Saturday, July 29, 2017

Cooking with Wild Game Volume 1 Chapter 5

The Wu Clan
Translator: Skythewood
Editor: Deus ex-Machina


Part 1


And so, we decided to head to the Wu clan’s main house.


I was happy about reaching a conclusion, but this also created some problems. The next morning, Rimee Wu appeared before us as promised which made me realize the problems.


After completing our work at the water source, Rimee Wu came over when I was at home maintaining my blade. When I told her about agreeing to help, she shouted 「Thank you!」. Her smiling face made other people around her blissful too.


She then told me:


「In that case, come over to my place before sunset! I will prepare the ingredients.」


I tilted my head confusedly.


「What ingredients are you talking about? I plan to cook in this house, then deliver the finished product to your place.」


「You can’t do that! The food you cooked here can only be eaten here!」


I didn’t really get it, and after further questioning, I realized this was a rule in Forest’s Edge.


The actual explanation was:


『The one cooking and the ones eating must enjoy the same meal in the same place.』


Simply put, this was an order to prevent others from making food harmful to the body.


「I don’t really get it, but I just need to cook the meal at your place, and dine at the same place as Grandma Jiba Wu right?」


Heading to an unfamiliar place to cook was a little pressuring, but I wouldn’t back down because of such trivial matters.


However, the real problem came right after that.


「Yes, but you won’t just be cooking Grandma Jiba’s share. My family is large and it will be tough, but I will work hard together with you.」


「Ehh? I won’t just be cooking for Grandma, but everyone else too?」


「Yes, because we will be entrusting the hearth to you. Isn’t that so?」


「Is that so?」


「Yes it is! Asuta, you’re really weird.」


Even a child 7 or 8 years old thinks I’m weird.


Spare me, I’m still learning the rules of Forest’s Edge.


「I understand. I just need to prepare everyone’s share, right? I’m willing to cook for everyone. The more people who eats my cooking, the more driven I would be… How many people are there in the Wu family?」


「Hmm…」 Rimee Wu started counting her fingers.


When she counted all ten fingers, I couldn’t help retorting in my heart.


「… Hmm, including me, there are thirteen!」


「T-Thirteen!? What a large family.」


「Ah, but Kota Wu is just one year old, and can only drink milk. So you just need to prepare food for the twelve of us. The women who are supposed to caretake the hearth will help you too!」


「Twelve huh… such a number won’t be a problem for me. Can I cook the same dish as yesterday for everyone?」


「Yes of course! I’m looking forward to it too!」


「I see. But I don’t think I can solve the issue by cooking for Grandma just once. I need to hold a lecture for the Wu clan women to learn how to cook those dishes, then I can rest easy...」


「What is a lecture?」


「What I mean is, I can’t use the stove at your place every day, right? So from tomorrow onwards, you all will cook the delicious food for Grandma.」


「Ehh? I can make such delicious food too?」


「The temperature for that dish yesterday is a bit hard to control… Ah, by the way, you have 13 people in your family, so there’s more than one pot, right?」


「Pots? Our house have 4 pots.」


「Four!? That’s great!」


In the end, I became excited.


Using four pots to cook for a dozen people — No, including me and Ai Fa, it would be 14.


My adversary was an elderly person without teeth, and the people in the settlement who bore hostility towards me because I’m an outsider.


This development spurred my spirit as a chef instead.


「I understand. I will prepare the kiba meat here, can you prepare enough poitan and aria for everyone? And also rock salt and fruit wine.」


「Ehh? We have plenty of meat at my place.」


「The meat is the key. If there is a chance, I want to teach you the right way to slaughter that would make the meat taste good.」


I started thinking about the dishes in my mind.


Rimee Wu then walked towards me, and tugged the corner of my shirt a little hesitantly.


「Asuta, I’m really grateful. Now, Grandma Jiba won’t cry about wanting to die… Thank you for accepting such a difficult task.」


「Don’t cry. Dummy, we don’t know if we can solve the problem yet.」


「Don’t say that! It will be fine! The food you cooked tastes really good!」


Rimee Wu then turned towards Ai Fa who had been working on her blade in a corner of the house.


「Ai Fa, thank you too. When Grandma Jiba gets better, let’s play together again. I’m going off first, see you in the evening!」


「Ah, my dish would require some time to prepare, can I intrude on your place before sunset?」


After I replied on behalf of the silent Ai Fa, Rimee Wu said 「Yes! I got it!」, showed us a brilliant smile and left.


Really, in a sense, she was full of life just like Ai Fa. I raised the corners of my lips.


「… Why are you smiling by yourself. What a disgusting man.」


「Ohh! Ai Fa! You’re finally willing to speak with me! Although what you said was rather rude, but I feel relieved now.」


「… Shut up.」


Ai Fa sat with her back to the wall and didn’t even look at me. She had a serious face as usual as she inspected the knife that had a silver glint.


However, I got to see her weak side yesterday and she must be feeling really troubled. I could tell how she feels very easily.


「But to think we have to dine with them too. Ai Fa you knew that from the start, right?」


「Of course. That’s what entrusting the hearth to you means.」


Yes. The denizens of Forest’s Edge thinks that caretaking the hearth was a job that required responsibility. I think this was a great rule.


「But in that case, we will need to face Rimee Wu’s father… Ai Fa, you will come with me, right?」


「Are you retarded? You don’t even know the rules of this world, how can I let you go to another house alone!?」


She roared and glared at my feet.


「… If you don’t plan to cut off ties with me, then of course I will accompany you.」


「That’s true. If I went alone, I will be scared. It’s great that you can accompany me.」


I walked a few steps towards Ai Fa and sat down. I kept some distance away from her, just out of arm’s reach.


Ai Fa didn’t avert her eyes. She was looking at my feet just now, but has shifted her gaze to my chest now.


I put my hands on the ground and lowered my body in an attempt to meet her gaze. Not only didn’t it work, she turned the point of her knife my way.


「Sorry, I was just kidding around.」


「Can the Wu clan… really entrust their hearth to a man like you?」


She looked at me after keeping her knife.


Frankly speaking, this was the first time Ai Fa looked me in the eye properly after I woke up today.


Her sensitive cheeks blushed again, but she didn’t hold back and said to me in a rough tone:


「Entrusting one’s hearth to another is equivalent to putting the lives of their family in your hands. If someone from the Wu clan fell ill after eating your food, they won’t let us off so easily. They might cut off our ears, pull out all our teeth or banish us from Forest’s Edge!」


「Ehh, working the stove is so important but you gave me the job so easily.」


「I don’t care about such an archaic custom! But many people in Forest’s Edge still hold such an opinion!」


「I know, who do you think I am, I won’t let them get food poisoning.」


You are just a seventeen year old apprentice chef, right? … I was hoping Ai Fa would retort like that, but she just pursed her pink lips shut and fell into silence.


Her cheeks were tinted red, like a kid who didn’t want to admit her loss.


But this was just like her.


The sullen Ai Fa last night was completely unlike the usual her. But she was cuter the way she was now.


After a short silence, Ai Fa said: 「I’m telling you to not let down your guard.」


「I know how good your cooking skills are. If it’s you, then you should be of help to Rimee Wu and Jiba Wu. But you have to watch your steps.」


「Uwah… I feel so moved.」


I want to go near her and hold her hand. But with how she was right now, she might really kill me if I did that. So I decided to restrain myself.


「Since you already said that, there wouldn’t be a problem. Don’t worry, I swear on what little honour I have that I will help Rimee Wu.」


And I have another reason now, which was 「For the sake of Ai Fa」.


In order to help Rimee Wu and Jiba Wu whom Ai Fa treasures, I will pick up my kitchen knife and fight hard.


Under such conditions, how could I be careless or arrogant?


I felt my body filled with hype and fighting spirit as I looked at Ai Fa who still had an unhappy face.


I will definitely complete this job properly.


For the person I respect the most in this different world.


Part 2


「Oh… So this is the Wu clan’s courtyard.」


I said in awe.


It took about an hour to walk from the Fa house to the Wu clan. From the position of the sun, it was located some distance to the south of Fa house.


The Wu clan didn’t have any building that was larger than the others. In place of that was many buildings in close proximity of each other. After coming to this world, this was the first time I saw such a sight.


Although these buildings had ample space and there was quite some distance between them, their difference from other residence was clear at a glance.


In the center of the buildings were a flat brown plaza, about half the size of a field found in schools. Seven wooden houses were built at its edges, surrounding it.


All the buildings were about twice as large as Ai Fa’s house.


But even for a family of thirteen, they didn’t need so many rooms — As I tilted my head in confusion, Ai Fa explained to me as she held the 5kg of kiba thigh meat wrapped in fake rubber leaves carefully:


「… The head of the clan would inherit the main house, if the brothers of clan head is to wed, they would build a new house near the main house. Several of them are the residence of the clan head’s brothers.」


I was also carrying 5kg of Chuck Flap in my arms, and answered with a nod: 「I see.」


「Why is there a plaza in the middle? It looks big enough to hold a sports meet.」


「Sports meet…? This space is for celebrations or funerals. If everyone related to the Wu clan are to gather here, there would probably be more than a hundred people.」


Of the 500 denizens in Forest’s Edge, a fifth of them were related to the Wu clan.


But thinking about it the other way, there were just 500 people in this settlement. If outsiders didn’t come in, the village would be filled with one’s relatives in no time.
「Enough talk. Let’s go.」


Ai Fa said and started walking forth. I chased after her and entered the plaza.


When we reached the center of the plaza, a tiny figure appeared from the back of the house right in the center, and ran towards us.


「Ai Fa! Asuta! Welcome to the Wu clan! You are here really early.」


That figure was of course, Rimee Wu.


By the way, the time was right between noon and evening.


I felt it was about 3pm in the afternoon.


「Are we too early? I wanted to have more time to get things done.」


「No problem! Dear guests, please give me your knives for safekeeping!」


Ai Fa handed both her blades over silently.


I did not expect that and panicked a little.


「Rimee Wu, I want to ask. Is it okay for me to cook with my own knife?」


「Hmm? But we have many knives for cutting meat at our place too.」


「But my knife is a bit special.」


I drew out the Santoku knife at my waist, as if I was acting in a yakuza film.


But the way, my attire today was a t-shirt with a colourful vest over it. I wore a cloth around my waist, but had white shoes on and a white towel on my head, a mixture of many different elements.


To be honest, the white chef uniform represents the honour of a chef and I very much want to wear it. But I didn’t want to dress like a foreigner too much, hence my strange get up.


Rimee Wu observed my Santoku knife curiously and said 「I see」, then tilted her head confusedly.


「In that case, please give me your knife first, I will return it to you at the stove! If you have the knife on you, I can’t usher you in!」


I sighed and handed over the Santoku knife and my other knife.


One sabre, two knives and the Santoku knife. Rimee Wu took the four blades with respect, then turn around.


「This way please.」


What would happen next? I braced myself and prepare to meet the Wu family. A group appeared from both the entrance and the back of the building — all of them seemed to be frail women.


Oh right. During this time, all the men would head into the forest.


About six women stood in a line before us. I was surprised, but Ai Fa’s attitude was calm as usual.


「I brought the guests! They are Ai Fa and Asuta from the Fa House!」


Six pairs of curious eyes watched us without reservation.


During these five days, the other people all politely ignored my existence, that was why their actions surprised me. Not only did they not ignore me, they even focused their gazes on me.


This was a large family of thirteen, so it wouldn’t be strange for more than half the household to be women. But their imposing aura still surprised me.


Three of them were married and wore a long dress made from one piece of cloth.


Three of them were unwed, their long hair draped over their shoulders, with two pieces of cloth covering their chest and waist.


One of the married woman was an old lady. But she probably wasn’t Grandma Jiba. She was plump and looked energetic. She also had the smell of fats about her.


Another one was a middle aged woman. She should be about my parents age. She looked healthy and robust would be a more appropriate way to describe her. She was also rather tall, and appears to be a strong mother.


And then — the other girls were all young.


Two of them looked older than I was. They should be about twenty years old.


One of them wore a long dress and had a really small baby in her arms.


Another one of the girls was about my age, and one more was a bit younger than me.


A total of six women.


Including the baby and Rimee Wu, there were eight people in total.


「This is grandma Ditto Min. Beside her is Mommy Mia Lei. Next is Sati Lei, she is my brother Jiza’s wife, and the baby is Kota. Over there are my sisters Vena, Leina and Lala!」


「Hey, if you introduce in one go like that...」 My heart started racing suddenly.


「… Hey, did you say Leina?」
<TL: Same pronunciation, but different way of writing.>


「What?」


The girl who was about my age tilted her head confusedly.


She had a head of black hair, which was rare in Forest’s Edge. Her hair was tied at her left and right shoulders in a low ponytails. She was short and petite, and her innocent face resembles Rimee Wu a little… And of course, she had brown skin and blue eyes.


… Right. What am I thinking?


This girl just happen to share a name with my childhood friend.


But she looked completely different from Reina. Reina was more childish with short hair, and didn’t look so prominent. The only thing they had in common was their small stature, their height only reaching my shoulders.


「Sorry, it’s nothing. Because my friend had the same name as you, so I couldn’t help reacting like that.」


「You know someone who has the same name as me?」


She showed an innocent smile which looked a little like Rimee Wu’s smile.


Ah — Her smile was a bit similar to Reina. Reina was more childish than she looked, which also applies to this girl before me and Rimee Wu.


「… I am the head of House Fa, Ai Fa. This man is a member of my house, Asuta. We are here on Rimee Wu’s bequest, to temporarily caretake the Wu clan’s hearth.」


Ai Fa announced in a voice stiffer than usual.


「Ai Fa and Asuta from House Fa, we welcome you.」


The old lady who smelled like fats said to us. Her voice was just like her appearance, steady and gentle.


「The Wu clan welcomes your visit. Lala, safekeep the hunter’s cape from our guest.」


「Eh? You want me to do it!?」 The girl who looked the youngest said unhappily.


She was about thirteen or fourteen, and looked as tough as a boy. Although her limbs and body were slim, she was taller than Leina. She had bright vermillion hair just like Rimee Wu, and tied her ponytail high on her head. Her eyes were bright blue like an ocean.


This girl named Lala walked forth reluctantly and received Ai Fa’s fur cape. Grandma Ditto Min ignored her and smiled gently.


「Since you wish to use the stove as soon as possible, we finished our job to extract fats as fast as we could. You can use the room now. Who’s scheduled to caretake the hearth today…?」


「Rimee, Grandma Ditto Min and Leina sis!」


「Right. Then Rimee, Leina and I will assist you.」


「Okay, thank you.」


This was unexpected.


I had braced myself for my visit into enemy territory, but the people here were — how should I say it, warm and rather friendly.


Only that red haired Lala looks a little displeased, everyone else had a smile on their faces. Compared to the people I encountered at the water source and on the road, their attitude was obviously different.


Ai Fa once rejected the demand of their clan head — Donda Wu, refusing to marry into the Wu clan. And I was an unknown foreigner (actually from another world). They don’t seem to mind us much though.


「Well… Before we get to work, I want to confirm one thing...」


Someone said suddenly with a seductive voice.


It was the young girl who was older than me and not carrying a baby.


She tied her brown hair to the right, and because she only covered her breasts and waist with two pieces of cloth, it brings out her sexy curves even more.


「Asuta of House Fa… You came from a foreign country, right? But you didn’t state your place of birth, is there a reason for that…?」


「No, I have no intention of hiding this.」


I already discussed this part with Ai Fa earlier.


I had no way of proving my identity, and what role I should play in my life in this world. As I didn’t have much options, the decision was made easily.


「The people here seem unfamiliar with my birthplace… I came from a nation called Japan.」


Ai Fa and I chose to 「Tell everything honestly」.


「Six days ago, I woke up at the foot of Mount Morga. However, I had no idea why I was here. The people here don’t know about Japan, and I have never heard of the Amusehorn continent. But we could communicate clearly. I’m still confused about this and don’t know what’s going on.」


If I lied, I will be found out one day. And in the off chance that someone in this world had the same experience as me, I would miss the opportunity of learning that.


So I decided to share my experience, and be honest about what I didn’t know — I only hid one thing. 「I died, but revived in this world」, that would sound too unbelievable.


「I see… A foreigner who had never heard of Amusehorn...? Why did someone like that appear in the middle of this continent so suddenly…?」


This sister would pause for a bit in mid sentence, and her misty eyes made her more alluring. However, since she asked this, it means that she was the most guarded of the group, and has the quickest wit. I made a mental note of that.


「I really have no idea. After meeting Ai Fa in the forest, she took care of me and even worry for me. She says it is too dangerous for me to wander around without knowing the rules of Forest’s Edge.」


「I see… Ai Fa of House Fa, your personality isn’t bad… I thought you’re only interested in hunting kiba like the men...」


Her words weren’t malicious, but her tone had taunting undertones which made Ai Fa stiffen her face.


And of course, Ai Fa didn’t reply. This sister looked at Ai Fa with coquettish eyes and laughed softly.


「No matter what, I’m looking forward to today. And you’re here for our precious family grandma Jiba, right…? Although father Donda showed an annoyed face after learning that, I welcome you very much and is very grateful… I really mean it...」


「Eh, you flatter me.」


I gave a laughable response. When she saw how I was, she put her finger on her full lips and her laughter was like silver bells.


Every move of hers permeates a sexy charm, that should be her unique characteristics.


「… I am Vena Wu, eldest daughter of clan Wu… The second daughter is the black haired Leina, the third daughter is the redhead Lala, and the youngest daughter is Rimee… I will introduce my brothers to you when the men return from the forest...」


She then gestured her well proportioned arm towards the older group of women.


「This is the wife of the previous family head, Ditto Min, she will assist you later… Which means, she is my grandmother… Beside her is my mother, Mia Lei, the wife of the clan head Donda… And that is Sati Lei and her child Kota, the spouse of my oldest brother Jiza… The person you are helping is my great grandmother — Jiba, she is resting in the house right now… Ai Fa and Asuta from Fa House, nice to meet you...」


Part 3
「… This way please.」


The one leading us was the second daughter of the Wu clan, Leina Wu.


Rimee Wu entered the house to keep the guest’s blades. The grandmother — Ditto Min still need to clean up for the fats extraction work too. The other women went back to their own work, and they left quickly.


The stove room was situated at the back of the building.


Large houses like this would separate the rooms and kitchen. They erected another building behind the main house that was half its size. There was a stove room, food store and kiba slaughter room.


「hmm? There’s stoves over there too?」


There were two heavy stone stove beside the building, similar to the one in Ai Fa’s place.


These two stoves were situated outdoors, and even had a beautiful wooden roof erected over it. The opening of the stoves faced each other, like two faceless monster glaring at each other.
<TL: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noppera-b%C5%8D >


But there wasn’t any iron pots on top of the stove.


「These stoves are used for grilling meat. My father Donda prefers grilled kiba meat.」


The petite girl who tied her black hair into two low ponytails smiled.


「I see! When you grill the kiba, there should be an astonishing amount of smoke. This thing is great. I will use this stove today then.」


「Eh?? Asuta, do you want to grill kiba meat?」


I was surprised for some reason and looked into the girl’s round eyes.


Why was that? When I heard this girl with the same name as my childhood friend call my name, I felt a little strange.


However, Reina calls me 「Asuta-chan」 even in high school.


「… That’s right, I planned to use grilling, it there any problem?」


「Well, Rimee told me that the meat she ate was very soft. So I thought you would cook a kiba stew...」


「I see. But I will be grilling the kiba meat. You might think my cooking method is weird, but I will take care of the troublesome steps, I will be counting on you for the other areas.」


「Okay! To me, Grandma Jiba is an irreplaceable family. I am very grateful for your help, Asuta! I will work hard!」


This girl was really similar to Rimee Wu. She was cheerful, innocent, energetic and had sincere eyes.


Furthermore — Although this was unnecessary information, it was clear that she had inherited the same genes as that sexy eldest sister.


Her arms and thighs were rather thicc, and the curves on her breasts and hips were very feminine. Because she had a slim waist, she didn’t look too fat — But I didn’t know where I should look when I speak with her.


The girls in this settlement were too scantily clad. They seemed to think just covering their chest and waist was good enough. And the cloth they wrapped their body in was too thin, making the shape of their body clear at a glance.


And unlike the women I met in the settlement, they would wear 「accessories」.


Bangles made from Krilee fruits seemed to be their standard equipment. Other than that, they would wear shiny silver hair accessories, ear rings, ankle bracelets and—


「…Ah. That necklace.」


「Huh?」


「All of you are wearing three tusks or horns on your necklace. Is that some kind of charm?」


「Yes. Because women can’t hunt kiba, the men will gift tusks and horns to us as a blessing for a safe life in Forest’s Edge.」


The necklace swayed before her bold clevage. She held the necklace to her chest and smiled blissfully.


「Fathers would gift them to their children, husbands would gift them to their wives. The men won’t give an entire set of horns and tusks, holding one back to signify that the kiba wasn’t hunted by the women.」


「I see, what an interesting tradition.」


As I was answering Leina Wu, I felt a stabbing pain on the back of my neck. I turned back and found Ai Fa leaning against the wall, staring at us with icy eyes.


I didn’t forget about my task at hand. My mistress, I was merely distracted by the outdoor stove.


「Erm, there are four stoves, huh? Let’s start a fire in one of them.」


「Alright, please follow me.」


Leina Wu smiled again and walked towards Ai Fa.


She nodded towards the serious faced Ai Fa, then pulled open the sliding door beside her.


「This is the stove room.」


「I see.」


I walked forth as I answered Leina. I wanted to talk to Ai Fa, but my dear mistress averted her face strongly and stepped in before I did.


What was going on? I was confused, but felt that things would become troublesome.


Leaving that aside, I stepped into the room.


「Oh, this is cool.」


This room was only 8 tatami big, but it looked vast as there wasn’t many items placed inside.


There were four stoves in a cluster right in the middle of the room. A working platform propped up by a log was placed beside each stove, along with a flask full of water. I was impressed.


The floor wasn’t covered with rugs. The wooden walls and bare ceiling and beams were similar to Ai Fa’s place.


However, there were an assortment of kitchen knives, ladles and stirrers hanging on the walls. The closet that didn’t have a door was filled with plates, spoons and other utensils.


This was how a stove room, kitchen and food preparation room should look like.


I could feel my emotions getting hyped.


As I admired these kitchenwares, Leina Wu stood before the stove and showed a carefree smile as she said: 「Can I start the fire? Pray tell when you are ready.」 She actually used the term ‘pray tell’.


Although she had a pure and innocent personality, she was very elegant.


By the way, they way they start a fire was just like Ai Fa. They would tie a dry leaf called karakara to the tip of a thin stick, then create friction by rubbing it against another firewood. The karakara would then burn like a matchstick.


They would take care not to let the fire go out, and wait for the other firewood to catch fire.


I also tried using this method to start a fire before, but would fail every two out of three attempts. Leina succeeded in just one try.


「Yes, can you help me boil half a pot of water? Use strong fire.」


Leina Wu acknowledged and started filling up the water.


… I could feel someone staring at my back, but I didn’t do anything wrong this time, right?


「Okay, Ai Fa, give me the kiba meat. Miss, can I put the meat on that table?」


「Yes, of course… Excuse me, you can call me 『Leina』.」


「Yes, you are right. But you have the same name as someone I know, so it feels weird.」


I took the pack of kiba meat from Ai Fa, and opened the fake rubber leaves wrapped around the meat.


Leina Wu then stood beside me, smiling close to my face.


「Asuta, that person must be important to you, that’s why you can’t bring yourself to address me with her name.」


「… That’s not it.」


If not, then why? I didn’t know either.


But, speaking of which — Aside from my family, I spent the most time with Reina. I didn’t think of her as a love interest, but the thought that I could never see her again — still made my heart ache. That was the type of person she was to me.


That was why I didn’t want to mention or hear her name.


I didn’t think I should tell this to someone who shared her name.


「…Huh?」


As I was unwrapping the meat from the leaf, a small brown hand held my hand.


I was surprised and looked to the side. Leina Wu who was smiling just now looked down, as if she was about to cry.


「I’m sorry Asuta, I said something I shouldn’t have. Your eyes look so sad…」


「No! It’s nothing! I’m really fine! I’m just thinking about something!」


What was going on? I didn’t come all the way here to act out a romantic comedy drama!


Ara, the back of my head hurts. As if someone stuck a pick made of ice into my brain. To think I could feel a person’s gaze so clearly, did I have the talent to be a sword saint?


At this point, I heard a voice behind me saying 「Sorry for the wait, Asuta! Here’s your knife!」, and someone poking my back, which made me scream.


「Uwahh!」


I thought a certain 「someone」 took the kitchen knife on the wall and stabbed me.


「Rimee, don’t do that! You can’t play with knives!」


「Eh? What’s the harm, there’s a sheath!」


I wiped away my cold sweat and grabbed the Santoku knife from Rimee Wu’s fingers.


「A-Alright then, I need to cut the meat. Can you help me take enough poitan for everyone? After the water in the pot boils, help me throw them all into the pot.」


「I got it! Leina sis, let’s go to the food store!」


「Okay.」


After the two close sisters left, only me and my mistress was left in the stove room.


I patted away the pico leaves stuck to the thigh meat, and cut through the surface of the meat. I then stole a glance at Ai Fa.


My mistress was leaning against the wall, with her legs crossed and one knee raised high.


「… Seems like I won’t be of any help.」


「That’s not true! You are my mental support! I could only focus on cooking because you are sitting there watching over me!」


「… Why are you so flustered?」


I wasn’t flustered. If I was, it must be due to your voice being colder and lower than usual.


However, this was a precious opportunity to talk with Ai Fa in private. Her icy gaze was scary, but I still shared the thoughts I was harbouring in my heart.


「… The Wu clan is friendlier than expected. I thought they would be a more hot blooded tribe of hunters.」


「Who knows. Aside from Rimee Wu and Jiba Wu, this is the first time I met them too.」


「Ah, have you seen their men before?」


「… When Donda Wu came to my house to propose a marriage, he brought all three sons with him. If you want to meet hot blooded people, just wait til evening.」


「No, I don’t really want to…」


We exchanged just these few words when the two close sisters came back.


They held something like a sieve in their hands which contained a pile of fake potato, which was poitan. Each of the fourteen people need two, so there was 28 in total.


That was why the sisters had another helper. It was the grey haired and plump old lady, Ditto Min Wu.


「Sorry for the wait, I’m here to help… Ara, what a large piece of kiba leg meat.」


Her face was filled with wrinkles, but she seemed well. She turned towards Ai Fa with a smile.


「Ai Fa of House Fa, I heard that you watches over the Fa house by yourself. Did you hunt this kiba by yourself?」


「… Yes, that’s right.」


Her tone might be cold, but Ai Fa still stood up politely and nodded.


「That’s really impressive, didn’t the Fa house break off all relationships with the other families? I couldn’t imagine how a girl like you could defend your own home without relying on others.」


「… It’s not difficult. My father taught me how to hunt kiba. He taught me the important points on surviving in Forest’s Edge. I can live on without relying on anyone else.」


「Live alone and then die alone?」


A smile appeared on the old lady’s face, as if she had seen through everything.


Ai Fa opened her mouth, but closed it without saying anything.


「If a woman is responsible for 《hunting kiba》, she can’t bear and raise children, right? Live alone, die alone, and let the Fa house die out… Ai Fa of Fa house, are you satisfied about this?」


「… Many houses in Forest’s Edge died out like this. Not everyone is as powerful as the Wu clan.」


「What? We aren’t that capable. Leina, Rimee and I can’t hunt kiba. No, even those men probably can’t hunt kiba by themselves. Speaking of which, there are few who are as capable as you.」


「That’s…」


「But the Fa house will die out, and the Wu bloodline will carry on, why is that… Maybe the Fa bloodline can be passed on too?」


「… What is Grandma Ditto Min talking about?」


The bored Rimee Wu who was poking the poitan asked me with a confused face.


The old lady looked my way and narrowed her eyes happily for some reason.


「Rimee, you will know after you grow up — the water is boiling.」


「Ah… I will put it in!」


When members of the same family address each other, they seem to omit the family name. Following Rimee Wu’s energetic announcement, she took a slim kitchen knife from the wall.


She then looked at the boiling pot and tilted her head confusedly.


「Isn’t there too little water? And you are cooking so many poitan with just one pot?」


「Yes, this is enough. If you want to eat the poitan you had yesterday, then throw it all in.」


「Okay!」


She took a poitan from the pile, slit on it with a knife, then threw it into the pot. As she was working through the pile, I was almost done with all the thigh meat.


I cut off the fats, and prepared to used it to cook. To make it more convenient to make mincemeat, I cut the red meat into adequate sizes. This wouldn’t take much time, the meat was just about 5kg.


Grandma Ditto Min turned to me and smiled this time.


「Asuta of House Fa, your knifework is more nimble than a woman’s.」


「That’s right. I’m actually an apprentice chef in the country I was from.」


「Is that so.」


When she heard my reply, Grandma Ditto Min narrowed her eyes.


「A woman who hunts kiba partnered with a man who is good at cooking. What an interesting combination. Looks like I shouldn’t say too much.」


「I agree, Grandma Ditto Min, it’s better to not meddle in other’s family affairs.」


Leina chided her in a childish tone.


This feels rather warming.


But I wasn’t too relaxed.


When I turned my heart out of concern for how Ai Fa was faring, the female head of our house just showed a displeased face.


Part 4


Alright then, time to switch up the mood and focus.


I had been disturbed by the noise around me since just now and letting it affect my work a little. This wouldn’t do for me who was on the lowest rung of the chef hierarchy. Father would never permit me to use his Santoku knife while being this flustered.


「… Cooking poitan this way is simple. If this dish fits Grand elder Jiba Wu’s taste, then everyone can try making it from tomorrow onwards.」


While I was announcing that, the poitan was boiling inside the iron pot. I stirred it with a ladle, careful to not let it burn. The poitan had turned rather gooey at this point.


「Sorry, but are you planning to boil it until all the water evaporates?」


Leina Wu asked.


When I nodded to affirm that, her big round eyes showed her confusion.


「But, won’t the poitan turn into a mud-like solid? I think it’s hard to eat that...」


「Ehh? Leina Wu, you tried cooking poitan like this before?」


Leina Wu showed a surprised expression momentarily, then her eyes sparkled.


「Yes! I tried many ways to make poitan more palatable, but everyone scolds me for wasting food.」


For some reasons, she had a blissful smile on her face.


Why would she show such an expression at this juncture? Because I called her by her name for the first time? No, I need to focus, focus.


「Well then, I will leave the poitan to you, Leina Wu… It might be rude to ask, but do the people of Forest’s Edge study cooking methods like this too?」


「Yes. We feel troubled after Grandma Jiba’s body become like this… Can I let all the water evaporate?」


「Yes, be careful not to let it burn.」


「Okay!」


There was still some time before evening, so let’s get the necessary task out of the way before then.


「Alright, first, I will prepare the kiba meat. The heat for this dish is hard to control. If possible, please remember this, it can be used on other dishes in the future too.」


After saying that, I opened the pack of chuck flap.


Rimee Wu then uttered: 「Hmm.」


「The shape of this meat is strange! Is this really kiba meat?」


「Hmm? What’s strange? This is the meat from the back and shoulder of a kiba.」


「Ehh!? I never ate this type of meat before!」


「What? Your family have so many people, don’t you bring the entire kiba home?」


「We only bring the entire beast back in order to skin them. Asuta, we only eat their hind thigh meat.」


Grandma Ditto Min replied.


「Why? Your family is huge, there shouldn’t be enough thigh meat, right?」


「No, the men of Wu clan would hunt two kiba everyday. Even just taking the hind legs would be so much that we have to let some of these meat rot.」


「Two in just one day...」


I was shocked.


She was right. If one kiba is about 70kg, then the hind legs alone would be 20kg. Two kiba would be 40kg… Which couldn’t be consumed in one day. Even if you include the parts to be smoked, they would just need one leg.


But I realized one thing. One kiba’s tusks and horns could only be traded for 10 people’s worth of aria and poitan.


And since the Wu clan had a dozen people (and one baby), hunting one kiba a day wouldn’t be enough. There would be extra meat, but hunting two kiba would be the appropriate course of action.


And of course, I know that such a system would result in leftover meat. It was clear from the food store at my place too.


The kiba Ai Fa hunted six days ago still had about 45kg of meat left. After preserving it with pico leaves, it had shrunk to 40kg due to moisture loss. But Ai Fa and I could only eat one kilogram per day. As they could only be preserved for 20 days, I would need to smoke more than half of these meat.


And in the meantime, Ai Fa also need to hunt one kiba every five days for their tusks and horns. The carcass of the kiba she hunts during this time would be left in the forest as food for the wildlife there.


Smoking the meat I spent so much time to bleed out was such a waste. That was why I felt rather happy that I could expend 10kg of meat in one go — However, learning that even such a large family would only eat the kiba’s thigh meat made me a little sad.


While I was slicing the chuck flap, I glanced at grandma Ditto Min before me who looked really happy.


「So after hunting the kiba, you will skin them, cut off their tusks, horns and hind legs, then throw the rest away?」


「Yes, and to prevent the people of Forest’s Edge from getting them, we will toss them down the valley. Monta builds their nest at the bottom of the valleys, and will guide the spirit of the kiba back into the forest.」


「… prevent the people of Forest’s Edge from getting them?」


「That’s right. If the people who can’t hunt kiba finds these meat, they will just live on the meat cast away by others. Then people without honour will appear in Forest’s Edge.」


So that was the so called honour of Forest’s Edge.


Being from a different world, I couldn’t understand this.


The thing I disagree with the most — was how they treat the delicious chuck flap and pork belly like garbage! Maybe my values were a little weird.


「If the men of such families get injured or become too old to hunt kiba, what will happen to them? I’m just asking for reference.」


「If anyone loses their strength, they will have to rely on their family. If their family is unable to render aid, they will need to rely on a more powerful clan. Even if they can’t hunt kiba, that person will have the right to eat kiba meat if he can assist in other jobs.」


「I see.」


After hearing their explanation, I agreed with their ethical views a little more.


「I understand now, thank you… After slicing the meat like this, we will be mincing them with the knives.」


I focused on cooking once again.


This wasn’t the time for me to collect information.


「We will use a big knife at first, it will be easier that way. Don’t use too much force, use the weight of the knife itself to mince the meat evenly.」


「What is that!? It looks interesting! I want to try too!」


「Hmm…? Alright, I can let you handle it if it’s just mincing meat.」


There was still a lot of time left. I could still finish the job for her if need be, so there wasn’t any problem. And they would need to do this themselves in the future, so I want to teach them how to cook delicious kiba meat as much as possible.


「Uwah, it’s all gooey, so fun!」


Rimee Wu might sound like she was playing, but the way she handled the kitchen knife wasn’t dangerous at all. She might be young, but she was used to helping with house chores.


「E-Excuse me Asuta, I want to try it too!」


And of course the only one who talked to me like this was Leina Wu. She turned her head and peeked at my hands as she stirred the poitan juice.


I reserved 7kg of meat to make hamburg steak for 14 people. She didn’t need to ask so desperately, she could mince as much as she wanted.


「Ah, the poitan is almost done. Erm, can we move the iron pot?」


「If we pass a stick through the pot handles, two people can move the pot together!」


「That’s great. Well then, Ai Fa…」


「I can move it move it.」 Leina Wu smiled at me with a Krilee stick in hand.


In that case, then Ai Fa and Leina Wu… I considered it, but my instincts told me that I must not let the two of them work together.


And so, taking care not to get scalded, I picked up the handle on the side of the pot and pass the krilee stick through it. Leina Wu and I took some effort to carry the pot outside.


Ai Fa’s gaze wasn’t as icy as before, but after she spoke with Ditto Min, she turned quiet and her eyes were filled with sorrow.


I really hate seeing Ai Fa looking so depressed.


「So, what should we do with this pot of thing?」


「Ah, we need to put it in a place with plenty of sun and let it dry. Let’s sprinkle some water on the outside of the pot to keep the poitan from getting burnt.」


「Okay!」


Although Ai Fa made me feel uneasy, the work ethics of the girl named Leina Wu was worthy of respect. She worked quickly and understand things fast, able to infer further things from my teachings. Rimee was this way too, she really wants to learn these skills quickly for the sake of grandma Jiba.


After we brought the poitan outside the room, I let Leina try cutting the meat, and she performed even better than Rimee Wu. The meat was minced so well that I didn’t need to mince it any further.


As there were several knives, the 7kg of kiba meat was turned into a pink pile in no time after Ditto Min entered the fray.


They were really an excellent class of students.


「Hmm? Asuta! There are more meat here! Don’t we need to make them gooey too?」


「Ah, just keep those meat like that. I need to use it for other dishes.」


Since she had problems with her teeth, I think I should prepare a soup. Aside from the 7kg of meat for hamburg steak, I need 3kg of chuck flap for that. When she heard what I said, Rimee Wu pouted:


「Tch!」


「I reversed the order, but we will need to deal with the aria next. I also need other ingredients, so Rimee Wu, can you bring me to the food store?」


「Yes!」


「Ahh, can you help me start the fire in the other stove…? Ai Fa help me carry the things.」


Ai Fa left the wall lethargically.


We handed the stove over to grandma Ditto Min, and the four of us headed to the food store.


There were three doors in this house, from right to left was the stove room, the food store and the dismembering room.


We opened the center door and stepped inside under Rimee Wu’s lead. I let out a sigh in awe.


I never expected the inside to be such a scene.


It was filled with unfamiliar ingredients.


「What are these? This is incredible, it’s like a treasure trove!」


I shouted upon seeing this sight.


Cupboards without any doors lined the space inside this 8 tatami big room. There were pumpkin-like fruits that was as red as a tomato. A green vegetable with leaves arranged like a rose. A mysterious bundle that looked like a coiled snake. Aside from these, there was a green skinned fruit with durian like thorns — anyway, it was filled with ingredients that weren’t aria or poitan.


The familiar pico leaves and lilo leaves hung on the wall. However, there was a plant about two meters tall leaning on the wall, right beside these herbs. It was as thick as a bamboo, and full of wool like a burdock. Something that looked like dried yellow persimmon was also hanging on the wall.


I couldn’t see any kiba meat. There was a door inside the room, that was probably the meat store.


The eight tatami wide space was filled with ingredients I had never seen before, it was like a paradise.


「Asuta! Here are the arias!」


Rimee Wu moved quickly between the shelves and ran to the right side of the room.


There was a large number of aria and poitan there.


「… There are so many vegetables in this world.」


「World…? Yes! If you throw them into the pot, the taste will change too, it’s interesting! I like Tarapa. Leina likes Tino leaves!」


「But Rimee Wu, humans will be able to live just by eating aria and poitan.」


「Hmm? Yes, I think that’s true! But you will get sick of the taste if you eat the same thing every day, right?」


I see, these ingredients were probably luxury items, only powerful clans could afford them.


No — these ingredients should be full of nutrients. Even if they were luxurious food, it also served as proper food and not just for indulgence.


By the way, aside from Rimee Wu and Lala Wu, the other women had fleshy bodies and looked very healthy.


Ever since I realized that poitan was a cereal, I thought the only vegetable in this world was aria and was a little depressed. From the looks of things, the women of the Wu clan supplement their nutrients by eating other vegetables.


But… In the end, no matter which vegetable, they are just tossed into the kiba pot along with the poitan, right? What a waste.


With so many ingredients, just how sumptuous of a meal could be made!? Just thinking about it made me tremble from excitement.


「If you wished to, you can use any of the ingredients here.」


Leina Wu smiled faintly at me.


When I heard her say that, I felt tempted, but I still rejected her firmly.


「I don’t have time to taste test them. It’s a pity, but let’s not use these ingredients for now. If I use unfamiliar ingredients and destroy the taste of the dish, then it would be a waste of effort.」


I already spent four days to research poitan after all. My honour as a chef and Ai Fa’s feelings were at stake today, I couldn’t take the risk.


Speaking of which… I turned towards Ai Fa, and the mistress of my house was glaring fiercely at those things with a cold expression.


… That’s right. We need to hunt a kiba every five days to secure the minimum amount of food. It’s useless to envy people who are better off than we are.


I grow up in a family that operates an economical restaurant, ingredients like caviar or foie gras. Commoners didn’t need to eat such extravagant food. I thought that way to change my mood.


And so, we carried enough aria for fourteen people, pottery bottles of fruit wine and a bag of rock salt and left the food store.


At this moment —


They appeared.


「What the hell is this? Kiba feces? Don’t block the path with that thing!」


A hoarse voice came like thunder from inside the room, which hurts my ear.


A hint of tension flashed across Ai Fa’s face.


「Hmm? Daddy Donda, welcome home! You are back early today!」


With a bottle in her arms, Rimee Wu ran towards the voice with a cheerful shout.


The moment we stepped out of the food store, four men with intense feral aura appeared before us.


A burly man stood at the very front, looking unhappily at the pot filled with cooked poitan placed along the pathway. That man looked over Rimee Wu’s head and glared at us.


「Ho, so you’re that outsider at Fa House? Everyone says your skin is white, so you’re actually a weak pale skinned brat huh!」


The burly man had a face full of beard, even his breathing was like a beast—

And that man was of course the head of the Wu clan, the father of Rimee Wu and the others, Donda Wu.


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