The Secret of “Toriaezu Nama” (Part 1)
It had been raining since morning that day.
It was a heavy rain. Shinobu and Nobuyuki’s store, which was linked to the Old Capital, was one of the places affected.
The rain, which had been falling since morning, gradually brought along a wind that shook the glass door.
Since it had nearly became a storm before noon, they decided to stop selling the eel bento for the day.
「The weather was still fine before we began cooking the rice.」
Recently, Eva, who had begun to learn simple calculations from Deacon Edwin, had also begun to take an interest in inventory management.
This was because she had gotten angry at Nobuyuki, who always overstocked on ingredients. Her contribution to the store became quite large. Even Shinobu, who had never worried about Nobuyuki, couldn’t tell Eva that her chances to go out shopping because of his mistakes had decreased, since it would be awkward.
「Since we stopped selling it, today’s meal will be eel.」
「Really? Then, I want to eat hitsumabushi!」
(TL: hitsumabushi = una-don)
Helmina, who had gradually gotten used to the shop, had recently taken a liking to hitsumabushi.
Hitsumabushi was a style where each bowl of eel rice was served and then eaten in three to four steps.
However, they couldn’t use the wooden containers for employee meals, since they were for customers, so Helmina just poured the broth directly into the bowl and ate it. She had even mastered using chopsticks in no time, and her eating technique was excellent.
「Helmina-san, didn’t you just eat hitsumabushi yesterday too?」
「If possible, I’d like to eat hitsumabushi everyday!!」
Even though Helmina would only stay at the inn for a few more days, she expressed her desire to continue coming here even after moving into her new house.
Shinobu and Nobuyuki wouldn’t be able to run the shop without Helmina’s help until the popularity of eel dropped, so they felt relieved.
As the sun set and the torrential rain continued outside the glass door, there seemed to be no signs of the usual business taking place. Occasionally, Eva had tried to peek outside through the door gap, but she couldn’t help but close it immediately because of the rain.
Even so, there still might have been some eccentric customers who would come in this weather.
Just in case, the open sign was put out, but the store remained quite.
Once they finished eating their meals, they passed the time aimlessly.
「Taisho, what are your thoughts on this?!」
Shinobu, who was leaning limply in a chair, asked that. Nobuyuki, who was sharpening his knife, just replied [Slow business] in a tired voice.
Certainly, there weren’t many customers, but the words “Slow business” were wrong.
When the door had first connected to the Old Capital, business had been even slower. Shinobu remembered joking about how the store was where cuckoos gathered in large numbers.
「It’s not that, you know. It’s a different phrase.」
「I don’t understand.」
Eva, who had started dozing off on the table, and Helmina, who was keenly observing the bottle ship, would not be useful in this matter. She tried to remember the right phrase from the original world.
「Ah, I see. ‘The calm before the storm’.」
「The storm is already here, you know.」
Shinobu puffed her cheeks at Nobuyuki’s tasteless retort.
Such a thing was clearly understandable. However, her memory was a little fuzzy.
It was something hard to grasp. While Shinobu was considering wasting her time by imagining things that could happen, she heard the sound of a carriage stopping outside.
Eva looked up while rubbing her sleepy eyes.
Shinobu looked at Nobuyuki and, in a panic, rushed to receive the customer.
On the other hand, Helmina seemed more mature, as expected of a fisherman’s daughter, and prepared a soft bath towel without being prompted.
The glass door was forcefully pulled open. At that moment, the heavy rain that was being blown sideways also entered the store.
While they gave their usual greeting, the glass door was violently slammed shut.
The two guests who came in were dripping wet.
When Helmina immediately passed the towel to them, the larger sized guest received it with a composed gesture.
Even though he had a “large build”, it wasn’t all fat.
He was wrapped in luxurious clothes, which made him look like a thin, weak scarecrow.
The other person was shorter by comparison, and had a moustache on his thin face.
This moustache was certainly familiar. That too, was an unpleasant memory.
「Still a small, dirty store as usual.」
Shinobu endured the low level insult hurled by the smiling small, moustached man.
「Welcome back to this store. Did you enjoy the sandwiches?」
The man shrugged his stout neck, showing his displeasure at her question.
「Because of that incident, I was fired from Baron Branton’s household. I would never want to eat that again, since it annoys me whenever I think about it.」
「I am very sorry for my impropriety just now.」
That being said, the man standing behind him seemed like a different person from Baron Branton.
Even though there were some parts of Branton that were unpleasant, this customer was giving off an even more unpleasant atmosphere.
He didn’t seem like a noble, but when she saw that all ten of his fingers had glittering rings on them, she thought he could be a merchant.
Shinobu was brought up as a daughter in a traditional Japanese restaurant, so she had confidence in her ability to judge people.
Even though she had mistaken a man for a woman before, she had never missed her mark on other occasions while on her job.
(TL: She grew up in a ryoutei.)
The two people ordered draft beer while being served appetizers.
What was served to them was certainly draft beers. However, the two people drank in a strange manner.
They drank the beer with an air of importance, like a sommelier sampling a glass of wine.
Had they drunk it that wary first because they thought that the beer would taste bad?
Especially the thin man, who looked as if he wanted to check the taste before emptying the beer mug.
「I heard that this bar has an interesting way of cooking eel.」
They wanted eel.
Even though he dressed like a young person, when they looked closer, he seemed to be in his late forties or early fifties.
「Bachschouf-sama wishes to eat eel. Bring it out quickly.」
This small man’s threatening speech sounded familiar to Shinobu.
If she was not mistaken, Bachschouf was the current chairman of the City Council.
Chairmen were selected in rotation, but someone had told her about Bachschouf being the chief of the wealthiest company in the Old Capital.
Shinobu gave a brief wink towards Nobuyuki.
Nobuyuki’s eyes were smiling, as if he were enjoying it.
「I am terribly sorry, but we only sell eel for lunch in our store.」
Shinobu bowed, as if to show her sincerest apologies.
There was eel. The rice was also already cooked.
A troublesome customer had appeared despite this rain, and they wanted to eat eel.
However, Shinobu was going to refuse this one time.
The other party was said to have the highest authority in this city.
However, everyone was equal in the store.
For this reason, she turned them down this once, in the hopes of compromising with the customer to allow him to save face. That was what she intended to do.
「Well then, I’ll buy this store.」
When Bachscouf said that, the small moustached man took out a leather sack from his chest area and threw it onto the table. It held silver coins, but the amount was huge.
「What is the meaning of this?」
When Shinobu asked that, trying keep up her smile, Bachschouf leaked out a low laugh and creased his brows.
「Rumours about this store have circulated among the city councilmen. I was brought up in the capital of the Empire, so the food of the Old Capital does not suit my taste. Hence, I thought it would be interesting to buy one or two stores like this one.」
「I still don’t really understand what you mean…」
Bachschouf opened one eye wide, pretending to be very surprised at Shinobu’s words.
「I said, I will buy this store.」
Shinobu did not understand what this man was saying at all.
Suddenly appearing in order to buy this store. Would anyone accept such an absurd situation?
「I do not know which foreign country you are from, but to open a shop in the Old Capital without a backer will be difficult, don’t you think so? This means that my company will support you.」
Bachschouf was completely looking down on Shinobu and Nobuyuki.
Rather than looking down, it was more like he did not even see them as human beings.
「Of course, since we can’t have a bar as part of the company’s possessions, Damien-kun, here will be the acting storekeeper.」
「It is impossible to continue this talk any further.」
Shinobu declared with a strong tone.
No matter how much money was offered, this talk would not be continued any further.
The small man called Damien smirked and glared at Shinobu.
「Miss, it is good to have a strong will…but you should be aware of the other party.
Bachschouf-sama is the most powerful man in this Old Capital. When he says he will buy every store, he will. Do not be foolish.」
「Yes. We will even properly hire you guys, you know. That’s obvious. What we want is the chef of this store, and smashing down this crumbling store also seems like a good idea.」
「What kind of selfish nonsense are you spouting?!」
Bachscouf stared at Shinobu, who had raised her voice, while licking his lips. He put on a different expression.
「Such an energetic young lady. I had to send my mistress back to her family, since she got too old…how about it, if it’s alright with you?」
Shinobu became speechless after hearing words ruder than she could have imagined.
「Can you stop saying strange things to my employee?」
Nobuyuki threatened with a growling voice while sharpening the kitchen knife in his hands, but the master and servant duo did not seem to be concerned by it at all.
「Well, I prefer a quiet girl for myself too. How about it, missy with beige hair?」
When she was called out by him, Helmina’s body started trembling.
Eva spread her arms wide open and stood in front of Helmina, as if to protect her.
「Helmina-chan is a newlywed. She will not become your mistress!」
「Newlywed? That sounds like a fine idea. Marriage is only a formality, anyway.」
Helmina feebly shook her head at Bachschouf, who raised one corner of his mouth, smiling.
「I’m getting more and more excited. Now, if you hand over the missy over there, we will keep quiet about that matter.」
Damien forced his way through when Nobuyuki was coming out from behind the counter while carrying his kitchen knife.
「It’s this. This.」
He thrust out the ordinary looking beer mug, which had been filled with draft beer just a short time ago.
「Is there anything wrong with the beer mug?」
「The mug is irrelevant. The issue is with its contents.」
Bachscouf continued talking after draining the remaining foam at the bottom of the mug.
「You say this is ale, and seem to be selling it. But I’m positive this is ‘Toriaezu Nama’, isn’t it?」
「Is there a problem with it?」
「It’s a huge problem. Because this is not ale.」
「It’s not ale?」
Shinobu drew her knowledge about beer from deep within her mind. Ale was beer, though. Certainly, the beer that circulated in Japan today was not ale.
「Yes, this is lager. Without a doubt.」
Bachshouf declared triumpantly.
Shinobu and Nobuyuki didn’t know what to say, so they remained silent.
Certainly, the beer which was served at ‘Nobu’ was lager. However, the residents of the Old Capital called beer, ale. Therefore, it hadn’t been a cause of concern so far.
The heavy rain was still continuing to fall outside the store, and only the pattering sound of the rain filled the store.
「What do you mean?」
When Shinobu made up her mind and asked that, Damien laughed while holding his sides.
「This fellow is a work of art. Bachscouf-sama, they do not seem to know anything at all.」
「No, they’re just feigning ignorance, I think. I’m sure they are aware that lager is a prohibited item.」