Berthold vs Squid, A Grand Duel In The Store (Part 1)
‘The Goddess of Spring is light-footed.’ This was an ancient saying within the Old Capital.
When winter ended, the Goddess would run across the entire Empire, and green buds would sprout from the earth wherever she went. It was like a blessing of spring that brought forth pleasant warmth to the frozen ground.
At the same time, the goddess who had been worshipped in this land since ancient times was the goddess of love. Even before the virtue and influence of the church had spread across the land, spring had been a season of love for the people.
Despite that, there was a man who heaved a grand sigh during this season.
「In short, I want squid.」
The sighing man was Berthold, the commander of the Sentry Corps of the Old Capital. He had forced his way into Izakaya Nobu, which had not opened yet, and was now holding a mug of beer in one hand.
Since he was originally a mercenary, he was well known among the commanders for training his subordinates to be highly disciplined.
He had a well trained body and symmetrical facial features, so there were many women who secretly fell for him.
Yet this Berthold was currently bothered by squid.
「Even Berthold-san unexpectedly has his own preferences, huh. It’s a little surprising.」
Shinobu tilted her head in curiosity as she grilled squid tentacles over a fire by the counter. Berthold had the impression that the store was not wasteful, so he was extra careful when ordering, since he didn’t like squid.
「It’s no use! Even though it’s just squid…」
Berthold gulped down his “Toriaezu Nama” while talking miserably.
He was so miserable that, after bringing the tentacles up to his mouth with his chopsticks, he just returned them to the plate.
Its taste, smell, and appearance…it was useless for him.
「Why do you suddenly have to eat squid?」
The corps commander slightly hung his head at Taisho’s question.
「Squid will be served at the matchmaking interview…」
Berthold was 32 years old this year, and was already in his prime.
Since he was originally a mercenary and was slightly older than his corps commander colleagues, he had many marriage proposals to choose from.
Furthermore, Berthold’s matchmaking interview partner was still a sixteen year old girl.
「Even though it’s an arranged interview, it’s not like I don’t know the person. She’s a relative’s daughter. She’s a really good woman.」
「Sixteen years old huh…that’s about half of your age, isn’t it? That’s not much older than Eva-chan…」
「It’s natural to be married with such an age difference here. I even know of couples with three times the age gap.」
Berthold responded to Shinobu’s tasteless retort as she filled his beer mug.
In the Old Capital, which was part of the Northern Empire, men were considered adults at a late age, so naturally, their marriageable age was also late. That was why, for the sake of convenience, there were marriages between people of such different ages.
There were even people who got engaged with two-year-olds, but they were exceptions among exceptions.
「The matchmaking partner is the youngest daughter of my brother-in-law’s younger sister. Furthermore, she is good-natured and lovely.」
「Isn’t that good? Berthold-san, won’t you be madly in love?」
「I understand, Shinobu-chan. If the matchmaking interview goes well, I guess I would have to live in a small house with her. No, as a matter of fact, there are already plans for us to live together.」
「So then, where does the squid come into the picture?」
Upon hearing Shinobu’s tactless question, Berthold’s face turned pale, his complexion becoming as white as a squid.
「That is…because her father is the best squid fisherman in town.」
Berthold’s voice trailed off as he answered, and he picked up the squid with his chopsticks once more. However, it didn’t make it to his mouth.
「At this rate, I will be exposed at the matchmaking interview…」
「You’ll definitely be exposed. Absolutely.」
「Even you think so? Unless I overcome this squid, it will be useless.」
「If it is possible for us to help, we will help. After all, I am in your debt for that matter with Eva-chan.」
Even though she hadn’t arrived yet, the store’s dishwasher, Eva, was a girl who commuted from nearby the outer walls of the Old Capital.
Since the store stayed open late, once work ended, Berthold would kindly assign someone from the Sentry Corps to escort her home safely.
「Well, it’s only by chance that the patrol route is in the same direction as her home.」
「Still, I’m grateful for that. After all, if anything were to happen to Eva after her parents entrusted her to us, it would be a serious issue.」
「A sentry guard’s work probably wouldn’t increase even if they were employed to do something like that.」
Young men like Hans and Nicholas were doing it voluntarily, using the pretense of sending Eva home.
Since the young men were overflowing with enthusiasm, Berthold, as their superior, had no reason to stop them.
One time, Deacon Edwin, the deacon of the church next door, had stopped Berthold as he was heading to Izakaya Nobu to accompany Eva home, and volunteered to go instead. Berthold still didn’t know the reason for that. Maybe the deacon simply had a lot of spare time during his day of fasting.
「Anyway, Berthold-san, since there are many squid dishes to prepare, please come back again during business hours.」
「Well, sorry for coming before business hours, Shinobu-chan. I bothered Taisho as well. I will return in the evening.」
「No, no, we weren’t that troubled. Please do come again.」
Berthold, who then left the store, didn’t know yet.
Taisho had made a mistake while stocking up yesterday, so there was a large amount of squid waiting in Izakaya Nobu today…