Tensei Saki de Suterareta no de, Mofumofu Tachi to Oryouri Shimasu ~Okazari Ouhi wa my Pace ni Saikyou Desu~
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12. The Camp’s Pot-au-feu and The Fluffy Kingdom1
So far, my journey from the royal capital was going as well as could be expected.
On the way, the horse pulling the carriage sprained a leg and had to be changed. So it was almost going as planned.
Accompanying me in this journey were Lucian and two trusted maids who I had brought with me from home. In addition, a platoon of royal knights from my homeland was escorting me.
It was a rather modest party to accompany a duke’s daughter on her way to marry the King of a foreign land. It was due to the sudden departure and need to comply with the other party’s wishes in travelling as quietly as possible. Travelling with many people like a Daimyo’s procession would have been unpleasant for me, so I felt more comfortable this way.
At the other party’s request, I came all the way here without getting out at any inns or waystations. I was a little disappointed, but it couldn’t be helped considering my status and safety. They told me that if things went well, we would be entering the capital of the Wolfwald Kingdom by tomorrow.
“Is it necessary to take a detour beyond this point, since demon outbreaks have been confirmed?”
I was listening to the report of the Knights’ Platoon Commander as I descended from the carriage.
“Yes, ma’am. That was the information that the scouts obtained from the village ahead. There seem to be reports of demon sightings on the main road before the village…Would it be okay with you to take a detour for caution’s sake?”
In front of me was the Knights’ Platoon Commander, stooping his well-built large body looking apologetic. His pitiable, shriveled appearance made me shrink back in fear, remembering my past life as a corporate slave. Meanwhile, I was organising the info in my brain to see what I should do.
They were human-hating demonic beings that had existed in this world since ancient times. They were fantastical creatures, but I had never seen one alive in my 17 years of life since being reborn here.
The reason was simple: Most of the demons had been driven away to a remote section of the continent and isolated from the human world. However, unfortunately, the Wolfwald Kingdom, into which I was to marry, was an exception.
The Kingdom of Wolfwald was on occasions called “The Great Shield”. It looked like a splendid name at first glance, but…the reason for it was because the north-eastern part of the Wolfwald Kingdom was adjacent to the demons’ territory, where lots of them dwelled.
For that reason, no queen candidate had appeared from another country until me.
Fortunately, the soldiers of the Wolfwald Kingdom were so strong that they weren’t in a state of demon rampage. But still, as I thought…it seemed that it was difficult to prevent demons from trespassing completely.
Every year, demons broke in from out of nowhere and were sighted in the country. It seemed that demons, like beasts and insects, became more active in spring. The reason for my rushed marriage was to avoid the height of the demon outbreaks.
“…Demonic activity is like a natural disaster beyond human control. Can we take a detour in case something happens?”
“We really want to do that too, but…”
“Is there something you’re worried about?”
I smiled softly at the Platoon Commander, who was having difficulty speaking. I smiled with all I had, consciously avoiding looking like a villainess.
“It seems we won’t be able to get to an inn. It’s the same with other travellers; it appears that they were also forced to stay after witnessing the demons. It seems that all the inns in the town at the end of the detour are already full.”
“Is that so. Then could we make camp for today?”
We set up camp with our horses by the main road. In any case, something like camping would be quite a valuable experience.
“Thank you for your kind words, but…Is it okay with you, Lady Leticia? To make a duke’s daughter like yourself camp like this…”
“There’s no problem. It’s just that while the food served at the inns was wonderful; I got tired of it. So, I think camping would be a change of pace.”
Receiving my permission once more, the Platoon Commander lowered the hand that had been at his chest, understanding.
…That must have set your mind at ease, huh.
If I wanted to, I could use my status and forcibly take rooms at the inn. But even though it would be me who gave that order, the one who would be executing it was the Commander.
It would be the Commander and his men who would receive the cold, hate-filled gazes from the people who got forcibly thrown out. And, if we carelessly took our time in seizing an inn, we might be met with a blunder.
The relieved back of the Platoon Commander was like the figure of a middle manager who felt a sense of relief at being able to avoid their boss’s reckless actions.
Thus, we decided to camp beside the main road.
Preparations for the camp were delayed as we had expected to spend the night in an inn: especially dinner preparations. Also, the skills of the knights appointed to cook were extremely unpromising.
They had been trained as usual in knighthood, including camping. However, to maintain prestige most of the knights who were accompanying me were the second or third sons of aristocrats. So chores such as preparing meals were left entirely to the ordinary knights and servants, and it had been a long time since these knights had done it.
They had, of course, learned the basics by cooking often during their trainee days, but…If an adult who only had only cooked during elementary and junior high was asked suddenly to cook, it would be a similarly tough situation.2
A knife slipped in the hand of one of the knights and blood streamed down from his fingertip. It might have been the first blood that had been shed on this peaceful journey.
Unable to watch the knights struggle with the ingredients any longer, I offered a helping hand.
“Commander, is it okay if I help with the cooking?”
“Lady Leticia? It would be discourteous if we were to trouble you with such things.”
“I’d like to try it myself. I’ve heard that I’m marrying into a country where even ladies can take part in cooking. And as they say, when in Rome do as the Romans do3, so I want to practice a little.”
“…I see; so that’s it. Please be careful not to injure yourself with the cutlery.”
The Commander’s expression silently seemed to say, “Because if you were to get seriously hurt, it would be the end of me.” I was sorry for him, but my patience was slowly reaching its limit.
All the meals served at the inns where we had stopped on our way were full of spices. It was only natural for them to do that because they didn’t want to treat a lady from a ducal family badly, but spicy food was still spicy food.
I would arrive at the capital and get married tomorrow, so there was a strong possibility that the lavish, over-spiced meals would continue for a while. If I didn’t have a delicious meal here at least once, I wouldn’t be able to relax in the future.4
I took a cooking knife from one of the knights and made sure it was comfortable to hold. The handle was made of wood and a bit heavy, but the blade’s shape was like the kitchen knives that I had been used to on Earth.
Then, I decided to take some root vegetables from a basket and nimbly peeled their skins. I got the hang of it after peeling a few, and then I was able to peel them cleanly.
“As one would expect of milady.”
“Fufu, you’re also amazing, Lucian.”
Next to me, Lucian was stripping root vegetables one after the other. It seemed he had helped with cooking during his time at the orphanage, so he was already an excellent helper, for sure.
I decided to give the knights instructions as soon as we finished prepping the root vegetables.
We were making a standard outdoor meal, a warm pot-au-feu with plenty of root vegetables. I had heard that they planned to use only salt for seasoning. It was a reasonable menu for the inexperienced knights, but, since the mere thought of such food pained me, I decided to add my own touch.
“I think there is some dried meat in my carriage; would you like it if we added a bit to the pot-au-feu?”
“Eh? Is that okay? That dried meat is for Lady Leticia. Isn’t it expensive?”
“It’s okay. Even though it is dried meat, it will lose flavour if not eaten quickly. I want to eat it while it’s still delicious.”
“…I understand. We are all thankful to you for offering such a valuable ingredient.”
I saw the knights’ faces shine behind their commander’s bowed head.
Anyone would grow hungry from a day of travel, especially those clad in armour and riding horses, even aristocrats and trained knights.
Since the knights had made camp unexpectedly, there wasn’t enough meat to go around. The knights couldn’t hide their delight at the meat that came out of nowhere, so I decided to cook the dried meat well to avoid disappointing them.
The dried meat was also over-spiced since it had been prepared for me alone.
I had originally planned on lightly grilling it over the bonfire, but then I decided to add it to the pot-au-feu. Won’t it taste better if I dilute it in water since it has such a strong flavour? It was just a simple idea.
I filled the pot with water and added a piece of the dried meat to test it. As it boiled, the meat softened, and the appetizing aroma of the spices wafted off.
“It tastes and smells good.”
I scooped up a bit of the soup with the ladle and tasted it. The spices were great. The dried meat seemed tenderized from boiling.
After tasting it, I went and heated the pot-au-feu for real. I decided to put the longer-cooking ingredients, like root vegetables and onions, into a pot to simmer.
The onions were swimming in the soup and the root vegetables gradually changed colour. I kept on sampling and adding small pieces of dried meat while checking that the umami exuded by the vegetables.
Stew it for a while, a final sprinkle of salt, and done!
“The meat has a great pungent taste.”
“I can’t believe that I got to eat such delicious food while camping…”
When distributed, the pot-au-feu was generally well-received by the knights. I only needed to carefully adjust the salt to take advantage of the umami of the vegetables, since the dried meat had been well-seasoned already.
“It is warming me up…”
When you tilt the bowl, clear soup flows in with an appetizing aroma. The root vegetables were soft and flaky as they melted in the mouth, and the strongly flavoured meat accented the overall taste.
So the early spring night of camping wore on, warmed with the pot-au-feu.
The next morning, we had leftover pot-au-feu for breakfast. I warmed it up, and dipped the preserved bread in it. We sat out immediately after eating.
Upon our arrival at the royal capital, we transferred to an extravagant carriage prepared by the other party. This carriage was different to the boxy ones that I’d been riding in so far. It had walls on neither the top nor the sides, affording a much wider field of vision.
This was my first time seeing the royal capital of the Wolfwald Kingdom. There were rows of houses with triangular roofs and shining black wooden framing on their walls lined up. People also lined either side of the road to see my face as I headed to the royal palace.
Human, human, human, and then a fluffy beastkin.
A girl with drooping, doggish ears stood alongside a large dog with the same drooping ears, and both were staring at me. When I waved at her as I passed by, she blushed and seemed surprised.
The dog seemed puzzled at the girl’s startled state and turned to lick the back of her hand. Then, I saw as the girl noticed the dog and returned its affection by patting its head.
A big puppy and a beast girl happily playing together.
…Aren’t they just adorable?
I looked around me, inwardly desperate for another exchange like that between the girl and the dog.5
—A kingdom where many beastkin and beasts live in houses with triangular roofs, and demons hunt nearby. This country, which was just like a fairy tale, was the place into which I was marrying.
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“I smiled with all I had, consciously avoiding looking like a villainess”