Seaside Barbecue — Part 1
Editor(s): Joker, Speedphoenix
“Wow! There’s water everywhere!” said Illuna, eyes wide.
“Might this be the dungeon the two of you conquered?” Lefi also gazed upon our surroundings as she spoke, albeit in a much more composed manner than the resident vampire.
“Yup, you got it,” I said. “Iunno exactly what happened, but apparently it’s mine now, so I set up a door for ease of access. We can go back and forth whenever.”
We were gathered atop the ship with the most intact deck, as to minimize the risk of injury due to the floor giving out on us. Naturally, selecting the least damaged ship wasn’t the only precaution I took. I also went ahead and used one of the dungeon’s features to reinforce the deck ahead of time.
Though the fleet was still just as messed up as I’d left it, the newfound lack of hostile undead creatures made it seem not anywhere near as sinister as it had when we first arrived. In fact, it was starting to grow on me in spite of how worn down it was. It normally would’ve started to get a bit creepy around this time, as the sun was starting to set, but I’d added a new light source to mitigate any spookiness the darkness might’ve otherwise brought.
While I certainly had put some time into preparing the dungeon for the day’s event, it was still mostly off limits; the kids and maids alike had been barred from entering the ship’s interior for safety’s sake.
“The grills are ready, Master!”
I grabbed a random piece of paper from my inventory, lit it with a magical, match-sized flame, and shoved it inside the barbecue, which my maid-cum-bride had prefilled with charcoal.
“Alright, that one’s on. Time to do the other one…” I looked over the five monsters that had joined us on our trip to food coma land, only to find that Byakku had already lit the oversized grill I’d placed on top of the ship’s deck without me having to act or ask. “Nevermind, looks like you got it.”
Naturally, oversized grills capable of cooking up meals for a number of inordinately large, non-human creatures weren’t exactly available on the market. I ended up having to make the one I had myself. And though it was just a simple object made out of a bunch of bricks with a metallic mesh on top, I was feeling rather proud of myself for having successfully constructed it. I know it’s not really anything impressive, but hey, grills are pretty simple to begin with, so I’mma call it a win.
Under normal circumstances, placing a pair of grills on top of a wooden boat did nothing but lead to the creation of a fire hazard, but reinforcing the deck had made it much less susceptible to fire. You know, Orochi’s actually so heavy that the ship probably would’ve collapsed the moment he got on if it wasn’t all beefed up.
“I’ll prepare a whole bunch of random stuff and bring it over once it’s ready,” I said. “So yeah, just feel free to grill and eat whatever.”
The group responded with a series of nods. Man… they make having pets look so easy. All five of them basically just take care of themselves. I don’t need to do jack.
“Oh yeah, that reminds me. Rir, this is for you.”
I grabbed an extra large cut of meat from my inventory and plopped it on top of the grill. He was the only reason we were having this barbecue to begin with; the whole event was only happening so I could thank him for all his hard work. As such, the meat I’d given him wasn’t just any meat. I’d gone ahead and asked Lyuu and Leila about the types of meats typically considered delicacies, selected a variety that could be locally sourced, and hunted it down myself.
The wolf’s reply came in the form of an apologetic bark, as if to express that he didn’t think I needed to go out of my way to get him something.
“Don’t worry about it. Think of it as my way of thanking you for taking care of all the shit you normally do,” I said. “Feel free to share it if you feel like it. Or don’t, up to you, really.”
I pat him on the shoulder as he bowed his head. His expression expressed the same emotions as his bark had earlier, but the incredible speed with which his tail was wagging seemed to indicate that he was quite happy with the reward. Good. I hope he enjoys it.
“Alright ladies and gentlemen, let’s get this party underway!” I said. “Our first course tonight is going to be made up of giant clams, served with soy sauce and a bit of butter on top!”
Oohs and aahs came from the crowd as I roasted the delicious shelled critters to perfection. And they didn’t just come from the kids. Even the adults were impressed by the delicious scent that began wafting from the barbecue. Once all the soy sauce and butter was applied, I immediately slapped a second, different batch of sea creatures onto the grill.
“The second course is shrimp, marinated in my top secret sauce!”
“Wow! They’re changing colours!”
“Yeah, they’re turning pink!”
Shii and Illuna hovered around the grill and curiously eyed the shrimp as they transitioned from a dull grey to much more vibrant, appetizing shade.
“And if you think that’s all, then you’ve got another thing coming! The third course is sweetfish, a must have for any seaside barbecue!”
“Why is it that you have skewered them?” asked Lefi. “I do not see it as necessary.”
“It’s absolutely necessary,” I said. “The skewers are an important part of the aesthetic. Don’t bother questioning it. Just accept it.”
As a proud Japanese national, I’ve got nothing to say but that all sweetfish must be skewered, and that any further objections will be completely and utterly ignored. Technically, sweetfish didn’t even fit into a meal centered around the sea’s bounty; they were technically freshwater fish. But I didn’t care. They were delicious, and I happened to see a bunch in Poezahr, so I saw no reason not to grab them.
“The fourth course and everything beyond it is up to the rest of you. The world is your oyster, pick whatever you want, toss it on the grill, and call it a meal!”
“Why have you suddenly forsaken all organisation? I find myself incapable of understanding your reasoning.”
“It’s ‘cause I want to eat too. I’m not about to sit around and stare at a grill all day. I’ve got clams to eat,” I said, as I used a pair of tongs to plate the thoroughly cooked mollusks.
“Yuki spent a lot of time looking for these,” said Nell.
“Well, yeah. Giant clams are one of my favorite foods.”
I loved them to death back in Japan, and would have them whenever I could. That was why I made sure to scour the market for any I could find while I happened to be by the sea.
“What do you think? Tasty, right?”
“Yup!” said Illuna. “They’re really hot, but really good!”
“Hotasty!” said Shii.
Both had started digging in the moment the clam-filled plate was placed on the table.
“There’s more where that came from, so eat as much as you wanoah!?” I reacted with a jolt as a head suddenly popped out of the barbecue. “O-oh, it’s just you, Rei, you spooked the crap out of me.”
The wraith girl seemed quite happy that her prank had turned out as well as it did, as she made sure to flash a huge, toothy grin before diving back through the grill and running away. Alright, so total side note. I can’t say this out loud, so I’m at least going to say it in my head ‘cause I’m really proud of it. I only just figured out how to tell the three wraiths apart at a glance. They pretty much look the same, and being sisters really isn’t helping. It’s kinda sad, but honestly, their personalities are really the only reason I can tell them apart. Rei always smiles after a prank, while Rui kinda makes one of those “Yes I did it!” faces. Lowe’s expression doesn’t really change at all when she does it. She’ll just spin around in circles a few times instead.
It went without saying that Rei’s sisters were also attending the party, but unlike her, both were still possessing their dolls. Rui floated around Rir’s head and played with his ears, while Lowe spent her time observing the scenery from atop Orochi’s head. They were basically doing whatever the hell they wanted, which, in my books, was totally okay. It was cute, after all.
“Is the carpaccio ready yet?”
“Yes, My Lord,” said Leila, as she presented a plate topped with thin slices of salmon and octopus.
Oh wow, talk about skillfully made. The way it’s arranged makes it look so goddamn appetizing.
“Do you truly intend on consuming that?” asked Lefi, as she eyed the octopus slices.
“Of course.” I nodded. “I know you think it’s weird, but don’t write it off without trying it. Octopuses are delicious.”
I picked up a slice with my chopsticks and brought it over to her mouth. She was a bit hesitant at first, but in the end, gave in to my insistence and took a bite.
“…I cannot say that your statement was false. It is delicious,” she said, with a frustrated frown.
Heh. This isn’t even the octopus’ final form. If you think this is good, then wait till you try takoyaki. I bet you’ll love it so much you’ll never be able to bring yourself to call an octopus gross ever again.
“Whatever the case, Yuki, it is time for you to retire from the grill,” said Lefi. “I shall be responsible for ensuring that all is thoroughly prepared.”
“Works for me. Just make sure you make more than just your favorites though, alright? Balance in all things and whatnot.”
‘Cause yeah, knowing you, you’ll probably just make the things you like and ignore everything else.
“I’ll make sure she throws in some veggies from time to time for variety,” said the hero, as she enjoyed a piece of shrimp.
“There is no need for you to act with such restraint, Nell,” said Lefi. “You are free to eat whatever it is that pleases you. There is no need to resort to the consumption of mere plants.”
“Well uhm… I kinda like veggies…”
The brunette’s statement led the dragon to give her a confused stare.
“I do not understand. Whyever would you prefer to consume mere grass over a delectable piece of meat?”
“Wow, Lefi, wow,” I said. “That’s harsh, Lefi. Iunno if it’s just me, but I kinda feel like you owe just about every farmer ever an apology.”
“They’re right, Lefi,” said Lyuu, as she munched on a head of cabbage. “Your pores’ll start cloggin’ up if you don’t eat any veggies. Shyin’ away from ‘em ain’t good for keepin’ pretty.”
The way she’s eating that thing is… kinda cute and almost animal-like. Fuck it. I’mma just go ahead and say it.
“You know what, Lyuu? You remind me of a hamster sometimes.”
“H-huh? W-where that come from, Master? I’m not even sure if you were meanin’ it as praise.”
“Why wouldn’t it be?” I said with a shrug. “Hamsters are adorable, so all it means is that you are too.”
“You’re not trickin’ me that easily, Master. I know you well enough to say that when you’re makin’ a face like that, you’re really just makin’ fun of me.”
Oh shit, she knows.
“Well then… I see you’re learning.”
“Of course I am, Master! Even little ol’ me learns a new thing or two everyday!”
She crossed her arms, puffed up her not-so-impressive chest, and held her head high. Trying to act cocky just makes her look like an idiot. And I love her for it. It’s so cute.
“Uhm… Leila, what are poors?” asked Illuna.
“Pores are tiny openings in the surface of your skin,” explained the sheep-horned demon. “It’s often said that your skin will grow oily instead of being soft and smooth if you don’t eat enough vegetables.”
“Wow… I guess I’ll have to eat lots of veggies then.” said Illuna.
“Can I have beautiful skin if I eat lots of veggies too?” asked Shii.
“O-of course,” said Leila, with a bit of a stammer. “I’m sure that’s exactly what will happen.”
Shii didn’t exactly have skin, or at least not human skin. As such, the question had been so bizarre and misplaced that it even managed to throw Leila of all people for a loop. Well then. That doesn’t happen very often. Not that I don’t understand where she’s coming from. I don’t even know if eating things actually does anything for Shii, seeing as how she gets everything she needs from mana and whatnot.
“What do you think, My Lord?” asked Leila, in a whisper. “I’m not quite sure Shii operates under the same nutritional principles as us humanoids, given the wide variety of substances she is capable of safely consuming.”
“Honestly… I dunno. That’s a good question.”
I spent a few moments contemplating the slime’s biological needs, but eventually gave up. Wait, what’s Enne been up to this whole time? She’s more or less been totally silent.
After a bit of looking around, I spotted the kimono-clad sword at one of the table’s corners, with a plate featuring a little bit of everything set up right in front of her.
“What do you think, Enne? Enjoying yourself?”
“…Lots,” she said, with an energetic nod.
Good. If you’re happy, then I am too.