Saturday, July 7, 2018

Cooking with Wild Game Volume 8 Chapter 3 & 4

Cryptic Venerable Inn
Translator: Skythewood

Editor: Ratorasepo

1


Let us go back in time for a little.


On the 18th of the Blue month, we visited the 《Cryptic Venerable Inn》 for the first time.


It had just been two days since the commotion regarding the Tsun clan, and the situation in town was still unstable. It wasn’t a good time to expand our business, but catering food for the inn shouldn’t agitate the westerners. Shumimaru and the others would only be in Genos for less than half a month, so I decided to make this decision.


「Denizen of Forest's Edge, Asuta, welcome. I’m honored by your visit.」


The innkeeper Neil came out of the inn to receive us.


After hearing the inn name, it might invoke an old man with a black beard. But this innkeeper was very young and didn’t look older than 30. He had brown hair, dark brown eyes, and ivory skin. His facial features were plain; he was of average build and looked just like a typical westerner. The only prominent thing about him was being quiet and expressionless.


「Nice to meet you too… Sorry for picking such a busy time to visit.」


It was just past noon. As I didn’t know how long I would need to work in the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》, I headed for the 《Cryptic Venerable Inn》 when Rii Sudora arrived in the afternoon.


The quiet innkeeper shook his head and said:


「It’s not busy during this time. This way, please; I will show you to the kitchen.」


The 《Cryptic Venerable Inn》 was a unique place. This inn wasn’t situated along the bustling stone-paved road, but off an alley from the main road, surrounded by residential housing. It was a small two-story building without any signage, and it was impossible to tell this was an inn.


「Alright then, I’m going in. Thank you, Shumimaru.」


I nodded and thanked Shumimaru who led us here.


The young easterner with white hair narrowed his eyes slightly with sadness.


「Asuta, I, in the way?」


「Huh? Not at all, but aren’t you busy?」


「… I want, till end, stay.」


Shumimaru was half a head taller than me. He became a bandleader at such a young age, but he would show an innocent side of him at times. Like right now.
「If you can accompany, I will feel more at ease…」


When he heard my reply, he nodded and squinted his eyes. The feeling of this squint seemed different from just now.


「I, till end, accompany.」


So he would squint like that when he was happy. I tried to interpret it in my own way but wasn’t sure how Shumimaru actually felt.


Anyway, we entered the 《Cryptic Venerable Inn》. There were four of us in total: me, Shumimaru, Vena Wu, and the escort Shin Wu.


Although the commotion caused by the Tsun clan had ended, the feelings between us and the Genos castle had grown more complicated. Adding that incident in the Post Station Town which was bordering on becoming a riot, Shin Wu and Ludo Wu were still guarding us.


Wouldn’t it interfere with their jobs as hunters? After asking that, I learned that the area around the Wu clan and Lutim house just happened to be entering the off-peak season. In Forest's Edge, every area would experience three or so off-peak seasons annually, and the hunters would rest during this time for half a month.


The kins of the Wu clan would officially start to rest a short time later. On the first resting day, they would hold a harvest feast. In a few more days, Donda Wu would request for me to tend to the hearth for that feast.


At this moment, I wasn’t expecting such a future. I followed Neil into the 《Cryptic Venerable Inn》… and then gasped softly.


On the wall to the right and above the counter were the heads of large animals, used for decorations.


These were probably taxidermied specimens. They were animals that looked like a deer or a goat, and only the part above their necks was visible. It looked as if they were leaning out of the wall.


「Impressive, what are these animals?」


「They are beasts native to the eastern kingdom, called Gyama.」


The innkeeper Neil answered quietly.


This animal had a long snout with buffalo-like horns on both sides of its head. The size of its head was about that of a human. The curved horns were about 40 cm long, it was covered in raven black fur and long manes on either side of its neck.


「The people from the east eat Gyama. There isn’t any chance to taste them in the west.」


Neil opened the door that led inside the counter.


Almost all the inns had counters that were connected to the kitchen. The customers could probably place their orders at the counter.


By the way, I took a glance from the counter, and the restaurant on the first floor was empty. The other inns were probably the same, as those lodging at the inns would buy snacks at the marketplace.


「Please come in.」


Under the guidance of Neil, I went through the door and came to a kitchen that was as small as the inn. It was about one-and-a-half tatami, with two pots on top of the two stoves near the wall. It was a standard layout found in most kitchens.


There was a workstation in the middle of the kitchen, a shelf full of crockeries to the left, and two flasks of water to the right. The kitchen’s design was simple, and the kitchen was filled with the aroma of herbs and meat.


It felt really comfortable here.


I thought a kitchen would reflect the character of the user. Just experiencing the atmosphere in this kitchen was enough for me to feel closer to the young and cold innkeeper.


「Let me state my terms first.」


The innkeeper Neil said calmly:


「I will need 20 to 30 meals. The meal must use kiba meat. The price for one without fuwano is 2 red copper plates. The catering will start from the day after tomorrow… How long will the contract be?」


「My contract with the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》 will end on the last day of the Blue Month, can we do the same? We can renew our contract in the next month.」


「I understand. The contract will start two days later on the 20th and end on the 31st, for a total of 12 days. During this period, please inform me before noon if you aren’t able to provide the meals on any days. If you notify me after the noon has passed, you will need to pay liquidated damages of one white copper plate. Do you agree to this?」


「Yes, I’m fine with this.」


「Alright then, as for the dishes, I heard you don’t want to sell the same things as your stall, right?」


「Correct. I’m using a Jaguar-made seasoning known as Tau sauce for the food I’m catering for the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》, and it is really popular. If possible, I plan to use a Semu-made ingredient to serve a dish that will satisfy the customers from the east.」


「I see. If the contents for lunch and dinner are the same, the customers might find the taste tiring. Thank you for your advice.」


The innkeeper kept a straight face when he offered me his thanks.


We only came on the supposedly earnest request of this innkeeper, but I couldn’t feel the deep sincerity Shumimaru described from the innkeeper at all.


「Semu-made ingredients, huh… As Semu is even further away than Jaguar, most of the ingredients are not imported into the western kingdom.」


Despite what he said, Neil still went deeper into the kitchen and took out two ingredients from the food store. One was a small pouch, while the other was a large bag that needed to be carried with both hands.


「This is curd.」


「Curd?」


「An ingredient made by drying Gyama milk. It is as nutritious as meat.」


That was how I became aware of Gyama curd. A few days later, this ingredient shone brightly during Lala Wu’s birthday party.


「This taste! It’s cheese!」


「Cheese?」


「Yes, in my hometown, this is called cheese. I see, so there is cheese in this world… No, so there is cheese in Genos.」


「It is almost impossible to buy curd in the Post Station Town. The castle town had procured all the Gyama curd and Karon curd. A Semu caravan I’m on good terms with sold this to me as a favor.」


「《Silver Vase》, in past, sell curd, also.」


When he heard Shumimaru said that, Neil also nodded quietly. The two of them were calm and composed and didn’t show any expression.


By the way, Shin Wu was also silent and kept a straight face. Vena Wu who didn’t have anything to do had been fighting with her chestnut colored hair all the while.


「Gyama curd is a very common food in the Semu kingdom, but it’s almost impossible to get this in the Western kingdom, which led to its high price. As the quantity is limited, it’s not suitable to use it in food for sale. This batch is for my own consumption.」


「Is it expensive? How much?」


「Curd about this size is about 20 red copper plates.」


I see. This wheel of curd had a diameter of 15 cm and was 5 cm thick. Given its high price, curd was an expensive luxurious item. If we used it in cooking, the operating cost would jump greatly.


「But cheese is a charming ingredient. Can I buy a wheel for myself?」


「I can sell this curd to you. You want to try some?」


「Please let me!」


The uncooked Gyama curd was like strong salty Camembert cheese, with a thick and fragrant taste.


「Ah, this is delicious! Please sell it to me…! Don’t you want to have a taste?」


The two of them shook their heads disinterestedly. Luxurious goods couldn’t intrigue the denizens of Forest's Edge who led simple lives.


「Then, what about this ingredient?」


「This is Chitto fruit.」


He loosened the bag’s opening and revealed the large red bean contents inside.


The bright-red color and stinging smell gave the impression of this being very hot and spicy. This had to be some kind of spice. Judging from its smell, it should be some sort of chili.


「It looks spicy. Do Semu people like spicy food?」


「Yes. Chitto fruit, very important.」


It was Shumimaru who answered this time.


「Gyama meat, pungent smell, strong. Stronger, kiba, than. So, we eat Gyama and Chitto fruit… And we, pickled Chitto, like.」


「Pickled Chitto? You pickle meat with Chitto?」


「No, we, vegetable, pickle.」


Neil continued:


「Pickled Chitto is made by pickling vegetables such as tino with salt and Chitto.」


「Oh? That sounds tasty.」


Neil nodded, and head into the food store again.


When he came out again, he was holding a small plate with two leaves of tino that had been dyed with red sauce.


Tino was similar to cabbage and was white with a faint shade of green. It had been cut into appropriate sizes and doused with red Chitto sauce before covering with another piece of vegetable. This vegetable looked like chopped chives.


Both its appearance and sour-spicy taste of the pickled Chitto reminded of kimchi.


「It’s fragrant. This is Chitto and myam… and something like fish sauce?」


「Fish sauce?… We marinate Maru with salt when pickling Chitto.」


「Maru?」


「Yes. Maru is a small shelled creature that can be found along the river bank. Westerners eat Maru as a snack while drinking beer. Our inn also uses Maru to make pickled Chitto.」


Neil spoke even manneredly.


「It is almost impossible to obtain Semu ingredients in Genos. Hence, I tried to recreate the taste of pickled Chitto by using western ingredients… I marinated tino for a night, then added in Chitto, marinated Maru with myam, chopped chives, grounded Ramam fruit and other ingredients to make the sauce for the pickling.」


He mentioned many unfamiliar ingredients.


I must have seen those vegetables in the stall, but still didn’t know the names of many of them or how did they taste. I was still learning about the food in this world.
Anyway, I decided to try the pickled Chitto before me. And as I expected, spiciness and sourness spread inside my mouth.


The pickled Chitto had a simulating and complicated taste. The strong fragrance of myam and animal protein stimulated my appetite, and the thoroughly pickled tino turned very soft, and the texture was crunchy like a Chinese cabbage.


It was very hot and spicy, my tongue would hurt if I ate too much at one go. But the aftertaste was refreshing. It was as good as the kimchi I tasted in the past. Besides, it had been so long since I properly tasted 「sourness」.


「How is it? Some Semu like this taste of spiciness.」


「It’s very tasty, I like it… If I use this ingredient, the dish will become very expensive, right?」


「No, pickled Chitto is just a snack. The customers won’t eat large quantities of it. A small plateful would cost about half a red copper plate.」


「I see… Have you tried cooking pickled Chitto with meat or adding it to soup?」


「You are referring to pickled Chitto, not raw Chitto, correct? Even the easterners won’t eat them that way.」


「I see. Is eating it this way unacceptable?」


I asked Shumimaru.


He shook his head quietly.


「Eat, this way, strange. But, interested, me.」


「Okay.」


In that case, I should work on this from the angle of kimchi pork or kimchi hotpot. I started pondering.


The dishes might sound random, but I had placed a restriction on myself recently—「time restriction」.


I didn’t expect another inn to cater from me so soon, that was why I prepared 《Kiba braised meat》 for the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》. I didn’t regret my choice, but, unfortunately, the cooking time was rather long and would need two-and-a-half hours to cook. Even after getting used to the process, it was hard to finish it within two hours.


Including preparations and closing, my stalls were open for about 6-and-a-half hours in the Post Station Town. If I spent too much time in the inn cooking the dishes, I wouldn’t be able to return to the stall in time to work.


This was just my personal preference, I liked to interact with the customers directly when I set up shop. If I let the women handle all of this task, I would feel a bit lonely. Hence, my hidden task for this time was to think up a dish that wouldn’t take too much time for the 《Cryptic Venerable Inn》.


「If my dish uses pickled Chitto, can I buy the required amount from the 《Cryptic Venerable Inn》?」


「I see, you will buy my pickled Chitto that will be used in your dish, and I will buy that food from you? How interesting.」


「If you aren’t willing, I will think up a dish that makes use of raw Chitto instead.」


「No, I will be happy to let more customers taste the pickled Chitto I made. And I’m also interested in dishes made from my pickled Chitto.」


Despite what the innkeeper of the 《Cryptic Venerable Inn》 said, his face remained emotionless.


2


「And so, I’m researching a new dish.」


That night, I asked Ai Fa to try out the dish immediately.


The dish that was served wasn’t kimchi pork, but 『Chitto kiba』. Instead of kimchi hotpot, 『Chitto hotpot』 was laid out on the table. Ai Fa showed a complicated expression in the face of the completely red meat dish and soup dish.


「Asuta, can I say something?」


「Yes, Ai Fa, what is it?」


「I’m well aware of your hearth tending capabilities, but… I think this dish had turned sour.」


「Ah, so that’s the issue. Don’t worry. Rotting and fermentation are different. Just like how fruit wine is a bit sour, these dishes are not harmful to the body!」


「… If you say so, then that’s probably true.」


Although that was what Ai Fa said, she was slow in picking up her utensils.


There were no problems with the presentation of the dishes. Adding tarapa to the food would make it even more red, so what made her concerned was the intense sour smell.


I was confident about these two dishes. I used loin meat in the 『Kiba Chitto』, and, aside from the pickled Chitto, I also seasoned it with Tau sauce and added some myam. I also added thin slices of aria and pula to fry it. The bitterness of the pula was similar to green pepper, and they were mixed together with the pickled Chitto into the fake chives— bebe leaves, adorning the dish with vibrant green colors.


On the other side, I added chuck flank that had been cut into cubes and thin slices of thigh meat into the 『Chitto hotpot』 to cook thoroughly. The Tau sauce formed the primary taste of the soup, enhancing the flavor and making it thicker.


I added aria and tino in too. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything to replace Chinese cabbage, tofu, and shredded konjac. Even so, the stock made from kiba and the spicy Chitto meshed perfectly, and I had been salivating all the while.


「I understand that the denizens of Forest's Edge don’t like tastes that are too strong and can’t stand spiciness and sourness. That’s why I have prepared normal grilled meat and soup, and this is just a taste sample. Will you try it?」


「…」


「Ah, if you are not interested, there’s no need to push yourself…」


「… Who says I’m not eating?」


Ai Fa steeled herself and reached for the plate of 『Chitto hotpot』.


However, her brave eyebrows drooped just from sniffing the food from up close.


「H-Hey, I already told you to not push yourself. I only prepared one sample, so I will finish it all off if you won’t dare to eat it.」


「I already told you it’s fine!」


Ai Fa raised her eyebrows again and grabbed a spoon.


And so, she put a spoonful of bright-red soup and a piece of kiba into her mouth and turned expressionless like an easterner.


「… How is it?」


Ai Fa put down the plate quietly.


She chewed the kiba solemnly.


Is she fine? I looked at her anxiously, and she bent her finger my way, gesturing me to come over.


It was rare seeing Ai Fa calling someone over in such a rude manner. I shifted over on my knees, and she hit the back of my head with a hook punch.


「That hurts! You don’t need to hit me…」


I shut my mouth halfway through my gripes.


Ai Fa’s appearance turned drastically.


In other words… She was covering her mouth with both hands while sitting on the ground, her eyes tearing up, her face beet red and fluttering her legs.


「That hurts! That’s hot! It’s like my mouth is on fire! What did you make me eat!?」


「Ah, no, sorry…」


「You think apologizing can solve this problem!?」


Ai Fa stood up with her eyes red and rushed to the water flask beside the stove.


「Ah, Ai Fa, you can’t negate the spicy taste by drinking water, you know?」


I heard that drinking Lassi was the most effective way of neutralizing the spiciness of chili. And from my personal experience, hot tea would help too.
<TL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lassi>


When the Habanero fried rice I made half-jokingly turned out terrifyingly spicy, my childhood friend Reina recommended hot tea for me, and the fire in my mouth was put out immediately.
<TL: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habanero>


However, lukewarm water wasn’t just ineffective, it would increase the sensation of spiciness instead. Drinking cooled water might be momentarily soothing, but when the coolness faded away, the spiciness would return with renewed intensity.


I didn’t know the logic behind this, but everyone had their own theory. Some thought that chili had components not easily dissolved in water, and some believed that washing the mouth with cold water just made the spiciness more prominent.


Hence, what would happen to my beloved house head? After scooping and drinking several mouthfuls of water, she relaxed for a moment before covering her mouth and starting stamping her feet.


「A-Ai Fa, drink this normal bowl of soup. It’s hot, but the fats from the kiba might wash away the spiciness!」


Ai Fa charged back with amazing speed.


But she ignored the bowl and kept whacking hard at my head with teary eyes. Ai Fa might have held back, but she still had the arm strength of a hunter. I could see stars appearing at the back of my eyeball.


Tens of seconds later, my house head collapsed onto the floor breathlessly, and the hearth caretaker leaned against the wall with a mild concussion.


「 This is the first time that I thought I would die while eating.」


「… My sincere apologies.」


After we spent ten or so seconds to recover, dinner began anew.


「It seems that the denizens of Forest's Edge must never try Chitto fruit. Ai Fa, your sacrifice may have saved the lives of countless other denizens… Never mind, no one but me will bring such things into the Forest's Edge anyway.」


「Hmmp!」


「I’m very sorry… Look, this is the meat and soup I prepared specially for you!」




It was a thick slice of loin steak covered with basic fruit wine sauce. The soup was seasoned mildly with Tau sauce.


The bright red 『Kiba Chitto』 and 『Chitto hotpot』 were placed before me.


… To think that I will have to eat all of this by myself.


When I developed the 『Myam-roasted meat』 and 『Kiba braised meat』, I was also criticized by Ai Fa for seasoning it too strongly, but this was the first time she gave up on sampling my food. The dinner covered in Chitto made me feel a little dejected, but what saddened me the most was Ai Fa turning down my food.


Never mind, I will treat this as a lesson. I have to reduce the quantity when preparing samples in the future.


I thought as I sipped the soup from the 『Chitto hotpot』.


So spicy.


But the 『Chitto hotpot』 was delicious.


Seems like using Tau sauce was a good decision. Although the 『Chitto hotpot』 was spicy and swelteringly hot, the spiciness wasn’t sharp and brought out the freshness of the dish.


The tino in the pickled Chitto was soft and mushy, and the fresh tino I added in had a refreshing texture. The two contrasting textures complemented each other.


Although a large quantity of aria was added, most of it had dissolved into the soup, giving it more depth. Aria wasn’t just nutritious, it was also an excellent ingredient.


And the star of the dish, the kiba meat was cooked for 80 minutes. The loin and thigh meat turned soft and tender after being cooked for so long. As I couldn’t reduce the cooking time of the meat, it would slightly overshoot the time restriction I set for myself if I wanted to cater the 『Chitto hotpot』 to the 《Cryptic Venerable Inn》.


Hmm~, which dish will the innkeeper prefer? I think both of them are equally good.


I took a bite of poitan, let my mouth rest for a moment and then picked up the bowl of 『Kiba Chitto』.


This dish as well was simple and could bring out the flavor of the ingredients. Although it was seasoned with myam and Tau sauce, this was just kiba meat and pickled Chitto being mixed together and fried.


I used a large amount abdomen meat for the 『Kiba braised meat』 and 『Myam-roasted meat』, so I decided to use loin meat for this dish. Loin meat was softer, and I would cut the tendons for the meat near the shoulders, so it was best suited to be fried together with vegetables.


I fried it with large quantity of aria, and the kiba meat was covered with Chitto. I picked up a piece of 『Kiba Chitto』 and put it in my mouth.


The firmness was just right.


It was good and tasty.


The presence of the kiba was strong, and the spiciness was as strong as the pickled Chitto. I could taste the bitterness of the green pepper-like pula, which gave variety to the taste.


The Fa house didn’t have much seasonings available: just rock salt, Pico leaves, myam, and fruit wine. But we obtained Tau sauce a few days ago and the spice called Chitto fruit today. The repertoire of flavors increased greatly, which stimulated my tongue and stomach.


How blissful… I thought to myself.


「Hmm? Ai Fa, what’s the matter?」


When I realized it, Ai Fa was tugging on the corner of my vest.


Her face looked a little scary.


「… Give me that.」


「You mean the 『Kiba Chitto』? It is as spicy as the 『Chitto hotpot』, you know?」


「But I haven’t tried it yet.」


「No, you don’t need to force yourself to try it.」


「… Shut up and give it to me.」


She suddenly scowled her brows and nose like a cat.


With no other choice, I gave her the plate.


「Don’t beat me up because it’s too spicy, alright?」


「Shut up.」


With that, Ai Fa glared at the 『Kiba Chitto』 as if it was her sworn enemy and then hesitated for a few seconds before shoving the bright red meat into her mouth with a spoon.


She started chewing and teared up right away. But she didn’t go on a rampage like before and just drank some Tau sauce flavored 『Kiba meat soup』.


Ai Fa took another bite of poitan and then said to me with teary eyes: 「Give me that too.」


「Ehh? Do you still want to eat 『Chitto hotpot』? Don’t be a masochist!」


「… I told you to shut up.」


She ignored my counsel and snatched away the plate of 『Chitto hotpot』.


After hesitating for a while again, Ai Fa ate it.


Her eyes turned watery.


「H-Hey, Ai Fa, are you alright?」


「… I’m fine.」


Ai Fa wiped her eyes with the back of her hand like a kid.


「Okay, I will eat half, so you eat half of this too.」


「Eehhh? That’s too reckless! I told you to not push yourself!」


「I’m not pushing myself. I really want to eat it.」


After saying that, she took another bite of poitan as if she wanted to swap the flavor. Her words weren’t convincing at all. I was saddened when Ai Fa turned down this dish, but she didn’t need to push herself.


「… What’s with your face? I already said I want to eat it, are you going to reject it?」


「No, but…」


「I really want to eat it. My mouth hurts and my eyes will run when eating it, but it’s strangely appetizing. As if there is an evil spell cast on these dishes.」


After saying that, Ai Fa took another bite of 『Kiba Chitto』.


She probably wasn’t doing this out of consideration for me but due to being addicted to the spiciness.


「It hurts… Asuta, are my lips swollen?」


Ai Fa suddenly leaned her face towards me.


Her lustrous lips had a wet gleam about them.


「… Your lips are as beautiful as ever.」


She slapped my temple this time.


「It’s all because the way you are eating makes it so delicious, that’s why it stirred my appetite! What a problematic dish.」


「Even though it is too spicy for you, you still think these two dishes are delicious? If that is true, I will be really happy.」


「Honestly, I don’t know either. But I just want to keep eating it.」


And so, Ai Fa kept drinking the『Chitto hotpot』 soup and muttered with teary eyes: 「It still hurts…」


3


At noon, I brought the same bunch of people and gathered in the 《Cryptic Venerable Inn》 once again.


「Sorry for the wait. This is the dish made from pickled Chitto.」


The expressionless Neil and Shumimaru stood before me as I placed the two plates on the table.


I made the 『Chitto hotpot』 at home and had just finished reheating it. The 『Kiba Chitto』 was made in this kitchen.


After the pickled Chitto was reheated, its aroma became stronger. Vena Wu and Shin Wu inconspicuously took refuge near the window, taking care not to show any changes in their faces in order to be polite.


「I see, this is really different from a dish made from raw Chitto, I’m looking forward to it.」


Neil picked up the plate with the 『Kiba Chitto』.


「But you have to buy the pickled Chitto from me, so the ingredient cost will increase greatly. Will you make a profit?」


「The ingredient cost of this dish is twice that of the other dishes, but cooking with raw Chitto takes too much time, so I plan to use pickled Chitto for this meal.」


The cost should decrease if I used Chitto fruit, but I would need more time to research before I could present a dish that matched the dish made from Neil’s homemade pickled Chitto.


I planned to start researching raw Chitto dish from today. Even though I could get kiba meat cheaply, I shouldn’t ignore the profit margin.


Shumimaru would be leaving Genos in less than half a month, so I hoped he could taste the dish which I felt was the most delicious right now. That was the reason why I made the 『Kiba Chitto』 and 『Chitto hotpot』.


「Well then, through the dark lord amen.」


Neil and Shumimaru picked up their spoons.


Both of them tried the 『Kiba Chitto』 first.


After they took their first bite… This was the first time I saw Shumimaru opening his eyes so wide.


But he didn’t give any comments. He just picked up the bowl of 『Chitto hotpot』, took a sip, and then closed his eyes in silence.


「How’s the taste?」


When I asked that, a shout 「Incredibly delicious!」 drowned out my voice.


The one who yelled wasn’t Shumimaru, but Neil. He was trembling with the plate of 『Kiba Chitto』 in his hands.


「What a strong seasoning! This is indeed the taste of the pickled Chitto I made, but that’s not all, right? You added myam? Did you add myam?」


The innkeeper was expressionless just now like Shumimaru, but he was looking at me in shock right now.


「Ah, y-yes. I also added some Tau sauce.」


「So it’s Tau sauce! It’s really savory. But the key to the taste lies in the kiba meat after all. This meat goes perfectly with pickled Chitto!」


Next, Neil grabbed the bowl of 『Chitto hotpot』 and slurped it down noisily.


「This is great too! The taste is really deep! This is completely different from adding smashed Chitto into the soup! To think there is such a way of eating pickled Chitto… Ah, splendid! I can wolf down a few bowls in one go!」


「You flatter me.」


As I just stood in place, stiff from surprise, Neil finished the 『Chitto hotpot』. I wasn’t sure if he was too hyped or if this was the effect of Chitto fruit, but his ivory skin turned completely red and he was sweating profusely.


「My customers will be so happy! Ara, I never thought that my pickled Chitto can be eaten in such a way! Asuta, the rumors are true, you are really an outstanding chef! I’m so lucky to have met you, I must offer my thanks to the western god Selva and the eastern god Semy! This dish is really…」


At this moment, Neil finally came to his senses and looked at Shumimaru beside him in a panic.


Shumimaru remained expressionless as he stared at the innkeeper.


「My… My apologies! I showed my emotions before a customer from the east…」


「Fine, it is. An important friend, Neil is.」


Shumimaru answered calmly, and Neil lowered his beet red face.


「Shumimaru, what do you think?」


To avoid the long silence turning awkward, I interjected nonchalantly.


Shumimaru turned to me and narrowed his eyes into a thinner slit than Jiza Wu.


「Delicious, it is…. All your dishes, the best.」


And then, I saw the corners of his thin lips rising for the first time, and he showed a gentle and warm smile.


「A shame, this is. My emotion, showing… But, good, it is.」


「T-Thank you.」


I was really glad.


As we were talking, Neil took out a handkerchief to wipe his sweat, calmed himself down, and then said:


「Ahh, what a surprise. Both dishes are delicious, I can’t decide. If possible, can you provide these two dishes on alternate days?」


「That’s fine. But this hotpot needs to be cooked for a longer time, so I hope you can continue stewing it over a weak fire after I’m done with it…」


「That’s fine. I will already make some profit from the 30 pickled Chitto you will be buying from me every day, so I am happy to help.」


It seemed the number of meals had been set to be 30.


And so, I successfully made a contract with the 《Cryptic Venerable Inn》.


「Asuta, you are really an incredible person. Why is an excellent chef like you staying in the Post Station Town? Are you from the castle town?」


「No, of course I’m not from a big place like the castle town. However, restaurants are quite common in my hometown.」


「Excuse me, may I ask where you are from? The western kingdom?」


It had been awhile since someone asked me that question.


「I’m not from this continent. My hometown is an island country called Japan. I don’t know the reason, but when I woke up one day, I found myself collapsed in the Morga forest.」


「Japan… I have never heard of that place. After all, only people from the northern kingdom Mahildra have dealings with people from foreign continents.」


「I see. I have no idea how I got to this continent.」


Neil tilted his head puzzledly, while Shumimaru narrowed his eyes in deep thought and looked worried.


「So you are not from the western kingdom, huh. I finally understand why you can live in the Forest's Edge so easily and get along with the denizens of Forest's Edge.」


Even though Neil had reverted to his polite and expression self, he was still chattering a lot.


「This is wonderful. I visited Semu when I was young and was mesmerized by their mysterious culture. But I still couldn’t forsake the western god and move to Semu. However, I hope the citizens of the four major nations can grow closer to one another.」


「I see. But aren’t the western kingdom Semu on friendly terms with Jaguar?」


「You are right. But friends are just friends, and won’t become family. If a child is born between citizens of both countries, the child can only choose one god and lose one of their parents.」


This was the first time I heard of that.


Neil showed a slightly bitter smile.


「I wanted to take an easterner as my wife, but I can’t give up on the western god and don’t want to force the other party to forsake her religion. So I’m still a bachelor at such an age.」


In that case, the innkeeper Naudiz from the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》who had dual heritage from the south and the west must have had a complicated family history.


I thought only those with parents from hostile nations, like Kamyua Yost with his northern and western bloodlines would face such issues.


「I have always been interested in you who has broken the barriers of race and makes a living in Forest's Edge. To be honest, I’m really happy to see you live so freely… So you weren’t a citizen of the four gods from the very beginning.」


Neil leaned towards me suddenly.


「Forsaking a god is a big thing. That’s why the denizens of Forest's Edge who abandoned their belief in Jaguar and became citizens of Selva had such hard lives. This had always pained me. Asuta, a non-believer like you will definitely bring a huge change to Forest's Edge, please lead them to a better future.」


「… The most I can do is to cook them a meal.」


「That’s good enough.」


Neil couldn’t help smiling.


His smile was really warm, which made me feel that he didn’t need to suppress his emotions.






Everything went smoothly after that, and we left the 《Cryptic Venerable Inn》 without any incident.


As we walked down an alley, we would cross path with other people from time to time, although traffic wasn’t as busy as the main stone-paved road. At this moment, Shumimaru said to me quietly:


「Asuta, not this continent, you are from?」


「Ehh? Yes. I didn’t have the chance to tell you that.」


I did tell him I was from Japan before but didn’t mention that Japan wasn’t a country on this continent.


To others, this wasn’t important, but I wasn’t sure if I was mistaken, but Shumimaru seemed a little lackluster.


「Sorry, I should have told you sooner. I didn’t mean to hide it…」


「No, don’t matter, you where from. Foreign friend, I think of you. But why you strange, now know I… You star, no see.」


「Star?」


「Brethren, star read. Malefic star go, he know. But you star, he see no.」


He quickly narrowed his high cornered eyes; a beautiful light shone in the dark pupils between his eyelids, and he looked at me carefully.


「Worried, your future, I was. So, read your star, my brethren did. But, no read he… say brethren, not there you.」


「That’s…」


I wanted to ask further, but I was hesitant to.


The uneasiness I had been suppressing in my heart was growing.


Before my uneasiness seized me, Shumimaru grabbed my fingers calmly.


「But, Asuta, here. Important friend, you are… If you, allow me, think you friend.」


「… Shumimaru, you are my important friend too.」


I tried relaxing my stiff expression into a smile.


「I’m not sure if saying this to a customer is appropriate, but I had always thought of you as a friend. I will feel lonely when we part in ten or so days.」


「Even in, different lands, we two, friends still. The 《Silver Vase》, to Genos, will return. Even when, Semu back, visit Genos, still will. See you again, hope to.」


After the Blue month ends, Shumimaru’s 《Silver Vase》 would leave Genos and continue doing business in the western kingdom. Next, they would go to the capital before returning here. And, finally, they would return to their home country Semu.


As long as we were alive, we would have the chance to meet again.


As long as we were alive…


As long as I won’t get teleported somewhere out of the blue.


But even so…


I would never forget the people I met in this world.


Even if I got transported to another realm or return to my old world… and die in the ensuing fire, I won’t forget the people I met in this world and the life I had led until the moment my conscious fades. After renewing my resolve, I finally smiled at Shumimaru.


「Thank you. No matter how far we are apart, I will pray for your safety and well-being.」


「… Your conversation is like a couple that just got engaged…」


Vena Wu interjected unhappily.


「Besides, you will still stay in this city for more than ten days, right…?」


「Yes. Until, end, blue month.」


Shumimaru squinted his eyes a little troubled and let go of my fingers.


「Left, twelve days. Happy, eat your food.」


「Yes, I will work hard to cook delicious meals every day.」


By the way, has he given up on Vena Wu? It wasn’t my business, but I was still worried about that.


I fell into deep thoughts again. Shumimaru and Vena Wu believed in different gods. Officially, the denizens of Forest's Edge were citizens of the western kingdom Selva.


If they were to be wed, one of them would need to change their religion. Like what Neil mentioned earlier, this was no easy task.


Furthermore, Shumimaru was the bandleader of a Semu caravan that travels between Genos and the other city in the western kingdom, while Vena Wu was the eldest daughter of a tribal chief in Forest's Edge. Their status and position wouldn’t allow them to easily disavow their religion… If they were to be together, they would need to cut ties with many of their kins. That would be difficult.


… I’m not even sure if Shumimaru has really fallen for Vena Wu, so no point worrying about that.


However, if my premonition or delusion turned true, I hoped for no one to get hurt in the end.


Even if we believe in different gods, we were still living in the same world.


If even the people in the same world couldn’t obtain happiness, my future would be dim.


I hoped my precious friends wouldn’t have a tragic future… With that wish in mind, I prayed quietly.


Chapter 4: Traveler Friend and Frugalist


1


It had been three days since I decided to officially cater meals for the 《Cryptic Venerable Inn》.


Today was the 22nd of the Blue month.


After closing shop, I asked Kamyua Yost about the issue of the ownership of the Totos again. I then asked something I had been curious about—「the diet of a traveler」.


「Well, a traveler’s meals are simple. When they have to spend more than a day on the road between towns, travelers will need to bring ready-to-eat meals with them. I think I told you before, the jerky sold in the Post Station Town is a classic ready-to-eat food.」


We were staying inside the restaurant of the 《Kimyusu’s Tail Inn》.


Ludo Wu accompanied as my escort, and Kamyua Yost’s disciple Leito was also standing beside him.


「The most common and cheapest way is to boil the poitan, dried aria, and jerky together in a pot. People who are more well off will add some rock salt and herbs. You can imagine how that tastes. Even the cheap snacks in the Post Station Town are tastier than this poitan soup.」


「I see〜, boiling poitan, aria, and jerky, huh. If aria and fresh meat are used instead of dried aria and jerky, that will be just like a kiba pot eaten by the denizens of Forest's Edge.」


Ludo who was not used to sitting in chairs and was leaning against the wall interjected suddenly. Kamyua Yost looked at him and showed his usual cheery smile.


「This must be the knowledge that the forebears of the Forest's Edge learned from the town. If not, the denizens of Forest's Edge wouldn’t have known that they can live healthily by eating these vegetables. You only had the chance to buy vegetables from the town after moving into the Morga forest.」


「I see, that’s why the nutritious aria and poitan became the staple food of Forest's Edge. After hearing you saying that, I finally understand.」


When he heard me say that, Kamyua Yost nodded sagely


「That’s right. People can live a healthy life by eating aria, poitan, and meat every day. Not just that, they are cheaper than the other vegetables too, a perfect ingredient. Not just travelers, soldiers will add jerky and dried aria into their poitan soup too.」


「Soldiers too?」


「Yes. I’m not talking about the guards in town, but soldiers in a war zone. And of course, the aristocratic commanders will be enjoying fine cuisine in the safety of a castle.」


I said 「I see,」 and brushed off Kamyua Yost’s joke.


「Why are you so interested in the diet of a traveler? Are you planning to abandon Genos and run away to Jaguar or Semu?」


「That’s impossible. It is almost time for me to hand the kiba jerky to the Semu caravan. I’m curious how the jerky they bought will be eaten.」


「Hmm? Then you should ask the people from the caravan. The way the food is prepared for easterners and westerners is different.」


「No, they won’t be eating them, they will be reselling to customers on their journey. The ones tasting jerky will be westerners. So I want to listen to your opinion.」


When he heard me say that, Kamyua Yost clapped his hands excitedly.


「I see, reselling, huh. The further away from Genos, the fewer bias people will have towards kiba. That’s great business sense.」


「Is that so? Thinking about it carefully, those people are willing to buy kiba jerky from me at the market price of Karon jerky. If they want to make a profit by reselling it, the kiba jerky will be sold at a higher price than Karon jerky. Can they really sell it?」


「You don’t need to worry. Karon and Kimyusu are very cheap in Genos. In some cities that don’t have large livestock farm, the price of meat will be twice that of here.」


I see, I thought to myself quietly.


Contrary to my expectations, the longer I talked to him, the more useful information I obtained. I heard that Kamyua Yost spent most of his time every year wandering the world, so he was very knowledgeable.


「So there are farms raising Karon and Kimyusu as cattle. No wonder the price of these two types of meat is relatively stable.」


「That’s right, the neighboring city Dabaggu is renowned for their large Karon farm. It is within half a day’s ride on a Totos. That’s why they would send large amount of Karon meat to Genos everyday… But the people in the Post Station Town can only eat the leg meat of the Karon.」


「Eh, is that so?」


「Yes, the meat from Karon’s torso tastes nicer and is more tender than the leg meat, so the castle town would buy all the torso meat, resulting in the Karon meat in the Post Station Town being so cheap.」


I couldn’t ignore these words.


「I’m sorry, but are the Karon jerky sold in the Post Station Town also made from leg meat?」


「Probably. Only travelers and soldiers would eat jerky. The calf meat tastes worse than the thigh meat and cost less too, so they probably made jerky from the calf meat… What’s the matter? Why do you look so serious?」


「No, my stall had only been using the chest meat of the kiba to make jerky. Because the thigh and shoulder meat that doesn’t have much fats tastes more bland when made into jerky.」


Even so, why wasn’t the jerky business improving at all?


Seeing how troubled I looked, Kamyua Yost stroked his thin chin.


「The kiba jerky you gifted me last time does taste better than the Karon jerky sold in the Post Station Town. However, travelers won’t care too much about the taste of jerky too much. They will soak it in the poitan soup anyway, so they can’t tell the difference in taste anyway.」


「In that case, what about using powdered poitan as food? It can be eaten after grilling it on a journey. The jerky and aria can be boiled in water, which will be a sumptuous meal.」


「Yes, that’s a great idea. But right now, only the denizens of Forest's Edge know how to grill the powdered poitan into a form like fuwano, right?」


「Ah, that’s true. Then, we can spread this skill in the Post Station Town…」


「Asuta, is that really fine?」


Kamyua Yost’s tone changed.


He didn’t have his usual pretending-to-be-retarded smile and was grinning sagely instead.


「Asuta, you are selling kiba food in the Post Station Town, so for every 100 meals you sell, there would be 100 Karon or Kimyusu dishes that won’t be sold. But despite that, your business is still unaffected, do you know why?」


「The reason, huh… Because the people in town fear the denizens of Forest's Edge?」


「That’s not it. Like I said, the people from Dabaggu are the ones selling the meat in Genos. The snack stall owners might be unhappy about their sales dropping, but they are just the wives of innkeepers earning chump change on the sideline. Even if their stall closes down, they won’t become homeless and wander the streets.」


「I see…」


「It’s the same for the Dabaggu people, their losses aren’t that heavy that they will pick trouble with you. After all, Genos isn’t their only clients, and they will sell tens of Karon every day. They will sell a few less Karon at most, and only the cheap leg meat. They won’t be happy about it, but it isn’t worth complaining about, and they will at most click their tongue and forget it… However, if you intend to expand your business through the sale of poitan, you need to be careful.」


But why? I asked him with a look.


Kamyua Yost put an elbow on the table and smiled quietly.


「Because the people in the castle town raise fuwano crops, while the Post Station Town people grow the cheap poitan. If the people of Post Station Town find out how delicious poitan are and won’t buy fuwano, the nobles who manage the northern farmlands will suffer huge losses. Can you imagine how dangerous this is?」


「Is that so… I can understand that…」


「I’m not stopping you from doing this, but you are trying to improve relations with the people in the city right now, so doing that is dangerous. Teaching the people of the Post Station Town how to make poitan delicious is a dangerous weapon against the nobles, I hope you can keep this in mind.」


「…」


「In order to live on, there are times when you need to wield your blade. But if you mistime the moment you wield your blade, you might hurt your allies. Be careful when you wield a blade.」


Kamyua Yost smiled cockily after saying that.


2


I bade Kamyua Yost farewell and, when I returned to the Fa house, there were already several women waiting for me there.


「Hi, everyone’s so early… Hmm? What’s the matter?」


「Here, the jerky as promised.」


The timing was just right. I asked these houses to help me make the jerky ordered by the 《Silver Vase》.


Shumimaru’s Semu caravan 《Silver Vase》 ordered 40 kg of jerky from me. I felt that this was a good chance to distribute the wealth to everyone, so I not only bought meat from them, but also asked them to make the jerky.


「Thank you, everyone. I will check one at a time.」


Rii Sudora and I brought the equipment for the stall into the room and then ushered the women in.


There were members from the three houses here, which were the Fou, Latzu and Gazu houses. The Latzu and Gazu houses were further away from the Fa house, so this was the first time I had met the women from their houses.


「Let me start first.」


The woman from the Fou house gave me a large sack used to carry vegetables.


I opened the sack and saw a lot of jerky rolling around inside. I picked one palm-sized jerky at random and then sliced off the edge with a knife.


They used Pico leaves and salt to completely remove the moisture before smoking it, and the jerky became as tough as wood. I put the slice of jerky into my mouth, and the strong saltiness and taste of herbs, as well as the condensed taste of the kiba, spread in my mouth.


The taste was fine. They used meat that had been properly bloodlet.


I then placed the jerky on a board and then cut the tough jerky cleanly in two from the middle. The jerky was rock hard, proving that the middle was completely dry.


「Well then, thank you for your hard work… Erm, please wait a moment.」


I picked out the copper plates from today’s earnings and handed them to the woman from the Fou house.


「Seven white copper plates and red copper plates each, please check it.」


「… Yes.」


The woman’s face turned as stiff as the jerky.


Seven white copper plates and red copper plates each. In terms of tusks and horns, that was roughly six kiba worth.


It was rare for the denizens of Forest's Edge to sell such a large amount of jerky. Hence, such a chance might not come again. Even if it did, I would arrange for the other houses to take the job. I already told them this plenty of times when I gave them this job, but even so, the remuneration was immense for them.


「Well, next batch of jerky, please.」


The jerky brought in by the Latzu and Gazu houses was fine too.


The women didn’t look overjoyed and looked relieved instead. They accepted the copper plates respectfully.


「Asuta, the Sudora house will bring you the jerky tomorrow, we will be in your care.」


Rii Sudora who was seated beside me bowed courteously.


At this moment, someone knocked on the door from the outside.


「I’m Ema Min Lutim, I have brought four women from the Wu clan kin houses over. Is Ai Fa or Asuta in?」


Ah, it was Ema Min Lutim again. I stood up.


Ema Min Lutim visited the Fa house yesterday and two days ago too. She brought 3 Totos yesterday and one Totos the day before yesterday.


Did she find more Totos? I opened the door carefully and was relieved to only see women from the Forest's Edge in front of me.


I saw an unexpected face. It was a girl of petite stature, her brown hair was tied up like an onion… She used to be the youngest daughter of the Tsun clan, but was now a member of the Lutim house, Zwei.


「Hello, Ema Min Lutim. I didn’t expect to see you three days in a row, is there anything I can do for you today?」


「Yes, I’m visiting with my family Zwei. She wants to ask you something… Let’s finish the work with these women first, alright? They have brought the jerky they made with them.」


There were women from the Lilim, Mufa and Mamu houses, kins of the Wu clan I wasn’t familiar with.


When splitting the job of making the jerky, I prioritized the poorer houses as much as possible. But only the Fou, Latzu, Gazu and Sudora houses learned to bloodlet by the deadline. So I gave the rest of the jobs to the Wu clan. Mama Mia Lei then used her discretion to assign the job of making jerky to the houses who were not so well off as the Wu clan and Lutim house.


Some kin houses of the Wu clan were impoverished like the minor houses, the Fou and Latzu. The women weren’t dressed as nicely as the Wu clan members and had a plain air about them.


The denizens of Forest's Edge were hardworking and honest, no matter how wealthy they were. All the jerky they brought was fine and good enough to sell.


「Alright, it’s fine. Thank you, everyone, for your hard work. I will ask you for help again if the chance arises.」


「We are very thankful too… Asuta of the Fa house, will we get in your way if we observe your work?」


The woman from the Mamu house asked.


「It’s fine.」


After answering, I turned towards Zwei.


「But before that, you have business with me, right? What’s the matter?」


Was it a grave matter related to the Tsun clan?


Zwei grunted 「Hmmp!」 and then folded her slender arms before her chest.


「Let me tell you first, this won’t be a short conversation, you know? It might last until the sun goes down, are you okay with that?」


「That will be troubling. I need to prepare for my business tomorrow, as well as dinner.」


「In that case, you can listen to me as you work! If you don’t give me a satisfactory answer, I won’t go back to the Lutim house!」


She appeared a little emotionally unstable.


With no other choice, I prepared the ingredients needed for my work and started dicing the aria as I listened to Zwei.


「Asuta of the Fa house, you asked seven houses to make jerky, right? I want to confirm something about that.」


「Ehh? You want to talk about jerky?」


「Yes, what else should I talk about?」


Only six days had passed since Zwei’s grandfather Tay Tsun passed away. I thought she would be talking about that and even braced myself for it. It seems like I thought too much.


「The remuneration for this job is seven white copper plates and red copper plates each, correct? And the jerky will require the chest meat of two large kiba… Anything wrong so far?」


「Yes, you are right.」


I asked each house to prepare 6 kg of jerky.


To make 6 kg of jerky, roughly 15 kg of abdomen meat was needed. In order to extend the preservation period, all of its moisture had to be removed.


「… In that case, why did you only pay 12 red copper plates to the Wu clan?」


「Huh?」


「The Wu clan sells one kiba to the Fa house every day, correct? Even though one kiba only costs 12 red copper plates, just the jerky from the chest meat alone can earn 77 red copper plates? Isn’t these numbers strange?」


She glared at me with her eyes where the white part was more prominent as she spoke with a screechy voice.


「Well…」


I chopped the aria as I calculated in my head.


「First, I need to tell you something. The price of fresh kiba meat being too low has always been bothering me. But there isn’t any so-called market price for kiba meat, so we are pricing the meat of the kiba based on their tusks and horns.」


Or rather, Mama Mia Lei insisted that the Wu clan had plenty of excess meat and didn’t want any money for them. I had to convince her with such a price.


「… And so? How did you come up with the price of jerky?」


「I used the Karon jerky sold in the Post Station Town as a reference. I asked everyone to make 600 red copper plates worth of jerky; the Fa house will take 10 percent as commission and divide the rest equally among the seven houses.」


「Every house is paid 77 red copper plates… which is equal to 539 red copper plates, the Fa house only takes 61 red copper plates. Hmmp, looks like your calculations are correct.」


The eight women around us listening in looked troubled. Their mental arithmetics probably couldn’t keep up with us. Besides, they thought such things were meaningless.


Zwei wasn’t fazed by their reactions and rambled on.


「In that case, the price of the fresh meat should be benchmarked against the price of fresh meat in the Post Station Town too, right? How much does the meat of that Karon thing cost? Not 12 red copper plates for one, correct?」


「I had never been to a butcher, but the price of meat you buy for your personal needs and bulk purchases by inns or stalls are several folds different. That might be so, but the price of the kiba right now is really low.」


「So how much does it cost exactly?」


Was she testing my mental arithmetics?


Normally, 100 g of Karon meat costs one red copper plate. When the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》 procured the same amount of meat, they could push the price down to as low as 0.37 red copper plates.


I used 12 red copper plates to purchase around 40 kg of meat from the Wu clan. I didn’t know what kind of animal the Karon was, or how big it was. I didn’t know how much one Karon cost, so I had to assume it weighed as much as a kiba.
Which meant…


In a normal market, 1 kg of Karon cost 10 red copper plates, so 40 kg will cost 400 red copper plates.


If I calculate in terms of bulk sale, 1 kg is 0.37 red copper plates, so 40 kg will be… 148 plates.


The difference between these two numbers was huge, but normal people won’t buy 40 kg of meat in one shot. The price was so high because they are buying in small quantities.


「Anyway, the bulk sale price is about 148 red copper plates.」


「It seems like you are oppressing the Wu clan and buying at less than a tenth of the price!」


Zwei shouted and then squinted her eyes suspiciously.


「And isn’t 148 red copper plates too little? How much does the same amount of jerky cost?」


「When making jerky, its weigh will fall by more than half, if we compare the price of fresh meat with jerky… Hold on.」


100 g of Karon jerky was 1.5 red copper plates.


If the bulk price of Karon meat was 0.37 red copper plates…


「Hmm, the price of jerky is four times that of fresh meat.」


「Four times!? Why so much!?」


「Rock salt is used when making jerky, and, considering the expenses involved, this is a reasonable price, right? There is also the workmanship involved in making jerky, and the cost will increase if you buy from a retailer instead of a supplier.」


「… I don’t understand. It feels like I have been conned.」


Was that true? Then let’s do a thorough calculation.


If we made 10 kg of fresh meat into jerky today, we would need to preserve it with Pico leaves and marinate it with salt. After smoking it, the fresh meat would shrink to 4 kg of jerky. The salt used was about 5% of the meat’s weight. 10 kg required 500 g of salt, which was 3 red copper plates.


The 10 kg of fresh meat was priced at 37 red copper plates, and after adding the price of the rock salt, that would be exactly 40 red copper plates. The price of jerky was 1.5 red copper plates per 100 g, 4 kg would be 60 red copper plates.


The ingredient cost of 40 divided by the price of 60, multiplied by 100, that would be 66%.




So the price was very reasonable and not expensive at all.


I concluded by using the actual numbers:


「The cost of fresh meat is 37 red copper plates, while the price of jerky is 60 red copper plates… Taking away the cost of rock salt, the earnings are 20 red copper plates, you know? Is that really cheap?」


「This price isn’t cheap in Genos. However, their strategy revolves around selling large quantities with thin margins, so the calculations would be roughly the same even if you use Karon meat instead of the kiba that I’m selling.」


If I prepared the meat myself, the cost ratio of the 『Kiba burger』 would just be 25%. If I used Karon meat instead, the cost ratio would spike to 65.8%. Simply put, the same would apply to the other stalls too.


「Hmmp… so in order to earn money, you are buying meat from the Wu clan for cheap?」


「You misunderstand. I had negotiated with them many times to raise the selling price, but Mia Lei Wu refused to accept. She thinks the excess meat should just be returned to the forest anyway.」


This girl had an economic sense that the denizens of Forest's Edge lacked. With her standing right before me, I couldn’t help feeling that this was a good chance to set an appropriate price for kiba meat within Forest's Edge.


「Well, Zwei and Ema Min Lutim, can you help me tell Mia Lei Wu that I want to amend the selling price of kiba meat? Not just for the Wu clan, I plan to buy meat from the other houses too, so I want to use this chance to set an adequate price.」


「I see. Are you going to set the price at 148 red copper plates, just like Karon meat? The price will rocket ten times.」


「I’m fine with that. Or rather, this is the right choice. Our goal is to let the people of the Post Station Town buy the kiba meat at an adequate price.」


Zwei finally quieted down and looked at me as I finished up chopping the aria.


「… I get it. Looks like you really want to let all denizens of Forest's Edge benefit and aren’t taking all the profit for yourself.」


「Of course. This might sound a little cocky, but the Fa house won’t have anywhere to spend the money no matter how much we earn.」


「But you can buy anything with copper plates.」


「Is that so? Copper plates can’t buy bonds and trust, right?」


After I made that joke, Zwei grunted loudly.


「I was planning to interrogate you until it gets dark, but it ended so quickly.」


「That’s wonderful. Zwei, it has been a meaningful discussion, I’m very satisfied.」


I wasn’t being polite, I really felt that way.


In the Forest's Edge, Zwei who was so obsessed with copper plates was an abnormality. However, in order to bring prosperity into Forest's Edge, someone with economic senses like her was necessary. Speaking of which, the most out-of-place person in Forest's Edge was me. This was the first time I met a fellow tribe mate who could see things from the same perspective as me. I was secretly happy that an abnormality like her was now a kin of the Wu clan.


「I finished my business. What now, Ema Min Lutim?」


「Well, there are no chores to do even if we rush back, so let’s observe Asuta’s cooking.」


Ema Min Lutim smiled happily, and Zwei wavered uneasily when she saw Ema’s smile.


At this moment, someone pulled open the door from outside without any hesitation.


Only a family member could open the door without permission, so, naturally, the one who entered was Ai Fa. Ai Fa was also heaving a 60 kg kiba on her shoulder today, and she threw a sharp sideway glance at the scene inside the room.


「Welcome back, house head. So you hunted something today too.」


After Ai Fa restarted hunting two days ago, this was the second kiba she got. There wasn’t many kiba during this season, but the harvest by the Fa house was incredibly bountiful.


I received the house head with a smile, but she showed a cold expression and said: 「You seem really happy today, huh.」. She didn’t enter and just closed the door.


What did she mean by happy? I was clueless.


The only thing different today was that there were nine women in here with me, and many women had been visiting recently. Maybe this was a bit too many.


「… Sorry, Asuta.」


Ema Min Lutim bowed towards me.


「Huh? Ah, no, you don’t need to apologize.」


「Is that so?」


She tilted her head and then leaned towards my ear.


「Aside from me and the lady from the Sudora house, everyone else is young unwed women, so maybe Ai Fa is unhappy about that?」


I was shocked and stared at Ema Min Lutim who was leaning in. There was a cheeky smile that befitted her age on her ever-calm face.


And so, the 22nd of the Blue month ended peacefully.


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