“Yup. Nothing beats the outside, alright.” [Hyuzu]
After completing our task in the mine without any incident, we went back outside.
Hyuzu-san was quite pleased to be out of the dark and dreary tunnel.
“We don’t have time to enjoy ourselves, Hyuzu. We have to go back and write a report.” [Zeff]
“I know, but it’ll be afternoon by the time we finish, so just a little bit more and sweet rest will come.” [Hyuzu]
We were called too.
After that we all headed for an area near the entrance of the mine.
It’s a wide area that used to be the dropoff for mining tools and other luggages. Because of that it was clean unlike the other areas that were littered with stones.
Currently, we’re just using it as a rendezvous point as well as a parking area for our carriage, but in its heyday, it even had a rest area for the employees.
As I walked through the tall weeds that reached up my waist, from time to time, a cold gust would blow. It’s because a part of the road had become a cliff. Without anything to block it, the wind was free to blow a chill gust. It’s great since the sun’s rays are really hot.
Turning toward the direction the wind blew, I could see the road we used to get here, and consequently, the whole town of Gimuru.
Under the perfectly clear blue skies that was without a single cloud, the lone stretch of road that extended out from the vast blankets of green painted a tranquil and relaxing sight.
“Young master, be careful. There’s a cliff that way.” [Zeff]
“Thanks for the warning.” [Ryouma]
I decided to heed Zeff-san’s warning.
He had a point. The weeds were tall and it was hard to see my feet, so it wasn’t far-fetched to say that I might lose my footing.
When I looked down I saw a great amount of earth and sand gathered under the cliff. That’s probably a slag heap. This is my first time seeing one.
It wasn’t exactly pretty, but seeing a mountain of red soil covered in weed strangely reminded of nature’s vitality. But still…
“It sure is a waste…” [Ryouma]
They said this mine doesn’t produce any iron anymore, but isn’t there actually a lot?
The red on that soil is the color of iron oxide… in other words, rust. If they used alchemy, they could probably continue to produce iron, but alchemists are ill-reputed around here, so they probably can’t.
We walked toward the wide-open area as I thought that. When we got to the place, for some reason, Reinhart-san and the madam seemed to be waiting by the entrance.
“Welcome home~” [Elize]
“How was it?” [Reinhart]
“Mother, father, I defeated lots of cave mantises!” [Elialia]
“Hmm, seems you did well.” [Reinhart]
“Ryouma-san started helping me along the way to keep the mantises away, so I was able to cast my spells unhindered. Ryouma defeated even more mantises than me too!” [Elialia]
“So Ryouma-kun protected you, huh. Thank you, Ryouma-kun.” [Reinhart]
“Still… Were there that many cave mantises?” [Elize]
“Apparently, the tunnel we entered was a nest of cave mantises. There were nothing but cave mantises inside.” [Jill]
“I see, then how about going into another tunnel this afternoon, but this time with us? I want to see how you and Ryouma-kun fight too.” [Reinhart]
“Really? I’ll do my best!” [Elialia]
“Oh my, aren’t we excited? But before that let’s have our lunch first. The others will be returning shortly, so until then let’s talk.” [Elize]
Like that we ate and talked about the details of my adventures with Elialia in the tunnel of cave mantises. After that it was decided that we would be going into another tunnel after lunch.
“By the way, Ryouma-san. What was on your mind a while ago?” [Elialia]
“A while ago?” [Ryouma]
We ate with the 4 members of the duke’s household, and for most of the time we were talking about either our reflection on the events this morning or Elia’s way of fighting. When that topic was exhausted, however, the ojousama – Elialia – asked me something. Unfortunately, I had no idea what she was talking about.
“Didn’t you say, ‘what a waste,’ when you saw the landscape around here?” [Elialia]
Ah, so that’s what she was referring to. Unfortunately, while I understand what she’s talking about now, the topic is a bit problematic for me.
“I-It wasn’t anything important.” [Ryouma]
I suck at lying. Really. I’m sure even a slime could tell from that last sentence that I’m just trying to pull the wool over her.
“Suspicious… Very suspicious.” [Elialia]
“You sure are a poor liar.” [Reinbach]
“Is it something you can’t say?” [Reinhart]
“If you want to say something, you should just say it.” [Elize]
Well, I guess if it’s these people, it should be fine.
“Do you remember what I told you about along the way to Gimuru? About the salt?” [Ryouma]
“Ahh, I see, so that’s what. Don’t worry. There’s no one here except for us, Sebasu, Arone, and Lilian. Arone and Lilian are good at keeping secrets, so you don’t have to worry about word getting out.” [Reinhart]
“Right. Anyway, you know I can use alchemy, right?” [Ryouma]
“I’ve heard of it.” [Reinhart]
Although it was Reinhart-san who replied, I was focused on Arone-san and Lilian-san.
They looked surprised when they heard the word ‘alchemy’, but they didn’t show any unpleasant feelings.
Heaving a sigh of relief, I continued.
“R-Right. And this mine is going to be abandoned, yes?” [Ryouma]
“That’s right. We’re done with the papers too.” [Reinbach]
“What about it?” [Reinhart]
“It might still be possible to acquire iron from this mine… That is with the use of alchemy, anyway.” [Ryouma]
When I said that everyone else except me stiffened.
“Is that true?” [Reinhart]
“Yes. Do you remember what I told you about detoxifying the salt from Gana Forest?” [Ryouma]
“I do.” [Reinhart]
“It’s the same thing. All I need to do is to take the iron from the soil. I believe that red in the soil is actually the color of iron. Umm… when you put water on a sword and leave it like that, it’ll rust, right?” [Ryouma]
“In the same way the iron of a sword can rust, so can the iron inside the soil. That’s why it’s colored red. So long as I use alchemy and extract only the iron from the soil, it should be possible to produce iron. That being said, it would probably be an issue if an abandoned mine suddenly started producing large amounts of iron, so that’s why I think it’s a waste.” [Ryouma]
“That’s true, but… Ryouma-kun, if you think you can do it, why not try? I’m interested in whether it would work or not, and I also have a way to sell them without causing trouble.” [Reinhart]
I nodded and decided to give it a shot.
Tl Note: There’ll be another chapter part tomorrow.