The storage where the Knights of Reinhardt were allowed to reside was not very lively during mealtime.
Only bottled foods such as pickles were stored here.
The knights’ meal usually came from the main building.

A few days had passed after they met Laritte.

The knights rose as the morning sun rose, though their moods weren’t bright like the sun.

“What are we going to eat today?”
“Have you still not given up?”

The door of the annex opened to reveal the maids pushing the cart in.
It contained the knights’ meal.

Originally, there used to be many forms of healthy dishes.

Now, it was different.
The food was shabby.

Eventually, knights became infuriated with the treatment.

“Couldn’t you at least provide us bread? A loaf of bread and cheese would’ve been enough.
How am I supposed to train after eating this?”

The maid, devoid of any expression, spoke.

“We’re short-handed these days.
There’s a memorial service coming up soon.”
“That’s ridiculous! We’ve got three weeks until the memorial service!”
“Then as just a maid, I do not know of that.”

The maids were acting strangely cold, too.

The knights knew well why they were being treated like this.
It was clear that Ava had a hand in this.

‘Not even a man of no courtesy can eat this!’

Meanwhile, at the main building, an evil smile appeared on Ava’s lips.

That was a good one.

“Keke!”

Meanwhile, Laritte peered over the window in the kitchen where Ava was standing.
She found Ava smiling to her content.

“You seem happy.”
“I guess it’s because the weather is nice here.”

Of course, Ava was harassing the knights in secret.

‘It’d be silly to talk about young knights when I’m so old.’

Besides, she was afraid that Laritte would feel sorry for them.
That young woman was too nice and forgiving.

“By the way, did you walk to the kitchen? I would have gone there instead if you had sent a maid!”
“Oh! I have something to ask of you, Ava.”

Laritte held out a piece of paper, its contents scribbled in beautiful handwriting.

Ava began to read aloud.

“30 mint leaves, milk, casks, and strawberries.
What are you going to use all these for?”
“I’m going to make juice.”

It was because of Redra that Laritte suddenly felt she should make strawberry juice.
She’d never talked to a woman of her age, so she didn’t know how to get close to her.
But she wanted to do something for Redra because she looked distressed during gathering the knights.

“Would this be possible? Ian told me to ask Ava if I needed anything, so I came.”
“Hoho, don’t you worry, Madam! However, if you need this much, we’ll have to send a wagon to the market.
From the looks of it, I think you want to make barrels of juice.”
“Yes.
I’d also like to give it to Ian when he returns.”

Almost a week had passed since he and his knights left to investigate.

He was supposed to contact her every week, so she was expecting a letter to arrive anytime.
She wanted to hear that Ian was safe and sound.

Ava sent Laritte back, saying she didn’t have to worry.

Ava was on her way to order the materials Laritte requested when she suddenly fell into confusion.

“Why would she need mint leaves to make the juice?”

That was an interesting recipe.

 

***

 

Ava quickly gathered the ingredients, all of the excellent quality.
Thanks to this, Laritte was able to start preparing her ‘special juice’.

She sat in a secluded unused kitchen with the ingredients.
But she wasn’t alone.

“Madam, you’re doing this all alone!”

Alice, one of Laritte’s maids, grumbled.

Laritte continued to ignore her.

Irene chimed in.

“I thought we were going somewhere, too! What would you do if your pretty hands got calluses?”
“I want to take my time with this because I have nothing else to do.
This is nothing too difficult.”
“It’s hard.
But making juice is quite fun!”

Besides, it wasn’t just the two maids who were helping Laritte.

The maids passing through the doorstep of the kitchen also sat down one by one, saying they would help their lady.

The maids told the knights in the annex that they were busy preparing for the memorial service, but it was a lie.
They never had a day as free as today.
Before they knew it, the place became a bustling center of gossip.

“There’s an interesting wedding custom in my hometown.
The man to marry should secretly engrave his name on the door plate of his bride’s house at dawn.”
“Why though?”
“To declare a man should be as brave as he is?”
“That’s possible.
I can’t tell the reason because it’s been ignored for such a long time.”

The recipe for Laritte’s strawberry juice was:

~ Separate the strawberries from the stalks, wash them clean, and divide them into quarters.
The process took time because so many were bought.

~ Then mix the berries, milk, and water to form a solution.
It was important to adjust the water according to the sweetness of the milk.

~ Steam the heave and grind it.

In fact, this method was not something she learned from a book, but something Laritte found by accident.

“……”

A smile spread across her face as she recalled.

She had a bad cold when she was eleven.
No one came into contact with her for fear of the disease being transmitted to Rose.
As a result, Laritte was left to starve for half a day.

She remembered sneaking into the kitchen while holding onto her dry neck and finding strawberries.

‘My throat hurt so much, I couldn’t even swallow the berries.’

So she mixed the berries, milk, and water to make juice.

However, the strawberries were of poor quality, and they didn’t taste as sweet as she expected.

Her recipe for the juice was born that way.

As Laritte said, the servants looked amazed while they added the herbs.

“Do you put herbs in juice?”
“I thought herbs were only for cooking.
It’s amazing to see it being used here.”

And finally, the juice was finished.
A large quantity of it, at that.

It had an appetizing color, though it had a new herbal ingredient in it.

Alice raised her head.

“Let me try it!”

She shouted excitedly.

The moment she took a sip without high expectations, her eyes grew wide in surprise.

“Oh?”

The first sip was as sweet and sour as a regular juice tasted.

Perhaps it was the effect of the ripe strawberries accompanied by milk that made her feel fresh.
However, the juice was not sweet enough for Alice.
It tasted too foreign to think that it lacked something.

But, a unique feeling was conveyed down her throat.

Due to that, she stopped searching for the need for sweetness.

Irene frowned as Alice uttered.

She was worried Alice would say something that would upset Madam.

“W-What?”
“It’s cool!”

The drink itself was not cold.

The ice storage was limited in the Duchy as well.

Since cold drinks were quite expensive, the knights only opened their wallets at an annual event.

Alice’s cheeks burned with happiness.

The taste was so refreshing……

Laritte nodded with an emotionless face as usual.

“Yes, it does have a cooling effect.”
“But, Madam! How is that possible? I mean, it’s not like you’ve put ice in it, have you?”

Then, Alice’s eyes sparkled.

It was the herbs.

“Is that the spearmint?”

She thought it was just an aromatic one, but it was another kind.

“Yes.
Sometimes, it’s good to add such sweet things.”
“Wow! That’s amazing.”

Seeing their positive reactions, she was now ready to hand this juice to Redra.

Even though Laritte handed it out one by one to the maids, there was still a barrel full of it.

Redra was inspecting the weapons in the warehouse when Laritte stepped into the dark space.

“Lady Redra.”
“Madam! Have you come to see the weapons?”
“No.
I’m here to see Redra.”

As far as Redra was concerned, she and Laritte never had a friendly conversation.

Did she need anything?

“Is there anything I can do for you?”
“Not that either.
I’m here to give you this.
To appreciate you for your dedication.”

She held out a glass.
She didn’t want her to have a deep sense of gratitude towards her because they weren’t that close.

But surprisingly, Redra refused.

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