That night, Roa stayed at the trading company in a room that Coralde assigned him.
After having a meal in the company’s staff cafeteria, he had been led to this room.
The room, prepared exclusively for Roa, was to be used to concoct magic potions.
It was far larger than the medicine room in Crack of Dawn’s mansion, equipped with large racks where Roa could fit items freely.
The racks already included materials for basic magic medicine, so it was possible to start creating regular magic potions immediately. The table was also very wide, making it easy to work on it.
All the concoction and alchemy tools lined on the table were brand new, without a single hair or stain.
There was even a magic tool that could be used to record the work performed in the room. It was black, palm-sized, and hemispherical in shape, and it allowed one to record and even re-watch all work performed in the room, without the need to take notes.
In a small room connected to this one, there was a bed and a table. Roa was told that it could be used to take a rest during work, but it was much better furnished than the storeroom that Roa had used as living quarters in the party’s mansion.
Coralde had told Roa that he could freely use it as lodging if he didn’t have anywhere else to go, so he decided to live there as long as he worked for Coralde.
“Okay then, I should start by making the necessary magic potions for the material gathering expedition.”
Roa whispered to himself as he started working. He decided he would do everything he could to repay his debt of gratitude to Coralde.
After the commotion in the hall, the adventurers’ guild did not accept the request too smoothly, but it ultimately went through somehow. The guild staff that had guided them in the beginning panicked because of his repeated failings, so he couldn’t properly handle the matter anymore, and the guildmaster had to take over.
The guildmaster did not say anything about the presence of All-Rounder Roa but, when he heard the contents of the request, he mentioned it would be difficult to accept.
When Coralde mentioned his conditions, the guildmaster said that even if they accepted the request, he didn’t know if there was any party that would agree to undertake it.
The conditions were that “the request was for A rank adventurers only”, “All materials from magic beasts, plants, minerals etc found during the expedition would be bought by Coralde’s company,” and that the “All-Rounder Roa was not to be looked down upon.”
The first 2 conditions were often placed for escort missions of chemists or alchemists in dangerous areas, escort missions for researchers’ expeditions, and other similar types. The last one, however, was the real obstacle.
The world of adventurers was a meritocracy. In the case of escort missions for chemists or alchemists, and especially researchers, these professions were far from the adventurers’ specialties, so even if they looked down on them, they would never openly despise them or treat them badly. The adventurers knew that the people they escorted had a different set of skills than them, which reined their feelings of discrimination.
If the person to be escorted was someone like Roa, who used to be an adventurer like them and stagnated seven years in the rock-bottom All-Rounder job, things would be completely different. Since he was active in the same sphere as theirs, they knew he was far inferior to them.
Even if they knew that he was related to the requesting party and was to be protected, they would look down on him subconsciously and might abandon him in an emergency.
Many adventurers were rowdy types: it could even be said that without the possibility to work as adventurers, they would likely end up being criminals. It was difficult to demand them to not look down on someone they perceived as inferior to them.
This was especially true for adventurers who had reached A rank.
The guildmaster asked Coralde to give up on the request if no party rose to undertake it and demanded a higher reward than regular escort missions. Coralde agreed to pay and the request was finally accepted.
When Roa started working on his magic potions, Coralde was working on some documents in his office. He was not one to let paperwork pile up, but because of the encounter with Roa his plans for the day had changed completely, so he had papers to take care of before the next day.
If I didn’t have to work on this stuff, I could go eat dinner with Roa…
So sighed Coralde, but the speed of his pen did not relent. He was a few sheets away from finishing the mountain of paperwork, when a knock was heard at the door.
“Pardon me. Master, is it not time for you to take a small break? I have taken the liberty of preparing you some tea.”
A middle-aged maid in a uniform with subdued colors entered the room.
“I only have a few more papers to check and sign, so I’ll have it when I’m done.”
“Understood. I will make preparations, then.”
The maid brought a cart with a tea set in the room and started making tea. Only the sound of Coralde’s pen on the paper could be heard: the maid placed the teacup on the table with barely a sound, a clear sign of her expertise in that profession.
“….how is Roa doing?”
Coralde asked, his eyes still fixed on the documents.
“He started working on magic potions as soon as he entered the room.”
“Hmm. My long-standing question might finally be answered tomorrow, then…”
“Your question, master?”
The maid’s expression slightly mellowed while she continued preparing the tea.
She knew that her master was in a good mood when he made meaningful statements like that, as well as that he was eager to tell someone about it. She was always the listener in such cases, as she had served for the longest time of anyone else in the company and her lips were tightly sealed.
“The secret of Mr. Roa’s magic potions. The ones he creates are all at least 20% more effective than the ones sold in the market.”
“20%, you say?”
“10% for low-level healing magic potions, 20% for medium-level potions, even 25% for high-level ones. 20% on average.”
“….that’s, quite amazing…”
Magic potions were only effective when they were created with a fixed ratio of materials and a fixed method. Even if a very effective medicinal herb was used in great quantity, the effect of the resulting potion would not change. Because of this, it was common for all magic potions to have similar effects.
“In the beginning, I thought he used a different method. Well, to be fair, his recipes are a little different. When a chef cooks a stew, they are careful to take out any impurities, right? Or when they remove impurities from herbs with straw ashes. Washing the herbs well before cooking, removing the hardest stalks…he adapts these methods when creating magic potions, taking out any unneeded elements.”
“Cooking methods? It is true that we do things like that, but…does it change things so much?”
“It does indeed. Our magic potions are said to be more effective than normal ones, aren’t they? That’s because we imitated Roa’s style. I was skeptical too when he first told me how he created them. He said he didn’t do anything special and told me that while we were chatting, so I think he has no idea about the effects. When I tried it, however, the effects of the potions were increased, without a doubt.”
Coralde then stood up. He was finally done with his paperwork. Moving away from the table, he sat down on the sofa. As soon as he did, the maid poured his tea, with perfect timing.
“I made herb tea for you today. Citrus tea, to be precise.”
A faint fruity scent emanated from the teacup. Coralde looked at it and smiled.
“This too was made with a recipe Roa created.”
Looking at the surprised maid, a satisfied look appeared on Coralde’s face.
”The citrus grass we grew as insect repellent got a bit out of hand, you see. It was a waste to throw them away, so he tried making tea out of it, could you imagine that? He sure has bizarre ideas at times. He asked me to not spread the word, but our company has already benefited from Roa’s ideas in more ways than one actually.”
Coralde took a sip and the tea’s faint sourness and pleasant scent spread in his mouth.
“Anyway, back on topic. We started making magic potions using Roa’s method, but our alchemists could only create potions with 10% more effectiveness at most. Even if they imitated Roa’s methods and perfected them, nothing has changed.”
Other merchants would probably be satisfied even by that 10% and stop the research, seeing as R&D required a surprising amount of funds. Though, Coralde was different.
“So I started thinking that Roa had to have some other secret other than the method he told me about. I asked him to tell me about it, after proper compensation, but he maintained that he didn’t have any such secret. I tried offering more and more money, but I just ended up putting him on the spot.”
“Is that so…”
“It really looked like he wasn’t hiding anything. My instinct as a merchant told me so at least. I think that even he isn’t aware of his secret…isn’t it the same for you too?”
The maid was confused because of the sudden question.
“Even if a group of people does the same kind of work, with the same methods, some are nimbler, quicker than others, right? Even with the same ingredients, used in the same quantities, some cooks make more delicious dishes, right? Even if you ask them how they do it, many can’t explain it.”
“That is true. I find it difficult to teach my line of work sometimes too.”
The maid focused on her role as a listener. She hadn’t seen her master in such a good mood for a long time.
“I kept waiting…normally, I would have used money or other methods to bring him to my side. But he wouldn’t fall to such methods.”
Coralde was supposed to be talking about how tough it was to wait so long, but he looked simply amused.
“I thought that he was the type that would disappear from my sight if I used forceful methods…even if I did, he was still yearning to become an adventurer…or rather, fixated on it. As long as that didn’t disappear from within him, his talent could be crushed I thought. And today, the chance I waited for for so many years has finally arrived…”
Coralde was looking in the distance as if he was staring at something very dear.
“All the work performed in that room will be recorded by a magic tool. …I asked Roa for permission first, of course. Even then, he was happy, since he didn’t have to take notes of the most complex tasks. The tools he will use are the same ones we use: if we compare the potions he will create with ours, we should be able to finally uncover his secrets.”
Coralde’s hand holding the teacup trembled slightly. The opportunity he had been waiting for many long years had finally arrived: he couldn’t help being emotional.
“…Roa is a talented young man. He also lacks many important talents though.”
Coralde noticed his hand was shaking and held the teacup with both hands, as if to confirm the warmth of the herb tea.
“He lacks the ability to gauge his own talent, the ability to know its limits, the ability to know when to quit. But that might be exactly why he could grow his talent so much…”
The pleasant scent of the herb tea swirled around Coralde’s cheeks.