Saturday, March 31, 2018

Cooking with Wild Game Volume 5 Chapter 3 Part 2

Translator: Skythewood
Editors: Ratorasepo

3


After that, we didn’t meet with any other crisis and ended work for the day.


There was also a small number of westerner patrons today. We were open until the very last moment and sold 141 portions.


This was the sixth day of business, and I have finally figured out the maximum number of customers. I didn’t know if this number would change in the future, but we were heading towards our goal at a faster than expected speed.


I hoped that one day, the denizens of Forest's Edge could use kiba meat to exchange for copper plates. I hoped the denizens of Forest's Edge could rise out of poverty. We took on the reckless challenge of opening a stall in order to achieve this goal.


I did not wish to be hindered by anyone.


「To think that the Tsun clan raised such a retarded demand…」


Donda Wu held a fruit wine in one hand and squeezed out these words unhappily.


After the Wu clan finished their dinner, we stayed in the hall illuminated by kiba wax candles. The ones present were the 4 men from the Wu main house, Mama Mia Lei, Vena Wu, Ai Fa, and me. Kaslan Lutim also rushed over from his village to attend.


「They want Asuta to tend to the hearth during the house head conference. It’s a pity that the Tsun clan is hosting it, or else there wouldn’t be any problems. The real issue is that we still don’t know their motive behind this demand.」


Kaslan Lutim who I had not seen in ten days muttered quietly.


Dan Lutim wasn’t interested in us opening a stall in the Post Station Town, so he delegated his mature and steady heir to handle everything related to this.


「Excuse me, can you tell me what is this house head conference? I heard it’s a grand meeting held once a year.」


「Yes. We hold a house head conference annually. During that time, all the house heads will gather at the Tsun clan village and share about their lives. The Forest's Edge settlement is very vast, so everyone uses this chance to learn how others are doing.」


The house head conference was held on the tenth day of the blue month— which was eight days from now. Ai Fa intentionally mentioned 「blue month」 this morning, she probably happened to remember this event.


「The house head conference is set to be held in the afternoon. After everyone spends a night in the Tsun clan settlement, they will return at dawn… The Tsun clan wants you to tend to the hearth during that night.」


「Hmm~ I don’t understand. The thing about Mida Tsun is probably just an excuse, they must be after something else… Why would the Tsun clan want me to go there?」


「We have no way of knowing. Asuta, do you have any clues?」


Kaslan Lutim looked at me calmly, and I nodded.


「Yamiel Tsun knows about my stall’s revenue. I think she got the information from the money-lenders.」


「Money-lenders?」


「Yes. The Wu clan and Lutim house don’t interact with the Tsun clan, and this should be the same for the residents of Post Station Town too. However, the money-lenders are operating in the Post Station Town under the orders of the landlord. They might have informed the Tsun clan.」


I visited the money-lenders to exchange the copper plates every day, so the owner had a good grasp on the business of my stall. The Tsun clan was the chief clan of the tribe and had close relations with the lord of Genos. The Tsun clan might have grasped how well my business was doing through the money-lender.


「The Tsun clan already knows how much wealth my business can bring. I think that is the main reason why they are inviting me. What do you all think?」


「That is plausible… No, that’s the most logical explanation. Zuro Tsun is the head of the Tsun clan and also the tribal leader of Forest's Edge . His goal must be the wealth Asuta can earn.」


After Kaslan Lutim said that, Ludo Wu yelled:


「What nonsense! Never mind, that’s how the Tsun clan would think. They want to spend their days swimming in copper plates.」


「Yes. I was thinking that we need to prepare countermeasures against the Tsun clan monopolizing all the wealth when everyone will be able to trade kiba for copper plates. It seems that just the profits brought in by Asuta alone are enough to entice Zuro Tsun.」


「But, what is the reason for making me tend to the hearth? Does he want to steal my kiba cooking skills?」


I had no intention of hiding my cooking methods in the first place.


Kaslan Lutim slowly shook his head.


「With how depraved the head of the Tsun clan is, he won’t think about such a roundabout method. Zuro Tsun’s target is you… He probably wants you to marry into the Tsun clan and become a member of the Tsun clan.」


「Marry in… as Yamiel Tsun’s husband?」


Just the thought sent a chill down my spine.


Never mind, even if it wasn’t that creepy woman, I didn’t plan to marry into any other houses.


「But will they let a foreigner like me marry in for such a reason? That’s too rash.」


「Marrying in is just an example. Zuro Tsun definitely wants you, that’s the kind of man he is.」


「How boring...」


Donda Wu started mumbling this time:


「What a bore, I can’t even yawn about this. How could the chief clan allow this pale foreigner to marry into their house?」


His tone was calm, but an agitated flame burned in his eyes.


When the Tsun clan was involved, Donda Wu would be more agitated than usual.


「So… Brat, what are you going to do?」


「D-Don’t joke with me, I won’t marry into the Tsun clan. I’m already very reluctant to tend their hearth… However, I might get chased out of the Post Station Town if Mida Tsun makes a scene in town.」


「Why? The one at fault is Mida Tsun, not you.」


「Technically you are right. But when the Semu people and Jaguar people had a commotion because I didn’t have enough food to sell, I was almost chased out of the Post Station Town. The guards and Milano Mast who supervise the marketplace rental probably think I’m an eyesore.」


「… Did they make this judgment according to the law of the city?」


「No, that probably depended on the mood of the guards and Milano Mast.」


「Ho〜 I didn’t know the people in the city take things so lightly. Instead of the law, they prioritize their mood?」


After Ludo Wu interjected happily, Donda Wu stared at him irately.


「That’s the pot calling the kettle black, Ludo. Have you ever respected the rules of Forest's Edge before?」


「I abide by the more important ones!」


Ludo Wu rebutted childishly.


Ignoring the parent-child dialogue, I continued:
「Like I already mentioned before, when Ai Fa and I had an incident with Doddo Tsun in the Post Station Town, the guards ignored us and only listened to the Tsun clan. With that in mind, even if Mida Tsun was the one who started it, I will be the one that gets punished. Yamiel Tsun probably knew that and will incite Mida Tsun to act against me.」


Actually, instead of what I really think, this was closer to what I was hoping for.


I hoped that Mida Tsun wasn’t really chained up at home, and that Yamiel didn’t really want her brother to be killed by guards.


The Tsun clan had already abandoned the honor of the denizens of Forest's Edge. If they were also cruel to their own family, then they would really be beyond redemption.


「Hmm… Ai Fa, you don’t want Asuta to have anything to do with the Tsun clan, right?」


Kaslan Lutim asked Ai Fa for her opinion again.


There was a dangerous gleam in Ai Fa’s eyes, and she remained silent. She had been sulking ever since we met Yamiel Tsun.


「I understand how you feel. During the house head conference, Ai Fa won’t be able to be by Asuta’s side all the time. Besides, the kins of the Tsun clan will also attend this conference. In a way, the kins are more dangerous than the Tsun clan… Asuta, do you still plan to open the stall in the Post Station Town?」


「Yes. The business is doing better than I expected, I want to keep working on it and achieve my primary goal.」


「Hmm… I guess we have to find a way to solve the problem at its roots.」


Kaslan Lutim supported his chin with his muscular hand and fell into deep thought.


Ludo Wu looked at his profile and said aggressively:


「Let’s turn down the Tsun clan’s proposal. If they coerce that human meatball to stir up trouble, we can just fight back. I can’t use a blade in the Post Station Town so it will be a tough fight, but I can break his legs if another man works together with me.」


「In that case, we will have to wait for Mida Tsun to commit violence. If the other party doesn’t attack first, the people in the city will arrest us if we attack preemptively. Even if they acted first and we were able to stop Mida Tsun, Asuta might still be expelled from the Post Station Town.」


Kaslan Lutim was deep in thought as he continued logically:


「Besides, we don’t know when Mida Tsun would appear and can’t send two men to protect Asuta all the time. The men wouldn’t be able to perform their duties as hunters this way.」


「This is such a pain. What should we do then?」


「Well… We can accept their request for now, and let Asuta tend to the hearth for the house head conference.」


Ai Fa’s eyes were filled with rage again when she heard Kaslan Lutim’s words.


「It’s dangerous for Asuta to go alone. We don’t know what they are scheming and need a plan to protect Asuta.」


「Hmm? Since it’s the house head conference, Dad, Dan Lutim, and the male followers accompanying them will be there too. But men can’t enter the stove room, how will we protect Asuta?」


「We will let the woman protect Asuta then.」


Kaslan Lutim alternated his gaze between Donda Wu and Mama Mia Lei.


「We can let the women from the Wu clan and house Lutim accompany Asuta to the Tsun clan… I think this can be our condition for accepting their request. What are your opinions on this?」


「Hmm? Are you are saying that we should tend to the hearth for the house head conference together with Asuta?」: Mama Mia Lei didn’t seem surprised in her response.


Donda Wu glared at Kaslan Lutim, as if he was probing with his gaze.


「There would be 80 participants for the house head conference. Asuta’s cooking is unique in style, and he can’t prepare such a large quantity alone. We can argue that the women from the Wu clan and house Lutim have already mastered these techniques and can assist him… On the other hand, we will force the Tsun clan women to help, no matter if they like it or not, and make them learn Asuta’s cooking.」


「I see. This way, the Tsun clan will be able to satisfy Mida Tsun even if I’m gone.」


「Correct. Not just that, we want to let them know that the Wu clan and house Lutim also learned the skills to cook kiba in a delicious way. That will divert some attention away from you, and Zuro Tsun won’t just target you alone.」


I thought this was a brilliant plan.


「Kaslan Lutim, your words are hard to understand… But I will be happy to assist Asuta.」


Mama Mia Lei showed her teeth in a big smile. Her smile was just like Ludo Wu and Lala Wu.


Their appearance might be dissimilar, but they truly were parent and child. Such an untimely thought arose in my heart.


「And we can use this chance to lecture the women of the Tsun clan. It is not just the fault of the men that the Tsun clan became so depraved. It is the female duty to keep men in line, and I’m eager to teach those Tsun clan women a lesson.」


「Hey, you are supposed to lead the Wu clan’s women. Are you going to ditch your work and go to the Tsun clan?」


Donda Wu complained unhappily, and Mama Mia Lei said with a smile:


「What’s the problem? There won’t that many people at home for that period, so Ditto Min and Rimee can handle the chores… By the way, who do you intend to bring there, clan head?」


「Hmm… I should be taking Darum with me.」


Donda Wu looked at the second son of the Wu clan.


Darum Wu had already taken off the bandage on his head, and only one piece of bandage covered the middle of his face.


「There are still eight days until the house head conference… It will depend on how fast Darum recovers from his injuries.」


「If Darum-nii can’t attend, then the one going will be me, right?」


Ludo Wu cheered.


Hmm? Why was Jiza Wu left out as a potential candidate? While I was showing a baffled face, Kaslan Lutim looked my way with a face full of regrets.


「According to tradition, the heir to the house has to keep watch over his home when the head is away for the house head conference. Smaller houses that have few men are not restricted by this rule, but the Wu clan and Lutim house need to abide by this custom. The second son of the house Lutim will accompany my house head.」


「I see… by the way, there are 80 people including the house heads and followers. So there are 40 house heads. Since Forest's Edge has 500 people, isn’t that number too small?」


「Only the house head from the main house can attend the house head conference. The branch houses are not included.」


Speaking of which, the second son of house Lutim was already married with kids, and was himself the head of a Lutim branch house.


However, the Fa house didn’t have any branch houses, so did Ai Fa attend the conference alone last year too? So she stayed by herself in the Tsun clan she was bad terms with and didn’t seek help from anyone.


My house head sure was strong.


「Darum.」


Donda Wu looked at the second son of the Wu clan with stern eyes.


「That carefree brat is not reliable. Recover from your wounds, and make sure you can move freely in 8 days.」


「I got it.」


「Whatever.」


Darum Wu nodded in acknowledgment, while Ludo Wu grumbled with puffed cheeks.


「In that case, the four staying home will be Jiza, Ludo, Jiba and Sati Lei. Ditto Min and Rimee can tend to the hearth then. I will take Vena, Leina, and Lala to help Asuta. I can get 2 or 3 more helpers from the branch houses.」


「House Lutim can lend out a few women too. We should be able to gather ten helpers. With that many women by his side, the Tsun clan won’t be able to do anything devious to Asuta in the stove room. Do the two of you agree to this?」


Kaslan Lutim asked Ai Fa and me.


In the end, we should be the ones deciding.


Should I accept the dubious request from the Tsun clan? If I agree to this, the Wu clan and house Lutim would provide the aforementioned assistance.


The significance of me working in the Post Station Town was big and will affect the future of the Forest's Edge. Hence, the Wu clan already agreed to help without needing me to ask for assistance.


But Ai Fa— bit her lips with a pained expression.


「Do we… have no other choice but to accept the Tsun clan’s suggestion?」


「Yes. Compared to the Post Station Town, it will be safer to protect Asuta in the stove room. Even if we fended off Mida Tsun, you will still live every day in fear if Zuro doesn’t stop his obsession over Asuta.」


Kaslan Lutim stared at Ai Fa’s frustrated profile.


「Since it has come to this, let’s announce why the Fa house is opening a stall in the Post Station Town during the house head conference. We can also tell everyone about the importance of bloodletting and how to butcher the kiba.」


「Ehh? Are we telling them at such a time?」


After hearing my question Kaslan Lutim nodded firmly.


「We have no other choice given the circumstances. We need to let all the houses know that hindering your business in the Post Station Town means obstructing the prosperity of Forest's Edge. If we can affix a value to kiba meat, we won’t even need to set up a stall, and we will be able to earn more copper plates than you. We can then divert Zuro Tsun’s attention.」


Kaslan Lutim smiled.


「After we announce this at the house head conference, everyone will taste your cooking personally. This will make our words more convincing. When they understand how delicious your cooking is, they will know why the people in the city are buying kiba meat.」


Kaslan Lutim planned to turn around the crisis and gain control of the initiative in Forest's Edge in one go.


「The best defense is a good offense」— Kaslan Lutim’s decision-making capabilities were terrifying good.


「However, this is just the best resolution method I could come up with. Donda Wu agreed to this plan after thinking it through. However, you two will be the ones making the final decision.」


「Hmmp… I’m not helping because of your pretty speech. I will only lend you helpers if you pay an adequate price.」


Donda Wu said coldly.


「If you want the women of the Wu clan to help manage the house head conference, you have to pay for their work. That’s the only thing I have to say.」


「Our clan head sure is stubborn.」


Mama Mia Lei retorted, and Donda Wu averted his face after saying:「Shut up.」.


And then— Ai Fa glanced my way.


I nodded firmly.


「I get goosebumps just thinking about tending the Tsun clan’s stove. But caretaking the stove for the house head conference is a different matter. I can also correct the Tsun clan’s ways together with the members of the Wu Tang clan and Lutim house— there is a big significance in that.」


「……」


「I can’t stand the Tsun clan interfering with my business. It’s fine if my business fails due to my incompetence. But I won’t allow the Tsun clan to disrupt my business for their personal gains.」


I felt another strong surge of emotion squirm in my abdomen.


I tried my best to suppress it and looked at Ai Fa.


「… I see.」


Ai Fa closed her eyelids.


「… The Fa house is neither the kin of the Wu clan nor house Lutim, so I feel bad that you are doing so much for us…」


「You are too reserved! You saved Jiba’s soul and taught us how to make delicious food. You even prepared the house Lutim wedding banquet so splendidly! Ai Fa, Asuta, you are our important friends.」


Mama Mia Lei said loudly with a smile.


「Besides, if we leave the Tsun clan be, Asuta won’t be able to do his business. Consequently, Vena and Lala will lose their jobs. The Wu clan helping you is protection of our own wealth too. Don’t be so reserved, just keep that in mind and choose the right path.」


「Then… Can I borrow your strength?」


Ai Fa clenched her right hand into a fist, pushed it onto the floor, and stared at Mama Mia Lei.


「I can’t go near the stove room during the house head conference… Can you protect my family member on my behalf?」


「We will definitely protect him, and not let the Tsun clan lay a finger on him.」


Vena Wu sat beside Mama Mia Lei and nodded seriously.


Ai Fa was quiet for a moment. She then lowered her head quickly.


「Alright then… I … accept Kaslan Lutim’s proposal.」


A pained expression appeared on Ai Fa’s face. She must be unwilling to let someone else hold our fates in their hands.


But we could no longer open the stall in the Post Station Town by ourselves. If we were adamant about not receiving anyone’s help, Ai Fa and I had just to stay in the Fa house and live a plain and simple life.


We only opened a stall in the Post Station Town to bring a better future to Forest's Edge. If we didn’t want to slowly slide back to our original route, we had to work together with the Wu clan and house Lutim.


I wanted to convince Ai Fa with these reasons, but she arrived at the same conclusion after thinking about it for a long time.


I enjoyed this joyous feeling secretly in my heart.


「It’s decided then… We will discuss the details in the morning. I’m turning in.」


Donda Wu’s deep voice ended the secret meeting between the three houses.


After the Wu clan members returned to their rooms, the three guests headed to the entrance. Like what he did during the pre-wedding celebration, Kaslan Lutim headed to a Wu clan branch house, while Ai Fa and I stayed in an empty house.


When Kaslan Lutim left, I waited for Ai Fa to tie her shoes with one hand. At this moment, Mama Mia Lei came to us.


「Ai Fa, I just remembered something. Would you like to stay in the Wu clan village temporarily before the house head conference?」


「… But why?」


「Isn’t it obvious? We still need to discuss the details over a few meetings. Besides, the women of the Wu clan can learn to make the food for the house head conference too. In that case, won’t it be more convenient to stay in this village for now?」


「But…」


「You just need to bring over all the meat and vegetables from the Fa house. You won’t need to keep running home then… Don’t worry about how Darum or Leina feels. Even if you are not here, their pain won’t be reduced.」


「M-Mia Lei Wu, what are you…」


I butted in frantically, and Mama Mia Lei smiled smugly.


Kamyua Yost often smiled like this too, but the warmth of her smile was very much different.


「I can tell what my children are thinking with one glance. They are just like me and Donda when we were young. I don’t understand Jiza and Vena sometimes though… Anyway, the Tsun clan is a troublesome opponent, so we have to be prepared. Can we count on you for this?」


Mama Mia Lei then returned to her chambers without waiting for our reply.


Ai Fa and I looked at each other with complicated feelings.


「… Today, I learned how magnanimous Mia Lei Wu actually is.」


Ai Fa sighed softly and tied her shoes.


We went out of the door and found Kaslan Lutim who was waiting outside.


「Ai Fa, Asuta, thank you for your hard work. You still have to do your business tomorrow, so let’s end our discussion for today.」


「It’s fine, we will be sleeping very soon.」


I had already prepared the ingredients for tomorrow inside the Wu clan’s stove room. With the Wu clan women helping with dinner, my food preparation work was smoother than usual. Staying in the Wu clan wouldn’t affect my business at all.


「I never imagined that Zuro Tsun will become aware of your existence so soon… or that you will earn so much money in such a short time.」


As we walked towards our rooms under the clear moonlight, Kaslan Lutim smiled calmly at us.


「Asuta, I thought I knew how capable you are, but I underestimated you. I’m ashamed of my foolishness.」


「The business wasn’t successful because of my capability, but because of the kiba. When I started this business, I also undervalued the power of the kiba.」


「… When your prowess combines with the kiba’s strength, it will definitely guide the denizens of Forest's Edge to prosperity. For the future of Forest's Edge we have to stop the Tsun clan’s tyranny.」


Kaslan Lutim looked at me and Ai Fa with his sturdy and strong gaze.


「I still need to discuss something amidst my father and Donda Wu. I want to tell the Min, Lei, Mamu and the other kin houses about selling kiba meat and ask them to cooperate with us. Ai Fa, Asuta, let us overcome this obstacle together.」


「Alright. I will be in your care then.」


The Tsun clan was a threat, but as long as the Wu clan, Lutim house and Ai Fa stayed in Forest's Edge, we wouldn’t need to submit to the Tsun clan.


My prowess might be trivial, but there wouldn’t be a problem as long as allies were with me.


I, too, had to do what I could and not allow anyone to destroy my stall through unethical means.


I swore again in my heart with determination. I looked up at the star-filled skies, which painted a scene that was different from my original world.


4


「Well, it’s decided then…」


The next day, which was the third day of the blue month, we opened our stall for the seventh time.


Yamiel Tsun came as she promised, and left with a satisfied smile on her face.


「Mida can be saved now. I will warn my brother not to do anything retarded, so please don’t worry… I’m looking forward to the house head conference.」


She agreed to all the terms I raised.


Be it the Wu clan women accompanying me and assisting me with the hearth, or the demand for the Tsun clan women to participate too, Yamiel Tsun agreed to all that.


The entire thing was going too smoothly, which felt a bit chilling instead. However, we could now rest easy for the time being.


「Alright, I need to change my mood and focus on business… Since the troublesome person is gone, I can start peddling my secret merchandise.」


Ai Fa retreated to the woods behind us, and I smiled at Vena Wu. It was her turn to tend to the 『Myam-roasted meat』 stall today.


The secret merchandise was kiba jerky, a staple food of the denizens of Forest's Edge.


The important thing about jerky was how long it could be preserved and not its taste. Unless it was absolutely necessary, people wouldn’t buy jerky. To be honest, the taste of salt and pico leaves were really strong for the jerky, and it was extraordinary tough too. I had to hold it in my mouth and wait for it to soften before I could bite it into pieces.


However, there were many travelers in the Post Station Town, and many of the stalls sold jerky. Such jerky only focused on being practical instead of the taste. Kimyusu jerky was soft, but only had the taste of the spices. Karon tasted like high-class beef jerky, but it was tougher than kiba jerky.


Just selling light meals isn’t enough for you, and now you want to earn money by selling jerky huh others might feel unhappy about me venturing into this business. I also had to be ready to compete directly with others. In order to make the people in the Post Station Town recognize the value of kiba meat, I did everything that I could.


By the way, karon jerky was more expensive than kimyusu jerky, so I used the price of the karon jerky as the standard. Two hundred gram cost 3 red copper plates. In the Post Station Town, they were sold in chunks between 400 to 600 g.


According to my calculations, the meat and vegetables in Post Station Town are rather cheap. Assuming one red copper plate is 100 yen, then aria which is like onion cost 20 yen. The cabbage-like tino is 50 yen, karon jerky is priced at 150 yen per 100 g. In comparison, one kitchen knife cost 4,500 yen, and a pot is 24,000 yen.


Food wasn’t ridiculously cheap, but it was much less expensive when compared to cloth or leather products.


Besides, jerky had to be specially processed, so it had a higher price point while the fresh meat was cheaper. Based on what I heard from Uncle Dora, he paid less than one copper plate for 100 g of meat when he bought them for his own consumption. Kamyua Yost did mention that 「meat is more expensive than vegetables」, but compared to my old world, the meat here wasn’t so expensive that it was impossible to buy.


That’s why no one even thought about eating kiba. I hope that in the future, kiba meat can be sold for about the same price as karon meat.


I sliced out some jerky for sampling use while I thought about this. Then, a Semu man in a hooded cloak came over right then, his long silver hair visible inside his hood.


「Hmm? What’s the matter, Shumimaru?」


He was already here to buy 『Kiba burger』 early in the morning.


Shumimaru stared at the thing in my hand with his dark eyes.


「… Jerky, kiba?」


「Yes. I will be selling this starting from today. Please feel free to try a sample.」


I offered him the plate with the jerky, and Shumimaru took a bite after nodding.


「… Copper plates, how many?」


「I’m planning to set the price to be similar to karon jerky. This size is about 6 copper plates.」


「… Now, you have, how many?」


「Ehh? Well, I prepared ten chunks of jerky today.」


I had prepared ten chunks of jerky about 400 g in weight, so 4 kg in total.


Jerky was dried food that was easy to carry, and only travelers would buy them. I had no expectations of it selling well.


I will try making kiba bacon that has a shorter shelf life but tastes better.


As I fell into deep thought, Shumimaru asked expressionlessly:


「Jerky, last, how long?」


「If you store it properly, it can last for half a year.」


「I see.」


Shumimaru reached for the insides of his cloak.


「Please, all, give me.」


「Ehh?」


「Total is, 6 white copper plates?」


「P-Please wait! 《Silver Vase》 will stay in the Post Station Town until the end of the month, right? Why are you buying such a large quantity of jerky?」


「I want, other cities, sell it in.」


Shumimaru tilted his head and asked confusedly, not understanding why I looked so flustered.


「Genos, food, cheap. Food, we buy, in other cities, sell .」


So he was planning to resell it.


I understood. They not only sold merchandise from their home country, they also toured the other cities and reselled their specialties to other places. This had to be the way they conducted business all this while.


「Kiba meat, rare. Other cities, definitely sell. I, more jerky, want.」


「I see… How much do you want exactly?」


Shumimaru lowered his eyelids in deep thought.


「… If can, I want buy, 60 white copper plates.」


60 white copper plates— that’s about 40 kg.


The Wu clan and house Lutim still had plenty of leftover kib, so this amount wasn’t a problem.


「Alright then, why don’t I hand the goods over to you on the day before the 《Silver Vase》 leaves Genos then? I will make it right before the deadline, so the merchandise can be preserved for six months from that time.」


Shumimaru squinted his eyes happily.


「Your way, big help. Thank you.」


「Not at all, I should be thanking you! Thank you for visiting every day and making such a great request.」


「《Silver Vase》, Asuta, good terms. Thank the Eastern God Semu.」


Shumimaru suddenly looked beside me.


Vena Wu was staring at the streets mindlessly.


「…Asuta, you, Vena Wu, calls. Your name, Vena Wu, is?」


「… So what if it is…?」


Vena Wu glanced at him impatiently.


Shumimaru shook his head with a blank face.


「No, beautiful name, I just think… Well then, my leave, I take.」


Shumimaru put on his hood, turned, and left.


Vena Wu crossed her arms haughtily, and I sighed.


「Hmm~ I feel so crestfallen… Shumimaru is becoming more and more important to me.」


「That’s what you think Asuta, but not me… I said this before right, I don’t like elusive people…」


「Is that so? You are actually comparing Shumimaru with a dubious character like Kamyua, that’s being mean to the former.」


「He’s completely different from that man, but anyone who shows his emotions so directly is more charming…」


When Vena Wu said that, she peeked behind her worriedly.


Ai Fa was still resting under the tree shade 5 meters behind us.


She looked a little more listless today.


「…Ai Fa always hides her true feelings, and I’m not good with her type too…」


「Hmm, but don’t you feel really happy when they occasionally open their heart to you?」


「…Asuta, since you said that, do you think a woman like Ai Fa is full of charm…?」


「I-I don’t mean that.」


As we were chatting, the streets gradually turned crowded.


It was almost time for the second half. When I was thinking that, two familiar figures approached at the same time.


「Asuta onii-chan, I want two!」


「Asuta, I want two, alright?」


They even placed their orders simultaneously.


Tara and Yumi appeared before me at the same time.


The child with yellowish brown skin and the ivory skinned young girl who was two heads taller looked at each other in surprise.


「Ah! You are the kid who was here last time!」


Yumi yelled, and Tara looked confused.


「When was the last time?」


「You don’t remember, huh… Never mind. So you know Asuta very well.」


「Yes! Asuta onii-chan is my savior!」


She was exaggerating. In retrospect, Doddo Tsun appeared before me when I met Tara. Mida Tsun came when I met Yumi. I sighed at the strange workings of fate and started frying the aria after putting pot on the brazier.


「Hmmp〜 so even a child born in Genos patronizes your stall. You really are something special. That girl over there even sold 『Kiba burgers』 to some drunkards, right?」


She was referring to Vena Wu of course.


Vena Wu shrugged gracefully.


「You are really incredible. This stall is at the edge of town, but it earns more than the other food stalls. Many westerners visit your stall too, right?」


「Yes, it’s all thanks to you. Two of your friends visited earlier too.」


「Fufu~n, I helped you advertise a lot. Many of the young people came here after hearing my recommendation.」


Yumi said arrogantly. When she heard that, Tara also said loudly:


「Tara also told many of her friends!」


But she looked dejected after saying that.


「… But everyone says that the kiba is scary, and don’t want to eat kiba. They are afraid of their parents scolding them too…」


「It can’t be helped. The longer they stayed in Genos, the more adamant they are against eating kiba. We can only wait for time to dilute this prejudice.」


I consoled Tara while I grilled the kiba.


The next instant, Yumi leaned forward.


「Hold it right there! This kid is also your customer, right? Why are you so formal only to me, that’s not fair.」


「Eh? There is a big difference in age between you two… Oh right, I already knew Tara before opening the stall. Isn’t that right?」


「Yes!」


A smile returned to Tara’s face, and she nodded firmly.


「Uwah〜 I can’t accept this!」


Yumi grumbled unhappily.


「… Oh right, Asuta, for how long your stall was operating?」


「Ehh? The stall beside us has been opened for seven days, and three days for this stall.」


「I see. What about the future? You won’t close shop after just ten days, right?」


This girl was familiar with the information about the marketplace. I nodded and said:


「Yes, if possible, I want to keep the business going.」


「Then, would you like to sign a contract with us?」


「What?」


「My family operates the 《West Wind Inn》 and also manages part of the marketplace. My father is stubborn, but my mom knows how delicious kiba is, so we will treat you just like a normal vendor.」


Her proposal was unexpected.


「The uncle running the 《Kimyusu’s Tail Inn》 bears a grudge against the denizens of Forest's Edge, so his attitude is terrible, right? Don’t you want to run your business happily?」


「W-Wait, Milano Mast who operates the 《Kimyusu’s Tail Inn》 bears a grudge against the denizens of Forest's Edge?」


「Yes. But I don’t know the details. I heard that a denizen of Forest's Edge killed relative or friend. In the end, the case made no headway because of the lack of evidence.」


There was a competitive gleam in Yumi’s eyes.


「The denizens of Forest's Edge would stir up trouble from time to time, so not everyone can trust them. If I didn’t see you talk to that monster, I wouldn’t want to befriend you too… You are right, only time can heal all wounds.」


「… Yes, I think that too.」


I swallowed the sigh that almost escaped my mouth and started making four portions of 『Myam-roasted meat』.


「As for the contract, I will discuss it with Milano Mast. But I don’t intend to go out of my way and keep my distance from him. I will choose to respect his feelings, is that alright?」


「Of course, it’s fine, just do what you think is right. If I can eat your delicious cooking, I won’t have any complaints.」


Yumi showed an innocent smile again and received the 『Myam-roasted meat』. Tara cheered too.


When she saw Tara running to the stall selling 『Kiba burger』, Yumi opened her eyes wide.


「Ehh? You’re still buying?」


「Yes! The 『Myam-roasted meat』 is for the cloth stall owner and pot dealer! Papa and I will have 『Kiba burger』!」


「Hmm〜 you are capable despite your young age.」


After Yumi said that, she accompanied Tara to buy the 『Kiba burger』, and the two of them went off together.
Their skin color differed, but they were like sisters with a big age gap. I watched them go and remembered that it would be the tenth day of opening in another three days.


Just selling 20 to 30 portions will be good enough. That was my thinking in the past. I never imagined that I could expand my stalls and that sales would reach almost 150 portions a day.


I got a temporary respite from the threat of the Tsun clan and could focus on running the stall for now.


There were still seven days before the house head conference. I had to get even better results before that day came, so that the denizens of Forest's Edge would know that a better future was possible for them.


I won’t let the Tsun clan do whatever they wish!


With that thought in mind, I picked up the leather pouch filled with kiba meat.


5


After selling 145 portions, the seventh day of operation ended.


We could definitely sell the remaining 5 meals if we waited ten or so minutes, but I had to honor the contract I made with the Wu clan. When the sun reached the middle between the peak and the horizon, we started packing up quickly.


By the way, we also sold 800 g of jerky which yielded 12 red copper plates. But making jerky only required rock salt, so the ingredient cost was cheap. With how low the cost was, even without the special case of the 《Silver Vase》, the jerky would be a strong addition to our menu.


And so, work for today ended smoothly too. I wanted to discuss the next contract with Milano Mast, but he stayed in the kitchen the entire time, and only his daughter who was afraid of the denizens of Forest's Edge tended to the counter alone. The talk with him had to wait for the next time.


Kamyua Yost wasn’t in the inn too, and Leito had been running errands for him for the past two days. Our problem with the Tsun clan had worsened, while Kamyua Yost grew more distant from us.


Was he taking Donda Wu’s words to heart and intentionally avoiding us? Or did he have other motives? Or was this all just a coincidence? Only heaven knew.


Never mind, this is better than him interfering mindlessly.


After convincing myself, Ai Fa, Vena Wu, and I went home.


We had to take the necessities from the Fa house. Specifically speaking, they were the ingredients from the food store, a change of clothes, whetstone, ropes, all the copper plates, and other daily necessities.
We now owned more than 60 white copper plates. After reaching 100 white copper plates, we will be able to finally change it to a 「silver plate」. Before that happened, we had to keep the heavy plates at home or on us


「… We will have to leave the house for seven days.」


Ai Fa looked at the barren food store and muttered emotionlessly.


This was the second time I would be staying outside for a long stint, but it was the first for Ai Fa.


I packed as many things as I could into the pot, and the balance was put on a tow board for Ai Fa to pull. We started heading towards the Wu clan village, and it felt a bit like us shifting house.


「Ah, welcome back!」


When we headed to the stove room after depositing our blades with the Wu clan, Rimee Wu and Leina Wu were preparing dinner inside.


「Heehee, are you really moving into the Wu clan village?」


Rimee Wu said to Ai Fa and me with a smile. We didn’t have a chance to speak with her yesterday.


「Yes, I will be in your care until the house head conference seven days later… Are you having hamburg steak for dinner?」


「Yes! Leina-nee and Rimee are already good at making hamburg steak! It’s yummy, so look forward to dinner tonight!」


Rimee Wu’s smiling face made me want to smile at her too.


Leina Wu stood beside Rimee Wu and was chopping the aria. She smiled at me graciously.


「Welcome to the Wu clan. Asuta, are you going to work here too?」


「Yes, I will do my work in the corner.」


After answering, I placed a large number of meat, vegetables, and fruit wine onto the work platform.


I was planning to buy kiba meat from the Wu clan from today onwards, but since we will be moving into the Wu clan temporarily, I decided to use up all the meat from the Fa house.


I used about 27 kg of meat in a day, and the Fa house’s meat would be spent in another two days. I had to buy meat from the Wu clan to tide over this period until Ai Fa recovered.


「Let’s get to work.」


When I picked up the Santoku knife, Ai Fa called out to me.


「Asuta, I’m a little tired. I will chat with Grandma Jiba, then rest in the empty room before dinner.」


「I understand. Are you alright? Do you have any fever?」


「I’m fine.」


Vena Wu went back to her house, so only Rimee Wu, Leina Wu, and I were left in the stove room. Grandma Ditto Min was scheduled to tend to the hearth, and she was using the outdoor stove to grill poitan.


There was still an hour and a half before sunset. Last night, the Wu clan women had to prepare dinner in a hurry because of the sudden decision to have a meeting in the Wu clan, and I used the chance to finish my preparations work too. Normally, I wouldn’t be able to finish everything before dinner if I only started at this time. I will probably need to stay in the stove room after dinner.


In order to finish up the most tedious meat patty first, I started dicing aria.


「Ai Fa looks listless. Does her arm still hurt?」


When I used the pot to fry the diced aria, Rimee Wu asked worriedly.


「I don’t know. It has been three days since her injury, it shouldn’t hurt too much now. But I have never dislocated my bones before, so I can’t really tell.」


「… You are still having a meeting after dinner, right?」


「No, we don’t have anything specific we need to discuss. Have you informed house Lutim about the results of our negotiation with Yamiel Tsun?」


「Yes. When Lala and Shela came back, Ema Min Lutim just happened to be in the stove room. I have already informed her.」


「Oh? Ema Min Lutim is still learning to cook here?」


When I turned to face Leina Wu, I found her smiling brilliantly, which surprised me.


「W-What happened? Is Ema Min Lutim fine?」


「Ehh? What do you mean?」


Leina tilted her head quizzingly, with a blissful smile still on her face.
「Leina-nee, why are you smiling so happily?」


When Rimee Wu pointed that out, Leina Wu stopped smiling and blushed.


「W-Was I smiling? Excuse me, it’s nothing…. I just didn’t have a talk with Asuta for a long time, and felt really happy…」


It had been just three days since we last spoke.


Three days ago, when I met Leina Wu, she only showed her innocent smile when she bidded goodbye. And her smile right now seemed to be from the pure bliss she was feeling.


「I heard about the house head conference from Mama Mia Lei. I will be happy to assist.」


「That’s great! Why can’t Rimee go and help!? I want to go to the Tsun clan with everyone too.」


「No way. There are many brusque men in the Tsun clan, and Papa Donda will never agree to that.」


Leina Wu suddenly looked at me seriously:


「Asuta, we will definitely protect you. No matter what schemes the Tsun clan might have, we won’t let them lay a finger on you.」


「T-Thank you.」


I kept chopping the aria.


At this moment, Leina Wu’s expression changed again, and she looked gloomy.


「Oh right… What kind of person is Yamiel Tsun? Vena Wu said she is a suspicious woman with outstanding looks…」


「Yamiel Tsun? In a word, she’s a woman who sent chills down my spine. I think she is even creepier than the youngest brother of the Tsun clan.」


「I see.」


Leina Wu started smiling again.


Was it my imagination? Leina Wu’s mood seemed to be swinging wildly. This was more prominent after Ai Fa left.


I feel bad whenever I think about the feelings she is hiding in her heart… But she really is a girl with extreme emotions.


Never mind, Leina Wu and I could only normalize our relationship slowly.


After that, Rimee Wu chatted idly with us. When I finished half of the meat, it was time for dinner.


I went into the hall where the Wu clan members were gathered and sat in the bottom seat like the night before. Dinner was hamburg steak, grilled poitan and kiba meat soup with aria and chachi. Aside from that, I gifted them about 1 kg of 『Myam-roasted meat』 and the leftover tarapa sauce.


The hamburg steak and meat soup tasted flawless. The culinary skills of the Wu clan women were improving every day.


「That’s all? Asuta, there’s only a little left today?」


Ludo Wu grumbled with dissatisfaction. He inspected the meat covered with tarapa sauce on a plate carefully.


「Yes, about half of yesterday’s. Sorry that the portion isn’t enough.」


「This isn’t enough for everyone, what should we do!?」


「You are such a noisy child. Eat more if you like it. There are so many of us here, and you are the only one complaining.」


Grandma Ditto Min cautioned Ludo Wu with a cheerful smile.


The atmosphere was tense during last night’s dinner. But since Yamiel Tsun accepted our terms without any objections, the mood had softened.


Aside from Ludo Wu, the other Wu clan men were always showing a serious face, and now wasn’t an exception. Jiza Wu was especially quiet recently, and that makes me worried.


「However, when we pour the tarapa sauce over the meat slices Asuta gave to us, it does taste better than putting on normal meat. It will be great if the taste can be less strong.」


Jiza Wu’s spouse— Sati Lei Min chipped in quietly.


「I marinated the meat with fruit wine, aria, and myam. I already told Shela Wu how to make them—」


At this moment, I remembered that I had forgotten to tell the Wu clan about an important matter, and turned to Mama Mia Lei.


「Mia Lei Wu, sorry to bother your meal. I still need to take care of some work later, so I can only discuss this with you now.」


「Hmm? What is it?」


「My stall is going to reach its tenth day soon, and I’m planning to close for a day to hold a cooking seminar for the house head conference. Is that okay?」


「Hmm? So you are saying that you will be teaching us to cook for that entire day?」


「Yes. Mida Tsun tried a dish named 『Myam-roasted meat』 at my stall, and I hope everyone can learn to make that… This dish isn’t hard to prepare, but I’m busy with the stall and can’t make much time. Hence, I plan to teach everyone on that day.」


「That’s fine. So all the women going to the house head conference have to make time for you too?」


「I will be free the entire day, so everyone can take turns to come over and learn. I will ask the women from house Lutim to attend on that day too.」


I turned to Donda Wu who was eating the hamburg steak soaked in the soup.


「Considering the effort the women of the Wu clan will have to make, I think the remuneration paid by the Tsun clan should be evenly distributed to everyone who will tend to the hearth on that day. Is that fine?」


「… What did you say?」


Donda Wu stared at me with an impatient face.


「You are the one who decided to take up Tsun clan’s retarded request, right?」


「That’s correct. But the work this time can’t be compared to the house Lutim banquet. Besides, the women from the Wu clan and Lutim house have to protect me while they help me with the hearth. With this in mind, it’s more appropriate to divide the remuneration evenly.」


「……」


「Furthermore, other than doing the tedious work of tending to the hearth, they also have to instruct the Tsun clan women who know nothing about my cooking. So Mia Lei Wu and the others will be working as hard as me. I think we should split the money equally.」


Donda Wu grunted:「Whatever」, and Mama Mia Lei said with an awkward smile:


「You are so reserved. Is being reserved the way the Fa house does things? Asuta, like I said yesterday, you two are important friends to the Wu clan and house Lutim.」


「I’m happy to hear that, and I am also cherishing everyone in the Wu clan and Lutim house.」


I felt embarrassed, but I said my honest feelings:


「That’s why I don’t want to owe a debt to the people I cherish. I hope everyone will help to resist the Tsun clan as equals. It might shameless of me to say this, but I’m the same as everyone else, just a denizen who is concerned about the future of Forest's Edge.」


「You are not being shameless.」


Grandma Ditto Min who was seated beside Mama Mia Lei told me:


「You might be from a foreign land, but compared to the Tsun clan, you are the real denizen of the Forest's Edge… I’m sure of it after seeing all that has happened.」


「… Ditto Min Wu, thank you.」


「Ahh!」


As I was answering, Rimee Wu yelled out loud.


The bowl of soup slipped from Ai Fa’s hand, and the food inside spilled onto the floor.


Ai Fa’s body swayed, and I held her shoulders quickly.


「Sorry… for wasting the precious food…」


「Ai Fa! You have a fever again!」


I noticed that she was burning up just by touching her bare shoulders.


Ai Fa supported herself by placing her right hand on the floor and scowled her brows painfully.
「… I will lay out the bedding in Jiba’s room.」


Mama Mia Lei stood up.


「… It’s fine.」


Ai Fa squeezed out that line.


「I have Lome leaves on me, if I rest after drinking one… I will recover.」


As I supported Ai Fa’s body, I turned towards Mama Mia Lei.


「Sorry, it’s still in the middle of a meal, but allow us to retire first… Rimee Wu, there’re Lome leaves inside Ai Fa’s hunter’s cape, can you bring one over?」


「Yes!」


「Ai Fa, can you walk?」


「… Yes.」


I put Ai Fa’s right arm around my neck.


I grabbed her wrist with one hand and supported her waist with the other, then got up as slowly as I could.


Leina Wu was feeding Grandma Jiba, and she looked at us with a complicated expression. But it was an emergency, so I couldn’t be considerate of her feelings.


「Excuse me, I’m taking Ai Fa back to rest.」


「That will be better. Rimee, go mash up the Lome leaf, then bring it to them later… Ah, Asuata, you haven’t finished your food. We will send two portions to you later, so go already.」


「Alright, thank you.」


We walked to the entrance with me supporting Ai Fa’s shoulders.


Ai Fa couldn’t wear her shoes, so I slipped my shoes on and stepped outside.


I let Ai Fa sit down for a moment.


Ai Fa didn’t have the strength to walk by herself.


「Are you alright? It wasn’t so serious before dinner, right?」


I had an idea why Ai Fa was feverish.


It was probably triggered by her overexerting her brain.


Ai Fa looked troubled since last night, so my deduction should be right.


Aside from that, I wanted to hurry and take Ai Fa away from the crowd. Ai Fa wouldn’t want others to see her frail side.


「… I’m so useless.」


Ai Fa muttered weakly.


「That’s not true.」


I wiped away the sweat from her forehead.


「You are unwell, but you still had to worry about so many things, that’s why you turned feverish again. You are really bad at using your head.」


Ai Fa leaned on my chest and pouted unhappily.


「Stop talking and let’s hurry back to the empty room… I don’t want Rimee Wu to see me like this…」


「I see. Then please bear with this for now.」


With my left arm holding Ai Fa’s back, I reached for the underside of her knees with my right arm.


I then counted 「one, two, three」 in my heart, then stood up slowly.


「Yes, this is as tough as I expected.」


I was about the same height as Ai Fa, and considering the muscle and bone density, we should be about the same weight. My arms and legs were shaking just from lifting her up.


「… What are you doing?」


After lifting her in a princess carry, Ai Fa rested her head weakly against my shoulders and looked up at me in a daze.


「Why do you need to ask, we need to hurry back to the empty room, right? Then this is the only way.」


If her left arm wasn’t injured, I could carry her on my back and spend a bit less effort. But it was just several tens of meters from the Wu main house to the empty house, so I could manage.


In order to not drop Ai Fa, I took careful steps forward.


「… Wouldn’t I be even more humiliated if you do this…?」


「Not at all. We are family, and have to help each other during times of need… And I wouldn’t want some other guy to carry you back.」


I kept advancing under the bask of the moonlight and broke out a sweat in no time.


Fortunately, I had been carrying heavy loads to the Post Station Town every day, or I would have needed to rest midway.


「Ai Fa, you need to rest well and get better. I really need you… I only have the drive to work hard because you are with me.」


「… Is that true…? I think you can already live proudly as a denizen of the Forest's Edge…」


「Definitely not.」


As expected, she was troubled about this.


I felt it since last night.


「Denizen of Forest's Edge or not, you are just not used to relying on others. That’s why you can live by yourself for two years, and achieve impressive results. You don’t need to feel ashamed at all.」


「……」


「I’m not as strong as you. I have to work with the people around me everyday… It happened quite a long time again, but I did mention that I wasn’t good at relying on my family.」


I didn’t think there was any contradiction in my words. Because I wasn’t used to relying on others, so I couldn’t differentiate between 「reliance」 and 「dependence」.


The reason why Ai Fa wasn’t good at relying on others was completely different from me— she was too strong.


Even though the reasons were complete opposites of each other, Ai Fa and I had some similarities.


「I can’t live like you did. On the flip side, you can’t live like me either.」


I was getting out of breath, but I still smiled at Ai Fa.


「In that case, we just need to make up for each other’s shortcomings, right? It will be great if we can do that.」


「… Don’t say such difficult things when I’m feverish…」


Ai Fa bumped her head against my cheek.


She then rubbed her hot forehead against me.


「That hurts… Anyway, I’m glad to have been of help. After all, you usually don’t require my assistance.」


「… You are so retarded…」


Ai Fa muttered, her conscious was fading away.


「… I’m the one who needs you…. So, forever…」


I didn’t catch what she said at the very end.


So I quietly told her how I feel:


「Ai Fa, let’s stay together forever.」


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