106. The Luciel Conglomerate
「Hey, welcome. Glad to see you chose to stop by.」
「Hahaha, welcome to you too Urushi.」
We were currently inside the Luciel Conglomerate’s HQ. The building was about the same size as the Adventurer’s Guild, only several times more extravagant. Putting it next to Fran made her look really out of place, but she boldly walked right in regardless. Man, she’s got guts.
The coin we got from the captain was seriously one hell of an item. Flashing it caused the people at the reception desk to show us over to a fancy-looking waiting room without so much as a question.
Rengil showed up in said room not long after we were taken to it. We’d only just parted that morning, but he happily greeted Fran with a smile and handshake regardless. He seemed genuinely excited to see us.
「So did you have any sort of business here, or were you just visiting?」
「Nn. Participating in this.」
「Oh, you’re participating in the King of Cooking? Did you already pass the first round?」
He figured out what she was talking about with nothing more than a single glance at the flyer she handed him. The contest was pretty famous, so it only made sense that the captain knew about it.
「You had a Master? I don’t think there was anyone like that aboard the ship, right?」
「Nn. Master is elusive. Like a phantom.」
「I see, so did the two of you meet up here then?」
We’d come up with a bit of an odd scenario. Fran’s story would be that I, her master, was the type of man that wandered the continent and appeared where and whenever he so pleased. It probably doesn’t really give them the best impression of me, but whatever, can’t be helped.
「Want to get ingredients for Master. For cooking contest.」
「Ah, gotcha, so that’s why you’re here. What kind of dish is he planning to make? The competition’s been pretty fierce every year, so it’s gotta be something really good.」
「Curry? Never heard of anything called curry before.」
「Master’s own recipe. Here.」
Fran took a plate of curry out from her dimensional storage and placed it atop a table in front of Rengil.
The captain looked at the dish with a bit of a hesitant gaze. Well, I guess that was fair. It was brown, and didn’t really look all that appetizing if you didn’t know what it was. He probably couldn’t really even guess at how it tasted. But that all soon changed, his eyes opened wide the moment he caught a whiff of the dish’s scent. He seemed to come to the realization that it was flavoured with all sorts of spices, which further lead him to swallow a gulp of what must’ve been drool.
「Alright, down the hatch it goes.」
The first bite he took was still a rather cautious and careful one, but the dish’s contents almost vanished instantly immediately afterwards he finished it. His spoon continued to move until the plate we handed him was wiped clean. Seeing him enjoy its flavour like that left me feeling quite content.
「It’s delicious, fragrant, and even something completely original. I guarantee you that it’ll definitely fly right off the shelves. That’s one valuable recipe you’ve got right there!」
Rengil was so excited that he ended up raising his voice in a shout. Sweet, it looks like we’ve even got an experienced merchant’s approval.
「Is this what he was planning to sell at his stall?」
「Well, the dish itself is really quite delicious, but it might not do all that well at a stall.」
「Why? Curry is tasty.」
「It’s not exactly what I’d call customer accessible.」
Most that’d qualified for the finals in the past had sold skewers or soup, stuff that was relatively easy for customers to grab immediately after making their orders. The goal was to profit, so you had to make sure you sold as much as possible in the given time frame.
Curry was unlike the examples listed in the sense that it wasn’t something that customers could just pick up and walk away with. We would have to serve each plate by placing a bunch of rice on it, pouring curry all over said rice, and then finally handing it over to the customer. To make matters worse, the whole plate format made it so that customers couldn’t actually buy our products en masse. At most, the average consumer could hold only a single plate in each hand.
What if we ignored the whole rice thing and made it kind of like curry soup? Hmm… nah, I doubt it’d be able to trump the Dragon Bone Soup.
Coming to the realisation that we needed a change of plans caused Fran to groan.
「Need easy way to sell curry in bulk…?」
「Yeah. You can’t rely on taste alone if you want to get through the second round.」
Okay yeah, this isn’t going to work if we stick to the whole curry with rice idea…
「Oh! Got good idea. Can just turn inside out.」
「Nn. Put curry inside rice. Like onigiri.」
Onigiri was one of Fran’s favourite dishes. She pretty much loved to eat the rice balls regardless of what they were filled with, so she must’ve figured that it’d work pretty well with curry. Urushi seemed all gung ho about the idea as well; he immediately started to drool at Fran’s mention of the combined dish.
Curry flavoured onigiri, is it? I mean, it does sound like a good idea, but the curry would probably eventually start to leak out the bottom of its ricey container, so it wouldn’t really be convenient as far as customers were concerned. I could just pack the rice super tight to prevent any leakage, but that’d probably make it taste a lot worse.
（Can’t fry it like tempura?）
『Hmm, curry onigiri tempura?』
You know, that might actually end up working. Its name is totally not something you’d put on any sort of A-list, but the tastes might mesh together pretty decently. That said, I’d a better idea. Fran’s words had reminded me of a dish I’d coincidentally forgotten until just now.
『Hmm, that’s a pretty good idea.』
（Nn? Tempura onigiri?）
『No, no, not that.』
I knew of a dish that fulfilled all our needs. It was fairly cheap, easy to carry, and it could even be sold in bulk. It was especially delicious fresh out of the oven, but pretty much just as good even after cooling down.
『Let’s go with curry bread.』 
Neither Fran nor Urushi had ever had it before, but its name contained the word curry, so both their eyes seemed to light up immediately in response.
If we went down the curry bread route, we’d be able to mass produce our products ahead of time. We could even make several different kinds, each with its own unique flavour.
Hearing me elaborate on the idea caused Fran’s eyes to shine with even greater intensity.
「Will work. Curry bread.」
「Curry bread? What’s that?」
「Put curry in dough and fry.」
「I see, I see. That sounds like it could work. The dish’s fragrance would help you draw in customers, and they could pretty much order as many as they wanted.」
「Can have different flavours.」
「Oh, that’s a pretty strong pro too.」
Alright! I finally know what to do! Curry bread ahoy!
That said, our plans were still riddled with problems.
「Need flour. Can get from here?」
「Hmm… Are you okay with the type normally used for bread?」
『Shouldn’t be a problem.』
Apparently they had a tonne of flour in stock, so we could more or less get as much as we wanted.
「I’ll put in an urgent order for the flour so we can get it ready as soon as possible.」
I’m still a bit worried about the rest of our stuff though
「Need lots of other ingredients too. Can also get from here?」
「That’ll depend on exactly what it is you’re looking for. I know for a fact that we’ve got some pretty solid stocks on the vegetable side at least.」
「Want carrots, potatoes, onions for vegetables. Some apple too.」
「Alright, we weren’t going to be able to get you any magic vegetables or the like, but that, we can do, especially since all the items you asked for can be stored away from quite some time. Do keep in mind that none of them will be just recently harvested though.」
Oh well, I guess it can’t be helped. I’m actually pretty happy already seeing as how we managed to actually secure ourselves a reliable supplier. That said, the rest of our ingredients would probably need a bit extra oomph to make up for it.
「Any magic beast meat in stock?」
「We might’ve been able to get you some with a bit more time, but…」
Can’t say I didn’t see that coming. Not even the butchers could get their hands on any decent quantities of the stuff. Damn it, what now? We finally managed to solidify our concept and all that, but we’re lacking the most important part we need to actualize it.
「Water? What about it?」
「Nn. Magic infused water. With effects like healing.」
「That’s a bit too far of a stretch too. Water’s really tough to transport, so I can’t say we’ve a lot of it in stock.」
Arggghh, that’s another option crossed right off… Wait, no, we could probably actually just make the water we needed ourselves. I have a whole swamp full of poisoned water sitting around in the dimensional storage. I could probably just use the Potion of Attribute Reversal on it and well, voila, water get.
In other words, we just need to focus on getting our hands on some high quality meat. Hmmm… Actually, I do have an idea that could potentially solve all our problems. You see, the thing is, we weren’t just everyday run of the mill chefs. We were adventurers. If we couldn’t buy something off the marketplace, then we could simply just go get it ourselves. There were still a few days till things got up and running, so we had more than enough time. All we needed was figure out where to find the prey we were after.
「Don’t worry about magically infused water then. Would rather move to next topic. Want to know where to find magic beasts.」
「Are you planning to go hunting for all the meat you need?」
「I think I’ve actually got the perfect place in mind for that.」
Rengil told us a bit about a haunt to Barbra’s south. Its name was the Cage of Crystal, and its rank was B. 
That was where Barbra got most of its magic beast meat. The haunt was inhabited by a lot of D ranked magic beasts, so it was actually apparently thought of as a pretty dangerous place. It wasn’t really that far, so the captain figured that we shouldn’t have any issues at all.
「I’d warn you to be extra careful, but I feel like you of all people will probably be just fine. You’ve got Urushi with you too, after all.」
「Nn. Will be fine.」
「Make sure you sell any extra meat to us though, alright?」
Man, he’s shrewd. That said, we do owe him. He didn’t charge us any fees for the information he gave us, and he’s even offering to pay as opposed as opposed to just asking for free stuff. He’s a pretty good guy, and he really has done us a favour. Yeah, we’re probably going to be seeing each other a lot more going forward.
And that was that. It was a bit late, so we decided to head back for the time being so we could gather information and make the water we needed and whatnot. Apparently, it’d normally take about two days to reach the haunt on horseback, so it’d probably make for a bit more than just a day trip, even for us. We were going to have to leave pretty early tomorrow morning.
『It’ll probably be a bit tough to pull everything off within the time limit, but I’ll be counting on you guys. Let’s do this!』
「Nn. Will work hard for curry bread’s sake.」
I swear they’re driven by nothing but apetite… Oh well, whatever. Our next steps were to find out a bit more about the haunt, have dinner, and then think a bit more about exactly what we’re going to do about the whole curry bread situation.
 Rice balls, typically filled with some sort of tasty, preserved food. They’re a huuuuge trend in Japan and you can pretty find like ten different types at any given convenience store, country wide. You can even find stores that literally only sell onigiri and nothing else. It’s kind of like the Japanese equivalent of sandwiches. It’s especially popular in the Kantou area, and I remember there being like three different chain stores last time I went. Image below.
 Bit different from a sandwich. He thinks of this when Fran says tempura curry onigiri because the two are rather similar. One is a deep fried ball of rice with curry inside of it. The other is a deep fried hunk of dough with curry inside of it. Here’s an image of curry bread.
Honestly, I don’t really like it myself. My taste palette isn’t exactly Japanese though, so meh.
 Haunts are different from dungeons, but it’s more or less the same kind of thing given how broad the definition of dungeons in games has become. It’s quite literally translated at the moment, and I don’t really like it. Most of the MMOs I’ve played recently have only had instance dungeons and raids, nothing named in any which way in particular. Someone help me think of a better name. Really gamey terms are ideal. (I can’t believe I can’t think of a term for this even though I’m literally doing a masters of game design…)