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「I’ve got bad news, Gran-sama!」
Meshun-san said after rushing into the room with a pale face.
「The head chef Botts-san was attacked and is badly injured.」
Gran-san and Cliff were both lost for words for a while.
「How’s his condition? Will he be okay?」
「His wounds are currently being treated.」
「Where is he? Take me to him.」
Gran-san left the room with Meshun-san, leaving Cliff and me behind.
「It has come to that, huh.」
Cliff murmured to himself.
「What do you mean?」
「Like I told you earlier, many influential people have been invited to Gran-san’s party so that we can try and get them on our side. Now, the head chef is injured and will most likely be unable to cook for us, meaning we won’t be able to serve food at the party. We’ll have to postpone the party, which will ruin Gran-san’s image.」
「Why don’t you just call in some other chefs?」
「Botts worked as an assistant head chef at a first-class restaurant in the capital. A regular chef is no good for such a grand party. If we cannot serve food that will convince those influential people that our side is still in power, the prestige of the Faren Gramm family will collapse, and all of the people currently lending us their support will also disappear.」
Even though it was just cooking, it was still a very important part of the negotiations, huh.
People always ate delicious food during negotiations. Politicians discussed things while eating at traditional Japanese restaurants, while big companies held receptions.
It only made sense that people would get angry if they were served a simple cup ramen during an important meeting.
Good food made people happy, which made them more open to negotiations.
That was how important cooking really was.
Without good food, the mood would be ruined, discussions would turn stale, and negotiations would become harder.
「Is this the Salbert family’s doing?」
「That seems to be the case. Now, it might be difficult to find another chef with enough skill in this town.」
Cliff pondered what to do next with a fist on his forehead.
「Hmm, could I maybe ask you to bring someone for us? Who, though… with the time we have left, we really have to find someone in this town.」
Well, I couldn’t really prepare all the food myself. To begin with, I didn’t even know how to make food suitable for a noble’s party. The most I could do was probably make a big cake.
I could maybe use the Bear Gate to get some food from Crimonia or the capital and bring it here by using my Bear Box.
Well, I could also bring the cooks through the Bear Gate, but I really didn’t want to reveal I had it even though I felt bad for Gran-san.
「Yuna, with your bears, maybe… No, never mind.」
Cliff was about to ask me for something but changed his mind.
I already knew what he was going to say. He wanted me to use Swaying Bear and Hugging Bear to bring him cooks from elsewhere.
Yeah, that was the best method. This way, people wouldn’t learn about the Bear Gate. The Bears were also well known in Crimonia if we were to get some cooks from there.
A round trip to Crimonia would take the Bears two days, so it was indeed possible to get them here in time.
Wait, they would probably need several days to prepare all the food, and it would be too late by then…
As we were searching for a solution, Gran-san reentered the room.
「Old Man Gran, how is he?」
「His condition isn’t serious, but he isn’t able to use his hands normally.」
「So, he is out of the danger?」
「Yes, but I don’t think he will be in condition to cook in time.」
「Then, for the party…」
Gran-san said, shaking his head.
He then sat down, leaving Cliff to mull it over. Soon, both of them drifted off in a gloomy mood.
「Where was he when he was attacked?」
「I believe he went to inspect the ingredients that were going to be used for the party. Somebody attacked him as he was traveling down a vacant street.」
「We don’t know. I ordered my subordinates to search for witnesses, but all they could gather was that it was at a place where not many people go to, making it harder to find possible witnesses. And, even if there were some, they most likely won’t come forward.」
「Do you think it was someone from the Salbert family like we thought?」
Cliff suggested them as the culprit again.
「Most likely, since nobody else has a reason to attack him.」
Gran-san agreed with Cliff.
「What should we do then, Old Man Gran?」
「We have to find a cook that is as good as Botts, no matter how difficult it may be. We cannot cancel the party, but we have to serve good food at all costs.」
「Do you have anyone in mind?」
「I can think of two people, but I don’t know whether they will accept or not.」
The two of them went silent again.
Cliff downed the tea I had brought out previously in one go and then looked at me.
「Yuna, can you look after Noa?」
「I’m sorry, but could you look after Misa as well?」
「I don’t know what the Salbert family is planning to do, so please stay by their side.」
「I really didn’t think that they would openly attack us like this. I was naive, it seems. If anything happened to my granddaughter, lady Noire, or lady Fina, I would regret it for the rest of my life. Please protect the three of them.」
The two of them bowed to me.
They didn’t even have to ask me, though, since I would protect them regardless.
They were my important friends and were like sisters to me.
「If, like today, somebody approaches us, what should I do?」
「I’m sorry, but please don’t go outside for the time being since I don’t know what might happen if you do. Of course, I know they would be safe if they’re with you, but it’s better not to push it. I would like you to stay put in your room until the party.」
「They will be safe inside the residence, but please stay by their side, okay?」
I would like you both not to take the hikikomori lifestyle lightly.
I could stay holed up inside for a few days, no problem. After all, I had been a hikikomori for several years.
Even without a computer or television, we could always find things to do since we would all be staying locked up together.
With the four of us, we should be able to find plenty of ways to entertain ourselves.
I left the two of them in the room, so they could continue their discussion, and headed back to my room, where the three girls were waiting for me.
When I got there, Fina, Misa, and Noa were all standing by the entrance.
「Um, we heard that Botts-san got attacked…」
「Oh, you heard about it already?」
「Yeah, we overheard the maids talking about it. Also, everyone was panicking, so…」
True, everybody I had passed on my way here seemed to be in a rush.
It would be weird for them not to notice that something was going on.
「Yuna-san, do you know anything about it?」
「I only know that Botts-san was attacked and injured, but his life is not in danger.」
Misa looked relieved.
「However, it seems that he won’t be able to cook for a while.」
I told them since there was no point in hiding it.
「What about the party, then?」
「Gran-san and Cliff are looking for someone else to take his place.」
It should be fine as long as they could find a new chef.
Though, based on what I had heard so far, that seemed rather difficult.
After some time had passed, dinner was brought to our room. It was a simple meal since the head chef was injured, but everyone ate it without a complaint.
Noa went to sleep in Misa’s room since she didn’t want to leave her alone, leaving only Fina and me to sleep in this room.
As usual, I summoned Swaying Bear and Hugging Bear in their cub forms for security reasons.
Fina sat down on the bed and hugged Swaying Bear nervously, so I took Hugging Bear into my arms and sat next to her.
「Big Sis Yuna, do you think everything will be okay?」
「Yeah, Cliff and Gran-san will do something about it.」
The situation honestly seemed rather bad, but I told her that to reassure her.
「You’re right. I’m sure Cliff-sama will be able do something.」
「And, after Gran-san’s birthday party is a success, we will be able to go to Misa’s birthday party and celebrate with her.」
「Yup. I really want to give her our present. I hope it will make her happy.」
「We worked hard to make it, so I’m sure she will like it.」
It didn’t take much longer for Fina to start feeling sleepy and let out small yawns. I was about to turn off the lights when somebody knocked on the door, and Cliff’s voice was heard behind the door.
What was he thinking, coming to girls’ room this late. He said he had something to discuss with me, so I reluctantly let him in.
「Sorry, I know it’s late.」
「So, what is so important?」
「We didn’t want to involve you in an affair between nobles, but at the rate this is going, the Faren Gramm family might end up ruined, and I don’t want that to happen. Old Man Gran has been taking care of me since I was a little boy, so I want to help him and would like to borrow your strength to do so.」
Cliff said and bowed.
A noble like Cliff was lowering his head towards me…
The chefs they had tried to get must have been no good, huh.
「That’s fine, but what do you want me to do?」
「First, the party must succeed without fail. We need a chef who will be able to make food that can satisfy nobles and wealthy merchants.」
That was an absurd request.
「Cliff, do you understand what you’re saying?」
「Of course I do. I know what I’m saying is unreasonable. It’s just that there’s no person in this town who can make such lavish foods. Some had been threatened, some were bribed, while the others simply refused. There’s nobody left here, so the only thing we can do now is to bring someone from another town. A horse won’t be fast enough for this, however. We need your bears.」
I looked at Hugging Bear, which was still within my arms.
It seemed like it really was our only choice at this point.
I recalled the sad expression Misa had made when we had encountered Randall. Her birthday party was coming up, and I wanted her to enjoy it.
「Okay, I get it, I just need to bring a cook here.」
「So, you accept my request?」
「I just don’t want Misa to be sad, that’s all.」
「Thank you. I have an invitation for a Crimonia chef here. This…」
「I’ll take it just in case. I might not need it, though. I have an acquaintance who is a good chef.」
I answered while taking the letter.
「Who is it?」
「That’s a secret. However, I believe him to be a top-notch chef, so you don’t have to worry. I just don’t know if he’ll accept or not, so I will keep the invitation in case he refuses. Okay then, I’ll head out now.」
「You’re heading out now?」
「It’s best if I go as quickly as I can, right? So, could you just give a simple explanation to Noa and the others for me?」
「Okay, I’ll let them know.」
「Also, I think they will be safe inside the residence, but please take care of the three girls until I return.」
「I’ll have someone accompany them, so please don’t worry.」
「Anyway, I have to change, so could you leave? Also, I will pick a good time to leave, so you don’t have to worry about it.」
「Yeah, that would be great. Alright then, please take care of this for me.」
Cliff seemed to believe me and left the room.
「Big Sis Yuna, are you leaving now?」
Fina had been listening in on our whole conversation.
「Hmm? I’m not going.」
Fina looked at me, surprised.
「I mean, I have the Bear Gate, and if I go now, it will still be in the middle of the night. So, it makes more sense for me to leave early in the morning instead.」
I had told Cliff I would be leaving now only to make him think that I was going to leave in the middle of the night with one of my Bears.
Yet, in reality, I would just head out by using the Bear Gate in the morning.
「I… I see. You’re right, but is that really okay?」
Fina asked, tilting her head.
「It’s fine. Come on; it’s getting late, so I’ll turn off the lights now.」
I made Fina lie down before collapsing onto the bed myself.
「Oh right, Swaying Bear, Hugging Bear. Wake me up early tomorrow, okay?」
They cried softly in response.
Now then, how should I persuade Zelef-san tomorrow?
Well, both Eleanora-san and the king owed me a favour, so it should work out, right?
I could always figure out the details later. I embraced Hugging Bear beside me and fell asleep in no time.
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