Saturday, January 1, 2022

Have a Cup of Coffee after School in the Fantasy World Café V5 (3 of 5)

 Chapter 3: For That One And Only Star

Translator: Skythewood

Editor: Hiiro


The morning air was cold. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed, but I still shivered as I prepared to get up. The water was freezing too, and I was wide awake after washing my face.

The most difficult thing when waking on cold days was getting out of the bed, everything was a cinch once you could do that. Washing your face and brushing your teeth were hurdles to pass before getting ready for the brand new day.

After washing up, I took off my pajamas and changed swiftly into my work attire. I closed the work counter, so it was dark in the morning. After cleaning up, I placed all the chairs on the tables. The silent shop seemed to be in sleep mode and felt lonely and aloof.

I drew the curtains and the bright sunlight shone in. I opened the windows, and the clear air brushed against my skin. The breeze was cold, but the sleepy air was rejuvenated.

I took my cleaning tools out of the storeroom to sweep the floor, then mopped it. I already did so after closing up last night, so I could skimp a little. This was something like a ritual before opening.

After putting all the chairs down, I used a wet rag to wipe the counter and the tables. I was panting when I finished, but my body had completely warmed up.

In the fireplace, the half burnt firewood was covered in a thin layer of ash. I put aside the burnt wood, and gently swept out the ash. I put the wood back, added a new one, then added bark to light the fire. After using a matchstick to burn the firewood, it caught on fire in no time.

I relaxed after finishing the prep work.

I warmed my hands at the fireplace, and could feel the warmth from the fire transferring over. The fragrance of the wood spread with the crackling fire similar to Coffee beans being roasted.

I suddenly had an idea while staring at the fire.

I had never camped at a bonfire before, but I could make something tasty by cooking with this fire.


I stood up and walked to the refrigerator. It was filled with ingredients, but which ones were suited for barbequing? I saw something adequate that was wrapped in paper. I took out that brown bundle. I then took out two skewers from the utensils rack, and returned to the fireplace.

The fire was burning bright. I sat before it, and opened the paper wrapping. There were two thick and long sausages inside. I received this from a customer yesterday. This was a traditional preservative food for winter, and everyone would make them.

I heard these two were made with special ingredients and a special method. He told me the details, but I didn’t really get it because of the technical terms.

I would understand after eating it, so I skewered them. I just need to cook it by the fire, but unfortunately, I couldn’t stick it to the ground. With no other choice, I held each in one hand, and cooked it over the flame.

I didn’t particularly like it, so I seldom ate them. The sausages in this world had a wild taste, as in it tasted really strong.

Sausages were a minced mixture of blood, fats, offals and meat, and the combination was stuffed into the stomach or intestines of the animal. There wasn’t any breed improvement in this world, so it had a strong unique taste. Furthermore, blood and offals didn’t really suit the palette of a modern man. I didn’t mean it tasted nasty, I just wasn’t used to it.

The directly grilled sausage soon showed burnt marks. I moved it further away, turning it carefully so it would cook evenly. The skin finally cracked, and the juice slowly seeped out. A strong aroma stimulated my appetite.

When it was almost done, I shifted the sausage away from the fire, and placed it on oilpaper.

I picked up one thoroughly cooked sausage. The brown skin had burnt marks the color of soy sauce, and looked really similar with the sausage I knew of. I blew on it to cool it down, then took a small bite.

【Ugh, it’s hot.】

The sound of the skin crackling played in my mind as the hot juice gushed into my mouth. I bit down slowly, and the strong taste overwhelmed me.

It was the violent taste of meat. It was meat. It was the taste of meat that had been combined together. Meat, fats, and more meat.

I took just a small bite, but I felt the satisfaction of eating an entire steak. I looked at the skewered sausage again, and the exposed section was filled with juice. I touched my lips with my finger, so it was greasy with juice too.

【It would be great if I had a couple of beers to go with this.】

I couldn’t drink, but I understood this dish went well with beer. I might not be able to finish this sausage without a beverage that could wash down the taste in one gulp. The taste of the meat was too strong.

I put down that sausage, and picked up the other one. This one was black, and had a unique taste.

After blowing on it more carefully than earlier, I bit down one end of it.


The taste that spread halfway through my bite told me what the ingredient was. It was sausage made with extra blood. The unique flavor spread in my mouth. I was thinking that I wasn’t good with such a taste when…

【Hmm…? It’s pretty good?】

Doubting myself a little, I took another bite.

It was less juicy, and I could spell the spices. A lot of that had been added to remove the pungent smell of blood, and it numbed my tongue. But thanks to that, I couldn’t taste the blood, and it enriched the flavor too. The meat chunks mixed in my mouth, and juice flowed out when I bit into them. When I finished, there wasn’t any bad aftertaste in my mouth.

The black chunk might look unappetizing, but it was surprisingly tasty. It wiped away the greasy feeling of the first sausage in my mouth.

【Sausages sure are deep.】

I nodded to myself and took another bite of the juicy sausage. I couldn’t get enough of its meaty feeling. I could feel the breath of the wild when I chewed on this meat. This must be an aroma only possible by cooking over a fire. As if the fragrance of the wood had seeped into the sausage.

Eating the two sausages in turns gave it a fresh taste too. The charm of this taste grew on me with each bite, what a wild meal.

Midway through the meal, I couldn’t sense the change in the flavor anymore. I stood up and walked behind the counter.

I took out a bun and split it, then took out the cheese from the refrigerator. I carefully clamped a thin slice of cheese between the bun. I took a small saucer hanging on the wall, put the cheese bun on it, and placed it on top of the firewood.

The steel pan heated up quickly, so I turned the bun over by flicking the pan. I could tell from the turned side that it was almost done. After waiting a while, the cheese slowly flowed out of the bun. It was just right.

I moved the pan out of the fire, and placed it before the fireplace. I would burn the wooden floor if I put it down directly. I waited for the bread to cool, then picked it up. It was still hot. I pulled it open while switching hands frequently, and shoved in the two half eaten sausages.

【Is this a sandwich or a hotdog?】

I didn’t know what the difference was. Well, whatever, I like both of them.

I picked up the bun with two thick sausages shoved inside, and took a big bite. The juice flowed out, and got absorbed by the bun. The plain fragrance of the baked bread enveloped the strong taste of the meat. The cheese brought the two ingredients together.

Should I add vegetables? What a dilemma.

The taste would be more balanced with fresh and crunchy vegetables. My tongue would get tired of it if I keep eating something with such a strong taste. But if I added vegetables, the violent impact of meat with cheese would be gone. It was better like this, vegetables would just be a decoration.

After swallowing, I bit down the other end.

The juice didn’t overflow from the blood sausage, and it had a chewy texture.


It went exceptionally well with cheese. The sausage had a strong taste, but when paired with cheese, I could taste something deep and hidden. It was a simple taste that soothes the strong spices, and complemented the bread well. This was a taste made with bread in mind. The staple food here was bread, and the taste didn’t go with rice as well.

After tasting it like a critic, I finished the meal with a light heart. I felt uneasy about the overly strong taste in the beginning, but didn’t worry too much after complementing it with bread and cheese.

【I’m full.】

It was a bit too heavy for breakfast, but doing this occasionally wasn’t bad.

I folded the oil paper, picked up the pan and stood up.

After eating my breakfast, I wanted to drink my usual cup of morning Coffee. I had gotten used to having Coffee after my meal, and couldn’t calm down without it.

I walked behind the counter and placed the pan in the sink.

I then took out a pot of roasted Coffee beans from the cabinet. I measured one cup and added it into the grinder, and started grounding it. The water was being boiled in the beaker in the meantime.

I opened the refrigerator, and took out a small container of liquid with a flannel cloth soaked inside. It was about palm size, and looked like a bug catching net with small meshes. And of course, this wasn’t meant for bug catching, but to brew Coffee.

I washed the flannel under running water, clipped it to a circular wire support, then patted it to remove the water. I then added the grounded powder in, and placed it over a cup. I added a few drops of hot water from the beaker onto the powder. I waited a moment, and added more. The powder bloated up after absorbing the water, and the moisture slowly seeped through.

Finally, with a dripping sound, the liquid seeped down into the cup. I checked the amount of hot water, and increased the pace to the level of pouring water. When a serving of Coffee had dripped into the cup, I removed the flannel.

I leaned into the cup and sniffed. Then took a sip.

【Hmm, it taste great today too.】

This way of brewing Coffee was known as the Nel Drip, and the taste would differ depending on the quality of the flannel. Especially with deep roasted Coffee beans, it has a mesmerizing aroma not possible with Pour Over Coffee or French Press Coffee. This was because of the meshes of the flannel.

Since the flannel was crude, the taste would change if water was added haphazardly.

The hot water in the flannel moved slowly with moist powder, forming a circular flow. The Coffee had to be extracted through such a change, which was difficult to control. Depending on the way the hot water was added, the shifting of the flannel, how the powder was grounded and the temperature of the water, it was possible to control the flow.

That would be the epitome taste of the Nel Drip, but I wasn’t skilled enough to brew it to a satisfactory taste. So I didn’t sell it in the shop, and just enjoyed it by myself.

I sipped my hot Coffee and walked out of the shop. The wind caressed my face gently, and I could feel a bit of chill on my cheek. The mountains in the distance were covered by a layer of white fog.

The clouds that still harbored the remnants of the night drifted away. The sunlight basked the entire City. There were many pedestrians out and about, and the street stalls were getting ready to open for business. The colorful cloth they laid out were covered in wares and merchandise.

It was fun running the shop at night, but sipping Coffee and watching the morning view was an enjoyable sight.

【It’s a beautiful morning…】

While I was thinking that, a woman was walking over from the main street. I would pay it no mind if she just passed me by, but she was looking around in search of something. I thought she was a tourist, but that wasn’t so. She was very well dressed, but dressed lightly, as if she came out from her house nearby for a stroll.

The woman walked my way. Our eyes met, and she was approaching me now. She had a small face, small nose, and thin lips. Her eyes were large and deep blue, and her thin straight brows left an impression of strong will.

The woman looked at me, then looked up at the shop. She then said to me:

【I lost my memories.】

【… What?】

I made a dumb sound.

【Lost your memory, huh.】

That wasn’t something you hear in a normal conversation. This was the first time I heard someone say they lost their memories.

I looked at her to see if she was joking, but her eyes were serious. She was staring right at me. Instead of feeling troubled over her memory loss, she seemed to be searching for something.

【That must be troubling.】

【Yes, it is.】 The woman nodded. 【I don’t know where I am, or even my own name.】

She declared, as if she was stating the setting. However, I was still hesitant about asking if she really did lose her memories.

The woman stood before me with a serious face.

I stood silently with my Coffee in my hand.

I didn’t know what I should do. Should I show her to a hospital, or call for the cops? How did people in this world deal with people who lost their memories anyway? Maybe I should return to my shop without a word? Maybe she was up to no good.

The one who broke the silence was that woman.

【Well, sorry for the trouble, but can you let me rest for a while? This is a shop, right? There might be a customer who knows about me. Will that be fine?】

【Oh, I see.】

She was quick witted. As if she was saying a prepared line. Ignoring the sense of wrongness, I considered whether I should turn her down. I then smiled.

This was a Café. I had no reason to turn anyone away. This was natural. Since I made my decision, I set my doubts and unease aside. I gestured to the entrance with a smile:

【Of course, please come in.】


All the customers exhaled in relief when they felt the warm air in the shop. They would then look at the woman sitting right in the center and observing them. She didn’t look away even if they locked eyes. If the customers cocked their heads in confusion, the woman would explain everything with a smile.


It had been like this since morning, all the regulars approached the counter with a puzzled face.

[When did you hire a server?]

A regular, Phil-san, stole glances at the woman as he asked me quietly. I had heard the same questions several times already, and repeated the same explanation.

[Hah, memories……?]

[She said there might be someone who knows her if she comes into the shop.]

At first, she sat at her seat to watch the customers come in. And now, she has started receiving customers.

【Any results.】

I shook my head.

【It’s still morning, there aren’t that many customers.】

Unlike the time when the mobs gathered for the Songstress, it was peaceful nowadays. The number of people visiting my shop was now completely stable.

【Phil-san, if possible, can you start a conversation?】

【Yes, sure. Actually, I’m painting something for the Hokka Exhibition. I’m really confident of this one. Oh the Hokka Exhibition is a well known exhibition.】

【Not with me.】

I stopped Phil-san who was talking passionately, and gestured with my eyes at the woman. Phil-san seemed to understand, and nodded with his mouth slightly agape.

【That’s true, maybe she can remember something if she talks to someone. Leave it to me.】

With that, Phil-san straightened his posture and turned. He walked over with stiff strides.

I brewed the Coffee ordered by the other patrons, and kept an eye out for Phil-san. Phil-san stood before the woman and coughed clumsily.


When she heard the greeting, the woman raised her head with a smile.

【Yes, hello.】

【If possible, c-can you chat with me?】

Phil-san said nervously, obviously not used to conversing with women. The woman cocked her head.

【Do you know about me?】

【N-Not at all, but it will be great if we can find out after speaking.】

【Oh.】 The woman clapped her hands together. 【I see. I will be in your care.】

Seeing the woman bowing deeply, Phil-san also bowed in a panic.

【Please have a seat.】

【T-Thank you.】

After the woman bowed gracefully, Phil-san sat opposite her, and cautiously started talking.

I took my mind off them for now, and poured the brewed Coffee into cups and served it to the customers.

【Please enjoy your Coffee.】

【Oh, thank you.】

The cheerful response came from the narrow-faced old man who had been visiting a lot recently. A portable chess board was placed on the table with the pieces laid out. He didn’t have an opponent, so he was probably studying a game.

【Are you alone today?】

I asked about the round-faced old man who wasn’t here, and he smiled awkwardly.

【Yes, his has a backache. That’s common for old men like us.】

He then gestured to the chess board.

【By the way, what move will you make, shopkeep? Black to move.】

He said cheerfully, and I leaned in to study the chessboard.

【What a difficult game.】

【That’s right. To attack or to defend? Depending on the move, you can tell the personality of the player.】

It was clear White was attacking. Should I bolster my defenses or go for counter play?

Black needed to make a choice here. Instead of deciding what was right, it was closer to deciding which way you would lean towards.

【For me… Bishop to e7?】

【Hmm, a retreat. I see.】

The old man tapped his jaw. He then raised his gaze my way.

【Don’t you want to attack.】

【Even if I did, the Queen is in a bad spot. One wrong move, and I might lose my Queen.】

【Hmm, is that so.】

The old man muttered as he moved as I suggested.

【What happens next?】

He took a White Knight and pushed it forward. Going in for the kill after the Black Bishop retreated.

【Isn’t that too forceful?】

This wasn’t an option I would consider, as it went against my instincts. It was too novel, and the Knight wasn’t well positioned. It wouldn’t be popular in modern games.

【Shopkeep, you will opt for moves where you won’t lose.】

【Well, that’s true.】

Playing to not lose. That was the right way to put it. This wasn’t just my personality, but also the trend in modern Chess. Staying true to the huge amount of research accumulated over the years, bold and novel moves would only lead to my own demise.

【Because you are a good player. Your moves are logical, perfect, and flawless.】

The old man looked at me with narrowed eyes. I couldn’t read his expression at all.

【However, that isn’t enough. If you want to be stronger, being good isn’t enough.】

For some reason, his words hit me deep inside. He wasn’t quoting someone, but it resonated with me.

The old man suddenly relaxed his face and put his hands behind his head.

【Just kidding, I was just acting pretentious. Old man likes to preach all the time, don’t mind me.】

He lowered his head, then looked up with a warm smile before I could react. Another customer was calling for me, so I left with a nod.

Not enough. His words lingered in my mind.


The woman who lost her memories was having a lively chat with Phil-san. However, it was just Phil-san looking for topics while the woman answered with a smile.

Phil-san’s face was a little red and his eyes were wavering. He was obviously over conscious of the woman before him. Well, she was pretty and moved gracefully. She was also troubled by her memory loss, so I could understand why he wanted to help her.

However, something was bothering me. The woman was glancing at the entrance when she listened to Phil-san. She was doing it unconsciously, but repeated it several times. She would look disappointed whenever she saw a new customer. She seemed to be waiting for someone specific.

It was strange for someone without memories to be waiting for someone, and I dismissed that thought. But I still felt that she was waiting for someone specific.

With that in mind, the question would be who. The answer came shortly after noon.

The door chimed. A wolf-faced man in a dark suit walked in. He surveyed the shop as usual, glanced my way, then stepped aside. He was Corleone-san’s bodyguard and attendant, so when he stepped aside, Corleone-san appeared. He was wearing his usual small hat on top of his white figure.

Corleone-san suddenly stopped after entering the shop. It was rare seeing him in a daze as he said.

【Could it be… Elise?】

Corleone-san stared at the woman who lost her memories.

Phil-san looked at Corleone-san and that woman. Ignoring Phil-san who was trying to grasp the situation, the woman stood up, went around the table and walked right up to Corleone-san.

【… Do you know about me?】

Her voice rang out. As if she was suppressing her emotions, it had a hint of intimacy and was a little cold too.

【No, who are you?】

The one who answered Corleone-san’s serious question was Phil-san

【Erm, she seemed to have lost her memories. That’s why she is looking for someone who might know her here.】

After glancing at Phil-san, Corleone-san looked at me, who was standing at the counter. I nodded, and Corleone-san looked right at the woman he called Elise.

【Pardon me. You look like an acquaintance of mine. I was mistaken.】

【Does Elise look like me?】

【That is true.】

Phil-san interjected:

【Well, is there a possibility that she is Elise?】

Corleone-san grunted.

【It might be possible for races who didn’t look their age. How old would she be by now…? At least, she wouldn’t be so young.】

Corleone-san walked to the counter. His guard, Shemota-san, went outside. When the door closed with a chime, the woman spoke.

【If you don’t mind, can you tell me about Elise?】

【I do mind. Pardon me for refusing.】

He said sternly, contrary to his usual attitude. I felt a chill down my back.

The woman shivered as if she was frightened, then put a hand on her breasts with furrowed brows.

【Even so, I still want to know. Please tell me.】

Corleone-san stood tall without a word. But the woman still stared at his back and waited.

The air suddenly calmed down. Corleone-san put his hand on his hat and turned back. He then stared at the woman as if he was remembering something.

【… It’s not a happy topic. Just something that happened in the past.】

The woman nodded.

【It’s fine. I want to know.】

Corleone-san jumped up onto a seat, and sighed. He started recounting the past.

【Elise is the only woman I have ever loved.】


Childhood friends, a very common term, and the best way to describe our relationship. I spent my childhood years with Elise.

We weren’t born in the slums, but it wasn’t far off either. It wasn’t a proper place, it was impoverished and dark. A world where it was difficult to differentiate people from trash.

I didn’t remember my family. I couldn’t even tell if I forgot, or I didn’t have any in the first place. When I knew it, I was spending my days picking garbage.

In a place like this, people would act in two ways.

They would be antagonistic towards each other, or help each other. No matter what, we would end up in one group. You would die quickly if you were alone. To protect yourself, you needed to create a group.

Elise was in the small group I belonged to.

In that dark world without any goodness, she was the only light. I still couldn’t understand how she did it, but Elise was always smiling. Her personality was stronger than anyone, and she was the kindest of us all.

She was the only one who cared about me, who didn’t have any family and was living by myself.

She was the only person willing to approach me, who was always isolated and at odds with others. No matter how cold she was treated, or if I made her cry, she would smile again the next day.

The people chatting happily with you might fall ill the next day, and the people living in the area might disappear. People could die easily over one bread. Living here would wear away your heart. You would discard your kindness and prioritize your own benefits. Only Elise would not abandon others.

I would be dead if not for her. In that world where life had no value, and people could mutilate their own babies and loan them out to beggars. Because you could garner more sympathy and increase your income that way. That was how depraved people were. That was such a place.

Elise and I still lived together when we were your age.

Instead of mutual love, we were just used to each other. We were like family, and never thought about being apart.

However, I hated living in the world like this, and thought about escaping.

When I got lucky and got hired in a proper company to do odd jobs, I thought that was a crucial moment of my life. I thought my life would change, and I would be able to live under the sun. I seriously thought that way.

I worked desperately every day, and saved my meager wages. I wanted to bring Elise to the normal world. I didn’t know what she thought… How should I put this? If it was her, she would just nod with her usual smile, that was my impression of her.

One day, Elise’s parents died.

I heard they were dragged into a fight between gangs, but that was just an everyday occurrence. No one talked about catching the culprit, and there wasn’t even a funeral. We couldn’t spare the effort, and still needed to worry about tomorrow’s meal even when your parents died.

In the same year, there was an epidemic. It could be cured with treatment, but for us poor folks, we could only depend on fate.

Finally, Elise’s brother was on the verge of death. I used all my savings to get medicine, but I didn’t have the connections to get any. It had already been decided who could be saved. Only those with power and money. The value of a life didn’t depend on how important they were to you, but whether you had the power and authority.

Elise was a gentle and strong girl. She cared about others more than herself, and treasured her family. In order to save her brother, she wanted to sell herself.

I stopped her desperately. With no other way, the only method left to me was burglary.

I infiltrated a noble’s home as an odd job worker. But it didn’t go well, and I was caught and locked in a cell. The nobles had more power back then, and such crimes were usually punishable by death. I was lucky, and was released at the end of the month.

I rushed over to Elise’s place, but the place was deserted. I heard from the people nearby that a noble took her and her brother away.

I never saw her again.


Ending the story with a heavy sigh, Corleone-san laughed in self mockery.

【It’s an embarrassing story. I feel awful every time I think about it.】

【…… And you never married?】

The woman asked in an even tone. Corleone-san tapped on his hat and laughed.

【In my life, just one woman is enough to be my star. And my star is gone. That’s all, lady.】

The woman sighed softly, then showed a warm and gentle smile.

【I don’t have my memories.】

She said:

【So what I’m going to say, is the rumblings of a girl without memories.】

Corleone-san turned to her. The woman looked at Corleone-san and began her tale.

【The woman named Elise met a noble, and she was taken away along with her brother. In exchange for her brother’s life, and for her childhood friend who didn’t return after going off in search of the medicine, she offered herself to that noble. That man kept his promise, and saved both her brother and childhood friend.】

Corleone-san opened his eyes wide.

【With the strength of Elise’s character, she made many people fall for her. Despite her low status, she was a woman everyone acknowledged. The noble man fell in love with her, and took her as his wife. She bore him two children. She was stricter than their father at times, but she was a good mother. They were good children, and were raised well.】

They were a harmonious family, and lived a blissful life. The figure of Elise running with the children in the courtyard, and the image of Elise watching over them in the gentle sun were engraved in everyone’s mind.

But when one of the children had just formed their own family, Elise fell ill. She contracted a disease that was difficult to treat. Her family tried desperately, but couldn’t find a cure.

One day, the younger daughter was called into Elise’s room. By then, Elise couldn’t even sit up, and knew her days were numbered.

Elise cleared the room, and told her daughter some secret. It was about a Knight important to Elise, who would protect her clumsily and always save her.

She had a hard life when she was young, impoverished without any hope, and she thought about dying so many times. She didn’t know what was the meaning of life, and in that place filled with pain, that person was shining bright. Thanks to him, she could keep smiling.

Elise told her daughter, as if she was showing her precious gem. The reason being her daughter’s name was derived from that Knight.

Would he be angry about his name being used? Elise wondered with a smile.

I will have no regrets if he is still healthy and well

Those were Elise’s last words, heard by that daughter.

The daughter wanted to fulfil her mother’s last wishes, because that was a secret she kept until her death bed. So she couldn’t let anyone know. She had to do everything herself.

This was normally a difficult task, but fortunately, she was from a wealthy noble family. With time, she could gather all sorts of information. However, she ran into a problem. Her status as a noble was a bother. Young girls couldn’t go out freely before they marry.

More importantly, she couldn’t let her family know. Aside from that Knight, she had to keep her identity a secret. But even after collecting the information, she couldn’t be certain that was the person she was looking for. It would be awkward to reveal her identity to the wrong person. She needed proof to be sure he was the one. On top of that, that person was a famous and powerful person with many scary legends.

When she was thinking of a way, she remembered something. People often said the daughter was just like her mother when she was young. The person who would mistake her for her mother must be Elise’s Knight. She happened to hear that person would often visit a particular shop. In that case, she could definitely meet him there.

She ended her tale here. Phil-san and I were both silent as we looked at Corleone-san and that woman.

【This story isn’t from a noble girl… that’s right, it’s just the ramblings of an anonymous girl.】 With that preface, the girl smiled. 【That girl is named Leonor.】

Corleone-san stared at that girl.

【The way you smile… looks just like an acquaintance of mine, young lady.】

Is that so, she muttered quietly.

【When I first saw you, I wondered if that was the case. You look just like her, as if you have walked out of my memories.】

No one could tell how complicated his emotions were when he said those words.

【Elise… my mother had never forgotten about you, and cherished her memories of you in her heart. Like you, she held this feelings til her last moment.】

Corleone-san stared at her. Or rather, he was seeing someone else’s figure through her.

【It seems that Elise had a happy life. I’m glad that I learned that.】


After asking for Coffee, Corleone-san remained silent.

The woman had left the shop. Their positions were too complicated for them to sit together and chat.

Phil-san didn’t say anything, and sat by himself. He laid out a piece of paper and was drawing something.

I didn’t want to break the silence in the shop, and wiped the glasses quietly. There wasn’t anything that I wanted to say. I also understood that no matter what I said, it would be of no value to Corleone-san. I didn’t have the right to butt in. This was about Corleone-san’s life.

Phil-san suddenly stopped moving his hands and stood up. He was quiet all this time, what was he thinking?

【If you don’t mind, please take this…】

I leaned forth to peek at the paper. On it was a sketch of that woman smiling. As expected of a painter, it was a beautiful drawing.

Corleone-san checked out the drawing, then looked up at Phil-san.

【Thank you, it’s a great drawing. I will take it.】

He said with a gentle voice, then looked back at the drawing. He then picked up his cup and sipped on his cold Coffee.

【The Coffee today is really bitter.】

His quiet voice echoed in the shop.

The firewood crackled in the fireplace.

Corleone-san didn’t say anything more, and stared at the woman in the drawing. In the black and white world where time stood still, the woman was smiling like the stars in the night sky.

Chapter 4: Expanding like Omelette Rice


【Oh, I lost.】

The middle aged man smiled as he scratched his furry ear. His ears and belly were both round, and his long face looked friendly. His skin was a little dark, reminding me of a racoon dog.

【I was confident too.】

He reached into his shirt and took something out.

【Here, Alekhin’s Black Bishop】

The piece was placed onto the board with a thud. I wasn’t very interested in the valuable chess pieces made by the famed craftsman Alekhin. I just happened to obtain one Knight, and Aina asked me to not hand it over to anyone.

However, people collecting the pieces would appear from time to time, betting their pieces and asking for a match. And so, I got more and more pieces won from my opponents. Fortunately, I had not lost to anyone yet.

Recently, the number of people coming to challenge has grown in number.

【Has word spread that there are chess pieces of Alekhin here?】

I asked the Racoon dog-like man, and he chuckled.

【Don’t you know? I heard a strange young shopkeeper is collecting the Alekhin chess pieces, it has become a hot topic around here. And they say you are strong too. Well, they aren’t wrong!】

The man left with a hearty laugh. There was nothing wrong with him laughing, but I hoped he would order something.

I see, so this shop became a trending topic without me realizing it. And for something unrelated to Coffee.

I sighed, but that was to be expected. You couldn’t stop people from speaking, and I didn’t hide this fact either. I didn’t feel the need to, but…

I picked up the Bishop on the table, and pulled a drawer in a cabinet hidden behind the counter. There was a white cloth wrapping around black and white chess pieces inside. They were all Alekhin’s chess pieces, the number of pieces I won was still increasing.

【I wasn’t planning to collect them… What should I do with them?】

It was far from a full set, so I couldn’t use them. I wasn’t planning to collect them in the first place. However, Aina asked me to, so I didn’t plan to hand them over to anyone. Maybe I should hand them over to Aina.

However, I was enjoying this a little. All sorts of people came to this shop and challenged me to a game. I didn’t hate that. To be honest, I was excited with these games played face to face. I liked playing Chess.

With the Alekhin pieces on the line, the matches felt tenser than usual. This was my first time experiencing that, and made my daily life more exciting.

【Shopkeep, you are really good at Chess.】

I heard a voice from a table. The narrow-faced old man was sitting there.

【I’m envious. I’m not good at this at all.】 The round-faced old man staring at the board beside me mumbled, then sipped at his cup. 【With your skills, you don’t have to worry even a noble picked on you.】

【What do you mean?】

The narrow-faced old man answered:

【In the past, when a commoner couldn’t take the tyranny of a noble anymore, they would challenge a noble to a duel with a sword, usually for revenge or over affairs of the heart. If the reason was justified, the noble would need to accept. Which means, if the nobles went too far, people would go after them like that.】

【Wouldn’t that put their lives at risk?】

【Yes, of course. A duel put their lives on the line. No charges would be pursued even if the commoner killed a noble. And usually, the commoner would win.】

【Because the commoners are stronger?】

The narrow-faced old man took a piece and made a move.

【Technique wise, the nobles are better. The commoners have more strength, but that’s not the point.】

I waited for him to go on, and the old man squinted a smile at me.

【Putting that aside for now, the customs had been changed. It wouldn’t do if several people wanted to duel one noble. But in place of a sword, there is a way for a commoner to challenge a noble.】

【And that way is through Chess, right?】

The round-faced old man laughed loudly.

【The nobles don’t think commoners can play Chess. They don’t think they will lose. If not, they wouldn’t proclaim arrogantly that Chess is a game for nobles.】

In the end, Chess was just entertainment. Commoners couldn’t spare the time to learn and study it. Instead of entertainment, they were more concerned with tomorrow’s meal. With that pretext in mind, it was fitting to say Chess was a game for nobles.

【However, given the Shopkeeper's level, you might even beat a noble.】

【Tell me if you are having a duel, okay? I will bring some wine and cheer you on.】

The two of them said with a smile, and I smiled back at them. If something so scary happened, I would flee at the earliest opportunity.

I thought about the Alekhin pieces in the drawer, and the day after I obtained the Knight. What that youth told me back then.

—— that Knight is wasted on you.

Well, I thought so too. I might think it would be better if I had given it to him back then.

It was fun playing Chess with all kinds of people, but the number of pieces was increasing. I couldn’t feel happy about that fact.


The wood was crackling, and the flame kept changing its shape. If you stared at the fire tirelessly. You could relax and empty your mind. Your body would turn warm and toasty.

The fireplace being a wonderful thing became clearer as it got colder.

I added a piece of wood, closed the net gate, then stood up.

The customers in the shop spent their time leisurely. An old lady seated near the fireplace was dozing off. The regular Elf big sister was flipping through a thick book and was getting sleepy. She was about to bend towards the table when she woke up with a shock, and rubbed her eyes.

The warm shop in the afternoon had a comfortable air just right for sleeping. It was definitely because of the relaxing fireplace.

I stifled a yawn and returned to my spot behind the counter.

No one placed any order, the customers were usually quiet after lunch. I would get crushed by sleepiness if I didn’t do something. I was thinking about stepping outside and letting the cold air wake me up, when the warm air flowed out of the shop.

The one closing the door quietly was Aina. After taking her coat off and folding it carefully over her arm, she walked towards the counter.

【Don’t you have a coat hanger? It’s almost winter, you know?】

Aina pulled a chair and sat down, putting her coat on the empty seat next to her.

【Coat hanger, huh. Should I get one?】

【Isn’t it a bother last winter?】

【I don’t have enough customers to worry about that.】

【Oh, this is good news then, since you definitely need one this year.】

I felt a sense of dissonance when I saw her gentle smile. I couldn’t describe it, but this was different from usual.

【Aina, did something happened?】

【Why the sudden question?】

Aina said with a smile. Her smile seemed a little thorny.

Oh, she seemed fine. She was acting as always.

【Is the academy on break today?】

【No.】 Aina shook her head and smiled. 【I’m skipping classes.】

Aina was an honour student with a serious personality. If she was skipping classes, something must have happened.

I suppressed the words I wanted to say on reflex, and put my hands on my hips.

【Skipping classes isn’t commendable. Want to eat something sweet?】

【Your words seems to contradict each other.】

Aina covered her mouth with a finger as she laughed, and her eyes softened.

【You are right, I should order something. I haven’t had lunch yet.】

【Of course. Is there anything you want to eat?】

[Then, I want something that will make my heart flutter.]

[Another strange request.]

[Is that too difficult for Plebeian-san?]

She teased me, and I rolled up my sleeves as my answer. I hated losing after all.

I cooked a pot of rice when I prepared my own lunch. I will use that as an ingredient and come up with a heart fluttering dish. What should I make?

Lunch was rice with cream soup. A light meal like that wouldn’t make her heart flutter. I opened the fridge to find ingredients, then took out something suitable. It was eggs. It had been a while, I wondered if I could make it smoothly.

I took out other ingredients like matsutake mushroom and a large chunk of butter.

[Plebeian-san, did you dream about opening a shop like this when you were young?]

Aina asked while I was chopping the onions.

[Not at all. I never thought things would end up like this.]

[And you still learned to cook? Even though you are a boy?]

Aina sounded puzzled. It seemed that men in this world rarely used a kitchen knife if they didn't want to be a chef.

If possible, I wouldn’t want to cook either.

[Both my parents are busy. I don’t know when it started, but I started cooking when I was hungry. And my grandfather is an excellent cook, and will teach me as part of playing with me.]

[So you are not in this situation because you wanted to?]

[You can say that.]

Coming to this world wasn’t something I wanted. I happened to know cooking, so I started an eatery, this wasn’t something I wanted to do. Or rather, I didn’t have any other choice.

I looked up after cutting the ingredients. Aina was staring at me seriously.

[Do you have any regrets about going down a route you didn’t want? Are you dissatisfied or unhappy with your life right now?]

[Why are you asking that so suddenly?]

Seeing her leaning forth, I brushed off the question with a baffled face. Aina hung her head, embarrassed about her rashness.

[No, it’s fine. That was rude of me, please forget about it.]

Even if you said so, I couldn’t forget so easily. From how Aina looked, I could tell that was something important to her, making it even harder to forget.

However, it was difficult for me to answer Aina seriously.

Furthermore, I couldn’t answer it properly, since I couldn’t treat the question objectively. So I didn’t stop my hands, and thought up a topic as if nothing happened.

[Regret, dissatisfaction and unhappiness, huh. I can’t say there isn’t any.]

I lit the fire under the stove, added some oil and slowly fried the onions.

[I can’t change my situation even if I cry about it, so I have to find a way to accept things.]

I answered with a cliche line. And that was how I lived anyway. I didn’t have anything else to say, and I couldn’t express my feelings no matter how I tried anyway.

[What would you do if you chose the wrong path?]

[What would I do, huh.]

The diced matsutake-like mushrooms were added, followed by butter and rice. I stirred the ingredients and answered with a cheerful tone. I couldn’t think about it without making it seem like I was kidding. And there were things I couldn’t say too.

[That’s hard to imagine. I feel so hollow thinking about it, since I won’t get a conclusion.]

If I wasn’t here, how would my life have played out?

Of course I had thought about that. I thought about that almost every day.

Instead of regret, I felt more anger.

You feel regret over a choice you made, but I wasn’t given a choice when I came to this world. It just happened suddenly. I didn’t know who to complain to, and crying wouldn’t help. I could only bear the grudge I had over it.

After coming to this world for some time, I met all sorts of people, and we supported each other, and I could finally conceal my anger. By not thinking about it, I stopped my heart from wavering. It would fade away with time, and when the anger turned faint, then maybe I could face this question head on.

— If I never came to this world.

My life in the future might remain boring and stable, and when I am satisfied with my peaceful life, and not yearn so badly to return, I might be able to face it then.

But right now, I could only avert my gaze from the future. It took everything I had just to focus on the pan before me.


Aina was silent. She was smart, and probably sensed something from my attitude.

[What’s troubling you?]

Aina was quiet after I asked that. There was only the sound of the ingredients being fried in the pan. I plated the dish, and Aina said softly:

[It seems I’m going to marry.]

The pan didn’t fall from my hand because I was completely frozen. Her words slowly played in my mind.

[Did you say, marry?]

I cocked my head in confusion as I looked at Aina. She looked completely calm.

[Put the pan down first, then I will tell you.]

That was true. How do I move my left hand again?

It took me a while to recall, and I finally put the pan back properly.

[What’s that about marriage? Who is the other party? Why didn’t you introduce me?]

[You still haven’t calm down.]

She looked at me with disdain, but there was no way I could calm down so simply.

[The marriage is still in discussion, and isn’t set in stone yet. I haven’t met the other party yet, so there is no way I can introduce you. Even if I did, it will just trouble you, right, Plebeian-san?]

[No no, you have to introduce me. What if he is a weirdo?]

[When did you become my guardian?]

Aina said with a laugh. No no, this wasn’t the time to laugh.

[You’re going to marry someone you haven’t met?]

[What’s wrong with that? Marriage between nobles are the bonds between clans. The feelings of the person is secondary.]

She said as if that was very natural, but I didn’t get it at all.

[But, marriage is…]

I felt that only a couple who loved each other should join in matrimony. There were scenes in stories and period dramas showing marriage without love, but I was still speechless to see it happening to an acquaintance.

[Aina, are you fine with that?]

Aina showed a fake smile.

[It doesn’t matter. It’s arranged by my grandfather after all.]

[You can’t reject the arrangement by your grandfather?]

[He might have retired and handed over the position of clan head to my father, but he still holds a lot of influence. Even my father can’t go against my grandfather’s decision.]

I considered what Aina said in a daze. When I realized it, I had added in 3 eggs, and was beating it with milk. My body was moving on its own while I was thinking about something else.

[I see. Is it normal for Aina to marry at this age?]

[It’s not strange for norbles. There are people with arranged marriages the moment they are born.]


A complicated feeling was pressing against my chest, and I couldn’t even breathe.

I couldn’t face this head on, and focused on the things before me as if to escape from reality.

I restarted the heat under the pan. I melted some butter, then added salt onto the bubbling gloop. I then poured in the eggs. There was a comfortable sounding sizzle. A short time later, I stirred it with chopsticks, and the eggs started to solidify. With the heat still on, I grabbed the pan and shook it front and back with my left hand, while my right hand went around in a circle with the chopsticks.

There was a timing to stopping, I couldn’t be too fast nor too slow. I used three eggs, so it filled the entire pan, and the eggs swirled like water. However, the eggs were solidifying slowly. Some time later, I saw my chopsticks leaving a black trail. I could see the bottom of the pan.

I turned off the heat at this point and tilted the pan to one side. When the eggs almost reached the edge of the pan, I gently tapped the base of the pan handle.

Don, don, don.

It was difficult to control my strength. I needed to concentrate on tapping, and also pay attention to my left hand holding the handle. I then relaxed my wrist, and gently flicked the pan with the rhythm of the tapping. The eggs moved by themselves and formed into a circle. The surface was smooth, and I slid it carefully onto the butter rice, careful not to break it. The butter from the pan was absorbed immediately, covering right to the edge of the rice. It was done.

I put a spoon on the plate and served it to Aina.

【… What a strange presentation. It does look tasty.】

Her comment sounded hesitant, which was natural considering how it looked. The butter rice she wasn’t familiar with, some vegetables and a fluffy fried egg covering it seamlessly on top. It was a given that she would be hesitant if she never had it before.

I picked up the knife silently, then stabbed into the top of the bright yellow egg.

【— Oh.】

I slowly slid the blade, splitting the egg in half. The two halves spread to either side, like a butterfly fresh out of its cocoon spreading its wings, covering the rice.

【This is Dandelion Omelette Rice with Cream soup. How about it? Does it make your heart flutter?】

I said to Aina who was staring at the Omelette rice, and she suddenly straightened her posture and looked at me.

【Well, the presentation isn’t bad.】

This response was very Aina-like, and I couldn't help laughing.

【Why are you laughing, how rude.】


【Really now, Plebeian-san… By the way, what do you mean by dandelion?】

【… I wonder. I don’t know either.】


【It can’t be helped. There are things I don’t know too.】

I shrugged, and Aina picked up the spoon with a shake of her head. 【I’m digging in.】 She said softly before digging into the vicious half cooked eggs at the top. She observed the egg as if she was appraising something beautiful before scooping it. She then ate it, and her cheeks puffed out.


She suddenly made a loud sound. Aina chewed slowly, swallowed, then stayed still. Finally, she looked up at me and said:

【This is really— fluffy.】

【Is this something you should say so seriously.】

【Eggs should be gooey, but it’s fluffy.】

【You’re saying the same thing.】

Aina nodded with a satisfied face, then scooped at the omelette rice and ate another mouthful. She raised her head into the air, and closed her eyes with a blissful face. Her cheeks were moving slightly as she continued to eat gracefully.

I was happy that my food made her so happy. I tidied up the kitchen in a cheerful mood.

After I finished washing up, I heard the sound of the spoon being put down. Aina had cleaned her plate. She was wiping her mouth with a white napkin, but my shop didn’t have something like that. Do aristocratic ladies bring things like that along when they go outside?

【It is delicious. Please give the chef my compliments.】

【That’s me. I’m right in front of you.】

【Oh, can you give me an after meal Coffee?】

【… Yes, coming right up.】

After drying my hands with a towel, I started brewing the Coffee. I heated the beaker, and cleared Aina’s plate while the water was heating up.

【Plebeian-san, is that Knight still here.】

【It’s still here. Aside from the Knight, there are many other pieces too, it’s a little troubling.】

I put it like a joke, but Aina didn’t laugh. She said quietly.

【I said something wilful before, but it’s fine now. You can do whatever you want with the pieces. You can give it away or sell them.】

She said in an exceptionally cheerful tone.

【What, didn’t we make an agreement? This is your compensation if I teach you to read and write?】

【Yes, but it’s fine now. I can’t teach you till the end anyway.】

Aina looked at me with a smile.

【My grandfather told me about the marriage a few days ago. In that case, I have to withdraw from the academy and go through with the marriage. If it’s my grandfather’s will, then even my father can’t oppose him.】

【Wait wait, is it that urgent?】

Compared to me who was panicking, Aina was calm.

【Yes. My father planned to have me marry after I graduate, so this is just bringing it forward a little.】

As if she was talking about someone else.

【What do you mean by bringing forward a little? Aina, are you fine with that?】

She looked at me when I asked that question. I wondered how complicated were Aina’s feelings lying under her calm eyes. She definitely wasn’t happy, it was easy to imagine.

However, Aina hid that perfectly under her smile. This prim and proper Aina wasn’t the Aina I knew, but the face of a noble lady.

【I have to abide by the decision, that’s all.】

I couldn’t say anything when I heard her resigned words.

So this was how nobles were, huh. They needed to suppress their emotions and walked along a predetermined path.

【Alright, leaving that aside for now, let’s study words. It would be rude to delay your reply to the Songstress.】

Aina said cheerfully to the silent me. I knew Aina was the one suffering, but she was worrying about me instead.

【Really now, don’t make that face. You look like a kid.】

Aina caressed my face. I could feel her gentle warmth. I couldn’t say a word, and the sound of the boiling water seemed to fade away.

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