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Chapter 8 – Possible Location of Apricot Grass
「I don’t think I’m acquainted with any first-class alchemists. Pino was an alchemist, but I don’t know if she was first-class.」
In front of the guild’s receptionist, Lusha folded her arms and thought about it as well while mumbling, “Uh-huh.”
I only assumed I’d have to find the ingredients, and I don’t know any alchemist at all except Pino. For that matter, I don’t even know if I’ll be able to find her again easily.
It’s so inconvenient that this world doesn’t have smartphones…
「First things first, let’s look for apricot grass. If we find an alchemist in the process, we’ll just have to try to convince them.」
We took our minds off that problem and asked the guild receptionist where apricot grass could be found. However, her expression darkened.
「It’s not something that has a definite location. I can only tell you where there’s a possibility of finding it.」
「So it’s not certain?」
「Right. Apricot grass is very rare, and it only grows in places with a lot of mana. So, with that in mind, you can narrow down the places you look for it to those with a lot of mana, but you won’t find it for certain. That’s what I mean.」
As we listened to the receptionist, Lusha and I started to realize the scope of our task.
Now that she mentions it, the picture book with all the herbs did mention that it grew in places with a lot of mana.
「So if we’re talking about possible locations… Looking at the map, you could check around here.」
「Let me see…」
Looking at the map spread out on the desk, the receptionist pointed to several places. Mountains, lakes, forests, and seas. All of them were deeply natural places, away from civilization.
「Among them, this forest is the most likely. It’s very deep, and the deeper you go, the denser the presence of mana is. The monsters are also strong, but apricot grass has been collected there in the past.」
「So there’s a history of it being there, huh…」
It was hard to argue with that. By the way, there were apparently no records of it being found in the sea. I mean, it probably doesn’t grow in the water anyway. So, I decided that the mountain and forest were the most likely places for it to grow.
However, there were strong monsters in those areas, which made me worry. When I was troubled, the receptionist pointed to the mountain and kept talking.
「Actually, the mountain has more mana than the forest, and the monsters are still strong, but there are no reports of apricot grass being found there in the past.」
「Then it seems like the forest is the best option. What do you think, Lusha?」
「I agree, it does sound like the best idea. There are a lot of plants there in general, so it seems like an environment where medicinal herbs would grow most easily.」
「Then it’s decided.」
With that out of the way, we had to make preparations to enter the forest. Our mission would only be complete when we collected the Apricot grass, so if we had to keep coming back to the city while we searched, we’d lose a lot of time, so it was best if we went out and bought more food. Fortunately, we had magic bags, so we had room to take plenty with us.
Apparently we could also recruit alchemists in the guild, so we requested that before leaving.
◆ ◆ ◆
We bought a week’s worth of food and water, some potions to cure abnormal conditions, and some cushions to serve as pillows. With a magic bag, I didn’t have to think about the weight anymore, though there was still the tent that had been prepared by the old blacksmith.
「We have to work hard to keep leveling up. Hiroki, I’ll do my best too!」
The forest we were going to was called 『Apricot Forest』. We were told the entrance was a little less than a day’s journey north of town, by horse-drawn carriage. Apparently it was the largest forest in Apricot, and the only thing beyond the forest was the sea. No one lived any further.
This might be a challenge.
「Hiroki, that looks like the carriage out there.」
「We’re leaving tomorrow, but should we check the times?」
Several carriages were sitting by the city’s exterior walls. There were tables showing stuff like departure times, but unfortunately I still couldn’t read the characters. Lusha was especially reliable at times like this.
When I arrived at the departure area, it was crowded with many people. It’s kind of fun to just watch a variety of races mingle, including demons, beastmen, elves, and so on. In the meantime, Lusha checked the timetable.
「It seems like you can go to each town from here. The forest we’re going to… oh, it’s only once a day. Looks like the next one leaves tomorrow morning.」
「I see. In that case, we’d better turn in early today.」
「Yup, that’s right.」
Lusha said there were several carriages to going to each city every day, but there was only one carriage in the morning for any direction where there was no town, such as dungeons. The route is suspended if there are no customers. If you want it to come to pick you up, you have to pay a lot in advance, but it’ll be there even if there weren’t any other customers that day.
I nodded in understanding, and wondered if it might be better to ask for a pick-up. The journey takes a full day by carriage, and there was no town or village along the way. Going on foot would be quite a hassle.
「It would be better to confirm the number of passengers tomorrow, and the number of regular passengers.」
「As expected, I can’t afford to walk back.」
Perhaps I’ve become physically exhausted. If it was only a day or so, we could wait while camping outdoors, but…
「Well then, shall we have a look?」
We went to the carriage reception counter and I spoke to an oba-chan there.
「Excuse me. I want to go to Apricot Forest, but are there many people who go there? I’m wondering if I should ask you to pick me up later.」
「Welcome! Pick-up at Apricot Forest, huh? Hmm, there aren’t many passengers that way. We haven’t had any in a couple of weeks, so we’re going to be out of service.」
It’s a delicate situation again.
「By the way, if any other customers also ask for a pick-up, you’ll be refunded by half.」
「Oh, thanks. Well then… I’d like to have you pick us up.」
「Okay. When are you leaving, and when do you want a pick-up?」
I was even more troubled by that question. I didn’t know how long it would take us to find even one stalk of apricot grass in the first place.
Oh, that’s right, we only prepared a week’s worth of food. If we find it earlier, we’ll still have enough time to lift Ren’s curse. In that case, it might be better to assume we’ll be searching until the last minute. If anyone else shows up, we can all go back with the carriage.
「Lusha, are you okay with a week?」
As expected, a girl wouldn’t want to stay in the forest for a week—is what I started to think, but Lusha agreed without even hesitating. If I were the one being asked, I’d have worried that a week might be too long… Seriously, sometimes Lusha is a better man than I am.
「Well then, we’ll take the carriage tomorrow. Can you pick us up a week later?」
「Certainly. The one-way fare is 3,000 rico per person, and the fee for pick-up is 2,000 per trip. So, for going two ways plus a pick-up, that will be 8,000 rico for the young man, and 6,000 for the lady.」
Both Lusha and I had expected a reservation fee, but apparently that wasn’t necessary. The fee structure was simple and likable. A total of 14,000 ricos were paid, and the way to go to the forest was ready.
「Well then, please be here before departure tomorrow, so you don’t miss the time.」
「Yes, please take care of us tomorrow.」
「Looking forward to it.」
After leaving the counter, Lusha and I decided to return to the inn and get some rest.