Part 38: Two's Story: Today's MealEdit: Moved this from the previous page just so there wasn't two updates bogging down things.
Two's Story: Today's Meal
Is there anything I can help you with, Lady Two?
Aw, Cent, you called me "Lady Two." You promised me that youd
I was about to say, call me Two when were alone, but I stopped myself short. It cant be helped; Cent must be proper and refer to me as Lady Two when others are around. But he leaves out the Lady part when were all alone. We made that promise a while ago. Thats why Cents been calling me "Two" lately. As long as we're alone. But he said Lady just now. That means...
I stop pouring water into the cooking pot and about-face! Then I rush toward the entrance to the kitchen. I hear some footsteps running. And not just one set, but multiple. I catch a glance of the ones running away and see that theyre the chefs. So Cent referred to me as Lady Two since he knew everyone was peeking.
I knew it. Oooh! I told you Id be fine by myself! Why cant you trust me?
A large hand gently touches my cheek as I pout. Then I notice Cents gorgeous face in front of mine.
You cant blame them, now can you? After all, you are a precious Intoner to everyone in this land.
Ah! My cheeks light on fire at the touch of his hand. What should I do? I cant stop blushing. And hes not giving me time to think. I cant take it! Mv hearts about to burst!
But obviously, no one in this world cares for you as deeply as I.
What should I do? What should I do? What should I do!?
How can Cent be so handsome? Hes not only handsome, but hes kind, too. And he tells us all these funny stories. But when were alone... Yeee!
Two? Are you feeling all right, my dear? It might be best to lie down in the bedroom.
The bedroom? D-Dont say another word! Yeee! Yeee! Yeee!
Why don't we take a break from cooking for the moment...
No! I have to cook today!
That reminds me of something important. Calm down, calm down! I have to cook for Cent today! Itll be a dinner for us the two of us! Ive been preparing for this for two whole weeks! Breathe, breathe...
Then, may I lend a hand?
Absolutely not! I wont allow it! You cant look, either! Wheres the fun if you know what Im making?
...But itd be nice if you could stick around, just to keep me company.
As you wish, my lady.
Ack! Hes giving me that cute smile of his! Thats so unfair! How am I supposed to concentrate!? ...Breathe. I need to breathe... Calm down. Okay, Im okay. I take a couple more breaths and then tap my cheeks.
All right! Im in the groove! Cent, take a seat over there.
I point to the chair in the corner, trying not to look at Cents face as much as possible. Can you blame me? My heart would start pounding again if I looked at his face! All right, then. Back to cooking.
I place the water-filled pot on the counter. Then I cast my spell. The magical glyph glows and ignites a fire that engulfs the pot. I dont know how, but this counter seems to have been used for some sort of ceremony. I suppose that shouldnt be a surprise. This room wasnt a kitchen when we first got here; this whole place was actually a shrinenot the most accommodating of places. But my sister One gave me orders to rule over the Land of Sands and protect the shrine," so I decided to live in it! Living in the shrine was the most convenient option, after all. I mean, I didnt have to worry about building a new house! Though I did have to redecorate the place a bit. To spruce it up, you know?
For instance, there was this room with lots of old books and scrolls, so I had the books taken out and made it into a bedroom. There was tons of dust, but I cleaned the place thoroughly and scrubbed the floor spotless, so its really nice now. I put up some wallpaper with small flowers on it. There was a kilt with a similar pattern, so I turned that into the bedcover. Then I placed a table with carved legs next to the bed for a nightstand and placed a vase with flowers on it. I always wanted a cute room, you know. The only thing missing are some adorable curtains, but this shrines underground, so there arent any windows... Still, its a comfortable place to live in. Its cool inside when its hot outside, and when its cold outside, its nice and warm here. I bet whoever built this shrine had the extreme weather in mind when designing the place. Although it is annoying to need candles on all the time to get any light down here, even during the day.
Another perk of living underground is that food doesnt spoil easily. I made this ceremony room into a kitchen and I didnt even have to make a storage area for food! But I still need to make sure that our supplies are kept away from heat. Oh, and I wanted to eat with all the soldiers and neighbors, so I made the really laaaaarge area in the middle into a dining hall by placing a bunch of chairs and tables there. Food always tastes better when youre eating with a large group. right?
But I thought itd be nice to have dinner alone with Cent, even if it was just once in a while. So, thats why I decided to cook today. I gave all the chef and servants the day off. Everyone needs some time off to relax.
Here we go. The veggies have all been prepped. so I need to get the meat ready.
Two, is that tro
Yes, its troll. I skinned it and cut it up into chunks, Im going to stew it with some herbs. Oh, I made sure to drain the blood so theres nothing to worry about.
I use a sword to cleave the joint. Troll bones are super tough, so normal knives wont do. They chip too easily. Luckily, only the bones are hard. The meat is actually nice and soft. Thats why you can use troll meat for various dishes and not just stews. You can fry it, or you can cut it into thin slices and broil it, or even batter and deep fry it. Pickling the meat and then storing it in a barrel will let it hold for six months, too! Its such a great way to preserve food!
The only problem is that trolls are pretty heavy, so its difficult to work with the meat unless youre strong. I think thats why more people dont know that troll meat is so useful. Of course, Im sure wed see more of it if troll pelts had any kind of value...but they smell so awful that no one wants them.
A whole troll might be too much for the two of us...
I rub some salt and wine into the meat once I cut it into chunks. Removing the tendons is quite a chore, but its also a lot of fun. I love cooking.
Its wonderful to have a place to cook whenever I feel like it.
We hardly stopped anywhere with a proper kitchen when we were traveling. It was mostly cooking meat or fish over an open fire, and thats it. Wed occasionally come across an empty house with a kitchen. And by occasionally, I mean rarely. But it always brought a smile to my face when we did and I always insisted that the cook take the day off so that I could prepare a meal for everyone.
By the way, whos the best cook amongst the Intoners?
That would definitely be One.
And not you?
I think about Cents question for a second. I definitely enjoy cooking the most, but Ones the best cook. Theres no doubt about it. That being said...
No, Ones the best. But if you asked her, Im sure shed tell you that anyone could do what she does.
What do you mean by that?
Well, she thinks that the basics of cooking are so easy that even a child could do it. She just cant understand how someone could mess up such a simple task.
I see. So Lady One believes that cooking comes naturally. However, cooking is not comprised of just the basics.
She said you can apply the basics to anything if you give it a little thought.
The problem is that just a little thought for One is thinking up a storm for most other people.
What about Lady Three? Shes skilled in handling blades, isn't she?
I guess you could call them blades, but Threes specialty is scissors.
There are scissors specifically for cooking, but Threes scissors aren't really for for that. I think there was a time where she used them to cut open a fish, and the fish ended up all mangled. But then One used a rock to grind the fish. She then rolled out the fish meat and broiled it. It was so delicious! She then reminded us that its simply impossible to mess up cooking.
On top of that, Three doesn't seem to like tampering with things much. Shes the type that likes to enjoy the natural flavor of a dish. Like enjoying fresh ingredients the way they are.
...It sounds like shes just lazy.
Hmmm... I guess you could say that.
We were always given vegetables whole if Three was in charge of cooking. I think Three just never was interested in cooking.
Oh, but Four did say that you shouldn't overcook vegetables. If you do, then youd lose a lot of nutrients.
I think she said that veggies found above ground should be left uncooked, while veggies taken from the ground should be. Thats why its better to eat fruits and leafy greens raw, while its better to boil or cook onions and potatoes. At least, according to Four.
She also said that its best to have a meat-to-vegetable ratio of one-to-two. And that its better to eat fruits in the mornings and to eat fish at least twice a week.
I think she also said that using sugar and salt too much isnt good, either. The food was always bland whenever Four was in charge of cooking. I guess it cant be helped. I mean, when Four cooked, Five would pour salt on without even tasting the food, saying, This is just the right amount for your dishes, my dear sister.
But you know, its because of her understanding of food that Fours cooking makes you feel really healthy Its almost medicinal.
It sounds like her food is just overly bland.
Uhhh... I guess you could say that.
But her cooking is perfect if youre sick. You could eat whatever she made even if you had an upset stomach. I remember a time when we stayed with a farmer and Four cooked dinner to show our thanks. The grandma was so happy. She said that there were so many things she couldnt eat because of her old age. But she ate everything that Four made that night.
How is Lady Five's cooking?
Fives cooking is the complete opposite of Fours. Whereas Fours cooking is perfect for sick people, only the fittest can handle Fives cooking. Its like you need courage to eat it!
Five loves really spicy meat and oily foods. Shed use a ton of sugar or salt while cooking, too. Four would always complain that there werent enough greens in Fives cooking or that it was too rich. Five also loves exotic foods. Shed toss in plenty of herbs or mushrooms that she found into her dishes. Even grotesque-looking ingredients were fair game. Im more open to various foods now because of Five... Who would have thought insects could be so tasty if theyre prepared right?
The thing is, Five doesnt care at all if somethings unhealthy or dangerous. I remember a time when she made a stew with fish and mushrooms. We all got horribly sick after eating that stew. According to One, Five used a poisonous fish whole. One also said that colorful mushrooms shouldnt be eaten. Considering Five put both of those into her stew, its no wonder we all got sick.
But that kind of incident never deterred Five. The next time she was in charge of dinner, she tried to use some red mushrooms with white spots in a salad and Four gave her a thorough scolding. Im not sure if Five has thick skin, but she sure is consistent. She'll bring some exotic ingredients whenever she visits and always asks, Is this edible, Two? And every time, I try to come up with creative recipes to utilize them fully. Its more fun than you might think! Its almost like trying to figure out how to make tough meat tender, or how to get rid of the foul odors meat can give off. Ill try anythinghitting the food, drying it out in the sun, or brining it in wine or oil. Oh, the feeling I get when I can make something I thought was completely inedible into something delicious! Nothing beats that!
Five seems to understand how I feel. She started off bringing me unusual fish and nuts, but then she started bringing extremely difficult ingredients to use, like carnivorous plants and fish with poisonous spines. I guess the greater the challenge, the greater the reward, right? Just the other day, she went out and caught a sandworm in the desert, and it wasnt a tiny one either. She really surprised me with that one. It was gargantuan! I mean, how can you not give it your all after seeing something like that and the effort she put into catching it? I did my best, and a couple of days later, I made a wonderful sandworm soup! I was so happy when the soup was done. It feels wonderful when your efforts are rewarded, doesnt it?
Fives the type that constantly aims high. You could say shes adventurouscourageous evenwhen it comes to food. No, thats not right. Maybe an evangelist? A guru? Uh... whats the word?
I believe you mean her tastes are bizarre.
Ummm... Well, I guess you could say that.
But when living in the land of Sands, having a bizarre taste is a vital survival skill. Its not unusual to go days without a drop of rain here. This country is more likely to see a year of famine than one with plenty of rain. If you can catch a monster and use it for food, then you wont die of starvation, right? We can all dine together no matter what happens, and its all thanks to Five.
Anyway, the trolls ready. I just need to simmer it for a while. And now...
I open the barrel I had sitting in the corner of the kitchen after I toss the troll meat chunks into the stew. The smell of liquor stings my nose. Ive been preparing this for two whole weeks.
Okay, its looking good. Now to put it onto the counter.
Rragh! Ha! Ha! <smacks meat with a club>
Two... what is that?
Oh, this? Its minotaur thigh. I think its called tendon or something. Its from the minotaurs we slew a while ago. I pickled the remaining meat since we didnt finish it all, remember?
I washed the meat thoroughly, soused it. and then let it sit in wine two weeks ago. Minotaur meat is delicious, but its so tough that it needs a good tenderizing first.
Im pounding the meat to tenderize it so that its nice and soft. Then Im going to cut it up and stir-fry it with some veggies. Huh? Wait a minute... Ive been telling you what Im making havent I? I guess asking you not to look was kind of pointless...
No, my lady. It is not pointless. Its obvious that such explanations are beyond the comprehension of disciple of my caliber.
Wow! Thats incredible! Youre so amazing Cent!
What should I do? My heart wont stop racing! Why is Cent so handsome and charming? I love him so much that I could die! Wait, no... I cant be with him if I die. But I dont know what to do! My heart cant take this anymore! Its beating so fast!
Gah, what am I thinking about? Be still, my beating heart! I need to calm down! Focus... focus! Hiya! Hiya! Hiya!
<Smacks the minotaur tendon over and over> Hiya! Hiya! Hiya!
Phew, this is hard work... And all this smacking has actually calmed me down. I am kind of out of breath, though... And... Oh dear. The tendon looks like minced meat. And theres a crack in the counter...
Oops...I guess I overdid it. Oh well. Hehehe.
I collect myself and attempt to start cutting up the veggies when I hear some voices from the door.
Play with us, please!
Huh? What's the matter?
I see their cute little faces all lined up by the door. Oh, these precious little children. Theyre orphans. The Land of Sands is impoverished and the old ruler was a really lousy guy, so a lot of people, adults and children, died under his rule. These kids survived, but they were left all alone. That's why I decided to take them in an live together. Even if their moms and dads aren't here, they won't be lonely if we're all together. I was never lonely growing up because I had One, Three, Four, and Five by my side. There were times when I'd remember Mom and Dad and want to cry, but I never did. And that's because I had my sisters.
But why are the children even here? I had everyone at the shrine take the day off, so I asked them to take care of the kids for the day.
I thought you were all leaving for a slumber party.
We came back.
We wanna be with you!
Come on, let's play!
Oh, these adorable kids are holding hands lined up by the entry way. They're my... family. Then I feel a hand gently touch my shoulder.
Don't worry about me, Two.
I turn around to see Cent's smiling face. Ah, Cent completely understands. My feelings, my desires, what's important to me. Everything. It's not because I'm an Intoner and he's my disciple, right? I'm sure that I'd have fallen in love with Cent and he'd have fallen in love with me no matter what our roles were... Right?
Let's have a dinner for two some other time.
Yeah. Thank you, Cent.
I love you, Cent. I love you more than anyone in this whole world. I'm so glad we met.
All right, wait a sec, okay? I'm making a yummy meal and we can all eat together when I'm done!
I go back to cooking for my beloved Cent and my precious family.