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65 Part 2

 

After arranging the dishes on the table, Haruki sat down as well.

For some reason, Rhea was sitting next to him as well.

— She seemed angry when I tried to put her back in her room. Is she feeling lonely?

 

Karen quickly picked up her chopsticks and eagerly waited for a signal.

 

“So… Thank you, farmers, for all the life you bring to our table. Let’s eat!”

“Thank you!”

 

The first thing Haruki did was pick up some rice with his chopsticks and stuff his mouth with it.

 

“Mmmmm!”

 

The smell, the taste… it was irresistible!

 

The strong taste of the rice spreaded inside his mouth as the grains came apart.

The more he chewed, the more delicious it became.

As the smell of rice climbed through his nose, Haruki’s tears wouldn’t stop falling.

 

Before he knew it, Haruki had finished his rice completely without even touching the side dish.

Karen’s bowl was already empty as well.

 

After helping themselves to another serving of rice, they reached for the chicken and eggplant dish.

 

The crispy texture of the chicken and the savory texture of the eggplants were exquisitely mixed together.

The miso favored the meat and the eggplants, and in turn, the flavor of the meat and eggplants favored the miso.

 

Haruki had wished he had mirin and sesame oil as well, but the food was delicious even without them.

 

“This is great!”

“Hmm! Hmm!”

 

Neither of them could stop themselves.

 

 

The surface of the potato cakes was crispy, but they were sticky inside due to the mix of the potato and the starch powder.

 

“So tasty!”

“Hmm! Hmm!”

 

— I can’t stop eating because of these side dishes!

 

Rhea also seemed interested in the potato cakes, so she secretly extended her leaves and stowed one away in the treasure chest.

What was she planning to do with it?

Use her roots to absorb it?

 

“… Where did it all go!?”

 

Haruki had certainly cooked enough rice for 5 servings, but it was all gone before he noticed.

 

It certainly felt like they hadn’t eaten it all up.

But the fact that it was already gone probably meant that they had done just that.

 

With a sad face, Karen picked each of the last few rice grains left in her bowl, and brought them to her mouth one by one.

 

— Alright, I’ll be sure to make some more next time.

— We’ll eat rice to our heart’s content again!

 

Haruki was extremely grateful for being an intermediate adventurer.

He put his hands together and thanked life for his blessings.

 

“Thank you for the meal!”

 

* * * * * * * *

 

After their meal was over and they had finished cleaning up, Haruki put his armor back on.

 

“Oh… You scared me for a second! Did you come to see me off?”

 

Rhea approached Haruki as he tried to leave the house.

 

The other day, Rhea learned how to walk using her leaves.

However, Haruki was still not used to seeing Rhea walking.

 

It still got him every time.

 

As Haruki tried to leave, Rhea pinched him under his knees.

It didn’t look like she was trying to see him off.

 

(Take me with you)

He heard a voice saying that.

He had a bad feeling he’d be scared later if he refused.

 

In that case…

Haruki carried Rhea on his back, and the two left the house together.

Of course, they were headed for the dungeon.

 

The other day, Haruki had put his new moves into practice, but during the fight with the rice plants and the grasshoppers, his old moves started to come out.

It was still far from perfect.

 

He had to be able to use his newly refined moves in any situation.

Because of that, he planned to go practice with the Centipedes once again.

 

Then…

 

“Hmm?”

 

He caught a glimpse of Karen, also equipped with her armor.

She vanished into the gate without noticing Haruki.

 

Perhaps Karen had decided to tackle the dungeon by herself.

Since she used the gate before Haruki, Karen’s destination was a few floors below him.

 

Which meant…

 

“Is she trying to harvest melons?”

 

Karen had a strong attraction towards melons.

She had probably gone snack-hunting.

 

“Don’t eat too many snacks, okay?”

 

As Haruki murmured that, he headed towards the dungeon’s 1st floor.

 

* * * * * * * *

 

“Haaah…”

 

Karen let out a sigh as she leant her back against the gate.

No matter how many monsters she defeated, she felt like she would never be able to stand up to Haruki.

 

She wanted to be able to help him. She wanted to get stronger so that she could repay his favor.

Because of that, Karen had been secretly stepping into the garage dungeon to hunt throughout the night ever since coming to K-Town.

 

At first, she had thought she would eventually catch up with Haruki.

And as a matter of fact, thanks to her night training, she had been gradually closing the gap between Haruki and her.

However, at some point, the difference between her level and Haruki’s took a big jump.

 

Haruki’s growth rate had clearly changed after the incident with the four pots.

 

Was this difference between the two purely related to their own ability?

Or did Haruki have a hand in that as well?

 

Could it be that Haruki too had started going to the dungeon to train by himself at night as well?

 

The speed at which Haruki moved in the dungeon was unusual.

After defeating a monster, he would instantly search for the next one without even taking a break.

 

At first, Karen was hardly able to even keep up with him.

She would have trouble breathing and end up falling on the ground.

This happened even now, too.

 

As opposed to Karen, who is likely to get tired out, Haruki does not take many breaks.

He continued hunting until he couldn’t do it anymore.

 

If he were to train all night without having to take any breaks…

It would be impossible for Karen to reach his level.

 

She was not strong enough yet.

Haruki’s back was still out of reach.

 

She had to become stronger.

To that end, she would do whatever she could.

 

She would defeat many monsters and level up as much as possible.

 

She would get stronger by leveling up.

Then, once she was strong enough, she would be able to support Haruki.

 

There was no time to feel sad.

She couldn’t afford to complain, either.

 

Motivated, Karen headed towards the 11th floor.

Not only about getting stronger, but about enjoying some tasty, freshly harvested melons on her way back.

 

* * * * * * * *

 

— What’s that?

Haruki doubted what he had in front of his eyes.

 

He wondered how something like that happened.

After seeing Karen heading out to hunt some melons, Haruki turned to chase his beloved Centipedes.

— No no, I’m going to practice with the Centipedes so I can perfect my moves.

 

The Centipedes were his training partners.

The very moment he would find one, he would shred them into pieces.

 

But this time around, Rhea was standing in front of a Centipede, as if trying to protect it.

 

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