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Since Yuna doesn’t attend the party, this chapter will be written from Cliff’s perspective.
Thanks to Yuna, we were able to secure a chef for the party.
Not to mention, she brought us the royal head chef himself. Just what was this bear thinking? I could understand if it was just a regular chef working at the castle, but bringing the most influential chef there? That would be impossible for any normal person.
She had departed three days ago, in the middle of the night. I didn’t know how fast her summoned bears could go, but even she shouldn’t have been able to waltz into the castle right after arriving to the capital, right? Even though Yuna said that Eleanora had helped her get an audience with the king, I couldn’t imagine her being let in that easily.
She had been able to meet His Majesty without even a moment’s notice and got permission to borrow his head chef on the spot. She had even gotten all the necessary ingredients from the castle. How effective could she be…?
Just what had she done to make His Majesty let her get away with something like that? This was all way too baffling.
I must ask Eleanora for the details later.
While the bear had brought some great news, she also brought along some trouble…
I should be thanking her, but with the trouble she brought, I couldn’t do it genuinely.
If she had been planning on bringing such an amazing chef, she should have at least said something beforehand. Both Old Man Gran and I were completely perplexed.
Eleanora had gotten herself involved as well, and because of that, I would have to thank His Majesty in person. Of course, Old Man Gran planned to do the same.
The more I thought about the aftermath of Yuna bringing us the royal head chef, the more my head hurt. Still, Yuna had indeed brought over the best chef we could possibly get.
Right now, I should be thinking about how we could make the most out of this.
The outcome of this feud would be determined by how many people we could bring onto our side during this party.
Old Man Gran and Leonardo had tried to make some prior arrangements with several merchants, but that had not gone favourably. Just looking at the situation in the town, they had been able to deduce that we were on the losing side.
Still, during the last ten years, Old Man Gran had helped a lot of people. We had to bring those people in first and show them that we hadn’t been beaten yet. We also needed to get as many people of neutral standing as we could.
On the day of the party, I headed to the assembly hall early and waited until it was time to let the guests in. Today, the spotlight would be on Old Man Gran, and I had to do my best for this party to succeed.
Once the guests started to enter, I moved to a spot from where I could see the entire hall.
The guests, who were mostly the town’s nobles and merchant, slowly poured into the hall.
As I watched these influential people enter one by one, a man with a toad-like face caught my eye. It was Gerardo Salbert, the enemy of Old Man Gran.
Next to Gerardo was his son, Randall, who had picked a fight with the girls. Just hearing about what he had done to them made me want to hit him. It was just Gerardo and his son as his wife had passed away several years ago, or at least that was what I had heard.
Immediately after they entered, several people approached Gerardo. They were most likely the merchants who were siding with him. They bowed to him, trying to sell him their flattery.
Well, I wasn’t afraid of idiots who openly showed that they were on the enemy side. The ones we had to be careful of were those who pretended to be on our side, only to backstab us later on.
They could leak the information to Gerardo, while also making us think we were stronger than we actually were.
Because of that, we had to be suspicious of everyone.
I prayed that we wouldn’t get approached by anybody with plans like those.
As time went by, people approached Old Man Gran one by one to give him their wishes. This was just out of politeness for being invited to the party; the real fight would begin after this.
Eventually, Gerardo himself approached Old Man Gran.
「I wish you a Happy 50th Birthday.」
Gerardo congratulated him with a wry smile.
I was amazed that Old Man Gran had not noticed he had been dealing with a person like that all this time. I couldn’t tell if Old Man Gran was just too kind or simply had no danger sense.
「Thank you for coming all this way. We have plenty of good food prepared, so I hope you enjoy your time here.」
「I look forward to the food. I heard it was made by an assistant head chef from a famous restaurant at the capital.」
I saw Old Man Gran grasping his hands tightly when Gerardo mentioned that.
I understood his feelings, but he wasn’t in any position to argue right now.
There was still no evidence that Gerardo had been responsible for the attack on Botts.
We hadn’t been able to find any witnesses because it had been in an area where not many people passed by.
So, no matter how suspicious they were, we couldn’t accuse them. We could only endure their abuse. Old Man Gran must be frustrated, though.
When it was about time for the party to officially begin, Old Man Gran and his son, Leonardo, started whispering to each other.
「Is something wrong?」
I got concerned, so I approached them and asked.
「There are several people who didn’t show up, all of whom were siding with me.」
「They promised to attend, didn’t they?」
「Is this Gerardo’s doing?」
「We’ve got no proof. We also don’t have time to investigate it.」
It was possible that they had been threatened or even bribed.
We had no evidence, though; we only knew that several people on Old Man Gran’s side didn’t show up.
Still, this was no time to speculate about what had happened to them. We had to get the party going, so Old Man Gran told Leonardo to announce that he would address the guests.
「I thank you for attending my birthday party from the bottom of my heart. I’m sure many of you are very busy, so I really appreciate it.」
That was rather short for a speech. Old Man Gran sat back down, leaving his son to give the final words.
「Food has been prepared for everybody, so please enjoy.」
As they finished their short greeting, food was brought out.
It was a standing party, so food was not served individually. The maids placed the food on the tables scattered all around the hall.
As expected of the royal head chef, all the food looked and smelled amazing.
One of the maids brought drinks around, so I got myself a cup while the party guests all happily began to eat and chat with each other. They mostly chatted amongst themselves and their acquaintances, while some others went to speak with Old Man Gran or Gerardo.
After some time, somebody came up to me.
「Why, if it isn’t Cliff-dono. How have you been?」
「I’m doing fine, thank you. The last time we saw each other was at His Majesty’s birthday party, wasn’t it?」
It was one of the nobles from this town. He didn’t stay to chat, though, but rather went on to greet other people.
I normally stayed neutral in events like this, so I just observed both the Faren Gramm family and Salbert family from the distance. If we could just win over the guests, we would be fine, but it seemed like it was going to be rather difficult. The Salbert family was trying to do the same thing. At least they couldn’t use bribes here out in the open, so they had to try and gain the trust of the guests the normal way.
I glanced at how Old Man Gran’s side was doing and saw that Leonardo was now going around with his wife to greet the guests one by one.
The couple appeared to be received favorably, but it could all be just a farce.
Old Man Gran and Leonardo’s negotiation skills would surely be put to the test later on.
My job was to back up the Faren Gramm family and make sure Old Man Gran’s negotiations went in his favor. I didn’t know how much I could influence the situation, but it was surely better than having no support at all.
After looking around the room for a while, my gaze landed on my daughter. She seemed to be having fun, eating all sorts of food together with Misana.
Noa had promised me that she would stay by Misana’s side for the entire party. Misana would surely feel better with Noa being there for her, although I didn’t know how much help Noa would be if the Salbert family’s stupid son tried to approach them.
Speaking of Gerardo’s son, he was strolling around with three other children and enjoying the food for now.
This made me calm down a bit, but I still worried about what might happen later.
Really, this was why I had wanted Yuna to be here with them, but she refused to attend the party.
Then again, if she had attended wearing her costume, she would most likely have gotten dragged into troubles of her own.
Now that I thought about it, had she ever taken off her bear suit?
I honestly couldn’t even imagine what she would look like without it since I had only seen her wearing it so far.
While the idiot son was behaving at the moment, his father Gerardo was talking to quite a lot of people; more than I had expected he would be. At this rate, even those who were neutral might side with the Salbert family.
I had been afraid of this happening, so I had told Old Man Gran to not let anyone from the Salbert family attend his party, but he had already sent out the invitations.
I had really hoped that he would have at least given it some thought before sending them out…
「He’s a lord of this town; there’s no way I can not invite him.」
Had been what he had told me. All he had to do was make up some reason not to invite him, though.
There were many ways to do that, like saying that the party was for close friends and relatives only.
「I had to invite you and all the town’s nobles, so that means I couldn’t use that reason not to invite the Salbert family.」
I understood his reasoning, but it still didn’t convince me that there wasn’t another way not to invite them.
If this party failed, the balance of power would crumble completely.
The neutral side would see which side was more beneficial to them throughout this party.
With the party well underway, there was no point in contemplating who Old Man Gran had invited.
We should just look for people who would be willing to side with the Faren Gramm family.
As the party carried on, another selection of food was brought out.
「I can’t tolerate this any longer! Just what is wrong with these dishes!?」
Gerardo raised his voice angrily.
「How dare the Faren Gramm family serve such disgusting food at a party!」
Gerardo was so loud that the entire hall went silent.
Considering how happily he had eaten it earlier, this was obviously a fake outburst.
Still, things would obviously move in a bad direction if we let him continue yelling out like that.
「Is there something wrong with the food I provided for you?」
Old Man Gran went to speak with Gerardo.
「That’s right. It doesn’t taste good at all. I’m very disappointed, considering I heard that the food was made by the assistant head chef of a really famous restaurant at the capital. Or, did another chef make these?」
Gerardo responded with an evil grin.
Based on his attitude, it was obvious he knew that Botts had been injured and unable to cook. Although there was still no evidence, I was now sure that Gerardo had indeed gotten somebody to attack Botts.
「That’s true, my chef was injured, so we got another chef to make the food. However, our new chef doesn’t lose to Botts in terms of cooking.」
「Oh, a different chef, you say? No wonder the food tastes so bad.」
Gerardo took a sip of his soup and made a disgusted expression.
「I agree, this does taste pretty bad.」
「Yes, this must have been made by some second or even third-rate chef based on how it’s seasoned.」
Some other people began complaining about the food as well, following Gerardo’s lead.
All of them had been happily eating the food just a moment ago! I wanted to shout at them, but I didn’t want things to go the way Yuna had imagined it, so I kept my anger in check.
Yes, this was just how Yuna had predicted it before the party.
Either Gerardo or some his people would put trash or bugs into the food or simply claim it was disgusting. Either way, she had known they would have complained about it.
I had never heard of such pettiness happening at a noble’s party.
I had never seen this sort of thing happen. Calling perfectly good food disgusting… That would just get the one who complained odd looks.
I could understand Gerardo finding some other thing wrong with the party, but this food was prepared by the royal head chef. I had been certain that even Gerardo wouldn’t dare criticize such good food…
Still, just in case, I had kept an eye on them to make sure they didn’t try to put trash or bugs into the food. If they had tried doing that, I could have gotten some good evidence. Well, if there was only one piece of garbage, it would be difficult to prove that they had put in there on purpose.
I figured that they wouldn’t take that route anyway since there was no way a noble like Gerardo would be willing to carry around trash or bugs with them while their guards and servants couldn’t attend the party. When I had explained that to Yuna, she had said:「They will try to insult the food itself, then.」
I had asked her where on earth had she learned about such things, and she had told me she had read about them in stories.
Just what kind of books had she been reading?
Still, I was amazed that Gerardo had managed to say such delicious cooking was disgusting.
Everybody should normally look at Gerardo strangely, but with several others following suit, and the fact that a different chef had made this food being exposed, the whole situation was now making Old Man Gran look bad.
Gerardo was most likely trying to get Old Man Gran to stop the party.
If he stopped it now, he would be seen as a noble who couldn’t even hold a party, which would put a big dent on his image.
He would fail as a lord, being unable to provide good service at a party.
That was most likely why Gerardo had chosen to sabotage us using food, after all.
There were many influential people present, so Old Man Gran would have no way to deny he had been forced to shut it down.
Yet, this was exactly what Yuna had expected, and we had a countermeasure in place.
Yuna had told us that if we just had Zelef-san show up, this sabotage would end up as a failure.
We couldn’t just have him appear normally, though. We had to put up an act.
Once we had explained this plan to Zelef-san, he had said, 「How interesting,」and had agreed to it immediately.
Yuna had then given him some pointers on how to act dramatically. Just where on earth had she learned those things from? She was such a mysterious bear.
「I can’t believe you had such a terrible chef cook food for a party. Has the Faren Gramm family really fallen this low?」
When Gerardo said that, quite a few people laughed while others just watched from afar, not knowing how to react.
Only after Gerardo said that did Zelef-san enter the hall.
I was it just me or was he in a good mood?
The nobles dug their own graves. What a cliche, right? w
Next chapter will be Zelef-san POV, I guess.
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