When the two hands of the clock had passed the summit, and the students were catching their breath after finishing their afternoon exams, the students gathered at the point designated by the examiner to give their report.
Everyone’s shoulders heaved up and down as they tried to catch their breath, their gait unsteady like the living dead.
Raybeasts had rained from the sky, and C Rank raybeasts ran rampant throughout the area.
But not only did they have to stay vigilant for any raybeasts, they also had to keep an eye out for their fellow humans.
That whittled away at their mind and body, sapping them of their strength.
Even 1 – D with the resistance that they built up yesterday could not come out unscathed.
In fact, they appeared much more mentally fatigued than the second years, who were experiencing Shinichi’s exam for the first time.
“Uu, aa, ku… Huh, what, is, that?”
“Shut up. Don’t talk to me… Isn’t that exactly how it looks?”
The students were so tired that they didn’t even want to talk to each other anymore, but the sight before them drew their attention.
But what drew their attention wasn’t the examiner and his assistant’s antics, but that giant object beside Shinichi.
“That’s a pot, right?” A student asked.
“Is this a soup kitchen?” Another student said.
“I don’t think you’d see something like that even in those places. I’m pretty sure I’ve only seen a pot that big in some special events,” a third student pointed out.
The message they were sent told them to gather here. It also mentioned that they didn’t need to look for food since it would be prepared for them.
As realization dawned upon them upon seeing that giant black pot, a different kind of shock appeared on their faces, albeit it claimed only half of their face.
“…So that’s what he meant by that. Your master’s way of doing things is so messed up I can’t keep up at all,” Ryou said.
“Kyu kyu kyu,” the fox said.
‘But of course,’ is what the fox seemed to say, seemingly proud of her master for some reason.
With a height of over 2 meters and a diameter of about 6 meters, the black pot radiated a bizarre presence.
The contents of the pot could not be seen from the ground, but it was easy to guess from the aromatic steam wafting from it.
It was a strange sight either way given that this colossal pot was right in the middle of this vast space of nature.
“Haa haa haa, is this normally something you’d make a tired person do!? I-I can’t believe I was so stupid to actually sympathize with you, you demon!” Tomoe said.
“Ahaha, but you managed to do it properly, though, no?” Shinichi said.
“Yeah, that’s right! I did it exactly as you asked!!” Tomoe said.
Tomoe stood on a protruding boulder and mixed the contents of the giant pot from above. She complained at Shinichi below her, but the latter didn’t care.
Seeing her like that was enough for the students to realize her plight.
‘Ahh, this girl is also a slave’, they thought.
“E-Examiner. As you’ve ordered, 1 – D has gathered. All students are present. These are all the crystals we’ve gathered, totaling 92 crystals all in all. Please confirm them…” Said the representative of 1 – D.
“Haa haa, 2 – D is present too. Do you mind if we submit the crystals by team?” Said the representative of 2 – D.
“2 – C too… Haa, ahh… Umm… Uh… GU… T-There’s a lot, of things, I have, in mind, but… Can, can we, eat that?” The representative of 2 – C asked.
The various class representatives gave their reports, and then as though representing everyone’s feelings, one of them asked that question while pointing at the pot.
After exhausting themselves so much, the aromatic smell coming from the giant black pot was so stimulating that they couldn’t be bothered to care where it even came from in the first place.
The student’s hunger was written so obviously on his face that Shinichi couldn’t help himself but wryly smile.
“Of course. We’ll distribute the food to everyone, so for the mean time, line yourselves up by class. So, assistants, do take care of the two classes, okay?”
“You’re still going to make us work!? Ah, fine! If that’s how it’s going to be, then I’ll see this job until the very end!” Tomoe said.
“GU, I-I’m, an, assistant. Yeah, that’s right! I’m an assistant that just listens to orders, so it can’t be helped.”
Already, they were being ordered around to do even minor jobs that had nothing do with the exam, and yet Tomoe and Ryou still carried the orders out.
“We have enough for everyone. I haven’t tasted it yet, though, so I can’t guarantee the taste,” Shinichi said.
“How can you say that after asking me to cook!? It’s good enough to eat, you know! Of course, we’re in the middle of a place like this, so don’t set your expectations too high!” Tomoe said.
“…If you’ve gotten your bowl, then hurry up and move on. Sigh… Why do I have to do something like this?” Ryou said.
The examiner and the two assistants distributed the food from the pot to the wooden bowls, and yes, the wooden bowls are another matter that begged the question of ‘where they came from’, but no one could be bothered with that right now.
That aside, apparently, Shinichi had foreseen that it would be difficult to get food directly from the pot, so he’s already prepared a standard-sized pot to get food from.
The food Tomoe prepared was a hodgepodge that used the ingredients that could be found in this area.
They all looked nothing like the crops that could be found on Earth, be it in shape or color, but they were all edible.
That hodgepodge gave rise to an appetizing aroma and radiance.
“I gotta say though, you sure did an amazing job making everything go together despite me picking everything randomly,” Shinichi said.
“Oh, yes! Our team really didn’t give a rat’s ass about the person cooking!” Tomoe said.
Not only did she had to cook everything on her own, she also had to figure out how to make it all work together.
Perhaps it was because of that that Tomoe looked really pissed.
Of course, Shinichi did have an excuse. The sort of excuse that one could expect from him, anyway.
“Don’t be unreasonable. I have no talent when it comes to cooking or any domestic chore, I’ll have you know. I do have a talent for making everything go bad, though, if that’s what you’re looking for,” Shinichi said.
“…That’s not really something you should be saying so happily. In the first place, should you really even be saying that when you made bowls and cups using a skill knife?” Tomoe said.
“Hey, did you make all of these by hand!? That’s gone way past the level of just being skillful,” Ryou said.
“That’s easy as long as I imagine I’m cutting some enemies. Ah, but I did use skills to sterilize and dry those, don’t worry,” Shinichi said.
No one’s asking.
The two childhood friends complained as they distributed the food, but Shinichi just laughed.
Actually, he really was bad at chores.
Cutting, frying, boiling… If it were just something on that level, then he could still
But even then, at most, he could just make the ingredients into something that can be eaten, and there’s no guarantee whatsoever regarding the taste.
Naturally, he didn’t want to cook something so half-hearted for these students who’ve been doing their best.
“If this guy weren’t the examiner, I would’ve knocked him out already, seriously.”
She didn’t say it out loud, so it looked like she was joking, but Tomoe was seriously starting to wonder if the Shinichi under her was really the same Shinichi that was apologizing to her a while ago.
“In the first place – the types of ingredients you picked aside – based off the condition and amount you were able to gather, you’re clearly not a beginner! So why would you ask someone who’s so tired to cook everything?” Tomoe said.
“Because you said you could?” Shinichi said.
“Uh, that’s… That’s because you swindled me!” Tomoe said.
“Unfortunately, if it doesn’t involve money, then you haven’t been swindled,” Shinichi pointed out.
When she says one thing, he says another.
If one were to give a quick summary of how she ended up cooking…
After accepting Shinichi’s apology, she used a recovery skill to help her recover her strength, but it wasn’t enough to support her running for an extended duration.
She could move if she had to, but she was still so tired to the point that just standing made her listless.
It was then that Shinichi nonchalantly asked this.
‘Can you cook?’
Perhaps because he asked that question so suddenly after she’d just caught her breath that she failed to realize his intentions quick enough, and then Shinichi just had to pour oil into the flames.
‘Ah, my bad. Of course, you can’t. What was I thinking?’
‘W-What was that!? Of course, I can cook!’
When it seemed as though it was a matter-of-fact that she couldn’t cook, Tomoe couldn’t help but retort.
‘Alright, in that case, I’ll leave the cooking to you, and I’ll go gather the ingredients.’
‘Sure, just leave it to me— Wait, what!?’
If you want to call it cliché, well, it is.
Like taking candy from a baby, Tomoe was baited just like that.
And, unable to take back her words, she found herself stuck with the job of cooking the ridiculous number of ingredients despite her exhausted condition.
“There’s a limit to how much you can drive your workers, you know,” Tomoe said.
“I agree, but I don’t think you have the right to say that,” Ryou said.
“What do you want to say, Ryou?” Tomoe asked.
“…Why don’t you listen to your heart, you bully,” Ryou said.
When Ryou remembered those bitter memories since his childhood, he couldn’t help but become dejected.
But his words just cast a shade on Tomoe when she looked down at her chest, for what greeted her then was a vast plain with no hills or mountains in sight.
“Oh? Is that a declaration of war to this maiden who hasn’t grown any!? Are you insinuating that that part is the only modesty of the Japanese that I inherited!?”
“You have a persecution complex, woman! Seriously, fix your damn complex with your lineage already! In the first place, what would I ever know about how your chest has grown!?”
“…Hmm… It’s not that big of a deal, I think. Those still have plenty of room to grow, right?”
While the two childhood friends were arguing, someone was brazenly staring at her chest and muttering to himself. Alas, only the students near him could hear his mutterings.