Horizon:Volume 6C Chapter 48
Chapter 48: Glutton on the Battlefield
What do I want
For my diet?
Point Allocation (…Die-et?)
“Yayyyy!! Their rights are ourssss!”
The Musashi group preparing lunch on the hill slope saw the female merchant gloating.
Heidi put her hands on her hips and laughed toward the Odawara city.
She watched as lightning and white smoke filled one corner of that city.
The rising smoke was filled with the residual rumbling of thunder.
“Not even a Date mobile shell can survive a hit from that!”
“Yes, that is true,” said Urquiaga.
He took the boiled chicken from the large bento box Asama had brought and divided it into smaller storage boxes.
“Even Unturning Centipede would be in trouble if that hit it. But that is only the outside. Narumi is on the inside.”
Shirojiro saw countless shapes and lights in front of him.
The lights came from metal fragments scattering through the air. And the many shapes were…
They were metal arms.
The mobile shell arms were longer than a meter and a half and a great number were raised in the air. And they all held shattered mandible swords.
Something stood in the middle without any arms.
It was unharmed.
The smoke came from the metal fragments burnt by the lightning.
Each time the white smoke danced and fell like summer insects, more of the arms vanished.
Afterwards, the shattered mandible swords fell to the ground with a metallic clang.
After the dozen or so objects fell one after another, the blade fragments drew a curving line around Unturning Centipede.
“…Did you protect yourself with a sword dome?”
“Lightning avoidance is a basic anti-demon technique. …Did you forget that I used this at Novgorod?”
Hearing that, Shirojiro thought…
…Oh, no. It isn’t that I forgot. I wasn’t watching in the first place…
I planned to sell that information, but what happened with that? Oh, right. I sold that information for quite a lot. I remember the exact price.
“Heidi! Take all the information we’ve sold on the Musashi officers and related individuals and package them in two box sets: an attack encyclopedia and a defense encyclopedia! Include some previously unreleased information so the enthusiasts will want to buy them!”
“Great idea, Shiro-kun! That won’t even come close to making up for the embezzled money, but it’ll give us some spending money!”
Okay, thought Shirojiro with a nod at the fattening of his wallet.
At the same moment, a new blade was thrust toward the center of his gut.
…It pierced through!
Narumi had used a one-handed jab from below. It was one example of a finishing blow in a close-range mobile shell battle.
Humans made such easy opponents.
With a demon or other nonhuman, she would have to worry about exterior armor, but a human had nothing of the sort. This merchant’s torso was covered with ballistic armor made of cash, but she doubted that could fully absorb the impact.
If he was lucky, it would break some bones. If he was unlucky, it would rupture an organ.
A mobile shell’s attack rivalled a cannon blast and she had felt the blow land. Her right hand felt the instantaneous sensation of something with a hard outside and a soft inside.
And when the impact was released from the blade…
It pierced through, she realized just before the target burst.
He burst!? thought Narumi in confusion.
The sensation reaching her hand was that of her opponent failing to withstand the impact and bursting like a balloon.
…No, this is something else…!
She saw paper and wood scattering before her eyes. As well as a light brown skin, white mochi, and adzuki beans. It was…
“…Boxes of sweets!”
Those were crucial items for a merchant. A stack of five had interfered with her attack in an instant. It was a merchant’s version of a substitution technique.
Narumi confirmed what was happening, what was in front of her, and what was in her hand. She was left with a single thought.
…What is with this…?
It was completely off the rails. No, this was the odd feeling of understanding what it all was, but thinking there was no need to go that far.
Regardless it was obvious what this meant for her.
The enemy had dodged her high-speed one-handed jab. That created an opening.
She knew where the enemy was: below.
The merchant was below her jabbing right arm.
He had bowed.
And he moved in a solemn, slow, and orderly fashion.
He gently moved both hands forward as if offering a business card.
They held a roll of coins.
It contained ten 500-yen coins. At close-range, he was offering a total of…
“5000 yen. …Please take this in exchange for Date’s defeat!”
Heidi swung her right hand in response to the explosion of white smoke in the Odawara city.
“That cancels out our deeeebt!”
Heidi cheered, jumped up and down on the slope, and turned toward Asama with her eyebrows raised in a smile.
“How about that, Asama-chi!? Are you mad we won’t have udon coming out of our butts!?”
“Why would I be mad about that?”
“Yes,” said Horizon while peeling the crust of some French bread with a knife. “Aren’t you glad you won’t have that coming out in the middle of class, Heidi-sama?”
“When you put it like that, we really dodged a bullet here, didn’t we? Anyway, Horizon, what are you doing?”
“Judge. If I dry out the crust, it makes Adele-sama very happy. Also, without the crust, we can add butter or jam for bread sashimi.”
Everyone looked skeptical, but Horizon did not care.
She looked to the Odawara city and nodded toward the thinning white smoke.
“Judge. A very obvious result.”
The sign frame in her hand provided that result.
<Winner: Date Clan (Date Narumi) / Loser: Musashi (Shirojiro Bertoni)>
“So Shirojiro-sama lost.”
Heidi held her butt, backed away, and turned toward Asama.
“You’re going to do it, aren’t you!? You’re going to turn me into an udon maker, aren’t you!?”
“Um, please don’t get so worked up, Heidi.”
“More importantly,” said someone else.
It was Masazumi. She sighed and accepted some bread sashimi from Horizon.
She added some jam from the plate and ate it. Ah, she thought and nearly commented on the flavor.
“No, not that. …What are we going to do now? Musashi just lost a duel!”
Narumi saw the merchant’s defeat.
In the center of the road filled with white smoke and shimmering heat, he had stopped moving while collapsed forward.
That was what his forward-bent position looked like. However…
“Your legs are somewhat out of place. …So I don’t need to take it into consideration.”
She shifted Unturning Centipede from acceleration mode to normal mode. After checking to make sure her victory had been announced, she took a breath.
The mobile shell was taller than a human, so it was dangerous to let someone get too close.
But for a normal opponent, that only meant back-stepping or defending. The armor would not allow the average weapon through.
But an officer was different. The Takemikazuchi lightning attack he used was also used in Date training. Neighboring Mogami had a lot of nonhumans and Sviet Rus was ruled by a lightning user.
Knowing how to respond to lightning was crucial.
Not getting hit was the one and only countermeasure. If you were hit, you had to rely on your armor and buffering spells. If the attack made it through those, you could be fried to the core.
An enemy making the attack at point-blank range was the worst case scenario.
And that was what he had done.
She had been careless because of his irregular behavior. However…
“…You saved me.”
She had recently had someone rush in toward her much like that.
He had done it.
He had done the same thing to her when they faced each other in Sendai Castle’s hall.
As a half-dragon, he had used a thruster pressure attack. He had used every one of his body’s thrusters.
Using the great pressure from the thrusters as an attack was meant for battles against groups or chaotic melees, but he had had the guts to do it at close range and in a one-on-one battle.
If it was countered, the user would lose their acceleration and expose their slowed body to attack.
But he had done it. And she had done it just now.
…Honestly, what was I fighting against here?
She turned her back on the collapsed prostration and walked away while sending away Unturning Centipede.
Once the head vanished, she felt the heat radiating from Unturning Centipede’s surface.
It was summer and this was a battlefield. But there was something she had to say.
She doubted he could hear her as she spoke with a smile.
“You saved me.”
The Musashi group was silent and still as if pinning the mats to the slope.
They sat in a circle with Masazumi’s sign frame from Shirojiro in the center.
On Naruze’s instructions, Asama amplified the signal (while insisting this was a bad idea and they shouldn’t do it) until they heard Narumi’s voice.
Eventually, they only heard static from the sign frame, so they all moved away.
After a while, Adele made a seated bow toward Urquiaga.
“Very well done…”
“No, that was just Narumi being tsundere.”
But then Heidi collapsed onto her mat.
“Wahhhhhh! Now I’m going to be making udooooon!”
“Indeed.” Futayo nodded. “So we will have to eat it.”
Gin froze in place just before starting on the salad udon she had bought at a stand.
“Hm?” Futayo turned around when Gin glared at her. “Is something the matter, Gin-dono?”
Futayo saw the bowl Gin held and gasped.
“My apologies, Gin-dono. I did not realize you were eating udon.”
She gave a frantic response, so Gin relaxed her shoulders and sighed.
“Well, I don’t really mind. I know you don’t mean any harm, Musashi Vice Chancellor.”
“…I am glad to hear you say that.”
Futayo sighed and checked on the contents of Gin’s bowl.
“Ho ho?” She nodded. “Did you choose salad udon because the tomatoes give it a somewhat Tres Españan flavor?”
“It’s simply a chilled dish, so it has cucumber and egg in it too.”
“I see. But then it shouldn’t be a problem. …Tomatoes do not come out of anyone’s butt.”
Gin looked into the bowl, paused, and silently pushed it toward Futayo.
Futayo was puzzled, so Gin pushed the bowl further toward her and then clung to Muneshige.
“Master Muneshige! Master Muneshige! I lost to my own imagination!”
“Oh, dear. That is too bad, Gin. But if something like a tomato came out, it would be best to visit the medical center.”
“What kind of response is that?” everyone muttered while Futayo had already started consuming the udon.
“Gin-dono! The noodle texture and flavor are superb. …Will Heidi-dono be producing this kind of udon?”
“Stop killing my hope, dammit!!”
Heidi raised her slumped head to shout and then let it fall back down.
Seeing that, Tenzou gave a general assessment while viewing the Odawara city.
“I imagine Shirojiro-dono is willing to accept this since this was a failure met in the pursuit of money.”
“It really is nothing but money with him,” muttered Toori as he took some bread sashimi from Horizon. He then turned toward Mitotsudaira who sat in front of him. “Nate. …For now, uh, how’s Hassan doing? Things were getting exciting there too, right?”
“Judge. You are exactly right, my king.”
“It’s exciting?” asked Toori as he passed the wolf a piece of sashimi topped with chicken from the large bento box.
The silver wolf took it and sniffed her nose. She smiled a little when she saw Horizon do the same thing.
“The smell of curry has been wafting in for a while now. Hassan is in top form.”
Mitotsudaira realized the aroma from the battlefield had grown stronger.
…This curry smells quite strongly of meat. Is it beef curry? No…
“This is…keema curry, isn’t it?”
Everyone turned toward her when she made her analysis. Horizon was arranging a baguette ikizukuri on a long plate, but she gasped and turned around.
“Is keema curry what I think it is…Masazumi-sama?”
“Don’t ask me!”
Mitotsudaira and everyone else turned to face Masazumi.
She took a step back, but then she cleared her throat and clenched her right fist.
“Keema curry is…y’know? That curry that doesn’t fit into the general s-keema of curry.”
Hearing that, Mitotsudaira and everyone else exchanged a glance.
Eventually, they all nodded.
“Yes, that may be a good way of putting it.”
She was not sure if she should ask, but she did so anyway.
“Um, Masazumi? And?”
“Huh?” Masazumi and Tsukinowa tilted their heads. “That was it.”
Hori-ko: “I-I am sorry, everyone. I am the Vicereine of Musashi, the battle nation that judges gags harshly, but I had a lapse of judgement and tried to produce one artificially.”
Black Algae: “Youthful vigor? Vigor?”
Vice President: “Who is teaching them these weird terms!?”
Gold Mar: “And weren’t we talking about curry?”
Mar-Ga: “It’s scary that we still managed to get sidetracked…”
Azuma: “So, um, what is keema curry?”
Silver Wolf: “Judge. Simply put, it is mincemeat curry. If you put any vegetables in, it would only be onion and garlic, I think.”
Asama: “Mito, if it’s almost all meat…does that mean what I think it does?”
Silver Wolf: “Judge. …That’s my mother’s specialty.”
Such a strong flavor, thought the Reine des Garous while she worked on her third serving.
“You did an incredible job seasoning this keema curry.”
She could taste more than just the meat. The process of cooking the mincemeat gave it a new flavor. Instead of just relying on the sweetness of the meat, it was cooked until just on the borderline of bitterness. That provided a savory flavor.
When she bit in, that wild flavor arrived through the curry flavor along with the fat of the meat.
…He really understands how to use the lean and the fat.
In the Reine des Garous’s opinion, the flavor of meat came from the blood and the fat. They were colored red and white respectively.
The red of meat had the nearly bitter flavor of blood.
The white of meat had the strongly sweet flavor of fat.
With just one, its flavor would be too strong. Unless the meat was of very high quality, the lean would be too tough and the fat would be too strong.
So to strike a balance between them, it was important to choose a piece of meat with a good distribution of fat and lean. That was why meat with good marbling throughout was so highly prized.
But there was a way to enjoy all of the lean and fat without having to choose like that: mincemeat.
By mincing the meat to create a good balance of lean meat and fatty meat, the overall balance could be artificially created.
Keema curry allowed that in a curry.
The texture of mincemeat in the mouth came from the hard lean being crushed until it burst and the white fat splitting and bursting. The balance between them could draw attention to them both, but…
…The roux holds them back.
The trick was to make it gentle.
The roux held back the mincemeat’s texture at first, but its gentleness caused it to eventually fade away in the mouth. And by then, the mincemeat was between your teeth as artificially-created top quality meat.
Then she found the sweetness and texture of the rice.
By the time she wiped the inside of her cheeks with her tongue, the aroma of having eaten a meat dish was leaving through her nose.
“May I have some tea?”
“Judge. Of course.”
Cleansing her palate felt nice. Tea leaves were a plant, so they contrasted the meat. Plants were not her favorite as a wolf, but…
There was a mint leaf floating in the tea.
That made the palate cleanser much more refreshing.
“Such excellent service.”
“Oh.” He smiled. “It is an honor to hear that from the Hexagone Française Vice Chancellor and Reine des Garous.”
He also had a way with words.
But she was not about to hold back.
The Reine des Garous requested an anti-curry weapon.
“Testament. Can I ask for one thing?”
“You have it, don’t you? I won’t let you say it is against the rules.”
Mitotsudaira had her hands full preventing her stomach from gathering all of her attention.
The aroma continuing to arrive from the Odawara city was far too dangerous.
It was only curry, but the smell hit her hard. Since the keema curry was primarily beef…
“Th-this is not easy…”
Her king was offering her the bacon and ham dishes he had made for her, but she could not touch them now.
Hassan had stopped sending anything by divine transmissions now that he was busy. His divine transmission sign frame was apparently being used to manage the cooking because the sounds of cooking were incessant.
That was why Mitotsudaira’s nose had to tell them what was happening.
She could get a general idea from the waves of different scents and the differences between the sour, bitter, and sweet flavors she smelled there. However…
“This is not good. My mother is picking up speed.”
The scent was strongest when the curry was served. That was because the hot, just-made curry was brought out.
But those waves were speeding up.
And at a rate that seemed abnormal to Mitotsudaira.
…What is her trick?
She could tell her mother had picked up her pace, but what had caused it?
If it was just a matter of setting her mind to it, she would have done it sooner.
“What has increased my mother’s hunger…?”
Just as she said that, she saw something among the classmates eating lunch.
The bento box her king had made contained some fried leftovers. The vegetables from the day before had been lightly fried into tempura before being cooked again in the oven and dunked in oil.
Suzu and Adele were placing some of those on their plates with chopsticks.
Suzu took a chopped root vegetable tempura and added soy sauce.
Adele took a squash tempura and added a Western sauce.
Their colors and scents led Mitotsudaira to a realization.
“Is that it…!?”
The Reine des Garous had found a way to accelerate her pace.
The key was the oil.
Far Eastern curry roux began by mixing spices into a flour and oil paste. Dissolving that in hot water would create a thick curry roux that could be placed on rice.
Since it used oil, it had a stronger aftertaste.
That was why Far Eastern curry’s flavor would linger in the mouth, making it seem so rich.
The best way to cut through that richness was a hot beverage that could dissolve the oil.
Black tea was ideal. Not only did the hot water dissolve the oil, but the stronger astringency than green tea would cause the mucus membranes of the mouth and digestive organs to constrict and reset.
But there was a flaw with that method.
That method would not work with the curry she was currently eating.
She could not pour tea on the curry.
So to cleanse her palate, she had to drink tea or something similar.
But the time it took to drink and the volume of the drink in her stomach were enemies of speed eating.
As a result, people needed time to consume Far Eastern curry.
The Reine des Garous thought it was a good system for a luxurious meal.
…It is perfect for taking your time and chatting as you eat.
It was primarily oil, so it took time to cool. That was one reason it was the perfect meal for the family dinner table.
But her situation was different. She wanted to reduce that time and eat more quickly.
That said, she felt soaking the curry in tea would be taking things too far.
…So – in – stead…
She supplied that segue in her mind.
Would it be possible to throw out tea’s traits as a hot beverage and focus only on the resetting effect of the astringency? In other words…
“I need a seasoning that can cleanse my palate of the curry’s spiciness and greasiness.”
There was a simple answer.
“And I know just the thing.”
She could supply the astringency with a certain seasoning.
“…She’s using a sauce!”
Mitotsudaira grabbed the bottle of sauce next to Adele.
They must have understood what she meant because Asama uttered an “ah”, her king let out an “oh”, and Horizon…
“…Could I have a hint? I cannot stand losing to this boy.”
“I appreciate the honesty, but it comes down to the primary ingredient of the sauce.”
“Of the sauce? That would be apples and honey.”
“Horizon, you’re thinking of the Vermont Curry that has been passed down from the Age of the Gods.”
Of course, curry fit the broad definition of a sauce.
The Secretary raised his right hand. He called up a summary document of culinary culture.
“I know what you mean, Mitotsudaira-kun. The European sauces imported to the Far East are made by fermenting several ingredients. Fermented foods date back to ancient times and have their origin in the fish sauces made by fermenting and dissolving fish in salt. You could call them the oldest processed seasoning.”
“Get to the point…” everyone muttered, but the Secretary only pushed his glasses back up his nose.
“Heh. You probably want me to the get to the point. Well, that’s exactly what I’m getting to. …Listen carefully. The necessary ingredient for making these sauces is vinegar. Vinegar and salt help preserve the sauce, so even the ancient people could create a seasoning they could store for extended periods of time without worrying.”
“Judge,” said Mitotsudaira. “The ones in the Far East are imported from Europe, but they have extra vinegar included as a preservative and to sharpen the flavor.”
Adele sniffed the sauce she had poured on her tempura.
“Now that you mention it, it does have a strong vinegar smell.”
“Judge.” Mitotsudaira nodded. “Vinegar goes well with greasy foods. Those sauces work so well with fried foods because the vinegar dissolves the stickiness of the oils and resets your mouth with the astringency.”
And a definite scent had reached her nose.
“My mother has started using that with the curry.”
The Reine des Garous placed a bottle of sauce on the table.
…I thought it was worth trying, but I just finished 12 plates all at once.
But that had only been a test. She had not gotten serious yet.
So she decided she had to take this seriously.
The plate was a fairly gentle oval. It was very nearly a circle.
She wanted to just dump the sauce on, but…
…That would change the flavor too much.
When curry and this sauce were mixed, the sauce’s flavor lost its edge. So she had to keep it at a level where the sauce would not be mixed in.
But what would she do?
Her opponent must have noticed her concern because he spoke up.
“That will be somewhat difficult with an oval plate.”
“With a square plate, I could just draw a grid pattern…”
In that case, she thought.
“Drawing a circle sounds good.”
With that, she tried it.
“A circle of sauce around the outer edge…”
She drew it. The inside of the plate was curved, so the sauce would end up on the shallow portion if she drew the circle near the edge. So she drew it a little more inward, but…
“…There is not enough toward the center. I need to add two concentric circles between the center and the outside…”
She added the extra circles, giving her three circles of sauce nested inside each other. However…
“…I feel like this layout is going to make me dizzy.”
“It looks like round slices.”
That was true. And it did not quite seem good enough to her.
“Then I’ll add a line from left to right. …Now I can move the spoon side to side and not just in a circle.”
But she noticed something once she had drawn it.
“This looks a lot like the Double Border Crest that Nate’s class is searching for.”
That crest was said to make people disappear.
“Drawing this during a duel feels like an ill omen.”
So the Reine des Garous decided to add a diagonal line to negate the pattern. But…
“I need to stop adding lines in the center if I want to eat this. I can negate the outer circle with lines heading inwards and those can draw my spoon’s path inwards with them.”
She hummed as she drew the small lines. And…
“That should do it.”
She set down the sauce bottle and looked at the diagram she had drawn.
She had never drawn this before, but it was somehow familiar.
Mitotsudaira echoed her mother’s voice coming in from Hassan’s divine transmission.
She had followed her mother’s voiced instructions.
Her king had given her a sausage, so she had placed that on a piece of bread sashimi and then drawn the diagram on top with tomato sauce.
Everyone else also tried it by adding soy sauce, mayonnaise, and other sauces to their lunch.
But they all stopped moving.
Kimi tilted her head toward her chirashizushi topped with soy sauce.
“…Please don’t say it.”
Mitotsudaira tried to maintain a smile.
“Very well.” Kimi showed off the soy sauce pattern on her chirashizushi. “A lewd mark.”
“I told you not to say it!”
Asama quickly placed cooked seaweed on Adele and Suzu’s food.
“Here! Have a seaweed eraser! It’s a seaweed eraser! It’s much tastier this way!”
“Asama-sama, it is somewhat criminal that Mitotsudaira-sama drew it in tomato sauce and added a sausage.”
“It was an accident! A complete accident, Horizon! And, Tomo, instead of holding seaweed in both hands and smiling, how about we talk this out!”
“Um, Master Tenzou, what is this design that looks like the sun…?”
“Th-this is, umm, the completed form of the Double Border Crest! Yes, the completed form! But it is an ill omen, so you should forget you ever saw it, Mary-dono!”
“Masazumi,” said Futayo. “Do you think I did a good job of drawing it with melon sauce? I like the green color.”
“You don’t have to show it to me!”
After hearing the commotion, Mitotsudaira looked at her handiwork.
After some thought, she decided she just had to break the bread. She bit into it to quickly to erase the evidence, but…
Naruze suddenly stopped sketching her. And when she noticed Mitotsudaira looking her way…
“Feel free to continue. …Yes, it’s perfectly all right.”
“What are you talking about…!?”
Nothing good ever comes from my mother’s involvement, Mitotsudaira sighed to herself.
She focused on her nose.
The sausage and tomato flavors in her mouth were a balance of pork, tomato, and sourness. She also detected a wave of the curry aroma.
…That was fast!
The waves were coming even more quickly than before.
“My mother’s curry consumption rate has doubled!”
Horizon showed her a version of the pattern made with salmon sashimi on a large bento box of sushi rice, but it felt a little too real. On the other side, Kimi was singing Alaska Girl, but she ignored that.
She wanted to know how the duel would turn out. There was less than 9 minutes left now, but her mother was going through the food like crazy.
…Will Hassan make it?
Just as she wondered that…
“Well, I’m sure it’ll be fine. Nate Maman can really eat, but Hassan has to be enjoying this.”
Her king’s voice rang through the summer afternoon air.
“This is a battle between his spirit of customer service and her ravenous appetite. …Let’s wait and see who wins.”
The Reine des Garous ate the curry with the sauce bottle in her left hand and the spoon in her right hand.
She scooped up the roux and rice with the spoon while adding the sauce ahead of it.
This was faster than adding all of the sauce in advance.
But how did that method of eating look?
…Is it against the rules?
She was worried, but her opponent was smiling as he continued to cook.
“I do not mind. It is a luxurious food, but you do want a change from time to time.”
He waved his right hand over the table.
Like magic, he set down small bowls of side dishes.
There were pickled leeks, vegetables pickled in soy sauce, vegetables pickled in sake lees, saffron, and more.
“Eating curry with a bit of extra flavor is one way to enjoy it.”
“It isn’t against the rules?”
“No.” He shrugged. “Curry is a family food. And that means it allows for individual tastes. Curry is the god of the dinner table, but Shinto is accepting of all.”
“I see. So that’s the point of the Shinto connection,” said the Reine des Garous. “Shinto is so wonderfully vague…!”
Asama: “I feel like I just heard an important truth distorted by some noise.”
Silver Wolf: “So you’re willing to call that a truth, are you?”
Tachibana Wife: “Since making the shift to Shinto, I’ve noticed that pretty much all of the taboos work on an ‘eh, as long as you make an offering to your god first’ basis… I feel like that has a way of making people lazy…”
Tachibana Husband: “Not to worry, Gin. It has increased your cooking repertoire, hasn’t it?”
10ZO: “Mary-dono, how has the shift to Shinto been for you?”
Scarred: “Judge. I can eat the same things as you, so every day is a learning experience. I ate mostly fish and wheat in England.”
Almost Everyone: “…”
Scarred: “Should I learn how to make curry, Master Tenzou?”
Almost Everyone: “Ohh…?”
Silver Wolf: “The duel is still underway, you know!?”
The Reine des Garous lightly shook the sauce bottle while checking on the state of the duel.
Currently, the next plate was ready right when she completed the previous one.
His pace was increasing. He was clearly speeding up his pace of bringing the pots of roux and insulated containers of rice from the house.
He could keep up with her, but probably just barely.
She needed an extra push to win this. That would bring her across the consumption time watershed.
It would ensure her victory. So she did not hold back.
The Queen made a request to her opponent.
“Could I have a bowl…and one egg per plate?”
“Eh? An egg with curry?”
Adele responded to what she heard from the divine transmission.
“Can you really do that? I mean, wouldn’t it dilute the curry flavor?”
“Does it…neutralize the flavor…to make it easier…to eat…?”
Suzu’s question was directed at the 5th Special Duty Officer.
The silver wolf was looking to the Odawara city with her eyebrows somewhat raised.
“A raw egg with curry… It does sound wrong. I can tell it’s meant to soften the spiciness,” she said. “But think about it. If you put a raw egg on the curry, you need to take the time to stir it in. The white wouldn’t mix well with the curry roux.”
“Then would you put just the yolk inside?”
Kimi shot to her feet on the other side.
“What!? Adele, you want me inside you!? And just me!? Will my curry suffice? Okay! In your butt, right!? Then stick your butt out this way, Adele!!”
Adele was too afraid to ignore her this time, so she politely declined.
Then the 5th Special Duty Officer breathed a sigh.
“In the Far East, there is a standard way to add a raw egg to curry. You mix it in with the rice to make tamago kake gohan curry.”
…So that’s how you do it!
That was a blind spot for Adele. And there was another advantage of that method.
“Add the egg to the rice, and the curry won’t lose its flavor. Nor will it soften the spiciness. But it will increase the sweetness of the rice, making the curry flavor even clearer than before. That is effective in the latter part of the duel when she is starting to grow numb to the curry flavor,” explained the silver wolf. “Plus, Loup-Garous have some trouble with hot things, so this will cool the rice. And this will also allow the rice to more easily come apart in the mouth, making it easier to swallow.”
She moved her nose and trembled.
“My mother is making her attack.”
The Reine des Garous accelerated.
The raw egg in the small bowl was not an obstacle for her.
She stuck her spoon between the yolk and white and used her fingers to rotate it. She instantly mixed it more than 40 times to easily create a soft and yellow scramble. That just left pouring it over the rice.
“Hm, hm, hm, hmm…”
She no longer had to place the rice on the spoon. She only had to lightly scoop up the golden-colored rice like it was mud.
As long as she could pull off that high-speed motion and instantaneous acceleration, the rest was simple. She only had to eat using the same movement control that allowed her to jump into a spring without creating a single ripple.
Then she could simply obey her hunger.
The beef keema curry was fantastic. As a wolf, she found it worth accelerating her consumption.
She used the sauce to adjust the strength of the flavor and reset the changes to her mouth and she used the egg to adjust the rice’s temperature and consistency. The egg had unevenly permeated the rice, so there was a wonderful marble pattern to the sweetness. She would find the calming warmth of white rice and a moment later find the wet softness of the egg with the curry and beef on top of that.
It was like using multiple blankets to warm up.
They all had different levels of coverage, so she could only describe it as bliss.
And just as the Reine des Garous thought that, something better arrived. She found an even greater bliss.
While basking in the happiness, something unexpected happened and her emotions trembled. It came from something that arrived on her tongue.
She had created a completed dish with an ever-changing dance of flavor, but the flavor had just been shifted up to an even higher level.
The trick to it was simple.
There is more meat in the keema curry, thought the Reine des Garous.
…Yes, that’s what this is!
But it was not simply meat.
If thin slices or thick chunks had been added, she would have noticed when scooping it up in the spoon. Besides, that meat would only get in the way of the mincemeat. It would ruin the ideal balance delicately created within the curry.
Then what was this thick sensation of meat inside her mouth?
The Reine des Garous tried scooping up the roux. It was a quick slicing motion meant to show her the cross section.
When she lifted the spoon, she saw something in the dark brown fault that gave off white steam.
“Chips of meat…?”
No, that was not it.
Her opponent smiled and spoke while moving his knife.
“I took thin slices of meat and chopped them in a lattice pattern.”
This was not mincemeat. Nor was it thin slices of meat. But it was still small, thin, squares.
“I take lattice-cut meat that is balanced between lean and fat, cook it so it does not burn, and place it around the mincemeat.”
What would happen then? The Reine des Garous knew.
…It changes the feel of the meat when you bite into it!
Before, it had been the roux and mincemeat. So past the wet stickiness of the roux, the chunks of mincemeat would provide some resistance.
But that changed when the thin squares were added.
After all, the squares were small, but they were a “surface”.
Before, the mincemeat had felt like chunks between the teeth, but now they were covered by squares of meat.
The squares covered a larger area of the teeth, so you would feel that thin “surface” before the more solid chunks.
Then your teeth would crush the mincemeat while the squares of meat acted as shields.
That was when the more solid resistance and the burst of oils happened.
It was only an illusion, but it provided a similar feeling to eating a thick slab of meat.
“I have not increased the actual amount of meat. But I have cooked the squares of meat and covered them in roux so they can envelop the mincemeat as much as possible.”
“Is this a meat dish…?”
“No, it is curry. …Because mincemeat and squares of meat only exist due to their connections to curry.”
“Testament. That is true…”
Beyond her joy and excitement, she honestly felt awed by this food.
…I never knew such a small alteration could bring so much depth and surprise…
I need to research this with my husband once we get back, she decided. And…
“…Let us continue the duel.”
The Reine des Garous said that with a smile and then accelerated.
Mitotsudaira realized the atmosphere had changed.
…They only have a bit over 5 minutes left.
The strong wave of curry and meat came to an end.
That meant Hassan’s keema curry would soon be completed.
Her mother was about to end the duel before the time limit arrived.
“Um, my king. At this rate, Hassan is in trouble.”
She turned toward her king and he looked to her.
Next to him, Horizon, Asama, Kimi, and the others focused on her too.
“What is it?” asked her king. “Did your maman draw another lewd mark?”
“She did not! It’s just that Hassan’s keema curry is running out…”
“Yeah, she did well to get this far. But that means it comes down to the next one.”
“The next one?”
…There’s a second round…!?
But her mother’s momentum was incredible. Normal curry was not going to stop her. Without real volume and flavor, she might plow right on through it and declare it inadequate.
…Mother can be particular about flavor…
She could eat anything and she had broad tastes outside of the things her species as a whole could not stand. But within those tastes, she was a true “queen” who knew the absolute best possible flavor for it.
Of course, as a Loup-Garou, her cooking tended to focus more on the ingredients, so she had less experience with processing it in clever ways to adjust the flavor. Mitotsudaira’s king had explained what Hassan was doing with his curry, but that had been an attack on her mother’s inexperience with curry.
However, the keema curry that focused on the meat her mother loved so much was running out. So..
“What will he serve now?”
“Judge.” Her king nodded, raised his hands in front of his chest, mimed jiggling breasts, and spoke in an all-out feminine voice.
“Tee hee. That would be the Reine des Garous’s seafood curry.”
Horizon threw a slap his way without even turning to look.
- The word for “egg yolk” is “kimi”.
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