“Hey there, Demon Cleaver!” A random passerby called out to me.
I involuntarily flinched at the name that had become so well known to the people of the capital.
Weeks had gone by since the demon incident. While I didn’t mind the recognition, I had seriously hoped that it wouldn’t be attached to such a name. It made me think of the days where I was a kid running around like I was some hero with magical powers. Add on an eyepatch, and it would be perfect.
On second thought, what I had done so far was pretty unbelievable in itself. Having the occupation of a chef that happened to cut things better than others, I was suddenly pitted against a demon in a final boss-like scenario with barely any preparation. If I were playing a video game like this, I’d surely be throwing down the controller in frustration at this sudden turn of events.
Nevertheless, I somehow managed to beat it. My memories were a bit hazy due to the heat of the moment, but onlookers described my assault afterwards as a frenzy of ruthless knife barrages as if I had gone crazy myself. Hence, the nickname of ‘Demon Cleaver’ came to mind.
I sighed as I resigned myself to my fate. At least, things have slowed down since then. With the change of season to winter, monsters escaped into hiding to stay away from the cold. Similarly, less people traveled, preferring to stay in the comfort of their towns where they had easy access to dwellings warmed by a magical furnace.
This reduction in activity also translated to fewer requests that appeared at the guild.
Furthermore, Eryn’s promotion to a Senior Knight meant that we were less likely to be at the whim of whatever job the guild granted us. Eryn could choose which ones to take on herself and delegate the rest to the other knights granted under her charge.
In fact, none of the recent jobs had been noteworthy enough for a Senior Knight to take over, so I was left with quite a bit of time to pursue other things. However, I soon got roped into helping out at the Faulkner trading company.
After continued success in marketing nutmeg as a culinary spice, Eryn and Roland approached me to look into other potential avenues for profit.
“We need that other-world brain of yours.”
“Give us all the ideas of popular things from your world. Gwahahaha~”
The two of them reached out with an evil glint of greed in their eyes. They each took an arm, as they whisked me away.
As I stared upon a warehouse containing all sorts of goods obtained from who knows where, they had given me the task of inventing as many uses as I could think of for every single product. There were so many different items stored there that it took days to get through it all. Each day, I’d be whisked away early in the morning, where I would continue to think until the day’s end.
By the end of the week, my mind had turned to mush from excessive mental exercise. However, lists of possibilities had been pasted in front of each item for the staff to cross-examine.
“Charred sugar with cream to make a glaze?”
“It’s called caramel. It’s used in a lot of confectioneries,” I responded while slumped against a wall.
“Car…bon..ation to make soda?”
“You take the air from fermentation and bubble it into water so that it dissolves.”
“Honey to soften tough, poor quality meat?”
“Yes, it contains an enzyme that helps break down the meat. You can also use vinegar, acidic juice, or fruits to give a similar effect.”
The staff member scratched his head. “Not sure what some of those terms are, but I’ll make note of it.”
Over and over, the staff members came by and inquired about potential new uses for their goods. I responded to each of them in a semi-conscious state of mental exhaustion, all the while wondering what I had signed myself up for.
After who knew how long, the buzz of workers died down, and I closed my eyes to take a moment of rest. I barely responded even when I felt my head tilted back, and cold liquid was poured down my throat.
The bitterness of the drink hit my tongue, causing me to gag. I scrambled to my feet while spraying the unknown liquid out of my mouth.
“That’s not any way to treat a beer after a long day of work.” Roland greeted me as he thrust forward the mug of remaining liquid.
“Maybe I’d actually appreciate it if I had been conscious enough!”
“Details…” Roland took a sip of his drink with a dismissive look. “Can’t have you passing out on the job. Need you up and running tomorrow so that you can demonstrate how to do the things you described. There’s going to be plenty of work from now on.”
I dropped my cup and started to back away. I think I was starting to understand why Eryn hated working here so much. I was staring into the abyss of an endless amount of work created by unlimited greed, all in the name of merchantry.
“I’d rather face off against another demon.”
“Is that so? It’s no demon, but there’s a job for us to do,” a female voice interrupted.
My master, Eryn, stopped by to inform me of our next job. Not caring what it entailed, I excused myself and left in a hurry, literally dragging her along.
The change of pace as we headed out the next day was refreshing.
The job had been to eliminate a large group of bear-like monsters that had made a nest in some caves. Due to the tight area, magic wasn’t very effective, and physical attacks had difficulty penetrating their high inherent defense.
As I swiftly took down the entire group by myself, my senses finally returned to normal after having been away from it all for so long. Somehow, the feeling of moving my body and traveling outside had become second nature, despite being a lazy otaku in my previous world.
I didn’t even mind the chilly temperature as I trotted through the snowy forests on our way back to the cart. I was wearing some heavier clothing, but the cold still whipped at my exposed face. Looking over to Eryn who followed behind me, I suddenly noticed that her outfit had been the same despite the temperature difference.
“Hey, aren’t you cold?” I called out to her.
“Hmm? No, not really.”
I found it a bit hard to believe. She was wearing her normal knight outfit that left several areas exposed to the chilly surroundings. Yet, there was no sign of redness or chill bumps typical of skin exposed to harsh cold, and she was looking perfectly comfortable in her current state. As I looked closer though, I noticed that her hair slightly shifted as if a calm breeze was blowing around her.
That’s strange. I didn’t feel any wind on me. Unless…
My hand reached out to touch her shoulder. Before making contact, the tips of my fingers were engulfed in a warm breeze.
“What! How unfair! You have your own heater!”
Eryn had been using her fire and wind magic to create a warm breeze around her body, shielding it from the cold. She smirked in response.
“I guess I can reward you for a job well done.”
After a short chant, the warm wind wrapped around my body as well. Instantly recovering from the chill, I happily danced through the snow and ripped off my overcoat as it was now too warm for it.
Racing back to the cart in glee, Eryn slowly followed behind with a smile on her face. After I was no longer within earshot, Eryn dropped her smile and sighed.
“He’s so easy to please. Well, it makes things easy for me that his ambitions are low.” She mumbled to herself, a hint of hesitation laced in her voice.
Despite having done so much, Claude had rarely asked for much in return. Eryn wasn’t sure to be thankful or suspicious at times. Maybe it was due to her upbringing, but it seemed like everyone had ulterior motives, especially those in nobility. She had to carefully balance out flattery while keeping an arm’s length. It wouldn’t do to let distractions derail her from her goals.
With completely different thoughts running through their minds, the two of them returned to the capital.
After making my way back to town, I was walking through the streets as I normally did after a job. Eryn was giving her report to the guild as usual, so I took the time to stroll through the marketplace browsing for anything interesting.
Many of the booths were empty though, as neither shopkeepers nor potential customers wished to stand around for long in the cold. I looked over at the empty tables that were lightly dusted with fresh snow.
At this point, the people that worked the booths were probably holed up inside, spending time with their family and friends.
Come to think of it, the end of the year was approaching soon. My previous self would already be looking around for Christmas gifts, but what about here?
Looking around, there was no sign of any decorations that suggested anything similar. Christmas was a religious holiday to begin with, so I guess there wasn’t any reason for this world to have it.
However, I still wanted to get Eryn a present as thanks for everything since I had arrived in this world. I could just tell her about my customs back home.
The question though was what to get her. Despite being of a lower rank, she was still nobility, so it didn’t seem appropriate to just get her something common.
Luckily, I had plenty of money on hand due to the events in the past. After my recent help with supplying Roland new ideas, he reluctantly agreed to part with a portion of the profits from the nutmeg sales. Leave it to a merchant to come up with all sorts of ‘excuses’ for scamming me out of a fair share.
Though he said it was just a small portion, 500 silver coins were nothing to sneeze at. Just how much of a markup was he doing on that spice? He may have been a devil when it came to being a merchant, but at least he paid well.
As I continued to ponder what I could get with my bloated wallet, which I didn’t have to carry thanks to the Item Box, I realized that this would be the first time choosing a gift for a girl. Not just any girl either. One that was my master and partner. One that I tried my best for.
If I chose something weird or wrong, then would it strain our relationship? Suddenly, I wasn’t so sure of myself. This wasn’t some dating sim that you could save and reload.
Who else could I turn to for some help?
The image of a certain blue-haired inventor came to mind. Even though she was a bit strange, she was still a princess. She was bound to have some ideas of what to get a noble girl.
Since the marketplace was empty, I started running in the direction of her other known location, the workshop located around the cathedral area.