Tensei Saki de Suterareta no de, Mofumofu Tachi to Oryouri Shimasu ~Okazari Ouhi wa my Pace ni Saikyou Desu~
Read at Watashi wa Sugoi Desu!
Chapter 22: I’m Neither Going to be an Ally Nor An Enemy
I greeted Lady Natalie back and took a seat at the dining table. After a brief and polite conversation, she sent a glance to her servants.
The smell of the food being served was too pungent. I didn’t show it on my face, but deep down, I desperately wanted to escape.
The food was laid out on gilded white plates, and the cutlery was made of silver. It was customary for aristocrats to use silver cutlery for formal meals because it reacted to poison.
I picked up a silver fork and took a bite of the ham and cheese platter, which was an appetizer, but…it was so salty and spicy.
The surface of the ham was coated with pepper and nutmeg, making it so painful when it went into my mouth. My tongue was so numb that I couldn’t even feel the ham’s texture. The cheese was also covered with so much spice that my tongue had no time to rest.
I thought that I was able to get used to the strong flavours of aristocratic cuisine, but today’s food was even more intense. Rather than the old problem of being delicious or not, it was as if I was being forced to eat the spices themselves.
“How do you find it, Lady Leticia? This dish was prepared by our family’s master chefs, using an abundance of spices brought from the ports of our fiefdom. Was it to your liking?”
“…Thank you for your splendid hospitality and lavish use of spices.”
While smiling consciously and elegantly, I gave an inoffensive answer to Lady Natalie. It was the kind of food that made one want to up and leave, but alas dining with others was part of the whole socializing thing.
At my compliment, the man standing by the wall had a look of pride on his face. He was wearing a white chef’s dressing gown.
He was most likely the head chef of this royal villa. He stood there with his chest puffed, as if proud of his achievement.
Somehow, he doesn’t seem like someone I would get along with very well…
I personally didn’t want to get close to people who believed that they deserved praise for their overly seasoned dishes.
After that, Lady Natalie and I proceeded with the dinner, exchanging words in between. She was quite polite, and her manners were excellent, but…she was a quiet girl with an indifferent atmosphere, or so one would say.
I heard that she was 16 years old, which was one year younger than me. However, her face was expressionless, except for the required smile for social interactions.
I had wondered if she was nervous about meeting me for the first time. That might have been part of it, but the way she was handling the cutlery was effortless.
I heard that she was nicknamed “the doll princess,” so it was a high possibility that she was just being herself.
I somehow managed to finish my meal as I observed Lady Natalie and the people around me. The meat dish was heavy with oil, probably to avoid being overwhelmed by too many spices, which made me feel sick to my stomach.
While I was soothing my throat and stomach with a glass of post-dinner lemon water, Lady Natalie was also clearing her throat. Her face was still expressionless, but there was an air of relief, for some reason, as if she had come back to life.
…Is Lady Natalie, by any chance, not a fan of overly spiced food?
As I was thinking that I could sympathise, Lady Natalie quietly looked at me.
“Lady Letitia, thank you for accepting our hospitality. Did you find it pleasing?”
“Yes. It was quite a lovely meal.”
“Thank you for your kind words. If that is the case, then that means…”
“That means?” What does that mean exactly?
Lady Natalie remained silent, not wanting to prompt something recklessly. She really did look like a well-made doll when she remained silent like that.
In her place, the woman who had been waiting behind her stepped forward. With her hair neatly tied up, she looked to be in her mid-thirties. She was wearing an intricate and expensive dress, though not as beautiful as Lady Natalie’s.
“Excuse me, Lady Leticia. My name is Díaz. May I speak for Lady Natalie?”
“…if that is what Lady Natalie would like.”
She was the youngest sister of Lady Natalie’s father and was married into the Digliz family, a branch of Lady Natalie’s ducal household. It seemed that she had been sent to help the still young Lady Natalie as a chaperone and assistant.
It’s been a little over ten days since I arrived in this country. While I was hanging out with the wolves, I memorized the names of the aristocrats and some simple information about them. If it were my previous self, I would have screamed at the amount of memorization I had to do, but I was used to it and it was easy.
My eldest brother was very strict about my education. He was known to the public as an ideal young nobleman, but in reality, was a merciless teacher. Sometimes, I still had nightmares about my brother’s beautiful smiling face as he relentlessly criticized me…
The reason why I was able to endure the harsh princess training was, probably, because I had developed a high tolerance for it thanks to my older brother.
My brother loved me dearly as his younger sister, but that was precisely why he was so spartan. I was grateful, though, for the love and education he gave me because it was helping me a lot at this moment.
While internally thanking my brother, who was now far away, I asked if Lady Natalie was alright with it.
She nodded, and Mrs. Díaz stepped forward.
“Since Lady Leticia has come to this royal villa today, does that mean you will side with us?”
It was a straightforward question, completely out of the blue.
“I’m only a figurehead Queen; I have no intention of favouring any particular one of the four candidates.”
“Then why did you accept our invitation?”
“To show you that I have no intention of antagonizing you. I won’t support any of the candidates, but I don’t intend to be an enemy either.”
That was my course of action in this country. Since I will be stepping down as the Queen in two years, I did not plan to get deeply involved in the selection of the future one, who was closely connected to politics. As His Majesty Glenreed had requested, I just wanted to fulfil my role: stalling for time and spend my days quietly in my royal villa.
“…Four Queen Candidates, you say?”
Mrs. Díaz laughed mockingly.
“In terms of numbers, yes, that may be true. But in reality, it’s different. Given the current power structure, you can see that it’s unlikely the weaker Queen candidate from the south will be chosen, can’t you?”
“…Is that so? Unfortunately, I don’t know.”
I couldn’t afford to downgrade the southern Queen candidate, so I just smiled vaguely.
“It can’t be helped that Lady Leticia, who came from another country, wasn’t aware.”
Her words were overtly condescending. I thought she was trying to provoke me and see how I would react, but there were no such indications. It seemed that she just had a bad personality and was looking down on us.
“The Queen candidate from the south is out of the question. And the candidates from the north and east are beastkin…mongrels. Having said all of this, I’m sure you understand, Lady Leticia. There is no way you can’t know which of the four candidates you should choose.”
“…Yes, you’re right. I understand.”
That “mongrel” remark. In addition, those dishes were too spicy even by aristocratic cuisine standards of this world.
…Mrs. Díaz, and perhaps even Lady Natalie, who tolerated her comments. It became disgustingly clear that she had no intention of hiding her disdain for beastkin, and that she wanted me to agree with her.
Reminder that next chapter is the last one we’re gonna TL. Don’t forget to support the official english release!