After everything else was finished, I added the sauce and stirred. The stew was now complete. The sun had come down by now and the crackling fire alone illuminated our little campsite. When it was just me and Daniela, it really felt like we were on a journey. But with more people, it felt like some kind of vacation. Of course, the wildlife that surrounded us weren’t animals, they were monsters. So it really wasn’t a time to relax…
“We have waited long enough.”
Daniela marched to the fire immediately and pulled out the red bowls. They were a little on the large side, but carried the stew nicely.
I poured some into Manager’s bowl next. She had a wooden bowl. It looked like it had seen a lot of use.
“It’s been a while… The last time I had it was when I was staying in a town with lots of farms.”
“I’ve yet to see a place like that.”
“Yes. This town was in the center of a large prairie. They had a lot of sheep and cows. It was a very quiet place.”
That reminded me of the city in the plains. Though, that place wasn’t really a town. In any case, livestock meant you had to worry about monsters. One town we visited was threatened by a lesser wyvern. So having a farming town meant there was some reason that they were able to maintain their peaceful existence. Perhaps it was in a place where monsters didn’t go. Or they had the power to fight them off…
“The mayor of the town was also the Master of the Adventurer’s Guild. And he had an alias.”
So it was the latter. It sounded like an interesting place…
I listened to Manager talk while I poured stew into Lemon’s bowl as well. Then I poured some for myself.
“Alright. Let’s eat then.”
“Yes. Thank you.”
Daniela was already on it and seemed to be enjoying herself. Manager seemed to savor every bite. Lemon looked quite happy as well. So, no one was hating it, at least. And so I took a spoonful and brought it to my mouth. …Hmm. It was good. The creamy texture and the sweetness of the milk went well with the saltiness of the chicken stock. But I wasn’t a food reporter, so that was about all I could say about it. It was good. That’s all.
Of course, stew didn’t seem like it would be enough, and so I had another thing prepared.
It was chicken that I had seasoned with a variety of spices we had bought in the capital. After cooking it on a frying pan, I cut it and served it on plates which I passed around.
“I was wondering what that was.”
Daniela said happily as she took a bite.
“Mmm…! This is delicious. The tenderness of the chicken and the savoriness of the fat are wonderful, but the calculated seasoning with the spices has an almost violent impact on the senses. It is more than appetizing… The hot spices and oils combine in a most satisfactory fashion. Is it the chicken’s flavor that allows it to mingle so perfectly with the light, and yet also rich, stew? This combination cannot be matched…!”
I won’t say that her impassioned food review was not in the least bit embarrassing, but I then tried it out for myself. Hmm. It was cooked perfectly. I looked to the side and saw that Manager and Lemon were also alternating between stew and chicken. Well, this was the kind of reaction that filled this cook’s heart with joy… Well, Adventurer.
□ □ □ □
Dinner continued rather quietly after that until we had all eaten as much as we could. I stared at the crackling flames and thought about what we would do next. What was happening in Reserentrible now? It would be so much more dangerous if the town had been reversed completely. There would be high-level monsters nesting on the surface. Hell, they could be scattering all over the neighboring lands by now.
As a larger group, I knew that we weren’t quite as fast as when it was just the two of us. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to at least try to speed things up. Maybe we should leave earlier in the morning? I might have to suggest it. And so I brought it up with the others.
“Hmm… Yes, I think Asagi may be right about this.”
“However, we’re going into a forest. Yes, it’s not exactly uncharted territory, but it will take at least half a day on foot. And isn’t there still some distance between the forest and the town?”
“Yeah. About half a day…I think? Uh, Daniela?”
“Yes. We should arrive in the afternoon if we leave in the morning.”
“So, we won’t save that much time…”
“That’s where Daniela and I come in.”
I told them what I had been thinking about.