“Geta! Did Genos City release you!?”
I saw him outside the kitchen of the Wu clan main house.
19th of the White Month, Evening. The sun had already set, and the kitchen was filled with the fragrance of freshly cooked dinner.
“It’s great that you are alright. Did they lash you?”
Geta stared with his yellow eyes as he shook his head in silence. I was relieved and smiled when I saw his usual face that concealed his emotions.
As if he didn’t feel happy about being released safely. I didn’t know what to say after that, and Kamyua Yost said with a cheery voice as if he was mediating a fight:
“He was punished for the crimes of infiltrating the city, brandishing a blade at a noble and drawing a sword in the Post Station Town. If Pyschkurewuss and the others weren’t guilty before all that happened, he wouldn’t have committed these crimes either, so Marquis Genos pardoned him. His wanted notice in the Post Station Town has been retracted, and he is now a free man.”
Kamyua Yost and Geta already met in the Pyschkurewuss manor, but seeing them stand together still felt strange.
After stroking his scruffy beard, Kamyua Yost suddenly looked my way:
“Oh, Ai Fa. Got anything on your hunt?”
Ai Fa nodded with a “Yes” as she watched him cautiously. Ai Fa had started hunting again.
After I was abducted by Lifuria, and the ten days before the conference, she didn’t hunt at all. Even Ai Fa would feel uncomfortable for taking such a long break.
Donda Wu and the others also resumed working. Even though they were worried about me, Donda Wu and the others still believed in Ryada Wu and entrusted their family’s safety to him. Ai Fa wanted to show the same resolve, overcame her worries and resumed her hunting work.
The scary thing was, Ai Fa hunted at the incredible pace of one kiba a day for the past four days. And she returned earlier than anyone else. Given that the kiba around the Fa house were already declining in numbers, this was a great result.
However, Ai Fa’s hair had a strong fragrance now. Ai Fa smeared the kiba attracting fruit to herself to lure the kiba, and resumed her use of the “Sacrificial Hunting Style”.
“The number of kiba is dwindling, so this can’t be helped. I will usually use the ‘Sacrificial Hunting Style’ during this period.”
That didn’t ease my worries, but I could only calm myself by recalling what Darum Wu said, and believe in Ai Fa’s capability as a hunter, and her resolve.
“So, Donda Wu isn’t back yet? I’m here as the representative of Marquis Genos.”
“It’s already so late, he should be back already. Isn’t he in the main house?”
“I see. The Marquis has a message for Asuta and Donda Wu. Asuta, you want to hear the message, right?”
“… Is it about my residency here?”
They had yet to conclude on how to deal with someone like me who came from overseas.
Kamyua Yost smiled and ignored Ai Fa’s sharp gaze.
“That is still being reviewed. Marquis Genos thinks that it isn’t adequate to discuss Asuta’s issue before Pyschkurewuss’ trial.”
“Then what business does he have with me?”
“I want the tribal chief to listen to this too. Can you make some time before dinner?”
“Yes, dinner is already ready.”
And so, Ai Fa, Kamyua Yost, Geta and I headed for the main house.
After surrendering our blades to Mama Mia Lei for safekeeping, we entered the house, and found four men waiting in the hall since it was almost dinner time.
“It’s Kamyua Yost huh. Any news from the city?”
Donda Wu looked at him with blue calm eyes.
Jiza Wu was expressionless as usual, while Darum Wu had a ferocious gaze— Ludo Wu frowned worriedly as he looked at Geta.
“There is news, but it will take a while to explain. Pyschkurewuss is still bedridden and Shileru refuse to say anything. Even if they have a private army, we have no way of finding them.”
“Hmmp. So what brings you here?”
“Marquis Marstein Genos has a message for you. It might not suit the style of the Forest’s Edge, but I implore you to listen to the end.”
Kamyua Yost said as he slowly sat down at the lower seat. Geta sat down beside him, with his side facing Ai Fa and me.
“Actually, I want to talk about the issue of Pyschkurewuss’ daughter, Lifuria.”
“Lifuria? Why bring up Pyschkurewuss’ daughter now…? Wasn’t she arrested?”
“Yes, she will probably be imprisoned for half a year. Marquis Genos’ message is, are you fine with reducing her sentence?”
A intense light shot out of Donda Wu’s eyes.
“I don’t understand what you mean, make it simpler.”
“Alright. This might be a good piece of news for Forest’s Edge… Marquis Genos plans to revoke Pyschkurewuss’ peerage before officially putting him on trial. This is only natural given the gravity of his crimes.”
“Revoking his peerage as Count… So no matter the outcome, that man can’t call himself Count Turan ever again?”
“That’s correct. Putting a Count on trial is bad for publicity, and the prosecutor and judge might even show leniency. With all that in mind, the Marquis has started considering revoking Pyschkurewuss’ peerage.”
“That’s good news, but… it’s too early to celebrate.”
Donda Wu smiled. That meant his fighting instinct has been stimulated.
“You mentioned that girl earlier, which means… She will inherit the peerage.”
“Yes, that’s only natural. Lady Lifuria might be a criminal, but she was only sentenced to half a year’s imprisonment. Since she is the child of the current house head, she has the right to inherit the peerage.”
“… Is kidnapping Asuta, a trivial crime?”
When he heard Ai Fa’s sudden pointed question, Kamyua Yost smiled as if he was soothing her:
“If you compare that to Pyschkurewuss’ actions, it is… Nobles would usually use money to settle out of court for things like abducting commoners. But the Forest’s Edge denizens won’t accept such nonsense, and that’s why things turned out this way.”
“You don’t know what to say after dealing with nobles like Pyschkurewuss, huh. Don’t worry, Marquis Genos and Sir Polarse won’t commit such crimes.”
Ai Fa kept quiet with a sour face, and Donda Wu urged Kamyua Yost to continue with a “… So?”
“Anyway, she’s just a kid. In the Forest’s Edge, those below 15 years old don’t have the rights to inherit the position of house head either.”
“In the western kingdom, children and women can inherit the peerage. But blood relations is mandatory, and there will be many restrictions too. Therefore… the peerage will be passed down in order to put more distant of the title from Pyschkurewuss, in order to not stain the Count Turan House’s reputation further and to strengthen its foundation.”
“Yes… I see.”
“And of course, Lady Lifuria was convicted of abducting Asuta, so she would have even more restrictions placed on her, and her every move will be supervised. The responsibility of managing the Count Turan House will fall on her heir instead. Before the new inheritor take over, Lifuria will just be the nominal house head.”
Kamyua Yost shrugged as he said:
“Marquis Genos doesn’t have the authority to abolish the Count Turan House peerage. The four houses of Genos, Turan, Satolas and Taliem rules over Genos as dictated by the Selva royal edict. Hence… the best Marquis Genos can do is to revoke Pyschkurewuss’ peerage, and make Lifuria inherit it.”
“Since this is the law of the Kingdom, then do what you will. But what do you mean by forgiving that girl’s crimes? Be it aristocrat or Counts, a crime is a crime.”
“Yes, but we can’t let someone who is serving a sentence in jail inherit the peerage. We can’t delay Pyschkurewuss’ trial by half a year either. This is also a tough decision for Marquis Genos.”
“Is there that much of a dilemma? You are making it sound like one’s status is more important than the law.”
“That’s right. For the people in the Rock city, status is more important than the law. Stubborn people like Malfreed are the minority.”
Kamyua Yost smiled after saying that:
“If we put Pyschkurewuss on trial without revoking his peerage, the scandal will spread to the capital. If things goes badly, the capital might use this as an excuse to interfere with the ruling of Genos. Genos is at the borders far from the capital, and is one of the top wealthiest cities in Selva, so many people in the capital think this place is dangerous. The landlord of Genos has to worry about these things too.”
“Hmmp… What an exaggerated way of putting it.”
Donda Wu stopped smiling, and stroked his scruffy beard.
Kamyua Yost looked at the irate Donda Wu and continued:
“And so— Marquis Genos has a request, which might not align with the way Forest’s Edge does things.”
“Enough with the idle chat, get to the point.”
“Yes, I’m getting to that… Aside from reducing Lifuria’s sentence, Marquis Genos also wishes to stay the execution Barcia of Marsala.”
Donda Wu narrowed his eyes while I stared at Geta who was besides Kamyua Yost.
Geta lowered his gaze wordlessly.
“A death sentence is inevitable for the surviving member of the “Red Beard” bandit gang. However, Barcia who turned herself in to safekeep the public order of Genos does qualify for leniency— someone though so.”
“So you are saying, if we forgive that Lifuria girl, Barcia’s sentence will be reduced, right.”
Donda Wu said with a calm gaze:
“I see… So that’s how nobles does things.”
“That’s correct. Personally, I think Marquis Genos is a fair noble and has a human touch.”
Kamyua Yost smiled again and continued:
“Normally, an aristocrats will raise these terms and act as if they are doing you a favor. But Marquis Genos is aware that this borders on the abuse of power, and gave this proposal in a form of a request. In order to stabilized Genos’ governance, Marquis Genos has to let Lifuria inherit the peerage. And in return, he will pardon Barcia to keep the peace.”
“For Marquis Genos, pardoning a bandit that harmed the nobles is a difficult decision. He will need to seek the understanding of the nobles who suffered losses from the ‘Red Beard Gang’ decades ago.”
“Breaking the law to right a previous law violation, and working hard to redeem for his past mistakes. I don’t feel sorry for him at all.”
“That’s true. It is only natural for the Forest’s Edge denizens who follows the law strictly to think this way. Marquis Genos’ show of kindness might feel like trampling of Barcia’s resolve to you.”
Geta raised his head when Kamyua Yost said that.
His yellow, beast-like eyes stared right at Donda Wu.
“Forest’s Edge Tribal Chief Donda Wu… Please allow me to speak.”
Donda Wu looked at Geta without a word.
Geta’s gaze became more intense— and then bowed his red head onto the ground.
“Please accept the noble’s proposal and save my mother. I’m willing to offer you my life…”
“As Donda Wu said, I took the wrong path, and my mother was apprehended because of that. If mother dies because of me, I won’t be able to face my father Goram.”
“I know how shameless my request is. My mother will not be happy too. But… I don’t want my mother to die because of me.”
I was standing at the side, and could see the side profile of Geta’s face as he pressed his forehead into the ground.
Geta’s eyes were burning like a fire, and his childish face was sorrowful as he sobbed quietly:
“… Let me say this again, even if Lifuria inherit the peerage, she won’t be able to do as she please. It might be infuriating for her crimes of abducting Asuta to be pardoned, but she destroyed her entire life because of this crime. This isn’t just impisonment for half a year, but a crime she will have to bear for the rest of her life. Does that make you feel better?”
Donda Wu slowly shifted his gaze to Kamyua Yost who was saying that with a strange expression.
“You are acting more gentle than you did last time, which feels a little revolting.”
“Is that so. I’m sort of responsible since I brought Barcia here.”
Kamyua Yost looked at Geta’s petite back with a smile:
“But he didn’t gripe at me even once. That makes my chest hurts.”
“No matter what you say, the one who will decide is the subject herself. Barcia of Marsala has immense resolve and pride. But becoming a bandit that robs others of their possession is also a choice that she made.”
Donda Wu looked at Kamyua Yost and Geta with determined eyes.
“So… Marquis Genos won’t change his mind no matter what our answer might be, correct?”
“Yes. For Marquis Genos, this is the best way.”
“Then let him do what he wants. In time, we will see whether Marquis Genos can be a Forest’s Edge Lord worthy of our fealty.”
Geta lift his tears stained face.
Donda Wu frowned at that sight.
“A hunter shouldn’t weep so easily in front of others. How old are you?”
“Fourteen huh, in the Forest’s Edge, you are only an adult when you are older than fifteen.”
With that, Donda Wu grunted:
“You might be a hunter, but you are still a child. It is wrong for you to be apart from your parents at such a tender age. If you are reflecting on your actions, don’t make the same mistake again.”
Geta lowered his head again and wept silently.
Kamyua Yost looked at them with a troubled smile, then said cheerfully:
“Alright then, since we have gotten your consentment, let’s move on to the next topic.”
“You are not done? I’m hungry.”
“This is the last agenda. In order to rebuild a cordial relationship with the tribal chiefs of Forest’s Edge, Marquis Genos is planning to host a dinner banquet.”
Donda Wu frowned menacingly, while I opened my eyes wide in surprise.
Kamyua Yost who finally had his usual retarded smile turned to me and said:
“And he hopes Asuta can make a kiba dish too. He wishes to eat kiba together with everyone from the Forest’s Edge to express his sincerity as the Genos landlord. What do you think?”
“… The Genos landlord wants to eat kiba?”
The one who asked wasn’t Donda Wu, but Jiza Wu. He stared at Kamyua Yost with his slit-like eyes.
“That’s right, Marquis Genos said— Right now, it is important for the landlord of Genos to build a cordial relation with the denizens of Forest’s Edge.”
“The Genos landlord actually wants to eat kiba…”
Jiza Wu repeated again, with no change in his facial expression. He seemed really shocked by that.
“Marquis Genos is afraid of the Forest’s Edge denizens leaving Genos. He probably believed that Pyschkurewuss who had been dealing with the Forest’s Edge denizens for the past 20 years knew of a way to keep them from leaving, but that turned out to be wrong. He might be all smiles, but he is thinking frantically in his mind on how to resolve this issue amiably.”
“Then why didn’t he think of a way before things deteriorated this far? We only learned of Pyschkurewuss’ wrongdoings from you and Malfreed in the first place.”
Kamyua Yost shook his head in response to Donda Wu’s question.
“He might seem very suspicious to us, but we couldn’t produce any proof. If both Pyschkurewuss and the Forest’s Edge denizen both insist that they are right, then we can only take action after either side wins their dispute. Even if you warn us that Pyschkurewuss will hold a blade to our throat if we leave him be, we can only answer with a smile that we will do our best to resist when that time comes.”
“Hmmp… what an exaggerated way of putting things.”
“Yes, the landlord’s thinking feels unfathomable sometimes. Donda Wu, you are right to think over this carefully.”
With that, Kamyua Yost smiled gleefully:
“If the landlord took personal actions, then my job is eighty percent done. My job now is to run errands for the short handed Marquis Genos and Malfreed, then bear witness to the end of this incident. I hope that Forest’s Edge and Genos will build a cordial relationship. Well then… I will visit the day after tomorrow for your official reply, send my regards to the other tribal chiefs.”
Five days later, the 24th of the White Month.
Today, we loaded the wagon with loads of ingredients, and headed into the Post Station Town. Our group included Leina Wu and me, as well as escorts consisting of Ai Fa, Ludo Wu, Shin Wu and three other hunters.
Actually, we just needed to send the food and fresh meat to the inns and procure fresh vegetables, so there wasn’t a need for Leina Wu and me to come along to the Post Station Town. However, I wanted to take a look at the situation in the Post Station Town, and Kaslan Lutim also advised me to keep in contact with the people in the Post Station Town as much as possible.
To understand how the people of Post Station Town feel about Marstein’s actions, and to relay the Forest’s Edge denizen’s thoughts on this, the one most suitable for this job was Asuta of the Fa house. This was a wonderful decision.
In any case, we finished all our work in the Post Station Town as usual today.
We sold 60 portions of 『Kiba sauté- Arrabbiata style』 and twenty portions of fresh meat to the 《Cryptic Venerable Inn》, then delivered 70 portions of “Meat Chitto” and 30 portions of fresh meat to the 《Big Tree of the South Inn》. After that, we headed to Uncle Dora’s vegetable stall.
There was still some time before noon, so Yang didn’t open his stall yet. However, the number of stalls selling poitan of various colors increased with each passing day, and the streets were filled with the sweet fragrance of nyuushi everywhere.
Kamyua and Polarse’s plan is proceeding smoothly.
Pyschkurewuss and Shileru couldn’t escape the arms of the law now. Kamyua Yost once said that in order to stop the other nobles from interfering, the poitan marketing plan was very important.
“After all, the ones in control of the land are still the nobles in the city. Pyschkurewuss is rich and powerful enough to rival Marquis Genos, so there is a need to neutralize this trend from the outside.”
Kamyua Yost said on the day after the conference.
“Even though we apprehended Pyschkurewuss, if the Count Taliem and Count Satolas houses were bribed ahead of time, then Pyschkurewuss would not receive a fair judgement. The Chief Justice and prosecutor are from these two houses after all. It might even evolved into Marquis Genos facing off against the three Count houses.”
However, if poitan became the staple food of Genos, then the price of fuwano will plummet. In the near future, the power of the Count Turan House will be weakened drastically. When that happens, the Taliem and Satolas houses would no longer fear Pyschkurewuss and his underlings.
The income of the Count Turan House will drop, the former house head got arrested and the peerage inherited by the ten year old Lifuria. Her guardian will be the de facto acting head of the house.
The child paying for the parent’s sin— I couldn’t shake this old saying from my head. Like the Tsun clan, the Count Turan House lost their glory because of the crimes of their former house head. I hope that this cycle would end here.
“Oh, Asuta! I’m glad to see that you are well.”
After finishing my work at the inn, we came to the vegetable stall. Uncle Dora welcomed us with all smiles. He looked really cheerful lately.
“Of course I’m happy, the rat amongst the nobles got caught, and the future of the Forest’s Edge is secured, right? Is there anything more joyous than that!?”
Pyschkurewuss’ trial hasn’t begin, and a group of outlaws were still at large. Things had settled down, but the Forest’s Edge denizens had yet to obtain true peace yet.
But Uncle Dora was all smiles.
“I want to eat kiba burger in the morning as soon as possible. But just seeing Asuta being well is enough for me.”
Uncle Dora smiled bashfully as he scratched his head that was wrapped in a bandana.
“But can you tell me in advance when you reopen your stall? Recently, my poitan gets sold out the moment I harvest them, so it’s hard for me to get enough stock. We have expanded our poitan field as instructed by Lord Taliem, but it will take some time before we can harvest them.”
“Is that so? Things will be getting busy, but that’s a good thing.”
Anyway, Uncle Dora’s smile gave me strength. I noticed his daughter looked glum unlike her usual self, and tilted my head confusedly:
“Hmm, what is it, Tara? Does your belly hurts?”
Tara shook her head and her brown hair. Instead of being gloomy, she seemed to be throwing a tantrum.
“She’s just upset after I scolded her. You don’t have to worry about it, Asuta.”
“That’s unexpected. What happened?”
“Well… Yesterday, she saw Leito in the streets, and something happened.”
I didn’t get it at all.
Tara then looked at me with her eyes that were the same color as her hair:
“……Leito and Uncle Kamyua visit the Forest’s Edge village frequently, right? A few days ago, they said that they tried the dishes made by Asuta onii-chan.”
“Yes, they happened to arrive when I was researching my cooking, so I invited them to have a taste. What’s the matter…?”
“… Tara also wants to try Asuta onii-chan’s coking, and visit your house to play.”
Tears slowly welled out of Tara’s eyes.
I was befuddled, and Uncle Dora sighed:
“… I’m so envious of Papa. He can stay in the Post Station Town, and eat Asuta onii-chan’s cookings.”
“What are you saying, I—”
Uncle Dora then kept quiet awkwardly.
Even though Uncle Dora lived in the Taliem farm village that wasn’t too far away from the Post Station Town, he seemed to be visiting the inns and taverns at night to dispel the discrimination against the denizens of the Forest’s Edge.
He probably wouldn’t visit the 《Cryptic Venerable Inn》 and 《Big Tree of the South Inn》 which has less westerners, and patronize other inns instead. So he wouldn’t have the chance to try my cookings, and he definitely didn’t share these details with Tara.
All in all, I couldn’t ignore the rift between father and daughter. I quickly thought about a way to soothe Tara.
“Erm, Tara… Actually, I’m staying in the Wu clan village right now, and haven’t gone home for ten or so days.”
“Yes. Although the bad nobles are caught, their minions are still at large. During the day, the guards from the Genos Castle will protect the Wu clan village. Leito can only visit the Forest’s Edge settlement when Kamyua accompanies him.”
Tara turned gloomy, and I smiled at the sight of her small face:
“But the bad people will get caught one day— when that happens the Forest’s Edge denizens and the people in town will get along harmoniously, Tara can then visit the Forest’s Edge to play. Tara, can you wait until that day comes?”
“… Will you let Tara try Asuta onii-chan’s cooking?”
“Yes, I will cook a great meal for you.”
Tara finally smiled.
“Before that, I have to reopen my stall. When the new menu is ready, can you come try it?”
Uncle Dora looked down at Tara who was like a puppy wagging her tail and smiled wryly:
“Really now, she becomes difficult when it involves Asuta’s cookings. Sorry for the trouble…”
“Don’t mention it.”
You have given me much more— I smiled back at Uncle Dora with that feeling in my heart.
And then Ai Fa rushed me : “We are out of time”, and I quickly bought my things. Back on the streets, pedestrians would greet me every now and then. Most of them were southerners, and one in five was a westerner. They mainly asked about when I will be reopening and simple greetings. The quiet easterners either nodded at me in silence, or acknowledged me with their gazes.
Most people in the Post Station Town learned through Marquis Genos about the development of Pyschkurewuss’ trial.
The head of the Count Turan House, Pyschkurewuss and the Captain of the towns guard, Shileru, were suspected of colluding with the tribal chief of the Forest’s Edge, Zattsu Tsun, and committing numerous crimes. Zuron Tsun who inherited the position of tribal chief from Zattsu Tsun ordered the members of his clan to desecrate the Morga Forest, and he was imprisoned in the Genos City for this. With the spread of this news, the tense cloud hanging over the Post Station Town dissipated.
The one who turned a blind eye to the Forest’s Edge denizens lawless actions in town, specifically the wrongdoing of the Tsun clan, was Count Turan, not Marquis Genos. This fact was now made public. From now on, the Forest’s Edge denizens wouldn’t receive special treatment and be absolved of their crimes. The last suspect Zuro Tsun would be tried for his crimes too. The announcement by Marquis Genos had a great impact on the people. And now, Marquis Genos’ announcement about his banquet with the Forest’s Edge tribal chiefs would have a new impact on the people, and inform them that they had put their differences behind them and were building a cordial relationship.
Ai Fa whispered to me as she led Gilulu down the street by its reins: “I don’t want Asuta to get dragged into this…”
The tribal chiefs had agreed to Marstein’s banquet and Lifuria inheriting the peerage.
They were deliberating on the date of the banquet and participants. It has been decided that the banquet will be held in the city, and I will be cooking. A few days later, news of the banquet and Lifuria inheriting Pyschkurewuss’ peerage spread throughout the whole of Genos.
So… Marquis Genos is probably trying to draw the people’s attention to this banquet.
The only thing the people felt uncomfortable about was Lifuria inheriting the peerage.
Pyschkurewuss’ daughter who abducted Asuta was pardoned and would inherit the title of Count. Even if they explained to the public that this was a move to seize the peerage from the Pyschkurewuss who committed many grave crimes, the people might still misunderstand and their distrust of the nobles might grow. But considering the positive effect of “Marquis Genos eating kiba meat”, the influences probably cancel each other out.
As I was thinking that, Kaslan Lutim had his own thoughts about this matter too. So after the tribal chiefs heard our opinions, they accepted Marstein’s proposal.
The tribal chiefs were probably thinking: “Show me how capable you are.” They probably want to observe how their landlord, Marstein, will resolve this matter, and if this optimistic aristocrat was worthy of their fealty.
“At this point, Marquis Genos definitely won’t attack us. If he did, all of Genos will know he is a more unsculptulous man than Pyschkurewuss.”
My answer didn’t ease Ai Fa’s gloomy face.
“Hmm… But what irks me is that the venue is inside the city. If he wants to eat kiba to show his sincerity, then shouldn’t he come to the Forest’s Edge settlement?”
“That’s true, but he is a noble, so this can’t be helped.”
It was impossible for the landlord to visit the dangerous Forest’s Edge where kiba roams. And the Genos castle also has a chef who will cook for the banquet.
The Genos aristocrats and the denizens of Forest’s Edge dining together to deepen their bonds, that’s what Marstein was proposing. They couldn’t invite the chef from the city into the Forest’s Edge, as they wouldn’t be able to perform their best with the stone stoves.
“Anyway, being invited to cook for such an important banquet is something to be proud of, correct?”
Ai Fa showed a scary face and leaned towards me:
“It is an honor, but they don’t really mean it.”
I felt the same way too.
However, this was still a crucial event signifying the reforging of the ties between Genos and the Forest’s Edge. So being invited to be the chef was still a honorable thing, and I plan to do my best for this.
“Well then, what should I make?”
After the hunters left for the forest in the afternoon, I started researching cooking.
Together with me in the kitchen were Leina Wu, Shela Wu and Rimee Wu.
I delegated my work in the Post Station Town to three girls from the Wu clan, while the others completed their usual daily chores. So while the stalls were closed, I could conduct cooking research with the three girls.
From now on, Leina Wu and Shela Wu would be permanently focusing on the Post Station Town work, while the last slot would be filled by one of the sisters from the main house.
We would finally be practicing for the banquet today.
“We have to prepare a lot of dishes for the banquet.”
Leina Wu tilted her head adorably as she fell into deep thought.
The dinner banquet for nobles was usually full course meals. There were six courses, starting with an entrée, then soup, a fuwano dish, a salad course, a main course, and finally dessert.
“But there is no need to follow the city’s rules to a tee. The main course has to be kiba, but the other dishes can be more liberal.”
That was what Kamyua Yost advised, but I had no reason not to follow the city’s rules. I want to respond to Marstein’s effort with sincerity.
“Anyway, the most important thing for this banquet is the kiba main course. Decide on that first before working on the other courses.”
I said as I looked at the plates on the counter.
It was filled with white powder, but this wasn’t fuwano or poitan. It was a new ingredient I developed a few days ago.
“If it’s possible, I want to try making something with this. The Forest’s Edge denizens loves ‘kiba cutlet’, but the aristocrat prefers ‘kimyusu cutlet’, If I can use this ingredient to make a something that can rival both these dishes, I want to make this the main course.”
“A dish comparable to ‘kiba cutlet’, huh.
Leina Wu narrowed her eyes in a daze.
“If Asuta can make a dish like that so easily, then the skill gap between us and Asuta will grow even further.”
Leina Wu said with a blissful smile.
Rimee Wu who was beside her sifts through the powder in the plate.
“This is flour made from Chachi? What did you do to make it into this?”
“This is made by making stock from dried Chachi.”
After dicing the potato-like Chachi, wrapped it in a thin cloth, then put it in a pot of water. After boiling it carefully, I made Chachi stock. I let it rest so the solids sunk to the bottom, scoop off the clear water, and dried the remainder under the sun.
If there was one thing that Chachi resembled potato, it would be this flour. After getting fuwano powder that was closer to flour than poitan, I started searching for a replacement for starch.
“With this, we can make food that contains less oil than ‘kiba cutlet. Let’s try using it.”
I didn’t use flour as I was making starch from chachi. The starch was necessary to cook Tatsuta-age.
And of course, aside from making fried food, starch has many other uses. However, the Forest’s Edge likes fried food more than I expected, so I didn’t plan to expand on this further.
As for Tatsuta-age, eggs weren’t needed and the coating could be thin, so it was healthier than kiba cutlet. Also, families that weren’t as well off as the Wu clan wouldn’t be able to afford ingredients like fuwano and eggs. For them, this dish should be much easier to prepare.
“Anyway, let’s sample it. Leina Wu, can you heat up the kiba oil?”
“Yes, on it.”
“The meat had been marinated while the wood was being chopped. The marinating sauce is made from myam, fruit wine and tau sauce, and the marinating time is similar to the ‘myam roast kiba’. I added some salt and pico leaves before marinating it, so we just need to coat it with Chachi powder before frying it just like ‘kiba cutlet’.”
“I see. So there’s no need to adjust the ratio of ingredients used to make the marinating sauce, we just need to change the marinating time to create different taste.”
“Yes, it is just like ‘myam roast kiba.”
I answered as I peeked at Shela Wu’s face.
Since Darum Wu came back, Shela Wu looked gloomy and lethargic, but she was determined when she was learning to cook.
While Leina Wu was heating the kiba oil, Rimee Wu asked: “Erm, can Rimee help make the fried food?”
I didn’t dare let the eight years old Rimee Wu do something dangerous like frying food:
“To be honest, compared to Vena Wu and Lala Wu, Rimee Wu is less worrying. However, hot oil is dangerous, and will leave a scar if it splashes on you.”
“Is that so…”
Rimee Wu lowered her gazes sadly. After Tara, this was the second time I saw a face that made my heart breaks.
“What’s the matter? Leina Wu, Mama Mia Lei and the others can take care of the fried food, so you don’t need to be disheartened, Rimee Wu.”
“Yes… but Rimee thinks they won’t bring me along this time too…”
“Hmm? Bring you along? To the banquet in the city?”
“Yes. Leina nee and the others will be going to the city to help Asuta, right?”
The participants for the banquets had not been decided yet. Since the tribal chiefs group of six will be representing Forest’s Edge, the nobles will have similar numbers too. So we will need to prepare at least ten portions.
As the nobles also has a chef, so I just need to prepare half a portion each. But six dishes were still quite a lot. Hence, Leina Wu and Shela Wu will be helping me, and I might need more helpers depending on the circumstances.
“Hmm, how should I put this… With consideration of cooking skills, I will be glad to have Rimee Wu’s help, but we will be going into the city this time.”
“But, aren’t all the bad nobles caught? Aren’t Papa Donda and the others going to the city to make up with them?”
“Rimee, Papa Donda is the one deciding who he will bring, so don’t bother Asuta.”
When she heard what Leina Wu said, Rimee Wu lowered her head with a: “Muu…”
This wasn’t something I could decide easily. I picked up the kiba lean meat covered in white Chachi powder, and smiled at Rimee Wu:
“When Donda Wu comes back, go on and ask him. If you want to feel depressed, do that after hearing his response.”
Rimee Wu cheered herself up and smiled.
I looked at her innocent smile before turning towards the pot again.
“Is the kiba oil heated yet?”
“It is almost ready.”
Leina Wu dipped a wooden stick into the kiba oil and showed me. Bubbles of just the right size came out near the stick.
After that, Leina Wu picked up some Chachi powder and tossed it into the pot. If the powder sinks, it was a medium flame, and it floating meant it was a big flame. The Chachi powder floated up with a popping sound.
I exhaled in relief since nothing unexpected happened, and the Chachi powder behaved just like starch.
“Okay, I will leave this to you, be careful!”
Leina Wu took the kiba meat nervously. There wasn’t much chance to make fried food, so I gave the chance to Leina Wu and the others.
In order to not splash the oil, Leina Wu gently slid the kiba in. The energetic sound of the food being fried made the eyes of Rimee Wu who stood further back sparkle: “Uwah!”
A few minutes later, when the coating turned golden, it was done. When Leina Wu picked it up with krilee chopsticks, her eyes widened: “Hmm?”
“The coating is bloated. Did I fail?”
“No, it’s because the Chachi powder absorbed the oil and air. It’s texture will be different from ‘kiba cutlet’.”
Actually, I couldn’t be certain whether Tatsuta-age was healthier than kiba cutlet. And I didn’t know if the Forest’s Edge denizens needed to consume oil.
But when I made hamburg steak a long time ago, what Kaslan Lutim said spurred me on to make this dish: It will be our own fault if we indulge in delicious food and our health deteriorates.
I didn’t want to use his words as an excuse to absolve myself of all responsibilities, but I also couldn’t hold back on the urge to serve all sorts of dishes to the Forest’s Edge denizens and make them smile. My cooking had to be medicine, not poison. I hope they kept that in mind while they enjoy my dishes. Ever since I heard about Pyschkurewuss’ health failing because of his diet, I changed my view points about this.
“The excess oil has been drained.”
I transferred the fried meat to the counter with my chopsticks, then cut it into quarters with a knife.
It was completely cooked, and the meat was a beautiful ivory color.
“Okay, let’s taste it.”
Rimee Wu squealed innocently and grabbed a Tatsuta-age. She put the meat into her mouth and chewed— then her face looked as if she was melting. Or rather, her expression had completely melted.
Leina Wu and Shela Wu looked elated too, especially Shela Wu. The way she rest her cheek on her hand and moaning: “Muu—” like a child was really adorable.
“It’s very tasty. Compared to kiba cutlet, I prefer this…”
“I think it’s great too.”
“Erm… Rimee likes this too!”
All of them feedback that this dish taste better than “Kiba cutlet”.
I felt a sense of bliss as I watched their cheerful smile, and tasted my share too.
It had a crunchiness that differs from the crispy texture of the cutlet. Under the thin coating was the incredibly delicious kiba meat.
The taste of the meat, myam and fruit wine was all enhanced after getting fried with kiba oil, and spread in my mouth— it was fried in oil like “kiba cutlet”, but taste completely different.
I felt this dish was impeccable too. After some slight adjustment to the seasoning and the cut of meat to be used, I could present a dish that I could confidently serve anywhere.
“This will be the main dish then.”
Rimee Wu and the others nodded with a smile when they heard my announcement.
A few hours later, a guest visited the Wu clan village.
After trying the Tatsuta-age and researching some other dishes, it was almost time to prepare dinner— and the news reached the kitchen at this moment.
“Oh, it’s Geta. What’s the matter?”
Geta came in first. He had been staying in the Wu clan village for the past five days, and acted as a bodyguard alongside Ryada Wu.
“Kamyua Yost is here again. He wishes to speak with Asuta, will you go?”
“Kamyua huh? Of course I will go. But… Kamyua won’t visit without any reason.”
“Kamyua Yost brought a few troublesome people with him. If Asuta isn’t willing, we can send them away.”
Geta informed me with a sour face. He said this with menacing eyes.
“He is with Pyschkurewuss’ daughter, and a Semu escort. I heard they came here with permission from the Genos landlord, would you like to meet them…?”
I was shock.
“H-He brought Lifuria and Sangjura with him? Why did Kamyua do that?”
“I don’t know, go ask him yourself.”
Since they had Marstein’s consent, that means I can meet them. But Kamyua Yost and Lifuria was an unexpected combination.
“We can’t chase them away without even saying anything. Leina Wu… I will be away for a while, please take care of the rest.”
“Alright, Asuta, please be careful.”
I nodded at the worried Leina Wu, then left the kitchen with Geta.
“That Semu man isn’t armed. There won’t be any danger unless Kamyua Yost turn on us, so don’t worry.”
Geta said along the way.
The fourteen years old Geta was 10 cm shorter than me. And Sangjura broke his shoulder blade before, and that wound had yet to fully heal. But his petite body was filled with the strength that could rival a Forest’s Edge denizen.
“Hmm? Ai Fa?”
A short distance away, we saw Ai Fa before the main house. She looked at me with scorching eyes as she tied Gilulu to a tree:
“I just finished my hunt. It seems that I have returned at the right time…”
“So you are here, huh. Then there’s nothing to worry about.”
Ai Fa nodded firmly at Geta’s words. We then continued forward, and found some other men gathered at the other end of the Wu clan plaza. Ryada Wu, Mida and some boys who were going to be 13 soon.
A small group stood opposite them. Three soldiers in white armour, Kamyua Yost and two figures wearing hoods to cover their faces, one large and one small. They must be Lifuria and Sangjura. I also saw the Totos box carriage they came in parked outside the plaza.
“Yo, Asuta. Sorry for alarming you. As Geta said, we have permission from Marquis Genos. If you don’t mind, can you speak with them?”
Kamyua Yost was smiling casually, but the smile turned awkward under the angry gaze of Ai Fa , Geta and the others.
“Let me say this first, Marquis Genos only ordered me to be the escort. They are here of their own volition, and this has nothing to do with me.”
I nodded as I approached them as far as Ai Fa permitted.
The taller figure pulled away his hood a little clumsily.
“Long time no see, Asuta. Much thanks for speaking with us.”
It was Sangjura who I had not seen for half a month.
He had light brown hair and reddish brown eyes. A westerner with a skin tone as dark as an easterner— his smile was as gentle as always.
“… I heard the servants from the Count Turan House has been exiled to other cities, so why are you still staying shamelessly beside your mistress?”
In response to Ai Fa’s pointed question, Sangjura continued smiling gently as he answered:
“I, and Count Turan House servant, different. Pyschkurewuss hired me with money, but me, homeless wanderer. I paid for my crimes, free now.”
“That’s exactly why I don’t understand the reason you are staying with your mistress that committed a heinous crime.”
Kamyua Yost was the one who answered Ai Fa:
“He has received the consent of Marquis Genos. Rather than consent… the truth is, it will be safer to keep him within sight instead of letting him wander freely, that’s why a special exception has been granted for him to stay by Lady Lifuria’s side.”
“It’s true that he is very skilled with the sword and traveled around as Pyschkurewuss’ subordinate… However, Malfreed had investigated thoroughly and found nothing incriminating. Since we don’t have any reason to imprison him, keeping him within our sights would be a more prudent choice.”
Did Marquis Genos caught wind of the fact that Sangjura was Pyschkurewuss’ son?
Their reason of keeping watch over him instead of letting him run around freely was valid too. Seeing Ai Fa reluctantly fall silent, I decided to speak with Sangjura.
“It has been a while since we last met. What brings you here today?”
“Me just escort, Lifuria, wants talk to you.”
When she heard that, the small figure pulled back her hood with slender fingers.
Her hair that was brown like Sangjura’s fell onto her chest, and her reddish brown eyes had an intense gaze— She was Count Pyschkurewuss Turan’s only legitimate child, Lifuria.
Her ivory skin untouched by the elements, prominent features, determined expression and arrogant eyes were the same as usual. She didn’t wear any accessories, and her white clothes under her cloak didn’t seem that elegant. It felt out of place for her to be in the Forest’s Edge with an aristocratic air about her.
Lifuria said in a high pitched voice: “Asuta of the Fa house, I came here today because I have a request for you.”
Ai Fa showed a strong front and said: “Hey.”
“You have yet to apologise for the transgression a few days ago, and you are acting all high and mightly. Daughter of a noble, you abducted Asuta through vicious means.”
“You are that Forest’s Edge denizen disguised as a daughter of a merchant on that night, and took Asuta away, right. I think your name is Ai Fa of the Fa house?”
Lifuria looked at Ai Fa impatiently:
“I had already been sentenced for the crime. I didn’t ask for my six months of imprisonment to be shortened to just a few days. I already paid for my sins, and you still want me to apologise?”
“You didn’t apologise that night either. You are not reflecting on your actions at all, how incorrigible.”
“Hmmp? So you are saying the conversation can’t continue if I don’t apologise? Then I will do that as many times as you want.”
Lifuria said as she crossed her hands before her chest and lowered her head:
“Asuta of the Fa house. I didn’t grant your request to return home, and deprived you of your freedom because of my shallow thinking. Please forgive my brazen crimes. Are you still angry…?”
Ai Fa’s gaze turned ferocious and scowl her mouth.
Lifuria snorted as she gracefully flicked aside the hair in front of her face.
Her only parent, her father was arrested as a felon and awaited trial. In this terrible situation, what was going through her mind— at the very least, I couldn’t tell anything from her actions.
“We have to return before the fifth watch. There isn’t much time, so I will make it short. Asuta of the Fa house… Have you been invited to be the chef for the banquet organized by Genos?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
I wondered if it was fine for a member of the Count house to speak with me with such a tone as I answered her.
Lifuria who was more than a head shorter than me glared my way.
“I was also invited to the banquet. Or rather, the banquet will be held in my manor.”
“Huh? Is that true, Kamyua?”
In response to my question, Kamyua Yost nodded with a “Yeah”.
“Because Marquis Genos’ goal is to repair relations with the Forest’s Edge denizens, so he thinks Lifuria who doesn’t get along with the Forest’s Edge denizens should attend.”
“That might be so… but why the Count Turan manor?”
“Inviting a non-nobleman to Genos City requires complicated procedures, that’s why this was decided. They also think that since the relationship was twisted because of the Count Turan House, then it should be righted in the same place. And also, the Count Turan House seemed to have a luxurious kitchen on par with that of the Genos Castle.”
The guards in the Count Turan House have been dismissed, so the castle guards are in charge of security now, so the venue didn’t really matter. Marstein already made that decision, so we had to follow.
“Your words remind me of something. Asuta of the Fa house… Can you let my father try your cooking?”
I couldn’t help shouting.
“W-What do you mean? Is your father going to attend the banquet too?”
“Do you even need to ask? My father will be going on trial soon, it’s impossible for him to be invited.”
“My father wants to try all the gourmet food in the world. That’s why he procured large amount of ingredients from Semu and Jaguar, and hired many chefs from there too.”
Lifuria said unfazed:
“However, he had not tried the cooking of a Migrant. Once the trial starts, he would either be sentenced to death or life in prison, so this would be his last chance to taste your dishes. As his daughter… what’s wrong with wanting to send off my father properly?”
Ai Fa answered quietly: “Say what you want, we have no obligation to cook for him.”
Lifuria looked at her impatiently again:
“I’m speaking with Asuta of the Fa house right now, or do I have to get permission from you, his house head, before I can make that request to Asuta?”
“That’s right. And before asking me, you have to get the consent of the Forest’s Edge tribal chiefs.”
Ai Fa said sternly:
“The former Forest’s Edge tribal chief Zattsu Tsun, Pyschkurewuss and his brother Shileru committed heinous crimes. They murdered many innocent people for the sake of wealth and power. I don’t see how these criminals deserve any sympathy.”
“But the trial have not started yet. They have not been convicted yet, so I think this is the last chance.”
There was a strange calm in Lifuria’s voice.
“After the trial, even if he avoids the death sentence, he will have to dine in prison for the rest of his life. For my father whose only interest is food, that is as good as a death sentence. So… I hope he can have a last dinner before my father’s trial.”
“Right now, I’m not at liberty to use any money. So I can’t offer you the appropriate payment—”
With that, Lifuria looked at the castle guard beside her.
“Hey, can you lend me that dagger on your waist?”
The white armored guard remained emotionless.
Kamyua Yost scratched his blonde hair as he approached her.
“If you want a dagger, I can lend you one. But you can’t hurt yourself or make any sudden moves. If you do, I will stop you by force, okay?”
“It’s fine, I won’t do anything stupid.”
Kamyua Yost nodded, and pulled out a dagger from his cloak as if he was performing magic. He said to Sangjura with the dagger in his hand:
“Sorry Sangjura, but can you back off a little?”
“… I, no more strength.”
“You can move like this just a few days after your lashing, that surprises me. Anyone else will still be rolling around and groaning in bed.”
Kamyua Yost showed a devious smile and waved the dagger around.
“A wounded beast is the most dangerous. I know that even though I’m not a hunter. I don’t want blood to be spilled in the Forest’s Edge settlement, so please step further away from your mistress.”
Sangjura looked at Lifuria with a faint smile.
Lifuria nodded slightly, and Sangjura finally backed away a few steps. Two guards grabbed his arms right after that.
“Yes, we need to exercise caution. Well then… Lady Lifuria, here’s the dagger.”
Lifuria accepted it wordlessly, then returned the sheath to Kamyua Yost.
“Sorry for the wait. I don’t have any money to pay you… So in exchange, I will give you this.”
Lifuria held the dagger with a reverse grip, and before anyone could stop her— Lifuria cut off her brown hair from her neck to her chest.
“I’m powerless now, and can only live like a puppet under the orders of the Landlord Genos. But it’s fine… I already enjoyed my life given to me by my father, and it is only natural that it gets taken away when my father is arrested.”
With her hair a complete mess, Lifuria declared with determination:
“I’m fine with being a nun or marrying another noble to inherit the house. I swear that I will not bring trouble to the Forest’s Edge denizens ever again, and I’m powerless to do so anyway. So… can you grant me this last request?”
“Do you have to go that far… You want your father to eat my cooking that badly?”
Lifuria stared at me as she shift the dagger to the side. Kamyua Yost took the dagger and sheath it carefully.
“Marquis Genos will leave this matter to the discretion of Asuta and Forest’s Edge tribal chiefs. But he also said that we don’t have to be too gentle with Pyschkurewuss who had lied to the Forest’s Edge for decades, and Lifuria who abducted Asuta.”
I looked back at Kamyua Yost.
Kamyua Yost smiled meekly:
“However, Pyschkurewuss’ condition is getting worse with each passing day, and just eating medicine to ward off his illness is his limit, so he probably don’t have the strength to eat normal meals. If this continues, he will die before the day of the trial, so it will be great if he find strength from Asuta’s cooking — optimistically speaking, that’s the best we can hope for, so please decide for yourself.”
My heart was filled with complicated emotions. Be it Pyschkurewuss or Lifuria, it was difficult to express how I felt towards them.
Naturally, there was anger and disgust. But I wonder why they headed down this wrong path— and why they couldn’t live with more hope and love— the sadness, emptiness and heart wrenching pain were prominent too.
It wasn’t clear if this was fortunate or not, but I wasn’t the only one to decide on this. I kept my torrent of emotions inside me, and turned to Lifuria as calmly as possible:
“I will discuss this with the Forest’s Edge tribal chief and my house head Ai Fa first. If there are no objections, I will cook for your father. That’s all I can say for now.”
Lifuria closed her eyes and put her criss crossed fingers on her breasts.
“I hope my wishes will be granted. Thank you… Asuta of the Fa house.”
Time marches on relentlessly.
Pyschkurewuss’ condition didn’t improve, Shileru held his peace, and the outlaws remained at large. With no signs of any dramatic change, time continue to pass. The details of the banquet has also been set.
It would be held on the 30th of the White Month.
The venue would be the Count Turan manor.
There would be 13 participants.
The representatives from Forest’s Edge were, Donda Wu, Graff Zaza, Dali Sauti, Kaslan Lutim, head of the Fou house and the head of the Bemu house. As for the Genos City, the attendees were Marstein, Malfreed, Lifuria, guardian of the Count Turan house, representative of the Count Satolas house, and a representative from the Count Taliem house— which was their Second son, Polarse. Wellhyde from the Marquis Banam house would round out the thirteen members as a neutral witness.
The chefs would be me, Leina Wu, Shela Wu and Rimee Wu. Ai Fa, Ludo Wu, Darum Wu, Rau Lei would be escorting us. And of course, Rimee Wu cheered and Darum Wu groaned when they heard the news. This wasn’t a pressing matter, so Donda Wu abided by the custom of leaving either the house head or heir to guard the house, and decided on this line up.
After that, Pyschkurewuss has permission to have a simple dinner, but that was just an unofficial event under the mutual consent of the Forest’s Edge tribal chief and Marquis Marstein Genos. Opinions were split amongst the tribal chiefs, but they all agreed that there wasn’t any harm in doing so. What Donda Wu said probably decided the matter:
“In order to judge Shileru fairly, we need Pyschkurewuss. It is childish to not cook for him just because we hate Pyschkurewuss and his daughter.”
Graff Zaza opposed it to the very end, but he still shut his mouth at this point. I didn’t have any objection either— I was surprised that Donda Wu called my cooking as a “Forest’s Edge dish”.
And so, after the castle received the tribal chief’s reply, we were informed of the details of the banquet. Once again, Kamyua Yost was the one who relayed the message.
“On that day, Asuta will use the smaller kitchen in the Count Turan manor that you are familiar with to cook. However, we hope you can inform us ahead of time on how much ingredients with a short shelf life that you need, like kimyusu eggs or karon milk.”
“I see, got it.”
“As for the chef from Genos, the former vice head chef of the Count Turan House was selected… Have you met him before?”
“Vice head chef of the Count Turan House? Hmm… I think he was the one cooking the other dishes in another kitchen when I was abducted. Lifuria invited her guests to try both his cooking and mine, and had a competition.”
“I see! That person strongly wished to be the chef for the banquet on that night. So that’s the reason, I understand now.”
“He wishes strongly for that? Could it be… he is hostile towards me and the Forest’s Edge?”
I didn’t know the details, but Lifuria, Dell and the others all judged that my cooking taste better. There was probably nothing more infuriating to him than that.
“Instead of hostility, it is closer to the competitive rivalry between chefs. People don’t work there out of loyalty to Psychkurewuss, but because of their pursuit of fame and fortune, so you don’t need to worry about that. They had been dismissed from the Count Turan House and returned to the restaurant they were working in previously.”
With the guardian’s leading the way, the Count Turan House was undergoing a major revolution. I didn’t know the details about this guardian, but I heard he was a relative of the Count Turan House who was ostrasized by Pyschkurewuss, and relegated to living out his life in a corner of the Turan county.
As instructed by Marstein, he dismissed the guards, the chef, and transferred the servants to work in other locations. It seems that everyone who worked in the manor wasn’t related to Pyschkurewuss. Only the guards and medical personnel may approach Pyschkurewuss, and only Sangjura could be near Lifuria.
What happened to Roy and Chiffon Chel?
I asked Kamyua Yost about the whereabouts of Chiffon Chel, but he answered: “Don’t know.”
“By the way, isn’t she from Mahildra? Didn’t Pyschkurewuss mentioned something about me scheming something in order to save the Mahildra slaves? It would be a problem if another noble gets accused of this, so I try to avoid getting involved.”
“… Kamyua, do you hate Mahildra?”
I asked unconsciously, and Kamyua Yost answered with a smile: “Not at all.”
“I hate the people who murdered my mother, but I don’t hate Mahildra and its people as a whole. If I had to blame someone, it would be my parents who fraternized with the enemy despite being aware of the danger.”
That was why Kamyua Yost chose to live a wandering life, where no one but himself could be blamed if her gets persecuted.
And there was no way I could understand his thoughts from his cheshire cat like smile.
The days passed by, and I gradually improved my cooking for the upcoming banquet. Since this would be the first time these nobles were trying kiba, I should research a new dish. However, since the dishes would be served one at a time instead of all at once, I should try something new.
I spent several happy and troubled days reinventing the old dishes and thinking up a new menu. I focused all my efforts to make dishes that the Forest’s Edge tribal chiefs and Genos nobles would find tasty.
Also— while I was researching my dishes, I had a private conversation with Ai Fa.
“Erm, Ai Fa, I want to prepare some hamburg steak before dinner. What do you think?”
Ai Fa returned early as usual, and whispered into my ears with a frown:
“But why? Didn’t you decide to make that Tatsuta-age for the banquet? Do you need to make hamburg steak?”
“That’s true, but Ai Fa hasn’t eaten hamburg steak for over twenty days, right? Aren’t you at your limit?”
Ai Fa didn’t eat any hamburg steak when we made dinner for Zuro Tsun and company. That was because the hamburg steak was made by Shela Wu and the others on that night.
In the Wu clan main house, hamburg steak wasn’t too popular, so before we return to the Fa house, Ai Fa wouldn’t get to eat hamburg steak. And the day of our return has been postponed, so the hamburg steak drought would be one whole month.
There was no way Ai Fa could bear with it for that long. But when I proposed this to her, Ai Fa shook her head slowly.
“I’m not that mentally weak. Don’t worry about that, and just do your work properly.”
“Huh? But we still won’t know when we can return to the Fa house.”
“I mean it is fine now. I don’t really crave for hamburg steak that badly anymore.”
That didn’t sound like Ai Fa at all. I was worried about Ai Fa being angry or restraining herself with her steel like will— but Ai Fa looked really calm.
“This is incredible. You like hamburg steak so much in the past, but you don’t worry about it so much now.”
“That’s not it either.”
Ai Fa leaned in close again:
“I’m thinking that after making me wait for so long, you will definitely cook a sumptuous dinner for me when we go back to the Fa house. Just thinking about that swept the unhappiness away, and makes me gleeful.”
“So you don’t have to worry.”
Ai Fa looked at my face quietly as she said that.
Her eyes were filled with confidence in me.
… She seemed to have increased the difficulty for me.
I had to make this dinner with the same effort and focus that I would need for the banquet in the city.
Anyway— I didn’t worry myself with what might happen in the future, and focused on the 30th of the White Month.