After soaking for quite some time, we finally decided to get out.
“Let’s get out of the bath after drying ourselves properly.”
I quickly dried myself up. Beck and Thor imitated my actions.
We found Jonas-san waiting for us in the dressing room.
“I have taken liberties to prepare clothes for you to change to. Please leave your previous clothes to us. We shall wash them for you.”
That’s quite the service. I gave my body a final wipe with a towel and changed into the clothes they prepared for us. They fit us three perfectly. They look to be the same type of clothes as what the employees were wearing, but seemed to be more luxurious.
“We have also prepared your meal.”
The room we were led too next was large enough to host a party, with long tables lined with all kinds of dishes inside. We found Tarus-san already sitting on the master’s seat. Looks like Tarus-san also had a bath first.
“How was the bath, Alan-san?”
“It was great. It’s been a long time since I had one, so I really enjoyed it.”
We sat on the seats we were guided to.
“If it’s alright with you, I have arranged for us to have dinner together with my family and employees in a banquet. I have greatly worried them after all, and wish for them to feel at ease.”
“Of course we don’t mind! I really don’t prefer a formal atmosphere, so having a lively banquet seems better.”
“I somehow felt that you would prefer it as well.”
The employees then proceeded with the preparations.
Cleria has also finally arrived. She has also come after taking a bath. She was wearing an elegant one-piece dress.
Beck and Thor’s jaws dropped in shock. Now that I think about it, they haven’t really seen Cleria wear anything besides her armor huh.
“What, you two? Does something look out of place?”
Cleria tried to inspect her appearance.
“No, not at all. You look really beautiful Master, so we didn’t recognize you and thought you were someone else at first.”
“How rude, you two.”
She then sat beside me.
“How do I look, Alan?”
She seems fairly confident huh. The dress seems to have been prepared for her as well.
“It really suits you, Ria.”
Just a bit of lip service for the lady.
She seemed a bit embarrassed somehow after hearing my compliment.
People, who I assume were Tarus-san’s family members, entered one after the other next. They took their seats opposite us.
There was a woman who seemed to be Tarus-san’s wife, a son who looked to be in his twenties and a daughter who looked to be about fourteen.
“I am Tarus’ wife, Lana. This is our son Katolle and our daughter Tara.”
“My name is Tara.”
We introduced ourselves as well.
“I’m called Alan. This is Ria and those young men are Beck and Thor.”
Ria gave an elegant greeting. Beck and Thor bowed humbly as well.
“I am really grateful for you saving my husband. He would surely have been killed if Alan-san did not rescue him in time.”
“No, I only did what I had to do. Please do not mind it too much.”
“Very well. You are now all acquainted with each other. We should begin our meal.”
The employees have also started sitting on the seats. We had a toast first. We poured some wine on our glasses.
“Let us have some good fun tonight! Well then, to my miraculous meeting with Alan-san and company! Cheers!!”
All sorts of new dishes were brought out one after another. They were all placed on large plates. It looks like it really was a dinner banquet like what we had in the village, and it was up to you to take how much food you like.
I proceeded to get some dishes while minding my manners. There were a lot of empty plates stacked on the table, so it was quite convenient. There were a lot of different meat and egg dishes, salads, breads and other food.
Beck and Thor didn’t make a move at first, but eventually took some food from the plates following Cleria and my example. Cleria didn’t gobble all the food up like usual, but took small, elegant bites instead. But even so, her eating speed was shockingly fast. Looks like she’s gonna eat a fair amount again.
Every dish was delicious. They were really great dishes. It was evident that each dish was made with great care and effort. I’ve only ever eaten food seasoned mostly with salt and pepper since coming to this planet, so getting to taste these complex flavors was a refreshing experience. I’ll have to ask the chefs about the seasonings they used later.
Tarus-san was also eating quite heartily. It looks like he hasn’t had a proper meal since getting captured by bandits. I should have made something earlier for him after all.
Fuu, that was really filling. Cleria, Beck and Thor were still stuffing themselves though. Oh boy. Let’s just drink some wine.
“How was the taste of the dishes, Alan-san?”
“Each of them was splendid. I really enjoyed them a lot. I also happen to like cooking and treat it as my hobby of sorts. Would it be possible for me to inquire about the seasonings used by your chefs later on?”
“Of course you can! I own a general store after all. We have every ingredient I’m selling as merchandise stocked in our kitchen as well.”
“I’m looking forward to it then.”
“Maa, it sure is rare for a man to have cooking as a hobby! What dishes can you make, if you don’t mind me asking?” Madam Lana inquired.
“Well, just a bit of everything, I guess. Because the seasonings and ingredients I could use were limited, I’ve been cooking just meat dishes lately. I can actually also make sweets. I actually want to try cooking any dish at least once.”
“Maa, being able to make sweets sounds lovely! Would it be fine for you to make something for us to sample tomorrow?”
“Of course! That is, if there are ingredients even an amateur like me can handle however.”
Do they have some sugar? How about milk? Hm, it could be bad if they didn’t.
“Hm, I’m looking forward to that as well then.”
“Maa, then please have a look at all the ingredients we have later.”
Oh boy. I think I just shot myself in the foot, man.
“That reminds me, father. An apostle actually came to Gotania a few days back.”
“No, no, Tara. It isn’t confirmed if it was an apostle or not yet.”
“What do you mean, Katolle?”
“Two days before, a figure resembling a large bird appeared above Gotanias’ skies, father.”
“A bird? Was it not a large eagle?”
“No, it was probably as large as a wyvern. The entire city was thrown into an uproar because of it.”
“What? It was something that large? And it wasn’t a wyvern?”
“No, its method of flight was completely different. Its wings didn’t flap and seemed really similar to how an eagle hovered in the air.”
“The city did not receive any damage, I hope.”
“There was none. It just hovered up in the air for some time and then disappeared completely.”
“Fumu. And why would you think it was an apostle?”
“It’s because of what Johan’s merchant team experienced three days ago. They were said to have been attacked by at least ten Gray Hounds and that bird appeared and saved them.”
“How did it save them?”
“That’s… Their retelling seems somewhat vague, actually. They only said something resembling God’s lightning descended from the heavens above and smote those monsters to death.” After that, it flew over their merchant team for a while, seemingly checking for their safety, and then suddenly disappeared.”
“So when that mysterious bird appeared above the skies of Gotania, Johan and his merchant team made a large fuss and kept claiming that it was actually an avatar of the apostle Isaac who serves Goddess Ruminas.”
“That rumor has been spreading all throughout Gotania lately.”
“I see. So something like that happened while I was away.”
Hm, I really don’t think it was an apostle or anything. It’s quite a fishy-sounding story, in any case. It’s probably just a rare, yet-undiscovered monster. I’ll shoot it down with my rifle if it appears again. It might sell for quite a bit of cash after all. The meat could be valuable as well.
“Come to think of it, which merchant group are you planning to sell your goods to, Beck-kun, Thor-kun?”
Katolle inquired to the two boys.
“Um, we were planning to go with Simon Company.”
Beck replied. Katolle and Tarus-san quickly exchanged pensive glances. That’s a curious reaction.
“Is there something wrong?”
“Simon Company doesn’t actually have a good reputation among us merchants. But it’s not like they are using blatantly fraudulent means. Put simply, they try to buy at very low prices from suppliers and sell the goods to consumers at a significantly marked-up price. Of course, it’s a method used by most merchants as well. But Simon Company is particularly aggressive when it comes to dialing down the prices when buying from suppliers.”
“Have you signed some sort of formal contract with Simon Company?”
“No, we haven’t. But we’ve been dealing with them since my grandfather’s generation, it seems.”
“Ah, I see. I also knew the previous owner of Simon Company myself, and he was a wonderful person who did honest business. When he died and got replaced by the current owner, their reputation began to go south.” Tarus-san claimed.
“Is that really the case!? So the price of cotton falling these past few years was actually because…”
“Yes. Actually, it’s the opposite. The price of cotton has been steadily going on the rise these past few years. I could assess the value of your goods tomorrow instead if you’d like.” Katolle offered.
“But of course you aren’t obligated to sell to us after the assessment. You could choose to do so only if you’re satisfied with the offer.” Tarus-san followed up.
“We’ll be in your care then. But won’t Simon Company cause trouble because of this?” Beck inquired.
“You do not have to worry about a thing. They won’t be able to do anything because you haven’t signed any sort of exclusivity contract with them. However, if they still choose to stir up trouble regardless, I’ll be the one to take them on.”
Tarus-san displayed a scary expression befitting a shrewd merchant.
“Now then, let us leave the talk about business at a later time. Please send out more drinks!”
Tarus-san called out to someone who looked to be the employees’ supervisor.
Afterward, we drank without restraint and entered into a really festive mood. Tarus-san and his wife withdrew early, but Beck, Thor, and Katolle were hitting it off because of their similar ages. Cleria and Tara-chan busied themselves with girl-talk as well. I was also having a nice conversation with all the mansion employees and got along well with them as a result.
The banquet continued until late at night.