Chapter 173 Past Trauma
Edited by: Kanaa-senpai
Just as it seemed like a conflict was about to break out over the right to spar with Momoka, Alex-san intervened to mediate.
”Fighting between Shouhyou Spears member is prohibited outside of training. If you break this rule, you will be punished.”
”Prohibited from fighting outside of training… But didn’t Shaina beat up that guy, Luck, yesterday?”
”That was different. Luck didn’t have the intention to fight, she just beat him up because he was trying to escape. So it wasn’t a fight, it was a punishment. There’s no problem with that.”
”What kind of nonsense is that?”
”Quiet down, we’re in front of Master Neil. Don’t embarrass yourself as a member of the Shouhyou Spears.”
”I understand what you want to say. I will think of a solution that leaves no regrets… But before that, there’s something I want to confirm with Momoka-san.”
”You don’t have to use ‘san’ with me. What do you want to confirm with me?”
”Then let me call you Momoka. Do you come here every day?”
”Not every day, I come here for Master Neil’s training. But recently, Master Neil seemed busy, so I haven’t come much. I’m here today because I saw Master Neil looking free.”
”I see. If someone from the Shouhyou Spears wants to spar with you, how much time can you allocate in a day? Of course, I’m not forcing you to accept sparring if you don’t feel like it, and you can refuse if you’re not in the mood.”
”Well… My work schedule varies from day to day. So the free time I have also varies. I don’t even know how much time I can spare. And I also have training with Master Neil.”
”Oza, stop pressuring Master Neil. Master Neil, my subordinate was rude.”
”N-No, it’s okay…”
It was a lie. In truth, I was sweating profusely and wanted to escape from this situation immediately. For Oza, who wanted to spar with Momoka, my training time, which took priority over his own sparring, was an obstacle. Although there were no clear words, the pressure emanating from Oza was palpable.
”I-I had told Momoka, so please don’t worry about me. If it’s about Momoka herself, I will respect her wishes.”
”Understood. As Master Neil said, What does Momoka want?”
”If Master Neil says it’s okay, then I have no reason to refuse. But like I said earlier, I don’t know how much time I can spare since it varies from day to day. It’s difficult to adjust to your schedule.”
”Then, let’s have those who want to spar adjust to Momoka’s schedule… Yes.”
After showing a pensive expression, Alex-san presented the following conditions to the members of the Shouhyou Spears. Those who wish to spar should come here and spar with Momoka in the order of their arrival. It was more efficient to have them go to Momoka based on her schedule rather than prearranging the order.
However, directly visiting Momoka to confirm her schedule or rushing her was prohibited. Waiting at the training ground was a condition. Waiting for Momoka, who may come at any time for sparring, would be considered unbalanced for anyone other than those who genuinely wanted to spar with her.
As a result of these conditions, there were no longer people who wanted to spar with Momoka out of curiosity, and only those who sincerely desired to spar with her remained waiting at the training ground. It was only natural to limit the number of people to reduce the burden, considering that Momoka was doing this out of kindness.
As a result, now there were members of the Shouhyou Spears waiting at the training ground for sparring with Momoka, in addition to Eurus and others. As a side effect, they started watching Eurus’s training while waiting.
With the sparring starting when Momoka arrived, Eurus and others returned to the barracks for their night watch duty, so I just said a few words to Alex-san and left the scene. I could have stayed and watched Momoka and Oza’s sparring, but at this moment, I wanted someone to talk to casually and relax a bit, so I headed to the cafeteria.
The person I’m talking to is Narsht-san, and you might wonder why I didn’t go straight to the dining hall if I wanted to have a casual conversation. Well, it’s because I was considering Narsht-san’s schedule.
He usually becomes free from the afternoon to the evening, so I’ve made it a routine to visit the dining hall around that time. As I look towards the back of the dining hall, I see Narsht-san preparing dishes behind the counter and Wen sitting at the counter eating. I approach them while calling out to both of them.
”Narsht-san, Wen, hello.”
”…It’s convenient to be able to communicate without using words in times like this, isn’t it?”
While I’m amazed that Wen doesn’t stop eating even when I come, I sit next to Wen. Since fully materializing, Wen has been frequently appearing in the mansion’s kitchen and other places to get Narsht-san’s cooking.
With the installation of proper cooking facilities in the dining hall and Narsht-san spending more time there than in the mansion’s kitchen, Wen has also been spending more time in the dining hall, and as a result, the frequency of Wen coming to me has decreased.
”Are you killing time again today, Narsht-san?”
”Yes, it seems like all the customers have already come today, except for Liana. She’s probably skipping work and busy with the aftermath. So, what will Master Neil have?”
”Since I have dinner later, please give me something light. I’m not that hungry.”
While preparing for the dinner guests, Narsht-san makes a light snack for me and nods along to my conversation.
”Anyway, I’m completely retired from the training.”
”Is that so? It’s true that they might know more about actual combat, but I’m sure there are things that only Master Neil can point out.”
”Is that so…”
”Yes. By the way, changing the subject, what happened to the recipe for the chicken dish I gave Master Neil before? When I asked it last time, Master Neil just said ‘I’ll figure it out later.’”
”Oh…that, well…I think we’ll have the results in about three days.”
”Three days? That’s close to the end of the month——”
Just as Narsht-san was about to say that, he seemed to realize something and slowly turned towards me, with a dull movement like tin.
”Master Neil, you don’t mean to serve my dish at the dinner three days from now, do you?”
”I-I’m sorry! I couldn’t refuse the order from His Majesty! Besides, I didn’t even know about the dinner at that time, it was beyond my control!”
”My dish being served at Emperor’s dinner…?”
”Narsht-san, a-are you okay?”
Seeing Narsht-san’s pale face, I now understand what it means for Narsht-san that his dish will be served at the dinner. Narsht-san couldn’t complete a new dish for a party in the past and was kicked out of the Duke’s kitchen, giving up on his career as a cook.
It was a bitter experience for the current Narsht-san, and the dinner hosted by His Majesty is a much more prestigious event than that party. It was more than enough to dig up Narsht-san’s trauma. I realize that I made a huge mistake and quickly try to reassure him.
”But, but they only asked for the recipe. It doesn’t mean that His Majesty has decided to serve the chicken dish at the dinner.”
”However, His Majesty likes surprises and I’ve heard that even at noble gatherings, he holds unconventional events without being bound by formality, isn’t it? If such a person asked for the recipe, then surely at the dinner…”
”Even if that happens, it’s a dinner hosted by His Majesty. Once His Majesty finds it interesting and spreads the word, the nobles won’t criticize what His Majesty has approved.”
”That may be true, but deep down, I know they are mocking the dishes I have created. If they were to find out that it was me who came up with the dishes, surely…”
It was a moment when I couldn’t do anything as I watched Narsht-san, who was trembling and holding his chest, unable to forget the ridicule he had once faced from the nobles.
’Narsht, another serving.’
With Wen’s words echoing in my head, I looked towards Wen and saw her stuffing her mouth with food and offering a clean plate to Narsht-san.
”Hey, did you hear what I said? I’m…”
’Why are you so scared? Narsht’s food is really delicious. I don’t understand why you’re afraid of people eating it.’
”It’s not just about the taste. Nobles are demanding and troublesome people who seek more than just taste. If there’s no dignity or novelty besides the taste, they criticize it as unworthy of their palate.”
’Well, then just leave those people alone. It’s not a problem as long as the people who appreciate Narsht-san’s cooking get to eat it. Everyone in the settlement says Narsht-san’s food is delicious. There’s no problem at all.’
”That may be true, but…”
As a spirit, Wen couldn’t understand the complexity of human and noble society. It was impossible for Wen to understand and support the other person’s feelings. While I was thinking about what to do with Wen, who spoke bluntly, Narsht-san, who had been silent until then, suddenly burst into laughter.
”Hahaha! Wen is right… Huh, why was I thinking such boring thoughts? That’s right, I’m no longer a noble’s personal chef. I’m just a regular cook working at this settlement’s dining hall. I don’t care anymore about what those nobles feel towards me!”
While I was dumbfounded by Narsht-san suddenly bursting into laughter, he accepted the offered plate and placed the food on it, placing it in front of Wen.
”I thought I had completely digested it within myself, but I was so shaken… I apologize for showing such an unsightly side.”
”Oh, no, I don’t think it’s unsightly at all. Everyone has at least one past they can’t forget, even if they want to forget… Um, are you okay, Narsht-san?”
”Yes, I haven’t completely cut ties with it, and I’m still curious about the banquet, but what’s important to me now is not the nobles in the distant capital, but the people who come to this plce. I have come to realize that. So, I’m okay now.”
”I see… I’m sorry for not considering Narsht-san’s feelings and acting on my own.”
”It can’t be helped if it’s His Majesty’s orders. Master Neil didn’t have the right to refuse… But if you feel sorry towards me, could you please let me know the reaction of the nobles when they taste the dishes I have created at the banquet?”
”Huh? But that…”
”Oh, don’t misunderstand. I’m not interested in the dignity that the nobles seek. I’m only interested in the evaluation of the taste. Nobles have refined palates, so I can trust their taste buds. That’s why I only want to know the evaluation of the taste.”
”…Understood, I will make sure to check that when I receive a report from Diana and the others.”
Three days remained until the banquet in the capital. Not only Narsht-san’s cooking, but if my predictions were correct, many things would be revealed there. I was filled with great anxiety about what that Emperor was thinking and how I should proceed. Finally, the day of the banquet arrived.
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Edited by Kanaa-senpai.
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