8-10. To the Duke's Castle
Satou's here. During my school days, there was this wonderful catchphrase from the often-airing merchant's CM, "Crossing thousands of miles for meals." Much less thousands of miles, I've crossed over worlds instead.
Why is this happening.
"Chevalier-sama, we've finished peeling the prawns' shells."
"Ah, not like that, you have to cover this with the flour once."
"Are we really going to use these leaves?"
"Yes, please wash the perilla with water."
Lulu and me are frantically making tempura with the duke's chefs in the duke's castle kitchen.
It was several hours before that--
"Chevalier-sama, a messenger has come from the duke's castle."
Shelna-san told me while looking like she was seeing something heartwarming.
Right now I'm being toyed like a dress-up doll by Arisa under the pretext of the fitting session for the ball.
"Did you make any promise?"
"No, the plan today is only for me to attend the ball in the castle from the evening."
I tear off Arisa who has been using the opportunity to touch me all over while taking measurements, and change to the robe that Lulu has handed to me. I see that my hair isn't disordered from the mirror that Liza is holding, so I go to the messenger just as it is.
The one waiting in the room is the duke castle's consul aide--or not, it's the assistant who is taking notes in the back back then. He's saying that the duke wants to meet me in secret.
In other words, it must be about the matter with the prince yesterday.
It shouldn't possibly be because of lady Sera. Even if lady Ringrande makes a fuss over the misunderstanding, lady Sera is still a miko of Tenion temple. Her name is also not Sera Oyugock, but [Sera], she's probably the so-called nun. Even if I make advances at her, we won't be able to get married. Before that, I don't even have any intention of making one.
Just in case, I ask about the subject to the messenger-san, but he doesn't know the detail after all.
For now, I'll have Arisa follows me to the castle.
"What? This looks good on me right? You can praise me to your heart contents now~."
She's wearing the exact same maid uniform as the maids in Muno castle. Her blond wig isn't only styled in twin tail, but they're also loosely rolled. So this is the reason why she's coaxed me in making the hair iron-like magic tool the other day.
"Yeah, it's cute, it's cute. However, we're going to the castle, so take them off."
I tell Arisa to take off the slaver collar that she's put herself. She hasn't been using it recently, so what happens?
"If I wear it with maid uniform, won't you suddenly get a rush of immoral urge and become tempted to push me down?"
She says "Chiee" due to my immediate answer, and removes the collar.
I'm glad that the messenger is in the other carriage.
"Leon's written in the letter that sir Pendragon isn't only well-versed in swordsmanship, and magic, but also in cooking."
Who's this Leon again.
Oh right, it's baron Muno's name if I'm not mistaken. I wonder what did he write in the letter.
We're in the same room as the one I've met with the duke in, a few days ago. Today, there aren't only the secret bodyguards around, lady Ringrande is also here.
"Fuhn, your swordsmanship yesterday is quite good, but you can also use magic huh. Next time when I'm coaching you, I'll have the combined techniques of swordsmanship and magic--"
"Ara, I'm sorry, grandfather."
According to the information from Shelna-san, it seems that the duke spoils his grandchild, lady Ringrande.
I've also got a bonus information that tells the third son of the duke who has kidnapped Sera for the [Wings of Liberty] is currently under house arrest under the guise of recuperation in one of the spire.
Confirming on my map, members of [Wings of Liberty], except the ones who have been gathering in earl Bobi's mansion and escaped to the city's suburb, are imprisoned in the dungeon below the castle.
"And so, I'd like you to show off your cooking skill for the ball tonight."
"I do not know what baron-sama has described in regard to my cooking, but I'm only good at making food suited for plebian's palate, as for high class dishes--"
"Come to think of it, Sera has praised your cooking too, you must've won her favor with your cooking haven't you."
"Rin. Leave here if you're going to pick a quarrel with the guest."
"I'm sorry, grandfather, it wasn't on purpose."
The duke seem like he can't match her, he looks down-hearted.
"I do not mean of you to make every dishes in the banquet. I don't mind if you only make that dish called Tempura that Leon's written."
"Then, I will try to live up to duke-sama's expectation despite my shortcoming."
I wasn't able to bring up the matter about the third prince from yesterday, but it'd be better for me to get good impressions from the duke. I'm not thinking of making him my ally, but at least I don't want to make an enemy out of him.
I don't care if the third prince wants to attack me, but it'll be troublesome if he meddles with my companions.
"You good sir over there, I've got just the riight ideas to perk it up."
Arisa, why are you saying it like an underling.
"Say it normally."
"It's okay isn't it, just for a bit."
Summarizing Arisa's suggestions, they're ideas she's got from dishes in manga. I decide to pick something that can actually be made from among those ideas and practice it.
I'm led to a kitchen by a maid, it's become a battlefield for the people who are preparing for tonight.
"Oh, yer', no, err~, you are the noble they exaggeratedly call miracle chef huh, is it?"
This is the first time I've heard that nickname.
Still, he's trying too hard to use polite speechs.
"I'm sorry, our boss is certainly skilled, but he's not good with words, he can't speak polite speech well."
"Nice to meet you, I'm Satou Pendragon. It's fine for you to speak like usual if you're bad with polite speech."
When I say so, the head-chef and the chef who's followed him plainly look relieved.
"Oh, sorry bout that. I'm an old friend of the head chef at Gururian viceroy's place y'see. He's sent me a letter praising you."
Ah, that person is it. When I got some free times the day after the banquet, I made him teach me how to make the sauce and various techniques.
"Use this place here, it's a bit cramped, but there are all kinds of cooking utensils available. These two here are in charge of miscellaneous chores, call them if you need ingredients."
"Yes, thank you for everything."
I ask an errand boy in the mansion to call Lulu here. Recently, Lulu's cooking skill has become equal to an expert, so if Lulu who knows my way of cooking comes, It'll really help.
I've prepared three kind of dishes.
The first is the tempuras as requested by the duke. The deep-fried food in this world are mostly fried with oils made from animals, but since it looks like it's bad for the body, I use oil from oily-salad-like vegetable. I'm able to make tempura sauce that's more delicious than usual since there are katsuoboshi in the duke castle's ingredient storeroom, maybe because it can be transported here via the river.
Half of the tempuras are fried and put on the table, and the other half are fried on the spot when someone is going to eat them with the help of Lulu and servers who are standing by near the table, that's the plan.
The second is aspic jellies. It seems to be a normal dish among the commoners, but it's not something that matches the dining table of nobles. Arisa's suggested to make it from colorful ingredients so it looks vivid, and I've unintentionally made its appearance by hand.
Being colorful is one, but there's also another meaning to it--
"Hou, you've splendidly created the crest of our duke's house on the dish."
I'm glad that it seems to be well-received.
However, since it's a family crest, everyone only admires at it, and no one puts their hands on it.
If the gentleman at the prime of his life who was together with lady Ringrande didn't say "Looks delicious", no one would probably have eaten it until the end. I should have thought about the design better.
"Fumu, this is the first time I've tasted this flavor, but it looks like the dish called jelly that has been lost since the era of ancestor king Yamato. It's truly delicious."
"It's true desuwane. This fish thing is delicious, but this red thing is also delicious. ...Kuh, no matter how delicious it is, Sera is off-limit."
This person is really obstinate.
"Hou, he's the man that Rin's mentioned, is he."
"Pleased to meet you for the first time. I'm Satou Pendragon."
"Ooh, the hero-dono of the defensive battle of Muno city is it. Toruma boasted greatly about you. You've also done great in Gururian city I've heard."
This gentleman is the father of lady Ringrande, the next duke.
At any rate, Toruma is the cause huh. Who's a hero. Arisa who's crouching below the table says in low voice, "Toruma is pretty good at lobbying." Looks like she's shrewdly taking the small dishes and enjoying them.
<TLN: Hero here is written as "Eiyuu", different than the usual hero "Yuusha", which literally means "brave person.">
"Sera is a gentle good child, but she's not suited with the lifestyle of nobles. Moreover, right now she's left the duke house for the temple. If you want to take that child back to the secular life, you have to persuade the Tenion temple's Saintess-sama first."
"The thing about me wooing Sera-sama is a misunderstanding on Ringrande-sama's part--"
I explain myself normally to the next duke, and the misunderstanding is cleared. I wish lady Ringrande follows his example.
"Hou, have you changed your job from a remote hero to a servant?"
The third prince appears wearing young noble-like attires while speaking unpleasantly. Today, he's only bringing the holy knight at the prime of his life along, the battle maniac boy doesn't seem to be here.
There's no need for him to come here deliberately, what a troubling thing to do.