Chapter 0203 Ramen
The third day passed without much difference compared with the second.
Then came the fourth day.
The fateful day.
On that day, Ryo was already excited since early in the morning.
“Kukuku, at last! At long last, my ambition will be fulfilled!”
While Abel was eating breakfast, Ryo was having only coffee.
Ryo, whose catchphrase was pretty much, ‘Breakfast is a must!’, seemed a bit unusual since he wasn’t adhering to his creed today.
“I’m talking about ramen! At long last, I can finally eat it! After decades of perseverance…I can’t tell you how long I’ve been waiting for this day.”
“Decades, wow…. Well, I hope that ‘ramen’ or whatever is the same as the ‘ramen’ you’re longing for.”
Abel was not being sarcastic or intended anything in particular, he was simply speaking his mind.
However, its impact on Ryo was intense.
Ryo suddenly froze in his merry state, and then his expression hardened… and after a while, he turned only his head toward Abel, you could almost hear the creaking sound.
“…It might not be the same ‘ramen’…”
“Hey, it’s only a possibility, okay, not a certainty.”
Abel, frightened by the change in Ryo, calmed him down.
“If it turns out to be so…then let me apologize in advance because I’m going to put the whole of Land on goddamn ice…”
“Hey, whoa, idiot, stop that! ”
For the sake of the civilian officials who were still engaged in intense negotiations, Abel prayed that Ryo would get the very ‘ramen’ he wanted.
That morning, Abel would be observing a mock battle between the knights of the Land nobles.
Typically mock battle was not something he disliked since there was no need for ass kissing, but…the problem was the fact that it’s the ‘Knight Orders of the nobles’.
“Dealing with nobles, what a royal pain in the ass…”
Fortunately, the mutterings of the second prince of the Kingdom of Knightley did not reach anyone’s ears.
After the civilian officials began negotiations, Abel headed to the mock battleground in a carriage and Ryo left the guest house in a carriage sent to pick him up by Duchess Alba, while some adventurers were escorted to the ducal castle.
They were led to the Grand Duke’s reception room.
It was Miu and her party of five.
The adventurers escorting the mission this time were selected from C-rank parties with many magicians, because of their synergy with the knights, who specialize in melee combat.
Since it is said that women have a greater affinity for magic than men, there were more female magicians than male magicians among the adventurers.
The party to which Miu belongs, ‘Valkyrie’ is unusual in that three of the members are magicians, and all five are women.
Perhaps because of this, the party got along very well, and they basically went everywhere together.
When Miu was invited by the Grand Duke of Land, her grandfather, the remaining four followed behind her as a matter of course.
Of course, Miu had obtained permission from the Grand Duke in advance.
When the five of them entered, the Grand Duke of Twilight Land, Silas Theo Santayana, was already waiting for them.
“Oh…Miu, it’s been a while.”
There he was, not with the guise of a ruler ruling a country, but a grandfather, just happy to see his granddaughter.
The mock battleground was on the outskirts of the capital.
When Abel arrived, the four knight orders were already lined up.
“Sir Abel, welcome.”
When Abel got off the carriage, he was greeted by four well-dressed young men.
“I am Robert, Count of Rijo, who will be presiding over this mock battle.”
“I am Abel, A-rank adventurer from the Kingdom.”
After exchanging words, they shook hands with each other.
The other three were also nobles: two viscounts, and a baron.
In other words, they are the lords of these four knight orders.
(A bunch of young nobles… each having about forty knights in their order… surprisingly, even a baron has a force of forty men. Even Kenneth in our Kingdom, as Baron Hayward, doesn’t have a single retinue to speak of… Maybe they’re just a bunch of young, bloodthirsty lot.)
Abel felt that way as he looked at the knights.
“Now, Sir Abel, if you would please follow me to the stand over there. After the mock battle, I would appreciate it if you could give me your impressions and point out anything you noticed.”
Count Robert Rijo urged Abel to move to the spectator’s stand.
Duchess Alba’s residence.
Entering through the gate, Ryo had an impression of a national university in the suburbs rather than a mansion.
Ryo himself went to a private university in Tokyo, but his local national university had a vast site that looked much like this, he thought.
Of course, there were no five-story buildings in Duchess Alba’s estate….
But quite a number of elegant buildings.
That must be a library, that building a concert hall, and that one an observatory…
It was strange why there was what seemed to be an observatory.
And then the carriage pulled up in front of a particularly luxurious building.
When Ryo got off the carriage, a red carpet was rolled out, with butlers and maids lined up on both sides.
The voices were perfectly aligned, with not a single one out of place.
Ryo was overwhelmed.
Just by looking at this, he could imagine the power of Duchess Alba.
If the subordinates are sloppy and do things haphazardly, their superiors will also be judged to be incompetent…that conclusion is just inevitable.
If that is the case, the opposite is also true.
If the deeds of the subordinates are pleasantly uniform, their superiors will also be judged capable…it’s only natural to come to that conclusion.
The butlers and maids here were aware that every one of their actions would be used to judge ‘Duchess Alba’.
They are trained to take responsibility for every single action they take daily.
This is what it means to be a professional.
Of course, the superiors as well, offer high salaries and favorable treatment to keep these professionals from leaving.
They have the ‘money’ and also understand the importance of spending it in such areas.
If the subordinates are professional, then… to keep those professional subordinates in sync, their superiors must also be professionals.
And Duchess Alba, as a ‘superior’, is a professional.
The butlers and maids, with just this one gesture, demonstrated this.
That got Ryo thinking about a lot of things.
Ryo was taken to a rather spacious dining room.
He had seen pictures of the Palace of Versailles and the Akasaka Palace… but the interior size there was unusual.
The length, width, height, and everything else seemed to have been multiplied several folds….
There was a huge long desk in the center.
It was probably the dining table…but it was massive.
And further back, at the back of the room, there appeared to be a person.
Yes, the room was so large that he could only recognize the figure as ‘appears to be a person’.
Ryo thought to himself.
(Damn, it is bigger than a school gymnasium…)
A dining room larger than a gymnasium.
Ryo was led by a butler and walked to the back of the room.
Then, the person who was in the back of the room also walked toward him.
“Ryo, thank you very much for coming.”
It was Agnes, the bewitching beauty he had met at the banquet.
“Your Excellency, it is my pleasure to be here today…”
“Oh, come on. No need for such formalities. Please call me Agnes. As we are both water-attribute magicians.”
As she said this, Agnes gave a terrifyingly bewitching smile, somewhere between a sweet and suggestive grin.
Even Ryo was momentarily taken aback by her smile.
“Uh, sure, Lady Agnes.”
Somehow Ryo managed to keep reason, not because of his strong rationality, but because of the aroma that wafted through the air into the dining room.
“Oh, you can perceive it all the way here. Let’s leave the complicated stuff for later, let’s eat first, shall we? Come, over here.”
Agnes said, indicating a seat to Ryo, and sat down next to him.
As soon as Ryo sat down, the door opened and a tray was brought in.
After arriving next to Ryo, the cover was removed for the big reveal.
It was unmistakably a tonkotsu ramen, just as Ryo had hoped.
Two bowls of tonkotsu ramen were reverently placed in front of them by the butler.
It was only then that Ryo noticed.
Next to the ramen was something that had already been set up.
“A fork, chopsticks, and a spoon…”
That’s right, chopsticks of all things.
‘Chopsticks’, which he had never seen in the Kingdom or the Duchy since he left the Rondo Forest.
“You can use a fork to eat ramen, but officially, you are supposed to use something called ‘chopsticks’, right there. It’s oriental tableware. However, it’s not exactly easy to use for the first time, so I had them prepare a fork as well.”
Even on 『Phi』, there is a cultural sphere in the East where people eat with chopsticks.
Ryo learned that for the first time that day.
“Now, let’s eat it while it’s still warm.”
“Yes. Thank you for the meal.”
Ryo involuntarily put his hands together and said, ‘Itadakimasu’.
Agnes was surprised to see this, but Ryo didn’t notice as his full attention was already on the ramen.
Ryo held the chopsticks in his right hand and a spoon in his left. A perfect formation.
First, the soup.
He scooped the soup with the spoon into his mouth.
The words leaked out unintentionally.
Agnes, looking satisfied with her sideways glance, also sipped the soup with a spoon.
Ryo drank two mouthfuls of soup and finally started on the noodles.
The noodles were what is called medium-thick noodles.
The doctrine that ‘thin noodles are the best for tonkotsu ramen!’ was the last thing on Ryo’s mind.
As long as it’s tasty.
In cooking, the taste is everything, and if it tastes good, it is justice.
Even the thickest tonkotsu ramen is justified as long as it tastes good!
And the tonkotsu ramen in front of him…the succulent mix of the noodles and soup was….
First, a slurp.
Then, another slurp.
And another slurp.
After that, he couldn’t stop.
Ryo was by no means a fast eater. He was a big eater, depending on the occasion.
And he hated eating messily most of all.
On this occasion, Ryo showed an almost miraculous appearance of a ‘charming fast eater’.
There was only one reason.
Because the ramen was delicious.
Having hailed from Kyushu, Ryo was of course picky when it came to tonkotsu ramen.
But the ramen in front of him was, purely and simply, delicious!
Ryo finished his bowl of ramen in no time.
Looking at Ryo, who let out a sigh of satisfaction, Agnes smiled and uttered a terrible suggestion.
“Care for some refill?”
He answered without a moment’s pause.
Seeing Ryo’s completely conditioned reflex, Agnes smiled happily.
She then resumed eating herself.
Ryo, in the meantime, had time on his hands.
Suddenly, he looked at Agnes eating beside him.
A beautiful woman eating ramen with her head tilted slightly to the side and her hair falling over her ears.
It was a scene that could have been made into a beautiful moving picture by itself.
Ryo was in heaven.