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I continued to put away all the ingredients Zelef-san was passing to me into the Bear Box.
The amount of the ingredients he gave me was huge, but it was better to take everything we could, rather than having him panic because we didn’t bring enough.
Anyway, the Bear Box didn’t get any heavier no matter how much I put inside.
「Mind if we also drop by the wine cellar? Serving wine at a noble party is a big necessity.」
Wine, huh? I didn’t know much about noble parties, but from what I had read in manga and novels, it did seem that wine was always present. I could clearly imagine nobles drinking wine from fancy glasses.
Once we collected all the required ingredients from the storeroom, we headed down into the wine cellar, where Zelef-san pointed out which wine I should put into the Bear Box.
Hmm, I didn’t drink alcohol, so I couldn’t tell if it was of good quality or not just by looking at it.
Well, I couldn’t tell the difference even if I drank it…
「Do we have everything now?」
I asked as I put away the last bottle.
「I just need to grab some seasoning from my kitchen, and we are all set to go.」
We returned to his kitchen, where I had to pack away all kinds of seasoning.
Hmm, maybe he had something I would like to use myself? I should probably ask him to show me his collection the next time I came here.
「Yuna-dono, I have everything I need now.」
「Okay, I want to head back as quickly as possible, so are you okay with leaving now?」
I knew we would make it in time, but I still wanted to hurry back because I was worried about the girls.
「Yes, I don’t mind if we leave right away.」
「You didn’t forget anything, right? We won’t be able to come back to grab something you forgot.」
「I should have everything I need. Oh, actually, please wait just a moment.」
Zelef-san trotted back into the kitchen.
「I almost forgot my kitchen knife. I would be fine with using the knives from their kitchen, but a familiar knife is still the best, after all.」
Okay, it seemed like he had everything now.
Hmm, he was still wearing his chef outfit, though.
It would be hard for us to travel with him wearing that outfit, so I asked him to change clothes first.
「I’m okay with what I’m wearing, though.」
「You’ll stand out like that.」
「Compared to your outfit, Yuna-dono, I don’t think I stand out at all.」
Zelef-san said, glancing at my Bear Suit.
I know, I know. People stared at me even if I was just walking around.
However, the problem at hand was that I didn’t want the Salbart family to find out that I brought a chef with me. Zelef-san might get attacked if they did, after all.
「Also, I feel most comfortable wearing this outfit.」
Zelef-san said, grasping his clothes.
True, the clothes we wore every day were the most comfortable, so I completely understood his feelings.
If I had to take off my Bear Suit, I wouldn’t be able to calm down.
Still, he could get attacked if they saw him wearing the chef outfit, so I made him put a large mantle over it to hide it.
With our preparations finally finished, we left the castle and were met by Eleanora-san standing next to a horse carriage parked by the gate. She had prepared it so that we could get out of the capital quicker.
Eleanora-san really was amazing, taking note of even such small details. Walking all the way from the castle would have taken us quite a bit of time, so this was a lifesaver. Also, if we were to ride in some sort of an open carriage, we would stand out too much, mostly because of me.
We thanked Eleanora-san, and climbed into the carriage. Thanks to it, we were able to leave the capital in no time, and when we put enough distance from the city walls, I summoned Swaying Bear and Hugging Bear.
「Oh, they came out from your gloves!」
Zelef-san said, impressed.
「I didn’t think they would be this big, though.」
Had Zelef-san never seen them at their full sizes before?
「Which one may I ride on, Yuna-dono?」
I glanced at the Bears and then back at Zelef-san.
「Zelef-san, you aren’t afraid of them at all, huh.」
「I’ve already seen how docile they are as cubs, and Princess Flora always talks about how much she loves to play with them. There is no reason for me to be afraid of them.」
「I see. Most people find them daunting in their adult form, though.」
「They do seem a bit frightening, but their expressions are still the same, so I’m not scared of them at all.」
I was happy to hear that he thought of them this way.
I would feel bad for my Bears if Zelef-san was afraid to ride them.
「Okay then, Zelef-san, would you mind riding Hugging Bear?」
「Hugging Bear-dono is the white one, correct?」
Zelef-san approached Hugging Bear.
「Hugging Bear-dono, I may be heavy, but please bear with me.」
Zelef-san bowed to Hugging Bear, which nodded in response before lowering its back so that Zelef-san could get on more easily.
「Thank you very much, Hugging Bear-dono.」
It took some time for the plump Zelef-san to climb onto Hugging Bear, which stood up only after ensuring that Zelef-san was settled on it properly.
It seemed like Hugging Bear didn’t have any problem even with Zelef-san’s extra weight, so I jumped onto Swaying Bear.
「Okay, let’s get going then. We’ll start out slowly but speed up as you get used to it.」
After traveling for a while…
「This feels more pleasant than horseback.」
「Zelef-san, you can ride a horse?」
I kind of felt bad for asking this, but I just couldn’t imagine him riding a horse.
「I tend to avoid riding them, but I’m obligated to know how to ride them in cases of emergency, so at least know how to. I’m by no means good at it, though…」
He said the last part rather quietly, but I was still able to hear it.
What was the part about there being cases of emergency? Did he mean having to ride with the army in times of war so he could cook for them?
「Well, it doesn’t seem like I will have to ride them often, though.」
Well, that made sense since the country was at peace right now.
Maybe he would have to join the soldiers when they were sent to subjugate monsters far away?
I couldn’t see the king doing that anytime soon, though. Was he really practicing for the sake of emergency or was it something else?
After Zelef-san got a bit more used to riding, we raised the speed and hurried of towards Sheelin. After several hours of nonstop traveling, I decided to take a short break and switch Bears.
「Zelef-san, please ride Swaying Bear this time around.」
Hugging Bear had shown a sad expression when Zelef-san had approached it. It wasn’t as if Hugging Bear didn’t like Zelef-san; it just wanted me to ride it.
「You would like me to ride on Swaying Bear-dono now? I don’t mind, but is it because I did something wrong?」
「No, it’s just that if I only ride on one of them all the time, the other one starts sulking.」
I explained to him.
「I see. Okay, I will ride Swaying Bear-dono this time around, then.」
Zelef-san immediately understood the problem. He thanked Hugging Bear for taking him this far, then went up to Swaying Bear.
「Swaying Bear-dono, please bear with me as well.」
I approached Hugging Bear, and it happily rubbed against me.
After petting its head, I jumped on, and we all continued our journey.
We proceeded smoothly, without encountering any monsters along the way. Well, even if any monsters had appeared, they would have been low-level ones, which wouldn’t be able to catch up to our speed.
The only monsters that would be able to catch us were dragons or wyverns, but luckily, those didn’t appear this close to the capital.
As some more time passed, I noticed that Zelef-san began dozing off on Swaying Bear.
Seriously, what a fearless man with the nerves of steel. Well, it was fine since it was impossible to fall off my Bears, but that would be way too dangerous to do on horseback.
Several hours later, the sun started to set, and the sky darkened.
We could ride through the night with my Bears, but we should be able to make it in time even if we camped it out. The party was in two days, and if all went well, we should arrive at noon tomorrow, with more than enough time for Zelef-san to make all the preparations.
I called out to Zelef-san and told him that we would be camping for the night.
When we stopped, he crawled off Swaying Bear and petted him as thanks.
「Thank you very much, Swaying Bear-dono.」
Swaying Bear cried softly in response.
I took out some firewood and started a fire before making two chairs for us to sit on comfortably.
I decided to hold back and not bring out the Bear House this time around.
「Okay, now for some dinner…」
「In that case, let me…」
Zelef-san tried to offer to cook for us, but there was no need for that.
I took out some of Morin-san’s bread and Anzu’s soup.
「Oh, it seems my skills aren’t needed this time around.」
「Don’t worry, you will have a lot of cooking to do once we reach Sheelin.」
「I will do my best to exceed all of your expectations.」
Zelef-san said and then happily started to eat the soup and bread I offered him.
「Yuna-dono, did you make this?」
「No, both the soup and the bread are sold at shops in Crimonia.」
「They are both very delicious. I love them.」
「I will tell the people who made it that the head chef of the royal palace complimented their food.」
I jokingly said.
「It’s not like I’m just trying to flatter them, though. I really do find them delicious. The people who made them really understand the basics, hence they are able to make their food taste so well.」
Zelef-san said before resuming his meal.
「I should head to Crimonia when I have some free time.」
「It’s not my place to say this, but you’re welcome to come anytime.」
「Please take care of me when the time comes, then.」
Once we finished eating, we just laid down for a while.
Having nothing to do, I decided to brush Swaying Bear and Hugging Bear.
「Swaying Bear-dono and Hugging Bear-dono are really quick. What’s more, they were comfortable and were able to keep this pace even with me on them.」
Zelef-san laughed and rubbed his bulging stomach.
「Zelef-san, aren’t you like this because you eat too much?」
I had heard that chefs often got fat because they did a lot of taste-tests.
「It hurts to hear that from you, you know… It’s my duty to taste the dishes that my subordinates make; it’s the only way I can properly critique them.」
「I see. You’re training them well, instead of just having them learn by watching you do the cooking.」
「Some chefs indeed have their subordinates learn that way, but I believe it’s too naive to think that they will learn well like that. My subordinates are also all skilled chefs working at the royal castle, so most of them can easily learn recipes by just seeing them once.」
It made sense for them to be that skilled if they had been hired to work in the royal kitchen.
「Yuna-dono, where did you learn how to cook?」
Hmm, that was hard to answer.
It wasn’t like somebody had taught me; I had learned on my own by finding recipes in cooking books and on the Internet. It would be difficult to just say I hadn’t been taught by anybody, and I couldn’t just tell him how I had actually learned it…
「I’m sorry, it’s okay for you not to tell me. I was just curious since you are able to make so many mysterious dishes…」
Zelef-san noticed that I had gone quiet, so he apologized with a bow.
「That’s not it. It’s just that I wasn’t really taught by anybody specific, so I didn’t know how to answer.」
「So, you created all those dishes yourself?」
I tilted my head, thinking how to explain it to him.
「Those are all dishes from my hometown, and I learned how to make them there.」
「Your hometown, you say?」
「Yeah. They are the recipes of my hometown and not my own.」
「Is that so? The world is a big place, isn’t it?」
Yes, it was a big place indeed. I hadn’t thought that the universe could have had multiple worlds. The universe really was big, wasn’t it?
「I would like to visit the country you’re from one day, Yuna-dono.」
I found no way to respond to that, so the silence returned.
Zelef-san must have noticed my mood as he didn’t say anything else, either.
「Shall we head to bed?」
「I suppose we should. Who is going to keep watch, though? I don’t want to boast, but I’m not really good at staying awake…」
That wasn’t something to boast about anyway.
「We’ll be fine. Swaying Bear and Hugging Bear will let me know if something dangerous approaches us.」
I said, glancing at the Bears next to me.
「I see. Yuna-dono, your summoned beasts are simply amazing.」
「Heh. Anyway, you can relax and sleep comfortably. Also, if you might think of trying to attack me, Swaying Bear and Hugging Bear will not go easy on you, either.」
I warned him with a smile.
「That’s a terrifying thought. Well, I will be fine since I don’t want to die, and I have never thought of doing anything like that anyway.」
Zelef-san laughed then curled up into his blanket.
I settled myself between Swaying Bear and Hugging Bear and fell asleep in no time.
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