The older man took off the mask without any hesitation. However, the results were not what I expected.
What appeared from underneath the fox mask was a hyottoko mask.
“What the hell is that?”
Toshizou protested with annoyance.
“I took off my mask.”
“What are you, Soujun Ikkyu? Is this a joke?”
“Hahaha. Yes. It is. But don’t fret. I will take off this mask one day. And it won’t be in the too distant future.”
The reason that Toshizou fell silent was because it would likely be when their swords crossed. That’s what he was thinking. He looked a little conflicted. I would rather not fight against the old man as well, but regardless of that, it seemed that our fates were certain.
I thought of such things and then made a suggestion to the old man.
“Now that we finished bathing, I am hungry. Why don’t we hunt for something to eat?”
“Indeed. There is supposed to be a lake near the upper layer of this dungeon. We can search for something there.”
Said the hyottoko man. Then we got changed. Once all three of us were ready, we headed for the upper floor.
“An underground lake. That reminds me of the dungeon where Fuma Kotaro was sleeping.”
“Unfortunately, I don’t know of it. After all, you left me behind.”
“That’s right. Only Eve and Jeanne were with me.”
“Yes. You always make me stay and hold the castle.”
As Toshizou grumbled about this, the lake came into view.
“It’s a large lake. They call them subterranean lakes, don’t they?”
“They do. And we can expect all kinds of creatures to live here.”
“It seems to be the case. Ah, what is that?”
The old man’s voice echoed happily. He had found something.
“That looks like a seal.”
“A seal? You mean those sea beasts that live in the northern waters?”
“Yes. There were a lot of them in Ezo.”
The old man smirked and then dashed forward at a great speed. Once he was close enough, he pulled out his sword and stabbed the young seal without hesitation.
It let out a haunting wail and then died. It was a little cruel, but it couldn’t be helped. It was the law of nature, I thought. Then Toshizou began to mutter.
“You could have at least killed the older seal instead.”
The old man laughed.
“You are wrong. This doesn’t just apply to seals. But when hunting, you should target the young ones. Do you know why?”
“Because they are easier prey?”
No. The old man shook his head.
I answered for Toshizou.
“It’s because if you hunt the parent, the child will die anyway. The young ones can’t find food for themselves. So if you’re going to hunt, it should be them. You don’t need to get both for food.”
“Very good, Demon King. You are right.”
But the old man continued as he began to cut up the seal with a short blade.
“Another reason is that they taste better. Old males taste bad, regardless of the species.”
Toshizou and I chuckled at the same time. And then we prepared to cook. I started a fire while Toshizou poured water into the pot. And like that, we started cooking.
Normally, whether we were on the road or in a dungeon, my maid would cook us delicious food. She always had expensive spices with her, and even carried three kinds of rock salts. In short, she was a cooking genius.
On the other hand, I didn’t like to cook. Whenever I tried, I would get distracted by a book, and the food would burn. Besides, before I met Eve, all I cared about was if the food was edible or not. So I didn’t have the most refined palate.
Toshizou seemed much the same. No, perhaps he was worse than me. Back in his time, men like him did not even enter the kitchen. I doubted he had ever cooked anything.
Because of this, we had to rely on Hyottoko to cook the seal for us.
But he did not laugh at us, but continued to cook silently.
I watched as he cut it open.
“Its meat is very black.”
“Yes. It is similar to whale meat.”
“Perhaps. I’ve never eaten it.”
He finished shortly after that. It seemed that we would be eating the liver and lungs as well.
“They are rich with vitamins.”
Explained the old man.
Now, the meat and organs had been separated. So, how would he cook them? It was simply a matter of boiling them with spices. He took some grass out of his pocket and threw it into the pot. Then he added the meat. And the organs were last.
“A simple meal that is seasoned with just herbs and salt. But the herbs will erase the stench. Besides, the stock from the seal meat is delicious.”
Indeed, the smell of raw flesh had filled the air. But there was also something else that smelled good. The distinct smell of giblets.
After thirty minutes, it was ready, and the soup was served.
It was filled with meat and giblets. I wished we had vegetables as well, but the old man insisted that men did not need vegetables when cooking.
“It’s possible to be healthy without eating them.”
And since he looked rather healthy, I couldn’t argue against him.
We all started to eat at the same time, and exclaimed aloud simultaneously.
While words and expressions were different, everyone was satisfied with the seal soup.
“I didn’t know that seal tasted this good. It’s somewhere between whale and beast meat.”
“Yes. The smell is still there, but not enough to ruin it.”
“It’s a nostalgic taste.”
We praised the seal meat, and asked for more.
While it was a young seal, it was still rather big. And so there was more than enough to eat. I had felt sorry for the thing, but in order for it to not go to waste, we should eat every last scrap.
After that, the old man took something he claimed was special from his pocket. It was sake. Toshizou whistled.
“You could have used it for your cooking, but you saved it to drink. Well done, old man.”
“I never use alcohol to disinfect wounds on the battlefield. Sake exists so that we can drink it.”
Declared the old man. And then he drank directly from the bottle.
He wasn’t the kind of person to pour it into cups. And so we all drank from it directly.
And since there were no high-born ladies present, no one rebuked us.
After that, we continued to talk and eat from the pot.
Perhaps it was because of the drink, but we could now talk like old friends.
And so we talked and drank as if we had known each other for decades.
However, as the king of strategy, I only lasted for a few hours. I was not very strong when it came to drinking. However, the old man and Toshizou continued to drink until the morning.