２．One Day in Farlane’s Royal House
「I see you were in your room.」
「Yes. I didn’t have any plans to go out today.」
One night, Layotte showed up at Aearis’s room, to which she responded with a puzzled look.
「Did you perhaps miss out on food again？」
「Yeah. Various affairs took longer than expected at my destination.」
He had not eaten.
It actually wasn’t all that rare for Layotte to visit Aearis’s room. One reason was that he had changed his interaction with Aearis, no longer keeping her at a distance due to her position worsening, but there was another reason, that being…
「What will you be eating？」
「Well, if it’s fine to use donburi, then I guess I’ll make it pioneer bird bone soup for today.」
Layotte had come to get some of Aearis’s instant ramen she was secretly storing. In fact, the only royal in this castle who was in a position to directly receive instant ramen and store it was Aearis. Elena simply couldn’t get permission to go to town too often, and the king and Layotte weren’t in the position where they could just store food in their rooms.
The king barely had some spare liquor that he could hide without anyone making a fuss about it, and Layotte only had packed food for times of emergency. Avin, who was about to marry in, and Mark, who was likely to become the next prime minister, were both in a similar situation, not able to carry around much personal belongings.
Aearis was an exception because of her slightly independent status as both a royal and a priestess, her ability (given by Alfemina) to detect danger in food or drink, and having her own charisma in a different sense than Layotte. She certainly had some leeway.
Incidentally, Layotte did not have all of Aearis’s tendencies memorized. Other than when she was acting as priestess or princess and had to leave the country, Aearis generally went to Azuma Workshop or the underground resort, and this was always after getting permission from the parties concerned, but Layotte was too busy to remember every little report and wasn’t clear on much other than her official business trips.
「I have some good eggs here, so shall I put a few in？」
「Then I shall prepare them, so please wait inside.」
Led by Aearis, Layotte walked over to the carpet-covered corner of the room that had a low dining table.
「Layotte, did you also forget to eat？」
「You too, Father……?」
Ripping off the meat udon label, the king was also in the room about to eat. Taking off his shoes, Layotte walked onto the carpet and sat before the low table as he spoke to the king.
「It is true that those worthless petitions have decreased since that incident……」
「But now there has been a sharp increase in discussions that eat up our time……」
Ever sine Katarina’s rebellion, the number of corrupted nobles had sharply dropped. However, that resulted in a shortage of human resources, and the chaos in the upper echelons was still continuing. Even so, this was not hindering the lives of regular citizens in the slightest, so you could say that the people who avoided the purge were quite exceptional.
Then again, there were many things that became possible without the restrictions previously imposed, and the established laws with all their precautions were beginning to really show.
「Brother, thank you for waiting.」
「Ah, thank you.」
Dropping an egg in and inserting some lightly heated bean sprouts before closing the lid, Aearis had finished the pioneer bird instant ramen, carrying it over to Layotte. Thanking her for it, Layotte waited for the noodles to soften. Everyone had their preferences, but Layotte simply waited for the water to steep a minute before digging in.
「Alright, I say it’s about time.」
As the king took in his second mouthful, Layotte got to eating his own ramen. Mixing around the neatly unravelled noodles, he crushed the egg, wrapped some noodles around the chopsticks, and slurped a round. The crispiness of the bean sprouts and the hardness of the noodles went together quite well, with a cheap but relaxing flavor spreading throughout the mouth.
「……It tastes great.」
「I’m glad to hear that.」
Aearis smiled at Layotte’s impression. She often put her own twist on instant ramen when eating it. Sure, the ramen was fine by itself, but adding things in only made things tastier.
Therefore, rather than throw the cup udon the king was eating right into the water, Aearis had thrown in a bit of shredded konbu, as she had known that was her father’s preference.
「Still, if the head chef were to know that the king was eating food in his daughter’s room prepared by her, I could see him grieving up quite the storm.」
「But this was necessary, Father. While it’s true that the head chef makes very good food, entrusting this task to him would mean waiting a whole day.」
「True. After all, asking them to make something simple quickly would still be too tall of an order……」
「That’s because it’s the head chef’s duty.」
Perhaps because of his pride as the chef of the royal palace, the head chef hated making any food that took little effort. The main parties he fed were only really the royals or the nobles. He could not afford to serve out haphazardly made food that commoners ate, or else it could very well be off with his head.
And even if the head chef knew that any royal or noble worth their salt had done anything so horrifying as eating the crude dishes served to regular soldiers or adventurers out in the field and not thought anything bad of it, this and that were two different problems entirely.
「We could very well have just eaten at the barracks……」
「Layotte, there is no way the barracks would have enough energy to spare for us, and at this time there are no chefs at work anyhow.」
The king admonished Layotte, who was suggesting something crazy. As an actual problem, the only chefs around at this hour were the head chef himself and a few others living in as employees. No chefs actually lived in the barracks or the knight dorms. Besides, even if they did, the mess hall was already barely scraping by as is with its ingredients for large numbers of soldiers that ate a lot and were in positioning for war, so they would certainly not be able to just dish out food for sudden visitors cutting in line.
And even for the servants’ dining hall, it was a type of sacred realm. While the king could order that they let him in, it wasn’t a place for high class individuals, and it certainly was no place to order people to make food. This was just common sense for the class system.
Once Layotte and the king had finished up the rest of their food (and their worthless conversation), they heard a knock on Aearis’s door.
「I wonder who it could be？」
The maid, who had pretended to not notice the royals eating like slobs, went to receive the guest.
「It’s me, Elena. Is Aearis still up？」
「Yes. Please wait a moment.」
Al three royals made rather bizarre faces upon seeing the Elena had arrived. There was usually no real reason for her to show up at Aearis’s room at such an hour. The queen and Elena did have a recent tendency of fawning over Aearis, so this wasn’t the most unexpected thing to do. Well, normally it wasn’t so unexpected, but…
「Sister Elena, Brother Avin, and Brother Mark？」
「Brother Avin and Mark simply came together.」
Aearis grew even more confused as she saw the other princess and princes gathered around. Who knew what Elena was here for, but Aearis was pretty sure that the brothers had come for a late-night snack.