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「Even though the Grand Bazaar just started, it has become quite lively.」
s.h.i.+n.o.bu was looking at the stream of people flowing in front of the store through a gap in the gla.s.s door.
Normally, the traffic would consist mostly of a few stable boys, but due to the Grand Bazaar, the street was bustling.
Even though the sun was about to set, the number of people kept increasing. The harvest festival would be at its peak when night came. The festival would continue throughout the night.
Some of the foreign merchants set up their shops in the streets to avoid spending too much money on lodgings. The liveliness coming from the ambitious young merchants gathered on Inns and Stables street could rival the amount present in the heart of Aiteria.
「Young miss, would you like to buy something?」
A merchant with dark skin in the gap in the gla.s.s door and began advertising his wares. He was holding a few pieces of parchment paper in his hand.
s.h.i.+n.o.bu, who had recently learned how to read a few of the characters, saw what appeared to be written poetry at first glance.
「It’s a love poem composed by Crowvinkel in his early days. This is a good deal. It’s perfect for young ladies like you.」
A hand stretched out from behind the hesitating s.h.i.+n.o.bu and s.n.a.t.c.hed the bundle of parchment paper.
「H-hey, grandpa! What are you doing!」
「Oh no, I never wrote love poems in my early days. I was interested in what kind of things were circulating.」
Crowvinkel himself was skimming through the poem.
Had the merchant who had been trying to sell them recognized his face? He stood there speechless. He had not expected that such a famous minstrel would be at a bar in the outskirts of town.
「Hummu. This isn’t a very good counterfeit. If you want to fool somebody, you should study poetic forms a little bit more. Oh, but the quality of the parchment seems close to the ones I use. I’ll commend you on only that.」
Crowvinkle said as he pushed the parchment back toward the merchant. The merchant said nothing as he disappeared into the crowd.
「He didn’t even utter a thanks…should I not have corrected him?」
In addition to Crowvinkel, who leaked out a chuckle, people who occasionally patronised n.o.bu were busy picking at their food inside the shop.
「s.h.i.+n.o.bu-chan, please help out a little!」
n.o.buyuki had been preparing a large pot of nikujaga while the other dishes were served up one after another.
The former Emperor and Johann Gustav were sitting by the counter, together with Hildgarde and her husband, the Imperial Prince Maximilian. They were enjoying a small pot of boiled tofu with bean paste.
Maximilian was just 11 years old, a year younger than Hildegarde. He initially seemed nervous to be having dinner with his grandfather, the former Emperor, but he was now blowing and eating the boiled tofu after being taught by his wife, Hildegarde.
「Hey, Maximillian, your mouth is dirty.」
「Ah, thanks. Hilda.」
The sight of the young bride wiping her younger, newly-wed husband's mouth was heartwarming.
「What a dependable niece, right, Johann Gustav?」
「It’s in your blood, dear uncle.」
Johann Gustav, who had developed a taste for hot sake instead of lager, responded tipsily.
「Look at those two…don’t you think you should settle down already?」
「My cousin, His Majesty, should marry first. Since he’s the Emperor, he needs to choose someone soon.」
「You always say thatttt…」
It sounded like an ordinary bar conversation, but it was about the leader of the Empire.
s.h.i.+n.o.bu put on a strained smile while trying to eavesdrop as little as possible and continued serving the dishes.
Even though one table was being used as a buffet stand, the still wasn't much s.p.a.ce inside the store.
She was worried about whether there was enough food, even though there was only this many people. Since the next plate was emptied as soon as it arrived, there was no time for n.o.buyuki to rest. It was a lavish feast of alcohol and food.
「Now then, is it alright to ban all forms of witch hunting from now on?」
「That might be appropriate. Although I was searching for a witch the whole time, there were almost no witches remaining in the neighbouring three countries, including the Empire.」
In the corner of the shop, Cardinal Hürghigegot and Archbishop Rodrigo were having a conversation while smacking their lips at their pudding. The Magisterium would make a big fuss if they found out that the bigshots of the reformist and the traditionalist factions met up in this kind of place, but an agreement seemed to have been formed safely.
Since both factions had some extremists, the discussion had to be made secretly. Even Ingrid and Edwin, who were nearby, had to be kept away.
Enrico, who had followed the Archbishop, was eating a few cups of chawanmus.h.i.+.
Edwin had gone to the Holy Kingdom on a certain errand to call Hürghigegot, but unexpectedly, the former trainee priests had decided to arranged tables to meet up in the Holy Kingdom, since it had been several decades. The atmosphere felt like an cla.s.s reunion instead of a meeting to decide important matters.
「So, Ingrid. Even though I paid the tab at the “Prancing Pony” Pavilion, I’d be happy if you could pay me back gradually.」
「No, no, Senior Edwin. Didn’t you pay it out of your own free will? I’ll feel troubled if you say you paid it off in full when we've just met again after so long.」
Her disciple, Camilla, hid her face at her teacher's att.i.tude of trying to slip her way out of the topic like an eel.
She had takoyaki in her hand. She quickly became friends with Eva, who was almost the same age, and exchanged the takoyaki sauce with soy sauce.
It seemed that Ingrid's wish for Camilla to make friends had come true.
s.h.i.+n.o.bu had secretly prepared the takoyaki machine for the Grand Bazaar, and the one in charge of it was Leontaine, the female mercenary.
It should have been her first time operating it, but she was strangely skilled with it.
「You’re pretty good at making takoyaki.」
「The trick is in the flick of the wrist, isn’t it? It’s similar to fencing. By the way, can’t we put squid in this?」
Leontaine had returned home to the Eastern Kingdom, but the quiet life there had not suited her.
She had resumed her mercenary career and was employed as an escort by Cardinal Hürghigegot and Edwin, who wanted to set out to Aitheria. Since the contract only required her to escort them to Aitheria, she decided live here for a while. She had asked n.o.buyuki to hire her, since Helmina’s belly was getting a little bigger.
Everyone in Izakaya n.o.bu were enjoying themselves.
There were delicious dishes and drinks, as well as customers who enjoyed them.
When Leontaine saw those faces, she felt like this was a true store.
「s.h.i.+n.o.bu-chan, my best regards.」
「Everyone, this is today’s new dish~」
n.o.buyuki served up the large pot of nikujaga. After several repeated trials today, it had finally satisfied both of their tastes and been completed. With the strength of the potatoes that had been grown in Eva's house, he had confidence that the flavours would not embarra.s.s him, no matter where he served it.
The first to take a bowl of the new dish was Crowvinkel.
He tried a mouthful before, with gleaming eyes, he took two or three more mouthfuls.
「It’s delicious. Even though I felt the das.h.i.+maki was magical, there is strength in this nikujaga too.」
It seemed Branton, a gla.s.s of wine in one hand, was also enjoying the nikujaga.
He asked Reinhold, who was close by, whether it could be made with the potatoes in his own territory, but he only received a vague smile in return.
Marcel, the new Chairman, sat in a corner of the shop, gulping down his beer as he watched the bowls of nikujaga disappear one after another.
「I don’t understand. What is happening? I don’t understand why all the royals and n.o.bles came from afar just to eat this new dish in this izakaya…」
「The food here is delicious, but it’s not just that, Boss Marcel.」
Holger, who was accompanying the Marcel that could not believe what he saw anymore, emptied his second serving of nikujaga. He was now on his third bowl.
「What in the world is all this commotion about, Holger?」
「Well, it’ll probably begin soon.」
Someone clapped their hands together loudly, and everyone's attention gathered at the back of the shop.
Silence filled the store, which had been noisy till then, and Isaac, who was wearing a uniform according to the ancient traditions, bowed reverently to the audience.
「Thank you for attending the coronation of My Lord, Marquis of Sachnussenburg, Arnoux Schneifels. I truly appreciate it.」
As soon as Isaac's speech was over, Arnoux, who was magnificently dressed in a deep blue ceremonial dress, das.h.i.+ngly appeared from the back.
It was as if that figure of a gambler had been a lie; he could only be seen as a n.o.bleman, no matter how you looked at him.
After Arnoux looked over everyone attending the party with a dignified look, he gave them a charming, flawless bow.
「Thank you very much for gathering today. I am Marquis of Sachnussenburg, Arnoux Schneifels. By the Grace of the G.o.d, the G.o.ddess, and the Sun, I shall take up the t.i.tle as Arnoux XV.」
Was it because of his training as a minstrel that he had not stuttered when making that long declaration?
As Cardinal Hürghigegot congratulated the Marquis. It seemed that Edwin had taken the trouble of calling him for this.
When everyone followed the former Emperor's applause, s.h.i.+n.o.bu nudged n.o.buyuki's elbow and asked,
「Hey, Taisho. How important is a marquis?」
「I don’t know whether the t.i.tles in this world have the same meaning as in our world, but it’s higher than barons, viscounts, and counts.」
「Heeh, Arnoux-san is amazing. If he is a marquis, he might not come anymore.」
「Who knows. We’ll see about that. Though, it seems that he will be strongly chewed out by his father for a while.」
The previous generation Marquis had been very angry with Arnoux, who had bailed out on his work once.
However, since he could not continue his duty due to his severe lower back pain, it seemed that he wanted to take the opportunity to abdicate during the Grand Bazaar, betting on Arnoux agreeing to succeed him. They seem to have thought that Arnoux would yield and change his mind if the Cardinal was invited to the coronation.
Nevertheless, it seemed he was pleased that Arnoux had decided to succeed him voluntarily. It had not been a waste to have Edwin, who was close to Hürghigegot, call the cardinal here.
「I hope he will become a good marquis.」
「I’m sure he will.」
s.h.i.+n.o.bu heard someone request a refill of beer and quickly went to fulfill the order.
After the coronation ceremony was over, the plan was to treat them by charging nothing for the large pot of nikujaga.
The soldiers of the sentry corps, the other regulars, and Eva's younger siblings had all been invited to the tasting party.
Arnoux would bear the costs of all the materials and labour. It was a strategy to advertise the deliciousness of the potatoes grown in the Sachnussenburg territory to the merchants who had gathered from neighboring countries.
Isaac had informed them that as Arnoux's first act as a marquis, he had signed an official paper approving the payment to Izakaya n.o.bu.
s.h.i.+n.o.bu thought it was good if opening a shop here had made the people of Aitheria a little bit happier. It was like fates calling out to each other, bringing about new encounters.
It had been one year since they opened the shop in Aitheria through a mystical force.
It was a pleasant surprise for both s.h.i.+n.o.bu and n.o.buyuki that they were able to welcome so many customers.
「I hope we will be welcome at the Grand Bazaar again next year as well, right?」
「Next year, I want it to be even more livelier.」
They could hear traditional chants wis.h.i.+ng for a bountiful harvest echoing through the streets.
The night feast was still young.