Chapter 14: Let’s grow Mash Mushroom
「Ah, it’s troublesome… 」
I was walking down the street while I let on a depressive sigh. At the Guild’s meeting the other day, my older brother warned me that the Lord noticed that my performance hasn’t been great lately. Well, I knew that. But to tell the truth, I wanted to live a slow life.
It was not safe if I were to go on quests or adventures. All of the other adventurers ventured out further away and accomplished many remarkable feats. Of course, they had high expectations of me as well. But when I thought about it carefully, I deeply envied Kyou’s life. Since he managed to cultivate monsters successfully. His life was already self-sufficient. I always felt envious when I got up in the morning. And I always felt sad when I went to sleep.
Speaking of work, it was farm-based work, but it gave a rewarding feeling, it gave life a purpose. The monsters he raised provided a variety of food. He had a lot of work to do in the field. It was challenging but gratifying. I sympathized with his life at first. But now, I wanted to have a life just like his’.
However, it was true that my performance had recently decreased because of my interest in Kyou’s work. This was a bit bothersome to me, but I had to improve my evaluation by doing more achievements. Maybe I’ll have to defeat some random demon for the sake of it? I couldn’t stop being worried about killing monsters for unnecessary means.
I was walking immersed on my thoughts when I crossed paths with someone who was coming out of John’s restaurant.
「That person is… 」
Why was that person here? As I questioned myself, I suddenly remembered that the cooking contest would be held next month on this town. It all made sense to me.
「Lily, do you know where the oldest big tree of this area is? 」
Kyou always asked me questions with a serious tone.
「Old tree? There is an Ent tree* in the inner part of the dense woodland. I think it’s the oldest big tree in this area.」
「Ent! I want to see one! I have high expectations! But what about the Ent temper? 」
「They’re peaceful. Ent is a wise being of the forest rather than a monster itself. It won’t fight back if we don’t attack. I heard many stories about Ent’s helping people that got lost in the forest. There is no one in the world who would attack an Ent unless it’s a cold-blooded adventurer.」
However, Ents didn’t provide anything to eat. Among the plant-type monsters, there were many monsters with delicious roots and fruits. We could eat the fruits of Killer Plants, Mandragora, and so on. But not the Ents. If someone killed an Ent, there was almost nothing to obtain as a reward. Even so…
「I see. So it’s not dangerous but peaceful. That gets pretty convenient. Okay! Lily, please show me the way right now! I want to know where the Ent is! 」
「Eh!? Right now!? 」
After he heard the additional information about the Ents, he was too motivated as he pushed me to go to the forest with him. Did he really hear my story? He won’t be able to eat Ents or anything they produce.
But this boy has always had different views and goals than most of us. He had high expectations and lots of curiosity. Before I knew it, I was headed to the Ent tree led by Kyou.
「Ho Ho Ho, I see. You’re a very peculiar human with an interesting request. I’ve been living for a thousand years, but this is the first time I’ve ever done a strange request like yours. You can do whatever you want.」
「Thank you very much, Lord Ent! 」
There was a gigantic living tree, an Ent, right in front of me. This tree was laughing pleasantly while it bowed its branches in agreement when it heard Kyou’s words. I was listening to Kyou’s request too, but I couldn’t understand it.
Can that really be possible to achieve? I had some doubts, but Kyou was confident as always. Anyways, even if I had some question marks on my head, I still smiled with some assured attitude because… well, it was Kyou that we were talking about.
「Okay, let me show you some results within a month. 」
It was required a number of days for Mash Mushroom’s to mature.
「Amazing…What’s this…? Is this really a Mash Mushroom…? 」
「It’s so fragrant. I can sense a very strong luxurious smell from it even though I didn’t cook any yet!」
Mina and I we’re both surprised by Kyou’s achievement. But this was really on another level.
「To be honest, I thought we had about 50% odds of success. But I’m glad it worked out well in the end. Perhaps this is the world’s only high-grade Mash Mushroom from an Ent tree. The Ent Mushroom!」
Ent Mushroom. Yes, during that time, he was planting the Mash Mushroom in the ground near the Ent’s roots.
The Mash Mushroom was a mushroom-typed monster. They grew from the carcasses of organisms or rotten trees. It was considered a beneficial monster created by nature to accelerate the decomposition of the so-called corpse. Because of this, they were dependent of extra factors to start growing, but autonomous after they grew up. They were basically harmless. However, they had an instinct for self-defense if they felt some sort of menace.
But, as I said before, this monster role was to evolve and accelerate de decomposition process of the remains of plants and animals. People believed that mushrooms appeared from the ground, but it would be impossible. So, at first I didn’t quite understand why Kyou was burying it in the ground. Yet, after a while, I went to meet that Ent tree and the buried mushrooms grew from the vicinity of the tree’s roots.
「I saw a special edition of mushrooms a long time ago. That edition explained that there are two types of mushrooms, Rot Fungus and Mycorrhiza. I thought that the mushrooms from this world belonged to the Rot Fungus bacteria. However, Mash Mushroom grows into various kinds of mushrooms depending on the environment. So, I thought that maybe there were some mushrooms from Mycorrhiza symbiosis. It was a brilliantly bingo!」
He used words that I didn’t understand well, such as Rot Fungus, bacteria and Mycorrhiza symbiosis. Maybe he meant that Rot Fungus were Mash Mushroom born from dead animals and plants? So, what he did around the Ent tree was the Mycorrhiza then.
「I remembered from watching a tv program that seasonal mushrooms were Mycorrhiza. Then, they showed where the pine mushrooms came from, but I never thought that information would be useful one day. Who knew? Anyways, I remembered that and I wanted to try. I want Mina to cook them no matter what!」
After he said that, we went back to the cottage. Kyou put on the top of the table lots of different ingredients. It was the fruits of the Killer Plant, Jack O’ Lantern, Devil Carrots, Cockatrice’s eggs and meat, and finally, Mash Mushrooms varieties such as Ent Mushrooms.
「Yes! Delicious! A pickled fruit from the Killer Plant and the sauce from the Cockatrice’s meat are an excellent combination! But more than anything else, this Ent Mushroom tastes way better than I imagined!」
After that, Mina cooked the Ent Mushroom endlessly. She did many trials to find a way not to lose its unique aroma. After a while, she grilled some mushroom shoots and served it with a creamy soup. The taste was so rich that it couldn’t be compared with ordinary Mash Mushrooms. The big difference was, above all, in the flavor.
When I smelled the dishes she was cooking, I wanted to eat all the food without having second thoughts. My stomach was also growling with hunger.
I thought that the taste was the most rewarding and important part in cooking. But I never knew that I would get this infatuated by smell alone. It was very stimulating.
The Cockatrice’s eggs and meat I ate after Mina cooked were several times tastier.
「Thank you very much! But this is all thanks to Mister Kyou! I have amazing high-quality ingredients to cook with!」
「Ah, thanks! Mina, your place will secure victory with these dishes! 」
We were happily with the cooking result, but somehow, the mood changed a bit afterwards. Because she knew. Yes, she knew that it would be impossible to win against that kind of opponent.
「I will probably lose in the next cooking contest. It’s impossible to beat the Gourmet Hero.」
3/4 Last one for today coming up!
*The Ents were sentient, ancient humanoid beings that resembled trees and protected other life plant forms.