Chapter 72

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Mealtime has been threatened lately.

His meal times are not fixed. Ultimately, a meal is about replenishing energy, and supplying the appropriate calories calculated for activity is something that can be done at any time.

It’s not a meal driven by hunger or appetite in the first place. If we had to express it, it’s more like refueling a mechanical device. It’s a matter of supplying energy because it’s lacking.

So, Ivan roughly cuts a nutrition bar, puts it in his mouth, moistens it with saliva, grinds it with molars, crunch, gulp. Exactly 15 seconds, and his meal is solved.

Therefore, the statement that meal times are being threatened means this kind of situation.

“Eww! Are you used to eating this kind of food? This… this is delicious, Uncle! Uncle, you’re really good at cooking!”

Ecdysis shed a tear and diligently chewed and swallowed the nutrition bar.

The nutrition bar is a complete food with a suitable femicon-style arrange applied to early hardtack methods. Nutritionally perfect, but sadly, the texture can’t be perfect.

Originally, hardtack is not food meant to be chewed. It’s a convenience food to be soaked in water and eaten as porridge. It’s not something that looks like a biscuit and can be crisply chewed.

(https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardtack)

The miraculous power to solve this inconvenience is the ‘universal resource,’ using magic. Putting magic on molars and chewing, it’s not a big deal. Especially when the chewing power of a strong human is dramatically enhanced relative to body size.

“Ugh… gulp.”

“…You don’t have to force yourself to eat.”

“Forcing myself? What are you talking about?! I… I’ve never lied since I was born! Ecdysis of sincerity… don’t you know?”

“I didn’t know.”

“Now you know! You know, right? Everything I say is true.”

Ecdysis shed another tear and forced a smile.

It failed…

This strategy failed…

She sighed with regret, (chewing on a nutrition bar) lamenting. It was undoubtedly a perfect plan… Isabelle, that troublesome girl, wasn’t supposed to dare attempt it…!

***

Drovian is a barren land.

A chilly and dry summer, a dreadfully cold and long winter, a spring and autumn that disappear with just a step.

Yes. If you’re a 21st-century South Korean citizen, it’s a familiar environment where you can repeatedly exclaim, “Wow, the weather is awful!”

In addition, Drovian has rugged mountainous terrain and vast grasslands that are useless for agriculture.

Plant something in the fields, and the harvest is always the same. It’s better to release the sheep to graze.

And in such a situation, naturally, a food culture cannot develop. This is a significant concern, particularly when compared to Kalion, Tylesse, and Krasilov.

So, Ecdysis, who was born and raised in such a country, is naturally accustomed to unhealthy eating. Roasted tough lamb with a pinch of salt is a feast, mostly eating boiled potatoes or salted ham, dried mackerel-like things.

Therefore, that strange piece of ‘wood’ that she usually eats with relish is likely within her tolerance.

Originally, the fastest way for people to become friends is by sharing the same food.

That’s why Isabelle, who had become accustomed to Tyllesse’ delicacies, faced a challenge she couldn’t even dream of.

Boiling and eating tree roots was somewhat familiar to Ecdysis. (She is the princess of Drovian. Explaining Drovian’s food culture beyond this is not cool.)

‘But there is a limit to this!’

The happiest moment in Krasilov was when she first spread ‘whipped cream’ on ‘buttered bread.’ The warmth and sweetness in the world, incredible.

Drovian’s warriors use the concept of ‘sweetness’ only for ‘honey wine (mead).’ (In fact, mead is not sweet.) To Ecdysis, who grew up in such a world, this ‘food culture’ is a very precious memory, considering that her whole life was spent on the battlefield, following her father.

(https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mead)

In the midst of this, eating a strange convenience food that feels like a rock, is greasy like pig oil, and has a weird texture like dried sour fruit, tears come to her eyes again.

“Should I… Umm. Should I cook something…?”

“Cooking?”

“Yes, at least for… um, dinner? How about dinner tonight? Let’s have something really delicious.”

Unfortunately, this pitiful man seems to have never experienced the joy of a meal since birth. Just by looking at him, you might mistake him for a local warrior in the corner of Drovian, rather than Krasilov.

He even grows his beard as unkempt as the men from Drovian…

“Busy for dinner.”

“Ugh. Uh, wait a moment. I know, I know this pattern. Every time I ask when you’re free, you’ll say you’re busy, right?!”

“…? Not exactly.”

Ivan, being an honest person, has no reason to make excuses until the day he is genuinely busy.

Unfortunately, sincerity is one of those values that cannot be conveyed to others by nature. Ecdysis looked at Ivan with a skeptical look for a while and soon nodded her head.

“What are you doing at the festival?”

“Just my usual festival routine.”

Ivan’s usual life involves guarding the hero party members. Since he decided to spend time with Isabelle, it remains the same as usual.

Ecdysis smiled broadly at that response.

“Then let’s go eat something delicious together! Seniors say during the festival, many food stalls open up! It’s the biggest festival in Frechenkaya!”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

The schedule remains the same as usual. It’s not something special to adjust the nutritional balance while watching these little ones eat.

Ivan nodded and stood up.

3 PM. It was time to respond to the princess’s call.

***

“Ah, Vanka. You’re here. Have a seat.”

Elizaveta offered a warm smile as she took a seat on the sofa.

On the wide wooden table across from the rector’s office, Elphiera’s head was bowed somewhat.

Something’s wrong.

Ivan quickly scanned her for signs and shook his head. Elves are weak, so it’s inevitable that they get sick easily.

Veolgrin, too, wasn’t without a chronic illness that worsened upon seeing humans.

“You called, Your Highness.”

“Hehe, Vanka. Call me ‘Commander.’ Ah, it seems like Miss Grikencos spoke highly of you. Heard you performed together in the last operation, and Miss Grikencos seems quite fond of you.”

Elizaveta sat on the sofa and smiled broadly.

Upon hearing her words, Elpheira blushed, glanced at Ivan, and then lowered her head again.

“I apologize, Your Highness…”

“…? For what”

“Did the girl do something to displease you…?”

“You’re dizzy.”

Elizaveta shook her head lightly. But it’s understandable.

Look at Ivan. This sturdy Krasilov warrior looks undeniably intimidating at first glance.

Though his temperament has recently smoothed out enough to be commendable, there’s still that long, bushy beard.

That alone covers half of his face and then some. As someone who knows his past, she should be amazed, but well, she can’t break that stubbornness.

And those indifferent eyes, sharp gaze, and a beard that grows unkemptly.

No, it’s incomprehensible.

The beard is obviously taken care of, but what’s going on with his hair?

Elizaveta swallowed the rising irritation and regained her composure.

Anyway, to young kids, it’s somewhat of an excessive stimulus. When you add a well-built, solid physique and appearance to the intimidation and aura accumulated through long practical experience, such a young kid, now just 20, should rightly find it difficult to even make eye contact.

On top of that, that kid did directly experience Vanka’s skills and return unscathed.

It’s said that they hunted monsters at the ruins together. If, during that process, Grikencos faced even a fraction of Vanka’s abilities, well, it’s understandable to be terrified like that.

I, an adult (27), should understand.

Elizaveta looked warmly at Ivan, smiling.

“Surely you’re aware that the festival is approaching.”

“Yes, Your Highness.”

“Several countries will be sending envoys to celebrate, which is understandable. I wouldn’t want any harm to come to the children.”

The university festival at this time is not just for students. Many dignitaries who have entered Saint Jan’s University seize this opportunity to project influence beyond student status.

High-ranking nobles are beasts of politics. Naturally, with such an opportunity, undercover diplomacy that cannot be done in their home country becomes active.

Using the children as an excuse is a pitiful thing, but what can she do?

Elizaveta is the princess of this country, the owner of the Eastern Palace, and the only royal blood with political power projection. Moreover, she is the rector of Saint Jan’s University.

The first event she welcomes after her inauguration must end safely and successfully.

“When I suggested providing protection for Miss Griekenkos, she promptly indicated you. In typical Elven style, she selected the most reliable guardian in the country.”

“You’re overstating it.”

“Well, I can trust my life with you. Excessive humility is impolite. Not just anyone can be in the Royal Guards.”

Elizaveta looked at Ivan’s stern expression and regretted it. Oh, that was overstepping.

“Well, anyway. Can I ask for a favor? If you have any special schedules during the festival, feel free to tell me. Anyway, the Royal Guard Headquarters will be stationed throughout the university during the festival.”

“No problem.”

Checking the hero party members’ diet and temporarily accompanying them is similar to the usual schedule.

With Elpheira added to the mix, there is no potential problem.

He is such a reasonable person.

“Now, I’ll leave it to you. Lieutenant Petrovich.”

“Sure.”

It was just a few days ago that they were calling each other here and there, and he does seem to be in less than perfect condition.

Ivan nodded briefly and left his seat.

Three days before the festival.

On the same day, with three different women, scheduling appointments wasn’t that important, so after dealing with the backlog of orphanage work, Ivan took some rest.

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