Limited Time, Kitchen Maid of the Fourth Knight Order ~I Got a Job Because I Don’t Want to Get Married~ – Chapter 30

𝐒𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐰𝐡𝐨 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐞𝐦𝐛𝐥𝐞𝐬 𝐦𝐲 𝐬𝐢𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐫

One of Rene’s recommended restaurants is located in a lively corner of a castle town. Upon entering the door of this quaint, weathered shop, you’re immediately greeted with a cheerful voice.

“Welcome! Feel free to sit wherever you like!”

Rene navigates through the tables with ease and takes a seat. The chair is a simple wooden one that creaks when you sit down, only having a backrest for support. A pitcher of water and two cups are placed on the worn-out table.

“What would you like to order?”

“One shrimp and one ground meat crepe, please. And one extra plate.”

“Certainly!”

Water appears to be self-serve, so we each pour into our own cups. The atmosphere feels nostalgically familiar.

Normally talkative, Rene says nothing, so I silently look around the restaurant. The sizzling sounds and appetizing smells fill the air.

After a while, two plates are placed on our table. Despite being described as crepes, they surprisingly resemble large, unfolded dumplings. The white dough has crispy burnt marks.

Rene cuts the crepe in half and serves it on a plate. I do the same with my half and we share.

“Let’s eat.”

It seems like we’re supposed to eat this with our hands, so I start with the shrimp, which looks the easiest to eat. From the crispy and chewy dough comes a plump shrimp, along with vegetables with a texture similar to crunchy bamboo shoots. The fragrance of aromatic vegetables escapes, and it’s loaded with various types of mushrooms.

“It’s delicious!”

“Right? The ground meat is also tasty.”

“I’ll try that next!”

The ground meat is spicy, leaving a lingering heat from the chili peppers. It’s loaded with plenty of bean sprouts and garlic chives, and a punch of garlic. A mochi-like ingredient soaks up the meat juices, making it delicious until the last bite.

“So, was it informative?”

“It was delicious! The small shrimp seems affordable, and the shape makes it easy for takeout.”

“Then let’s go to the next place. You’re still hungry, right?”

“Yes! If the next place isn’t far, I’d like to walk there.”

“A walk would help us digest. Let’s do that.”

Though Rene is smaller among the lord knights, he’s taller than I am. He effortlessly navigates through challenging paths and crowds, subtly escorting me as we head to the next destination.

“This place has delicious pies. Can I order the recommended ones?”

“I’ll leave it to you.”

We enter a cute shop with a red roof, and are greeted by a scowling, burly old man.

“. . .Welcome.”

“One meat pie, one cheese and pancetta pie, and one apple pie. Also, an extra plate, please.”

As the nodding old man starts preparing the pies, Rene whispers something in my ear. I flinch a bit, and sensing this, Rene stops moving.

“. . .It’s rare to see a man cooking, but that old man makes the pies. He likes cute things but thinks they don’t suit him, so he’s quiet. Don’t be scared.”

“Okay.”

We sit facing each other and wait for the pies to be served.

Rene is among the lord knights with whom I’ve always felt at ease talking, but the close distance is still unfamiliar. I feel like I could hold hands with someone like Roa-sama, but what happened earlier was too close.

As a noblewoman who also dances in close proximity, my behavior is rather unfitting. I’ve seen men and women chatting while dancing closely at parties, and it’s really close. Maybe I’m not cut out to act like a proper lady or get married.

 ㅤ

“Sorry for the wait. Here’s the pie.”

“Thank you. It looks delicious today as well.”

“You’re welcome.”

The pie that has been served is cut neatly and as evenly as possible with a knife to share.

After pondering which slice to eat, I decided to start with the meat pie. The crust is crispy, loaded with butter. The tartness of the tomato nicely balances the greasiness of the beef, blending well with the spices.

“Delicious! I can’t quite figure out what spices are used, but it’s tasty!”

It might be unclear whether the spices are as expected, but what’s delicious is delicious. The pie with cream cheese and pancetta has figs inside, making it sweet and salty. The popping texture of the figs is enjoyable.

“It’s so sweet and salty, I could eat this forever! The apple pie is just. . .just. . .!”

“Delicious, isn’t it?”

“I want to be an apprentice! I want to work here!”

“Is your own shop not good enough?”

“I’m not sure, but if I were to work somewhere, I’d want it to be here!”

It’s that delicious. When I go to buy Edgardo’s cakes, I think I’ll come here too. And buy one of every kind.

“I have many more recommended shops. Well, this one is my top pick.”

“Thank you, Rene-sama! Sir, thank you for the meal. We’ll come again!”

Since I’m starting to feel full, I decided to visit a nearby magical tool shop before heading to the next food place.

I was planning to make a pressed flower from the one Roa-sama gave me, but it turns out Prep-kun dried it for me.

Prep-kun is amazing. There’s nothing Prep-kun can’t do!

The flower that Prep-kun dried beautifully is stored in a sturdy box to prevent it from crumbling. I want to put it in a bottle with a preservation spell to make it last longer.

When I quit being a kitchen maid, I’ll ask if I can take Prep-kun with me. What I need is the Prep-kun who has always supported my work as a kitchen maid, not a brand-new one.

We arrived at the magical tool shop guided by Rene. Magic tools are crammed everywhere, and a skinny young man is working at a desk.

“Excuse me, I’m looking for a bottle with a preservation spell.”

“Ah, w-welcome! The bottles are over here. May I ask what you intend to use it for?”

“I want to preserve dried flowers. I want a bottle that won’t break if dropped but will shatter and erase its contents if thrown with force.”

“Uh, we don’t have anything that specific, but how about this? It’s reinforced with a strengthening spell and won’t break if dropped. To open it, you’ll need to use registered magic. In an emergency, you could open the bottle and crush its contents.”

“That should work for erasing evidence if it’s dried flowers.”

After all, it’s a flower of royal colors. If I quit being a kitchen maid or if Roa-sama leaves the Knights, I intend to burn that flower, but anything could happen before then.

I could just burn it sooner, but I want to look at it a little longer. The flower, the color of the blue sky on that day, that someone of such high rank picked for me while kneeling.

I buy a larger bottle just to be safe and leave the shop. Rene silently follows me.

 ㅤ

“I don’t plan on commenting on a lady’s shopping, but that was the first time I’ve seen such a purchase. The store manager over there is skilled but was extremely nervous. It seemed like Alice’s outrageous comment blew his nervousness away.”

“I think there have been people who’ve made similar orders before.”

“Not really. Maybe something like ‘it’ll explode if you throw it,’ but that’s about it.”

“Maybe that would’ve been better.”

“A fire in the royal castle? The whole family would get executed.”

“It’s a good thing we didn’t buy it.”

It’s really a relief.

The day was getting late, and we arrived at the last shop Rene was guiding us to. The place is not as noisy as a pub, yet not as upscale as a bar.

The store is softly illuminated with various colors like pale yellow and orange. We were led to a semi-private room on the second floor and took our seats. Rene quickly made the orders, and we were left alone.

“Alice claims to be pursuing commoner-friendly flavors, but she knows how to cater to aristocrats too. Why not study both and broaden your options?”

“True, but I can’t work in a place meant for aristocrats, even though I am one.”

“There are high-end restaurants that hard-working commoners save up to dine at. Is that not an option?”

It’s as if scales were falling from my eyes.

“. . .That’s not out of the question.”

“It’s Alice’s life, so she should do what she wants. We came to this restaurant because we wanted to end the date at a fancier place.”

It seems like a meeting between a man and a woman alone counts as a date among aristocrats. Rene, who diligently counts our food tour as a date, appears to have taken us to a more date-like venue at the end.

The restaurant is for couples, and it would be awkward to come alone or with Edgardo or Rolf. While appreciating Rene’s thoughtfulness, I dig into the served terrine.

The terrine is colorful, filled with shrimp, crab, asparagus, and tomatoes. Each ingredient has a unique texture and flavor, artfully arranged so that they don’t interfere with one another. It’s very delicately prepared.

“I’ve been interested in becoming a knight since I was little and spent my free time practicing with a sword. But when I grew up and realized I’d have to take over the house, I began those studies. Then my sister beat me up.”

“Beat you up?”

“If you want to be a knight, then become one! Don’t do things halfway! She was mad. But I didn’t give up on being a knight by choice. I screamed back that I’m taking over so she can marry her commoner boyfriend! My territory is in the countryside, close to the people. My parents didn’t oppose my sister marrying a commoner. I genuinely thought I was sacrificing for everyone’s sake. Then my sister stood in front of me, who was sitting down beaten, and declared that she’d take over. She said her lover would learn everything about being an aristocrat. I was stunned.”

Rene chuckled, perhaps reminiscing about that moment.

 ㅤ

“After finally mustering the courage to ask if my parents agreed with my choice, all I got was a ‘We don’t care!’ They said I’m the heir, so I should choose my own spouse. When I argued that our noble status makes the choice of a spouse important and someone would surely be willing to marry into our rural family, they simply cut me off with ‘Not needed!’ My parents are laid-back and readily gave their consent. I was dumbfounded, wondering what all my angst was about. Turns out, my sister had simply prioritized me. When I thanked her, she grinned and said she’d always wanted to manage the territory anyway. To this day, I don’t know if that’s her true feeling, but I aim to become a knight my sister can be proud of.”

“Your sister sounds wonderful.”

“Yes. Alice, you somewhat resemble my sister.”

Resemble, you say? I, who want to escape from marriage and home, and Rene’s sister, who is willing to inherit the house, seem polar opposites to me.

“I meant in the sense that you both seem like you’d have younger brothers.”

“I see. I do have a younger brother.”

Ah, so the similarity is that we both have brothers who are overly fond of their sisters.

“Alice, you should just do what you want to do. Just as I wish for my sister. You have the support of your family; that’s why you’re working as a kitchen maid, right?”

“. . .Yes, thank you.”

Rene’s words gently nudge me forward. I’m happy that it’s not a directive, but a suggestion.

“I’ll think about it and discuss it with my family.”

“Alright.”

My family, who likely have noticed a lot, have been silently watching over me. Next time I go home, I’ll say that I want to work among the commoners. I was confident that I won’t be flatly refused. Surely, they will think it over with me.

I feel as if a light has been turned on in my future. It was a gentle night.

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