18, Princess and Mizuwari (Second Half)
(Author’s note: I’ve finally updated. There’s been problems with my computer, and the stories have been getting longer… I apologise)
I should’ve known since long ago.
That, when it comes to Shuri’s cooking, it defies all sorts of knowledge and technique.
Which is why, I desired Shuri. And I wanted his skill to make such delicacies, to be just mine.
However, I know that I had made light of that.
Shuri’s conceptions are much more advanced than even I, could have imagined.
“Hey Wutin. Are you ready?”
Before we enter into the conference room, we ask for a confirmation from Wutin.
Carrying with us the most luxurious of fruit juices, Nounels, we were about to tackle a meeting with Sounity.
Originally, the reason we came here was to ascertain the safety of Shuri, as well as getting an explanation regarding the reason why they had arrested a chef we had bestowed with an engraved knife, ja.
Naturally however, there is no way we plan to merely forgive the crime of unjustly arresting the chef we are friends with.
“Yes Princess. Here, as well”
Wutin nods and answered.
Wutin is a member of my trusted spy unit, and our means of communication. Furthermore she is also burdened with being our accompanying maid, as well as our personal guard.
In addition, Wutin’s strength is the best within the unit. The reason why she isn’t the captain of the unit is because Wutin cannot speak very well, ja.
Amongst the members of the spy unit, there are many who have special circ.u.mstances. In Wutin’s case, her parents were abducted by soldiers right in front of her eyes, and she did not know of her whereabouts. Furthermore no one had taught her letters, and needless to say words.
When we found her, she was already no different to a wild animal. Her physical ability was high but, she couldn’t communicate and did anything in order to survive. Fishing, hunting, and even attacking people.
At that time, she was captured by the captain of our spy unit and met us. That was probably when we were around five years old. At that time, it seems we had said this, ja.
『She’s like a dog』
No, it wasn’t like we thought of her like this due to our age. In any case, Wutin looked like a lost dog to us.
After that, we had looked over Wutin’s training, and we also studied together. For some reason, we couldn’t abandon Wutin, noja.
Anyway, when Wutin grasped the human language and common sense, she became our accompanying maid. There would be occasions when she would disappear for the sake of information but, given that she usually returns by the time we notice, it has never bothered us. Even if we left her alone, due to her sharp instincts as a guard, she would come back immediately.
For someone like us, Wutin is worthy of our trust.
This time we had her look for something.
“Hmm, as I suspected huh”
When I saw that, my cheeks seemed to be cramping.
That is the knife I had bestowed to Shuri. A sharp knife engraved with our Royal Family’s emblem.
When I had heard he was arrested, I had taken notice of this. Perhaps they did not realise this or even if they did notice, they had disposed of it immediately. I had been wondering which is was but.
“Where did you find it, Wutin?”
The storeroom huh. As expected, they had thrown it away huh.
If this knife is to be known about later, it’ll become a definite problem if they didn’t deal with it.
However, if this had been sold poorly it might circulate to our country through the circulation of goods and, on the other hand there’s also the danger that if it’s thrown away, an orphan or vagrant might pick it up.
Which means, there is no possibility other than to seal the knife up in the castle somewhere.
However, this is also a poor move in it’s own way.
If it’s now, after the problem has been taken care of, it’s fine to merely return it back to Shuri. There’s probably no need for it to collect dust like this.
Truthfully however, this is also something we had predicted.
You might think that everything would end once the knife is returned back to Shuri, but it’s not.
On the flip side, if we knew that if Shuri had been treating this knife preciously, we would probably say, 『Even amidst that mess, the truth is that you protected the knife, without forgetting the considerations about our country, you deserve praise.』
And then we would probably circulate the information that in Shuri’s heart, Newbyst holds a bigger position than Sounity.
Of course however, there is no way we are aiming for any effect to be had from mere words.
If things go well and that creates a ripple between Shuri and Sounity, we might think that it would be good if some action is taken though.
“Princess. I will, hold, this.”
“Alright Wutin. Nounels and the knife, let us corner them with these two items”
Our trickery against Ganglabe-dono’s trickery.
Indeed, shouldn’t we test which one of us is superior.
“Ohhh! It’s been a while Shuri!”
“Ah, yes. It has been some time Princess Tebis”
And thus the conference started.
On our side was Wutin and a few guards, on Ganglabe-dono’s side was all the commanders and Shuri, as well as Sounity’s legitimate child Gingus and…. Someone who was wearing some strange outfit.
Who is it I wonder? Like a man, like a girl… do people like that exist?
Well who cares. It’s my first time seeing Shuri in a long while, ja. It’d be good to chat with him for a little bit.
“Good gracious, that recipe that you had provided us, that curry. It’s still has some way to go before it’s complete but, it’s becoming more and more producible, zo. The current product is also delicious. It’s terrific, no”
“Eh, yes. Well, maybe the mixing of the spices is a little bit difficult”
To Shuri it’s just a little bit, huh.
“It’s not just a little bit right? The imperial chefs in the castle are all clutching at their heads, striving day and night to recreate your recipe”
That’s right, that recipe called Curry or something. That in itself, is extremely simple. Even my imperial chefs thought that it was simple in the beginning.
However, when they were about to start, they fell face first into a difficulty. Which was the ratio of the compounded spices, ja.
The chefs were at their wit’s end worrying. If it’s done wrong, it becomes too spicy or the smell becomes too strong….
The golden ratio which combines the taste, smell and fragrance. To find that ratio is as difficult as finding a single, tiny needle on this enormous continent. We think that right about now, our chefs are definitely thinking that we are going to get that answer from Shuri.
We don’t feel like asking. Because if they aren’t able to find it by themselves, there’s probably no meaning to it, no.
“I see. Should I hand over some pre-mixed curry powder next time?”
“No no, it won’t do if we are not capable of making it ourselves in the end. It will affect our honour as the Gourmet Major Power, Newbyst.”
Although Shuri sounds troubled as he replies, there is no way we could take such a favour from him.
I believe that eventually, our country’s chefs will catch up to Shuri as well.
“Ah right, a dish that combines both Curry and Mapo Tofu is under development, jazo”
Oh, Shuri is shocked by this. We had completely thought that Shuri had this recipe in his repertoire as well so, this was a surprise.
Yes, we had thought of this before. Curry and Mapo Tofu. Although their orientations are different, they are both mainly spicy and through a bestowal of various flavours, they bring forth a mysterious taste.
Mapo Tofu has a spiciness brought forth by a combination of seasonings. Curry has a spiciness bring forth by a combination of spices.
Thinking that it’ll definitely create a wonderful dish then should the two of these tastes could be combined, we gave the order to the chefs to a.n.a.lyse and equally attempt to create a recipe for Curry and Mapo Tofu, noja.
“It’s a dish that’s both hot and spicy. Although it might appear to be completely spicy at first glance, no. We were thinking, if you would create this supreme dish with us.”
“That’s amazing. Even for me”
“Don’t say that 『You can’t make it』 ok, Shuri? You are the creator of this dish. The truth is that you have the recipe for this inside your head right?”
There’s no loss to investigating this. Perhaps, just because he can’t make it, it’s also possible that he might be able to make it. (TL: もしかしたら、作らないだけで作れる可能性もあるのじゃからな。)
“I seriously can’t make it. It’s something that I’ve never even tried making before.”
“Hmm. But if I was to say ‘Make it’ then, wouldn’t you make it?”
“Well…. I would need to trial and error it a bit though”
Fumu, as expected, we can guess that if it’s the creator of the recipe then as long as he trials and errors it, he can make it huh.
We’ve heard something good.
“That just fine. Come with us.”
“Princess Tebis. I apologise for interrupting this pleasant conversation piece but, could you perhaps not do that”
Hou, we had wanted to try draw in Shuri using the flow of the conversation.
Ganglabe-dono, has considerable skill in regards to seizing the flow of a conversation. He had cut in with exceptional timing.
Well alright. We had merely been playing up to this point.
“We have been rude, Ganglabe-dono. We’re quite indebted to you for the battle the other day, no”
“This is merely another part of our job”
“At the very least, the truth is that it’s thanks to you overcoming that battle, that we were able to stave off that predicament, ja. You are even receiving praise from his Majesty.”
“That is my greatest pleasure”
“If it were not for a fate like this, we probably would’ve hired you fellows already”
“That is, merely what could’ve been”
“Indeed, jano. It is worthless. It wouldn’t have happened even if we had asked of it”
Hmm, up to this point, there’s no holes coming out and not even a blunder. It’s hard to grasp the flow of the conversation.
However, well, it is true that we had wanted to employ Ganglabe’s Mercenary Corp. In that case, this enormous combat potential would be ours. Along with Shuri.
If so, it may have even be possible to reign supreme on this continent.
Well, it really would be useless even if we had said it.
“Other than that, Ganglabe-dono. What sort of goal are you working towards?”
“You have went and made a satisfactory living off the battlefield. Right now, your wealth and combat ability doesn’t lose to any other country, wouldn’t you agree?”
It’s not that ridiculous if you think about the recent wins in battle and the expansion of their corp.
And, the excessive growth of the mercenary corp can only influence the neighbouring countries negatively.
The reason being that, such an enormous and powerful combat potential that belongs to no one, is similar to having a doubled-edged sword in your grasp.
A weapon that may hurt you, should you grasp it. After all, if it is handed over to enemy hands, there’s the danger of it stabbing back at you.
A mercenary corp is a free combat power, belonging to neither countries, nor organisations. Which is exactly why you hire them to create a balance in combat power during times of emergency.
Yes, from a country’s point of view, a mercenary corp does not count towards combat power, they are merely an existence to achieve a balance with the enemy.
In exchange for buying combat power with money, it wouldn’t be strange for them to stab you in the back at any time.
Amongst all that, the reason why Ganglabe-dono’s mercenary corp can be trusted is because based on their results, if you hire them they will never betray that country or organisation, doing their work until the very end.
If it wasn’t for that, normal mercenary corps would be useless in wars. At best they’ll just be left with the dirty jobs or guard requests.
Amongst all that, when Ganglabe’s Mercenary Corp was able to obtain a country is, even we were cautious. Only idiots thinking of peace all day and genuine idiots wouldn’t be worried.
“You are thinking too much of us, Princess Tebis. I merely have good fortune”
“Good fortune, nou. We would imagine that good fortune is not a talent limited to just the mercenary corp, but also something necessary for those living on the battlefield, right?”
“You are not wrong in that aspect but, I think that to get to all this, there is no way other than hard work.”
“Good fortune which works out somehow due to hard work cannot be called good fortune. That is called planning, Ganglabe-dono. Now then, we shall repeat our question.
Ganglabe-dono. What action will you take from here on? What are your aims as you take those actions?”
I look Ganglabe-dono right in the eyes and said.
This is something I should ask at all costs. Along with his wealth and combat potential, what sort of actions would Ganglabe-dono take from here on, and what sort of goal will he start to move towards now that he has gained authority?
However, Ganglabe-dono didn’t try to say anything, holding a dumbfounded look on his face.
Closing his eyes, with a serious face plastered on.
Normally, for ignoring Royalty, we would be able to verbally abuse them in full but, we had no thought of doing that.
Because we knew that Ganglabe-dono is lost in his thoughts, ja.
Whether to speak of his goals or not. And, if that goal is pure, n.o.ble and wonderful then, he probably cannot speak of it to some degree.
Although it may also be something embarra.s.sing…. That goal, could also have the possibility of enveloping the entire continent depending on the circ.u.mstance.
“It looks good on you”
“You’re making me blush”
Even as we say that, Shuri, who is behind Ganglabe-dono is having a fun and pleasant chat with the strange person next to him, who looked neither male nor female.
“You over there, what are you talking about?”
As expected, even we are unable turn a blind eye to this. After scolding him a little, Shuri says slightly awkwardly.
“Well whatever. Shuri is as carefree as ever, jano. You haven’t changed since the first time we met you”
“Is that so?”
Ahh, he certainly hasn’t changed.
You’re completely unshakeable, no matter where you are, no matter who is in front of you.
You are like a river, quietly flowing. No matter what adversity or difficulties you face, you continue to flow on like that of a small stream, within an unchangeable course of events.
Which is probably exactly how you continue to survive, even now.
“However, Shuri. You’ve faced misfortune this time around. To not have changed even within misfortune, we can say that is a strength of sorts”
It’s a little awkward trying to set a trap for someone like Shuri but, it can’t be helped.
“R-really? Living in a jail was a little harsh though”
“Ohh, that’s right indeed. The reason that we’ve come this time is regarding your circ.u.mstances in jail, no”
Alright, it seems that we were able to get into the main problem naturally. Additionally, the conversational flow has changed into where we are the ones to ask the questions.
We had wanted to hold this conversation from the get-go but, Ganglabe-dono is clever. If we had come about it badly, we would probably have received a severe retaliation.
Apologies Shuri but, allow us to attack from your mistake.
Ganglabe-dono is also looking as if he had bitten a bitter bug so, it seems he has noticed that it’s become bad, jano.
“So? What is the meaning of this? Ganglabe-dono, Gingus-dono. The cook that our country is on friendly terms with, had been receiving unjust treatment and locked in a prison. What could you possibly mean by not contacting me until just now?”
“That was, unavoidable at the time. For us to go and contact Newbyst, considering practically the time it would take for Princess Tebis to come visit, it would only be natural that for both Ganglabe Mercenary Corps as well as Sounity to be late.
However, in considerations with the time that it would take for Princess Tebis to come all the way here, it’s strange, on the contrary, that Princess would actually be this quick though?”
“Is that, suggesting that we had something to do with this incident?”
“No, I did not mean to suggest something like that. However, would it be alright if you were to explain that?”
“We are the ones asking questions here. Don’t you think that answering a question with a question is not merely a poor move facing royalty, but also during a negotiation?”
We consider retaliating by asking questions in return.
“So? What excuse do you have?”
“…That is a misunderstanding Princess Tebis. We were also victims, in the very center of this incident. Our contacts outside were foolish, so it took all our efforts just to lay out an information network to our members.”
“In that case, it means that Sounity should be held responsible, jana. We suppose that’s true, given that the origin of this incident is due to the fight between the people of Sounity, nou.
So? Gingus-dono. How do you plan to explain this?”
Gingus-dono is hesitating to speak but, this also can’t be helped. If you look at it from the beginning, Gingus-dono’s self destruction is actually the cause of everything.
In the first place, the cause of the incident is due to Gingus-dono’s set up of trying to make the Feudal Lord retire, and Shuri seeing through that and having stopped it, ja.
If Gingus-dono explains it like that then, it will end with “It’s your fault. Take responsibility”.
And if our information is correct then, we hear that although Gingus-dono has extraordinary talent regarding military affairs, he is not quite there with domestic affairs.
He isn’t very skilled at things like this, diplomatic exchanges and negotiations. You could even say these are his weaknesses.
“Apologies Princess Tebis. Gingus had been used and thus does not seem to be able to explain himself well due to his sense of guilt, I shall explain it in his stead”
Ganglabe-dono cuts into the conversation, helping out the panicking Gingus-dono.
Hmm, his timing was good. Indeed, Gingus-dono does have a look combined with panic and guilt. He wouldn’t be able to explain things properly like this.
Here, we could probably reject him by saying “We are asking Gingus-dono” but, it would be troubling for us too should Gingus-dono blow up annoyingly.
From here on, Ganglabe-dono explained everything in detail.
Well, it’s just adding onto the scope of what we already know, ja.
However, the real ident.i.ty of the strange, neither male nor female, behind him. To think that she is the illegitimate child we were informed of, Ekress-dono….. There’s should be a limit to being beyond expectations, wa.
“So that’s how it is, nou. That was misfortunate.”
“….So? Ganglabe-dono. How do you plan on cleaning up after this matter?”
“A major reconsideration over the management system of the territory. And perhaps a reorganisation of the army”
“Is that all? Wutin, bring that over”
“Yes, your highness”
We signal over to Wutin and she takes out the knife from her bosom.
The one we had bestowed upon Shuri, the emblem engraved cooking knife.
Actually, looking at this carefully, it looks like it’s been quite used and even the handle was kept well, we think he likes it.
Although it had been chucked inside the storeroom and been gathering dust ever since.
“Ah! My knife!”
Surprised, Shuri pointed at it.
Ganglabe-dono was left with an unpleasant expression at this as well.
Of course it would. To ignore the knife that was engraved with our crest, furthermore, the person himself had admitted it.
As his superior, there is likely no disgrace greater than this.
“I see, this was, as expected, the knife that I had gave to Shuri. Well, well, isn’t this interesting, nou”
Now then, from here on is our time for offence.
The mistreatment with regards to the cook that we are intimate with, furthermore the miscommunication regarding that, the lack of report from after the event, as well as, the sloppy treatment of a knife engraved with the crest of the royal family.
Will you accept these actions as insults towards Newbyst, and negotiate?
Or will you come after us, having betrayed our Shuri’s trust?
Now then, our gaze spontaneously sharpens.
We’ve forced Shuri into a bit of a tight squeeze but, we’ll ignore that for now, ja.
“So, Ganglabe? We have had this, engraved with the emblem of the Royal Family and had bestowed it. Why is it then, that it was brought out from within the storeroom, noja?”
“Ahh, I understand. When you had been seized, it had been taken away, are we correct? However, now that some time has pa.s.sed since the incident, having this left in the storeroom is a little unsettling.
Don’t you agree?”
Guh, mumbles Ganglabe-dono.
As expected, when it comes to this problem even Ganglabe-dono can’t come up with a good solution, jano.
Now then, how will you counter?
However, here, something unexpected happened.
All of a sudden, Shuri says and interrupts the negotiation.
His timing was impeccable and, even his words had no fault.
Obviously, even we had to stop.
“Apologies Princess Tebis. Sincerely sorry for interrupting your conversation like this.
However, would you please hear me out”
Shuri has something to say? How rare, this person who seems to be completely average at everything apart from his cooking, has something he wants to say such that he would stick his mouth into this conference?
“…No worries, say it”
Our interests swell slightly. A little interruption couldn’t hurt.
“I think that the drinks on the tables, have completely warmed up. Since I’ll go and bring out some new drinks, won’t you take a break?”
“Hmm, drinks? Indeed, they have become warm due to the continued negotiations.
However, there will be no need for a break”
I see, this approach is just like Shuri. Was this also learnt from Ganglabe-dono?
Indeed, if a break was taken here then Ganglabe-dono’s head could cool down properly, and might be able to take up a countermeasure, no.
But, we are not so kind as to let that happen so easily.
Sending a signal to Wutin who was behind us, she brought out the Nounels, that had been prepared.
Truthfully, this could have been a method as a way to flaunt our victory when this meeting had ended or, we had thought that we would try to bring it out as an emergency measure just in case but, who would have thought that it would be just the right shield to deal with Shuri’s attack.
You never know what’s going to happen in this world, truly. These words probably aren’t words that a young girl, who is just a little older than 10 should say, nou….
“We had thought this might happen and, have already prepared a drink. Furthermore, it’s a fruit juice of the highest possible quality taken from our country. The brand is Nounels. It’s such a rare opportunity, let us all take a drink.”
Nounels. Hearing this word, the other side looked as if they couldn’t hold in their surprise, ja.
Well, that’s only natural. Nounels is, a saintly tree that only exists within our country’s Holy Forest. It is said that there was once a G.o.d who took shelter under this tree, and at that time, the tree had absorbed the n.o.ble drops of liquid dripping from his body, and through that evolved into such a being.
It is a fruit juice with no additives added, having its fruit taken from that saintly tree. Then wrung into a juice, after grinding all of the skin and seeds, we are left with just the flavours of the fruit sealed inside.
And although there are no faults with the flavour, along with the splendid fragrance and beautiful hue, it has become a phantasmic drink due to its lack of availability.
That is the Nounels our country produces.
“Now then, drink up. It’s a luxury even for our country, ja”
Distributing the gla.s.ses, and pouring the Nounels to everyone as if sharing it around.
We too take a sip, savouring it within our mouth.
A wondrous taste as always.
The wild taste of the fruit, sweetness, fragrance…. Each of them of the highest quality.
The grade of Nounels, is determined by the overall wonderfulness of the taste. The wildness, the sweetness, the fragrance. After all that has been ranked, the ones which are offered to royalty are limited to those that have splendid hue and smell.
The one we had brought here was a product not inferior to those offered to royalty.
Everyone here had become a captive to it’s smell.
“This is amazing, su….!”
“This is my first time tasting this but…. It sure is amazing, this thing”
“Tis also a first for I. So this is Nounels….”
Even Ganglabe’s subordinates couldn’t conceal the brilliance of Nounels.
Every single mouth was speaking of it’s delicious taste.
“How is it? Delicious? Now then, there is no need for a break”
There’s probably no need for a break after having tasted a delicacy such as this.
Best of all, being able to casually take out such an extravagance, is also a method to display our country’s might. From here on the negotiation will probably advance smoothly.
Thinking back, the carelessness we made this day, this moment, was probably the biggest blunder we had made.
“Ah, please wait a moment”
Right before we were about to resume the negotiations, Shuri put in the clincher.
“What is it, Shuri?”
“Just, could I borrow that bottle for a little bit?”
What for? Was there a problem with the taste?
No, that’s impossible. There shouldn’t have been a problem with the Nounels that we had tasted just now. It was a delicacy even we approve of.
Speaking of which, Shuri had only been looking at the gla.s.s and looked as if he discovered something.
We had no idea what that might have been. However, was there something that only Shuri could see?
Our curiosity wells up.
“Fine. Have at it”
We gave our permission to Wutin, who was acting cautious. We wonder what Shuri had noticed and was trying to do? What could he possibly think of this perfect drink.
Wutin approaches Shuri and handed over the Nounels bottle.
“One thing. That is, precious. Do not, break it”
Naturally it seems, she didn’t forget to warn him.
That Nounels is a product of utmost luxury. It’s not something you can get your hands on just any day.
“No, I won’t break it”
After reb.u.t.ting her with a few words Shuri takes a sniff.
He quietly takes a whiff as if he was trying to taste it and then nods as if he had ascertained something.
“I get it now”
“I see, I see. Not just your tongue, but even your nose understands that it’s something great huh”
So not only is Shuri’s tongue and cooking skill excellent but also his sense of smell is excellent as well.
Fufu, if that’s how it is then he should understand it more and more. The fact that Nounels is, something without fault, a top quality product that we have approved of.
“Indeed, I do understand that this is of top quality. However, ah, please prepare some new gla.s.ses in the next room, enough for everyone. Also Ahrius-san. If I may have your cooperation.”
Shuri says that and then rushes out of the room as fast as lightning.
Ahrius too hurriedly follows behind him, leaving the room.
What? What is he trying to do?
Wutin was also trying to run after them. I see, after all if we’re careless then we wouldn’t be able to do anything except watch as they run away, stealing the Nounels with them.
However we stopped her with a wave of our hand.
“No. Stay here Wutin”
“If you were to leave, who do you think will guard us, noja. In addition, Shuri is not such a fool as to run and steal the drink. Most likely, he is probably trying to do something with the Nounels.”
However, even we don’t know. What is he trying to make using that Nounels?
Using it to cook? No, we can’t even imagine that. How is he supposed to cook using something with such a strong and peculiar taste, and such wildness?
Could he combine it with cooking creating a new dish? No, it makes no sense to do that right here. It’s not dinner right now. Would Shuri do something as inappropriate as that?
Maybe he was making candy? It is true that I’ve heard that Shuri had previously made some candy in some country somewhere but, to make some candy right now is just completely out of place. He wouldn’t make royalty like us, wait for such a long time just for him to finish making it.
“Princess Tebis. It appears that our cook is, attempting to do something. How about it? Wouldn’t you like to see how the greatest drink of your country will become, under his hands?”
Before I realised it, Ganglabe-dono was proposing such a matter.
With a smile as if he had just narrowly escaped death, no less.
d.a.m.n it….! I ended up giving him time!
“There is no need for that. We can hold a discussion even when the cook is cooking”
“However. We had borrowed a souvenir belonging to you. Letting you wait during the break of the negotiation, isn’t that a bit rude?”
“We do not mind”
“No that won’t do, since it is a question of respect and sincerity, from us to you”
Guh, that’s a legit argument. The usual look of confidence that Ganglabe-dono has, had returned.
Normally it is true that in the break while he is preparing our souvenir, if we were to continue working, it’s likely to ruin the atmosphere.
Furthermore, the souvenir that they’re holding is none other than our own. In other words, royalty.
My praises go to you, oh Shuri.
Your actions have allowed Ganglabe-dono to take back the flow of the negotiation.
Nothing we can do about it now. Right now we can but pause the conversation and, using the conversational flow of the casual chatter to try to find a clue and grasp at it.
“True. If we are indeed not to accept your respect and courtesy, then it would be us who are being rude”
“Princess Tebis is sensitive to such matters I see”
“Naturally. The job of royalty is not to just steer the country. It is to control the flow at every location, and to make the country develop in an even better direction. To divide and provide the wealth with the citizens, and to protect them. After all the country only exists because of the people, no.
A country which ignores its citizens will not be able to even sustain a long and prosperous glory from the very beginning. Our duty is to protect the citizens and to enrich the country. That is all”
“….Those are the same words that Shuri had said a long time ago”
“It goes 『Man is a castle, man is a stone wall, man is a moat, mercy be my friend, revenge to be my foe』”
(TL: Famous quote from Takeda Shigen)
“Did he want to say that man is the foundation?”
“No, it seems to mean 『No matter how st.u.r.dy be the castle, there is no cure in this world for a man’s determination, should it end up leaving. By dealing with things with sincerity, a man will be able to protect the country, let alone a st.u.r.dy castle, but should one behave in a vengeful manner, one shall be betrayed, no less, by those protecting one during a time of need.』
Deep, very insightful words”
What in the…. Shuri had said such words?
“Impossible. Shuri is a commoner who has never influenced a country. Are you saying that he has comprehended such significant and insightful words?”
“Also, there was 『Don’t look up, understand your limits』.
Ahh, this is not meant as an insult. It seems to mean, that the shortcut to success, no matter what it is, is to grasp the situation, and take it one step at a time.
It resembles what Princess Tebis just said. To calmly make sure of what one can do right at this moment, working for the sake of the ma.s.ses. It’s a wonderful thing”
Is that so?
Is that how, we have been living?
Why? Why does Shuri know of such enlightening words?
Why, is our heart so disturbed?
“Apologies. It seems that, I have stepped out of line”
“No, it’s fine. We have heard something good”
This is bad, our heart is seriously in chaos. We must calm our heart down once more.
Agitation dulls the thoughts, chaos restricts action and makes one behave rashly.
In order words, our hearts unrest is something that our opponent can expose as our weakness.
We must control our heart once more.
“However, Shuri sure is a strange person. Ganglabe-dono, how did you come to win over that man?”
With the continuation of the conversation, we hide our agitation, preparing our heart.
This is how we always calm down our mind. This time is no different, ja.
“It wasn’t like we won him over or anything, he just came to be lost in my camp. That was quite a while ago. Right in the middle of our encampment, he had fallen there without a single a.s.set on him. Thinking back to it now, that’s hilarious”
Hahaha, on the face of the laughing Ganglabe-dono there was no longer the previous fragility.
Somehow it appears he has made a complete recovery.
Like this, we must adjust to it and once again try to regain the initial control, no.
“Right in the middle of the encampment, you say?”
“Yes. Since he was in our encampment before we knew it, we had also suspected him of possibly being a spy. We were just about to kill him but since he wanted to show us his skill in cooking we let him live. After that, he has worked hard and is now an indispensable talent for our mercenary corp.
As a cook, he is the most trustworthy one I have”
Ganglabe-dono smiles slightly.
The commanders behind him also nod as if they were agreeing with that, and there was even someone who turned around and laughed.
….Somehow, it seems I’ve made a huge misunderstanding.
It’s not that Ganglabe-dono won’t let go of Shuri.
He’s become an indispensable existence, a large tie which binds them all together.
He’s become an existence who should naturally be there.
They probably can’t be separated anymore.
To pull that sort of person away from them, is no longer possible.
Now it’s come to this, we might no choice but to change our objectives.
After all we wouldn’t know what kind of terrible catastrophe may come about if we were to forcefully take away that tie from them.
However, even if taking him away might be impossible, we do want to have him be an ally somehow….
Regardless of his cooking skill and quick wit. Because these are skills we do not want to let go of.
Preferably we would like to take Sounity as a va.s.sal country or something, then we could make Shuri permanently stay in our castle as our imperial chef or something?
No, if we did that then that would be much too complex.
While we felt like we were tackling the hardest problem in my life, we continued chatting.
Although we were continuing the harmless and pointless talk, no good ideas could come to mind at all.
No, right now if I had to say then, I can think of one, the objective of this conversation, to hand over the person Renha Sounity for a large sum.
It was when I was just thinking that.
“I hath returned forth!”
It was Shuri who opened up the door all of the sudden.
Making a determined expression, he returns back behind Ganglabe-dono.
“What did you go do?”
“I sorta, came up with something. Now then, please distribute it”
Receiving Shuri’s signal, people who appeared to be cooks carried in gla.s.ses.
Seeing the gla.s.ses distributed to everyone, we asked him with a dubious look.
“This is… what is this? Hey Shuri”
“It’s called, Mizuwari”
What’s in the gla.s.s is a drink that looks just like Nounels though…..
It’s far more transparent than Nounels and even had ice floating inside.
“Well, please just try it”
Shuri takes the initiative and started drinking.
Hmm, so it’s not some kind of poison. Well, Shuri would never do something like poison foodstuffs though.
Even Wutin, who was next to us, was extending her hand out, trying to test for poison but we quietly stopped that.
Telling her to think of Shuri’s feeling, given it’s been a while, and not to do such inelegant things.
“I shall also guarantee this. This is, much more delicious than the Nounels we just had”
However, Ahrius’s next words hurt.
What did you say? It’s more delicious that the Nounels we just had?
Could this be, Shuri’s drink made with a secret formula?
We can’t ignore this.
That Nounels was, a product we recognise of utmost quality.
“Hou, you’ve said it now. The Nounels of our country. Luxurious even for us, the Nounels that even I have acknowledged. If you say that it’s of a greater taste compared to that than we must have a taste”
We take up a gla.s.s and bring it to our mouth, drinking the liquid inside.
Instantly, it was as if electricity had run through our body.
This is, what is it?
This is indeed Nounels. There is no mistake since the peculiar flavour of Nounels that we had drank was still definitely there.
However, this is!
This felt incredibly refreshing to drink. Going down the throat smoothly, unlike the Nounel’s we’ve had up till now.
As if as soon as it went into your mouth it rushes down your throat and settles down into the stomach, it was that easy to drink.
Furthermore, the taste is wonderful.
It tastes like Nounels. It has the sweetness and refreshingness of the fruit. They burst out inside the mouth as if natural.
However, the bitterness and wild taste of Nounels wasn’t there.
Originally we had to accept that as one of it’s tastes but when it has disappeared like this, the previous one yields an uncomfortable taste. (TL: ここまで無くなるともはやあった方が違和感が生まれてこようもの。)
It might be easier to just say, basically, while the flavours of the fruit are still there, the bitter taste has gone.
And, you could imagine from the ice floating inside but, it has been cooled to the extreme.
Logically, cool drinks are luxuries which Royalty and n.o.bles drink. If you were to hire a magician then you could drink it but, to hire a magician for that is absurd.
Basically, the highest grade of Nounels has been brought out in it’s optimal state.
It is delicious. It’s delicious but….!
“This is impossible….! It’s true that this is Nounels. And it should even be the highest grade one. But, what is it that’s different to make this better than that!
The sweetness and the sourness are both just right, and there’s no bitterness whatsoever…! The fragrance of the herbs escape through my nose and mouth, with a refreshing aftertaste!
Why!? Shuri, how is it that you are in possession of this type of Nounels!?”
Yes, this is indeed Nounels, ja. However, it is far better than the one I had brought here.
But I don’t understand, why Shuri is in possession of a Nounels such as this.
“This is, the Nounels I had borrowed from you just now”
After saying so, what Shuri brought out was without a doubt the Nounels bottle that Wutin brought out just then.
The contents have lessened but, the amount it was less by was strange.
Compared to before, the amount it got reduced by was less.
Basically, it was a drink with Nounels inside mixed with another drink, ja.
However, we don’t understand.
Even though we’re tasting it with our tongue, we can’t taste the ingredient at all.
“That’s impossible! Just what did you add in order to be able to make a Nounels like this!? Did you add some kind of secret seasoning!?”
“No, Shuri didn’t add anything of that sort”
The one who declined us was Ahrius.
Speaking of which, Ahrius had left the room together with Shuri.
Indeed. Maybe she also saw what Shuri did in that time.
However, he didn’t do that?
If it doesn’t have some sort of secret seasoning then, what exactly did he add to it?
“Even I couldn’t believe it when I had first witnessed it. I couldn’t even in my wildest dreams believe that by doing something like that, it would create a drink like this.”
“Something like that? It’s the ice huh! That means that the secret is inside this ice right!?”
We understood once we thought of that. Mixing the seasoning into this ice, making the flavour change as it gradually melts.
However, if that was how it is then once the ice had melted, the taste should change once again.
Is this something made for us to enjoy the change in those flavours? No, that isn’t such a small trick.
This taste, becomes better as the ice melts. Naturally, once it melts completely, there’s a fear that the taste might be destroyed but, that hasn’t happened just yet.
I don’t understand. What exactly did he do to it?!
“No, this ice is, no matter how you look at it, just something to preserve the freshness of this drink.
What was added to this was, “
Ahrius coughs and then says.
I doubted our ears. No, doubt doesn’t even cover it. The words I heard just now, surely made our head doubt, at whether we had heard it correctly or whether you’re insane.
Just water? The thing that was added to this is just water?
In panic we take another sip and, having it told to us, we finally realised it.
Indeed, it’s watery.
It’s because it’s become watery than it doesn’t feel like it’s too concentrated, and precisely since it isn’t concentrated that the deliciousness could be tasted.
“Regarding that, I’ll explain it”
Indifferent to our shock, Shuri started talking.
“First, regarding that drink called Nounels, I do think it is very delicious. It’s exactly as everyone drank and felt, and I just want to state that firm truth beforehand”
Shuri clears his throat.
“It was too strong for me. Nounels is extremely strong. If it is that concentration which is the delicacy then there is nothing wrong with that. After all this is merely my preference.
Which is why, I added water to it to dilute it.
I’m sure that adding water to dilute it gives bad impressions such as watering it down but, it is not limited to just that when it comes to cooking. Rather than adding flavour and cooking soups, there are also cases where merely adding water is more delicious, bringing out the flavour of the fish and broth.
Of course, should there be an error in this method such as when adding the water, it may become too diluted creating the danger of it not being edible nor even drinkable. However, that is only should it go wrong. If the amount, and creation was not incorrect then it becomes an easy method to make things this easy to drink, and eat.”
When Shuri finished his explanation, we seemed to be completely exhausted.
Exactly, it’s just like he says.
If it’s hard to eat, or drink then fix it, there’s a way to dilute it.
However, we were unable to realise that.
Why? It’s simple.
It was so 『simple』 that we didn’t realise.
A gourmet such as us, think of the delicious food and the appropriate reasons and technique involved.
That is something born from a chef’s diligent hard work and research, acc.u.mulated calculations and studies.
However, this Nounels is different.
It’s just too concentrated so dilute it. That’s all, ja.
“I don’t believe it…. That with just water, it can bring out the taste to this extent….”
“It doesn’t bring out the taste, it removes the taste.
To dilute and lighten what is hard to drink or eat. That is the basics of cooking.
Delicious and easy to eat. That is after all, the principle of cooking”
We could only look bitter towards Shuri’s words.
Without using excessive expressions, simple, delicious and easy to eat. That is what we look for.
Which is exactly why, Shuri’s dishes are always original, somewhat nostalgic, delicious, and we continue eating it.
Shuri’s philosophy, he is always bearing that in mind, is what he is saying.
I see, that is the principle of Shuri’s cooking.
In other words, the heart….
Suddenly Ganglabe-dono laughs out.
What is it? Exactly what is going on all of a sudden?
“Thanks Shuri, it’s a good hint”
Hint? Is he saying that Shuri gave him some kind of hint just now?
Is he saying that within this Nounels, Shuri had implanted some meaning?
“Princess Tebis, let’s return to our talk.
What I have to say is, regarding the matter of our future management of this territory. We want the acquisition of the former legal wife, Renha Sounity.”
What!? You’re going to mention that now?
Out of the blue like that?
In addition, to just state what you want!
“Hou, I see. And? What will Ganglabe-dono bring out as an equivalent exchange, noja?
“Naturally, it was all due to Princess Tebis who arrested for us the mastermind, Renha. In exchange for that grat.i.tude and the criminal, we will provide to you a gift of an unquestionable value.”
Hou, a gift huh.
It must be an item worth the handing over of the mastermind of the incident, the former legal wife of the feudal lord, Renha, and something appropriate to demonstrate their respect to royalty.
Naturally, this is also a problem to do with our dignity. And it can even result in showing the open-mindedness of Ganglabe-dono’s heart.
Now then, what is it that Ganglabe-dono will bring out?
After thinking for a little bit, he says.
“First, about half a cart of vegetables such as daikon and carrots”
“Next are the meats. This will also be about half a cartful”
What? What is he saying?
“After that, there will also be half a cartful of weapons and armours”
While we were in a shocked state of mind, Ganglabe-dono continues presenting ideas one by one.
Jewels and foods, weapons and armours, specialties, cloths, construction material…..
One by one, the items are being presented forth but, by the time they reached over 70 items, we couldn’t help but speak out.
“Wait Ganglabe-dono! What do you mean by this!”
“What now? I’m confirming with you whether or not there’s a problem with the goods”
“That isn’t what we are talking about!”
“That? Ahh, maybe it’s that there isn’t enough variety?”
“Not that! There probably isn’t any problem with the variety of goods!”
However, we had to say it.
This must be said.
“Rather than the variety, what are you thinking with such a small amount of goods?!”
It probably isn’t a wrong amount for a reward to royalty. On the contrary, it could be said to be excessive.
However, the goods lined up right now, have an extravagantly small amount.
What is he thinking, giving roughly half a cart of vegetables? One box of jewels? Half a cart of armour?
Ganglabe-dono chuckles and says.
“No no, it’s just that Sounity currently only has one type of goods and only gold or food exists in our inventory to pay as a reward.
I increase the variety, merely to make sure we do not disgrace ourselves”
“Even if that’s the case, this is unfair don’t you think! Where do you get off merely giving half a cart of corn?! Once we return back to Newbyst, all of this will be worth nothing!”
“Yes, right. You’re probably right. However, we have also included other items as payment.
In any case, with what we have given you now, 『should you』『sell all this』『at an appropriate price』『at an appropriate place』 then, what you will receive for having taken care of the mastermind of the revolt, the former legal wife of the feudal lord, Renha, will be more than sufficient and a more than ample value of items shall be handed over to you.”
This, this is what he was aiming for!
“To add to that, since even we are feeling awkward to give two or three carts for Princess Tebis’ grat.i.tude gift, a member of royalty.”
Mu, we could do nothing but close our mouth shut.
We see, so that’s how you’re doing it.
Properly speaking, to pay using currency at this point is normal. However, the Sounity of current does not have that such financial power.
Therefore using a large range and a variety of jewels from every far and wide to try to deceive us, ja.
Of course, if we were to calculate the cost of all that with the cost of handing over Renha, it is more than enough, ja. From our memory, the worth of the items that Ganglabe-dono has provided right now does indeed match up to that.
In other words, so that we won’t be able to discern with one look any fatal insufficiencies, he’s taken out an amount of various superficial items from here and there, that shouldn’t lose to the value of Renha.
That is exactly, what Ganglabe-dono is aiming for, ja.
Regarding this strategy, if we had to say that there was something wrong about it then, it would be these two points, 『the number of carts being acceptable』 and 『that there’ll be no problem if we exchange it for it’s worth』.
First, when it comes to the number of carts, there is actually a concern similar to that of reputation.
Once we receive our rewards and grat.i.tude, yet return with merely one cart, it’s possible the citizens will say unthinkable things. Things like 『You only got that much?』.
If the number of carts are small then, it’ll become a question of quality but, if there are a large number of carts then it becomes a question of quant.i.ty.
By increasing the number, even though the quality will continue decreasing, the value remains consistent, and serves as a way to compensate the nuance of reputation.
Basically, from outside it would appear there is no problem with the value.
And, if the value is exchanged then, there’ll be no problems. This is the most crucial point about this strategy.
No matter how little the gifts are lessened, the overall value to be exchanged is not a disgraceful amount.
With this, should we complain in regards to this then we’ll end up being taken as 『a greedy person who wants more than necessary』.
Since there will be no problem once we exchange the value, if we pursue for more than this then, it’ll just end up being a talk of adding in even more variety again.
I see, this is indeed a 『Diluted』 kind of strategy.
To dilute the concentrated damage into larger things, and as a result the damage is lessened.
However we are not able to accept it just like that.
Rather than saying there’s not a problem, to merely accept it like this affects our honour.
“Ganglabe-dono, we thinks that what you have presented are extremely nice items”
“Is that so”
“However, I do not think we have to decide right now. Luckily, we have time. Shall we end things here for today?”
For the sake of earning just a little bit more profit to us, right now we must buy some time and fix up our strategy, we think.
To continue any further today should be unexpected even for Ganglabe-dono.
“That’s true. Let’s end things here today. There are too many things to have to include even for someone like me.
If it’s not too rude, since we have cleaned up, and renovated many of the rooms for you to stay at in this castle, what do you think about staying over there?”
“Hmm, let’s do that then. Wutin.”
“Yes, your highness. I shall, also, tell, the troops.”
Shuri looked surprised.
Well, it’s probably because he didn’t think he would be called out to all of the sudden.
From here, he looks no different from the average joe.
“Your Nounels, was extremely delicious. Is it alright if we expect that for this evening’s meal as well?”
“Ah, of course”
Seeing Shuri scratch his head as he answers, we decided to wait with antic.i.p.ation.
“Hmmm, we were outwitted today, no”
Having gone into the room that had been prepared for us, we sat down onto the bed and murmured.
There wasn’t a single luxury quality furniture to be seen within the room but, perhaps it reflects Ganglabe-dono’s personality to have only furniture which wouldn’t interfere with daily life to be set up inside.
Most likely, due to the civil war, they were poor so they sold off all their luxury goods.
This sort of thinking, probably results from their line of work, drawing from their experience as a harsh mercenary corp.
It can be said to be much too frugal to let royalty live in.
As we were thinking that, Wutin came in.
Naturally, there were guards stationed outside the room as well but, the only subordinates who are able to come in and out of this room is pretty much only Wutin, ja.
“Inside, the room, outside. Spying equipment, devices, none. No, traps, either”
“You’ve done well”
“Also, the defense, has been, set up”
We also placed our trust on Wutin to do this sort of work. With Wutin saying that, it means we truly have no worries.
“However, today didn’t go well”
“Yes. If this, continues and, we take offer, then there, may be a, problem”
“It’s a problem we couldn’t express it at that place and, there’s an even more painful problem for us, ja”
Yes, if we were able to say out the problem then, it would be when we are leaving carrying all that, there is a possibility of the surrounding people retaliating against us saying,『Even though you gathered all that random stuff, you still want money?』
We could image as royalty that, that is rather difficult to accept, nou.
What it means to be royalty is, rather than subduing your subordinates, your generals and officials, they should be loyal and your most trusted va.s.sals. And above all hold financial power. Despite that, if we were to be taken as money grubbers, it would be an obstacle which interferes with our pride.
“Wutin. How do you think they will move?”
“From here on, they will extend, out the negotiation, supply inappropriate, gifts as grat.i.tude, and such”
“Will they come at it like that we wonder…”
We have also thought of that but, it’s THAT Ganglabe-dono, ja.
From Shuri’s hint, he had realised a method to attack at us from an unbelievable angle.
We thought onwards with a bitter expression.
“From what we imagine, rather than to supply, it’ll probably be to adjust”
“Wutin. Currently, Sounity has a certain thing, which is ungoverned land, ja”
This is especially so regarding the land such as mines and farm lands which cannot be developed due to a lack of people.
Indeed, Newbyst has the Holy Forest and the mines which we had won from the war with Yuyubi so, there aren’t any problems when it comes to resources.
However, if they want to adjust their jobs to mining and farming the resources, then their population must increase. Naturally, if their population grows then, they would wish to further develop their soldiers, labour, tax, businesses, agriculture and education and such.
Jobs can only increase, which is only if they have official positions.
Distributing all the excess
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