Chapter 2-24 : Business Competition Ⅰ (part 2)
「Speaking of bats’ corpses, I didn’t find any corpses on our way all the way from the entrance. People with bad manners usually only collect the fangs and leave the corpses on the spot without taking them to the entrance. Are there no bad people like that among the Collectors in our village?」(Sarasa)
「No, actually there ‘were’ quite a lot. However, as veterans, we have already taught those people a lesson.」(Andre)
「We simply taught those ignorant young Collectors the rules.」(Gray)
Gray said that with no expression, but I somehow knew that they didn’t just ‘simply’ teach those people.
When I turned my gaze to Iris-san and Kate-san, Iris-san just shrugged her shoulders silently while Kate-san just smiled awkwardly.
Hmm, I became more curious about what they exactly did to those people.
「You look curious. Don’t worry, we just surrounded them in a large group, and then kicked them in turns while telling them to stop throwing away bats’ corpses carelessly.」(Andre)
「I, I see…」(Sarasa)
I’m not a Collector so I can’t say anything, but… I think it’s a bit violent…
However, I’m glad they learned their lesson. Collectors need to follow the rules when collecting materials after all.
For example, when collecting mushrooms, you can’t pick all the mushrooms in a colony. You need to leave some so that they can grow.
When collecting herbs, you need to be careful not to damage the roots when picking the leaves.
When collecting leaves from certain trees, you need to mind the location when cutting a branch so that the tree won’t wither.
I learned about these things at Alchemy School, but it seems that Collectors usually learn from their seniors.
Kind seniors usually teach them with words, but strict seniors teach them with fists or… kicks…
I believe Andre-san and the other veteran Collectors in this village are kind seniors, so it looks like the young Collectors who carelessly threw away bats’ corpses didn’t want to listen to their seniors at first.
◇ ◇ ◇
After walking deeper into the cave for a while, the stinky smell began to turn to a different odor.
Andre-san seemed to realize it. He snorted and wrinkled his forehead.
「…..What is this sweet smell?」(Andre)
「This is the smell of fruits stored by the bats. It looks like we will soon reach the innermost area.」(Sarasa)
Ice Fang Bats usually freeze the fruits they take from the forest, bring them back to the cave and store them in the innermost part of the cave as preserved food.
「Oh! Are you talking about the frozen fruits that the bats stored?」(Iris)
「I heard their frozen fruits can be sold for quite a high price.」(Kate)
Iris-san and Kate-san seemed to know about the fruits, but it looked like Andre-san and his party members didn’t know that the fruits could be sold at a high price. They were looking at each other with wide open eyes.
「I’ve heard stories about Ice Fang Bats storing fruits in their caves, but I never knew you could sell them.」(Andre)
「You might think that it’s weird that food stored in this filthy place can be sold, but you know, there are many people with various interests in this country.」(Sarasa)
Honestly, I can’t imagine myself eating a fruit from this nasty place.
「That’s right. For example, people like aristocrats like unusual things.」(Kate)
「But not only are the frozen fruits unusual, I heard that these fruits are very delicious too!」(Iris)
Iris-san looked very interested in eating the fruits.
「I think you can get a lot of them around this season.」(Sarasa)
A lot of fruits are available in the forest from late summer to autumn.
Ice Fang Bats usually collect the fruits around that time and consume them in winter to early summer, which is now.
It seems that the fruits are precious not because they’re simply frozen, but because they are aging during the storing period and end up tasting like vintage liquor.
Therefore, if you pick them during autumn, they are mostly worthless.
After listening to my explanation, Iris-san looked even more excited.
「That means, this is the perfect time to collect the fruits, right!?」(Iris)
「Taste like liquor, huh…? I’m getting interested.」(Andre)
「Yeah, I also want to try it if possible.」(Gil)
「Selling them is good, but eating them also seems to be a great idea.」(Gray)
After hearing the word “liquor”, the three men got excited somehow.
However, this world is not that kind.
「But be careful because most of them are probably rotten.」(Sarasa)
「Ugeh… Is that so…?」(Andre)
「Yep. Ice Fang Bats can eat rotten fruits so they won’t have any problem eating the rotten ones, but we humans have to be careful. If you’re lucky, you will get the ones that have aged without rotting, but if you’re unlucky, it would be the end of your stomach for the day.」(Sarasa)
「Uwahh… So that’s why they are expensive, huh…?」(Andre)
「Exactly. Ah, look, I think those are the fruits.」(Sarasa)
After walking for a while, there was a huge pile of frozen fruits in front of us.
A sweet smell drifted from there along with the rotten fruit smell.
Because I’m using light magic to illuminate the surroundings, even without looking closely at the pile, we can tell that the ones on the surface are all rotten.
Yup. This world is not that kind. That’s true.
Iris-san and the others who looked excited a moment ago, now made slightly disgusted faces.
「Eww… This is not like what I expected…」(Iris)
「I know, right? But since there’s a pile of frozen fruits here, that means this is the innermost part of the cave, but… it seems that we can still go deeper. Instead of the innermost part of the cave, this place is more like the innermost part of the Ice Fang Bats’ habitat, it seems.」(Sarasa)
In other words, the Ice Fang Bats around here are mostly the oldest in this cave.
「Ah, by the way, the fruits on the surface of the pile are rotten, but I think the ones on the inside are fine. We can dig them out with our hands butー」(Sarasa)
「Really!? Then, let’s dig them out!」(Gil)
While I was explaining, Gil-san suddenly approached the pile of fruits and tried to dig it.
「Wait, Gil-san! If you do thatー」(Sarasa)
I tried to warn him, but it was too late.
As soon as Gil-san touched the pile of fruits, the cave became noisy with bats’ screams.