She and Daifuku
“Strawberry, straw berry”
Spacious kitchen in the mansion.
There, I’m kneading dough while humming a tune.
From some time ago, I’ve been feeling multiple passionate gazes at me.
I fully understand they’re peeking here with curious expressions.
I looked back with a wry smile and called out to the Head Chef Thomas. He’s a short plump man around 60, I can always trust him to make good food.
“If you are curious, should I teach you the recipe?”
“!! Is it okay? Master!!”
Saying so with a smile on his face, Head Chef came out together with subordinate cooks.
Still not accustomed to that nickname, my face twitched.
… Yup, could you stop calling me master already?
In my past life, one of my hobbies was cooking.
Japanese food, Chinese food, Western food, I could make more or less anything, but my particularly strong point was sweets.
In this world there are many ingredients resembling those from the previous world, but the variety of recipes is overwhelmingly tiny. It’s disappointing since the dishes themselves are superb delicacies.
But, the me who both loves to eat and cook couldn’t accept this situation.
If what I want to eat isn’t available, I just have to make it.
Fortunately, I have the skills.
Reaching that conclusion, I immediately decided to reproduce recipes from my past.
And then, I focused on reproducing Japanese sweets.
Why Japanese sweets?
Strangely, in this world, while there are relatively plenty Western sweets, there are absolutely no Japanese sweets.
There is tiramisu. There is mille-feuille.
So why is there absolutely nothing with red bean paste?
Even though I love that faint sweetness!! Unbelievable.
Then, before a person knows, they’ll have eaten too much.
Let’s do it, I roused myself.
I thought there’s only one choice if I were to reproduce them.
Frantically recalling memories of my past, I swore to reproduce ‘daifuku’ with all my effort.
It was when I was 13. Recalling it now, I think I was truly a charmless brat.
Head Chef was surely troubled by a Duke’s daughter unreasonably wanting to be lent a corner of the kitchen.
Even now, I’m thankful that he nodded with it can’t be helped to me who earnestly requested saying I won’t be a hindrance.
While at least avoiding the times which I thought would be hectic, I earnestly engaged in work.
First, I started working on red bean paste. Despite there being azuki beans, there’s no concept of red bean paste. I had no choice but to somehow make it myself.
At first, not quite understanding what I’m desperately making other cooks observed me at a distance, but gradually they began leaving me alone.
And, the ‘daifuku’ I somehow finished couldn’t be called acceptable even as flattery.
But, the chefs bursting into tears overcome with emotion after sampling the unknown sweetness of red bean paste is a fond memory of mine.
Afterwards, after many creative attempts ‘daifuku’ that reached the acceptable taste were completed and shocked the world.
Brother who secretly ate it took a liking to it and brought it to the castle on his own.
‘Daifuku’ that wasn’t yet known to people of this world.
At first, people nervously approached Brother to taste it, and just like that they became captivated by the never before experienced sweetness and texture.
Rumors spread and great number of people approached Brother asking for it, but Brother only responded with a smile.
Boasting that it was the ducal house’s personal chef’s original recipe, he didn’t talk about the details and kept everything a secret.
Secrets just make you want more. That’s the way humans are. To find out the daifuku recipe, the number of spies sent to our house multiplied.
Of course, Father and Brother wouldn’t allow it and thwarted every attempt, but it’s something awful Brother brought upon.
By the way, this is a story from a few years ago, but there seemed to be people who were unable to forget the taste of daifuku they had in the castle once and clung to Brother.
It’s still fresh in my memory that I thought it was absolutely premeditated after hearing a rumor that one of them was a person who was hostile to Brother in the past.
“That person is a sucker for sweets, ain’t he?”
A few days before Brother willfully took away daifuku, I’d noticed Brother muttering that.
Such daifuku has now attained the reputation of being a gift of the ducal house’s favor.
‘Daifuku’ is a present when visiting the castle.
‘Daifuku’ is brought when visiting close friends’ houses.
‘Daifuku’ is a dessert for welcoming guests. As it can only be eaten at our home, the scarcity is also one of the reasons behind its great popularity.
I know other recipes besides daifuku, so I don’t think it’s necessary to stick to it, but as it’s surprisingly Father’s favorite, it’s been left as is.
Father, who was at first hesitant, nowadays likes them so much he smiles broadly at daifuku.
Since I occasionally see it taken to the castle, perhaps His Majesty also eats them. I haven’t heard it directly, but I have a hunch that’s the case.
I produced daifuku purely for my own cravings, but I’m glad if I considerably contributed to my house as a result.
But, to be honest, it’s not fun to only make daifuku.
There are plenty other sweets I want to reproduce.
After getting tired of making daifuku, I decided to tell Head Chef the detailed recipe.
Because it’s troublesome, I told him to make it instead of me.
Having been told daifuku recipe Head Chef’s stared at me in wonder and asked.
Is it okay to tell me such an important recipe?
The so called craftsmen in this world look at techniques and steal them by picking up the fundamentals. Chefs are no exception. A chef who has the original recipe is only valued for that, so some don’t even reveal those until they die.
As for me, I’m concerned about delicious dishes being buried in the dark like that, but it seems that isn’t a problem for them.
When I easily nodded, Head Chef simply bowed his head. Then, I was asked if he can revere me as his master.
It’s an unthinkable wish, so I naturally rejected. I don’t want anything like that.
I thought it’s troublesome as I only wanted to make food.
But Thomas and his subordinates shook their heads and didn’t give an inch.
Eventually I lost to their energy, and as their master I was for some reason supposed to control the kitchen of our house…
“Daifuku with strawberries is a fresh idea!! Master!!”
What I’m making now is called ‘strawberry daifuku’.
Ever since then, they’ve never called me ‘Milady’. It’s only ‘Master’.
Since Father hasn’t said anything there’s no one to stop them, so ultimately it ended up like that.
“I think salt daifuku and mugwort daifuku are delicious, but after all strawberry daifuku is my favorite.”
For a person who lived in that world it’s obvious, but for people who’ve never thought of it, it must seem like a wild idea. Although I understand, it’s strange.
Ah, that’s right, although I understand my feigned innocence was exposed to my family, in the end I couldn’t change my attitude this late, so at home I stayed the same as ever.
At any rate, there’s a little less than six months until the wedding, even though my act came to light, I defiantly continued it.
“’Salt daifuku’, is it! You’ve thought up another recipe!! As expected of Master!!”
It seems I blurted out something while absentmindedly thinking about unrelated matters.
Hearing the words ‘salt daifuku’ and ‘mugwort daifuku’ Thomas has already started getting excited as he pleases. I reflexively pressed a hand to my temple.
When that happens, the chef cannot be stopped.
No, I’ve already finished daifuku. I truly would like to make other types, but like this there’ll be no end to it.
Thinking of what to do, I decided to escape quickly.
I smiled sweetly and informed Thomas.
“I have something to do. I will excuse myself with this.”
While thinking of the many daifuku they have yet to see, I hurriedly packed the completed daifuku in a box and escaped from the kitchen.
Thomas still seemed to be saying something, but I pretended not to listen.
When it comes to cooking that guy is persistent. No matter how much time I give him it’s not enough.
Somehow I avoided the apprentices and returned to my room, but it considerably worn me out.
“Phew, I almost dug my own grave…”
I feel like I’ve already dug it, but I’ll lose if I care.
I placed the box on the desk, beautifully wrapped it up in wrapping paper, and hurriedly changed to street clothes.
And as usual, I was about to take out a rope from under my bed, when suddenly a thought crossed my mind.
… It is unthinkable, but it’s worth trying.
I took a look outside the window and turned back. I took the package in my hand and descended the large staircase with a nonchalant look.
Mother, who was in the lobby before the entrance, tilted her head seeing the package in my hand.
She absolutely didn’t mention my appearance of a town girl.
“Ara, Lidi, are you going out?”
“Yes, Mother. I want to thank someone I’m indebted to.”
“I see, do not stay out too late.”
Seen off so simply I went outside the mansion.
… Oi oi.
… Oi oi oi oi.
I walked several steps in silence, but suddenly I stopped walking and crouched.
I held my head.
“Woah, the worst…”
After all my sneaking out had been exposed…
Since my feigned innocence had been exposed, I got the idea of straightforwardly leaving through the front entrance, but Mother simply sent me off.
… Her attitude was terribly ordinary.
“I see… Of course. I thought it was strange…”
It’s impossible my outings wouldn’t be exposed with security measures that don’t allow any spies to invade.
Everybody knew of me desperately sneaking out through the window, moreover they didn’t say anything.
My shoulders dropped.
I considered that after learning I had been found out. I considered that, but being let through so easily is embarrassing.
“… Well, it’s easier to leave this way, so oh well.”
If that’s the case, I wish I had noticed sooner.
But it can’t be helped I hadn’t thought of that.
Telling myself that, I pulled myself together and got up.
For now, let’s complete my objective.
What I told mother wasn’t a lie.
Someone I’m indebted to – that is, I’m thinking of going to thank Ms. Delris again.
Since it’s a rare occasion, I thought of bringing a present. With that in mind I shut myself in the kitchen since morning.
“I wonder if he’s fighting now…”
Unintentionally, I looked at the sky and muttered a few words.
I absentmindedly stared at the cirrocumulus clouds like scales that stretched out.
In the end, Freed didn’t come the next day.
It’s only natural.
Due to Tarim’s assault, he departed for the front at night.
The next morning, I was informed of his departure by Father.
His Highness departed for the front.
When I was briefly informed, I simply nodded.
I was able to accept it quietly as I’d heard about it from Brother beforehand, but honestly my mind was in turmoil.
No matter how strong Freed is, nobody knows what will happen.
That’s what going to war means, right?
I transmigrated from a peaceful country where there was no war, so it doesn’t quite click with me.
Although there’s war in this world, even if I understand it’s in the present tense, I’d thought it’s a story that doesn’t concern me.
Everybody living in this country is aware he’s the Supreme Commander of the army that’s meant to stop Tarim from advancing south.
He assumed supreme command over 3 Chivalric Orders. Among them is Primera Chivalric Order which is composed of elite knights, which accompanied him in going to Margrave Shallum aid.
And, in that army there’s the Magician Division led by Will to provide rear support.
It’s natural, as only the Magician Division Commander can unlock the gate to move the army.
But, even though I’ve heard of Will going there every year, I haven’t felt anxious…
After all, is it different because he’s the rear support?
I’ve heard Freed fights at the frontline.
Normally, the Supreme Commander leads from the rear.
But, as his fighting strength is extremely high, it’s more effective if he’s at the frontline, so he always stands there.
He’s not posing, he’s a true soldier.
Defeating enemies, inspiring allies, the future king brings about the victory.
That’s his role.
“I hope… he doesn’t get injured”
I didn’t know him until now.
So I didn’t think anything of it.
But, now that I know him, it’s impossible not to worry.
After all, it’s war. Moreover, he’s fighting at the frontline.
I cannot not worry.
That’s right ―――― that’s why I’m worried like this.
Even so, no matter how much I think, I can’t do anything.
All I can pray for is the safety of these two.
Just because I’m melancholic doesn’t mean anything has changed.
Anybody would wish for that.
I know this much.
―――― That’s why, I’m the usual me.
Breathing out lightly, I switched my train of thought, and started walking again.
The objective is Ms. Delriss home.
How will she react to ‘Assorted box of daifuku and strawberry daifuku’ that I’ve prepared as thanks.
“I hope she’ll be pleased”
Lightly lifting the package, I let out a giggle.
How will she react to me being the creator of the ‘daifuku’ that’s gossiped about?
This time too, I’m deeply indebted to Ms. Delris.
I hope I can repay her if even a little.
It’s a bit early to call the season winter yet.
Watching autumn wind rock trees, I leisurely walked towards the castle town.