The Taste of Autumn Tempura (part 2)
The tempura made a satisfying crunch as Arnoux bit into it.
It was maitake tempura. It was one of the more popular items from Izakaya Nobu’s menu.
Eva and Helmina gazed at Arnoux, who had moved to the counter to eat.
「I’m glad that it suits your tastes. Now, please do help yourself.」
After frying the tempura and draining off the excess oil, Nobuyuki served the tempura directly onto Arnoux’s plate.
A large amount of ingredients were prepared. He started off with shiitake mushrooms, shimeji mushrooms, and king oyster mushrooms. Then he added okras, lotus roots and green peppers, which were followed by sardines, squid and octopuses.
Aronux wolfed down one bite after another.
He nearly looked like a healthy child with a very hearty appetite.
When he got food stuck in his throat due to eating too quickly, he would wash it down with beer.
「This thing called tempura. I have eaten various fried foods before… but this is the pinnacle of all fried foods. I want Isaac to eat this.」
「Isaac?」 asked Shinobu.
Arnoux made a bashful grin without even stopping his hands, which were holding the tempura.
「He’s my friend. You could say that he’s my best friend.」
「By all means, please bring him along next time.」
「Yeah, Isaac has an eye for delicious things.」
Arnoux went ahead and continued eating, or rather, devouring the tempura greedily.
He stabbed it with his fork, placed into his mouth, chewed, swallowed… stab, place, chew, swallow…
Holger and Edwin’s mouths watered as they watched the person between them eat. The two of them raised their hands simultaneously to order.
「Shinobu-san, one order of tempura here too.」
「Me too, if possible, make it quick.」
「Yes, one autumn tempura for each of you, coming right up. Thank you very much.」
Nobuyuki had been considered the third best chef at the Yukitsuna Ryotei and was formerly in charge of making soups, so naturally, he was skilled.
However, the plate was constantly emptied, since the three people quickly gobbled up whatever he served up.
「The tempura won’t run away, even if you don’t eat them so quickly, you know.」
「No, but Shinobu-chan, even if it doesn’t run away, it will cool down.」
「Isn’t it the most sincere thing you can do, to eat something so delicious when it has just been freshly fried?」
Disregarding the two who were stuffing their mouths as they spoke, Arnoux, who was slowly savouring it, mumbled something else to himself.
「This exquisite crunchy texture, it’s like a maiden walking barefoot on a sandy beach during the early summer… No, it’s different. It’s the same as the stars filling up the entire autumn sky.」
「Arnoux-san, is that a poem or something?」
「Yeah, to be honest, I was aiming to be a minstrel.」
Shinobu caught her words and flusteredly stopped herself.
Although she did not know what kind of poetry this world had, judging by the reactions of the two people who were engrossed with the tempura, Helmina, and even Eva, Arnoux’s poem didn’t seem to be that good.
Even though his way of treating women and his pretentious display was masterful, his poetry skills were severely lacking. She figured that he was that sort of guy.
「Ah, Arnoux-san, what kind of poetry do you compose?」
「That’s the source of the problem so far. Should I sing about war and heroes like Boehringer, or express the beauty of nature like De Starvak, or choose to sing about painful fleeting love like Ineem or Garmlich?」
Even though Arnoux was passionately naming famous people, Shinobu naturally didn’t know any of them. She felt that the range of poem genres here didn’t differ that much from her original world.
Before she knew it Arnoux had stood up and was adding gestures to his speech.
「However, I think it is fate to have come across this Izakaya Nobu. I have now decided the direction that I should aim for. It’s Crowvinkel. Like Crowvinkel, I shall recite poems about delicious cuisines and liquor. Don’t you that’s a good idea?!」
Shinobu realized it from his loud declaration.
This customer was drunk. For that matter, he was dead drunk.
The people of the Old Capital were good drinkers, but it didn’t show on their faces.
Even if they drank too much, they would only become slightly red faced, or they would look somewhat sleepy. Therefore, even if one had Shinobu’s eyes, it was difficult to notice it sometimes.
She coaxed Arnoux into sitting down while thinking about the fact that she had only served a single mug of beer to Arnoux.
What on earth should she do?
Even if she could try to find his friend, Isaac, the guards were with the honourable Archbishop today, so it was highly unlikely that they would turn up in the store.
While she was thinking about that, it became strangely noisy outside of the store.
「Get that bastard Arnoux to come out!」
「What should I do…」
Shinobu had turned pale when Arnoux gently tapped her shoulder.
「It’s alright. Please, leave it to me.」
As soon as he said that, Arnoux took a brave step out through the glass door alone. There wasn’t even time to stop him.
He landed a good blow on the bridge of the shouting person’s nose, then immediately went around his back in one fluid motion and gripped his neck in a chokehold.
「Oops, you guys. You had better not make any careless movements. Right now, I am on the verge of becoming drunk. If I’m careless in holding back, I might make a mistake.」
He had put on such a good act that some of the men, whom were raising their rough voices rowdily thus far, became uneasy, and kept silent as they retreated a step back.
While observing the situation with his bleary, drunken eyes, Arnoux jerked his chin at the nearest person.
「You there, if you value this guy’s life, collect your fellow companions’ wallets.」
「Eh, no, isn’t this extortion?」
「Extortion? Don’t say such stupid things. When your pleasant companions were being violent in the store just now, they left without paying. The bill, you know.」
「But, this is too much…」
「It’s for the interest and the lesson fee, you know. Pay up quickly!」
The leader grumbled in pain as he watched the miserable thug, who was about to burst into tears, collect his companions wallets.
「This method and those skills, could you be… [Drunken Eyes] Arnoux?」
「This is why I gave you my name. I am Arnoux.」
When they heard his name, the men, whom seemed to be waiting for a sign to strike, instantly got cold feet.
「H-hey, it’s [Drunken Eyes] Arnoux…」
「Several years ago, there was a legend that the thugs of the Old Capital were taken care of by only two people… Even though it was rumored that those people had disappeared.」
「Doesn’t he have a weakness of some sort?」
「There are only two. But…」
「Hey, what is this?」
The commotion spread like a ripple among the thugs.
‘Arnoux’s weakness.’ At those words, Shinobu and Nobuyuki looked at each other.
What kind of weakness did he have?
「[Drunken Eyes] Arnoux… As his name suggests, he can’t hold his liquor. He gets drunk with just a mug of ale.」
「How is that useful in a fight?! What’s the other one!?]
「That is… His poetry skills suck.」
When he heard those words, Arnoux shouted out in rage.
He lifted the body of the thug he was holding in a chokehold and threw him at the thugs who had described his poetry skills.
He picked up a wooden stick that one of the thugs had unintentionally dropped and plunged into the crowd of thugs.
For Shinobu, Nobuyuki, and the people in front of the store, it had unexpectedly turned from a brawl between one person versus ten others into a battle between a berserker and ten people, right in front of them.
The results were obvious.
「I apologise for the mess.」
When everything had ended, Arnoux was the only one that remained standing in front of Izakaya Nobu.
The remaining 10 thugs had been knocked out and were groaning weakly.
「Here, this is what these fellows forgot to pay just now.」
Arnoux said as he held out the leather bag, which Shinobu timidly received.
Then, without saying anything else, Arnoux waved with the back of his hand and disappeared into the night of the Old Capital.
「From now on, let’s not talk about poetry in this store, ever.」
Everyone there firmly nodded in agreement.