This is what it feels like to be a burned-out maiden, Rururia.
After the Prince tormented me, the Knight Commander attacked me, and then even the Prime Minister who came in, later, to scold me. My spirit has whittled away. It seems like my prayers had no effect at all… At some point, I almost lost to the Devil’s whispers…
So why am I riding in a carriage, on the way to who knows where with my best friend Sara-chan’s? To find some healing, of course.
“Tell me where we’re going, Sara-chan!”
“Oh, didn’t I tell you before? We’ll only talk once we have proof.”
…Hmmm? Ah, this might be about the time when we were invited to Duchess Irene’s tea party. Was it because she was sure the sweets were weird and that Lady Irene was acting suspicious about it? I forgot.
“Proof, huh… Uhmmm, Sara-chan. If it’s just to talk, I think Sara-chan’s house is good enough.”
I kind of have a bad feeling about this. I mean, look at Sara-chan’s face!
“If you want to talk, wouldn’t it be easier to include the person?”
It looks like my bad feeling was right.
I hurriedly made a tee-hee face at her before looking out the carriage window. Wasn’t this street the place where only the mansions of high-ranking nobles are located…? Don’t tell me? No, it can’t be right. Tell me this is a joke, Sara-sama!
With the face of a merry, old, evil dark dungeon, Sara smiled at my horrified expression.
“Our carriage’s destination is the house of the Duke of Delavell!”
I knew it! It was Irene-sama’s house!
Sara waved around an invitation with the Duke’s coat of arms on it. Since when did she…!
“When I told her you were coming with me, she gave me one right away!”
Irene-sama! You shouldn’t easily give away those invitations! Aren’t you a Duchess!
The carriage abruptly stopped. Are we here already!?
“Now then, I wonder what will happen? Ah… I can’t wait!”
…Good luck, Irene-sama. I’ll cheer you on from the shadows!
“Good day, Rururia-san! Sara-san! Welcome to my house!”
Irene-sama welcomed us with a smile on her face.
…I couldn’t say anything…
Me, with a dry smile, and Sara-chan, with a lady-like smile, were feigning a thousand levels of innocence.
“Thank you very much for accepting us on such short notice, Irene-sama.”
Sara-chan respectfully curtsied, and I followed along beside her. There was cold air coming from the person next to me! Sara-chan feigning innocence was a disgusting sight! It made my spine tingle!
“Come on in! A new species of rose bloomed this morning in our vaunted greenhouse!”
“Oh my! I am looking forward to that.”
Sara-chan quietly smiled to Irene-sama, who couldn’t hide her happiness with hints of suspicion, as I was unable to say anything…
And so she dragged us into the greenhouse filled with rare crystals that the Duke’s family boasts about (probably).
I just wanted to go home.
“Here you go! Please enjoy your meal!”
Irene-sama had been in such a good mood ever since she welcomed us.
The urge to go home hadn’t disappeared, but the sweets bore no sin. I couldn’t help it: Munch, munch.
“My, it’s delicious! This is a rare sweet, isn’t it?”
The goosebumps I got from Sara-chan didn’t stop. But the sweets were heavenly. Hmm, I’d certainly never had these sweets. It was good! Munch, munch.
“This is my idea for a pastry called dorayaki.”
Heh, I see. Irene-sama is amazing. Isn’t she a chef? The outside was sticky, moist, and tasty, while the insides were dark and sweet; it was even more delicious: Munch, munch.
“Heh… Dorayaki, was it?”
Sara squinted. Oh, no. This is bad. It’s like when an old evil dark Dragon hides its breath, so its prey won’t notice it.
But instead of prey, it’s towards Irene-sama, who didn’t notice it. Good luck.
Ah! The bitter green tea was also good.
“Yes, that’s right! The inside is called Anko. and it was challenging to perfect it!”
She covered it up with a fan, but I could see Sara-chan’s horrible smile from the sides. Irene-sama, it’s about time you make your escape!
With a snap, Sara-chan closed her fan. Ah, Irene-sama froze as she caught the old evil dark Dragon’s smile.
“Irene-sama, you’re not a citizen of our country, are you?”
Ooh, she went for it, huh. Sara-chan, you’re terrific. Ah, this is delicious too: Munch, munch!
Irene-sama became speechless. Huh? I for sure thought she would get angry, but why was she turning blue in the face? Eh? Was it true? That’s even more amazing!
Unlike Irene-sama, who stiffened up, Sara-chan was calm as if she was in her own house.
“This sweet you gave us, this isn’t something you thought of by yourself, but rather, this was from your own country, isn’t it?”
“Hiiih…! T-that’s not true! I… I thought about that!”
As Irene-sama opposed her while trembling, Sara snickered as if she didn’t have to say anything more, like the old evil dark Dragon who was playing with its pitiful prey using its claws.
Hyaaa! So scary! Super scary!
“Now then, it’s time to show some proof. First, the name of this pastry.”
“Name? Surely it doesn’t sound familiar?”
I was asked the question by Irene-sama, who stiffened up upon seeing Sara-chan smile beside me. I was a little curious as to how Sara has come to this conclusion. Munch, munch.
“Yes, but not to the point that it’s not unheard of. Dorayaki and Anko are words that you won’t find any meaning behind no matter where in our country you try to trace its origins from.
“Even if yaki means to bake, the word Dora would still have none… Well, if I were to guess forcibly, it can be from the word Dragon, or dura from an ancient language, then perhaps? Though I still have no idea where Anko’ could have come from.”
Hmm, I couldn’t imagine that she could use a Dragon in such a circular way…
“Eh, what does dura mean?”
“Well, there are some theories, but the prominent ones are the one that falls or to be deformed.”
Heh, not the kind of words you would associate with sweets. Ah, sorry, sorry. Keep going, Sara-chan.
“Well, if that was all there was to it, then it might’ve just been a case of you using a language I do not know of. But the deciding factor was the degree of perfection and the creative process behind the Anko part.”
“Degree of perfection?”
“Yes. You made this Anko to fit the palate of royalties in just three months, right? Even if you’re a master cook, that pacing is crazy.”
Hey, hey, she just called you crazy, Irene-sama!
Huh… She isn’t replying…
“Also, the creation process. I heard Duke’s cook say your instructions were as if she knew what the finished product would look like, right, Irene-sama?”
Ah… It was that kind of thing, then…
“And the reason I suspect it’s from another country is because of the ingredients!”
“Hey, hey, Sara-chan.”
Sara, who remained in a good mood despite blowing up the whole story, nodded her head to ask me what was wrong. How she looked right now was cute, though. Oh, it was just like an old evil dark Dragon nodding her head. It was frightening.
“Irene-sama is probably about to faint.”
As she said that, Sara-chan intently looked at Irene-sama. Then, she took out her fan.
‘Whap!’ came the sound as the fan opened.
Sara-chan, whose eyes remained squinted, slammed the fan loudly on the table. Irene-sama woke up and let out a panicked scream… Nobody needs to know that I was surprised, too.
“Hiiih! Eh? Huh? Eh?”
Irene-sama was teary-eyed in confusion. Unfortunately, the sight of her taking off her shoes, holding her knees to her chest while sitting on a chair was not making me see her as a Duchess.
…No, maybe Sara-chan was just too scary? His Majesty frequently held his cushions in front of her, too.
“It’s troublesome to repeat things, so please don’t pass out.”
The tables had turned. Ah, Sara-chan stopped using respectful language. She probably didn’t find this boring.
“Yes, as I was saying, according to your specification. The ingredients in Anko came from a remote place in the east of the continent, Shay Lu, but upon checking, they don’t have any cuisine that resembled Anko there.”
“Though there have been some boiled versions of it”, Sara-chan mumbled.
She was barely explaining things at this point, and her elbow was even leaning on the armrest… Ahhh, she started looking outside. She is definitely bored now.
I’d been thinking about it for a while now, but isn’t there too much information leaking out from the Duke’s house??
“I have other… Well… Shreds of evidence, but I’ll only ask one question: Where are you from?”
Sara-chan played with the ends of her hair as if she couldn’t understand something.
Heh, I see. So, Sara-chan couldn’t figure out where Irene-sama learned about this dish called Anko. Since she didn’t understand it, she concluded that it didn’t come from a country on this continent, at the very least.
Maybe it was from an inhabitable island or an unexplored region deep in the woods. Ooh, that was amazing!
Irene-sama suddenly stood up.
Oh? Was she finally going to fight back? Before I could continue that train of thought, she quickly went behind her chair?
Sara-chan repeated words Irene-sama’s words, waiting for a continuation.
Irene-sama then completely hid behind the Duke’s luxurious chair so that we couldn’t see her.
“I’m so sorry!”
A shout that sounded almost like a scream came from behind the chair.
Eh? So, Irene-sama was someone from another country?