18-16. Satou's General Store 
"Gathering complete, a huge win~"
"It's Pochi and co's victory nanodesu!"
As Arisa declared their victory, Tama and Pochi struck the shupin pose.
"Oh geez! I cannot believe you not only got one, but all of them!"
Lady Kerinagure did the feet stomping act in real life to show her vexation.
Must be because she's got no ground to talk back with the Delivery Complete certificate we've got from the Grand Witch herself.
Even if we weren't the one who delivered them first, the witch would apparently buy those items anytime so it wouldn't have gone to waste either way.
"Congratulations are in order, Hero Store. This is a celebratory gift from us, Ussha Company, to you, please accept it."
"T-thank you so much."
The young lady's secretary, Tomaritorore--Toma-san handed over a bag to the shop owner, Lolo.
"So where do we gotta put this gift at eh?"
The shipping agent, Ratkin and their small bodies are carrying some huge luggage in.
It's a large group of around 20 people according to Radar.
"It kind of smells good nodesu."
Tama and Pochi sniffed around.
So did the three hamkin children.
"Erm, I don't think it'll fit here, could you go around the back?"
Asked by secretary-san, Lolo replied back.
"Whiz! Leaveit ta' us!"
"Oh, I'll go take a look."
Lolo left the store and went to the warehouse in the backyard.
The hamkin children energetically ran after Lolo.
Together with Nana who was whispering, 'Young organisms', for some reason.
After seeing them off, Secretary-san also left herself, "We shall take our leave now." dragging the young lady with her.
"Satou-san! Guys! Please come over here!"
Lolo's lively voice called out to us.
Looks like the shipping agent brought some good stuff with them.
"Thanks for the treat~?"
"It all looks positively delish desuwa!"
The girls, both silver and golden members--are waiting expectantly in front foreign cuisines put on tables in the garden of Hero's Store.
"Thank you for waiting."
Lolo came back from the store.
"I've put up the closed sign on the front door."
"Lolo-tan, you're the leading actor today, coulda just ask someone else do that."
"Oh no, it's my job as the shopkeeper."
Hero's Store is closing a tad early today.
I told her that I would go lock the door for her, but she declined, saying it was her duty. There must be a reason for that.
"Okay now that Lolo-san's back, time to start the feast~!"
Hikaru began the feast with a toast.
The congratulatory gift from Ussha Company was mostly meat dish, so naturally the girls most of whom are big fans of them are ecstatic.
Liza and Tama are on cloud nine on the [Solid Meat] and [Crustacean] series especially.
You don't see Liza looking that thrilled every day.
In the vegetable area, we've got giant boiled broccoli with a variety of flavoring put next to them.
Mia and the hamkin children have monopoly over this area.
I tried having some as recommended by Mia, and they were good, you don't get tired tasting them with all kinds of sauces available.
The hamkin children are even rolling around while nibbing on the broccoli.
Nana was so focused on watching over them she even forgot to eat herself.
Mia would occasionally remind Nana to have a bite so it should be alright.
"Are you having fun?"
"Yes, Satou-san! There's soo many kinds of foreign cuisines here."
I talked to Zena-san.
She worked hard with the other silver members despite having that request pushed on her out of nowhere.
"Sera-sama, look, this meat is really good."
"Oh sorry, I'm not good with greasy food."
"Pochi thinks meat oozing with grease is good nodesu."
Lady Karina offered a thick steak to Sera who found it too much.
"In that case, how would you like the dish over there? They should be almost as easy in the mouth as vegetable."
"Oh that sounds like something I can handle."
"Meat-san got no high or low ranks nodesu. Pochi will be with them every step of the way nodesuyo."
Sera took the opportunity presented by princess Sistina to escape the greasy dish area.
Pochi appears to be dead set on conquering all dishes, she's continuing on her challenge despite her bulging tummy.
"Do you find that dish to your liking Lulu-san?"
"Yes, it looks rather simple but it's so filling and tasty."
"Oh then would you like to learn how to make it? That one is a signature dish of Akatia, you see."
Lulu and Lolo are getting along well in recipe discussions.
"Man, the quest this time was a toughie."
Arisa who had her fill came by with a cup of Akatia's special syrup juice in hand. She must be here to talk about the challenge they faced during the quest.
"How was it tough?"
"The castle one was a walk in the park. We could just brute force through our way and it's not like there were many enemies. It's wetlands that's the toughest. Right, Mia."
Mia made an x mark in front of her face.
"Vermin? Were there insect-type monsters?"
"Not that. There were lotsa mosquito-like thingie."
"Didn't you have insect repellent with you?"
"Some of them were totally immune to insect repellent magic or pesticide."
"Nn, a pain."
"Yes, Mia. The fact that they were undead never crossed my mind so I inform."
I see, no wonder repellent won't work.
"Oh oh, lemme in on this talk too."
"Here comes the drunkard."
"Ichirou-nii so mean~"
Hikaru who had a wine cup in one hand hugged me, prompting the impregnable fortress pair to peel her off.
"Walking around in the Dirty Mud Ruins was a trial in itself."
Sera spoke earnestly.
"Getting your legs stuck in the mud sounds like a bad time."
"Yes, that was partly the reason, but..."
"The smell was just the worst."
"Even if we use wind magic to blow away the smell, it comes back right up from the mud below, even deodorizer doesn't last long at all."
Princess Sistina, Zena-san, and Sera all shared similar impressions.
Lady Karina has joined the beastkin girls to search and destroy any remnants of food army, so she's not here, but I knew how she jumped straight into the mud when she was trying to catch a frog back then through Telescope magic. I'll bring this tidbit to grave for her sake.
"Are you girls planning to go to the Onikin District again after this?"
"Nn, we could conquer it if we press a bit further, but everyone's gotten tired of it~."
Onikin District is just as the name suggest, a vast district where Demi Goblins and Demi Ogre, all kinds of oni monsters prowl around. Lots of small fry around its perimeters, making it a good hunting ground for rookie to mid-rank adventurers.
If those monsters' number grows too much, a Stampede will occur at Hole-Ratkin's Ruinberia Kingdom, thus the kingdom gives out rewards to keep a certain number of adventurers culling them.
The deepest area where Hikaru's group is working to conquer is suited for mid to advanced rank adventurers, a danger zone no one usually dares to tread.
"The castle's bit too early, so maybe we should get to the inner area of Pincushion Fortress instead?"
"That's a good idea. That place is on the verge of Stampede after all."
I gave affirmation to Hikaru.
There's an area called [Pincushion Fortress] right next to Forest Ratkin's Mashioku Kingdom. It's infested with hard shelled monsters, which get bigger and sturdier the closer they are to the fortress.
The fortress is filled with many monsters capable of long range attacks, and they won't hesitate to attack anyone who gets close to the fortress in spite of friendly fires, so there's not a lot of people daring enough to mount an attack on the fortress.
The fortress has Raptor-like dinosaur monsters inside, with job-type variants not dissimilar to demi goblin's fighters and mages.
Rumors say that there's an artifact left behind by an ancient demon lord deep within the fortress.
"Isn't [Dirty Mud Ruins] where you hunted for frogs more fitting level-wise?"
"True, but you know..."
"The smell at that place..."
At Arisa's question, the silver members starting from Hikaru expressed their disapproval.
"I've got hazard masks with me here though?"
Hikaru looked at me with a twitching smile.
"Is this the mouth you use to speak those words, huuh!"
Hikaru pulled and played around with my mouth before pushing me down in the garden.
--This dang drunkard.
"Ah, hey, get away now!"
"That's right! Let go, now!"
The impregnable fortress pair and Sera tried to peel Hikaru off me, but the drunk Hikaru wouldn't let go of my neck. Dunno if I'm imagining it but Sera who's supposed to pull her away seems to be pushing her body on mine instead.
"It's like a sort of recreation, I guess?"
Lulu could only smile wryly at Lolo who asked her in confusion.
The full-bellied hamkin children are sleeping next to Lolo with their bellies exposed.
Now then, seeing this is not a good education for the children, guess it's time to put these drunkards to bed and breakup the party?
"We're off now! Just you wait for the souvenirs!"
"Ichirou-nii, we will be going too. Look forward to the demon lord's artifact."
"Careful not to hurt yourselves okay."
The next morning, Arisa's and Hikaru's groups left for their training.
Hikaru seemed to suffer from a slight hangover, but she got right back up with Hangover Magic Potion.
The store got its first customer right after Lolo turned up Open sign.
"Hi hi, five preserved food, the tasty one, and two Lostless Candles please."
"Two tasty preserved food and magic potion set for us pls."
Hungry Wolf-rank adventurers that have graduated from rookie-ness bought up consumable before heading out.
Most beastkin people at this class got huge bodies, but the most numerous ones are still the variety of ratkin people, the most populous race around these parts.
"Tasty ones or filling ones, that is the question."
"Luxury is enemy! 'Course it's gotta be the filling one!"
"Aw snap, you're right. Can't go in the forest without a Lostless Candle after all."
Rookie Field Mouse-rank adventurers are managing to scrape by with their tight budget.
This would have been the most interesting part in a game, but the toughest in real life I believe.
The filling one here refers to the standard issue preserved food Lolo stocked up from Food Guild.
It lasts long and insects usually hatch out of the eggs left in the wheat, but the one sold by Hero's Store is free of insects thanks to my Storage eliminating them. Well, most adventurers won't care even when it's got maggots though.
"Young master, could you sharpen my sword."
"It's gonna cost you a bit more for bone-made swords, is that ok?"
"Of course. Having young master sharpen my sword makes a world of difference in hunting, see."
There have been more Silver Tiger-rank adventurers, same rank as the girls, coming here for sharpening.
I sharpen bone swords with soul magic [Bone Craft] to reprocess its bladed part. For cursed bone weapons or pseudo magic swords, undoing the curse could risk turning them into real magic swords, so they're not covered by my [Sharpening] service.
I had a tough time trying to worm my way out when I inadvertently turned one into a magic sword back then.
[Deception]-skill sensei triumphed in the end though.
A Gold Lion-rank adventurer rushed in the store while panting.
"D'ya have a bone sword, one that cuts super well ssuka?! Kanji-san told me this store sells one ssuyo!"
"Sorry. We got that one by pure chance, there's no telling when we'll get another like that."
"Shame ssu. Please put it aside for me if you get one, definitely ssu!"
"I got it. If we do get one."
"You totally promised!"
And yet we keep getting this kind of customers.
Guess it's partly due to this place being a dungeon city, the people here crave so much for strength.
Hero's Store has been gradually amassing more customers even putting those people aside.
Might be about time to get more personnel since it's getting too much for just Lolo and the hamkin children to handle.
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
A few days after the girls had gone off on their expeditions--.
"Think we've got through the rush?"
"Thank you for your good work. Let's have some tea."
After the morning rush, I'm enjoying a relaxing tea time with Lolo.
The hamkin children who were downed by the rush have gotten up too nibbing on their cookies.
"Nona-san is taking longer than usual this time."
"I'm sure she's all right. She's gone off in a huge group after all."
Lolo was worried about her best friend.
She should have been back yesterday if things go as planned, but an expedition with that many people tends to face trouble, so delays are nothing unusual.
"Worry not. Isn't she in an expedition along with Silver Tiger-rank Jami? It's unthinkable for that careful Jami to get themselves killed."
We've got another guest before we knew it.
Captivated by the cookies, Lady Kerinagure would always show up out of nowhere during tea time lately.
This place ain't no cafe though?
I've grown tired of saying that to her by now.
Though since she loves to talk about goods stocked up by Ussha Company to Lolo lately, I actually don't mind her coming at all.
"Lolo, you here?"
"Good day, Tia-san. Would you like some tea Tia-san?"
"Thanks, Lolo. I love how tasty the tea and cookie here, it's my oasis inbetween my tiring duty--not that! Lolo, bad news."
Looks like we've got trouble.
"--No! What about Nona-san? Is she safe, is she alive?"
Lolo shook Tia's shoulders.
According to Tia, the raid team who was on an expedition to the Onikin District has suffered a great deal of damage, nearing total annihilation.
Time-wise, and place-wise, it's undoubtedly the expedition Nona took part in.
"...Nona's name is not on the list of adventurers who made it back."
Lolo's face got dyed in despair hearing Tia.
"Lolo, oh no."
"Lolo, calm down."
"Lolo, what do."
The hamkin children are moving about confusedly around Lolo.
I put my hand on the anxious Lolo.
"It's okay, Lolo."
My Map search confirms Nona's safety.
"She'll make it if we send a relief party."
"B-but... Lulu-san and the girls are on an expedition themselves, it'll be days before they get back."
Lolo's pretty face clouded up.
"The guild has also dispatched a rescue party, don't you worry."
Tia tried to comfort Lolo as well.
"Tia-san, could you please tend to Lolo for a bit."
"Where are you going?"
"We're running short of herbs, I'm just gonna go stock up some."
Of course, I'm lying.
"Make sure to get back here quick, don't make Lolo worry now."
"Yes, I got you."
Tia-san said that after laughing lightly.
She saw through my lie it seems.
I warped to Onikin District, and then checked escape route while also confirming the abnormal onikin monsters that destroyed the raid team.
--I see, this is terrible.
There's an explosive number of Demi Goblins and Demi Ogres. Both subspecies and greater variants included.
Especially brutal ones like Demi Ogre Lords and Demi Goblin Mutants. There's even some Demi Troll Executioners. Level 40s monsters spawning in level 30s place naturally will wreak havoc.
I'd like to save Nona right away, but there's a lot of dying adventurers even now, there will be more victims if I don't think the priority and escape route well here.
I've decided to don an experimental version-up of golden armor to ensure I could keep working at Hero's Store.
It's got a full face type helmet, hence I just need to change my voice with ventriloquism skill now.
"I'M NOT GONNA DIE HEEEEEEEEEERE!"
I created Flexible Shields in front of a cowkin and horsekin adventurers who were protecting their companions despite being heavily injured themselves and healed them all together with recovery magic.
I ignored the dumbfounded adventurers, cut off the head of Demiogre Berserker they were fighting, and went off to the next one. This is a battle against time.
After saving several other adventurers in similar situation and fashion, I finally arrived at the place of interest.
"I don't wanna die, I don't wanna die, I don't wanna die... I don't wanna dieeee"
"Everything's fine now."
I saved Nona who was hiding behind a scrap wood, reunited her with other healed adventurers and showed them the safe escape route.
They kept thanking and asking for my identity, but I wormed my way out with just a word or two and continued the relief effort.
I saved 25 people, leaving three left.
These three seemed to have been kidnapped by the monsters into a temple in the inner part of Onikin District.
The temple is filled with monsters, it's weird how they're still alive.
"How's there so many Demi Goblins?"
There's hundreds of Demi Goblins surrounding the temple.
Even Demi Ogre and Demi Trolls, though in fewer numbers.
A Demi Goblin standing right next to the temple got wrapped in darkness before transforming into a Demi Goblin Lord.
Even while I was watching that, several other Demi Goblin got transformed into greater variants and subspecies.
Looks like something fishy is going down inside the temple.
I got close to it with Sky Drive.
Half of the ceiling has collapsed, you can see the insides.
Some Demigoblin Priests and Demigoblin Bishops wearing heretical priest outfits are doing some kind of ritual in front of a suspicious looking altar.
Three bound adventurers are on the altar, with dead monsters littered around them, seemingly as offerings.
As I came down and sneaked into the temple, a giant palm hanging down above the altar came into my view.
I said palm, but it's bigger than my whole body.
No, the size isn't the problem here. AR reading tells me its true color.
--That's the palm of a Demon Lord.
Are these demi goblins using that as a catalyst to sublimate into higher forms?
"Uwaaaa, uwaaa, uwaaaa."
"Get away, get awayyyyyyyyy."
"Darkness, darkness, dark dark dark."
Whoops, this is no time to ponder around.
Tentacle-like things made of darkness are approaching the three adventurers.
Let's get this done real quick--.
I jumped in with Flash Drive, slipped past the barrier protecting the altar, and cleared away the darkness with light magic.
The demigoblin priests were gugya gugyaing and gugegugeing something, but I paid them no mind and warped the three adventurers to near other adventurers that were on their way out of the district.
"Gotta make sure to take care of things here."
I burned down the temple, the palm and all the monsters altogether with a mid-level fire magic.
Almost got myself burned along with them, but I got myself out of the flame no problem with sight-based Unit Arrangement.
I thought the Demon Lord's palm would stay intact, but it got burned down just fine.
Its ash rode on the wind created by the flame scattering everywhere, I'm sure it can't do anymore evil act now.
I eliminated all stronger monsters that were drawing close to the escaping adventurers with Remote Arrows and watched over them from the sky above.
It's going well so far, they should arrive at the adventurer's camp near the Onikin District before nightfall at this rate.
"Oops, almost forgot."
I searched for herbs on the Map and gathered some that can be found everywhere in Rampant Evil Dungeon.
I mean I did say I was going to look for herbs after all.
"Welcome back, Satou-san!"
Lolo and her energetic face welcomed me at the store.
"A carrier pigeon just came from Tia-san, she said Nona-san is unhurt!"
The hamkin children were overjoyed to see the cheerful Lolo.
"Gotta throw a safe return party once Nona-san gets back then."
I patted the dazzlingly beaming Lolo and brought the herbs to the herb processing area.
"Have you guys have dinner yet?"
"Ah, no we haven't."
As if waiting for that, the hamkin trio sang the song of hunger.
"Lolo, tummy hungry."
"Lolo, eat something."
"Lolo, vegetable good."
"I'll go warm up vegetable soup. Think we have some bacon left too, let's roast it."
"Oh then I'll go cut up bread. You kids can fetch the dish."
After some lively preps, we all had dinner together.
As we were discussing about the party, how to stock up goods that sold too well, and requests from customers, it was soon bedtime.
I put the hamkin children to bed together with Lolo, and then convinced the still eager to talk Lolo about the importance of sleep, afterward I sneaked into the workroom.
Now then, we'll run short of goods to sell tomorrow if I don't stock up now.
Having talked Lolo into the importance of sleep and all, I gotta sleep for real today at least.
Oh dear, running a general store sure keeps you busy eh.
※ Next update is planned from next month onward.
General Store series is done for now. Might continue depending on receptions.