Hearing a meeting would be held, the place we were gathered was the dining hall.
A pleasant scent drifted in from the kitchen. As soon as Adele-san had returned to Rhuvenns castle, brimming with confidence, she went right into preparations.
General Blois made a tired face.
“When they said the sudden summons was related to our food supply, there’s no way I couldn’t attend. But I’d like it if she considered our circumstance a little more, you know.”
The reason for his complaints: he had been right about to leave for training. He hurriedly pushed the… left the task to his subordinates to come here, it seems.
Baldoir soothed the general with a stiffened smile.
“But if it can resolve our food problems, that’s just how much value it holds. Just what sort of ingredient could she have found?”
I was also curious. Lianne looked a little relieved as she looked at Adele’s overflowing resolution.
“You found a resolution, did you?”
There, Adele-san smiled.
“Yes, there will be some problems with it, but I’ve thought of a resolution for those as well. The taste aside, we have determined them to be abundant in nutrients. By the way, they’re tubors, so as long as you do something with the sprouts, there’s no worry of poison.”
It seems Monica had determined they weren’t poisonous, so there was no doubt they were some sort of ingredient. Baldoir touched a hand to his chin as he nodded. He seemed pleased.
“We can turn a blind eye to a problem in flavor. A high nutritional value is something to rejoice over.”
There, the knight by Baldoir’s side… no, his wife Alette-san nodded with a smile. From how she kept tacking on reasons to stop by Rhuvenns castle, I could see her joy and anxiety written on her face.
She was worried over whether any strange moths would be drawn to Baldoir. To be honest, Baldoir’s face was on the better side, and his strength was for real. Even if he kept quiet, he’d attract women, so that was needlessly worrisome.
“At the worst of times, knights have to scavenge the mountains for edibles. It’s not like food is always plentiful. Just having some sort of food available puts my mind at ease.”
Lianne looked at Alette-san.
“Aren’t you Lorphys’ vice-captain? You have food problems as well?”
Alette-san made a bit of a troubled face.
“Campaigns are one thing, but we’re quite a distance away. Up to this point, we mainly fought in wars nearby, so we are lacking in the relevant knowledge. Well, because of that, we’re troubled to determine whether we’re lacking in food or not, but… this time I’d like to take my h-husband’s opinion.”
She sent some glances towards Baldoir. And Baldoir smiled.
“Then we can discuss the matter in my room afterwards. I got my hands on some good tea, so it works out fine.”
From the Jewel, the Third looked at Baldoir’s handling.
『If only Lyle could do that much… no, that would be a rain of blood falling.』
As I thought, he’s enjoying my carnage. At that moment from the kitchen, an apron-wearing… cafeteria lady-styled Valkyrie came out. It seems it was a Valkyrie cooking. Well, they’re good at the culinary arts too. I guess I can get my expectations up.
She brought out a saucepan, and some plates to divide it…
“Looks like the preparations are ready. Now have a taste.”
Adele-san looked confident, but as I looked in the saucepan, I thought.
“Potatoes? They don’t look too bad. But I get the feeling we already accounted for potatoes in the plan, didn’t we?”
As I took a plate and stabbed one of the small tubers with my fork, I noticed Baldoir and Alette-san’s faces were growing visibly paler. Lianne spoke.
“That’s right. Are they a different variant? In that case, we may be able to better our food problems some. They smell alright… Obpf…!!”
Putting one in her mouth, Lianne let out a voice a princess should never let out. The Third in the Jewel was panicking.
『T-those are field potatoes, aren’t they!? Who would do such a thing!!?』
Field potato? I tilted my head, and just as I was about to eat one, Baldoir addressed Adele-san.
“W-what is your intent!? Putting out something like that!? Ah, Lyle-sama, don’t eat that. These are no good. They’re not the food of man.”
Collecting the plate from me with a ghastly expression, Baldoir drew closer to Adele-san. She made a serious expression.
“You’ll understand if you eat them! They’re just plainly terrible!”
“You’ll put out something terrible with such confidence!?”
Baldoir’s atmosphere was different from usual, while Alette-san was shaking her head and letting her hands indicate her refusal.
“Impossible. These are too much. Even if my stomach was so empty I’d eat insects, these field potatoes alone are too much. One of my senior knights made me eat one as a joke… I snapped and beat them down.”
She refused with a pale face. But General Blois ate one of them.
“Muh!? They’re amazing, these field potatoes! They’re just plainly terrible!”
He was in shock. I was curious, so I took one from the Valkyrie and ate it. Lianne concealed her mouth with her handkerchief, her eyes in tears. Was it just my imagination, or was she glaring at Adele-san?
When I put it in my mouth, my body suddenly indicated rejection. What’s more, when I bit, this bitter, or rather, sticky, or rather, I didn’t even know what to call this terribleness anymore. Perhaps it was as if I was chewing on dirt? My body would not recognize this as food. After I somehow managed to swallow it down, I had no mind to ever try it again.
“Isn’t this too terrible?”
There, Adele-san seemed like she was going to snap.
“But even so, it’s full of nutrition! Even like this, with proper preparations, it’s become as decent as it can be!”
Baldoir yelled. It was the first I’d seen the man like that.
“Don’t screw with me! Definitely not. I-I’m never going to eat one of those again! Never!”
It was the first time I ate anything my body rejected to such an extent. Still with teary eyes, even while choking, Lianne offered her opinion.
“… Let’s put their nutrition and taste aside for the time being. To a human on the verge of starvation, I’m sure it’s a good thing they’re edible at all. So will you be able to secure the numbers?”
The eyes she used to look at Adele-san were extremely severe. But instead of Adele-san, General Blois answered with a smile.
“You can get them in masses. If you plant them in a field, they’ll sprout in no time, and based on the place, you can find them everywhere in the mountains. If they were actually tasty, the food problems would be resolved at once.”
I looked at General Blois. He was chewing normally, and he seemed perplexed as he swallowed it down.
“You seem to be doing fine, general.”
“Ahahaha… I once got stranded in the mountains from my higher-up’s mistake. There wasn’t anything to eat but these. If I didn’t eat them, I wouldn’t survive, but I would rather die than eat them… it was the worst. Thinking back, I guess I should be thankful they were edible at all.”
But Baldoir and Alette-san seemed reluctant even so.
“Even so, I definitely refuse.”
“It’s too much for me. Definitely impossible!”
But it seems from her position, Lianne wouldn’t decide on taste alone.
“… If you can gather so much, it’s possible. Well, if we can’t settle the matter in three months, will we be forced to eat these field potatoes? Yes, let’s think of these are our meals to come.”
Their complexions worsened.
The Third was impressed.
『She made a ridiculously terrible potato into a plainly terrible potato? Isn’t this a culinary revolution?』
I don’t want this sort of resolution. From a gap in the dining hall door, I noticed Novem was peeking in. And for some reason, she was making a sorrowful face, before she parted from the room with slumped shoulders. I was a little curious about the apologetic look on her face.
When our food problems were more or less resolved.
I had business, so I dropped by South Beim. I had to check their armaments as well, but I was there to make sure they had everything they needed.
A majority of the craftsmen of South Beim were busily working for days on end. Because of that, it seemed we would be able to secure our target number of equipment.
Together with Monica, I walked the street when I ran into Vera.
“Oh, so you’re over here today?”
As Vera said that, a large number of goods were delivered to the Trēs House’s South Beim storefront. Barrels were piled ou like a mountain, and using horsedrawn wagons, they were brought in one after the next.
“Did you buy ale or something?”
Vera laughed a bit and shook her head.
Her black hair shook, and Monica made a blatant sullen face, conspicuously letting her own twin tails sway as well. I didn’t really care, so I left her aside and Vera explained.
“I went a bit far this time. Do you want to have a look?”
She said as she opened up a barrel. It was loaded with wheat.
Vera shrugged her shoulders.
“If you exercise your legs a bit, you’ll find lands with different climates. The taste, or rather the texture changes. It seems it’s a different species. But it’s edible enough, so I bought some to take over. You’ll need it, won’t you?”
I looked at Vera’s face.
“… Eh? You’ll give them to me!?”
Vera folded her arms and nodded.
“Of course. Well, think of it as an investment. You’re a precious customer, so I need you to win no matter what. This is all that I can do, but you’d better come back safely.”
To me, Vera’s smile was too bright for my eyes. Adele-san wasn’t at fault from bringing a terrible potato to resolve the problem. But that didn’t hold a candle to Vera who brought decent food stores.
I grasped Vera’s hand.
“T-thank you. Truly, thank you.”
When my tears began to flow, Vera was contrarily hesitant.
“Eh? Um… Eh? It’s not a significant amount you know. Looking at the whole, it’s barely anything. You don’t have to cry about it.”
I shook my head, and took Vera in my embrace.
“That’s not true! You’re the best, Vera!”
It wasn’t as if this meant I wouldn’t have to eat terrible potatoes. But Vera’s kind heart had touched me.
“H-hey! Everyone’s looking!”
She struggled in my arms… and from the mansion’s window, I could see Fidel-san leaning out with his face a bright red. He had the look of a demon.
Seeing that, the Third laughed. But he was a little different than usual.
『Yep, you sure are loved, Lyle. Then it should be fine. Right, it’ll be alright.』
The night of that day.
Dropping by the Jewel for the first in a while, the Third’s words had caught my mind.
Before the round table he sat with the same grinning face as usual.
“No, well… Third, um…”
Seeing my fluster, it seems the Third noticed what I wanted to say as he kept up his smile.
『Oh, you worried about what I said this morning? You’ve grown quite a bit. Back then, you didn’t seem to have any interest in what people said to you.』
He scratched his hair in a troubled manner. It’s true I was terrible at the start. I couldn’t understand the thing called human emotion, and there were times I hurt others.
“Back then I was, you know.”
『But you noticed my feelings, right? Then isn’t it fine if we just say, ‘you’ve grown’? Lyle, it looks like you’ll be fine without me, after all.』
“I’m supported by everyone around me. But I still want you to support me too.”
The Third slouched into his chair, and leaned his back into it.
『You don’t need my Skill?』
If you wanted me to say if I wanted it or not, to be honest, it was difficult to handle, so I’d prefer his advice.
“It’s a fact that I’d much prefer your advice.”
『You know how to make a man happy. But that’s no good.』
The Third stood from his seat and walked off towards his own door of memories. Turning my way, he directed a smile, so I headed there as well.
When I entered his room, I found the scenery of the mansion the First through Third had spent their lives.
『Supporting you forever is the same as leaving you reliant on my support. It’s time for you to go independent, Lyle.』
The scene I could see from the mansion was truly tranquil. In the Third’s harsh era, it seemed as if I was looking at another world entirely.
The Walt House’s Baronet years. They possessed a number of villages, the Third wielded his ability as head of the House… and it was an era of long war.
The third had lost his life to it. By his work he was called a righteous general, and carved his name into a history of Bahnseim, but the man himself never wished for such a thing.
Looking at this peaceful scene, perhaps the Third had wanted a more peaceful life. But that proved impossible. Unlike me, he couldn’t depend on another’s kindness.
“So my time of dependence is over?”
『That’s right. Of course, from my point of view, you don’t look like you need my support. Lyle, you’ve grown quite a bit in these two and a little years.』
“… Compared to my ancestors, it’s a bit embarrassing though.”
『You think? Even within our history, I think you had your share of troubles, Lyle. You did your best to get all the way here, so have some confidence.』
Thinking over it awkwardly, I felt an extreme loneliness.
I always knew the time to part would come, but when it really came down to it, I couldn’t help but hesitate. Yet I understood it was no good to miss the timing. I had learned that from the Second’s and Fifth’s times.
“So I really will be on my own.”
『Your own? That’s wrong. You’ve got lots of lovers… no, plenty of wives to support you don’t you? Even if you genuinely want to be alone, that’s not how the world works. It’ll only be when you die, perhaps?』
The Third corrected lovers to wives. It’s because he said it knowing full well that it was so ill-natured.
“I do get the feeling you’ve pushed quite a bit of trouble onto me.”
『But you’re the one who chose it. Well, I had my fun. I was able to see the future after all.』
The Third spoke of his meeting with me.
『At the start, I wondered, ‘will this useless kid really be alright?’ you know.』
“… You sure put it bluntly.”
『Yep. There’s no use lying at times like these. But now I think… it’s a good thing I- we- met you, Lyle.』