(282) Swear to the mirror stone
“Doxco, you’re still drinking?”
“Let us join in too. Since we’re already here, we’ve got to drink before leaving. We’ll drink the tavern dry today!”
“Yeah you’re totally right. I’ll have a lager.”
This time, a trio of hume men entered the tavern and we caught each other’s gazes.
The trio and I exclaimed at the same time.
It was because we were acquainted.
“It’s been a long time, brother!”
“It’s been a long time! What are you doing at a place like this?”
“Is this meeting fated or guidance from God?”
The trio were middle-aged Lumberjack-san, Mr. Cut-in-line, and Veteran-san whom I took the mercenary exam with.
“I’m the one who wants to ask what you guys are doing here. Unlike me who failed the exam, didn’t the three of you become mercenaries?”
“Ah, about that. Firstly, the three of us formed a party.”
Middle-aged Lumberjack-san replied as the representative.
It seemed that the middle-aged man was the leader of the team.
“The three of us went to protest after we heard that we passed the mercenary exam but you failed. There was no way we could accept such an outcome.”
Mr. Cut-in-line continued with an unexpected sentence.
So these guys did something like that for me.
Although there’s a saying that even touching sleeves is fate from another existence, we were only in the same examination group.
“Apparently you were disqualified because you were given a special mission. We were convinced after we heard that.”
As usual, Veteran-san spoke in a manner that didn’t match his appearance.
Even though they call it a secret mission, it was just a fake mission to distance Shumei from the war.
After that, the three of them went to drink to make fun of me and unexpectedly hit it off.
They prepared to go to war but it ended in no time.
In the end, the three of them chose to take on other jobs as mercenaries.
“Hey, don’t tell me you guys are the ones escorting the special cargo”
“Ah, yeah. Wait, then the skilled Quasi-Baron-sama the guard was talking about is you, brother!?”
Middle-aged Lumberjack-san raised his voice in shock.
“Yeah, that’s true.”
“But, why would brother – – sorry for my impoliteness. Why would Quasi-Baron-sama from Shiraraki Kingdom take a mercenary exam in Nicplan Kingdom … no, wait. The secret mission and the sudden end to the war – – was it all due to Quasi-Baron-sama … !?”
“Please don’t tell anyone that. And please talk casually as before. I certainly accepted the Quasi-Baron rank but I received it through the course of events and only use it because it is convenient. I’m not anybody great.”
“As expected … I will respect Ichinojo-san for my whole life.”
Mr. Cut-in-line looked at me with a look of admiration.
“Yup, I could sense that you were not an ordinary person when I first saw you at the exams.”
Veteran-san’s words matched his appearance this time.
“Oh, so Ichinojo is a Quasi-Baron?”
Doxco said with a red face. It seemed that he was starting to get drunk.
“Yeah. Sorry, Doxco. For keeping quiet about it.”
“I don’t mind but do you still have refined sake? Everyone drank it all.”
“It’s already finished!?”
A barrel of refined sake was downed in the blink of the eye.
After that, the banquet continued with the three mercenaries.
Well, I drank in moderation and focused more on conversing.
Since I would probably get drunk if I matched their pace.
Mr. Cut-in-line boasted that he would drink the tavern dry but after just one cup of lager and one cup of refined sake, he started crying and making a racket before falling asleep.
“Shark sashimi. Do you want to eat?”
I tried making sashimi from the fatty meat portion of the shark.
“You can’t eat that raw.”
“It’s okay, I used Clean so you don’t have to worry about parasites. It’s nice, you know?”
Clean is truly all-purpose.
I tried adding some salt.
“I’ll have some then … hn – it’s chewy and I don’t really like it.”
“Is that so? I like it but I guess it doesn’t fit the people’s taste here. In that case, I’ll try frying it.”
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. I didn’t try to push for Japan cuisine and tried making a dish that the people here liked.
After creating oil, I coated the thickly-cut shark meat with beaten egg, flour and bread crumbs and fried them.
“Shark cutlet is served!”
“Ichinojo, you can use Oil Create? Could you make oil used for maintaining equipment later? Of course, I’ll pay you.”
“Ah, I have plenty of oil cans so I’ll sell you those.”
“That’s a great help – hn! This fry is delicious! By the way, what is this white sauce? It’s so delicious.”
“It’s called Tartar sauce. I’ll teach you the way to make it.”
Tartar sauce made with eggs and pickles goes well with fried salmon after all.
“Ichinojo is seriously capable of everything. How about it? Would you like to stay in this village after you are done with your business? I’ll even give you the village leader position.”
“No thanks, being the village leader is nothing but trouble.”
“Yeah, it’s really troublesome. Ichinojo, follow me for a bit.”
” … ? Ah, all right.”
Doxco asked and I followed him out of the tavern. We drank for quite a long time.
It was already dark outside.
“This way, follow me.”
Doxco led me to the end of the village — to what was probably a cemetery.
There were a few ornate stones lined up with names carved on them.
We stopped in front of the newest and largest grave.
It was probably a mirror stone but it was polished exquisitely so it reflected the moonlight beautifully.
However, strangely there was no name carved on the grave.
“Is this a grave?”
“Yeah. The grave of my friends.”
Doxco said and poured refined sake on the grave.
It was friends, in plural.
In addition, it was new and there were no names carved on the tombstone.
I could speculate whose grave it was from those facts.
“Is this perhaps the grave for the Dark-Elves?”
” … Yeah, they came to this village as well. They deserved better.”
Doxco said and looked toward me.
“Ichinojo. That necklace — belongs to Rarael?”
Doxco asked as he stared at the amber necklace around my neck.
He was right. It was the necklace I received from Rarael.
Doxco continued before I could answer.
“At first, I suspected that you killed Rarael and the others and snatched it. However, I knew I was wrong after talking with you for a while.”
“Yeah, I received this from Rarael. As proof of our friendship.”
“I see … that was the first necklace I made when I was an apprentice handicraftsman. She truly treasured it so she probably let go of it after realizing that she was about to die. If she was going to be killed and have it snatched away, she would rather give it to Ichinojo … she probably thought of it that way.”
” … Perhaps.”
I looked up into the night sky as I replied to Doxco.
The crescent moon was shining.
I truly wanted to tell him that Rarael and the others were still alive. However, I decided not to. Doxco was probably trustworthy but it was better to have as little risk as possible.
If I told him that the Dark-Elves were still alive, I would have to talk about how they are continuing to protect the Golden Tree.
So I could only reply with that.
“There were no bodies found in the forest, right?”
“Yeah, the forest was burnt down by the mysterious fire monster that the Dark-Elves summoned. The extreme temperatures didn’t leave any dead bodies of animals or monsters.”
“In that case, there is a possibility that they are still alive.”
” … Ah, that would be great. Then, this isn’t a grave. It is a mark for where the Dark-Elves can return to.”
Doxco laughed and drank the remaining wine.
That’s right, if the Dark-Elves ever get accepted back into this world, I’ll invite all of them to drink alcohol here.
I swore to the mirror stone.