And finally, the day has come.
The 30th of the White Month— the goodwill banquet with the Genos nobles.
The chef and escorts set off for the Count Turan manor in the morning. According to the city, it was the second watch after noon. There was still 4 and a half hours before the banquet.
I went in through the city gates again after half a month on the Totos carriage prepared by the castle guards. Rimee Wu and the others visiting the city for the first time looked out the windows in awe.
“Amazing! Amazing! Rock city is really made completely from rocks!”
“This is incredible… I never thought that I will enter the city.”
The hunters on guard duty didn’t relax at all, but their eyes were calmer compared to a few days ago.
When we reached the manor, I was the one gasping in surprise this time. We carried sacks of kiba meat and poitan, and was ushered into the mansion by the guards. A beautiful woman with curled honey hair and purple eyes welcomed us.
“Welcome, guests from the Forest’s Edge… I’m pleased to meet you…”
“Chiffon Chel! You are still staying in this manor?”
“Yes… Because I had nowhere to go… Only this manor and the Turan orchards have Mahildra people…”
Chiffon Chel who was 5 cm taller than me smiled brightly:
“Now, I’m tending to Lady Lifuria’s daily life… I’m glad to see that Sir Asuta is doing well…”
“Yes, I’m happy to see you are fine too…”
During my depressing confinement, the ones who gave me comfort were Chiffon Chel, Dell and— Roy, who I had slowly understood with the passage of time.
I worried about Chiffon Chel the most because of her low status. Meeting Chiffon Chel again gave me unexpected joy and relief.
“Well then, allow me to lead the way… This way please…”
“Hmm? You don’t need to safekeep our blades?”
Ludo Wu asked the frail Chiffon Chel, and the castle guards answered: “No need.”
“You can’t perform your duties without blades. Please refrain from going anywhere else without permission.”
The one who answered was Darum Wu. He was the second son of the tribal chief Wu clan, so he was appointed as the leader of the escorts. Ai Fa, Darum Wu, Ludo Wu and Rau Lei— this powerful but small team were our guards.
“This way please…”
Chiffon Chel and two guards led us down the tiled corridor, and instead of the left wing, we entered the right wing of the manor this time.
I wonder where Pyschkurewuss and Shileru were held captive. And where were Dell and her father lodging in now? I thought about these questions and soon reached our first destination.
I stood outside a familiar door.
“E-Erm, Chiffon Chel, isn’t this the bath house?”
“Yes… Before you go into the kitchen, you need to cleanse your body…”
“The rules are still the same after the house head changed?”
“That’s right… We have been instructed to do this…”
Chiffon Chel gestured, and the castle guards nodded.
“As you will be cooking for highly esteemed guests, so this is a necessary step. All the entry points are guarded, so please don’t worry.”
I had to bathe here everyday when I was imprisoned here, so I wasn’t too resistant about this. But what about the others?
“Well then, ladies first…”
Chiffon Chel led the puzzled Rimee Wu, Leina Wu and Shela Wu into the door, when Ludo Wu suddenly shouted: “Wait.”
“They are going to bathe, right? Then Ai Fa should go with them. We will need someone to stay on guard outside when the men go in later.”
And so, the men just stood outside for the time being. As I just stood around, Ludo Wu and the others remained vigilant of the surroundings.
After about 15 minutes, when the door opened again— all the girls returned with wet hair and rosy cheeks.
I exhaled in relief when I saw everyone look happy. However, Ai Fa was the only one who looked completely blushed… Rimee Wu was clinging onto Ai Fa’s chest as usual.
“That felt great! But… I didn’t know Ai Fa is so ticklish.”
“I’m not! I just don’t like people touching me!”
“Hmm? Rimee just wants to help Ai Fa bathe, isn’t that fine?”
“A-Ai Fa bathed too?”
I blurted out unwittingly, and was glared by her grudgingly.
“Rimee Wu was very clingy, so I bathed with her. When you were confined here, you have to follow this rule everyday too, correct?”
“Yes, I have to bathe everyday.”
“… That must be hard on you.”
She averted her face, and a sweet scent entered my nose cavity. It reminded me of the fruit that attracts kiba that even the Mugwort herbal soup couldn’t conceal. Or rather, the scent was enhanced by the steam, making it more prominent.
“Well then, Sir Asuta…”
“Ah, yes, okay.”
I was wondering about my escorts, and scanned my eyes around before locking gaze with Ludo Wu.
“This is a pain, I will go in with you. Darum-nii I will leave Rimee and the others to you.”
Under the watchful gaze of Darum Wu, Ludo Wu and I walked towards the door. Chiffon Chel walked in before us, and I shouted in panic:
“Ahh! I remember how to cleanse myself, so you don’t have to teach me.”
“Oh, you are right… Excuse me…”
Chiffon Chel chuckled.
On the first day I was abducted to the Count Turan House, Chiffon Chel bathed me without any warning. I declined her help on the second day, but Chiffon Chel’s naked body was still fresh on my mind.
I pleaded with her not to leak that secret in my absence as Ludo Wu and I walked through the changing room and into the steamy bath hall.
“Uwah— What is this place!? It’s completely white!”
“Yes, I was shocked when I first came here too.”
Anyway, I took off my clothes and tossed it into the basket, wanting to get it over with quickly.
I then scrubbed myself with a bamboo like scrub. I scrubbed myself completely down.
Regrettably, there wasn’t any bath pool in the hall. I was thinking that I might as well take a dip since I was bathing anyway. Ludo Wu who looked really hot as he was still dressed fanned himself as he said:
“Hey, don’t let your guard down. The big wigs in Genos won’t try to get on the good side of the Forest’s Edge denizens without any reason.”
“That’s true, but isn’t that a good thing?”
“That might be so… But they pretended to not know anything at all, but changed tack once Pyschkurewuss’ crimes were exposed. All this feels a little pretentious.”
He probably felt that Marstein was cutting off Psychurewuss like a gecko losing its tail. After Pyschkurewuss fell from grace, Marstein admitted his negligence completely, and did everything in his powers to make up for it. But the one who did all the legwork was still Kamyua Yost.
If Kamyua Yost didn’t find the witness Barcia and dragged the Banam Marquis house in, there was no telling how all this would have ended. Just the Forest’s Edge denizens alone wouldn’t be enough to uncover these crimes— and we might even be forced to leave our homes.
If it comes to that, who knows what Marstein would do. Would he abandon the Forest’s Edge? There was no way to tell what would happen, that’s why Donda Wu decided to give Marstein the benefit of doubt and trust him.
He had an innocent smile on his face, but he definitely isn’t someone simple.
I thought as I used the bucket to wash myself clean. The water that was warmer than my body temperature, and was very suitable to cleanse my steam covered body.
I then used a large towel-like cloth to dry my body, and put on the clothes I took off earlier. When I left the bath hall, my Forest’s Edge tribe mates were waiting patiently for us. No one cast cold gazes towards us, so Chiffon Chel definitely didn’t say anything unnecessary.
“Well then, I will lead you to the kitchen…”
I had a faint idea on how to get to the kitchen. Twenty days ago, I took this route everyday. It was just five days that differed from my usual routine, but it caused great pain to me. I’m glad that was over— It was a long time before I thought about it that way.
“This way please…”
Chiffon stood before a familiar door. At this moment, one of the guards said:
“Aside from this door, there are no other entrances into this kitchen. After you have inspected the room, please stand guard outside together with us.”
Darum Wu nodded, and entered the room with Rau Lei. When they finished their inspection, we were permitted to enter the kitchen.
Rimee Wu squealed happily again. As for me, this was the first time I stepped into the Count Turan kitchen after twenty days.
It was just a small kitchen to prepare meals for the servants, but the scale and completeness of the facilities were impeccable. Never mind the Forest’s Edge settlement, even Post Station Town doesn’t have such a variety of cooking tools, clean stoves, counters, steel oven and a cabinet of wooden, porcelain, steel and glass utensils. Everything was just as I remembered it.
Leina Wu and the others who came in after Rimee Wu all had the looks of lovestruck girls.
“Amazing! This is just like… a paradise for chefs!”
If I was invited in as a guest back then, I would definitely feel as elated as them. Fortunately, I could wipe away the painful memories today with this happy experience.
After I gave her a tour of the food store, Rimee Wu cheered again: “Uwah!”
“There are so many vegetables I have never seen before! Hey, what does this taste like?”
“What kind of herb is this? It smells bitter.”
Shela Wu was in awe as she stood beside the two sisters who were behaving like children. There was still a huge stock of food here, like how it was during my time here.
Pyschkurewuss was in custody, and his hordes of servants were dismissed, so they wouldn’t need so much food anymore. However, they couldn’t break off the contract so suddenly, so large quantities of food were still sent to this manor every day.
Kamyua Yost told us before: “We couldn’t break the contract Pyschkurewuss made for the supply of food and with the Jaguar steel merchants, you can imagine how difficult things are for the guardian.”
Most of the contracts had been transferred to the Marquis house, but Pyschkurewuss’ had business in a wide variety of industries, so settling all of them required a lot of time and effort.
In any case, the nobles would take care of all that, so we just need to focus on our own work.
“Let’s get to work then. First is the vegetable soup.”
I tried to calm down the ecstatic Rimee Wu and company, instructing them to bring all the ingredients we need to the working counter.
Thirteen portions of food, and dinner for the chefs and escorts was a large amount. After bringing in the aria, neenon, chachi, gigo, tau sauce, rock salt and fuwano powder— I picked up a knife when someone knocked on the closed door.
“Asuta, the chef from the city is here to greet you.”
I heard Ai Fa’s voice, and the door opened at the same time. A group of men in white entered the kitchen. I yelped at the sight of an ivory skinned young man with a freckled face:
“Roy! You are taking part in tonight’s banquet too?”
“Yes, but I’m just a helper.”
One of the chefs working in Count Turan’s manor, Roy answered with a complicated face. When I left the manor with the help of Ai Fa and Polarse, he sent me off at the entrance, as we didn’t even have time to say good bye in front of Pyschkurewuss and Lifuria.
“… He had excellent culinary skills despite his young age, so I invited him to assist me for today.”
An even mannered voice interjected into our conversation. The oldest of the four men in white lowered his head respectfully.
“You must be the chef from the Forest’s Edge, Sir Asuta of the Fa house. I’m the head chef of the ‘Selva Lance Inn’, and former vice head chef in the Count Turan manor, Timaro.”
He looked to be in his mid forties. His body was thin, but his belly bulged out, and was a gentle and calm person. His skin was yellowish brown, and his hair under his conical hat and his eyes were a dark shade of brown. He had a sharp look on his face, and had a white piece of cloth around his mouth.
“Pleased to meet you, I’m Asuta of the Fa house. Well… I will be in your care tonight.”
“Yes, I will do my best to deepen the friendship between Genos and the Forest’s Edge.”
Timaro smiled behind the white cloth covering his mouth.
His every move looked relaxed and at ease, but his eyes didn’t seem happy at all.
“From what I know your side is a four member team. To match you… We had the same number of people.”
“What? Match us?”
“Correct. Our kitchen has all sorts of ingredients, but I promise you that we won’t use anything that isn’t available here.”
“Hmm, what’s going on here?”
His words were a little dangerous.
Timaro smiled again after noticing the change in my facial expression:
“Don’t worry, I just want to cook under the same condition as Asuta of the Fa house. Using higher class ingredients doesn’t guarantee that the dish will be great in quality, so I decided to make the highest grade cooking possible with the limited ingredients.”
For me, reten oil and Banam honey were rare ingredients, but the food store in their kitchen seemed to have an even bigger assortments of ingredients.
Speaking of which, Michael also mentioned that the food store in the main kitchen was like a treasure trove to Pyschkurewuss. Anyway, that didn’t ease my worries at all.
“Well, today’s goal isn’t to have a competition, but to cook a sumptuous meal for Marquis Genos and the tribal chiefs, correct?”
“Yes, of course! I’m just happy to have the chance to cook alongside Sir Asuta who had earned so many rave reviews from Lady Lifuria. Let us do our best with our pride as chefs on the line.”
“Alright, that will be my honor.”
Timaro nodded, then turned and left gracefully like a stage actor.
Roy spoke towards his back:
“Timaro, can you give me some time? I worked with him in the same kitchen before.”
“Yes, please go ahead. The conditions are the same, but we don’t have to start at the same time. We will begin after you return to the kitchen.”
“Thank you very much, I will be right back.”
Timaro left with his two assistants, leaving just Roy behind.
Roy sighed in relief, then glared at me with scary eyes:
“That’s how it is. Timaro wants to have an all out competition with you, so don’t make the excuse that you aren’t aware.”
He didn’t sound happy about seeing me again, and felt anxious. But that was just like Roy anyway.
“Yes, I planned to give my best for this job in the first place… Does Timaro dislike me?”
“Of course. He couldn’t beat you no matter how hard he tried, that’s why he is trying to reclaim his pride as a chef. I would think the same if I was him..”
Roy said with a frown. He was a straight shooter with a crude attitude. Like Chiffon Chel, he didn’t change at all.
I felt a little happy and smiled, and Roy asked with a scary expression: “Why are you smiling!?”
“Let me say this first, Timaro’s specialty is karon dishes. Back then, he could only cook kimyusu dishes as requested by Lady Lifuria. If you still think he is the same as back then, you will lose terribly?”
“No, I’m not here to compete in the first place…”
“But if the guests keep praising Timaro’s cooking, you will feel frustrated too, right?”
“Yes, I will definitely feel frustrated.”
“And you have to use kiba meat too. Can you even make anything decent with it?”
“Of course I can. By the way… The only karon torso meat I ever tried was cooked by Roy.”
No one would sell karon torso meat in Forest’s Edge and Post Station Town, so I didn’t really pay any attention to that.
Roy muttered: “How unreliable.”
“I know how capable you are, but everyone says the kiba meat is stinky and tough. Will you be fine?”
“I will be alright. It will be great if Roy knows how delicious kiba meat is.”
When he heard what I said, Roy narrowed his eyes.
“Why… are you so confident?”
“I’m confident in the kiba meat.”
Michael also acknowledged the tastiness of kiba. I was certain that the people in the city would grow to love kiba meat too.
“Make more food for the staff meal too. Wait… Don’t make too much either. Both sides have four people, so we just need to exchange half of our dishes. I will inform Timaro.”
“Huh? Why do we have to do that?”
“Just the compliments from the guests aren’t enough to convince Timaro. The Forest’s Edge denizens might compliment the dishes they don’t like for the sake of currying favor with the nobles. You won’t be convinced if that happens, correct?”
“… Is Timaro someone who will say that?”
“At the very least, he won’t admit his loss unless he taste your food with his own tongue.”
Roy then snorts anxiously:
“And he has the skills to back his talk. I can’t be sure he will still be so friendly when he leaves the kitchen. Didn’t he bragged a lot just now? He was trying to say that he doesn’t want to associate with low class peasants. People who mingle with nobles all the time will be infected with this bad habit of nobles.”
“Ehh, he sure is a troubling man.”
That might be so, but I prefer not to bring in personal feelings into the job this time. As I was wondering what I should do, someone tugged the sleeve of my T-shirt:
“Asuta will be the only one attending the banquet, right? If possible, I want to see the dishes in the city and taste them… What do you think?”
“That’s true. There isn’t any problem with tasting their dishes anyway.”
Even if the people in the city thought badly of my cooking, it wouldn’t affect my business in Post Station Town. However, disparaging my dishes without even trying them still felt unpleasant.
“Ah, will it be against the custom of the Forest’s Edge if we eat dinner cooked in the hearth of someone else’s house?”
When she heard what I said, Leina Wu smiled deviously:
“If we are just trying out the taste, Papa Donda won’t get mad.”
Smiling cheekily like a cat would be an apt description of her face. I never imagined that she had such a charming face. I turned to Roy with a wry smile and told him:
“Alright. Roy, please take care of Timaro’s side—”
I stopped mid sentence. Roy who had an irate face just now was looking at Leina Wu slacked jaw with a shocked face.
“… Erm, what’s the matter?”
Leina Wu smiled puzzledly.
Roy shook his head so hard his hat almost fell off, then glared at me:
“It’s settled then. After saying all that, you better serve a presentable meal, or we will laugh at you.”
“Yes, I will work hard to not get mocked by you.”
Roy grunted meaninglessly, then glances Leina Wu’s way before leaving the kitchen.
Ai Fa and Ludo Wu who were watching us quietly all this time closed the door again.
“What a noisy man.”
The unaware Leina Wu smiled brightly.
Her face was covered in a thin veil just like how she was in Post Station Town, and looked adorable. Her features were delicate, her face round and petite, and her body was thicc. A girl as charming as her was a rare find.
… I see why Donda Wu doesn’t want people from town to take his daughter in marriage. Just that matter between Vena Wu and Shumimaru is enough of a headache.
I said to myself quietly and said : “Let’s get to work.”
Time passed slowly but surely, and our work progressed steadily.
We decided on the workflow ahead of time, and nothing untowards happened. Leina Wu and the others had hands on training during the past few days, and their work was flawless.
Aside from Leina Wu and Shela Wu who were the stars of the kitchen, Rimee Wu was also exceptionally skilled. It was said that one could only master something they really like, and I felt Rimee Wu was already on par with Mama Mia Lei in terms of cooking.
Speaking of which, all the chefs in the city are men.
In my previous world, men were the majority too.
Cooking required a lot of stamina. If the quantity was big, cutting and cooking would be just like a marathon.
However, the women of Forest’s Edge had extraordinary endurance, and my companions were incredibly passionate about cooking too. Their outstanding sense of taste made them very reliable companions.
But… Compared to the people in Post Station Town, are their standards high or low?
There were no professional chef in Post Station Town. The innkeepers there were merely selling their home cooking.
However, that wasn’t so for Leina Wu and the others who only started learning from me, and before that, the Forest’s Edge denizens thought lesser of cooking than the people in Post Station Town. And now, they could serve dishes far better than those found in Post Station Town— because of the overwhelming advantage of having access to kiba meat.
Neil and Naudiz could now cook kiba dishes by themselves now. They also possess exotic ingredients like chitto and tau sauce, which gave them an edge too. One thing leading to another resulted in the flourishing of delicious dishes in town today.
On top of that, karon milk and nyuushi had started spreading in Post Station Town. After Pyschkurewuss’ fall from grace, the ingredients monopolized by him would gradually flow into Post Station Town too.
The townsfolk probably wouldn’t consider ingredients that were too expensive, but things like tau sauce were still within their budget. And so, the people in Post Station Town could enjoy a wider array of food.
When that happens, there was no telling if Leina Wu and the others could continue to improve their culinary skills. Their skills probably wouldn’t degrade, but I hope that they could better themselves even more.
“Ah, the bell!”
Rimee Wu who was mincing the meat shouted happily:
“That’s so fun. It rang four times, so it’s the fourth watch?”
“Yes. Half the time has passed.”
The banquet would start at the sixth watch, when the sun had set. There were more than 2 hours left. The work was proceeding smoothly.
Right after that— someone knocked the door:
“Asuta. Kamyua Yost wants to see you.”
I heard Ai Fa’s voice as the door opened. Kamyua Yost poked his long face inside the room.
“Yo, Asuta. Sorry for disturbing, just want to report a few matters to you. Do you have time?”
“Yes, it’s fine. Please come in.”
“No, I had been running around today and covered in dust. I can’t go into the kitchen, so can you come out for a while?”
“Alright, I will be right out.”
I wiped my hands with a cloth and headed to the door.
Kamyua Yost pulled his head away, and I followed him outside. In the corridor were two guards, the four hunters, Kamyua Yost— and a familiar looking young man.
“Ah, this is—”
“Yes, Sir Wellhyde from the Marquis Banam house. Since he is visiting Genos City, I asked him to make a short detour and brought him here.”
The black haired youth had a displeased expression on his pale face, and he acknowledged me with a gaze in silence. I had no idea how esteemed the sixth in line to the Marquis house was, but I didn’t want to risk being rude and bowed a little towards him.
“The conference was half a month ago, and Shileru is still keeping his peace. As I suspected, this matter won’t be resolved before the official trial begins.”
“Is that so?”
“Furthermore, Pyschkurewuss is too frial to speak, so we couldn’t get anything out of either suspects. If Pyschkurewuss is to die from illness, things will get even trickier.”
“I agree, the tribal chiefs are worried about that too. In order to sentence Shileru through a fair trial, Pyschkurewuss’ testimony will be necessary, correct?”
“Yes. If Pyschkurewuss dies, Shileru might push all the blame to him. Shileru can’t get away from his shenanigans at the conference venue, but I still hope he will be put through a fair trial.”
“… If the truth gets buried into the darkness, I won’t be able to face my father.”
Wellhyde broke his silence and said to me seriously:
“Is the one behind my father’s murder Pyschkurewuss or Shileru? If I can’t uncover this truth, the rage and frustration might just kill me.”
“Yes, Leito who has taken care of us is in the same position as you, so I understand how you feel.”
Kamyua Yost tried his best to look serious and said:
“That’s right, Asuta has his own considerations too, but I still hope he can give his best effort to serve a meal that will satisfy Pyschkurewuss. Although I think all that effort will be in vain since Pyschkurewuss will probably never turn over a new leaf.”
“… I don’t know if you really intend to give your best efforts, but I think you should make the most delicious dish you can.”
“I agree, Asuta will definitely do just that. Serving dinner to Pyschkurewuss will happen after the banquet with the tribal chiefs, correct?”
“That’s right. I have to attend the banquet, so I will only cook for him after the banquet.”
The problem was, would the bedridden Pyschkurewuss have the strength to taste my food?
Regardless, I could only focus on doing my job. I bowed towards Kamyua Yost with complicated feelings in my heart:
“Pardon me, but I have to get back to work.”
“Ah, wait! There’s one more thing!”
“Hmm? What is it?”
It was rare seeing Kamyua Yost fidgeting about. And of course, it wasn’t cute at all.
“Actually, I have a request… Erm, can you let me eat your cooking too?”
“What? Do you mean eating the staff meal together with the escorts and chefs?”
“Correct, someone of my standing can’t attend the banquet, so can you share some of the food you prepared for Ai Fa and the others… Is that too presumptuous of me?”
“It’s fine, I brought plenty of kiba meat with me, unless some serious accident happens, I can prepare as much as you want.”
When he heard what I said, Kamyua Yost’s eyes started to shine.
I wonder how sad he would look if I couldn’t comply with his wishes. I was curious about that, but I wasn’t that evil.
“I will prepare your portion too then. The chefs will only eat after the banquet ends, so please bear with me as your dinner might be served really late.”
“That’s fine! Thank you! I won’t forget your kindness, Asuta!”
“… Are kiba dishes that delicious?”
Wellhyde asked in surprise.
“Sorry if I offended you, but I heard that kiba meat isn’t fit for human consumption. People growing horns after eating kiba are probably rumours, but Genos possess a lot of other ingredients to choose from, correct?”
“That’s true. Marquis Genos treated me to a lavish dinner before too, but kiba dishes— or rather, Asuta’s dishes are incredible.”
“Erm, please don’t hold your expectations too high, it’s troubling…”
“It will be fine! Be it plebeians or aristocrats, everyone in the world will be pleased by Asuta’s cookings!”
I sighed deeply.
Wellhyde half opened his mouth in doubt— but for some reason, his expression suddenly turned stiff.
“Erm, Asuta, sorry for intruding, I want to ask something…”
I heard a timid voice from behind me. I turned back and saw Leina Wu leaning out of the door.
“I opened a new bottle of fruit wine, but it had completely turned sour. Can you get some more fruit wine?”
“Oh, that’s not fruit wine, but a seasoning called vinegar. Like fruit wine, it is made from mamaria. There should be more fruit wine in the cabinet.”
“Ah, I see! I understand now, I’m very sorry…”
“No need to apologize, it will be great if mamaria vinegar is available in the Forest’s Edge and Post Station Town.”
I turned back as I answered, and found Wellhyde staring at Leina Wu wide eyed.
Leina Wu noticed too, and said with a troubled smile: “Erm, how may I help you…?”
Wellhyde shook his head like Roy did earlier.
Well… The people in the city and in Banam didn’t really know how fearsome kiba is, and didn’t have any bias view towards the people of Forest’s Edge.
Maybe Kamyua Yost noticed what I was thinking, and said cheerfully: “Alright then!”
“Sorry for holding you back for so long, we should be going now. The second son of the Count Taliem house should be here soon, let’s go receive him, Sir Wellhyde.”
“Ah, yes, right… Please lead the way.”
Wellhyde turned and followed Kamyua Yost.
Leina Wu tilted her head, then went back to the kitchen. Rau Lei stroked his thin chin with a grunt and said:
“I have reservations about her innocent and childish face, but Leina Wu is quite charming. But I prefer lean beauties like Ai Fa.”
“… What are you saying out of the blue?”
Ai Fa glared at Rau Lei with a scary face.
“No, I’m just sharing what I really think. I already told you, didn’t I? If you weren’t a hunter, I will want to marry you.”
“I’m asking you, what do you mean by that—”
“Like I said, I’m talking about the looks of the women. We are at a marriageable age too, isn’t that right, Darum Wu?”
Darum Wu entire body seemed to be covered by a black flame of irritability. He closed his eyes quietly and said: “Asuta of the Fa house.”
“Yes, what is it?”
“If you are done then get back to work.”
Darum Wu already declared that he had no rights to criticize Ai Fa’s way of life. It wasn’t Rau Lei’s fault since he didn’t know that, back then that scene still sends a chill down my back.
Speaking of which, the men from the Latzu and Gazu house proposed marriage to Ai Fa before.
It seemed that complicated relationships between men and women were the same in all worlds.
I switched up mindset and focused on my work.
Time passed slowly by, and when the candles on the walls were lit, we completed the six dishes.
The meat dish and non-fuwano dish made with poitan were still sitting on the counter as I wished for the guests to eat it while it was hot.
“Rimee can only eat after Papa Donda and the others finished? Ugghh, I’m famished.”
“Then eat a little. You want some Tatsuta-age?”
“No! I want to leave that for last!”
As they were chatting, someone knocked on the door. Chiffon Chel then appeared shortly after.
“The bell for the sixth watch will be rang soon… Sir Asuta, could you go to the dining hall?”
“Alright. Can I bring the entrée over?”
“Of course… the staff on duty will bring it for you…”
After Chiffon Chel said that, two servant boy in yellow entered the kitchen. I saw many servant boys in the Count Manor before, but the two of them were probably not part of the previous staff.
They placed the entrée on the presentation plate and the serving plates onto the beautiful trolley. A cloche was placed over the dish, so others couldn’t see what was inside.
“Ah, by the way, don’t you need to test for poison?”
“Yes… Poison testing was just a rule set by the previous master of the house…”
Kamyua Yost said that Pyschkurewuss’ father was murdered by poisoning. I wasn’t sure if this was true, but poison testing was probably set because of this.
I know too little about the nobles of this world.
Pyschkurewuss was an unscrupulous man who treats the Forest’s Edge denizens like barbarians.
Shileru was in cahoots with him.
Lifuria felt like she lacked a sense of morality.
However, Polarse was cheerful and mentally strong.
While Malfreed was the opposite, being overly stringent.
The relative of the Count Satolas house, Chief Justice Xylas seemed serious and reliable.
Wellhyde was a righteous young man.
Marstein— was unfathomable.
Not just Marstein, I only spent a short amount of time with the other nobles too. What kind of people were the nobles of the Western Kingdom Selva? Could they live in harmony with the denizens of Forest’s Edge? Tonight’s banquet would be a testing ground for this.
“Be careful, Asuta.”
“Yes, be on your guard too, Leina Wu.”
I followed the servant boy out of the kitchen. Darum Wu and Rau Lei stayed behind, while Ai Fa and Ludo Wu escorted me.
Chiffon Chel led the way as we walked down the maze-like corridor. The familiar and extravagant door appeared before us again.
I was summoned here by Lifuria before. Back then, not just Lifuria and Dell, even Polarse and Ai Fa were here. I was then liberated from my five days of confinement.
“Presenting the Chef from Forest’s Edge, Asuta of the Fa house.”
The servant announced in the high pitch tone of a boy.
The guards then opened the doors. A bright scene appeared before me; the nobles of Genos and the tribal chiefs of Forest’s Edge sitting together at a table.
“Ohh, Asuta of the Fa house. Thank you for your hard work today.”
A cheerful voice greeted me. It was Marstein who was in the seat of honor of this giant table. Beside him was Wellhyde who was serving as the witness.
A chandelier cast bright white light over the table and the four corners of the room were guarded by statues that were half man and half beast. Drapes with fine embroidery covered the brick walls, and purple colored rugs covered the ground— the dining hall looked just like I remembered. The exceptionally large dining table were surrounded with guests today.
On my right were the Forest’s Edge tribal chiefs delegates— Donda Wu, Graff Zaza, Dali Sauti, Kaslan Lutim, and the heads of the Bemu and Fou house.
On my left were the Genos nobles— Lifuria, an elderly man who appeared to be her guardian, Malfreed, Polarse and a thin youth representing the Count Satolas house.
There were thirteen seated guests, castle guards in white armor standing to the side of Marstein and Wellhyde, and young girls ready to tend to their needs.
Similar to me, Timaro was flanked by two servant boys. He stood up straight and stood by the wall behind the nobles. He didn’t cover his mouth this time, and had a prim expression on his face.
“Asuta of the Fa house, please stand behind the tribal chiefs. When the bell for the sixth watch rings, the banquet will begin.”
I nodded and walked to the tribal chiefs side of the room. Ai Fa and Ludo Wu stood in front of the tightly shut door and scanned the hall with sharp gazes.
The tribal chiefs delegates seemed to have surrendered their blades for safekeeping. The only armed personnel in the venue were the four guards, Ai Fa and Ludo Wu.
And of course, there were definitely more armed guards in the other rooms, but considering the physical abilities of the Forest’s Edge denizens, suppressing them wouldn’t be difficult. This minimal security was probably arranged by Marstein as a show of his trust.
“This is my first time meeting Asuta of the Fa house. I’m Tolst, the appointed guardian for Lifuria. This is the eldest son of the Count Satolas house, Reheim.”
I was bad at remembering names, but I still bowed towards them first.
Tolst was an elderly man with a face similar to an exhausted pug; Reheim was a thin young man with oily brown hair.
Tolst wore a beige shirt similar to Polarse, while Reheim’s attire was a collared Jaguar styled shirt, just like Marstein. It seemed that some aristocrats prefer Jaguar fashion.
But the one who surprised me the most was Lifuria.
Her messily cut chestnut hair had been trimmed to a cute bob cut, but her face was devoid of any expression.
A lone crown shaped accessory sat on top of her head, and her small body was covered by a white dress filled with ribbons. Her pale skin untouched by the elements made her look as cute as a french doll— but at the same time, this artificial aesthetic lacked human emotion.
Her position made it impossible for her to act wantonly, and her dressing made it hard to imagine what a tyrant she had been.
Marstein acted as he always had, and said in a casual tone: “Well then, allow me to say a word before dinner.”
He tied his long brown hair behind his head, and wore a ceremonial white cape on his shoulders. His brown eyes were bright and strong, and his mouth with a tidy beard showed a cheery smile. In short, he was completely different from his son Malfreed.
“As I have communicated to everyone before hand, this banquet is held in order to better the relationships between Genos and the Forest’s Edge. The former head of the Count Turan House, Pyschkurewuss, was previously fully authorized as the liaison between Genos and the Forest’s Edge. However, he is suspected of colluding with the twice removed former Forest’s Edge tribal chief Zattsu Tsun, and bringing calamity to the western kingdom. For us… This is an unprecedented issue of grave importance.”
Neither the tribal chiefs nor the nobles interjected.
Lifuria was also silent with hollow gazes.
“As the rulers of Genos, we have to redeem ourselves alongside the denizens of the Forest’s Edge. To achieve this, we have to work hand in hand with the Forest’s Edge denizens. And as part of this effort… Lifuria will inherit the Count Turan House with Tolst formally appointed as her guardian. On top of that, the eldest son of the Marquis Genos house, Captain of the Castle Guards Malfreed will be the liaison between Genos and Forest’s Edge.”
I held my breath.
I already knew about Lifuria and her guardian, but this was the first time I learned about Malfreed being the liaison for Forest’s Edge.
And it would be hard pressed to find someone more closely related to Marstein than him.
“That concludes my opening speech. I will arrange some time after diner for everyone to discuss the specifics. Please enjoy the cookings by Timaro and Asuta of the Fa house as we deepen our friendship.”
Marstein scanned the room.
Other than Lifuria, the others didn’t show much emotions either. I had not seen Polarse in a while, and he was peeking at the Forest’s Edge timidly, while Reheim beside him hung his head as if he was throwing a tantrum. This was probably the difference between a Count house and Marquis house, they couldn’t conceal their emotions as well as the young Wellhyde.
But what a scene this is.
On my right were the ferocious, brave and dark skinned Forest’s Edge hunters dressed in animal hide. On my left were the nobles from Rock city wearing elegant attire found in greek stories. As if people from two different worlds were seated opposite each other.
The aristocrats and the Forest’s Edge denizens had never crossed path before. Can they fill in the eight decades of emptiness tonight— no one could be certain yet.
Marstein had an easy smile from his seat where he could easily see everyone. He nodded satisfactory.
At this moment, a dull bell rang from somewhere.
“It is the sixth watch. Well then… let the banquet begin.”
“This is the entrée I prepared.”
Timaro declared proudly.
The steel cloche was removed, and a complicated fragrance spread throughout the hall.
“Totos and Ramanba fruit salad.”
This was the first time I heard of Ramanba fruit. He said that he would only use ingredients found in my kitchen, but I couldn’t tell what was a Ramanba fruit.
The servant boys distributed the dish into porcelain plates on Timaro’s instructions. From where I was, I could only see something gooey with a yellowish luster.
When the servant boy served the plate to the head of the Fou house who was seated at the end of the table, I stole a peek— and it was a salad just like he said.
The yellowish hue probably came from the yolk, while the luster came from oil. The egg white of the Totos remained translucent after heating, and shimmered under the light of the chandelier.
Within the translucent gooey substance were diced vegetables like neenon that resembles carrot, chachi that was like potato, and many others. There were lots of crushed walnut-like thing, more than all the vegetables combined.
“… The Ramanba fruit were smoked by pepeb herbs, and marinated together with the other vegetables in reten oil. Totos egg is then mixed in to complete this dish.”
“To think that just the entrée entails so much work.”
Timaro smiled brightly at Marstein’s cheerful voice, and slowly cast his gaze onto me.
“Sir Asuta, if you will.”
I thought about my relatively lack of effort in my entrée and removed the cloche.
I large and deep wooden plate was filled with raw gigo cut into stripes. I distribute them into wooden plates, pour tau sauce and dry kiki paste boiled in stock. That was my entrée.
I chose this dish because I want the entrée to be less flashy. But now, it looked too plain.
Cutting the yam-like gigo into stripes and covering it with the plum-like dry kiki paste. I boiled the kiki in tau sauce and stock as a replacement of Japanese style noodle sauce.
“… What a simple looking dish.”
Timaro said with a smile.
“I think this is an outstanding dish that showcase the honesty and forthrightness of the Forest’s Edge.”
I wasn’t sure how humble I should be, and decided to answer plainly. But this being a Tsurumiya style dish instead of a Forest’s Edge dish made me a little uneasy.
Yam cooked with plum paste. Well received by drinking customers and my father’s favourite dish. I wonder what they think about this.
While I was distributing the food, the servant boys had already filled the glasses of the guests with fruit wine. The servant girls treated the buffed Donda Wu and company with courtesy. They were braver than Polarse and the young man from the Count Satolas house.
When all the glasses were filled, the dishes prepared by Timaro and me were presented before everyone.
“Everyone, please enjoy the meal.”
The nobles didn’t have the habit of saying grace before a meal, and picked up their metal cutleries while the Forest’s Edge denizens were still saying their thanks.
“Ohh, the taste is splendid.”
“The Ramanba fruit taste really exquisite. It’s fragrance meshes splendidly with the Totos egg.”
“I’m honored that you find it to your liking.”
Timaro smiled happily.
All the nobles tried Timaro’s dish first. Only Lifuria started with my entrée that was served in a wooden plate.
“Asuta of the Fa house, this dish is slippery, I can’t scoop it up with a spoon.”
“Ah, my apologies. It might be more convenient to use a non metallic-spoon or two skewers to eat it.”
After saying that, I realized that I should be more formal with my speech in this venue.
Lifuria muttered softly: “Is that so” then picked up the wooden spoon. She then scooped up my dish and stuffed it into her small mouth, but she remained expressionless.
“Hmm, this is the first time I’m eating uncooked gigo. Is this a dish from the Forest’s Edge? Or something from Asuta’s hometown?”
Marstein asked me with a smile.
I answered: “This is from my hometown.” Marstein answered: “I see” and took a bite of the gigo in dry kiki paste.
“This is a refreshing taste. The sourness of the dry kiki neutralized the stench of the gigo, making it very palatable. What an interesting idea.”
“… Thank you for your compliment.”
The Forest’s Edge denizens ate my dish in silence.
They weren’t interested in non-kiba dishes, and didn’t react much. Only the head of the Fou house seated closest to me commented: “So that’s how raw gigo taste like.”
“The Fou house would only mix the gigo into poitan… This is a surprising taste.”
“Yes, is it to your liking?”
“Well, I don’t hate this taste. By the way… I feel hungrier after eating that.”
I didn’t have much experience with full course meals, so my knowledge regarding entrée was limited to it being an appetizer.
So I chose a dish that would stimulate their stomach, so they would look forward to the next dishes. I wonder what the other guests thought about this. In any case, the other guest had not given any feedback.
At this moment, the servant boys left the dining hall with the trolley. They went off to fetch the next dish.
Dali Sauti suddenly said loudly: “Hmm, this dish is really unique.”
He was holding the plate with Timaro’s entrée.
“Sir Dali Sauti, is it to your liking?”
In response to Marstein’s question, Dali Sauti scratched his head with his thick fingers:
“It’s not a matter of the taste— the slittery sensation feels a little revolting.”
He was straight to the point, but Timaro just smiled with ease:
“That must be the sensation of the reten oil. Those trying it for the first time might not be used to it.”
“Well, Asuta’s dish can be slittery at times too, but… I will have some fruit wine.”
By the way, Donda Wu and Graff Zaza already finished both entrée, and started gulping down the fruit wine. The fruit wine in a silver glass which was smaller than a beer mug was just one swig to them. They will probably grow impatient if they waited for the servant girls to them one glass at a time.
However, if nothing extreme happens, they have every intention of following the customs of the city. What were the nobles planning, and how they would treat them— they attended this banquet in order to figure this out.
“Yes, Sir Asuta’s cooking is delightful.”
Polarse spoke at this moment. A carefree smile appeared on his round face.
“Sir Timaro’s cooking are very exquisite, I’m looking forward to the rest of his cuisine. Sir Asuta’s dishes are very appetizing, and makes me crave for the next course. Both entrée are very well done.”
“Thank you for your kind compliments.”
Timaro and I answered at the same time.
Getting the comment I expected made me sigh in relief, while Timaro looked a little flustered. He probably felt slighted that his cooking was placed on par with my crude dishes.
Anyway, everyone had put down their spoons to rest, so it was time to serve the next soup dish.
“Ara, what a nice fragrance.”
Polarse sniffed the air and said. He was talking about the fragrance of the Nyuushi from Timaro’s pot.
I wonder if adding generous amount of nyuushi into the soup is the common way of eating in the city. Roy did the same thing.
Timaro removed the cloche, and a sweet fragrance permeated the entire hall.
“This is the soup made with karon nyuushi and three types of herbs.”
One of these herbs was similar to the spice used by Yang in Post Station Town. There was a cinnamon-like scent that enhances the fragrance of the nyuushi.
“This is a soup made with kiba meat and tau sauce.”
I served the orthodox “tau sauce kiba soup”.
I used the kiba thigh and belly meat, aria, chachi, gigo, neenon and pula. Varied and luxurious ingredients were used, and it was cooked with more care and attention. Aside from the Wu clan, this was the first time anyone else saw this.
However, the word kiba immediately filled the hall with tension.
It’s finally time— the air was tensed. Lifuria and Malfreed were emotionless, while Tolst gave a deep sigh. Polarse looked all around him while Reheim pursed his lips.
Eight decades ago, kiba was seen as a symbol of catastrophe, and even now, it was viewed as beasts that only the barbaric Forest’s Edge tribe would eat. Even if the people from the city hear rave reviews of the kiba dish in Post Station Town, they won’t give it a second look. In order to atone for Pyschkurewuss’ crimes— matryr-like expressions and lamenting their cruel fate— I could gleam such grudges from their faces.
At the same time, the dishes were laid out onto the dining table. As expected, the nobles started with Timaro’s soup, while the Forest’s Edge sampled my dish first.
“Ah, this is really well done. The sweetness and texture of the nyuushi is really thick.”
Marstein was the first to give his compliments.
“And what is this tender meat? Could it be kimyusu skin?”
“That’s the stomach of a karon.”
“Hmm, that’s a rare sight.”
I felt pleasantly surprised. So Genos has the culture of eating offals too. I wonder what kind of ingredient was the stomach of a karon. I couldn’t wait for the taste test after the banquet.
At this moment, Dali Sauti cried in shock: “What is this!”
He seemed to have notice the fruits of my efforts.
“This is called wonton. The kiba meat is covered in fuwano coating, and boiled in water.”
“Tau sauce kiba soup” was more or less fixed in form after much research by Leina Wu and I. While I was thinking about ways to improve this dish, I thought about wonton.
It wasn’t difficult to make at all. Like I explained to Dali Sauti, fuwano was mixed with water to create dough. The dough was then flattened, then ingredients like salt, pico leaves, tau sauce and minced meat added in. I then wrapped them up like dumplings, and heated them in hot soup.
The delicious taste of the minced kiba meat was locked into the soft fuwano, and I felt this was one of my best works. The women who tried this in the Wu clan kitchen had nothing but praise for it.
“Yes, this is delicious! It taste good, and feels soothing in the mouth. Don’t you think so, Kaslan Lutim?”
“Yes, it’s very tasty.”
Kaslan Lutim was more quiet and reserved than usual. He was probably observing the nobles carefully.
Under Kaslan Lutim’s watchful gaze, Polarse made up his mind and was the first noble to pick up his spoon. He stared at the soup in his bowl, slowly moved his spoon, then timidly tasted the soup— his face then twisted in shock:
He then drank a few more spoonful at an even pace. After he bit into a white wonton, Polarse shouted cheerfully: “Delicious!”
“So this is kiba! Sir Asuta, this is amazing! Hmm… this texture is just as good as karon breast meat!”
“Thank you for your compliment, it’s an honor.”
I heard a snort and looked back. Timaro had his head turned to the side with a wry smile. He must have snorted accidentally.
But his smile froze immediately.
“Yes, this is wonderful.”
“I see, I already heard that kiba is well received in Post Station Town. I finally understand why.”
“Yes, it’s very delicious.”
Wellhyde besides him also nodded firmly:
“Sir Asuta of the Fa house, please forgive my ignorant words earlier. Kiba being tough and stinky appears to just be a rumour.”
“No, I’m flattered by your praise.”
I finally sighed in relief.
Lifuria then called out to me:
“This dish is very tasty.”
“Thanks. Ah, no… I’m very grateful for your kind words.”
Before I realized it, Tolst and Reheim had also started drinking the soup. I was a bit worried about Timaro’s fragrant soup stealing my thunder, but that worry seemed to be unfounded.
The Forest’s Edge denizens who tried the nyuushi soup had lukewarm reactions.
“This is slimy too. Do the people in the city all prefer greasy dishes?”
“… That should be the texture of the karon nyuushi. It seems that the Forest’s Edge denizens find the oily texture disagreeable.”
“Yes. I’m fine with the fats from kiba though.”
Dali Sauti grumbled as he drank the soup with a wooden spoon. The Fou and Bemu house heads made faces as if they were undergoing an arduous trial. The Forest’s Edge denizens who could eat the nasty tasting poitan soup in the past actually disliked Timaro’s dish so much.
I also tried the soup made by Roy that had generous amount of nyuushi and herbs. I didn’t find it unpleasant, but the Forest’s Edge denizen probably wouldn’t like such a complicated taste.
Everyone then finished the food on their plates, and the next course was served. Timaro presented a fuwano dish, while mine was poitan.
“Grilled Gyoma curd hat.”
“This is a dish made from poitan, called okonomiyaki.”
This was the first time I heard of this grilled hat, and at a glance, it seemed to be like gratin or pie. On the large and flat porcelain plate was a golden colored cheese covered dish. It had the alluring fragrance only possible in a the city with an oven.
What I presented was an okonomiyaki. Neither my hometown nor the Forest’s Edge had the custom of serving full course meals, and this was my answer after troubling over which dish to serve.
I mixed chopped tino and minced kiba abdomen meat together with the batter made from water, dried poitan and crushed gigo, then grilled the entire mixture. The seasoning was the worchester sauce made from tau sauce, and Genos-style mayonnaise made from totos egg, mamaria vinegar and reten oil.
However, I couldn’t find any ingredient to substitute for seaweed and bonito, which was a slight disappointment. With no other choice, I removed the salt from pickled maru, heat it in a pot, then sprinkled it over the okonomiyaki.
Pickled maru was small shelled fishes Neil used to make pickled chitto. Despite having plenty of water resources, Genos had almost no seafood to speak of, so the pickled maru was a precious ingredient to me.
It wasn’t an ideal replacement for bonito, but was good enough as a stand-in. I was the only one who knew what a proper okonomiyaki was like anyway, so others wouldn’t notice the imperfection.
By the way, I had to bring all the dishes except for the main course to the dining hall, so this okonomiyaki was actually made by Leina Wu and the others. They practiced their culinary skills everyday for the sake of this banquet, and the final product looked flawless.
“How should we distribute this?”
The servant boys asked as they looked baffedly at the six round pancakes.
“I will cut it, please serve the cut portions.”
I divide the six pancakes into quarters, so there would be 24 portions. Lifuria will just need one, while Donda Wu and Graff Zaza would probably eat three.
“As expected of a Migrant, this is an intriguing dish.”
Timaro who recovered his self control after a while smiled as he distributed his own dish. When I looked his way, a question formed in my heart.
After the fragrant cheese cover was broke open, the inside was gooey like oatmeal. This was probably a dish made by crushing grilled fuwano and heating it with karon milk like ingredients. The fragrance of the curd and the thick aroma of milk were mixed together.
I sniffed again, and detected a stinging smell of herbs. At closer inspection, I saw a withered-brown colored long strands of grass inside. It wasn’t as potent as chitto, but was still a strong spice. The stinging smell didn’t match the sweetness of the curd too well.
This probably won’t be well received by the denizens of Forest’s Edge.
But I should worry about my own dish first.
“Yes, I love grilled hats.”
When the dish had been served to everyone, Polarse was the first to give his comment. As I suspected, the combination of sweet dairy and spice was popular in the Genos City.
At this moment, I heard a strange “kuku” sound.
The Bemu house head looked troubled after taking a bite of the okonomiyaki. The head of the Fou house who was tearing the pancake with his wooden spoke asked him quietly: “What is it?”
“Bemu house head, is this dish to your liking?”
“… I didn’t say that.”
“It taste great. There’s no contradiction in opposing Asuta’s business and finding his cooking delicious, right?”
The head of the Bemu house was attending this banquet as the representatives of the denizens who oppose us doing business in Post Station Town. He finished the okonomiyaki swiftly with a sour face.
Polarse who was seated opposite them must have heard their conversation. He push his plate of grilled hat aside and started tearing the okonomiyaki with his silver spoon.
He exclaimed right after that.
“This is wonderful, and easily rival the soup earlier! Sir Asuta, this is made from poitan, not fuwano, correct?”
“Correct, poitan is more suitable for this dish, so I opted to use it.”
“The taste is excellent! If you can make such delicious food with poitan, why aren’t you selling this in Post Station Town?”
“This dish can’t be eaten easily with your hands, so it isn’t suited to be sold at a stall. I’m thinking about selling this dish at the inns.”
I answered with a simple explanation.
“And I couldn’t make the sauce without reten oil and mamaria vinegar, which is another reason why it isn’t suited to be sold in Post Station Town.”
There wasn’t any bonito and seaweed, and if you take away mayonnaise, that would be too pitiful. If reten oil and mamaria vinegar was readily available in Post Station Town, I wouldn’t object to this dish being sold in Post Station Town.
The dish was well received in the Wu clan too. They were all pleased and surprised that just adding some ingredients on top of the poitan batter would change the taste so much. By the way, Sati Lei Wu likes this dish the most.
“I understand. But this tau sauce has a unique flavor. It had a thickness that is different from mamaria vinegar.”
“That’s the sourness of the Tarapa. I added cooked Tarapa and aria inside, and the thickness is probably because I added fuwano powder.”
“Oh, I’m impressed! Sir Reheim, what do you think? This is a poitan dish made by Asuta!”
After hearing what Polarse who couldn’t hold back his excitement said, Reheim turned to him and said:
“Leaving the part about poitan aside, this dish is impeccable. It is very tasty. Asuta of the Fa house, is this really made with kiba meat?”
“That’s right. This dish uses the breast meat of a kiba. The previous dish was made with breast meat and thigh meat.”
“… The most surprising thing for me, is that this dish uses poitan instead of fuwano.”
The elderly Tolst beside Lifuria sighed in awe.
“If such a delicious dish can be made with poitan, fuwano sales will plummet in Post Station Town. Marquis Genos… I wish to carry out my assigned duty of revitalizing the Count Turan House to my best abilities, but at the current state, our coffers will run dry in less than a year.”
“Don’t need to despair. You just need to undo the contract Pyschkurewuss made with the other parties. You should be able to retain enough wealth by breaking the contracts for unnecessary ingredients, correct?”
“It will take a long time to stop these trades. The former master of the house made a large amount of contracts with Semu and Jaguar. If we cancel these deals one sided, the reputation of both Genos and the Count Turan House would suffer in these two nations.”
“That’s why I’m thinking of ways to aid you. If you sell the ingredients to restaurants not affiliated with the Count Turan House or to Post Station Town, these ingredients won’t go to waste. All this while… Pyschkurewuss has been monopolizing the ingredient trade, and he had blocked all of its supplies. If the ingredients that used to be difficult to obtain suddenly became readily available, many will see it as good news, correct?”
Marstein took a sip of fruit wine unhurriedly:
“Anyway, forget about your worries for now, and enjoy the cuisine. Asuta of the Fa house, your dishes are exemplary. Words fail me in describing how shocked I am to see such a level of cooking from someone as young as you.”
I answered as I thought about Lifuria again. Whenever I hear Pyschkurewuss’ name, I would break out in cold sweat.
However, Lifuria continued eating her okonomiyaki slowly expressionlessly like a doll.
“Asuta of the Fa house, do you have more of this dish?”
Donda Wu suddenly asked me from afar.
“Yes, there should be 11 pieces left.”
“Give me three then. Just eating this much made me hungrier.”
Polarse used this chance to add: “Then, can I have one more?”
“I wanted to save some space in my stomach since this is just the third dish, but I can’t stand it anymore! Ahh, to think kiba taste this good. If I knew, I would have bought from the stall in Post Station Town! I really want to apprehend the criminals and let you reopen your stall soon, Sir Asuta!”
After that, everyone from Forest’s Edge, Wellhyde and Reheim made the same request, so the additional pieces were all given out.
On the other hand, only Marstein and Polarse requested for another portion of Timaro’s dishes, so he had quite a number left over. Timaro who had just started to cheered up had a stiff smile again.
“… Leaving leftover food isn’t my style…”
The head of the Fou house whispered in a voice only I could hear:
“Just eating my share of this is more than enough. Hearing him say that makes my mood heavy. If the nobles weren’t eating the same thing, I will suspect that I’m being poisoned.”
“Is that so…”
The relentless assualt of nyuushi, curd and karon milk products delivered a painful blow to the denizens of Forest’s Edge. This was a reminder to myself; I need to pay more attention when making dinner in the Forest’s Edge.
Marstein looked intriguingly at the people with differing thoughts, and said:
“Both Timaro and Asuta’s cooking are splendid. I’m looking forward to the next course.”
“This is my salad course.”
The dishes were served while Timaro announced that, and the nobles all cried out loudly. On the trolley was a gigantic Tarapa.
Tarapa was a pumpkin shaped tomato-like vegetable. His Tarapa was big enough to be worn over the head like a halloween decoration..
“That is a surprisingly large Tarapa.”
Tolst, the guardian of the Count Turan House commented in awe, and Polarse’s shocked voice drowned him out:
“Tarapa will grow larger if you leave them be, but it becomes tougher, more sour and less sweet as it grows in size.”
“Ah, Tarapa are grown in the Taliem house’s farms.”
“That’s right. If you continue to nurture Tarapa of this size, it will shrivel and produce a dense and exquisite taste of sweet and sourness. However… doing so will increase its price by several folds. Hence, the ones sold in Post Station Town and farms are the sour Tarapa, while those sold in the city are smaller and sweeter… Normally, Tarapa of this size is too sour to eat.”
Polarse shared his niche knowledge as he watched with curious eyes.
“And of course, the renowned chef Sir Timaro won’t serve us such unpalatable Tarapa.”
“Yes, of course.”
Timaro renewed his fighting spirit as he stood before his dish. He placed his fingers that look slender for a man in his prime onto the Tarapa’s stalk.
“This is the Tarapa dish I developed myself. Aside from dinner in the Count Turan House, this is the first time I’m presenting this to others.”
After saying that, Timaro grabbed the stalk and the top half of the Tarapa lifted up like a lid of a pot. Inside it was bright red vegetable stew.
He probably scooped out the Tarapa, added in various ingredients, and cooked it over a slow fire in order to not damage the exterior of the Tarapa. The fragrance of various vegetables, herbs and meat stew entered my nasal cavity.
This appears to be his magnum opus.
Using the vegetable as a container was an interesting idea.
As usual, what I presented was plain as usual.
“This is vegetable stew and kiba.”
It can also be called “cold kiba shabu shabu and cooked vegetable salad”. I cooked the kiba abdomen meat until it turned tender, removed the excess fats with water and serve it as a cold shabu shabu.
The vegetable I chose were tino, neenon and aria, which were cooked until it turned completely soft. The ‘small Tarapa that condenses both the sour and sweet taste’ that Polarse mentioned were placed on top as part of the presentation.
The lemon-like shiru fruit were cooked with tau sauce, and mixed with stock to season the dish. This seasoning reminded me of Ponzu shōyu.
I hope the Forest’s Edge denizens could consume more vegetables, and this dish represents my intentions. I controlled the quantity of belly meat and added a large quantity of vegetables. When the prototype was made, Vena Wu and Ditto Min Wu both loved this dish.
“Both dishes look wonderful.”
Polarse was overjoyed. Wellhyde, Reheim and the others seemed to be hesitant about which dish to start with.
The Forest’s Edge denizens ate my dish quietly. If Dan Lutim was here, the banquet would be cheerful and rowdy, but I doubt Timaro’s dishes would suit his palette.
“Yes, it taste great! Both of your cooking are exquisite, Sir Asuta and Sir Timaro!”
After taking bites from both plates, Polarse was the first to express his views:
“The herbs from Timaro’s dishes gives off a strong aroma! This is the karon’s loin meat, right? Both the meat and vegetables are amazing! And the sourness of the Tarapa is just right!”
“I’m honored that the taste is to your liking. Normally… the Tarapa would be too sour to eat, but the sourness will be just right if it is used as a container to serve another dish like this.”
“I see, I see. But the Tarapa inside looked a little better?”
“That’s right. The proportion of the two Tarapa is the key of this dish.”
“So you scooped out the inside of the Tarapa, and threw it away? What an extravagant way of eating.”
The head of the Fou house frowned when he learned that fact.
He then stared at the bright red vegetables on his small porcelain plate. I wanted to ask him what’s wrong when Kaslan Lutim who was sitting silently beside the Bemu house head spoke:
“This is very delicious. The herbs and aroma might be a little too strong, but it has a good texture.”
This was probably the first praise offered by the Forest’s Edge camp towards Timaro.
I thought Timaro’s mood would improve with that compliment— but Timaro just answered with a straight face: “Thank you for your kind words.”
Could it be… He thought nothing about the compliments by the Forest’s Edge denizens?
Then his misunderstanding of the situation was really deep. For the sake of his ego, it would serve him well to pay more attention to the opinions of the Forest’s Edge denizens.
The goal of this banquet was to make amends and build the relationship between both parties. I could understand the compliments by Kaslan Lutim and Dali Sauti was for the sake of erecting a bridge of friendship. However, Forest’s Edge considered lies immoral, so they wouldn’t praise others against their conscientiousness. That was why they had been stubbornly quiet.
Since Kaslan Lutim said it tastes good, it must be a sincere compliment. If he told me that, I would be jumping for joy.
Timaro who didn’t understand the Forest’s Edge denizens probably didn’t feel this way. I stole a glance at Kaslan Lutim, and he acknowledged me with a gentle smile:
“Asuta’s cooking is amazing too.”
It was as if he had seen through me, which made me bashful.
I could tell from the way the Forest’s Edge denizens were eating that they enjoyed my cooking. However, leaving the stoic Donda Wu and Graff Zaza aside, the others felt awkward hearing Kaslan Lutim and Dali Sauti only praising my cooking, and kept quiet.
“Yes, Asuta’s cooking is marvelous! It’s such a simple dish, but it taste so good. The kiba meat is delicious! I can’t wait for the main course.”
Polarse had almost finished the food on both plates.
And so, it was almost time for the main course.
“Alright then, I beg your leave.”
Timaro left the hall with the servant boys, and I followed quickly after. According to the rules, the head chef has to personally do the finishing touches to the main course.
Timaro went down the end of the corridor, as if he didn’t want to speak to me.
“I don’t think the nobles are hostile at all. Instead, that chef is the hostile one.”
Ai Fa said as she walked beside me. The servant boy was still leading us along, so I took care not to say anything untowards.
“Ah, Asuta. Is there any problem with the Okonomiyaki?”
Back at the kitchen, Leina Wu was the first to come to me. Her blue eyes were shimmering with expectations and unease.
When she heard my answer, her smile bloomed:
“That’s great. It’s finally time for the main course.”
“Yes. I’m counting on everyone.”
Leina Wu, Shela Wu and I went to our post and lit our stoves. Rimee Wu stood some distance away and cheered for us: “Work hard!”
“How’s the banquet?”
“Well, the atmosphere is a little awkward. Donda Wu and the others aren’t used to chatting during dinner.”
I looked at the kiba fats melting into a clear liquid and shrugged:
“However, my cooking is rather well received. Let’s finish things up with the last two dishes.”
Anyway, this day will probably end peacefully. Marstein was too expressive, making it hard to figure out what he was thinking, but I could sense that Polarse, Wellhyde, Tolst and Reheim had grown to love kiba dishes.
“Alright, I’m going then.”
We shift the completed cookings onto the plates, and I left for the dining hall energetically. No matter how well the dishes would be received, the banquet was heading towards its conclusion.
“This is steamed karon meat.”
The nobles were in an uproar over this.
On the biggest plate that I had seen today was an enormous piece of meat. It was about 60 cm long, 30 cm wide and 15 cm thick.One end was bigger than the other, so this was probably from the torso of a four legged critter.
The skin didn’t seem to be grilled, and the skin that turned ivory after steaming had a layer of yellowish sauce. There was small pieces of Tarapa, chachi, neenon and other herbs and vegetables around it, making it look incredibly luxurious.
“This dish used half of a karon youngling. Please start eating from the loin meat on the outside.”
Timaro personally cut the meat with a large meat cutting knife. It sunk into the meat without resistance, and the meat was sliced like a hot knife through butter.
The meat from the cut section was light pink, and had an oily texture. It looked really juicy and delicious.
“This dish is made by coating kiba loin meat with chachi powder, and deep frying it in kiba oil.”
I couldn’t lose to him. I scooped the shredded tino, aria and neenon into small plates, poured a mixture of shiru and reten oil over it, and used this salad to complement the “Tatsuta-age kiba”.
Aside from Donda Wu, this was the first time the others saw this dish. In the end, I decided to use loin meat sliced thinly enough to be eaten in just two bites. I chose this main course out of all possibilities, what would the others think about my judgment— This had nothing to do with Timaro, and was a battle with myself.
The servant boys served Timaro and my dishes to everyone. All the guests waited politely for the boys to serve all the plates.
“Ara, I don’t know where to start. The kimyusu cutlet Sir Asuta made was exquisite after all.”
Polarse had a knife and fork in each hand as he sized up both dishes.
Dali Sauti who was also holding a fork frowned a little: “This is…”
“This meat doesn’t seem to be fully cooked. Is this really edible?”
“Yes, the meat is completely cooked, and raw karon meat is edible in any case. Please don’t worry and enjoy the dish.”
The meat looked glossy and looked like a well done steak. The Forest’s Edge denizens must love such a forthright dish.
Speaking of which, Donda Wu likes grilled kiba.
I wasn’t trying to compete with Timaro, but if Donda Wu prefers Timaro’s cooking over mine— that will be a big shock to me. My heart started to race.
“Alright then, please help yourselves to the feast.”
Marstein picked up the karon meat with his fork.
The slices of meat were 2 to 3 cm thick. He put his knife under the meat to catch the dripping sauce, and sent it to his mouth— Marstein then narrowed his eyes with pleasure.
“This is… unbelievably tender. It melts right in my mouth.”
Could a steamed dish create such a tender texture? Timaro stood in front of me as I held my breath, and bowed graciously.
“I used the tender meat of a karon youngling, and just the preparation took a lot of effort and time. By adjusting the strength of the fire carefully, it is possible to make a food so tender that even those with weak gums could eat it easily.”
“I see. Only a select few in Genos can make such a dish. How I wish I could employ them all to work in the Genos castle.”
“I’m honored by your compliments.”
Timaro looked at me as if he was showing off.
Polarse, Tolst and the others were also in awe after trying the karon meat dish.
What about the Forest’s Edge denizens? Dali Sauti who turned quiet after trying the last few dishes was at his limits:
“Asuta, I don’t understand why you didn’t make kiba cutlet here… And your culinary skills astound me again. I never dreamed that you had a dish tastier than kiba cutlets.”
“Is it to your liking?”
“Yes. I’m almost done with my share, but I can eat however much there is.”
Beside the gently smiling Dali Sauti, Kaslan Lutim also said in agreement: “That’s right.”
“If I told my father Dan about the delicious meal I had, he will definitely nag at me. Asuta, can you cook for the Lutim house in a few days time?”
“Yes, I will be happy to.”
The words of the two quiet men left a deep impression in my heart.
The other four Forest’s Edge denizens were silent, and wiped out my dish in quick succession.
It seems that the nobles all started with Timaro’s dishes, while the Forest’s Edge denizen ate my food first. The food served in the small dishes were cleaned out in no time, and it was time for the second round.
The aristocrats all had faces of anticipation, while the Forest’s Edge denizens had cold faces as they picked up their other plate. The nobles digged into the kiba meat while the Forest’s Edge denizens ate the karon meat. I grew tense as I watched this scene.
For the previous dishes, I either used thin slices or minced meat. For the okonomiyaki and salad, I intentionally controlled the amount of kiba meat.
Hence, this main course was the actual kiba meat dish. If this dish wasn’t acceptable to them, it meant they were refuting all the kiba meat dishes.
As I watched them with bated breath, a voice reached my ears: “Ohh—”
I searched for the origin of that voice, and found Polarse showing indescribable joy as he looked at me and said:
“This is delicious! Sir Asuta, your culinary skills—”
He started chewing mid sentence.
I felt relieved. He was so immersed in my cooking, and couldn’t even spare the time to compliment me. To me, that was good enough.
“What a surprise… Sir Asuta of the Fa house, I heard you came from overseas… Who exactly are you?”
“I came from an island nation called Japan, I’m the son of a small eatery. I have been learning to cook from my father since I was young.”
“Is that true? Are you a chef from the palace of the Dragon Deity—?”
“No! I’m not someone with such a prestigious standing!”
“Hmm. But you have the skills to match Timaro at such a young age, so this is highly unusual.”
Timaro’s face twitched.
Reheim glanced at him from the corner of his eyes, and smiled deviously:
“Sir Tolst, it’s inappropriate to say that in front of the subjects themselves. I think Asuta is just cooking with the methods from a foreign land, and we are just mesmerized by the novelty of it all.”
“Oh. Sir Reheim, you don’t have any special thoughts about all this?”
“That’s not true either, I just think the novelty plays a bigger part than what we might think. To be honest, I find Asuta’s cooking to be absolutely delightful.”
It seemed that this young man wasn’t as forthright as he looked. After Reheim tried to joke, Malfreed reined him in.
“This main course is perfect. I have no complains at all.”
Malfreed who had kept quiet all this time had spoken. Reheim was dumbstruck from surprise, and Marstein smiled:
“What a surprise, to think someone who won’t even move a brow no matter how delicious the food would give his comment. This is the first time I heard your feedback on how you find your food, Malfreed.”
Malfreed who was as cool as a cucumber said coldly:
“I don’t really care about the taste of food, but I still know when something is delicious. And this dish, is very delicious.”
“Yes, it’s exquisite. Timaro’s dish is also amazing, but I can’t tell which is better.”
When he heard that, the blood drained from Timaro’s face, and his slender shoulders started to shake. Marstein noticed that, and said in a cheerful tone:
“Then let’s continue to lavish our taste buds. Asuta, Timaro, can you distribute the rest of the food to everyone?”
“Yes, my liege.”
There were still around half of each of our food left, and there were enough for everyone. At this moment, Donda Wu spoke in a deep voice after being quiet all this while:
“Genos landlord Marstein. I’m sorry to trouble you, but I can’t eat this dish anymore.”
Marstein turned his head towards him with an “ara”.
“Sir Donda Wu, is this karon dish not to your liking?”
“Yes. If eating another piece is the proper manners in Genos, I will follow through. If not, allow me to turn this down.”
After that, three other Forest’s Edge denizens concurred with him. They were Graff Zaza and the heads of the Bemu and Fou houses. Timaro’s face turned green as he continued slicing his meat.
“Ohh, so four of our six guests don’t like this dish. I’m sorry, but can you tell me what is it about this dish that displeases you?”
“I don’t like meat that is mushy, unless it is part of a soup.”
Donda Wu then added irately:
“This has nothing to do with who cooked the meal. When Asuta cooked in my house for the first time, I thought his food was poison too.”
“I see. It can’t be helped if you find the tender karon meat disagreeable. Then… Do the others feel the same too?”
“It has nothing to do with the tenderness of the meat. It feels disgusting when I bite into this meat.”
Graff Zaza’s tone was harsher than Donda Wu. The head of the Bemu house nodded with a grim face.
“I feel the same as Graff Zaza. Some of the previous dishes also made me nauseous. My stomach and chest hurts and is hot.”
“I see. Maybe you are allergic to some of the ingredient, or is there some other reason…?”
Marstein looked at the head of the Fou house with a smile, who in turn shook his head slowly:
“I feel fine, but just eating meat without any soup and poitan feels a little too greasy.”
He then cast an unexpectedly sharp look at Timaro:
“Chef from the city, there are so much vegetables in your tray, why aren’t you distributing them into the plates?”
Timaro who had not recovered from Marstein’s criticism looked back at the head of the Fou house:
“These are herbs and vegetables used to enhance the flavor of the karon meat. I placed them here to improve the dish’s presentation. They are like an empty shell, and not meant for the guest’s consumption.”
“As I suspected. Then… I’m even less inclined to eat this dish. Everyone else can take my share if they wish to.”
The head of the Fou house cast his gaze now weakly.
“I said too much, I apologize if I offended anyone.”
“There’s no need for that. Can you share with me why do you think this way?”
Marstein narrowed his eyes curiously. The Fou house head shook his head without even looking Marstein’s way.
“It’s not worth talking about. I think this isn’t something that should be said here.”
“No, this is the place for us to put aside our differences and deepen our understanding of each other. Because of our drastic difference in lifestyle, our customs might be different too. Shouldn’t we clear any misunderstanding and share our views?”
The head of the Fou house stared at the table for a while before speaking:
“I… just can’t accept the way the food is wasted for the sake of making delicious meals. No matter how tasty it might be, I don’t want to eat it.”
“Oh, so wasting the vegetables to improve the texture of the meat goes against your principles, huh. Timaro… what do you think about Sir Bardock’s comment?”
I was shocked when I heard Marstein saying the name of the Fou house head that I never learned before. Timaro let the servant boy served the meat onto the table as he shook his head troublingly:
“It’s hard to push this onto the difference in culture. Not just this dish, just making stock requires a large amount of ingredients. After extracting the essence from these ingredients, the remnants had to be discarded.”
“Hmm, pray share your perspective, Asuta. You are a chef from a foreign land, correct?”
“As for me… It’s true, ever since I started living in Forest’s Edge, I had been taking care not to waste food. I quickly learned that this is the custom of the Forest’s Edge.”
For example, after extracting starch from the chachi, I will use the remnants in other dishes. Even the dried up chachi had its uses.
I couldn’t waste any of the ingredients traded from the kiba tusks and horns that Ai Fa risked her life to hunt— After living together with Ai Fa and wasting a few poitan in the first few days, I learned this lesson. Even though I could earn copper plates myself now, my principle on this remained the same.
“I see. The custom in the city is very different from the Forest’s Edge.”
After Marstein said that, an awkward silence engulfed the dining hall.
In the meanwhile, the food distributed to the dishes became lesser over time, and the servant boys all disappeared behind the doors. It was finally time for the last course of the day to come.
“Lifuria, compared to the main courses, you seem to prefer the dessert.”
Marstein looked and spoke to Lifuria for the first time.
Lifuria nodded with hollow eyes: “Yes.”
“Given how obsessed you were with Asuta of the Fa house, that must mean that Asuta is proficient in making desserts too, right.”
He spoke casually, but the content touched on Lifuria’s past crimes, and was a dangerous topic. Graff Zaza stared at Lifuria, and Dali Sauti frowned.
But Lifuria just answered quietly: “Yes”.
“I heard making desserts requires skills and knowledge different from the main courses. Asuta, you have an ability beyond your age.”
“That isn’t true. To be honest, I’m clueless about desserts. The desserts I made today and previously were all done haphazardly based on my vague memories.”
“Oh, but despite of that, you still made desserts that Lifuria is fond of, that’s impressive.”
And because I made desserts that Lifuria likes, she didn’t let me go. It was hard for me to comment on this, but I still wanted to clarify one thing:
“However, today’s dessert is something Lady Lifuria has never tasted before. I hope you will like it…”
“Asuta, you are not a vassal of the Count Turan House, so you don’t need to use honorifics with me.”
For that instant— just a short moment, Lifuria’s reddish brown eyes shone in her usual arrogant manner.
“And I think you have never called me by my name before. Asuta, I hope you will address me as Lifuria.”
“… Pardon me, Lifuria.”
The moment I answered, the servants returned.
“Everyone, sorry for the wait. This is a fuwano dessert with Minmi dressing.”
Timaro sounded tired as he removed the silver cloche. Under it was a large squarish cake.
It looked really dense and was covered in pink Minmi fruit— which reminded me of the peach-like fruit I used when I made dessert for Lifuria. Timaro cut the dessert open, and a sweet fragrance immediately permeate the entire hall.
It has an unfathomable fragrance. Grilled fuwano, Minmi, banam honey… and some other ingredients I didn’t know of.
I thought as I uncovered the silver cloche.
“As for me— Erm, this is ‘chachi mochi’ made from chachi.”
“Chachi? You can make dessert from Chachi?”
Polarse said loudly in surprise. I nodded as if I was praising myself.
What I presented was “chachi mochi” made from starch. I boiled chachi powder with jaguar sugar in water, and when it cools down into a gooey state, I hasten the solidifying process with cold water, then cut it into appropriate sizes. A simplified version of Warabimochi.
The seasoning was done by using a mixture of chachi powder, sugar and tau sauce to produce something akin to Mitarashi dango paste. It had low sugar content, and its selling point was the chewy texture. I didn’t use Reina who was great at making dessert as reference, but took inspiration from my mother who made dessert for me when I was still young.
“Uwah, it’s as clear as Totos egg! Is this really chachi? How did you turn Chachi into this state…”
“I removed the moisture from the chachi and dried it into powder form. The chachi powder is similar to the fuwano powder, and can be used to create desserts. That’s why I chose to make this dish.”
Since the main course was “Tatsuta-age kiba” and the soup was “tau sauce kiba soup”, a thought came to my mind. How about standardizing the style of all the dishes? The people of this world might not understand this concept, but since the guests would be eating okonomiyaki, cold shabu shabu, Tatsuta-age, I wouldn’t want them to eat donuts and crepes.
And I felt that the hunters of Forest’s Edge wouldn’t like sweet desserts, so I thought about what kind of texture they could enjoy. This might be my one-sided thinking— but I felt that Japanese styled desserts suited fierce hunters like Donda Wu and Graff Zaza more than western desserts did.
“Hmm, This— has an incredible taste.”
Marstein who tried my dessert “Mitarashi paste chachi mochi” first gave his cheerful feedback.
“Asuta’s cooking style is very unique, even more so for this dessert. This is truly an exotic dish from a foreign land.”
I retorted in my heart “It’s not a foreign land, but a foreign world”, then bowed my heart: “Thank you for your gracious compliments.”
The head of the Bemu house rolled his eyes: “What’s with this dish?”
“Is this really made from chachi? This feels— no, I don’t know how to describe it.”
“It’s true. Forest’s Edge and Post Station Town don’t have access to sugar. The Forest’s Edge denizens don’t even know about the existence of this ingredient, much less desserts. So I’m not confident if it suits your taste… what do you think?”
“In my hometown, women and children love sweet desserts.”
I only tried making it with sugar in Forest’s Edge once before. Rimee Wu and the others just thought that the chewy texture was interesting. After they tasted the finished “chachi mochi” for the first time today, they shed tears of joy.
So the women and children of this world probably love sweet desserts too. As I was thinking about that, the head of the Bemu house pouted his lips impatiently.
“…This is a dish adored by women and children?”
“Yes, that’s the case for my hometown. And of course, there are many men and elderly who like them too.”
“… Which means, there is no shame in men liking this dish?”
“Shame? No, there’s no shame in that.”
“Is that so…”
The head of the Bemu house tossed the rest of the dessert into his mouth. The head of the Fou house who ate quietly— Bardock suddenly turned his head and said to him:
“Ara, so the head of the Bemu house likes this too?”
“… I said no such thing.”
Bardock had a gentle smile on his face. The sight of him and the sour faced Bemu house head sent a warm feeling into my heart.
At this time, the nobles started discussing the dessert I made too. I heard them saying in amazement: “This is incredible!” “What a strange taste.”
After that — something unexpected caused these rowdy bunch to quiet down. Graff Zaza suddenly said in a pained voice: “Genos landlord…”
“We have no doubts that you are sincere about making amends with us. I think this is the right path too. But I have a favor to ask…”
“How may I help, Sir Graff Zaza? I have complete faith in your sincerity too.”
“Can you forgive me for not partaking further in this dish?”
Graff Zaza said in a hoarse voice as he pushed away the porcelain plate with spiral patterns. On it was the dessert made by Timaro that had one bite taken off it.
“This dish feels really disgusting to me, even worse than the previous one. Just one bite, and it felt like some living thing is churning in my stomach. As if I just swallowed a poisonous bug.”
“Yes, there seemed to be banam honey in this dessert. This might be too sweet for Sir Graff Zaza.”
Marstein stood up unhurriedly, and pulled Graff Zaza’s plate towards him. He then gracefully cut the dessert into smaller pieces, and sent them into his mouth without any hesitation.
“As you can see, it’s not poisoned. Sir Graff Zaza, you just don’t find the taste agreeable. Also… to us, having leftovers isn’t impolite, so you don’t have to worry, Sir Graff Zaza.”
“… Not finishing dinner and wasting food is a sin in Forest’s Edge.”
“Then allow me to redeem your sin.”
With that, Marstein started moving his hands and mouth, finishing off the leftover dessert in Graff Zaza’s plate.
Leina Wu said that non family members shouldn’t share their food on the same plate, but Graff Zaza didn’t protest Marstein’s actions.
“Well then, everyone has more or less finished. This is a very meaningful banquet for me, and I hope everyone also thinks the same.”
Marstein wiped away the banam honey on his beard with his napkin, and continued:
“This banquet is more lavish thanks to the efforts of Timaro and Asuta of the Fa house, I wish to offer them my heartfelt thanks. Their dishes are delicious, and I’m certain that their culinary skills can match any of the outstanding chefs within Genos City.”
Timaro and I bowed at the same time.
Marstein looked at the both of us, then rest his gaze on Timaro:
“Timaro, your cooking has a strong unique flair. In Genos City, your culinary skill is top notch. The guests from Forest’s Edge didn’t compliment your cooking because our lifestyle and environment is too different, so you don’t need to be feel ashamed about this.”
“However, if you are sincere about serving our Forest’s Edge guest, the result might be different. Asuta of the Fa house, I could subtly feel your hope for the Forest’s Edge denizens to enjoy dinner together with us, but you seem hesitant to put that thought into action.”
“You are an outstanding chef in Genos. I will say this again, there is no doubt that both of you are exceptional chef capable of serving a banquet in Genos.”
Marstein continued in a firm tone:
“However, neither of you are suited for tonight’s banquet. You don’t need to be ashamed about this, the fault lies with me for pushing this task to you without fully understanding your thoughts. Well then… I will disburse your remuneration to you at a later date, you may leave.”
Marstein concluded the banquet with his harsh remarks.