Saturday, April 7, 2018

Cooking with Wild Game Volume 5 Chapter 4 & Mid Meal Snack

Tenth Day - Renewed Determination

Translator: Skythewood
Editors: Ratorasepo
1


This day has finally come.


The 6th day of the Blue Month was the tenth day we were working in the Post Station Town.


On the eighth day of opening we sold 138 portions.


On the ninth day, 142 meals were sold.


The cumulative sales until yesterday were 1652 red copper plates.


The profit was 1011 red copper plates.


Calculating the copper plates in terms of tusks and horns, that would be about 84 kiba. If the Tsun clan wanted to drown in copper plates, this number would definitely make them dizzy.


The four of us earned this massive amount of money. In just ten days, we made the equivalent of 84 kiba. Even if we included the price of the hide, that would still be 42 kiba.


But we couldn’t start our business if the hunters didn’t hunt the kiba, so we had to account for the hunter’s effort too. Even so, the amount was still staggering. On the other hand, despite the immense value the kiba meat was worth, there were many denizens who ditched them into the forest.


From this perspective, I had not done enough.


Kiba meat was valuable.


It wasn’t limited to dishes from kiba. If kiba meat itself could be traded for money, the denizens would be lifted out of poverty.


We were working so hard in the Post Station Town because of this goal.


「Morning, Milano Mast.」


Along with Vena Wu, Lala Wu, Shela Wu, and Ai Fa who will recover in two days, we headed for the 《Kimyusu’s Tail Inn》. Milano Mast was already waiting behind the building.


Milano Mast was a yellowish brown skinned man born and bred in Genos. He was tall, but his body looked as stout as a bull. His face always looked sour, and he received us unhappily today too.


「You are finally here… The guards came just now.」


「Eh?」


「I heard that a large number of Jaguar and Semu people had gathered. Isn’t it a mistake to put up 「that notice」?」


「That notice」 referred to the small board beneath my signboard. I couldn’t read it, but it said 「Blue month, 7th, 10th, and 11th, closed」.


According to my schedule, tomorrow I had to conduct a cooking seminar to prepare for the house head conference. The 10th was the house head conference, and I couldn’t prepare the food for the next day either, so on the 11th the stall would be closed too.


「If we don’t inform them early about the closure, I’m afraid that there might be backlash… Are there really that many people?」


「Who knows? I told the guards not to interfere.」


Milano Mast’s thick fingers stuck into the pocket of his dark apron, and he took out eight red copper plates.


When I told him about the planned closure, he said that he will refund the venue and cart rental for the 『Myam-roasted meat』 back to me. Since I will be renting both stalls at the same time, it would more convenient for their contract date to be the same. And so, our contract at the 《Kimyusu’s Tail Inn》 came to an end.


The problem would be the stall rental two days later. There wasn’t much time left, but Milano Mast still didn’t give me any response with regards to the contract.


「I will decide after business ends for today. It won’t inconvenience you, right?」


「It’s fine, we don’t mind.」


I couldn’t see through Milano Mast’s mind, and that made me feel uneasy.


Milano Mast snorted, then glared at everyone.


「Get lost. If another commotion happens today, we won’t need to talk about the contract, your kiba stall will end for good today.」


He was cold and distant as usual.


With no other choice, we could only head to the marketplace docilely.


「That man’s attitude is as bad as ever. If he hates the denizens of Forest's Edge so much, he can just break off ties with us right now.」


Lala Wu whispered to me as we pushed the cart.


「Hmm… Milano Mast might have his own circumstances too. I hope he can think it over and reach a conclusion that is acceptable to him.」


Yumi once told me that a relative or friend of Milano Mast was killed by a denizen of Forest's Edge. If what she said was true, then what kind of emotions did Milano Mast have when he interacted with us?


If he was willing to let go of his grudge and treat the denizens of Forest's Edge like normal customers, I wished to continue my contract with the 《Kimyusu’s Tail Inn》.


Anyway, for now, we need to tide over today.


No matter how the situation changed, our responsibility remained the same. The tenth day of opening was a milestone, but we still had to work hard in selling the kiba food as usual.


The only thing different from usual was the 80 portions of 『Kiba burger』 I prepared.


As we have shifted our base from the Fa house to the Wu clan, Vena Wu had two more hours of free time. She used this time to help me prepare the ingredients and made twenty more portions.


Ever since the notice for the closure was put out, I would hear the customers expressing their regrets about this. Therefore, I assumed there would be a huge increase in sales the day before and after the rest day. But only god knew what would actually happen.


「Uwah!」


Lala Wu suddenly yelped when we were walking along the street.


I raised my head and found the reason for it. This was the first time such a massive crowd appeared around the slot that we had rented.


People from Semu and Jaguar, and westerners that were either customers or gawkers almost blocked the entire street. No wonder the guards took action.


「Hi, there are more people than usual today.」


I turned and saw Uncle Dora at his stall, talking to me with a smile.


Tara also looked at us with a smile.


「Even if there are loads of people, you won’t be sold out in the morning, right? We will buy some later.」


「Alright, thank you… can you give me 4 tarapa and 30 aria?」


「Okay, that will be 12 red copper plates.」


I placed the vegetables into the sack and quickly got on my way.


「Work hard, Asuta onii-chan!」


With Tara cheering me, we walked to the customers.


「Excuse me, sorry for the wait!」


When they heard my voice, the Jaguar people cheered, then quieted down right away. As the guards were standing by at the side, they restrained themselves.


Recently, only 20 to 30 customers would queue early in the morning. The crowd today was twice the usual numbers. They squeezed in front of the space before the stall so early because they knew we were taking an off day tomorrow. I felt honored by this.


「Please wait a moment, we will start preparing right away.」


We put the lighted brazier into the cart and stirred the tarapa sauce.


We then shifted the meat in the marinating sauce into another leather pouch.


After that, the tino was shredded and the aria diced.


Everyone was very familiar with the workflow.


「… I feel a little excited.」


Lala Wu said with a cheerful smile.


「This job is interesting. Compared to tanning hides at home, I prefer working here.」


「I see, that’s great.」


「What will happen the day after tomorrow? Will the other women from the Wu clan switch places with us?」


「I don’t know either. I hope we can keep the same lineup.」


Lala Wu’s elated expression turned sullen immediately.


「Are you saying you don’t want to work together with Leina-nee?」


「…Eh?」


「Leina-nee really wants to work with you. Are her feelings troubling you?」


Lala Wu’s sea blue eyes stared at me.


She was very sensitive and observant, so she must have seen through Leina Wu’s and my feelings.


「That’s not what I mean… But I think I shouldn’t go near Leina Wu thoughtlessly.」


「Will everything work out fine if you don’t go near her?」


「… Sorry, I don’t know either. Maybe that will just drag out the problem.」


「You don’t need to apologize to me. Things will eventually turn out fine. Asuta, just do what you think is right.」


And finally, Lala Wu showed her trademark smile.


I switched up my mood, and tossed the aria into the heated pot.


「We are open for business! Please queue up in fives!」


Pops, Arudas, and the architects were our first batch of customers.


「Morning, you are early today.」


「That’s right. After work starts, we can only make time in the afternoon. That’s why we rushed over so early in the morning. You will be taking tomorrow off, so we can’t miss out on this meal.」


Arudas laughed heartily, while Pops showed an unhappy face.


「That’s right, it’s all your fault. You are the ones who are taking days off. If you close, your income will fall, right? We will only stay in Genos until the end of the month, and you are going to close for three days…? You are not allowed to close anymore for this month. Do that after we return to Jaguar.」


「Haha, sorry… We will try not to rest anymore this month.」


I added almost 3 kg of meat into the pot


The aroma of the fruit wine and myam spread, and Pop’s expression softened.


「Hmm, the smell sure is appetizing… You are resting tomorrow, huh…? Hey Arudas, what should we eat tomorrow?」


「We have no choice but to do what we usually do, and eat karon fuwano rolls. It’s your favorite food, right, Pops?」


「We can eat all the karon we want at dinner. Ahh, I want to eat kiba.」


Arudas who was a head higher than Pops smiled.


「Right… Bro, a man named Naudiz might visit later, please talk to him when he does.」


「Naudiz? Is he your friend?」


「Not a friend, but we had been acquainted for a long time. He had finally decided to take action.」


I didn’t understand what he meant. But before I could ask, I had already finished the 『Myam-roasted meat』 they ordered.


「See you two days later then. Take care of yourself and don’t take any more days off, do you hear?」


「Alright, thank you for your patronage.」


I then kept preparing meals.


Fifteen portions of 『Myam-roasted meat』 were gone in a flash.


「Sorry! Please wait a moment!」


The morning of the fifth day was the busiest time we had, and today was even busier.


The additional orders were sold in no time, and we prepared another set of 15. When half of them were sold, the crowd gradually dispersed.


I turned to observe the 『Kiba burger』 stall. Shela Wu just happened to turn my way and our gazes met.


「We made another set of 20, and there are just five left. Should we prepare another set?」


「Hmm, let’s observe a bit longer. We can start making the next set when there are three left… Ah, welcome.」


After selling a portion of 『Myam-roasted meat』 to a Semu customer, there were 52 of 『Myam-roasted meat』left, and 45 『Kiba burgers』 remaining. There weren’t many western customers, but sales had been climbing steadily.


During these three days, the number of westerners kept increasing, and there were more than 30 westerners who made a purchase yesterday.


Kiba food gradually integrated into the life in Genos. I had to tell Kaslan Lutim about this tomorrow.


At this moment, a cloaked group appeared before me. And of course, they were the 《Silver Vase》 led by Shumimaru


「Welcome! Thank you for coming every day.」


The ten Semu people split into two equal groups as usual and queued in front of the two stalls.


The leader Shumimaru bought 『Myam-roasted meat』 every other day. He took off his hood like he always did, and greeted me politely.


「Tomorrow, close, unfortunate. Day after tomorrow, come again.」


「Okay, thank you.」


「…Asuta, buy thing, decided?」


「Yes. I have discussed this with the house head. After my work is done, I will visit your shop.」


We had earned more than a thousand red copper plates. That exceeded a hundred white copper plates which were enough to be exchanged for one silver plate.


However, money was meant to be spent in the first place. We didn’t need to save up and buy anything expensive, so it was about time to spend them. After consulting Ai Fa, I received permission from her to do so.


「Very happy. Before dusk, in shop, I.」


Shumimaru squinted his eyes.


Just hearing me say I would head to his shop made him show such a happy expression. In these few days, I felt a sense of trust and friendship from Shumimaru.


「Well then, see you later.」


「Okay, see you.」


And so, we sold 40 『Kiba burgers』.


After making another 20 『Kiba burgers』, we decided to take a break.


「… I think the easterners are similar to the denizens of Forest's Edge.」


「Lala Wu, you think so too?」


「Yes… A long time ago, Grandma Jiba once said that the denizens of Forest's Edge might be the mixed blood of the easterners and southerners.」


「Ehh? Is that true?」


「Well, Grandma Jiba doesn’t really know either. Before war broke out between Semu and Jaguar, the people exiled by both nations met in the southern forest, and became the ancestors of the Forest's Edge denizens… That is the legend of Forest's Edge.」


「Oh, incredible…! No wonder I feel an affinity for most of the Semu and Jaguar people.」


「Is that so? If we had known this when Grandma Jiba and the others left the southern forest, we should have gone to the eastern kingdom instead.」


「Hmm~ but we can’t speak the eastern kingdom language. Besides, the east and the south were already enemy nations back then, so they could only rely on the western kingdom that was on good terms with the south.」


「Ah, that’s true… Never mind, our lives won’t change no matter what we say now.」


While we were chatting idly, the stall next door finished the preparation for the 『Kiba burger』.


I had delegated the taste of seasoning the tarapa sauce to Shela Wu.


「Alright, let’s rest for a while… Since the meat here is grilled, let’s take a break.」


「Yes!」


I took two 『Kiba burgers』, Lala Wu brought the 『Myam-roasted meat in tarapa sauce』, and we walked to where Ai Fa was.


Ai Fa was sound asleep. When we were about two meters from her, she opened her eyes and lifted her head.


「Were you asleep? Sorry, I brought some food over, do you want to eat?」


「Yes.」


Ai Fa’s fever had subsided.


Just to be safe, she didn’t follow us to the Post Station Town for the past two days. There were six days since her elbow injury, and she could remove the brace stabilizing her left elbow tomorrow.


According to Ai Fa, it would be some time before she could enter the forest again, but she should recover before the house head conference.


The house head conference will be in four days. Ai Fa couldn’t head to the Tsun clan with her left arm in a sling. I felt happy to see her injury getting better.


「Oh right, after we close the stall, you will be taking the copper plates to buy some things, right? What are you buying?」


Lala Wu asked excitedly as she ate her food deliciously.


「Erm, I’m planning to buy a kitchen knife and a steel griddle.」


「… Steel griddle.」


「Yes, steel griddle! It’s a new product that the pot shop just imported! It looks really practical!」


「… That’s all?」


「Yes, I just need to buy these two things.」


I looked excited, but Lala Wu seemed uninterested.


「… Both are cooking equipment.」


「Yes. Just these pieces of equipment will cost 33 white copper plates though.」


We have saved about a hundred white copper plates. Ai Fa and I decided to keep half of them with us and to spend the other half. And so, I would be using 18 white copper plates to purchase the Semu kitchen knife, and another 15 to buy the Jaguar made steel griddle. So I intended to spend 33 white copper plates in total.


「Ah, are you going to buy the knife that silver-haired Semu man showed you? Asuta, it looked like you really wanted to buy it back then.」


「Yes, that’s true!」


「… Well then, what about Ai Fa?」


After staring at me with eyes that said 「What a hopeless cooking nerd」, Lala Wu turned her head towards Ai Fa.


「I don’t need anything.」:Ai Fa answered curtly while eating her mini 『Kiba burger』 preciously.


「Eh? Are you not buying anything?」


「Yes. My blades are still usable, and my medicine and attire are still sufficient.」


「In that case, you can buy clothes and accessories for banquets. The one you wore last time was Grandma Jiba’s old clothes, right?」


「I won’t ever wear that kind of raiments in the future.」


「Ehh〜 There might be other people requesting you to cook for their banquet.」


「… I will deal with them when the time comes.」


Ai Fa said coldly.


Lala Wu looked unhappy.


「I can’t even. Only Asuta gets to enjoy」


「That’s right. This is the Fa house’s money after all, so I hope the house head can use these copper plates too. Not including the earnings for today, we can still use another 17 white copper plates, you know?」


「Don’t mind me, just buy what you want… By the way, you are just buying cooking equipment, huh? I’m not asking you to splurge, but you can buy something you like too.」


「Hmm~ in that case, can I buy something other than cooking equipment?」


Ai Fa didn’t seem to be unhappy when she heard that and said with a satisfied face:「Buy what you want.」


「Asuta, I’m telling you...」


Lala Wu glared at me a little angrily.


She appeared to have read something from my face, and muttered「… Never mind.」 and then shoved her food into her mouth.


2


While we were taking turns to rest, the customers still kept coming.


Before I knew it, there were 34 『Kiba burgers』 and 38 『Myam-roasted meat』 left.


「Business is really good today, looks like we will sell everything, right?」


When I returned from my break, Shela Wu who was manning the 『Myam-roasted meat』 stall in our stead said with a cheerful smile.


「That’s right. I thought business would be better after our off day. It’s lucky that we prepared more 『Kiba burger』 just in case.」


「We prepared 170 meals today, right? How many should we make for the day after tomorrow…?」


At this moment, Shela Wu opened her eyes wide in surprise.


I scanned around me in a panic and sighed in relief when I saw familiar figures.


「They are from the Wu clan main house. They had to do their grocery shopping today, so I asked them to send some firewood over too. Didn’t I tell you?」


「No… I heard about it…」


In that case, why was she so surprised? In the other end of the street were the second son, second daughter, and youngest daughter of the Wu clan main house.


When they came nearby, I understood the reason why Shela Wu was so shocked. Darum Wu had finally removed the bandages on his face.


「Sorry for the wait, here is the firewood you need.」


Leina Wu was smiling brilliantly like a flower, and she put the baggage on her back beside the stall.


「Hehee, I happened to be free, so I came over to play.」


Rimee Wu stacked her baggage on top. It was exactly half the size of Leina Wu.


And finally, the silent Darum Wu dropped three bags to the ground.


There was an ugly scar on his face. I was worried about his injuries, looked like it was really serious.


The scar went across his right cheek, extending to his nose and under his ear. The cut was deep, the scar had a frightening flesh color, and the stitches could still be clearly seen. His already fierce face looked even more ferocious, and he seemed 50 percent more intimidating.


Darum Wu was a handsome man, his fiery eyes and fearless expression were the main reason why he left an impression of being ferocious on others. I couldn’t help thinking that obtaining a scar was a pity.


「… Why the hell are you staring at me?」


Darum Wu glared at me with wolf-like eyes.


He was about to yell at me, but Shela Wu shouted nervously before that:


「I finally met you… Are your wounds alright?」


Darum Wu looked at Shela Wu impatiently:


「… You are the eldest daughter in Shin Wu’s house. What about my injuries?」


「I heard you have not entered the forest since the day you got wounded. Our entire family feels really bad about that… Thank you for saving Shin.」


I heard that Darum Wu got wounded because he protected someone from the branch house, so that man was Shin Wu.


Darum Wu scowled his face unhappily.


「Are you stupid? It’s only natural to protect one’s blood kin.」


「No, if you didn’t come to his aid, we would have lost our house head. I want to thank you.」


Darum Wu clicked his tongue, then scanned around him.
When he found Ai Fa staying at the back, he narrowed his eyes.


「…Leina, wait here.」


「Ehh?」


Leina opened her eyes wide and stood where she was. Darum Wu went around the stall and walked straight towards Ai Fa.


Hey, hey, what do you think you are doing? I wanted to follow, but a Semu man just happened to visit the stall.


「Kiba?」


「Ah, yes, this is kiba food. Please feel free to try a sample.」


Leina Wu and Rimee Wu quickly left the stall and watched the Semu man sample the kiba curiously.


「The stall beside us is also selling kiba food. We are selling roasted meat seasoned with myam and fruit wine, theirs is a special meat dish covered in tarapa sauce.」


After the customer nodded, he walked towards the stall selling 『Kiba burger』.


「Amazing! Someone from the city is really eating kiba! Although he is an easterner and not a westerner!」


「Hey Rimee, you are too loud… Sorry for disturbing your work. We are done with our task, so we will go now.」


「Ehh〜 Rimee wants to chat with Ai Fa.」


「Didn’t you chatted a lot for the past two days…? Then I will go buy something first, you accompany Ai Fa. I will come pick you up after I’m done shopping.」


「Yes! Thank you, Leina-nee!」


Leina Wu turned to me and said with a happy smile:


「I’m sorry, please take care of Rimee. If she disrupts your work, feel free to discipline her.」


「A-Alright, I understand.」


I thought Leina Wu’s smile was getting more brilliant with each passing day.


To be honest, I didn’t know if I should be happy about this.


「Sorry for the wait.」


At this moment, Darum Wu walked over.


I turned my head in a panic and saw Ai Fa sitting nonchalantly under the tree shade.


「Well then, see you later.」


The second son and second daughter of the Wu clan left.


And obviously, my heart was filled with unease.


The customer from earlier walked back and handed over some coins, so I still couldn’t leave the stall.


「Thank you! Please wait a moment!」


Focus on your job! I told myself quietly and grabbed a piece of poitan.


During this time, I heard someone saying faintly:


「… What business did Darum Wu have with Ai Fa?」


「Ehh?」


On a closer look, I realized that Shela Wu had lowered her head depressedly.


Could it be that it was what I was thinking?


No, I shouldn’t assume everything was like that.


I quickly made the 『Myam-roasted meat』, handed it to the customer and called out to the little girl beside me.


「Excuse me, Rimee Wu, can you call Ai Fa over?」


「Hmm? Okay!」


Rimee Wu dashed away nimbly, her red hair trailing behind her.


After that, two ivory-skinned westerner youths walked over timidly.


「E-Excuse me. We want two.」


「Thank you, please hold on for a moment.」


If I remember correctly, these two youths were with me when the Totos Moa suddenly appeared at our stall and screamed together with me. They would now visit every other day.


There was still some time before noon, and the sales were already steadily climbing.


After I setted their meals, Rimee Wu brought Ai Fa over.


「What is it? You want me to buy groceries?」


「No, not yet… What did Darum Wu talk to you about?」


Ai Fa tilted her head puzzledly and replied:「Don’t know.」


「You don’t know? You were talking with him just now, right?」


「We didn’t talk, he kept rambling on by himself and then left. The second son of the Wu clan sure is annoying.」


「… Can you tell me what exactly did he say?」


Ai Fa tilted her head the other way.


「What did he say… He mentioned that he will be going into the woods tomorrow. And hunters who don’t go into the woods are useless. Since I can’t hunt right now, he was probably mocking me.」


「Haha, Darum-nii is so childish.」


It seemed that the women from the Fa house and Wu clan wasn’t fazed by that guy.


I thought back to one night about a month ago, Darum Wu was also mocking Ai Fa arrogantly. So it was the same today. However, it sounded amusing when Ai Fa put it that way.


Also, Vena Wu once said that 「Darum still hopes that Ai Fa will marry him」. Considering all that, I thought Darum Wu was like a clumsy boy trying hard to approach a girl he likes.


In the end, Shela Wu and I remained moody.


「… It’s almost time for the second half. Shela Wu, let’s work hard together.」


「… Yes, of course.」


Shela Wu nodded firmly as if she was cheering for herself.


At this moment, another customer came. It was someone we knew, Tara.


「Asuta nii-chan, I want three!」


「Ah, thank you for today too, Tara! You really came every day.」


「I want to eat delicious food every day! It’s a pity you are closed tomorrow.」


Her caramel-colored eyes caught sight of Rimee Wu’s figure:


「Uwah, it’s a girl from Forest's Edge!」


Rimee Wu looked at Tara in surprise.


Tara bowed squeamishly.


「… Nice to meet you.」


Rimee Wu smiled immediately and said energetically:


「Nice to meet you!」


When she heard Rimee Wu’s reply, Tara showed her usual innocent smile.


「I thought only the adults from Forest's Edge come to town! I’m Tara.」


「I’m Rimee Wu! Rimee is too small and can’t carry heavy things, so I don’t come here often.」


「Is that so? The denizens of Forest's Edge are strong! You all can carry 200 poitan in one go, that’s incredible!」


The two of them created an indescribably peaceful world.


Ai Fa stood beside Rimee Wu, her expression blank and eyes wavering.


I was grilling meat for Tara right now and couldn’t save her.


Work hard, Ai Fa! I cheered for her in my heart.


「How old are you, Rimee Wu? Tara is 8 years old now.」


「Rimee is eight too! We are the same!」


「The same!」


「Tara, you are from Genos. Aren’t you afraid of the denizens of Forest's Edge?」


「Hmm… Of course, I’m scared. But the people around Asuta onii-chan aren’t scary! By the way, I just saw a scary man from Forest's Edge walking by just now.」


「Haha, that’s probably Darum-nii, he’s my brother.」


「Ehh〜 Is that so! Awesome!」


「It’s fine. Even other people from Forest's Edge are afraid of Darum-nii. He is actually not scary at all.」


Not just their age, the two little girl’s height, hair length and adorable appearance were all very similar. Just the sight of them calmed my heart.


「Those two in the stall there are Rimee Wu’s sisters. Also, didn’t you let a boy eat a bite of your meat bun last time, Tara? That’s Rimee’s brother, Ludo Wu.」




「Amazing!」


Tara cheered.


「You have so many siblings! Tara has two older brothers, but they are always working at home.」


「I see. Work is very important.」


「That’s right!」


Ai Fa finally pleaded for help with her gaze.


As a lowly member of the Fa house, the only thing I could do was to finish the 『Myam-roasted meat』 and present it to Tara.


「Sorry for the wait. That will be six red copper plates.」


「Thank you! Here, for you!」


「Thank you for your patronage! Aren’t you buying two of each today?」


「Yes! Papa is eating 『Myam-roasted meat』, and I’m having 『Kiba burger』! Papa realized that if both of us ate half, we will get to taste both the dishes.」


Tara puffed out her chest proudly.


It took them seven days to realize this, what a warming scene.


「Bye bye, Asuta-nii…! See you next time, Rimee Wu!」


「Yes! Bye bye!」


And so, the two young girls became acquainted.


Ai Fa sighed deeply, then placed her right hand on Rimee Wu’s fluffy head.


「Rimee Wu, I’m tired. Can we go over there and rest?」


「Yes! We have to chat properly before Leina-nee comes back!」


And so, we finally had the chance to idle.


What a busy day.


But the nonstop flow of customers was a perfect end to these ten days… While I was thinking about that, Yumi came over. She was accompanied by teenage girls from Genos today too.


「Hi, Asuta, business is good today too, huh.」


「Welcome! Thank you for visiting every day.」


「Too bad! Everyone wants to eat 『Kiba burger』 today!」


「I see.」
I didn’t feel vexed or anything though.


「Ah, sorry, can you help me buy one?」


Yumi said that to her friends and slipped over from the stall next door.


「Asuta, have you decided on the things I mentioned last time?」


「Ah, about the new contract from the day after tomorrow? Milano Mast said he will tell me after I close shop for the day.」


「What? Why does he want to make you wait so long? It’s either yes or no, no need to think about it so much.」


Yumi suddenly looked to the side.


「How disconcerting. Why is he just standing there like that?」


「Ehh?」


I followed her line of sight and found Milano Mast standing beside the street.


「Hmm… I didn’t notice him at all. When did he start standing there?」


Shela Wu lowered her voice and said to me:


「Asuta, are you referring to that mister from the inn? He had been standing there and watching us even before Leina Wu and the others came over.」


「I see. Hmm~ why is he doing this?」


「Who knows? Strictly speaking, the venue manager will need to hand all the venue rental fee to Rock City, so all they are earning will be the pushcart rental fee. If he really wants the rental fee, he just needs to recontract with you. There’s no reason to deliberate for so long.」


As we were talking, Yumi’s 『Kiba burger』 was done, and one of her friends brought it over for her.


「Ah, thank you. I need to discuss something with him, go on and eat first.」


At this moment, another new customer approached us.


Was he a southerner?


No, despite his stout and strong appearance common among Jaguar people, his skin had a deep shade of ivory.


「Fufu, so this is kiba food.」


He was a man in his prime and had an amiable attitude in spite of his serious face.


He had brown hair and beard, but his eyes resembled bright emeralds. It was a color that matched Jaguar people. He was about Yumi’s height.


「I see, so the meat here are samples?」


「Yes, please have some.」


The man picked up the meat nimbly with a krilee toothpick and sent it into his mouth after inspecting it carefully.


「… Yes.」


「The stall beside us is also selling kiba food. Please feel free to compare them.」


「I see, I see.」


The way that man sauntered to the 『Kiba burger』 stall looked a little amusing. Yumi looked at his back with a troubled face.


「That man…  I can’t recall who he is.」


「Huh? You know him?」


「No, but I have seen him somewhere…」


Yumi ate her 『Kiba burger』 and fell into deep thought. At this moment, that man wobbled back here.


「The dish next door tastes fascinating. But I want to eat your dish first.」


「Thank you, that will be two red copper plates.」


「Oh, two red copper plates for such a big piece? That’s cheap.」


He nodded and handed over the copper plates.


I reheated the kiba and aria, then handed the merchandise to that man.


「Hmm.」


The man inspected the 『Myam-roasted meat』, then bit into it.


「… Whoa.」


Seeing that he showed no intention of leaving, I asked him warmly:「Does the taste suit you?」


「Very delicious. I can’t imagine this is kiba. I was surprised when I heard how popular kiba food was. I even suspected that the food had been spiked with drugs to numb the tongue. This dish is really sumptuous.」


「Thank you.」


「The seasoning is excellent. The sweetness of the fruit wine meshes perfectly with the spiciness of the myam. Who is the person that seasoned this dish?」


「I did that personally.」


「Oh, impressive for a young chap… But the texture of this fuwano sure is special. It is firm but smooth to the bite.」


「Ah, this is poitan, not fuwano.」


「Huh?」「Ehh?」


Not just that man, even Yumi was dumbstruck.


「Poitan? You mean the poitan that is eaten by travelers? How can it be? That thing is gooey like mud water.」


「Ah, this one is different. After boiling away the water, we dried it completely and then grilled it.」


Speaking of which, when Kamyua Yost heard about the steps to process the poitan, he looked as surprised as when he tasted kiba.


「Hmm〜?」


The man inspected the half-eaten 『Myam-roasted meat』 even more carefully.


「The color does resemble poitan… are you serious? You are not joking with me?」


「Yes. I also added a little gigo.」


Poitan was cheap just like kiba for a completely different reason. Should I avoid bringing this up?


「… Poitan is a very cheap food ingredient, right?」


「I don’t know the price of fuwano. Is the price difference really big?」


「Using this dish as an example, one red copper plate worth of fuwano can make three of these.」


「I see, I can make five with poitan.」


「… Oh!」


The man let out an exasperated sigh, and tossed the rest of the 『Myam-roasted meat』 into his mouth.


Yumi shouted at the same time:
「Ah! I remember now! You are an innkeeper, right? No wonder you look familiar, I have seen you before in the innkeeper conference!」


「Oh, you just realized that? You are the daughter of the 《West Wind Inn》 innkeeper, right? I’m the innkeeper of the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》, Naudiz.」


His name sounded familiar.


「Oh right, you know the architect Arudas?」


「Yes, they lodge in my inn every year. As you can see, the blood of the south flows in my veins, so the people of Jaguar take good care of me.」


This meant that he was a mixed blood between westerners and southerners.


Kamyua Yost once said that only children of mixed heritage between the west and north, or east and south would be persecuted. A mixed blood between the west and the south wasn’t a problem.


「Your cooking is well-received in my inn and is a hot topic. They were right, I admit my loss.」


「T-Thank you.」


「… And so? What do you want to do? Are you trying to get Asuta to sign a contract with your inn?」


Yumi interjected unhappily, and Naudiz tilted his thick neck puzzledly.


「Ohh? This is a pushcart from the 《Kimyusu’s Tail Inn》, right? There isn’t much difference no matter which venue manager you sign a contract with. I have business with the owner of this stall.」


「Are you looking for me?」


「Yes… Can you let me sell your cooking at my inn?」


Naudiz asked politely.


3


「Just what… do you mean?」


「I mean what I literally said. I hope to provide your cooking for dinner at my inn. I can’t hire you as a chef like what the castle town does. I’m willing to buy your cooking and add it to my menu…  Ah, excuse me.」


When I realized it, I found a Semu customer standing quietly behind Naudiz.


「Welcome. Would you like one?」


At this moment, another Semu man showed up behind him. The two of them looked very similar, like twins. They presented copper plates from both sides.
「So two in total? Thank you for your patronage.」


Naudiz stroked his brown beard apologetically.


「It’s almost noon. I should have come earlier, but I have work to do in the morning.」


「It’s fine… Can you hold on for a moment? I can leave the stall for a while if I grill more meat in one go.」


I said this to him as I made the 『Myam-roasted meat』, and Naudiz replied:「That’s fine, of course.」 and retreated to the side of the counter.


Yumi followed and stared at Naudiz quizzedly.


「Hey, what do you mean by selling Asuta’s cooking? You want to buy what he made and sell them during dinner?」


「You are correct. The Jaguar people praised the cooking from this stall and ate the dinner provided at my inn unhappily. They kept saying they want to eat kiba. As the boss of an inn, I felt ashamed.」


「In that case, you will have to inflate the price if you want to make money, right? But if that happens, who will want to buy it?」


「That’s hard to say. It’s true that I will need to increase the price to make a profit. However, if the kiba food is just a little more expensive than the other food, I don’t think sales will fall too much.」


「But your profit margin will fall, right?」


「That’s correct, the money we bring in with food will fall drastically. However, we can still make a profit if more customers lodge with us.」


I peeked at the two of them as I grilled the meat. Naudiz looked stern, but his expression was gentle. Yumi was the opposite.


The brusque temperament of the southerners and the delicate personality of the westerners. I could see these two natures mixed in a complicated manner in Naudiz.


「For example, if I set the price of the kiba food at 5 red copper plates, karon food at 4 red copper plates and Kimyusu food at 3 red copper plates, some customers will be willing to pay for the more expensive kiba food. If I can also sell the other food, my earnings won’t fall too much.」


「Hmm… You have given it much consideration.」


「I made this decision after agonizing over this over several days. Ever since my Jaguar customer recommended this dish to me, I had been troubled about this.」


At this point, the meat was finally done.


「Sorry, please tend to the stall, I will be back soon.」


After saying that to Shela Wu, I walked to Naudiz.


「Sorry for the wait… Ms. Yumi, thank you for speaking out, that helps me tidy up my thoughts.」


「Don’t use honorifics, that’s disgusting.」


「Sorry… As I need to prepare the food and tend to house chores, I need to return home before dusk every day. You just need my cooking, and I don’t need to be present, right?」


「Yes. If possible, I hope you can prepare some food that can be served after heating them up, just like the dish being sold next door. I also want it to be dinner, not a light meal like this. For a start, I just need 30 to 50 portions.」


「I see, dinner needs to be more filling… How much do you need for one portion? How much are you willing to pay?」


「Well, it should be 1.5 times that of a light meal. Three red copper plates per meal… It will be great if it is cheaper. I think 25 red copper plates for 10 would be an appropriate price, what do you think?」


After doing a rough calculation, this price would not put us in the red.


In order to achieve the goal of 「making the deliciousness of kiba well-known」, that was a tempting proposal.


I tried probing further:


「… This might be a little rude, but can you tell me what is the price of karon meat?」


「Karon meat? We sell one portion for about 1 red copper plate.」


「Ehh? How much is one portion? Is that 1.5 times bigger than of our shop?」


「Yes, you are right.」


I had to do some calculations.


I used about 180 g of kiba in each portion.


1.5 times that would be 270 g.


270 g for one red copper plate… which means 0.37 red copper plate per 100 g. Since that was for bulk purchases, that should be half the retail price for normal consumers.


On the tenth day of opening, I have finally figured out a specific figure.


「I see… I look forward to working with you too. However, it is very tedious to grill poitan. If you can use fuwano to complement my dish, I can provide 50 portions for you.」


「Ohh? Then my price will be adjusted too.」


「Yes, you can deduct the cost of the fuwano. One red copper plate of fuwano is enough for three light meals. As dinner is larger in portion, one red copper plate of fuwano should be enough for two dinners, right?」


Poitan was cheaper than fuwano, so I was losing out. But considering the complicated work of grilling poitan, it wasn’t too great of a loss.


「However, my schedule for the next two months isn’t certain. Besides, other inns or restaurants might want me to provide meals too.」


「Alright, it’s true that many inns in Post Station Town have southerners as regulars. On top of that, there are many inns with easterner regulars too.」


Naudiz nodded calmly.


「When our inn starts selling kiba food, others will emulate us too… That is just a matter of time.」


「I see. I’m very honored, but my time is limited, so I can’t complete everyone’s request.」


「… That’s what I thought.」


Naudiz squinted his eyes.


He probably thought that I intended to increase the price with that excuse.


However, I had other plans in mind.


「When I can’t spare the time, I hope everyone will buy the kiba meat directly instead of my cooking.」


「Ehh!?」


The one who yelped was Yumi, not Naudiz.


「Hence, I hope the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》 can consider buying the kiba meat directly in the future and cook it yourself. Please consider adding this to your long-term plan. The kiba meat will definitely make you a good deal of profit…」


「Wait! If everyone sells kiba food, your business will plummet you know!?」


Yumi grabbed my arm in a panic:


「Selling the food alone should be more profitable…! Asuta, is selling the kiba meat directly a better deal?」


That wasn’t true.


Yesterday, the Fa house’s kiba meat was all used up. From today onwards, we would need to buy kiba meat from the Wu clan. If I just wanted to focus on the interest of the Fa house, it would be more advantageous for us to continue selling my cooking.


However, my goal in running a business in the Post Station Town wasn’t to earn copper plates.


I smiled at Yumi.


「It’s too complicated to explain, but personally, my goal is for everyone to buy the kiba meat directly.」


「Is that so…? Then there isn’t any problem...」


Yumi let go of my arm, but still seemed unable to accept this.


Naudiz stroked his beard and said:


「Yes, that sounds interesting. But for a start, we will be happy just to sell your cooking. Let’s leave all that to the future.」


「Alright, thank you… Well then, is it alright for us to discuss the details after I close shop? It’s almost noon.」


「That’s true. I should return to the inn… I will inform the innkeeper of the 《Kimyusu’s Tail Inn》 to avoid any misunderstanding.」


Naudiz sauntered away slowly.


As I watched Naudiz walk away, Yumi clicked her tongue.


「He wants to sell kiba food in his inn, huh… I want to do that, but our customers are mostly westerners, there are almost no southerners or easterners. It’s unlikely for the westerners to order kiba food.」


「That’s right, it’s not possible for now.」


The westerners wouldn’t accept kiba food straight away.


I also couldn’t wipe away the prejudice the westerners held towards the denizens of Forest's Edge in one week.


However, I captivated the southerners and easterners with the kiba.


I built up a bridge that will lead towards our final goal.


Next, it will depend on whether our collaboration with 《Big Tree of the South Inn》 would work.


「What’s this? Even if your contract with the 《Kimyusu’s Tail Inn》 ends today, my inn will have no chance to debut… Never mind, it doesn’t matter which manager you pay your copper plates too, as long as your cooking is delicious.」


In the end, Yumi showed her usual innocent smile and smacked my arm hard.


「I’m going now! My friends are probably getting tired of waiting. I will continue visiting two days later.」


「Alright, thank you.」


After bidding Yumi farewell, I returned to my stall.


Shela Wu who was tending the 『Myam-roasted meat』 stall alone showed a composed smile.


「Welcome back… there are 26 『Myam-roasted meat』 left.」


「Eh? You sold quite a lot.」


「24 『Kiba burgers』 here…」: Vena Wu said to me from the next stall.


「So exactly 50 portions… Looks like we can close shop early.」


I just finished saying that, when more customers came over.


Three men appeared before the stall, they had yellowish brown skin and looked menacing.


「Welcome.」


I received them with a smile.


I remembered these customers. A few days ago, they were looking for trouble at the 『Kiba burger』 stall. But Vena Wu received them, and they even bought a merchandise when they left.


They came with malicious intent on their first visit, but they were now our regular customers.


「Hmmp… business seems good today, bro.」


「Yes, it’s thanks to everyone.」


「Really now, a guy like me is actually buying kiba meat, how did I stray into this path?」


They didn’t seem to be drinking today, and despite their brusque tone, their expressions were calm.


「Sorry for the wait.」


Shela Wu handed the merchandise to the three of them. One of them frowned and leaned in close to me.


「By the way, there are many beauties in Forest's Edge. Kiba is delicious and the women are fair, no wonder you moved into Forest's Edge.」


「Haha, that’s not the reason why I’m staying in Forest's Edge.」


「How can that be? The woman you touched is also helping in the stall, right?」


「No, no such thing! This humble one will never do something so despicable.」


I stole a glance at Shela Wu, and her face remained urbane, ignoring the customer’s teasing.


The three customers left with their 『Myam-roasted meat』, and I exhaled. I wasn’t sweating, but I still wiped my forehead with my hand.


「What a cheerful bunch. Sorry about that, Shela Wu.」


「You don’t need to apologize, Asuta… Many people were mistaking me for your wife.」


「Eh? R-Really?」


「Yes. Every day there will be someone who asked me that. The people in the city sure are strange, how can a clumsy woman like me be your wife?」


「No, I’m the clumsy one! Why would an excellent woman like you ever marry me… Uwah!」


Someone tapped my shoulder suddenly, making me yelp.


I turned to find Ai Fa standing behind me with a displeased expression, holding several aria in her right arm.


「Don’t shout so suddenly, that surprised me.」


「Y-You are the one surprising me! Don’t walk behind me without making any noise!」


「Do I have to intentionally make noise when I walk now? Don’t talk nonsense.」


Even though we were squabbling, Shela Wu was unfazed as she received the aria from Ai Fa.


「Thank you… Asuta, you were busy just now, so I asked Ai Fa to do the last bit of shopping.」


「T-Thank you for your kind help… Huh? Did Rimee Wu already go back?」


「When you left the stall to discuss business with the customer, the second daughter of the Wu clan fetched her back.」


As we spoke, Ai Fa stared at Shela Wu and me.


「A-Ai Fa, what’s wrong?」


「Nothing… Looking closely, you two do look like a wedded couple.」


So she heard everything!


I was wondering how to answer when Shela Wu said with a smile:


「That’s not true. Asuta would never choose me to be his wife… I respect and trust Asuta, but I won’t pick him to be my husband.」


「… I see.」


After saying that, Ai Fa turned and left.


When Ai Fa sat down under the tree shade, Shela Wu whispered to me with a hint of guilt:


「I’m sorry for saying something so rude… But I think I should tell Ai Fa what I really think.」


「I think you made the right call… and I trust and respect you too.」


After Shela Wu showed a cheerful smile, she quickly turned her face back. Another customer was here.


It was almost noon, and the crowd was bigger than usual.


There seemed to be a trend of the westerners increasing.


「Shela Wu, there are just two 『Kiba burgers』 left in the pot… Can you switch places with me…?」


「Alright.」


Shela Wu went to the 『Kiba burger』 stall, and Vena traded places with her.


I prepared 80 『Kiba burgers』 today, and we were down to the last 20. Only 23 『Myam-roasted meat』 remained.


「After a few days, we will finally be sold out again… Selling everything does feel better than not selling all of it…」


The customers kept coming, as if they were responding to Vena Wu’s words.


On the tenth and final day, the speed of the sales was incredibly fast.


The merchandise was sold one after another, and only three 『Myam-roasted meat』 were left by noon.


「Uwah, looks like we will finish first.」


It was tiring and tough, but I still cheered. Someone approached us.


It was Milano Mast.


「Ah, hello.」


This was the first time Milano Mast came near my stall during operational hours.


He looked at the remaining meat on the plate and snorted:


「Will you be done after selling this much more? How many portions did you prepare today?」


「Today, we prepared 90 『Myam-roasted meat』, and the neighboring stall prepared 80 『Kiba burgers』, a bit more than usual.」


「A total of 170 meals. What an incredible number.」


Milano Mast took out and gave me two red copper plates.


「Ehh? Do you want to buy my food?」


「That’s right.」


「Thank you for your patronage… would you like to try the sample here…」


「Shut up. I already gave you the money, so hurry up with the food. No need for samples.」


His tone was unhappy as usual, he even added:「This will be the last day anyway.」


「What do you mean by that last bit—」


At this moment, a westerner couple came over.


「Look, here it is. It says kiba on the signboard, right? That’s the kiba food that is the talk of the town.」


「Uwah, disgusting… let’s not eat it…」


「That’s what I thought too! But the kiba food is surprisingly delicious!」


The youth handed four red copper plates to me a little cockily.


「Hey, give me two.」


「Alright, thank you for your patronage.」


Cooking the portions for these two plus Milano Mast’s share meant that the 『Myam-roasted meat』 will become sold out.


After making three portions, Vena Wu handed the completed 『Myam-roasted meat』 to them one by one.


Milano Mast quietly walked towards the bustling south.


「……Vena Wu, please help me put out the fire.」


After saying that, I chased after Milano Mast.


「Milano Mast, please wait.」


He didn’t stop.


But he didn’t quicken his pace either. I caught up to him not far from the 『Kiba burger』 stall.


「Excuse me, what did you mean by 『last day』 just now?」


Milano Mast ate his 『Myam-roasted meat』 and continued walking with his expression the same as usual.


「… There’s no need to be that surprised, right? You will be signing a contract with the  《West Wind Inn》 tomorrow.」


「Well… About that…」


「Are you signing with the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》 instead? It doesn’t matter which inn will you sign with. The cart rental fee is just enough for my daughter’s allowance. Stop brooding over it so much and sign with an inn that values you.」


Milano Mast walked to the street side and stopped.


He shot his displeased gaze from below.


「I detest the denizens of Forest's Edge, and my daughter is fearful of you. We have no reasons to stop you from jumping ships.」


「Regarding that… If you want us to sign with another inn, we will do so...」


In that case, why didn’t he tell us about this two days ago?


And — Why did his expression look so heavy when he was eating the kiba food?


「… Even if it is on the level of my daughter’s allowance, I can still earn one white copper plate from the cart rental. As a businessman, I shouldn’t let this money slip away. Even if I bear a deep grudge against the denizens of Forest's Edge, I shouldn’t lose money over it… I once thought this way, but I have gotten over it now.」


「So… Since you had gotten over it, that means you are going to hand my contract over to another inn?」


It was a pity, but I had to respect Milano Mast’s wishes.


Milano Mast looked at the half-eaten 『Myam-roasted meat』 and said:「That’s not it.」


「Ehh? Then what is it?」


「As a businessman, I think I should sign a contract with you. But there’s no point in making each other uncomfortable… My daughter and I will never forgive the denizens of Forest's Edge.」


Milano Mast was still looking down and said quietly:


「A denizen of Forest's Edge killed a good friend of mine, and my wife also passed away because of this. That was ten years ago… So I wish a horrible death upon all the denizens of Forest's Edge. I don’t give a damn about the farms, all the hunters are scum.」


「But—」


「I won’t have any complains if the criminal is brought to justice. But the denizens of Forest's Edge acted with impunity and the landlord backed them up. When my friend fell off a cliff, he died while grasping a necklace in his hand. On it were tusks and horns from a kiba. Despite the glaring evidence, no denizen of the Forest's Edge paid for the crime.」


I clenched my fist quietly.


Yumi once said that 「the case was closed because of a lack of evidence」. But there actually was evidence. But despite of that, no denizen from the Forest's Edge was questioned for this crime.


As my emotions started simmering, Milano Mast remained strangely calm. His brown eyes showed a hint of sadness, but not rage.


「When my friend died, my wife overexerted herself, got bedridden and passed away shortly… He was an old friend of mine, and also my wife’s older brother who raised her in the stead of their parents. That’s why my daughter and I will hate the denizens of Forest's Edge for the rest of our lives.」


「But… That’s…」


Uncle Dora once said that the denizens of Forest's Edge would attack travelers, commit robbery and abduct women. Ai Fa didn’t refute that either. There were such evil people inside the Forest's Edge settlement.


Is all this the doing of the Tsun clan…?


I had no way of knowing.


The relationship fracture between the Tsun clan and the Wu clan happened twenty years ago, when their previous clan heads were leading them. Back then, the Tsun clan abducted a woman who was supposed to marry into the Wu clan, forcing her to commit suicide. This meant  that even at that time the Tsun clan was already corrupted.


「But even so…」


I shut up mid-sentence.


But even so, not all denizens of the Forest's Edge were villains. I couldn’t stand having him treating Ai Fa, the Wu clan, and house Lutim as being in the same league as the Tsun clan.


At this moment, the image of a frail woman carrying an infant appeared in my mind.


She was Celeste Von Fou, and I had met her once.


The weaker houses in Forest's Edge weren’t strong enough to hunt kiba, and would sometimes starve to death. Celeste Von Fou once said that her child wouldn’t have milk to drink if not for the hide Ai Fa secretly gave to the Fou house.


There were many edible fruits in the forest, but to avoid letting the kiba starve, the denizens of the Forest's Edge could starve themselves, and in order to honor the agreement they made with the landlord of Genos, they gave up their lives for the sake of their pride as hunters.


The prosperity of Genos was built on such heroic sacrifice, but the citizens of Genos only felt hatred, fear, and contempt for the denizens of Forest's Edge.


Wasn’t that too stupid?


The evil minority and those who sheltered them weren’t suffering at all. Be it Forest's Edge or the Post Station Town, only the powerless majority was oppressed.


To be frank— from the looks of the situation, the Genos management and the chief Tsun clan were colluding and reaping all sorts of benefits, while other people had to suffer greatly.


「What did you want to say? That not all the denizens of Forest's Edge are malicious people?」


Milano Mast spat out quietly.


「You don’t need to tell me that. There are five hundred denizens in Forest's Edge, if they were all villains, the people in town would have died many times over. Everyone knows that, which is why I was willing to sign a contract with you in the beginning.」


After Milano Mast finished saying that, he tossed the last bite of 『Myam-roasted meat』 into his mouth.


「Besides, the people in the Post Station Town aren’t retarded. If you were a violent man, they wouldn’t have bought your cooking… And so, I won’t stop you from jumping ships, and won’t chase you away either. If the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》 or the 《West Wind Inn》 finds value in your talent, there’s no need for you to rent the carts in my inn, right?」


「No… Since you have no intention of chasing me out, I want to renew the contract with the 《Kimyusu’s Tail Inn》 two days later.」


「What?」


Milano Mast became dumbstruck.


「But why? You don’t have anything to gain from doing this.」


「I’m not sure how to answer either… I’m just happy that you are willing to try my cooking.」


Besides, Milano Mast actually thought over it for three days before making this decision.


In the end, he decided neither to retain us nor chase us away. Since he made such a decision, I had no reason to stop business with the 《Kimyusu’s Tail Inn》 proactively.


「I’m just a rookie stall owner and have many shortcomings. But I will do my best, so I will be in your care two days later too.」


I took off the towel on my head and bowed.


「… You are really an unfathomable young man.」


Milano Mast said exasperatedly.


「No need to thank me. If you want to spend money to suffer, then do what you want.」


「Yes! Thank you!」


I lifted my head, and Milano Mast had already turned his back to me and strode off.


I tied the towel on my head again and hurried back to the stall.


My emotions were still hyped up.


Diga Tsun and Yamiel Tsun are still young, they can’t be involved with what happened ten years ago. But the criminal is definitely from the Tsun clan.


There was no way for me to know the truth.


However, if we continued to let the murderer get away scot-free, we wouldn’t be able to mend the gulf between the citizens of Genos and the denizens of Forest's Edge.


Even if our stall could become a bridge between the Post Station Town and Forest's Edge, and make most of the citizens of Genos taste kiba without any fear— the actual victims of violence committed by the denizens of Forest's Edge, and people in the same circumstances as Milano Mast wouldn’t be able to rest their grudges.


Criminals had to be brought to justice. If the higher-ups of Genos weren’t willing to resolve this matter which was common sense, the denizens of Forest's Edge and the people of Genos wouldn’t be able to understand each other.


What should I do—


With troubled emotions in my heart as I mulled over this question that didn’t have any answers, I walked to the stalls.


Upon reaching there, I saw a tall and scrawny blonde man standing before the 『Kiba burger』 stall.


「Hi, long time no see, I finally have the chance to visit.」


Kamyua Yost has appeared before us.


A boy with brown hair followed right beside him.


「Kamyua Yost, it’s been a while. I’m glad to see that you are well.」


After giving a slight nod, I went around into the inside of the cart.


The next instant, Lala Wu showed her teeth with a smile.


「This mister is our last customer, the 『Kiba burger』 are sold out.」


A little over an hour after noon, all 170 portions were sold.


4


The ten-day battle was over, but we couldn’t let down our guard yet.


I had to close up shop, buy ingredients for the day after tomorrow, then head to the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》 to discuss our collaboration. When I get back to Forest's Edge, there were still loads of work waiting for me.


「You sold 170 meals today? Incredible. And you are also a denizen of Forest's Edge selling kiba food…! This is a historical accomplishment.」


Kamyua Yost looked at us as we packed up. It was rare to see him hang around instead of leaving.


In that case, we had to settle the matters on hand too. I called Ai Fa who was resting under the shade over.


Ai Fa stood beside quietly, and Kamyua Yost showed a satisfied smile.


「Ai Fa, you are in town today too! I heard Leito mentioned that you didn’t enter the forest, so I intended to see you. Unfortunately, my recent schedule was too hectic for me to make time.」


「… I have no business with you though…」


Ai Fa said coldly, and Kamyua Yost checked her out.


「Great, you seem to be getting better already.」


Ai Fa was still concealing the injury on her left arm with her cape. But no matter how well she hid it, she couldn’t escape Kamyua Yost’s eyes.


「Ai Fa, give me the copper plates.」


「Yes.」


Ai Fa hid her injury carefully as she pulled her cape, and took out a heavy pouch from inside.


These were our profits from the past nine days.


I took the pouch from Ai Fa and started counting.


「Well, we sold everything today along with four portions of jerky… That will be 12 and 9 plates.」


I took out twelve white copper plates and nine red copper plates, then placed them into a separate bag before holding it near Kamyua Yost’s chest.


「…Hmm?」


Kamyua Yost tilted his thin face quizzingly.


「This is a gift for you as thanks. Our profits over these ten days totaled 129 white copper plates, so here’s a tenth of it.」


「W-Wait. What do you mean? There’s no reason for me to accept your money.」


I was shocked when I heard that.


「What are you saying, wasn’t this your idea? You said that you wanted ten percent of the profit minus all expenses as a gratuity. Did you forget?」


「I did. I really don’t remember saying that!」


The boy Leito looked up at the flustered Kamyua Yost and chuckled:


「I remember it too. Kamyua Yost, that’s the price you proposed at the start. But you were probably joking.」


「Eh, really? That’s bad, I don’t remember it at all… Leito is right, even if I did mention that, I was probably just kidding. Asuta, keep the money away then.」


「You have to accept it. If you didn’t suggest that we set up shop in the Post Station Town, we wouldn’t have earned so much copper plates. This is your just reward, so please take it.」


「No, but…」


「We will be troubled if you don’t accept. I hope we can have a cordial relationship without owing each other anything.」


I proffered the pouch again.


「You might be a respectable friend or a damned traitor in the future, and I don’t want to owe you anything in either case. I hope you can empathize with us.」


Kamyua Yost sighed deeply, then alternated his gaze between Ai Fa and me. He then reached out his slender arm reluctantly.


「I understand. In order for us to be friends on equal standing, I will treat this sum of money as a necessary process… What a waste. The copper plates you gave me would just be spent by me on a bunch of worthless things.」


「If you are aware of that, please restrain yourself a little.」


And of course, Leito was the one who retorted.


「Ai Fa and Asuta, just this once okay!? No need to cut me a share anymore! Please cherish the wealth you earned, it belongs to the Fa house after all.」


「Got it, thank you.」


I offered my thanks without hesitation, and Ai Fa acknowledged him with her gaze.


「What a pain… Well then, I’m going back to the inn. Since you will be taking tomorrow off, I will see you two days later then.」


「Yes, I will await your visit.」


「Right, I’m looking forward to eating your cooking again… Oh right, can I ask one last thing?」


「What is it?」


「Have you run into any trouble lately? Anything I can help you with?」


I looked up at Kamyua Yost quietly.


Ai Fa probably had the same reaction as me.


Kamyua Yost squinted his eyes with a smile. His unique purple eyes were narrowed into a seam, which made him look old yet young at the same time.


… I can’t ask for his help yet.


I suppressed the chaotic emotion in my heart.


At this junction, I couldn’t request for Kamyua Yost’s aid yet.


This man has dealings with the landlord of Genos. I still didn’t know him too well, but if he gets involved— it might cause irreversible damage to the relationship between Forest's Edge and Genos.


I pretended to be oblivious just like he was, and shook my head.


「… We have not encountered such a situation so far.」


Kamyua Yost showed a satisfied smile once again.


「That’s great. See you the day after tomorrow then! Good work, beauties from the Wu clan!」


Kamyua Yost and Leito disappeared at the other end of the crowd. I sighed in relief.


At this moment, Lala Wu called out to me from behind.


「Hey〜 are you done? We have already finished closing up.」


「Ah, sorry…! Lala Wu, Vena Wu, and Shela Wu, thank you for your help today. Not just today, I only made it through these ten days because of your support.」


They showed innocent smiles after I said that.


「Why are you being so formal? Even though tomorrow is an off day, we will still need to work two days later, right?」


「… I hope I can work with you two days later too…」


「That’s right, that’s what I think too.」


I was still a half-baked chef and spent these ten days bustling around. But everyone still smiled cheerfully.


In these ten days, we sold more than a thousand portions. Total revenue had finally surpassed 2000 copper plates. Excluding the costs and the sum paid out to Kamyua Yost, the profits were 1169 red copper plates. In other words, about 97 kiba tusks and horns.


We had attracted the patronage of many westerners.


And not just the stall, we even managed to sell our cooking in the inns too.


After this, we had to settle our issue with the Tsun clan, and then we could strive steadily towards our goal.


「… What is it, Asuta?」


Ai Fa walked towards me a little angrily.


「What’s eating at you? Tell me everything.」


「I will tell you… but it’s complicated, so I will tell you tonight.」


Ai Fa was quiet for a while. She stared at my first, then retreated to the side after saying 「I understand.」


「Alright then, let’s go home!」


We pushed the two carts down the stone-paved streets.


The crowd was at its peak during this time.


Some familiar passersby greeted us.


Some pedestrians still showed expression of detest or shock.


There were those who stood stiffly in place from surprise. They were probably travelers who just arrived at Genos today.


I enjoyed the scenery in the Post Station Town as we slowly walked back.


「Hi, you have already closed? Are you going back so early?」


When we were passing by Uncle Dora’s stall, he said to us with a smile.


Tara was also smiling as she stood beside him.


Just like the scene this morning.


On closer thought, they were the first customers of our stall. Followed by a member of the 《Silver Vase》. We also got to know Pops, Arudas, Yumi, and Naudiz. And finally, we reached where we were today.


I hid my emotions in my heart and smiled at them.


「Yes, today was really a spectacle. I will be opening the day after tomorrow and will drop by to buy vegetables later.」


「Alright, we will wait for you.」


It had only been ten days, but that was how our lives were right now.


I could not have anyone destroy this.


「Oh, right!」


As we continued pushing the cart forward, Lala Wu suddenly yelled.


「Asuta, you need to buy something else aside from the vegetables, right? We will return the carts, you can go ahead and buy your things.」


「Huh?」


I turned back and found Lala Wu looking at me with a smug smile.


「That’s true.」


That little brat! I cursed in my heart.


「Alright, I still need to make a trip to the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》 later, so I will buy the things for my personal use.」


「Yes. Ai Fa, take care of Asuta.」


After Ai Fa and I stopped, the two carts disappeared in the other end of the crowd.


「… You are buying a kitchen knife and steel griddle, right?」


「Yes. The steel griddle is heavy, let’s get the knife first.」


I already checked yesterday. The 《Silver Vase》 was located at the center of the marketplace, right beside Grandma Misill’s vegetable stall.


They laid a black cloth onto the space of two stalls and put out a variety of merchandise on it. A roof had been erected to cover the entire space, making the shop really dim.


There were three Semu people there.


「Excuse me… Hmm, Shumimaru isn’t here?」


The shop attendants had taken off their hoods, but I don’t see Shumimaru who had silver hair.


A Semu man who was very tall made a strange gesture and bowed towards Ai Fa and me.


「Shumimaru, busy, will be, back soon.」


「I see. I pre-ordered something from him, do you know where it is?」


「Shumimaru, the merchandise, have… Wait, please.」


I had no choice but to wait.


I squatted down together with Ai Fa and browsed the merchandise laid out on the sheet.


「…Why is this shop selling all sorts of weird things?」


Ai Fa whispered to me.


I knew how Ai Fa felt as I looked at the products before us.


Should I describe these items as weird? Anyway, the merchandise was laid out haphazardly. Aside from the blades made with steel that was precious in Semu, there were a variety of teapots, wooden boxes with intrinsic designs, and overly decorated bows and quivers. There were also accessories that glittered with a silver gleam and bundles of extravagant cloths. All the items were carefully carved and looked very high-class. However, the merchandise was just laid out randomly on a sheet.


Never mind, compared to laying them out orderly, there was a different charm in this messy display. The atmosphere in the shop was like an antique stall found in a flea market.


「Ah, isn’t that a gown for banquets?」


The rainbow-colored fabric glittered in the dim shop.


「This steel art piece looks similar to the accessories worn by the women from the Wu clan. So these are imported from Semu.」


「… These are all things I don’t need.」


Ai Fa said coldly, then yelped with her eyes wide open in surprise.


「Asuta, what’s that?」


「Oh? That’s probably— a wine-cup.」


Judging from the shape, it was some sort of container.


The unique thing about it was that it was made of glass.


「So there is glass in this world too. That surprised me.」


「This is called glass? It’s so pretty.」


The sparkling light was reflecting in Ai Fa’s eyes.


「… Glass, for wine. White five plates.」


The youth we saw earlier informed us quietly.


「So it really is glass… Ai Fa, it costs five white copper plates.」


「Hmm? It is pretty, but I don’t need a wine glass to drink fruit wine.」


That might be so, but Ai Fa’s eyes were still filled with life. She poked the glass with a finger on her right hand.
Ai Fa didn’t want to buy the wine glass, but I felt glad that she could appreciate beautiful things.


At this moment, Shumimaru came back.


「Asuta, sorry. Long, you wait?」


「No, I just got here.」


I stood up to receive Shumimaru. Ai Fa remained squatting and kept poking childishly at the wine glass.


I quietly walked a few steps away from Ai Fa.


「We have closed our shop, I’m here to buy the goods I pre-ordered.」


「Yes, I’m happy.」


Shumimaru nodded and reached inside his cloak.


His black eyes darted suddenly towards me.


「Knife, white, 18 plates.」


「Yes, thank you.」


「Stone, white, 10 plates… Stone, decided?」


「… Yes, I want to buy it.」


Shumimaru squinted happily, and retrieve the merchandise from his cloak.


「Total, white, 28 plates.」


He glanced at Ai Fa who was squatting down.


「Beautiful lady. Asuta, wife?」


「No… But she is the most important person to me.」


「I see.」


Shumimaru nodded. I received the merchandise, then handed over 28 white copper plates.


「I will start using this knife in my cooking from two days onwards.」


It was a vegetable knife kept in a black sheath. This knife would be a great help when cutting tino in the stall.


「I, honored, am… Thankful to Semu, Selva, for Asuta, me meet, letting.」


「It’s an honor for me too. It is already the sixth day of the blue month, I will be in your care for the remaining days.」


After showing him my sincere smile, Shumimaru squinted his eyes happily.


「I still need to buy some other things, so I will take my leave now.」


「Okay. The day after tomorrow, forward, looking.」


Shumimaru walked into the back of the shop, and I poked Ai Fa’s shoulder.


「Sorry for the wait. I’m done with the purchase.」


「Hmm? I see.」


Ai Fa stood up, and we left the 《Silver Vase》.


Ai Fa looked at the knife in my hand curiously.


「So this is the kitchen knife that cost 18 white copper plates, huh. It must be sharp.」


「That’s right. This knife won’t lose out to my dad’s Santoku knife when it comes to chopping vegetables.」


At this moment, Ai Fa showed a gentle expression and smiled:


「… It must be an excellent knife then.」


「Yes, it is.」


I nodded and walked to an empty space between two stalls.


I stopped and looked at Ai Fa.


「And so… I mentioned to you this afternoon that I bought something not related to cooking.」


「Oh? What did you buy?」


Ai Fa’s face was very peaceful.


What kind of face will she show a few seconds later?— After bracing myself, I presented the item I was hiding in my hand to Ai Fa.


「… What is this?」


Ai Fa frowned in surprise.


The thing I was holding in my right hand— was a necklace with a blue stone.


The stone on the necklace was about the size of a thumbnail, stuck onto a piece of silver plate. There was a string braided in a complicated manner on it, so it could be worn on a neck.


「As you can see, this is a necklace.」


「Necklace… An accessory, huh.」


Ai Fa’s eyes wavered uneasily.


「……Asuta, so you want to wear accessories like a woman?」


「No… Ai Fa, I bought this necklace for you.」


「Oh?」


Ai Fa narrowed her eyes.


「Which means… you ignored everything that I said?」


「I know what you said. If I use the important copper plates to buy accessories, you will beat me up, right?」


「Yes, that’s right.」


Ai Fa slowly walked towards me.


I gulped quietly, then continued:


「You can start your beating after I explain. This is a talisman to ward off disasters.」


「… Ward off disasters?」


「Yes, this is a Semu talisman that can allegedly ward off all sort of disasters. Since the 《Silver Vase》 is selling it in a western city, that means it doesn’t matter which god the bearer believes in. Everyone from Semu wears this talisman to keep them safe from harm.」


Ai Fa’s eyes remained unchanged.


Never mind, I had already braced myself to be punched once or twice.


「I don’t know how effective this talisman is. But you will definitely be mad if I gifted you an accessory. You don’t lack daily necessities, but I still wanted to buy something for you, so I chose this necklace by my own accord… It might be a talisman, but the stone grafted on it is beautiful, right?」


It was a small dark blue stone.


When Shumimaru showed me this stone yesterday, I was smitten by it at first sight. Its color was exactly the same as Ai Fa’s eyes.


「… How much did you spend on this talisman?」


「Ten white copper plates.」


「…Ten… white… copper plates…」


Ai Fa half-closed her eyes and seemed to be sorting through her thoughts.


「I know you are reluctant to depend on a talisman, but you face danger very often, and even suffered a serious injury. The men of Forest’s Edge would gift their family three tusks or horns to bless them with a healthy life. I want to gift you something too.」


I held the string of the necklace and made it into a circle.


「If you are still not satisfied, you can beat me later, but can you accept this necklace first? This is a gift from your family who wishes safety and health upon you.」


Ai Fa closed her eyes and sighed deeply.


She then stared right at me.


「… The men of Forest's Edge would hunt kiba with their own strength, and gift the tusks and horns to their family to as a blessing to keep them safe and sound.」


「Yes.」


「You worked in the Post Station Town, and used the copper plates you earned to bless your family, so it’s not wrong… Is that how I should think?」


「P-Please, do so.」


「… Hmmph.」


Ai Fa pouted.


「I feel like I had fallen into a trap for a kiba. Is my family scheming against me?」


「Not at all. My only wish is for you to be safe from harm.」


Ai Fa grunted again.


She then took one step towards me.


And lowered her head a little.


「… What are you just standing there for?」


「Huh?」


「According to the customs of Forest's Edge, you have to present the gift to your family personally.」


「I have never heard about this.」


I placed the blue stone necklace onto Ai Fa’s neck.


The stone was slightly higher than the necklace of tusks and horns, and the blue stone was shimmering.


Ai Fa held the necklace in the palm of her right hand. After looking at it for a while, she looked up as if she had just remembered something.


「Oh right, I have something for you too.」


「Huh? For me?」


「Yes.」


Ai Fa reached behind her.


After searching through the hidden pockets in her fur cape, she pulled out a necklace with ten tusks and horns.


「Oh, that’s the necklace I gave you for safekeeping.」


「Yes. We won’t need these tusks and horns anymore. You performed your duty and can put on this necklace now.」


After saying that, Ai Fa kicked my leg.


「Lower your head.」


「Hey… Can you speak first before kicking?」


Despite complaining about it, I still lowered my head docilely.


Ai Fa took off the necklace around my neck nimbly and carefully placed the necklace she took out earlier on me.


These were the ten sets of blessing gifted to me by the Wu clan. If our business in the Post Station Town failed, we had to use them to make up for our losses.


「It will take some time for the denizens of Forest's Edge to head towards a prosperous future, but I believe you can carry this out.」


「Not just me, it’s our responsibility.」


「Yes… and also the Wu clan and Lutim house.」


Ai Fa suddenly closed her eyes.


The troubled look on her face was gone, but in its place was a hint of childish unease.


「And finally, it will be the responsibility of all the denizens of Forest's Edge.」


I smiled at Ai Fa.


「Starting from today, we will buy meat from the Wu clan. Before long, when the Wu clan runs out of meat, we will purchase them from house Lutim… When everyone can sell kiba meat at the Post Station Town, all the denizens of Forest's Edge will compete to sell kiba meat. With that in mind, we are just doing this slightly earlier than the other denizens.」


In order to forge a path to a such a future, the denizens of Forest's Edge had to work together and strife forth.


The chief clan was supposed to lead the denizens of the Forest's Edge properly, but not only did they not do that, they even harmed the pride of Forest's Edge instead. I couldn’t forgive their transgression.


「… That’s true.」


Ai Fa eyes looked down, and picked up the blue stone on her neck again.


「What’s the matter? Do you still want to beat me?」


「No… This might be a talisman, but a necklace is still an accessory. I feel uneasy about wearing this.」


「I see… But isn’t the stone beautiful?」

Ai Fa slowly lifted her head.

She smiled in a childlike manner.

「Yes, the stone is sparkling beautifully.」

Her smile was so pure and innocent that I couldn’t help holding my breath.

Our work was just starting, and there were mountains of problems waiting for us, but after seeing Ai Fa’s smiling face, I felt a sense of peace and satisfaction I had never felt before.

This marked the end of our first foray into the Post Station Town.

Mid-Meal Snack: The Hearth Caretaker of the Wu Branch House

Shela Wu was born with a weak constitution.

She was sickly and frail during her childhood, and smaller in size compared to her peers, which resulted in her timid personality.

The denizens of Forest's Edge placed a lot of emphasis on physical ability, which also applied to the women. Without a certain level of strength and endurance, the women wouldn’t be able to do all the house chores. When a person couldn’t fulfill her own responsibilities, her heart would be filled with sadness.

And of course, the people around her didn’t bully her because of her physical condition. The other houses might do so, but no one in the Wu clan village was so heartless.

Her heart was filled with self-reproach. Even though she wasn’t of much help, the people around her didn’t admonish her, which deepened her sense of guilt.

Be it chopping wood or tanning hides, Shela Wu needed twice the time to finish these tasks. Not just that, she couldn’t even fetch water by herself. As their clan was prosperous, almost all the women in the Wu clan were strong and healthy, making her more conscious of her shortcomings.

The frail Shela Wu liked tending to the hearth.

Tending to the hearth didn’t require too much brute strength. She was strong enough to carry a pot. Furthermore, only her family entered the hearth, so no one compared her with anyone. Because of these various reasons, Shela Wu felt most at ease inside the stove room.

It wasn’t clear if it was fortunate or not, Shela Wu was the eldest daughter and had three younger brothers. Her mother Tali Wu could be considered petite, but she was tough and strong and could handle most of the heavy lifting. Even though Shela Wu lamented her in-capabilities, she still busied herself in the stove room.

As her family had shouldered part of Shela Wu’s work, she felt that she had to put her effort into tending to the hearth. Normally, the work related to the hearth involved cutting meat and vegetables and cooking. But Shela Wu spent additional effort to take care of small details that couldn’t be clearly seen.

When dealing with the meat, she would cut along the grain so the meat will be more tender. Aria became too soft when overcooked, and too tough with a hint of spiciness when undercooked. When she cooked, she kept attempting to find the optimal heat and cooking time and derived joy from doing so.

And obviously, her family didn’t realize the effort she had put in. No matter what she served up, her family would eat that all gratefully. This was a responsibility of the denizens of the Forest's Edge in the first place. The Forest's Edge did not permit anyone to be picky about the taste of the food.

Shela Wu spending so much effort in tending to the hearth was just for her own self-satisfaction. However, she still felt really happy when her mother praised her cooking.

「No one can tend to the hearth better than you. Teach me how to adjust the heat again.」

Tali Wu probably said that because she realized the sense of guilt Shela Wu was feeling.

But even so, Shela Wu felt glad.

After that, both mother and daughter put even more effort into the way they cooked their food.





Shela Wu was secretly a fan of the Wu main house sisters.

Of the hundred-odd kins in the Wu clan, the four sisters from the main house had the capabilities and charm that befit their status.

The eldest Vena Wu was a gorgeous beauty. Not just her appearance, her personality was very charming too. There were hordes of men asking for her hand or volunteering to marry into her family.

The second daughter Leina Wu wasn’t far behind. She was petite and had a kiddish face. She might not draw as much attention as her elder sister, but she was as charming as Vena Wu Unlike the hard to fathom Vena Wu, Leina Wu had a cheerful disposition and was gentle and kind. She was the ideal women in the minds of the denizens of Forest's Edge.

The third sister Lala Wu was twelve and had a forthright personality and a smart and sensitive side to her. She was great friends with Shela Wu’s brother Shin Wu, so Shela Wu interacted with her the most and learned about her unknown side early.

The youngest Rimee Wu was a pure and adorable eight years old girl. Just the sight of her brought a smile to the face. She was so cute, how blissful would it be to have her as a sister or daughter? Shela thought about that from time to time.

Shela Wu yearned to be like these four girls.

As their status was above hers, Shela Wu didn’t feel any jealousy towards them. She was proud of them as a relative.

However, she wondered sometimes.

Why was she so useless?

The four girls were related to Shela Wu by blood. Shela Wu’s father Raa Wu was the younger brother of the girls’ father, Donda Wu.

Raa Wu was an outstanding hunter, and her mother Tali Wu was the perfect spouse. Her younger brothers would become brave hunters one day. The oldest brother had already started hunting alongside their father.

Shela Wu wasn’t as strong as her other family.

She was 18, but no one had asked for her hand in marriage or to marry into the family. That was how miserable her capabilities were

She wasn’t bedridden with an illness like during her youth, but she still couldn’t carry a water flask on her own. Her looks weren’t particularly outstanding either, so it was a given that no denizens of the Forest's Edge wanted to marry her.

At most, she could marry to a kin house of the Wu clan. Less prestigious houses like Lilim and Mamu would be happy to take in a woman of the Wu clan in marriage. The Wu clan was their elder house after all.

And when they realized not all women from the Wu clan were strong and tough, they would be utterly disappointed.

Despite being of marriageable age, Vena Wu and Leina Wu didn’t rush to marry. They must be waiting to pick a good husband. They were from the main house after all, no one would turn down a marriage with such excellent women.

However, Shela Wu was already 18. She had not been wed for three years. Even though her house only had two women, her and her mother, there were plenty of women in the Wu clan village. So even if Shela Wu married out, they wouldn’t be shorthanded. It was about time for her to make up her mind and marry into a kin house.

But I—

Even if it was just for a while more, she wanted to stay in the Wu clan village.

She wanted to see how the future pans out for a certain person.

Once Shela Wu will see him taking in a wife, she would be able to steel herself. She would resolve her will to leave her family and life in the Wu clan village.

Shela Wu hid this idea deep in her heart and continued living her peaceful and unchanging days. At this time, two persons suddenly turned up at the Wu clan village.

They were Asuta and Ai Fa from the Fa house.





「Anyway, that’s what happened. Grandma Jiba had gotten more energetic lately.」

Lala Wu said to Shela Wu.

Rimee Wu brought the Fa house people to the Wu clan village. After preparing dinner, the members of the Fa house reinvigorated the grand elder Jiba Wu.

When she heard that, Shela Wu was stunned.

「Lala Wu, you ate what Grandma Jiba did, right? What kind of food did they cook?」

「Hmm, well… I’m not sure how to describe it. The taste was unbelievable.」

「An unbelievable taste…」

「Even though it was kiba, I couldn’t tell at all! The grilled meat and boiled meat were both so fragrant… No, I can’t describe it properly.」

「Anyway, his cooking is very outstanding, right?」

「But I can’t praise him to the heavens like the other members of my family. Papa Donda got mad too, saying that this kind of cooking will corrupt the soul.」

「I see...」

Half a month later, when Lala Wu visited Shela Wu’s place, there was an indescribable expression on her face.

「Asuta and Ai Fa visited last night. The dinner was incredibly delicious… Sigh, I’m so troubled, I can’t even!」

How did delicious food taste like?

Shela Wu’s feelings became agitated again.

The next day, she received a notification from the head of the Wu clan that Asuta from the Fa house will be tending to the hearth for the wedding between house Lutim and house Min.

Five days before the banquet began, Asuta started lodging in the Wu clan. Four days before the wedding, Shela Wu was called over to help prepare for the banquet.

「Ah, did you come from the branch house to help? Nice to meet you, I will be imposing on you.」

Asuta was an incredible man.

He was skinny like a woman and had a kind and polite face and attitude. He had yellowish skin just like the westerners from the Post Station Town. But his hair and eyes were black, just like an easterner.

The air about him was different from the citizens in the Post Station Town. Shela Wu didn’t know how to describe this feeling, Asuta wasn’t like the people from any place, and fit the term 「foreigner」 perfectly. That was how strange he was.

Asuta’s cooking was equally shocking for Shela Wu.

Lala Wu was right. After processing it with the special technique of 「bloodletting」, the kiba meat had definitely become tasty.

Not just that, Asuta created all sorts of flavor with just fruit wine, pico leaves and rock salt, just like magic. He boiled away the water in the poitan, then dried it in the sun before grilling it. The soup without any poitan was very palatable. He also used different cooking methods and turned the aria, tarapa, and chachi into never seen before dishes.

There was so much that could be done when tending to the hearth.

Compared to Asuta, her effort was no different from child’s play.

With this feeling in her heart, Shela Wu quietly helped Asuta. And then—

「Shela Wu, your knife work is impeccable, and you are great at controlling the heat.」

Two days before the banquet, Asuta praised Shela Wu.

「On the day of the banquet, I would like to invite you and your mother Tali Wu to cook the hamburg steak in the stove room of the Wu main house.」

Of all the dishes Asuta showed them, the Hamburg steak was the toughest to cook.

While Shela Wu was still dumbstruck, her mother Tali Wu smiled:

「We are honored. My daughter is better at tending to the hearth than anyone else. Thanks to her, my culinary skills have improved greatly.」

「Yes, you are right. Shela Wu has excellent cooking skills.」

Asuta smiled gently.

「Even if it was just cutting meat, I could feel how much effort she put into it. I want to borrow her strength.」

Shela Wu felt light-headed.

She never imagined that the greatly skilled Asuta would acknowledge her hearth-tending abilities.

When she used the skills Asuta taught her to prepare dinner, her family was surprised and happy. Her younger brothers were rowdy and said it was 「yummy」, the quiet Raa Wu and Shin Wu also ate Shela Wu’s cooking with a face of satisfaction.

So she could bring joy to her family in such a way.

If this joy can bring more strength to the denizens of Forest's Edge, my existence will be good medicine, and not poison — Asuta once said.

Asuta might be a foreigner, but he used his incredible prowess to find his place in Forest's Edge.

Shela Wu respected Asuta’s confidence and determination.

Shela Wu was a full-blooded denizen of the Forest's Edge, but she was hesitant and troubled. Asuta was a foreigner, but he could cook proudly and the people around him acknowledged his strength.

He might look scrawny, but Asuta was brave and decisive and wasn’t inferior to the hunters of Forest’s Edge in his confidence.

Maybe—

Maybe she could be like Asuta, and live her life proudly.

Even if Shela Wu wasn’t as strong as the other women, her culinary skill wouldn’t lose to anyone. She wanted to take pride in this and hold her head up high.

After the banquet for house Lutim’s wedding ended, Asuta left the Wu clan village. But this thought lingered in Shela Wu’s heart.

And then, ten or so days later—Lala Wu came to inform Shela Wu:

「Asuta is running a business in the Post Station Town, and he needs helpers! Mama Mia Lei wants the both of us to assist him, will you go?」

Shela Wu couldn’t give an answer right away.

Why were they willing to let someone like her shoulder such an important responsibility? Her heart was filled with doubt, but the thought of working together with Asuta again filled her heart with joy.

「Asuta wants us to send at least one woman who is good at tending to the hearth, so we chose you!」

「But… Leina Wu from the main house is great at caretaking the hearth too, right?」

「Hmm〜 the main house already sent Vena-nee to help Asuta. If both elder sisters were gone, we could become overwhelmed with house chores. If you turn this down, we will have to partner Leina-nee with another woman from the branch house and ask the branch house to help with the chores of the main house.」

Lala Wu stared at Shela Wu, her eyes were filled with hope and unease. Lala Wu had already opened her heart to Asuta, so she must really want to go to the Post Station Town to help.

「However, we will need to carry iron pots and other baggage to the Post Station Town, and that will be tough. Shela Wu, you have to decide for yourself!」

Shela Wu was very troubled.

She didn’t think that she was capable enough to take on the job. However, a sense of pride had just sprouted in her heart.

If she didn’t provide sunlight and water to the sprout, it would wither away in no time.

Hence, Shela Wu looked at Lala Wu as sincerely as she could manage.
.
「I’m willing to take on this job.」

Shela Wu hoped that she could live proudly just like Asuta.

She didn’t want to hide the feelings in her heart.

With this conviction in mind, Shela Wu took another step forward.


No comments:

Post a Comment