018 – Red Flavor #3
It had to be Victoria who caught us.
Facing Victoria was still uncomfortable for me.
“Victor, what did you just do?”
“What are you asking, how I did what?”
I pretended not to know and asked again. Victoria looked at me as if to say, ‘You know what I’m talking about.’
“You know what I mean.”
Her usually cheeky appearance had a stark contrast when she got angry, and it was stealing everyone’s attention. Fortunately, Nike, who had been quietly next to me, rescued me from this situation.
“Miss V-Victoria, hello.”
“You’re Miss Mokemoke, right? From Leshgad Forest.”
For some reason, after looking at Nike, Victoria seemed to calm down a bit.
I didn’t know if there was a change in her feelings, but for me, it was an opportunity to gather my thoughts.
Victoria would undoubtedly be interested in the fact that my basic attack ability had increased from F to D.
What’s the best way to handle this situation?
If I play my cards right, I might be able to use this situation to my advantage.
But there might be times when I have to tell a small lie or two.
* * *
Talents are something clear to people.
At least that’s what Victoria thought.
You can tell just by looking at a simple 100m race.
Reducing 10 seconds to 9 seconds.
Reducing 9 seconds to 8 seconds.
There’s a tremendous mountain range hidden within that one second, invisible to the eye. To overcome that mountain, one must put in an immense effort.
Or, use a ‘special’ method.
“So, Victor, how did you do it? Just now. You were originally an F, right?”
Within Victoria’s knowledge, this man Victor was far from a ‘special’ kind of guy. He was more like the type who would steadily climb up the steps from the beginning to reach the summit.
‘But was it really like that?’
Lately, Victoria had been questioning whether her perspective on the world was wrong.
That Victor broke through the F wall.
And in such a short time?
To Victoria, who was struggling to break through the wall of B-69, it was as astonishing as saying that a person without wings had flown in the sky.
Her former fiancé spoke.
“Is it because of the staff that you’re curious? I’m talking about the Arkwright’s Staff.”
“H-How do you…?”
Victoria was flustered, as if her heart had been revealed.
A treasure passed down through generations in the family. A magical weapon said to be made with the technology of the gods.
To wield it, you had to have a basic attack rating of at least B+.
Why these conditions existed, I didn’t know.
This was Ludens, the playground of the gods.
Perhaps it was because it was more ‘interesting’ to the great gods.
‘Only people from the Arkwright family should have known this secret, right?’
Trying to hide her confusion, she asked.
“Victor, how did you know…?”
“Well, I was an Arkwright person too. So, there was no way I wouldn’t know about you.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
Victor’s expression seemed uncomfortable in some way, like a person in pain.
But Victoria didn’t pay it much attention.
‘I didn’t even realize that he knew how to cook, let alone that there was another girl involved. He really knows a lot about me…’
She thought of it as a superficial relationship imposed by her family.
They didn’t need to know about each other or take a deep interest.
After all, their relationship would have remained the same no matter what.
‘But was it just my delusion…?’
Their conversations had been lacking.
They lived under the same roof and became members of the student council, but Victoria and Victor had never had a real conversation.
“Victoria, you used to like spicy food, whether you knew it or not.”
“…Did you even know that much? It’s kind of creepy.”
“Is it? Is it strange for a fiancé to know your taste? Anyway, would you like to try it? I have a dish that should suit your taste.”
“Why would I eat that? What kind of relationship do you and I have?”
An unexpectedly blunt conversation came from Victoria’s mouth, to the point where even she seemed startled by her own rudeness.
But Victor remained unusually relaxed.
“What kind of relationship? You are the vice-president of the Student Council and I am a member of a cooking club. We should always test what we make and offer to the public. Wasn’t that our responsibility?”
There was no way to refute that.
Debating with Victor over this issue in the first place was foolish.
‘Victor is right. I’m just inspecting. We have food safety laws, don’t we? It’s not like I want to taste Victor’s cooking again…’
With that conclusion in her mind, Victoria said.
“Fine, I’ll try it.”
“Great, Nike. Please bring it out.”
“Really? I’m not sure if this dish, which is fine for Victor and me, would be suitable for someone like Miss Victoria, who was raised so delicately…”
Nike’s words triggered a momentary burst of anger in Victoria. It felt as if she were being treated as a naive girl who didn’t understand the ways of the world, and that’s why she couldn’t even notice her fiancé being taken away.
“Do you think I can’t eat what you and Victor can? I might not know what it is, but I’ll eat it.”
“Is that so?”
Nike from Leshgad Forest placed a dish in front of Victoria.
The dish was filled with meat generously coated with red seasoning.
“It’s Victor-style Spring Sauce Bulgogi.”
It seemed incredibly spicy just by looking at it.
It was already making her eyes water. Would she be able to eat something with such an unknown taste?
‘But that soup was delicious. I didn’t want to admit it, but maybe this will be tasty too. Plus, there might be a secret behind his increase from F to D…’
Victoria, who had stayed behind to tidy up the outdoor practice area and hadn’t had lunch, found this “Spring Sauce Bulgogi” in front of her quite appetizing.
‘Should I just take one bite? Just one…’
Victoria picked up her chopsticks.
She picked up a piece of meat coated in the red seasoning and elegantly slid it into her mouth.
The first sensation was an unexpectedly intense spiciness. It felt like a bomb going off in her mouth!
‘So this is why it’s called “Bomb Sauce”!?’
It was as if her world had turned red. She was already sweating, and her face was burning. At the same time, there was a sense of something hot, like a ‘destructive instinct’, welling up from inside her chest.
‘Frustrating, but it’s delicious…!’
Victoria had always liked spicy food.
As a young lady, she was bound by her responsibilities.
Her stern father and older siblings, not to mention her steel-like fiancé—
Victoria always felt trapped in that environment.
Eating spicy food was a way to relieve that sense of constriction.
The spicier, the better.
But she kept this a secret from everyone.
She didn’t want to cause unnecessary trouble.
The taste was like uncovering a hidden secret, even though she knew about it.
Despite herself, she couldn’t stop eating.
* * *
Victoria, who was initially cautious like a stray cat seeing sausages for the first time, devoured the “Spring Sauce Bulgogi” I served her without any hesitation.
In fact, she ate it so smoothly that I started to worry.
It’s really spicy.
I hope it doesn’t give her stomach problems.
However, this confirmed it.
Her preferences matched D&A’s.
Among D&A’s foods and items, there were some that had compatibility.
I remembered that Victoria’s culinary compatibility was in the spicy food category.
She used to receive a 10% bonus effect when eating spicy food.
But she’s eating so well.
Sweating profusely while eating.
The students who were passing by, either working on the scarecrow or simply walking around, stopped in their tracks to watch this spectacle.
“Isn’t it unusual for Miss Victoria to eat outside the cafeteria?”
“The student council executives are busy, you know. It’s quite common for them to eat anywhere. And what is she eating so deliciously…?”
“I don’t know. It’s really red. She’s eating it so deliciously.”
The sight of a celebrity enjoying her meal.
It was an advertisement in itself.
“Huh, head, you’re in the way.”
Victoria raised her hand as if to arrange her hair, which was falling forward and drenched in sweat.
She gracefully tied her shining hair back, and her armpits, dazzling white, seemed even brighter.
Is she deliberately showing this?
No, that can’t be it.
With that feeling in mind, Victoria wiped her mouth with a handkerchief, appearing quite displeased as she looked at the empty plate.
“I couldn’t even take a single bite…”
Nike’s disappointed expression was somewhat pitiable, but it couldn’t be helped.
I hadn’t eaten much myself.
However, Victoria, who had just enjoyed her meal, was taken aback when she saw her empty plate. She quickly pulled out a handkerchief, elegantly wiped her mouth, and expressed her displeasure.
“…Well, it wasn’t bad, but it feels like my HP is decreasing. It’s subpar food. Unfortunately, I can’t allow this kind of food to be sold in Ludens.”
Is this for real?
“Subpar food? Do you really think so? Try hitting the scarecrow.”
“Try it, and you’ll see.”
Victoria stood in front of the scarecrow, clenching her fist and striking the leather pad on its chest.
「71 – B+」
In my case, my basic attack stat only increased by 1 point, but in Victoria’s case, her affinity with the food and the spiciness of the dish seemed to increase it by 2 points.
“Did you just see that? Miss Victoria’s stats increased compared to the outdoor lesson earlier!”
“What? How did she do it? Was it really that easy to raise them?”
“I don’t know, it happened after eating that weird meat!”
Everyone was showing interest.
I spoke without missing this moment.
“As you just saw, dishes made with Spring Sauce have great effects. These effects last for a whole hour.”
I wanted to tell them to open their wallets wide for me in the future, but it wasn’t easy to say such words due to Victor’s personality. My mouth wouldn’t cooperate.
At that time, Nike shouted instead of me.
“So that’s why everyone should come to ‘Victory’s Cook Club’ often!”
Timing is everything in viral marketing.
Satisfied, I shifted my gaze.
“The walls that seemed impossible to break through… and yet, it’s so easily achieved, not through hard work, not through life and death, but merely by eating…”
Did reaching B+ have such a profound impact?
“Victoria, the truth is usually simple enough for even a fool to understand.”
Victoria, whose basic value exceeds 70 can be equipped with the “Arkwright’s Staff”.
It was a Victoria-exclusive item that was acquired around Act 2, and its performance was quite good up to the first 4 Acts.
“You know more about me than I know about myself… I can’t accept it. You’re the one at fault. You’re the one to blame because I didn’t pay attention, didn’t even want to pay attention…”
“What are you saying?”
Did she eat something bad?
Victoria muttered incomprehensible words.
I couldn’t understand what was happening. Could this effect be from “Spring Sauce Bulgogi”? Had some unknown variable come into play?
In this way, it seemed impossible to commercialize it without fully understanding the variables.
Just as I was thinking that, Victoria pointed her index finger at me.
“Victor, I need to find out what you’ve been up to. I’ll be spending this evening with you. Be prepared.”
And then, poof, she left.
But more importantly, she said we’d be spending this evening together?
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