Chapter 177 -- Leaving The City Of Doran
After leaving the city of Doran in the early morning I was riding on Fer's back as he ran along the highway. Elland-san had been waiting at the city gate for us, crying "Dora-chan..." and "I will come with you" as we left. Thankfully I managed to persuade him to remain behind and not accompany us.
We were heading for the next town on our itinerary, Neihof. I had been told it was a city famous for its many pottery workshops. I was looking forward to exploring Neihof and discovering the varieties of pottery they made there. I thought it would be nice to have matching sets of dishes to serve food on and searching the town's shops for designs and patterns I would like was going to be very enjoyable. My inner thoughts about shopping were rudely interrupted by...
"Hey, it's about time to eat!" Dora-chan started circling my head as Fer's steady pace slowed.
"Umu, let's do that." Fer concurred. I looked up at the sun which seemed to be at its height, yup it was lunchtime. We stopped beside the highway as Dora-chan chanted "Lunch, lunch, lunch" before coming in to land beside Fer.
"Lunch~" Sui echoed, jumping out of the leather bag slung on my shoulder. Right then, what's it going to be? Let's see... I had various sorts of minced meat already prepared which gave me an idea. I bought some seaweed, white sesame and eggs from the Net Super before putting cooked rice in a deep dish and spreading the seaweed on top. I piled lots of minced meat on top of that and dented the center a little, added two egg yolks since it was a big bowl, enough for everyone and finished it off with a sprinkling of white sesame, and there you have it, meat soboro bowl. As an extra I got the stuffed peppers I had prepared the day before out of my Item Box and put them out on another plate.
"Food's ready!" I said and stepped back quickly as the Gluttonous Trio launched their simultaneous attack on the dishes I put down for them.
"Oh, this meat with the egg yolks mixed in tastes great," Fer said as he came up for breath, "but that green stuff over there, no thanks." Green stuff? That would be the stuffed peppers but how can you have stuffed peppers without, well, using bell peppers to start with? Ah well, at least the meat soboro bowl was to his carnivore tastes.
"The egg yolk goes well with this salty-sweet meat. The white grainy stuff makes it even tastier, kinda spicy too." Dora-chan chimed in. I like sesame seeds, they add a tang to cooked meat, especially if it was served over rice and it seems Dora-chan liked them for the same reasons too. I'd use sesame seeds more in the future when I was cooking, I decided.
"Sui's favorite, meat and eggs~. It’s delicious!” Sui-chan loves meat and eggs, of course and she really likes it when the egg yolks are mixed in with the meat.
Watching everyone enjoying eating what I had cooked for them gave me a warm sense of accomplishment but it made me feel hungry too. I dug into my own meat soboro bowl, as delicious as the others had said. The sweet and spicy meat melted in my mouth and the eggs tasted wonderful. This kind of cooking is easy to do and can't really go wrong. I tried the stuffed peppers Fer had turned his nose up at, topped with some ketchup to accompany the rest of the rice in my meat soboro bowl and they were tasty too.
""Seconds"" The usual call came from Fer and Sui-chan.
"Here you go". I put down more meat soboro bowls for Fer and Sui and added a bowl of the stuffed meat from some bell peppers for Mister Fussy. Dora-chan asked for a second helping of the meat soboro bowl so I dished up a serving for him too. Fer and Sui, of course had third ""Seconds"" and fourth ""Seconds"" too before they were satisfied.
After we finished eating and I cleaned up, I relaxed with some tea while the others drank cider I bought from the Net Super. I decided it was time to continue our travels after a short while.
"Right, will we get started now?"
"Umu" Fer agreed, and once I was safely on Fer's back with Sui-chan in her bag we headed off in the direction of Neihof again, Dora-chan flying alongside.
* * * * *
Five days after we left Doran we were making good time with no interruptions when Fer told me telepathically that he thought we would arrive at the city of Neihof the next evening.
"In that case this is probably far enough for today." I said, looking at the evening sun sinking towards the horizon. There was a roadside campsite area just up ahead and it looked like a good place for us to stop for the night.
"Okay." Fer said, swerving off the road into the empty campsite before he came to a stop. Once I got down off his back I started preparing dinner with Fer and company keeping a watchful eye on my preparations. Suddenly Fer's head came up. I followed his gaze and saw a horse-drawn merchant wagon accompanied by an escort of Adventurers approaching along the highway. The wagon stopped where we were camped and the driver got down from the bench seat.
"Excuse us but can we camp next to you tonight?" The driver asked politely, glancing at Fer.
"Please do." I said. There was plenty of space, after all and it wasn't a problem for us. It had happened a few times over the past few days, we'd set up camp for the night at the roadside, and then merchants and travellers would join us as it got darker and darker. The night before there had been wagons and Adventurers from two different groups camped close by either side of us. I supposed that the road between Doran and Neihof was likely to be busy with travellers but it just felt a little odd. Did this sort of encounter on the highway happen on a regular basis?
* * * * *
(Conversation between the Merchant and the Adventurers camped next to Mukouda-san)
"So there really is an Adventurer with Tamed monsters, then."
"Yeah. According to what I heard, they're the ones who conquered Doran's dungeon.''
"Really? That's quite something. Not that I don't trust you guys to do your jobs but I feel a lot safer having an A-ranked Adventurer next door. His companion monster looks strong too."
"I understand. Of course, we'll keep watch like we're contracted to, but just like you, having an A-ranked Adventurer around makes us regular Adventurers feel a lot safer too. I think it's okay to take advantage of a situation like this.''
“The news about this A-ranked Adventurer and his Tamed followers is a hot topic among Merchants right now. Knowing things like this and how you can take advantage of them makes travelling a lot easier, right?"
Unknown to them Mukouda-san and his companions were being used.