In a town, an hour’s ride from the capital, signs of hustle and bustle could be seen all throughout the streets. Frameworks of buildings dotted the edge of the town’s parameter, signifying the rapid growth that was occurring here. In fact, the area used to be an empty field merely three months ago, having been chosen as the new central site for the region’s new lord.
After the region had been devastated and the previous lord slain, the area became uninhabited for a while. Slowly, people filtered back to their home territory once they had heard that another lord had taken his place.
Upon their return, many were surprised to learn of the new lord’s identity, a young girl not even of age, of whom they had heard many rumors about recently. Some had heard of her prowess in fighting and magic, which propelled her career as a magic knight. Some recalled the commotion revolving around a failed wedding. Some questioned her involvement in the Duke’s death and wondered if she had manipulated the nobility in the shadows. In truth, the townspeople only learned bits and pieces of the events, which had trickled down from the various lords and retainers in the regions they were temporarily housed in. Needless to say, many were initially worried about how their new lives would unfold.
However, the lively and flourishing state of the town soon dispelled their worries. The people worked merrily. The stores were plentiful with interesting and convenient goods, many that had never been seen before. From household consumables to tools and appliances, many of the objects seemed foreign and mysterious. For instance, why would someone purchase an expensive tool simply to clean clothing when they could do the same job themselves with a washtub and board.
However, the townspeople didn’t realize how useful some of them were until they tried it. The mesmerizing rotation of a drum doing the work for them attracted a group of housewives, who pitched their money together to purchase one. Since then, they were all thrilled by how much softer their hands had become, not needing to soak them constantly in cold well water.
Gradually, conveniences such as these were adopted into the people’s lifestyles, making commoner life more pleasant here than anywhere else.
The young girl who was their lord would often be seen in town greeting the people on her way to and from work, her distinguishable white and blue armor easily seen in a crowd. If that wasn’t enough to identify her, the glimmering sword on her belt caught the gaze of every passerby, leaving a slight feeling of awe emitted to those that first laid eyes on her.
Lord Faulkner was a completely different noble from the Madiswil family before, who had governed from the top of a hill that overlooked the town. Her mansion was located at the center of town, right in the middle of the busiest area and the heart of its residents. It may have been due to her lower upbringing; the townspeople quickly grew fond of her demeanor.
As word spread of this fresh, prosperous town, even people that resided in other regions started making the journey to plant their roots here. With the secret backing of the princess and Marquis Reichenstein, as well as the booming Faulkner trading company under a brilliant head, this town grew faster than any other in the kingdom.
A group of woodworkers and stonecrafters stretched their arms in the air as the bell sounded to end the workday. These were men that were gathered from throughout the kingdom that excelled at construction. Equipped with the latest tools that carved wood with wind magic and shaped rock with earth magic, they could build an entire home in the span of a day if they needed to. Though they were not pressed to work that quickly, they still moved at a rapid pace due to their high morale.
“Hey, June! How about we stop by that place again tonight?” One woodworker placed his burly arm around the shoulders of his fellow stonecrafter.
“Again, Rory? How many times has it been this week already? You’re going to blow all of your wages before the end of the week!”
Though June had said that, he was still tempted by the invitation. In reality, their wages were more than enough to cover a few guilty pleasure trips. However, the need to save up money lingered in his mind. He had a girl to propose to after all.
Though June voiced his objection, the two men were already detouring from their path home to head into the middle of town. By the time they arrived at a building that had a sign in the shape of a gleaming chef’s knife, their stomachs were starting to give voices of complaint. Below the sign, the words ‘A Certain Slice’ were painted.
Opening the door, they were immediately greeted by a welcoming voice.
“Welcome home, Master! Please allow me to take you to your table!” A cute girl greeted them at the door.
The two men grinned widely, smitten by being referred to as ‘Master’. With a spring in their step, they were led to an open spot, where the table was set, and menus placed. Less than a minute later, a small blond maid walked up with a pen and paper.
“Your order, Masters?” She said in a low, but sweet voice.
“I’ll have a Cola and the Deadly Spiral, level 5,” Rory said, without needing to see the menu.
“I guess I’ll have a Sangria… with a Pizarka-fried noodle, mild please,” June followed, with his head buried in the menu.
“Cola and Deadly Spiral… for tough master. Sangria and Pizarka noodle… for hiding master, okay?” The girl said, ending it with a smile.
As she trotted away with the order written down, she suddenly tripped and went splat. Quickly lifting her head, she playfully knocked her head and stuck her tongue out. That gesture melted the hearts of those around her that saw it.
“Oh man, that Ludmila girl. If only I could have a daughter like her… Makes me want to find a wife and settle down already!” Rory said, a bit jealous of his friend.
“I don’t know about you, but I feel a bit embarrassed coming here still. I mean, what would my girl think?” June’s face was red as he continuously snuck glances at the maids that walked by.
“Then, bring her here. I bet you that she’d enjoy being served by a butler then!” Rory said with a laugh.
“Even more reason that I can’t let her know of such a place. She’d seriously come here, even though she’s on the other side of the kingdom!” June retorted with a sigh.
Though it was still early for dinner, this restaurant was already half full. They had come straight from work in order to beat the normal dinner crowd. The first time that they heard about the place, they had been surprised by the long line that stretched outside the building when they arrived. Given the unique style and service of this place, it was no wonder. However, this had not been the only reason.
The maid, Ludmila, had returned with a tray of food and drinks. Carefully placing each one on the table, she managed to transfer it all without any slip-ups. Apparently, her klutziness was mitigated if she focused hard. It was a cute sight to see her acting with such earnestness.
“Then, enjoy food, Masters.” Ludmila finished with a bow before leaving to attend to others.
“Let’s dig in!” Roared Rory, as he picked up his fork and stabbed one of the dumplings.
As the dumpling hit his tongue and became demolished between his teeth, his body inwardly shivered at the deliciousness. Across from him, June was busy slurping up his noodles while taking a sip of sangria occasionally.
With the sting of spiciness lingering in his mouth, Rory continued to eat his dumplings, relishing the burn he felt on his tongue. With a third of his plate emptied, he took a big swig of cola before slamming his wooden mug down with glee. The refreshing tickle of bubbles as the cool liquid washed away some of the burning sensation was like the feeling of snow and icicles dancing across his tongue on a hot, dry summer day.
“That really hits the spot! Even better than when I ordered it yesterday!”
“Come to think of it, the food here seems better today. I wonder why?” June looked up at his friend.
A passing butler overheard his question and poked his head over to respond.
“That is because the owner, Knight Evers, is here today. Those dishes were likely cooked by the man himself.”
“Knight Evers? The Demon Cleaver? I heard about him, but to think there’d be this much difference.” June examined his plate in surprise.
“Where is he when he’s away from the restaurant?” Rory asked, wishing he were here all the time.
“Helping Viscountess Faulkner with her duties, I presume. He is an Electi and her summoned familiar, so I imagine that he has a lot of responsibilities.” The butler smiled and looked up. “Oh, there he is now.”
A chef bolted out of the kitchen, his garments apparently on fire. Quickly dashing out the front door, a few of the customers raced to the windows just in time to see the burning chef drop to the ground and roll. Moments later, the fire had died down.
The chef calmly walked back through the door and acted like nothing had just happened, but scorched marks on his outfit said otherwise. Before re-entering the kitchen, he turned and gave a bow in apology.
“Please don’t mind the disturbance. I just made a little mistake on my flambé. Carry on with your meal.”
The customers slowly went back to their normal routine, seemingly unfazed by the spectacle just moments ago.
Having seen Knight Evers for the first time, Rory and June just looked at each other with skepticism.
“Does that happen… often?” Rory asked.
“That specifically, no. But Sir Evers is known for trying new techniques, which sometimes goes awry. That is the likely the secret of his otherworldly cooking,” the butler responded.
“A fool is only a few steps off from genius, as it is sometimes said,” June added.
“Haha, well if he delivers food like this all the time, then I wouldn’t mind an occasional dinner show.” Rory sat down and continued his meal.
The two of them finished off their meal while staring at the scenery around them. There was not a sad face in sight among the filled tables. The ‘servants’ happily conversed with the ‘masters’ and ‘mistresses’. Those that were finished with their meal left with a jolly glow. Over the short time that they had been hired to work here, this town seemed different than the rest.
“Hey Rory, maybe I should stay here after our contract is up. You know, bring my girl and settle here.” June looked sheepishly at his friend.
“Hmm, I was thinking the same. Just have to find a cute one of my own. Maybe one of the maids here is single? That’d be nice, don’t you think?” Rory joked.
The two of them clinked their wooden mugs as they envisioned their ideal future – a family of their own, a lord they could take pride in, and an occasional guilty pleasure like now.