Time passed by.
After the rainy season, which was cloudy, but relatively cool, the western part of the South Continent welcomed its most severe season.
These three months would be “summer”, if the seasons of Japan were to be enforced here. In the last of them, temperatures of over forty degrees during the day continued naturally, not even dropping below thirty-five degrees at night. Zenjirou experienced this harsh season for the second time.
In other words, a whole year had passed since he came into this world, but right now he was in no situation to appreciate that.
The wooden shutters of the windows in the living room of the inner palace were closed to keep out the brutal sunlight and gruelling heat even just a little bit. For a while now, Zenjirou was restlessly walking around the room without aim like a bear before hibernation, while sweating profoundly in his casual clothes.
“Zenjirou-sama, your sweat…”
A waiting maid with black hair, standing at attention on the side, took a chilled towel from the refrigerator and held it out to him as she could no longer stand on the sidelines.
Zenjirou only noticed that he was sweating once he was told so, and snatched the towel from the hands of the maid, then wildly wiped his face and neck.
Considering his usual behaviour, the brusque attitude of not even thanking her was rather “untypical” of him, but the waiting maid knew the circumstances behind it and actually gave her master a sympathetic look.
“Zenjirou-sama, how about you sit down and rest for a bit…”
Not only that, one of the young maids called out to him worried, even while knowing that this act was a taboo, considering their social positions.
In the very moment Zenjirou was about to reply consenting.
The voice of his beloved wife “during childbirth” sounded loudly from the bedroom.
He unconsciously flinched and swallowed his breath. Then he shook his sweating head and denied.
“Nah, I’ll stay like this after all. I wouldn’t feel comfortable sitting anyway.”
Queen Aura was giving birth today.
Just like the majority of fathers, Zenjirou could do nothing but worry to no end, so he simply continued to wander from place to place inside the room without any leeway in his mind to notice the room temperature of over forty degrees.
“Excuse me, I brought the hot water!”
“Here are the additional cloths!”
The waiting maids, carrying a large steaming pot and a bunch of clean cloths, disappeared into the bedroom with swift steps.
Zenjirou simply watched the hectic in silence. There was nothing he could do.
A cool breeze flowed into the living room through the opened door of the bedroom.
It originated from the cooling fan working at full power in front of some ice. Of course they weren’t so unreasonable as to aim the cold air directly at Aura as she was in the middle of the delivery, but the temperature in the enclosed bedroom could be lowered to some extent by letting the ventilator blow air over the ice inside the room.
It was often said that a pregnant woman should not cast a chill on her body, but it was still better for the body than a room with a temperature over forty degrees.
No matter how much stamina Aura had, her mind and body would exhaust during the long period of the delivery amidst a heat of over forty degrees.
Besides, the ventilator on the high
* * *
Queen Aura safely gave birth to her first child.
With Doctor Michelle’s permission, Zenjirou entered the bedroom, where his beloved wife Aura showed the brightest smile ever on her exhausted face from atop the bed.
She was currently lying on the small extra bed, which was added for Zenjirou to sleep in after shehad became pregnant, instead of the original huge bed of the bedroom. The bed in which Zenjirou usually slept.
Doctor Michelle or the assisting waiting maids wouldn’t be able to lend a hand if Aura was on the giant bed and they stood at the side of it, so they took it upon themselves to perform the delivery on this bed instead.
Zenjirou was rushing over to her, whereat Aura raised her head a bit from the pillow and faintly smiled at him. Her brown face and red hair were dripping wet from sweat, which was the complete opposite of her usual vigorous self.
“Stay as you are. No need to force yourself to look at me.”
Aura looked so worn out that Zenjirou unconsciously prompted her like that after rushing to her side. However, her worn-out face showed a smile of satisfaction.
“Yeah, okay. But it is alright. Look, the child and I are well.”
Following her look, which was slowly going to the side, Zenjirou looked at the waiting maid, who was standing on the other side of the bed.
The clean-limbed waiting maid pressed the baby wrapped in a fine red cloth to her breast.
“Yes. My— our child.”
Zenjirou timidly peeked at the face of the baby in the arms of the clean-limbed maid.
The waiting maid, acquainted with him, showed a friendly smile all over her face and held the baby in her arms a bit into his direction, so that he could get a better look.
“Take a look, Zenjirou-sama. It is a healthy boy.”
“Oh, a boy.”
He went around the bed, moving to the side of the maid with the baby. Then he took another look at his own child in the arms of the waiting maid.
“He has my eyes.”
“Yes. But he got the mouth of Zenjirou-sama, if I had to choose.”
“His skin colour is a mixture of my husband’s and mine. A bit pale for a child of the Carpa Kingdom.”
Aura and the middle-aged maid, holding the baby, were saying all that, but to be honest, Zenjirou couldn’t approve of it at all.
Were they really saying that this creature, looking like a limp monkey without hair and closed eyes, resembled Aura and him? Its skin was bright red, too, so he saw nil resemblances to Aura or himself.
And above all, his “eyes” were currently focused on something else than the outward characteristics.
(Wow. His magic power’s above Aura’s. Maybe twice as much as mine?)
After diligently taking magic lessons from Lady Octavia for around one year, Zenjirou had now awakened the basic of basics for a magician, namely the “ability to detect magic power”. His eyes captured the dazzlingly overwhelming magic power coming from the body of his son.
One’s amount of magic power was decided upon birth, so it wasn’t strange that a newborn baby happened to have more magic power than a grown royalty. However, Zenjirou couldn’t help but feel an indescribable uneasiness when this small, limp creature, from which he didn’t know whether it was a human or a monkey, emitted such an incredible magic power.
He timidly reached out his hand for the child in the arms of the waiting maid.
The moment he was about to carefully touch the baby’s bright red hand with the forefinger of his right hand, the newborn tightly squeezed his finger with its small hand.
“!? Uwah, he squeezed me!”
His finger was squeezed.
Did he felt so deeply moved from that simple action because this small hand belonged to his own flesh and blood?
“Wow. He’s so small, but properly has five fingers…”
“It would be scary if he had not. Fingers are not something that grow later on after all.”
The middle-aged waiting maid answered like that with a smile while she held the baby in an accustomed manner, supporting the neck, which it still couldn’t hold up on his own.
Queen Aura, still laying on the bed, smiled in response to the almost childish reaction of her husband towards his newborn child.
“Fufu, cute, is he not?”
“…Yeah, quite so. The cutest in the world.”
Zenjirou forgot all about his earlier rude impression that he looked “like a monkey”, and nodded numerous times while he kept looking at his child squeezing his finger.
“Aa, Daa, Aa!”
“Oh my, there, there.”
As to comfort the baby, who started to cry, the middle-aged maid quickly dandled him gently.
Just when Zenjirou withdrew his squeezed finger from the baby, Doctor Michelle, who had carried out the delivery today, raised a voice from the side.
“Zenjirou-sama, let me congratulate you first of all. As you can see, both Her Highness and the prince are safe and sound.”
Upon these words, Zenjirou realized that he still hadn’t thanked the doctor for ensuring the lives of his precious wife and son. Flustered, he turned around in a snap.
“Yes, thank you, Doctor Michelle. It is thanks to you that Aura and my child got through the delivery without problems. I cannot thank you enough.”
Zenjirou forgot his position and lowered his head in a servile manner while fully speaking in a respective tone, whereat Doctor Michelle widened his eyes in surprise for a moment, but apparently decided not to mind it right now.
“Your words are wasted on me.”
The doctor immediately showed his usual calm smile and answered like that.
“Nevertheless, the delivery was quite exhausting for Her Highness Aura. I recommend to stay in bed for today. Have at least two waiting maids accompany you for relieving yourself.”
“Yeah, got it.”
Queen Aura shortly affirmed the words of the royal physician from atop her bed.
While his wife and the doctor exchanged such a post-delivery conversation, Zenjirou nervously called out to the elderly waiting maid holding the baby.
“Uh- Uhm, I would like to hold him, too… Can I?”
The waiting maid widened her eyes in surprise for a moment upon the words from the new father, but in the next moment, she smiled sweetly and nodded firmly.
“Yes, of course. But please be careful. The child still cannot support its own head, so please do not forget to hold it like this under any circumstances.”
“Yeah, okay. Oof, like this?”
He nervously held his newborn son in both his arms.
The small and soft body weight, adjacent to fragile, was transmitted onto his arms. He properly felt the pulsation of “life” when he held that puniness, which was almost a miracle to be unharmed, in his arms.
“Fufu, how nice. Papa is already holding you.”
The Queen threw her husband a smile from the bed as he held their child awkwardly, raised her sweaty head a bit and looked at the waiting maids standing at attention left and right.
“I want to sit up. Help me.”
“Very well. Ah, but, Michelle-sama?”
The aged doctor mused for a moment when the young waiting maid looked at him for permission, then nodded slowly.
“Should be alright. I will allow to sit on the bed for a short while at least.”
After getting the doctor’s permission, the waiting maids immediately implemented their Queen’s order.
“Excuse us then, Your Highness.”
“We will put our arms behind your back, so please lean against them.”
“Allow me to reach behind you. I will place a cushion there, so please leaned against the headboard afterwards.”
Two waiting maids skilfully sat Aura up on the bed while another waiting maid placed a big pillow at the headboard of the bed.
Aura was sat up by the waiting maids like a doll and leaned against the pillow at the headboard, leaking a big sigh.
Beads of sweat were dropping from her drenched face and neck, flowing into her cleavage or over her collarbone.
“Your Highness, I will wipe your body.”
As the young waiting maid diligently wiped her royal body with a cold towel, Aura narrowed her eyes to slits like a cat tickled under the chin and thanked her.
The wrung, wet towel felt really good on her body, which was blazing hot from the severe heat and the struggle of the delivery, so Aura abandoned herself to the hands of the waiting maids.
Zenjirou said down in a chair next to the bed with the utmost care as to prevent anything from happen to the child in his arms.
“…All done and dusted.”
Her husband suddenly broached a topic, whereat Aura turned to him after having her sweat wiped, and nodded curt.
“Yes, for now.”
A conversation between the wife, accomplishing the delivery just now, and the husband, holding their newborn child in his arms.
As if they had agreed upon it beforehand, the doctor and waiting maids considerately kept silent and wordlessly retreated to the back all together as not to disturb them.
Whether the Queen realized their thoughtfulness or not, she kept talking in a manner as if their family of three were the only ones here.
“At first, I considered the pregnancy and birth as a part of my duties as the Queen, but after seeing my child with my own eyes, holding it with my own arms… somehow, all of this superficial reasoning was just blown away.”
Aura’s gaze was fixated on the small, sleeping baby in her husband’s arms while she muttered that.
Zenjirou, too, looked down on the child in his arms and agreed with a broad smile.
The Queen and the Prince Consort. The couple was supposed to be all lovey-dovey, but now the two of them had only eyes for their newborn child, not even looking each other in the face.
“Yeah, he’s so cute.”
“Yes, adorably so. Now I truly regret the absolute necessary to raise a prince amongst foster siblings by a wet nurse.”
If she were to raise him herself, she would likely end up spoiling him to no end, neglecting a proper education as royalty.
Zenjirou looked into her eyes after she confessed that and snorted with laughter.
“That’s for sure. I doubt I could raise him with the necessary strictness, too.”
He would have never imagined that having a child was something so precious.
“Come to think of it, what name are you going to give him?”
“Mh? Aren’t you going to give him one, Aura? I don’t know much about the names here.”
Zenjirou tilted his head puzzled towards Aura’s sudden topic chance, and answered.
“Yes, of course I am going to give him one. However, our country has a custom, where the child is given one name from each country when the parents origin from different ones. Although it is quite rare to have a royalty with two names, due to issues with a leak of bloodline magic.“
Aura said so, whereat Zenjirou nodded understanding.
“Oho, I see. Then I’ll think of a name, too.”
If he had known that before, he would have downloaded an electronic name dictionary onto his computer. Zenjirou regretted it a bit now. But oh well. His brain should at least be able to come up with a suitable name for his own child.
As Aura had perceived her husband’s intention, she giggled from atop her pillow.
“Kukuku, good. Each of us shall think hard and give him a good name.”
But since she was laughing and speaking at the same time, her voice became a bit cracked at the end of the sentence and she coughed. Hearing that, Zenjirou looked worried at his beloved wife.
“Yeah, will do. But you’ve got to rest now, Aura. Doctor Michelle also said it’s not good to be up for too long.”
The aged doctor, standing in the back, expressed his agreement by nodding to his words. Due to their social standing, the waiting maids weren’t saying anything, but they looked pretty worried at her, too.
The Queen gave this situation a wry smile and shrugged her shoulders a bit.
“Fine, I get it. But a little bit, just a little bit longer should be alright, no? I want to look at him a bit longer, so that I will still see him in my dream once I fall asleep…”
“Geez… Okay, but just a bit.”
Zenjirou could relate to her feelings better than anyone, so he allowed it with a wry smile.
“Yes, I know.”
The Queen replied commendable with a smile, nodding obediently.
In the end however, she couldn’t keep her promise.
The father held the child and the mother watched the two from atop the bed. Without getting tired of it, she continued to watch her newborn child until Doctor Michelle, overseeing everything, finally intervened.
Extra Chapter: The Collaboration between the Waiting Maids and their Master
Vanessa was a waiting maid working in the inner palace of the Carpa Kingdom.
That said, she was not the kind of cute maid with an elegant appearance that one would expect in the “royal palace”.
As a woman of middle age, her waist and bottom had put on an impressive plump weight.
It goes without saying that an enclosed environment like the inner palace could not be run by young and beautiful girls alone.
Starting with the supervisory maid Amanda through to each department head, all of them were expert in their respective fields through years of experience.
A large working force of young girls that was primarily chosen for their appearance, and a selected few skilled leaders with an emphasis on abilities. Vanessa belonged to the latter group.
“Head of the cooking department in the inner palace”. That was her current position.
Nevertheless, she still wasn’t an official royal cook, despite her title.
The official royal cooks were the men working in the palace and the food for Queen Aura and Zenjirou, living in the inner palace, was basically made by them.
Needless to say, it would be quite inefficient when the cooks in the palace prepared all their food for each meal and had the waiting maids carry it into the inner palace every day.
Therefore, the royal cook were in charge of staple food like bread or upscale main dishes, while Vanessa and her girls often prepared simple dishes in the kitchen of the inner palace.
The kitchen in the inner palace was small, but its equipment was in no way inferior to the one in the palace. Likewise, Vanessa’s skills as a cook weren’t all that behind the royal cooks.
In spite of that, Vanessa had no chance to become a royal cook as a woman, since the cooking sector was no exception to the customs of the patriarchal Carpa Kingdom.
For all these circumstances, Vanessa, a waiting maid in the inner palace and the “head of the cooking department”, was working as the practical head chef every day.
“Okay, girls, it’s time to make the sweets you love so much. Let’s give it our all!”
With both her hands on her plump hips, Vanessa raised a loud voice, whereupon the three young waiting maids on cooking duty today replied energetically all together.
Unlike the department heads, who each had their permanent position, the workers aka young waiting maids went through a rotation, where they alternated between all the departments for a set interval.
This was done, so that the young waiting maid evenly learned the maid skills and could be send out to support other departments when there were sudden absentees or when a certain department needed help on a special occasion (in fact, tasks like the monthly “great cleaning of the bath” or the “throughout cultivation of the garden after the rainy season” were done by all waiting maids of the inner palace together).
Vanessa showed a bright smile on her chubby face upon the quick answer from the young waiting maids, then clapped her hands.
“Good. Then let’s get started!”
To be honest, Vanessa’s speech and conduct was a little bit different from a typical “maid in the inner palace”. Frankly, she lacked “grace”.
Of course she acted in a gracious manner, which you would never expect from her plump body, in front of Zenjirou and Aura, but when she was working behind closed doors, where no higher-ups saw her, like today, she was just like an old lady from a tavern in downtown.
So much so that some of the young waiting maids from a good lineage felt a bit uncomfortable around her.
However, the three maids assigned to the kitchen today were hardly concerned about that.
Fay, Dolores and Rethe were on cooking duty today. The so-called “three troublemakers”.
Vanessa gave the young waiting maids instructions with a clear voice.
“Fay, you take care of the stove. Watch the fire, so that it has the right temperature!”
“Dolores, you sift the flour on the table!”
“Rethe, we two are beating the eggs. I’ll do the egg yolk, you do the egg white.”
“Ui, I got the toughest job.”
The young maids scattered on Vanessa’s orders.
Sieved wheat flour, egg yolk whipped foamy and meringue (meaning egg white whipped until it stood up in stiff peaks). As well as baking soda grinded to powder. Apart from that, there were brown sugar and vegetable oil of fine quality provided on the table.
One might be able to guess what they were going to make from these ingredients.
They were making a “sponge cake” right now.
Needless to say, the sweet called “sponge cake” originally didn’t exist in the Carpa Kingdom, so the recipe obviously came from Zenjirou.
When he came into the different world, he had brought receipts for sweets or snacks to have with alcohol, downloaded at random, along.
That said, about eighty percent of these recipes couldn’t be carried out in this world. The reason was extremely simple: Most of the western confectionery from his world required dairy products like milk or butter.
Since the livestock in the Carpa Kingdom consisted mainly of dragons— namely large reptiles, there was no animal that gave milk. The North Continent apparently had livestock like goats or cows, so it was no impossible task to import and breed them through the investment of a lot of money, but to be honest, it remained questionable if it was acceptable to spend such a large sum simply for an indulgence of his.
After all, the people of the Carpa Kingdom had managed hundreds of years without dairy products. They would surely meet butter or cheese with reluctance at first. In fact, Aura had tilted her head with a rather averse expression, saying “eating the milk of animals…?”, when Zenjirou had told her about it.
Due to these circumstances, the food reproduced here so far was limited to stuff without dairy products.
And one sweet without dairy products was the “sponge cake”, which Vanessa and the other girls were making right now.
Of course there were also sponge cakes, which used dairy products, like “milk sponge cakes” or “butter sponge cakes”, but the sponge cake recipe in Zenjirou’s recipe collection was for one without dairy products.
Eggs, bread flour, sugar and salad oil. These were the only ingredients listed on the recipe.
Admittedly, Vanessa and the others weren’t making the their “sponge cake” according to that recipe.
They had no refined oil such as salad oil, so they substituted it with an vegetable oil as indistinctive as possible, but even so, the smell of the oil was rather strong, so they added a little bit of the brandy Zenjirou had brought along, as flavouring.
Moreover, in the recipe, it was leavened by the meringue alone, but so far it often failed to do so, so they added some natural sodium bicarbonate (fine powder of the trona mineral) as baking powder.
These alternations ultimately manifested in the taste and appearance, resulting in something “different” from the recipe.
Although it was “different”, Vanessa had improved the recipe with her skills on par with the royal cooks, through trial and error. The faint smell of brandy and shallow taste of alcohol might make this cake more delicious than the original one for some people.
“Dum Di Dum~♪“
Vanessa held a large, silver bowl in her corpulent right arm and cheerfully continued to beat the many egg yolks with the whisk in her left hand.
She was used to “whipping the eggs”, since that cooking method was known here, too.
Moreover, she looked at the young waiting maids and coordinated the whole procedure while judging the foaming of the eggs through her sense of touch.
“Hey, we can fold in the meringue any moment now. Are you done, Rethe?”
While skilfully adding the brown sugar, ready to hand near the bowl, to the yolks, Vanessa called out to the waiting maid with big breasts and drooping eyelids, who worked hard at making the meringue by thrusting the whisk into the bowl with the egg white, making a bright red face next to her.
“Okay~ I’m done in a bit~”
The waiting maid with the dropping eyelids— Rethe answered her superior like that with a voice that was completely exhausted after such a short time already.
Unlike the egg yolk, which only had to be whipped until it slightly foamed, the egg white had to be whipped until stiff peaks stood up— Making the meringue was a stiff job.
So much so that even Fay, sweating a waterfall in front of the stove, and Dolores, sieving a large amount of flour with a floury face, unconsciously gave their roommate sympathetic glances.
Rethe stirred the whisk with trembling movements of her whole body and praiseworthy fulfilled her task regardless.
“Good, bring it over as soon as you’re done. Fay! How’s the fire?”
“Looking good. Ready at any time!”
The petite maid in front of the stove with ash on her apron and face, stuck out her small thumb in the air with a sweet smile.
“Good. Then let’s get started for real. Dolores, I take it you’re done with sieving the flour? Good, then oil the tin and choose what to add to the base.”
“Eh? I’m allowed to choose?”
In response to Vanessa’s instruction, the tall maid happily straightened her usual slant-eyes and showed a bright smile.
The original recipe intended for granulated sugar, but Vanessa had tried out various ideas so far: Adding ground nuts, slices of dried fruits and whatnot instead.
Basically, Dolores was entrusted with the most important task, namely deciding the flavour of the sponge cake. Unsurprisingly, she was thrilled.
“Aw, not fair.”
“Dolores-chan, choose the granulated sugar. That’s the best!”
Fay at the stove and Rethe making the meringue both raised a voice without a moment’s delay.
After all, the waiting maids of the kitchen were allowed to “appropriately dispose” of whatever remained after Zenjirou and Aura got the good pieces of the baked sweets, so that matter concerned them as well.
Vanessa rebuked these boisterous maids while she added the vegetable oil bit by bit to the bowl with the egg yolk.
“Hey! Enough with the ruckus. Focus on your job. Dolores, pick one already. It will be a disgrace for us when the sweets for our masters are delayed because you were hesitant.”
Compared to supervisory maid Amanda or cleaning department head Ines, Vanessa didn’t nag as much, but she didn’t forget her position as the cooking department head.
“I’m sorry, Vanessa-sama.”
The three troublemakers shrugged her shoulders together towards the scolding of their supervisor.
Approximately one hour later.
A sweet fragrance hang over the kitchen.
Needless to say, this fragrance came from the freshly baked sponge cake.
Vanessa skilfully cut into the sponge cake, removed from the metal tin, with a bread knife.
The troublemaking trio intently watched her while leaning over the table from their chairs.
Undaunted by the pressuring looks of the trio, resembling the eyes of a carnivorous dragon that found some prey after three days without food, on the cake, Vanessa neatly cut the sponge cake in three equal pieces.
“Okay, from here to here… And from here to here, I guess.”
She chose the best parts from the cut cake and apportioned them onto silver plates.
As the primitive stove was sadly fuelled by firewood after all, Vanessa could do nothing about the irregular surface baking, even with all her skills. Therefore, she baked it tolerantly, anticipating a certain level of failure from the beginning, and only presented the well-baked portions to her masters.
With her carefree slant-eyes, Rethe watched how Vanessa portioned Zenjirou’s share on the silver plate and remarked with a serious tone, which was rarely heard from her under normal circumstances.
“Ah, Vanessa-sama, the surface of this piece is deformed. I don’t think we should serve this to Zenjirou-sama.”
The sponge cake in question was the “piece with the most granulated sugar”.
Influenced by Rethe, Dolores and Fay also mentioned their own desire veiled in consideration for their master next.
“Vanessa-sama, please take a close look. This piece has small flour lumps on it. As a waiting maid in charge of the kitchen, I cannot allow this to be brought to Zenjirou-sama.”
Assuming an affected serious look, Dolores indicated and pointed at the portion, which had best looking crust.
“Vanessa-sama, Vanessa-sama, the piece on the side! It’s cut a bit skewed! I’ll take responsibility and dispose of it myself!”
Fay said so energetically as if she was going to jump to her feet, and had set her sight onto a slice that was cut a little bit thicker.
Speechless on a rare occasion, Vanessa stared at the “three troublemakers”, who were faithful to their desires, with half-closed eyes.
By the time the girls thought “uh oh, not good”, it was already too late.
Vanessa, still not saying anything, hotly breathed on her tightly clenched fist and
swung the heated fist down on the heads of the troublemakers one by one.
* * *
Afterwards, Fay, Dolores and Rethe delivered the best pieces of the sponge cake to Zenjirou in the living room and returned to the kitchen.
“We’ve served the sponge cake to Zenjirou-sama.”
“He said it was delicious and lets you know ‘thanks as always’, Vanessa-sama.”
The damage from Vanessa’s fist was no longer visible in their energetic behaviour as they called out.
Well, she had hit them without reservation, precisely because these three were mentally tough and quick to recover, but the girls themselves weren’t aware of that causal connection.
Remaining seated on the chair at the cooking table, Vanessa welcomed the young maids with a bright smile.
“Yes, well done. I’ll make some tea now, so take a break. Here, you can each pick one piece at will.”
“Thank you very much.”
“Yay! Let’s see, let’s see.”
The troublemaking trio happily sat down at the table and carefully investigated each slice of the remaining cake with utmost devotion to find their favourite.
Technically, there was plenty of the cake left, but the waiting maids working in the other departments would resent them if they didn’t share, so the girls could only have one slice each.
Just as the three waiting maids had put their chosen pieces onto their plates, Vanessa had made tea for four people and placed the steamy cups in front of the young maids and herself.
The plate for the cake and the cups for the tea were all made of wood. As this country didn’t know of glass or ceramics, the tableware was basically either made of silver or wood.
“Here, your tea. It’s still hot, so be careful not to burn your tongue.”
“Thank you, Vanessa-sama!”
“Yay. Ah, Fay-chan, pass me the sugar.”
“Wait a sec, Rethe. You finally get to eat some sponge cake, so when you put in so much sugar into your tea, you won’t notice the sweetness of the cake anymore.”
“There’s no point in telling her that, Dolores. Rethe takes lot of sugar to anything after all.”
The tea party proceeded with a harmonious atmosphere.
Although they were in front of their superior Vanessa, Fay and the other two enjoyed the tea and cake without any tension. In a way, they had nerves of steel.
Supervisory maid Amanda stressed rules and hierarchy, so she would lament this scene as “unacceptable”, but Vanessa was the laxest amongst the supervisors in regards to rules.
If anything, she rather liked an harmonious atmosphere like this.
“Come to think of it, Dolores, are the papers you brought the usual again?”
Having finished her own piece of the cake, Vanessa rinsed the sweetness in her mouth with the tea in the wooden cup and called out like that to the tall waiting maid, who was still eating the cake little by little across of her.
“Ah, yes. That’s right. It’s the ‘next recipe’ from Zenjirou-sama.”
Upon her superior’s question, Dolores removed the wooden fork from her mouth and quickly swallowed the cake in her mouth, then responded.
Zenjirou translated the recipes from the collection on his computer into the language of this world at odd moments and passed them on to the waiting maids in charge of cooking.
Of course he had Aura check the translation before handing them to the maids, so there were no fatal mistakes that distorted the meaning.
“Ehehe, what’s it going to be this time? I’m all excited.”
Amongst all the many waiting maids, Rethe was probably the one, who was the most fascinated by the sweets from the other world. Her face with the drooping eyelids was slack to begin with, but a soft smile relaxed it even more and her consciousness was already focussed on the unknown sweet.
Naturally, Fay and Dolores, too, were looking forward to “reproduce the recipe”, albeit not as much as Rethe.
“We’re counting on you, Rethe.”
“Geez, Fay. This concerns you as well! Sure, Rethe is the best cook, but you just can’t leave it all to her because of that. You, as well as me, have to give our best, too!”
The tall waiting maid, holding a wooden cup in her left hand, gave her petite coworker, who openly spoke about relying upon others for her own goal, an elbow check with her right.
“Oww! Aw, stop it! You may be skinny, but in exchange your elbow is pointy and hurts!”
“Shuddap. As if you can talk, shorty!”
“Who’re you calling a shorty, you mountain!”
“Jeez, watch yourself, Fay-chan, Dolores-chan. We’re having a delicious cake here, so keep it quiet.”
Fay and Dolores were having an intimate fight as always, to which Rethe raised a troubled and angry voice.
She knew better than anyone that their fights were hardly genuine, but the ruckus during her favourite sweets time was definitely a bother.
Vanessa said while watching these “three troublemakers” with a wry smile.
“Well, keep it in moderation. My patience has its limit, too, you know. Anyway, when do you girls want to challenge that recipe?”
Needless to say, they had no time to spare to make new sweets on days with their normal duties. Making three meals and the usual afternoon sweets wore away all of their energy.
“That much is clear.”
“We want to make it in three days. If I remember rightly, Her Highness Aura and Zenjirou-sama are away on business during the day and attend a party at night, so they’ll only eat breakfast in the inner palace.”
Stopping their fight at once, Fay and Dolores looked at each other and said so deeply recalling from their memories.
Even if the waiting maids were working in the inner palace, they had memorized the entire official schedule of their masters.
As the answers from the girls were satisfiable, Vanessa nodded firmly, but then showed a sly smile and added.
“That’s true. However, the head cook from the palace requested my help for that night party. Apparently Zenjioru-sama mentioned that I know his tastes the best.”
Vanessa was shaking her plump body with laughter, saying “It’s quite an honour”.
But the three troublemakers didn’t feel like smiling after being told that.
Fay raised an excessive surprised voice.
“You won’t be here, Vanessa-sama?”
Dolores inclined her head to the side in worry to her words.
“Eh? Then we can’t make the new sweet?”
And Rethe made a sorrowful face, wrinkling the space between her eyebrows as if she was about to cry.
That figures. Even if Rethe adorned herself with having the best cooking skills amongst the young waiting maids, she was nothing more than a “waiting maid good at cooking”.
She didn’t hold a candle to Vanessa, whose “cooking skills went beyond the maid level”.
As a matter of course, Vanessa had coordinated all the attempts to reproduce Zenjirou’s recipes so far.
“Th- Then how about the noon in seven days? There won’t be a night party on that day, but Zenjirou-sama and Her Highness Aura will both be gone during the day. We would’ve less time than in three days, but still…”
Quickly going through the schedule in her head, Dolores made a suggestion, but Vanessa shrugged her shoulders with an ever so slightly affected expression.
“Well, if that’s alright with you, I don’t mind doing it in seven days. Shall I give the recipe to Karina then?”
Karina was the name of a young waiting maid and the coworker of Fay and the other girls.
The three girls came to a realization at the same time upon Vanessa’s interjection.
“Right, it’s too late in seven days. We’ve to do it before.”
“We’re going to change departments in five days!”
The young waiting maids periodically changed departments.
The next change was already due in five days. As the three realized that fact, they were at their wits’ end.
In other words, they would still be in charge if they tried the new recipe in three days, but in seven days the waiting maids that relieved them of their kitchen duty would be in charge.
Vanessa looked at the three, young waiting maids and shrugged her shoulders in a dramatic manner, shaking her head excessively.
“What a shame. And I here I was planning to use my authority to reward the first team that pulled this new recipe off, with one month of exclusive usage of the refrigerator.”
The huge five-door refrigerator in the living room naturally belonged to Zenjirou, but as the head of the cooking department, Vanessa had gotten the permission to freely use around one-third of the entire space, starting from the crisper, at her own discretion.
The troublemaking trio became all excited from hearing these words.
The Carpa Kingdom was still in the hot season. Zenjirou allowed the waiting maids to help themselves to the chilled towels and the jug with cold water in the refrigerator or the ice from the freezer to some extent, but there were more than a dozen waiting maids in total in the inner palace after all.
The cold water and ice, let alone the chilled towels, couldn’t be taken by everyone as they pleased.
Thus the exclusive usage of the refrigerator, if only in a limited small space, was quite attractive to the waiting maids.
Fay, Dolores and Rethe communicated with their eyes, then
“Please leave it to us!”
“We’ll somehow pull off this recipe with just the three of us in three days!”
they declared reassuring all in one breath.
* * *
Three days later at noon.
The “three troublemakers”: Fay, Dolores and Rethe had gathered in the kitchen of the inner palace, where they were all alone.
Needless to say, they were dressed ready to cook: A long apron over their maid clothes.
Fay’s short hair was kept like always, but Dolores and Rethe’s long hair was tied back into a bun, so it wouldn’t get in the way with cooking.
Fay and the other two had declared that they would somehow pull of the recipe by themselves.
Vanessa had most likely tried to steer the matter into that direction from the very beginning.
The face of their supervisor had shown an “all-according-to-plan” smile as she answered them with “okay. Give it your all. I’ll arrange for the ingredients, so use anything you need”.
The young waiting maids challenged the new sweet recipe all by themselves. They themselves were probably not aware of it, but it was good practice for them.
For Vanessa, who was functioning as an teacher as well, it was a welcome outcome when the young waiting maid improved their cooking skills through this.
“Good, let’s get started!”
Rethe clapped her hands in front of her voluptuous breasts and proclaimed the kick-off.
“Okay, you’re the leader today, Rethe. Please give us instructions. Fay and I will do as you tell us then.”
“We’re counting on you, Leader!”
Rethe acted as if she was rolling up her sleeves and replied to her two roommates or rather co-workers.
“Yeah, I’ll do my best. I hope you two memorized the recipe.”
“Of course. I read it so often in the last three days that I can’t bear the sight of it anymore.”
In reaction to Rethe’s inquiry, Dolores waved with the couple of copy papers, which had gotten a bit more worn out, dirtied and buckled compared to three days ago, and answered.
“I, I remember… it, too?”
Fay’s answer remained a bit doubtful, since it ended with a question mark, but it was too late to do anything about it now.
“Jeez, Fay-chan. I’ll have to trust you on that. Well then, we’ll start by making the ‘puff pastry’ first.”
Rethe puckered her lips on a rare occasion and said that, then reached out for the ingredients on the worktop herself as the vanguard.
The new recipe from Zenjirou was a “puff pastry pie”, just like one could imagine from the term “puff pastry”.
That said, it wasn’t a regular pastry. The traditional puff pastry required butter to be folded inside the many layers of the laminated dough, so it was impossible to prepare in the Carpa Kingdom, since they had no dairy products.
The recipe Zenjirou had translated this time was a “low-calorie pastry”, which included vegetable oil instead of butter.
The sweet was a recently popular diet variety, but it was much appreciated in this world without dairy products it.
Without delay, Rethe added a bit of salt to the wheat flour and kneaded it with water like it was written on the recipe.
The three of them each attempted to make their own puff pastry, since they expected to fail at the first try anyway.
The three waiting maids were used to kneading dough from making other sweets or bread and made the puff pastry in a relatively accustomed manner.
However, it was obvious that Rethe was more skilful from watching their techniques.
“Ah, Fay-chan, I think you’re kneading too much? The recipe says you only need to knead it until it’s crumbly.”
“Eh? No way? Mine’s already tough?”
“Idiot. That happens when you don’t read the recipe carefully.”
While continuing her own work, Rethe still had the leisure to point out the failure of her co-worker. That showed how advanced her cooking skills were.
“Okay, this should do. Fay-chan, Dolores-chan, are you done, too? If you are, then smear oil on the surface of the dough, fold it and spread it evenly. Once you‘ve done so, smear oil on it, fold and spread it again. Repeat that three times.”
“Uwah, it’s quite exhausting. With my luck, I’ll have the oil all over my body later.”
Dolores said so with a sigh while she wiped the sweat from her forehead with the hand towel prepared at the side.
The stove in the kitchen was already fired as not to waste any time, so the room was filled with hot air.
“We need to stop the sweat.”
“Yeah, gotta be careful.”
“Or it’ll turn out salty.”
The three maids eagerly wrapped a cloth around their head to collect the sweat and resumed the kneading with regained vigour.
Several minutes later.
Three puff pastries were on show on top of the worktop.
“Good, all done. Now we only have to decide what to put in. I favour candied apricots.”
Rethe smiled softly with a few strands of hair pasted over her face as they had broken away from the rolled up hair dumpling.
“Hmm, I like it simple, so I will go with desert bananas, I guess?”
“I… Hmm, I don’t really need to put in anything, do I? That works, too, doesn’t it? I’ll try baking it after smearing oil with dissolved sugar onto it.”
Dolores and Fay likewise mused about what to put into their own puff pastry.
When all is said and done, the young waiting maids loved sweet stuff. As no superior was around, they chatted boisterous while they prepared the pastry with their respective favourite ingredient.
Raising her hands, Rethe showed a satisfied smile, whereat Fay tilted her head puzzled and asked.
“Ah, but for how long do we bake them? Vanessa-sama usually takes care of that.”
The primitive stove obviously had no thermostat and measuring the baking time by feeling alone was no easy task.
Rethe’s cooking skills were considered top class amongst the young waiting maids, but she still couldn’t do this.
However, Dolores showed a fearless smile to blow off Fay’s worry.
“Fufuhn~ I got that covered. Here, I borrowed it from Zenjirou-sama yesterday!”
Saying so, Dolores took out the foldable and black “game console” from the pocket of her maid clothes.
Recently, she had spent her breaks with an addiction to the portable console, so she now opened and operated the game console with smooth movements.
“I think it goes like this… Yes, that’s it, the clock!”
The girls had mastered the reading of the Latin alphabet at some point while playing with the game console and even understood the division of time, twenty-four hours – sixty minutes – sixty seconds, from the other world (apparently they learned it through the time attack in a racing game).
“On the recipe it says to heat it for forty minutes at two-hundred degrees, right? With this, even we can measure the baking time accurately.”
Throwing out her small chest, Dolores claimed proudly, whereupon Rethe clapped with a soft smile.
“Wow, you’re amazing, Dolores-chan! Now the time’s no problem. But what about the temperature? Even if the time’s accurate, it’ll be no good when the heat is wrong, won’t it? I wonder how hot two-hundred degrees are.”
Fay immediately retorted to the quailing Dolores.
“Jeez, got it covered, my foot! That’s so typical of you, Dolores.”
“O, Oh come on! At least we won’t mistake the time with it. It’ll be useful, probably!”
Dolores objected to Fay’s teasing with a flushed face, but she actually was by no means wrong.
Even when the factor of the temperature remained uncertain, the merit of accurately measuring time couldn’t be overlooked so easily.
Besides, it was much easier to try again with a clock when they failed the first time.
For example, they would just have to bake it for five minutes longer when the forty minutes weren’t enough. In comparison, they would’ve to rely on their biological clock, “a bit longer than just now”, when they had no clock.
It should be easily imaginable how difficult that was.
“Geez, Fay-chan, Dolores-chan, leave the fighting for later. Time to put them into the stove now.”
Rethe puffed up her full cheeks and showed an angry expression that wasn’t the least bit scary.
Forty minutes later.
On top of the worktop stood the three “pseudo pastries” fresh out of the oven.
Yes, “pseudo pastries”, not real “pastries”. At least it would be an insult to all pastry cooks, who had shaped the history of sweets, by calling these black something a “pastry”.
Giving her roommates, who dropped their shoulders disappointed, a side-glance, Rethe, the only one with the usual beatific expression, took the kitchen knife and cut into the “pseudo pastry”.
She roughly cut up the still steaming mass, skilfully scrapping off the burned parts with the tip of the knife.
After somehow salvaging the still eatable pieces, she put them onto wooden plates.
“Let’s taste it for now.”
“Uhh… O- Okay.”
“It takes quite some courage to eat the first one.”
The three girls reached out for the rather unappetizing “pseudo pastry” out of a sense of duty.
Their bitter expressions revealed that the wordless food sampling was by no means a bliss.
“Dolores, the one you made has not the slightest sweetness of the bananas. It’s really tough to swallow.”
“Well, excuse me! On the other hand, the one you made, Rethe, is too sweet! I bet you added even more sugar.”
“Fay-chan’s is too hard in the first place. Forget about chewing, I can barely break it with my hands!”
The three waiting maids merciless criticized the sweet of their co-workers.
Principally, one didn’t evaluate his own cooking, because a self-evaluation was never objective, regardless of the outcome.
“Okay, now that we’ve reflected over it, let’s try again!”
When she finished the brief tasting of the “pseudo pastry”, Rethe declared that with an energetic voice without giving her stomach time to rest.
“Sure, we’ve got still lots of ingredients after all!”
“I would like to make something a bit more appetizing next…”
Persuaded by Rethe like that, Dolores and Fay raised from their chairs as well.
Experimenting, baking, tasting. That procedure repeated over and over again until the sun set.
And thus it was that today’s day drew to a close for the “three troublemakers”.
* * *
Afternoon on the next day.
In the kitchen of the inner palace, cooking department head Vanessa smiled akimbo at the trio, Fay, Dolores and Fay, which showed a nervous expression in front of her.
As lunch had just been served to Zenjirou, the kitchen now had some leeway.
“Okay, then show me the fruit of yesterday’s labour.”
The three girls cheerfully responded in unison to Vanessa and started to act as to quickly show off the results from yesterday.
While Fay regulated the fire of the stove, Rethe kneaded the puff pastry. At the same time, Dolores positioned the portable game console in such a way that the clock was visible and then prepared a special sweet icing for the pastry by mixing high quality brown sugar with cinnamon.
There was no filling.
Yesterday, they hadn’t been able to succeed in making a pastry with a filling like the typical apple pie or pumpkin pie.
Maybe the dough had been too thin, but the water from the filling had caused the bottom to slip off. And when they worried too much about the bottom slipping off, it became too tough to chew instead. Furthermore, it had been a tricky job to adjust the heat and baking time every time they changed the filling.
In the end, they had finally decided upon the kind they were making right now: A simple puff pastry pie without any filling in a rectangle shape and as long as two forefinger in a row.
They only mixed the dough roughly until it became crumbly, sliced it out in a rectangle shape, smeared oil over the entire thing, sprinkled abundant brown sugar and cinnamon over it and baked it in the stove.
Unlike yesterday, Zenjirou was taking all three meals in the inner palace today, so they hadn’t much spare time. Only enough for one try.
“Okay, the dough is ready, Fay-chan.”
“Looking good on my end, too. We can bake it any time!”
“Good, Rethe, put it into the stove. I’ll keep track of the time.”
Vanessa watched the young waiting maids, preparing the sweet with all their might, with a gentle and soft smile like watching over a small child.
“Okay, start baking!”
“Roger, forty minutes from now on! Fay!”
“Don’t worry, I’ll keep the temperature constant.”
A sweet and aromatic fragrance from the stove wasn’t long in the coming.
The three young maids nervously looked at cooking department head Vanessa while she reached out for the “pie” on the plate in front here without changing her carefree expression.
“Hmm, it seems quite different from how it was written on the recipe.”
Vanessa stopped Dolores, who reflexively tried to make excuses, with just a glance and continued.
“But well, it gets passing marks for appearance and smell for now. The flavour and texture remains to be seen.”
Saying so, she opened her mouth widely and bit into square pie.
Only the munching sound of her jaws, chewing the freshly baked pastry, resounded through the otherwise silent kitchen.
Before long, Vanessa finished one piece of the pie and spoke.
“Yeah, not bad. I didn’t expect any less from you, Rethe. It’s well done.”
“Th- Thank you very much!”
Rethe and the other two made joyful looks upon the praise, but Vanessa stiffened her expression, ready to spoil that joy.
“But there’s still room for improvement. When you score it before baking, it’ll be more flaky and pleasant on the gums. And you might as well cut it slimly and try to braid them into plaits. I’m sure it would turn out interesting.
To begin with, you’re baking it after smearing it with oil and sprinkling sugar over it, but wouldn’t it taste even better when you fry it in oil at first and only add the sugar and cinnamon afterwards? At least we can’t serve it to Her Highness Aura and Zenjirou-sama as it is.”
The girls hung their heads and dropped their shoulders dejected.
A failure, huh.
Sometimes hard work didn’t pay off in the world of work.
“But, well, you did work hard. Now I’ll just have to perfect the recipe with Karina’s group later on.”
“Ehh!? Th- Then the reward…!”
“Fay, stop it!”
Fay unconsciously raised an angry voice. Dolores, standing next to her, stopped her with her hand, but Fay’s anger didn’t vanish from her face.
It was intolerable when the following group snatched the “exclusive usage for the refrigerator” from them, only for accomplishing the last step, even though the three of them were responsibility for all the progress so far.
Vanessa gave the petite maid, who showed a sulky expression that could get her in trouble with her superior, a wry smile while she
“Relax. I know very well that it would be unfair to you girls if I were to give the reward to Karina’s group.”
said that and patted Fay’s small head with the palm of her stout hand like a mother did with her child.
Crying in one moment, smiling in the next. That was applicable to Fay now as she instantly flashed a smile, whereat Vanessa said.
“Still, it’s a fact that you three didn’t perfect it like agreed upon. So, hmm… Let’s say it’s a half-success. The other half is to be a accomplished by Karina and the other girls.
Therefore, when Karina’s group gets the recipe done to a level, where it can be served to Zenjirou-sama, then I’ll give the exclusive usage of the refrigerator for one month to all six of you. What do you say?”
The smiling three girls responded in unison.
Vanessa, too, showed a bright smile that wasn’t inferior to theirs, and clapped her hands.
“Good. Then that’s settled. I’ll head over to Zenjirou-sama now and ask if he has any requests for today’s sweet. In the meantime, you clean up here and get everything ready for later.”
Vanessa left the kitchen after she emphasised that with a smile.
Left-behind, the troublemaking trio cleaned the dirtied tools and worktop like they were told to while chatting happily.
“Hey, shall we teach the recipe to Karina and the others today after work, since the condition changed?”
Fay suggested that to her two roommates as she cleaned the floury worktop with a small broom.
Dolores was washing the bowl by dunking it into a water bucket and nodded to the suggestion of her petite roommate after musing for a moment.
“Yeah, that might be better. I’ll show them how to read the time from this machine. In the end, they’ll surely have to rely on their own senses for the baking time, but having a clock at first makes it easier.”
“Right. The longer Karina-chan and the others take to get it done, the longer we’ll have to wait to use the refrigerator, so I agree!”
Wiping the scattered flour on the ground with a large broom, Rethe also approved of it.
The young waiting maids of the other group were practically in the same boat as them, so cooperating to obtain the blessing of the refrigerator as soon as possible was in their mutual interest.
“Good. In that case, let’s get our work over and done with and find Karina and Co.!”
“Yep. I think they’re currently in charge of the bath?”
“Keyshia-chan should be in Karina-chan’s group and I know where her room is!”
Interacting with a different group, to which they usually had no contact, of their own initiative, sharing knowledge amongst each other and cooperating for a shared objective.
By doing so, the entire body of young waiting maids gets to know each other better and even improves their cooking skills. Vanessa was aiming at that, but the girls in question seemed to actualize it without discerning her aim at all