An alchemist from outside could do this much.”

Just as the five pods were dried and the pod hanging over the pot was also about to dry, Grandpa Gark came back in the nick of time. When he saw the dried pods and that even the seeds inside were dried up to the core without damage, “What did you do in such a short time…” he muttered.

“I dried them.”

Grandpa Gark dropped his fist on the smirking Mariela who was playing dumb.

“Owww—” Mariela was in tears.

“Ya fool. Don’t do such a thing before people. If it hurts, that’s when you apologise. Ya understand? Oi, that big bro other there, watch over this idiot properly!”

Mariela hung her head at Grandpa Gark’s threatening attitude.

“I-I’m sorry….”

She went overboard and got yelled at. Sieg must be surprised as well.

When Mariela was going to go back in low spirits, Grandpa Gark pushed a dried pod into her hands.

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“Oh, wages for your labour. Take it. Um, what is… Well, ya helped. Come back next time,” he brusquely said that to her.

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“Grandpa Gark got angry at me.”

On the way home, Mariela chatted with Sieg.

“I’m also, angry. That was, too careless.”
“Yeah. I’m sorry. Thanks for the concern.”

She got a fist, and yet she got happy. As she walked with a spring in her steps, the many seeds in the dried pod rattled.

 

 

 

“Perfect timing, Miss Mariela.”

They returned to Yagu’s Drawbridge and just as they were entering their room, Vice-captain Marlowe called out to Mariela. That said, Vice-captain Marlowe was in the room next door. Despite owning a house in Labyrinth City, it seemed as though he had been holding onto the room since forever. Was he rich?

After leaving their belongings in their room for a moment, she went to Vice-Captain Marlowe’s room with Sieg. As usual, Captain Dierk was sitting on the couch in the room.

“Sorry.”

Captain Dierk, who usually says nothing until the end, was the first one to speak. The first thing that came out of his mouth was an apology. Vice-captain Marlowe also looked apologetic as he carried over a tray that contained a pile of gold coins and a document. What in the world happened?

“This is the copy of the receipt to the Labyrinth Subjugation Force.”

She was shocked. Was it okay for her to see this? It was presented to her though, so she picked it up and read it. Ten of each of the three types of low-grade potions seemed to have been purchased by the Black Iron Transportation Corps; the numbers remaining and the details were written down. The amount of money was totalled up below: “Fully paid for. Single transaction. 70 gold coins.”

“It’s about the expedition budget. We also negotiated persistently, but we were told that they can’t go beyond that, having also raised funds from the general’s personal treasury.”
“I carelessly said things like ‘we can also give a bit of a discount’…”

She understood that Captain Dierk was careless, she had known it, but still.
Was he saying that he’s sorry for driving down the price? She had said that it’s fine to have it cheaper, though.

“Umm, those lower than mid-grade have their price reduced, and fifteen high grades were sold for fifty-two gold, so one potion is around three and a half gold, is it?” Mariela asked.

Continuing on from Captain Dierk’s “My apologies,” Vice-captain Marlowe explained, “We thought that it would be nothing, but it couldn’t be helped as we were told to take strong measures. He isn’t that sort of person though…” He ended up apologising earnestly.

“I don’t mind. Please raise your heads,” she said.

Captain Dierk lifted his face with an ‘Eh? Is that okay?’ expression and Vice-captain Marlowe looked like he was wondering if she was up to something.

“The general even paid with his own money. Since the expedition needed potions. I’ll prepare more next time.” Mariela spoke her thoughts.

“Miss Mariela, do you really mean that? Do you understand how valuable those potions are?” There was a dangerous light in Vice-captain Marlowe’s eyes. It might be the first time she’s seen a serious expression on him.

“Potions are medicine, consumable goods. They’re not something you sell high in small quantities. If you need money, you should just sell a lot,” she said.

This was also in Mariela’s policy. Her master had told her to make a lot of potions. She didn’t understand her master’s intentions though. Two centuries ago, potions were commonplace and Mariela’s potions sold cheaper at a price that was close to being a deficit. Ever since she got independent, every day she made potions alone in the Evil Forest and sold them at the Defence City. The extremely rare words of thanks – “I got saved thanks to Mariela’s potion” – she got, supported her every time. “Make lots of potions, just enough for money”—that was a given for Mariela, so having people that will be helped by her potions matched well with the motive of her actions.

“Potions are an asset. You can even leave it for your descendants.” Vice-captain Marlowe searched Mariela’s eyes for her true motive.

(That’s true. If something happens to me, Sieg will get lost on the roadside.)

“Isn’t it fine to leave your house and money, an amount that wouldn’t trouble the people you leave it for?”

She got the contract for a house today. Even if you include the proceeds from the high-grade potions, she could only live there for a decade, but she still sold no more than a hundred potions. She should just produce some ten thousand potions more and sell them.

“A greedless person.” With an expression that stated I can’t comprehend, Vice-captain Marlowe muttered.


T/N: This took me a while, but I got there \o/

As you guys probably noticed, I changed some terminology. The main one is 魔の森 (it only occurred once in this chapter though). It was TL’d as demon forest before, but really should be evil forest or something along those lines.

Also, Yaguu is probably a corruption of Yagi, so goat > goet or something lol. I’ll keep it as Yagu though (unless you guys prefer otherwise).

As usual, let me know if there are any mistakes ;D

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