Saturday, March 17, 2018

Cooking with Wild Game Volume 5 Chapter 2

Fifth day - Swarmed with Patrons
Translator: Skythewood
Editors: Ratorasepo
1


It was the fifth day of operation. I opened another stall as planned.


However, when we got into place and were getting ready to open, Lala Wu and Shela Wu who had set off from the Wu clan village directly were still nowhere to be found.


「So slow… If they don’t hurry, there will be another commotion.」


There was a bigger crowd than yesterday around the stall. The guards held spears and looked worried.


「It’s fine, let’s prepare as slowly as possible.」


I looked towards the empty stall beside us and started chopping the tino shreds for the 『Kiba burger』.


In order to cook two different dishes at the same time, I borrowed a pot from the Wu clan to make 『Myam-roasted meat』. I also asked Shela Wu to prepare the grilled poitan to be used with the 『Myam-roasted meat』. We couldn’t start the business in the other stall before their arrival.


Since the pot was with them, Lala Wu and Shela Wu could go to the Post Station Town directly from the Wu clan and didn’t need to detour to the Fa house. They could save two hours of the to and fro trip involving the Fa house and use this time to forage for firewood and grill poitan.


Thanks to that, I prepared 60 『Kiba burger』 and 『Myam-roasted meat』 today, a total of 120 portions.


It was a huge number, so I didn’t think we could sell them all. However, I could finally stay in the Post Station Town until our scheduled closing time.


How many meals could we sell in five hours? Just thinking about that made me tremble from excitement.


「… If we sell everything, that will be 240 red copper plates in revenue… How many kiba’s worth of tusks and horns is that?」


「Exactly 20 tusks and horns from an adult kiba. After accounting for the cost, that would be 150 copper plates of profits, which is 13 kiba’s worth of tusks and horns.」


I already calculated everything related to this.


On the other hand, if I couldn’t sell a single portion, our losses would be equivalent to 7 kiba. I also needed to calculate that.


「Earning 13 kiba’s worth in one day… I feel dizzy just hearing that…」


「No, we can’t sell everything today. I don’t think that is possible.」


「Really…? It’s hard for me to imagine the scene of us not selling out…」


We chatted as we slowly did the preparations. At this moment, an energetic voice came from the other side of the crowd:


「Excuse me, let me through!」


Reinforcements have arrived.


「Sorry to keep you waiting! We should be on time, right? Are we late?」


The third daughter of the Wu clan Lala Wu appeared before us. She tied her bright red hair into a ponytail. I said to her with a smile:


「You are very punctual. We were probably too early. Let’s meet up behind the inn tomorrow.」


「I see, got it… Really, this is heavy. Can I put the pot here?」


「Yes, thank you. Shela Wu, thanks for your help too.」


「Not at all, the pot is not too heavy so I can carry it.」


The branch family’s Shela Wu smiled calmly. She had tied her dark brown hair behind her. She looked exceptionally delicate amongst the women of Forest’s Edge.


They wrapped up the grilled poitan with a cloth, put it in the pot, then brought it together with the firewood that Lala Wu spent two hours to collect.


I heard that Shela Wu had a weak constitution. But she could still carry such a heavy load, which was a far cry from the idea of a 「frail woman」 in my heart. As all the women in Forest’s Edge were incredibly strong, I thought Shela Wu just lacked their amazing might.


By the way, both of them wore veils and shawls, dressed for their trip to town. On Shela Wu’s waist was a beautiful bright dress that covered up to her ankles. It matched her delicate face really well.


「Okay, I already explained the rough procedures yesterday. Vena Wu and Shela Wu will take care of the 『Kiba burger』 stall, Lala Wu and I will be responsible for the 『Myam-roasted meat』 stall.」


「Okay〜」 「Yes!」「Alright.」


The three of them answered one after another.


A large crowd surrounded the stall, but Lala Wu and Shela Wu who were tending to the stall for the first time didn’t look fazed at all. Looks like the denizens of Forest’s Edge were used to being showered by the gaze of the townspeople.


As we waited for the pot to heat up, Shela Wu and I started chopping vegetables in our respective stalls. After closing the stall yesterday, I headed to the Wu clan to explain the job description. Hence, both new recruits moved smoothly.


「In short, I will cook the dish. Lala Wu, remember what to do with the food after I’m done with it.」


「Yes, if Vena-Nee can do it, then I can do it easily.」


I didn’t know how to respond to her answer.


For the sake of Vena Wu’s reputation, I had to explain that she wasn’t clumsy at all. She did burn the meat sometimes when she tended to the hearth, but she had not made any mistake while tending to the stall in town.


「Speaking of which, there sure are a lot of people here. No wonder you can earn hundreds of copper plates.」


Lala Wu looked at the dozens of customers fearlessly.


Twenty people gathered on the third day; yesterday was the fourth day, and there were 30-odd people; And for today, the fifth day— I could see more than 40 people here. The Semu stood quietly on one side, and the Jaguar people were very noisy. If any unaware travelers were to pass by, they might think the two groups were about to start a riot.


「It’s almost done.」


I tossed the diced aria into the heated pot.


I put in 7 aria which were enough for about 15 portions.


Just seeing my action made the Jaguar people more excited. When I tossed in about 3 kg of meat a short moment later, the sound they made was no different from cheering.


「Uwah, it smells great— So this is myam?」


「Yes. This ingredient isn’t expensive, you can try buying some for the Wu clan next time.」


To stop the large amount of meat and aria from getting burnt, I kept moving my spatula and said to Lala Wu with a smile.


Lala Wu blinked her sea blue eyes.


「Asuta… you looked really happy.」


「Ehh? I-Is that so?」


「Yes. You always look happy when you are cooking. But this is the first time I see you showing such a gleeful face.」


Lala Wu showed her teeth in a cheerful smile after saying that.


Lala Wu was very sensitive and observant. I felt a little embarrassed when I heard her say that.


On the fifth day of opening, I could finally enjoy the situation I was in. I just wanted to avoid any trouble yesterday, so my nervousness far outweighed my happiness.


As I was thinking about that, I made my last attack and tossed the myam into the pot. The aroma from the myam and fruit wine erupted, and the Jaguar people cheered once more.


「H-Hey, are you done yet! Are you still cooking?」


One of the guards ran over in a panic.


「Yes, please wait a while more. It’s about time to ask them to queue up.」


I smiled in response. The guard’s action didn’t make me feel uneasy.


The Jaguar people might be rowdy, but they didn’t go overboard or taunt the Semu people. I could even feel some sense of order from their atmosphere.


The commotion two days ago happened because all our merchandise got sold out, and they were frustrated when they saw the group from Semu getting to buy more food than they did.


The Jaguar people had forthright characters, and their faces looked very cheerful right now. Most of them were getting on age, but they all had pure and innocent smiles.


I couldn’t help feeling happy when I saw their gleeful faces.


I turned to the stall responsible for the 『Kiba burgers』.


「Vena Wu, are both of you ready?」


「Yes, we are…」


「Okay, we will open now! Everyone, please place your orders five at a time.」


To avoid being scolded by the guards, I announced at an adequate volume. The Jaguar people formed up in neat rows.


「Lala Wu, we will take the money and hand over the goods.」


「Okay!」


I wrapped the tino shreds and meat with the grilled poitan and passed them to  Lala Wu one by one.


They were followed by 5 more Semu and 5 more Jaguar people. In a blink of an eye, all 15 portions were gone.


「Sorry, please wait for a moment!」


The pot was still on the brazier, I tossed in aria and kiba meat again.


I fried the food and checked the situation in the neighboring stall. Vena Wu just happened to say cheerfully at this moment:


「Sorry, please wait for a while…」


They sold 20 portions too.


A total of 35 meals— But even so, the wall of people showed no signs of reducing.


「Shela Wu, are things going alright?」


「Things are fine right now…」


I asked Shela Wu who had the best cooking skills to prepare the additional tarapa sauce.


I observed for a moment and found her procedures to be correct.


At this moment, the food in the pot was done. After scooping them up into a plate, I called out to Vena Wu:


「Vena Wu, let’s trade places.」


I asked her to make the 『Myam-roasted meat』, then walked to the 『Kiba burger』 stall.


「Good work. Yes, there don’t seem to be any problems.」


The bright-red tarapa sauce was boiling and looked appetizing.


「Hey.」


When I was sprinkling crushed rock salt and pico leaves into the pot, a customer called out to me.


It was a young Jaguar man, one of the architects. He had been visiting daily since three days ago.


「You are still not done yet!? That’s too much, we are waiting so anxiously.」


「Sorry! Please wait just a bit longer!」


I lowered my head in apology, then took out the meat patty in the leather pouch and put it into the tarapa sauce. The dish would be done once the meat patties were cooked.


「Incredible… I did hear about it, but I didn’t expect business to be so good.」


Shela Wu said to me quietly:


「Asuta, thank you for giving me this chance to work. I can relieve some of Shin Wu’s burden after earning these copper plates.」


「No, Mia Lei Wu and Donda Wu were the ones who sent you. I only asked for a woman proficient in tending to the hearth.」


In the Wu clan village, Shela Wu was one of the top few in culinary skills. That wasn’t just pleasantries. I think only Leina Wu and Mama Mia Lei could compare with her.


After she joined the lineup, I harbored a secret hope that the Wu clan could manage one of the stalls in the future.


The Wu clan and the Fa house could then get the same profits. I only paid the Wu clan women 6 copper plates, and they had to prepare the grilled poitan, which made me felt a little bad.


And of course, I still need to observe this for a few months.


As I was thinking about that, the meat patties were cooked. I muttered  「Well done!」 and called for Vena Wu again.


「Vena Wu, please take care of this side…! Sorry for the wait! We will start selling again!」


I walked back to the 『Myam-roasted meat』 stall, and the additional meals were almost all gone.


The wall of people was starting to thin.


「Lala Wu, can you help me make and sell the food?」


「Yes, I can do that now. Maybe I can do it better than Vena-nee.」


This Wu clan woman showed no mercy in her words.


But she was very reliable.


「Well then, I will leave this to you for now. I will prepare the additional food.」


At a glance, there were about ten customers waiting for their food.


The customers who completed their purchase stood right behind them to enjoy their meal. This place was still incredibly crowded.


I sold more than 30 『Myam-roasted meat』 in the morning… isn’t that a little too popular?


Because the 『Kiba burger』 needed more preparation time, the customers who couldn’t wait switched to 『Myam-roasted meat』, which resulted in its sales going up.


Of the 60 『Myam-roasted meat』 we prepared, half of them had been sold. I just prepared 20 more 『Kiba burger』, and the queuing customers will probably buy them all. It seemed that we could sell quite a number of meals in this morning.


But could we really last 5 hours like this?


I felt a chill down my back at the thought of that.


「Asuta onii-chan, I want two!」


A caramel-colored head poked out from the crowd. Our petite regular customer— Tara was here.


「Thank you for coming every day. Are you buying only two today?」


「Yes! This is for the cloth stall uncle and pot dealer uncle! Tara wants to eat 『Kiba burger』!」


「Is your father having 『Kiba burger』 too?」


I made the orders for the Semu and Jaguar people and asked Tara at the same time. Tara showed a gloomy face:


「Papa says he doesn’t feel like eating. He had been depressed since morning.」


「Ehh? Is he not feeling well?」


「I don’t know. He says he will be back to normal tomorrow…」


While Tara was looking down with a sullen face, I handed the 『Myam-roasted meat』 I just made to her nose.


「Here, two 『Myam-roasted meat』, that will be four red copper plates.」


「Thank you…! Ah, nice to meet you!」


「Hmm? Ah, oh? Hello…」


Tara smiled when she saw Lala Wu’s shocked expression.


Tara’s fear towards the denizens of the Forest’s Edge seemed to be slowly fading. It was fortunate that Tara didn’t meet Mida Tsun yesterday.


「Tara, I will buy vegetables after the stall closes. Please send my regards to your father.」


「Yes! See you next time!」


Tara ran off quickly.


The next customer was the architect Arudas.


「Hi, I overslept a little today… Oh, so this is the new product?」


「Oh, hello. Thank you for visiting every day. Want to try a sample?」


Speaking of which, all the customers passed on sampling and bought the 『Myam-roasted meat』 directly. I even forgot to take the sampling plate out.


「No need for me. But can you prepare some for them?」


Arudas turned to the side, and four Jaguar men with sullen faces walked over.


I couldn’t remember all of them because of the large number of patrons, but the stout and old Jaguar man standing at the very front left a deep impression on me.


He was the boss of the architects, 「Pops」.


On the second day of opening, this man criticized the  『Kiba burger』 very thoroughly.


「… Thank you for making the trip here!」


「Hmmp, if Arudas didn’t beg me, I wouldn’t have come. No matter how you season it, kiba is still kiba. Why must I come all this way to suffer? How troubling.」


He was quick with his words like last time and spoke like a machine gun.


Pops surveyed the vicinity with a devious glint in his eyes.


「To think there are so many retards in this world who know nothing about taste. If they like kiba so much, why not go hunt them in the woods. Hey, I’m starving. Hurry up and end this mockery, so I can go eat karon.」


「Alright! Please wait for a moment!」


I took out the sampling plate from the bag and scooped some of the steaming meat onto it. After putting four toothpicks onto it, I handed it to them.


「Hmmp.」


Pops grunted and reached for the toothpick.


I stole a glance at the Pops reaction while I prepared 『Myam-roasted meat』 for Arudas. Lala Wu didn’t know what transpired before this, so she could only watch the group eat the samples in surprise.


Pops put the meat into his mouth.


The other three did the same reluctantly.


「Uwah, this tastes great.」


Arudas cheered.


「Just the fragrance alone is so appetizing, and it tastes amazing! I thought nothing can surpass that tarapa kiba meat, but I was wrong. I’m going to buy this dish from tomorrow onwards.」


「Thank you!」


I couldn’t stop working as there were Semu customers waiting behind them.


I observed Pops anxiously for his reaction. Pops continued concentrating on his chewing with a sullen face.


「… This is bad.」


The young Jaguar standing beside him muttered.


My heart started to race.


「That’s right, really bad.」


Another elderly Jaguar man shook his head.


So— they couldn’t accept it after all.


After receiving their complaints, I had not met any other Jaguar people who had problems with the kiba meat. It seemed that this group of people couldn’t accept the taste of kiba meat no matter what.


I didn’t make them fall in love with kiba meat, but thanks to their criticism, I got to improve the next dish by 「making the seasoning stronger」. I was confident that this 『Myam-roasted meat』 could attract the westerners who hated kiba to patronize our stall.


In the end, my kiba dish still couldn’t satisfy Pops. It was regrettable, but nothing good will come from persisting on this. I was a little sad, but I didn’t regret it. As I was about to apologize—


「What’s so bad about it? It’s super delicious.」


Arudas’ laughter drowned out my voice, and he happily bit into his 『Myam-roasted meat』.


At this moment, the elderly man who was quiet all this time patted Pops’ shoulder with an awkward smile.


「Give it up, Pops. It can’t be helped.」


Pops remained silent.


By the way, how long was he going to chew?


Was he trying to show how tough the kiba meat was?


I hoped he could tell me specifically what he wasn’t happy with. When I was leaning slightly out of the stall, the young Jaguar man who muttered 「This is bad!」 earlier walked to the stall.


He handed his copper plates to me.


「I don’t like that soft and mushy meat last time, but this dish is delicious. Give me one.」


「Eh...? Ah, a-alright!」


I grabbed a grilled poitan frantically.


Another Jaguar man gave me his copper plates.


「I told you that the kiba meat wasn’t good the previous time. Actually, I just hated the tarapa. I think the kiba meat tastes alright.」


「T-Thank you.」


As I made another 『Myam-roasted meat』, I stole another glance at Pops.


The Jaguar man, who patted Pops’ shoulder, scratched his head with his thick fingers and smiled awkwardly.


「I don’t like the taste of kiba meat. But the meat I ate doesn’t have any stench at all. Hey, is that really kiba?」


「Yes. The parts of the kiba used and the seasoning might be different from the 『Kiba burger』, but this is definitely kiba meat.」


「I see. It doesn’t taste like karon or kimyusu. This is bad. I give up… Hey, give me one too.」


As I was about to thank him—


「What kind of joke is this!」


Pops’ furious voice drowned out my voice.


He then took large strides towards me and banged on the counter.


「Hey, what the hell is this!?」


「W-What do you mean…?」


「The taste and texture of this meat are completely different from the one I tasted last time. Who will believe that this is kiba meat?」


Pops reverted to his normal volume. But his face was still stiff and looked absolutely displeased.


「Erm… The kiba burger from that time was made by molding the meat that had been minced into a patty. That’s why their textures are different. As for the seasoning, I marinated the meat in fruit wine and myam sauce to mask the kiba’s gamey taste before I roasted it.」


I answered Pops as I prepared food for three.


「So that was the sweetness of fruit wine. Now that you mentioned it, sugar is more valuable than salt in Genos.」


Another elderly Jaguar man interjected.


「The food in Genos tends to be salty. Your food is a mixture of sweet and saltiness, no wonder people love it so much… At least, I love it.」


「T-Thank you.」


The trio excluding Pops smiled awkwardly. Their face seemed to be saying「To think I lost to this brat.」


As for Pops— he continued standing in front of the stall with a displeased face.


「……Pops, I don't know why are you so unhappy. But you will disrupt their business if you keep standing there.」


「Ah, it's fine for now. There aren't any customers.」


I couldn't increase the menu for the time being, but if there was any room for improvement for my dish, I could work on it. I would be happy to listen to Pops if he had any feedback.


At this moment, Lala Wu handed the 『Myam-roasted meat』 to the three customers.


「Ah, it's so tasty!」


「Yeah, this dish is delicious.」


「So kiba is actually so good. Even if I tell the folks back at home, they wouldn't believe me.」


The three Jaguar men had happy smiles just like their companions who came earlier.


When he heard what they said, Pops finally spoke:


「…… Can you prove that this is kiba?」


「Ehh?」


I was shocked.


「You didn't butcher the kiba before us, so you can't prove that this is kiba meat, right?」


「You are saying strange things again. At the very least, this isn't kimyusu or karon, right?」


Arudas tried soothing him with a smile, but Pops refused to budge.


「This might not be kiba meat. Gizu and Munto also live in the Morga mountains, right?」


The group eating the 『Myam-roasted meat』 behind Pops grumbled:「Don't bring up those disgusting animals when we are eating.」


「That’s right, Pops. Don’t mention those things in front of the stall, how can their meat be this tasty?」


「Maybe it is Madarama snake or Barb wolf!」


「Hey… Don’t those two animals eat people? If their meat is tastier than kiba, isn’t that even more incredible? Pops, what you are saying doesn’t make sense.」


Arudas said with surprise.


「… That’s true.」


Pops muttered to himself, his voice had turned whimsical.


His green eyes were filled with disappointment as he looked my way.


「So, this really is kiba meat…?」


「Yes. What you ate last time and the meat you had today are all kiba meat.」


I confirmed what he said. I didn’t know what Pops was thinking at all.


Pops sighed deeply.


「… I was wrong.」


「What?」


「I thought kiba wasn’t tasty at all, but I was wrong. The dish last time was unpalatable, but this dish is splendid. The problem must lie with your culinary skill, it’s not the kiba’s fault.」


He might be right, but I didn’t understand why he was so depressed.


「I only like thinly sliced karon thigh meat.」


「Eh? Ah, yes.」


「Boiled kimyusu meat isn’t even worth mentioning. Roasted kimyusu is the best.」


「Yes…」


「Kiba doesn’t taste bad, the important thing is how it is cooked.」


Pops sighed again as if it was the end of the world.


「But I said something retarded, and thought that kiba meat has no value… I’m ashamed of my own retardedness.」


「C-Customer, please don’t mind such a trivial thing!」


Jaguar people were very emotional, so that was how they were like when they become depressed.


I consoled him in a panic:


「To be honest, I thought that 『Kiba burger』 which was a rare dish would draw the interest of the townspeople. However, I realized that this dish wasn’t suitable for people trying kiba for the first time. I only realized my mistake after you told me about its flaws.」


「But…」


「It’s the same with seasoning. Aside from you, no one else told me their complaints so readily. Your words were kind advices for me.」


I didn’t know if what I was doing was right, but I couldn’t help saying them out.


「When you complained that the 『Kiba burger』 tastes bad, I was really frustrated. And thanks to you, I did all I could to think up a solution. I’m very grateful.」


「… I see.」


Pops muttered softly:


「Thanks to you, it’s my turn to feel frustrated.」


「Ah… Sorry…」


「No need to apologize. I admit that I was wrong, but I won’t apologize to you.」


He then knocked the counter gently.


When he removed his hand, I found two red copper plates on the counter.


「I’m willing to pay for this delicious meal. Hurry up, we need to start working soon.」


Pops said to me with a smile and showed an arrogant face again.

2


The first half of the battle was over.


That might be so, but we got over the morning peak period in just an hour. During this time, we sold 34 『Kiba burgers』and 37 『Myam-roasted meat』. The speed was about one and a half times that of yesterday.


Normally, the crowd would be sparse at this time. However, things were unusual today, and the road was filled with people.


A group was gathered at the corner of the streets, whispering to themselves. A few girls were browsing the accessories in the neighboring stall and would steal glances our way at times. A middle-aged man stood in the center of the road and stared at our stall. All of them were westerners with yellowish-brown or ivory skin.


Until yesterday, the crowd would disperse when the customers left. But it seemed that the westerners couldn’t ignore me anymore. Why were the southerners and easterners so engrossed with kiba food? They probably felt it was unfathomable.


「Looks like things are slowing down~  Asuta, will there still be customers later?」


「Yes, the crowd will only be here when it is noon. That would be the time for us to make money.」


The easterners and southerners gathered early in the morning out of fear of the merchandise getting sold out. If we are open until the afternoon today, the customers will spread out their visiting time. So it depends on whether we can operate until noon.


「Hmm〜 I should have prepared more 『Myam-roasted meat』. To think that we almost sold 40 of them in just the morning…」


「Didn’t I tell you…? We will definitely sell out today.」


Vena Wu in the stall next door said with a gleeful smile.


「The customers consist of only southerners and easterners. Aside from that brat, I didn’t see any other westerners.」


Lala Wu swept the stone paved road a little agitatedly.


「Why do they keep staring at us if they don’t want to buy anything, how unpleasant.」


「That’s fine. We need to get them curious, then they will try. I think this is a big improvement.」


「Hmmp〜」


Lala Wu seemed reluctant to accept that.


「Since there aren’t any customers, do you want to try the food? Are you hungry?」


「Ehh… I’m hungry from the smell of the food. But shouldn’t you leave the extra portions to the townspeople?」


「These aren’t excess portions, but the samples I prepared and accounted for. I also grilled some poitan for sampling use.」


I took out the poitan from a cloth pack.


「Uwah, what’s that? It’s so tiny!」


「This is the poitan for the staff to sample.」


The sample poitan was one size smaller than the 『Kiba burger』, about 10 cm in diameter and thinner. I only used a third of one poitan for this.


「I will be done right away, please tend to the stall.」


I took out the smallest patty from the leather pouch, which was about 8 cm big. As the mini meat patty was about 2 cm thick, it looked plump and cute.


After heating up the meat patty in the pot, I made two mini 『Kiba burger』.


「Sorry for the wait. Many customers are looking at us, can you eat outside of the stall?」


「Thank you… It looks delicious.」


Shela Wu was all smiles.


I walked back to the 『Myam-roasted meat』 stall and handed the sample to Lala Wu. She laughed happily just like Ludo Wu did.


When the two of them headed to the empty space to the right to try the samples happily, Vena Wu looked at me sorrowfully.


「Vena Wu, I also prepared your share. Please bear with it for now, I can’t let all three of you go at the same time.」


「Ehh… I can eat too…?」


「Yes. Since we have gotten additional helpers, I will prepare staff lunch every day.」


After I answered, Vena Wu who was standing two meters away reached for me with her right hand.


「… I can’t reach…」


Of course, you can’t.


By the way, did she have the habit of reaching for my clothes when she was happy?


I put the brazier back into the cart and heated up the meat and aria on the plate.


I then took out a wrapping made with half a poitan and made a mini 『Myam-roasted meat』.


「Lala Wu, this is your first day on the job, so I hope you can try both dishes. Can you still eat?」


When she heard me, Lala Wu ran over to hit my back and said:「Of course I can!」


Lala Wu probably thought that physical contact was a sign of friendship, but all I felt was pain.


After that, Vena Wu and I ate one staff lunch each to stave off our hunger. During this time, only one Jaguar man came to buy the『Myam-roasted meat』.


However, I realized that more and more westerners were on the road. The rules of the Post Station Town forbid me from touting for customers loudly or leaving the stall to advertise. As I was wondering how I could get these people to come over, a familiar group approached us from the north.


There were five of them, and all of them were cloaked. Four of them walked towards the 《Kiba burger》 stall, and only one stopped before me.


He took off his hood, and it was Shumimaru of the 《Silver Vase》 as expected.


「Asuta, I’m late.」


「Welcome, are you buying 『Myam-roasted meat』?」


「No, today, other dish, rotate to.」


In that case, why did he come here? As I was about to ask, he said:「Asuta, stall owner, greeting.」


Shumimaru nodded at Lala Wu who he met for the first time, and his black pupils suddenly focused on my working platform.


「… That knife.」


「What?」


「Unfamiliar shape, from the west?」


「No, this is from my hometown.」


「Your hometown, where is it?」


「… A country named Japan. No one seemed to have heard of this country.」


「Japan, don’t know.」


Shumimaru kept staring at the Santoku knife as we spoke.


「This knife, beautiful. Can I, observe closely?」


「Ehh…? No, this is a tool I’m using to cook, so I can’t let any customer touch it.」


「I no, touch. I can, see?」


What was going on?


I didn’t think there was anything suspicious about Shumimaru. But he was a Semu who concealed his expressions, so I still felt a little uneasy.


After hesitating for a few seconds, I grabbed the black handle, pointed the tip downwards, and lifted it before my chest.


The tall Shumimaru bent over slightly and stared at the body of the Santoku knife.


「… Beautiful. Incredible craftsmanship.」


「Thank you.」


「I know, you cherished it deeply. Excellent tools, if no cherish, will blunt.」


The one who cared for it wasn’t me.


I also used all the knowledge and experience I had to maintain it with the unfamiliar whetstone of this world. However, the one who maintained this knife carefully for twenty years was my Dad.


I felt melancholic from Shumimaru’s words. I quietly put the Santoku knife onto the work platform.


「Steel, Jaguar, renowned. Jaguar, produce, many steel. Semu, few steel.」


「Ah, I see.」


「Semu, steel, precious. So, steel, important.」


As he spoke, Shumimaru took out a knife from his cloak.


It was about 20 cm and kept inside a black leather sheath. The length of the blade was similar to the Santoku knife, but it was twice as wide as the Santoku knife. The handle was made from ebony wood, and swirly patterns were carved into it.


「Because steel precious, Semu, bladesmith, bring life to the blades.」


No matter how abundant steel was in a nation, the work done by the bladesmiths remained the same.


However— this knife was very attractive.


「We, sell knives, in Genos.」


「Ah, so this knife is your merchandise.」


「Steel, knife, Jaguar, renowned. But Semu, knife, excellence.」


Semu people didn’t show their emotions, so this was probably a way for him to show his competitive side.


Shumimaru blinked troublingly.


「Genos, many chef, use, Semu knives.」


「Chefs…?」


At this moment, I realized it.


I heard that the Post Station Town didn’t have any professional chefs. They could only be found inside the rock walls.


「Is this a kitchen knife?」


「Yes.」


「Are you doing business inside the Genos castle town?」


「Yes.」


Speaking of which, Shumimaru’s group came from the north.


On the first day of business, when a member of the 《Silver Vase》 visited our stall, they came from the same direction.


They were returning to the Post Station Town from the castle town to the north.


「… Do the chefs in the castle town use Semu knives?」


「Not all. But many.」


「Can I look at the knife?」


Shumimaru rose the corner of his lips a little.


「I’m happy, you asked.」


He turned the handle towards me and pushed it my way.


No matter what kind of knife the chef in the Post Station Town used, it had nothing to do with me. Being just an apprentice chef, I couldn’t differentiate how good a blade was.


However, Shumimaru took out this knife after complimenting Dad’s Santoku knife, as if this was the pride of the Semu. He had my curiosity, and now he had my attention.


I drew out the blade from the black leather sheath with bated breath.


It was a single-edged knife, and the blade was almost rectangular.


With a breadth of 8 cm, it was thinner than normal vegetable knives. The tip of the knife was slightly curved, and the shape resembled the scythe style vegetable knives commonly found in the Kansai region.


On closer inspection, I saw an intrinsic whirlpool design on the side of the silver blade. The design was detailed, and I couldn’t feel any groove at all. This decoration did not affect the cut surface of the food at all.


「… Is this a vegetable cutting knife?」


「Yes.」


A single blade knife with a thin body. My guess was right.


This knife was beautifully made.


The handle that was similar to ebony wood was smooth and easy to wield.


「Please, cut.」


「Ehh? Isn’t this your merchandise? Can I try it?」


「No cut, no know, sharpness.」


Not just Semu, steel was expensive in this world. Compared to food, steel was very expensive. So I couldn’t buy a cutting knife without any hesitation. However, I did want to test the sharpness of this beautiful knife.


「Well then, I will try it a little—」


I took out some tino that wasn’t cut yet, folded the leaves in half, and started shredding them.


The sharpness was flawless.


I tried the Wu clan’s knives when I tended to their hearth, and those couldn’t compare to this knife at all. To be honest, this knife could even rival my father’s Santoku knife.


This was a knife specialized for preparing vegetables, so the blade needed to be stiff and sharp. In contrast, the vegetable knife of the Wu clan was not as sharp as the Santoku knife.


「… This is indeed an excellent knife.」


Shumimaru nodded. He had a small cloth in one hand and extended his other hand to me.


I placed the knife on a clean plate and pointed the handle towards Shumimaru.


He cleaned the knife gracefully.


「I can only buy this kitchen knife when I earn more money… How much is that knife?」


「Twenty, white copper plates.」


This knife was just as expensive as the iron pot I bought a while back.


The vegetable knives sold in the Post Station Town were priced at 4 white and 5 red copper plates. The price of a high-quality product was incredible. But I thought it was a reasonable price.


「…Asuta, if you buy, white copper plates, 18.」


「Ehh?」


「We, blue month, stay in Genos. If you want, tell me.」


「… I understand, thank you.」


I nodded with a smile.


Shumimaru raised the corner of his mouth slightly again and then reverted to being expressionless swiftly.


「I’m, hungry. I want 『Kiba burger』, eat.」


「Alright, thank you for visiting us every day.」


Shumimaru nodded, then walked to the stall next door. Lala Wu watched him leaving guardedly, then spoke to me quietly:


「What? He wants 18 white copper plates for just a knife? Isn’t that too expensive?」


「Yes. But I want that knife very much.」


「… Buy it then? You already earned several hundred copper plates, right?」


「Even if I earn a hundred copper plates, I will only be left with half after accounting for the operational cost.」


「So what? You earn so much every day. If you don’t spend it, the copper plates will crush the flooring in your house.」


She was exaggerating too much. However, if I continue to run this business successfully, I might really earn enough money to buy that knife.




No, now wasn’t the time for material desires. We were still walking on a tightrope and needed to stabilize our lives first.


But I couldn’t help wondering:


Is the only desire I have in this world are culinary tools!?


Was there anything that Ai Fa wanted?


Ai Fa only bought daily necessities. She was worse than me at figuring out how to spend those excess copper plates.


If I secretly buy a hair accessory for her, will she really beat me black and blue?


After the morning rush was over, the Tsun clan didn’t assault us. So I fell into delusion and had a peaceful morning.

3


After 《Silver Vase》 and Shumimaru left, Shela Wu called out to me.


「There’s only one 『Kiba burger』. Can we take out the additional tarapa and heat them up?」


「Ah, please do. Do put the leftover hamburg steak and the samples onto the plate.」


「Alright.」


「Lala Wu, please watch the stall.」


「Yup.」


I went over to the 『Kiba burger』 stall to observe Shela Wu’s and Vena Wu’s work.


When the 《Silver Vase》 appeared, they had already chopped the tarapa. Vena Wu deftly added wood into the brazier, and Shela Wu placed the tarapa into the pot.


「…Asuta, there is a lot of tarapa left. Isn’t adding two of them a little too much?」


「You are right. One should be enough I guess?」


「I think so too, so I only cut one.」


Shela Wu smiled.


「In that case, the amount of aria and fruit wine will need to be halved too, right?」


「Yes, please.」


We started cooking the tarapa sauce.


I added a little of myam into the sauce today, and the fragrance got even stronger.


Will this aroma draw in the westerners crowding the streets? As I was wondering about that, a group came over as if they were answering my thoughts.


「Hi, I came today too. I even brought my friends.」


The one who appeared was the only girl of the delinquent from yesterday—Yumi.


「Ah, thank you very much…」


My voice faded off mid-sentence because I saw the group of young girls her age standing behind Yumi.


There were four of them, and they all had ivory skin. They were dressed like Yumi, with a colorful tube top, and a dress that flowed down to their ankles. Was this the standard attire of the girls in western cities?


「Ehh? This is tarapa. It smells like you have added myam, it’s not the dish I had yesterday, right?」


「No. The stall next door sells the 『Myam-roasted meat』 you had. This dish is called 『Kiba burger』, I’m making additional portions right now. Will you try it when I’m done?」


「Yes! I want to try.」


I thought she was a fierce girl yesterday, but she gave a completely different expression when she smiled. Even though her body was giving off a sexy air, her expression was pure and innocent.


「Asuta, the tarapa is done.」


Shela Wu called out to me softly.


「I know. Just the seasoning is left…」


As I was preparing to handle that, I stopped.


「… Can you do the seasoning for this?」


「Ehh?」


When I saw Shela Wu open her eyes wide, I went closer to her while maintaining a polite distance away.


「Shela Wu, please add in salt and pico leaves as you deem appropriate. If it is too bland, I will adjust it. If it tastes too thick, I will add a bit more tarapa.」


「… Yes, I understand.」


Shela Wu probably knew that this was part of her job, and she didn’t show any hesitation in her eyes.


I nodded and turned to the customers.


「Well then, would you like to try the dish you had yesterday?」


「That’s great. I already tried it, so let them try the sample.」


One of the girls looked at us timidly, and tried to stop us:


「W-Wait, Yumi…」


「Don’t worry! I already explained to you, right? It’s super tasty. Just think of it as me tricking you and try it.」


「But…」「It’s still…」


The girls squirmed their ivory skinned bodies reluctantly.


The same thing happened when Uncle Dora brought the clothing stall owner and the pot dealer to try the sample. But why was the atmosphere completely different from back then?


Speaking of which, only the adult men from the south and east were here to make a living in the Post Station Town. Hence, the only young female customers I had were Tara and Yumi.


That was why I appeared so lost in front of this group of young girls.


I had never considered this sort of problems. I might have been influenced by the simple lifestyle in Forest’s Edge for the past month.


Ignoring my situation for now, from what I knew, every denizen from Forest’s Edge had honest and simple personalities. It was the same with their women. I was surrounded by many women from Forest’s Edge when I caretook the hearth. Hence, the girly actions and screams of the city girls were a heavy burden to me.


But they were my customers, so I said to them 「This way, please.」 with a smile, and guided them to the stall selling 『Myam-roasted meat』.


I then said to Shela Wu quietly:


「Have you seasoned it?」


「Yes… Please try it.」


Shela Wu asked me to sample it with a tense face. I nodded and picked up the spoon to do a taste test.


No problem.


Shela Wu only tried the tarapa sauce a few times, and she could already reproduce the taste of the sauce. She seemed to have a natural affinity for cooking. In Forest’s Edge that didn’t place much importance on culinary skills, I think Shela Wu was a valuable existence.


「Well done. Now cook the meat patty, please.」


「… Okay.」


Shela Wu sighed in relief.


Compared to the other women in the Wu clan, I made Shela Wu work the hardest, so I should give her the remuneration she deserves one day.


「Well then…」


I turned to the customers. The girls were still squirming and saying:「But…」「I don’t wanna…」


Stop squirming. I couldn’t help venting in my heart. It seemed that I was still not mature enough.


Yumi flicked her long brown hair impatiently.


「Really now, you all are so timid. Hmm… W-What’s your name?」


「Me? I’m Asuta.」


「Asuta huh. What an interesting name. Asuta, please let me try the sample again. If I do that, they will finally make up their minds.」


「Okay, thank you for your kind actions.」


After I answered with a smile, Yumi frowned a little.


「…Asuta, how old are you?」


「What? I’m 17.」


「You are just one year older than me. You don’t need to be so polite.」


「How could I do that! You are an esteemed customer of mine, I can’t be rude…! This way, please.」


「…Tch.」


Yumi clicked her tongue as if she was throwing a fit. She walked towards the 『Myam-roasted meat』 stall.


The four girls gave chase in a group, as if they didn’t dare to leave Yumi’s side.


「Hmm? Lala Wu, did you already start the fire?」


「Huh? I thought you wanted to heat up the kiba meat, so I prepared ahead of time. Was I too nosey?」


「No, your judgment is correct. Please wait a moment.」


On the plates were enough kiba meat for the girls to sample.


I tossed the meat in the plate into the pot, poured in some sauce, and the aroma of the myam and fruit wine burst forth.


「See? It smells nice, right?」


Yumi looked at the girls smugly.


The girls all squeezed together and continued to squirm.


They might have looked terrified, but from my observations, they weren’t that afraid of the kiba meat. The cloth stall owner and pot dealer who visited the other day were more scared than them.


How long they stayed in Genos, their gender, and their age— all these factors determined how much the residents of the Post Station Town were afraid of kiba.


「Sorry for the wait, please help yourselves.」


「Yes, thank you.」


Yumi put the 『Myam-roasted meat』 into her mouth fearlessly.


「Ah〜 as I expected, it’s delicious. Hey, compared to the kiba meat cooked with tarapa, which one tastes better?」


「Everyone has their own preference. Girls would probably prefer the tarapa one.」


「Then I will try both dishes…! Are you really not trying? Do you really believe the superstition that your skin will turn dark if you eat the kiba?」


The girls were still uneasy after hearing what Yumi said.


At this moment, someone walked to the stall from behind them.


「I want to ask… is trying the samples free?」


Two youths with ivory skin asked.


They were asking Yumi, not me.


「Hmm? That’s right. Try a sample, then pay to buy one if you like the taste.」


「I see…」


The youths looked at me meekly.


I started smiling.


「Please try this. These two kiba stalls have completely different seasoning. Do compare them.」


「What do you think?」「What should we do?」


The youths were hesitant.


「Asuta, the meat is done.」


「Yay!」


When Shela Wu told me the meat patty was cooked, Yumi rushed over happily.


「Kiba is delicious, and I’m confident about both… Uwah!」


「Hyaa!」


「Kyaa!」


The youths and I both screamed.


While they were lowering their heads troublingly, a totos moa stretched its long neck in between the youths.


「Excuse me.」


An emotionless voice came from above.


I couldn’t see where the voice was coming from because of the roof. When I bent down, I found a Semu man in traveling attire riding on the back of the totos.




「Hey! Riding on totos is prohibited in town!」


After Yumi shouted energetically, the man said  「Pardon me!」, then jumped onto the stone-paved road.


He wore a cloak and had a dark face covered in sand. He was probably a traveler who came from the north. This Semu man looked at the signboard and then the sampling plate.


「… Kiba?」


「Yes, this is a kiba dish. Do you want to try a sample?」


I said bravely and pointed at the plate.


This Semu traveler seemed to understand western language. He nodded and took a toothpick.


「The other stall is also selling kiba dish. It’s a seldom seen dish that uses tarapa.」


The traveler nodded again and left the stall while holding the reins of the totos.


At this moment, someone shouted crudely from the direction he was headed:


「Uwah! Don’t browse the stalls with your totos, put it in a totos stable!」


Before I realized it, a Jaguar man appeared in the stall next door and bought a 『Kiba burger』.


The Semu man said 「Excuse me!」 again, and reached for the sample.


「Really now, the Semu are always a problem…」


The Jaguar man avoided the totos while muttering detestedly to himself, and walked over.


「Huh? Oh, you are selling a kiba dish here too?」


「Yes. From today onwards, we will be expanding to two stalls.」


「I thought I smelled myam, so it’s from this stall! Are the dishes different?」


「Yes. Would you like to try a sample?」


The man walked over, pushed aside the hesitant youth, and took a toothpick.


His eyes opened wide in surprise after eating it.


「Uwah, this stall is delicious too… I didn’t notice this place and bought the kiba dish from the stall next door.」


「Sorry about that. Would you like to change your dish?」


「But I want to eat the one I just bought…」


He lowered his head frustratedly and stared at me.


「Nevermind! I know! I will get this one too! You will close your stall at dusk, right? In that case, I will eat a good one now, and have a lighter dinner! How much is one?」


「T-Two red copper plates.」


「Such a budget price. Awesome, two of these just cost four red copper plates.」


He placed the copper plates on the counter with a satisfied smile.


「Thank you for your patronage, please wait a moment!」


At this moment, I heard a crude voice.


「What, you are actually selling kiba food?」


Three yellowish brown-skinned men were before the stall next door. They had sabres and axes on their waist and were dressed like gangsters.


「Who will buy such things in Genos? You can earn a tidy amount of copper plates by using your beautiful face and sexy body, right?」


Not only did they have sabres and axes, they also held fruit wine bottles in their hands.


I felt the urge to help them out, but Lala Wu grabbed my arm.


「Asuta, leave them be. You won’t be of any help even if you go. Leave it to Vena-nee.」


「But…」


「When the women of Forest’s Edge walk alone in town, they will often encounter such a situation. Those men are just small fries, Shela Wu and I can shoo them off too.」


「… A bunch of retards. They don’t even have the resolve to make an enemy out of the denizens of the Forest’s Edge.」
A Jaguar customers also ate his 『Kiba burger』 calmly.


「Don’t be bothered about them, and make my food quick. I need to go back to work after I’m done.」


「A-Alright…」


I put the aria into the pot and felt my heart hanging in the air.


I couldn’t hear what Vena Wu said, but those men were yelling barbarically:「What did you say?」「Are you kidding me!」


When I roasted the meat and finished the 『Myam-roasted meat』, those men had already left somberly with『Kiba burgers』 in their hands.


「Didn’t I tell you? Vena-nee gets harrassed very easily, so she’s used to it.」


Vena Wu was impressive. I sighed, and the two hesitant youths suddenly called out to me with a weak voice.


「Excuse me… C-Can we try a sample…?」


「Of course!」


I checked again, and the girls were already eating the 『Kiba burger』 from the next stall. Yumi had bought her food ahead of the others and was chatting happily with Vena Wu as she enjoyed her 『Kiba burger』.


「Uwah… It tastes great.」「It’s a bit tough, but it’s not gamey at all.」


The two western men discussed their impressions.


What an introverted pair of youths.


「Please try a sample in the neighboring stall too.」


At this moment, a Semu man walked over and quietly took out his copper plates.


「W-Welcome! Please hold on for a moment!」


It suddenly got busier.


I looked up, and the sun was already at its peak.


Two and a half hours had passed before I knew it, and the second half of the battle had begun.


At the same time, I could see that the goal was in sight.


When the two youths and four girls decided to buy the 『Kiba burger』 and 『Myam-roasted meat』, there were less than 20 of each product left.


「So this is the kiba dish that is the talk of the inn.」


Jaguar people crowded over. An equal number of Semu men approached quietly. It wasn’t to the extent of the morning crowd, but the stall was flooded with customers.


When they saw the customers gathering, some ivory skinned people also came over.


And of course, not everyone who came bought the merchandise. Half of them went off without sampling, and a small number left as if they were fleeing after trying a bite.


However, there were still a few who bought the food worriedly.


「Hey, is this kiba?」


A group of children asked me.


They were younger than tara, about 5 or 6 years old.


「Yes. Would all of you want to try some?」


When I offered them the plate, the children laughed and scattered.


After a while, they gathered again and timidly approached the stall timidly.


「The samples are free. Do you want to try?」


「But… I will grow horns if I eat kiba, right?」


「Our skins will turn black too.」


「Hmm〜? I have been eating kiba for a whole month, but I don’t have any horns.」


I then pointed at Lala Wu besides me.


「Look, this onee-san doesn’t have horns, right? It will be fine.」


After the kids tried the sample, they yelled:「It’s delicious!」 and then ran to the other end of the street.


「… They are so young, so they won’t have copper plates on them, right?」


「It’s fine. I will be happy if they think it tastes good.」


The amount of food gradually decreased.


The 『Myam-roasted meat』 sold out first. An hour after the second half began, we were left with two 『Myam-roasted meat』. Three Semu men came at this time.


「I’m very sorry! There’s only two left. The stall beside us is selling a kiba dish cooked with tarapa, they should have some left…」


The Semu men talked quietly among themselves expressionlessly.


One of them then headed to our neighboring stall, and the remaining two took out their copper plates


「Thank you for your patronage. Please wait a moment.」


We finally reached the endpoint.


We could probably close shop successfully in a short while.


After handing the last two 『Myam-roasted meat』 to the customers, I asked the Lala Wu to take care of the fire and walked to the neighboring stall briskly.


「Shela Wu, how many are left on your side?」


Before Shela Wu could answer, a western youth who just tried the sample shouted:


「A-Alright, give me one!」


Shela Wu deftly made a 『Kiba burger』, Vena Wu handed it to him in exchange for the copper plates.


After the customer left, the two of them smiled at the same time.


「All sold out.」


「All sold out, huh…」


It had been just three hours since morning, and still two hours before my scheduled closing time. Despite that, the fifth day ended with all 120 portions sold out.

4


After putting out the fire, we quickly closed the stall.


As I put the chopping board, plates, and the leftover vegetables into the bag, Vena Wu said to me with a smile:


「… As expected, we sold everything, right…?」


「That’s right. To be honest, this doesn’t feel like reality at all.」


It might not feel real, but the pile of copper plates was. Almost none of the customers paid with white copper plates, so the money pouch was filled with red copper plates.


We sold 120 portions and earned 240 red copper plates.


A staggering amount.


「Let’s return the cart… Ah, this is too much money, I will go to the copper plate exchange place.」


Two hundred-odd copper plates weighed about 1.5 kg; I had to exchange them for white copper plates as soon as possible.


Even though no one would dare to rob denizens of the Forest’s Edge, I couldn’t let my guard down and walked carefully on the stone-paved path.


The Post Station Town was extremely crowded in the afternoon, and we were quite prominent pushing our cart. This was the fifth day of the stall opening, so I was used to it.


「Hi, you are closing already? You were open until so late today, huh.」


「Hey, I’m counting on you tomorrow too, alright?」


The Jaguar people greeted us warmly.


Men from Semu would nod at us.


「Ah, Uncle Dora, are you well? I will drop by your stall after I return the cart.」


「Hi, good work today… Don’t worry, I’m healthy.」


Uncle Dora was in his usual spot, peddling vegetables laid out on a piece of cloth. His face was frail and his smile was weak.


I was worried about him, but I still needed to exchange the copper plates and return the cart.


The copper plate exchange was located in a sturdy building, right between the marketplace and the lodging facilities. A guard stood watch there most of the times. Even though I called it a copper plate exchange, it was actually a place that provides loans.


Exchanging copper plates was free of charge. Obviously, the money lenders didn’t provide this service out of goodwill or hobby. They were requested by the Genos landlord to provide currency exchange services so copper plates could circulate in the Post Station Town smoothly.


Just what did the money lender think when they saw our business growing day by day? He tried his best to conceal his emotions and changed 200 red copper plates to 20 white copper plates.


We headed to 《Kimyusu’s Tail Inn》 to return the carts and deposit our goods there for the time being. After getting glared at by Milano Mast, we returned to the marketplace.


「Speaking of which… Did Kamyua Yost came today…?」


「Ah, that’s right. Today was too busy, so I even forgot about him.」


Kamyua Yost and the Tsun clan people didn’t come today, so there wasn’t any ridiculous commotion. The 120 meals were all sold out, what a peaceful day that matched my ideal day perfectly.


Vena Wu walked with large strides through the bustling city and shrugged sexily.


「Never mind, it’s better that he didn’t show… But even if he didn’t show, he might still be planning something nefarious secretly. So it’s fine either way…」


「Vena Wu, do you dislike Kamyua?」


「I hate elusive people… That’s why I like you the most…」


Was I that easy to understand?


Anyways, I decided to head to Uncle Dora’s stall.


「Hi, you brought so many people with you today.」


Uncle Dora welcomed me and the three girls. He looked a little frail, and Tara wasn’t here.


「You don’t look well… Are you ill?」


「I would never fall ill.」


He shook his head weakly.


「I will be frank… This morning, I found a kiba that had fallen into a trap I set.」


「Ehh?」


「To stop the kiba from eating my crops, I set several traps around my farm. Even so, I still found a lot of my vegetables damaged in the morning… And today, one retarded kiba fell into the trap.」


「… I see.」


「That’s right. Since we caught it, we had to put it down. Everyone stood outside the trap and stabbed it to death with spears made from krilee… On a day like this, I couldn’t eat meat. I could still hear it’s miserable screams… Just thinking about it makes me shiver.」


His plump body really started to shake.


「The hunters of Forest’s Edge are amazing. Encountering a kiba in the forest must be a nightmare. My knees go weak just at the sight of them… I can’t fight with those monsters.」


「I can’t either. Hunters really are amazing.」


Will Ai Fa be safe today?


I wanted to hurry on home and see Ai Fa’s energetic face.


「By the way, the number of kiba had increased dramatically since last month. Our farms are still fine, but those near to the Forest’s Edge suffered heavy losses. The farmers can’t even make a living. When it really gets bad, the kiba will even eat aria and its root before it is ready for harvesting.」


He shook his head depressedly.


「In recent years, the damage to the farms was turning worse. Will it become like my grandfather’s generation, where the kiba will come out of the forest all day…?」


「I don’t think you need to worry about that. However, the number of kiba is definitely increasing.」


Did the number of Forest’s Edge denizens who gave up on hunting increased? We had no way of knowing the truth.


「Before the denizens of Forest’s Edge shifted here, the farmers once banded together to hunt the kiba. Back then, many of them were gored to death… My grandfather’s leg was injured, and he had to spend the rest of his life on a crutch. I don’t want to do that… I absolutely don’t want to hunt kiba.」


「Uncle…」


「Ah, sorry. The denizens of Forest’s Edge risk their lives hunting kiba every day, so I shouldn’t be saying this to you. I will be counting on your delicious meals from tomorrow onwards.」


「Yes, I will be in your care too.」


So that was what happened. No wonder he couldn’t tell Tara how he felt.


Even though he had a cheerful expression, I couldn’t ignore his words as a denizen of Forest’s Edge.


How many kiba did the Tsun clan hunt? Maybe they didn’t hunt at all… After all, a member of the Tsun clan got drunk in the afternoon, and even came into town to buy snacks!


The Tsun clan was as big as the Wu clan; if they didn’t hunt properly, it would have dire effects on their surroundings.


「…Asuta, don’t make such a heavy face. What are you buying today? How many?」


I decided to change my mood to not worry Uncle Dora.


All I could do was to do my best and make this business a success.


「Sorry, I want 200 tarapa, 30 aria… and 150 poitan.」


「You are finally buying 150 poitan! So, you will be preparing 150 portions tomorrow?」


「Yes. This is the limit of what the four of us can prepare.」


Aside from that, as the 『Kiba burger』 was more tedious to prepare, I decided to increase the『Myam-roasted meat』 to 90 portions. I want to try in the remaining five days whether we can prepare these dishes properly.


「Oh right, the Fa house’s meat store is about to become empty.」


I said to Vena Wu as I counted the poitan.


「The day after tomorrow, I hope the Wu clan can let me have some meat. Can you relay this to Donda Wu and Mia Lei Wu?」


「Yes, I understand…」


I already negotiated with the Wu clan about the kiba meat.


I had to rack my brains hard to set a price for kiba meat.


The Wu clan village hunted more than enough kiba meat, so Mia Lei Wu told me:「Take as much as you need, no need for payment.」 But I had no idea how long my stall would run, and I couldn’t keep accepting them free of charge. I insisted on paying an adequate price for the bloodletting work, and they agreed.


We were at an impasse on the price. The buyer kept raising the price, while the seller kept lowering the price. After such an interesting negotiation, we came to a compromise and used the 「price of kiba horns and tusks」 as the standard.


A large kiba would be 12 red copper plates, and the smaller ones, 8 plates. But the price was still too low, so I will have to adjust it to a more reasonable value in the near future.


「Alright then, I will be counting on you the day after tomorrow. Sorry, I would need you to carry a lot of things when the time comes.」


I asked Vena Wu to bring over the kiba meat I would need the next day when she will visit the Fa house in the morning. Vena Wu smiled as she put the poitan she counted into the sack.


「I will bring the meat from the Wu clan to the Fa house with a tow board, it’s not much trouble… The work Lala and Shela Wu need to do when I’m on my way there is more tedious…」


「That’s right. Make Vena-nee work hard sometimes too.」


Even though Vena Wu and Lala Wu didn’t talk much at work, they were still very close. Shela Wu also smiled quietly beside them.


Everyone had faces of satisfaction.


After a tiring day, everyone felt a great sense of pride and accomplishment.


At least, I felt very satisfied.

5


「Well then, I will be counting on you tomorrow.」


I put down the pot in front of the Fa house and bid Vena Wu farewell.


We spent a bit of time to close up and buy ingredients, but there was still four hours until sunset. Hence, I did have more than enough time to do my preparation.


I’m making 150 portions, so we should be staying until the scheduled closing time in the Post Station Town tomorrow. I will be returning later tomorrow, so I have to increase the efficiency of my preparation work.


I reached for the door.


But it was barred.


「Hmm? Ai Fa, are you home?」


I called out to Ai Fa and knocked on the door.


After a long silence, Ai Fa answered:


「Wait.」


But Ai Fa still didn’t open the door. After about 30 seconds, I heard the sound of the bar being moved, and the door gradually opened.


I held my breath in surprise the next instance.


「Ai Fa, what happened to you!?」


I didn’t know what happened, but Ai Fa had never shown such a pained expression. Her face was filled with pain and cold sweat. Her blue eyes were burning like that of a wounded beast.


「Don’t be so loud… hurry on in.」


Ai Fa’s figure quickly disappeared behind the door.


I grabbed the bags and the pot and entered the house.


Ai Fa was wearing her cape and, while holding her left arm, she squatted behind the door.


「… Bar the door.」


I hurried and did that, then squatted down beside Ai Fa.


「What happened? Does your arm hurt? Did the Tsun clan attack you?」


At a glance, Ai Fa didn’t have any obvious injuries.


But the last time Ai Fa made such a pained expression, was a long time ago when we were attacked by a Madarama snake.


「There’s no one from the Tsun clan I would let to get me… The bone in my arm shifted out of place when I was hunting.」


Ai Fa finally squeezed out these words.


Bone— shifted?


Did she dislocate her arm?


「W-Which arm? The left arm? The shoulder? Or the elbow?」


「I told you not to be so loud… The left elbow. Don’t worry, I already shifted the bone back into position.」


「O-Of course I will worry. Since it got dislocated, shouldn’t we secure your arm? Is there anything that can act as a brace…」


Ai Fa head-butted my chest.


As she couldn’t move her arms, she could only protest this way.


「It’s useless for you to be so noisy… I know what to do, you just need to help me.」


「I-I got it. What should I do?」


「… Help me to take off my shoes.」


I did that quickly.


Just how intense was the pain of dislocating an elbow? And she moved the bone back herself! Even if I knew what to do, I probably wouldn’t have the courage to follow through.


「I-I took them off.」


「Alright… Let’s go over there…」


Ai Fa bit her lips and got up slowly.


The next instant, her body started wavering, and I held her shoulders as gently as I could.


How could this be… She really got injured...


I could feel her incredibly hot body even through the thick cape.


「… Take off the cape.」


「Okay.」


I loosened the hook holding the cape in place.


It slid onto the ground, and Ai Fa squatted by the wall.


「… Bring that unused rag here.」


I carried out her instruction obediently.


I then secured her forearm with a piece of plank, tied torn strips of cloth to her arm, and slung her left arm below her neck, securing it in place. The way she handled a dislocation was similar to my world.


「That will do… There are Lome leaves in my cape, bring it here.」


There were many hidden compartments sewn on the inside of the cape, and one of them was stuffed with a few black leaves shaped like maple leaves.


「This is medicine to bring down a fever… Add some water and crush it with a spoon… Just one leaf will do…」


Ai Fa leaned on the wall weakly and her voice was soft. She wasn’t overwhelmed by the pain, her rising temperature made her lose her strength.


「I crushed it, do you want to drink it?」


I stood beside Ai Fa and fed her the Lome leaf with a spoon.


Ai Fa drank the mashed black leaf that looked nasty tasting.


「Okay… I will sleep for a while, wake me up for dinner.」


「What will be easier for you to eat? There’s gigo at home, I can make poitan soup?」


「… Grilled poitan tastes better…」


Ai Fa pouted a little.


My chest tightened a little as I looked at her pained expression.


「Well then, I will help you prepare the dish that Grandma Jiba usually eat. If it doesn’t taste good, you can soak the hamburg steak and poitan into the soup.」


「… We already ate hamburg steak yesterday, is that fine?」


「Don’t mind that during times like this, idiot.」


I wet the other rag with water from the flask, squeezed them dry, and wiped away the sweat from Ai Fa’s face.


「Feels good.」


Ai Fa closed her eyes quietly.


「Asuta, it’s great that you are here… I suffered a similar injury one year ago. Back then, it took all my strength to tend to my wounds…」


「… Should I be optimistic, and be glad you didn’t suffer a more serious wound?」


「Yes. This is but a scratch, I will be better in a few days… I will be in your care in the meantime.」


「Leave it to me.」


I scooped up some water to wash the cloth, then put it on Ai Fa’s forehead.


It was just room temperature water, but it was better than nothing.


「I will sleep now… Go do your work.」


「Got it. Holler if you need me, okay?」


Even though that was what I said, I couldn’t pull my eyes off Ai Fa.


Dislocation wasn’t a light wound, but I was still relieved. I was glad that Ai Fa didn’t suffer any mortal wound.


If I was to lose Ai Fa now, what should I do? Leaving the means to survive aside, I definitely wouldn’t be able to accept the fact that I lost her.


Just how much resolve did the women of Forest’s Edge had to make when they send their men off into the forest?


「Don’t worry… I will be able to move freely tomorrow… don’t worry about the Tsun clan…」


Ai Fa mumbled as if she was sleep talking.


I was going to the entrance to sort out the baggage, but I returned to her side and squatted down when I heard that.


「I understand. Rest well, I will prepare a delicious cuisine, so you can recover quickly.」


Ai Fa smiled with her eyes closed.


「…Asuta, I want to eat hamburg steak sooner…」


I nodded and held Ai Fa’s hot cheeks with my hands. I then stood up and prepared dinner and the food for tomorrow’s business.



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