They say the demons are our ancestors.
A long time ago, a faction was defeated in a war amongst the demons and then hid deep within a cave after managing to escape safely.
As a result of hiding underground for a long time, their limbs became shorter and shorter to fit into the narrow tunnels and developed a short and stout stature. After several generations of this remodeling, they became a completely different race, branching off from their demon ancestors.
That is how we, the dwarves, came to be.
We’re a subspecies of the demon race just like the elves, but we take advantage of our subterranean habitat to dig holes in caves and mine minerals to make into various weapons and tools for a living. Now that we have made peace with the demons who have forgotten why they fought with us in the first place, they’ve become our long-time VIP clients.
Our Underground Dwarven Empire has flourished by digging underground to mine iron, hammer, forge, process, and sell them as tools.
Oh, sorry for the late introductions, I am the head of that very same empire.
The rest of the world calls me king, but I don’t want such stiff and formal titles.
I prefer the more informal and familiar title of “Pops” – Edward Smith, head of the dwarves—alias Pops Edward.
A rare visitor has come to our underground empire.
It’s the same guy who always shows up unexpectedly.
“Hey, Pops. Your place is teeming with people who look like crushed square boars to the moon and back as usual!”
“A rude statement from the get-go?!”
It’s demigod Bacchus—a half-blood oddball who has been wandering the earth.
He’s been coming to our empire ever since the last, last, last, last, last, last, last, last, last, last, last Pops was alive.
“You hadn’t shown yourself in years, and that has given us peace of mind. What do you want now? Surely, you’re not here to cause a racket like last time, no?”
“Oh, come on, you’re being so unwelcoming again. I bet you’re actually happy to see me.”
“T-That’s not true at all!”
This demigod saw right through me!
“Oh, that so? Guess this souvenir’s going nowhere.”
My attention was drawn to the small bottle that Bacchus kept flashing from his pocket.
“That’s alcohol, isn’t it? Alcohol you made! I’ll take that, thank you very much!”
“But I don’t want to give it to someone who won’t even make me feel welcome. I have other people I can give this to, anyway!”
“All right, all right! The Underground Dwarven Empire welcomes you with all the hospitality we have! Hey, someone go and prepare a banquet!”
“That’s the spirit. You should have been honest like that from the start.”
You cursed demigod!
Apparently, he’s the one who introduced alcohol to the world.
He teaches the art of alcohol brewing to his Maiden worshippers and distributes it everywhere.
The alcohol he brews is said to be much more luxurious and rare than the alcohol made by his Maidens, so rare that even the Demon King or the late king of the Human Kingdom has never tried it.
“You dwarves really love your alcohol more than any other race. You find it hard to resist the temptation of my brew.”
“Ugh…I have no words to reply, but please don’t try to get the whole empire drunk again like last time, okay? It’s not good for an entire nation’s reputation to be stagnant with a hangover.”
“So, shall we not drink this time?”
“Yes, yes, yes! This is why I love dwarves. No drinker is a bad guy. Just a buncha good guys!”
I do feel like I’m being discreetly used as your plaything, though.
Oh well, I’ll just savor the alcohol he has brought with him this time!
Stop being a tease and take it out!!!
“Don’t be in such a hurry. At least let me say something beforehand. The reason is that this time, it’s a new brew, different from the usual.”
“A new brew?!”
What are those thrilling words?!
Are you saying that this is alcohol that I’ve never tasted before?
“Give it a try. It’s a kind of Japanese sake.”
“Oh, yeah? A cup! Someone, get me a cup!”
I pour the alcohol into the cup…
…The heck is this?
“Hey, Alcohol God. Are you trying to fool me? Isn’t this just water?”
The cup is filled with a clear and colorless liquid.
No matter how I look at it, it could only be water.
“It’s seishu. It became like that after I strained the impurities under Saint’s advice. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.”
So, I did.
And it was delicious.
“I told you so.”
It’s so clear, but it tastes like strong and refreshing alcohol!
It’s not the same as the wine that Bacchus always brings, but it’s definitely alcohol! And super tasty too!
“Try this beer next.”
“What’s with this fizz? And this mild bitterness!”
I was already astonished by the taste of the Japanese sake earlier…
You’re incredible for making these, Bacchus!
You really are a god!
“I can’t take credit for this. No one else in this world knows about this alcohol save for the person I borrowed wisdom from.”
“O-Oh? Is that so?”
“That’s why I came to visit you today. What do you think, Dwarf King? Wouldn’t you like to try more kinds of alcohol?”
“Call me ‘Pops’ not ‘King’ …Wait, there are other kinds of alcohol?!”
Beer and Japanese sake were already divine.
You mean I’ve yet to experience even greater bliss than this?!
“They’re called shochu, whiskey, and brandy.”
“But it seems they need a special tool to brew them. Hence, I came to you for advice. You dwarves are good at making tools, aren’t you? I know Saint can also make it if I ask him to, but I can’t keep bothering him any more than this.”
“What do you want me to make? I’ll make anything! I’m ready to put my dwarven pride on the line anytime for some good alcoholll!!!”
“As expected of a race that loves to drink.”
Then we got down to business and Bacchus gave me a detailed explanation of the “still.”
“What do you think? Can you make one?”
“I think it’s similar to the process of refining iron ore. It’s nothing too difficult.”
“I knew I could count on you dwarves; no one is better than you at making ironware!”
Hmph, flattery won’t get you anywhere.
But when I finish what you ordered, I’ll be the first to drink the new brew made from it!
“I’ll give you the materials needed for the still.”
“Materials? We’ve already got plenty of those.”
After all, we dig holes every day to mine iron here in the Underground Dwarven Empire.
“No, I can’t let you do that. I’m shouldering the cost.”
“Oh, is that so?”
“That’s why I got the best material from Saint. I want you to use this for making the still.”
He places the ingot in front of me with a heavy clang.
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the shimmer of the metal.
“I-Is this… mana metal?”
“Yes, the best metal in the world. Not only is it hard and a good conductor of heat, but it doesn’t smell. It’s just perfect in every way!”
The best metal on earth which can only be mined in cave dungeons with high mana concentrations and is the object of avid desire by blacksmiths like me!!!
It is extremely valuable and scarce due to the dangers of going too deep into the dungeons.
Even I, the head of the Underground Dwarven Empire, have only ever seen a small lump the size of the tip of my pinky finger.
But what’s before me right now… Is a huge ingot!
There are one, two, three, four, five… Way too many of them to even count!
“Um… Are all of these only meant for making the still? With this much mana metal, we can even make two to three legendary swords!!!”
“Are those tears I’m seeing?”
No, but it would be a disservice to a blacksmith to ignore the wishes of their client and make only what he wants to make.
Very well, I’ll give you the best still ever!
But if there’s a bit of extra mana metal, can I at least make a knife or something out of it? Please!