Saturday, February 24, 2018

Cooking with Wild Game Volume 4 Chapter 4 Part 1

The Kiba Food Stall in the Post Station Town
Translator: Skythewood
Editors: Tokumei, Ratorasepo
1


I was prepared for my war.


The pot was filled with ingredients, with a piece of cloth covering it like a lid. The underside of the cloth had fake rubber tree leaves sewn into it for waterproofing, and we even used fuibaha vines to secure the entire pot.


I used a clean piece of cloth to wrap up the grilled poitan and put the tino and aria into the sack for vegetables.


I put the wooden spatula for stirring, a small spatula for scooping the ingredients, a chopping board made of krilee wood, two plates and the santoku knife into the same bag.


The other bag was full of firewood, a small machete and rana grass to start fires.


I already put the red copper plates used as change, and the white copper plates for Milano Mast into the pouch on my waist.


Everything was set.


I cleared the cutleries for dinner early in the morning, forage for herbs and firewood, and cleared all the morning chores. The time was between dawn and noon.


All there was left was to wait for Vena Wu to reach the Fa house.


「This day has finally come.」


Ai Fa said.


「Yes, it’s finally time.」


I replied.


「We have to make it through these ten days first.」


「Yes, I will do my best.」


「We will have to live like this for ten consecutive days.」


「If this kind of life ends after ten days, that means our effort has been wasted.」


「You will be together with the eldest daughter of the Wu clan for half a day in these ten days.」


「Huh?」


「Anyway, work hard.」


「Yes, I will work hard!」


「She’s your betrothed after all.」


「Not at all! There’s no such thing!」


I turned and look at Ai Fa in shock.


「W-Why are you bringing this up now? Your expression didn’t change at all when Donda Wu named Vena Wu as my helper right?」


Ai Fa put her hand on my shoulder nonchalantly.


「Don’t panic, I’m just kidding.」


「Ughhh…」


「Do your job properly, I will do my part too.」


Ai Fa’s expression remained calm and collected, and there was a gentle light in her eyes.


「… I will await your safe return.」






Vena Wu arrived on time. We used a krilee stick to carry the iron pot and cross the terrifying cliff, and reached the Post Station Town.


The first destination was the 《Kimyusu’s tail inn》.


Milano led us to the back of the inn, and we met with the pushcart that will be battling alongside us for the next ten days.


That was a mobile pushcart.


About 2m tall, 1.5m wide and 80cm deep, the structure was made from wood, and a leather sheet covered the roof of the stall. The front and sides were covered with wooden boards, and reach up to my waist. Only the wall on the inside had a door that could be opened.


I opened the door and find it empty, and the interior walls were covered in clay.


A charcoal brazier shaped depression was right in the center.


I needed to start a fire in the brazier and heat up the pot.


I placed the pot on the wooden board that had a hole in the center, and it fit in snugly.


There were air holes to the right side of the board to expel the smoke.


The structure of this pushcart was simple.


Since it was simple, using it would be a hitch.


「… Please take care not to damage the pushcart.」


I gave a friendly nod to Milano Mast who was showing a sour face the first thing in the morning.


Vena Wu turned her head away nonchalantly.


「Okay then, follow me.」


With Milano Mast leading us, we walked on the streets.


This was the first time I visited the Post Station Town before noon, there was about 30% lesser people on the streets.


As Vena Wu and I pushed the pushcart forward, countless gazes watched us. Their eyes were filled with confusion and shock, as if they didn’t understand why the denizens from Forest's Edge were pushing the cart.


Yellow skinned people.


The ivory skinned crowd.


Black skinned men.


White skin citizens.


People of all races and creed were staring us.


A foreigner in Forest's Edge clothing and a denizen of Forest's Edge who was like the incarnation of sexiness. Vena Wu and I were the most prominent duo. As we were pushing a cart painstakingly, they couldn’t just ignore us.


「How annoying… We are more prominent than usual…」


「It’s fine, this will serve as our advertisement.」


In that case, news of the 『denizens of Forest's Edge are setting up a stall』 would spread through the city. It was fine for them to think of us as a joke, I didn’t mind them being curious or fearful. I just hope that more people would know about us.


We passed through the lodging zone, and when we reached the marketplace, most of the stalls had already up and running.


The gazes of the stall owners were also focused on us.


In the entire Post Station Town, only the Totos Moa were unmoved by us.


「Hi, so you are really opening a stall here.」


Uncle Dora who sells vegetables greeted us along the way.


「That’s right. I will be in your care for this ten days.」


As Milano Mast didn’t stop, I had to greet him while pushing the cart.


Uncle Dora’s smile was much more natural. He sent us off with his gaze as we continued north.


Milano Mast brought us to the furthest fringe of the marketplace.


In order to set up the marketplace, the Post Station Town cleared a path through the woods. And our stall was in the northernmost end.


Our stall was on the right side, facing the north.


If another two or three stalls were added, they would be right at the edge of the woods. They would need to clear more of the forest then. No matter what, our stall was at the extreme corner of the marketplace.


The pedestrians here were sparse.


There wasn’t any stall opposite us.


Our neighbour was an old man with dubious accessories placed on a cloth on the ground. When he saw us, he looked dumbfounded like a child.


「I already told you these rules yesterday. Take note of these two main points: You can’t tout for customers loudly, and you can only start a fire in the brazier… Also, you must report to me if you see anyone break these rules.」


「I got it. Thank you for your help.」


「Hmmp… Next will be the signboard. Hey, what do you want to write on it?」


「Ehh? Signboard?」


There was a signboard on the cart, but it was blank. It only had a hieroglyphs or logo at the bottom right corner that says 《Kimyusu’s tail inn》.


「You have to write down what you are selling on the signboard, or your customers will be clueless. What do you want to write?」


Milano Mast took down a small leather pouch tied to his waist and opened its strings.


Inside the pouch was a gooey green fluid, and a small stick. The fluid had a stinging smell, a bit like grass. I guess it was a dye made from vegetation.


「Well then, please… help me write 『Kiba』.」


「… I guess so.」


Milano Mast sighed and started writing a large symbol with his pen and dye.


The symbol was a combination of ovals and curves and had four curvy lines extending upwards. They bore some resemblance with the tusks and horns of a kiba.


「It looks great, it feels very kiba.」


「… You have to push the cart back to the inn every day. I want to check it for damages.」


「Alright. We are also planning to close the stall before dusk.」


Milano Mast grunted one last time before leaving.


The old man was still looking at us with a blank expression from the side.


「Let’s start with the preparation.」


I asked Vena Wu to help me undo the pot sealed with fuihaba vines.


When I took off the lid made from cloth and fake rubber tree leaves, Vena Wu cheered.


「No wonder I keep smelling the scent of tarapa… is that vegetable stew…?」


「No, we don’t have the time or the budget. This is just tarapa sauce.」


As I used two whole tarapa, the pot was sixty percent filled with bright red sauce.


Tarapa had the sourness of tomato. After I cooked it with diced aria and fruit wine, then season it with salt and pico leaves, the special tarapa sauce was done.


「I’m starting the fire. Vena Wu, can you help me open that sack?」


「Okay.」


After glancing at Vena Wu who nodded in acknowledgement, I started a fire in the brazier with rana grass.


The sauce was already cold, so I need to start a big fire.


Considering the size of the brazier and the distance from the brazier to the pot, the fire should be smaller than the one in the makeshift stove used during the wedding. In order to heat the entire pot evenly, I had to use strong fire.


I brought all the firewood we had over, and they would probably be used up before we close the stall. I would then have to forage for firewood then. That was why I brought a machete along.


I estimated the operation hours would be five hours.


We left the house between dawn and noon and planned to head home between noon and dusk. I also had to account for the two hours traveling time.


According to my biological clock, dawn was six, noon was twelve and dusk was seven. We would open the stall at 10am and close the stall at 3pm in the afternoon.


「Hmm… Now that I think about it, I find this incredible… I never imagined that I will be peddling merchandize in the Post Station Town, I never dream that this would happen…」


「I feel the same. But the time we spent in Forest's Edge are incomparable, so this feeling must be much stronger for you.」


Maybe Donda Wu sent her to help because he knew that she yearns for the world outside.


No, if he knew how Vena Wu felt, he would forbid her from going out.


Anyway, Vena Wu was very cheerful today. Compared to the last time she came with me, she looked much happier.


「But will this really sell… There are so few people…」


「This is the edge of the Post Station Town after all.」


From this stall I could see the people enter the Post Station Town from the north, and those who are leaving the Post Station Town and heading north. There was barely anyone who came all the way here to buy goods.


「This is our first day, so we can take it easy. The goal for this two days is to let everyone know that we exist.」


The news of denizens from Forest's Edge selling kiba meals in the Post Station Town would definitely spread in the entire city. Over time, there would be curious people here to check us out. In the first few days of our stall opening, we had to grasp these customer source tightly.


The tarapa was starting to bubble, so I used the spatula Vena Wu handed me to stir the iron pot.


「Vena Wu, please help me stir the sauce later. There are many hamburg steaks in the sauce, take care not to break them.」


「Got it… smells nice… it is still daytime, but I’m starting to get hungry…」


「Ah, if you can still eat, please try one later.」


When she heard that, Vena Wu’s eyes started to shine.


「Can I…? Isn’t this merchandize…?」


「This is the merchandize we are selling, so we will have to try its taste first. I made some extra for taste testing.」


Vena Wu was squatting by the stall and taking things out from the sack. But she stood up and quietly walked to my side.


When an ominous feeling appeared in my heart, Vena Wu gripped the excess cloth on my waist tightly and said:


「I’m so happy… thank you, Asuta…」


「Y-You’re welcome. This is also part of the job.」


Vena Wu was very serious during the wedding banquet preparation too, so she wouldn’t take any inappropriate actions during work. In this regard, she really was a model denizen of Forest's Edge.


In that case— I could probably get along well with this colleague.


「Good, it’s heating up. Please help me stir.」


I placed the black krilee chopping board on the right of the work platform, then placed the tino, aria, plates and santoku knife on top.


The leaves of the tino overlaps in the shape of a rose and was a vegetable that resembles a lettuce in appearance.
It had the texture of a cabbage. I plucked a large leaf and chop it to shreds.
I then cut the aria which had the texture of onions into thin slices.
After cutting these two vegetables, I moved them onto the plate and mixed them together.
I then placed the grilled poitan that was wrapped in a cloth onto the working platform, and the preparation was done.
Vena Wu, please remember how to make this, it’s not difficult at all.
Ara… What a small poitan…
Yes. I only used half a poitan for each of these grilled poitan.
The Wu clan would usually grill two poitan at one time, its diameter was about 30cm.
The grilled poitan here only used a quarter of that amount and was about 14 to 15cm wide.
I added gigo, so the grilled poitan was fluffier, and the thickness was about 1.5cm. It looked as small and cute like a cream coloured muffin.
We will first put a layer of tino and aria on the mini poitan. It should be slightly thinner than the poitan. We will then put a hamburg steak on top of it.
After I scooped up the hamburg steak soaking inside the pot, Vena Wu gasped in surprise again.
Normally, the hamburg steak would be moulded into an oval, but this one was circular.


It was about 180g.
It was 12cm in diameter, and 3cm thick.
The hamburg steak was covered in red tarapa sauce. After adding shredded tino on top, I covered it with another poitan.
The product of this stall Kiba burger was complete.


Isn’t it simple? Please try it.
I took the stirring spatula from Vena Wu and handed her the Kiba burger.
… It looks…
Hmm?
I think, it looks tasty…
It’s delicious, I love hamburgers.
… It’s not dinner, so I don’t need to say grace right…?
I guess? I don’t know either.
Vena Wu stood haplessly on the spot, as if she couldn’t bear to eat the hamburger in her hands.
She then finally made up her mind and opened her lustrous lips— and took a big bite out of the Kiba burger.
Be careful not to spill the fillings. It’s better to hold it sideways.
She nodded, then took another big bite.
The women in Forest's Edge uses both hands to hold the hamburger. The way they chew with satisfaction looked very adorable. I realized that when I let Ai Fa taste test it.
Ai Fa was always calm and collected, but she looked very pure and adorable when she eats a burger. It was the same for Vena Wu who was overflowing with sexy charm, they were both equally cute.
After Vena Wu finished her burger, she lowered her head slightly again, and grabbed my waist band tightly.
… This is really delicious…
I-I see. That’s great!
Instead of the flirty Vena Wu who squirms her body, her childish actions make her doubly charming


But there was nothing to gain from analysing that.
What are your thoughts? Will it sell?
I don’t know… If the people in town thinks this burger is unpalatable, that means they are not worthy of eating Kiba…
Her comments were the same as Ai Fa.
I think they were exaggerating too much.
The people in the city thinks that kiba meat was tough and smelly. To wipe away that ill impression, I wanted to use Kiba burger as my first weapon. This was a changeup pitch.
Since there wasn’t any food like hamburger in town, they would be intrigued by it. But if I want the people in the city to understand how tasty kiba meat actually was, I would need to rely on the strength of simple meat dishes like steaks and grills.
By the way, moulding hamburg steak was very time consuming, and I could carry twenty of them in one pot. If I used another container to transport pre-grilled hamburg steak, and make the balance sauce in the stall, I could stock up to 40 hamburgers. But that was just my first pitch in my attack of the Post Station Town.
My thinking was very simple, hamburger was the symbol of a light meal. In the Post Station Town, the Kimyusu meat bun and other light meals consist of meat, vegetables and carbohydrates, so I decided to follow this model.
Tarapa has a strong fragrance. As we couldn’t tout for customers loudly, the fragrance was exceptionally important. The tarapa sauce made from tarapa, fruit wine and the aria to enhance its flavour had an alluring aroma, which would definitely stimulate the appetite of any passers-by.
When the Kiba burger attracts enough customers to visit, I will upgrade my menu— and sell food that was less tedious to prepare, and slowly share the deliciousness of kiba meat with the residents of the Post Station Town.
These ten days would decide the progress of the next step.
If I could sell 20 to 30 portions before the final day, I will push out a new menu for the next ten days, which would be a great sales record.
Today was the opening day. To save on ingredient cost, I only prepared ten burgers. I would be satisfied if I sold all of them.
Alright, we are starting our battle soon!
The instant I announced that—
With a donk, something hit the roof.
And as if a hole had opened in the sky, rain poured down suddenly.
Hya.
Vena Wu yelped without any tension, then swiftly carried the sack with our goods under the roof.
This was a sudden downpour commonly seen in Forest's Edge.
As Forest's Edge was just an hour away, the weather was very similar.
However—
When the sudden rain stopped without any warning, even the sparse pedestrian before us were gone.
2
I see!
That was all I could say.
The people in the city was used to sudden downpour like this, some of them dash across the streets, while others hid under the trees to minimize their losses.
The old man selling accessories beside us picked up the cloth with his wares in a flash, then escaped into the woods behind him. His reaction and nimble feat was amazing.
After the rain stop, everyone came out onto the streets haplessly— the northern side where we were located was deserted.
I looked to the left of the stall, and the southern streets had already reverted to its crowded state before the rain.
As very few people would come here to buy things, everyone had already moved on to other places, and the place turned desolated.
… All the pedestrians are gone…
It can’t be helped, this is natural disaster. The crucial timing is the period right after noon, so let’s rest up for now.
Thanks to Vena Wu’s quick reactions, the firewood didn’t get wet. The rain was also kept out of the pot. We had not run into unsalvageable accidents yet, so we could only accept this fact graciously.
… So, we will just stand here until the afternoon crowd shows up…?
Yes. Waiting is also part of our job.
… I’m sorry that you are paying so much salary…
Don’t mind that. Carrying the goods, stirring the sauce, replenishing firewood, I can’t do all that alone. Our work is just beginning.
However, there was still two more hours before noon.
In these two hours, we could only watch the fire with a hollow feeling.
I could use this chance to gather firewood, but the rain just stopped, so that was useless. The dripping wet branches would dry in an hour or two, so we decided to settle this chore later.
Which meant we had nothing to do.
Ehh… Let’s chat?
Alright…
Vena Wu, which one of your family are you closest too?
… Do you think that is an interesting topic…?
I think it’s rather interesting.
Vena Wu sighed softly, then fiddled with her brown hair.
I get along with Rimee and Ludo the best… I feel happy when I’m with Darum too…
Ah, Darum Wu?
Yes… Even though he is quiet and quick to anger… He looks really cute when he is mad.
W-Wait. You are older than Darum?
Yes. But we are just one year apart…
I had the habit of grouping the men and the women in the Wu clan apart, so I never thought about their age as a whole before.
Of all the Wu clan siblings, only Vena Wu and Darum Wu’s position in the family was hard to differentiate.
Darum Wu was a year younger than Vena Wu, and was nineteen. I recorded this information in my mind.
By the way, how old is Jiza Wu?
Jiza-nii is 23…
Oh! He’s younger than I thought! Rimee Wu is eight, right? Then… they are 15 years apart! That’s a lot!
Is that so…? Well, some girls have children when they are fifteen, so their age difference is comparable to a parent and child…
Vena Wu looked at me adorably.
I want to ask… Is this topic really interesting?
Very.
The denizens of Forest's Edge spent most of their day busy with chores, they probably feel that idling around was something unbearable.
… I want to hear your story…
Ehh? I don’t know anything interesting?
… I want to know about your country…
I turned silent for a moment as I stared at the red tarapa.
I’m sorry, I don’t want to talk about my hometown too much… My heart turns heavy whenever I do.
Ara, but why…?
… After I disappeared suddenly, I don’t know if my father is able to accept that fact and live on.
After a short moment of silence, Vena Wu muttered:Sorry…
The air between us was unexpectedly heavy.
And then—
Asuta onii-chan!
With that energetic voice, my little saviour charge here through the puddles.
Tara appeared before us.
Amazing! You are really opening a stall here!
Tara put her hand on the pushcart and looked up at me.
She then turned timidly towards Vena Wu beside me and smile.
Vena Wu smiled back.
The tarapa smells nice! Is that the kiba meal?
Yes. I don’t know if you will like it.
I want to try! I want to buy one!
This is a portion for an adult, it cost two red copper plates each.
I see. I will ask Dad for the copper plates!
Ah, wait, it will be bad if you don’t like it. Try some first...Vena Wu, there’s a sack with a plate inside, can you bring it here?
While I was instructing Vena Wu, I searched for something inside the pot.
It was some mini hamburg steak I moulded for the sake of taste testing.
The mini hamburg steak was one size smaller than the normal merchandize. I split it in half within the pot, then scooped half a mini hamburg steak onto a plate.
I then split that hamburg steak into three parts and took out my secret weapon— I sliced off some krilee branch, dried it and made this— toothpicks. I pick up one hamburg steak with it.
Here, please try it.
Tara just stood there when I offered her the plate.
… Do you need copper plates?
This is a way my countries sell food. We will ask the customers to try before they buy it. I have already gotten permission from the venue and stall rental. Don’t hold back, try one.
I see… Thank you! I will help myself then!
Tara grabbed one toothpick bravely and send the small hamburg steak into her mouth.
… how is it?
My heart was pounding at this moment.
Almost all the denizens of Forest's Edge had nothing but praise for my cooking.
However, everyone understood the concept of cooking in Rock City and the Post Station Town, would my seasoning and culinary skills be of use— Leaving Kamyua Yost of dubious origins aside, this was the first time someone from the city will be commenting on my food.
Tara she—
Stood stiffly with the toothpick in her mouth.
She stared at me with her eyes opened in surprise.
What is this…
She finally squeezed out in a shocked voice.
Her small yellowish-brown face burst out in joy.
Asuta-nii, this is delicious! Really delicious!
I almost collapsed right there.
I was so scared that I almost had a heart attack.
But… I finally got through the first stage.
It’s great! I want to eat more! I will get some copper plates from Papa!
Ah, wait! Tara, I want your father to try it too before I can accept your copper plates with ease… Eh, I don’t have many picks like this, can you reuse it?
Yes!
Tara nodded vigorously and used the toothpick to take another piece of hamburg steak. She then took brisk steps as if she was relaying a holy flame and returned to her father.
Uncle Dora’s vegetable stall was a short distance away, and we could just manage to see the leather roof of his stall from here.
…Asuta, that’s wonderful…
That’s right! That’s wonderful…! Ara, the light of hope seems brighter now! If the taste is acceptable, we just need to worry about attracting the customers to visit!
That’s the hardest part…
It’s fine, we are providing free samples to do draw them in! When the crowd increases, I will provide samples mainly to the southerners and easterners!
However, I only grilled two mini burgers for taste testing. Each piece could only be divided into six, so there were only twelve portions.
If the hamburger meant to be merchandize couldn’t sell, I plan to give them out as samples too. Our goal was to let more people know how delicious kiba was. I wouldn’t mind even if we only gave out samples if our merchandize fail to sell
Asuta… I don’t really want to talk to the people in the city proactively…
Hmm? Ah, I will receive them! Please help me watch the fire.
No, that’s part of my job… Please don’t be angry if I don’t do it well at the start okay…?
As expected, the denizens of Forest's Edge take their work very seriously.
The streets remained deserted, but my emotions became more heightened.
While I was chatting with Vena Wu, Tara ran over briskly again.
Papa says it tastes great! He is very surprised too, and can’t believe that is what a kiba taste like.
Tara handed over some copper plates.
The dull red copper plates— there were four of them?
I want two! One for Tara, one for Papa.
To be frank, I almost cried right there.
I was handsomely paid for the wedding banquet, but seeing a customer complimenting my cooking in front of me— my tear glands would definitely be stimulated.
To keep my pride as a man, I couldn’t cry here. I replied:You are welcome! and started cutting tino and aria.
I placed the cut vegetables onto the grilled poitan, stacked a meat patty covered in tarapa sauce on top, and top it off with another grilled poitan.
Here, thank you for waiting…! The fillings fall off easily, so hold it horizontally when you are eating it.
Yes! Thank you! It looks so yummy.
I should be the one thanking her.
After passing the merchandize to Tara, I accept her copper plates.
Four red copper plates.
This was the first sale of our stall.
… You have to sell one more burger to earn my wages, right? Is your business really sustainable…?
Of course! Although she is only here because we are acquainted, but the fact a Genos local is our first patrons fills me with hope.
I see… Ah, Asuta…
She tugged on my waist band again.
I looked up, and someone dressed like a traveler was walking over from the north. He was looking at Tara who was jogging away and our stall in surprise.
He had a cloak, and a hood concealed his face. But I caught glimpses of his dark skin.
He was from the eastern kingdom Semu.
It was a good chance to do some promotions. I started offering the plate in my hands towards him.
But before I could even react, he walked quickly to our stall.
When he came near us, he pulled back his drenched hood.
He was a citizen of Semu, with black hair, eyes and skin.
He was a bit different from the African Americans from my world. The corners of his eyes were high, and he also had thin nose and lips. His facial features were similar to Orientals, while his body was slender and slim.
He tied his long black hair behind him, and accessories made by stringing up stones sparkling with beautiful colours adorned his neck and wrist. I couldn’t guess his age, but he seems to be young.
The youth from the eastern kingdom stopped before the stall and looked at the signboard with a stunned face.
He then pointed at the pot and asked:Kiba?
Yes, this is food made from kiba. Would you like to try some?
I took out a pick and scooped up the last piece of hamburg steak on the plate. The youth just tilted his head puzzledly.
Asuta…
Vena Wu whispered to me:
Maybe this man from Semu can’t speak the language of the west…?
Huh! The four kingdoms each has their own unique language?
Only the eastern and northern language are different from us… Asuta, you don’t even know that…?
I wasn’t aware at all.
If I woke up in the eastern or northern kingdom instead, would I experience a language barrier there? Or did some omnipotent power smoothed over this barrier?
Now wasn’t the time to worry about this, and I wouldn’t get an answer no matter how much I rack my brains over this. It was rare to see someone show interest in us, so I had to figure out a way to make him agree to eat the sample.
Asuta, can you put more meat on the plates…? And give me one of those picks…
Ehh? alright.
I scooped up the half mini hamburg steak inside the pot and split it into threes.
Vena Wu nodded, walked out of the cart and to the side of the youth.
When the youth back away guardedly, Vena Wu smiled at him, and gracefully pick up a sample and placed it in her mouth.
She then pushed the plate slightly towards the youth.
The youth raised his hand above the plate.
He cast a probing glance at Vena Wu.
Vena Wu smiled again, and the youth picked up the toothpick with a nod.
And then— He picked up all the hamburg steaks and put it in his mouth.
The youth chewed the hamburg steak, and after nodding with satisfaction, he made a strange gesture with his fingers and bowed towards Vena Wu and me. He put up his hood again and left with nimble steps.
After a few quiet seconds, Vena Wu apologized with a whimsical voice:
… Sorry…
Not at all! You made him eat the sample hamburg steak, that’s incredible! The Post Station Town stalls had never provided sampling services, so this sort of things might happen.
To encourage myself, I answered in a loud voice. Vena Wu started sobbing and hugged a pillar of the stall.
… I want to die…
Vena-nee was unexpectedly frail.
No, now wasn’t the time to have fun at her expense.
It’s fine! There is still one sample left! Our battle will only start in the afternoon! Let’s do our best together okay?
…Asuta onii-chan, what’s the matter?
Tara appeared before the stall suddenly.
Nothing. Is the Kiba burger good?
That’s a Kiba burger? It’s yummy! Asuta-nii, will you be opening the stall here every day from now on?
Yes, I made a ten-day contract. The next ten days will have to depend on how business goes.
Yay! I will come buy this every day! Papa also says he want to eat this everyday too! He is really surprised!
Thank you, seeing you look so satisfied makes me happy.
If Tara and her father really buys two burger a day, I could sell twenty burgers in these ten days. I needed to sell 60 burgers to break even, so their support was a great help.
Asuta…
Vena Wu called out to me.
Her voice was slightly different than usual.
What is it?
I turned my head and noticed the abnormal situation without needing her to explain.
Uwah…
Tara yelped, and hid on the other side of the push cart.
A group of people came from the crowded southern side and walked briskly to our stall.
W-What do you want?
A group of men in cloaks surrounded my stall.
Tara trembled a little and cling to my leg.
Vena Wu— stayed close to me, quietly gripping the knife on her waist.
There were seven of them.
They were all tall and wore hooded cloaks that concealed their faces and body.
However— the lower half of their faces that could be seen were all dark in colour.
Kiba.
The men in the centre pushed passed his companion and walked to the stall.


He took off his hood and revealed his slender face. He was the Semu man who ate all the samples just now.
W-What” Is there any problem with us selling that?
Even though he couldn’t understand, I still asked on reflex.
The youth continued pointing at the pot and muttered:
Kiba.
Yes, this is kiba. What about it?
Kiba. Red. One, two, three?
…What?
After I tilted my head quizzingly, the youth reached inside his cloak troublingly.
Vena Wu wanted to pull me away— But what he took out was dull red copper plates.
Kiba. Red, one, two, three?
When I still didn’t answer, the youth’s eyes showed a tint of sorrow.
… White?
No! It’s red! Two!
The youth nodded, then took out another copper plate and placed both on the stall table with a clink.
He stared right at me.
…Vena Wu, please help me stir.
I was so frightened that I forgot to stir the sauce.
I handed the spatula to Vena Wu, and quickly started to chop the tino.
After making one Kiba burger, I handed it to that young man.
Please enjoy.
The youth nodded firmly and received the merchandize.
I observed him as I timidly reached for the copper plates— fortunately, no one stopped me. They were just normal customers after all.
My heart was filled with gratitude.
But, just who were these people standing unmoving around the stall?
Asuta onii-chan…
I-It’s fine. I think… they are just customers.
The youth ate the Kiba burger with large bites.
He held the burger with one hand at the start, but when he noticed the tarapa almost dripping out from the other end, he held it with both hands instead.
He then bit into the burger again.
Strange, even though he didn’t feel like a cold person, his expression remained blank.
It wasn’t to the extent of being creepy… but it still felt uncomfortable.
The youth quickly finished the burger, made a strange gesture with his fingers again and bowed quietly.
He then nodded to his companions.
The group of tall men nodded at the same time and reached into their cloaks.
Clink clang clink— they all placed their red copper plates onto the stall table.
Six persons’ worth, a total of twelve red copper plates.
I cut the tino quietly and finished all the Kiba burger one by one.
I handed the finished products to them, and they received the burgers with their black fingers one at a time.
There was silence.
I didn’t speak, the customers were quiet, Vena Wu and Tara didn’t make a sound either.
After a few minutes, the six Kiba burger all ended up in the men’s stomach. In addition to the first man, I collected 14 copper plates in total.
Like the youth earlier, the six hooded men made a gesture with their fingers, bowed, then left at the same time.
Hey Asuta, your cooking sure is popular!
Uwah, that scared me!
I didn’t even notice that a slender blonde figure was standing beside the stall.
It goes without saying that was Kamyua Yost.
W-W-Where did you come from? Please don’t appear in such a heart attack inducing way!
I didn’t want to get in the way of your business, so I had been watching over you quietly from the side. I was in the shade of those trees all along. Didn’t you notice?
I really felt like punching this guy who was pretending to be retarded.
Vena Wu also rolled her eyes at Kamyua Yost who was all smiles. Her gaze appeared to be much less sexy.
Only Tara was excited.
Uncle Kamyua, you are here! Asuta onii-san’s burger is really delicious!
That’s right, it looks tasty. You are using tarapa as an ingredient huh. Your cooking with just aria and tino is already delicious, the food this time looked even more appetizing.
He complimented with a casual tone like usual.
… Who were that group of people earlier?
Hmm? Probably travelers from the eastern kingdom Semu. Considering their numbers, they are likely related to a large merchant caravan.
You didn’t bribe them?
Bribe? What do you mean? You think I hired people to act like customers in an attempt to raise your stall’s reputation?
Kamyua Yost smirked and shrugged his shoulders that was covered by his cloak.
If I want to use such a plan, I will arrange for a better performance! The crowd is sparse here, your stall’s fame won’t increase even if I send a large group of people over. Look, no one even know you have sold seven meals in one go.
He was right. As we were quite some distance from the bustling south, even if someone observed what happened here, they would just see a cloaked group surround the stall, then left quickly.
Only the old man selling accessories beside us was staring with a dumbfounded face.
Most easterners are like that. They aren’t a race that closes themselves off, but they only focus on their own objectives and ignore others… They think it’s rude to show their emotion. But if you talk with them, you will find them interesting. Unfortunately, they have no intention of learning the language of the west.
I see…
But not all easterners are like that. Some of them understand the customs of the west. If you open a stall in the Post Station Town, you will slowly understand the characteristics from the various different places.
Kamyua said as he reached inside his cloak.
Well then, can I place my order now, Asuta? I want two meals, one of them is for Leito.
Well… We only have one left.
Ehh? Tara bought two, the easterners bought seven, you only sold nine, right? Why are you already sold out?
Just when did this uncle started spying on us?
The more time I spent with him, instead of understanding him more, I find him even more suspicious. This was the first time I met someone like that.
I thought my sales for the first day would be low, so I only prepared ten portions. I didn’t want to waste the ingredient costs after all.
How could you do that!? Your cooking is delicious, it’s impossible that you will only sell ten! You brought such a big pot, but you are only selling ten portions! I’m so disappointed, Leito and I were both looking forward to your meal!
I’m sorry. There’s still some samples left, I will give them to you okay? I grilled some extra poitan too.
Yes! Sell them to me! I won’t allow any other patrons to take them away!
His anxious expression seemed genuine.
I understood him less when I saw him make such an expression.
I used the last hamburg steak and the mini hamburg steak to make two Kiba burgers, and collected two copper plates from Kamyua. The mini burger was given to him free of charge.
Thank you! I will share this delicious meal with Leito! I will head back to the Kimyusu’s tail inn first, I will tell you my comments later!
Kamyua quickly disappeared without a trace.
Vena Wu and I looked at each other, our heart filled with a sense of powerlessness.
Erm… We are done for the day.
Yes… Can I put out the fire…?
Yes please.
This must be how it felt to be completely clueless.
In the first day battle in the Post Station Town, we didn’t even last until noon, and closed shop in less than an hour.
3
… I’m back.
After opening the door, Ai Fa who was seated with her back to the wall received me with a surprised face.
What happened? Was there some incident in the Post Station Town?
No, we sold all our food, so we came back.
That's… too early. It’s not even noon, right?
Yes. I went to quite a number of places before coming back.
I brought the ingredients for tomorrow, chatted with Uncle Dora for a while, went to Kimyusu’s tail inn to return the pushcart and asked for feedback from Kamyua and Leito. After coming back to Forest's Edge, I washed the pots at the water source before returning to the Fa house.
I didn’t even spend much time heating the tarapa sauce. I gave the leftovers to Vena Wu, and she bought a leather pouch immediately in the Post Station Town to take the sauce. She then went back home happily.
I put the rest of the firewood with the pushcart and returned it to the inn. With just the ingredients and cooking utensils, I came home without much load.
I put the pot back onto the stove, kept the tarapa, gigo and other vegetables into the food store, then sat down opposite Ai Fa.
All ten burgers I prepared got sold out. After accounting for all the expenses, I made about five red copper plates today. The first day of business is a success.
I didn’t know why, but I felt dissatisfied with today’s result.
To make Ai Fa understand how I felt, I told her everything that happened today.
Yes… everything was sold out because they acknowledge your culinary skills, right? Just be happy about your accomplishments then.
You’re right, but we don’t know how long those easterners will stay in the Post Station Town, so I can’t predict how business would be in the coming days.
To be honest, I failed to make a name and become the talk of town.
Just what did the people in the city thought when they saw us pushed the cart back painstakingly after opening for less than an hour? Did they think we caused some problem and had no choice but to close shop?
My persecution complex was probably playing tricks on my mind, but the gazes from the citizens did feel painful.
On top of that, the easterners weren’t fluent with the western language, so there wouldn’t be much word of mouth effect.
… Running a business is really complicated.
Ai Fa scratched her blonde hair and leaned in close to me.
That might be so, but you still completed your job. Be happier about it.
Yes…
I’m telling you to be happier about it.
Ai Fa suddenly reached out and pinched my left cheek hard.
It hurts it hurts! You are going to pull my cheek off! Why did you pinch me!?
I told you to be happier, but you wouldn’t listen.
Ai Fa had a gentle smile on her face.
I’m really happy you know?
Ai Fa, you——
Hmm?
You have been smiling a lot more recently…? It hurts it hurts!
Hmmp!
Ai Fa’s rare smile was gone. She stood up and took down the cape hanging on the wall.
It hurts ahh… Oh, it’s already time for you to head into the woods?
Yes. Asuta, what are you going to do now?
Oh right. It’s too early to prepare the ingredients. I will think about the future plans, then go chop some wood.
I already chopped the wood. Never mind, you are free, so chop more then.
After saying that, Ai Fa came near to the seated me.
I’m off… be careful today alright?
Yes, if any strange drunkards approach me, I will run away.
Okay.
Ai Fa nodded with a strong gleam in her eyes.
After the Lutim wedding banquet, she would always show such a gaze when she leaves me behind and head into the woods.
Ai Fa then left for the forest, and I was home alone.
It’s noon…
I should be in the Post Station Town that was starting get bustling and give out samples. But now, I’m sitting inside the house alone.
The powerlessness in my heart far exceeds my sense of pride and accomplishment.
Never mind, there’s no use in mulling over it. The battle starts tomorrow, tomorrow!
It was a bit risky, but I decided to grill twenty meat patties for tomorrow.
If business turned out terrible, I will change it back to ten portions the next day.
If I sell them quickly tomorrow too, I will slowly increase the numbers day by day. To minimize the ingredient cost, I had to adapt quickly.
There is no need to be anxious. Unless the losses are too heavy, I can set up stall in the Post Station Town for the next ten to twenty days, and slowly work towards getting good results.
When I saw Ai Fa being sincerely happy for me, my thinking became more positive.
The situation developed unexpectedly, but I thought the sales on the first day would be terrible, and I sold everything instead. I should be happy about this.
Besides, even though I knew most of my customers, Tara, Uncle Dora, Kamyua Yost and Leito all had nothing but praises for the Kiba burger.
I shouldn’t be so uneasy and should face tomorrow’s work with a heartful of hope.
Okay…! Let’s chop some wood!
I took out the machete and a bundle of wood from the store room and prepared to leave the house.
When I was about to push the door open— someone knocked on the door twice.
(— A guest?)
After living in the Fa house for a month, aside from Rimee Wu and the Kaslan couple, there had never been any other guest.
Noon had just past, and everyone knew the hunters had entered the woods to hunt, so Ai Fa wasn’t home.
As I was thinking about it, there was another two knocks.
I placed the firewood and machete by me feet and pressed my hand onto my chest to regulate my breathing.
… Who is it?
Silence.
I slowly reached for the door bar leaning against the wall.
Should I barricade myself in, or escape outside? The more options I had, the better it was.
When my hand was almost touching the door bar, a voice came from the other side of the door.
I’m… Celice Von Fou from the Fou house.
An unfamiliar name.
From her voice, she should be a frail woman.
After hesitating for a few seconds, I gently pulled open the door.
A young, slender woman was standing outside.
She was covered from her chest to her knees with a single piece of cloth and held a baby younger than Kota Wu in her arms.
I finally let down my guard.
I’m a member of the Fa house, Asuta. Do you have business with Ai Fa?
Yes… No… H-Has Ai Fa gone into the forest?
She just left. I can pass a message if you need.
I see… Excuse me, this is for you two…
The woman picked up the bag by her feet, which was full.
The bag was big, but pressed flat and looked light.
What is this?
Erm… This is… pico leaves…
The woman before me seemed more guarded than I was.
Well, the residents around here probably think I look suspicious, so it couldn’t be helped.
Pico leaves huh. Why are you giving us pico leaves?
Actually… the thing is… Ai Fa gave us a lot of hides…
Hides?
I was confused.
You mean kiba hide?
Yes… About a month ago, we received numerous hides… My house, which is the Fou house, didn’t have many men, and can’t hunt enough kiba. But ever since the Fa house gifted us with these hides, this child finally has enough to eat…
I see— This is the first time I’m hearing this. So my house head do interact with our neighbours.
Celice Von Fou’s eyes looked troubled as she hugged her baby tightly.
No… We didn’t interact… Our house head forbid the Fou house from fraternizing with the Fa house…
Ehh?
After relations deteriorate between the Fa house and the chieftain house, our house head thinks that the Fou house would get on the bad side of the chieftain house if we fraternize with the Fa house… So two years ago, he forbade us from interacting with the Fa house…
I see. I have heard about that.
And so, Ai Fa deliberately broke off ties with the other houses.
So why did she gift the hides to the Fou house?
…Ai Fa always leave the hide at our doorsteps quietly.
Celice Von Fou stared at me.
Her pale blue eyes were teary.
I didn’t know who put the hide there, and felt it was creepy… But in order to fill our stomachs, we had to accept them. We tanned the hides, traded it for copper plates, and bought aria and poitan… And now I’m able to nurse this child…
… I see.
A few days ago, the men from the Fou house saw Ai Fa place a freshly skinned hide at the door steps of the Fou house… And so, we finally learned the identity of our benefactor. But even so, the head of the Fou house was still unwilling to renew relations with the Fa house… So all the women begged the house head, and asked him to at least let us give Ai Fa a gift as thanks…
Celice Von Fou closed her eyes.
The Fou house do not have sufficient copper plates and can’t give a luxurious gift. But you can never have too much pico leaves… This is foraged by all the women of the Fou house.
I see…
I know such a trivial gift isn’t enough to repay Ai Fa’s kindness, but I still want to give her my thanks. Even though the Fou house broke off ties with the Fa house out of fear of antagonizing the Tsun clan, she still did so much for us… We feel so ashamed…
Please don’t mind it. The Fa house don’t have enough people to tan the hides anyway. Besides, my house head has no intention of letting you know this.
But…
I’m grateful for your kind gesture. If the chance arises, I hope you can talk to her personally. I don’t know the entire story, so I can’t say anything on Ai Fa’s behalf.
… Alright, thank you.
Celice Von Fou left the squashed bags behind and left.
I opened them, and found it packed with pico leaves. This was the volume Ai Fa and I forage in a day.
After foraging pico leaves for their house, it must be difficult to pick so much more for us.
…Ai Fa gave them our excess hides, not meat. Doing this won’t make the denizens of Forest's Edge depraved.
If anyone criticize Ai Fa’s action, I will do everything I could to defend her.
One month ago— That was when Ai Fa took me in.
After butchering my first kiba, Ai Fa must have gifted it to the Fou house. Ai Fa had always been responsible for the disposal of the kiba’s hide and organs.
A prosperous life huh…
As a mere mortal, I couldn’t understand Kaslan Lutim’s grand vision.
And Kamyua Yost might not have any such ambitions at all.
However— I didn’t think an impoverished life where one was so famished that they couldn’t even nurse a child was normal.
Furthermore, when there were people starving, there was some who took the money that should be dispersed to the people and live lavishly.
Unfortunately, my prowess is limited, and I can’t be of much help.

After keeping the pico leaves into the food store, I started wielding my machete to chop the firewood I needed to use tomorrow.



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