Honey Mustard Sauce
We had escaped the count’s castle that had been taken by an army of ants.
I returned to my army immediately and ordered them to retreat.
“You are not going to go and attack them at once?”
“We don’t know the size of their fighting force or what their purpose is. It would be unwise to attack them now.”
“Like Sun Tzu, who you are always talking about.”
“Yes. If you know your enemy and know yourself, in a hundred battles you will never be defeated. We will withdraw the soldiers for now. I want to know why they are here and about their chain of command.”
“That’s a job for Fuma Kotaro.”
Just as she said this, Fuma Kotaro appeared.
I ordered him to investigate, and he disappeared without a word.
“And then there is this princess.”
Eve looked at Jessica, who was still sleeping.
“We will look after her in the castle town for now. And she will have a servant. She is, after all, the count’s heir.”
“Does that mean the count has died?”
“I believe he did. With that wound.”
I offered a brief moment of silence for him. A very short one. There was so much for us to do as the living.
“First, have some guards escort Jessica to the town. In the meantime, we will continue to retreat. And make sure that the enemy doesn’t follow us.”
Eve began to make preparations at once.
The others also gave orders for their subordinates to retreat.
And like that, the Ashtaroth army retreated from Count Ismalia’s lands.
One week later, the entire army was able to reach the castle safely, and we discovered the reason that the ants had appeared at Ismalia castle.
Fuma Kotaro explained it to me solemnly.
“They are Hive Workers. A race that has lived under this continent since ancient times. They never contacted humans or demons, and their unique world has evolved independently.”
“The world of the ants revolves around a queen ant.”
“So we can beat them by defeating this queen ant?”
“If anything, that is the only way.”
“I see. That’s troublesome. And where is this queen ant?”
“I do not know. Because the Hive Workers are constantly moving their nest or hive around.”
“Always moving? But don’t they live underground?”
“Yes, they are constantly moving underground. My guess is that they built their hive under Ismalia castle and were waiting for an opportunity to attack.”
“…In that case…”
I looked at the floor of the war council room.
And I tried to imagine what could be down there, deep underground.
“So it’s possible that they are building their hive right underneath Ashtaroth castle at this very moment.”
“It is so.”
“Can you investigate it?”
“I can. In fact, it is currently underway.”
Apparently, he had Hanzo the Kobold ninja investigating the underground.
“Well done, Kotaro.”
I said. And I decided to fulfil my duty as an administrator while I waited for the results.
“I will focus my attention on domestic affairs until we know where the ant queen is. In the meantime, make sure that the soldiers continue in their training.”
Toshizou and Jeanne nodded.
I then realized that Robin seemed to have nothing to do, so I called his name.
“Robin Hood. You will lead the bow corps. Take the most skilled bowmen from each unit and form a new corps.”
Robin smiled confidently.
I was relieved to see it. Robin Hood was the best archer in the west of that other world. And I knew that he would put together a great group of archers.
After giving orders to all of the officers, I turned my attention to internal affairs.
“An archery corps will be expensive. Bows are not cheap, and arrows are not free.”
“So you will develop the town and inrich government finance.”
“Aye. Trade with Berneze has helped us, but there is still more that can be done. Now, what about those new potatoes that we imported from across the continent?”
“Oh, those delicious ones.”
“I believe they were distributed to the farmers. What did they say?”
“They have all grown their own and tasted them. But they have not entered the markets yet.”
“Why is that?”
“There is an unpleasant rumor about them.”
“Yes. They say that potatoes are poisonous.”
“That’s ridiculous. It’s true that there is some poison in the sprouts, but the rest are nutritious and delicious.”
“Indeed. We serve it in the castle often, and everyone eats every last bit.”
“Your hashed browns are especially good, Eve.”
However, the commoners had never even seen a potato, and so it was mysterious to them. This was very troublesome indeed.
“The flowers of the new potatoes are poisonous. Someone must have eaten the sprouts and then the rumor spread.”
“I believe that is the case.”
“Well, it’s time for some scheming then.”
“You will solve the problem with trickery?”
“Aye, I am the Demon King of strategy, after all. Now, Eve. You will tell the farmers who are growing potatoes to build fences around their fields. No, have the goblins and orcs help them build the fences.”
“That will be simple enough, but why? You don’t need fences when no one would steal the potatoes in the first place.”
“Indeed. What if we were to spread a rumor among the commoners? That the new potatoes on these farms are incredibly delicious. And that the rumor of poison was spread by nobles who wanted to keep the potatoes to themselves. And the fences around the fields were proof of this…”
“I see! If pulling doesn’t work, then one must push.”
“Yes. If explaining it to them won’t work, then you must use human greed. Just make sure the fences are weak.”
“And so the scoundrels who steal the potatoes will then advertise by spreading the word that they are delicious.”
“Correct. Rumors will spread from the grass roots.”
I said with a grin. And Eve bowed deeply.
“Very good, master. Surely there are no Demon Kings who are as wise as you.”
“I hope that is the case. Now, could you go and put it into action?”
She bowed once more and left the room.
The results came in one week later.
Eve could not hide her joy as she banged on my office door.
“Master. Potatoes have already entered the market, and there is a great crowd of people there.”
“So word must have spread then.”
“Yes. There was even a rumor that it is a heavenly vegetable, and that you will be able to go to heaven if you eat it.”
“I wouldn’t want to go there, being a Demon King. But I suppose it is different for these humans.”
“Well, time for the insurance, I suppose.”
“Aye. I had Gottlieb create a moving food stall.”
“Oh, how very perceptive.”
“And with it, we will sell steamed and fried potatoes. These taste especially good with butter.”
“What a wonderful idea.”
“Hmm. And not just butter. But chilli powder and honey mustard sauce should be prepared as well.”
“What about selling onion rings too?”
“Splendid. I’d expect nothing less from the head maid of Ashtaroth castle.”
Eve smiled at this praise.
“Now, I would like to go and see it for myself. But there is one problem.”
“A problem? Do you mean these documents?”
There were stacks of unattended papers on my desk. They had piled up while I was gone from Ismalia castle.
“There is that, but they can be finished in one night.”
“Very good, master. So, what is the problem?”
Asked Eve again. And so I answered.
“If I don’t take the Saint with me to such an event, she will complain about it for eternity. I’m sorry, but could you wake up the gluttonous Saint and bring her to me?”
Eve chuckled at this.
“Well, you may be right about that. Very well. I will wake up Saint Jeanne.”
Eve said. And then Jeanne appeared in front of me half an hour later. While there wasn’t sleep in her eyes this time, her hair was different from usual. It wasn’t tied up and was just let down. Clearly her hunger was more important than her hair.
But it was like her, and so I didn’t point it out.
“Now, I think that I will go to the market with the head maid and the Saintess. There, we will eat some fried potatoes. It will be our breakfast.”
‘Wonderful!’ Jeanne said as she jumped up. But her expression quickly changed.
“Oh, no! I’ve already eaten breakfast.”
So that’s why she had taken thirty minutes to get here. I was a little exasperated, but said,
“Then it will be lunch. So you can eat as much as you want so that you won’t need lunch later.”
Jeanne looked at me as if I had gone insane.
“Lunch is an entirely different meal. Potatoes are a mere snack.”
She said plainly, and then led me by the hand.
I sighed at her bottomless appetite, but went to the market with her.
There, the three of us ate some fried potatoes. I had butter and salt. Eve had mayonnaise, and Jeanne had hers with chilli powder.
While food always tastes better when you are with women who you got along with, it wasn’t particularly romantic. One of these days, I might have to take them to a luxurious restaurant in a big city.
But Jeanne objected when she heard this.
“It is quite luxurious enough to eat food with a Demon King. And so even being out under the cold sky is better than the most expensive restaurant. It is three stars.”
She said without a hint of embarrassment. Which made the second-hand embarrassment all the more severe for me. And so I ordered more potatoes and handed them to Jeanne.
And with her saintly smile, she drowned her potatoes in honey mustard sauce.