Rei, who was sleeping in bed, wrapped up in a blanket, gave a yawn as he sat up. ……But, the next moment, he went back to sleep.
Several minutes passed. Finally waking up, Rei got up from bed again.
「Ah……ahh, ahh, oh right.」
Looking around, he found himself in an unfamiliar room.
It was of a slightly lower class than the Dusk Wheat inn he stayed at in Gilm. Naturally, there were no luxuries such as magic items for heating, so the inside of the room was filled with the chilly winter air.
He was at an inn that Seis, the guild master, had brought him to. In the first place, Gilm was a frontier city that nobles or big businessmen would visit, the city of Baar was close to the frontier but was really just in the countryside. Considering that, even though this was already the best inn, its comfort and facilities where naturally far from those in GIlm. According the the story Rei heard from Seis, this inn seemed to be quite famous for its food. Either way though, Baar was currently blockaded and such food couldn’t be cooked due to the rationing system in place. Because of that, he wasn’t expecting much from the food.
「Well, I’m sure the blockade will be lifted soon.」
The Magic Fever medicine was basically effective after a single night. In other words, Rei didn’t know how many portions of medicine had been made since Rei arrived yesterday, but there should have been quite a few people who had recovered from Magic Fever.
「……That said, if I’m not mistaken, Southernus will be coming over. I guess I should have breakfast before that.」
He changed his clothes and tidied his appearance while thinking of the food he had eaten the previous evening, black bread that had baked hard for preservation and soup with a little bit of meat and vegetables.
It wasn’t really enough compared with the meals Rei and Set usually ate at the Dusk Wheat inn, but satiated Rei and Set’s appetite. Naturally, the food wasn’t enough for them to eat, but as everyone was eating the same limited food, he couldn’t just take out various dishes from the Misty Ring to eat himself.
(I’ll have to eat somewhere where the public won’t notice me. In any case, I have to get food for Set.)
Thinking to himself, he gave a sigh when he thought about how difficult it would be to investigate the cause of Magic Fever with Southernus as he walked down to the first floor.
It should be noted that while it was very cold when he got up out of his bed, the chill had left his thoughts right after he put on the Dragon Robe.
A young man in his twenties with a pale complexion bowed at Rei and greeted him when he got to the first floor.
This young man was originally an adventurer and not the person who ran the inn. However, because both his parents, who ran the inn, had fallen ill with Magic Fever, he was currently taking care of it as a substitute.
His pale complexion was probably due to his fatigue from nursing his parents. Those were Rei’s thoughts as he sat down in the dining area.
「Here you go. …That said, we can only serve this food.」
The young man put down a cup of wine diluted with water, some hard baked black bread and a bowl of dried meat and bean soup, which he had eaten yesterday.
Normally, you would soak the bread in soup to soften it before eating, but Rei just chewed on the bread as it was with the power of his strong jaws.
While looking at the face of the young man, who seemed to be surprised, Rei asked curiously after swallowing the bread.
「How are your parents? The medicine should have been distributed around?」
「Yes. It’s partially because Rei-san is staying in this inn.」
Yes. Because Rei was staying in the inn, Seis had used his authority as guild master to passed some of the guaranteed cure medicine to the inn yesterday. Normally, such an action would be considered partiality, but Rei was currently the saviour of Baar. Because the inn was accommodating him, they wanted him to receive proper service. In addition, once the matter was settled, people would start coming to the city again, so they wanted to be able to make use of the inn.
Still, right now, the original owner of the inn was still asleep in bed. Although the symptoms of Magic Fever had already subsided due to the medicine, the doctor had told them that it would be best to restore their physical strength after the exhaustion caused by Magic Fever
「I hope they get better soon. That way, I’ll be able to eat some good food.」
「Hahaha. I’ll tell that to my father and mother. However, it will still be difficult to procure the ingredients to make good food unless the rationing system ends.」
「I see. Well, that’s true. Sorry for holding you up. Take the food to the other sick people.」
「Yes. Pardon me.」
As expected, baked black bread wasn’t really good for digestion, he left taking only some soup with him. Since the father of the young man was the real chef of the inn, Rei only had to eat such amateur cooking because the chef had fallen ill with Magic Fever. He tore up the bread, put it into the soup and drank the wine to finish up his meal.
And just as he had finished eating everything, a person appeared outside the dining area at just the right moment.
It was Southernus, the man who had met with Rei after he had arrived at the city of Baar yesterday. It seemed that Diarog had sent him over as promised yesterday, so Rei raised his hand lightly.
「All right. I heard the situation from Diarog-san. You’ll be investigating the cause of this damned illness.」
「……This is the dining area you know? Refrain from vulgar language.」
While sighing, Rei drank the remaining wine to finish his meal.
「Hey, what are you talking about. In the first place, you’re the only one in the dining area. Don’t worry about it.」
The tone of his voice was a lot more casual compared to when he had first met with Rei in front of the main gate yesterday.
「That reminds me, the main gate should still be blocked, so what’s going on with food?」
「Ahh, there’s no problems there. When it’s meal time, we just eat bread and cheese we bring in bags from the city. Food is still okay despite the fact that the city is blockaded and we have rationing in place, Diarog-san is amazing after all.」
「To be entrusted as the acting lord, I guess that wouldn’t be possible if he wasn’t that good.」
「Kuku~, you’ve got that wrong. Well, the lord of the city had taken several problematic actions and was half pressured by Diarog-san to step back from his position. ……Well, anyway, that’s that. Even if you say that you are going to investigate the cause of Magic Fever, how do you plan to do it?」
Southernus asked while sitting in the chair in front of Rei.
In a situation that had never occurred before, they couldn’t predict the cause. Because of that, even if they were going to investigate it, Southernus pointed out that they still needed a starting point.
「To be honest, I’m confident in my combat strength, but I’m not that good at using my head. Ahh, that’s right. First of all is the possibility of a special area near the city which is not present around other cities. ……No, that’s not it.」
「Ah. The surrounding area is mostly grasslands and plains, there’s no real difference compared to other cities. If you’re talking about the location, then wouldn’t Gilm be more likely than Baar?」
On the frontier, there was also the Forest of Monsters, where A and S rank monsters could appear. In terms of peculiar geographical location, Gilm was much more unique than Baar.
「Then is it a geographical problem?」
「No. I don’t think we can ignore the possibility, but the chance is very small.」
Rei nodded at Southernus’s thoughts.
Even Rei, while riding to Baar on Set, had been looking at the surroundings. He was able to see that there really wasn’t anything special about this city in terms of location.
And if there was something like the Forest of Monsters nearby, although Rei couldn’t sense magic power, Set would probably have noticed something.
「Then, could Magic Fever have adapted itself to survive even in cold and dry areas?」
「Then why would it appear in such a remote place? If it had gradually spread from the south, that would be a possibility, but it suddenly spread in the city of Baar.」
「……Then, did someone intentionally spread it?」
「Why would they? Why bother to cause a Magic Fever epidemic in such a remote city. ……No, wait. Maybe.」
Southernus replied immediately at Rei’s words. However, the next moment, he tilted his head as if he had thought of something.
「Did you think of something?」
「There’s one possibility. As I said previously, the original lord of Baar has a history of causing various problems. Because he has such a character, he naturally has a bad relationship with the nobles in his faction, let alone from other factions. If someone held a grudge against him because of that……」
That might be possible. Rei, who had met several nobles in this world, could agree with that line of thought. There were nobles like Margrave Daska and Elena, but there were also those like Kuust, who was absorbed in his pride as a noble, or Vel, who would willingly betray his kingdom. As those faces passed through his mind, he nodded naturally at Southernus’s words before slowly shaking his head.
「No, I understand if they bore a grudge against him, but intentionally spreading an illness is an entirely different matter. And even if they could do it, how would they get around the initial requirements of Magic Fever, which are a hot and humid environment?」
「……I see. If I think about it, that’s definitely true. In the first place, if they could do it, they would be able to do huge damage if they spread it in the vicinity of the Bestir Empire’s capital instead of on nobles from the same kingdom.」
「Ahh, that’s certainly tru-……e……」
The Bestir Empire. Rei’s words stopped at what Southernus said.
(If their alchemy is developed, naturally, their technology should also be at a similar level. As far as I know, diseases in this world are spread through pathogens, maybe something can be done with them using alchemy?)
Thinking to himself, he considered the possibility……but soon shook his head and dismissed the thought.
(In the first place, if they could do it, there’s no need to have to go to a city like Baar in the countryside. As Southernus said, they could use in the Imperial Capital or any other big city. In that case, was this just an experiment to see if it was usable? But if they did that, it would only be useful once. Once the information spread out from Baar, everywhere else would prepare the guaranteed medicinal cure.
「No, nothing at all. If the Bestir Empire wanted to set a trap, they probably wouldn’t pick this city. Then, is there anything else?」
「Well, that’s right……the only thing I can think of is that idiot I mentioned earlier.」
「……In that case, maybe we should change our way of thinking.」
「Way of thinking?」
What are you saying? Southernus looked at Rei, but Rei spoke regardless.
「For example. Is there anything special about this city?」
「Huh? No, as I told you earlier, there aren’t any notable features of this city.」
「Sorry, I worded that poorly. I meant, does this town have an specialties?」
「Hey, we’re talking about finding the cause of Magic Fever, I don’t have time to look for souvenirs or things.」
「You’re wrong. I’m thinking that it might have something to do with the cause of the spread of Magic Fever.」
At Rei’s words, Southernus had an expression of surprise.
Southernus gave a nod even though he didn’t think the chance was high, but he was still puzzled.
「If that was the case, why hasn’t Magic Fever had an outbreak before? It’s been over 200 years since the city was established.」
「Well, maybe it took some time before the environment required for Magic Fever formed, or maybe it mutated. ……Although it’s not that likely, if we have no clues, we can only start from there. So, what is the specialty of this city?」
「I see……something that other cities don’t have, in that case the only specialty product of this city would be distilled spirits.」
Hearing those words, the knowledge he remembered from seeing it on TV when he was in Japan and the whisky his father drank passed through his mind.
(I wonder if there are distilled spirits like brandy or vodka. If I’m not mistaken, it should be stored in large wooden barrels after distillation……wait. In that case, where are the wooden barrels stored? If it was made by an individual, there would be enough room in a house. But since it’s a specialty product, it would need a lot more space.)
「Southernus, where are the spirits stored? I think they should be stored in wooden barrels?」
「Ah? Ahh. They are stored into barrels and then kept in a special storage location……hey, no way」
「Since it’s a possibility, it would be better to check. If there’s nothing there, then we can eliminate a potential cause.」
「……I see. Then let’s go right away.」
Nodding, the two of them got up from the table and left the dining area.