Chapter 4-1 : Prologue

 

「Store Owner-san, we’re home.」(Kate)

「Phew… I’m tired…」(Iris)

「Welcome home~ Glad you both returned safely.」(Sarasa)

It’s been a while since we solved the Lotze Family’s debt problem.

Iris-san and Kate-san have resumed their activities as Collectors like usual.

Even though we solved the problem, it doesn’t mean that the Lotze Family is free from debt because they still have to pay their debt to me.

I won’t force them to return my money quickly, so they can take their time. I’m fine if they only pay me little by little with the money they get from taxes but Iris-san and Kate-san chose to stay in my house and continue working as Collectors.

Honestly, I’d be a little lonely if they left, so I was very happy with their decision.

I heard from Iris-san that her father, Adelbert-san, also wanted to work as a Collector so he can pay off his debt to me as quickly as possible but his wife stopped him. He then reluctantly gave up right away.

It looks like he is the type of husband who can’t argue with his wife.

Well, that’s too bad. After seeing how he fought monsters when we went to the volcano, I think Adelbert-san could be a great Collector with his abilities.

However, he has a territory to govern, so he can’t be away all the time from his territory even though he leaves most of his work to Kate-san’s father.

If you were to ask, “Nothing has changed, then?”, well, not really. Some things have changed.

First of all, Iris-san and Kate-san started to take care of themselves more.

They used to cut costs for their needs. For example, they sometimes skipped lunch so that they wouldn’t have to spend their money to buy food.

However, now they don’t have to worry about that because the Lotze Family is no longer forced to pay back debt with a ridiculous interest rate to Baronet Kirk. Because of that, they started using some of their money for themselves.

Now, they usually buy enough potions before going to work, buy preserved foods for lunch while working in the forest, and buy useful tools and artifacts if needed.

I’m happy that they cherish themselves more. After all, I don’t want them to get sick like when they almost died of stomach ache after eating honey from Rotten Fruit Bees.

「Welcome home. Wait a moment, I’ll prepare dinner for us.」(Lorea)

As usual, as soon as Iris-san and Kate-san returned, Lorea-chan would prepare dinner.

We then ate dinner together and had a relaxing tea time while talking to each other until we went to sleep.

 

***

 

*Knock knock*

「Sarasa-san, may I come in?」(Lorea)

「Yes, go ahead.」(Sarasa)

One day, when I was working in my workshop as usual, Lorea-chan knocked on the door. She then entered with a slightly troubled face.

「Am I bothering you?」(Lorea)

「Of course not. What’s wrong?」(Sarasa)

It’s still too early for lunch, so she probably didn’t come to remind me to eat.

It’s rare for her to come to my workshop except to tell me that the lunch is ready.

I stopped working for a moment and looked at her.

「I’m sorry but there’s a man looking for you.」(Lorea)

「A man? Is he a customer who wants to order an artifact or something?」(Sarasa)

Lorea-chan can handle customers who want to buy potions and sell materials.

However, customers who want to order artifacts sometimes have to meet me in person if they have some personal requests for their artifacts.

It’s quite rare because there are only a few people who order artifacts at my shop in the first place.

「No, unfortunately, I don’t think he wants to order an artifact. He said that he had a letter of introduction from Leonora-san.」(Lorea)

「Leonora-san? I have to meet him then.」(Sarasa)

Even though Leonora-san and I are business partners, we promised to help each other.

Well, lately I feel like I’m the only one being helped all the time though.

「Lorea-chan, can you tell him to wait for a few minutes? I’m almost done with my work.」(Sarasa)

「Understood.」(Lorea)

I’m in the middle of transmuting the materials, so I can’t leave them for too long.

I continued my work to the point where I could leave the materials for a while, and then I quickly cleaned up for a bit and headed to the store area.

The person, who was sitting at the table that we usually use to enjoy tea time, was a man in his mid-twenties.

He was wearing glasses and had short grayish red hair that looked a bit unkempt.

The clothes he was wearing looked pretty durable but were a bit untidy.

He was quite muscular for a slender person. He had a well-shaped face but a poor overall appearance because of his messy hair and clothes.

Somehow I can tell that he’s not a Collector even though he has a muscular body and messy clothes.

「I’m sorry to have kept you waiting.」(Sarasa)

「Please don’t mind it. I’m sorry too for the sudden visit.」(man)

He had been waiting for a while for me to come out of my workshop but he didn’t seem annoyed at all. He replied to me with a smile instead.

「So, how can I help you today?」(Sarasa)

Just as Lorea-chan said, he didn’t seem to want to order artifacts.

After all, he knew Leonora-san, so if he needed an artifact, he could have just ordered it at Leonora-san’s shop.

Leonora-san is a senior alchemist, so she’s definitely better than me in terms of making artifacts. Besides, she can make a larger variety of artifacts than me, who is still stuck at Encyclopedia of Alchemy volume 5.

When I curiously asked him, he took out a letter from his pocket and handed it to me.

「Before we talk further, would you read this letter?」(man)

「Ah, alright.」(Sarasa)

When I opened it, I saw Leonora-san’s signature, showing that this letter was from her.

However, I can’t check the authenticity. I don’t know if it’s truly her signature or not.

Well, I can call her using my Voice Box later to confirm. Anyway, I should read this letter for now.

「……Hmm, I see. So you are a researcher.」(Sarasa)

「Yes. Normally, I study everything about monsters. My name is Nordrad Evans. You can call me Nord.」(Nord)

Hold on… “Monsters”, he said…?

 

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