Saturday, May 26, 2018

Cooking with Wild Game Volume 7 Chapter 2 Part 1

Embroiled in Disputes Once Again

Translator: Skythewood Editors: Ratorasepo
1


The next day, we reverted to our usual condition and prepared 60 『Kiba burgers』 and 90 servings of 『Myam-roasted meat』.


When we stayed over at the Wu clan village, there were many people who helped me. But that wasn’t so when we returned to the Fa house. Fortunately, work efficiency also improved after we bought the iron griddle, so I could still prepare a bit more portions. But we didn’t sell everything when we prepared this amount of food, so I held back from making too many.


If the merchandise got sold out, getting to close early wasn’t a bad thing either. If the business went smoothly, maybe other inns would order from us as well. To get ready for this, I had to continue to train and increase the menu.


Business at the stall was successful today too. After the morning rush was over, we started preparing for the second half when a woman from Forest's Edge approached us.


「Hmm? What’s the matter? Your work starts in the afternoon.」

「Yes, I came early. I wanted to have more chance to practice.」


The person before us was a woman from the Sudora house, she would be helping out at the stall from today onwards.


Her name was Rii Sudora, she was the wife of the Sudora house head.


She was tall, slender and had an outstanding look. Her dark hair ended tidily at her chest. She had dark blue eyes. The head of the Sudora house was about 45 years old, and she seemed to be half his age.

「Are your house chores fine? You won’t be paid more even if you come early, you know?」

Lala Wu said without holding back, and Rii Sudora smiled calmly.


「Of course. I already did my house chores. It’s a rare chance for me to assist Asuta of the Fa house, I’m honored to do so and hope to be of help as soon as possible.」


She had an elegant air about her and was as proactive as her spouse.


That made me really happy.


「Alright then, please head over to that stall to learn. Lala Wu, sorry for trading places again, I’m going over.」

「Okay〜」


Lala Wu and I were tending to the 『Kiba burger』 stall, and I was now heading to the 『Myam-roasted meat』 stall. I said to Vena Wu:

「Sorry, Rii Sudora is here, so I will look after the 『Myam-roasted meat』 for now. Vena Wu, please take care of the 『Kiba burger』 stall.」


Vena Wu faced away coldly and walked to the 『Kiba burger』 stall.


After I neglected her yesterday, she was in a bad mood.


It was rare seeing Vena Wu mixing her private emotions into the work, which meant I really upset her. I felt bad and guilty about that.


「Shela Wu, this is Rii Sudora. Like I explained in the morning, she will be coming over in the afternoon to help. Please take care of her.」


「Alright.」

Shela Wu acknowledged with her eyes, and Rii Sudora also said with her head bowed:「Please to meet you.」

「After the customer places an order, Shela Wu will start making the meal. Please take two red copper plates from the customers before giving them the dish. We haven’t met any dine dashers yet, but please take the copper plates first… And also observe what Shela Wu is doing, I will need you to help prepare the meal in the future.」


「Yes.」


Rii Sudora didn’t speak much, but she looked honest and sincere and wasn’t too timid or headstrong towards the people from the Wu clan. I had a great first impression of her.


At this moment, another visitor from Forest's Edge arrived. He was Kaslan Lutim.

「Hmm? You are really early.」


Both Rii Sudora and he were scheduled to visit at noon.


Kaslan Lutim bowed to the two ladies and then waved at me.


「Asuta, we have finished our discussion with the man from the castle called Pyschkurewuss, so I came here to intrude. Do you have some time to spare?」


「Yes, I understand… Shela Wu, please watch over things for now. Please demonstrate when the first customer is here.」


I was curious as to why Kaslan Lutim was in the Post Station Town.


When they realized that a Forest's Edge man had appeared on the streets, a hint of wariness appeared in the eyes of the pedestrians. We decided to leave the stall and entered the woods behind the stall.

「Sorry for interrupting your work, but I wanted to listen to your opinion as soon as possible. Donda Wu and the others didn’t come into the Post Station Town and are hiding in the bypass.」

「It’s fine, I’m worried about this too… What is your impression of Pyschkurewuss?」

「Simply put, he is difficult to deal with. He demands us to hand over everyone from the Tsun clan.」

「Ehh?」

「The law in Genos prohibits anyone from stealing the resources of the Morga mountain. He said that the criminals who violated this law have to be sentenced by Genos.」

Kaslan Lutim’s face was solemn as usual.

However, there was a stern light in his dark blue eyes.

「He has a point… Is he demanding for everyone from the Tsun clan main house, not just the clan head and former clan head?」

「No, he means everyone who violated the law. That includes the branch house members too, all 41 Tsun clan members.」


His demand was far beyond my expectation.


After being stunned for a moment, a fiery rage burst out in my chest.

「They ignored the misdeeds of the Tsun clan all the while, and they are turning their backs so quickly now. What did the tribal chiefs say?」

「Graff Zaza was enraged and even wanted to abandon Morga.」

「… What?」

「He thinks the landlord of Genos isn’t worthy of our blades. In that case, we should seek out a new Forest's Edge like our ancestors did 80 years ago… That’s what Graff Zaza thinks.」

「H-He thinks we should abandon the Forest's Edge of Morga? But why…」

「That’s how far we distrust Pyschkurewuss. Graff Zaza was just saying that on the spur of the moment, but I understand how he feels… Pyschkurewuss looked at us as if he was appraising feral beasts..」


I was speechless.

The representative of the Genos landlord was actually opposed to the denizens of Forest's Edge.

「Pyschkurewuss gave us ten days to think it over. We will need to make a choice by the 23rd of the Blue Month.」

「You are not thinking of handing Yamiel Lei and the branch house members to Genos, right?! That completely contradicts the path which the denizens of Forest's Edge had chosen!」


I shouted emotionally.


「The unreasonable siding of people from the Genos with the Tsun clan was the reason for the depravity of the Tsun clan. The branch house members were merely forced into obedience by the main house, so I won’t allow them to be treated as criminals unfairly.」

The denizens of Forest's Edge were involved in assaulting travelers, abducting the women of the Post Station Town and robbing crops. Milano Mast also claimed that a denizen of Forest's Edge murdered his friend. But no matter how many times the citizens from the Post Station Town complained, the people from the Genos castle didn’t mete out punishment to the denizens of Forest's Edge.


And now, they wanted to execute all the Tsun clan members for a single crime. Of course, we couldn’t let him do that.

「If the people from the Genos castle punished the Tsun clan right from the start, the citizens of the Post Station Town wouldn’t have suffered, and the denizens of Forest's Edge wouldn’t be viewed with fear and disdain. Even though those people from the castle didn’t try the Tsun clan for their past crimes, they want to execute the entire Tsun clan in order to cover the entire thing up. Those tyrants just want to wipe out the Tsun clan for their own self-interest, this has nothing to do with the law.」


After saying all that, I suddenly snapped out of it.

「… Sorry for getting so emotional. I was just venting, please don’t take it to heart.」

「It’s alright, I feel the same way too… And I finally understand Ludo Wu’s words.」

「Huh? What did he say?」

「He said that when you were assaulted by Doddo and Tay in the Tsun clan village, Ludo Wu thought that your worried look for Ai Fa was just like a hunter. So you have such a wild side too.」

Vena Wu said the same thing recently.


Did the violent nature of the Forest's Edge rub off on me after consuming kiba for such a long time? I didn’t realize it at all.

「No matter what, we just need to follow our hearts and seek out the most correct route… Asuta, why don’t you participate in the meeting with us next time.」

「That wouldn’t be right, I’m not the kin of a tribal chief clan…」

「That’s true. I shouldn’t let you carry such a heavy burden. Sorry for disrupting your work.」

And finally, Kaslan Lutim showed a refreshing smile as he looked towards the stall where Shela Wu and the others were working hard.

「The Post Station Town residents are paying copper plates to the denizens of Forest's Edge to buy food made from kiba. I heard about the results of your business before, but now I’m seeing it personally— this is really unbelievable. Now that you achieved such an incredible performance, I won’t let your effort go to waste.」


His gaze shifted behind me.

「Well then, it is almost time. Sorry for making you come all the way here.」


I turned in surprise, and a slender figure emerged out of the woods.

「Hello, I should be the one apologizing. You two seem busy, is everything fine now?」

Kamyua Yost appeared before us.

I glared at the fake innocent smile of his.

「Kamyua, why are you always trying to give me a fright? That’s rude and will trouble us.」

「Sorry about that, I didn’t mean to scare you. I’m not eavesdropping on you either. I don’t have the guts to listen to the conversations of a hunter who is fully alert.」

Kamyua Yost wore a long leather cloak, and he approached us with his usual nimble strides.


Even though Kamyua Yost was taller, his build couldn’t be compared to Kaslan Lutim at all. Kaslan Lutim had the ideal proportionate body in Forest's Edge, while Kamyua Yost was as scrawny as a praying mantis. They stood three meters apart from each other.

「You must be Kamyua Yost.」

「Yes, I make my living in the western kingdom as a 《Guardian》. And you… are not the head of the Sauti clan, correct?」

Kamyua Yost spied on the wedding of Kaslan Lutim in the past, and there was no way he would have mistaken the star of that banquet.

Kaslan Lutim answered calmly:

「Yes, I’m Kaslan Lutim of the Lutim house, a kin of the Wu clan. The head of the Sauti clan, Dali Sauti is waiting for you over yonder.」

「It’s an honor to meet you, Kaslan Lutim.」

Kaslan Lutim’s blue eyes were like a calm ocean, but there was a strong will in his gaze. Kamyua Yost’s purple eyes were pure like belonging to a toddler but clear like that of an elderly. They looked right at each other.


Neither side showed any hostility or malice and looked a little too calm. But there was still a curious air about them, like two different type of powerful animals sizing each other up.

「Not just Dali Sauti, the three tribal chiefs are all waiting over yonder. This is a good chance, would you like to speak with them?」

「I’m honored that the denizens of Forest's Edge think of this as an important task. Please observe my character thoroughly.」

Kamyua Yost smiled with satisfaction.

Kaslan Lutim had a faint and calm smile.

「Alright then, let us be off. Thank you, Asuta.」

「Ah, okay.」

「Farewell, Asuta. Later, I will send Leito over, so don’t sell out before then.」

「… Right. If you want to buy 『Kiba burger』, please come early.」


The two men with completely opposite personalities left quietly.


I felt a little dazed.


Whenever I see Kamyua meet a man from Forest's Edge, I would break out in cold sweat. Kaslan Lutim is calm and collected, so I won’t need to worry. But what about Graff Zaza?


Several days before the Lutim house wedding banquet, Kamyua Yost suddenly appeared in the Forest's Edge settlement. I was so shocked that my lifespan probably shortened.


Darum Wu’s eyes were burning like a wounded wolf’s as he pointed his blade at Kamyua Yost. Donda Wu was unexpectedly calm, but the men from the Wu clan branch houses all looked sinister…

Oh right, he already told Donda Wu about the caravan back then.


Kamyua Yost was wandering around Forest's Edge by himself because of this project. He then started looking for Ai Fa and me whom he just happened to meet in the Post Station Town and appeared in the Wu clan village. That happened 20 days ago.

… Hmm?
At this moment, a seed of doubt flashed across my mind.


However, I didn’t know where this suspicion came from. It felt like I overlooked something important… Maybe I overheard something that wasn’t too important when I was preparing for the wedding banquet…


Did someone say something? Was it Kamyua? Or Donda Wu?


No matter how hard I racked my brain, I couldn’t find the answer.


With no other choice, I headed back to the stall.


Since Kamyua Yost was here, that meant it was almost noon. The newcomer Rii Sudora just joined us, so I couldn't just dump all the work on Shela Wu.


I need to focus on work. Let’s start by preparing the food for the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》.


There was still a little bit of dissonance in my mind, but it couldn’t be helped since I wasn’t able to recall. I decided to worry about it later and rushed back to the stall.


And a few days after the incident was over, I finally remembered why there were some doubts in my mind.

2

Nothing out of the ordinary happened after that, so Vena Wu and I headed to the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》 at noon.

「Asuta, I have been waiting for you.」


The innkeeper Naudiz had a gentle expression on his stern face as he came out to receive us. He had ivory skin, a stout build, brown hair and green eyes. He was a mixed blood of the south and west.


The 《Big Tree of the South Inn》 was to the south of 《Kimyusu’s Tail Inn》, situated between several other inns. It was larger than the 《Kimyusu’s Tail Inn》, and was twice as wide as a small inn despite being a double story building, and could accommodate nearly one hundred customers.

「This is the kitchen. Please use it as you wish until my wife comes over.」

「Alright, thank you.」


The scale of the kitchen was similar to the stove room of the Wu clan, about two tatami mats big. Three stoves were placed on the inner wall of the room, the items of kitchenware were hanging on the wall, and there was a shelf full of crockeries as well as a large worktable at the back. It looked really spacious.


Not only were we free to use the kitchenware and stove, we could also take as much water and firewood as we needed. I laid out the ingredients I prepared ahead of time, then instructed Vena Wu:「Please start a fire in two stoves.」


We were given two-and-a-half hours to cook. Even if we exceeded the time, we could stay as long as we needed provided we didn’t get in the way of the inn’s work. But Vena Wu would work overtime if we don’t return to Forest's Edge punctually, so we couldn’t take things slowly.


「Oh〜, so such a large piece of meat is needed for 40 or more portions.」


Naudiz seemed to be planning to observe me and sat on the other end of the working platform as he watched my hands.


「This is meat from the kiba’s torso, correct?」


「That’s right. In my hometown, this part is called the pork belly. This is taken from the chest after chopping off the ribs.」


I prepared enough belly meat for 45 portions, weighing about 10 kg. After cutting it into six large pieces, I chopped them into small cubes, cleaned away the pico leaves meant to preserve the meat, and laid the meat onto the working platform.

I prepared 40 arias to complement the 10 kg of kiba meat. Other than that, I also used 4 fruit wines, 20 arias and about three-fifths of a Tau sauce bottle. Tau sauce was the new seasoning I got from the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》. The ingredient cost ratio was 27.5%. Since the Tau sauce was expensive, I only used the cheap aria for the vegetable part, so the ingredient cost percentage was roughly the same as for the light meal stall.


The new dish I prepared for the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》 was『Braised kiba』.
<TL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kakuni>


Since I decided to prepare braised meat, I wanted to use carrots and hard-boiled egg to complement the dish. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any similar ingredients in the Post Station Town. In my old place the 《Tsurumi Restaurant》, we augmented the braised pork with onions. Hence, I didn’t hesitate in using aria which was more nutritious. The biggest reason why I chose this dish was that it went well together with the aria.


A few days ago, I let Naudiz try some samples. He loved the 『Braised kiba』 that used generous servings of Tau sauce and approved of it immediately.


I quickly started cooking.


I already tenderized the meat at home and softened it. I picked up the meat and walked to the stove.

「Thank you, the pot is heated up.」


This kind of performance was expected for a pot intended to use commercially. The pot in this kitchen was one size bigger than the ones in Forest's Edge. To start things off, I put three pieces of meat into the pot.

「What a generous serving. It smells nice.」

Naudiz smiled calmly.


Vena Wu stood on the other side and stared at the pot which was full of water. She still looked peeved. It felt so long since I last heard her intentionally speak slowly with her sexy voice.


As the person accompanying me would double as my guard, I decided to take Vena Wu instead of the young Lala Wu. I didn’t expect to anger her the day before the job and that she would still be fuming now.


What should I do to improve Vena Wu’s mood? As I was troubling over that, I checked if the meat was done.


The meat turned out just right - it had a dark shade of brown. In order to seal in the flavor, I always seared the surface of the meat, be it at home or in the restaurant.


That wasn’t all, this would remove the excess oil too. The belly meat had plenty of fats, so this process was very important.

「Hmm, it’s almost done. The water in the other pot is also boiling.」


I scooped up as much fats as I could, then dropped the belly meat that had been seared into the boiling water.


After searing the rest of the meat and dropping them into the boiling water, I started clearing away the foam  which was on the water surface.

When most of the foam had been cleared, I adjusted the intensity of the fire to medium and covered the water with lilo to remove the gamey taste.


Most people would use garlic or ginger to do so, but I couldn’t find a substitute for that in this world. Myam that tasted like garlic was too strong, so it was time for lilo which was used for making jerky to shine.


Lilo had the appearance of large ferns, and I used them to cover the surface of the boiling water. If the simmering meat floated up from the water, the exposed surface would become very tough. And so, lilo also acted as an inner lid.


I planned to let the meat stew for an hour and take my time to prepare the other ingredients.

「Alright then, I will start making the braising sauce. Vena Wu, please help me keep the meat under the lilo and maintain the fire intensity.」


Silence.


Expressionless.


Even so, I believed that Vena Wu would do her job properly.

Making braising sauce was simple. I just had to crush the aria that would add to the flavor. There was a tool that let me do that. It was some kind of shell covered in spikes.

The round shell was milky white, and about 10 cm wide. This was probably the shell of a crab-like creature. I didn’t know anything more about it.

「Oh right, is there a way to purchase Tau sauce periodically?」


I asked as I crushed 20 or so arias, and Naudiz nodded.

「Yes. I asked a traveling peddler to help me procure some. He was shocked when he learned that we will use three bottles in five days.」


That was a normal reaction since Tau sauce wasn’t cheap.


The bottle containing Tau sauce was roughly the size of a fruit wine bottle, about 1 liter. A bottle cost 10 red copper plates. That would be 30 red copper plates for five days.

Tau sauce was a specialty product from the southern kingdom of Jaguar— a seasoning made from fermenting Tau beans. Genos didn’t produce them locally and had to import them from Jaguar, resulting in this high price.

Because Tau sauce was expensive, only restaurants that hosted Jaguar customers like the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》 in the Post Station Town would import them. Although Tau sauce was a seasoning often used for home cooking, it became a luxury product in the west.


I wanted to exploit the existence of the Tau sauce because its taste was too similar to that of soy sauce. It had the appearance of a thick paste and had plenty of salt and alcohol added as preservatives, and the taste of these two ingredients was very strong. Aside from that, it was no different from soy sauce.

When I first encountered the Tau sauce in the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》, I was overwhelmed with joy. If it wasn’t so close to the house head conference, I would probably irritate Ai Fa with my happiness. But that didn’t stop me from feeling gleeful and thinking up new dishes to make.


Southerners disliked the unique flavor of the kiba meat, and many of them disliked the texture of the hamburg steak too. But the reason was different from Donda Wu - they didn’t hate the 「soft meat」, they just preferred heavier seasoning.

After analyzing the information I got on hand, I decided to settle the match with 『Braised kiba』.


「… Alright then, the meat will need to be cooked for a while, correct? I will use this time to take care of my own work.」

And with that, Naudiz left the kitchen.

After grinding the aria, I checked the boiling pot that Vena Wu was tending to.


All the meat was beneath the lilo, and the fire was maintained at medium strength. She even had scooped up the foam.


I sighed in relief and stood beside Vena Wu.

「Thank you. I’m already done with the braising sauce, let me switch with you… Vena Wu, I’m really sorry about yesterday.」
I already apologized plenty of times since this morning.

But Vena Wu remained silent and refused to meet my eyes.

「I really didn’t mean it. The sudden appearance of Kaslan Lutim and Yamiel Lei just attracted my attention.」

「…」

「I admit that I am a careless retard, I will never ignore you again, believe me. I’m sorry, I am already reflecting for making you so unhappy.」

Vena Wu narrowed her eyes unhappily, her eyes finally looked my way.

「… Are you really reflecting on your actions…?」

「Yes! Of course, I am!」

「… Never mind, it’s hard for you to work when I’m showing such an attitude when I’m assisting you…」

「No, you did your work properly, so there’s no need to worry about my feelings… Leaving work aside, seeing you so angry fills me with guilt. I will be careful in the future, can you forgive me?」

「… I can’t forgive you so easily… If you let me slap you, I might cool down a little…」


「If it can help you vent, then hit me!」

Vena Wu stood before the boiling pot and puffed her thicc breasts toward me.

「Don’t say that so lightly… It might not be much against a man from Forest's Edge, but a foreigner like you might get your teeth knocked out from my slap…」

「S-Since you can only cool down after hitting me so hard, that means my actions were very foolish, correct? I will accept this punishment willingly.」

「… Why…? You think nothing of me, correct…? You don’t intend to marry me, so why are you going so far…?」

「That’s not true. Even though we don’t have such feelings for each other, I still cherish you. It’s exactly because I don’t have any ulterior motives for you, that’s why I know how much you mean to me.」

Vena Wu frowned and put more strength into her glare.

「You mean you can’t feel any feminine charm from me, huh… I understand… You irked me even more with those words, so I will beat you up…」


She put her soft fingertips and palm on my cheek.


She might not be as powerful as a man, but she was still a strong denizen of the Forest's Edge. Her ability to carry heavy equipment daily was proof of her strength. Therefore, the destructive power of her slap was probably equivalent to a man stronger than I was. I had to prepare myself.


I couldn’t fall towards the pots. After checking with a glance, I gritted my teeth.

Vena Wu raised her right arm high and fast…
And then hugged me.

「Is that what you are trying to pull!?」

「Ara… Your reaction is just as I imagined… How boring…」


She said softly and tightened her arms, hugging me tightly. It was like the Madarama snake had shown up again.


If Vena Wu will forgive me, then this was fine… But three seconds later, my resolve disappeared.

「V-Vena Wu, you are not angry anymore, right…?」

「It’s still early… The price has to be worth at least one tooth…」


A difficult-to-describe sensation was pressing onto my body with amazing strength.


If this carried on for a few more seconds, a certain nerve of mine would snap… As I was thinking about that in a daze, Vena Wu’s tender and strong body left me.

「I will let you off for now… My heart is still filled with wounds…」

Vena Wu muttered softly as she picked up a firewood and tossed it into the stove.


I pushed my weak body and checked the pot’s condition. A lot of the water had evaporated, and it was time to add more.


As I was scooping water from the flask, Vena Wu called out to me with a melancholic voice:

「Asuta… I wasn’t hurt because you didn’t notice me…」

「Ehh?」

「When you looked at that woman, your eyes were so gentle. That was what hurt me… She wanted to harm you, and yet you looked at her with such gentle eyes… This meant there aren’t any special feelings when you look at me…」

After that, the face Vena Wu showed completely surprised me.

Her face was filled with sorrow and innocence, like a child abandoned by her parents— so weak and frail.


I was ready for her to scream and cry, but she held back her tears and sighed deeply as if she wanted to exhale all her sorrow.

「I’m sorry… When I first approached you, I just wanted to fulfill my own dream… I don’t have the right to blame you… I know that… But you are so kind to me… so… I can’t help bearing expectations…」

「… Should I draw a clear line with you?」


When she heard my retarded reply, she looked at me with fear-inducing eyes.

「Don’t ever say that again… my heart is like an overcooked aria, all gooey…」

「S-Sorry.」

「Don’t apologize if you don’t know what you did wrong… And don’t you ever leave me…」

Vena Wu lowered her head and bit on her thumbnails like a kid.

「Since you aren’t sure how to treat me, then just stay by my side… I will deal with it myself… Don’t be overly concerned or stop me…」

「… I see.」

「… Hmm… Maybe it will start feeling good when you hurt me…」

「I-It’s better for you to not venture into that realm!」

「What’s the problem… Everyone has a different view on happiness, you know…?」

Finally, Vena Wu smiled and bowed quietly to me.

「Well then, I want to apologize to you for today… Sorry for letting my emotions get in the way while I’m working… I will reflect on this, will you forgive me…?」

「There’s nothing to forgive, it is my fault in the first place.」

「If you forgive me, I will accept any humiliation play…」

「I forgive you!」

This little drama between us ended. Some tens of minutes later, Naudiz returned.

「Is it time yet?」

「Yes, it’s about time.」

I pulled some of the lilo away and poked the meat with Krilee chopsticks. It glided into the meat without much resistance. It was cooked just right.
「Alright, I’m scooping the meat up, move the pot away.」


I scooped up all the lilo and meat onto the plate, then heaved up the pot together with Vena Wu. We couldn’t put the pot on the floor, so we placed it into a similar-sized pot filled with water. The heated pot sizzled loudly, and a large amount of water vaporized right away. We then filled the pot beneath it with water. After repeating three times, we left the pot in the water.

During this time, the meat had cooled down. We used water to clean the meat and remove the fats from it.


The meat was very tender, and we had to be careful not to mess up its appearance when we cleaned it. We then wiped away any moisture with a clean piece of cloth. We had to remove the fats completely.


I then cut the meat into squares about 5 cm long. This process required a lot of care in order to preserve the meat’s appearance.


Next, we had to take care of the pot. After cooling and leaving it aside, all the fats appeared on the surface of the pot. The cooling was done with a normal-temperature water, but there were still a lot of solid fats in the pot. We collected all the fats and placed them into a pouch that I brought. Even though they won’t be used in today’s dish, these fats were still a valuable ingredient.


I placed the cut kiba together with the whole aria that had its ends chopped off into the pot. There were 10 kg of meat and 40 arias, which quickly filled up two large pots.

I added three-fifths of a bottle of Tau sauce, four bottles of fruit wine and twenty grounded arias into the soup stock that had been cleared of the fats. After stirring carefully, I split the braising sauce between the two pots evenly.


After that, we just had to cook it over a small flame.

「Yes, we should make it in time.」


In the two-and-a-half hours we were given, we used an hour to stew the meat, and the final simmering process would require 30 to 40 minutes. It was a little rushed after all.


Cleaning the meat midway was very tedious. I could shorten the time if I washed several pieces of meat at the same time, but I insisted on striving for quality.

「Hmm, it smells really nice.」

Naudiz twitched his large nose.


The fragrances of the Tau sauce and fruit wine filled the kitchen. Unlike myam, this was a sweet smell. I couldn’t help thinking of home.


But I wasn’t allowed to be in a daze. I couldn’t use lilo or add additional water and had to keep pouring the braising sauce if the meat surfaced.


And when only a third of the braising sauce was left, I had to keep soaking the meat nonstop. After simmering for 40 minutes it was finally done.

「Alright, I will put out the fire. Please reheat before serving it to the customers.」


It sounded like common sense, but this was a necessary step. After the braised food had cooled down, reheating it would enhance the flavor.

If there were refrigerators in this world, I would want to prepare the braised meat one day earlier and leave it overnight. But there was nothing I could do about fridges, so I could only keep it cool at room temperature. There were more than 4 hours before sunset, so it would still taste better than being freshly cooked.

「Thank you for your hard work, this is the agreed payment.」

Naudiz handed a small pouch to me.


I checked, and there were 8 eight white copper plates in it.

「Thank you. I hope you can sell all of it, I’m not sure if that will happen though.」

「I don’t know either, there is the issue of price too. If sales are bad, I will adjust the price to match Karon dishes, so one dish would cost 4 red copper plates.」

Naudiz answered as he hurried over with a plate.

「Huh? Do you want to try it? You can only know its real taste after it has cooled down.」

「Yes, I want to compare the difference… Actually, I just want to try it as soon as possible since the dish is finally done.」

The food belonged to Naudiz, so he could do whatever he wanted. He scooped up a meat cube, and the corners of his eyes drooped about 2 mm.


The meat wobbled on the spoon. It was so tender that spoons and chopsticks could break it apart easily. The lean meat looked translucent and had a rubbery texture.

The taste of the Tau sauce and fruit wine had completely seeped into the meat. The taste of the meat mixed together with the heavy seasoning… just thinking about this made me hungry.

「I’m digging in.」

Naudiz put the 『Braised kiba』 into his mouth.

The layers of meat and fats were melting away in his mouth, and the enticing taste was spreading.


Naudiz after chewing for a long time swallowed as if it was a pity to do so. He turned to me with a dazed smile:

「This is really… really delicious. If I can’t sell this, then the problem lies with my business skills. Asuta, thank you for making this splendid dish.」

3
Our work ended without any incident.


Nothing of note happened while I was away, and I went home on time after all the food was sold out.


After returning to the Fa house, I didn’t forget to bid farewell to Vena Wu. I started preparing the food for tomorrow’s business and dinner.

Rii Sudora was the only one here as I taught her to cook.

「Well then, let’s start preparing the ingredients. The women from the other houses will be here soon, please use the stove first.」

「Thank you… Excuse me, is it really fine for me to use your pot?」

「Yes. It’s a pain to make a trip back home to get it, right? It’s fine.」


Ai Fa wasn’t home right now. According to the schedule, she would be heading to the Latzu or Gazu village that were some distance away from the Fa house and teach them bloodletting and butchery.

「So in the end, how many houses asked the Fa house to teach them?」

「Only a few houses near us requested for our help. However, eleven houses are in favor of us committing to this work.」

That didn’t include the tribal chief clans and their kins.

There were 37 houses in Forest's Edge, and only 17 of them were not related to the tribal chief clans… Which meant more than half the denizens of Forest’s Edge belonged to the Wu clan, Sauti clan, Zaza house, and their kins.


Of these 17 houses, 11 of them agreed with us. Considering the fact that the Wu clan and a hundred kins concurred with our actions, that meant about half of the denizens in Forest's Edge supported the Fa house.


The neutral Sauti clan was also on friendly terms with us. We could only work hard and show the results in order to win the approval of the Zaza house.

「Incredible. The Fa house is bringing a beacon of light to the houses on the verge of withering.」

Rii Sudora stared at me with her clear eyes.

「Of all the minor houses, the Sudora house is the closest to ruin. It’s embarrassing to say this, but if not for the copper plates I earned today, the vegetables in our food store would be depleted… To avoid this, the men in our house are also hunting for kiba in the forest today.」

「Oh, I see. I’m happy to be of help to the Sudora house.」

There was a knocking on the door when I was answering.

「Which house is it?」

「… We are women from the Dean house, there are two of us.」


This was the first time I heard of that house.


Even though I was good at remembering names, my memory capacity was almost at its limit. Were there a Dean house around here? I tilted my head in doubt and walked to the door.

At this moment, Rii Sudora grabbed my hand.

「Asuta, the Dean house is a kin of the Tsun clan… and are now the kin of the Zaza house.」


Kins of the Zaza house, huh.


In that case, they had to obey the opinion of the Zaza house and oppose us from doing business in the Post Station Town.


Besides, the Fa house was the reason why the Tsun clan had fallen. What kind of emotions did they bore towards us? I didn’t have the chance to find out. I looked at the incredibly guarded look in Rii Sudora’s calm face and nodded. I stood before the door.

「May I ask for the reason for your visit? I don’t recall the Fa house being acquainted with the Dean house.」

「We are here to participate in the cooking lesson. Could you let us join in?」

「You are here to learn to cook? Did the Zaza house agree to this?」

「Yes. They didn’t stop us from coming here to learn cooking.」


I see, they didn’t intend to help the stall in the Post Station Town or prepare kiba meat, but they were interested in the delicious meal. I definitely welcomed their visit and had no reason to turn them away.


I carefully removed the stick barring the door and opened the door a little.


Like what they said, two women were standing outside. One was an elderly and married lady, the other was a girl around ten years of age.


Beside their feet were pots filled with poitan. After confirming that there was no one else, I opened the door completely.

「Thank you for accepting our sudden visit. I’m the elder sister of the Dean house head, Jass Dean, this is my family member, Tulu Dean.」

「… Tulu Dean?」


I focused on the girl.


Her medium-length brown hair was tied to both sides of her neck, and she had a meek expression. Her large puppy-like eyes seemed to be flickering with doubt as she looked at us.

「Ahh, you are that child from the Tsun clan branch house! So you have left the Tsun clan village and are now a part of the Dean house.」


「That’s right. This child’s mother was the younger sister of me and the house head. Our sister has passed on, so she and her father are now members of the Dean house.」

The elderly lady Jass Dean answered.


Her attitude was calm and respectful, and her sharp eyes were filled with strength and determination.

「I see. That’s great, you look lively. I’m sorry for recognizing so late, even though the house head conference was just three days ago.」


Upon hearing my words, Tulu Dean became dumbstruck.


Her large eyes started tearing up.

「W-What happened? Did I say something wrong?」

Tulu Dean shook her head hard, and large tears fell to the ground.

「Asuta of the Fa house. This blood is a kin of the Tsun clan that attempted to harm you. She had broken off ties with the Tsun clan and chose to live on as a member of the Dean house. Will you forgive her past crimes?」

「Crime? She didn’t do anything to me though?」

「But she is still the kin of the Tsun clan who committed grave sins. The Fa house has more reasons to loathe the Tsun clan than any other people.」


This felt like the conversation I had with Lau Lei and the others yesterday.


Seeing how serious Jass Dean looked, I tried to answer:

「No, the new tribal chiefs decided not to pursue the crimes of the branch houses, and all the house heads agreed to this. Therefore, I don’t hate the Tsun clan branch house in the first place. And of course, I have no reason to turn away Tulu Dean.」

「… I see.」

「Yes, and I also spent some time with Tulu Dean. Amongst the people who had lost their will and energy, she was the one who worked the hardest.」


After hearing my words, Tulu Dean turned tearful again.


Her expression still had a hint of cold maturity, but her eyes had regained their luster. That alone made me really happy.

「I cooked meat and grilled poitan with her before, so she is actually everyone’s senior. Tulu Dean, you need to learn properly, then teach the Dean house women back home.」

「… Thank you…」

The girl slumped her head weakly, and Jass Dean patted her head.


Her eyes were stern, but I could feel the love she had for the orphaned child of her sister.

「Alright then, let’s begin. Oh, this is Rii Sudora from the Sudora house. The women from the Fou house and Von house will be coming later too.」


I couldn’t help chatting with them for a little more, but since I didn’t come back early, I wouldn’t have enough time if I didn’t start preparing now. I ushered the two members of the Dean house into the house and started my own work.


「Please revise the poitan grilling method first. I will be working here, just holler if there is anything you don’t understand.」

「Yes.」

The two of them picked up the pot and walked past me.

「Ah!」


I yelled when I saw the side of Tulu Dean’s face.

Tulu Dean jumped in surprise, then turn towards me.

「Ah, sorry about that, I just realized that there isn’t any scar where you were scalded earlier… That’s great.」
I smiled to cheer the gloomy girl up.


At this point, Tulu Dean smiled clumsily in return.
「Thank you very much for back then. I’m very happy for the gentle gesture you and that red-haired girl from the Wu clan showed me.」


「It’s nothing, I only splashed water at you in a panic. I will relay that to Lala Wu for you.」


Be it the people left in the Tsun clan village or the kins who took them in, a new life awaited them.


It had only been three days since the house head conference, but I thought Donda Wu’s judgment was right. Even though the crimes of the Tsun clan main house members like Diga and Doddo were still unclear, the Tsun clan branch houses were only guilty of stealing from the forest, so they didn’t need to be punished for any other crimes.


Did the people in the Genos castle understand this situation… Did they even want to understand? We had to take note of that.


I started dicing the aria laid out on the board as I thought about that.




「… Later, Kaslan Lutim and Dali Sauti came to find me and told me the result of their discussion with Kamyua.」


After having dinner, I prepared the ingredients for the next day as I explained to Ai Fa.
「The caravan will enter the Forest’s Edge using the route the Wu clan usually takes to enter the Post Station Town and head to the south. After passing through the Sauti village, they will enter the forest. They will traverse the forest in half a day and enter the rocky area. It will take a few days before they can reach the highway. However, the rocky area doesn’t have any kiba and isn’t part of the Forest's Edge. Hence, the Sauti clan will only guide them through the forest on the first day.」


「Yes.」

「But even if the caravan sets off first thing in the morning, it would be dusk by the time they traverse the forest. It will be too dangerous for the guides to enter the forest at night and return to their village, so they will need to spend the night with the caravan in the rocky area. Dali Sauti was unhappy about that. He complained angrily:『The Tsun clan people actually took on such a troublesome job.』」

「Yes.」

「The Tsun clan seemed to be planning to dump this job to Tay Tsun… no, Tay. They will need to venture deep into the forest and avoid kiba for half a day. Dali Sauti complained that they will need to send at least four men as guides. But the caravan members alone numbered more than 20, so the kiba probably won’t attack such a large group.」


「Yes.」

「… Ai Fa, if you are tired and don’t want to talk, just tell me honestly.」


「What are you talking about? I’m fine.」


Ai Fa laid on the floor lazily as she answered and looked more lethargic than yesterday.


Lying prone on the floor, her untied hair fell over her face, so I couldn’t see her face. I poured the diced myam, aria, and fruit wine into a leather pouch, then sighed softly.


「And so, their meeting with Kamyua Yost ended smoothly. I’m curious about what they think of Kamyua Yost, but Kaslan Lutim only commented:『He is an unfathomable person.』 while Dali Sauti said:『As expected, I hate people from Rock City.』」

「Yes.」

「And so, the job two days later will be handled by the Sauti clan, and they reached a conclusion smoothly. The three tribal chiefs had returned to their own villages for now, and will relay the demands of the Genos castle to the house heads of their kins and will collate their views. They have left six men behind to keep watch over the Tsun clan village. And that’s how things ended.」


「Yes.」

「… That concludes my report. Thank you for listening.」


「It’s fine, I wasn’t really listening to the things that could give me a headache.」


Ai Fa rested one side of her cheeks on the rug, and said weakly:


「The tribal chiefs have their own worries too. I’m overwhelmed with my own work alone.」


「Erm〜, did you go to the Latzu house today?」

「Yeah. The kins of the Latzu and the men from the Gazu also came… I’m more exhausted than yesterday.」


「Well, they all welcomed you happily, correct?」


「I don’t feel happy even if they did.」


Ai Fa sounded peeved. I couldn’t see her expression from this angle, but she was probably pouting.


「Also, a man from the Latzu house suddenly proposed to me.」


「W-What?」


「Another man from the Gazu house also proposed marriage to me. And before I knew it, they were wrestling on the ground and making a big scene. The enraged head of the Latzu house broke them up, but the bond between the two houses almost fractured.」


「T-That must be hard on you… But did they give up on the proposal?」


「… They said that if I got injured again and couldn’t hunt anymore, they hoped I would reconsider. I wanted to yell at them:『Are you hoping that I will get injured terribly?』… Anyway, it was an irritating day.」


I was finally freed from the preparation work and rushed in a panic to Ai Fa’s side without even washing my hands.

「Are they fierce like Darum Wu? Will they pester you in the future?」

「How would I know, go ask them yourself.」

「No, but—」

「Shut up. Since you are done with your work, give me your hand.」

「Ehh? Hand?」

I was confused, but I still placed my palm on Ai Fa’s temple like last night.

「Hmm.」

Ai Fa moaned with satisfaction. Seemed like I was right. This felt like caressing the neck of a kitten that was throwing a tantrum.

「Just talking to a large group tires me out. It’s amazing how you can keep working in the Post Station Town… No, not just you, the women from the Wu clan can do it too. It’s my heart that is too frail.」

「No, Ai Fa, don’t be so humble, that’s not like you at all. Everyone has things they are suited for or not. Like what I said last night, you will get used to it if you spend some time doing so.」

It seemed that Ai Fa didn’t agree with my words, and she sighed uncharacteristically.

「… I want to do my duty as a hunter soon.」


She looked a little pitiful, so I patted her head gently.

The last time I did that, Ai Fa punched my stomach. I was a little worried, but she just closed her eyes happily tonight and didn’t shy away from my hand.

「Anyway, I just need to bear with it for a few more days. When my arm is completely healed, I can return to the forest. The time we spend with the other houses will go down naturally.」

「What a negative way of putting it. I’m tired today too, so let’s turn in early.」

「Yes.」

「Alright, let’s sleep.」


I stood up and extinguished the candle. I then lay down a short distance away.


I didn’t expect Ai Fa to approach me.

「Asuta, why are you sleeping so far away?」

「Eh? No, this is the usual distance, right?」

「… My head still hurts.」


As I was lying on the ground, she grabbed my left wrist and pulled it to her temple. My elbow was twisted to the limit and I screamed:

「That hurts! Wait! This is beyond the limit of a human bone joint!」

「In that case, you can just adjust your sleeping posture.」


As my hand was on her temple, the only way to meet her demand was to move closer and face her way during sleep.

The room was dim and we couldn’t see each other, so I thought it wouldn’t be a problem. After actually changing my sleeping position, I realized a big problem. We were very close to each other.


「House head, listen...」

「Shut up, I’m getting drowsy.」


She placed my palm on her cheek and covered it with her own hand before closing her eyes.


The only light in the room was the bright moonlight from the window, but I could still see her beautiful face clearly and the curve of her body lying sideways.

… Just like an endearing cat.
I believed that Ai Fa didn’t have any ulterior intention, yet, her body contact with me was increasing every day.


She was treating me as a family she didn’t need to hold back with. That filled me with joy… but what should I do about her making my heart flutter?

… After seeing such an honest, beautiful and charming girl, of course those men will want to marry her.


Ai Fa fell asleep quickly and started breathing steadily. I stared at her sleeping face and thought to myself:
Speaking of which, denizens in Forest's Edge could marry at fifteen. Ai Fa got into a feud with the Tsun clan at that age. If not for that, the people around her would have proposed to her already.


I started feeling uneasy.


A person of dubious origins shouldn’t marry in this world. Even though I told myself that, what should I do if a man wins over Ai Fa’s heart in the future?


I had thought about this numerous times, but I always pushed it aside.


I want to keep our relationship like this, is that impossible…?


I swallowed my sigh and closed my eyes.


My senses became keener, and I could feel the warmth and the nice scent from Ai Fa clearly.


Ai Fa had not used the fruit that attracted kiba for a long time now. The only scent on her were those of herbs and meat, which wasn’t much different from the other women… However, Ai Fa was still Ai Fa. I only felt at ease because of her body warmth and scent. This was an indisputable fact.


As I was thinking about all this, sleepiness soon overwhelmed me.


I heard the infuriating matter about the Genos people from Kaslan Lutim, finished my work at the inn for the first time, taught the women to cook, and worried about the future of Forest's Edge… I was exhausted and was soon asleep.

And then…
「…?」


Some undetermined amount of time had passed.


When I came to, I felt a soft sensation covering my mouth.


I opened my eyes half-awake and saw blue cat-like eyes before me.
Ai Fa leaned in, pushing her face near my nose.


Before I realized it, she had shifted away my hand that was on her temple.


Ai Fa’s hand that held my hand was now covering my mouth.


「Don’t speak… Asuta, don’t move.」


She whispered in a barely audible voice and continued leaning in closer.


I was shocked and wanted to get up, but she grabbed my shoulder with her other hand and pushed me down onto the bed.
「I told you not to move. Asuta, don’t you understand me?」


She whispered again.


As I laid down, she pressed down on my upper body and covered my body from the side.


There was a stern light in her blue eyes as she stared right into my eyes. The spots on my body that were in contact with Ai Fa’s palms, arm and breasts were blazing hot.


「Asuta, don’t worry… Just do as I say.」


With these words… Ai Fa laid on top of me with her entire body.


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