|Author: Sasaki Ichiro||Original Source: Syosetu|
|Translator: Mado||English Source: MadoSpicy TL|
The ramen shop ‘Tonkotsu the Great’, is located at the corner of the castle town in the Scarlet Jade castle, which was a hidden well-established store for those who are in the know. (Originally, it was an area that could contain various kinds of automatic stalls operated by NPCs. The maximum number of buildings was up to 50, but now the scale has obviously expanded. Currently, the number exceeded two thousand, including ‘Tonkotsu the Great’)
In the front of the narrow store where there was only a counter stool, there was always a long line of customers waiting. The tonkotsu soup had a uniquely strong smell that filled up the store before spilling outside, making the customers who visit it raise their expectations unconsciously.
With the store being so popular, one would think they should have expanded into a bigger establishment, but the owner of this shop, the Orc King, is stubbornly determined to make a day’s portion of ramen by himself with his own hands. Therefore the capacity of this shop became limited, but with the taste of his ramen, the people would never disagree.
Then, on a certain day, a small customer sat on the counter opposite of the stockpot, impatiently ordering a tonkotsu ramen. The shopkeeper heard the customer’s voice and felt that it seemed familiar to him, which puzzled him.
The customer’s appearance was covered in a black robe from top to bottom, around 140 centimeters in height, with the physique of a common hobbit or elf, and wore a devil mask to hide their face (residents dressing like this are very common for this country). Their true appearance is unknown but judging by their voice, it probably belonged to a girl or a kid, possibly both.
Despite this being the first time meeting this strange customer, he couldn’t shake off the feeling that he had met her somewhere.
He felt like he had a human bone stuck in his throat, the shopkeeper couldn’t stop trying to remember where he had met her before. Even so, he had a job to do, so he quickly brought the dish and placed it down on the counter in front of his customer.
“Here you go, a regular serving of tonkotsu ramen, sorry for the wait.”
“Uwooh, amazing! This is the normal serving!?”
What she saw before her eyes was a ramen bowl the size of a washbowl (Although, from the shopkeeper’s perspective, who is nearly 4 meters in height, it’s a small dish at best). On the opposite side of the surprised customer, the shopkeeper casually starts a conversation as he wipes his hands using his apron.
“Is this your first time here, little Missy? If that’s the case, the smaller half portion would suit you better.”
The shopkeeper leaned over the counter as he spoke. No matter how you look at it, his face is that of a brutal warthog, which should have made his small customer fall off the stool out of fear. However, she doesn’t seem to be affected and merely adjusts her posture and nods repeatedly.
“Y–yes, I heard from someone that there was a ramen store that sold delicious tonkotsu ramen around, so I asked them to tell me about it. I immediately recognized it when I was in the long line in front of your store.”
Seems like he was correct to call her ‘miss’. She grips her chopsticks while saying ‘Let’s eat’, showing her intentions to begin eating.
“Hou, you’re quite lucky. This shop is located in the back streets of this town, the guy who told you about it must’ve been a regular or part of the authorities.”
“Is that so? Still, I’m going to try and eat as much of this as I can. slurp…!? Amazing! This is so delicious! It’s my first time ever eating a tonkotsu ramen this delicious!!”
Watching her eat mouthful after mouthful and giving such high praise, the shopkeeper couldn’t help but grin.
“I told you! The soup here is special, one of a kind.”
As the shopkeeper proudly boasted of his product, he noticed the absence of a glass of water placed in front of the small customer. His face immediately changes into a scowl as he angrily shouts at his high orc assistant.
“You idiot! Aren’t you supposed to bring water for the customer!? If you keep acting this slowly, you’ll be going into the soup next!”
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At that moment, the little girl who was happily gulping down the soup with her spoon began coughing violently.
“Do-don’t tell me…this soup is…”
“Hmm? Oh, that’s not true of course. About my assistant going into the soup, I meant more like they had to manage the soup.”
“Is–is that so. That was so surprising.”
She sighs in relief and resumes sipping the soup.
“…Well, in the first place with my magical power I could summon an endless amount of ordinary orcs for the ingredients anyway.”
For the second time, the little girl coughed violently.
“Well, even though I said that it doesn’t mean I put the orcs into my soup! So rest assured, I used them normally to harvest horned boars for their bones and bodies.”
He gave her a worried look.
“Aah, well, sorry. You’re right, there’s no way a tonkotsu ramen could use something other than the pork belly and bones, right?
While the girl nodded in agreement, the shop assistant brought her a glass of water and she proceeded to drink it, making her calm down, then she resumed her meal again.
“Obviously, jeez. The ingredients I use are the same as the other shops. In short, it’s the chef’s hand, their skill which gives such flavor to my tonkotsu ramen.”
“Yes yes. I understand.”
“Strangely, my competitors believe the secret to the deliciousness of my ramen is due to the orc king’s body. Basically, they believe I bathe in the water I use for the soup. I don’t even know what they ate to come to that conclu—”
“They’re just rumors! You’re really a person who can’t calm down, huh. From here on out try not to live like that. Lady Hiyuki has revived so there will be battles awaiting us soon.”
“…Re-really? Are you absolutely sure about that?”
“Of course I am. Anywhere Lady Hiyuki went there was always a battle filled with blood and carnage. ―Hmm? By any chance, have you still not met her?”
“Ah! Yes, I’ve never met her directly…”
“Ha! No wonder. Even now, I still remember it.. long ago I was the king of a mountain and ruled over a dull forest. On that day, I was completely beaten by Lady Hiyuki and had to swear my absolute loyalty to her.”
“Aah. Come to think of it, were you the field boss in Wyss forest?”
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“Oh, you knew? After that I wandered around every part of the world with Lady Hiyuki, battling with warriors of various places. This fist of mine was never dry of blood from combat.
“Uhhhh, I guess you reap what you sow… still, why did you become a tonkotsu ramen shopkeeper? With the kind of strength you had originally as a field boss, you could easily become something like one of the 13 Demon Generals, couldn’t you?
“Demon general? ―Hah! That’s just a title to show off. If that’s the case, picking up the tonkotsu soup scum is far better if I have the free time for it. And besides, there are plenty of guys as strong as me in this neighborhood, maybe one in four?”
“R-roughly…one in four… Tha-that’s right, you were a field boss after all. However, I wonder why everyone so eagerly raised their level to 99…”
“Of course, everyone decided to do it for the sake of Lad Hiyuki! Missy too has to work hard to be helpful for Lady Hiyuki!”
“―Ye-yeah, I think…I will work hard to ensure the safety of Lady Hiyuki!”
“That’s the spirit!”
While conversing, the contents of the bowl soon emptied out.
“Thanks for the food. I thought I wouldn’t be able to eat all of that, but it was delicious and I was able to have it go down smoothly. How much do I pay for it?”
“Ou, a tonkotsu ramen normal portion is 8 big copper coins.”
“One…two…then, exactly 8 big copper coins. I’ll leave it here.”
“Thank you very much! ―Come again, missy!”
“Yes. I will do so. Well then, see you again Gaijin.”
The girl parted with those words and left the store.
The shopkeeper began to ignore things about her, but her last words turned his whole body numb.
‘Gaijin’.. even regulars and employees don’t know about that. The precious thing which that person gave to him, everything that he takes pride in. Something that he closed off so that no one would be able to call him by that except for that person. But in the same voice from that day, in the same tone from that day, he remembers it.
“…Do-don’t tell me…”
While searching for her retreating figure that had already vanished into the crowd, Gaijin froze like a statue.
“Master! One order coming up!”
Gaijin suddenly came back to his senses by the voice of his assistant. He grips the copper coins left over on the table like they were a treasured heirloom.
“Ou, I hear you.”
After Gaijin made a big slow nod, he boiled the noodles and stirred the soup in a good mood that never had before.
By the way, the time period of this story was when Hiyuki was returning from Joey’s room. Right afterward she wanted tonkotsu ramen so much that she warped into the castle and went into a ramen shop wearing a mask and then came back again. (Earlier, it wasn’t possible to use warp magic outside the castle since the destination was unknown, so by marking a specific spot in the world the warp can be done)
Then about the orc king, he was an intermediate-level unique field boss.
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The event occurred by receiving a quest. The orc king was always accompanied by his followers. Furthermore, at certain intervals, he re-summoned his followers making him a hassle to fight.
When the orc king became a pet, he could only summon 3 followers at a time, but in this world, things like that aren’t valid anymore.