On top of the Japanese table, there was enough food for four people. A golden omelette, glossy with butter. The other was a thick corn soup. The moment they were set out, the living room was filled with a delicious fragrance. My sister, who was arranging the food, gulped down her saliva and urged everyone to hurry up and get everything ready ASAP!
It was also decided that Jade, our escort, will eat with us. That was also because of our house rule. A meal was to be eaten with everyone! My sister had a smug look on her face while to the side Jade looked a bit ill at ease. I certainly wouldn’t want to have dinner with the royalty of my own country either.
–’I understand your pain Jade.’
While Jade kept looking around nervously, Prince Cain was staring curiously at the omurice from above.
Meanwhile I was enjoying myself.
–‘Ahh, it was so refreshing to sit on the ground and eat! ‘How fun!’ That was a Japanese table for you, and I knew it wasn’t for everyone. But I thought I could be forgiven for using one since we brought out the soft pillows for the guests.’
“Then, let’s dig in! “
My sister declared cheerfully, and put her spoon vigorously inside the bowl, scooping the corn soup towards her mouth and drinking it.
“Mhmm…Sweet! This corn is quite sweet! It’s like it has sugar in it.”
“There’s no sugar inside. On the contrary I had even added salt. “
“That’s just how sweet the original corn is, isn’t it? I love the richness of the corn soup that my sister makes for me each time!”
Seeing my sister enjoying the soup with a smile on her face, made all the effort I’ve put into it worth it.
When I looked over, I saw that Jade was also looking happy at my sister’s reaction.
–‘You helped a lot too, didn’t you, Jade?’
When I saw her eyes, I gave her a small thumbs up. Then we secretly laughed at each other.
I then took a bite of the soup as well. As soon as I put it in my mouth, I could feel its surprising sweetness. It was not as overpowering as my sister claimed it to be, but it did seem like it had sugar in it. But, as I said, the sweetness was natural and not overpowering.
A bit after, the taste was suddenly replaced by that of butter, and it made me want to take another bite.
Thanks to the potatoes, the texture was quite thick. It was more like chewing it with your tongue than drinking it. The corn kernels that I occasionally encountered were also quite fun to chew.
“This soup is certainly delicious… So this is Hiyori’s favourite flavour.”
“That’s true. But what’s also true is that everything that my sister makes is delicious. Here, eat some of the omurice as well! “
Prince Cain stopped to look longingly towards the soup for a second. Then he put a spoonful of omurice into his mouth.
“Is it called rice ……? It’s the first time I’ve eaten it, but every grain of it is intertwined with the flavour of the bacon fat and with the acidity of the red sauce…Mhmm… But, yes. This is also very good! The eggs help to soften the slightly strong flavour while the butter gives it a nice aroma.”
“I know! It’s our style to use bacon instead of chicken. I love the flavour! By the way, the red stuff is called ketchup!”
–Hearing my sister say that, I couldn’t help myself but took a bite of the omurice as well.
The egg was cooked thick in the middle resulting in a soft and moist inside which mixed perfectly with the sweet and sour taste of the bacon-ketchup-rice.
Thick and fluffy.
As I savoured the rich, moist rice, I occasionally encountered bacon. The bacon was fried and lost some of its fat, but it still had a lot of flavour. The meat was cut a little thick, so gnawing it was very satisfying. I couldn’t help but look for the bacon as I ate. Whenever I found it, I felt very happy.
–It was delicious.
“Ketchup, huh. Is it a seasoning from your world? It seems to go well with both meat and vegetables.”
“Don’t they have tomatoes here? “
“Hmm? Oh, it’s a condiment made from tomatoes?”
“That’s right! This is a store-bought product, but the ketchup my sister made by hand is also delicious!”
As we talked about this, we quickly realized that everyone’s plates were empty.
“I want to eat a bit more〜”, my sister was saying in a spoiled manner.
After dinner, I prepared green tea for everyone. Green tea was a rare tea here, and Prince Cain was very surprised when I told him it was made from the same leaves as black tea.
The hot tea cups were perfect for this still chilly season, and I held them with both hands to enjoy their warmth.
I was slowly sipping the tea, allowing its strong flavour to spread around my mouth, making for a very refreshing feeling. I always enjoyed drinking this after a meal.
As I was relaxing, Prince Cain placed down his teacup and suddenly looked straight towards me and my sister and bowed his head.
“I’d like to… thank you for the meal today. And, I want to beg for your forgiveness.”
Being taken aback by the sudden turn of events my face stiffened.
–The royal family apologizing was a big deal, wasn’t it?!
I was so surprised that I couldn’t help but look around. My sister was sitting on the ground hugging her knees to her chest, looking kind of sullen, and Jade had his head facing downwards while listening quietly to the conversation.
“We brought Hiyori into our world for our own selfish reasons and put a lot of pressure on her. We placed a heavy burden on her and pushed her into a corner. And I feel very sorry for having to do that. I need to apologise to you as well, Miss Akane. After keeping you sequestered inside the palace because of our circumstances, I think it’s a bit presumptuous of me to trouble you to cook for me after you just arrived in our unfamiliar world as well. But, with all that said, all I want is to protect this country. We need Hiyori’s help to purge the evil that has built up over hundreds of years. Please forgive us for our selfishness.”
My sister remained silent. I also didn’t know what I should say in return.
Prince Cain’s eyes were serious, and I think his sincerity and determination shone through in every word he said. As royalty, they were supposed to protect the country and its people. As a royal family, they had a great responsibility to uphold. The lives of tens of thousands of people were at stake. In order to protect them, they must not hesitate to do what needs to be done.
What he was saying was right. Especially so, when it came to this world. But, what about when you looked at things from our point of view? Suddenly, the life that we had known was destroyed and taken away from us. What about those of us who were forced to live in this unfamiliar world?
It was easy to forgive him and those who have summoned us. They say that exorcising evil spirits involved danger. My sister was studying and training hard right now to prepare for it. Anyway, doing something like this involved a high risk for anyone, nevermind someone like us.
It was a great deal of responsibility and hardship for one to bear, to the extent that my sister whom I haven’t seen cry in a long while and who was usually such an innocent and full of life person, ended up having to cry on my shoulder because of all the pressure placed on her.
And it was my sister who was actually in danger and had to go through all this trouble. All I could do was to be there for her. I’m the one who raised my sister as a parent. She was my precious and adorable sister. I didn’t want her to do anything dangerous, and that was what I truly felt. It was because I had the experience of a foster parent that I was able to understand all this. But my opinion on what he said was…
“Cain can be…Cain can be way too serious. Earnest to a fault. “
Adding to that, my sister said in a slightly shaky voice:
“It’s my fault that I ended up backing myself into a corner— it’s because I was pushing myself too hard. If there is something only I can do, then I believe I should do it. I’ll do my best to study and train as hard as I can. And Cain, if you think you are too selfish, all you have to do is just protect me from any danger. Also, as long as I can eat my sister’s food, I’ll have a hundred times more energy and I’ll be able to work much harder!”
Towards the end, she said everything else while facing away from us, sniffling her nose.
–Yes, that is my sister. My lovable crying and courageous sister.
Even when my parents and grandparents died, she was strong enough to hug me silently and comfort me, even when I was crying.
My little sister, my precious little sister, was not the kind of girl who would make a mistake in what she was supposed to do, and this wasn’t me showing favouritism because I was the one who raised her. She was the type of girl that once she decided to do something, she would do it no matter what. –‘That’s the way she is.’
–So, as I had always done.
“My sister is right. I’ve been useless until now. I can’t contribute to this world directly like my sister who is a saint. But you have given me something I can do, a reason to cook. That’s why I will also do my best to support my sister here by cooking delicious meals for her.”
I was going to do whatever I could for my sister’s sake while staying in this house. I was going to make sure that she would always have a home to return to.
“”Prince Cain, please take good care of my sister, will you?”
When I said this with a smile, Prince Cain narrowed his eyes as if he was looking at something dazzling, and softly he smiled as well.
“Of course. I swear I will protect Hiyori with all my heart and soul.”
When Prince Cain left, he bowed deeply to us and we he saw us off at the door while saying :
“I think I understand why Hiyori likes your cooking. I could feel your kindness in each dish. I hope you will treat me to a meal again, ” and so he left us with those words.
As I was washing the dishes, my sister suddenly hugged me from behind, bringing me to a stop.
“Sis, your food was delicious. “
“Can you make omurice again? “
“Hmm, maybe I’ll do omuhayashi next time. “
“Yes! I love you sis!”
I patted my sister’s thin arm around my stomach.
As I felt the warmth of my sister’s body on my back, my thoughts flitted to the near future, wondering what I should make tomorrow.