Ch 174 -- BBQ
I spent the next two days cooking and preparing food. Now we had finished Doran's dungeon I was intending to head off to the next town soon and we'd need a lot of food for the forthcoming road trip. Fer and the other two hangers-on wanted to go back into the dungeon of course but I refused since it would take too long. They'd want to go all the way to the final level again and one time was enough for me thank you very much.
I made all sorts of ready-to-eat items like the ever-popular kaarage, regular pork cutlets and minced meat cutlets as well as cheese-IN varieties of course, since Sui-chan really liked them. I also prepared lots of rice bowl toppings from Wyvern and Bloody Horn Bull meat, lots of beef stew and mountains of hamburgers, again some with cheese IN because Sui-chan liked them too. Gyoza dumplings were next, the Mithril mincer made mincing any kind of meat for fillings quick and easy, followed by pork soup and boiled-pork for ramen and soft-boiled eggs as extras. The pork soup had been really tasty, especially in the cold dank dungeon. I added the soft-boiled eggs to the pork soup and boiled pork and let them marinate in the Magic Bag to absorb the juices.
A new dish I tried making was stuffed peppers since I had a lot of minced meat to hand. I cleaned out the bell peppers after washing them thoroughly and cutting them in half then I packed the insides with some of the meat I had prepared to make hamburgers with and dusted them lightly with flour. I fried them in a frying pan with the meat side down and once they had browned I added oyster sauce, soy sauce and sugar and a little water before putting the lid on to let them steam.
Those two days of effort had replenished my reserves of cooked food so I figured I'd be able to enjoy the forthcoming trip a lot more without having to stop at the roadside and make meals from scratch every few hours. Now that was done I was heading back towards the area of Doran where the blacksmith workshops were located to collect the barbecue stove I had ordered. I had already bought the ten bottles of whiskey I had bribed, ah promised the blacksmith for the stove's completion from the Net Super, famous square bottles from the Japanese S company. I was looking forward to seeing how the stove had turned out.
* * * * *
"Hello." I announced as I entered the shop. Fer laid down at the doorway and did his "pretending to sleep" act with Dora-chan snuggled up beside him.
"Oh, it's you," the dwarven shopowner said brusquely. "I finished up what you ordered. It's back here." He led the way into his workshop where a large barbeque stove practically filled the available floorspace. I made a close inspection of it, checking the details.
"Any problems? I made it just like you said." the dwarf said, standing with his arms crossed. The stove looked to be the right size and the drawer for charcoal could be pulled out to be emptied and refilled. The airholes were in the right place and looked good too, the top grill was also easily removable for cleaning.
"Yep, it's exactly what I had asked for, it's really well made." I answered him.
"'Course it is." he said grumpily. "I made it after all and I'm one of the top five smiths in Doran."
Really? When I came to the blacksmith's quarter to find a smith that would make this stove I just went to one smith's shop after another at random since I didn't know who was who. There were a lot of blacksmiths in Doran because of the number of Adventurers who came here to dive into the city's dungeon so being one of the top five smiths meant he was really top-notch. I had really lucked out, it seemed. After a gruff introduction I discovered that Aresh-san here was the son of the actual owner of this store, Aresh Blacksmith Workshop.
"Right then, how are you gonna get something this size home? You got someone to cart it away for ya?"
"Ah, it's okay. I have an Item Box I can put it in."
"Oh, it's like that? Okay you, did you bring THAT?" the dwarf's eyes were fixed on me. THAT was, of course THAT. I nodded. "Of course I did." I said, taking out a square bottle of S company's whiskey from my Item Box.
"I've been waiting to get my hands on more of that booze..." Aresh-san said, he plucking the bottle from my hand before he started rubbing it against his cheeks. Aresh-san really liked booze, it seemed.
"Let's see, I promised you ten bottles, didn't I?" I took out the other nine bottles and put them down on Aresh-san's workbench as his eyes widened.
"Waheey, I've got me some good booze!" He sounded happy, a bit like a couple of boozehound Gods I had the unfortunate acquaintance of.
"So how much is the stove costing me?" I asked.
"Ah yeah," Aresh-san said, reluctantly putting the bottle down and getting back to business. He tugged at his beard thoughtfully before saying "It's the first time I made something like this so I hadda guess a bit at the price. I told ya 350 gold coins first time but that was too much. Now it's finished, including the materials, hmmm... I'd say 300 gold coins will be enough."
Oh, that's less than he said before. When Aresh-san told me he was one of the top five blacksmiths in Doran I thought the price might go up, not down so I was perfectly happy with a final price of 300 gold coins. And the ten, no eleven bottles of booze it had taken to get him to make the stove for me, of course. I took out a hemp bag containing 300 gold coins from my Item Box and presented it to him.
"Here, that should be the correct amount." I said.
"Yup." He took the bag and put it away in a closet off to one side, not even bothering to open it or count the coins inside. I was puzzled, any other time I had bought something such as my Black Magic Cooking stove the storekeeper had carefully counted the coins I had handed over to check the payment was correct.
"Uhhh, shouldn't you check the contents of the bag?" I asked. Aresh-san gave me a hard look.
"You telling me you've short-changed me?" he said grumpily.
"No, I wouldn't do that." I protested. That sack contained 300 gold coins, it was one of the sacks the Guild had paid me with and I'd not taken any coins out of it so it definitely contained the agreed amount.
"Well if it doesn't turn out to be the right amount I'll come and get the rest from ya." Arash-san waved a hand at the recumbent figure of Fer at the shop door. "You're a famous Tamer after all, the Adventurer who recently beat the dungeon with your contracted monsters aincha?" Oh, so I was recognised, even by a blacksmith? "The Adventurers Guild ain't talking much about what happened for some reason but word gets around." Well, it was a bit too late to deny everything so I confirmed his suspicions.
"Yes, that's right, more or less. I don't really want to stand out or anything like that so I'm trying to keep quiet about it..."
"Yeah, I can see that. If folks know you're the guy that completed the dungeon they're gonna bother ya big time. You don't look like the sorta gloryhound that wants that sort of attention. Me, I don't really care about that kinda stuff." Aresh-san leaned in, conspiratorially. "Sayin' that, didya collect any special drops in the dungeon that would be good for making a sword with?"
Aresh-san made all sorts of weapons but, it seemed, he specialised in swords and he was interested to know what materials the Adventurer's Guild might have to offer for sale soon.
"What sort of materials would you be interested in? I did pick up some items..."
"Well," Arend-san tugged at his beard again. "Drop materials from monsters on the deepest floors would be best."
"Drops on floors near the deepest part of the dungeon?" I thought to myself, trying to remember the items Elland-san had wanted the Guild to purchase to make magic swords with, before Ugor-san rightly shot him down in flames. The Gustave's spine was one, I recalled, and the Vasuki's fangs, both S-ranked boss monsters... Aresh-san interrupted my recollection. "Ah, it doesn't matter. I'd never be able to afford them anyway. Still, I can dream can't I?" Those items were probably worth thousands of gold coins, out of the reach of an individual smith like Aresh-san. But ...
"About that, you're one of the top five blacksmiths in this town, aren't you?" I asked him.
"Well yeah, I'm not boasting when I say I'm definitely one of the top five." Aresh-san said confidently.
"Since that's the case," I went on, "I think you might be receiving an inquiry from the Adventurers Guild soon, Aresh-san."
Aresh-san's bushy eyebrows rose. "Muuuu, so you have sold some kinda material from the dungeon that could be used to make a sword to the Adventurers Guild then, huh?" I just shrugged and didn't answer him directly but Ugor-san had said the number of blacksmiths in this city who can use the Dragon's fang the Guild had bought from me to make a magic sword was limited and he'd have to consult with the best ones before deciding who should get the commission. If Aresh-san really was one of the top five blacksmiths in Doran then he was sure to be approached by the Adventurers Guild.
My non-answer seemed to satisfy Aresh-san who nodded before he slapped the top of the barbeque stove.
"So then, do you want to try this thing out right now?"
"Yes, I was planning to do just that." I was intending to barbeque food today for dinner.
"Right, you should fire it up here." Aresh-san waved at his forge. "We've got plenty of charcoal, after all." He slapped the stove again. "I'm confident in my ability as a smith but that's when I'm making weapons and armour, it's the first time I've made something like this. If you try it out here and there's a problem with it I can fix it up right away. Besides," he grinned, "I'd kinda like to see how it works myself."
Oh, that's a wonderful idea. I'll happily take up your offer, Aresh-san and fire up the barbeque stove here. I followed Aresh-san out the back door of his workshop into an open area where, he explained, his customers could test the sharpness of swords and spears and other weapons. It was the perfect place for a barbeque with Aresh-san. And Fer and Dora-chan and Sui too, of course, they weren't going to be left out especially when food was being cooked.
I took Orc meat and Bloody Horn Bull meat out of my Item Box but when I started to pull out assorted veggies I got a very emphatic telepathic "Vegetables are banned" from Fer and Dora-chan. I sighed but went with it, accepting that this was going to be an all-meat barbeque. Next time though... I loaded the tray with charcoal from the smithy and got it lit with Aresh-san's expert help. Once it was hot enough I put the Orc meat and Bloody Horn Bull on the grill where they immediately started sizzling.
"Can I give it a try too?" asked Aresh-san, holding out a bowl he had fetched from the workshop. "Put these on, will ya?"
"Help yourself, but what do you want to cook?" I peered at the vaguely-familiar objects in the bowl.
"These sausages are homemade by me." Aresh-san explained. So that's what they were. "I make 'em with lots of salt, they go great with booze. Wanna try some?"
Sausages, hey? He says they go well with booze and I was planning to do some drinking myself anyway so I put them on the grill. While they cooked I asked him how he made them and where he got the gut from. These sausages looked like the sort of thing I could make myself after all. As I flipped the sliced meat on the grill and turned the sausages to stop them burning Aresh-san explained that butchers commonly sold the intestines from a creature called a White Sheep for folks to make sausages with. That sounded promising... Oh, the meat was ready.
"The meat's cooked now, Aresh-san. This sauce here, it's from my home town and goes great with barbeque." I took a bottle of long-time best-selling meat sauce from the Item Box, put some in a bowl and handed it to the dwarf along with a fork.
"Thanks for the food." Aresh-san said. "Oh, watch out, the sausages are starting to burn." I quickly scooped them off the grill, reserving four of them for myself. Under pressure from the fixed stares from the Gluttonous Trio I put out lots of grilled Orc and Bloody Horn Bull meat on plates plus a sausage each and topped it off with sauce before putting the plates down for Fer, Dora-chan and Sui to help themselves.
Now for my own chance to sample Aresh-san's homemade sausage. Biting through the thin skin resulted in a nice crisp sound, a good sign. It was quite salty, as Aresh-san had promised but juicy too. Making my own sausages was definitely going on my to-do list.
"Kaaah-, the booze I got from ya and the sausages go well together." Aresh-san commented. He was already drinking the whiskey I had given him. Did whiskey really go well with grilled meat? Surely something lighter would be better, I thought to myself.
"Please wait a moment." I said and moved over into a corner of the yard where Aresh-san couldn't see what I was doing then I opened Net Super. I passed over the canned beer selection but the bottles, they wouldn't seem odd in this world, surely? I bought 5 bottles of premium beer from Company S and a couple of bottle openers.
"This is more suitable for grilled meat. Please try it." I poured some premium beer into a glass and gave it to Aresh-san.
"Muuu, ale?" Aresh-san squinted at the beer. "I don't hate it but this strong booze I got from yourself is a lot more tasty."
"This isn't exactly ale." I explained. "It's another of those special kinds of booze that's made in my home town."
"Really?" he brightened up. "Then I'll definitely try it." Glug glug glug, fuhahaaa. Aresh-san wiped the froth from his beard and held the glass up to the light.
"Cough! What is this stuff?! It looks like ale, but it tastes totally different." he shook his head in wonderment. "Where do you get all these different kinds of delicious booze?!" It's a secret, Aresh-san, I said silently as I popped the cap off another bottle and poured myself a glass. If it's barbecue then it's got to be beer. Glug glug glug, fuhahaaa. Oh yeah, definitely beer.
I put more meat on the grill while Aresh-san fetched more sausages and we spent the rest of the day in a barbecuing, eating and drinking tournament. There were no complaints from Fer, Dora-chan and Sui-chan either as they stuffed themselves on the plentiful dishes of charcoal-grilled meat I put down for them.