7-Banquets and emerging issues

"It's good to see you, Master Alchemist!

 When he held up a wooden mug filled with waves of amber liquid, I hastily lifted my own.
 The bubbles that had been floating in the air spilled out as I smashed them together.
 As I hurriedly tried to return the mug to its horizontal position, a new one slammed into me from the side.

"Take care of me too, Master!

 A few more people thrust their mugs at me with panicked faces.

Oh, me too!
I'll be counting on you!
I'm counting on you!

 My mug, forced into a toast, is unable to withstand the force of the toast and the contents splash out.
 The men who had been splashing their heads with the toast laughed in unison.

"Oh my God, what are you doing? What are you doing?

 Mr. Ute scolded us from behind the counter, but we looked at each other and lifted our mugs again.
 Then we shouted at each other again.

"Here's to you, Master Alchemist!

 Arriving at the village in the evening, Paula and I moved to the "Barrel of Tomorrow", the only tavern in the village, to have a welcome party as well as a dinner.
 The floor and walls were made of hardened earth, and the ceiling was narrow with exposed beams.
 The counters and tables are made of rough-hewn wood, and the chairs are made of sliced logs.

 It's a crude structure, but it's large enough to hold about thirty people.
 The main participants were the village chief and the other men of the village.
 They must have been very happy to see an alchemist in their village.
 It seems that the whole village welcomed him with open arms.

 When I was in the workshop or at drinking parties in my previous life, I would just sit in the corner and make small talk, but now that I was surrounded like this, there was no way to escape.
 I made up my mind that socializing would be important from now on, and took on the challenge, but surprisingly, I didn't feel bad at all being entertained by so many people, and I enjoyed the atmosphere more than I thought I would, partly because of the excitement of familiar game characters talking in the flesh.
 The problem, however, was...

"There you go, there you go, don't be shy, Master.

 At his suggestion, I gulped down the remaining barley wine in my mug.
 A light bitterness and a hint of carbonation spread in my mouth.
 It sounds good to say that it is light and easy to drink, but to be honest, it is thin.

 The word "malt liquor" makes me think of beer, but in this world, ale is the correct word.
 Ale is also a kind of beer, but it is brewed in a different way from lager, which is a beer commonly drunk in the past.

 Ale is fermented at room temperature.
 Lager is fermented after long-term storage at low temperatures.
 In this world, where the technology to store beer at such low temperature for a long time is lacking, ale is the most common type of beer.

 Ales are also delicious, but they are a little less sharp and full-bodied than lagers, and the carbonation is weaker.
 The difference is more pronounced when the beer is not made properly.

 Furthermore, due to the lack of preservation technology, alcoholic beverages in this world tend to deteriorate quickly and lose their taste.
 In order to compensate for this, they are usually diluted with water.
 The one here is particularly bad, and if it were a tavern in the capital, it would surely be caught by a liquor audit and have its business rights taken away.

 In other words, the light taste is even lighter.

 But in a remote village like this, there is no choice.
 There is almost no distribution at all.

 "Hans, a peddler, is the only person working in the village of the beginning.
 He buys flour, dried fish, dried fruit, etc. here and in nearby villages, and sells them around the capital.
 In return, he buys clothes, accessories, salt, etc., and returns.

 The most popular item is liquor, the biggest entertainment in this village.
 However, the market price of flour itself is not very high, even though it is consumed in large quantities and is in high demand.
 The amount of liquor that can be purchased at the price is said to be about four or five barrels at most.
 Moreover, the quality is quite poor.

 It is inevitable that such precious liquor should be heavily diluted with water.

"Master, please eat all you can. This salted meat is my pig.
I've brought stewed beans. There you go.

 Since the villagers don't have money to spare, they can bring in their own snacks.
 It sounds like simple country cooking, but it's not that good.

 The meat is basically full of salt, or rather, too much salt, and you can only taste the salt.
 This can't be helped because there is no way to preserve it for a long time.
 However, even the salt used in bean dishes is not very salty, so you can get away with eating them together.

 The bread is made of black wheat, which is familiar to poor people.
 They have sold off all the wheat that can be used to bake white, fluffy bread, and they don't have enough for themselves.

 As a person who grew up in the royal city with its many specialties, and even experienced food insatiability in my previous life, I have to admit that it was quite tough.
 However, even though the food was poor, these dishes were the heartfelt hospitality of the villagers.

 As I was trying my best to stuff my mouth with food, the men who were watching over me murmured to me sincerely.

"Master, your face is all scrunched up. You don't have to eat so hard.
You don't have to force yourself to eat it.

 The villagers around me either turned their heads away or turned their heads to the side at his self-deprecating words.
 Perhaps it was because the entire tavern was dimly lit that the gloom was even more pronounced.

 This is also unavoidable.
 After all, the only source of light is a small fire burning slowly in the fireplace in the corner.

 In the capital, it was commonplace to live by various kinds of lights, but in the less affluent outlying villages, even tallow was a precious commodity, not to mention candles.
 When the sun goes down, the day is over, and it is natural to retire to bed.
 In fact, with the exception of this tavern, I could not find a single house with a light on.

 The food is salty and tasteless. Life without satisfactory light.
 This is the best this village can do right now.

 In the past, I would have made do with bland talk.

 But considering the destruction that awaits us in the future, I would at least like the people of this village to have a brighter hope.
 Having emptied my mug in one gulp, I opened the item list from the command menu and quickly searched for the item I wanted.

 In an instant, it appeared in his hand, and he placed it on the table and poured magic power into it.
 Immediately, a blinding light floods out and illuminates the entire room.

 As people's eyes widen in surprise, I say firmly, "Don't worry.

Don't worry, I'll take care of it. I'll do my best to change things so that you can eat better food and drink better wine.

 After saying this, I felt a twinge of regret that I had been over-dressed.
 But it was a needless worry.

 The villagers stared at the Shiraishi lantern, but they looked at each other with open mouths, stunned.
 Then they nodded to each other deeply and suddenly shouted with joy.

Oh, wow! It's so bright!
"Is that the sun? Oh, my God.
"What a surprise. You're a great teacher. Good morning, you have such a magnificent lantern.

 No one seemed to hear my spirited words because of the lanterns.
 The villagers swarmed around the white light like insects, and as I secretly shrugged my shoulders, I heard a loud noise behind me.

 I turned around to see Grandpa Eugen slumped over on the floor.
 On the other side of him is Paula with a large mug of wine in her hand.
 Her cheeks are tinged with red, perhaps because she is drunk, and she looks frighteningly s*xy.

 But now is not the time to be talking about that.  
 The old man suddenly collapsed at the bar.
 Just as I was about to get up to see if it was a sign of danger, I suddenly heard a loud clap.
 At the same time, the people at Paula and the others' table were murmuring words of praise.

"Wow, I beat my grandfather in a drinking contest.
"You beat the best drinker in the village, girl!
"And you're drinking so well. That was a real treat. Thank you!
Thanks a lot.

 Apparently, the two of them were having a drinking contest without knowing it.
 Paula noticed my gaze and smiled shyly with her hand on her cheek.
 That scene also has an indescribable elegance.

 Just as I was about to swallow my spit, I heard another loud voice from another table.
 I turned my head to see what it was, but this time it was the demon children.
 In front of them, I could see a man with animal ears lying face down on the table.

 They were sitting on a log piled up to the height of the table, and were gulping down the food with a delicious look.
 Beside them, there was a pile of empty wooden plates.
 It's a wonder where all the food went in their tiny bodies.

"Hey, Heimo the glutton is down! What a great eater he is!

"Oh, I can't believe it. I've never seen anyone eat like this before in my life.
It's nice to look at. And he's cute.
I'm sorry.

 Before I knew it, everyone except for me had settled into the scene easily.
 I exhaled in exasperation as I looked at Paula, the demon girl, and Lantern, who had all become very popular.

 And so the first day in the village ended with a bang.