The following morning.
Though a bit cold, the weather was good so they were having breakfast on a table in the garden.
"This bread is pretty good."
"It really is. It must be freshly made."
"And this garden's pretty neat."
"Yes. It's a beautiful garden."
"How come that Meichel tree grows so well in the garden side yet none of its branches gets to the passage side?"
"It's been root fixed."
"They bury many big rocks around the tree, stopping its root from growing further."
"Meichel trees' branches grow in the directions and in size and length of their roots, you see. Look, you can see its thick roots right below the branches over the garden side there."
"Ah, I see what you're talking about."
"They make use of this characteristic to control where the branches grow by fixing the roots."
"Hmph. But that tree must feel cramped getting stuffed in the corner like that."
"Manipulating branch growth is a way for landscapers to show off their skill, but I agree that it's a bit devious. I'm more bothered by the Shirokizuna tree to the left."
"You're talking about that small white tree with thin elongated branches?"
"The lush greenery behind it makes for a nice spectacle. It's got an interesting shape too."
"The color contrast is perfect, no complaint there. But Shirokizuna trees are fast growing trees, see. Five years from now, it would grow three to four times its current size."
"Hmm. That's gonna throw off the size balance."
"Yes. As such, it will likely get uprooted before it grows too big. And then they will plant a new tree. You could say it's a microcosm of this whole garden."
"Hmph. I see. By the way, did you sleep well last night?"
"The bed was very comfortable. It's been some time since I've had such a comforting sheet."
Lecan took a cup of aftermeal tea and swayed it in his hand, letting its elegant fragrance to tickle his nose. It must be brewed with a high quality tea leaf.
Lecan looked at the garden once again.
It's been made to show off the best contrast from where Lecan and Arios are sitting now.
But there's also this hint of unnaturalness to it.
"Specked Grass don't do well in shadows. Putting them in that spot like that, the ones invisible from here must be withering."
Specked Grass is a medicinal plant. It's present in both Shira's and Norma's gardens. Since Lecan's familiar with the plant, he can tell these Specked Grass are well tended.
"Is this garden's landscaper clueless about Shirokizuna's fast growth."
"I don't think so. There is no way a landscape artist who can put together such a fine garden as this doesn't know that."
"So they forced it to work then."
"This is nothing more than a hunch of mine."
"I believe there is someone who ordered how this garden should look and which plants should be put."
I see, thought Lecan. Then, it all came to him.
The way this garden, areas, buildings and passages are made has been manipulated in such a way as to harmonize with each other. Or more like the whole thing is made from one blueprint. You can even say it shares one specific individuality.
(I probably won't get along well with this guy.)
Lecan recalled the trees and plants in Norma's clinic garden at Vouka town.
They all grow lushly. They may positioned a bit disorderly, but even that candid and unrestricted growth helps bring a relieving effects on the mind.
Then his mind wandered to <Rafin's Rock Terrace Inn>'s vegetable field. Those vegetables also grow abundantly.
"How was the fermented liquor yesterday?"
"It was good. For one cup."
"You only drank one cup?"
"That stuff tastes the same from second cup onward."
"The meat yesterday was good."
"Yes. It was delicious. For that mouthful."
The two gulped down their tea and put down the expensive-looking cups.
A quiet time passed for a while.
"Alright, let's head back."
<TLN: Catch the latest updates and edits at Sousetsuka .com >
"Manager, I'm grateful for your thorough service last night."
"Well well, Arios-sama. And I see you're with Lecan-sama. You shouldn't have troubled yourself coming all the way here, we're all at your beck and call. This is the sales money and appraisal result for the item you brought last night."
Arios glanced at the appraisal result and handed it to Lecan.
"Thank you. We were told to stay at <Summit Honors Mansion> once we started exploring floor 100 down, and it's clear how wonderful of an establishment it is. Both the facilities and cooking, there's absolutely nothing to complain about."
"It's an honor."
Lecan noticed one thing as he read the appraisal result.
(It's got no Depth entry.)
(What's going on?)
"By the way, there's no rule that forbids us from staying at other lodgings beside this, is there?"
"Of course not. This establishment exists only to serve its guests. You honored guests are at liberty to choose how you plan to make use of our service or not."
"That's good to hear. We may have to come to other inns during our exploration. So there may be times where we wouldn't come back here without contacting you first, no issue with that I take it?"
"We might decide to stay at other inns if we take fancy."
"Please feel free to return to our establishment anytime you wish. But we would be grateful if you could inform where we could find your lodging for if we need to contact you."
"Oh we don't know where it'll be yet either, we'll get back to you the next time we're here."
"Understood. We bid you farewell."
The manager seemed fully confident that Arios and Lecan would go back to <Summit Honors Mansion> right away, he stopped pressing for their destination.
Afterward, the two went to floor 100 and fought a battle before going back to <Rafin's Rock Terrace Inn>.
"Welcome... Ooh? Arios? Lecan too? What's wrong. Didja forgot something?"
"We're back. How many days do we have left in our last booking again?"
"Ou? Hang on. Gotta check the guestbook. Hrm. You got till the ninth of month two."
"Then we're booking additional 40 days."
"Oh my, Arios-chan. You're back."
"Yes. We'll be in your care once again."
"Yes, Lecan. What can I help you?"
"Get me loads of good veggie stuff for dinner tonight."
"Sure sure. Just leave it to me."
"Arios. We're taking a seven day break starting tomorrow."
"Please say that again."
"Take a seven day break. Rest your body and mind. We'll get back to dungeon diving right after."