As Glen-san and I traveled through the Great Forest for Cormi Village, we soon reached a wide muddy river.
“Do we need to cross this?”
“No, we’ll be traveling along the river against the stream.” [Ryouma]
“This way then?” [Glen]
I told him where to go, and Glen-san went ahead. I followed along from behind.
“Gotta hand it to you, though. We’re going pretty fast. It’s my first time going this deep into the forest.” [Glen]
“Do you drop by the Great Forest frequently?” [Ryouma]
“Not frequent enough to be described as frequently, but it’s easy to find profitable monsters around these parts.” [Glen]
“It’s not common to find a place where C-rank, not to mention, where even B and A are abundant. When I think about it that way, I am reminded once again just how hellish this place is.” [Ryouma]
“Hah! Says the guy walking around that hellish place as though nothing could be more natural!” [Glen]
“All I’m saying is that objectively, after coming here myself, it’s not a place a decent person would come to.” [Ryouma]
It’s not fit for human habitation. No wonder everyone was so shocked when I spoke about my hometown and mentioned coming here.
While Glen-san and I spoke, thick branches and roots resembling logs attacked us from above and below.
I dodged with my Dimension Magic and swiftly cut through the towering tree in front of me with my sword. The blade of ki released from my blade ran along the trunk and severed the bulge at the upper part. At the same time, an impact resounded from the neighboring tree, and the wriggling branches and roots came to a sudden halt.
“Ah~ I messed up.” [Glen]
When Glen-san dropped down, I heard him mutter that to himself. Did something happen? It didn’t look like he struggled at all, though.
“Are you alright?” [Ryouma]
“I’m not hurt. I used too much strength.” [Glen]
Glen-san lifted his enormous hammer. The sound he’d made earlier was just like that of a cannon, so he must’ve used a considerable amount of strength, and indeed, the metallic handle on his hammer could be seen bent and broken from the middle.
“It’s splendidly broken, isn’t it?” [Ryouma]
“I purchased the sturdiest weapons from the weapons shop in the royal capital, but they’re still so fragile.” [Glen]
His body reinforcement is automatic, so he struggles when using his ki externally. And apparently, it’s not unusual for his weapons to break when utilized with his ki-reinforced might.
The way he so casually tossed his weapon into his pouch spoke volumes of how common it was for him to break his own weapon.
“Do you have any spares?” [Ryouma]
“This was the spare. Don’t worry. If I don’t have any weapons, I’ll just use my fists.” [Glen]
Apparently, he’d already broken a weapon earlier. He’s talking about it so casually, as though it was just a question of eating cake when there was no bread left, but after traveling with him this whole time, I know he’ll be just fine.
“Anyway, we beat the enemy at the same time, huh.” [Glen]
“I wasn’t competing with you. What will we do about the spoils? At this size, they aren’t just treants but elder treants.” [Ryouma]
“Either way, they’re too big. And there’s two of them too. We’ve hunted a ton of monsters along the way. There’s no way I can store them away.” [Glen]
“It’d be impossible to store them away completely with my dimension magic too.” [Ryouma]
When the twin treants have been defeated, all that was left was a pair of giant heat emitting trees. Retrieving something like that as spoils is by no means easy. I can just store them away later if I get the chance to, so for now, let’s just leave them here… Wait a moment.
“I think we should rest here for the day.” [Ryouma]
“? Oh, right. There are monsters that know about these two’s territory and are intentionally avoiding this place.” [Glen]
“The roots are firmly anchored into the ground, and with how big they are, they probably won’t topple over. There’s also a river nearby, so there shouldn’t be any issue with securing water.” [Ryouma]
“Okay. I don’t know the way to wherever you’re going, so I’ll leave the decision to you.” [Glen]
Glen-san took out a sturdy-looking fabric from the pouch by his waist, draped it like a cloak, then laid down on the elevated roots of the treant.
“…Are you planning to sleep like that?” [Ryouma]
What a crude way of camping. If an ordinary person did that, he’d end up attacked by insects and leeches right away. Well, that’s just how Glen-san is though. Pretty much everything in the forest he deals with in that wild and unrestrained manner. For instance, when it started raining earlier, he didn’t even bother to cover himself and just allowed himself to get soaked. When the rain stopped, he shook his body to get rid of the moisture. I almost asked him if he was a dog.
I asked him if he was cold, and he just said that he’d get through it with grit and food. Really, he’s not someone that can be measured with common sense.
At the very least, his way of camping isn’t something I could ever conceive of. He’s still alive, though. I guess it works for him, but I couldn’t help be concerned, and I summoned a Huge Rock Slime to prepare a simple shelter. Leaving my companions exposed to the elements just doesn’t sit right with me.
“Didn’t know you could make a room using a slime… I’ve seen some people use earth magic to create windbreaks a few times, but this is a first.” [Glen]
Glen-san curiously looked around my shelter. It was an attitude similar to the one he had with the Immortal Snake earlier… Since he likes it so much, I might as well tune it up a bit more.
I can’t make too many changes, as the interior is managed by the slime, so I’ll just have to make it as livable as I can.
I summoned a Filter Slime and inserted it into the air hole. With a simple adjustment on the size of the huge rock slime, the Filter Slime could serve as a simple insect screen and air purifier. Should a monster approach, the Huge Rock Slime could just close the hole.
“What’s with that ice? Is it edible?”
well, they certainly do look like shaved ice, but…
“These are slimes too.” [Ryouma]
I’d prepared a bucket filled with ice, but they weren’t really ice. They were the Ice Slime that evolved during last year’s cold spell (chilled air), and the “Snow Slimes” that the kids I rescued from the kidnappers gave me as thanks.
“These two variants hate heat and prefer the cold, but they’re not exactly the same.” [Ryouma]
Firstly, the Ice Slime has high refrigeration capabilities to maintain its body and is relatively heat-resistant. It prefers the attributes of ice and water. While its icy body can cool the surroundings, it’s mostly indirect, affecting the objects or air that it comes into contact with, and the cooling range is limited. Essentially, it’s a block of ice that’s hard to melt.
On the other hand, the Snow Slime has weaker refrigeration capabilities and is more susceptible to heat. However, it has a body made of snow instead of ice and it also prefers the wind attribute on top of ice and water. Therefore, it can manipulate the surrounding air to some extent, and, most importantly, it has a broader cooling range.
“So, in other words?” [Glen]
“It would be easier to understand if you experience it firsthand. For now, please come inside.” [Ryouma]
Once Glen-san was fully inside, I instructed the Huge Rock Slime to close the entrance. That made it dark, so I lit up the place with Light. When I asked the Snow Slime to eat, a light snowfall fell on its body.
“Do you understand now?” [Ryouma]
“Yep. It’s cool… No, the wind isn’t cold, but it’s not humid like outside.” [Glen]
“I asked the Snow Slime to dehumidify the room for us.” [Ryouma]
One of the hazards in the Great Forest’s environment is the hot and humid climate. Humidity refers to the moisture present in the atmosphere, which can condense into rain or freeze into snow.
By having the Snow Slime gather moisture from the surrounding air to create snow to consume, it is able to effectively dehumidify the room.
“The Snow Slime’s main objective is just to gather moisture, however, and pushing it too hard can weaken it, so I narrowed the area it needed to cover by putting it in front of that hole, and at the same time, protect it with the Ice Slime’s high refrigeration capabilities, while also employing barrier magic to prevent the cold from escaping.” [Ryouma]
But while the barrier enveloping the bucket prevents the cold from escaping, it allows air to flow. As a result, clouds formed at the upper part of the barrier, and light snow fell.
If it weren’t a bucket but a glass sphere, it might have resembled those snow globes that could be found in souvenir shops.
“Wonderful! It’s so comfy! It’s just like being outside the Great Forest!” [Glen]
“High humidity alone is enough to make a place uncomfortable, after all. Also, if you want to leave, just just touch the wall, and the slime will let you through.” [Ryouma]
With the living conditions settled, the next step was to prepare the bed, then food. I have the pre-made retort meals, so there’s no need for any complicated cooking preparations.
However, the shelter is too cramped with how big Glen-san is, so the cooking needs to be done outside. I gave the grass a light trim using wind magic, and leveled the ground with earth magic to prepare the campsite, then I started a campfire and placed a pot over it. While the retort meals were being warmed up, the Cleaner Slimes cleaned me up.
“Wow, this is amazing! I never thought I could get a meal like this out here!” [Glen]
“At least finish swallowing before talking. There’s plenty for seconds if you want.” [Ryouma]
Glen-san’s eyes changed color as soon as he opened the first packet. After the first bite, he started devouring it eagerly. In an environment like this, even home cooking level is a luxury. Apparently, that holds true even for S-Rank adventurers.
“Well, I’m glad it suits your taste. I was wondering what to do if you pulled out a high-grade steak or something from your pouch” [Ryouma]
“That’s not possible. It would get cold and spoil. For a day or so, I might bring something from town, but when hunkering down for a while, it’s usually just jerky and bread. Speaking of which, this is a preserved meal, right? Where did you buy it?” [Glen]
“I was only able to acquire it through connections with a certain noble, so it’s not available for general sale.” [Ryouma]
“Oh? Was it okay to show me something like that?” [Glen]
“Hiding it and cooking bad preserved food will just negatively affect my concentration and actions later, or at least, that’s what I was told, so it should be fine.” [Ryouma]
The Duke’s family is worried about me too, but even from a practical standpoint, they seem to prioritize my life over the value of the retort meals. Moreover, when I inquired a bit recently, they mentioned that due to the abnormal weather last year and the increase in monster population, they’ve decided to put forward the introduction of retort meals.
They are starting trial operations with support from the nearby grocers, and it has been decided that Schieber-san and Remilie-san will also be able to use them.
“I can eat without worry then.” [Glen]
From the way he was talking with his mouth full, I doubt he was ever concerned in the first place, though. Meanwhile, Glen-san casually took out an elaborate glass bottle from his pouch and unsealed it.
He did that so naturally that my reaction was momentarily delayed, and by the time I realized it, he was already downing a large gulp.
…I’m not going to make any comments since I know how he operates already. He won’t die anyway, so if he ends up passed out drunk, I’ll just leave him behind.
“Puha! As expected, good food goes well with good booze!” [Glen]
An amber-colored liquor could be seen flowing inside the elaborate glass. The way he drank suggested it was a luxurious, strong, and delicious drink, but then he reached for his pouch.
“…What are you looking for?” [Ryouma]
“Your food is delicious, but I need more meat… I’m pretty sure I still have some jerky.” [Glen]
I’d already taken his constitution in consideration and prepared a 10-serving portion of stew in retort packs, but if he wants more meat, then I suppose we’ll just have to consider the immortal snake meat. We’ll be in the Great Forest for a while, so it’s better to eat it before it goes bad.
After making up my mind, I asked the Grave Slime to retrieve the immortal snake I’d stored away.
There were two options: the severed part or the fully regenerated one from the head. For today, I’ll use the severed part.
Dressing the snake took a lot of effort because of how big it was. The scent even attracted other monsters and attacked us, but Glen-san drove them away. He’s whimsical, but he’s definitely a reliable ally.
…Anyway, the meat looked delicious. As soon as it touched the heated griddle, the fat melted, and a delicious aroma filled the air. I just grilled it without any seasoning, but it smelled so good already. It smelled just like yakitori with sauce.
“Is it done yet?” [Glen]
Glen-san was drawn by the scent and came back.
“I don’t know how long I’m supposed to cook it for, but I reckon it should be fine as long as it looks cooked enough, right?” [Ryouma]
I took a bite of the nicely seared meat. The meat was easily chewable, it was so tender that juices overflowed and melted in the mouth.
Despite the significant amount of oil that came out during the cooking process, the juice of the meat was rich in flavor. But it wasn’t overly fatty and instead had a refreshing and easy-to-eat flavor!
“I can tell just by looking at your face! Gimme some!” [Glen]
“Yeah! Let’s grill some more too!” [Ryouma]
I added more meat. The meat itself was delicious and was void of any unpleasant odor, so a little salt and pepper should be sufficient for seasoning. If it’s this good, I think I can eat it forever.
“This goes so well with liquor! It’s such a waste that I’ve been crushing these snakes this whole time.” [Glen]
“You did mention something like that.” [Ryouma]
“Bladed weapons would break quickly. And even when I did managed to defeat one, they’d be nothing but a dumpling of meat and mud, so I’ve never been able to eat them.” [Glen]
Even as we spoke like that among ourselves, our hands never stopped, and whenever a bottle of liquor was emptied, another one would appear from Glen-san’s pouch to replace it.
“We’re almost out of liquor. Ryouma, do you have any with you?” [Glen]
“If homemade is fine with you, sure.” [Ryouma]
“Seriously!? You’ve got everything, don’t you? How much do you have?” [Glen]
“More than you could possibly drink.” [Ryouma]
While briefly explaining how enamored my goblins were with drinking that they kept making liquor in my Dimension Home, I passed over a bottle of homemade shochu that has been distilled and stored in a one-liter bottle. Upon receiving it, Glen-san, downed the whole bottle in one go without hesitation.
“Tastes decent, the strength is just right too. It’s easy to drink, and it kind of permeates throughout the whole body, making you feel refreshed. I don’t really understand it, but it’s good. How much does this cost?” [Glen]
Despite what he was saying, the expression he wore said that he loved it. The sensation of permeating through the body might be due to the nutrients present in the shochu.
Shochu is made in a way similar to Japanese sake, and when freshly made, it has a taste similar to sweet sake, with abundant nutrients like amino acids.
There are stories about selling chilled sweet sake in Edo during the summer, so I think it’s suitable for refreshing oneself even in the Great Forest.
However, I don’t know what the appropriate price would be if I were to sell it.
When I mention that it’s made for personal consumption and not for sale, Glen-san took out five bottles of the liquor from before from his pouch.
“Well then, how about exchanging it for these? I haven’t paid much attention to the price, but I bought them from an expensive liquor store in the city. I told them, ‘give me something expensive and good,’ so, both the taste and the price should be decent. Consider it as payment for the preserved food too.” [Glen]
“I can provide you with 50 bottles right now, but I can double that by tomorrow.” [Ryouma]
“Alright! The deal is settled then!” [Glen]
I took out all the remaining shochu I had from the Item Box and handed it over to Glen-san. Neither of us were aware of the exact value of each other’s items, but there was no need to overthink it. As long as both parties were satisfied with the trade, it was a simple transaction.
“Ah, if you want to buy more in the future, I suggest getting the real thing from Fatma Territory. The ones crafted by real artisans do have a special touch to them.” [Ryouma]
“Fatma Territory, huh. I feel like I’ve heard of that place before, but I’ve never been there. Maybe I’ll check it out next time.” [Glen]
After that, Glen-san spoke about his adventures as an S Rank adventurer while eating and drinking. To be honest, it wasn’t very useful to me, and there were many things that were forgiven or overlooked just because it was him, but it was still an interesting story.
It was just the two of us in the Great Forest. He was a really selfish guy, but that actually made it easier for me, as I didn’t have to be overly considerate of him either. And when monsters attacked, they’d be sent running back the way they came from right away. Like that, our happy and noisy barbecue party continued until late into the night.