The Vampire Empress.
We soon entered inside the town hall where Iona could be seen scrambling through a pile of documents that looked horrifying to the eye. She was indeed a knight but that doesn’t mean knights don’t handle paperwork—well, they do but their main work shouldn’t be paperwork, to be honest… but well, what can you do with limited manpower?
“How are things looking?” I looked at Iona who was scribbling on a paper.
“Everything seems to be going well. There were a few criminals that were caught but most of them are minor crimes that involve attempting to steal the food supply for themselves, we are waiting for your command over how to handle them,” she replied, which kind of surprised me.
It wasn’t the criminals that surprised me but Iona—she was pretty serious and focused over her work, there was no sign of her shy attitude. It was only a serious Iona that was in front of me, seeing that made me smile a bit as I walked over to the couch and placed Ayaka there as she watched me leave towards Iona’s side.
The paperwork she was dealing with mainly focused on crime rates and some internal suggestions from the knights about the safety of the town. It seems like she is focused on making the town safe which is something that is supposedly my work, to be honest.
“In your opinion, what do you think we should do to them?” I asked.
“Hmm… I think we should forgive them and instead make them work at least a little harder than the average in their work while earning the same reward. This way, we can earn some more manpower to take care of other stuff…” she replied.
“Then we’ll do as your suggestion says, though instead of the same reward, reduce their share as well since we want to set an example to the people that trying to steal will only give you a bad time. As for the more major crimes, what kind of crimes to be exact?” I asked before she looked at me with a wry smile.
“One attempted rape, several abuse reports, and two slavery attempts. All of them are men, what do you want to do with them, my lady?” she asked.
Almost immediately, my eyes widened. I could feel my heart tightened from anger, “Drag them to the center of the town, I won’t tolerate their crimes one bit. Tell the knights to bring all of them in the most ‘fashionable’ way, torture them for any information before bringing them to the center.”
“We need to set a grave example to those bastards who try to commit a grave crime inside my jurisdiction. Make sure no children will be in the vicinity during that time,” I said before she nodded as she wrote down my orders on another paper.
I took a few papers and skimmed through them before nodding. The papers I took were reports about the distribution of food over the past few days. Overall, there were no issues with food distribution in the town and the people seemed to be satisfied according to the latest surveys.
The latest surveys also indicated that the people seem to want to start working soon which is something that I need to also increase the pace with since we want currency to recirculate soon and also for the supply chain to resume.
According to Felice while on the way back, she told me that the merchants she hired should arrive either tomorrow or the next day with the supplies she bought. She followed my orders properly and spent as much as she could which should mean the quality and quantity of the supplies she ordered should be high.
“There will be merchants delivering all the supplies we need to renovate the town and also to resume work for most citizens, be sure to have some knights ready to escort them to the town hall as well since we don’t want a single one of the supplies to be lost,” I placed the paper back on the table before she wrote it down quickly while looking at another document with her other eye.
I was impressed overall by Iona with how she is handling all the documents, her ability to multitask is not to be underestimated. Right now as we speak, she is literally handling the survey reports that she received from the knights and combining all of the results onto one document which made it easier to read and comprehend.
“You should take a break, by the way. I don’t want any of my people to go collapsing because of overwork, that would lower my reputation a lot…” I laughed a bit before she smiled.
“I will rest in awhile…” she replied before I nodded while placing the papers I was reading on the table before walking towards Ayaka who was looking at us with curiosity.
She was staring at us super intently that I couldn’t ignore her. It seems like she is interested in work but sadly, the work Iona has been meant for her especially the crime parts which is something I will not let her see ever…
“Ayaka, do you want to help me cook today?” I walked over to the cute little girl, picking her up from the sofa before sitting down with her on my lap.
“What are you going to cook, Mama?” she asked.
“Hmm, I was thinking of making some bacon strips but maybe some steak would be better considering that we have enough meat to make steak. After that, we can take a bath then we need to try out all the dresses I bought for you, okay?” I poked the little girl’s cheeks before she looked at me with a tilt.
I bought quite the amount of dresses for her, a lot of which were the ones that I thought looked very nice on her and since she is pretty small, the dresses were able to fit even in a tight space which allowed me to buy a lot of them.
Ever since I arrived in this world, I feel like my senses are being changed… to be exact, it feels like Ayaka is changing me a lot without me knowing. Her entire existence makes me feel warm and I can’t help but spoil her eternally, I wonder if this is what a mother feels?
“What is a steak, Mama?” she asked before a slight chuckle came from Iona who quickly went back to work.
“A steak is a meat dish which is very tasty to eat. There are many ways to cook it but most people would simply use butter and salt simply because the meat themselves already make up for most of the tastes, you can add herbs as well to add more taste,” I answered before her eyes sparkled.
“I can help?” she asked.
“Mhm, I can teach you how to cook but without any knives! All you would be doing is sprinkling salt onto the meat and herbs!” I said before she nodded in rapid motion as if showing her enthusiasm, she looked excited to help which made me smile as I stood up and grabbed her from my lap before looking at Iona who was working with a smile, “Do you want to help as well?”
“Errr… can I?” she asked while placing the last document of the pile on the table. You could tell she was slowly reverting back to her shy nature which isn’t bad since serious Iona seems a bit weird even though I did instruct her to go surveying around to help her shy nature.
“You can help slice up the meat, make sure not to use mana though since it will affect the quality of the meat,” I said before she nodded while stashing away all the documents that she was finished before stretching her body a bit with a yawn, “Where is the meat stored, by the way?”
“Uuuummmm—the me…meat is stored in one of the storage rooms!” Iona answered as she slowly started to reveal her shy side once more which was indeed the cute version. The serious Iona seemed too cold and serious that it made me wonder whether the survey assignment I gave her did some effect, “D—do you want me to guide you, my lady?”
“If possible since I don’t know where the storage rooms are,” I replied before she nodded as the two of us made our way to a staircase that led us underground which was fairly ventilated and lit up with mana stones. The hallway had doors all over the side, four doors on the left and four to the right which fitted the number of storage rooms that I was told by Leo last time.
We walked our way to the last storage room where a knight could be seen half-asleep, he quickly noticed us and saluted as he asked, “Dame Iona and Your Majesty, greetings!”
“May I know what purpose the two of you are here?”
He didn’t look too shabby, he looked well-fed which is enough for me to know that the knights are doing well, “We want to take a little bit of meat from the storage, it shouldn’t be a problem, right?”
“Not at all! I can pick the best one that will suit all of your tastes, Your Majesty!” he offered to which I nodded as he quickly ran inside the storage room which smelled quite the unique scent before a few minutes passed by as he came out from the room carrying a large lump of dry-aged meat.
The dry-aged meat didn’t look appetizing, especially if you look at it from the exterior which doesn’t resemble the meat that most know of, but anyone experienced with handling meat could tell that it is a lump of beautiful dry-aged meat that will make all mouths drool once cooked.
“Can you bring it to the kitchen?” I asked before he nodded as we walked our way back upstairs, greeting a few knights who left their posts for a break before all of us reached the kitchen where the knight gently placed the dry-aged meat on the cutting board that Iona placed.
After placing the dry-aged meat, the knight silently left the scene while Ayaka looked at the meat with confusion, she kept poking the meat as she asked, “Mama, is this edible?”
“It is edible, Ayaka but not in that state, you have to season it and cook it before it will be edible. Do we have any butcher knife here?” I looked at Iona who shook her head.
“The last butcher knife that was on the kitchen was rusty and broke when one of the knights tried to use it,” she replied.
Well, I can’t blame them… the town was in a pretty bad state when we first came here, and I guess they must have tried cooking meat that I hunted, or they hunted for themselves but ended up destroying the butcher knife instead.
“Hmm… I guess an ordinary knife with mana imbued should work,” a bitter smile rose on my face as I took a knife from the wall and walked back to the dry-aged meat where I took a short glance at it while imagining out a scene where the meat would be sliced into ten slices.
Almost immediately, the knife shone red as I tapped onto the dry-aged meat before slashes came flying around the meat, vanishing after two seconds before the static meat suddenly broke apart into ten equal slices, revealing its sweet, delicious texture inside.
Transferring all the meat to a frying pat, I soon looked at Ayaka on the other side who was standing on a wooden stool while being monitored by Iona, “Now, Ayaka… can you bring some salt and herbs here?”
She looked at me for a second before turning towards all directions inside the room as if she was scanning all the objects in the kitchen.
After two seconds, she soon hopped off from the stool before a slight wind spell that carried her mana broke her fall as she walked over to one of the tables that had salt in a box, picking it up with her cute little hands before she tiptoed her way towards the wooden stool, placing the salt on the table before she climbed her way up the wooden stool by herself.
Iona naturally stepped in and grabbed the wooden stool from falling as the little girl sat on the wooden stool before looking at me confused, “Mama… I don’t know herbs.”
Laughter escaped from my mouth as I looked at the adorable little girl who was pretty much the tranquilizer for all of us in this town, especially the knights who loves to play with her. This little girl was honest with her words and will always do her best in everything she does, “I will go grab them, for now, can you sprinkle the salt on the meat?”
“Mhm!” she replied with enthusiasm before looking at Iona as if she was asking for a bit of help which earned my giggle while I made my way towards the herbs which were located on a table near the salt, the herbs consisted of rosemary, thyme, and some other more herbs but only the rosemary and thyme were the ones that mattered to me.
Taking those out, I walked to another table and grabbed some butter before heading back to the table where Ayaka could be seen happily sprinkling salt over the dry-aged meat, she was being held and raised a bit by Iona who was visibly worried about her. After reaching the table, I placed the herbs on the side before saying, “You can stop now, I will cook the meat with the help of magic so we can finish this fast.”
Hearing my words, she immediately stopped before nodding with excitement as I looked at the meat before imagining the beautiful scene of steak cooked at medium-rare before a tiny magic square that was around the size of the meat appeared on the top.
The magic circle shone as the heat could visibly be seen emitting out from the meat, the spell wasn’t instant cooking, but it worked nonetheless as we don’t have to worry about burning ourselves by placing our hand on it by accident.
While the spell was still active, I threw the butter on the frying pan as the butter quickly melted. After a few moments, the butter turned into liquid where I then took a wooden spoon and bathed the meat with it before placing a rosemary leaf on the frying pan and continued to bathe it.
After a few moments, the spell was soon deactivated by itself as the juicy medium-rare steak looked to be ready with its aroma spreading all around the kitchen making both Iona and Ayaka drool as I looked at the two with a smile.
“Iona, can you call Leo and Felice over here as well?” I asked before she saluted almost instantly, quickly leaving the kitchen as the sound of her running out from the town hall echoed. You could tell she didn’t want to waste a single moment with the steak ready, “Ayaka, prepare some plates and spoons as well.”
“Yes, Mama!” she replied before running off to get some plates as I looked at the meat and smelled it a bit before a sudden painful sensation struck me inside. It was the feeling of the bloodthirsty nature of a vampire being triggered.
It was only for a slight second, but it was a sign that reminded me of the next time I have to drink blood from someone or something… it was a critical thing that all vampires need to survive and the last time I drank one should have been around ten months ago which means I only have two months left before I will need to have another drink.
“What a pain…” I thought before Ayaka came back with all the plates and kitchen utensils while Leo and the others also returned with Iona rushing to the kitchen with drool on her mouth, “Are you all ready to have a big meal for today?”
“Looks delicious,” Leo smiled.
“Who isn’t ready for a large meal?” Felice smiled as she took four seats and placed them around the kitchen table while I divided the meat between all of us which consisted of two slices for each of us, almost immediately after our share was divided equally, all of us took up our kitchen utensils and bowed down before the loud sound of the door of the town hall opening echoed.
“My lady! There is a problem, Your Majesty has arrived saying that he is here for an inspection!”
I instantly dropped my spoon and fork upon hearing that as my mood immediately dropped from heaven to hell in a single second…