Grand Elder of Forest's Edge Jiba Wu praised my cooking, saying that it made her remember the joy of living and gave her blessings to Ai Fa and me.
I was very happy about this. Even calling this the 「best outcome」 couldn’t describe what I was feeling. Grandma Jiba Wu was someone Ai Fa cherished very much. I was honored to have the chance to be present in such a moment of her life, and was deeply moved.
However—— a few hours later, I felt troubled as I stayed by myself in an empty room.
Ai Fa wasn’t here.
Neither was Rimee Wu.
In this silent room, I was drowning in rage and humiliation, and rolled around in agony.
Damn it! Why does it feel like an utter defeat!?
I wasn’t being held against my will. Because Ai Fa and Rimee Wu were chatting inside Jiba Wu’s room, they ordered me to watch the house.
This was a house inside clan Wu’s village, and the owner was supposed to be either Donda Wu’s brother or nephew. Several years ago, the number of clan members decreased and their life became hard. They moved in with another family and this place became empty.
「The Fa house is far, so rest here for the night.」 We accepted the Wu Clan’s hospitality gratefully —— But I was very very unhappy.
Despite that, I didn’t know who I should vent my emotions to.
Strictly speaking, I was the one at fault.
I rolled around by myself in agony while harboring these unvented feelings.
A few hours earlier, we were in the hall of the Wu clan’s main house.
「…Ai Fa, why don’t you spend the night in the Wu village…?」
While Grandma Jiba Wu was having her meal, she asked Ai Fa.
「It’s already dark outside… traveling at night is dangerous, so just rest in an empty house for tonight.」
「No, there’s no need for that. We just need a fire and we won’t face any danger. Just lend me a candle stand.」
「Ara ara… You have become an outstanding hunter. But for the sake of this old lady, please stay the night, Ai Fa…」
「You must have plenty of work to do as a House head, and can’t visit the Wu village often, right? I don’t have the strength to walk to the Fa house anymore… In that case, at least accompany me for this night. It has been a few years since we finally get to meet again...」
Even the stubborn Ai Fa couldn’t turn down this request.
I was completely fine with it. The Wu clan clan head Donda Wu has no intention of asking Ai Fa to marry into the Wu clan now. Hence, Ai Fa could rekindle her relationship with Grandma Jiba and Rimee Wu—— such a foolish thought sprung up in my mind.
The real problem didn’t lie here.
But right after that.
Forest's Edge seemed to have the custom that they could only leave the room after everyone had finished their meal. Rimee Wu was accompanying Grandma Jiba for her meal now, while Ai Fa and I returned to our seats to eat ours.
During this time, clan head Donda Wu kept raging about my cooking.
「This is not hunter’s food.」「How dare you serve me Monta feed.」「This corrupts my life.」 His complaints fell like the rain.
However, I think this brutish man was only tarnishing my cooking for a reason. For example, resistance towards an outsider, or his position as clan head compelled him to do so. That was why I wasn’t too concerned. Grandma Jiba already gave me the best compliment possible, so I could still keep my cool and jubilant feeling.
After Ai Fa finished her meal and ate the last bit of my food, something caused a crack in my mood.
「Are you done!? Why are you demeaning Asuta’s cooking so maliciously? Isn’t it true that Grandma Jiba enjoyed her meal?」
Leina Wu who finished eating slightly earlier than we did shouted.
Donda Wu’s blue eyes were burning as he glared impatiently at the lovely second sister of the Wu clan.
「I’m merely stating the facts, what’s wrong with that? Grand Elder also said that everyone can have an opinion of what is right or wrong. This food is like the feces of Monta beasts, only old people who have lost all their teeth will eat this with gratitude.」
Leina fumed and was quiet for a short moment—— she then stood up slowly.
Then took off the tusk and horn from her necklace, and walked slowly to Ai Fa and me.
A dangerous gleam came from Donda Wu’s eyes, but Leina was not bothered at all. With both knees on the floor, she offered the tusk and horn to Ai Fa and me respectively.
「Wu clan’s Leina Wu offer her blessing to Fa house’s Ai Fa and Asuta. Thank you for saving Jiba Wu’s soul and bringing serenity to the lives of the Wu clan.」
What? Hey, is this really fine, Leina Wu…?
I wanted to whisper that to her.
But before I did that, Ai Fa poked my shoulder.
「Just accept it graciously. For the denizens of Forest's Edge, the act of gifting the tusks and horns of Kiba beast is sacred. If you turn her down, you would be trampling on her dignity and pride.」
Ai Fa told me that, then accepted the white tusk after saying 「I’m honored by Leina Wu’s blessing.」
I had no other choice but to mimic Ai Fa’s actions and thank Leina.
「Leina… Are you trying to tarnish the Wu clan’s name?」
Donda Wu said quietly. But his voice sounded deep and clear, which reminded me of the tremors before an earthquake.
「You are presenting a sham blessings to others for the sake of mocking me? Do you think I will allow you to do that…?」
Even though Leina Wu’s face was green from terror, she still looked at her father with determination:
「This is no sham blessing! Even without Grandma Jiba’s incident, I also think from the bottom of my heart that Asuta’s cuisine is amazing, this is the first time in my life that I have tasted such delicious Kiba meat. Food is life —— Just like Grandma Jiba, I felt the joy of living very strongly.」
「Are you… insane?」
Donda Wu muttered.
I was shocked by how surprised he sounded.
Before I realized why I felt so shocked, Rimee Wu stood up with a start and said: 「Me too!」
Rimee Wu looked by at Grandma Jiba, who nodded and said: 「Don’t worry.」. Rimee then left Grandma Jiba’s side and ran to us.
On her childish face was her usually brilliant smile.
「Asuta! Ai Fa! Thank you very much for today! The food was very very delicious, so I want to gift you my blessings too!」
She placed the third blessing gifts —— Describing it this way might be too casual… onto my and Ai Fa’s hands.
「That’s right… This meal is outstanding, and worthy of my blessing.」
With an overly sexy voice, the eldest daughter Vena Wu stood up slowly.
「I learned for the first time that 『delicious food』 exist in Forest's Edge… As a denizen of Forest's Edge, I have to offer you my blessings…」
「You are absolutely right, Vena.」
Grandma Ditto Min stood up next.
「Unbelievable! What’s going on!?」
Donda Wu yelled again.
The emotions in his hoarse voice —— wasn’t rage, but shock.
「Have my family gone crazy? Was Apaz poison that will make one lose his reason added into this shit-like food? But if that is so, everyone here should be mad too!」
I clasped the five tusks and horns in my hand and observed Donda Wu carefully.
Donda Wu seemed to be genuinely confused.
He really doubted the mental state of his family.
「Is there anyone who doesn't dare to stand up out of fear for my lectures? Don’t hold back, just do what you want!」
After he said that, the wife of the eldest son Jiza, Sati Lei Wu planned to stand up timidly.
She was about Vena Wu’s age, with her bright brown hair cut to shoulder length. A woman with a pure temperament about her.
Before she stood up, she looked her husband’s way. When she saw his frank and open smile, she showed a face of relief and walked towards us.
「Wu clan’s Sati Lei Wu wish to offer my blessings to Fa house’s Ai Fa and her family Asuta… Thank you for your incredible meal.」
After she returned to her seat, a plump woman beside her stood up this time.
There was a bit of grey mixed into her red hair, and she had dark brown eyes that seemed deep. Her bare arms and shoulders were big and tough, and she looked like a woman in her prime who could deal with any surprises calmly.
She was Mia Lei Wu. Mother of Rimee Wu and her siblings, and also Donda Wu’s wife.
「I don’t really get it, but isn’t it fine to express ourselves honestly when we taste delicious food? I’m so moved that my legs are turning weak.」
After glancing at her husband who was as still as a statue, she walked our way with firm footing.
Mia Lei Wu had a refreshing smile when she gifted us with a tusk and a horn.
「Your dishes are wonderful. Thank you for doing this for Grandma Jiba… Really now, why is our clan head so stubborn.」
Her smile seemed to be a representation of the phrase 「mothers are strong.」
Out of everyone present, seven of them were bored by her, which I find really impressive.
Anyway, this was the seventh blessing we received.
「… Dad, you are serious, right? Don’t single me out for punishment later, alright?」
—— The youngest brother Ludo Wu said with a voice that still bore a hint of childishness and stood up.
He scratched his head of blonde hair, walked fearlessly to us and sat down crudely.
「Hey, just who exactly are you? I heard there is a group hailing from the Eastern kingdom who seems to be sorcerers. Did you use magic to turn kiba meat delicious?」
「This isn’t magic, I just used kitchen knife… knives and fire. It’s just a skillset.」
Ai Fa was silent, and this was obviously a question directed at me, so I answered him like this.
After grunting disinterestedly, he turned his pale eyes towards Ai Fa and said:
「Fa house’s Ai Fa, you have turned into a good woman. It’s a pity, if you are more feminine, I don’t mind marrying you even if you can’t be wed to my brother.」
「Never mind. What they said isn’t an exaggeration, this is a delicious meal. Frankly speaking, just the thought of having to drink that never changing poitan soup from tomorrow onwards makes me feel like crying. If you are not Ai Fa’s husband, then marry into our family.」
「T-That’s fine, the woman of your family have the rights to choose their spouse too.」
「Hmmp, aside from that brat Rimee, pick anyone you like.」
Ludo said this last part quietly, then removed his necklace. He had lots of spoils of war, and was on par with Ai Fa.
「Dinner is absolutely delicious, so I want to gift you my blessing. This is the first time I am doing this, so be grateful.」
When the arrogant youngest brother returned to his seat, there was a strange silence in the hall.
「… Anyone else?」
Donda Wu stroked his beard as he swept his gaze across the hall.
「So only three other person feels that this is not fit for human consumption.」
「I don’t think the dish is that bad, don’t judge everything by your own standards.」
The third sister Lala Wu said unhappily.
Lala Wu had her red hair tied up at the top of her head, and her arrogant personality was on par with the youngest brother. Amongst the seven siblings each with their unique personalities, only the third sister and youngest brother seemed a little similar in appearance and temperament. She should be younger than Ludo Wu, and was at most twelve or thirteen years old.
「I think the grilled poitan and kiba meat soup are good, but the kiba meat that should be the main dish was gooey and look disgusting, so I don’t feel it’s good enough for me to gift my blessing… To be honest, just what they did for Grandma Jiba is already worthy of my blessing. But everyone seemed to think this thing is delicious, so I didn’t do so.」
「I see… Darum, what do you think?」
「I have nothing to say.」
The second brother whose style seemed as sharp as a wild wolf refused to comment.
「Hmmp, what about you, Jiza?」
「……Clan head Donda, please don’t mind it. No matter how the appearance of the food is like or how they taste, kiba will still be kiba, and poitan will still be poitan. No matter how much effort is put into it, they are the same once they are eaten.」
「You don’t need to tell me that now!」