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Chapter 018 – Maou’s Cooking 2 [A]
“Ssulal, I’m going in.”
“Eeeh, go ahead.”
One fine day.
I was called in by Ssulal to visit her private room.
I knocked twice, and as I got my consent to enter, I asked for her to state her business, post-haste.
“Today, what do you—“
“I’m preparing for Galtia’s welcome party.”
“See you later. I’m busy, so please ask someone else!”
I spoke rapidly and attempted to swiftly leave the room, immediately trying to run away from this place.
“Wait right there—!”
Ssulal instantly chased me from behind and grabbed onto my clothes. As expected from a maou, to think I was caught immediately…
I screamed desperately at Ssulal, who clung to my waist.
“Damn it! Release me, please release me! I’m busy as it is!”
“Yo, you should be able to spare some time, right?”
“Then I’ll ask you, what are you going to do with me?!”
“Err, that’s… cooking practice—“
“See what I’m talking about?! It’s totally what I expected! I told you, I don’t want to!”
“It’s okay! I practiced properly for this. I’m only asking you to have a taste!”
“I can already imagine how it ends!! Damn it, somebody save me—!!”
“Ah, really! Don’t whine!”
As my desperate pleas for help echoed throughout the Maou Castle, nobody truly ever came to my rescue.
“—You hear me? Absolutely do not put anything weird in there, okay?”
“…I didn’t put anything weird last time as well, though…”
In the end, I was dragged into the kitchen by Ssulal, so I could only remind her to be careful.
Since we had to do this anyway, I was determined to thoroughly monitor and educate the whole process.
“Rather, Leonhart can actually cook? I can’t imagine that…”
“Don’t judge a person by their appearance.”
She was also quite rude in her own way. I didn’t want to be told something like that by the Maou who did poison cooking.
“My parents were no longer there by the time I grew up, so I had to get by on my own. I had to do most things by myself. I can cook to some extent.”
“Hee… that’s unexpected.”
“I can cook better than you, at least.”
It wasn’t like I loved doing it, but it was a necessary skill at the time, needed to survive. I could choose to just eat vegetables and fruits as they were, with a simple grill of meat, but since kids on the settlement all boasted of their parents’ cooking, I often felt annoyed, so I learned it out of my own obstinance. Now that I think about it again, those kids didn’t mean any harm in saying so, but for me back then, it felt like a bitter experience.
I didn’t have anything else to do other than training all through my childhood anyway, so I went around the neighborhood asking people who were good at cooking, and there were times when I got kinda addicted to it. I began to feel it was troublesome once I started going into the battlefield, and practically stopped doing it entirely once I became the king.
Anywho, I declared that to Ssulal in front of a pile of ingredients.
“Now that I’ve decided to make something, I’ll go for it thoroughly. I won’t allow a half-assed result. I’ll turn you into a cook that’s good enough to be received into any kitchen.”
“…You’re right. Since it has come to this, I’ll do my best to master it!”
“That’s the spirit. I’ll show you an example first, so pay attention.”
“I got it!”
Ssulal herself must have felt very regretful for how awful her cooking was, because I could feel the strong will that shone in her eyes to achieve her goal. Well, in that case, I would do my best to answer her questions.
Also, I feel bad for Galtia. In a sense, I was the one who forced him to fall victim into this upcoming hardship. I could try to help him for a little bit. I really do think it was wrong to have him experience what I did in my welcome party.
Galtia’s welcome party will be held in four hours. By then, we’ll make food that’s good enough to make him groan.
Well then, it’s time to cook.
“—The dish is done.”
“Hm… it looks delicious.”
…After going through a certain process— I cooked a henderopa.
Even though it was a home-cooked dish, it could be considered a luxurious one. It is often served at a child’s birthday or during a celebration of some sort.
This was because all its ingredients were mostly high-class, so the threshold was a little high.
Even when I prepared it back then, things like hirami lemon didn’t grow where I lived, so I could only use a bunch of alternative ingredients to replace it.
Ssulal slowly carried the henderopa I cooked up to her mouth with her spoon.
“Hm! It’s delicious…!”
“Well, that’s how you do it.”
I nodded a little proudly as I saw Ssulal’s face reflect her happiness.
“Result of a cook won’t suddenly become extremely unpleasant even if you make a few mistakes, just as long as you keep the basics in mind… well then, it’s your turn now.”
“Uh… I know.”
Ssulal stood in front of the cooking counter, looking a little anxious, and started to cook the way I had before.
Her movements weren’t too smooth, but it was not too clumsy either.
Well, but I already expected that.
Ssulal’s cooking last time didn’t seem to have any problem with its appearance and aroma. As long as Ssulal‘s focus was accurate, there shouldn’t be any significant flaws in her cooking.
“Err… I was supposed to put in the appropriate amount of fillets…”
Ssulal also didn’t want to repeat the same mistakes. Even if she knew the details, she still paid extra attention and made sure to verify her own actions.
—And finally, the henderopa was completed.
“…Uhn, it is henderopa.”
“I tried to match the procedure as I cooked it…”
“Aah, I also observed the process and didn’t find anything weird.”
Perhaps I was thinking too much? The dishes last time were perhaps the product of some sort of tragedy, a mere coincidence.
I didn’t see much difference to the henderopa that I’d prepared. If I were to name the distinction, my henderopa was cooked more roughly. Ssulal tried to cook while considering the amount of seasoning as much as possible, so the basic taste should’ve been achieved.
…In that case, why did this hand of mine, which held the spoon trembling so hard?
“A, aah… it should be okay.”
Ssulal looked at me with unease. That’s right. Let’s believe in Ssulal and in myself, who watched over the whole process.
This tremor should be somewhat of a traumatic phantasma. It was probably just an illusion. It’s something my brain generated due to what happened last time.
A so-called conditional reflex. I was only trembling because I went through a similar experience. That should be it.
“Alright then, let’s do it—“
I carried the henderopa on the spoon into my mouth.
…Hm, uhn? Huh, this is more edible than I—
—I lost my consciousness there.
“Are you okay?”
When I got back to myself, Ssulal had grabbed my shoulders and was rocking it lightly.
…Did I just faint?
I looked at the henderopa as if it was a terrifying object.
“…hey, Ssulal. Just try it a bit yourself.”
“It is too difficult for me to judge the taste.”
“Eeh…? Well, I guess I could…”
Ssulal casually put the henderopa into her mouth.
“…? Somehow this taste—“
Ssulal’s mouth, nay her whole body, stiffened after she spoke up to that point.
“O, oi, Ssulal?”
I worriedly called out to Ssulal, whose countenance didn’t budge whatsoever.
“Ooh, she moved.”
Few seconds later, Ssulal regained her consciousness and moved again.
I see, so that’s what happened to me before.
“Huh…? I, what just happened?”
As I was inwardly convinced, Ssulal began to act suspiciously, and since she didn’t understand what just went down, I recounted it to her.
“Looks like you fainted. Well, I fainted too…”
“…So, does that mean it’s a fail?”
“That should be the case— or so I’d like to say, but I can’t really confirm it.”
I responded ambiguously to Ssulal, who was visibly depressed. I didn’t say that just to comfort her, but there really was a good reason for that.
“Eh, what do you mean? Isn’t it a bust anyway since it tasted bad?”
However, Ssulal simply declared this as a failure. It seems that she hadn’t noticed it.
I put on a slightly serious expression before asking her.
“You see, Ssulal. You declared it to taste bad… but can you point out what even tasted bad?”
“That’s because… Err… uhm.”
Ssulal’s words didn’t continue as she was at a loss for how to express it. Indeed, you became like that when you ate Ssulal’s cooking.
“Aren’t you having a hard time explaining how bad it was?”
“…?! You, you’re right. Now that you mention it, I didn’t know how to point out what tasted bad about it…”
That was the predicament. As we ate Ssulal’s cooking, we unconsciously thought it was bad… but we couldn’t nitpick what was bad about it. Rather, we lost our consciousness in the middle of it, so we couldn’t even give it a proper judgment.
“Perhaps it might be delicious, yet we’re just unable to remember the taste… for we happened to pass out before recognizing it.”
“…Doesn’t that sound worse? We also couldn’t claim that as delicious…”
“I’m just awed that it was possible to have such a possibility. Regardless of the case, it doesn’t change the fact that this food is not good.”
“…Kuh, so it’s no good after all.”
Ssulal grit her teeth in despondence. She thought she would finally be successful, only for all of it to count for nothing. I couldn’t blame her for that.
…However, what could be the reason? I decided to ponder seriously over it.
There was no problem with the cooking procedure. She also used the same ingredient as I did so there were no issues there as well. The cooking utensils such as pots, kitchen knives and cutting board, and the area we cooked in were also the same.
…No good. I don’t understand. All that’s left would be a difference of skills—
“…Hm? Wait, perhaps that was actually probable?
I thought of a plausibilty and asked Ssulal about that.
“Hey, Ssulal. Try to lick your own finger.”
“Eh… Is there any meaning to doing that?”
“…No, I just thought of the possibility that your finger might be emitting some sort of poison.”
“There’s no way that that’s the case?!”
Ssulal’s shouted indignantly, then she thrust her hands toward me. What is that hand fo—guh?”
“See, there’s no such thing as poison! That’s rude of you!”
Ssulal suddenly stuck her finger into my mouth. No, you… you’re quite something, to be shoving your finger into someone’s mouth without hesitation.
Well, it might be because of what I said, but— should I tease her for a bit?
I used my tongue to lick on her finger.
A high-pitched noise echoed in the kitchen as it escaped from Ssulal’s mouth, perhaps because it felt ticklish. She immediately withdrew the finger inside my mouth.
Looking at Ssulal, whose cheeks dyed a slightly red tinge, I quietly told her.
“There seems to be no poison. Isn’t that great, Ssulal.”
“! You, you’re right! I’m glad about that!”
I felt a little better watching Ssulal, who desperately tried to appear calm, then I switched my thoughts back and picked up the ingredients.
“Well, we don’t have much time, so let’s try again from the beginning. I’ll also cook some, just in case.”
It can’t be helped, muttered Ssulal as she sighed. While the air was full of tension, we still can’t just cancel Galtia’s welcome party.
Also, perhaps it sounded mean coming from me, but I was curious how Galtia would react if he ate Ssulal’s dishes. I jokingly said that Ssulal’s food was some sort of poison back then, but considering the high resistance that mushi users had, I wonder if he could resist it? Perhaps he would be KO’d by it. It would certainly be a lie to say I wasn’t curious.
And so, we prepped for Galtia’s welcome party in earnest.
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