Chapter 165: Ink


Honey for Mischt, wine for Ludere.

「How about Halalfa? 」
What might the spirit of light, beauty and love wish?

「Fumu, I want pollen. 」
「Pollen… 」
Hay fever time, huh. How about bee pollen? Ah, but I don’t have that either.

「It’s all good. I like sucking the pollen directly from flowers in full bloom. 」
Eh? Does that mean you’re in blossom-filled places because you’re eating!?

「I want fruits and vegetables harvested here. 」
Halalfa glamorously beamed.

「Well then, it’s the same for the other two. Please wait for a moment. 」
I placed a glass of honey, wine and water in front of the trio respectively.

「Wow, so beautiful! 」
「What a magnificent thing. 」
The faceted transparent glasses seem to be popular among the ladies here.

「The aura of spirits runs deep, it’s a good vessel. 」
Ludere picks up the glass.

Van came while I was making those, after all.

So, veggies and fruits, huh. How about orange salad?

I prepared oranges, lettuce, sliced onions, and dressing with almond oil and orange juice as base.

White sap seeped out from the lettuce when I cut it. It looks like milk, so some also call it milkweed, which is a different plant relative to lettuce. I tried crossbreeding this lettuce variety, but it didn’t become round like an iceberg, but more similar to red-leaf instead.

The orange color is gorgeous, the sourness just right. I wanted to add ham, but it won’t suit the trio I’m serving. Sprinkle some pink pepper — the red color added a bit of flair to the dish.

「My, what a feast for the eyes. 」
「So pretty~ 」
Halalfa and Mischt chuckled. If Halalfa is a captivatingly flamboyant flower like a lily or a peony, then Mischt is like a shower of lilies-in-the-valley or hydrangea clusters with their delicate petals. They might be different from each other, but both of them are stunners.

「Lettuce, is it, fufu. 」
「What is it? 」
Mischt giggled mischievously, so I feel a bit self-conscious.

「Only the ancient physicians and mages remember this. Lettuce is an aphrodisiac. 」
「Bft! I-I don’t have any ill intention! 」
Hey, lettuce ancestors, what the heck!

The two women teased me, then we talked about what we’re currently doing as we ate the salad. News about the heroes and monsters also came up.

Ludere just quietly listened. He drank the wine and ate the salad without a word. He’s basically giving off the impression of a cold, taciturn, unapproachable beauty. Sometimes I wonder if he got cursed so that will only come undone if he’s doing something related to Riche.

As for the Riche in question, he drank water then gnawed X-Stick without a care in the world.

「That’s a branch from the Spirit Tree, isn’t it? Are you going to be the King?」
Mischt tilted her head while watching X-Stick.

「Nah, too troublesome for me. I don’t want to be responsible for other people’s lives. 」
「Will you choose a King, then? What a pity, you could’ve created an interesting kingdom if it’s you. 」
「I originally received this for a totally different purpose, so I don’t want to do either of those. Ah, rather than a kingdom, what I’m currently managing is a city. 」

I think it’s already an extravagant ambition to blend a cityscape into a wonderful scenery. I also want to improve sewage, sanitation, and convenience too. The plan is to have a wonderful view of the ocean with the retro — for me — cityscape and the occasional dragons flying overhead.

「The water isn’t as abundant as this palace, but I’m doing my best to plant trees. 」
Spirits gather easily in places with water, flowers and thick vegetation.

If that isn’t available, then the wind, sand and incandescent spirits will come. But then, if there are only spirits of the same kind, the territorial range will become wider, and that might be counterproductive, since the number of spirits will dwindle without new ones generated or attracted to the place. It’s a different story if the location is a glacier or a volcano, since those geographical terrains can easily generate spirits endemic to those places.

「It’s best to consult Ish or Pal about that. It was delicious. 」
Ludere vanished after leaving those words.

「Oh my, he left after leaving something, see? Is it a thank you gift? 」
「He should’ve just said he liked it if he liked it, what a brusque guy. 」
Halalfa chortled.

Mischt was right, Ludere did leave a small jar on his seat. I picked it up; there’s a bluish-black powder inside.

「Spirit Powder? 」
I wasn’t sure what to make of it, so I checked with 【Appraisal】. It said ‘powder with a trace of powerful mana’.

「Isn’t it ink that’s used to draw magic circles? Jean, weren’t you searching for a way to make it cooler for Riche’s sake? 」
Mischt pressed her forefinger on her lips, her contemplating gaze directed towards the empty space beside her.

「I see… 」
「Hoho… 」
I felt a bit complicated, and Halalfa seemed to feel the same way. Riche was still his ‘ it got nothing to do with me’ self.

The two ladies gave me some powder before they left. It’s nice of them to do that, so let’s make ink.

I took the jar of spirit gallnut from the shelf. It’s something I diligently gathered during strolls with Riche then dried.

Normal ink uses oak gallnut. When wasps lay eggs by poking tree twigs of oak, the tree secretes tannin in response to the foreign substance, forming a large, round lump. Even in Japan, chinese galls made by a certain species of aphids were used in making tooth-blackening dyes.

Just as the name says, spirit galls aren’t made by insects, but by mischievous spirits poking trees for fun. It’s extremely rare, so they’re only used to make the highest quality of ink for drawing magical circles. It costs an arm and leg if bought, so thank goodness my mountain has more spirit gallnuts than it has oak gallnuts.

So, crush the gallnuts into fine powder while pouring mana in it, then extracting the essence by distillation. The source of water for boiling is the same as the one I used for making recovery potions. Normally you get this from 『Fae’s Bough』, but for me, it’s my own house’s water.

As for the method — first, strain the boiled mixture, then let it cool. Pour wine as preservative. Toss in a heated iron knife, then set aside until the brown liquid turns into black. Actually, anything iron is fine, but traditionally, it’s a knife, apparently.

Various spirits came to take a peek, but for this project, I asked the spirit of the cool breeze to splash and play with the fluid.

I plan to add Ludere’s ink once it’s black enough. Actually, powdered manastones suited to the nature of the magic circle are commonly used.

Hm, maybe I should use an ice-attributed manastone powder for half of the portion? I have to test first whether the magic circle will work before trying it on Riche. It’ll be too much of a waste to use Ludere’s powder just for practice.

Let’s go buy some hardened mimosa sap while waiting for it to completely become black. Ah, I have peaches planted here so maybe I should check those first. If I’m not mistaken, cherry and peach sap should also do the trick.

The sap is added to adjust the viscosity. And yup, as I thought, the highest quality sap I can find are those that come out from the bark or young fruits damaged by spirits.

I have to gather the highest quality materials and pour mana to make the highest quality of ink… Yeah, it can get ridiculously expensive with all those so I should just get everything I need from the garden except the manastones.

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