Extra 03: The Apprentice Girl’s Effort
Ojou-sama secludes herself in the library whenever she has spare time. Although she does show up at the greenhouse and laboratory, she earnestly researched in the library and her room.
“… I don’t know why, but it’s boring.”
“Well, what can you do? It’s Ojou-sama.”
Ronnie said briefly, but I didn’t understand what he meant by ‘it’s Ojou-sama’.
“When she comes up with an idea, she gets really passionate about it. She probably won’t listen to anything anyone says right now. In a way, she’s stubborn. You know this too, don’t you Lara?”
“I think it’s inappropriate for you to call Ojou-sama stubborn, even if it’s just a joke.”
“Hey! You’ll get hurt if you don’t concentrate.”
I’m learning defensive combat from Ronnie right now. Apparently Master instructed him to teach me. Ojou-sama is also learning defensive combat, but I’m learning the real thing. I was excited to hear that… But, I’m worried that Ojou-sama has been acting indifferently lately. I might become useful to Ojou-sama if I learn this, but there’s a chance that she needs help right now.
“In any case, I don’t know what would happen even if you went and did something difficult.”
“I know that!”
“Ojou-sama would tell you if she wants you to do something, so you don’t have to be hasty. In the meantime, you should work whether you’d like to or not.”
Ronnie’s seriously-… I thought, but I knew that he wasn’t making fun of me.
“Lara. Master told me to teach you this, but is training so boring?”
“It’s not boring but-…”
“You just don’t know it, but this is an amazing thing.”
But, Ronnie seemed like he couldn’t convey what was amazing and he pressed his right index finger on his forehead. I know it’s a privilege to be taught this, even if he didn’t show me that gesture. I could guess that this was a great thing because Master had to give his approval.
But, this and that are different. If Ojou-sama is doing something, then I would like to help her…
“Say, Ronnie. Is there really nothing I could help Ojou-sama with?”
“First thing’s first, I’m teaching you this so that you can protect her if she finds herself in a dangerous situation.”
If he was going to put it like that, then I can’t complain anymore.
“You have to concentrate and do what you can now.”
I reluctantly spread my magic out according to Ronnie’s words.
“… Well, how about bringing some refreshments to Ojou-sama after we’re done?”
I turned around when I heard Ronnie. I heard him say frantically, “Ah, idiot!” and then a small explosion occurred.
That was the moment when I experienced why he kept telling me to concentrate.
Fortunately, only the sound of the explosion was grand. It had only grazed our skins, and we didn’t bleed. Even though defensive combat involved condensing high concentrations of magic, it was a technique that specialises in defending, and there were a lot of tools in place so that the targets don’t get hurt in case something were to happen… Or so I reasoned, but Ronnie scolded me harshly. He told me, “It wouldn’t be strange if something happens, no matter how many tools we have in place, since we’re compressing our magic.” The lazy Ronnie was scolding me that much, and saying nothing but annoying things, so I think the technique’s really dangerous if I make a single mistake.
I’m going to think of what refreshments to bring Ojou-sama, since I’ve already reflected properly. This way I won’t lose my concentration.
“Ojou-sama doesn’t eat many sweets if Vernoux-sama doesn’t come over, does she?”
“Now that you mention it, yeah she doesn’t.”
It wasn’t like she didn’t have any sweets at all, but she only had a little when she ate alone and, in rare cases, she would only have tea. Then shouldn’t I bring her something sweet to eat? I thought, but I would only bring her what the chefs made. I didn’t think I could be useful to her like that.
“I wonder if I should try to make some.”
“… Lara, you’re going to make it?”
“It’s not like I can’t. But I don’t think I’ve made sweets before.”
Nevertheless, cooking meant using the right measurements and instructions. I confidently said, “It’ll be fine!” but Ronnie looked gloomy.
“You don’t believe in my skills?”
“No, that’s not it. You’ve never made them before, so you don’t have any recipes either right?”
That was stupid of me.
Like he’d pointed out, I don’t have any recipes for sweets. I thought of asking Emina, but she’s on holiday at the request of Ojou-sama.
“… If you have something you want to make, then you could ask the Head Chef?”
“I can’t. I could only make a degraded version of his.”
I don’t know if the Head Chef would teach me an original recipe, but the sweets the Head Chef makes would definitely be more delicious than something I make. It was a bit frustrating how convinced Ronnie was when he said, “I guess so,” but it couldn’t be helped, since it was true.
“So I’ll visit downtown more and look for a recipe that Ojou-sama might like.”
“I see. Something that can’t be eaten at this mansion would be nice.”
Even if it fails, it could be viewed as a unique taste.
“Ojou-sama seems very interested in food, so I’m sure she’ll be happy with that. She recently asked the Head Chef to make her galette. Before that, she asked him to make tonkatsu.”
“It’s the pork coated in flour mixed with salt and pepper, then coated in egg, then bread crumbs and fried. It’s juicier and more filling than I thought it would be… It’s been served for dinner a few times.”
“By chance, is that the deluxe fried food?”
“Yeah. It’s probably that wonderful fried food.”
I don’t know the name, but I certainly remember a fried dish that I’ve never eaten anywhere else but here. I’ve eaten fried fish coated in flour outside before, but the coating was a little different. The crispy taste of that fried dish was really delicious.
“Was that Ojou-sama’s invention?”
“Yeah. I didn’t tell you that…? Well, I didn’t care enough. Whatever.”
“No… That’s important information!”
I, who was made to see that Ojou-sama might have a lot of appreciation for food, became extremely fired up to make something that she would like. My original purpose has changed somewhat, but I didn’t care much about that.
Ronnie folded his arms in front of me while I was getting more and more fired up.
“Ojou-sama likes all sweets.”
“Yeah. I’ve never heard her say she doesn’t like something.”
I’m troubled over what my goal has become, but the only thing I’ve heard Ojou-sama hates is ghost stories. She often eats cakes and chocolates, but I couldn’t think of anything to make with those. There are a lot of different types of chocolate sweets, but this mansion served a lot of them.
While I was sunk in my sea of thoughts, Ronnie murmured.
“Ojou-sama likes honey, doesn’t she?”
“She eats a lot of candy, doesn’t she? Honey candy.”
Now that he mentions it, Ojou-sama does dip something in honey.
In addition to candies, she also combined it with lemons in the laboratory, or smeared it on a baguette and sprinkled with sugar or mixed it with yoghurt.
But it’s easier to find sweets made with honey than it is to find sweets made from chocolate. It’s expensive, but it isn’t served as much as chocolate in this house, and I see it a lot in town.
“Speaking of honey, how about that? I see it sometimes in town, erm… Pancake?”
“Oh, that’s delicious if you put honey and butter on it.”
And as far as I can see, it doesn’t seem like it’s tough to make. I might be able to make it. But, when I came up with this good idea, I immediately realised that I couldn’t make this.
“… Pancakes won’t do. They’re delicious fresh. The butter won’t melt if it’s not fresh and it’ll be dry.”
“Do you want to surprise Ojou-sama?”
So, I won’t give Ojou-sama something that has to be eaten straight away. If she’s full, then the food might not taste good anymore. She might still eat it even if she’s bloated, but forcing her to eat it is not what I’m trying to do. I don’t want to trouble her when I’m trying to relieve her fatigue.
“Something delicious even when cold… honey…”
“Then, why don’t you go to the library?”
“Are there cookbooks in the library?”
Chefs don’t learn how to cook in the library. I don’t know about other chefs, but that is true for the ones in the mansion.
But Ronnie shook his head.
“No, you’re looking for popular sweets, right? You might find a hint if you read people’s travel journals. I’m sure they wrote about what souvenirs they bought.”
He was reasonable, and I’m strangely impressed.
“Ronnie, you’re smart.”
Ronnie looked like he had mixed feelings, but this is precious information. I immediately pulled Ronnie and headed to the library.
“Hey, I’ll help you if there’s something that interests you, so there’s no need for me to go to the library too, right?”
“No. I won’t be able to reach books in high places, right?”
To be honest, I could easily get the books if I step on the bookshelf, but then the books and bookshelves would get dirty. But frankly, Ronnie might know something that I don’t just like before, so I also wanted to talk to him more.
At the end of the day, Ronnie is a good person.
“… What’re you laughing at?”
“If it turns out well then I’ll let you taste it too.”
“Poison tasting…? Fine.”
I even said if it turns out well, so I can’t just ignore the poison tasting comment. But unfortunately, I couldn’t frankly give him my thanks too. As a result, Ronnie shrugged and said, “I don’t mind.” His face said that he knew that I didn’t want to give something terrible to Ojou-sama. I’m sure of it, but I also want to thank him.
“You don’t even know what you’re apologising for!”
“No, I do. I know.”
He said as he patted my head and all I could do is sigh. I really wanted to curse him, but I think it would be childish of me to do so. I couldn’t waste the things I learned in Aisha-sensei’s lectures.
We entered the library. “It’s probably around here,” Ronnie said, and I started pulling the books out one after another. I carefully turned the pages and searched to see if there was any information on speciality products and food.
“You’ve gotten considerately fast at reading.”
Even if I couldn’t write before, I could read. And if I studied every day, then my reading speed would get faster. I could read quickly now thanks to Ojou-sama and Ronnie, but it’s embarrassing to be praised for it. So, I forced myself to remain calm and continued to read the travel journals. But I couldn’t find the information I wanted even after the first, second and third book. Eventually, Ronnie said, “I’ll try looking in folkloristics. You can call me if there’s a book out of your reach,” and left. But there were still a lot of travel journals here, so I continued to read them one after the other.
I couldn’t find the information I wanted, but the travel journals were full of exciting entries. I’ve never travelled before, but I feel like I’ve been to the places I read about. But I couldn’t understand some of the things that were written down, so I would like to go there and see it for myself. I want to go there someday, but I wonder if I ever will?
While I was reading the journals, an entry about preserved food caught my eye.
“… A preserved food made from dairy by the nomadic tribes?”
I thought about cheese when I saw the words preserved food made from dairy, but the description of it seemed somewhat different from cheese. Ojou-sama also eats dairy products so my knowledge of it might be useful to her even if it’s not sweet. I read the sentence.
“Nomadic sweets… Boiled milk?”
The recipe says to mix milk and sugar in a large pot and simmer it. Then you get a coloured lump, you cut that and then eat it…
Is this yummy?
It might be the same as simmering hot milk because it uses milk and sugar. Since it says preserved food, it doesn’t seem like you have to eat it straight away.
“Lara? Did you find anything good?”
“I found something, but I don’t really understand it.”
Honestly, I couldn’t imagine what it tastes like. I showed Ronnie the page when he approached me, and he looked a little surprised.
“I see. This looks useful.”
“Do you know it?”
“It’s caramel sauce. If you simmer it more then it becomes solid. It melts in your mouth like candy. It makes you thirsty, but it’s delicious.”
“Oh, this one also has honey, so you can carry out your original goal.”
Ronnie has a good palate. People have different preferences for food, but I’ve never heard anyone say something tastes bad if Ronnie says it tastes good; so I think it’s tasty.
But I didn’t want to present Ojou-sama with something that I’ve never eaten before. I should try it, but it’s a waste of ingredients.
“Do you want to try it? You’ve never eaten it before right?”
“… I haven’t.”
Why does he always know what I’m thinking? I thought when Ronnie made that remark. But when I looked at him, I realised that he hadn’t said that because of how I looked; he was just staring at the book.
“The measurements are written down, but that’s the units they use. Hold on, I’ll calculate it for you.”
“Then, I’ll go get the ingredients while you do that. What do I need?”
“Just milk, butter, honey and sugar for now. I think you could make it with fresh cream too, but it says milk here.”
“Okay. Can we make it in the laboratory?”
“Yeah, it only requires a pot.”
I rushed to the kitchen after I heard his answer. Even though I was getting ingredients, the food here is managed, so I had to purchase it. Luckily, I could get an invoice, so I didn’t need to pay for it now. Sometimes, people ask for little things like fruit, so they’re flexible. It’s usually impossible to get fruit if you don’t request it beforehand, but they should have plenty of stock for the ingredients I want right now. The chef immediately gave me the ingredients.
I carried the basket with the ingredients and a milk bottle to the laboratory and Ronnie was already there.
“Then, let’s make it.”
He said, as he took out a pot.
“The quantity is written here, so let’s put it all in. Use this scale.”
“Okay. I just have to stir it?”
“Yeah. You just have to keep stirring.”
What should I do if it turns out bad? I worried, but Ronnie uttered while looking at the milk, “You can still make it many times even if you fail,” so I was secretly relieved. It seems like it’ll be fine even if I fail.
I turned on the fire and stirred it, so the milk doesn’t burn. I mixed it around in a circle. I didn’t do anything but stir.
“It’s still watery, even though you’re stirring this much. Doesn’t it seem burnt?”
“I don’t know. I don’t want to fail. It’ll be fine if I stir.”
“But your arm hurts, don’t they?”
“It’s a gift for Ojou-sama. I’m fine.”
I don’t know what to do with the failed product if it does get burnt. I was afraid of that and kept on stirring, while being nervous, and Ronnie laughed in amusement.
“Ojou-sama will be happy.”
“… I hope so.”
“But I wonder if I should do something, since you’re trying so hard.”
Ronnie said, as he took some almonds from the cupboard. Then he chopped them up with his magic.
“What’re you doing? Isn’t that Ojou-sama’s?”
“It’s fine, she said we could eat it. I think it’ll be delicious if you add this into the second batch.”
It does certainly seem like it would be tasty because of the texture changes. Well, if Ojou-sama said it was fine, then it’s probably alright. Either way, I’ll put the almonds into the next batch. For now, all I could do was pray for the success of the first batch.
Then, silence reigned for a while and then Ronnie spoke.
“… How were the travel journals?”
“Huh? They were interesting. It made me want to travel someday.”
I hadn’t expected Ronnie’s question, and I got a bit excited when I remembered the journals. I have a lot of money because I saved it, so I should have a lot of funds for travelling, and I should be able to take time off. Experiencing a lot of different things in the first place I go to is very enticing.
I want to travel, but I don’t want to leave Ojou-sama’s side for a long time.
“Then should I tell Ojou-sama? I’ll ask her, ‘why don’t you bring Lara with you the next time you go to Ertiga?’”
“Eh? That’s so brazen! Even Emina doesn’t go with her!”
I turned back in a panic, and Ronnie laughed.
“Then you can come up with an excuse. You can say you’re guarding her after you’ve learnt defensive combat.”
Apparently, he was just enticing me. But I didn’t have any reason to refuse Ronnie’s suggestion. Honestly, I was kind of looking forward to it.
But, that feeling didn’t last long. There must be a reason for why Master instructed Ronnie to teach Ojou-sama defensive combat as well, and not just me. I finally realised that.
But Ronnie hadn’t said anything, so he was probably just preparing me for now. Even though I had caused an explosion today, I won’t be useful if I don’t get to a combat level.
“… I’ll study properly next time!”
“Hey, don’t swing the spatula around!”
If I knew that a little earlier, then I might have been more focused today! I could only make excuses.
I’ll do it properly next time. But right now, I have to make the perfect caramel. While I thought that, the milk started to condense.
“Apparently… You scoop it with the spatula until you can see the bottom and then let it cool.”
I was certainly scooping it, but I felt like it could get harder. But is it no good if it’s too hard? But there’s nothing else written about it in the book.
“Even if you fail, it’s become caramel sauce. Isn’t it fine to eat it by dipping food in?”
I’m a little nervous, but I poured them into square moulds. The surface of the moulds was coated with magic, so it’s easy to peel the caramels off once it’s cooled. But the moulds will become iron again if I don’t apply magic to it after I use it. After they’d cooled down, I put the moulds into a mini refrigerator.
“I wonder if it’ll be done once it cools completely.”
Ronnie said as he scooped the leftover caramel in the pot with his finger and put it in his mouth.
“Yup, it’ll probably be delicious.”
“What do you mean probably?”
“Well, I just thought it’ll be delicious if it cools a bit more.”
I shrugged at Ronnie. Judging from how Ronnie was acting, I’ve made something that Ojou-sama will be happy to eat.
“Say, Ronnie. You have time while we wait for it to cool right?”
“Defensive combat. Teach it to me.”
“… We can do that tomorrow, right?”
“Argh! Why’re you like this?!”
Even though I’m motivated!
I was going to protest, but Ronnie sighed as if he was giving up.
“I’m joking. I thought you wouldn’t ask, and I don’t want you to cause any explosions.”
“I know. I know.”
Do you really know…? But it was no use questioning him any further.
Because we’re wasting time!
“We’ll wrap it up when the caramel’s finished.”
“I know! I want Ojou-sama to say, ‘It’s delicious’ to the first sweets I’ve ever made!”
I decided that Ronnie had to try the finished product because he had said it was ‘probably delicious’ earlier.