I used magic to help speed the dismantling process. Though I said it was dismantled, I had pre-drained the blood so all I had to do was gut it.
Though I left most of the guts, the liver and heart had great nutritional value so I wrapped them in maple bark and brought them back.
I removed the dried blood from it and carried the deer towards the open fire.
「Cyril you’re late. Where did you go?」
Lucy stood in front of the open fire pouting. She was probably worried after I had left our meeting place without saying anything.
「Sorry, I was free so I went hunting. Look, isn’t this deer yummy looking?」
「….how can hunting a deer take 30 minutes. You even drained the blood and dismantled it.」
Lucy asked with an amazed nuance.
Deer were highly vigilant and would run away if anyone approached. They also had a lot of stamina.
In the first place it was difficult to find them without the use of a hunting dog. Furthermore they were creatures that could run around even with 2 or 3 arrows sticking out of them. They moved quickly and could navigate terrain that humans would find difficult. Even the elf village needed a group of 3~4 hunters and hunting dogs to hunt a deer effectively. They needed a day to track it, a day to hunt it, and a day to bring it back. So they would spend 2~3 days in the mountains hunting.
「I wanted my lovely Lucy to eat something delicious so I did my best.」
「I don’t think it’s something that your feelings can affect but…thank you.」
Lucy blushed as she looked away.
Up until now I had been to shy to convey my feelings to Lucy properly.
However, from now on I was planning on conveying my feelings honestly. If I didn’t it might become one of my greatest regrets.
「Let’s store the meat and skin on the wagon for now and eat the liver and heart tonight.」
「Can we really do something so luxurious? Can we really eat this?」
「It’s prey that I caught. You don’t have to hold back.」
The liver and hear had high nutritional value and were delicious. It was food that was only available for the headman and the hunter who had caught the deer.
That’s why Lucy and I had only ever heard from adults how delicious it was, never once had we tasted it.
「Ok then, let’s get cooking.」
I cleaned up the heart and removed the sinewy bits. Then I rubbed it with salt and set it on the maple bark along with the edible plants before wrapping it all up.
I tied it up using a string and placed it in a place where the ashes had already gone white.
Like this it wouldn’t burn, but it would bake while allowing the maple and plants aroma to eliminate the fishy smell from it.
「So Cyril can cook. I’ve never seen you stand in a kitchen though.」
「I’ve practiced enough so that I can survive in the mountains.」
「It’s the first time Cyril’s cooked for me. I’m looking forward to it.」
「Not to toot my own horn, but I think it’ll be quite delicious so look forward to it. That’s right, as an apology for making you cook for me all this time I’ll take over cooking duty for a while.」
「I can’t make you do that.」
「It’s fine don’t worry. I want you to eat my cooking Lucy.」
I had plenty of experience in living outdoors in the mountains.
Even in a fantasy world if you didn’t have a set residence you’d have to sleep outside. Over time I mastered those skills.
「The baking will take some time so why don’t we eat the liver in the meantime? I wanted to have Lucy eat this so I tried my best.」
「Me? Because it’s delicious?」
「That too, but Lucy lacks vitamins. Right now it’s not too severe, but if left alone it could threaten your life.」
「Don’t scare me like that. What are vitamins?」
「Nutrients that you get from meat, fruit, and vegetables. It’s hard to get enough during the winter so it’s best if we take care of it now.」
The elf village had a shortage of food. Thanks to the preferential treatment that working adults received, Lucy was unable to received enough food.
This would harm her beautiful hair and skin so I couldn’t allow that.
At the time I was using my spells to strengthen her body I detected the beginnings of vitamin deficiency disease.
「Cyril knows so much huh…」
「Even like this I’m still the former headman’s son. I was educated and trained as such.」
I went back to preparing the liver after giving that vague excuse.
There was a little trick to preparing the deer’s liver.
Deer didn’t have a gallbladder and stored their bile in their liver. This bile was pea-green and bitter while also being bad for your body. I had to remove it.
I lightly sliced the liver in a circular manner. Inside the deer liver was hollow space like the core of an apple that stored the bile. I removed the bile and rinsed it with water. At the same time I finished letting the blood out of it.
After removing most of the bile I placed the half of the liver that was least affected by the bile on Lucy’s plate and placed the other half with some bitterness left over on my plate.
Just in case I used wind magic to create a vacuum around the liver in order to kill any parasites or harmful creatures.
Since we’d grown up right by the mountains our resistance to bacteria and viruses was high, but if we consumed parasites things would go south quickly.
「Now we just arrange these vegetables and we’re finished.」
I arranged them on the plate into a salad and handed it to Lucy. The plants had vitamins as well and their flavors matched well.
To finish I sprinkled it with a bit of salt. It’d be even better if there was vinegar, but I couldn’t act too luxuriously.
「Deer Liver sashimi with wild vegetable garnish. A feast that you can’t eat unless you’re the chief. Go ahead and give it a try.」
「Un, I’m looking forward to it so much that I’m a bit nervous.」
She timidly brought a slice of liver to her mouth.
Lucy chewed once, twice…then her eyes sparkled as she smiled.
「It’s delicious! Delicious, crisp, it doesn’t stink. This is the first time…」
「I’m glad you’re happy. I’ll have a bite then.」
Unlike the half I had given Lucy, my half had been soaked in bile so it was quite bitter, but even so it was tasty enough.
Sweetness within meat is produced by glycogen, but deer and cow liver has 4 times the amount of glycogen than other animals.
The reason deer liver is one of the tastiest is because of this.
However, if they become excited the glycogen moves throughout the body in place of sugar. Thanks to that unless the deer was killed instantly the taste would worsen.
As I watched Lucy happily eat the liver I was immersed in a pleasant feeling. My cooking being good was definitely part of it, but her body being filled with the essential vitamins was another part.
A human’s body makes things that it is lacking taste more delicious.
Up until now I hadn’t done much for her, I had always troubled her and caused problems.
From now on I wanted to live while slowly paying back everything I owed her.
「Look the heart will be ready soon.」
Lucy snapped out of it and blushed when she heard my voice.
She must have been embarrassed that I saw her greedily devouring her food.
「I…lost control of myself a bit.」
「It’s just right if that happens to you sometimes. You pay too much attention to your surrounding usually.」
「Uu, Cyril’s treating me so nicely…….but you have changed Cyril. Suddenly you feel so grown up. I always felt like you were a troublesome little brother before.」
「Because we lost our childhood. But I can’t just let myself be babied by you all the time. I decided to protect you from now on.」
「You said that in the wagon but you’re serious?」
「Of course, I won’t go back on what I’ve said. I’ll save the village, defeat the empire, and live happily with you Lucy.」
For that I needed power.
The overflowing knowledge and experience from within my head whispered that I could do this.
「Nee, what if…what if I said that I wanted to run away? Just the two of us.」
「If that’s what you really want Lucy, then I’ll do it immediately. It’s much easier after all. I liked the village, but you’re much more important Lucy.」
Those were my true thoughts. I was just saving the village along my path to protecting Lucy.
「Me and Cyril could…..no, I’ll do my best so let’s protect the village.」
「Okay then. I’ll fight my hardest to do so.」
Lucy was no fool.
She understood the village was in danger. But, even so she couldn’t forgive herself if the two of us simply ran away to live happily. She was a girl who clearly chose the harder path so everyone could be together happily.
「But still, there’s one thing I want you to promise.」
Lucy said and stuck out the palm of her hand.
It was this world’s version of a pinkie promise.
It took my hand and entwined it with her fingers.
「I will truly regret…..if Cyril dies then I will truly regret for the rest of my life not taking this chance and running away together. So….please don’t die. No matter what do whatever you have to to live.」
Instead of asking to protect her, she asked me to save myself. It was a Lucy-like thing to do.
「I can’t promise that. I need to amend this promise. We both need to do whatever it takes to survive. If that’s the promise then I can swear to uphold it.」
「Un, I understand. We’ll revise it. We’ll do whatever we can to live through this together.」
「I swear this by the Roots of the Blessed World Tree (Yggdrasil).」
I said and separated our fingers one by one until only our thumbs were pressed together.
If we were to break this promise it would be the greatest of disgraces according to elf customs.
「Hey Cyril, can I answer your proposal from this afternoon?」
「Nope. I’ll listen to it once this is all over.」
「I was always a meany. Hold that regret in your heart.」
「I see, then until I tell you you can’t die.」
Then we ate the heart with cooked vegetables and had the berries for dessert. The cranberries were extremely sour with only a hint of sweetness. However, they contained important vitamins and minerals so we grimaced as we ate them.
After eating we cleaned ourselves with a wet cloth and went to bed holding hands.
Despite a man sleeping next to her Lucy fell asleep with peace of mind.
That spoke to how much she trusted me. For now I wouldn’t try anything. But someday I would definitely…….these thoughts passed through my mind as I drifted off.