Chapter 62: War Hero VS Sacred Lion
「I’m sorry. We lost because of my incompetence. It’s my fault.」
We suffered a loss in the first match. My father usually had a usual easy-going attitude, but right now, he felt apologetic. I never seen my father looking this gloomy.
「Don’t worry. It’s not your fault. You know, the result would have been the same for any of us. If you father could not do it, then neither of us could.」
I spoke truthfully. I also tried to console my father since he was always the one to cheer us up with his easy-going attitude. However, that didn’t change the reality. In fact, we lost the first round of the cooking battle. This was a big disadvantage. This could determine the outcome of the battle. That’s why I wanted to change the flow in the next match.
「Well then. We will disclose now the designated dish along with the opponents’ names for the second round.」
The Gourmet Master announced the details for the second round. As soon as he declared those words, my resolution for the next match faded away.
『Second Round: “War Hero” Amines versus “Sacred Lion” Spin. 』
『Designated Food: Sashimi.* 』
Ah, this was bad news. This was my first impression when I heard the Gourmet Master’s declaration for the second round.
「Uh, uh, uh. It’s my turn, huh. Leave it to me, Keiji comrade. I will avenge you. Yes, I will avenge you with this crystal knife!」
With that said, Amines wielded a knife in her hand. Oh gosh, please stop Amines. That was dangerous. Anyway, her opponent was a half-beast man with brown skin, eagle wings, and a lion’s tail.
「I had no idea that one day I would battle with the War Hero like this instead of being in the battlefield. In any case, please be generous to me.」
「Uh, uh, I wonder. This place might not be the battlefield, but I won’t go easy on you. You should do the same.」
Contrary to the ferocious Amines, the beast monster called Spin replied with a gentleman’s smile. I didn’t want to say this, but was this a warning flag that predestined two losses in a row? Was this really okay? Somehow, I felt that this was our unlucky day. Or was I wrong?
「I see. However, a sashimi dish can be either a blessing or a misfortune. Anyway, I think there is a small chance that Amines will win.」
The judges gave us a three-day preparation period in order to prepare for the next designated cooking match. We returned to Amines’ castle and immediately summoned Miss Katherina, a wise person who was said to be a hero specializing in seafood cooking. We wanted her advice to help Amines for her cooking battle.
「According to my opinion, I think Amines is quite talented. It is astonishing that she increased her cooking skills to more than the average person, in just a few days. Perhaps, after a few years of training, she could reach the top of the culinary world, just as I did before.」
Ohh, Miss Katherina recognized Amines’ skills, huh. Moreover, Miss Katherina boasted about herself. That was no surprise, though.
「However, that doesn’t change the reality. At present, she is just a little more than average. According to what I heard, the Demon King’s cooking skills were quite good. That means that the Four Heavenly Kings under her control also have significant skills under the guidance of the Demon King. Your team could lose even if you present an elaborate dish. This competition is no longer just about bad and good food. This is about the best of the best. Nonetheless, there is a dish, which can compete solely with the taste of the ingredients.」
I naturally answered to Miss Katherina’s hint word.
「Indeed. Sashimi dishes. 」
「That’s right. For sashimi, one can say that the skill of knives is the true trump card. Sharped knives and skilled hands can enhance the taste rather than cooking itself. And, at present, among the members of Kyou’s party, Amines is the one who specializes in the handling of kitchen knives.」
Certainly. Thanks to Miss Katherina’s point of view, I managed to regain some hope. If the designated dish had been difficult to cook, Amines would not have a chance. For a chef who specialized in skillful cooking, sashimi dishes were the type of dishes that a chef had to devote himself or herself to craftsmanship with only kitchen knives. Sashimi dishes could be a headache for some people. This designated dish was certainly tricky. However, this time, the theme could be advantageous for us.
「Hmm. I don’t know much about cooking, but when it comes to slashing, I know that my hands are pretty good with blades. I’ll cut that sashimi with vivid hands.」
Amines nodded with great confidence.
「Well, I cannot say that the taste alone leads to victory or defeat in this cooking competition. Commitment and skills are important as well. And these vary from person to person. It is a groundbreaking work. Evaluation encompasses every aspect in cooking. So it means more than just taste alone.」
My father gave his opinion. Surely. In fact, my father knew this very well because he lost. He felt that his cooking missed some of those aspects. Come to think of it, that was the reason why I was able to reach the semi-finals of the Grand Cooking Tournament. To put it simply, I did not win against Miss Katherina and Shendo just because of taste alone. I was able to defeat them because of the small work, the change in ideas that only I could make, and the skills and dedication in my cooking.
As an amateur, I was able to win those matches, and Amines certainly had a chance too.
「However, there is one problem with sashimi dishes. That is the ingredient. We don’t know what type of ingredient the demon side will use. Choosing the ingredient will determine the outcome of this match. In other words, the ingredient will make a big difference in winning or losing.」
True. In sashimi dishes, the taste of the ingredient itself was directly linked to the taste. That’s why the taste was determined by the selected ingredient. So, what should we choose? Perhaps, go hunting another Leviathan as we did before? No, sashimi was not only limited to fish. It should be possible to transform any ingredient into sashimi. There was a high possibility that the other party would bring unexpected ingredients.
For example, horse sashimi. Meat sashimi also had a different texture and taste. There were various options such as cattle and squid, but nothing else came to my mind. Besides, this world did not have those types of animals. Just monsters. I began to worry. Then, my father slowly opened his mouth.
「Then, how about Hydra? 」
Everyone, including Miss Katherina, stopped breathing for seconds upon hearing the name professed by my father.
「Mister Keiji. Are you sane? Hydra is an S-ranked monster. Its value is as high as the risk. That makes it impossible to use Hydra for sashimi.」
「Eh? Why is it impossible, Miss Katherina?」
「Kyou. Don’t you know about Hydra? You see, Hydra has the strongest poison in its body of all the monsters existing in the world.」
I nodded involuntarily upon hearing Miss Katherina’s statement. Speaking of Hydra, it was a monster that appeared in mythology even on Planet Earth. Hydra was famous for having a body full of poison. One theory said that Hercules, the hero of the Greek mythology, died from Hydra’s poison. Certainly. It would be too dangerous to use such a monster for sashimi.
「I see. That’s dangerous. Keiji, you’re trying to test me.」
Upon hearing the suggestion from my father, Amines smiled with a tough expression.
「Yeah, but if you can use that monster, you chances of winning will definitely increase. So, what do you say? Are you not confident enough?」
「That’s a foolish question. I will show you my battle and sword skill. I am not ashamed of my judgment, nor will I turn my back. I am proud of being the War Hero.」
Amines spoke aloud with a crystal knife in her hand. She started walking after saying “I’m going”! I didn’t know how she had so much drive, but the moment we tried to follow her, a soldier of this castle opened the door and came in in a hurry.
「Ba…Bad news! You Majesty Amines! 」
「What’s with the noise? I’m about to go on a Hydra hunt. If you’re not in a hurry, you can come back later.」
「There’s an invasion striking our country! 」
「What? That’s not possible. The Demon King’s army promised us not to move their army until the cooking battle finishes. The Demon King cannot break the contract herself.」
「No, that’s wrong. It’s not the Demon King’s army!」
Tensions ran through those who had the title of hero upon hearing the words of the soldier. That was because those who had the title of hero could not ignore the name of the enemy.
「The army of the Alburs Empire is invading us! The “Emperor Hero” Rostam is the one leading that army!」
Rostam was one of the Seven Great Heroes and Emperor who ruled the neighboring Alburs Empire, the infamous Realm of the Emperor.
*A Japanese dish of bite-sized pieces of raw fish eaten with soy sauce and wasabi paste.