It was on the morning of such a day, that a carriage departed from the gates of the town of Kereban that was a few days’ distance from Gimuru. Within the carriage were the figures of six people. One was an old man who worked as the coachman, while the other five were young girls of marriageable age.
The coachman was the butler of the Jamil Household, Sebasu. And the ones inside the carriage were the daughter of the Jamil Household, Elialia Jamil and her friend and classmate, Miyabi Saionji. Also within the carriage were the eldest daughter of a count, Michelle Willdan, the knight and eldest daughter of a baron, Riera Clifford, and the magic tool craftsman apprentice, Kanan Shuza.
Dressed in inconspicuous clothing, these five young girls have left the capital, and have been travelling with Sebasu-san on a carefree trip.
“It won’t be long till the city of Gimuru.” [Elia]
“If everything goes well, we’ll be there within 2 days.” [Michelle]
“I’m looking forward to seeing the matches being held at the arena.” [Riera]
“As for me, I’m most interested in Elia and Miyabi’s friend.” [Kanan]
These five young girls made use of the academy’s extended leave to go on a trip. And are now happily talking about the things they are looking forward to in Gimuru. The reason behind choosing their destination as Gimuru is partly because of Elia’s promised reunion with Ryouma. However, that’s not the only reason they’re going to Gimuru.
In the past two years, thanks to the all the efforts of Gimuru’s hired earth magicians and workers, Gimuru was able to complete the new town to the south where the arena is, making the place much more lively than what it used to be. They, especially Riera who aims to be a knight, hope to see the matches of the many adventurers and people that take pride in their skills.
Although this trip might be a carefree one, as three of the young girls are daughters of nobles, they are being accompanied by the head butler of the Jamil Household, Sebasu, who acts both as their coachman and bodyguard. Of course, the young girls’ parents had all given them their approval to go on this trip too.
Some time later as the carriage continued to proceed toward their destination, Elia looked out the window. As she gazed at the scenery outside, she muttered, saying
“I’ve heard rumors of bandits attacking while on the road, but I can’t feel even an inkling of such presence.” [Elia]
“Gimuru has gotten popular lately, causing the tourists and merchants to increase. Because of that the number of bandits have also increased. However, Gimuru isn’t one to take that lying down. In order to deal with them, Gimuru put up requests against the bandits with relatively high compensation. As soon as the rumors circulate, the adventurers gather, and the bandits are dealt with. But in the unlikely situation that we do happen upon some, please rest assured, I will be here to protect you young ladies.” [Sebasu]
A first-class magician such as Sebasu could easily deal with bandits while protecting five people. And even if the carriage were to be ruined, Sebasu could still run away with the group in tow with his dimension magic.
“Moreover, the path we’re taking is safer than the other paths. There should be little chance of bandits appearing here.” [Sebasu]
As he said that, he took the reins of the horse, guiding it toward one of the many roads leading to Gimuru. The path the carriage was headed for was the path that crossed over a mountain.
“Sebasu-dono, why is this path safe?” [Riera]
Having been born to a family that has served as knights for many generations, Riera possessed a wealth of knowledge when it came to dealing with bandits. It should have been common sense that bandits preferred the mountain roads, where they could lie in wait at an opportune place for some unknowing prey. She could not understand why Sebasu would judge the road they were taking to be safe.
At Riera’s question, even the other four couldn’t help but pay attention to Sebasu.
“This is something I happened to overhear at Kereban, but apparently, there’s an adventurer that‘s been frequenting this road lately. He goes around subjugating the bandits even without receiving a prior request. Moreover, he makes sure to deal with all of the bandits, not leaving even a single one untouched. Such actions have apparently stricken fear into the hearts of the bandits, causing most of them to stay clear of this road.” [Sebasu]
When the five girls heard that, they were able to understand. Afterwards, they began to talk amongst themselves again. As they did, Sebasu happily watched over them as he drove the carriage.
As their carriage continued through the mountainous road, they passed through other carriages, and even the travelers that were resting by the road. When noon came, the girls had to stop their carriage as well in order to rest and have lunch.. As they ate, they talked about the people passing by.
“This road sure has a lot of people passing through it, huh?” [Kanan]
“I know right? They’re probably gatherin’ here caused they heard that the road’s safe.” [Miyabi]
“Because of that rumor?” [Kanan]
“Most likely. Besides, with this many people passing through here, it won’t be so easy for the bandits to attack either. Well… being safe is nice and all, but I’m a bit worried about the lodging once we get to the next town.” [Michelle]
“The next town’s not that big either too. It’d probably be better if we hurry, huh?” [Riera]
“I don’t think hurrying now would make a difference though.” [Michelle]
They ate like that as they talked amongst themselves. When they finished eating, they began to move again. And fortunately, they were able to make it to the town, before the sun had set.
This town is called Mek. It’s mostly just a stopover town for people to rest while on their way to Gimuru. And as it’s only a day’s distance from Kereban, a lot of people heading to Gimuru drop by.
It was on this town that a problem appeared.
“My deepest apologies, but there are no longer any free rooms…” [Clerk]
“I see…” [Elia]
The six left the inn that refused them. Just as they had feared, they weren’t able to get an inn.
This village is an inn town, so there’re many inns in it. But at the same time, there are also a lot of people heading for Gimuru. Moreover, that already overwhelming number was further increased because of the rumor that’s been circulating. There are some new inns being built, to allow the town to accommodate more people, but unfortunately, they aren’t done yet. As a result, the town’s inns are being constantly filled with people.
If the three daughters of noble lineage were to announce their presence, it would be possible to forcibly take some rooms, but their personal values wouldn’t let them do that. Because of that, they had no choice but to go around to look for an inn. In the end, they were refused, and they finally had no choice but to sleep inside Sebasu’s Dimension Home.
Because they gave up on staying at an inn, the girls weren’t able to experience one of the joys of travelling which was to stay at the inn of the land they are visiting. So instead, they went around to see the gorgeously decorated lively town, window-shopped at a souvenir store, and when they’d whetted their appetite enough, they went to eat supper.
“Does this town have any specialty?” [Kanan]
“There seems to be a lot of delicious restaurants.” [Michelle]
“But because there’s plenty of delicious restaurants, it becomes a dilemma which one to go to.” [Elia]
“Then in that case, I’ll go and ask.” [Kanan]
As Kanan said that, she went to a nearby shop’s clerk, and she began her inquiries. She came back after a while.
“I got some info~. There’s a bar near the west gate of this town called “Woodsman.” There’s also a restaurant with delicious cooking at the east gate at a restaurant called “Tereshi Diner”. And then if we want to eat a variety of foods, the clerk said to go to the northern part of the town as there’re many carts gathered there.” [Kanan]
“Regardless how delicious the cooking may be, it’d be better not to go to the bar.” [Miyabi]
“It’ll be a pain if we get caught up with some weird guy after all.” [Michelle]
“So that leaves the carts or Tereshi Diner.” [Riera]
There, Elia asked Kanan this.
“I wonder what kind of food the cars serve.” [Elia]
“Ah~…… It’s because Elia’s a lady after all.” [Kanan]
As Kanan said that, Riera began explaining.
“They generally have a lot of food on stick. There’re also plenty of soups and drinks. And then, there’re also places that properly serve food. And even if the disdh is the same, the taste can change depending on the store. A good cart can provide really delicious food.” [Riera]
“Oh? Riera, have you gone to carts before?” [Elia]
“I don’t go that much, but before I enrolled into the academy, my dad sometimes took me. Dad says it’s convenient to eat at those sort of places because it makes it possible for him to have an honest conversation with his subordinates, so because of that, he frequents the food carts.” [Riera]
“So that’s how it its.” [Elia]
“Since Elia doesn’t seem to have any experience with the food carts, how about we eat there?” [Michelle]
“If everyone’s alright with it, then please.” [Elia]
“I’m fine with it! It’s been a while since I’ve gotten to eat from a food cart.” [Kanan]
“I’m alright with the food carts too, but I don’t think that’ll be enough to have our fill.” [Miyabi]
“Then in that case, we can go there to taste some food from the carts. Then if that’s not enough, we can just go eat at a proper restaurant.” [Riera]
“Perfect! As long as we pay attention to the amount we order, there should be no problem.” [Elia]
Like this, the girls headed for the northern part of the town where the carts were gathered.
With Kanan in the lead, the girls headed for the area where the carts were gathered. When they got there, they were greeted by a large, rectangular plaza that ran along the town’s outer walls.
The plaza of the town can be entered through the side road from the main street. Meeting the people entering from the side road are the over 40 carts lined up. There are many customers going around between the carts and the side street. With the hustling and bustling and enthusiasm all together the atmosphere area was like that of a festival’s.
“There are so many people.” [Elia]
“I haven’t gone to food carts all that much with my dad, but from what I’ve heard, one of the joys of eating at food carts is finding a delicious one amongst all the rabble. With this many carts, there’s bound to be one that’s delicious.” [Riera]
“Let’s go and find a delicious place ta eat at already.” [Miyabi]
At Miyabi’s words, the five of them went to take a look at the food in the carts. Meanwhile, Sebasu nonchalantly made sure that there were no suspicious people around them.
When they found something that caught their eye, the five of them went along with Sebasu-san toward that cart. At first, Elia couldn’t calm down as she impatiently carried the skewered meat to her mouth, but after a while, she finally showed signs of getting used to it.
When everyone had their fill, Michelle said this.
“Hmm… I think I’ll finish after one or two more. As expected, we won’t be able to go see all the carts.” [Michelle]
“I think I’ll do the same.” [Miyabi]
“Right… then what should we eat? We’ve already eaten all sorts of skewered food, so…” [Elia]
“I’d like to eat something that fills me up more.” [Kanan]
“Then in that case, how about that cart over there?” [Sebasu]
As Sebasu said that, he pointed toward a cart with a long queue waiting on it. As the cart was hidden by the crowd of people, the six of them couldn’t see the cart. However, there was a sign that was raised up high where the food being sold was written.
“Slime Den Restaurant, special meat buns?” [Michelle]
“From the town of Gimuru… I think that might be…” [Elia]
“Yes. It’s the name of Ryouma-sama’s store.” [Sebasu]
“By Ryouma, you mean Elia’s friend, right?” [Riera]
“Yes. Some time ago he mentioned in his letter that he had employed someone whom he turned into a head chef and opened a store with… But I didn’t know that it was a cart.” [Elia]
“Don’t you think the store’s name might just be an imitation?” [Kanan]
The possibility that Kanan mentioned does exist, but Sebasu promptly denied it.
“That’s genuine. It’s most likely Ryouma-sama’s cart. I also haven’t heard anything about Ryouma-sama’s cart, but he probably came here to spread word about his store.” [Sebasu]
The papers for a cart can easily be done. Moreover, finding a place for one won’t be hard either. Because of that, it’s not strange to have just one or two cooks operating one. Moreover, by spreading word of his own store to all these people heading that are heading toward Gimuru, the possibility that a lot of people might come to his store shouldn’t be hard to imagine.
Hearing that, the five understood. In that case, the next problem would be the taste.
“I’ve never heard of that meat bun dish he’s talking about. What kind of cooking is it?” [Elia]
“It’s seasoned grilled meat mixed with all sorts of ingredients and then packed in a bread. However, the bread used is completely different from a normal bread. The bread used is made not by frying, but by steaming, so it’s extremely soft. And with the juice of the meat permeating into the bread, the taste of the ingredients become superb. I’ve had the pleasure of eating it once, and I have to say, it was absolutely delicious.” [Sebasu]
When Sebasu answered Riera’s question, everyone suddenly became interested in the meat buns.
“It kind of sounds delicious.” [Kanan]
“Shall we go try it? We’ll be meeting him later, so it’ll also serve as a good topic for conversation.” [Riera]
“Still, the line’s pretty darn long…” [Miyabi]
“Moreover, there also seems to be a limit on how much one can buy.” [Michelle]
On the store’s sign was pasted: only two per person. This is to spread the store’s meat buns to everyone, please cooperate.
“Just two, huh? Then I guess I’ll go buy some dessert somewhere. Can you guys buy my portion too? Of course, I’ll buy dessert for everyone.” [Michelle]
“I’ll lend ya a helping hand. Carryin’ six people’s worth of food’s bound to be a handful, right?” [Miyabi]
“Then in that case, I’ll come along too. Riera-sama, please take care of our family’s young lady.” [Sebasu]
“Leave it to me.” [Riera]
Like this, Michelle, Miyabi, and Sebasu left to buy dessert. The ones left in that place were Riera, Elialia, and Kanan. They were lined up at the end of the queue.
Riera felt something amiss when Sebasu chose to leave Elia, whoe he was supposed to protect the most, but her thoughts were interrupted when the other two called out to her.
“What’s the matter, Riera?” [Elia]
“Keep going. The queue’s unexpectedly fast, so if you stop, we’ll become a bother.” [Kanan]
“A, Ah… Right.” [Riera]
What Riera was pondering about was actually what would happen if a situation where she can’t handle occurs. But changing her way of thinking, Riera followed the line. Just as Kanan had mentioned, the line was actually quite fast. At this rate, it shouldn’t be long before it becomes their turn.
The three waited for a while, then their turn finally came. The cart was being operated by two black-haired men who cooked the food and served the customers. The two had the exdact same face and appearance, so they were clearly twins. With Riera in the lead, the three of them closed in to the clerk. The clerk called out to them.
“Six meat buns. There’s three of us.” [Riera]
Said Riera as she ordered the meat buns. But as the clerk was about to respond, the clerk suddenly stopped mid-speech.
Before Riera, who became wary of the clerk, could say something, the clerk muttered.
When the three heard that, they were more or less surprised, but the one surprised the most was the one whose name was called, Elia. When Elia took a peek at the clerk who called her name, she felt that it was a face she had seen before.
As she tried to recall, she spoke the name of the person that came up in her thoughts.
“So it really is Elia! It’s been a while!” [Ryouma]
Elia nodded her head to confirm the clerk’s, Ryouma’s, words. And then she smiled.
These two have been keeping in touch with each other through their letters, but letters aren’t able to show one another their appearances. Moreover, they were both going through a period of growing up, so after not having met for three years, they had grown up, and weren’t able to recognize each other with just a glance.
The both of them were taller compared to three years ago. Elia had grown to around 160cm, while Ryouma was half a head taller. And more than anything, Elia’s body was become much more rounded like a woman’s, while Ryouma wasn’t fat by any means, he was body is built with muscles. It can’t be helped that neither of them were able to recognize each other.
Although they were surprised at the sudden reunion, Ryouma and Elia began talking to each other while her friends were left dumbfounded at the realization that the rumored friend was actually the man before them. But then, a man’s voice sounded out from behind them.
“Hey, hurry up––“ [Man]
“Ah, yes!” [Ryouma]
“We can’t talk here, huh?” [Elia]
As Ryouma filled the paper bag with meat buns, he asked Elia.
“Elia, where are you staying at today?” [Ryouma]
“Actually, we couldn’t find an inn because of all the people. So we’ll be staying at Sebasu’s Dimension Home instead.” [Elia]
“Oh… I’m going to close soon, so if you don’t mind, how about we meet later?” [Ryouma]
“Yes, let’s. But where…” [Elia]
“Let’s meet at the Tereshi Diner to the east of this town. That restaurant’s being run by a pair of now married, former adventurers, so it’s safe.” [Ryouma]
“Alright. I’ll see you then.” [Elia]
“Thank you for your patronage. Next customer!” [Ryouma]
After finishing their quick exchange, Elia and her friends left Ryouma’s cart. And just as they left, Michelle and the others who had gone to buy desserts arrived. Elia and the others explained to them what had just happened at the cart.
After eating the meat buns and the desserts, the six of them all gathered at the Tereshi Diner to meet with Ryouma. Speaking of which, the meat buns were a huge success.