A bit later in the day, I go back to the maple trees to tap more trees. I need to increase production. But with what happened earlier, I need to make sure I have enough in case of some pests. It’d be quite inconvenient if something like that were to happen again!
A few days later, I get the maple sap to make more ale. This time, the buckets weren’t annihilated by a stranger. I doubt she would be able to drink all of them: I’ve tripled the number of taps. I collect the full buckets into my Infinite Storage. As before, I cook the sap down to concentrate the sap. While the sap is shimmering, I grind the Feno to a fine powder. After that, I fill the sap into containers together with yeast. I add powdered Feno to 90% of all containers. I still want to get some wine, after all.
I think I should get some kegs the next time I’m in town. My containers are all made from glass. They work, but I don’t think I should sell the ale in glass containers. Also, I think I heard somewhere brewing and ageing ale in casks can improve the taste? Let’s go to Tatilans for that.
As I’m about to exit the cave, I notice a Kouniklanthrope in the vicinity of the Crystal Down. It’s Lecarvi. What is she doing here?! She hasn’t looked in my direction, so I don’t think she has noticed me yet. Is there some magic I can use? Anything?! Luckily, my skill suggests a spell to me. I need to project a thought or an image on a barrier.
«These are just some vines hanging from a solid cliff,» is the thought I want to project. I aim the spell at the vines that hide the entrance to my cave.
“Concealing Barrier!”, I whisper.
I can feel energy enveloping the cave entrance. I think it worked. I continue observing Lecarvi. I can see her ears twitching. Did she detect that spell? She walks away. I heave a sigh in relief. I think I’m safe. I don’t think she’s a threat, but I sure don’t want to deal with her right now. I quickly leave for Tatilans.
Somewhere in the old world, in a graveyard. Several people are muttering things in unison. Others are crying. Two men are standing apart from the others, whispering to each other.
“The Bus Factor… Now it feels like we jinxed him. This feels bad..”
“Don’t worry so much, Vash. If he were here he’d say something like: ‘I owe you a smoothie.’”
“I know, Gunnar, I know. But we’re at a funeral. It’s improper to joke and laugh!”
“I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. But considering how his stuck up relatives seem to me, they might make a scene. Now I get why he didn’t have any qualms to relocate for this job at our place. I mean, this place here is at the other end of the country!”
“I can’t disagree.”
Later, online in a voice chat.
“Has anyone seen Mittens lately?” a boy asks.
“Not really. I haven’t seen him online for weeks! I haven’t seen Kicks either,” the woman answers, “maybe…”
She is interrupted by a bell sound.
“Oh, it’s Boots. I was about to suggest you had eloped with Mittens.”
“But why would we need to elope? We’re already flatmates. Well, former flatmates… I just came from his funeral service,” the man that just arrived answers and sighs, “I finally made it back to the hotel.”
“A funeral?! What on earth happened?!”
“Mittens… Mittens got run over by a bus…”
“A bus, so he doesn’t get isekai’d,”
She quickly adds: “Oh sorry, that joke was quite tasteless of me.”
“No, it’s okay. I don’t mind. If he was here he’d say something like ‘Bus, Truck. Where’s the difference?’”
“Yeah, he’d say: ‘It’s big and has more than four wheels!’” she giggles, “but on the more serious side: Why didn’t you tell any of us about it?! We would have attended!”
“No, it’s better that you didn’t. His family is… Well, let’s say they are very… conservative. They don’t want random people from the internet to turn up. They were exhausting. And now I need to look for a new flatmate I’m not looking forward to that… Mittens used to tell horror stories of bad flatmates… I need to do that properly.”
“Couldn’t you just have that place to yourself?”
“No, I’d have to look for another place for singles. But a flat share for this place is just much cheaper! Rents are quite pricey these days. Especially for singles! And I like the place I currently have.
You should have seen where Mittens used to live before we got this place! It was more or less a cupboard on the fifth floor without an escalator. And it was somewhere in the boonies!”
“Isn’t your place in the boonies?”
“It’s just half an hour commute. And our place is much bigger and in much a better location! And he had to pay double the price as he did for our place.”
“Oh no, this isn’t great. I’m not looking forward to moving out from my parents’ place…”
“I remember when we were looking for a flat. He suggested posing as a pair. He said some landlords prefer pairs over 2 people flat-sharing. Even though legally it’s about the same.”
“Oh, really? I might try that!”