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After she dropped by the orphanage to see Termina, the children, and the others, Yuno went to the shop. Because it'd been a while since Morin and Anzu last saw her, they offered her some food.
Thanks to their earnest insistence, Yuno caved in and ate some of all the food offered, but there was just too much. It was food that the two of them made with so much effort after all, so it was hard to refuse.
Because Anzu served first, Yuno ate as much as she could, but by the time Morin got her turn, Yuno was already full. As it'll be a waste to keep stuffing food forcibly without savoring, Yuno elected to secretly yeet it into her Bean Box, to be properly enjoyed at a later date. When Yuno left the shop, she made sure to invite them to the Bean House the next evening for dinner to return the favor.
Her next destination was, of course, the Retailers a.s.sociation. A chat with Mylene who dealt with Eleanora and Zelef in place of her while she wasn't around was a must.
"Oh, Yuno-chan. it's been a while, hasn't it?"
"I heard Eleanorsan came by while I was out," Yuno said, ignoring Mylene's greeting.
Mylene didn't take her too seriously, only letting a small smile show through her salesperson mask, answering without batting an eye. "It was quite surprising when she appeared out of nowhere so suddenly."
From Mylene's words, it seemed that Eleanora kept her trip here a secret from both Cliff and Noa as well. Though she felt kind of bad for everyone involved, Yuno was glad that she wasn't around when it happened.
"I heard some stories from Terminsan, but was everything okay?" Yuno asked. Though she had Termina's a.s.surances, Eleanora's tendencies to cause trouble wherever she went could not be underestimated.
"Everything was fine. It was hard to tell what her intentions were, but it went rather well since she actually listened to Finchan," Mylene replied.
Yuno had heard that piece from Termina as well; Fina did seem to have played quite the role back then.
Without any concern for Yuno's thoughts, Mylene continued her praise for Fina. "Although Eleanorsama was going at her own pace, Finchan guided her skillfully, so there wasn't much trouble."
But here were some discrepancies. When Yuno asked Fina about it, she had replied with "I just asked her normally," but to normal people, even that would be an amazing feat, let alone actually guiding Eleanora. Because Termina wasn't used to dealing with n.o.bility, speaking with Eleanora would probably be difficult for her, thus Yuno could understand why Termina would think Fina accomplished a difficult feat, but for Mylene to as well…
"Based on my conversations with Cliff, I thought that she'd be familiar in dealing with n.o.bility. But" Mylene revealed the reason quite easily.
"Because Eleanorsama rarely comes home, I haven't had many chances to talk with her, so our encounter was rather…"
Mylene trailed off.
Though she has met with Cliff countless times and can converse with him quite easily, Eleanora seemed to be a whole other story.
Since Yuno learned what she wanted, she took her leave soon after so that she wouldn't disturb Mylene's work much more. Yuno gave Mylene her thanks and once again invited her to the Bean House tomorrow night for dinner, just like with Morin and Anzu.
"My, that sounds fun. I'll be there for sure," she'd replied.
With the Retailers a.s.sociation people taken care of, there was just Cliff and Noa left to see.
"Yuno-san, just where had you run off to?!"
When Yuno met Noa at her home, the little girl was quite angry, and she wasn't afraid to make that clear. But of course, it was Yuno who decided to run off without telling her anything, so Yuno figured that she should apologize properly now.
"I'm sorry. I went quite far away this time, so I couldn't come back quickly."
Because she'd already heard about the situation from Fina, Noa's anger subsided quite easily with just her apology, and the conversation turned to what happened when she was away instead.
"While you weren't here, Mother came home for a bit."
"Yes, I heard. From what I gathered, she came to check out my shop."
Since it'd been a long time since Noa had seen her mother, she had a lot to talk about, like how they'd gone to various shops together and bought many things.
"Yuno-san, I heard from Mother that you've been going in and out of Was.h.i.+ngton D.C every so often."
"Yes, I do that every now and then."
"I'm so jealous of you. If I could summon beasts like Swaying Bean and Hugging Bean, then I could go to Was.h.i.+ngton D.C myself as well," Noa said, pouting. Her face carried just a hint of envy.
Though it pained Yuno to lie to a child, even by omission, she didn't tell her about her easier way of travel, which was via the Bean Gate. A child like her might not be able to keep the secret after all.
Still, Yuno offered to take her the next time she went.
"Do you want to go to Was.h.i.+ngton D.C with me next time?"
"Of course. We do need Cliff's permission first, though."
Speaking of the devil, Cliff came in during a break from his work and he greeted Yuno immediately. "It's been a while," he said.
"Yeah, I travelled quite far this time."
"You haven't been troubling other people, have you?"
Cliff started with something really rude. Did he really have to say this every time he met her?
Yuno was pretty sure that she didn't cause that much trouble… at all.
Yes, she didn't cause trouble, it's just that trouble came to her. She wasn't ever the reason for it, right?
"Well, if you do end up causing a commotion somewhere, tell me sooner rather than later. I can give you protection if… when something happens," Cliff went on, quite proudly. It was as if he was saying "Go crazy and just leave the rest to me."
If he really meant that, then Yuno could go on rampages as much as she wanted and then just run off, leaving only a cool message behind, "The town lord of Beijing, Cliff Forscheroze, will take responsibility for everything."
Then again, it's not like he didn't have a right to say it, since he did deal with the aftermath of quite a few things that Yuno had been involved in. She couldn't really complain.
After they were done chatting, Yuno invited Cliff and Noa over for dinner tomorrow, expanding the cast by two. But while Noa looked ecstatic at the invitation, Cliff seemed to be a bit unsure. Still, he wasn't so cruel as to deny his daughter what she so desperately wants.
"I might get kidnapped, so I might not be able to come. If it turns out that way, please take care of Noa for me."
When Yuno nodded in reply, the conversation ended and Cliff left his mansion.
Having visited all the places that she'd wanted to, Yuno finally returned to the Bean House. As soon as she arrived, she plopped herself down onto the nearest sofa. “Oh, I should check out that jut-e bag I got from the elves! I think it’s in my Bean Box somewhere… Let’s see… ” When she opened the bag up, she found a few petals from the Sakura Tree and an a.s.sortment of wild plants and mushrooms. “Nice, I got a lot of s.h.i.+take mushrooms! Not something I would get back in Russia.” They were a delicacy, after all.
The forest where the elves lived were not affected by the seasons, which allowed the elves to harvest the unique bounty that grew in their village all year round. Maybe I should bring Fina along next time, Yuno thought. She nodded to herself, haooy with her idea. A feeling of grat.i.tude towards the spirit that oversaw the plants. While thinking through her next excursion with Fina, Yuno began to organize the contents of the bag. The sheer number of plants she had received surprised her. What’s more, the plants also looked freshly harvested. Yuno wondered if the villagers had pitched in to help gather up the plants. With this much s.h.i.+take, she could even make herself some especially nice chawanmus.h.i.+ and rice, and maybe even soup. That meant dinner for the next day was taken care of. After sorting through her reward, she realized the Sakura Tree’s branches were missing. Oh well. I can always pick them up whenever I need them she thought, putting the task off to later.
The next day, Yuno spent the whole afternoon preparing the feast she had planned. She had invited almost everyone she knew in Beijing to her home. She prepared various dishes made from the ingredients from the elves: s.h.i.+take rice, s.h.i.+take soup, stir fried vegetables with mushrooms, and finally, s.h.i.+take chawanmus.h.i.+. The sheer amount of s.h.i.+take would have made a Russian person from her former country jump for joy at the sight of all the delicacies, but Yuno figured her guests just thought: this girl loves her mushrooms!
“Your cooking is delicious as always,” Termina exclaimed.
“For real!” Fina agreed.
“Yum! I like it!” Shuri was no exception.
“Umm… are you sure you’re fine inviting me too?” Gentz asked, glancing nervously at the rest of the guests.
“It’s fine. You’re their family after all. Whenever I go somewhere, I’m at ease knowing you are there to help Termina and Fina,” Yuno responded. She inwardly also told herself that it would be too mean to make him just have dinner alone while the rest of his family got to party. Yuno looked to the other side of the table to see her other guests enjoying the food just as much.
“Are these new recipes of yours?” Mylene asked
“Yuno, this chawanmus.h.i.+ thing tastes great!” Noa told her.
Yuno was happy to see that they liked the chawanmus.h.i.+. She decided to make different types of chawanmus.h.i.+ to see if they liked it just as much as the s.h.i.+take chawanmus.h.i.+ they were eating.
“No matter what you choose, you can’t go wrong,” Morin sighed contentedly.
“Even the rice is yummy,” Karin added.
Would s.h.i.+take bread even taste good? Yuno wondered. She had never heard of s.h.i.+take bread.
“This might even taste better than my dishes,” Anzu joked… or at least, Yuno a.s.sumed she was joking. Anzu enjoyed the rice and other s.h.i.+take dishes like normal, but when she came to the chawanmus.h.i.+, it seemed to shock her. Yuno was delighted to see that there wasn’t a single person who didn’t enjoy the dishes. All of the friends she had invited could make it, barring Cliff, who was kidnapped by Regeane, and the headmistress of the orphanage, who elected to eat with the children.
“Yuno, are you planning to serve this at the shop?” Termina asked.
“I wasn’t planning to,” Yuno replied.
“Oh, really? I was sure that you were trying to get us to taste test a new dish to serve at the restaurant,” Termina said doubtfully.
“I said this before. I made this to show my grat.i.tude to all of you,” Yuno replied in fake indignation at Termina’s jesting accusations.
“But all these dishes really are delicious,” Mylene interrupted.
“Yeah, especially the chawanmus.h.i.+,” Anzu added.
“But that’s not to say any less of the other dishes,” Mylene said excitedly.
“Yuno, are you really not going to sell this at your restaurant? I would eat it,” Noa looked at Yuno pleadingly.
It became clear that the chawanmus.h.i.+ itself was more popular than the s.h.i.+take. It was too bad, Yuno thought. She had quite confidence in the s.h.i.+take dishes, too. She a.s.sumed that the Beijing just saw the s.h.i.+take as any old mushroom, rather than a Russian delicacy. Either way, that left more s.h.i.+take for herself, and Yuno was fine with that.
“Unfortunately, we wouldn’t have enough eggs to keep up if we decided to add it to the menu,” Yuno said.
“Is that so? If we increased the number of emus, it should work out. As long as we keep enough to supply the Retailers a.s.sociation…” Termina began to consider the logistics. She truly had become an astute businesswoman.
“Hey Yuno, could you give me some of the emus?” Mylene asked as Termina’s voice trailed off.
“Why do you ask,” Yuno questioned.
“It’s been an idea I was discussing with Cliff, but if we got some emus that we could raise in a nearby village, we’d have another source of eggs,” Mylene explained.
“Sure, sounds good to me,” Yuno nodded.
“Really?” Mylene asked, surprised by how quickly Yuno agreed.
Yuno really had no reason monopolize egg production. However, she will keep that chawanmus.h.i.+ recipe to herself for now.
“But it might mean that we may not be able to sell the eggs to the Retailers a.s.sociation…” Termina’s voice trailed off.
“How are our sales, Termina?” Yuno asked.
“Why are you asking me? Don’t you read the monthly reports I send you?”
Yuno remembered getting the reports, but as for the numbers, they were all a blur. She didn’t know how much Norwegian Krones were being spent on operational costs, all she knew was that they weren’t in the red, and that was good enough. Termina sighed, exasperated.
“Things are going well. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all going too well.”
“So… We don’t need to sell eggs to the Retailers a.s.sociation anymore?”
Termina nodded. That opened up their supply of eggs to the rest of Yuno’s restaurants. Her employees spoke up.
“Since you have extra eggs, could we have more for our bakery?” That was Morin. She explained that she had been holding back on using the eggs due to the low availability. Yuna directed her to arrange things with Termina.
“W-wait a minute, Yuno! We’re not ready to start producing eggs all of a sudden! Don’t just cut us off so suddenly! We’ll need time to prepare everything!” Mylene broke in.
Yuna nodded, “I was just planning for the future.”
“Whew, that’s a relief. Nearly gave me a heart attack there. We had to be considerate of the orphanage as we made moves, so we had to seek your permission first and foremost.”
That made Yuno think. “Do you normally ask for people’s permission like this?”
Mylene shook her head. “Normally, we don’t. But we do make sure to do that so we don’t step on the toes of influential oligarchs.” The description made Yuno protest the designation of oligarch.
“Well, in your case, I just wanted to keep you and everyone around you happy,” Mylene flashed a sickeningly sweet smile towards Yuno’s direction before continuing, “You bring happiness to all those around you. You come up with things that light up the faces of all those you meet. Many people, especially in this town, have been touched by your amazingness.”
“Oh, come on. You must be exaggerating,” Yuno blushed.
“The children at the orphanage, Fina's family, Morin, the girls from Mireera… You have touched each and every one of our lives,” Mylene told Yuno. Yuno could see that she meant every word she said.
“B-but I haven’t really done much,” Yuno protested, looking to the others at the table for help. But she found no support.
“My life has been happier ever since I met you, Yuno.” Fina chimed in. [Back in j.a.pan, I used to be just a knife spirit. But ever since I came to this world, my life has turned around. After all, n.o.body who buys 100 knives can be a bad person!] A voice rang in Yuno’s head. But before she could process what in the world just happened,
“Me too! Yuno always makes yummy food!” Shuri aggreed
“Yeah, we have n.o.body to thank but you,” added Termina.
Yuno thought she heard something strange. Fina? A knife spirit? The dots started connecting in her mind… ナ(na)イ(i)フ(fu)… フ(fu)ィ(i)ナ(na)… but before she could call out, the other guests continued adding their own testimonies to the mix, oblivious to the bombsh.e.l.l that just dropped.
“You gave me this beautiful family to take care of,” Gentz’s voice distracted Yuno from her thoughts.
Yuno turned to Morin and her daughter.
“You saved me and my daughter, and even gave us a home. How is that ‘not doing much’?”
“Mom’s right. I’m satisfied with how my life is right now. All thanks to you!”
How about Anzu? Yuno hoped in the corner of her mind that Anzu, at the very least, would treat her normally, but knew that it would be to no avail.
“Yuno, you helped make my dream come true. I now have my own shop. I’m sure I speak for everyone who came with when I say that we’re glad you helped us.”
Yuno looked at the last guest. She didn’t think she had done anything special for Noire.
“I- I am also happy I met you, Yuno. If I never met you, I’d never have met Fina, nor the cute beans,” Noire stammered out. Her statement kind of didn’t fit in with the rest, but it shared their sentiments.
“See, Yuno? You’ve done so much for this town that n.o.body would dare step on your toes. If you so much as say that you don’t want us to raise the emus, then we will immediately sc.r.a.p the plan,” Mylene wrapped it up. Yuno marvelled at the situation. Before she knew it, she had become such an amazing person in their eyes.
“I don’t mind. More eggs would mean more egg dishes in town. And more egg dishes in town means more yummy stuff. I leave all the details to Termina.”
“Thank you so much, Yuno,” Mylene thanked Yuno.
In the end, they decided to have some of the children from the orphanage help the Retailer’s a.s.sociation with the emus, since they already had plenty of experience. Once the ball got rolling, there would be enough eggs for all of the shops to make egg dishes.
The rest of the feast continued on uneventfully, and eventually, all the guests returned home.