101. The Chef’s Guild.
Discounting the Royal Capital, Barbra was Kranzel’s largest city. Like Dharz, it bordered the sea, and thus, function as a large, commercial centre.
The city was so extravagantly decorated that even the guard’s office was a shocking 4 stories in height. Salrut was still accompanying the prince on his travels, albeit as a prisoner, but the pirates? Yeah, they were probably pretty much all locked up inside. Chances were, they were going to be hanged in a few days time. We technically didn’t break the promise we made to the pirate’s captain, as we weren’t going to kill him ourselves. They were just being punished for being a bunch of unruly pirates, nothing less, nothing more.
Barbra’s port was massive. It housed over a hundred ships hailing from at least twenty different countries. It was such a well travelled place that it’d probably be safe to say that you could get your hands on anything you ever wanted here so long as you were willing to pay the price.
『Woah. There’s so many shops that I can’t decide where to start.』
The street leading to and from to the port was lined with stalls and shops of all shapes and sizes.
There were three different weapon shops within 200 meters of us, but a certain pair of gluttons had already dismissed them without so much as a second thought. Instead, they were looking towards the myriad of restaurants that decorated the crowded street, their eyes shining like stars in the night sky.
At the time, I figured that there wasn’t any issue in letting the two of them eat whatever they wanted. We had the money, so whatever.
Little did I know at the time, that decision had been nothing short of a mistake.
「Nom nom nom.」
It looked to me like the two of them were spending more time with their mouths stuffed than they were the opposite. Both Fran and Urushi were both holding and eating as much food as they possibly could, and needless to say, the sight of a young girl and a large black wolf shoving meal after meal down their throats was something that stood out far more than necessary. In fact, they drew so much attention that the people around us had actively started to observe our every move. They even gave Fran a round of applause after seeing her eat an entire giant skewer in a single bite.
Our food filled advance eventually led us to a massive square about five hundred meters in diameter.
The buildings constructed around said square were on a similarly grand scale; they were both massive and gaudy as could be. Their very existences served to function as a testament to their owners’ wealth. If I had to give an impression of the area, I’d say that it hit me in much in the same way as would a place like Marunouchi or Time Square. Examining the plaza further led my eyes to catch ahold of something that immediately grabbed my interest.
『Is that what I think it is…?』
『Apparently that building over there is labeled as the Chef’s Guild.』
I didn’t even know that such a thing actually existed. I couldn’t help but find myself staring at it in wonder, I really wanted to find out more about its activities and stuff.
「Want to go?」
『Yeah. Please and thanks.』
There were a lot of other big names hanging around, like the Blacksmith’s Guild and the Merchant’s Guild, just to name a few. I even caught sight of a few embassies as well. It was almost as if there was an invisible rule stating every institution located within the square was an organisation or entity that carried with it a certain degree of prestige, and I saw no reason for the Chef’s Guild to be an exception thereto.
『Yeah, but it looks like Urushi won’t be allowed inside.』
A sign saying “Pets and familiars are not allowed within the premises,” was hanging from the guild’s door. Well, I guess it can’t be helped, given how food was involved.
（Then sink into shadow?）
『Yeah, should work. Make sure you don’t come out of Fran’s shadow while we’re still inside, okay, Urushi?』
Urushi let out a slightly saddened cry before obediently sinking into Fran’s shadow. He was probably hoping to enter the Chef’s Guild so he could get his paws on something tasty. We’ll have to make it up to him later.
The Chef’s Guild’s interior design greatly resembled that of the Adventurer’s Guild. The only major difference that one could spot at first glance was that the people within the building were chefs instead of adventures.
「And what can we for you today, young lady?」
「Nothing in particular.」
Fran’s exhibition of complete and brutal honesty left the guild’s clerk in a momentary state of bewilderment. That said, she did manage to recover from it quite quickly.
「First time here.」
「We don’t have too many branches, so I can understand where you’re coming from. We, the Chef’s Guild, facilitate the gathering of ingredients from across the entire continent. Many chefs even go as far as to equate the guild to the heavens. We have many connections with those within the industry, and there is a rather large demand for our services.」
The Guild’s receptionist was politely answering Fran’s questions despite the fact that she was just a child. She informed us that the Chef’s Guild effectively functioned as a large merchant that worked with both ingredients and chefs themselves. The guild would accept registration from two different types of individuals. The first was obviously chefs and the second, the owners of businesses that required them. The guild started out as a small organisation focused around the discovery of new recipes, and it has followed through with that fundamental philosophy throughout its history. Even now, the guild apparently continued to extend its arms to any and all chefs in need of support.
「Are you perhaps a chef yourself?」
Fran was stuck in a weird situation in which she never actually cooked despite her cooking skill completely maxed out.
「Master, good at cooking.」
「I see. And I take it that your Master is not one of our guild’s members?」
「I believe that registering may be in your Master’s best interest. We provide a wide variety of benefits, especially in the realm of buying and selling recipes and ingredients.」
Oh, that’s pretty interesting, but I’m kind of a sword, so I can’t actually register myself. Fran could probably do it, but she’s a part of the Adventurer’s Guild as well, so I wasn’t really sure if she was disallowed or something as a result.
「Oh, don’t worry about that. A fair number of our members are in that precise situation; they belong to several guilds simultaneously. That said, I do have to say that the Chef’s Guild isn’t nearly as big as the Adventurer’s Guild, and unlike the Adventurer’s Guild, we don’t intentionally restrict our members in any which way. The Chef’s Guild is much more lax in general, as fundamentally, we stemmed from an organisation established for the sole sake of helping one another.」
「Want to register.」
「Are you legally authorized to do business in Barbra?」
「In that case, you’ll have to register as a chef.」
「You will have to participate in an examination. Is that okay?」
「Exam? What kind?」
「Well, we are the Chef’s Guild, so you’ll have to cook. We’ll consider you have to passed the examination if you can get our staff judges to approve of any one of your dishes. We have a kitchen available if you’d like to whip something up right away, but using it isn’t mandatory. If you want, you can cook something up ahead of time and then just bring it on over.」
Does that mean that I can make something and then get Fran register for me by proxy?
「Yes, that would be fine. Our guild cards don’t require anything beyond just a name.」
Wow, they really were lax. The word guild always made me think of something really systematic and strict, but apparently the Chef’s Guild wasn’t like that at all. Signing up here seemed almost as casual as signing up for any sort of membership or point card back in Japan.
「Something already made okay for exam?」
「Well, yes, but…」
「Then this. And this.」
「Huh? Oh, I see, you had an item box.」
Fran had pulled out from her dimensional storage a serving of curry and a skewer made of wild boar meat. Their spices’ fragrances drifted across the room and grabbed the attention of all the chefs there within.
Fran actually did make the skewer herself, so we technically weren’t cheating.
『I know that they’re going to be judging us, but are you sure you want to offer them curry? That’s one less plate for you, you know?』
The hell is going on here? She normally hates sharing her curry.
（Masters cooking will be judged. Can’t show inferior products. Need to blow judges out of the water.）
『O-Oh I see. Thanks.』
「I-I’ll go get an examiner right away.」
「Nn? You’re not a judge?」
「The higher ups are supposed to participate in the judging just to make sure all our members meet the same standard of quality.」
Five minutes later, the receptionist came back with a man in tow. If I had to sum said man up, I’d say he more or less looked like a gourmet that was nothing short of difficult to please. He was totally rocking the Kaibara Y*zan and Aji**u feel. Just seeing him kind of made me start to feel nervous.
「Oh? So you’re the applicant?」
「Nn. This, my cooking.」
「Grilled meat on a skewer? Hmm… I see. Well then, I’ll give it a sample.」
The man took a bite out of the skewer. He slowly chewed through it and savoured its flavour before finally swallowing it with a gulp. The fact that he stayed expressionless throughout the whole process left me feeling a bit intimidated.
「Hmm… It’s quite plain.」
「Can’t be helped.」
Fran had a pretty solid grasp of where her own cooking skills laid, so she didn’t really get angry despite the fact that they were criticized. She only made the dish on a whim anyways.
「However, I can’t say I disapprove of its flavour. I can feel your fervor and passionate temperament through its taste. It’s as if the dish itself is telling me that you tried to make it as delicious as possible with what limited materials you had access to.
Wow, he actually knows what he’s talking about. The skewer he was eating was indeed something that Fran made on a whim, but that didn’t mean she didn’t give it her all.
It was a dish that she carefully roasted with fire magic over the course of about thirty minutes. She didn’t use any special ingredients or spices to make it either, she just grabbed whatever she happened to have available and gave it her best effort. Despite her relative lack of ingredients, she took her time and managed to make the final product taste pretty good. However, it was also actually this precise careful process that caused her to lose interest in cooking, as she ended up equating it to a meticulous and almost painful process.
The examiner had been so skillful and observant that he was able to deduce her efforts but from a single bite. Seriously, wow.
「I approve of your dish, you pass.」
Whew, she passed. Given how Fran managed to pass with nothing but a skewer of meat, I figured that I shouldn’t have any issues passing either. That said, I didn’t really think that there was any point in having me register anymore, as we’d already secured the benefits we needed.
（No. Can’t not register.）
（Make them eat Master’s cooking. Blow their minds.）
It seemed like she didn’t actually care about the benefits, she just wanted to completely bewilder the stuck-up looking judge by feeding him a plateful of curry.
「What an interesting dish. Its appearance reminds me Azerian cuisine, but its fragrance is of a much more mellow quality, and its ingredients stray from the Azerian norm.」
「Called curry. Made by Master.」
「So I take it that this is one of your Master’s original creations?」
「Yes. The ultimate dish, crafted from years of blood and effort.」
What, no! Nonononono! All I did was reproduce one of Earth’s most common dishes! It’s nothing complicated, and I only decided to make it because it’s easy given that we had all the necessary spices on hand!
「Oh? I look forward to trying it then.」
「Tastiest thing in the world is curry.」
「I would be quite glad if that were to be the truth.」
The old gourmet judge raised the dish to his mouth and consumed a bite after listening to Fran hype it up.
Fran couldn’t stand just watching, so she pulled out another plate and began eating it alongside the judge whilst watching him with a look of confidence. Her expression gave way to the fact that she was absolutely sure he would be blown away by the flavour.
「It’s not bad.」
「Nn. Of course.」
「But did you really think that a dish with this meager a flavour would stand above else all that the world has to offer?」
The moment the man uttered his response, Fran completely froze over.
Her expression vanished altogether, and she immediately began to radiate an aura of violent bloodlust.
TN: Sorry, this should’ve come out earlier, but my water heater broke. You know how much asian people like their hot baths, and conversely how much we hate the lack thereof? Well, you’re reading a web novel right now, so I assume you do. I finally got all that done and fixed last night, but then Pokken Tournament DX arrived in the mail…(๑≧౪≦)