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Chapter 4

Zoltan’s Rit

The day after, we went shopping.

As I made breakfast for the two of us, I thought back to how much my day-to-day life had changed in the past couple weeks. I had been living in a cheap little town house in the blue-collar part of town, but now I had the apothecary of my dreams. The princess who had been one of my companions back in the day had forced her way into my home and was living with me, and here I was in the kitchen, making breakfast for two.

“Life’s a strange thing.”

If someone had asked me way back whether I could have imagined a future like this, the answer would have most definitely been no. I could have seen a future fighting against the demon lord with Ruti in the Hero’s party, or a future keeping the capital’s peace as the second-in-command of the Bahamut Knights, or even a future where I became a noble with a modest amount of land covering the village where I was born and the surrounding territory… But running an apothecary with a princess in Zoltan of all places…

“Not that this is bad, though.”

I set the food on the two plates. Drawn by the scent, Rit jerked herself up from bed, still looking sleepy.


Rit being with me and saying things like that with her carefree smile had already become a small source of happiness for me.


We had taken care of pretty much all the shopping yesterday, which meant that today was:

“Taking care of the approval for Red’s medicine.”

“I’m not a big fan of calling it that, though. Doesn’t red medicine evoke a dangerous sort of feeling?”

Crimson medicine, a red drug. No matter how you put it, it sounded foreboding.

“Then how about Redrit medicine? Which reminds me, we need to get the store’s sign changed.”

“Were you serious about changing it to Red & Rit’s Apothecary? If we change the store’s name, you can’t go quitting on me later, you know,” I joked.

“Does that mean you’ll have me stay here forever?” Rit fired back with a playful grin.

“Okay, I get it. We can go by the sign shop, too,” I responded with a smile. “That and the approval for the new anesthetic. I already bought the silver tableware for the gift, so all that’s left is to head over.”

“It would be better to have a letter of introduction, but I can use my connections to take care of that side of things.”

“How like you, Rit, always on top of things. Thanks, that will help.” In such a situation, it was best that I just accepted the help the blond girl offered. Rit was the top adventurer in Zoltan, so she had a lot of clout.

“You’re better at the actual negotiations, though, right?”

“Yep, leave it to me.”


I had felt confident about my ability to work out an agreement, but…

“Absolutely not!”

I was rejected point-blank. There wasn’t even any room for negotiations.

Dan, a middle-aged man with a bit of a gut, was the official working for the council that adjudicated the approval of new medicines. Maybe he was tired, but his face seemed haggard despite being a bit chubby, and there were bags under his eyes.

“Please, wait. My medicine is a safe alternative with reduced dependence. Can’t we at least talk this through a bit first?”

“I don’t need to talk anything through. Take your gift and leave!”

Up until after he had taken the letter of introduction from the high-level bureaucrat that Rit knew, Dan had maintained a business smile, even if he couldn’t totally hide his lack of interest. But as soon as I started to talk about the actual point of the visit—the medicine—his attitude changed dramatically.

“Is there some kind of problem?”

“I-it’s got nothing to do with you.”

I knew the official’s sudden change in mood wasn’t because of us. The shift only happened after he heard we were there to get approval for a new medicine. From that, it wasn’t hard to guess something was up, but the crucial point of why he refused the application wasn’t clear.

I should have gathered a bit more information beforehand.

I never would have guessed it would end up like this, and I didn’t know anything about Dan. Even if I tried to negotiate, I didn’t have any sort of position from which to attack.

Huh, am I getting complacent after leaving the front lines? I’ve lost my edge.

Living a life as someone who just gathered herbs every day had definitely worn away at some of my capabilities. Skills granted by a blessing could never be lost, but your own ability to judge when and how to use them definitely dulled without regular practice.

After Rit had gone to all that trouble to get me a letter of introduction, it was a shame for it to go to waste, but there wasn’t anything we could do. We left the reception office.

“What was that about?!” Rit wondered, indignant.

Actually, there was a moment in there where she was seething and seemed about ready to grab Dan by the collar. If I hadn’t held out a hand to stop her, and also taken the reins by asserting our position, Rit might have resorted to using her strength to wring an approval out of the poor man. Despite growing up a princess, she was the kind of person who had trouble finding the patience for lengthy discussions.

“I’ve really gotten weak. That wasn’t something that could be resolved with negotiations.”

The first thing I needed to do was investigate the real reason he had rejected us. It probably wouldn’t take that long, but…having stepped away from those kinds of adventures already, it was honestly a pain in the ass.

“Then let’s try asking his boss,” Rit suggested.

“His boss? …Yeah, I guess so.”

Right, I had Rit on my side. I’d just have to use her status as the top adventurer in these parts as much as I could.


“It’s an honor to have a visit from the one and only Miss Rit.”

Rudolf, the head of the department in charge of rules and regulations regarding commerce and industry, was a man in the middle of his life with a bit of gray hair starting to show. He was smiling amiably, as if genuinely happy to meet the young adventurer.

“The truth is that I’m working with Red now, and there was something I wanted to ask about, if you didn’t mind.”

“Ohhh? Miss Rit, famous for her solo work, is teaming up? I can’t wait to see what comes of it. Mr.…Red was it? It’s an honor to meet you.”

There was no need for me to mention here that I was a D-rank adventurer. I just flashed a vague smile as I took his outstretched hand.

“Anyway, we came to inquire about getting approval for the sale of a new drug to be used as an anesthetic, but we were rejected by the man in charge of overseeing the approval.”

“Ah, I understand,” Rudolf said, nodding apologetically. “I’m quite sorry about that, but your timing is a bit unfortunate for that sort of request.”

“I guess something really has happened, then?”

“As expected of Miss Rit, I suppose. Yes, as you say, there’s been a bit of a problem. It’s not really something to be talking about where others might hear, so I’d like to ask you to keep this to yourselves.”

“Of course.”

Rit and I both nodded in affirmation before Rudolf continued.

“About a month ago, a medicine that Dan approved turned out to have a powerful narcotic effect if it was prepared slightly differently, and in the shadows, it has been spreading like wildfire among our poorest residents. Even some among the nobility have started using it.”

“A drug that was approved a month ago?” I asked.

I was a little confused by that. Even though I was stocking my own medicines, I would have guessed Newman or one of the other doctors would have mentioned a new drug.

“I suppose you’re familiar with medicines, Mr. Red? Even so, it’s not surprising you wouldn’t know about it. A large amount of the drug was prepared outside Zoltan before it was approved. As soon as the approval was granted, it was all brought in and then apparently immediately sold to people who had already reserved orders of it. The intent was to sell it as a narcotic from the very start, it seems.”

“Really? It would seem like, after going to all that work to get the approval, selling it that way would obviously lead to regulation, even if it did earn a big initial profit. I would think a continuing stream of sales would be hard to maintain.”

“Yes, it’s quite the puzzle. Perhaps it’s just the shortsightedness of a novice herbalist. Anyway, it has been quite the black eye and a bit of a problem for us, so Dan has been working day and night to deal with the fallout while receiving no small amount of reprimand himself.”

That explained it, then. Secretly, I had been more than a little angry with that chubby man, but I was able to sympathize a bit more after having learned of his position. It must have been rough. I wanted to make a point of having the next medicine I came to him for approval be something to settle a nervous stomach.

“Since it’s you making the request, Miss Rit, I’m sure there won’t be a problem. Could you let me see the paperwork? I’ll take care of the approval myself.”

“Really?! Thank you very much!”

We ended up getting the approval rather easily from an unexpected source. Rit’s influence was really something.

…I had known, of course, but it was still a little depressing. Back during my adventures, I had been in charge of negotiations. It stung a bit to know that this was all I could accomplish without the influence that came with being a member of the Hero’s party.

We showed Rudolf the documents regarding the medicine, he double-checked that there weren’t any problems, and he issued the official endorsement.

With that, I could at last sell my medicine without issue.


After leaving the council building, my shoulders slumped a bit as we walked.

“Sorry, all I could do was rely on you for everything.”

Even though I had said I would take care of the negotiations myself, in the end, Rit had been the one who got it done. I couldn’t help being a little disappointed in myself.

In response, the young woman, who walked ahead of me, turned around and shook her head.

“All I’ve done is rely on you for cooking. Does that bother you? Do you cook because you want me to apologize?”

“…Of course not.”

“Red, I’m glad I could help you out. There’s absolutely no reason to apologize. I’ll help you as often as you need me to from now on. I’d do anything for you.”

Mentally, I was rather taken aback at the unexpectedly straightforward affection. Rit paused, too, while the two of us faced each other. I wasn’t so uncouth as to ask her why she would go that far for me.

“Thank you, Rit. I… I, uh… I guess this means I’ll be counting on you in the future as well.”


Drawn in by Rit’s cheerful smile, I ended up smiling, too.


“It will take a bit of time until word about the effects of the new medicine spreads,” Rit said.

That night, we sat at the living room table, discussing how best to increase sales for the shop.

“Though, the first question is whether a new anesthetic will even sell at all,” I added.

“Yeah, it would be good to have another drug with a more obvious effect that people would want to buy.”

“That’s easy to say, but…”

All I had was the first-tier preparation skill. There was a limit to the medicines I could prepare.

“I’ve got a wide breadth of knowledge but no specialized skills. There isn’t a medicine I know of that fits such a convenient niche.”


What I had that other apothecaries didn’t was that I didn’t have to worry about monsters while gathering herbs. I could also reach the mountain in a few minutes when it would otherwise take someone a day, maybe half a day if they had put a normal amount of points into a skill that increased movement speed. It was a big advantage, but without a difference in the medicines themselves, that wouldn’t lead to a significant increase in sales.

“At most, it just helps when we actually run low on medicine,” I muttered. In just one day, I could get more than enough of a supply ready to sell, and it would only take half a day if I limited my gathering to what was actually needed.

“Do you have any ideas?” I asked.

“Hmmmm,” Rit mused, closing her eyes.

She was probably connecting with her blessing and checking again if there was anything she could do with the skills she had.

“We could try making a magic potion using spirit magic? I could work on it together with you.”

“Yeah, that might be a possibility. If we advertised it as being made from your magic, it would probably sell among adventurers in Zoltan.”

That said, Rit’s blessing—Spirit Scout—was fundamentally in the Warrior tree. Its magic was more of a trump card, working best as a hidden ace up her sleeve.

“I know my magic isn’t really that strong,” Rit said, looking a little depressed.

She had probably noticed my expression. The blond girl was well aware that her magic was more supplementary than a main feature. That much was obvious from the fact that she used a two-sword style of fighting that occupied both her hands, even though she would have to use her fingers to make a seal to activate her magic skills.

“Other than that… Yeah, I’ve got nothing!” Rit raised both hands, throwing them up in a sign of defeat. Generally speaking, the skills provided by blessings were oriented toward battle. There were hundreds of different weapon skills, but the whole of making medicine was covered by a few tiers of Preparation skills—those being Elementary, Intermediate, and Advanced. It was a rather small number of ranks, despite such a wide variety of curatives.

Blessings were created for the purpose of conflict. That was what the holy church’s clergy taught. If you asked me, that much was clear just from the breadth and depth of combat skills compared with the vaguer tier structure to productive skills. This meant that, when it came to medicine, unless we hired someone with Intermediate Preparation or higher, there wasn’t much else we could do.

“It’s a difficult thing to solve, even though your cooking is so good,” Rit said.

She seemed to be enjoying snacking on the white radish and pickled octopus laid out on the table. Though the girl praised it heavily, all I did was boil the octopus before pickling it. Then I sprinkled some salt on the radish. It was because of my Cooking skill that even simple dishes turned out pretty well.

“Maybe that’s it? Maybe you could sell food out of the apothecary?”

“Don’t be silly. All I have is Elementary Cooking, and it’s just level one at that. There’s no way I could match up against a professional chef.”

“With how good even this sort of cooking tastes, I think it would probably work.”

“Serving food would mean a ton of extra work. You couldn’t call this place busy, but it’s not so little work that I can do an entirely different job at the same time, too.”

“I guess so. Too bad,” Rit responded, looking disappointed.

But an apothecary serving food… That was something I had never heard of. I started to laugh a little subconsciously, but then…

“An apothecary that serves food?” Something about what Rit said had piqued my interest, and I started thinking about it.

“What is it? Are you really considering running a restaurant, too?”

“No, not that… But there is something I want to try,” I said as I stood up. Rit seemed interested, following along behind me while asking what I had hit upon.

I took some powdered immune-system-boosting herbs. Usually, the plant was used as a preventive against fatigue and sickness and was fairly effective in treating colds and other mild illnesses. However, its taste was extremely bitter. It was the kind of medicine you’d want to give children with weaker immune systems, but it wasn’t uncommon for them to throw it back up after drinking it because of how awful it tasted.

I dissolved a little bit of the powder in some water and mixed it in with some apple jam. Then I took the jam and spread it around a pie crust and put it in the oven. Thanks to my Elementary Preparation skill, I could protect the active ingredient from the heat. And thanks to my Elementary Cooking skill, I could arrange the dish so the bitter taste of the medicine would help bring out the jam’s sweetness. It took only ten minutes to bake the crust.

“I think I could use medicine as an ingredient in cooking!”

Rit looked utterly flummoxed; she hadn’t considered such a thing before. I retrieved the golden-brown pie.

“How about a taste test to see how it worked,” I offered as I cut the pie in half with a knife. It at least looked like a perfectly normal jam pie. Praying for a success, we each took a bite.

“It’s pretty good!” Rit said.

“Yeah, the medicine’s bitterness doesn’t stick out at all like this.”

This way, even a kid wouldn’t have to feel like they were actually taking any awful-tasting medicine.

“With a pie, it won’t keep very long, so maybe I should go with cookies? I’ll give that a shot, too,” I added.

“Then how about baking a bunch of smaller cookies to use for public taste tests? It’s just a nutritional supplement and immune-system booster, so there shouldn’t be any problem if healthy people ate them, too, right?”

“Yeah, that’s a good idea.”

“I’ll go around handing them out tomorrow!”

The two of us locked hands happily. The next day was shaping up to be a fun one.


On the following day, Rit took a basket filled with cookies and spent a few hours handing them out to farmers and adventurers among the northern district and blue-collar parts of Zoltan. While she was doing that, I offered a taste test to the few customers who came by the store.

“The feedback was good!” she reported excitedly.

“Same here,” I responded.

The two of us were beaming as we looked at each other. Whether we would actually be able to sell them was likely to take a while longer to know for sure, though. No sooner had the thought crossed my mind than the bell by the door rang.

“Pardon me.”


A woman who looked a little tired came into the shop. Maribelle, her name was, if I recalled correctly. She was a mother from the laborer side of town.

“I heard that you had a medicine in the form of a cookie here…”

Could business have already been picking up?

“Yes, we do. At the moment, we have a nutrient-enhancement cookie that is effective against colds. Would you like to try a sample?”

“Oh, that bitter medicine…”

I offered her one of the small biscuits. After hesitating for a moment, she steeled herself and bit into it.

“?! That’s good! My daughter might even be able to eat that without throwing up! Even if I mix the medicine with milk, she always has trouble keeping it down, so I was totally at a loss for what to do.” Maribelle beamed, and then she added, “I’d like to buy some, please.”


Apparently, news of the medicine spread quickly by word of mouth. Before nightfall, several customers had stopped in to buy some medicinal cookies.

“I’d like five, please.”

“Of course,” Rit answered.

Standing at the counter, she dexterously wrapped the cookies in bags. There were no more of the smaller taste-testing cookies left. But even without them, seeing one person after the other buying the little things made other customers want to get some, too, and in the blink of an eye, the cookies were selling expeditiously.

In only thirty minutes…

“I’m incredibly sorry, but that was the last of today’s batch. We will be making more tomorrow, though, so please come again.” Rit and I ended up apologizing to the customers as we held up the empty baskets.

Once all the customers had left, the two of us beamed at each other with looks of satisfaction. Then we high-fived.

The cookies were by no means incredibly profitable, but it was gratifying to be able to sell out completely like that. Plus, having so many customers in the shop, which was usually pretty empty, made it feel like I really was running my own business for the first time.

“That’s Red for you! You really are amazing!”

“No, it was only thanks to your advice.”

“Really? …I’m happy to hear that.” Rit’s face turned a little bit red. Something about how she looked was so cute. I couldn’t help myself. I grabbed her and lifted her into the air.


With my shop finally coming into its own, I was a bit over the moon.

“Thanks for being with me, Rit! If it wasn’t for you, I would have just stayed bored and alone behind the counter in an apothecary that no one visited!”

I held Rit up and spun in a circle happily. I’d said something incredibly embarrassing, but at the time, it hadn’t bothered me.

Despite being so assertive when she was making her own pitch, when I was the proactive one, Rit ended up flushing pink shades, not knowing what to do with herself.

“Y-yeah… I think I would have always been alone in Zoltan otherwise, so…I’m glad I could be with you,” Rit mumbled as she turned crimson and hid her cheerful smile behind the blue bandanna around her neck.

Unfortunately for her, I was a battle-hardened former member of the Hero’s party. My Perception skill was pretty high, so I didn’t happen to have the kind of ears that would conveniently miss that line.

“I’m going to remember that, word for word,” I said.

Rit’s face turned a deeper red, and she fell silent in my arms. It was clear she was smiling, even though it was hidden beneath the bandanna. I could tell what she was feeling perfectly well, even without a mind-reading skill.

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