4 (3) – 16
The girl looked up wondrously at the stage
Was she ten years old? Other than that girl, there wasn’t anyone else nearby. Had she been separated from her parents or her friends? Or did she just get lost alone in the chaos?
After gathering her thoughts, Camilla approached the lost looking little girl on the main street.
“What’s the matter? Are you lost?”
When Camilla called out to her, the girl’s shoulders jumped It seemed like she was so absorbed in the sound, she didn’t see Camilla coming. Those round eyes that she looked up at Camilla with seemed confused.
“Um, uh, I’m sorry. I looked without permission.”
“That’s okay. If you like, you can come closer to watch. Assuming you aren’t lost, that is?”
“I’m not lost!”
The girl’s cheeks puffed up as she pouted.
“I’m waiting for my friends. I know how to get back to my house by myself!”
“I understand, my mistake. Then, do take your time and listen… Ah, no… Wait just a minute.”
As if suddenly remembering something, Camilla looked around the main street. Ruined stalls lined the sidewalks. As she looked, she tried to eye Günter’s stall, that was supposed to be around here.
Günter’s stand was set up in a good position, near the main square. Luckily, it hadn’t been damaged too badly. Günter must have protected it well since all the cookery she could see were still in decent shape. As soon as she saw that, Camilla rushed over towards the stall.
Sitting next to his stand, Günter was all alone. He was hunched over like everyone else, exhausted. With a gloomy look towards the square, he sighed.
As he sullenly sat alone, Camilla suddenly burst onto the scene with vigour. Günter turned away from the square to frown at the sudden intruder.
“Oi, what’re you doing? What happened?”
“I need to borrow your stall for a moment.”
Not taking any notice of the dumbfounded Günter, Camilla slipped behind the stand’s counter.
The stall was tidy and neatly organized, equipped with a simple to use outdoor stove. So that the stall wouldn’t burn down, the fire is completely encased. A net was spread over the charcoals, with a skewer and a bottle of sauce set up beside it.
The meat was left in a stone chest on the ground, well cooled with magical tools.
The flint was… next to the coals. As soon as she found it, Camilla lit up the oven. After skewering the meat on one of the spits, she laid it across the netting after waiting for the fire to begin burning in earnest.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
Looking into the stall, Günter stared at her, perplexed. It was no wonder. He’d agreed to take part in the festival and was gearing up to finally enjoy himself, then suddenly his stall was attacked by a group of men. After finally managing to fight them off with whatever he could, the moment he took a break his stall was finally taken over by one lone invader.
“It should be simple to see if you look.”
But, Camilla’s answer seemed cold. Without turning around to look at him, she continued to grill the meat over the flame.
The meat grilling in the oven was charred with the pattern of the net beneath it. The juices from the meat dripped through the net, falling into the fire with puffs of smoke. Those juices running from the meat was a sign it still hadn’t been cooked till perfection yet.
“It should be simple to see if I…? Oi, you’ve stoked the fire too much! You’re gonna burn the damned stall down! Stop pressing the meat against the dang net! Did you even season that properly!?”
“How should I know!?”
“Argh, damn it! You tasteless woman!”
Günter scratched at his head irritatedly. Ignoring the man, Camilla continued to keep grilling the meat over the fire.
The oily smoke snaked its way out of the tent and carried a fragrance down the street. The girl who was standing out there suddenly turned to look at the stall where Camilla was working. After looking at it a little confused for a while, she ran up to it.
The girl stretched to see above the countertop and look into the stall. Although the meat ended up a little overcooked, it still looked tender and juicy. With a “Fufu~n,” Camilla took the skewer off the fire.
“Looks delicious, doesn’t it?”
The girl’s eyes were firmly fixed on the skewer Camilla held.
With the girl’s rapt attention, Camilla began to glaze the meat in the sauce just to show off. The sauce was ever so slightly sweet, which alongside the already nice smell of the meat gives off an irresistible fragrance.
As expected, it seemed like the perfect way to pull customers. The girl couldn’t take her eyes off of it.
“That will be five Licht coppers.”
The coin Camilla spoke about was the lowest currency that was in circulation in Sonnenlicht. Five of those coins wouldn’t be an expensive purchase, even for a commoner. It was something even children could afford.
However, the girl’s shoulders slumped at those words.
“…Um, I… I don’t have any money…”
“…Well, usually it would be five coppers. But today, children eat free.”
The girl looked up at Camilla. Faced with those big twinkling eyes, Camilla smiled.
She was hoping that the master of the shop wouldn’t get too antsy about her flexing some authority for something like this. In the first place, if things kept up like that he wouldn’t have had a single customer at all.
“Thank you very much, Miss First Customer.”
As she said that, Camilla held out the freshly grilled skewer.
After taking the gift, the little girl ran off, seemingly satisfied with not going to the plaza after all.
“…The first and the last customer, I suppose?”
With the girl gone, there was no longer any other potential customers both in the plaza or on the main street.
Well, at any rate, one customer was better than none. Even just having seen that one girl’s eyes light up was a little reward.
The fragrant smoke continued to waft up the street. Taking no notice of Günter, who continued to try and lecture her about how to properly cook skewered meat, Camilla smiled, a little lonely.
But, after dark… Children truly are wily, after all.
Eventually, that girl came back, and with lots of friends in tow.
“We heard that children get to eat for free.”
There was a big group of children, all around ten years old. Amongst them, a boy who was probably the leader of their little group spoke up cheekily.
“It should be free even with this many, right? Please give everyone some.”
There were more than eleven or twelve people in their group. In fact, she saw more coming. Had she gathered all the children her age from around Blume? Giving away that many skewers for free would easily wipe out any hope of a profit margin, normally.
“Aren’t you plucky?”
“Hmph,” Camilla crossed her arms behind the stall’s counter.
Camilla remembered the face of the cheeky brat in front of her. He was one of Klaus’ ‘teachers’ that they had come across, not long after coming to Blume originally.
“You, you’re Klaus’ ‘mischief teacher’, aren’t you? You truly are just as bad a boy as I imagined… Did Klaus tell you to come here?”
As Camilla looked at the boy suspiciously, he returned a stubborn stare. Even though he was young, it seemed like he had just as much of that Blume attitude as the adults in this town.
“What kind of attitude is that towards your customers? When you said children eat free, was that a lie?”
“It was not a lie at all. Very well, I’ll have you all eat for free. However! In return, you have to eat your skewer whilst listening to the singing in the square!”
At Camilla’s shout, the children suddenly cheered.
They slapped each other’s hands in a way that Camilla had never seen before.
Throughout the trampled ruins of the destroyed festival, children’s laughter echoed. It may have taken a different form, but in its own way, this is what Camilla had dreamed of.