4 (1) – 2
It had been over seven months since Camilla had arrived in the Duchy of Mohnton. The land was now languishing in the true depths of the winter season.
Mohnton, located in the northernmost part of the Kingdom of Sonnenlicht, had much harsher cold months than the capital. Although there wasn’t much snow around the duchy’s capital, the humid wetlands that made up the majority of the territory saw a lot of snowfall during the winter.
– I wonder if Einst is doing well?
It had been a couple of weeks since Camilla and Alois had returned from the town of Einst.
After the assessment of the manastone veins had been completed and the groundwork set for the rebuilding process to begin, there was no more need for Alois to oversee things directly. Leaving some of the people from Grenze as well as his own support staff from the territory’s capital, Alois returned home alongside Camilla.
Ever since returning, Alois had shut himself in his room, dealing with the mountain of paperwork that had built up in his absence. Once the winter was over, a new year would dawn along with the spring. There was a seemingly endless amount of matters that had to be attended to before the new year began.
Camilla, on the other hand, was relatively free. Even though she had been in Mohnton for the better half of a year, her role in this land was still vague at best, for the most part being treated as Alois’ guest.
So what should she do to pass the time? Talk with Nicole? Get pulled into one of Alois’ exhaustive study sessions? Or, perhaps…
“Oi! Keep an eye on what you’re doing! It’s burning ain’t it!?”
By the time she realized, it was too late. The frying pan that Camilla held was already beginning to billow with smoke. The sauce had turned an ominous shade of black and had begun to smoke. In a hurry she killed the flame, but it was already far too late.
The man who stood beside Camilla didn’t try to hide his anger, as he yelled in exasperation.
“Don’t doze off like that when you’re cooking! It’s dangerous!”
“Doze off, you say!? …Fine! It was my fault, satisfied!?”
“At least pretend to be a little modest when you apologize!!”
The man who scolded Camilla was middle-aged with fiery red hair and a face to match his anger. It was the chef who didn’t match the exquisite delicateness of his cooking, Günter.
“So at least listen to what I have to tell ya! You’ve got to pay attention to what you’re doing! Cooking ain’t just about the ingredients!”
“I know that! That’s why I said it was my fault!”
“Howd’ya expect me to take you seriously when you’re acting so high and mighty still!?”
Despite her apology, Günter didn’t seem satisfied at all. As they argued, hoots of ‘You’re too harsh!’ and ‘Ain’t ya going overboard!?’ echoed through the kitchen.
Those jeers were coming from Günter’s fellow cooks who also worked for the Montchat family.
“Oi, head chef, we finally got a girl in the kitchen, what’ll we do if you drive her out!?”
“That kinda guy doesn’t even know just how wonderful girls are at all, huh!?”
“Shaddup! If she quits over somethin’ this, then she wasn’t worth my time anyways!!”
As the voices jeered against him, Günter snapped angrily at his subordinates. But their laughter didn’t stop, their voices perked up again straight away.
“Hey now don’t burden her too much. She’s just a girl after all!”
“Well I am sorry for being a burden to you!!”
Camilla couldn’t stop herself turning around and snapping at the hecklers. At Camilla’s angry shout, the sound of wolf whistles sounded through the kitchen.
It was late afternoon, a few hours before that night’s dinner. There were only a few cooks in that kitchen who were starting to prepare for the dinner service. None of them seemed particularly concerned with Camilla being around, having long since gotten used to her already.
Even though Camilla raised her voice at them, they just shrugged their shoulders with a smirk. ‘You tell ’em!’ ‘So cool!’ they shouted out with claps.
– Don’t you dare make a fool out of me.
“Don’t you look at me like that! If I got serious, you wouldn’t stand a chance against me!!”
“Maybe you should start with not burning my damned ingredients first then!”
Günter remarked half in anger and half in exasperation as Camilla berated the nearby cooks. Then he himself glared at the spectators.
“As for you lot, get back to work! If you don’t want to be outdone by this girl here, then do your damned jobs!”
As Günter spat that out at them, the cooks laughed amongst themselves before slowly slinking back to their stations. He was the Head Chef. With the kitchen as his domain, he wielded power over all, including Camilla. That too was frustrating in its own way.
Camilla had become acquainted with Günter before travelling to Einst. She had challenged him to a battle of cookery, not knowing that he was the head chef of the Montchat family, suffering a de facto defeat for her efforts. Camilla often spent her time in the kitchen from that point on. Her goal was to take all of Günter’s skill for her own and one day defeat him in cooking.
Günter, who was never without complaints, thus taught Camilla, who hated nothing more than losing.
As she learned, she began to learn the faces of the cooks who also worked in the kitchen. Those people who were initially shocked and wary of Camilla’s sudden appearance in their workplace seemed quite used to her by now. Even if Camilla often got angry at the joking atmosphere of the kitchen, they didn’t mind much.
Rather, if it was just a joking atmosphere, it would have been fine.
Every one of the chefs employed by the Montchat household were men. In Mohnton, cooking was a common virtue. At home there was no divide between men and women in the kitchen, but those social norms shifted when it came to the workplace.
Cooking was considered an important skill in Mohnton. So in that same vein, it was a considered an honourable career. A professional kitchen wasn’t a place for women and children to play around.
Therefore, the sudden appearance of Camilla in their workplace presented them with a fresh opportunity.
“Oi, don’t mind them. You know they don’t mean any harm.”
“I know that.”
Camilla said that, pursing her lips.
They were all men who had dedicated themselves to cooking from a young age. Their hands held knives and stirred pots day in and day out. ‘She’s just a rich girl who came to learn a bit of cooking’, they would say about Camilla, who would simply come and go when she had time to spare. When that stranger to the kitchen would be on the receiving end of Günter’s anger, they would say to themselves ‘That poor girl’.
“…What’s wrong, you not up to it today?”
When Camilla didn’t reply to him, Günter looked down at her with a worried frown.
“Usually you’d say something like ‘Don’t look down on me! We are moving onto the next dish now!’, y’know?”
“Just who on earth do you think I am?”
“At least when you’re in my kitchen, you’re a cheeky rookie cook who is too damn big for their boots.”
With a gruff look on his face, Günter kept looking at her. Being stared at so strictly like that, Camilla groaned.
“That stubborn attitude of yours is one of your few good points, though. If you lose that, then what do you even have left? So, what happened?”
What’s wrong? Even if he asked Camilla that, she didn’t really have an answer for him.
As she thought, Camilla didn’t look up at him.
“Oh, what a rarity. There’s a girl in the kitchen!”
Then, from the entrance to the kitchen, she heard the voice of an unfamiliar man. Compared to that man’s floaty and joking voice, the heavy sighs from all the other men in the kitchen provided a stark contrast. Standing next to Camilla, Günter looked like he was at his wit’s end.
Wondering just who it was, Camilla turned to look at the newcomer.
“Whoa~! She looks a little uptight though! But that black hair sure is nice. Hey, do you know who I am?”
“I haven’t the slightest.”
Standing in front of her was a young man with light brown hair and eyes to match. He had a delicate sense of beauty to him as well as an elegant looking and slender build. If it wasn’t for those heavy-set bedroom eyes of his, she could compare him to Prince Julian. But that flirty attitude was so off-putting, it spoiled her good impression of his looks.
Of course, Camilla had never met this man before. Judging by his clothes, he must be a cook of some sort. However, even though Camilla had been in the kitchen many times now, she didn’t recognize his face at all.
“Well then, please be sure to remember it from now on. I’m Klaus.”
Without being daunted by Camilla’s curt and unfriendly answer, Klaus smiled and introduced himself. Then, as if ignoring the angry stares of the other cooks, calmly strode over to Camilla.
He only stopped approaching when he stood right in front of her. Even though Camilla glared at him, Klaus didn’t seem to worry much, even flicking her a wink.
“I am Klaus Lörrich, eldest son of the Lörrich family, and one day the world’s greatest chef. As for a lover, I’m currently free.”
And in that way, saying that it was lovely to meet her, he offered Camilla his hand.
Edited by: ApoPie