“Sorry to bother you when you’re on the break.” [Ryouma]
“Oh, it’s nothing to apologize for. This tavern is the entrance to the city, a place specifically meant to gather those able to fight, so regardless if it’s for work or play, guards and adventurers alike can usually be found here. That’s why – and I know this doesn’t sound good – but… These procedures that are basically just for show are usually handled by whoever is available. In the first place, it’s rare for us to get a new face.
By the way, do you want to eat? It won’t be my treat, but you can eat meat and even drink liquor here as long as you have the money. Purchasing weapons and armor, or paying for their repair is also possible.” [Soldier 2]
Based off the working conditions here and the attitude of this guard, he seems to be telling the truth. Despite being right within the dangerous Great Forest, none of the people here appear troubled. In fact, they were eating even better than your typical restaurant or tavern in the city.
“Unexpected?” [Soldier 2]
“Yes. I thought for sure you’d be struggling with the transport of goods, and that that would have affected the food here too.” [Ryouma]
“That would be the case as you go deeper into the forest, but this base here is a trading hub. It’s the closest base outside, so the Merchant Guild and the Dragoon Guild regularly send people here to trade for the materials from the forest, so you won’t have any problems finding something to eat or drink. Of course, it’s a bit expensive because of the transport costs, but… That’s not a problem to you, is it?” [Soldier 2]
The man grinned at me then gulped down his drink. He doesn’t act like a guard at all, not in the way he drinks or the way he conducts himself.
“If you don’t mind my asking, how did you come up with that evaluation?” [Ryouma]
“Well, there’s all sorts of hints, from the air about you to the way you conduct yourself, but one giveaway is how clean your clothes are.” [Soldier 2]
This base might have been the closest outside, but it was still a several-hour walk. A walk that had to be done under the rain and the intermittent attacks of the monster beasts. That’s why most adventurers would arrive dirty even with sufficient preparation.
“You got some mud and blood on you, but other than that, you’re not even wet. That could only mean that you either have the strength to deal with the monsters here, or you have a method to avoid fighting them. However, even if you did avoid the battles, you didn’t run, and you most certainly did not hide in the thickets. Am I right?” [Soldier 2]
“Yes. It is exactly as you say.” [Ryouma]
“Stuff like this comes to you naturally once you’ve been here for a long time.” [Soldier 2]
As he said that, he turned to the side, and as I followed his gaze, I saw several adventurers raise their mugs while laughing. They seemed to be welcoming me, so I bowed in response.
“It’s common sense for anyone searching the forest to end up covered in mud and blood. No matter how much you prepare beforehand, problems are bound to pop up. That’s a truth that everyone here learns sooner or later. That’s why someone like you who arrives clean attracts so much attention. It’s also a sign that you’re someone we can expect much from. People like you are welcomed with open arms.
As for those that are not like you… Well, since you came just now, you saw those guys outside, right? They’re new faces just like you, but they’re no good. Now, they’re not bad since they did manage to come this far, but they’re not cut out for the forest.” [Soldier 2]
Apparently, they’d just barely managed to reach this place, and now, they can’t go back on their own, so they’ve been trying to hitch a ride with the traders.
Unfortunately, those guys also came here for work. They only had so much space for accommodation, and every bit of it was money, so there was no way they could take them with them for free. That’s why, in order to cough up the payment for that, those guys had no choice but to work under a veteran of the great forest, cutting grass and trees.
“People like that aren’t unusual for newcomers, and work like that is necessary for the maintenance of this place, but honestly, the pay sucks. It might pay enough to support a commoner’s family of four outside, but with the living expenses here, that amount of money is just change.
If you have the skills and can move freely outside, then personally, I recommend gathering plants instead. There are a lot of precious herbs growing just nearby. Even the ones considered common here can be a valuable research material to botanists outside, so even those can sell for a good price.
Also, though it won’t make you much money, you can easily gather the seeds of those heat-emitting trees too, perhaps as a souvenir or something. A little walk and you’re bound to find some of their seeds or fruits on the ground, and if you hunt monsters, then you could find them from their stomach too.” [Soldier 2]
It might have been because of the influence of the liquor, but the guard spoke a lot, and he even told me about things I didn’t ask him about… But is it really a good idea to be gathering those seeds?
“Hmm? What’s the matter?” [Soldier 2]
“I’d heard that the heat emitting trees tend to be invasive, so I was wondering if gathering their seeds would really be a good idea.” [Ryouma]
I had heard that it wasn’t prohibited to take their seeds out. But to be more precise, I couldn’t find any specific warnings against the act. I’d paid a decent sum to the adventurers guild for the information, so it should be accurate.
Also, I’m not that particular about it, but in my previous life, there was something called ‘the Invasive Species Act’, so…
“Ah, you misunderstand. The heat-emitting trees are only invasive here in this forest and in the surrounding areas. It can’t grow unless the climate is hot and the soil is abundant with mana. It’s exceedingly rare for it to grow outside of the Great Forest.
Even if they did manage to sprout, they can’t grow big, and they’re not like treants that will smack you when you get too close either. In other words, they’re just trees. They might be a bit hard, but if you really wanted to, you could still cut them down. It’s also rare for monsters in other territories to attack as frequently as raptors do.” [Soldier 2]
Indeed, even ordinary plants need to meet specific temperatures and conditions to grow. Perhaps, upon considering the characteristics of the heat-emitting trees, the environment here, and the monsters here as well, the authorities came to the conclusion that the trees would be manageable if planted outside.
“Anyhow, that’s what the bigwigs of the country and the guilds decided. For the past 10 years, we’ve been containing the expansion of the forest by just regularly harvesting the saplings. There’s no need to forcefully reclaim the Great Forest when we can just focus on maintaining the status quo, you know. Besides, not only do the authorities not regulate these seeds, nobles would even send merchants to buy them up.” [Soldier 2]
Some were plant enthusiasts, while others just wanted something rare, but regardless, there would occasionally be such nobles who would cough up big sums just to grow these trees. Well, the heat-emitting trees are unique to the Great Forest, so I guess that’s not that unusual.
What’s unfortunate is that for most of these nobles, they either gave up midway due to how unprofitable of an endeavor it was, or ended up losing big because they couldn’t cut their losses and ended up just pouring more and more money into it. Most of their expenses appeared to be due to the magic medicine used to stimulate the growth of the seeds, but if it were me, I’d probably be able to grow them even outside.
We have a ton of scavenger slime fertilizer because of the garbage processing plant. They are usually used for food production or fed to the slimes to be processed, but there’s just too many, and the excess is stored in the abandoned mines. The situation is far from becoming a problem just yet, but… If these trees are in such demand, and it’s not illegal, then I might as well try my hand at growing them. Of course, I’ll have to take care not to let them multiply too much.
“Anyway, that’s how it is, so don’t worry about the complicated stuff and just make as much money as you can since you’re capable and all. More importantly, we should be wrapping this up. Show me your guild card and tell me why you came here.” [Soldier 2]
The man suddenly said as though he’d just remembered that we were in the middle of an interview, then he picked up a small notepad that had been casually tossed onto the table. It was curious how useful the content written on that notepad of his was. It was also doubtful that it was being supervised properly, but in any case, it’s no skin off my back, so I decided to just answer honestly.
“Here’s my guild card. I’m here to visit Cormi Village.” [Ryouma]
“Ryouma Takebayashi… Destination… Cormi Village…? Where is that? It’s probably a village that’s been swallowed up by the forest already, but I don’t remember it.” [Soldier 2]
“To be more precise, it’s located at――” [Ryouma]
“Did you say Cormi Village just now? What a nostalgic name.” [???]
Just as I was about to explain to the guard, a voice suddenly called out from behind. When I turned around, there was an old man standing there with three mugs in each hand.
Tl Note: I’ve removed the old previous-next buttons for now and have installed a pair of arrows in their place. Those should be properly contained to the respective series of the novels, so you shouldn’t be getting a different series when pressing the next arrow button anymore. Also, the other chapter that wasn’t showing up on the TOC for TMPG Reboot should be showing now.