Translator: Kell | Editor: Weasalopes
In the Streets of Scholarzard
It had been a while since they had a conversation like this while walking around town. If Selica saw us, she’d probably snap a little, Hikaru thought.
「What the…」Hikaru stopped in his tracks.
「Hmm?」Lavia followed his eyes as well.「Oh…」
They spotted a single food cart, seemingly thriving as customers constantly lined up. Even in this cold weather, there were still food carts out. Not the ones with only a simple roof, though. In the winter, the carts were actually covered by boards to keep out the cold.
The stall’s keeper—a blonde man with a solid build who looked better off as an adventurer—noticed the two of them.
「Hey, there! Would you like some?」the man said.
This was Hikaru’s first meeting with the man who looked just like someone he knew. What really caught his attention was the food he was selling.
『Hotdogs—30 gilans each.』
「We have spicy ones, too.」he added.
Hikaru talked to the man to answer some of his suspicions. As he expected, this hotdog stand was one of the branches of “Pond Hotdog” a hotdog stand chain that Selica financed. She’s fast. Too fast.
According to the man, the owner Selica wanted to open branches in major cities right away before other businesses could copy her idea. The store’s logo, incidentally, was a caricature of a pigtails.
「I’m surprised it sells well. Anyone can come up with the idea of selling hotdogs.」Hikaru said.
「The balance of flavor is superb. The ketchup and mustard, was it? They’re both tasty.」
Mustard existed in this world as well, but there was no sauce that was modified specifically for hotdogs. This flavor was Pond Hotdog’s strong point. Moreover, the sausage itself was a bit different than the ones in Japan; the meat had a distinct impact to it. Overall, it was much more delicious.
「You can even add cheese, salsa sauce, and vegetables that are in season!」Lavia said.「One hotdog is enough for a meal. This will definitely sell!」
「I know you just like the spicy one.」
Hikaru also invested in Pond Hotdog and instructed Selica to include a spicy flavor as an option. He thought one day somewhere, Lavia might come across it and want spicy hotdogs.
There would always be people who loved spicy food in every city. According to the shopkeeper, one of ten people ordered spicy hotdog. In a cold town like Scholarzard, spicy food were popular as well.
When business slowed down and customers stopped coming for a while, Hikaru asked the keeper some more specific questions. According to the man, he was an adventurer until he injured his knee and couldn’t continue working as one. Selica hired people like him and deployed them to various places.
So it’s like an outplacement service for ex-adventurers? I’m surprised she even has the time.
Rank B adventurers were usually too busy, and right now the Four Stars were recruited for war. Yet she still found the time to start a hotdog business after ripping money off from Hikaru, even using her trademark pigtails.
「I bet there are plenty of delicious foods in Japan.」Lavia said.「I would love to go there if possible.」
She had actually learned bits about Japan from Selica.
「I think food in this world is delicious too.」Hikaru said.
「And also books.」
「So that’s what you’re really after.」
Japan did have a vast number of books. A bookworm like Lavia would surely love the place. Of course, she’d have to study Japanese first, but Hikaru felt like she’d be able to master it in no time at all.
Lavia managed to finish her hotdog.
「Wow, you can eat!」the shopkeeper said.「The sauce used in this spicy hotdog is actually a secret recipe from the Master. He said he studied under a young boy or something.」
So Selica is the “owner” and that guy from Pond, I believe his name was Earnest, is the Master.
Hikaru and Lavia then left the food cart and went on to buy daily necessities.
Oh, a jewelry store.
Hikaru stopped in front of a store. He could see what’s inside through the fairly-big window glass. Realizing Lavia didn’t wear a lot of accessories, he came up with an idea.
「Lavia. In my country, we actually celebrate birthdays. And since ours are close—」
They entered the shop.
Scholarzard’s church was grand, but only few people visited it, mostly because it was an uneventful day. People also chose to work away in warmer places during the winter, so the overall population was actually lower.
Paula talked to the forty-something priest present who was also aware of the situation in Agiapole.
「There are three head priests in Forestia and all of them went to Agiapole.」he said.
They were also keeping a close eye on what’s happening through the Church’s intel network. When the priest found out that Paula was not from Forestia, he also asked questions, so she told him what she knew.
Then, a monk serving in Forestzard arrived with new news.
「Father Gravey, who managed to escape Agiapole, is taking refugees with him to Einbeast to seek asylum.」
The priest was surprised. So was Paula, but not at the news, but because things turned out just like Hikaru said it would.
「Is Father Gravey okay?」
「Yes. Einbeast welcomed him and the refugees. But Father Gravey said there’s still people who need help and went back to the Bios with one company.」
「Is this company a woman?」Paula asked.
「I don’t know, but… Yes, it could be. I heard a very skilled woman protected the refugees. Even though her shabby clothes were drenched with monster blood, she still stood tall and proud.」
The Blue Knight, Conia Mercury, immediately came to mind. The Scholarzard priest looked baffled.
「Father Gravey is a Red Priest famous among the regional churches. Why wouldn’t he turn to His Holiness for help, and instead choose to flee the country?」
「I believe that’s why the priests are heading to the Tower.」
「I know, but it sounds like…」
The priest didn’t finish his words. He was probably going to say something that criticized the Pope. Gravey’s actions could only be seen as “he couldn’t count on the Pope so he fled to the neighboring country.”
But it made sense, considering the situation. According to the Adventurers Guild, the regional priests demanded the Pope to resign. In terms of position, there was no one above the Pope except God himself, so he had to resign at his own will. The regional priests, who stood above ministers and monks, criticized the Pope openly.
「If Father Gravey is on the right, then he’d be like a Saint.」Paula said.
The priest and the monk were taken aback.
「By all means, we must have him visit Forestia!」
The priest and the monk were mere mortals. While the Church itself was shaken, they were excited at the birth of a new hope. After promising to share information from here on, they parted ways.
「That took longer than I expected.」
Paula had missed lunch and was starving. She walked the streets, looking for food stalls where she could have a light lunch.
Would Hikaru-sama be happy about this new information?
The Church had intel that the guild didn’t. She felt happy, knowing it might help Hikaru.
—Oh, Paula. You’re such a great help.
—I simply did it for you.
—Thank you. You don’t actually have to do anything. As long as you’re by my side, I’m more than happy.
Paula chuckled, her expression just a bit crazy for a young lady. She drew surprised looks from men as she passed by. Oops, get yourself together, she thought as she returned to her usual expression. Then, her eyes stopped at a shop. She could see inside through the window glass.
She saw Hikaru and Lavia smiling at each other as they wore matching silver bangles on their wrists.
Suddenly, she regained composure. Of course. I told Lavia to go on a date with him. Them being intimate was perfectly normal. Paula should be happy, in fact. Wearing matching accessories was just something a couple would do.
She knew all along. But for some reason—
「It’s getting cold…」
Thin clouds hung in the skies, followed by thicker ones that completely blocked out the sun. A cold breeze blew past, robbing Paula of her body heat. Shivering, she buried her face into her scarf.
「What should I get for lunch? Oh, right. I gotta find an inn too…」
Recalling what she had to do, Paula left in quick steps.
Hikaru suddenly felt something and looked around. Was there someone watching us? With his Mana Detection he spotted a familiar mass of mana, several times massive than that of regular citizens.
Oh, Paula passed by. Even my Instinct sensed her, huh? Amazing. Adding one more point to it might’ve been a good idea, after all.
「What’s wrong?」Lavia asked.
「Um, it’s nothing.」
Hikaru paid the bill.