"Is this good enough?"
Lily said so while tilting the pot, showing me the ingredients inside.
I peeked into it. The onions were shining like candy and looked very delicious.
"Mhm. That's great. Thank you very much."
"Please put this in and start stirring it together."
I handed crushed garlic and chopped ginger over. Truth be told, I wanted to grind it down, but we didn't have the tools on hand.
Leaving Lily to her job, I began proportioning the spices.
Chilli, turmeric, cumin, and coriander are the four spices we would be using. They were all dried in the sun before being finely crushed into a powder.
"Let's increase cumin and coriander, and only add a hint of red chilli powder."
"You… Is that really cooking?"
Rolf looked to my hands and gave a disgusted face.
He probably thought that I was formulating a new medicine of some sort.
"Whether it's going to be delicious or not, you'll have to decide for yourself. But you should be able to eat it with no problem."
"I wonder about that."
With a snarky retort, Rolf went back to kneading the bread.
His mouth needs soap, but I still believed he was a good person since he was helping me out, after all.
"That's good. Now knead it until it becomes consistent."
I received the bread dough from Rolf.
Since there's no baking powder, we had to make do with a non-fermented bread, adding only flour, salt, water, and a little oil to keep things simple. Rather than Naan bread, this was more like a Chapati.
"Thank you for your help."
"I just felt like it. This'll be the last time I'll help you out."
Hmph! Rolf said so and quickly turned away. Despite that, this wasn't the first time he helped me out in the kitchen. He's basically your typical tsundere while also being a shitty brat.
"You'd better remember your household chores. I'm sure your future wife will appreciate you helping out around the house."
"I can't get married anyway," Rolf said as he wiped his dirty hands on a wet cloth.
My eyes were wide in surprise and blinked a few times. As far as Rolf was concerned, it didn't seem like he was joking.
"It's true that you're sometimes a bit insensitive, but you don't have to beat yourself up over it, alright?"
"That's not what I meant. To be honest, I know exactly what you think of me." Rolf detestedly spat out while giving me a hateful glare.
Eh? …I feel like I've said something I shouldn't have.
"To be frank, there's no one available. All the young girls are married off to older guys already in order to 'balance out their age'."
"Mary, can I put the tomatoes in soon?"
While I was still recovering from shock, Lily asked me a question. Since she asked me with such a straight face, I started doubting myself about whether I was the weird one here.
"Yes, please do."
Let's sort out this information one at a time. If what Rolf said is true, then is Lily also married?
Rolf easily read my thoughts once he saw me staring at her.
"Lily is Wolf's potential fiancée."
I accidentally shouted aloud, completely dumbfounded.
But that's because you never said how young a person should be to 'balance their ages!' How old were Wolf and Lily? Wasn't he in the latter half of his twenties while Lily was only twelve or thirteen?
They're about fifteen years apart… No, this is a good age. There's no better age gap than this!
"We usually tolerate a ten year age difference. It's difficult to see Lily as a woman at her age, but with the next chief still unmarried, it can't be helped."
"Shut up, Rolf."
"Yeah yeah. I'm so sorry."
I waited on the sidelines and waited for the conversation to die down. My brain couldn't keep up with the unfolding situation.
There were many things I'd like to ask, but let's address the elephant in the room first.
Lily then tilted her head in confusion.
"Since Wolf is twenty-seven, then we're about eleven years apart. I just turned sixteen not too long ago."
Lily is sixteen!?
What the heck!?
She's both slimmer and shorter than me, making the fact that she was older more upsetting. It was good that I didn't voice my thoughts out loud. The topic of physical growth was usually delicate, after all. Even I didn't like being told that I was still flat as a board.
Perhaps the Kua Clan's way of counting age was different?
On the other hand, Wolf looked suitable for his age.
My mind was churning at full speed.
Lily's age aside, what did Rolf mean that there were no women available for him? If a ten-year difference was considered acceptable, then what about girls other than Lily or even younger children?
Although I haven't seen many children since coming here, it may be extra precautions due to the fact that I'm an outsider. It seemed like they were refraining from letting their children outside their houses. I wonder what it's like when I wasn't out and about. I'm sorry for causing the village so much trouble.
'I won’t let them drive my life down into destruction like that.'
Wolf's words crossed my mind once again.
I felt something cold crawling up my spine.
Are children not being born? Or are they not being raised?
Why is that?
Certainly, the environment wasn't as convenient as a flat grassland. But Flamme was originally a tropical country, therefore snow shouldn't be a problem. The area was not too hot nor too cold, and the water supply had already been secured properly.
Was it an enemy from the other side of the fence?
I have been here for only a short period, but I couldn't say I've seen any wild beasts lurking around. There were traps that were set up, but they didn't look like they were raised for self-defence. Plus, the crops were never destroyed in the first place.
The possibility of bandits and thieves stumbling across the village wasn't zero, but that chance was extremely slim. Getting out of this forest alive without a guide had already proven to be incredibly difficult.
Based on the villagers that kept staring at me, I could conclude that outsiders didn’t come by very often.
I realised something and cocked my head.
So if there were no outsiders here, that means the villagers would have to marry each other, right?
When they first misunderstood me to be Wolf's fiancée, they said something along the lines of 'mixing with foreign blood' as well. Even their skin colours were the same, albeit with some different shades.
…Wait a second.
I didn't know the exact population of the Kua Clan, but I could confidently say that their numbers didn't reach a thousand.
Won't the skin get darker every generation through continuous mixing and combining? Were they all each other's relatives?
Incest immediately comes to mind.
Under Japanese law, marriages within the third degree of kinship were prohibited, and in many countries worldwide, marriages between cousins were also deemed illegal.
Ethics aside, the main issue here would be the genetic problems.
It's something I had heard of before, where latent genes were easier to manifest in these cases. Of course, there was no cause for concern if you're lucky, but reports of congenital diseases and disorders were proof enough.
Sweat silently rolled down my cheek as I stood motionless.
If I'm right, then I can understand why Wolf was so desperate. If I'm right, that is.
Was this something a girl like me should poke her nose into?
The burden is too heavy!
I quietly murmured in my heart.
TN: Double chapter. Aye. Rose has lost it. Aye aye.
EN: We're all being taken to the FBI for this chapter. Also, Rose lost it and finally became a full martian. The picture below is what this whole translating and editing process felt like tbh.