Saturday, August 28, 2021

Have a Cup of Coffee after School in the Fantasy World Café V2 (2 of 6)

 Chapter 3: The Pawn That Fears Solitude

Translator: Skythewood

Editor: Hiiro

My grandfather liked to use old sayings, he said that the words of our forebears were filled with deep and serious thoughts, showing us the way when we felt lost in life, and teaching us how to live our life. He would always use these sayings in everyday conversation.

And of course, I couldn’t remember everything my grandfather said. It was too difficult for my younger self, and his words often felt like lecturing. Lecturing was ranked third in the list of things students hated, so it was impossible for me to accept it with a grateful heart.

But I could still remember a few lines. The favourite lines of my grandfather, something I often hear while growing up. I wasn’t any expert, but I could mix it up a little and tell it to others.

For example, 「Idle hands are the devil's workshop.」

Meaning 「When one is unoccupied or has nothing to do, one is more likely to cause or get into trouble.」

I wasn’t sure if I should interpret it as 「it’s better to be so busy that one won’t do reckless things」, or 「become a righteous man that won’t do vile things even if one is free.」

Indeed, when I was alone and wasn’t busy, I never did anything praiseworthy.

Maybe my grandfather’s words were the reason I kept myself busy after coming to this world. In this world where I didn’t know what I should do, I didn’t have the confidence to behave properly when idle.

However, my life has been quite relaxed in recent days.

I didn’t want to say that I was idle because there were no customers, I prefer saying it was relaxing. My days have been very peaceful.

Even if I was open for business, there would be days without any customers. On days like these, my thoughts would stray from the path of good.

「Hee, I’m going to take your knight for free.」

It was still operating hours, but I was playing chess with Gramps Goru. I was seated before a chessboard.

This was a different world, and countries like Japan or other nations I knew of didn’t exist. But surprisingly, things I was familiar with would pop up from time to time.

The food culture wasn’t too different, and the fashion wasn’t too exotic either. Maybe someone from my world came here not too long ago? That was the only way for things to make sense. Regrettably, I didn’t have any way to confirm this.

That aside, I was in the middle of a game of chess.

In front of me was Gramps Goru who was stroking his long white beard, while I was staring at the chess board.

As Gramps Goru said, my knight was going to be taken without any compensation. If I move my knight out of danger, it would turn into a situation where my queen would be taken. I had to choose between my knight or my queen.

In a match between professionals, a difference of one pawn was enough to decide the game, this was a frustrating mistake. My win is a certainty now—— was Gramps Goru thinking this way? Probably not.

I peeked at Gramps Goru, and he smiled at me with his wrinkled face.

If I sacrificed my knight here, the loss was still acceptable for me. Gramps Goru would need to move his rook to capture my knight.

If he didn’t take my knight, my knight would infiltrate into his side of the board. Which meant, Gramps Goru taking the knight was a forced move. If he moved his rook, the open file would become my path to attack.

Up till now, we were still probing each other in a stable opening, but we would be fighting for the queen side of the board. If things proceed according to plan, I will gain the advantage in the end game.

「Hee hee hee.」

He was a tough nut to crack. He was laughing weirdly.

Chess was a popular game in my world, but there weren’t many players in this world. It was closer to entertainment for nobility and the wealthy.

In my world, chess had hundreds of millions of players, but it was a niche game in Japan. It was less popular compared to shogi or go.

I learned chess from a regular in my grandfather’s Café, Takumi-ojisan from the neighbourhood tofu shop. Takumi-ojisan used to travel around the world, and interact with all sorts of people through chess. He went through a series of tough battles in his bid to win a chess competition.

Takumi-ojisan who experienced all that taught me chess wholeheartedly, and I was proud of my abilities too.

But sadly, chess was a niche game.

Even if I bragged to my friends in school, they would just say they don’t get the rules.

Go or Shogi matches would be televised, and famous players would become a trending topic. However, chess couldn’t trend, and was in a pathetic state in Japan.

Chess matches were a high level of psychological warfare, your opponent’s plans, goals and pain—— players needed to read into them, and recreate the possibilities in their mind. And the next step was to go against their expectations.

I peeked at Gramps Goru’s face, unable to predict his next move.

This old man was proficient in psychological warfare. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking from his expression. The more I try, the deeper I would sink into a Labyrinth without any exit.

To be honest, I didn’t need to worry.

I already analyzed the board, formulated a plan, and started executing it. So I shouldn’t be second guessing myself, and just carry out the plan to my best abilities. In chess, the game wouldn’t go as expected, and there was a need to reach an acceptable compromise. I could compromise early and fall back on a less perfect plan; or push my pieces greedily towards my demise. The difficulty of chess was in finding that fine line.

After all, I had an important reason why I couldn’t underestimate Gramps Goru.

As if he could see through my plan, he would occasionally play an illogical move, pulling off the best sequence to crush my scheme. I even started to suspect that he could predict the future.

When I started to groan, Gramps Goru said cheerfully:

「Good good. Young people should be filled with worries. Worries can nurture your soul, hehehe.」

Tough, this old man was really tough.

His words were straight laced, but his eyes and face were taunting me.

Great, I got it. I would crush you completely and laugh at the very end.

I resolved myself and moved my bishop. This would sacrifice my knight, and if my plan worked, it would have a big impact on the rest of the match.


At a glance, this was an insignificant move, but Gramps Goru gasped exaggeratingly, as if he had seen the future development of the board.

Really now, just doing that was enough to give me a bad feeling. No, wait, was this his plan to make me waver? Ahh—— enough, stop thinking, playing psychological warfare with him during a match was too reckless. I should focus on the board and keep a poker face.

「As expected of Yu-kun…… this is why I can’t stop playing chess with you.」

Gramps Goru stroked his long beard and stared at the board.

「Well, well, well, what should I do?」

His tone and face were like a neighbourhood grandpa, but there was a glint in his eyes. Those were eyes that could see through everything with his experience and instinct, like a child watching a sparkling object before him.

Those weren't the eyes a normal old man would possess. Like the old man adventurer who took me in, and the mafia Boss Corleone-san, only capable top class people possessed such eyes.


Gramps Goru moved his rook to capture my knight.

With that move, the way into Gramps Goru base camp was open. To occupy this open file, I would need to move my rook… But before that, I pushed my pawn.

This move surprised him, and Gramps Goru thought about it for a while. To keep me occupied, he engaged me in idle chatter.

「Yu-kun, where did you learn to play chess?」

「Someone I used to know taught me.」

「Oh, someone you used to know. He is a highly skilled chess player.」

「You can tell?」

I asked, and Gramps Goru blinked at me as he stroked his beard.

「Yu-kun, your moves are beautiful, so the one who taught you must be a great player. Many of your sequences are new to me, but they are very effective. I have a lot of fun.」

That was only natural. I could only laugh dryly.

Both Chess and Shogi had long years of research. What moves should be used to gain the advantage in what situation—— as such knowledge accumulated, they would become the optimal lines of moves.

I used them easily, but these lines of moves were the crystallization of top class players, and were like gems carefully sculpted over time.

The level of chess in this world wasn’t as advanced as my world, with archaic style and moves from the previous era. Anyone would feel suspicious about polished moves that were decades ahead of its time.

「Chess is commonly known as entertainment for nobility, but that evaluation might need to change.」

Gramps Goru said gleefully through squinting eyes.

「Yu-kun who isn’t nobility is so proficient in chess at such a young age, so nobles aren’t that great after all.」

Ahaha. It would be great if I could laugh out loud, but I could only feel uneasy.

This wasn’t my talent, I was just making use of the wisdom of my forebears. And the fact was, despite having the advantage of knowing these optimal lines, I had never won against Gramps Goru. My position was great in the opening, but he would toy with me like a wizard in the middle game. Was this what they call 「old man strength」?

Gramps Goru reached for the most powerful piece in chess—— moving his Queen into the fray. I expected this move, but this was going too well.

No matter how I diced it, I could figure out counters to that move easily. I would take his pieces one by one, and simplify the board with me gaining the advantage.

Gramps Goru should have predicted such a development.

Which meant, after this move, he prepared other counters in wait, and I didn’t know what it was. If I didn’t know what he was planning, the optimal lines wouldn’t help, and I had to rely on myself.

This was fun—— I couldn’t help feeling this way.

Should I infiltrate into Gramps Goru's well defended base, or choose the best move in this current situation—— my victory was assured if I just choose the best moves. But I would be no different from a computer then.

My goal shouldn’t be victory, but to enjoy chess, interact with my opponent and search for the wonders of a chess match. Chess was a game after all, so we should enjoy it freely. Unless there was a reason for me to strive for victory, I shouldn’t just play the best moves.

And so, I ignored the best solution and moved my knight. This was a free form of chess without any optimal lines or precedent, just instinct.

This went against the carefully laid plans I had in mind, and for some reasons, I felt very refreshed.

「Fufufu, good, this is a great move, this is the possibility of youth.」

「Why are you so happy?」

「It’s nothing much, there’s nothing more joyous than when the thoughts of an old man like me gets overturned.」

Gramps Goru said with a sincere smile, wrinkling his already wrinkled face further.

I didn’t really get what the old man was thinking, but it was fine as long as he was having fun. Just don’t drag me into any troubles.

I thought he would think about it further, but he easily made his move.

And as if to match him, I moved shortly after.

In the opening, we thought carefully and predicted each other’s moves; but that had changed, and we were moving our pieces like a blitz. The fast moving pieces were a refreshing sight to behold.

We didn’t say anything.

There was no need, we didn’t need to feel reserved, or need to rack our brains for victory. We both understood that we were just enjoying the moment and the game came to a close.

I won this time.

「Hmm, it’s my loss.」

Gramps Goru said gleefully.

「When Alan died, I was depressed because no one could play a match against me… Considering Yu-kun’s growth in all aspects including chess, I can’t die yet.」

「I don’t know what you are expecting, but my future will be normal, including chess.」

I said firmly, and Gramps Goru started crackling. It wasn’t important, but he has too many different ways of laughing.

「Things will become tough for you in the future.」

Gramps Goru said with conviction.

「…… I already have it tough.」

Gramps Goru ignored my deep sigh and laughed heartily. He then said: 「Since I lost……」 with a devious face. Oh crap, I had an ominous feeling after seeing his expression.

And my gut feelings were always spot on.

Gramps Goru clapped his hands and said with a meaningful smile:

「How about letting my granddaughter become your fiance? She is a cute and docile girl.」

「Have you finally gotten senile, old man?」

…… Oh no, I said what I was really thinking.

I make a show of wiping the sweat from my brow.

「And isn’t Gramps Goru’s granddaughter…… only eleven?」

I remembered that coming up in an earlier conversation, but he made a face saying that was a trivial matter, and continued:

「She will be a great beauty in five years, you know? She is my granddaughter after all.」

「That’s not the problem. I believe in free love.」

「Don’t worry, if Yu-kun woos her with your charms, that will be free love, right? Hmm.」

「Just what is in that head of yours……」

「Hahaha! People often tell me that!」

It was hopeless. He was incorrigible and beyond saving.

I looked to the distance with a resigned face, there was nothing I could do. Someone save me. Never mind, I already knew that trying to convince him was a waste of time.

I exhaled deeply, then thought about something.

「Gramps Goru, do you have a dream?」

「Oh? Why the sudden question?」

「I had been thinking about it recently.」

He might look like a carefree ol man, but he was probably a high status and rich person from somewhere. Did Gramps Goru have dreams or goals too?

「Dreams?」 Gramps Goru said with his head tilted. 「I will probably die soon though.」

「That’s not funny.」

Gramps Goru was probably joking, but he was old, so I felt my face turn stiff.

He laughed happily at my reaction.

「I had many dreams when I was young, but I stopped thinking about that at my age.」

「Oh, is that so?」

「Instead of striving towards my dream, I’m leaning more towards entrusting my dream to the next generation.」

He showed a cryptic smile.

「The old can inspect their lives through young ones like Yu-kun, which is a big enough dream for us. If I have to say, my dream right now is—— for the children who inherited my bloodline to live a blissful life.」

I nodded and said: 「I see.」 Gramps Goru looked like a respectable elderly person. That was one way of thinking about it.

The door chimed, and I turned to find a beautiful woman in a dark blue suit entering with a thick book in her hands.

She had a neat head of platinum hair, with a hint of coldness in her features and plain makeup. Plain but delicately designed earrings hung from her earlobes.

Her attire was just like an elite big sister, and she fit the term beautiful perfectly.

「Pardon my intrusion.」

As usual, she bowed politely at me before approaching Gramps Goru swiftly. She was Gramps Goru’s secretary, which surprised me by how unjust the world was. She probably had to take on this job because she was laden in debt.

「It’s time.」

Ms Secretary whispered quietly into Gramps Goru’s ear.

I-I wasn’t envious at all, I wasn’t hoping that she would whisper into my ears at all.

…… I was super envious.

「Don’t wanna.」

Even after experiencing the wonderful whisper from the beautiful big sister, Gramps Goru pouted his lips.

「Don’t say that, Master. This is already scheduled.」

「Don’t wanna, don’t wanna! I don’t want to work! I want to play chess with Yu-kun!」

He might look like a kind old man, but his tone was just like a kindergartener brat throwing a tantrum.

If I was his Secretary, I would probably beat him up. But Ms Secretary was a professional, and did not whack him with her book or fret at all.


「Ugh, you don’t have to be so mad.」

Ms Secretary looked the same as always to me, but she seemed to be mad.

「I know you enjoy playing chess with Yu-san, but Yu-san is busy too.」

Ms Secretary looked my way for support, and I nodded after surveying the shop.

「That’s right.」

「There are no other customers aside from me though?」

「More customers will come later.」

I said firmly, and Ms Secretary agreed with me and nodded.

「Hence, please go back.」

Ms Secretary’s attitude was resolute, and wouldn’t waver like a deeply rooted tree.

Gramps Goru groaned before slouching his shoulders dejectedly.

「It can’t be helped…… I hate it, but I have to work……」

「That’s a wise decision.」

Ms Secretary must have put in a lot of work to make Gramps Goru work properly. If it was me, I would have given up within two hours.

「Just how long do I have to work……」

Gramps Goru said with heart felt exhaustion. He looked like the boss of a big company, troubling over the lack of an heir, but he reverted back to the face of a devious old man in no time.

「Oh, I want Yu-kun to become Lily’s fiance, what do you think?」

「You mean the young lady?」

Ms Secretary was surprised by the old man’s sudden words. She must be pitying this senile old man.

「You should ask the young lady first. If you decide this by yourself, she will hate you.」

Well done, Ms Secretary! Well done! Scold him more!

「Ugh…… I will do that then.」

Maybe he heard the voices in my head, Gramps Goru calmed down. His granddaughter wouldn’t want to marry a stranger either. This idea would undoubtedly miscarriage.

「Let’s go then…… Good bye, Yu-kun, I will bring a souvenir next time.」

「Something normal will do, don’t bring something weird.」

There was a precedent, so I reminded him again. Gramps Goru clicked his tongue in reply and stood up with heavy steps.

「Ahh…… I don’t want to work, I don’t want to work……」

He muttered something that a NEET would say as he left the shop.

「I apologize for the trouble.」

Ms Secretary who stayed behind bowed towards me.

「No no, I had fun too.」

If he just visited occasionally.

I said with an awkward smile, Ms Secretary smiled at me and took out gold coins from her purse.

「Well then, this is the expenses for today.」

「…… As usual, you always give too much.」

These were gold coins, gold coins.

「This is to make up for your troubles, and to the Master, this is just pocket change. He asked you to please accept this as the entertainment of an old coot.」

「I see… Then I will graciously accept.」

And I would always accept the money. Even if I refuse, Ms Secretary would say 「I would get admonished」, forcing me to take it. Besides, it might be uncouth to say this, but you couldn’t have too much money.

Seeing me accept it, Ms Secretary bowed and said:

「I will take my leave.」

I couldn’t tell if it was perfume or anything, but Ms Secretary left behind a fragrant smell before leaving.

…… How wonderful, I wanted to employ a secretary too. That was the men’s romance.

I let my imagination wander, and thought about something when I was about to keep the chessboard.

「Gramps Goru is a Knight.」

He was like a King too, but a Knight could roam freely on the board, disrupting the enemy with its irregular moves. This unorthodox nature was just like Gramps Goru.

「Ms Secretary is definitely the Queen.」

The Queen was the most powerful chess piece, and would be forced to show its ability even if it didn’t want to. It could move in eight directions to a square it likes, but it also had a clumsy side like when it could only move down a file. So, what about me?

I looked at the arranged pieces on the side of the board. Compared to Shogi, chess has less variety, so I have fewer choices too. But if I had to say——

「I’m a pawn.」

The pawns brace up the battlefield from the front, the soldiers that were the most numerous. For a plebeian like me, this was the most suitable chess piece.

And an isolated pawn was weak, and could only fight by working together with other pieces. For a small character like me, I had much to learn from it so I wouldn’t turn to wickedness just because I was alone.

Without Gramps Goru, the Café seemed exceptionally quiet.

I picked up a pawn outside the board, and placed it back on the board.

Pawns probably feared solitude more than other chess pieces.

The voices of people passing by the shop rose and fell.

Would the next customer come already?

Chapter 4: An Unforgettable Taste


When she stepped onto the stagecoach, she thought she heard someone calling her, and looked around her. This was a stage station with stagecoaches traveling to and fro, with an unending stream of passengers.

She searched for that familiar face in the crowd and luggages, and when she started to focus on one spot, she heard an impatient click of the tongue from behind.

She stopped her search hurriedly and squeezed inside the stagecoach.

After getting a seat in the stagecoach filled with passengers and luggages, she looked out the window.

She thought self mockingly 「it was impossible for him to be here.」 She perked up her ears to listen out for her voice, and searched for him in the crowd. Was she being too clingy?

Coachmen raised their voices over the noise outside, telling the passengers the destination of their stagecoaches.

She looked around the stagecoach, and everyone looked so cheerful, at least no one was as gloomy as her.

What did she get after living in this place known as the Labyrinth city?

She remembered that day when she chased after a vague dream, packing her expectations and unease into her bags before coming here. What changed was—— she grew a few years older, and was leaving this city without achieving her dreams or gaining anything of substance.

She felt complicated emotions welled up in her chest, and she pressed her hands on her breasts.

She could hear the noon bell ringing.

Since she wouldn’t hear this sound ever again, she couldn’t help feeling that it sounded cute.

The stagecoach wobbled as its wheels turned.

She could still remember that person’s face.


In the Albeta city I was residing in, there was a place known as a Labyrinth.

It was a space that expanded limitlessly underground. There were forests, rivers, ancient ruins and others. No one knew why those things were here, but the resources in the Labyrinth made our lives very prosperous.

For example, there were ingredients, lumber, rough stones that could be carved into gems, e.t.c. In a corner of the Labyrinth was a huge body of water known as the 「salt lake」, and high quality salt could be extracted from the lake water. Aside from that, there were huge trees in the forest inside the Labyrinth, bearing gigantic fruit that could produce sugar. Just that alone could make the citizens very wealthy.

The product from the Labyrinth would be exported to other cities and countries, and the profits would enrich the city even further.

Word on the streets said that it was more prosperous than the capital, and the Labyrinth City in the present times was wealthy and filled with hopes and dreams.

People drawn by the glamour kept gathering. To them, being an adventurer was a vibrant life.

The Labyrinth was filled with danger. In this environment cut off from the outside world, creatures evolved into monsters and roamed the Labyrinth. Unknown vegetation released poison, and there were types that would prey on humans. Despite all that, they still risked their lives to bring back resources from the Labyrinth, and exchange them for gold and silver coins in this city.

Just by bringing back one precious rough stone or an ancient artifact would make them rich overnight. This was the only place where such a job existed. If you ignore the fact that they were putting their lives on the line, this was a charming job.

And so, this city was filled with people known as adventurers, and almost all of them were dreamers.

The first time he came to my Café was on a sunny afternoon.

When I heard the door chime, I turned to the entrance and said my welcome. At the door was a buff man with a scary bearded face looking back at me.

It might be rude to say this, but the scary face made my heart pound hard, worried if he was here to find trouble. That was how much he looked like a villain.

「Erm, the signboard looks cool, so I came in to take a look. What is this place? A shop?」

However, his voice was gentle and sincere.

I answered after composing myself:

「This is a Café.」

「Café…? This is the first time I heard of it, is this common in the city?」

I ushered him in at that.

I preached the wonders of the Café to those who didn’t know about it, and if I got lucky, I could get him to understand the beauty of Coffee—— All that was the job of the Café Master.

He slowly entered on my beckoning, observing the shop carefully. His figure was on par with the dragon Falluba-san, a bear, or beastmen such as wolfmen. His neck and arms were thick with muscles, and his messy beard made him even more intimidating.

「You just came to this city recently?」

When he heard that, the man sat down with an awkward smile, then scratch his head and said:

「Can you tell? I arrived here last month. There’s a Labyrinth in this city, right? I think it’s better for me to work in the Labyrinth instead of working in a farm.」

「You were a farmer?」

I said while checking out his body.

「People often told me that I’m more suited to be a bandit than a farmer.」

He then laughed heartily.

「I had always looked like this, and was naturally asked to do manual labour. When I realized it, I had already gotten so big. I don’t have any other skills, but with this body of mine, maybe I can be an adventurer.」

「I see, that’s true.」

I concurred with a nod.

It was rare seeing such a buff human. He probably had good endurance, and adventurers needed to be strong, so I think he fitted the bill.

「Have you been to the Labyrinth yet?」

「No, I was thinking about going tomorrow. But I had prepared my weapons and armour, and already attended the guild’s lecture.」

「Tomorrow, huh? Let me treat you to a drink to wish you luck. We don’t serve alcohol here though.」

When he heard me say that, he showed a soothing and refreshing smile.

「For real!? You have my thanks. I heard people in the city are cold, but you are different bro.」

He said in a great mood, and I couldn’t help smiling.

When treating someone to a drink in this shop, that naturally meant Coffee. But I wanted to brew a different Coffee than the usual for him.

I took out roasted Coffee beans from a white jar, but unlike the norm, these beans were roasted into a deeper brown, and the fragrance was stronger too. I used the Coffee bean grinder to ground it into powder.

「Oh, what’s this?」


I poured Coffee powder into the upper flask laden with filter cloth. The thing to note here was, I added more Coffee powder than usual.

I then added hot water into the Vacuum Coffee maker flask and heated it with the mana lamp. When it started to boil, I secured the upper flask above it firmly. At this point, the water rose slowly from below, soaking the Coffee powder.

After a third of the Coffee was floating in the water, I stirred hard with a wooden spoon. For Coffee made with a Vacuum Coffee maker, the water temperature and how well it was mixed was crucial for its taste.

After stirring it, I removed the spoon, and the water kept rising from below.

The gas released by the Coffee beans created foam, and the Coffee powder floating above the liquid—— if these three layers were formed after stirring, then it was a success.

I waited for about 30 seconds. This was the time needed for plain hot water to become fragrant Coffee. No matter how it was brewed, this timing wouldn’t change, and was the most important factor in determining the taste. Too short, and the Coffee would lack the fragrance; too long, and there would be impurities in the taste.

I listened to the bubbling of the water below, and turned off the heat at the right moment.

I picked up the wooden spoon again and stirred a second time before the Coffee powder sank.

The key was to be swift but graceful, the stirring was like a gentle caress.

After turning off the heat, the vapour in the flask would cool, and the Coffee in the upper flask would flow gently down below.

I took out a short wine glass from a small fridge under the kitchen counter. I then opened the freezer which was filled with crushed ice. I made them this morning by hammering large ice cubes.

I filled the glass with crushed ice.

All the Coffee had returned to the flask by now, and had a darker hue than normal.

I removed the upper flask, then used the handle to pour the freshly brewed Coffee into the glass filled with ice. The crackling of the ice because of the heat sounded really nice.

The quickly cooled Coffee turned into a beverage that gave of an air of transparency and coolness. The thickly brewed Coffee was thinned out by the melting ice, making the taste just right.

This was the new product of my shop to welcome the coming hot summer—— Iced Coffee.

I proudly placed the Iced Coffee before him.

He watched me brew the Coffee in a daze, and finally snapped back to reality.

「W-What was that? The hot water kept rising into that container filled with that strange powder, what’s that? This is the first time I saw that. The city is filled with strange things, can you drink that black liquid?」

「Of course, please have a taste.」

「Huh, this is ice, right? Is it fine to add so much? We’re very reluctant to use it in the village.」

「Yes, please try it.」

「The city sure is amazing, wow.」

He held the glass, muttered 「Woah, it’s cold」, then pulled it to his mouth. After sniffing it a little, he drank a big mouthful.


And then spit it out violently.

「W-What’s this, it’s bitter! This can’t be drank!」

He coughed for a while.

「I had never drunk something so bitter, but the aftertaste is kind of refreshing… Is this what people in the city drink? Bro… ahh.」

I was standing before him, so the Coffee he spat out drenched me.

The person I met was the 30 years old rookie adventurer, Kree-aniki.


After that, he would visit my shop every now and then to chat with me about various things. Like where and what kind of monsters he fought in the Labyrinth. He encountered a bear, so he dropped his weapon and ran. He found some rare minerals by chance, but his teammates got into a fight over this so they parted ways. These were undoubtedly the adventure stories of Kree-aniki.

「The city sure is amazing, bro. You know the shop Dragon Dungeon Pavillion? I ate a herb roasted lizard thigh meal over there, this is the first time I had something so delicious.」

Kree-aniki animatedly described how much the dish stimulated his appetite and taste buds.

There was one other customer in the Café aside from Kree-aniki, and I wondered if I should ask him to keep his rising volume in check.

「Sigh, there are definitely no other place that could serve a dish as rare and delicious as that.」

Kree-aniki said before crossing his arms and nodding.


The patron seated three seats over laughed.

Kree-aniki looked his way.

「Did I say something weird?」

「No, I just felt like laughing. The Dragon Dungeon Pavilion serves delicious food, but saying they can’t be surpassed is going too far.」

「Huh? You’re saying there is a better meat dish than what is served at the Dragon Dungeon Pavillion?」

I wanted to ask Kree-aniki to watch his tone… Fortunately, the attendant Wolf-san wasn’t here, or he would probably be growling menacingly right now.

「Alright, since you have not been in the city for long, let me teach you what is truly delicious.」

The hare sitting there with a fork was Corleone-san. He was as petite as a baby hare with cute round eyes. However, he was actually a Mafia Boss.

Corleone-san put on the small top hat by his chair and stood up.

「Yu, this is a good chance, so come along too. A good chef needs to know good ingredients, this will be good nutrients for your growth.」


Ehh, what was going on? Also, I didn’t want to become a professional chef, and I had a shop to run too… But I didn’t say that. Those in power would have an undefiable dignity when issuing orders.

「Hey… What’s going on here?」

Kree-aniki leaned in close and asked.

「This is Corleone-san, I think he’s taking us out for a meal.」

For me, having a meal with a Mafia Boss was nerve wracking for me, but the clueless Kree-aniki was all smiles:

「Are you for real! Oh, that makes me happy. You’re a good guy, no, a good hare!」

Kree-aniki smiled brilliantly like a young boy.

I didn’t want Corleone-san to wait, so I quickly closed the shop.

I didn’t expect things to turn out this way. With that in mind, I chased after the figure hopping away.

The bonds between people were hard to predict, even if their first impressions were bad, they might grow closer over time. And even if they grew closer, they might drift apart without realizing it.

Kree-aniki and Corleone-san hit it off unexpectedly well.

After that night, the two of them often dine together. And when business was slow, I would join them from time to time. The high class ingredients I hadn’t tried before in this world would have a big impact on me, and move me deeply.

「After reaching my present status……」

On a certain afternoon, after Corleone-san and me watched Kree-aniki set off to the Labyrinth, Corleone-san suddenly said to me:

「Everyone treats me with fear and respect, and I’m happy to get the treatment I hoped for in my youth. It makes me feel special.」

「Are things different now?」

I put down the glass I was wiping and asked Corleone-san.

「Growing older is an incredible thing. Looking back, I realized that I let many things slip through my hands. In order to get to my current position, I threw aside many things I thought I didn’t need, but to think those things are so bright and dazzling.」

Corleone-san pushed down the brim of his top hat.

「The best example is the people you can have a relaxed meal with. It has been a long while since I met someone I can talk unreservedly to.」

His smile seemed a little lonely.

Kree-aniki and Corleone-san’s conversation in the shop often struck me with fear. Kree-aniki would talk with Corleone-san without holding back at all, and would pat Corleone-san’s shoulders with his hands stained with sauce.

But my worries seemed to be unnecessary.

Corleone-san was more generous than I imagined, and feared loneliness.

And I realized one thing. I wanted to provide a place for my customers to relax and rest, but didn’t manage to do so completely. I held a prejudice towards Corleone-san, thinking that he was a Mafia Boss, instead of treating him as an individual named Corleone. There was never any need for me to fear him.

Being courteous was important.

However, that should be limited to Corleone-san the individual and me, between the Cafe owner and patron. It didn’t matter if he was a Mafia Boss or a kind hare living in the forest, as long as he was my customer, I shouldn’t change my attitude towards him.

「I’m very sorry.」

「What’s wrong?」

「No, it’s nothing, I just felt like apologizing.」

「You will act strangely some times.」

「That is a good thing, right?」

「No comment.」

Corleone-san laughed.


In this Labyrinth City called Albeta, there were many treasures slumbering inside its Labyrinth. People gathered here to search for these treasures, which drew in people doing business with those people, which ended up with a huge wave, and a light that could illuminate the darkest night.

I didn’t know any place outside of this city.

I didn’t know what the world was like, or how they lived their life.

Hence, the words by the self proclaimed 「Hillbilly」, Kree-aniki, intrigued me.

「During the annual festival, everyone would collect the unusable pots and farm tools, then heat and melt them all.」


「When the iron was melted into a red stew, it would be brought to the village’s main gate. Our village’s main gate was a huge stone gate, an old gate that existed when my grandfather was still a child. It seemed to be the ruins of the city wall during ancient times. We would scoop up the molten iron and do this……」

Kree-aniki showed the exaggerated motion of pitching a ball.

「We would throw it onto the walls of the gate, the higher and harder, the better.」

「I see… What happens after you toss it there?」

「That’s the good part. We had to do this at night, and in the darkness, only the molten iron was glowing. We then throw it out, and it will hit the wall with a splash. It looks like a fiery flower blooming under the night sky.」

「That sounds amazing.」

I tried imagining it, but no matter what I thought, I could only think about the fireworks during summer festivals.

The molten iron spread out like fiery flowers on the wall, that was a hard image to imagine.

「That’s right, it’s amazing. Young or old, men or women, everyone is excited on that day. The molten iron is hot and might scald people, but everyone had lots of fun.」

Kree-aniki had the pure smile of a youth.

After deciding to become an adventurer and coming to this city, Kree-aniki seemed to be very successful.

At first, he was only wearing normal clothes with a layer of leather armour, but his simple garbs had now turned into cool steel armour. The quality of his clothes were high too, and he would pay me extra, saying 「Oh, you know, it’s a tip! Everyone in the city gives tips, right?」

I only learned about the work of adventurers through word of mouth.

However, not everyone met such success, some even got into danger frequently.

I was glad that Kree-aniki was gaining success in such a harsh world. I hope he will be safe and successful in the future too.

Kree-aniki changed a little around three months after I met him.

On this day, I saw Kree-aniki push the door open and peek in timidly, which left me speechless.

「Erm, are you changing your style?」

I finally squeezed those words out.

「Change my style? What’s that? Anyway, does it suit me?」

Kree-aniki raised his arms.

He had always been buff, and his harsh adventurer lifestyle made his shoulders broader and he put on even more muscles. His usual adventurer get up made him look like a sharp veteran warrior.

But now, he was wearing something like a black tuxedo which was so tight that his buttons might burst out. The bow tie on his neck was being stretched, it was clear it wasn’t tied properly.

「Kree, you……」

Corleone-san, who was dining at the bar counter, could only squeeze that out.

This was the first time I had seen Corleone-san speechless.

Kree-aniki walked over with a restrictive air about him, then sat down carefully.

His hair was tidily waxed and combed in an unnatural way, and his messy beard had obviously been tidied. When he leaned in closer, I could smell something like perfume.

「This is weird, right? It’s no good? I see, as expected.」

Our awkward reaction made Kree-aniki shrunk back, and he poked his index fingers at each other.

I was troubled about what to say to him.

If the other party was a girl, I would compliment that her new hair style or dressing suit her after her makeover. However, I wouldn’t know what to say if the change was unnatural even though it was obvious they made a lot of effort.

No, in the first place, why did Kree-aniki go through a makeover?

Corleone-san seemed to have the same question, but unlike me, Corleone-san had plenty of life experiences and sharp instincts.

「I see, so who’s the girl?」

Corleone-san said while gently touching the brim of his top hat.


Kree-aniki’s shoulders trembled.

Girl? I tilted my head confusedly.

「Being conscious of one’s dressing doesn’t mean a person wants to change his image—— tidying his hair, shaving his beard, concealing his odour and being aware of his dressing. Re-evaluating oneself is because the person is worried about his image, and wants to gain the favour of another. Which means……」

Corleone-san concluded.

「You are in love.」

When I heard that, I said 「Oh」 in enlightenment and clapped my hands.

「N-Not at all! L-Love? Are you talking about love? Me? Impossible, ha, haha.」

Kree-aniki might be saying that, but his eyes were wavering, and his hands were pulling at his hair or touching his face. He couldn’t sit still, and his face was blushing.

Was there anyone easier to read than him?

「I see…… love, huh? It’s something to be happy about, but don’t put on that perfume. First, you put on too much. Next, that’s a perfume for ladies.」

Corleone-san frowned.

「Hmm, I see, this is the first time I’m using this… Weird, I’m just buying the perfume that the clerk recommended for me.」

「What did you say when you bought it?」 I asked.

「I don’t know about such things, so I asked to clerk to just recommend something.」

I see……

From how he put it, the clerk must have thought he wanted to give it to a lady.

「Anyway, stop using that perfume.」

When he heard Corleone-san say that, Kree-aniki drooped his brows.

「This is expensive……」

「Give it up. And, who’s the girl? From your dressing, is she a noble?」

Corleone-san pushed his finished plate to the side, then leaned forward and asked:

「Don’t worry, leave it to me. It’s difficult for nobles and commoners to wed, but not impossible. First, I will need to investigate the other party, most nobles have a skeleton or two in their closets.」

「Hey hey.」

I stopped the hare from nonchalantly saying something so frightening.

「N-Nobles!? I wouldn’t dare! That’s too scary!」 Kree-aniki said with his body trembling. 「I just like Medello-san from 『Bird Song Pavillion』…… Ah, no, it’s not love! Not at all!」

I see, Kree-aniki seemed to have fallen for Medello-san who worked in the Bird Song Pavillion.

I had never heard of that shop before, so I looked at Corleone-san.

「It’s the bar that mainly serves distilled spirits? I heard they employed a few Bird Tribe ladies who sing very well to perform on stage. Is Medello a singer there?」

「…… T-That’s right!」

Kree-aniki crossed his arms with his back straight as he nodded. His face was red as he stared right ahead.

「I see.」

Corleone-san fidgeted with the brim of his hat.

「This is easier than a noble, but still rather difficult. Since her workplace will get her used to men who hits on her.」

I had that impression too.

With so many drunk men, there must be one who hit on her forcefully, or find trouble with flawed logic. If she worked in such a place, she would naturally get used to dealing with men.

「Listen up, Kree, you need to give up on the naive thinking that you can date her right off the bat. You need to start small, and just aim to ask her out for a meal.」

「I-I already did.」

「I see, you already did, then next time at the bar… Wait, you already asked her out?」

Corleone-san grabbed the brim of his hat with a start, and looked at Kree-aniki’s profile.

Kree-aniki kept nodding while staring ahead.

「I see, you’re wearing this to the meal, and not to ask her out for a date. I get it now.」

As expected of Corleone-san, he suppressed his wavering in an instant, while I was still a little surprised.

Just from what I saw before me, it was clear Kree-aniki wasn’t used to love, but he still asked a lady he probably just met recently out for a meal.

How did he do it……?

「Have you decided which restaurant to visit?」

Kree-aniki shook his head at Corleone-san’s question.

「Not yet? And you already sorted out your attire?」

「I have no idea where to take a girl out to eat, and I only know that the men on Wadelyn Street all dressed like this.」

「Wadelyn Street is a place with high class restaurants, you must have seen the fashionable nobles and the wealthy enjoying their dinner gracefully there, right?」

「I-Isn’t it the same in the whole city?」

Kree-aniki carefully tugged at his bow tie.

「When dining with a noble, it is natural to choose an outfit that suits the mood. But if it’s just a normal restaurant, you don’t have to mind it so much.」 Corleone-san shook his head and said. 「Think about the restaurants I took you out too, have you seen patrons who dressed that way?」

Kree-aniki and I looked at each other.

Thinking back, I didn’t recall any customers dressed formally like Kree-aniki. I also visited a high class restaurant I would never dare to visit myself, but the most patrons were dressed casually.

「This city is on the brink of a new food culture wave. In this world that is a melting pot of all sorts of races, there aren’t any fixed dining etiquettes or attire, since there are a variety of food cultures.」

「Yes, I get it now.」

I had not gotten used to the food culture in this world yet. To me, this point was a big help.

People from all around the world came here to seek the resources in the Labyrinth, so their culture and customs all mixed together, so I didn’t stand out even if I acted a little weird. There were so many rarities that rarities had become a norm.

「The ones that are picky about the patrons' attire are usually high class restaurants operated by humans, but most of their food isn't that great. For the nobles, they aren’t going there to taste delicious food, but to dine with people in high society, that’s the important part.」

When I heard the hare Corleone-san say that, I felt like apologizing as a part of the human race.

When Kree-aniki heard Corleone-san's passionate speech, he looked dumbstruck.

「We got off topic.」

Corleone-san cleared his throat and returned to the issue on hand.

「Anyway, don’t go to the restaurants on Wadelyn Street. Impressions do matters, but that’s going too far for you.」

「I see… Since you say so, this must be true.」

Kree-san’s brows drooped, but he still nodded begrudgingly.

「You should pick a restaurant that is easier to dine in, a place you frequent and is used to. If you know the owner, then even better.」

Corleone-san touched the brim of his hat as he listed out the points to note.

「And most important of all, the food must taste good. You will be in a good mood if you eat something nice, and will naturally open up. And a special meal can become a conversational topic too.」

Kree-aniki mumbled Corleone-san’s words to himself.

「…… Speaking of a place I’m familiar with, that will be a bar.」

「Do you want to dine with a girl you like in a bar filled with crude adventurers?」

「…… Can’t I?」

Kree-aniki looked my way to seek help.

I shook my head to tell him it was no good.

「I-I see, is that so… In that case, I can’t think of a suitable venue……」

Kree-aniki shrinked his buff body and poked his index fingers together.

「Well, I wish I can help, but I’m not sure which restaurants will be good. Corleone-san, do you know any good place?」

Having said that much, Corleone-san must have a list of such restaurants.

As expected, Corleone-san nodded and said: 「I do.」

「Really! Can you introduce the place to me!?」

「There’s no need.」

Corleone-san said.

「Easy to dine in, a place you frequent, you know the owner and the food is good with special dishes. Kree, you do know such a place.」

The place Corleone-san described sent a chill down my back.

Huh? Could this be…?

「Yu, it’s your shop. Why not let them have dinner here?」


Kree-aniki made a face that said 「So that would work too」, and seemed really happy. In contrast, I felt an oncoming headache.

「No, but Corleone-san...」

「Didn’t you say it yourself? You mentioned that you wish you could help, so this works out just fine, please help him out.」

I searched for the words to get him to dismiss the idea, but felt my efforts would be in vain.

I learned after coming to this world that I couldn’t change Corleone-san or Gramps Goru’s mind when they decided on something. Experience counts, and this was the capability of accomplished people.

From my experiences, I knew before refuting that saying anything was just wasting time. It made me realize how pitiful I was.

And I wasn’t lying when I said I wanted to help Kree-aniki.

My Café didn’t have any hard and fast rules, Kree-aniki visits often, there weren’t any drunkards here, and this wasn’t a crowded and noisy restaurant.

Objectively speaking, my shop did meet his criteria.

However, there were a few problems.

「Corleone-san, I don’t serve any dishes suitable for dinner here.」

This was a Café, I did have light meals in stock, but nothing that could be presented as a formal dinner. And my culinary skills were only at the level of a normal family dish.

「Just do what we did for the party last time.」

Speaking of which, when we held Linaria’s birthday party on Holy Fest, I had more guests than expected. We adopted a standing buffet style party with plenty of dishes, most of which was made by the chef sent by Corleone-san.

「…… I see.」

That means Corleone-san would be asking his family chef to make the meal.

「And of course, you will need to help out too, this can be their conversation topic.」

This was to be expected, so I agreed with a nod.

「I-Is that really fine?」

Kree-aniki asked timidly. He might have a menacing face like a bandit, but he looked just like a child being admonished right now.

After making up my mind, I decided to help this clumsy man with his love.

「I understand, let’s make it a special opening hours.」

「T-Thanks a bunch! That’s great! I didn’t know what to do, as expected, you have to count on your friends!」

Kree-aniki said with a laugh, then slapped Corleone-san’s shoulders hard, which shook off his trendy top hat. Kree-aniki then reached across the counter to pat my shoulder, which made my knees weak.

I locked eyes with Corleone-san, and both of us smiled wryly.

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