Chapter 6: Getting ready to eat breakfast.
Inside the house that was borrowed from Urd’s village chief, morning came, and Yamato woke up before the sun had risen.
As he stood up, he began confirming his physical condition and state of the luggage. Nothing was out of place in the room and the surroundings, his luggage was untouched and he felt physically great.
“Well then, I suppose I should start getting ready to prepare breakfast.”
After making sure that everything was ready, he headed outside the house, to the outdoor kitchen next to it in order to cook breakfast. The back of the house was where the kitchen was built.
He gathered the water flowing from the stream which Liscia told him about, and afterwards, using some firewood and leaves that were in a corner of the house he prepared to start a fire. Although the village was suffering a food shortage, with a forest and a river nearby, the water and firewood supply was abundant.
“Now, let’s light the fire.”
After filling the pot with water, he lighted the fire.
He decided against using the gas lighter since it was expendable. In an instant, the fire was started with a metal match usually used for survival outings.
In order to live in this different world which apparently had a low level of civilization, he couldn’t keep depending on consumables.
“Well, for now, I suppose a chunk of the Big Rabbit this size would do.”
His next task was, to finish with the dismantling of the rabbits.
They already removed the internal organs and drained their blood yesterday. It apparently was the same in this world, and the meat became smelly if it was not properly drained of blood immediately after killing it. What was next was peeling off the fur and leaving just the meat attached to the bones, in order for it to be easier to eat.
“If I remember correctly, the fur is a valuable item.”
Yesterday, Liscia had told him that the fur of the Big Rabbits could be used to barter in the village. And while thinking about the future, he decided to properly do this process.
The village chief had also told him that there was a professional leather craftsman, so later this skin could be traded in exchange for some necessary supplies.
“Now I just need to grill it with some salt and herbs.”
The dismantled Big Rabbit thigh was seasoned with some spices and salt, then placed inside the heated kiln.
That scene somewhat resembled a barbecue picnic.
“This Big Rabbit meat is giving off such a nice smell.”
Perhaps placing the wild animal’s meat next to the fire like this, was one of the first cooking methods that people who began walking the path of civilization used. A common cooking method, both on Earth and this other world.
The scent of the meat juices started spreading, so stimulating for the appetite.
“Right, the soup should also be ready.”
The sound of boiling water could be heard coming from the pot. And after confirming the boiling soup, he tasted it.
The pot was filled to the brim with soup.
It was a stew made with some wild vegetables, mushroom and herbs, so the smell it gave off was pleasant. Incidentally, he had already consulted with Liscia about the vegetables and mushrooms he wasn’t sure, confirming they weren’t poisonous.
He also took a small bite off them just in order to make sure.
Since he was raised by his self-proclaimed adventurer parents, he had developed some special skills. One of them was to perceive the taste of poisons.
To put it in simple terms, after lightly nibbling a food, he could tell if there was the presence of something poisonous. It was a sort of wisdom acquired from experience since a young age. And along with that wisdom, were the many memories of how much he had suffered from his early failures.
“Anyway, the mushrooms and vegetables are similar to those of Earth… At least these are.”
The wild vegetables and mushrooms he placed inside the pot had a familiar shape.
He noticed them as he was coming to the village yesterday with Liscia, returning using the animal trail. The beast called Big Rabbit caught him by surprise, but the trees and plants inside the forest were all mostly normal.
Once dismantled, the Big Rabbit was also just an ordinary animal. Aside from their sharp fangs and huge size, their internal organs and muscles were very similar to those of Japanese rabbits.
“Well then, shall I start with the slightly charred meat?”
At the time he finished, the sun started to shine brightly in the sky, so a little time had already passed after the sunrise. Cooking smoke could also be seen rising from the center of Urd Village.
Even as someone who liked the outdoors, this archaic life style sure felt fast for him. Everyone woke up and got ready in the morning, before the sun had even risen. Then later, they ate dinner and went to sleep as soon as the sun went down.
This “early rising, early sleeping” was the original cycle created by nature.
“Good, seems like my seasoning was not bad.”
After cutting a piece of slightly charred meat from the tight with a knife, he tasted it.
Big Rabbit meat was quite delicious, and had a wild taste. After finishing sampling it, he arranged the meat in a plate. He also served the vegetable soup in a bowl and finished setting everything up.
“When you see it arranged like this, this sure looks like a luxurious breakfast.”
The juicy Big Rabbit meat, grilled with spices, gave off a stimulating aroma. It was many times juicier than the rabbit meat he had eaten back on Earth, and visually it was also quite appealing.
One couldn’t complain about the western style soup, emanating its nice scent drifting in the air. It was probably due to the forest’s rich nutrients which were absorbed by the mushrooms and vegetables. They appeared to be many times more delicious than the ones growing in the Japanese mountains and forests.
“Ok, should I start eating? But before that…”
As he started to get ready to eat this long-awaited breakfast, he turned around to take a look at his surroundings.
“Isn’t about time that you guys come out?”
Those words were spoken towards the signs of people hiding in the surroundings. It appeared that they gathered here because of the smell of the cooking he did earlier.
“It’s because it smelled really good…”
The children in the village were the ones hiding and secretly watching him. They were the boys and girls who were excitedly talking to him yesterday.
“I knew we were not supposed to, but… I’m sorry, it’s just that…”
Despite being warned by the village chief to not to inconvenience their guest, their hunger won and got the best of them.
“No need to be sorry. I was actually waiting for you.”
That was his reply to the children. While trying to smile as much as possible, Yamato began explaining to them. About how he purposely made a fragrant dish in order to lure the hungry children.
“Uhm… what does that mean…?”
The children, not knowing the meaning of his words, just tilted their head in confusion.
“Is there someone among you who knows how to dismantle a rabbit?”
But disregarding their confusion, he went on and asked them a question. From this point on a lot of meat was needed, since many children had gathered.
“Yeah, if it’s just that…”
“Ok, then give me a hand.”
Several of the children with better physique came forward. They were tasked with the dismantling the rest of the Big Rabbits.
“Next, bring one of the big pots that are inside the house. The rest of you, go fetch some water and prepare some firewood to cook.”
“Ok, let’s hurry! “
In response to his sudden instructions, the children just nodded, still wondering what this was about. They still didn’t seem to understand what was happening.
But since they had nothing to eat, and there was nothing else for them to do at this moment, they simply obeyed those instructions.
After a while, cooking was finally completed.
“Good, it has a nice taste. Everyone, come gather closer.”
With the finished soup pot in front of him, Yamato called to the children. The big pot was one that was borrowed from Liscia earlier, saying that it was no longer used in the village anyways.
Later, she worried that something might have happened and came rushing to where Yamato was.
“Yamato-sama… what is this…?”
Liscia tilted her head as she walked closer.
That was actually the normal reaction, after all, a large pot filled to the brim with soup was being cooked.
After dismantled several of the Big Rabbits with the help of some children, they were cooked together with the wild vegetables and mushrooms in this pot.
It couldn’t be helped for her to worry about what was going on.
“This food is soft on the stomach, it also helps with the digestion, it’s called Gomoku Nabe.”
The name might be a little wrong since it didn’t have all the proper ingredients. However, the mushroom quantity was enough, and its stimulating scent was drifting all around the place.
It was a similar dish to the one his parents made when they were camping while he was young, or at least that what he tried to make.
“Ok, next is serving it. Everyone, come help yourselves.”
He talked to the children who were staring at the large pot while drooling. Because the time was short, he decided to prepare something that was relatively quick to make.
“Eh… for us too…? ”
“But, this is Niichan’s food…”
The children were surprised.
Because travelers, who came to a village with a food shortage, wouldn’t usually share their food so willingly.
“Take it as thanks for accepting last night’s kindness. Call for the other children as well.”
“I’m not sure what that difficult word means… but I understand! Yamato-niichan! ”
“Good, go and call everyone! ”
“Careful kids, it is still hot, don’t burn yourself after being served. “
The food then was then divided among the children, served in wooden bowls they got from the village.
There was a considerable amount, since all the Big Rabbit meat was used. Luckily, the vegetables from the forest also served to fill their belly, along with the stock.
“This is Liscia-san’s share.”
“Eh, my share…”
“With your body, this much should be adequate.”
“Ok… thank you very much, Yamato-sama…”
He handed over a wooden bowl to Liscia, who despite almost reaching adulthood in this world, looked very thin overall.
As the rest of the children gathered together, the meal preparation was finally over.
“Ok, everyone. Listen before you start eating.”
He spoke very slow and while trying to be as polite as possible. He took a look the faces of the boys and girls who were holding the wooden bowl filled with soup in their hands in anticipation.
Drool was already falling from their mouths, yet they carefully listened to his words.
“Right now you have trouble finding what to eat in the village, right? “
“Ever since that day, every day has been very hard…”
Answering his question, all the children nodded their head.
They spoke of the evil Lord who took their parents along with most of their food, leaving them with nothing, barely scraping by the day to get some food in their mouths.
“If you eat that soup, for today, you will fill your belly. But there will be nothing left for tomorrow.”
He continued talking to the children who were patiently waiting before they started eating.
Although a Big Rabbit was a big animal, if it was divided among this number of people, it would be depleted very fast.
“I’m sure you already heard about it, but the harsh winter will come soon. When that moment comes, what will you do? Are you planning to starve to death while trembling in a corner due to the cold? “
He felt bad since he was probably being a little tough on them, but this was their reality.
After spending the night here he had discovered the precarious current state of the village.
This village by the lakeside had been able to barely survive with the river fish and the mountain vegetables for a while.
However, unless food that could last longer, such as grains and dried meat was collected. It would be very difficult for this village to survive the coming winter.
“We… don’t want to die…”
“I want to live more…”
These children were probably already aware of their reality. As they answered, their heads turned downwards and their faces were covered with dark and gloomy expressions. Some sobbing sounds could also be heard from among the children.
These were all boys and girls who were probably not even at elementary school age, by Japan’s standards. But they all wanted to live, and had dreams of a bright future.
“If that’s the case, then I’ll teach you how to survive.”
“But, Nii-chan is a traveler, you will soon have to leave the village…”
Everyone was surprised at those words. If one was to think of it normally, there was nothing left but to leave this remote village since nothing could be gained by staying here.
“But, ‘those who won’t work, won’t eat’, got it?”
“Those who won’t work…? ”
“Yeah. It means that if you want to survive tomorrow and have something to eat, you will need to work for it. Only those who are prepared for that, can eat from this pot.”
After quoting a Japanese proverb, he explained to them.
Even a small child would choose to work in order to survive. Because there were no adults, a life filled with hard work was what would probably be ahead of them.
No matter whether they knew or didn’t, would they really be able to decide on such way of life in order to survive? No matter if one believed in God or not, this was something only they could decide for themselves.
To the sudden heavy contents of the talk, everyone closed their mouths and was unable to give an immediate reply.
“…I will work! ”
“I’ll do it too! ”
“Me too! “
However, the next moment, the voices of the children rose one after another. That voice spread like fire and soon everyone present was sharing the same intention.
“Even if my teachings are hard? “
“No problem! We will work hard! ”
“It’s better to live, than to die because we couldn’t do anything about it! “
The children steeled their resolve as they gave one last confirmation.
It was hard to find anything to do or eat if the situation in the village remained as it was now. But if they really gave their best, they could at least eat proper meals.
“I get it. Then, ‘Itadakimasu’, I’ll start eating first.”
“Itadakimasu? …Ok, I understand! Itadakimasu! ”
“Me too, Itadakimasu! “
Imitating his Japanese manners, the children one after the other, gave their thanks and began eating.
They probably were very hungry. Each and every one of them started to eat earnestly.
“Properly chew on everything. Otherwise, you might upset your stomach and throw up.”
Spending time without a decent diet caused the stomach to become smaller and it made it harder for it to digest food. Because of that, the soup was cooked until everything was soft in order for it to be properly digested, but just in case, he told them to swallow their food only after chewing it thirty times.
“Yamato-niichan, we can only count to ten.”
“Then, count to ten three times. That will be thirty.”
“I see! Ok, I’ll do that! “
The children were very obedient.
They properly followed those instructions, so Yamato felt the need to follow them too.
This not only improved the digestion, it also helped feeling sated sooner, so it was like killing two birds with one stone.
“Yamato-sama also knows how to do calculation…”
“Is not that big of a deal.”
Suddenly, Liscia whom had kept quiet this whole time and was just watching the situation, commented.
Apparently in this village, even simple multiplications were not widely spread, and she was astonished at his earlier simple mental calculation.
Similar to the rest of the children, she was also eating the soup bowl.
“By the way, would Liscia-san go hunting to the forest today too? ”
“Yes, I’m a hunter after all…”
“Then, could you prepare the things I’m about to tell you?”
“Yes, if its only that, then there’s no problem. There is a lot of unused equipment left alone in the empty houses.”
Liscia nodded after hearing the list of good requested to her.
Among the people in the village, Liscia’s intelligence seemed to be above the average. By being the granddaughter of the village chief, she probably received some education.
“But before that… does that mean that Yamato-sama will stay in the village for the time being? “
Judging from the contents of the request and the interactions with the children, Liscia concluded that he was going to stay in the village for a longer time.
“I’ll be intruding on you for a short while. Would that be a problem? ”
“Not at all! You are obviously very welcomed! I’ll be happy to help you with anything you need! “
After hearing his answer, she smiled while slightly shedding tears. Most likely, she had endured this heavy load for so long.
And after eating enough soup from the pot, her expression was brighter that yesterday’s. It was a pure and beautiful smile, suitable for a young girl such as her. This was probably her normal expression.
“Hey, you guys. We will eat the rest of the hot pot at night, so leave it there. It will soon be time to get to work.”
“Eh? Does that mean we can eat again tonight? ”
“Ok, I understand! ”
“I’ll do my best working! “
After finishing breakfast, over half of the soup was left in the pot.
Thanks to the variety of ingredients, its tasted was surprisingly good.
The children who finally filled their bellies after a long time without having a decent meal, were happily smiling while touching their bellies.
gratitude towards a night’s lodging and a meal, huh?… I guess I will help them solve the food shortage to some extent…
Since the time he ate the children’s gift last night, he had already decided to do something for them in return.
His initial plan was to stay in this village for one night, and then he had planned to move to a bigger city.
But those plans had now changed a little bit.
It’ll only be for a little while.
He might not be able to return to his original world. Probably, a long journey was still ahead of him.
If that was so, a little time could be spared staying in this village.
Dear me, I guess this matter is settled then…
While making excuses in his mind he smiled wryly, and continued to eat from him bowl while looking at the remaining soup in the pot.