While it was called a factory, all they did was pour the honey into jars. As they accepted the honey from the bees directly, there was no need to separate the honey from the comb. In the first place, the honeycombs here were large, just like the bees themselves, and so the honey was scooped out in buckets when removed.
That being said, old honeycombs were occasionally given to them as well. And these were carved out and processed. Since the honey and the wax were already separated, the whole task of putting them into jars was quite simple.
“It’s because of this that honey has become much more affordable. However, most places here make their own honey, so the honey here is mostly exported.”
“Ah, so the honey dishes we ate at the dwarf castle were…”
“They were definitely made with our honey.”
Chiharu listened to the fifth princess as she watched the honey being put into jars. The honey was poured out of the buckets and into filters. Then they came down like strings as they filled the jars. For some reason, Maki started to look restless.
“Well, uh, we’ve seen it now.”
“But I want to see more. They’re going to make candles and hand cream out of the wax.”
“Chiharu, we can see that later. Right?”
Chiharu shrugged. And then they both turned to look at the fifth princess.
“I suppose I have no choice. Let’s go to the brewery then.”
She must have realized that Maki had reached her limit, and she finally agreed.
The brewery was just a short distance away from the factory. There was a place in the far back where the honey wine was prepared, and towards the front were rows of barrels. The place had a smell that was a mixture of bread and alcohol.
“Those look like wine barrels.”
The fifth princess looked to Chiharu.
“But unlike wine, they do not last very long.”
“Over there is where the honey, water, and yeast is mixed. It will be ready to be shipped in about two weeks. After that, it will be good to drink for one month.”
“Does honey wine really need to be that fresh?”
“The alcohol content will only get stronger. And so honey wine is only sold close to the brewery. In fact, most people will just make it themselves. It’s often a town effort.”
“So it’s like apple wine in the dwarf lands. Every town has their own.”
Maki clapped her hands. So that’s why they had never seen honey wine in the other territories. It was then that the fifth princess, who was walking in front of them, slowly turned around.
“Now, it’s time to have a taste.”
Maki made a fist in front of her chest. Apparently, they often had visitors here, and there was an order to the tasting.
“First, we’ll try the two weeks one.”
Small glasses were filled with honey wine from the barrel. It was a little red and looked quite thick. Maki and Chiharu raised it hesitantly to their lips.
“It’s so sweet! I didn’t expect it to be this sweet!”
“But the alcohol is also very strong. And I can feel it bubbling on my tongue.”
And then they drank the rest.
“Yes, it is quite strong. So you should be careful.”
After that, they went on to the three weeks and four weeks wine.
“Oh? This one isn’t sweet anymore.”
“If anything, it’s like wine with very little tartness.”
The fifth princess nodded.
“They will become a little more sour from this point on. People who like it will drink it like this, or else you can blend it.”
“The most popular is the two weeks one. We have some over here that has been mixed with fruit juice. It’s very easy to drink.”
This time the cups were a little larger, and their contents looked like a thin orange juice.
“Woah. It’s so smooth and refreshing. But the flavor of the honey is still rich and the alcohol is quite mild.”
“This must be Soluna oranges! I could drink a lot of this stuff by changing the juice.”
They were both smiling broadly as if they were the embodiment of happiness.
“Now, I think that’s enough. If you want more, I’ll have some served tonight. As for lunch, I had actually been planning to have a picnic in the garden…”
“What? Why don’t we just do it then?”
Said the first princess as the fifth princess put a hand on her cheek and seemed to be thinking.
“No, it’s just that I think the producers might come.”
Indeed, while there were not a lot, they could see that there were bees flying around outside. They had come to get a glimpse of Maki and Chiharu.
“Well, it should be fine as long as there are not too many? It would be nice to eat outside if we can. It’s such a beautiful day.”
And so it was decided that they would eat outside. The group went out and spread the food out on the grass. The factory workers also had food brought to them from the castle. And so those who could rest also came outside and ate with them.
Of course, the honey bees came to watch them and seemed very amused.
After that, they went to the textiles factory and befriended some giant silkworks that nearly knocked them over. Then they were surprised by the flying silkworm moths before trying out their hand at weaving. Before they knew it, a whole week had passed.
“Huh? Now that I think about it, Sauro and Saikania said that they would be with us, but I haven’t seen them even once yet.”
“That’s true. And didn’t Aeris and Edwy say that they would come back in four days…”
They had been having so much fun that they had forgotten all about the others who were hard at work.
“I heard that they had no trouble taking the soldiers to the dungeon. However, they could hardly leave once they arrived. And so they are waiting there so as to be able to act at a moment’s notice.”
“I wish they would have told us.”
“As if it would have made a difference.”
Aaron was glaring at them.
“Well, they would have wanted you to enjoy your time here without worrying about them. Besides…”
Aaron looked up. Maki and Chiharu raised their heads as well.
“There is hardly any miasma left. And so you two have fulfilled your duty.”
“Exactly. And so you should relax as much as you want.”
“On the other hand, I think you’ve been relaxing a little too much, sister. You’ve been ignoring your public duties.”
Maki and Chiharu became teary-eyes by these kind words from Aaron and the two princesses. Even if they knew that just being here was helping, it was nice to actually hear someone say it.
However, they felt like they were forgetting something.
Just when Chiharu finally remembered…
“What is that!”
The first princess pointed at the sky. They all looked up at once.
“And there are many other bird people.”
“But what is it that they’re carrying?”
A flock of birdfolk and something suspicious. Chiharu had a bad feeling about it.