4 (1) – 3
The eldest son of the Lörrich baronial family, the man that Günter had once told Camilla about, the ‘Skipping Devil’.
He was twenty years of age. Because of his good looks and easy-going nature, as well as his well-to-do background, he was very popular with the young women who worked in the mansion. However, since the only reason girls ever came all the way to the bowels of the kitchen before Camilla arrived was to look for him, he was detested like a snake in the crib by the other cooks.
But no matter how much he ducked out of work to chase skirts, the other cooks couldn’t voice their disgruntlement with him openly.
There were three reasons for that.
The first was that he was the eldest son of Baron Lörrich.
When it came to the servants who directly served in the Montchat household, many of them were linked to those three powerful founding families. And of course, the influence of those families ran very deep in these lands. To put it simply, picking a fight with the man who could one day become the head of the Lörrich family would be setting sail for catastrophe.
The second reason was that the man was a genius.
No one in that kitchen could hold a candle to his raw skill. Not even Günter could match him when it came to baking confectionaries. No matter how much time he spends skipping work or playing with girls, that impressive ability of his didn’t fade at all. Compared to the other cooks who devoted themselves all day to their craft, Klaus merely needed to spend a few hours in the kitchen to match their output.
His cooking, of course, tasted excellent. What’s more, the presentation of his dishes was both so beautiful and so effortless it bruised the ego of anyone who had to line their food up next to his.
Lastly, Alois favoured him.
The rumours everyone had heard about Klaus, the prodigal son of the Lörrich family, was that his father had grown sick of his attitude and kicked him out of the house in effect, but not in law disinheriting him. Therefore, before Klaus left the Mohnton lands as was once his intention, Alois managed to convince him to work for the Montchat household.
Even after being taken into the Montchat household, Klaus continued his irreverent attitude and didn’t show any respect for Alois either, but Alois never seemed to mind. No matter how many people spoke into his ear about Klaus’ unbelievable attitude, Alois kept him in his job.
Was it purely because he was addicted to the taste of Klaus’ baking and sweets? That was the rumour going around, at least.
On the top of the biscuits that Klaus had baked, he decorated them with a frosting made from egg whites and sugar.
Red, blue, white and yellow. He drew vibrantly coloured petals, overlapping the colours in perfect contrast. The petals were traced onto the biscuits in wonderful multicoloured layers that made them look like real flowers.
Rather than a patisserie frosting a baked treat, it was more like an artist painting on a canvas. Even the most minute detail was exquisitely expressed with rich colour.
Catching Camilla staring gobsmacked at his work, Klaus grinned. With a boastful smirk on his face, he held up a cookie decorated with immaculately realized white flowers.
“This is one of Blume’s specialities. The Sehnsucht flower, ever heard of it?”
“Not at all.”
Looking closely, those white flowers were mixed with a slight hint of red. The petals were thin and rounded at the ends. They gave off a beautiful, yet fragile impression.
She had never been much for flower viewing even back in the capital. Of course, not much had changed after she had been exiled to Mohnton, either.
“When spring comes, they come into full bloom and are used in all sorts of perfumes. Sehnsucht, the flower of desire. And so I will give this to you, the one with equally beautiful black hair.”
Saying so, Klaus pressed the biscuit into her hands without giving her a moment to reply.
Looking at the biscuit that was adorned with intricately detailed flowers despite being smaller than the palm of her hand, Camilla frowned.
– Just how on earth was he able to make something like this?
She didn’t care much for Klaus’ manners, but she couldn’t deny that his talent was the genuine article. Seeing it in person, she could understand why no one debated his skill. But no matter how good his technique was, his character just didn’t match up at all.
Apparently, these biscuits were being baked for Alois.
When it struck his fancy every now and again, he would bake things like this for Alois. Usually, they were vividly coloured confectionaries like these.
Whenever Klaus worked, he couldn’t help but catch the eyes of everyone else in the kitchen. As if looking for the secret to his genius in order to usurp him, those ambitious cooks would watch his every move as he plied his craft.
But Klaus didn’t care about their lingering gazes. If they wanted to steal his skill, let them try as much as they liked. With a smile on his lips, he lined up the biscuits he had decorated row by row on a deep dish.
“And now, for the final touch…”
Looking down on the plate covered with every biscuit but the one that Camilla held in her hand, arrayed like a field of flowers, Klaus’ grin grew even wider.
Taking the bottle of maple syrup he held in his hand, he gently unscrewed the lid and poured its contents all over the biscuits, desecrating the scene of floral beauty. The golden syrup drowned out the vibrant colour of the flowers as they sunk into its overwhelmingly goopy sweetness.
Klaus laughed mockingly, his eyes narrow.
“There we go, food fit for a pig in the blink of an eye!”
Instinctively, Camilla threw the biscuit she held down on the countertop in a rage.
“What did you just say…!?”
The biscuit broke into pieces, that beautiful flower pattern shattered. She didn’t regret doing it. Right now, she didn’t care about that lovely looking thing.
“Just now, what did you say?”
“Oh, are you upset?”
As Camilla glared furiously at him, Klaus shrugged as if he hadn’t expected her reaction at all. But his hands didn’t stop moving. After emptying the contents of the maple syrup bottle onto the cookies, he took a jar of sugar and began to sprinkle its contents all over the top of it.
“That’s just how it is. What else other than a pig would eat something like this? Would you ever want to eat it?”
“Isn’t that the food your master is going to eat!?”
“So what? This disgusting trough of sugar won’t suddenly become delicious just because my master is eating it. Besides, even if I have to call him ‘master’, I still hate the guy.”
“Hate!? But… Isn’t this just because of the Montchat tradition!?”
The master of the Montchat family will always have the best food. And to them, the best food was stuffed full of all sorts of luxuries, meaning all manner of fat, sugar, and oil.
That’s what both Alois and Gerda had told her. Camilla had always thought it was ‘strange’ herself, but…
If Camilla was still the same as when she arrived, she might have agreed with Klaus’ words. In fact, if they were purely talking about the ‘meal’ in front of them, Camilla’s thoughts were still the same. The food that Alois consumed was unspeakably grotesque to her. Far more than Camilla not wanting to eat it herself, she didn’t think it was fit for human beings at all.
– Then just why am I so angry?
“But, I’m not part of the Montchat-”
Klaus’ words were cut off mid-sentence with a thud.
From above, a fist smacked him upside the head.
“Ouuuuch… Take it easy on me, head chef.”
Günter didn’t say anything to Klaus’ pleading. Threatening him with his raised fist again, he instead turned to Camilla.
“You should leave for today.”
“Me!? Shouldn’t that rude fellow be the one to leave instead!?”
“I don’t need someone who spends more time yelling than working in my kitchen. I can tell you’re off your game today, too. You can come back once you’ve cooled off a bit.”
“But he was the one who made me angry!”
As she pointed an outraged finger at Klaus, the culprit waved his hand at her with a smile on his face. It was as if he was saying au revoir.
“The fact is that you’re the one who lost their temper. Anyways, just take a breather and calm down. No matter how much you shout and scream, it just goes in one ear and out the other with that guy.”
Camilla bit her bottom lip angrily. Günter seemed dead set on having Camilla leave for now.
It was true that Camilla was the one who was disturbing the workplace right now. None of the other cooks seemed to share her anger about Alois being disrespected like that. It’s as if they’ve already just accepted that’s how Klaus is.
Even if it’s wrong, it’s just Klaus being Klaus.
– If you want me to leave so badly, so be it!
Camilla tried to stem her frustration as she balled up her hands into fists. As she turned on her heel to leave in a huff, she heard a mocking voice call out behind her.
“Later~. Next time you drop by, I’ll teach you how to make some sweets.”
“I will not be making anything like that!”
“Why not? If it’s me doing the teaching, you’ll be a prodigy in no time. Don’t you have someone you want to have eat the food you make? You’ve got to get to a guy through his stomach, y’know? I wouldn’t mind being that guy, either.”
At his last line, Camilla turned around and scowled at the grinning Klaus.
“There is someone I would like to eat my cooking.”
That wasn’t Klaus, of course. Nor was it Alois.
Yes, not even Alois.
There was only ever one person in her mind, that had never changed.
“Therefore, I will not be making any sweets.”
Leaving that line hanging in the air, Camilla turned her back once again on Klaus and strode out of the kitchen.
Fun German lesson from someone who doesn’t know any German: Blume means flower, Sehnsucht means longing or yearning.
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Edited by: ApoPie