The Taste of Autumn Tempura (Pt 1)
The customers were different from usual.
Shinobu noticed it as soon as they ducked under the sign curtain.
It was difficult to put into words, but they were a bit rougher than normal.
However, neither the sentry guard pair nor the company commander showed up.
Holger, who was occupying a seat at the corner of the counter, continued eating yakisoba and drinking beer with a face that seemed to say ‘That’s natural’.
Holger was holding the amulet that Ingrid had left behind a few days ago.
Nobuyuki had suggested consulting someone to learn about its origins.
However, Shinobu didn’t know who to ask, and since it was beautifully decorated, she had Holger hold on to it.
「Sorry, but I don’t know anything about this. Only those who work in this field can understand something like this. A curse specialist or something like that, or maybe even a witch?」
Even though what he said was true, Shinobu was acquaintances with neither a curse specialist nor a witch.
The closest would be Doctor Ingrid, but Shinobu couldn’t possibly ask her to appraise it when Shinobu had received it from her.
「Come to think of it, is there something going on today, Holger-san?」
Shinobu asked while looking around the store, which was more lively than usual.
「Ah, even the council was greatly surprised, but apparently, the Archbishop came here. It was said that he will stay here for some time.」
When Eva heard about the Archbishop, she was surprised.
Did Helmina know about it? She looked slightly troubled.
Shinobu had only the vague impression of him being an important person of the church.
「It seems that all of the Sentry Corps was mobilized, since a bigshot came. That’s because we council members had a panicked, urgent discussion about driving out all of the ruffians from the main street.」
A group of drunken customers gathered around a table reacted to the word ‘ruffians’, and stared daggers at Holger. However, the person himself didn’t mind.
Indeed, when they were driven out of the main streets, the less-than-savoury customers would take refuge in the Inns & Stables street.
When Shinobu heard that the Archbishop was going to stay here for a while, she felt completely dejected.
In other words, these customers wouldn’t be rampantly walking along the Inns & Stables street for longer than just today.
「So, why is Deacon Edwin in such a place?」
Edwin, who was also by the counter, choked when the attention was suddenly diverted to him.
He expressed his gratitude to Helmina, who had rushed to his side and rubbed his back. However, it seemed like he planned on staying quiet, and he continued drinking hot sake and eating sudako, even though he was a senior member of the church.
(TL note: sudako = pickled octopus in vinegar)
Perhaps..the Archbishop was difficult to deal with, or had he gotten kicked out because he was a hinderance? It was probably something along those lines. While she was serving orders of salted and grilled sardines to the other customers, she suddenly heard a ‘Kya!’ break out from the table.
It had come from Helmina.
「Hold it right there! What’re you doing?!」
The thug, who had grabbed Helmina’s wrist, just gave a vulgar smile when Shinobu raised her voice.
「The snacks and liquor in this store are incomparable, but I think the attitudes of the waitresses are a tad cold. We are just being kind by teaching this young lady here the way an apprentice geisha should pour drinks for us.」
「Please don’t mess around! This isn’t that kind of store!」
「Hey, hey. I’m scared, I am. Then, what kind of store is this? Why is there a fine bar like this on the miserable Stables & Inn St.?」
When she glanced over, she saw that Nobuyuki had already appeared from behind the counter, with the thickest rolling pin he had in his hands. Holger had also stood up, his sleeves rolled up, without anyone noticing.
At that moment, the atmosphere was about to explode.
「Just one moment.」
However, a voice rang out from an unexpected place.
It was from a young man sitting at the table in the back, who had just been drinking quietly.
His blond hair was tied behind him in a ponytail, and he had an unshaven beard growing on his face.
No matter how you looked at him, he looked like a gambler.
「What is it, fella? Wanna have a go?」
「I just want to drink peacefully for a little bit longer. Can’t I do that?」
As he said that, the young man twisted the thug’s raised arm and effortlessly threw him to the ground. It was extremely fast, like he was used to doing it.
He turned, in order to protect Helmina, and whistled quietly.
「You bastard, don’t underestimate me!」
The thug’s companions rose from the table.
However, the young blond man remained calm. It felt like he was going to start humming a tune.
「Go to hell! This bastard!」
「It’s not ‘this bastard’. This prodigal person, has received the name of Arnoux from my parents, you know? If possible, I would like it if you called me that.」
「Don’t mess with me!」
However, the thug who struck Arnoux suddenly fell to the floor.
From Shinobu’s perspective, she saw that Arnoux was using the opponent’s momentum to knock them down.
Rather than Judo, it was much closer to Aikido.
Shinobu embraced Eva, thinking that there was going to be a brawl, but the situation didn’t turn out like she had predicted.
The difference between Arnoux’s skills and the those of the thugs was like the difference between heaven and earth.
Furthermore, Holger, who was cracking his knuckles while smiling, and Nobuyuki, who was seething with silent anger, were watching the thugs from behind and prevented their escape.
「Da- damn! I’ll remember this!」
「I thought he was just a third rate thug, but his parting words are third rate too. At least I got something out of this.」
Helmina bowed deeply to Arnoux, who was boasting while patting his pants.
「Um, umm, thank you very much.」
「There’s no need for that. It was the proper thing to do.」
Whether it was Arnoux’s seductive voice or his pompous behaviour, both of them were beautiful.
Although he wasn’t Shinobu’s type, Eva seemed to be entranced by him.
「Even so, you saved us from trouble. Uhh, Arnoux-san was it?」
「No, no, Shinobu-san, was it? I wish I could’ve cleared things up a little bit more smoothly. I’m sorry I made such a racket.」
「As a sign of gratitude, please allow us to cover your bill today.」
「Oh, no, I’m satisfied with just a thank you. Even though I look like this, I happen to be someone who has the ability to earn an income and pay for my meals.」
If he said it like that, Shinobu couldn’t say anything else.
When she looked at Nobuyuki, he just slightly shrugged his shoulders.
Even Helmina, who was in a rough shape, didn’t say a thing.
Meanwhile, Eva quietly picked up the amulet that was in Holger’s seat.
「Taisho, how about giving this as a gift to Arnoux-san?」
「The amulet, huh? But, will he accept it?」
「My grandpa once said before that gamblers are superstitious. They are fond of amulets, charms, or anything similar to that.」
「He~eh, there is such a saying?」
Nobuyuki narrowed his eyes at the talisman for a moment, and then handed it over to Eva, who politely presented it to Arnoux.
「One of the store’s poster girls is saying… will you accept this?」
「In that case, I gratefully accept.」
Arnoux received the talisman reverently, like he was the refined son of some noble, and then bowed to Eva, Helmina, and Shinobu.
「In the North, it was said that the Goddess of Fortune has three pillars. Since I have been granted this talisman by these goddesses, I’m sure there will be a miracle.」
Although it was a pretentious speech, this man exuded an unusual seductiveness when he gave it.
Holger and Edwin had already quickly turned to their drinks, though.
「Now, let’s put an end to the matter here. The person from another table was eating something called tempura a while ago, right? I’d like to try that.」
「Yes, I’ll have it served immediately!」
Before Shinobu had even finished replying, Nobuyuki had already started to cook.