Coming back to the warm kitchen, an overflowing sweet and distinctive aroma assaulted Sandra.
"Did you finish cooking chilly whips?"
"Yes, you can help me prepare more bread, the lot of them managed to sneak some out." Responded a middle-aged man stirring a sizable vessel of clear soup over the enormous stove.
"All right, Charles."
"What did the exquisite Mr Weiss call you for Sandra? Did he seek you to accompany him to the theater?"
Sandra glanced at the enthusiastic girl who was dicing up carrots standing beside the kitchen counter.
"He called me to explain important matters, Rachel."
"Hah, don't be shy, come on, tell me."
"He called to introduce his son Arca to me."
Rachel blanked out for a moment, "What? His son? Stop joking, Sandra."
Charles also threw an amazed glance towards them when he heard that.
"Why will I play games with you? I'm speaking the truth."
After some thinking, Rachel sighed, " See, you missed your chance. If I had your looks, I would have jumped on him a year ago when he arrived. I would have been the mother of his child by now."
Camilla entered the kitchen and heard what Rachel said. This made her frown hard, with rage-filled eyes she said, " Ms Rachel Cooper, when would you learn to behave like a proper lady and stop spouting nonsense?"
With an annoyed glance towards Camilla, Rachel softly said, " Old woman Camilla what are you doing here, Don't you have to look after the kids?"
"Lord Weiss is introducing Arca to the kids, who dares to cause trouble. Why? Do I need your permission to enter the kitchen?"
"Then mind your own business and learn some etiquette."
"Camilla, tell me wouldn't it be better if Sandra gave a chance to Mr Weiss? She could have been the mother of Arca by this time." Shocking Camilla by her perseverance.
"Arca is around seven years old, little fool," Sandra spoke before Camilla could recover from her shock.
"What?" Rachel was amazed again." Mr Weiss is so young. How can he have a seven-year-old son?"
Looking at the dumbfounded Rachel, Camilla snorted, " Young? Humph, what would a junior girl know? I wouldn't be astonished if Arca has a sibling as old as you."
"What?" Rachel, stunned for the umpteenth time today, took a long time to recover.
Before she could inquire further and clear her doubts, Camilla gave her a stern look and said, " Don't speak about this topic further. Talking behind his back is rude to his lordship.
Just keep in mind, when I first met him I was a brat younger than you are now. He was still as majestic and handsome then, as he is today."
Slowly articulating that, Camilla exited fearing Rachel's pestering.
This piece of information was a shock to Sandra. Looking at his strength and his mastery of Eldarin, she could guess that he was older than he looks. But to be older than even Camilla, who was the eldest in the orphanage, was a huge shock to her.
Both the ladies looked at each other incredulously. Then they both turned to stare at Charles's back. "You were not joking back then, Charles?" asked Sandra.
She remembered what happened a year ago. There was a huge uproar in Backlog town. The whole town was shocked to find out that a young hunter was dragging an adult Drake while dawdling towards the town. That day many people in Backlog town got a chance to see Drakes for the first time ever.
Even though Backlog stood close to Elder forest, no large or savage beasts appeared in these parts. There was an old legend of a ghost king living in the old castle nearby which scared all the animals away. Though few people believed the myth. It undoubtedly provided a sheltered location in the otherwise dangerous forest edge.
That day Weiss had dragged a Drake right up to the orphanage entrance. When Paul went to greet him he had loudly proclaimed, " I came visiting and brought you a gift, Paul."
When Rachel had seen Weiss that day she had spent a long time gushing over his looks with Sandra in the kitchen.
Bothered by her incessant chatting, Charles had remarked, " That man is old enough to be my grandfather. Now focus on your work."
They had thought Charles had casually made some remarks. Rachel had even teased him for many days, saying, " Charles is jealous of how handsome Weiss looks."
But now, "Charles tell me, do you know anything about this?" Rachel loudly demanded.
As a quiet guy who would not speak more than necessary, Charles replied, " When I returned after completing my schooling that year. He came visiting and brought a friend along. His friend Lord Zachary loved good food. They asked me to be his help."
"Lord Zachary is your cooking teacher? Who had build this kitchen during his three-year stay at the orphanage?" Rachel thoughtfully asked.
Charles only nodded and went back to cooking. The kitchen soon fell into a unique rhythm of knife chopping and pots clanking after that.
It has been three months since Chiyo started living in the orphanage. Weiss had left the next day after enrolling him in. These months were difficult for young Chiyo. Memories of his parents made Chiyo very sad and after realising that they may never come to get him, he despaired. He even attempted to run back to the forest and search for them.
His despair broke the dam that was stopping his tears. Every time he was alone his face would contort in pain and tears would flow silently. He smiled when others were around. He would not speak much though.
Sandra proved her capability as a nurse during this time. Before his despair could dry out his eyes and numb the pain. She was able to bring him around and get him to integrate himself slowly with the surroundings and people.
Learning Kapro also increased his interaction with the other kids. Even though he would occasionally fail to express his thoughts, he had learned to speak.
Wearing a pair of cotton shorts and a tunic, Chiyo sauntered out to the lawn. Holding his small bow, he pointed at the kids running around and shouted, " Camilla is calling everyone for breakfast!"
Before he could turn around, all the kids stopped playing and began walking in. Aria came up beside Chiyo and said, " Arca you are still as rude as ever."
"How am I rude?"
"You didn't call me aunt and show respect."
"I would never call you aunt."
Aria looked at Chiyo and seriously began explaining as they walked inside, " Arca since big brother Weiss is your father that means, I am your aunt. You must call me aunt."
"Yes, Arca. You must call me uncle as well."
All the nearby kids corrected Chiyo and demanded to be called uncles and aunts. Chiyo looked towards them disdainfully and snorted. Since they had banded together, he remained silent and ran inside amidst the protest.
Breakfast was sumptuous with toast, butter, mushrooms, beans and eggs. It was better; the servings were also larger than other days. That was the norm for Sunday breakfast in hunter's orphanage. The children, after having a fulfilling meal, swarmed around Sandra asking for their weekly quest.
Sunday was the day of weekly mass in all branches of the Church of Father. Backlog town was too small for the church to open a branch. Like other households, Hunter's orphanage also held private mass. They bought some materials needed for conducting the ceremony from the local market. Which also served as a task for the younger children. This was their opportunity to explore the town without supervision.
After getting the coins from Sandra, Aria shouted out loud, " Hunters! Gather around, we have a quest to complete. Let's go adventuring!"
After a bunch of "Let's go!" all the kids ran outside. Sandra looked on with a kind smile as the kids poured out from the canteen.
Chiyo also sauntered along, but he kept a distance from the others. Lest they pester him to call them uncle and aunt again. Although the kids were too loud for his liking, he enjoyed playing with them. He also loved the weekly adventures. If he was lucky, he would be able to see one of the pet monsters the hunters in town kept. Although none were as awe-inspiring as Bowser they were still monsters.
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