The next day.
The Wharf of Shikumu bought some help and guide before going with me to the hot spring. It was still dark when we got on a small boat and crossed the lake.
“You know how to handle a boat, Kai-san?” [Ryouma]
“Anyone from our village could do something like this. Right?” [Kai]
“Boats are the most used transportation method around here.” [Kei]
“Whether it’s going to a large village to buy some stuff or bringing an ill person to a nearby village, boats are the fastest at them all. Around here all the children are taught how to man the boats by the adults, so everyone knows how to use them, fisherman or not.” [Shin]
“I see.” [Ryouma]
I guess there are all sorts of transportation depending on the region.
“Ryouma, look at that.” [Sein]
Sein-san? Just as I was wondering what was up and followed his gaze…
“Ah, is that the so-called ‘Mouse Inn’?” [Ryouma]
On my first day here when Kei-san showed me around, I heard about a monster that dwelled in the lake. There were 7 or 8 critters that looked like sea otters or beavers gathered together, pushing a raft-like nest made of trees and branches.
“When they start pushing their nest like that, that’s a sign that there’s not much time left before the mud salamanders stop coming and the fishing period comes to an end.” [Sein]
“Huh… Is that so?” [Ryouma]
“For some reason, these critters seem to know when the ‘wave’ of mud salamanders will come to an end. As the mud salamander wave begins to subside, these critters begin pushing their nest from the lake to anchor it to the entrance of the river downstream. They stay there until the winter passes.” [Peiron]
“If they try to anchor it while the wave is ongoing, they’ll be crushed by the mud salamanders, so they first wait for it to weaken enough before they attempt to anchor their nest.” [Shin]
Peiron-san and Shin-san added.
So you can learn the beginning and end of the fishing season by watching the behavior of the monsters.
It won’t be long before the mud salamander wave comes to an end. Which also means that the subjugation job will come to a close soon.
At the same time, that also means that my life here will soon draw to a close.
…I should treasure each day and make sure I don’t leave anything undone.
Another thirty minutes of us talking and traversing the lake passed before we reached the port of a large town.
The facilities of the beach here weren’t much different from those found at Shikumu Village, but the number and scale was on a whole nother league. There were also a lot of people visiting from other villages to purchase goods. It’s still only morning, but there are already plenty of boats coming to and fro. Large buildings could be seen at the end of the beach and with so many people, the whole place felt lively.
A man waved a small flag from the wharf and called out to us. From the looks of things, he seems to be managing the sea traffic. Kai-san followed his instructions and docked the boat at an empty spot at the wharf.
“Alright, you can get down now.” [Man]
“Thank you very much.” [Ryouma]
“Brr, it’s cold.” [Kai]
“Rowing a boat early morning is sure to be cold.” [Kei]
“Let’s get some soup from one of the stalls.” [Peiron]
The cold early morning was just like that of winter, so no one rejected Peiron-san’s suggestion to warm ourselves up first.
Apparently, a lot of people were thinking the same.
The moment we entered the town through the beach and reached the main street, stalls selling warm soup and stew could be seen lined up.
There were probably more than 60 stalls… With so many to pick from, it’s actually quite difficult to decide where to eat, but for some reason, the members of the Wharf of Shikumu just kept on walking without any hesitation.
“Have you all already decided where to eat?” [Ryouma]
“Hmm? Oh, right. You don’t know. Actually, we have an older brother tending to a stall here. That’s why since we’re here we might as well drop by and get some grub.” [Kei]
“I see.” [Ryouma]
We found the stall while we were talking.
Everyone was already acquainted, so they just greeted each other a little before ordering food and then moving on to talk about each other’s situation.
Somewhere along the conversation, I was introduced, and I too got some warm stew.
The seasoning and ingredients were changed a little in order to suit stall food better, but the stew still tasted like Kei-san’s mother.
After warming our bodies, we headed straight for the manor of the feudal lord.
We took a carriage, so it only took us about 20 minutes to reach it.
The manor of the feudal lord was literally straight from the beach along the main street. A rather normal manor. It might be strange to call it a normal manor, but it wasn’t a castle like the duke’s.
It’s not very gaudy. Putting it nicely, it’s unaffected and sincere.
It’s really big, of course, but it doesn’t feel imposing.
It’s built out of bricks and mud, but for some reason, it feels like an apartment complex.
There’s a fence around it, and in front of the gate could be seen the pig tribe guards keeping watch.
We told those guards what we came here for.
“We’ve already been informed. We’ll call the person in charge, so please wait here for a bit.” [Pig Guard 1]
The guards treated us well and immediately brought out a man who could be responsible for us.
“Sorry to keep you waiting. I take it, you are Takebayashi-sama, and these are the members of the Wharf of Shikumu? I am Piguu. I look forward to working with you today.” [Piguu]
“Please take care of us.” [Ryouma and the Wharf of Shikumu]
He looks like he’s somewhere between 50 and 60, or maybe even older.
I can’t tell his exact age, but he should be fairly old.
As a member of the pig tribe, he had a lot of meat on him and his drooping cheeks gave him the image of a gentle old man.
He had prepared a carriage from the duke to take us to the hot spring, so we quickly got on it and departed.
It took us one hour to reach the hot spring.
“Don’t worry! I just slipped!” [Sein]
“Sheesh, be careful, will you?” [Kai]
“It’s steep after all. If you fall you’ll fall all the way for sure.” [Kei]
“My apologies… The road around here used to be a lot more convenient, but…” [Piggu]
“…Shin-kun. Let’s take a rest.” [Peiron]
“Alright. Let’s take a breather.” [Shin]
There were stairs from the base of the mountain to the hot spring, but somewhere along the way, those stairs turned into a steep slope that we had to climb for three hours. It took a lot of effort to finally reach the hot springs.
“Are these the hot springs we’re meant to clean?” [Ryouma]
“It’s a bit different from what I expected.” [Kei]
Just as Kei-san said, although the place smelled like a hot spring and also sounded like one, the only structure that could be found was a dirty shed that looked like a storage room.
“This is indeed the place. Fuhi… The previous master who had it built wasn’t fond of unnecessary decorations. He said that one shed was enough.” [Piggu]
“Can we take a look inside? You can rest here in the meantime.” [Ryouma]
“Very well. This is the key. It’s narrow inside, so I’ll be over here. If you need something, just call me.” [Piggu]
As expected, that climb must have been quite harsh given his age and all. He sat himself beside the entrance, on top of a lump of grass— No, after a closer look, it seems to be an old bench overgrown with grass.
I took the key and headed for the shed with the others.
It was really narrow inside. So narrow in fact that the five members of the Wharf of Shikumu and me – that’s five adults and a child – just barely fit inside when standing. I don’t know what kind of body the previous feudal lord had, but if he also had that sumo wrestler body, then this would indeed be a shed meant for just one person.
Inside was a basket for clothes and a chair for resting. There was also a graffiti-like map drawn on the walls. There was barely anything inside, and as far as filth went, it was at most dust and spider webs.
“Cleaning this part doesn’t seem all that difficult. The problem is probably further ahead.” [Ryouma]
When we opened the door deeper inside, a small staircase greeted us.
On the third step down, a spacious open-air bath appeared, but…
“This is terrible.” [Shin]
“You can’t even call it clean as flattery.” [Peiron]
Shin-san and Peiron-san said as they peeked from behind.
They probably built a bathtub here and then sourced the water from the hot springs.
This is just a rough conjecture, but I’m guessing the water here is always on, and when the water in the tub overflows, it falls onto the ground and then into the ditch that’s meant to drain the water outside.
Unfortunately, the drainage is currently blocked due to the accumulation of fallen leaves and branches. With the drainage blocked and the water left stagnant, a stench different from the usual sulfur of the hot springs has began to waft.
But that’s not all.
“I wonder if there’s also iron content mixed in with the calcium carbonate crystals.” [Ryouma]
A thick layer of tightly packed sediments has formed over the floor. There’s also a reddish-brown lump on the bath mirror. Hand prints of the same color could also be seen on the walls. These things formed due to the minerals in the hot spring hardening, so they can’t be removed easily.
“For the meantime, let’s start with what we can do. ‘Dimension Home.’” [Ryouma]
I summoned my scavenger slimes and had them deal with the pile of leaves and branches and the hot water.
“Be thorough with the blocked drainage.” [Ryouma]
“!” [Scavenger Slimes]
After the scavenger slimes gave their confirmation, we went outside.
Piguu-san called out to us anxiously when he saw us leaving.
“Is something the matter?” [Piguu]
“The hot water is being drained, so we’re going to prepare the next step while waiting for it.” [Ryouma]
“Is that so? …You can clean it?” [Piguu]
“I’m guessing your problem is with the hardened clumps on the walls and the floor?” [Ryouma]
“Yes. I tried cleaning it myself before, but no matter how many times we try to clean it, those lumps just can’t be rid of.” [Piguu]
As I thought.
The minerals inside the hot spring were separated due the high temperature and pressure and then they turned into that sediment. This so-called hot spring sediment can add a unique hot spring look, but it tends to get on the floor, walls, and even the plumbing, so in Japan, it’s considered a nuisance.
Piguu-san is making a frustrated face while gesturing the scrubbing motion with his hands. Unfortunately, just scrubbing isn’t enough to remove those sediments.
“It’s rather abrupt, but I’m going make a liquid meant to remove those things right now.” [Ryouma]
“Oh my! Is there such a thing?” [Piguu]
“I’m doing this on the fly, so there’s no telling if it’ll work.” [Ryouma]
First, I’ll use earth magic to make the jar that will store the chemical.
And then I’ll summon my sticky slimes and acid slimes from my Dimension Home, and have them produce some sticky liquid and acid.
“These clumps are calcium carbonate. They’re like seashells, so they’re weak to acid. The acid slime’s acid should be able to melt them.” [Ryouma]
“Is that true!?” [Piguu]
“Should be.” [Ryouma]
The crystallized lumps will probably melt if I pour acid on them in place of acid detergent, but if the acid is too strong, it’s possible that the walls and floor beneath the lumps will also be damaged. To avoid that, it’s necessary to dilute the concentration with the sticky slime’s sticky liquid.
…Something like this?
“Let’s try it out.” [Ryouma]
I brought the acid and sticky slimes with me to the bathroom, then we went to the edge of the tub, where the water has already been drained thanks to the scavanger slimes, and performed the experiment.
I had the acid slimes line up and create a small circle, then I poured the acid mixture inside it.
“Oh!” [Wharf of Shikumu Members and Piguu]
Voices exclaimed from behind me.
Piguu-san and the members of the Wharf of Shikumu came along to see the experiment. When they saw bubbles appear as the calcium carbonate reacted to the acid, they exclaimed.
The acid is effective, but this mixture is still too strong to be used for cleaning.
Also, while the mixture might be more viscous compared to the acid on its own, it’s only a slight difference.
I need to change the ratio.
I experimented with the ratio several times until I came up with a ‘strong acid but low viscosity’ mixture for use with thick layers of sediments and a ‘weak acid but high viscosity’ mixture for use with thin layers of sediments or for places like walls where it’s easy for the chemical to drip down.
I also made an ‘average acid and viscosity’ mixture.
All in all, I made three different mixtures of chemical for cleaning.