Finally, as a result of trial and error, I managed to complete the soap.
Despite saying so, I was still far from obtaining a fine quality one, which could produce white, fragrant foam.
Rather, what we got instead was a large number of unrefined, clay-like, smelly, failed products that couldn’t solidify well.
However, I knew that even a failed product will be enough for laundering clothes, so I decided to put them up for sale as detergents for 1 fragmentary copper coin, as a part of a big sale.
Apparently, commoners in this world will use a mixture of ash and water as a replacement for detergent. Compared with that simple mixture, even a failed soap will be more effective in removing stains.
While we are at it, the price for the high-grade monster-made soap is 1 silver coin each.
At first, I thought I was overcharging way too much in comparison with the cost of the raw materials, not to mention, the market price for olive oil and canola-made soaps were also different based on the region, but, it seems that the retail price for a bar of soap could also reach as high as 1 gold coin.
Now that I think about it, most of the high-grade products with defects are sellable for at least ten times its original price, so there’s probably no way I can’t sell mine.
When I had brought the completed soap to the Rod family, Sara-chan was overjoyed.
It was a secret, but, before putting the soap up for sale, I intended to have them use some samples.
‘Thank you! Thank you!’ – Sara-chan expressed her joy with these few words. This was also the reason why I had them try it out.
‘Let’s go the spring again, together!’ – Getting carried away, she suddenly said this. Following that, I was gazed fixedly at by Sara-chan’s father.
Louise-nee-san…… didn’t you say you’d receive her parents’ permission?
I took the opportunity and put the soap on an experimental sale when going to local general stores and second-hand shops. More and more people started to buy my items in large quantities.
At any rate, my pockets are now filled with gold coins.
If the sale of the soap goes favorably together with the bombs, I should be able to yield more profit, so it should be fine to treat my products as luxury items, even if it’s just a bit.
“Do you sell magic items?”
“For now, we only have this ‘wand of the flaming orb’”
As expected, even second-hand shops have little in stock. As for general stores, you can only find lots of daily necessities there.
With this ‘wand of the flaming orb’, as long as I shout out ‘Fireball!’ clearly, I can cast the very basic, and at the same time, the most ultimate flame orb spell without being capable of using magic.
Still, because I can’t figure out this wand’s remaining durability, I don’t know how many times can I use the same spell.
Anyway, should I buy this wand? It would greatly comply with the gunpowder as my weapon.
This undefined wand, which is the specialty of this shop, cost 5 silver coins.
I can’t find fault with other people rather than myself, but, this is indeed a silly pricing. I wonder how many similar wands this guy has lying in stock.
“I wonder if you don’t have any tool for casting water magic.”
“Uhm, no. After all, our village is located in the countryside, you see.”
Since there is a problem dealing with toilet waste, I thought I’d surely like to have water magic, but…
As expected, there’s no other option than going shopping in some city, is there?
“Then, please sell me all these recovery vials and antidotes.”
“Oi oi, do you plan to buy up my shop? Please spare me.”
Ah, is that so? I guess buying up everything won’t do despite having money.
Since there are neither churches nor hospitals, potions will become the only lifeline.
“Sorry for that. Then, please give me 5 of each.”
“Yes, thank you for your continued patronage.”
A potion’s cost is relatively high, still. 1 item was around 1 silver coin.
I should stock myself up.
I wanted to sell the soap, so I entrusted the seller with the sale. He was very pleased to see me bringing in rare goods every time.
I also wish I could’ve bought back my school bag and my writing implements that I had with me when I came to this world, but looks like everything was sold.
“In that case, how about we visit the City of Est?”
As I complained about how shabby items in Losgow are, Lyle-sensei made such an attractive proposition.
“But, Secretary Lyle, won’t it be bad if both the secretary and his assistant leave their post?”
“Recently, have we had anything to do?”
Despite me humbling myself and making myself appear serious for the first time in a long while, Lyle-sensei replied without holding back.
Certainly, it has been more than a month since I arrived here, but, from that time we haven’t done anything that could really be considered a job.
Didn’t we have to deal with just a single wedding?
“If there is any procedure that requires authentication, we can rely on the tribal chief to do it instead of us. Conducting a survey of the neighboring areas is also one of the important jobs of a secretary, so it won’t hurt even if we drop by Est once.”
“I see, so basically we can have some fun under the pretext of conducting a survey.”
I too spoke my mind without holding back. As I did so, Lyle-sensei laughed.
Having fun under such a pretext, no matter how I look at it, we looked like bad public servants.
However, I was glad to know we became friendly enough to exchange jokes this way.
“Of course, it was a joke. We won’t just be fooling around. Considering Takeru-dono’s business, I think it’s much wiser to greet his excellency, the Earl, who resides in Est once.
“I see. In other words, you’re telling us to pay a courtesy visit to the authority that owns the land….”
The places in the vicinity here, including the village of Losgow, are part of the territory that belongs to the Earl, Est.
So, if I want to expand my trade, it’s necessary to be on good terms with the landowner?
Greetings are also an important part of doing business, I guess.
As soon as I finish my job and return back to the inn, I will request Louise to become my guard, just to be on the safe side.
‘A horse drawn cart is the basis of every trader.’ – I hesitated whether to buy or borrow a horse drawn cart, but, Louise gave me her input by saying those words, so I decided to buy a second-hand prairie schooner(1).
A prairie schooner isn’t just a simple horse cart. It also has a canopy spread on top, so as to endure the wind and rain.
Considering the fact that our goods are soap and gunpowder, it won’t do unless we have something waterproof to protect them.
Even a second-hand prairie schooner was surprisingly expensive, making me become flat-broke. Since I had little money left, I borrowed a horse from the Rod family.
I received a request from the mine to deliver Losgow‘s iron-made goods to the city. I estimated I would profit if I load up and bring back things that are missing in Losgow, such as clothes and salt, on the schooner.
For some reason, I was uplifted and felt as though I had become a real peddler upon obtaining my own schooner.
My aspiration to become a magic sword wielding hero didn’t vanish, but, becoming a peddler wasn’t half as bad too.
Loading the cart with items we were entrusted to deliver, as well as the gunpowder and soaps, we decided to depart for the city of Est.
The first time I saw the city, I thought it was gloomy.
I guess, I was at fault for raising my expectations too much.
I thought it was natural for Losgow to look shabby, since it was primarily a mountain village, but, this region where the feudal lord lives, is probably, so to speak, just a prefectural capital.
Even though we traveled for 9 days on the shaky cart and on a path that meandered between wastelands, hills, and rural districts, what we arrived at is this not a very big city?
As expected, no matter where you’d go, Est felt like a countryside.
However, despite this city being small, I was deeply moved by the stone-made wall stretching around it.
‘A fantasy world is the best!’ – is what I thought.
I affectionately touched the surface of the wall with a face deeply impressed. Lyle-sensei, and even the guards protecting the entrance gazed at me with disgust.
Come on, this is the first for me to witness a stronghold like this. You ought to have more feelings.
Not to mention, I thought that this city’s main street and plaza are properly and splendidly made of inlaid pebbles.
When I asked Lyle-sensei more regarding the city, it appears that the differences between this place and a village didn’t just pertain to the population, but also things like maintained streets or defense facilities, such as this stronghold.
Also, even though this city is small, it’s actually similar to a Japanese prefectural capital, so there will be points of contacts from all kind of guilds and church subdivisions located in this place.
The presence of castle walls means there’s also a castle.
The earl I’m going to meet lives in that castle located in the center of the city.
As expected, when it comes to an earl-sama, even the castle will be made from stones that stand out.
Still, for some reason, its steeple was painted with red as its primary color and towered pointlessly as high as 3 stories, making the whole castle look like an amusement park. Were I to describe the castle imprudently, it resembled a love hotel with strange ornaments.
Was it due to there being many ornaments? It felt as though the castle neglected much of its main purpose, which is to defend.
Certainly, if I’m not wrong, noble families should be the ones to protect their territories with their own efforts.
When I asked Lyle-sensei about that, he replied ambiguously by saying that there had been no wars in that surroundings for more than a hundred of years.
As one would expect, the feudal lord-sama of this place is a bit eccentric.
Taking the schooner to an inn, we booked a room and took a breather, after which we decided to meet the feudal lord at his castle.
Once we contacted the castle about Secretary Lyle arriving, not to mention, him wanting to greet the feudal lord because of his intention to establish a new trade on the latter’s territory, an appointment was immediately booked.
Even here, Secretary Lyle’s influence would come into effect. He has authority, knowledge and a good appearance. Truly, he’s an all-round athlete.
Rather than me, isn’t Lyle-sensei more suitable to become this world’s hero?
While we are at it, I tried to talk Louise into visiting the castle.
‘I don’t like nobles.’ – However, I was curtly refused.
In addition to a pretty secretary, I thought that having a beautiful guard would make both sides understand each other better, but well, it can’t be helped.
I asked for Louise’s assistance through the adventurers guild’s request form, so I couldn’t afford to take any more advantage of her courtesy.
Once we were invited to enter the castle, there was an extravagant interior.
Unlike all the buildings that I had seen before, this one was much more spacious and had a high ceiling.
I’m also excited about things like a real, medieval times castle, but, this is the first time for me to see a red carpet spread out on a floor with no gaps since coming to this world.
I was overly excited, since, until now, I had been living in that mountain village, Losgow.
Later, I understood that the earl-sama of this place likes red.
There were luxurious furnishings lining up inside the room, but, many of them were red-colored.
Holy crap, shouldn’t have I dyed the soap red?
A butler wearing a tailcoat appeared and we were led by him.
I thought we would be surely showed into a room similar to that for an audience when meeting the great earl-sama. As I was thinking so, we reached a room with a round table.
While we are at it, both chairs and the table were painted red too. Just what the heck.
The chairs’ cushions were soft and the atmosphere felt relaxing.
Without thinking ahead, I sat on my chair cozily. As I did so, a middle aged man, with his body wrapped in a red dress drawn with extravagant patterns, appeared, making me stand up in a hurry.
“Ahh no, please continue to enjoy like that. My name is Donovan Est Almark and I’m the owner of this castle. Thank you for coming all the way here.”
Even if I was told to enjoy, I wonder if I wasn’t forcing myself on the earl-sama. Anyway, I stood at attention and matched my movements with Lyle-sensei.
Once the earl reached his seat, we were urged to sit again, so it looked like it was fine for us to do so.
Uhmm, I guess the greeting comes first. For well-bred nobility, I wonder which form of greeting is the most favorable.
“This is the first time for me to meet you, Your Highness. My name is Sawatari Takeru. You seem to be in a good mood, which is a lucky aspect of today…. ahh, I guess I’m just boring you, but…”
Somehow, my introduction became tedious, so instead of that, I presented him with a pack of a soap and gunpowder as a gift.
For some reason, it felt like a year-end gift.
Showing not the slightest interest toward the gunpowder, the earl-sama picked up the white soap and gazed at it as if wanting to lick it. Kunkun – he even sniffed the soap.
I thought that the bomb would have a much greater impact as an invention, but, the earl seemed to take a strange liking to the soap.
I guess, well-bred people are more attracted towards such things.
“Takeru-dono, I’ve heard you were appointed as an assistant secretary this time. In the Kingdom of Silesia, being a secretary or nobility, holds the same rank that serves his Majesty the King. By all means, please call me just Donovan. Ahahaha”
”Don’t forget that this is an official stance, so please pay the nobility proper respect by adding ‘sama’ to their names.”
Lyle-sensei whispered these words in a hurry to me, who didn’t know what to do and was unaware of this world’s manners.
Certainly, in my case, only peer language would work.
“Then, I shall call you as Donovan-sama. The aim of my greeting today is to start a new business in your territory…..”
“Well well, Takeru-dono, before we can proceed to this elaborate talk, doesn’t it look like you need to take a breather now?”
The earl-sama interrupted me and ordered his butler to make tea.
A single maid brought the drink to the table. It was obviously not some dingy plain water, but neither a red tea, which is this place’s specialty. Instead, it was a black liquid.
“Eh, could this be…..?”
I was familiar with this manly aroma, which almost brought me to tears from nostalgia.
If I drink this and it proves to be just some muddy water, please stop with your punchline before this happens.
“I like pecuRiar things, you see. This is a drink which I obtained from the capital in the southern region and it happens to be popular there recently. It’s called coffee. It’s quite bitter, so in case it doesn’t suit your taste, I can request something else for you….”
So, as I thought, this is coffee? Hooray!
Truth be told, I’m addicted to this. Without holding back, I drank the cup of coffee dry in one gulp.
This caffeine, which I greatly yearned for, felt as though it spread throughout my entire body.
This is it! This is what my body had been yearning for!
“I’m surprised, Takeru-dono. This coffee is something we could usually only drink after putting in lots of sugar, but, to think you’d drink it in one gulp, did you take that much of a liking to it?
The aroma was intense and there was a little sourness.
I’ve never drank such a tasty coffee, but, I used to be treated as an oddball when drinking black coffee.
I wonder if the bitterness of the coffee doesn’t match the taste of the local people here.
Even Lyle-sensei tried to drink it by copying my way, but, he would hurriedly put sugar after making a bitter face.
This is a waste. The best coffee is only when it’s a black one.
“I prefer drinking black coffee. I’ve heard about people adding milk besides sugar, but…”
“Hehhh? So you can drink it just like milk tea? I don’t think such a custom is practiced even in the capital. Indeed, Takeru-dono’s way of understanding is very fine.”
The Earl would probably be not disappointed if he quickly ordered the milk and drank it like a café au lait.
I thought a noble would be someone who looks massive and stiff, but instead, this person was more easygoing than his looks would suggest.
On top of that, he also gave me another cup of coffee. He’s truly a good person.
Apparently, coffee is currently quite popular in the capital, and there’s even a cafe serving coffee there. Our discussion covered from topics regarding coffee brands to rare products in the southern region.
It looked like the earl Donovan was fond of rare things. Lyle-sensei was also able to bring out an interesting talk thanks to his extensive knowledge.
Not surprisingly, our discussion changed to the topic about us wanting to start a new business in Est.
“Naturally, I’ll grant you permission to do so. It looks like you plan to form an agreement with the country on the gunpowder, but, if you want to merchandize new products for consumer use, wouldn’t it be better for you to open your own company?”
I was way too hyped, as the discussion suddenly escalated.
By saying ‘my own company’, does he mean to tell me to start a company?
To think that I and Lyle-sensei rose in steps even though we had just recently started to peddle on our handmade schooner.
As I hesitated, Lyle-sensei said these words.
“Certainly, what we handle are our products, so it won’t do if we become affiRiated with some other company.”
Sensei, turned his look at me as if implying something.
In other words, is he telling me to establish such a company? Provided he does, I shall make up my mind.
“Then, I…..I’d like to start one.”
“Really? That means a new company will be established by Takeru-dono, I guess. Well then, I shall grant you a place in Est for running your business as my form of congratulations. By all means, I’d like for you to build your company on my grounds.”
Eh? So he’s going to grant me a place?
Does it mean I can have my own place?
The moment I looked at Lyle-sensei with a sidelong glance, she too….that’s not right, he too made a surprised face.
True, after all, we will operate with real estate, right?
We were offered way too much generosity, even from a wealthy noble.
“Hahaha, Takeru-dono, is this thing which you gave me called monster soap? It’s actually a high-grade product. I too have a prominent nose when it comes to new, special products from Est.”
I see. I, who became clear-headed thanks to the caffeine contained within the coffee that I could drink for the first time in a long while, understood the intention of the earl, even faster than Lyle-sensei.
Giving me a place to run my business is a prior investment.
I’ve heard about their existing soaps, made from olive and canola oil, but, in this world, soap appears to still be something that could only be obtained in specific places.
Assuming new products are launched in Donovan’s territory, his city will flourish with trade and peddlers.
And as a feudal lord, his profits (taxes) will probably increase as well.
I thought that good-willed nobles are only those living in the countryside, but, this earl could clearly understand the principles of commerce.
The city of Est is known for its production of food. It even develops textiles as its specialty product.
Perhaps the reason why this city flourishes, as well as why there are no people dying from starvation or those collapsed in the street, is not just because of its blessed grounds, but also thanks to this ruler’s skills.
“Donovan-sama, I will gladly accept your offer. The Sawatari Company shall, from now on, deliver your Highness new products, so please look forward to it.”
“Umu, just tell me if there’s anything I can help with. I’m looking forward to working with you.”
The earl Donovan put a smile on his plump, rosy-cheeked face as a gesture of understanding my words.
Fine, I will, without fail, make your investment pay off.
Isn’t he quite an understanding earl who can share one’s ideas? One could say I was lucky to meet such a ruler by chance.
However, I had no further plans despite making such a promise to him while being carried away.
Well, shouldn’t I be able to figure something out?
Notes and references:
prairie schooner – think Oregon Trail image