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The Search for Sweetness and The Inspection to the North (Part 2)

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Author: Sasaki Ichiro Original Source: Syosetu
Translator: Mab English Source: Re:Library
Editor(s): Silva

“Sweet things? Sugar is expensive, so we rarely use it. We usually make fruit jam as a substitute. On rare occasions, we find a hive of honeybees, so we also eat some honey.”1

On the afternoon of Mirror Day (Saturday), almost a full week since, Eren, my lady attendant, tried to rack her brain inside the carriage on our way to the northern frontier village. Incidentally, the two maids accompanying me today are Eren and Lana.

The reason is that Eren, as the daughter of the village chief of the western pioneer village, is acquainted with the chief of the northern pioneer village, and Lana, prior to becoming a slave, used to live in a mountainous village. She might notice something I would miss… well, that’s the official reason anyway. In truth, Monika gave her seal of approval, saying “They’re somehow half-usable together” once they’re out of detention, so I brought them with me as a package deal.

The three of us ride in the same carriage. The other carriage, the one ahead of us, is occupied by Curtiss the butler. My Sirius familiar, Vier, is running parallel to our carriage, and we have around 10 guards and a party of 5 adventurers as our guide. They all mounted their own horses and emus.

We have been traveling this way for a little more than half a day. Except for lunch and a rest stop along the way, there wasn’t much activity to do in the carriage. Hence, before I knew it, the conversation returned to the sweeteners that I brought up with Ms. Christy the other day. I asked Eren if she knew of anything sweet, and her answer was almost the same as Beatrice’s.

“…so it’s like that, after all.”
“That’s pretty much it, milady. Another sweet thing would be…ah, right. The peddler who often comes to the village usually sells us starch syrup. They were the highlight of my day.”
“Starch syrup, you say? How do you even make that…?”
“Beats me. It was thick and gooey, so maybe you make it like you would a fruit jam?”
““Hmm.””

Starch syrup sounds like something I can use in my recipe, but I’ve never thought of trying to make one before, and Eren isn’t in the know as well. We both could do nothing but groan together.

♢♦♢♦♢

Meanwhile, the seedy-looking black-haired peddler was selling penny candy to children as they watched him putting on a paper picture story.

“Come one, come all. These sauce senbei go well with Worcestershire sauce. Starch syrup is just a lump of sugar mixed in starch water, so make sure to brush your teeth, okay~? Also, you, boy! You can’t watch for free. Come get your candy.”

After the peddler sold enough candied fruits, starch syrup, and sauce crackers to the children, he started the paper picture theater in high spirits.

“Now then, our protagonist, who previously had lost 80% of all his savings in algorithmic stock trading, finally made the forbidden decision to try his hand at foreign exchanges! Humans tend to change their focus when they are losing. Let’s all be careful, good boys and girls! But, oh, our protagonist, yearning to go to the moon by relying entirely on algorithmic stock trading without understanding the fundamentals and economic indicators, has run into a devastating trap! His excessive use of leverage leads him to unexpected peril! Truly a development that keeps us on the edge of our seats.”

“…no matter how much I listen to him, this uncle keeps telling the weirdest stories.”
“But somehow, it feels like he’s teaching us something really important.”
“Aren’t all adults like that?”

Contrary to the animated peddler narrating through his paper pictures, the children looked at him blankly, merely nodding along to whatever sound effect he produced with his mouth, licking their candies.

♢♦♢♦♢

“Ah.”

As we were contemplating, Lana, who had been longingly looking at the mountains outside the windows, suddenly raised a small voice.

““?””

Eren and I gave Lana questioning looks, making the little fox girl blush and shake her head from side to side.

“Don’t be afraid to say it, Lana. If something is on your mind, tell me. Anything is fine.”

(This chapter is provided to you by Re:Library)

(Please visit Re:Library to show the translators your appreciation!)

Lana seemed to hesitate for a while but soon made up her mind and spoke up. “…sweet liquid. I just remembered that my sister and I used to gather some sweet liquid from trees and lick it.”

“Tree…you mean, sap? I don’t think tree sap is sweet, though…”

Eren didn’t look convinced, but Lana shook her head strongly in disagreement.

“It’s sweet, even sweeter than honey.”
“Is there even a tree sap that’s sweet like that?”
“Yup!”

Eren asked again, somewhat skeptical. At which, Lana nodded emphatically. As I watched them, everything suddenly clicked in my head.

  1. Pancake;
  2. Incomplete;
  3. Sweet liquid from a tree

“—!!”

Now, I don’t know if the thing Lana meant is the same thing I knew back on Earth. Still, I asked her just to make sure I was on the right track.

“Say, Lana? Does the tree it comes from have leaves shaped like this?”

I showed her my hand, fingers spread out as wide as I could. After pondering for a moment, trying to recall her memory, she nodded, albeit with some uncertainty.

“The leaves were a bit rugged and bigger…but yeah, they’re like that. Also, they turn red when it gets cold.”

A wave of excitement washed over me as I heard her answer. If the leaves turn red as autumn approaches, then I might be onto something significant.

“What’s the matter, milady? You look delighted.”
“How can I not be?! This could possibly solve our sweetener conundrum once and for all!”
“Eh, is that true?! As expected of you, Lady Jill…!”

Eren looked positively thrilled, but we had practically stumbled upon this possibility by chance. Not to mention, if the trees didn’t grow in the nearby mountains, then it would be meaningless either way.

“…did I help you, Lady Jill?”
“You did!”

Lana looked up at me timidly, and I gently stroked her head in response.

While I’m fairly certain similar sweet-tasting sap can be obtained from other species of trees, I’m hopeful we can find the right one here.

“I hope we can get some…maple syrup, during our visit.”
“Maple syrup, is it?”

Eren echoed my words, eliciting a smile from me. I caught a glimpse of a series of crude wooden settlements in the direction we were heading. That must be the northern pioneer village.

(This chapter is provided to you by Re:Library)

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(Village of Red Leaves, is it…)

Maple syrup is produced from the sap of the sugar maple. I scanned the surrounding mountains, hoping to spot some growing in the wild.


Author’s note:

I thought about various sweeteners, but in the end, I settled on boiled-down maple syrup (´・ω・`)

Sugar maple sap isn’t actually sweet, unless you boil and concentrate it.



 

Footnotes:

  1. Mab: Surprisingly, beekeeping isn’t as rare back then. Yes, honey is a treat, but the main income is the beeswax bees produce. They make candles and wax seals you see on letters.
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