390 Early Summer Fruit

Since then, Jin and Elsa spent half of their days in Kaina Village and half on Horai Island.

On one such day, Jin brought a basket full of fruit to Kaina Village.

“Big brother, are these what you called plumes?”

“Yeah, that’s right.  They grow natively further south in the Klein kingdom, but I’m hoping they can be grown in the village.”

“Are they tasty?”

They were a round yellowish green fruit, about 3 cm in diameter.

“Hmm, they might be sour as is. They’re meant to be salted or candied.”

Plumes were a type of plum.  Quinta had originally found the fruit.  Jin bought a lot of them in Horai Island.  He did so to make umeboshi, dried fermented plums.

He brought some of them to Kaina village because he thought that if the villagers liked them, he would start growing them here.

After washing them with water and removing any dirt, they were normally wiped with alcohol to remove germs, but Jin replaced this step with his magic “sterilization.”

Then, they were put in a bottle, salt equal to about 18% of their weight was added, and then a stone weighted cover was placed on top of them.  This cover weighed about double the weight of the plums.

Once plum vinegar rose in a few days, the weighted cover was switched out for a lighter one.

The plums were then taken out in the middle of summer, dried for three days and nights, and then put back into their plum vinegar to make dried pickled plums.

This was the umeboshi-making method Jin had mastered at the orphanage.  Mold was more likely to grow the lower the salt content, but the plums would keep for years with the 18% ratio he used.

Plus, if plums washed and sterilized in the same manner were covered with the same amount of sugar instead of salt and stored in a bottle, plum extract would seep out due to osmotic pressure, and the sugar would dissolve in it.

The sugar in the bottle needed to be shaken occasionally so that mold didn’t grow, but once it was completely dissolved, the plum extract was ready to drink.

If watered down with cold water, it was very delicious on a hot summer day.

Jin made these two types of plum products in both Horai Island and Kaina Village.

He was instructing Sarah on how to do so.  At the same time, he taught Mine how as well.

“It’s quite neat how you make all this Jin.  I’ve preserved fruit in sugar before, but why are you using salt?”

It seemed it was Mine’s first time hearing about umeboshi.

Normally, plumes were used to make jam in the south of Klein.  Sour fruit was delicious when made into jam.

Since Horai Island had begun to produce distilled spirits, they were already using the fruit to make plum wine.

This practice had yet to travel to Kaina village however.  This was because distilled spirits were uncommon in this world.

Returning to what was happening.

Jin took out a different fruit he’d procured. “Query fruit,” which was basically a type of cherry.

He had gotten Reiko to gather them for him, because he didn’t have the time to gather them himself.

The query trees that grew around the village of Kaina were mountain cherry blossoms that bore only small fruit, but Jin (well Reiko) managed to procure large edible cherries Quinta had located in the Leonard Kingdom.

“Hanna, try one of these.”

“Okay.”  Hanna said to Jin, putting a cherry in her mouth:

“YUM!”

She raised her voice happily.

“Because we have so many, let’s share them with Martha too.  Oh and they’re even more delicious when cooled in the snow room. ”

“Okay!”

After seeing Hanna’s beaming face, Jin naturally smiled too.

At teatime that day, Jin, Hanna, Martha, Mine and Elsa all enjoyed the cherries together.

“These are yummy, huh Jin?  Are they also queries?  They’re similar, but their pits are so big.”

Martha liked them as well.

“Yeah, they’re queries, but their variety seems different.  I’d like to see about growing them here in Kaina.”

“Good idea.  I’ll talk to the mayor about it later.”

“Thanks Martha.”

Jin thought it would be best if Martha discussed it with the village chief, Giebec, because the chief knew more about the village’s agriculture than Jin.

There were dozens of seedlings and some mature trees he could bring to the village later to plant.

He was not only preparing for the technology expo, but also thinking about the future of Kaina Village.

*   *   *

“Hmm, it’s difficult.”

Elsa, on the other hand, was struggling to make magic tools on Horai Island.

“What would I do if I were Jin?”

She did her best to put this question out of her mind.

“No, I’m always depending on Jin every time something happens.”

Elsa told herself and returned to thinking again.

“Hmm …”

Elsa’s mutters echoed through the quiet studio.

“What’s up?”

“Hee!”

Elsa suddenly heard a voice from behind, and let out a strange yelp.

“… Oh, big brother…”

She whirled around, trying to control her pounding heart, before realizing it was just Jin.

“Sorry, I didn’t think you’d be so surprised.  I spoke up because you looked concerned about something.”

“Uh, well.”

Elsa wondered whether to talk to Jin about it. She decided it was better to rely on him that be stuck even longer than she already had been.

“Well, um. I was thinking about a special jewelry box.”

“A special jewelry box?”

Jin parroted her words. They seemed meaningless to him.

“Yup.  It’s not exactly meant to prevent thefts, but I was thinking of something that makes a sound when it’s opened up … ”

Hearing this, Jin scratched his head as if remembering something.

“… You mean like a music box?”

He uttered slowly.

“A music box … So, there is such a thing.  Thank you Jin.”

It seemed a music box had been what Elsa was really trying to create.  Elsa reflected that she had been too focused on the box being anti-theft and overlooked what its real charm was.

“I’ll try making it myself later.  If I really can’t do it, I’ll come ask you for help.”

Upon hearing that, Jin gave a gentle smile.

“Alright then.  Do your best?  But don’t overdo it. …… Edgar, you watch out for her for me.”

“Yes, Lord Jin.”

Edgar, who was watching Elsa from nearby, thanked Jin for his advice and bowed deeply.

There was one week left until the technology expo.

The plan to return Elsa and Mine home was well in the works now.  Jin had consulted Laojun and Anne, notified Elsa and the Reinhardts, and gotten everyone’s consent on the matter.

*   *   *

“… Elsa is working hard, huh.  Maybe I should make something else too?”

Jin murmured to himself and began to work on a new concept.

“I guess I’ll see about making a mini-golem after all.”

It was an idea Saki had given him the other day.  A golem that looked “like it could fit in the palm of your hand.”

“It’d literally be a moving doll, huh…”

It was a subject that was rarely studied because it wasn’t very practical.

“But a golem that size could be great for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering.”

Small things were convenient in that they were less noticeable.  Also, it seemed that it could be used for highly intricate work a normal sized human or golem couldn’t perform.

“First, how small can its magic device be …?”

Jin carefully looked for a magic crystal.

While doing so, he suddenly realized something.

“I see! I don’t have to make the golem directly.”

If Jin could make a golem precise enough to function, it needed to be about 40cm or more. Reiko, on the other hand, could manage to make one around 20cm.

“In other words, if I make small ‘smith golems…'”

Running with this idea, Jin built ten 40 cm tall smith golems with Reiko’s help.

“Okay, let’s name them ‘Little Smiths’. I want you guys to make me ten 10 cm golems.”

“Yes, Master.”

Because they were so small, it was inevitable that their voices were high pitched.  Jin had even adjusted their voices to be as low as possible, but still it was higher than a child’s.

The Little Smiths took about three hours to build ten new 10-cm golems.

“Okay, let’s see … Should we name these ones ‘Mini Smiths’?”

“Thank you for creating us, Master.”

They spoke at an even higher pitch than the previous batch, but Jin decided there wasn’t much he could do about it.

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