I didn’t want to die. Who would want to? Having already experienced death once, I found myself tangled with lingering attachments and unfulfilled ambitions within this world. Due to the alluring languor of life on this island, the notion of living being tiresome or lacking amusement never once crossed my thoughts.
However, this was truly excessive. How could such a trivial quest’s failure result in death?
For what felt like an eternity, I remained frozen, resembling a statue carved from stone. Eventually, Radkiel’s lips quivered, and he finally called out to me. Gazing at his expression, filled with concern and trepidation, I felt an inexplicable warmth brimming inside me.
“As expected, it would have been preferable if it was a romance comedy novel.”
“Pardon? A romance comedy novel?”
“If not, a childcare story that started at an early age…”
Although Radkiel blinked in utter incomprehension, my comments leaned closer to a lament, leaving me unable to offer any clarification. I put my face on my palms, attempting to maintain an air of composure and collectedness as I posed a question.
“Must it be revenge…?”
Only a few days ago, I had advised him to return home to seek revenge for his mother. I thought that revenge had been the central theme of the novel itself. However, unless I wished to become more than a fleeting background character, I could not heedlessly told him to do so. Getting entangled in a curse would only lead to complications.
As Radkiel’s words resurfaced in my mind, it occurred to me that I, too, possessed a power akin to that of the female lead. Nevertheless, I lacked the capability to break curses. Of course, I could probably get help from the female lead, but in the novel, scenes where the curse was broken was often depicted as happening in bed or with the female lead constantly by his side like a beloved doll. Even if it was for the sake of treatment, I felt like I would become jealous and angry if Radkiel and her ended up in that kind of relationship.
“Jealous? To whom are you referring?”
“Ah! I told you to close your eyes!”
“Even if I were to close them now, I believe I’ve already seen everything…”
Even as he uttered these words, his attempt to comply by closing his eyes and hiding them with his palms almost brought a smile to my face. Why was he making such a fuss?
Suddenly, a memory from the past surfaced in my thoughts.
“Yuri, if you can’t avoid it, then you should enjoy it!”
“What do you mean? Enjoying something you can’t avoid?”
“No, sis. It’s just a saying…”
My brother and sister were often engaged in verbal sparring, and I couldn’t quite recall the context of this particular exchange. Naturally, it was just a playful banter, not a serious fight. However, my present circumstances bore a striking resemblance to that situation.
Indeed, if I can’t get out of the situation, then perhaps embracing the situation and persevering through it might be the better course of action. Admittedly, I felt an unexpected sense of indignation and frustration at my current predicament, but airing my grievances wouldn’t change the reality.
I am unwilling to die. If I can, I would like to cancel the quest. Fortunately, I am aware of the conditions for clearing it. At present, that knowledge alone was sufficient.
Running my fingers through my hair, I found myself clearing the chaotic labyrinth of my mind.
“Okay, Rael. We can talk about revenge later, and it’s fine if you continue staying on the island. I just need to clarify something. Did you say it’s limited to once a day?”
“Hmm? Ah, yes, it’s clearly written as once a day.”
He cautiously removed his hand, opened his eyes, and nodded. I lowered my arm slowly and began counting the dates. So, staying together for a year could mean until the return of spring on the 8th day, or even until the end of winter on the 30th day.
If it’s the 8th day of spring, there’s still some time, but if it’s until the 30th day of winter…
“Now is not the time for that. You should clarify the criteria for the gifts and positive interactions.”
“Yes, and from today, that will be a part of our routine.”
“Rael, as you’ve seen, I’ve never skipped a day taking care of animals or watering the fields. Just like that, I won’t miss receiving gifts or positive interactions.”
“Ah, I understand.”
I didn’t need to explain the reasons; he probably knew. It was time for action rather than words. When I stood up from the chair and gestured, Rael clumsily got off his seat and stood up.
For more than half a day, he had been using a wheelchair, so seeing him walk confidently was almost unimaginable. His familiarity with his own body was the best, so I merely observed as he moved his limbs and asked, “Do you feel alright?”
“Yes. My head isn’t dizzy, my stomach is fine, my knees and back aren’t aching, and my vision isn’t blurry!”
Was it really that bad? He always pretended to be okay, and there was no hospital here. Well, his special trait was gone now, so there shouldn’t be any problem in the future.
As I walked to the living room, Rael followed me immediately. And when I naturally headed to the kitchen, he excitedly spoke up, “I’ve had shaky hands before, so I thought I might be a hindrance instead of help. But from now on, I want to cook with you.”
“Ah, your hands were shaking…”
“Right now, I’m truly fine. I’ve caused you trouble and I might continue to do so in the future, so please let me help with anything.”
It’s not like he caused trouble or needed to phrase it as causing trouble. If anything, I would be the one in trouble if he decided to leave. Thinking about it made my chest tighten, and I nodded quickly.
“If you want to, then please do. But if it’s bothersome or not fun, you don’t have to do it. If you like it, say you like it. If you dislike it, say you dislike it.”
“Then I’ll fetch the recipe book. Choose something you’d like to eat from there and let’s try making it.”
Now that he’s not sick, we can try making a variety of dishes. Although Rael always enjoyed whatever I made, I thought it would be nice for him to choose a menu for once.
I brought the recipe book I had placed on the workshop shelf and put it on the counter. He walked over with enthusiasm. When I moved aside, he cautiously turned the pages, his expression very serious.
The sound of paper brushing against paper filled the air. I thought today we should cook without using modern gadgets like an induction cooker today. Perhaps, if he finds it enjoyable, cooking could become a healthy hobby for him.
After flipping through the pages for a while, he called me.
“Yuri, I want to try making this.”
“What… Ah, Ratatouille?”
“Ratatouille? It’s written as Ratatouille Niçoise1Spelling difference in the raw, I don’t know how to convey it in English, hence, I use the other name. here, is it different?”
“No, it’s the same. Do you want to eat that?”
“I’m curious about the taste and it seems easy to make. It says to cut the vegetables, saute and layer them. It feels like something I can do. Also, the illustration here is very beautiful.”
Certainly, it looks good and seems easy to make. There’s no meat, but it’s similar to a pizza without the crust, so it’s not bad.
“Then let’s go with this. But Rael, do you know how to handle a knife? I’m asking just in case, it’s more like slicing cooking ingredients than slaying people…”
“Um, I haven’t learned swordsmanship properly. As you know, I pretended to be obedient, so… I practiced with Cayen and Kellain, but I’m not actually familiar with handling swords.”
“Ah, I see. It’s fine. Just be careful and slice like this.”
I was someone who found showing easier than explaining. After washing my hands, I took the eggplant out of the refrigerator and placed it on the cutting board. Then, for the first time in a while, I held a kitchen knife and brought it down.
“Like this, tap!”
Swoosh. The knife struck down and cut both the eggplant and the cutting board. Rael flinched, and I stopped abruptly.
The cutting board, me, the cutting board again, me again. Rael looked at me and the cutting board in turn, then asked gently.
“Um, can the wooden board underneath the eggplant be eaten too?”
“…I will try preparing the vegetables.”
I belatedly realized that I had only cooked when I first arrived on the island. It was embarrassing to have confidently claimed to be good at cooking, but Rael didn’t say anything in particular. I handed him an apron after he washed his hands and could only offer advice on how to cut the ingredients. Rael was much more skilled than me, and he seemed to be enjoying himself a lot.
It was too complicated to make tomato sauce from scratch, so I used the one I had made before. After sprinkling the cheese on top, I put it in the oven. As the dish finished, two system windows appeared simultaneously.
[ ‘Rael’ has created ‘Simple yet Rich Ratatouille (★★)’. ]
[ You’ve had a pleasant time with ‘Rael’. ]
Almost simultaneously, Rael and I looked into the air. When our eyes met in the air, he spoke first.
“Yuri, it says I made a dish. And that I had a pleasant time with you…”
“Yes, I got the same message. Um, just a moment. Let me check.”
The fastest thing to make during cooking was, of course, a beverage. I took out sparkling water and lemon syrup from the refrigerator, mixed them in the right proportions in a glass, and the content of the window changed.
[ ‘Yuri’ has created ‘Tangy-Sweet Lemonade (★★★)’. ]
“Did you see anything just now?”
“Yes. This time it says that Yuri made a beverage.”
“Oh, of course. Until now, it seemed like only I could see it, but now it looks like we can share it with each other.”
“Yes. And it seems the ‘positive interaction’ that Rael mentioned is what’s indicated by ‘having a pleasant time’.”
I don’t know how this island operates or what secrets it holds, but other than that, I didn’t lack knowledge. Since Rael’s arrival, it was clear enough to understand what had changed.
Read ahead here.
- 1Spelling difference in the raw, I don’t know how to convey it in English, hence, I use the other name.