Chapter 202 Roundabout Answer
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
Kilk walked by himself in the settlement, the night was very dark, and he let out a big sigh, it felt like he had sighed many times that day.
Kilk couldn’t hide how tired he felt, both in his body and in his mind. It wasn’t just from hunting in a big group of people he didn’t know, but also from the environment of the settlement. In a normal hunt, finding animals after searching all day was rare, and sometimes they wouldn’t find any at all. In the settlement with many monsters, they didn’t have to worry about that.
However, there were a lot of monsters, and they fought over territory. The weak ones were quickly eaten by the strong ones, and most of the monsters in the settlement had survived such fights. Finding prey like Keluis, the animal they were hunting, was very rare.
In simple terms, most of the animals they hunt are strong enemies that should not be underestimated. Hunting in the settlement is a physically and mentally demanding job. The intense and constant state of alertness makes it impossible to relax even for a moment. This causes many newcomers to give up after just two or three hours.
”The pay is good, but honestly, this is tough…”
Kilk thinks as he holds the bag of money given to him by Harmon. While it may not be the highest amount he has earned before, it is still a decent daily income. Considering that this income can be earned consistently, hunting in the settlement seems attractive. Kilk understands why some people continue to hunt in the settlement despite the risks involved.
However, when he thinks about whether it’s worth the level of exhaustion he experiences, he can’t help but wonder. Additionally, the lack of compatibility with Harmon and the others, who are his hunting companions, also adds to his exhaustion.
Unlike Kilk, the Harmons are different from him in how they choose their prey. While Kilk focus on hunting easily and making a profit, the Harmons have their own criteria. They are willing to take risks and bravely challenge their prey, going against the basic rules of hunting. Because of this different approach, Kilk cannot accurately assess the true strength of the Harmons or determine if their confidence in front of their prey is justified.
The Harmons also see Kilk as part of their own strength and choose their prey accordingly. This means that Kilk cannot simply observe the situation but must coordinate with an inexperienced and large group to face powerful monsters. This, combined with the challenge of coordinating with a large group against formidable monsters, quickly exhausts Kilk in just half a day.
”At least until I can buy that new item box.”
If there is any benefit to this hunt other than money, it would probably be realizing how useful ‘Inter-type’ can be.
If he has that, he can get back all the things he sadly threw away because of space or luggage problems. He can recover them immediately if he searchs for one star, which costs three gold coins.
”But this is the end of working with these guys. I have to find better guys tomorrow…”
Thinking that he wouldn’t have needed to worry if he could handle it alone, Kilk walked through the night settlement and reached the dining hall, his destination.
After a deep breath, Kilk opened the dining hall (restaurant) door. As if someone had been eagerly waiting, he was called out to.
”Over here, over here!”
The voice belonged to Harmon, and there were five others who had hunted together today sitting at the same table in the dining hall, with only one seat vacant. When Kilk silently sat down in that seat, Harmon called out to the back of the dining hall.
”Boss! We’re all here, so we’ll leave the cooking preparation to you! …Hehe, I thought you had ditched us because you took so long to come.”
”To be honest, I was hesitant until the last minute.”
In response to Harmon’s friendly smile, Kilk replied unhappily. After the hunt, Harmon and the others invited Kilk to dinner. Tired from the hunt, Kilk initially wanted to say no to any more plans. But then he remembered that dinner was covered from his share. Feeling like not going would be a loss, he reluctantly went to the diner.
”Do you have a menu?”
”Yeah, here’s the menu.”
When Kilk opened the menu, he checked prices first, not the dishes.
(Unexpectedly cheap… Wouldn’t it have been better to sell the Slagbear meat to the Spear of Shouhyou normally than have dinner treated? Well, it’s probably a favor to the familiar store, but if even my share is reduced because of that, it’s unbearable.)
Kilk realized he wouldn’t get along with Harmon and the others due to their personalities. Suddenly, Narsht appeared with drinks and food.
”Wait, it’s Keluis’ stew!”
Harmon, Demar, and Jott were excited as the food arrived.
”This is what we worked hard for today!”
”When they said it might not be possible tonight, I was really worried, but I’m glad we made it.”
”…Stew, is this made with stew meat? Did we really go looking for Keluis just for this?”
”Well, there’s a lot to say, but before that, try this.”
Kilk, amazed that they hunted Keluis for stew meat, picked up a fork and easily pierced the browned meat. He had expected it to be tougher and wondered about that while bringing the stew meat to his mouth.
But the meat is very soft that he can crush it with the tip of his tongue, and the delicious sauce spreads throughout his mouth with a sweet and savory taste. The tendon part still has some hardness, but it’s not too hard to chew. As he chews, he can taste the unique flavor of the keluis meat with its umami.
”…The taste is good, but the smell is bothering me.”
”Well, try drinking this booze.”
As suggested, when he drinks the booze that came with the dish, a refreshing flavor, possibly made with citrus, instantly washes away the distinctive smell of the keluis meat that was sticking to his mouth and nose.
(What? Just when I thought the unpleasant smell had completely disappeared, my mouth suddenly feels empty)
Without anyone recommending it, Kilk reaches out for the keluis meat again, and once again, his mouth is filled with the distinctive smell of the keluis meat. He stirs the sake to wash it away, and then reaches out for the keluis meat again. Seeing Kilk unable to stop, Harmon and the others wear satisfied smiles.
”How is it? It might have seemed like a bad smell at first, but strangely, when you have it with booze, this smell becomes addictive and it becomes the perfect companion to sake.”
”If you let it cook for longer, the tendons will become even softer and the smell will go away, and it will taste even better. But when it comes to booze, this is the way to go. The crispy texture and the lingering smell, it’s irresistible.”
”Hey, let’s eat too. If we leave it like this, Kilk will eat it all.”
After that, Harmon and the others stayed quiet, focusing only on eating the tendons in front of them. The plate with Keluis’ portion of tendons was empty within a few minutes.
”Ah, the boss’s tendon stew is the best. So, Kilk, do you understand why we went through the effort of hunting Keluis?”
”…Indeed, this was delicious. I didn’t care much about food before, but this was good enough for me to want to eat it again for the first time in my life.”
”Really? Isn’t that too much indifference?”
”I think it’s because of how we grew up. I didn’t have the freedom to talk about food.”
”Oh, I remember you saying you’re from Dimash.”
”We didn’t have the luxury of being choosy about what we ate. No one cared about the taste, as long as it filled our empty stomachs. I used to think the same way…”
”It’s the first time I wanted to eat not just to satisfy my hunger, but to enjoy the flavor.”
It was frustrating for Kīrk to admit that, as it also meant recognizing the inefficiency of the Harmon’s hunting, but he admitted it, albeit reluctantly.
”Haha, if you enjoyed it that much, then it was worth the effort.”
”Why did we have to hunt Kēluis in the first place? Couldn’t we just order it normally?”
”That’s impossible. This dish is not on the regular menu, it’s what they call a secret menu. You have to bring the keluis meat to order it.”
”Why? Is it because nobody would order a dish with keluis meat on the menu?”
”Things are all mixed up, and everyone’s asking so much that there’s not enough. Because people started fighting over the keluis meat, they decided only those who brought keluis meat could make it.”
”Oh, really… but keluis meat is cheap even without hunting, so couldn’t we just buy it to solve the problem?”
”Is it like that in the Republic? In the Empire, keluis meat is either thrown away or used as animal feed, and it doesn’t go around in the market. Well, it depends on the country. I think in the Kingdom, they eat keluis meat. Jott and Dominic are from the Kingdom, so they would know, right?”
”Yeah, since I came to the Empire, I haven’t seen it, but keluis stew is a very common home-cooked dish in the Kingdom.”
”However, there’s a big difference between the keluis stew my mom makes and the keluis stew made by Boss Narsht.”
Kilk, smiling like he’s remembering his hometown, asks a simple question to Jott and Dominic.
”You’re not from the Empire?”
”Surprisingly, there are quite a few people who aren’t from the Empire. Demar is from the Theocracy, and besides me and Victor, there aren’t many from the Empire.”
”Well, in the three biggest countries, the Empire is currently the most stable. There are many people from other countries there. Isn’t Kilk also one of them?”
”I simply kept going south to leave Dimash behind and ended up in the Empire. I thought any place would be better than Dimash.”
At first, Kilk kept his distance from Harmon and the others, but when they had sukiyaki together, he gradually began to trust Harmon and the others without realizing it, and they started talking more.
”I’m sorry, Kilk. It was your first hunt in a settlement, and I took you all over the place.”
”…Why did this suddenly happen?”
”Well, I have to admit that I was a bit worried about today’s hunt. I knew I was pushing myself too hard and ended up taking you along.”
”If you knew that, couldn’t you have listened to me too?”
”I’m sorry… I just really wanted you to try this dish today.”
”Look, did you just arrive here today? I thought, if we’re going to have a welcome party, it should be today. I couldn’t wait and wanted to prepare the tastiest food.”
”I see, when you suddenly asked me to find Keluis, I didn’t know what to do.”
”But finding it like that, you’re really something, Jott.”
”Hehe, well, yeah. I agreed with Harmon’s idea of wanting to prepare delicious food for the welcome party. I searched hard for it.”
”So, about the adventurous hunting today—”
”Was it for me?” —At that moment, when Kilk learned that fact, various feelings seemed to overflow from Kilk’s heart. Kilk tried hard to hide it, not wanting it to be noticed.
”Hey Kilk, after fooling around so much, it might sound strange for me to say this, but…”
”…What is it?”
”Instead of feeling discouraged by this, how about joining forces with us again? There aren’t many people like you who can adjust to our movements so well. Although there are still some areas where we don’t fully trust each other and our coordination is weak, I believe that will improve over time… What do you think?”
In response to Harmon’s cautious question, Kilk lowered his face to avoid Harmon’s notice and smiled at himself mockingly. Even though he had never thought he would team up again before coming here, oh, how contradictory he was. While enjoying the satisfaction of his own accomplishments, admitting uncertainty about his doubtful actions, feeling proud of having done everything alone so far, and harboring distrust towards others, Kilk slowly lifted his face and spoke.
”Can I suggest something?”
”What is it?”
”For the sake of getting used to it, can we shorten the hunting time a bit for about a week?”
Harmon realized that Kilk was indirectly giving his approval with a nod and a big smile.
”Okay! Today, eat a lot! The Boss will pay for it, guys!”
”You should say, ‘It’s my treat,’ right?”
”Well, who cares about those little things! Today is happy because we have a new member in our group!”
”Hey, I didn’t officially join the group, you know? I’m just teaming up with you guys while I’m here in the settlement…”
”I know, I know. Come on, let’s drink!”
And so, in the middle of the excitement, a new member joined the settlement. Harmon and his friends continued celebrating until after the cafeteria closed on that day.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
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