「So that’s what we doin’.」
Once all the event members had gathered, Hiroshi told them what was happening as he carried big plates with beautifully arranged food. Upon seeing the voluminous amount of food, Haruna raised a voice of delight.
「Celebratin’ yer 18th birthday party, Haruna-san. Eat yer heart out, celebrate to yer heart’s content.」
Aearis added her own delighted voice into the fray, her eyes glinting at the tasty-looking food. For Japan, none of this food was especially new, but in Farlane’s case, there were many things here never seen before. Furthermore, the only royalty there were Aearis and Elena. The other people apparently were busy and unfortunately couldn’t find time to stop by, instead opting to prepare some items for the celebration, such as items that screamed “Use me as an ingredient to make something!” or foodstuff that would fetch a high market price. It was clear that Azuma Workshop was the first thing on their minds.
「Haruna-san, ya also like vegetable dishes, so I tried to make the ratio slightly in favor of that. Whatcha think?」
Haruna responded, her attention moving to the seasonal vegetable tenpura. Hiroshi beamed at her before laying out the accompanying seasonal vegetable dishes. He placed four big plates of pome leaves and wyvern breast meat pilafs in an easily accessible location and made sure that the main course of garbarensia fillet Japanese-style marinade steak and today’s soup reached everyone. Lastly, he brought the other main dish in front of Haruna- her birthday cake.
「Wow, this is crazy……！」
「Can’t have a party without this, amiright?」
What Hiroshi had set out was an elegant cake with every variety of fruit from storage arranged with a perfect balance, biscuits of two different colors spelling out「Ｈａｐｐｙ Ｂｉｒｔｈｄａｙ」, and fresh cream around the candles to support them. And since they had yet to find cacao, they had used a type of red food coloring for the biscuits.
「Wow, I could totally live on this……」
「I’m glad to hear ya say that, but I ain’t done nothin’ all that special.」
「But it can’t be easy to prepare all this, right?」
「Nah, Mio made it a lot easier.」
Hiroshi acted like it was no big deal, but Haruna knew immediately from experience that this was no small feat. There were many areas that were left unmentioned that had required a lot of technique, so the simple appearance was anything but simple. And even if that weren’t the case, they were using comparatively rare monster ingredients in the food. She didn’t mind so much, since he enjoyed making food, but Haruna knew full well that it was no small task to cook all that monster food.
「Alright, let’s start one of the main events of today, mate.」
Hiroshi clapped his hands, and the next moment, the room’s lightring vanished, replaced by the lit candles. As Haruna’s eyes widened at this parlor trick, everyone else who had secretly prepared this trick began singing happy birthday all at once. By the time they finished singing, Haruna had regained her composure, blowing out all eighteen candles. As she did so, a roaring applause filled the room.
「I think we’ll begin the next main event after we finish eating.」
「Yeah. I don’t want it getting cold, plus I’m at my limit. I gotta eat!」
Everyone smiled at how honest Haruna was with her appetite, but it wasn’t like they were any different than she was. After saying itadakimasu, they began to plow through the food with a fierce pace.
「This vegetable tenpura is super tasty. What’s in it?」
「Somethin’ called leukon. Usually ya just straight up cook it and eat it, but I had a feelin’ it’d go well with tenpura.」
Haruna nodded in amazement as she munched on a thick heart-shaped leaf. It was a short-lived ingredient, only ripe around this time until the end of April, so it was no surprise that this was their first time seeing it. It wasn’t pungent and could go with tempura dipping sauce, salt, and various other condiments.
There were also reworked dishes like razzo (red asparagus) salad with plenty of lycopene as the base, with beefy-legged salmon, pome marinade, and baanya (a yellow type of broccoli), salad dishes concentrated only with vegetables that were foreign to Japan, beginning with mushrooms and daikon, and things like quiche with vegetables that slightly resembled but were unrelated to Japan.
Now, the most popular amongst the main dishes was a rock boar cutlet fried with a carrot/razzo coating and ginger-based sauce. You might refer to it as a subspecies of carrot/asparagus-coated pork cutlet. No matter the time period or world, orthodox cuisine would always be the most popular. For the amount of effort involved, food that included “coma king” shrimp had a slightly better reputation than the same orthodox “fried” shrimp. Still, the other meals were fairly popular as well, and despite how normal it was at her age to dislike vegetables, even Lime ate one or two varieties.
「The main meat here…I’ve never had it before and it tastes good, but what did you hunt down?」
「The other ingredients went well too.」
The hunting party answered Elena’s query rather quickly, and Elena simply went along with it like it was nothing. It seemed that she intended to thoroughly enjoy this rare pleasure.
「You aren’t surprised, Elena-sama?」
「No, not by this point.」
Instead, Teres was the one to be surprised at how unperturbed Elena was. Nora and Fum weren’t much different. After Elena had replied with that matter-of-fact tone, she tried out some sake and divided a pilaf, excited to see how it was made. Also, no one was surprised by this point that Aearis wasn’t surprised.
「That’s what I’d expect from a princess. Her presence is off the charts!」
「When Nora heard about garbarensias, she truly questioned your sanity.」
「Me too. When I saw a Class Four potion for the first time, my reaction wasn’t much different from yours.」
After many other events, the two of them had stopped being surprised at anything they ate.
「I’m just glad that the octogals aren’t here.」
「Yeah. I bet it would have been quite noisy.」
Having apparently had enough to eat, Tatsuya and Makoto chatted as they drank sake with the dry, mellow taste of rice and a refreshing aftertaste. Anyone who knew about those strange creatures would agree with that statement, and thank goodness, even Artiem would concur.
「Aranwen-sama’s…pets? Retainers? I’m not sure……」
「Anyhow, there are these strange-looking creatures that are difficult to describe.」
Fum had not known about the octogals until now, asking a question on behalf of everyone else who did not. After hearing the response from the elder group, her face basically looked like she was thinking “The hell is that?”. Even Layla, who was not participating in the conversation, grinning as she continued eating, was of a similar opinion.
「Yeah, you kinda have to see it for yourselves to understand」
「They’re such strange creatures, that’s all I’m saying」
「Their appearance is one thing, but explaining anything else is sort of difficult, yeah.」
The Japanese continued their explanation, of which Teres and Artiem had no choice but to agree. They didn’t end up explaining much more here, but later on, the craftspeople of the workshop would be coming face to face with these creatures in an unexpected fashion. Of course, no one was currently anticipating this.
「Right, now that the food’s gone, let’s use our second stomach for the cake ‘n enjoy the second event, y’all.」
「I’ve been waiting for this！」
As soon as they heard the word “cake”, the girls (and even Layla and Lime) reacted simultaneously. Even Wulls had fresh cream sweets, but they had all but none of the type that Hiroshi made with flowery, intricate designs. Needless to say, this was an issue of cooking technique. If Goivejon and Foeldan had been able to participate today instead of getting roped into some other tasks, they would have undoubtedly been taken aback from the sheer power.
「Of course Haruna’s gettin’ the best place, and then y’all can get the next best places based on how young ya are, is that alright?」
「It’s a given that the older people look out for the younger people. Just because we’re royalty doesn’t mean you need to take special care around me or Aearis.」
「Umm, I still feel like Artiem and I have a slight disadvantage here……」
「Such is the fate of elves. Perish the thought.」
The girls clamoured excitedly at Hiroshi’s proposal. He smiled awkwardly at them before dividing the cake up into fair portions.
「And then we got the main present for ya right here.」
Once everyone had gotten a piece, Hiroshi took out a firmly-wrapped package and handed it to Haruna. Everyone else who had previously heard about the gift cocked their heads in confusion at how much larger it was than they had assumed. Only Aearis, who had gone through with blessing rituals, saw the size of the bag as normal.
「What could it be? I can open it, right？」
Urged on by Hiroshi, Haruna opened the first present she had received in who knows how many years. Out came three different-sized ribbons and a truly good-looking ribbon brooch adorned on the collar with sapphire. It was a fancy item made to look chic with subdued blue and white checkers, perfect for Haruna.
The brooch would look good not only on dresses, but also on wyvern laser armor. It was quite the fine item. Even the ribbon emitted a strange personality to the point where even people who were bad at discerning high value from low value could tell that some serious work had been put into the fabric. For those who could feel precise amounts of mana, it was possible to see almost instantly that this product was on par with the legendary artifacts. Still, they would also probably realize that it wasn’t really something they could handle well enough to use.
「Boss Man, I haven’t heard about the brooch until now. Care to explain?」
「It’s a secret present from the royal family, mate. It was a pretty good item so I put my all into it.」
「O-Okaaay, now I just feel like I’m in the presence of something awe-inspiring……」
「Nah, c’mon, we’re in a private situation now with Farlane’s royal folk. No need to act all polite.」
Elena and Aearis burst into laughter at how blunt Hiroshi said that. Haruna looked at them with a light smile before putting her present back into its wrapping, hugging it tightly against her chest and treating it with care.
Precisely because there were hardly any presents, Haruna could tell that everyone at the workshop had churned out their ideas and worked on this present with love. To Haruna, this would go on to be one of the most unforgettable handful of moments in her life.