Ch 128 -- Truly Deplorable Elland-san
So the next morning I was busy cooking again, preparing food before we entered the dungeon the following day. I was working hard to make as much food as possible since I was on a deadline, especially since I intended to go to the Adventurers Guild in the afternoon. Before I went to bed last night I minced a lot of meat to make hamburger and cabbage rolls. They're good food to have on hand to make other dishes with. I went to the Net Super and bought yet another half-size stockpot and a large can of chopped tomatoes along with instant soup powder and cheese too.
After forming some of the the ground meat into patties with my fingers I took half of them and separated them to make Cheese IN hamburgers while the rest were left as regular hamburgers. The rest of the minced meat was for cabbage rolls. I peeled off the outer leaves of the remaining cabbages I had bought in the shops in Doran to expose the tender inside leaves which I then boiled for a short time before wrapping them around a handful of ground meat and securing them in place with a toothpick. As an experiment I made some of them with Cheese IN as well.
I put the cabbage rolls side by side in the bottom of the new stockpot and added water and cans of chopped tomato until they were covered. I broke up the instant soup powder and sprinkled it on top and then added some ketchup to sweeten the sauce a little. I brought the mixture to a boil then turned the heat down and covered the top with aluminium foil, letting it simmer and bubble for thirty minutes or so. I cooked the hamburgers I had made while this went on, alternating the cooking process until noon and putting everything away in my Item Box. After I finished cleaning up we had lunch consisting of the rest of the ground meat with bean sprouts and sweet bell peppers in a spicy Chinese miso sauce before we all headed off to the Adventurers Guild.
* * * * *
We were directed straight to the warehouse by the receptionist at the Adventurers Guild, as apparently Elland-san was waiting there for us. Well, not "waiting", I presumed it was more like he had never actually left the warehouse in the past three days. When we entered the warehouse Elland-san was standing over in the area he had reserved for the dismantling of the Earth Dragon's body. Lined up on the workbench, was that all the Dragon materials?
"Ummm, Elland-san?" I said hesitantly but he didn't respond as he stared fixedly at a glass bottle containing a red liquid in his hand. I tried speaking louder.
"Ahem, Elland-san......" Nope, no response. He was in a world of his own.
"Ahhh, this is truly the blood of a Dragon. This crimson colour is wonderful. I could stare into your depths forever..." Elland-san muttered as he held the bottle to his cheek, rubbing it against his ecstatic face. I worried that he might drop it the way he was trembling. Use both hands to hold it please, Elland-san, I thought to myself.
I waited a few more seconds, hoping Elland-san would come to his senses and notice we were here but he continued to ignore us, muttering under his breath to the bottle in his hand. He's the Guild Master of an important city's Adventurers Guild, he's the man, well the Elf I entrusted the Earth Dragon to for disassembly, had that really been a good idea after all? I finally gave up and spoke out loudly.
"Oh, it's Mukouda-san, isn't it?" Elland-san finally noticed my existence. Yes, it is Mukouda-san, I thought to myself exasperatedly.
"Yes, I'm here about the Earth Dragon..."
"Yes yes yes, I started dismantling it without delay, as soon as you left in fact and it's all gone perfectly." His expression changed. "This has been the most wonderful experience of this Elf's long life." he sang. "I can't think of a better time..." he sighed. Really, Elland-san, disassembling an Earth Dragon is the number one experience of your hundreds of years of life? I decided it was best not to dwell on what he was saying too much and pressed on with business.
"Anyway, you were talking earlier about buying some of the Dragon materials?" I enquired. Elland-san's expression changed again, back to what I was starting to think of as his business-like "Guild Master" face, an expression I was really thankful to see.
"Well, this has given me the hardest decision I've ever had to make in my long Elf's life." Yes, I know Elves have long lives, you don't have to keep mentioning it. "But, after wrestling with the problem for three days I finally came to a decision!" Elland-san said firmly, shaking his fist (not the one holding the bottle, I should add).
"So, what parts of the Dragon are you wanting then?" Keep him engaged on business or he'll start singing, or worse, dancing, I thought to myself despairingly. Focus, man- uh, Elf, focus.
"I gave great consideration to what you said but I was really really conflicted." He gestured at the workbench. "Everything here is something I desperately wanted to keep, but... well, to start with I chose this, the Earth Dragon's blood." Elland-san picked up another of the bottles containing red liquid lined up on the workbench.
"See, Dragon's blood, look, look!" He held out both bottles to me, his eyes gleaming. "It is a panacea of sorts because it is one of the ingredients for Elixir. If mixed with other medicines it will magnify their effectiveness immeasurably. Moreover a medicine made from Dragon's blood excels in its power as a preventative tonic. Indeed it is said that drinking one drop prevents any sort of illness for an entire year!"
Heeee~, that was amazing, but please calm down Elland-san.
"These are two bottles of Dragon's blood." He looked down at the bottles in his hands, thankfully quieting down again. "I would like to purchase them, 150 gold coins per bottle."
…………What? 1 bottle, 150 gold coins? Wait a moment. Looking at the bottle, it resembled a sake bottle with a cork in the top, maybe about a litre or so? I transferred my gaze to the workbench where the rest of the bottles were lined up... there had to be over a hundred bottles there-
"Incidentally, I got 160 bottles of Dragon's blood from the disassembly." Elland-san said with a smile of satisfaction on his face.
Hu- A hundred and sixty bottles... Lessee, a bottle is 150 gold coins, there are 160 bottles, ummm, that's how much in total? I couldn't think, I started to count on my fingers and forced myself to stop. I felt faint. Elland-san continued, oblivious to my dazed expression.
"Next I would like to buy the Dragon's liver. This is a panacea like the blood but, it is said, several times more effective so it's something I wanted to possess at all costs." Elland-san's face fell. "Sadly it's too expensive and we can't afford all of it. We'll buy half of the liver and pay you 1500 gold coins for that portion if you agree."
Half of the Dragon's liver, they'll pay 1500 gold coins... Now my stomach was starting to ache. Help me, help me...
"Really, this Dragon was a splendid specimen, fully grown and unbelievably healthy. The liver is beautiful, large and with a nice colour." Elland-san's voice was getting more and more enthusiastic as he discussed the creature's innards in glowing detail. "Realistically speaking Mukouda-san, this Dragon's liver was actually worth more than 3000 gold coins, being such a good specimen but if I bought all of it even at that price I'd not be able to afford anything else from the disassembly."
3000 gold coins, 3000 gold coins, 3000 gold coins for one liver... I clamped down on my sudden desire to open up the Net Super and see what a beef liver would cost in my world. A single gold coin would buy ten prime beef livers, twenty, fifty... and, I reminded myself, that was a single organ. Johan-san, the Guild's disassembler back in Carerina had told me there was nothing that wasn't valuable in the disassembly of a Dragon, there must be other organs as well? How much was the whole thing worth? My stomach twinged again. I had thought the Dragon was like the other monsters I had brought in for disassembly and sale, I had underestimated just how valuable it was.
"The last item I've decided to purchase is a single fang. I'll pay 2000 gold coins for it." Elland-san's gaze swept the workshop table covered with Dragon parts. "To tell the truth I was in two minds whether to buy the eyeballs or a fang but in the end I chose the fang."
A- A single fang, two thousand gold coins... Ha~, I could only sigh now, my mind had gone blank. Numbers that big didn't mean anything to me any more.
"You see, there's a renowned blacksmith who works in this city and I've spoken to him about a sword I'm thinking of having him make for me which would incorporate the fang. It would be the sharpest sword ever, a sword any true swordsman would wish to wield just once before they die. A Dragon sword, the sword of my dreams muahahaha!" There was that Dragon word again...
What he had said worried me a little. The purchases were being made by the Adventurers Guild, right? But this sword he was eulogising seemed to be something he himself wanted, a "Dragon sword, the sword of my dreams" right? Was it OK for him to be spending the Guild's money on a personal desire? I asked him about this and after he calmed down (a little) he explained the sword he wanted made would belong to the Adventurers Guild, not himself personally. It would be a showpiece item.
"It's a Dragon sword after all. It will be a sword comparable to any cursed sword from the deepest level of any dungeon anywhere." Elland-san explained. "Such a sword is sure to be a big attraction for this Guild. Since there is a dungeon here Adventurers gather in this city. If the Guild possesses a Dragon sword it will attract more Adventurers. A Dragon sword is a legendary sword for those who wield swords."
Adventurers are interested in fine weapons, not surprisingly so if they heard rumors of a Dragon sword it meant that they would flock to this city to catch a glimpse of it. Once they're here there's the dungeon too, another reason to stay. Now he had laid out his thinking I understood what Elland-san's intentions were regarding this Dragon sword he intended to have made. It was just that "Dragon" word and Elland-san's, ummm, enthusiasms still left me with a lingering suspicion of his motives. He was stunningly handsome but I had seen him being absolutely deplorable about anything to do with Dragons and I couldn't totally believe his professed reasons for buying the fang were truly why he had made that choice. Ah well, let it go and move on.
"Well then can I take all the rest?" I pointed to the Dragon materials which covered most the workbench. An astonishingly huge manastone in the middle, presumably from the Dragon, caught my eye but I was getting tired and just wanted to leave as soon as possible, to go back to my room to rest. Dealing with Elland-san was a tiring business.
"Yes, all the materials on this table are to be returned to you." Elland-san put the two bottles of Dragon's blood he had been holding all this time on a small table nearby, beside a large clear jar filled with a large lump of brownish-grey material, half of the Dragon's liver I presumed, and a very large heavy fang.
"Those items on the table here will be purchased by the Guild." Elland-san had made preparations for my visit, obviously. "I will pay you the purchase price. Since it's a large amount of money I'll give it to you in large gold coins." Ah, I remembered, large gold coins were worth ten regular gold coins. I had been paid for the Wyvern subjugation and the Mithril Lizard affair back in Carerina in large gold coins.
"The price is 3800 gold coins for the two bottles of blood, half the liver and the fang so here are 380 large gold coins." Elland-san handed me a very heavy hemp bag with the payment inside. I didn't bother to count the coins inside, I had become blase about such matters and I had grown to trust the Adventurers Guild about payments like this. I still looked inside the bag though, just to see...
"Oh, that's right, how much did the disassembly cost me?" I asked. Disassembling something as large and complex as a Dragon must require a large fee-
"No no, there's no charge for the dismantling." Elland-san reassured me, a dangerously familiar gleam in his eye. "Rather I should have paid you for giving me the opportunity to disassemble the Dragon." His lustful gaze swept the table overflowing with Dragon parts. "I have had a wonderful time over the past three days, it was a dream come true for me." He lifted his slim strong hands before his eyes. "I had the privilege of disassembling a Dragon, a DRAGON! with these hands..."
Oh, oh, I see. Well if you don't want to be paid for your work then I will go along with that. Thank you. I started transferring the Earth Dragon's material from the workbench in my Item Box, counting them off as Elland-san watched over me, taking in the last sight of the creature he had disassembled. There were 158 bottles containing Dragon blood, a jar containing eyeballs and other jars with assorted organs all filled with some kind of liquid. When I asked Elland-san about it he explained it was a preservative fluid. As the name suggested it would keep the various body parts fresh. The preserving fluid had been made by Elland-san personally, a result of knowledge gained during his studies as a pharmacist. It was uncommon for Adventurers to learn such skills but not unknown. As he explained though, he had learned that Dragon was an essential component of Elixir and that had driven him to learn pharmacy against the day he'd get to disassemble a Dragon. Such dedication, I thought to myself, or obsession or crazy fixation or... I kept my hands moving, packing away the various Dragon parts on the worktable. The last items I tucked away were the remaining fang and finally the Dragon's huge hide, rolled up neatly into a bundle.
"The Earth Dragon's hide is beautiful, isn't it~?" Elland-san sighed as it disappeared out of sight into my Item Box. "As expected it was too expensive for me to purchase but I could stare at its gleaming scales for days on end." I recalled him rubbing his cheek on the Dragon's skin when I left it with him to disassemble earlier but quickly tore my thoughts away. "However we don't have 10,000 gold coins to spare to buy it from you." he finished.
..................? Did I hear that right? "Uh, just now, how many gold coins did you just say?"
"10,000 gold coins, I think I said?" Elland-san replied with a smile.
"............ Soooo, 10,000 gold coins." I repeated, dumbfounded.
"Yes, 10,000 gold coins." Elland-san confirmed.
10,000 gold coins ... 10,000 gold coins ... 10,000 gold coins ... my stomach lurched again. What could I buy with 10,000 gold coins? I couldn't imagine anything worth that much. Was there anything in this world that actually cost 10,000 gold pieces? I didn't know.
"I have to ask, is there anyone who would actually pay 10,000 gold coins for this skin?"
Elland-san thought for a moment. "Well, it would be difficult even for very rich nobles to afford it. Hmmm, maybe the Duke of Beauven in the south could manage to pay for it somehow. I can't think of anyone in this country other than him."
The skin is so expensive, its price is so high that virtually no-one can afford to buy it and so it's effectively worthless. Strange. Going around saying "Buy this please." would be a hard sell. No matter, I'd just let it rest for the time being beside Orthros-san and Chimaera-san in my Item Box. I'd do the same with the other Dragon parts I had already stored away, leave them be until I needed them or I found buyers for them elsewhere. The blood, other Guilds might buy some, I didn't know. I'd ask Elland-san about that later.
"The Dragon meat is being kept in an ice storehouse over here." Elland-san led the way to a heavily-insulated door in the far wall of the warehouse. When he opened it cold air flooded out. I peered in, noticing the floor of the small thick-walled room had long grooves cut in it and filled with ice. Elland-san explained that an ice magic user came by regularly to refresh the ice channels.
"Since the body wouldn't fit in here in one piece I cut it into three sections." Elland-san explained. I nodded, surveying the piles of meat which just about filled the ice room. Right, to work. I quickly packed the Dragon meat away in my Item Box and Elland-san closed the door again. He looked hesitant as we returned to the centre of the warehouse floor again, then he coughed and spoke.
"Mukouda-san, we talked earlier about Dragon meat and you agreed, didn't you that... ummm..." Oh, THAT discussion, back in Elland-san's office the day I arrived in Doran.
"Eeh, I remember we discussed it, yes." I was trying to politely make my excuses and leave when Elland-san continued excitedly.
"Really? Then let's go!"
"Uh, where is it that we're going?" I asked, confused again.
"We're going to eat Dragon meat, what else?" Elland-san asked loudly. That wasn't a good thing to say around the Gluttonous Trio who were, of course, accompanying me and well within hearing distance.
"Nuu, have you finally finished here? Then it's time to eat some Dragon meat." Fer said, already heading for the door. No it's not time to eat yet Fer, I told him telepathically but he wasn't listening.
"Meat? Are we going to eat meat? Meat meat~" Dora-chan had picked up on Fer's enthusiasm. No, Dora-chan, it's not time for meat meat. Slow down, you two! but they were already at the warehouse door.
"Mukouda-san will do the cooking, right? So let's go to my house." Elland-san babbled on, his excitement almost palpable. "You don't know what sort of folks might turn up and interrupt if you cook Dragon meat somewhere else. My house, it's the best place to sit down calmly and and eat Dragon meat in peace. I can lock and bar the doors and-" He had me by the arm and was dragging me mindlessly towards the warehouse door despite my best efforts to hold back.
"But you're working, you're the Guild Master here, you must be very busy right now-" I said, trying to distract him. If I could only get a solid grip on the worktable, even he wouldn't be able to drag such a large sturdy piece of furniture like that around, would he?
"Busy? What are you talking about Mukouda-san?" His eyes were filled with excitement and, dare I say it, lust. "There is nothing more important right now than tasting the meat of this Dragon!" He waved his arm around the room, encompassing the entire Guild building. "Besides, in a Guild this size we have an assistant Guild Master who can run things and deal with any problems if I'm not here so it's fine if I take some time off." Oh, are you saying that you value your job here as less important than eating Dragon meat? That's deplorable, Guild Master Elland-san. Do your job like you should and don't just dump it all on your poor suffering assistant.
"Right, let's go!" My attempt to hold onto the worktable was to no avail and I left, well I was dragged from the Adventurers Guild by Elland-san. As the front door closed behind me I caught a glimpse of the stunned expression on the florid face of a rather overweight fellow standing by the reception desk. He was probably the assistant Guild Master, I decided as I was pulled along the street uncaringly by his boss. I felt some sympathy for him for having to work under the truly deplorable Elland-san.