Ch 137 -- Pork Chop Burger
As soon as Fer, Dora-chan and Sui woke up I hurried to provide them with breakfast. We were going straight to the boss room of this level next and it was important to be well fed beforehand. The defeat of the A-ranked party Tempest in that boss room and what the leader had told us of the monsters there had left me worrying about what was going to happen to us when we entered that room ourselves but the least (well, the only thing) I could do right now was to make sure everyone had eaten their fill.
So what should we eat this morning... I decided against deep-fried food as too bloaty, hmm, how about pork chops? I made a lot of pork chops from the Orc meat we had collected as item drops earlier in the dungeon and served them up in bread as sandwiches. That would do Sui-chan and Dora-chan and myself quite well but for Fer I just piled a lot of chops in a dish without any bread. I didn't want him grumbly and niggly, not today of all days when he would be facing the Spriggans.
Cut a round black bread bun horizontally, add shredded cabbage then top it with a pork chop and some ketchup-based sauce and that's it, quick and simple. I made five of them for Dora-chan and another five for Sui-chan and put them out.
Dora-chan dexterously clutched one with a forefoot and bit into it. "Hmmm, a bit sour-tasting but the meat is delicious."
"It's really. It is delicious ~ " Sui-chan added as she ingested her own pork chop sandwiches. Both Dora-chan and Sui seemed to like the pork chop 'burgers'. I started to eat my own sandwich, last as usual but as usual I was interrupted by Fer's "Seconds". Yeah yeah, as usual. I piled another heap of pork chops on Fer's plate and returned to my own breakfast. Fer mentioned telepathically that he liked meat and it was good, sort-of while his jaws were busy ravaging the dish on the floor in front of him.
Munch-. The black bread, cabbage and pork chop complimented each other in an unexpected manner. The sauce made it, I decided, softening the bread while the crunchy cabbage added texture to the meat. Very filling too, nice and substantial-- Oh, what was that? I felt a hot glance on my back as I bit into my pork chop burger again. I turned to look.
All six members of Tempest were staring at me, well not me but the pork chop burger in my hand. I tried to raise it to my mouth but I couldn't, not while I was paralysed by their gazes.
"I know how important food is in a dungeon," the leader of Tempest said, his own eyes never leaving the black bread bun in my hand, "But if you can spare some... well, if we pay for it would you be willing to share it with us?"
"Well, I would but..." I tried to refuse politely, knowing how Fer would react to me giving away 'his' food but the leader jumped in before I could finish.
"Oh, great! Thank you very much. So how much will it cost?"
Well if I'm selling the food to them, how much money should I ask for? How about 5 copper coins? Nah, that's too high, surely. What should I ask? I remembered he had paid more than the going rate for Sui's potion the night before since we were in the dungeon so I tried another tack.
"Since we're in the dungeon, how about one silver coin?" A pork chop sandwich for a silver coin was way too much, I'd let him bargain me down to a more reasonable price and we'd both save face that way.
"Huh?" the leader's face fell. Oops, had I insulted him by asking far too much? "Just one silver coin? Surely that's way too little, you know..."
"No, no, no, one silver coin is fine, really." I protested, surprised. He really thought that a black-bread pork-chop sandwich was worth that much? Seriously? "But that's because there are six people in your party. You get a bulk discount." I extemporised. The leader raised an eyebrow as if he had never heard the phrase "bulk discount" before but he quickly collected a silver coin from each of his party members and handed them to me along with his own contribution. I felt somewhat guilty but I had been paid the agreed price so...
Right, I had hot water to hand in my Item Box because I wanted to drink coffee later. I had some instant dried soup too, I remembered so I'd add a little bonus to their breakfast meal. It wouldn't make up the price difference but this was a dungeon where everything cost more. I was more used to Japan where everything had a clear price tag wherever you were. Of course I made up the soup with my back turned so the members of Tempest couldn't see how I did it before handing out a pork chop burger and a bowl of hot consommé to each of them.
"Eating hot food in a dungeon is great."
"Until now, only hard bread and salty dried meat for dinner...this is like the difference between heaven and earth compared to that."
"Sure thing. If you ask me what's the biggest hardship about diving in a dungeon I'd say it's not the traps or the monsters but the crap we have to eat..."
"I feel like this is the first decent food I've eaten in a long time."
"It's really great to have the Item Box skill. I really envy anyone who can eat such delicious food in a dungeon."
The members of Tempest chattered freely while eating their pork chop burgers, obviously feeling a lot more energetic than the beaten and dispirited party that had run into the safe room the night before. Even the fellow named Damien who had his insides exposed in a way they really shouldn't have been was now totally fine, happily biting into his burger and slurping his soup. He had recovered really rapidly from his near-fatal wound, possibly due to the effects of Sui-chan's Deluxe High-Grade Potion.
"Seconds, here." Fer demanded, his dish empty. Shouldn't that be Thirds, Fer?
"Aruji, seconds-" Sui-chan's bowl was also empty.
Oh, Fer and Sui wanted still more, but I had no more pork chops left. Quick, what can I find in my Item Box...
"Oh, I just ran out of pork chops. Here's a beef bowl instead." I dished out special offerings of Bloody Horn Bull's gyuudon beef bowl to Fer and Sui.
"Doesn't matter what, anything will do, just hurry it up." Fer grumbled. Yeah yeah.
"Everything Aruji makes is delicious, no matter what-" Sui-chan agreed.
I supplied two more beef bowl "Seconds!" before Fer and Sui seem to be finally full. Dora-chan, as usual, had been filled up with his first serving of pork chop burgers.
"Well, we are much obliged to you." the leader of Tempest said as his party packed their bags and readied their weapons.
"No problem." I assured him. I had managed to make some money in the dungeon from him and his party after all.
"We're going back to the surface now." he added in a sort-of-disappointed tone of voice as they all headed for the door of the safe area.
"Take care." I called to them as they left. A voice, Damien's? called back "you too" as the door closed behind them. I realised only after they had left I had learned only one of their names and now they were gone, leaving only us here. I packed all the bowls and dishes back into the Item Box as Fer stood by the door, obviously itching to get going now he had been fed.
"Hey, let's go." he growled impatiently. Hang on, have we got everything? I double-checked then nodded. Fer pushed the door open with his snout and we headed for the boss room of the 22nd level.