Just to make sure Tyvera doesn’t try anything, I only released the bindings on the hands to allow her to eat while she explained to us the circumstances. Though to be fair, she’s able to use Storm Magic, but since she’ll likely need to chant aloud in order to cast spells, she’s aware enough that we’d stop her if she attempted to try it.
From my [Storage], I pulled out a large batch of seasoned karaage with ground Horned Boar meat as a replacement, [TN: Karaage is Japanese Fried Chicken, but some other meats can replace the chicken from what I’ve heard, not sure if they go by different names though] plus pan-fried vegetables and rice. Because the space in [Storage] doesn’t hinder the time on items that are stored inside, they came out as hot and fresh as they were out of the stove. I made plenty of helpings just in case since Ume, Ren, and Erizora look to be the biggest eaters of our group with the first of the three being number one, but it looked like there was enough for even Kostos, Pantos, Sue, and Tyvera to have their own portions.
The reactions they all had after taking their first bite was astounding. Ren, Erizora, and even Tyvera were literally moved to tears from the taste; Eugus, despite having mixed feelings towards me for basically stealing his niece, was having difficulty in giving his own honest opinion; Kalline, Kostos, and Pantos were about to kneel to me in worship like seasoned knights before I stopped them in a fluster; Ume, for the first time, actually slowed her pace in eating to savor every last bite of my cooking; and finally, Sue passionately expressed my cooking to be on the same level as a highly-skilled Chef or even a Master Chef.
Well, Sue was pretty much on point, because I spent SP last night to raise my Cooking skill to the max level of mastery. From that, I got the Cook title, then Chef, and finally Master Chef. From achieving those titles, I got the Food Appraisal skill at LV 1, Cookbook LV 1, Meal Bonus*, and Meal Bonus+*. The Food Appraisal skill I maxed out immediately, which lead me to learn everything I need to know about each edible item by themselves and even identify them in prepared meals just at a single glance. That was actually integrated into my Street Smarts skill I learned afterward that leveled up to 5 in response to that. Thankfully, the benefits from my maxed-out Food Appraisal are still in effect after confirming it with the dishes in our lunch.
I also maxed out the Cookbook skill immediately to be able to learn every existing recipe with their instructions, ingredients, and their effects after consuming them with mana applied. I could even try to formulate new recipes with known ingredients in my mind and predict how they’d turn out after preparing them accordingly.
But wait, you can apply your mana into food? You may ask yourself, and yes, you can, which brings us to the Meal Bonus skill that made me learn that fact. You know how in some RPGs you can increase your stats from eating cooked meals once you gather the necessary ingredients for them? Well, that’s what’s going on here, along with curing some ailments, even raising certain stats for a specific amount of time. The Meal Bonus+ skill I got after achieving the ‘Master Chef’ title? That basically doubles the amount of previously mentioned effects. Like if you get +2 in your HP stat after eating a mana-infused fried egg with Meal Bonus, then Meal Bonus+ would bump that up to +4 instead. Temporarily raising your ATK by 10% for 5 hours after eating an omelet? With Meal Bonus+, one’s ATK is raised by 20% for 5 hours.
When I thought about it, if one had enough money to redeem a slave to do all the fighting for them and had an experienced Chef cook their meals with stat boosts, it’s clear to see how the nobles in this world have got around to getting stronger and level up even if they never left their homes. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that one can level up by spending some money. That just got me thinking more on what else the nobles of this world could be hiding. Like, could they possibly have multiple classes like Eugus does? If so, how do they go about it?
By that point, I could only speculate, and if I don’t have any further leads that could point me in the right direction, I’m stuck, so I had to stop there.
By the time most of us had our fill, Tyvera explained the details of her position. To keep it brief, while Lady Krauss was aware of Gabriella being her bodyguard, Lord Whatshisface also appointed Tyvera at the same time as a sort of secret scout without his fiance’s knowing. Not only was she keeping a lookout for oncoming threats from the skies, but she would also serve as an ‘emergency second escort’ to help guide Lady Krauss through the dungeon should Gabriella find the adventurer(s) Eugus appointed to this quest unqualified for the task. As you might guess, the lord kept this from Lady Krauss, which makes this matter complicated.
“Gabriella relayed me the details on some of the party members who would be joining the appointed adventurers last night, which was how I recognized the group here who subjugated the Howlers earlier,” Tyvera continues. “How Gabriella got that information, she didn’t say, but I can imagine she convinced Lady Krauss to trust her enough to do that much. Thinking on that now, it makes doing this job all the more disgusting for me to be a part of.”
“So, you were against being a part of this before?” I ask.
“Yes. As much as I like being an adventurer, taking part in such a high-pressuring test is making me molt sooner, especially since it’s involving someone so important like Lady Krauss.”
“If you weren’t into it, couldn’t that guy find someone else?” Ume asks.
“There’s only one other among us in the disciples who’s able to fly, but even then, she doesn’t have the Deadeye skill for surveillance like I have, and a bit more vulnerable in defenses. And of course, Lord Rowling couldn’t entrust Lady Krauss’ safety to just anybody without her arguing about it… then again, at this point, I question if he even trusts her at all.”
If the relationship’s like that, then the circumstances surrounding their engagement must be more political than I imagined.
“This is not good,” Eugus says. “Lord Rowling and Lady Krauss made the request to escort the latter through the dungeon with seemingly agreed conditions. If they themselves do not have a firm confirmation on what is going on, if this were not found out earlier on, then they would have pulled the guild and the assigned adventurers into a complicated situation that would result in heavy fines on them for a penalty.”
“If it is Lord Rowling we art talking about, I doubt he would go into this blindly,” Kalline adds. “If the assigned adventurer was not to his expectations and comfort to escort Lady Krauss, if he was that careful to assign Tyvera in secret, it could be possible he was prepared to pay the penalty. He is one of nobility, money would not be an issue to him.”
“Jinma, Umeiyon” Eugus says while turning to me. “Since this involves the two of thee directly and was happening out of thy knowledge, what would thou like to do? If thou decide to decline the quest once the situation’s confirmed, since the fault is on the client’s side, thy reputations will not be affected.”
“What do you think, Jin?” Ume asks me.
I take a moment to think. From what I had been told about the quest up to now, the circumstances, and the current situation. In short, it was ‘agreed’ that Lady Krauss would have the final say on who would be escorting her along with Gabriella in the dungeon and she had no obligation to release any info on the assigned adventurers. I’m guessing since Ume and I are the main-assigned adventurers, Lady Krauss felt it was fine to release some info on our party members at the least. Meanwhile, Lord Whatshisface is someone who would actually take matters into his own hands and go back on his word if he doesn’t see something go in his favor. Lady Krauss’ family seems to be high on the social ladder than the lord’s enough that he would marry into it instead of the other way around. Doesn’t that make Lady Krauss the one in charge? Or is it that her family is looking for a concubine of sorts for her to produce an heir? I’m not familiar with noble classes and their hierarchy, but if the Demon-Kin’s Territory’s government is anything like medieval Europe’s, I think I know enough that whether Lady Krauss had a brother that’s older or younger than her, the position of family head would likely fall onto the firstborn male once the previous one retires or passes away.
“I should probably say this now, but if Jinma is the one who’s assigned to be Lady Krauss’ escort, Gabriella won’t go along with the plan no matter the circumstances,” Tyvera then says.
“Even if the adventurer was chosen by Lady Krauss herself?” I ask.
“Yes, because she despises humans with a burning passion. As for why that is, you just need one look at her and it would become clear.”
“One look …” I’ve never seen Gabriella, but the only thing I know about her is that she’s a Dullahan— “Ah! Could it be her race? Was she once human herself?” I ask.
“Bingo. I won’t go into details out of respect for her personal privacy, but the fact remains that humans were the cause that Gabriella turned into a Dullahan.”
From what I recall of Dullahans back on Earth, there were very few interpretations from the original source. One of which claimed Dullahans were part of the undead due to the effects of a curse acting on the victim, whether it’s before or after the beheading for whatever reason varies.
“I’m only saying this to you now so you’d know who you’re up against when she goes ballistic,” Tyvera says.
“I appreciate the concern, but I took some necessary courses of action to prepare myself for this moment. If I may ask, how often do you need to report to Gabriella?”
“She’s usually the one who needs to contact me first to avoid getting caught under Lady Krauss’ eyes. She tries to contact me every 2 hours, I think, and the last one wasn’t too long before you put me to sleep.”
“That was an hour and a half ago, if I remember right, so about 45 minutes until she makes another call. Then, this is perfect. We’ll just get there before she contacts you as a surprise.”
“Uh, excuse me, we could not help but overhear thy talk, but that should be impossible.”
“Aye, we art not even at the halfway point to our destination, and with this setback, it will take us a little longer than we initially scheduled to get there,” Kostos and Pantos say, respectfully.
“Right, about that,” I say before turning to the guild master escorting us. “Eugus, I’m not sure how much you know of me already, but I’m able to use [Portal].”
“Lady Tephalia had notified me of that when I asked her, yes, but is that only for the user to use at locations they have been to before? I do not remember you mentioning being in Palocaesy before, so I assumed you have not, or we would be over there a long time ago.”
“And you are right to assume that as I have not been to Palocaesy … at least from 45 minutes ago before I got back here, I think.”
The others stand there in stunned silence for a brief moment.
“J-Jinma, do not tell me thou …”
“Ran all the way from where I picked up Tyvera to just outside of Palocaesy’s gates on foot? Why yes, yes I did,” I answered for Eugus.
“I was wondering why your shoes look so worn out now, Milord. Clearly, those are not designed for running,” Mametama points out as she and the others look at my black leather shoes.
When I came to this world, my shoes along with the clothes I had on at the time of death from Earth were repaired and restored to the point of being brand new. They had seen some fair share of wear and tear as I ran around from then up to now, especially that full sprint to Palocaesy with Tyvera still lugged on my shoulder. Now, my shoes are so dirty and roughed up with the soles so rubbed down to flat that both of them may fall into pieces at any given moment.
Could I have just used [Portal] multiple times like I did to sneak up on Tyvera? I could, but I was worried how much some will keep track of my magic capacity and its recovery speed since [Portal] uses up so much MP the farther away it goes from the caster’s starting point by itself, let alone using it multiple times every couple of meters like I did earlier through the trees in the forest nearby, and I was worried how much my maxed-out Deception skill would hold water if anything on me doesn’t match my description.
There’s all that, and I really did want to go on a sort of run to see how fast I could go at top speed with my current AGI. I actually got there much earlier than I expected, so I just ran a few laps around the city before running back. I somehow even got the Free Runner title along with a Parkour skill at LV 5.
“But seriously, I’ll need to get some better shoes once we get to Palocaesy. I’m amazed I haven’t even gotten bloody blisters on my feet at this point, but they do feel a little chaffed. I should probably give them a quick heal before we continue … why do some of you look so down?” I was rambling to myself by that point before I notice deflated expressions on some of their faces.
“Was Jinma … that fast when he beat me?” [Eugus]
“I was supposed to be Master Jinma’s steed … of course, he would not need me if he was capable of going that fast from the start, so where would that leave me?” [Kalline]
“I want to run with Master, too …” [Ren]
Well … this is awkward. Eugus aside, I’ll have to find a way to make Ren and Kalline feel better, I think as I silently heal the chaffing and soreness in my feet before clearing my throat. “Anyway, I was hoping not to resort to this and we’d get to our destination at a leisurely pace, but the current circumstances have changed things. Mr. Kostos, Mr. Pantos, is it okay for me to use [Portal] to get us to our destination faster?”
“Hey, if thou can get us there within the next 5 minutes, we can get other things done much ahead of schedule and even make our way back to Dondegarm on the same day.”
“Really, it should be us paying thee for transportation and doing us this favor,” Kostos and Pantos say, respectfully.
“Eugus? Your thoughts?”
He sighs. “This trip was supposed to serve as part of a trial prior to the quest, but I do not even care at this point. Do whatever thou want.”
“I feel I should be ecstatic at how amazing Jinma is, but I feel a little sad cutting our time so short,” Sue suddenly says.
“What do you mean? It’s not like we’ll be parting ways so soon when we get there. You’re going to Korangar like us, right? Unless you’re in a hurry, I don’t mind you sticking with us for a bit longer. It’s the same for everyone else, right?” I ask while looking to the others and they nod in agreement. “I don’t know how things will turn out with this Assigned Quest, but we’ll work it over as we go along if you want to continue traveling with us.”
“Yes! Absolutely! As long as possible, if it’s not too much trouble!”
“Not at all. Besides, I’d feel a little uneasy letting you go to Korangar on your own, so you’re doing me a favor, here.”
“Jinma …” Sue’s purple-tinted cheeks turn red while her wings rustle and her tail flailed about excitedly. I glance up above her head and still not see her name and HP/MP bars like I can with the others, just like how it was from the start of our trip.
I don’t know what her deal is but I want to get to know her if I can. Not only for my own peace of mind with her identity completely hidden in the dark, but also to know some of her motives, if possible. If she really does turn out to be harmless and is infatuated with me … then I’d like to give my first loyal fan the kind of attention she deserves.
“Right, then!” I exclaim while rustling Sue’s platinum-pink locks. “Let’s pack up and get ready to head out! We’ll be heading to Palocaesy under 5 minutes!”
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Hello and welcome. You may call me Orange Rain, and I looooove orange soda.
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