Two hours later.
After the members of the Wharf of Shikumu and I finished treating the open-bath hot springs with the acidic sticky liquid, we quickly ate our lunch in front of the shed on top of a cloth spread over the ground. The dishes lined up were the onigiri and soup made by Kai’s mother. For ingredients, she added fish boiled in soy sauce. The strong taste perfectly matched the rice.
With such a great weather, the whole thing felt like a picnic. While we were eating, someone called out to us from the mountain path.
Just as I was wondering who could be calling us all the way out here on top of a mountain…
“Puhaa~! This road is as harsh as ever… Ohh!” [Porco]
“The feudal lord!?” [Everyone Else]
The one who appeared after pushing his way through the plants and trees was none other than the feudal lord himself.
Behind him were the two dragon newts who looked like they were his escorts.
“My lord!?” [Piguu]
“Piguu. So you showed them the way yourself.” [Porco]
“But of course, my lord. There is no one more suited for the job than I.” [Piguu]
“Perhaps. But while I did leave the selection of the guide to you, you really ought to consider your age more. But enough of that. More importantly, it seems I’ve intruded on your lunch.” [Porco]
“Nothing of the sort, Porco-sama. But why are you here?” [Ryouma]
“I just couldn’t get my mind off of it, so I came here to see how things are going. Can you clean the place?” [Porco]
Since he was inquiring, I decided to show him the place and explain to him the situation.
“I see… So there was a chemical that could melt that filth, huh.” [Porco]
“I didn’t have any at hand, so I had to come up with one on the fly. It works, though.” [Ryouma]
“My lord. I saw the experiment with my own eyes. Right now he’s letting the chemical permeate the filth through the soaked cloth, but even at this stage, the filth has already started to melt.” [Piguu]
“After one more hour, we’ll remove the cloth and begin cleaning the place.” [Ryouma]
“That sounds reassuring.” [Piguu]
The feudal lord happily left the shed.
Outside were the two guards and the members of the Wharf of Shikumu, but they weren’t talking and even appeared to be a little uncomfortable.
The feudal lord noticed that too.
“Oh, right. Come to think of it, I’ve yet to introduce you. This is Kichomaru-dono, my guard and assistant.” [Porco]
“Well met, I am Kichomaru, de gozaru.” [Kichomaru]
“There is a martial art known as sumo that has been passed down in the dragon newt village. This person here is a sumo expert.” [Porco]
“I am Tairyuzan, de gowasu. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance.” [Tairyuzan]
“He has been acknowledged as Yokozuna – the highest rank for those who study sumo. He is not only my guard, but also my instructor.” [Porco]
The two people the feudal lord introduced bowed their heads. We took this opportunity to introduce ourselves as well.
After the members of the Wharf of Shikumu finished their introductions came my turn.
Anyhow, with this the mystery has finally been cleared up.
“So you really were studying sumo too, Porco-sama.” [Ryouma]
“Yes. I thought you looked at me different from the others, so it turns out you knew about sumo.” [Porco]
“Yes. My grandparents traveled the world as adventurers, so I’ve heard about it from them. I didn’t think I would actually meet a rikishi (sumo wrestler) here though.” [Ryouma]
“I first learned about sumo during my academy days. At the time I had a friend who was an exchange student from the dragon newt village. When I heard about sumo wrestling from him, it was like an epiphany.
We of the pig tribe tend to put on weight easily and have a hard time losing it. Because of that our bodies always end up like this, but dragon newt villagers aspiring to become rikishi actually go out of their way to make their body like ours. Moreover, when learning the sword, the topic of whittling down the body naturally comes up, and it’s fairly common for members of our tribe to overtrain or break their knees or their body because they failed to reduce their weight enough.
But with sumo wrestling, the practitioners specifically train to be able to move their bodies while fattened up. So as soon as I heard about it, I thought, ‘this martial art was practically made for us!’” [Porco]
Since then the feudal lord has wanted to study sumo. Just recently, when he called for specialists in rice cultivation, he took the opportunity to also invite the yokozuna, Tairyuzan.
“By the way, Ryouma-kun. Can I ask you one more thing?” [Porco]
“? If it’s something I can answer, then by all means.” [Ryouma]
“I noticed there were a lot cloths plastered onto a part of the bath earlier. You explained what they were for, but do adventurers normally carry so many cloths on them?” [Porco]
“Ahh… Right. Adventurers normally can’t move around while carrying all that with them, but I can use dimension magic, so having a lot of luggage on me isn’t a problem. Besides, they’re also useful for when I run out of bandages, and I can also use them to make clothes. I bought them from a cheap place.” [Ryouma]
“Is that true? Is that jacket you’re wearing also made by you?” [Porco]
The feudal lord said while pointing at my attempt at down jacket. I honestly answered him.
“Hoh… Actually, on the way back home yesterday, the topic of your clothes looking rather warm came up. My escorts say that there’s similar clothing back at the dragon newt village.” [Porco]
“Clothes similar to mine? Could you be referring to a hanten? It looks like a shorter haori…” [Ryouma]
“Yes, that’s exactly it, de gowasu!” [Tairyuzan]
“You even know about the haori? I see you’re rather well informed about our village, de gozaru.” [Kichomaru]
“Thank you very much. Most of it is thanks to my grandparents, but I also have an acquaintance who trained there.” [Ryouma]
“I see.” [Kichomaru]
“Hmm. As expected of the barley tea sage, I suppose.” [Porco]
Is the feudal lord going to bring that up again?
“I’m sorry to say, but that barley tea sage thing is rather embarrassing.” [Ryouma]
“I think it’s fine, though. It is true that you are an erudite, after all.” [Porco]
“But my lord. Wouldn’t most people think of the famed Melia-sama when the word sage is brought up? It only stands to reason that Ryouma-dono would be reluctant to have the same name as that esteemed person who achieved so many things.” [Piguu]
“Hmm. Now that you mention it, perhaps that is the case. My apologies.” [Porco]
“It’s fine. Please don’t mind it.” [Ryouma]
“I see. You were saying that the cleaning will still take some time, yes?” [Porco]
“Yes. I want to let the clumps soak in the chemical a bit more.” [Ryouma]
“In that case, I’ll come again later to take a look. I’m looking forward to the results, so please take care of it.” [Porco]
“Yes, Porco-sama.” [Ryouma]
I bowed my head, and then the feudal lord left the mountain with his two guards… Huh? He’ll come again later? He’s going to go down and then come back up?
“The feudal lord will probably visit the grave of the previous head. The previous head was buried at the top of this mountain just as stated in his will. The feudal lord often complained about how he can’t visit the grave easily, so he probably saw the cleaning job here as a good excuse to visit.” [Piguu]
“I see. That’s good then.” [Ryouma]
Still, to think that the only luxury the previous head was this hot spring, and he even had his grave built here through his will.
“The previous head must have really loved this mountain.” [Ryouma]
“Yes… Whenever the previous head had time, he would always go up this mountain. He also built this hot springs with his own hands.” [Piguu]
“Huh!? He built all this on his own? I heard it was his only luxury, so I thought for sure he had a specialist build it.” [Ryouma]
Piguu seemed to recall something and gently smiled.
“He was never really one to use money on himself. Whenever there was spare funds, he would use it to build roads.” [Piguu]
“Roads? I heard a little about it, but apparently it was really hard work.” [Ryouma]
“Yes. The previous head wasn’t the first to think of building roads here, but all of his predecessors were impeded by the muddy terrain and the trees, so they had no choice but to give up.
But the previous head invested his own money and even came to the scene himself to observe despite doing so meant that he would get dirty. He kept focusing his efforts on building the road, and eventually, he succeeded.
Through and through he was a person that didn’t waste anything. He even handled the repairs of his manor, and until he died, the management of this place was pretty much done by him, as he would take care of it every time he visited this place.” [Piguu]
Truly a thorough person…
I glanced at the dressing room in passing and noticed the map past the open door.
“Is something the matter?” [Piguu]
“Oh, it’s nothing. The map in the graffiti just caught my attention.” [Ryouma]
“Is there something the matter with it?” [Piguu]
“I thought it was a map of this region, but it felt a bit off.” [Ryouma]
Huh? In the first place, why would he put a map here?
This shed was built with no decoration whatsoever, and yet such a map was actually drawn inside it.
Moreover, that map has been put inside a frame. Clearly, it’s something important.
“That’s a map of the hot springs.” [Piguu]
“The hot springs?” [Ryouma]
“Yes, it’s not common knowledge, but there are several mud baths in Fatma Territory. If you take a closer look at the paths drawn on this map, you’ll see that it contains the roads leading to these mud baths.
Roads yet to be built can also be found in the map, so some parts of the map are probably plans made by the previous head. It’s likely that the feudal lord intended to turn this region into a hot spring region once the roads were complete.” [Piguu]
“I see.” [Ryouma]
I don’t know anything about mud baths, though, so that’s probably not the reason why I found it odd.
I took a closer look at the map again, but I still couldn’t figure out what was bothering me… I can’t waste too much time on this.
“Ryouma-kun, isn’t it almost time?” [Kai]
“Right. Let’s resume cleaning.” [Ryouma]
And so we started cleaning the hot springs again. I put on a pair of gloves, wrapped a cloth on my face, and then wore a cleaner slimes for my goggles. After removing the cloth soaked in acidic sticky liquid, I used High Pressure Washing Magic to clean off the remaining acidic sticky liquid on the walls and floor.
With that, the sediment clumps that have already started to crumble were easily washed away. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to completely clean the place, but I was expecting this.
“I’ll leave it to you guys.” [Ryouma]
“Sure thing.” [Members of Wharf of Shikumu]
At this point, I had a fully equipped Wharf of Shikumu join the fray.
I had them treat the persistent clumps with the acidic sticky liquid again and then clean them off.
“Oh! Looks like they’ve already been softened a lot by the previous does.” [Kai]
“This bathtub here too.” [Kei]
“It’s thick but it seems the chemical has gotten into the small cracks.” [Shin]
“The clumps have really gotten brittle. They look like they will crack if I hit them.” [Sein]
For the bigger clumps, we used a tool and whittled them away.
The different slimes helped out too when necessary.
“And done!” [Everyone]
After two hours of scrubbing and applying chemicals we finally finished cleaning the bath!