「And here’s your order.」
「Be careful, it’s hot!」
Today was the day after the incident. Err, technically, it was still the same day seeing as how everything happened after midnight, but yeah, whatever.
We were going around with our stall and handing away our products away for free, well, kind of. Barbra’s lord had technically bought us out in advance, so we were still making bank.
Zerais had gotten away, but naturally, the city’s problems hadn’t upped and vanished with him. We ended up having to go around hunting Evil and Demonic Beings all night. I think we managed to get around ten or so ourselves. The most successful hunter had been Forrund, who had netted himself a whole twenty kills. Our efforts had allowed the city had regain its usual tranquility by sunrise.
Unfortunately, the population had taken a pretty big hit. Lots of people died. Those that had survived were left in a state of confusion as a result of last night’s events. Thus, the cooking contest had naturally been cancelled. The Chef’s Guild needed to sort itself out and identify all its corrupt members and whatnot before proceeding with its festivities.
That said, a complete and utter shut down would likely lead Brabra’s citizens to feel uneasy about the city’s state of affairs. The lord had wanted to prevent the city from adopting a negative atmosphere, and so, he had asked the contests’ participants to push their stalls around town and give out their products for free.
We didn’t really mind going along with his request. We had a tonne of curry bread left lying around, and apparently we were going to get cash out of helping out, so why not, right? It seemed that most of the other contestants had felt the same, as they’d also willingly assented.
「Hey! No fighting over there! We still have lots in stock, so calm yourselves down!」
「Would anyone like to try the dish that might just have ended up winning the contest? If so, then line yourselves right up!」
『Alright, why don’t we try moving along and heading over to the next area?』
The three girls we hired were helping us move the stall around. I’d originally been planning to have Urushi do it, but the lord had ended up advising otherwise. He told us that Urushi would end up scaring the citizens because of how large, fearsome, and potentially unsanitary he looked.
Hey! Urushi has feelings too, you know? He’s totally feeling down cause of all that.
Our second idea was to have Fran do it, but the three salesgirls had stated that they, as adults, couldn’t stand to let a child do physical labour in their presence while they did nothing. Hence, they ended up doing it instead despite being much weaker than her.
『The lord told us to visit as many places as we could, so, yeah.』
Phillip had told us a few things before we ended up setting out. According to him, this whole free food thing was apparently the Krysten family giving back to the citizens what it could before it was deprived the ability. Most of their wealth was probably going to end up being confiscated, and hence, they were spending as much of it on helping Barbra’s people before it was all taken away. Apparently, they were more or less guaranteed to at least be relieved of their positions. The merits they’d accumulated over the last three hundred years were significant, but they weren’t enough to make up for an incident as big as the one that’d occurred last night.
They’d sent a magistrate to the capital, and ordered him to report everything that had occurred. Hence, they were expecting the King to get in touch with them within a few days. I honestly had to say that both the Lord and Phillip, his eldest son, were good people. They were honest, and upright. Their only faults were that they were a bit too soft on those they held dear.
He’d also told us about the fates that befell those that a hand in the crime. Apparently, everyone that Bluke had hired would end up being beheaded. The people that had been forced into cooperating would be made into crime slaves and sent off to Goldishia or the mines. Both locations involved them serving fixed terms.
I understood the whole mine thing, but I had no idea what he meant by Goldishia, so naturally, I had Fran ask him a bit about it.
Apparently, it was the name of the continent destroyed by Trismegistus. It was covered by a large barrier, but not actually completely sealed off. The barrier only covered the continent’s center. There were still a few places outside of it that could sustain human life.
The people who still lived on the Goldishian continent were mostly Dragonfolk. They were aware of the sins shouldered by their predecessors, and thus, they spent their days repenting by entering the great barrier and fighting the Abyss Eater. It seemed that the barrier had been made so that people could enter and leave it at will. The Abyss Eater, however, was unable to escape it.
The Dragonfolk had the world behind them. Every single nation offered them support in the form of both soldiers and supplies. Crime slaves were often sent over as well so that they could be put to use in the form of meat shields.
Wait, wouldn’t the death penalty actually just be better at that point?
It turned out that the answer to my question was no. Some crime slaves would actually manage to endure Goldishia’s harsh conditions, survive, level up, and attain freedom. Hence, it was still technically better than just flat out getting executed.
Speaking of which, some of the cooking guild’s top brass had ended up getting turned into crime slaves. They’d been judged to be at fault for not properly appraising Waint’s cooking. Bluke had been threatening them, so it wasn’t entirely fault, but they could’ve prevented an incredible amount of damage had they chosen to do their jobs properly.
『You think this city’s still going to be alright from here on out? The Alchemist’s Guild is gone, the Lord’s going to get forced to retire, and a good chunk of the population’s just flat out dead. 』
「Worried about orphanage.」
『I think they’ll be fine. Amanda’s got their backs.』
「Nn. Right. Amanda, not type of person to let children be sad.」
『Honestly, I’m more worried about the Chef’s Guild than the orphanage. It looks like they might end up completely collapsing at this rate.』
Fran’s eyes suddenly shot open in response to my words.
『Hey uh, you alright? Is something wrong?』
「No finals if no contest…」
「Can’t force feed him curry!」
『Ahh, you mean that one old due? Yeah.』
「Managed to escape!」
『Well uh, it’s technically not his fault, so escape might not really be the right word.』
Yeaaaah, I totally forgot about him. I wonder if he’s doing alright. I mean, I thought he was a pretty good guy, so I hope he didn’t end up getting caught in this whole mess.
Wait, did we just end up raising a flag or something? He literally showed up right in front of the stall as we finished moving it and started setting it up again. His face was coated with its usual frown. I couldn’t immediately tell what he was up to, but soon realized that he was waiting for us to finish our preparations. The way he stared at us almost made it seem like he was trying to tell us to hurry the hell up.
「I’ve come to try your dish.」
「Will make you break down into tears.」
「I’m looking forward to it.」
The man’s frown broke into a fearless smile.
Judith seemed to be taken aback by the sudden event. Lydia, on the other hand, appeared to have caught on, as her eyes were sparkling with a weird sense of anticipation. I couldn’t really tell what Maia was feeling at all. Maia was typically all smiles, but interestingly enough, she was actually the hardest of the bunch to read. She completely trumped the not-actually-emotionless Lydia.
The old man took his first bite out of a piece of plain curry bread approximately ten minutes later. His location hadn’t really changed much, he was still standing right beside the stall.
Damn, I’m starting to get all nervous. I was pretty confident in the dish’s taste seeing as I’d tried it myself and all, but, I was no gourmet. I had no idea as to how he’d feel about it.
「I very much regret the fact that I’m unable to stuff myself with as much of this as I’d like.」
Wait, does that mean he liked it?
「The fried breading provides an excellent sense of texture, thereby deepening the dish’s taste and pushing it over the edge. The filling is obviously the very same curry that you had me consume upon our last meeting, but I can taste that its recipe has been slightly adjusted for it better fit with bread that encloses it. As a result, the sauce and its container serve to amplify each other’s tastes and deliver a final product far beyond the sum of its ingredients. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this very recipe has earned its right as one that functions as a milestone in cooking’s history. Please do tell your master that I found it to be a wonderful dish with a unique, thorough flavour.」
He totally just gave the type of speech you’d normally see in a food journal! Shit, he totally praised the hell out of me!
「Nn. Will tell.」
「I’d also like to say that I’m sorry that the contest ended up the way it did.」
「Nn? Not guild’s fault.」
「Even so, I’d like to apologize regardless. Many of our members were responsible for the incident. I’m absolutely certain that your dish would’ve allowed you to make it to the finals.」
Huh, this old guy’s actually pretty honourable. It looked like he visited us for the sole sake of fulfilling his promise.
「I’d like to retract my words. Your master is a wonderful cook, and this dish of his is absolutely delicious.」
Come on Fran, this is where you’re supposed to say “”Don’t worry about it,”” instead of getting all cocky you know? Well, the old guy didn’t really seem to mind, so it’s fine I guess.
Man, I’m tired. I feel like taking a nice, long break after we’re done giving out all this curry bread. Man, worrying about pickpockets, taking curry bread out from my dimensional storage, and all that other random stuff I did sure was exhausting. I know what you’re thinking, but I swear I am actually tired, okay?
Wait, where’d all these people come from? Why the hell is the line so long?
I guess that old dude must’ve been a local celebrity or something. Everyone in line immediately started talking about how he praised us.
「Huuuh? How’d the line suddenly get this much longer?」
「There’s way too many people here.」
「I guess they must all be attracted to my beauty.」
Welp, looks like I’m not getting that break any time soon.