1, The Cream Stew of Beginnings・2nd Half
The time of warring states. The eras of various powerful warlords.
The feudal lord of this Sabraeu continent held various big and small influences, boasting himself as the supreme ruler of the continent, immersing himself in nothing but war.
On the battlefields were the exchanges between magic and arrows, the clashing of spears and swords. Amidst life and death, ambitions, hope, and desire melt, forming chaos.
It’s because of these times that the business of mercenaries was profitable.
And I, Ganglabe also held such ambitions, together with my four childhood friends we started up a mercenary corps. Our goal was to become a feudal lord, having the country in our hands. So that we can build a place where orphans like us can live without fear and in peace.
Our goal was that kind of peaceful country. One where there’s no starvation or poverty. Saving the citizens from dirty rulers who only exploit them.
But, it’s already been five years since the start of the mercenary corps. Even now it’s still just a small scale corps.
My childhood friends have talent in fighting and magic, I too have confidence with my sword and strategies. Still, no matter how much we fight, how much we earn, there was no way for us to increase the corps.
People, horses, weapon, all eat up money. Going by just my resourcefulness there doesn’t seem to be a way to further increase the fifty people we currently have.
And then one day I met him.
Thinking back to it, that was probably a meeting of fate.
That day was the war of Lynbell hills, and we were hired by the lord of the northern lands.
It was a war which dragged on for quite a bit, suitable for the amount we were paid. The northern lord carried gold, and the amount taken from the other lord was also quite an amount.
But the soldiers were tired from the long war.
Two months passed. Labouring just to earn money, I was hoping for the war to end soon but, it was probably extended for too long. We fell into a mud bog.
Not knowing when to stop, it was my mistake.
The twenty troops I was leading were also tired, all the other troops were probably the same.
Something had to be done, I needed something to raise the morale of the troops.
“What’s with the commotion”
Postponing my meal, as I was looking at the map on the tabletop thinking about the method of attack, one of my childhood friends came into the tent.
The one leading the archery unit, Teg. He might just be lucky but, he has never missed a shot, and his unit was made of elites.
“We caught a suspicious guy, came here to tell you”
“Suspicious guy? A spy?”
“Uh…no, doesn’t seem to be a spy…”
A suspicious guy whose not a spy?
I didn’t really get it so I went out and met the guy.
Tunic and pants. That was all he was wearing.
However, I’ve never seen his kind of tunic or pants, nor the sewing method or material. But it was good quality.
And he was a peculiar fellow.
His features were flat and ordinary. Short hair and unusual black eyes.
He was a thin man who also wasn’t very tall.
Too weak to be a villager, too delicate to be a soldier, too unrefined to be the son of a ruler.
I’ve met a lot of people, nurturing my judgement skills and knowledge but, I can’t see through this guy.
“Who are you? Why are you here?”
I question cautiously. It would be annoying if I get attacked out of no where.
For reason he starts laughing.
“What are you laughing at!”
I felt despondent getting angry. What’s with this guy.
“Umm, you can call me Shuri. Where is this place?”
“The one asking questions is me. Stop speaking nonsense.”
It’s useless to try to take advantage of anything. I won’t let you.
But, who is this person. Why is he here.
This was right in the middle of a battlefield, why did this guy who doesn’t seem to be fighting get lost here.
“You’re called Shuri right? Where do you belong? What village are you from”
“The countryside of Japan”
“Jyapan… never heard of the place”
Of all the times and places, even from the veterans who have crossed the various battlefields, I’ve never heard of this place.
Even during the five years since I’ve started my mercenary corps, I’ve never heard of this territory.
“Um, I got lost getting here, and I have no idea where this place is”
“Shut up for me”
He keeps breaking my train of thought.
There was no way to grab onto them as they drifted away. Such a bothersome person shouldn’t exist.
“So uh, I’m pretty hungry”
“Be quiet, so are we”
There’s no way that this guy is some big shot right, I thought for a second. To ask for food in this situation, is that normal?
Rather than that, my mercenary corps have no one to create decent meals.
We can cook for ourselves but, we don’t have a cook who can feed others. That’s why we’ve become used to just eating Salt and Potato soup.
So we’re hungry. No matter what we do we’re hungry.
Once we arrive at a city, eating to our heart’s content is a common goal.
“Captain, what do?”
“There doesn’t seem to be anything we can take”
“But doing nothing like this won’t do any good”
“However, there’s no way we can just free him. Hurry up and kill him and start preparing for the war.”
My childhood friends also gave me their opinions.
Indeed we probably can’t take anything of value off him, it’s better to just kill him quickly.
I also don’t know if the information will leak from somewhere. The only option is to get rid of the source of anxiety.
“Uh, excuse me”
“I’m kinda hungry, can I cook something please?”
“…You, you’re a cook?”
“If its cooking then I can do the basics. If you’re going to kill me, at least do it after I eat something please.”
Doing a trade in this sort of situation huh.
Indeed, our food situation isn’t something to be happy about. It’ll probably change if we had a cook.
Grinning, I laugh and say.
“In that case, make something delicious. If you do that, I will let you live”
“Captain?! Are you serious?!”
“It’s before the war. Doing something like this to raise the morale of the troops wouldn’t be bad. If it tastes bad then we can just kill him”
If he can cook up something delicious, then above all else the soldiers energy would get restored.
If it’s no good then its fine to just kill him as revenge.
No matter which it comes to, it’ll be a method to raise the morale.
Releasing the ropes, I lent him the kitchen utensils.
“The ingredients are over there”
The boy named Shuri carefully looked at the ingredients he was handed.
The ingredient he could use was just these. I’m not looking forward to something decent with these ingredients.
“Is there anything else?”
“No. This is already quite extravagant. It’s usually Salt and Potato soup.”
This was a lie. Because we don’t have an expert who can make emergency rations, we only maintain the amount of food that we can eat.
If it was a better place, we could maintain things like deer meat.
“Then… let’s go with Seafood Cream Stew. It would be so much better if there was shrimp. Since there’s none then let’s replace it with the perch.”
Shrimp? Perch? Seafood?
This guy, what can he do with these ingredients?
While I was thinking that, that guy started cooking.
He prepared the fish with skillful and familiar hands. I see, so he’s making a meat, potato, spring onion, salt soup.
We always grill the fish to eat. Usually until it’s burnt. Tastes so bad that no one goes for it.
But, Shuri takes out the head and the body, and in particularly the insides beautifully, grilling the head and body, before putting it into the pot to boil in hot water. Then put in the potato after peeling it.
The head? What’s he going to do?
“Can you eat… that?”
One of the commanders behind me murmured.
Indeed, we don’t have a habit of eating the head.
In the meantime, the water boils, and gets dyed slightly white.
…What is that.
“…I think I’m good”
He murmurs again. I’m the one who wants to run away.
However, as the milk, butter, wheat flour which was baking in another pot was poured into it, I felt like fainting.
Teg also looked like he wanted to vomit. The pot which was sort of white, turned completely white.
…This guy, it might be better to just kill him right here.
“Finish with some spring onions as toppings”
I don’t know if he felt my killing intent or not but, Shuri served it onto a dish, placing the chopped spring onions on top.
“Here you go”
Should I… eat this.
No matter where I look it’s just white. The head wasn’t put in but, it’s a potato, fish meat completely white soup with spring onion garnish.
But… this is.
“This… soup is white”
“It’s cream stew”
I don’t understand the meaning of that reply.
“If it’s bad I’ll kill you”
Giving him a warning, I scooped out some soup with a spoon.
It looks like that but, I’ll say honestly.
It smells great.
The delicious smell scattered around, soon it released a charm as if it was telling me to eat it now.
The matching between the fish, milk, and butter. The refreshing taste of the fish, the thick milk and cheese spread with a mild flavourful taste.
Sweet initially then the saltiness suddenly appears, enhancing the taste.
“How is it captain?”
That was seriously all I could say. It was in no way bad. This meal was something you could never eat in the battlefields.
“Oi, bring more here”
“Aye aye, I made a lot so don’t worry and keep eating”
What? A lot?
“A lot? Even though there was only that many ingredient?”
“Working around with water, perch and milk, even if you don’t have many ingredients, you can still get the amount.
It’s before work right everyone? Eat moderately because eating delicious foods will bring out your full power”
So it was like that.
This guy, displaying his excellence through cooking, found a way to survive.
In the battlefield, no matter how much food you have it wouldn’t be a bother. Naturally, there’s no way to reach out to the supply lines but, if you have delicious food, the soldiers can fight longer. In the cold or the heat, they’ll be able to endure it more to some extent.
Meals hold quite an important factor during wars. Siege wars too (i.e. holing up in castle wars), victory is differentiated by the amount of emergency rations available. In all out wars, eating to your heart’s fill to restore your energy would increase the soldiers vigor.
That, the knowledge and technique of using only that many of ingredients to create a large amount of food which taste like this.
Maybe the reason he was looking around restlessly and talking like that before was because he was checking out the food situation here, and looking for a chance to promote himself…!
“…I see, it was planned to that extent”
A cook as good as this, there’s no way I’ll let him go. No matter what he makes good food. In order to eat this food, it’ll be good to hire this guy.
“You, do you have any place to go?”
“I don’t. I don’t even have any clue as to how to get home”
Towards the troubled Shuri, I made a suggestion.
“If you have no place to go, then come join our corp.”
“As a cook. Your job will be to create delicious tasting meals. Until you make it back to your hometown, make meals here”
“Is it ok?”
“I’m saying its ok”
“So, in that case, thanks”
Just like that, the mysterious boy Shuri joined our ranks.
From here on, me, the commanding officers, my soldiers, all ate our fill of Shuri’s cooking, working bravely on the battlefield.
The hardships up to that moment, unbelievably sent us into the war front advantageously, reaching to a conclusion within the week.
This is, what the later generations call “The Mercenary corp of heroes” and it’s history embedded soldier’s story.
The first empire which conquered the continent, the first emperor, Ganglabe Denju Aprahda. He left behind a book.
“This Me until then, thought that as long as we were strong we would flourish. But that was wrong.
The strong, you must not have known their reason or background. Why are they strong, how do they become strong.
Most soldiers aim for embracing beautiful women, or obtaining money. But, soldiers will not sway from just that.
In the end, delicious meals support the soldiers, the citizens, and shape the country.
The joy of having lived through that day, being thankful to be able to go into tomorrow. They begin their day with a delicious meal in the morning, ending it with a delicious meal at night. Isn’t that what happiness should be.
This Me, was taught this by him”
Emperor Ganglabe , was attended to by the one cook who was always by his side.
They met when they were younger, advancing together on the battlefield, the one benefactor who cooked him delicious meals.
This was, the cook who supported these heroes. Appearing from nowhere, changing the world’s cooking, the man who paved the way to a new era of cooking.
The story of Azuma Shuri.
(TL: Cream stew recipe)