On that day, ever since morning I had a vague unpleasant premonition.
As usual, I came to the shop accompanied by Thomas.
Having brought chocolate as a present, I carefreely watched as Lars and co. work.
After a busy noon comes a little lull in the afternoon.
The shop will be reopened in the evening, for now we're closing it.
There are preparation to do so there's no time to dilly-dally, even so I called to them to have a break.
Seeing this, Thomas knowingly made tea.
As expected of our Head Chef, the tea he makes is superbly delicious.
Curry continues to sell well. Together with curry bread people line for them day after day, the cutlet curry was also received better than I expected.
While thinking of what to do next, the shop entrance suddenly got noisy.
We're in the kitchen, so I have no idea what happened. The kitchen is in the very back.
When I got up from my chair to check on it, Lars who stood up first stopped me.
"I'll go. Master, please stay here"
Nodding to Lars's words, I once again settled on the chair.
By the way, after teaching him the curry recipe, he completely switched to calling me 'Master'.
I asked him many times to stop, but he firmly wouldn't nod, saying it's unforgivable to call the one who imparted the original recipe to him by name. It's the same as Thomas.
Cooks are extremely stubborn type, now that it's come to this, I have no choice but to back down.
Naturally, the five juniors followed after him.
Ultimately, I ended up being called 'Master' by everybody here as well.
Lars stood up and left the kitchen.
Since there's nothing for us to do, we continued enjoying the tea.
I took a fleeting sidelong glance at the chocolate I'd brought. I did my best making it since it's a rare chance for Lars to eat it, but as things stands, it'll be impossible today. Proud of my work I enjoyed the conversation with Thomas, when I heard the sound of two men arguing.
One of them is of course Lars, the other voice is unfamiliar to me.
The fact that there are multiple sounds of footsteps means quite a lot of people came.
When I stood up, with my curiosity piqued, Lars's angry voice and sound of multiple footsteps drew closer.
Still standing I stared at the kitchen entrance to see a corpulent bald man and five men dressed like knights enter like they own this place.
They act just as if it's their shop.
The bald man seems to be a noble.
His clothes are clearly well-tailored, and he's wearing many jingling accessories.
Especially the rings on his fingers are in excessively bad taste.
One on each finger. On some, two. With large jewels inserted, the rings he's wearing are ostentatious.
A nouveau riche man with excessive fortune.
Seeing such a nouveau riche man - in fact, it's correct to call him old geezer - I recalled this year's portraits.
Then I thought. Ah, this old geezer is Baron Wire from before.
Baron surveyed the kitchen and snorted.
"This is quite a narrow kitchen"
"Shut up! Get out!"
Lars flared up at the baron who laughed mockingly.
After looking at Lars annoyedly, the baron began unreservedly observing the area.
"Hmph, there's no way you developed an original recipe here. I never took you as a cook who'd own an original recipe. I'm surprised you had such a hidden trick"
"It wasn't me who developed curry! I was only taught the recipe!!"
"Aren't there only cooks on the level of apprentices and a lass here. Ah, or was it the man next to the lass? I'm not a patient person. If you say it wasn't you, quickly bring me the original recipe developer"
"Master, please step back"
Guessing the baron's intentions, Thomas came in front of me.
He means he'll protect me.
But, I'm incredibly angry at the man who entered the kitchen without permission and thrust demands at us without as much as a greeting.
"It's fine. Thomas, step back. I'll keep him company"
Pushing Thomas, who wanted to protect me, aside, I took a step forward.
I courteously bowed.
"I am glad to meet you, Baron Wire. I am the recipe developer you are searching for. What business might you have in coming here today. It will soon be time to reopen, so if there is some important matter, I would like to deal with it briefly"
What I'm getting to is that he should quickly leave.
But, the baron didn't read the air, and only laughed scornfully once again.
"Are you making a fool of me, lass. You being the recipe developer for 'curry rice'? It's too much even as a joke"
While making a suspicious face, the man directed an unpleasant gaze at me, that felt like he was licking me.
Paying attention not to let my disgust show, I clearly nodded.
"Yeah, I taught Lars and others. If you have any doubts, feel free to ask them"
"… Lars, what you say?"
After sinking into silence for a moment, perhaps unable to believe me the baron turned to Lars.
Although sullen, Lars nodded yes.
"Yeah, that's right. I was taught by that person. She is without a doubt the original recipe owner"
"A lass like this… how can it… be"
Surprised, the baron looked at me.
Sorry for being a lass.
However, it seems Baron Wire didn't notice my identity.
He doesn't seem like he intends to ask me for name, he sees me as a mere town girl or a daughter of a lower-grade noble. That must be it.
Of course, I don't intend to give my name without being asked either, but supposing he knew who I am, I expect the baron wouldn't take such an attitude.
He was toady towards Brother, if he found out I'm his little sister, he'd rather approach while rubbing his hands together.
No, that too would feel unpleasant, so I want to prevent that.
I have no idea what the baron thought after he looked at me from head to toe, but suddenly he smiled broadly.
As he showed a broad, slovenly smile, he began talking in a coaxing voice.
My back shivered in disgust.
"I see, you're the original recipe developer. On a closer look, you got a beautiful face. Then, you should discard that man and come with me. I will cherish you every night if you're a good kid"
I responded immediately. And cherish you every night!?
Disgusting!! I could tell my whole body got goosebumps.
The eyes looking at me are obscene. It looks like the rumors of his lechery are true.
I felt his gaze stick to my chest and hips.
I desperately resisted my face twitching.
"Baron Wire, I recall you have a wife. To act without her permission… It's an unthinkable thing"
I tried referring to his second wife, but the baron didn't step back at all.
Rather, he said, impressed.
"Hou. You know well. Certainly, I have a wife. But I have ten mistresses beside her. I think I'll add you to them"
It's unnecessary concern!!
While swallowing my desire to shout, I calmly responded. I can't help that my voice quivered a little in anger.
"With the exception of royalty, our country practices monogamy. The law doesn't permit having mistresses. Such a thing shouldn't be allowed"
Ah, my goosebumps aren't settling down.
In a coaxing voice old geezer spat out disgusting words.
"There aren't any fellows who'd try to crack down on me. When an audit comes once in a while, I entertain them a little to have them turn a blind eye. I'll shower you in luxuries. Beautiful dresses and jewels. All you need is to reveal the original recipe to me and serve me"
Dammit, he's the worst.
I knew he made full use of his money to take the young second wife, but without being satisfied that old geezer seems to be making a harem.
It's not formally allowed in this country to keep a mistress. But, while it's truly deplorable, there are great numbers of nobles with mistresses.
Still, if it's exposed, they'll naturally receive a punishment, so even if they keep one the etiquette is to at the very least hide it from your surroundings. It's too foolish to speak of it unashamedly.
His mistresses are of course all women he brought with him as collaterals. Serving such a man by choice is unthinkable.
It's absolutely unforgivable. I'll tell Will about our talk later.
"I stated that I refuse. I will not become one of Baron's mistresses"
"I am not troubled for money, all I wanted is to spread the original recipe to many people. There is no reason for me to accept Baron's invitation"
"You say you won't do as I desire!"
When I clearly nodded, the baron scowled at me red-faced.
But, used to Father's anger, I didn't feel scared at all.
When I looked back with composure, the baron grew more and more angry.
"Even though a person tries to generously cherish you! You are the same as Lars over there! A fool who's a waste of favor!!"
I directed a chilly gaze at the baron who stamped his feet like a spoiled brat.
"I'm troubled to be called a fool just because I don't act as you desire. This is both my and Lars's feeling. We don't want to serve Baron. That's all"
"Yeah, it's exactly like that"
Lars who had been silent until then cut in.
As Lars walked up to me, we faced the baron.
"I've repeatedly said I will not go. Only you don't recognize that. It's the same for Master"
But, the baron didn't give in. He made a creepy smile and asked Lars a question.
"You're saying that, but didn't you go deep in debt to rebuild this shop? No matter how ambitious you are, nothing will start without funds. I know. You should've run out of capital at that time. And in this town, no matter where you go into debt, the promissory note will end with me. Now, I'll forgive your debt. That's why, first come to my place"
"Don't put on a brave front. It'll be a long time before money flows into your shop. The time limit to repay the debt should come earlier. So I'm only trying to help"
Lars shrugged his shoulders. And sent me a glance.
"I'm not in debt. All the funds came from Master. I haven't borrowed any money, so what reason do I have to turn to you for help"
"From this lass!?"
Shrugging my shoulders as the baron glared at me, I answered.
"It's your misunderstanding that I'm a poor lass. There's no particular problem with funds, there's still a leeway. It seems you've been impatient since our shop has started to flourish, however your research was insufficient. The reality is we have no debts"
Certainly, as the baron says, only the next month a sizeable amount of money will flow in, but because we're not particularly troubled for funds there's no problem.
Because curry is a hit, there's already a bright prospect of recovering the initial expenses, or rather it looks like soon we'll amass a fortune.
"You established a new shop in front of Lars's and offered food cheap to win him over. Certainly, Lars's shop couldn't maintain itself. All that was left was to drive him in debt and you could celebrate. I guess you wanted Lars that much, but you can't use the same method anymore, okay? No matter how cheap your shop is, it won't work. Our customers don't come to eat cheap, delicious food, but to eat 'curry', your shop has no influence on it. Feel free to challenge us, we shall accept"
Shouldn't you rather offer things free of charge, when I asked that, his expression turned dreadful.
"But if you do that, I have no doubt you will ruin yourself. Now then, what will you do? Should we have a contest until one of us falls in debt?"
"Lass… you bitch"
As the old geezer scowled at me while grinding his teeth, I spoke high-handedly on purpose.
"I don't mind if you want to discard a cook or two. If you just leave us alone, I believe we won't do anything in particular. Because we aren't children, I would like you stop unreasonably desiring everything"
"Are you calling me a child!"
While annoyed by the old geezer standing and shouting, I continued my talk.
"If you want to challenge us, please do it by legitimate means. It's a matter of course for Baron Wire, isn't it. Somehow or other you've been doing that until now, that's why authorities cannot intervene either. Now then, please return home. It's about time to reopen. As I've said, if it's a respectable match, we will accept"
When I vigorously thrust my finger, after saying nothing for a while, the baron spoke in a voice so low it made skin crawl.
"… I will withdraw for today"
The baron glared at me in vexation, but suddenly he noticed the chocolate box on my desk.
In the twinkling of an eye he approached and grabbed it.
"Hou, chocolate. It's just right, I've gotten a little tired entertaining you. I'll take it as a recompense"
"It's fine, Lars. Yeah, if you're fine with such a thing, please take it"
"Hmph, you finally gave a decent response at the very end. Well, fine. I have a weakness for sweet things. Taking this into consideration, I will forgive the numerous rude remarks today. But, I won't give up. Lars, lass! I'll surely obtain you, be ready"
Never come here again!
While cursing him some more in my mind, I stuck my tongue out.
Perhaps satisfied with his parting threat, carefully holding the chocolate box and shaking his obese body, the baron left together with his knights.
As the silence finally set, a sigh leaked from everyone's mouths.
"So that old geezer was Baron Wire… He was tougher than I imagined"
"Right, Master has never met that damn pig. That's right, he's always like this. He's convinced everything will go according to his wishes. He firmly believes everything can be solved with money"
I nodded to Lars's words.
"He understood it wouldn't work on me, so for today he pulled out"
"Well, I've heard he only attacks frontally for show. It would be nice if he backed down now that he understands we have the capital"
"I wonder about that. Once he wants a cook, he'll never let go. Master caught his eye, so it's better if you are careful"
"You're right. But it's as I said before, if he challenges me, I'll thoroughly defeat him. I still have plans to release new products, so I'll keep him company for as long as it takes!"
As I said fufun full of confidence, Lars poured cold water on me.
"We're fine when it comes to cooking, however what do you intend to do if he uses force?"
"Are you talking about him using the power of his baronial house?"
The stiff-faced Lars is surprisingly prone to worry.
Hmm, after thinking a little I spoke.
I slapped Lars's shoulder as he looked at me expectedly.
"Won't it perchance be the best timing to give my name? If he goes that far, I'll also use any means necessary. I'll tell the situation to Father and obtain the permission to crush him"
At my decision, the kitchen became noisy for a moment.
"Prime Minister you say… Is that okay. You don't want it exposed, do you"
"It can't be helped. It's better than being forced to close without saying anything. If he uses underhanded means, I will respond in kind"
"… Master, you're wonderful"
Thomas next to me looked at me spellbound. Realizing it's a worshipping gaze, I provided a follow-up in a fluster.
"Ah, that's only the last resort! Don't take it too seriously. More than that, to bring up being his mistress, Baron is looking down on me"
As I forcibly changed the subject, Lars laughed, understanding my aim.
"Even if you're unaware, you don't such stuff to the future Crown Princess. You could be imprisoned for lese majeste"
My face twitched at the dreadful words. I shook my head.
Ah, somehow I felt chills.
"Stop it, I absolutely won't be one"
"Is that so? But such rumors are going around the town"
"There's no way I'm fit to be the Crown Princess. Spare me from something so constrained"
When I denied that I absolutely don't want it, Lars and everybody around nodded, convinced.
"Certainly, it's not suited for Master. Cooking like this is more like you"
"Yeah, I think so too"
"But, I'm angry that guy took the sweets Master generously brought"
When Lars changed the subject to the matter from a while ago, a bad smile appeared on my face.
"It's okay. Rather, it's just right he brought them with him. It'll be a good revenge"
"Yeah. Because, they are…"
When everybody gathered, I secretly told them the truth.
"Fufufu, that's why I said it's fine! Now, it's time to reopen. Forget about that guy and let's do our best!!"
I broadly smiled as everybody showed a surprised face.
Then I motivated everyone, and also helped with the reopening.
"Well then, what should I make next"
There's a mountain of things I want to make. I don't have spare time to care about Baron Wire.
Since that day, for some reason Baron Wire hasn't come to the shop, and the owner of his shop in front was also replaced before I realized. My plan to thoroughly crush him ended in a complete failure.
The new owner is a serious person, after stopping the low-price nonsense he reorganized the shop to have fair prices, now we're working together to enliven the street.
And, before I could accuse Baron Wire, he's been arrested for having mistresses, and on suspicion of smuggling, embezzlement, and fraud, before I noticed his assets were seized, on top of that he was deprived of his status of baron.
Because the timing was too perfect, of course I was suspicious, in fact I tried questioning my surroundings a little.
But, as the timing precisely overlapped with the shop being in full swing, it became troublesome as I got more and more busy, so I gave up on further investigation.
Ultimately, even though it weighted on my mind, I left it as is, and that's how we arrive at the present… That's how it is.
The store revived and Baron Wire is gone.
Something unbeknownst to me happened, but after all everybody lived happily ever after, isn't that right?
With a strange feeling of indigestion, today as well I cheerfully headed to the shop.