Chapter 28 – Picking quest

I look outside as the scenery runs past me in the shaking wagon.
The sound of a rattling wooden box is the soundtrack of this journey.

Riding on the back of the wagon are me, five other adventurers, and a wooden box to fill with medicinal herbs.
In the driver’s seat is the driver and an adventurer guarding him.

“Do you think the rainy season is almost here?”

“I guess, but I sure hope it waits until we get back.
Camping in the rain is no fun.”

So the concept of rain does exist in this world.
Is it just luck that it hasn’t rained so far?

I’ll be spending the night here to do the picking quest.

There are several spots to pick medicinal herbs not far from each other, so we’ll split up to pick them.

Of course, that means I’m picking alone.
I made it very clear I wouldn’t do it otherwise.
That might have left them with a bad impression of me, but it’s not even a designated quest anyway, so I have the right to choose.

“We’ll come by here just past noon tomorrow.
Make sure you’re here.”

The wagon stops by a tree that’s going to serve as a landmark.
I jump down and nod.

I watch the wagon go until it’s out of my sight, and go pick right away.

I understand how demanding I’m being, so I need to show results too.

It takes me about two hours to walk to the medicinal herbs.
This is a grassy plain with good visibility, so I’ll know right away if something is coming.
On the other hand, it also makes it easy to spot me.

I activate Map and Presence Detection.

It doesn’t seem like anyone is near.

I walk around the grassy plain with Appraisal active.

Today I’m going to be picking magic energy herbs and vitality herbs, but mostly focus on medicinal herbs.

There are usually more medicinal herbs than the others anyway, so I only have to walk for a bit before I find one.

I was told it’s all right if I pick by the root.
Does it have to do with the rain?

Medicinal herbs are plants, so I’m guessing they work the same in this world, and grow if they get water.

I’m completely focused on picking, and before I know it, the sun has gone down quite a bit.

I remember I need to at least find a good place to sleep before it gets dark, so I start looking around.

I look for a hollow spot, and find a nice one a bit far from here.

They were talking about rain, so I make a simple roof with the sheet, and take advantage of the hollow to protect myself from the rain and wind.

I’ve picked about eighty percent of what I planned to pick, but they said they’re going to pay more the more I pick, so I’m going to pick as much as time permits.

That said, it’s hard to do it after the sun has gone down.
The light from Basic daily Life Magic doesn’t improve visibility all that much.
I could probably do it if I had light magic, but…

I start a fire, and get to cooking.

I pour water on a pot, and a kind of portable food specifically made to make soup that I created and prepared yesterday.

The bread I have was bought from a store and kept with Storage Magic, so I take it out and take a bite.
It doesn’t have the effect to stop time or anything, so I hold it over the fire a bit.
That is enough to make a big difference in how it tastes.
Then I spread some butter and eat it.

I’m done eating, so now I just have to go to sleep.
I use Purification from Basic Daily Life Magic on myself, and get ready to go to sleep.

But before I do, I activate Map and Presence Detection.
I think I’m fine, because I’m keeping Presence Detection active, but I use it along with Map just to be sure.

And then, even though Presence Detection didn’t pick it up, there is a reaction on the map.

The blinking light doesn’t look stable, but a red dot appears on the map from time to time.

“What is this…”

This sudden occurrence stops me dead in my tracks.

I look at the map for a while, and when I calm down, I stop being so alarmed and try to relax.

If someone’s watching me, they could also sense that I’m alerted.

From what I can see on the map, they’re not moving.

I stay put for a while, and eventually it disappears.

After thinking about what to do, I decide to set up a simple trap.
This isn’t necessarily to catch whoever is watching, it’s more to hinder their approach.
I try to make it seem like I’m just looking out for monsters, in a way that doesn’t raise any alarms.

Now I just have to get Parallel Thinking working to its fullest while I sleep.

A faint sound wakes me up, I guess because I wasn’t sleeping very deeply due to the mysterious observer or whatever it was.

I call out Map again and use Presence Detection, but nothing shows up.
But is it because whatever it was isn’t there, or because they’re just very good at hiding? Was that reaction from yesterday an error?

An ominous shade is cast on me, and when I relax and look up, I see the sky is covered with gloomy looking clouds, and it starts to gently rain.

I eat breakfast quickly, get my things, and start picking medicinal herbs again.

The plan was to pick as much as time permitted, but now I’m aiming for the amount I had in mind.

I walk around the grassy plain, praying for the rain to not get stronger.

I’m in a hurry, but I don’t want to get sloppy.
If I pick them and they can’t be used, it will all be for nothing.

As I start to get the feeling it must be around noon, I stop picking.

I activate Map, but don’t see a reaction of the wagon.
I think I still have some time, but the rain is getting a little stronger, so I decide to end it here.

I go to the tree where I’m supposed to meet them, stretch some rope and use the sheet to make a shelter against the rain near the tree.

I get a rock so I don’t have to sit directly on the ground, and use it as a chair.

I take off the robe, hang it from a branch, and start a fire to warm myself.

The robe is waterproof, so I’m not wet, but the temperature is dropping, and I’m feeling a little chilly.

I heat up some soup to warm my body from the inside, and take a deep breath with my stomach full.

While I’m resting, a reaction being displayed on the map gets closer.

“So you really are here.
Did you stop early because of the rain too?”

Asks the driver of the wagon.

Apparently they came back sooner than the appointed time.

I don’t confirm or deny it, and put my stuff in the wooden box, before retrieving the sheet and rope, and putting on the robe.

I enter the wagon, and the other adventurers seem exhausted.

I’d feel bad making them use their strength to talk, so I just say hello and sit in an empty space.

And as if waiting for me to sit, the wagon takes off.
I really can’t get used to how much it shakes.


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