The new bizarre life together with Kunette was unexpectedly ordinary. Kunette was a quiet child. Or was she a cub? She never spoke or showed any expression. But strangely, she didn’t have a problem with following Isaac around. In fact, she was always following Isaac.
When Mazelan came down to check on how they were doing, he fell head over heels for Kunette’s cuteness and tried to give her a hug. She immediately retaliated with a single swipe from her paws, breaking one of Mazelan’s ribs. Other than that small incident, there was no change to Isaac’s life.
“Phew! Now that’s a catch.”
Isaac finally understood the feelings of a fisherman as he pulled out an arm-sized fish after 10 minutes of struggle. It was a fish he’d never seen before. Then again, he wasn’t familiar with any kind of fish since the only fish he’d ever seen were on a plate in a sushi restaurant.
“Do you want some?”
Isaac asked Kunette who was squatting next to him, watching the ocean’s tides ebb and flow. After a single glimpse at the fish, she turned away and shook her head. Isaac was bothered at first by Kunette’s silent yet constant trailing, but soon got over it since he didn’t care much about being social either.
Isaac took out a knife and began cutting the fish for sashimi. He chopped its head off, cut its stomach to remove its organ and finished the process by removing its tail and scales.
“You’re not cooking it?”
“A fresh catch tastes best when you eat it raw.”
The cut was amateur at best and thicker than it should have been, but none of it mattered as it tasted irresistible. It must have been the result of this clean environment which was untouched by pollution, unlike the world in his former life.
It was a shame there wasn’t any sashimi sauce or soju to go along with it, but he was still satisfied with the tender and delicious sashimi that melted in his mouth.
It seemed Isaac was too convincing with the way he was eating. Kunette placed her adorable front paws on Isaac’s knees.
“You want some?”
“Then say ahh.”
Watching her open that small mouth of hers, Isaac placed a piece of sashimi in Kunette’s mouth.
‘I feel like I’m working in a zoo now.’
While Isaac made some pointless thoughts to himself, Kunette took a few bites then spat out the rest of the fish from her mouth.
“Ew. Isaac lied…. Bad.”
“Tsk tsk, it’s a taste only grown-ups can understand.”
“Ahhh! My fishing rod! That was my only one!”
Kunette stomped her way back as Isaac’s cry echoed behind her.
Isaac had realised that Kunette hated to be treated like a child or be told she’s adorable. He considered ignoring that fact at first, but there was no benefit to annoying someone from the College.
When it was so obvious that Kunette’s popularity would soar due to her cuteness in the Campus, Isaac’s friendly relationship with the girls in the Campus would end abruptly if Kunette openly stood against him. He needed to find a way to appease her.
“What are you making?”
“Some cookies to have as snacks.”
“Yeah. Have you eaten them before?”
“Cookies tasty. I want to help.”
“Then can you knead the dough for me?”
Isaac believed the dough tasted best when it’s hand-kneaded, but that was impossible with a bear’s paws. Her furs would end up making up half the content of the dough itself, making it inedible. So he threw a wooden spoon along with the bowl of flour, and Kunette sat down on the floor and began mixing the dough with all her strength.
Kunette was no expert and much of the contents in the dough splashed all over the kitchen. Only half of what Isaac had given remained, but Isaac couldn’t say no to Kunette’s eyes sparkling with an expectation of praise.
“Well done… Thanks.”
Embarrassed, Kunette ran out of the kitchen. Isaac contemplated on what to do with what was just a clump of flour, but then decided to go ahead anyway. It wasn’t like he knew how to bake cookies properly anyway. He’s just acting like he knows what he’s doing by remembering what Eliza did when he watched her cook.
“Let’s see. Would 5 minutes be enough?”
It felt like he was skipping a step, but whatever. After shaping and arranging the dough in order, he placed them in the oven and turned the clock.
As the dough began to rise, it began to release delicious fragrance in the air. The problem was that it only smelled good.
“Tastes like flour.”
The cookie was rock hard on the outside, dry on the inside. The perfect failure. As Isaac wondered on what to do, Kunette appeared next to him with her adorable eyes once again, this time asking for the cookies. It was obvious she would get mad if she tasted this.
“It’s expensive but I guess I have no choice.”
Sweets were not common in this world, as sugar didn’t seem to exist yet. Fruit jams did exist, but the glucose content in the jam was lacking with the absence of sugar, making it quite bland for Isaac’s taste.
After shuffling through the cabinet, he took out a pot the size of his hand. After opening the pot he dipped his finger and licked it. The taste was acceptable.
“I, is that honey?”
This was the first time Kunette stuttered. Her eyes were fixated on the pot of honey Isaac was holding.
‘Bears do like honey, don’t they?’
His thoughts drifted to Winnie the Pooh as he spoke.
“Do you want it?”
Kunette nodded with such enthusiasm that Isaac had never seen before. It was true that honey wasn’t especially rare, but it was no common food either.
Honey as a whole was a luxury and its main use was as an ingredient for desserts, so the market was too small to meet the demand of the Empire as a whole. This drove its price up, making it accessible to all but too expensive to eat to one’s heart’s content.
The only reason Isaac had some in hand was thanks to his business. There was a girl obsessed with honey. Her family ran a beekeeping business. Sadly, she could never get any while she stayed in the Campus, which drove her mad. Isaac was like a saving grace to her.
She couldn’t last a month with the amount of honey she was allowed to bring in with her. But if she brought the honey through Isaac and stored it, she could have it whenever she wanted. Since honey was quite popular amongst other students as well, Isaac received some of that honey as payment from her which he sold to other students.
“It seems like I didn’t even need to make cookies.”
Isaac quietly disposed of the cookies as he watched Kunette devour the pot of honey. He was relieved to find a way to appease and if need be, tempt Kunette for future reference.
The second guest came at night time as the holidays’ end drew near. She was from the Elven Reservation, which is at the southern part of the continent. Her family was called the Mist Family, which was held in high regard amongst many other renowned elven families. As expected of an elf, she was a beautiful maiden. Her figure was like that of a statue, with a slim figure and well-endowed breasts.
“Hello, Sunbaenim! My name’s Reisha! Ah! Kunette!”
TL Note: “Sunbaenim” is a formal way of referring to an individual, typically older. You might think of it as the Korean equivalent of the English word “upperclassmen.” In this context, “sunbaenim” has a similar meaning to the Japanese “senpai.”
It seemed the two of them were well acquainted with each other. Reisha approached Kunette, picked her up, and began to spin around with her while Kunette roared as she struggled with her stubby arms and legs.
“How did you get here?”
Isaac never saw a ship approaching. Other than the scheduled supply ship, there was no way to get to the Campus. That’s why he was confused to see her here.
“I’m hungry. What’s for dinner tonight?”
After playing with Kunette to her satisfaction, Reisha placed Kunette back on the ground, only to start running away from Kunette as she began to charge toward Reisha. She asked the question while she was on the run.
“I was thinking of having some bulgogi but…”
TL Note: Bulgogi is Korean marinated beef, which can be eaten with various other foods.
“Ah! Sounds delicious!”
“Are elves allowed to eat meat in this world?”
Common knowledge about elves was that they are vegetarian. But watching Reisha drool from the corner of her mouth with an expression like that seemed to tell Isaac the elves in this world were different. What does it matter? Even Kunette calmed down after hearing the word meat.
Isaac began to cook the meat as he ignored Reisha and Kunette’s constant nagging. Like baby birds, they constantly chirped at Isaac hurry with his cooking.
Since there was no way to get soy sauce in this world, he just made the marinade with salty water, a spice called Shapran, onions, carrots, and other vegetables. He finished it off with plenty of honey and placed the beef in the marinade.
Despite Isaac’s lack of experience, the beef that had been marinated since morning had absorbed much of the flavour, and the moment it was placed on the frying pan, an enticing aroma began to make its way through the kitchen.
“Wow! I’ve never smelled this before! Mmm! Smells delicious! Give it now!”
“… Me too.”
“Here, let’s eat!”
It was a good thing Isaac over-prepared to account for Kunette’s voracious appetite, which was befitting of a bear. Throughout the entirety of their dinner, Isaac made as much conversation with Reisha as he could, hoping to learn more about her as a person.
She had originally arrived much earlier than Kunette, but only just arrived because she spent all her time playing around in the neighbouring regions. When Isaac asked how she got here without a ship, Reisha showed him her control over the water spirit.
Isaac was baffled at the fact she surfed all the way through the sea using a small plank of wood as a surfboard. Even Reisha admitted that she would never have attempted it if Gabelin wasn’t that close to the Campus, but still added that it was fun.
“Wait. But there wasn’t a single ship that stopped you?”
Isaac quickly noticed something was wrong and cut her off mid-sentence. The Campus is one of the most important facilities in the Empire. The Navy regularly patrolled its borders, preventing any ship that wasn’t a supply ship from entering it.
No matter how small and bizarre Reisha’s maneuvering was, it was bound to be scouted out by the Navy’s watch. Even if she’s a student of the College, entering the premises without permission was not acceptable behaviour.
That would mean there were two possible ways she managed to get to the Campus, and both had devastating consequences. One was that Reisha managed to find a hole in the Navy’s surveillance and infiltrated her way in, while the other was that the Navy was negligent with their duty. As a man who was experienced with the ways of the military, Isaac found the latter to be more convincing.
This was bound to happen when one repeats tasks in peaceful times. They would depart late, take some time off without arriving at the destination or find other ways to slack off. Whichever it was, it was more than enough for the Empire’s Navy to turn upside down.