The Secret of “Toriaezu Nama” (Part 4)
Toasts and cheers echoed throughout the store.
That evening, the store’s regulars had gathered for a feast.
Even though it was called a feast, Shinobu and Nobuyuki had not actually planned it. At first, the regulars came in small groups of twos or threes, but before they knew it, it had become a feast.
They pushed two tables together, and it became a buffet-style party.
Nobuyuki had put his best effort into making all the dishes that were laid on the table.
Hans and Nikolaus also clinked their glasses.
Nobody knew how many times they had done this. Some of the lager spilled onto the floor as they drank, their arms around each other’s shoulders.
Helmina was wiping the floor beneath their feet. Her husband would have gotten angry if he saw this, but the person in question, Berthold, was deep in conversation with Nobuyuki and the others by the counter.
「Still, Gernot is really great. He prepared this much in such a short amount of time.」
When Berthold mentioned Gernot, who wasn’t there, the regulars sitting down near the counter nodded in agreement.
「He had connections with the Empire’s brewery, I suppose. Is it because of his love for eel bento?」
「That… I think it’s something else, Holger. It wasn’t eel, but it was a dish called Napolitan. There’s no doubt about it, since I heard him say that today.」
Nobuyuki tilted his head at the statement from Lorentz, of the Glass Smith Guild.
「That’s strange. We’ve never served Napolitan in this store… Shinobu-chan, do you know anything about it?」
After being called out all of a sudden, Shinobu hid half of her face with the tray.
「Eh, that, no… I don’t know about any Napolitan. Perhaps Gernot-san misunderstood?」
「Come to think of it… there was an instance when the bacon that was supposed to go with my drink went missing. Shinobu-chan, didn’t you say before that your favorite dish was Napolitan with bacon?」
「E, ehhh… Ah, it looks like there’s a new customer.」
Shinobu sensed a presence by the glass door and took advantage of the situation to escape.
If she said something careless, many of her other misdeeds with her employee meals would have been laid out on the table.
「I’m sorry, is Deacon Edwin bothering you here?」
Unexpectedly, the person who appeared was a young manservant employed by the Church.
Shinobu recognized his face, since he had come to fetch Edwin, who often snuck out at night to come here, several times.
「Ah, what’s wrong? The priest should have already been informed that the deacon was taking today off, though. Anyway, do join us in celebrating this joyous occasion. I won’t accept it if you refuse.」
「The priest-sama was very angry regarding that matter, but that’s not it. There is an urgent delivery.」
The young man took a single envelope out of his pocket.
Edwin, who received it, carefully scrutinized the seal of the envelope with his aging eyes, then let out a small laugh after looking at it.
「Let me see… Ah, this, huh? Even though it took a bit of trouble, it seems that it wasn’t a waste, after all. Berthold, this is a gift for you.」
「A gift from Deacon Edwin? That makes me feel uneasy.」
When Shinobu tried taking a peek, she didn’t recognize the stamp used for its seal. However, the regulars seemed to have an idea about it.
「This… isn’t this the seal of the Holy Kingdom?」
「Godhardt-san, there’s eel sauce on your lips. Please don’t eat and talk at the same time. Ah, but, that is definitely the seal of the Holy Order from the Holy Kingdom. This is unusual.」
Godhardt and Reinhold, who had been arguing with each other, both looked at the envelope on their way out of the store. Eleonora had wanted to join in today’s feast as well, but she had another engagement that she couldn’t get away from, so she was absent.
「What’s the Holy Order?」
「Shinobu-san, the Holy Order is an organization that stands above the Church. It is where His Honor the Head Priest and His Eminence the Cardinal, come from.」
「Ehh, you sure know a lot, Eva-chan. But, why would Deacon Edwin get a letter from such a place?」
At their urging, Berthold opened the envelope. There was only one, very fine sheet of high quality parchment inside. The words were written in an elegant and ornate manner.
「In God’s name, I bless the marriage of Berthold, son of Benedict, and Helmina, daughter of Franz. Given by Cardinal Hürghigegot of the Holy Order… eh, Deacon Edwin, this, this is?!」
「This is my first time seeing Commander Berthold surprised. That’s right, this is a validation letter, from the Holy Order, on your marriage with Miss Helmina. As long as you have this, even the silly objections of a parish’s Archbishop will be rejected.」
Although Edwin was smiling as he drained his mug of lager, the letter seemed rather outrageous.
「There’s… there’s no way a cardinal would simply write something like this… Deacon, you… 」
「Like I said, it took a bit of trouble, you know. If you’re feeling indebted, then perhaps you could foot my bill to return the favor.」
Edwin firmly grasped the speechless Berthold’s outstretched hands.
Someone was moving in the background.
Nikolaus interrupted with a mug in one hand.
「Hans, on the other hand, feels that his efforts were wasted.」
「Oi, Nikolaus, you fool, stop it!」
「This guy started a petition to reduce the penalty for Nobu and was asking for signatures, but it was all for naught, even though he succeeded. It was a sizeable amount, right? One hundred and eighteen people, right?」
「…It was 123 people. But you were the same!」
「Wait, don’t say anything unnecessary, Hans!」
Lager spilled on the floor as Nikolaus raged while still holding his mug.
「You even threw yourself on the ground before your ex-girlfriend, the daughter of the liquor vendor, and another ex-girlfriend, the widow of a craft beer brewer, to ask for help in forging a business contract for ale.」
(TL: He did a dogeza.)
「It would have been better if you didn’t say such things! God!」
Nikolaus might have known that this store didn’t stock up on ale from anywhere in the Old Capital. No, he might have specifically looked into it.
That was why he had tried to forge a contract, to pretend that there had been transactions.
「Hans-kun, your father, Lorentz-san, was also amazing.」
「Holger, you bastard!」
「In order to prevent the shutdown of Izakaya Nobu, he went to the council members from Bachschouf’s faction and laid down some groundwork. Though, it seems that it wasn’t very effective.」
「Holger even approached Bachschouf Firm’s clients and threatened them to switch companies!」
Had he hit the nail on the head? Holger’s face turned red.
「….About that. I just thought that a company that would try to forcefully take over such a good shop wasn’t a suitable partner for my guild.」
「Yes, yes, yes, if you say so.」
Shinobu was looking at Godhardt and Reinhold, who were laughing because they, including the absent Eleonora, knew that the funds that Bachschouf had prepared for the sake of the purchase would be opposed.
Moreover, Eva had prayed at the shrine every day.
「What is it, Shinobu-chan?」
「I’m really glad that we opened our store in this town.」
Nobuyuki nodded lightly without answering.
He then brought out a large serving of deep fried food, which had been coated in tempura batter.
「Now then, the kushikatsu is ready!」
(TL: kushikatsu is deep fried skewered food coated in tempura batter)
The guests cheered loudly, and the kushikatsu that had just been served disappeared, one after another, into everyone’s stomachs.
The feast that day lasted well into the night. Consequently, the participants suffered a bad hangover the next day.