The Commander’s Triumphant Return (Part 1)
Three carriages passed through the main gates of the Old Capital.
White flowers decorated the horses and the carriages, symbolizing the union of a newlywed couple.
The newlywed’s carriage was given the privilege of being the first to pass through the gates of the Old Capital for that day. This was such a high privilege that even nobles and priests couldn’t pass through the gates first.
Furthermore, as part of the newlywed’s many privileges, there were many inns that would accommodate them, lined up in rows, in front of the gates of the Old Capital.
The procession proudly advanced forward on this jovial morning, with open top carriages bearing household belongings in tow. The horses also had good physiques, hinting that they must have cost a pretty penny.
If it were an ordinary newlywed couple, only one carriage would have been sufficient. There were whispers among the onlooking passersby, saying that the groom must have fallen head over heels for his bride to have provided three carriages.
Under these circumstances, Berthold, who was on the carriage, held his head up high.
Many people came out of their houses to receive and congratulate Berthold, the Demon Commander of the Old Capital’s Sentry Corps.
He triumphantly returned to the Old Capital with his new wife, Helmina, who was from the port city.
Their new house had already been decided too, and thus their happy life as newlyweds had begun.
「So then…why are the newlyweds here so early, at this bar?」
The next day, after returning to the Old Capital, Berthold brought his newly wedded wife, Helmina, to Izakaya Nobu.
Shinobu’s eyes were not smiling as she served tea to the recently-married couple.
These two people had come to greet and have their marriage blessed by Taisho, Shinobu, and even Eva at an ungodly hour in the morning.
Likewise, the three of them congratulated the couple. As time passed on however, Berthold began to sense that the atmosphere had become awkward, since the two of them had not shown any signs of leaving.
Eva was also a bit irritated. Ever since the store became very busy, she could only leave early in the mornings. Berthold had also realized that Izakaya Nobu had become incredibly busy in the past few days.
However, there were reasons why Berthold couldn’t return home.
「Erm actually, Shinobu-chan, it’s hard to say.」
「What is it, Berthold-san? Very few things can surprise me.」
「To be honest, I’d like you to let my wife stay here, in this store, for a while.」
Helmina, who was sitting beside Berthold, blushed and nodded nervously.
Helmina, who was slightly older than Eva, was a quiet girl with beige hair, and did not seem to be the self-assertive type.
「Frankly, my wife’s family are known as the best squid fishers in the port city located in the north.」
「Yes, I have heard about that before.」
「Well, her father was a little too doting. Since he deemed that it was necessary for us newlyweds to have a fully furnished, splendid house, he made arrangements for it」
「That sounds like a good father-in-law, doesn’t it?」
「Yes. I also think that he’s a very good father-in-law. Preparing three carriages filled with household items isn’t something easy to pull off. However, there is a major problem.」
「Our house has already been decided, but since the previous residents have not completely moved out yet, we can’t move in.」
Having problems when moving into a new home had always been a common story.
The residents were intending to move to a distant place, but it seemed that the monk from before had wanted to return to the Eastern Kingdom urgently and had rented their reserved carriage at an exorbitant price.
Since he had been considerably panicked, it seemed that there were a lot of circumstances surrounding it.
「Furthermore, the previous official residence that I had stayed at as the Corps’ Commander was not very spacious, since it was only meant for a single person.」
「Somehow…I can tell where this story is leading to.」
「The carriages that had carried the household furniture have already returned to the northern port city. It was rented from the Bashaku guild. Since it wasn’t good for the furniture to be exposed to the weather, three whole carriages worth of furniture were brought to my official residence. As a result, it became very crowded…」
(TL: Bashaku were Japanese teamsters who transports goods with horses in the Heian Era and Sengoku Period)
「So, there is no place for Helmina-san to stay during the day?」
「That is correct.」
Even Berthold himself, who personally explained everything, seemed dumbfounded by the turn of events.
He was not able to prepare a satisfactory house to receive his wife, whom he had fallen in love with. Even if he did try to forcibly cram everything together in order to make enough space for one more person, it still would not work.
「We had decided to rent a room in the inn at night. The discussion about setting the deadline for the residents to vacate the premises is ongoing and we are reaching an agreement. After that, the only problem left is where Helmina can stay during the day.」
「So you came here.」
「It is best if she is able to accompany me, but unfortunately, I can’t afford to do that. As expected, Hans, Nicholas, and everyone else have slacked off while I wasn’t around. I cannot help training them just a little bit more strictly.」
Today, Berthold’s unit had immediately been ordered to run outside, along the walls of the Old Capital.
Rather than calling it compensation for being lazy, he was intending to correct their discipline in a short period of time.
The rumors of plans for the independence of the northern territories had also been circulating around in the port city. Berthold had a duty of preparing them for the possibility that the Old Capital would become involved in these kind of things.
「Taisho, what do we do?」
「I don’t mind it, but is your wife alright with it?」
Helmina, who was called out by Taisho, nodded panickedly. Apparently, she had taken interest in the ship figurine that was displayed in the store.
A model of an entire sailing ship was inside a slightly bigger bottle, and she wondered how it had been made. Izakaya Nobu had many strange decorations.
「Y-Yes. Please treat me well! I can only help out with simple things though.」
Taisho looked up from his chopping board and towards Helmina, who stood up and bowed while saying that.
「Help? Berthold-san, may I ask your wife to lend a helping hand?」
「Of course. I didn’t intend to receive your help for free. I have also properly discussed this with Helmina. Actually, we were worried whether Nobu needed a helper or not…」
「You don’t have to be worried about that. I would even borrow a cat’s paws right now.」
Shinobu and Eva also eagerly nodded, as if attracted to Taisho’s proposal. It seemed that they were greatly understaffed.
「It seemed like this place was really busy, considering the fact that Eva can only leave early in the morning. What on earth happened here at ‘Nobu’?」
Taisho let out a big sigh at Berthold’s question.
「It’s the eel…」
Taisho lifted the eel he had been handling from the chopping board. It might have still been alive, since the tail was moving.
As expected of a fisherman’s daughter, Helmina did not flinch at all when she saw it.
「What does eel have to do with this? Will you put up jelly or something like that on the store’s menu?」
「Well, it is faster to explain by eating than through words.」
As he said so, Taisho took out something that had been sliced and grilled.
The fragrance of the thick tare-like sauce, with a color between amber and light brown, stimulated their appetite.
Berthold, who had imagined wobbling jelly dishes, was a little surprised when he was told this was an eel.
(TL: tare = dipping sauce)
There was also something similar to dashimaki tamago, which was a standard item on Nobu’s menu, placed on another plate. In this case, there seemed to be eel rolled in it.
The same dishes were also placed in front of Helmina.
(TL: dashimaki tamago aka tamagoyaki = japanese rolled up omelette)
「May I eat it?」
After excusing herself, Helmina used the wooden spoon.
The moment she held it in her mouth, her usually small eyes opened wide.
「Wha-what is it, Helmina?」
「This is amazing! This eel is delicious!」
As if to assert its deliciousness, Helmina was flapping her free hand. For some reason, she seemed like a dog.
「This dashimaki tamago also looks tasty.」
「This is umaki. Since eel was rolled in it, it’s called umaki」
Berthold used the wooden spoon to cut it in half and brought a piece to his mouth.
It was fluffy and creamy. A sense of happiness spread in his mouth.
It certainly was delicious. Rather, it was beyond delicious.
「I see… if it’s this, then it is to be expected that Nobu would become busier.」
「Even Berthold-san thinks so?」
「That’s right. If it was me, I would also want to eat this again and again.」
It was most likely that it was difficult to imitate this taste elsewhere.
Eels were swimming in swarms in the canals. Even if it was sold cheaply, it would still end up getting discarded. However, the taste of the sauce and method of grilling was one-of-a-kind, and could only be found at Nobu.
「Nowadays, when we open the store at night, the customers are only here for the eel.」
Taisho nodded at Shinobu, who was muttering to herself.
「Thanks to this store, I can see how the stores selling eels always run out of stock.」
「Isn’t it a good thing to be that prosperous?」
「Even if you say that, there are customers who come just to drink, too. There is a need to prepare more appetizers than ever since business doubled. If we weren’t able to serve all of the prepared appetizers to the customers who came, it would be a waste.」
There were also problems with prosperity in various other ways. Certainly, to Berthold, who was a military person, if more customers came, then the store would profit more. However, that didn’t seem to be the case.
「Most of all, the customers who took the trouble to come to the store in order to drink can’t even enter the store anymore.」
「Nobu isn’t very spacious, you know.」
Shinobu and Eva were also sighing.
There was nothing that could be done when the number of customers was limited to the six seats by the counter and two tables.
They certainly were in need of helping hands.
While he thought about it, he looked at Helmina, who was savouring the umaki with loose cheeks and was smiling absentmindedly.
「Helmina, since this is the case, please help them out here.」
「Eh? Oh. Yes.」
Regardless of whether she had been listening, Helmina nodded while holding the wooden spoon in her mouth.
「I have…gotten an idea.」