|“||A peaceful life is all I want.||”|
Righteous and passionate. This noodle shop owner seems to want to spend the years quietly, but underneath her warm and gentle facade, a decidedly different past is hidden.
"Tonkotsu" means "pork bones" in Japanese, and a bowl of tonkotsu ramen is all about the broth, which is made by boiling pork bones and various vegetables. After 24 hours of boiling, the collagen in the bones breaks down, rendering a rich broth that gives off a mouth-watering aroma. Although ramen was originally introduced in Japan from China, after undergoing local modifications, it has become a representative Japanese noodle dish. It's said that the most authentic techniques for making it are still kept secret, and one can only taste the genuine article by going to Japan.
How to Acquire
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|Contract||Pleased to meet you. My name is Tonkotsu Ramen... As you can see, I'm just an ordinary ramen shop owner.|
|Log In||Welcome, customer -- oh, goodness, it's Attendant! What brings you to my base... I mean, shop, at this hour?|
|Ice Arena||Why is it so cold here? ...What are you laughing about? Laugh at me again and I'll turn you into a popsicle!|
|Skills||Tooth for a tooth! Eye for an eye!|
|Ascend||I once again must use this power.|
|Fatigue||I'm tired. Why won't you let me rest yet?|
|Recovering||A little more wine will help pick my spirits up.|
|Team Formation||You want me to come out of retirement? Heh heh, then what is in it for me, Attendant?|
|Knockout||So this is... what they meant by... "Don't wait until your blood is cold"...|
|Notice||The food is ready. Get it while it's hot, and don't let it go to waste.|
|Idle 1||One can't be too reliant on a thing like violence... of course, in times of necessity, it has its uses.|
|Idle 2||That old Unadon comes in handy once in a blue moon. It's just a matter of finding the right task.|
|Idle 3||I would never have dared imagine such peaceful days before... Oh, the noodles are done. Add plenty of bamboo shoots.|
|Interaction 1||My past? Not much to speak of. Why don't we talk about you instead?|
|Interaction 2||Rest assured, anyone who causes trouble will be "disposed of" by me. You can enjoy your time here worry-free.|
|Interaction 3||The new recruits these days lack discipline. They need to be taught -- Huh? I was talking about training staff. What were you thinking?|
|Pledge||Thank you... for bringing me a life of peace far from battle. From this day on, I am willing to completely set aside my past. Let's write our own future together, okay?|
|Intimacy 1||Peaceful days... heh heh, I never dared think of a life like this in the past. How wonderful, it's getting closer.|
|Intimacy 2||Are you injured? Don't move, I'll bandage you... Does it hurt? Rest assured, I will make them hurt even more.|
|Intimacy 3||Habits can be slowly changed -- Uh, I wasn't referring to you. You don't need to change a thing. Just like my tonkotsu broth and its ever-consistent flavor. People get very attached to it...|
|Victory||It's been a long time, but these hands still have it.|
|Defeat||Oh, curses... one more time!|
|Feeding||This is a gift you made yourself? I like it very much, thank you. As for a thank-you gift -- how about another order of noodles? Heh heh.|
- In her Japanese voice, she speaks in Hakata dialect. Probably because the ramen dish originates from Fukuoka (Fukuoka Prefecture, Kyushu) and Hakata is the historical name of central Fukuoka.
The Ramen shop opens its door at a fixed time everyday. I was lifting a bucket as I stepped out of the door. Using a wooden ladle, I spread the water outside the shop. Thereafter, I hung it on the curtain.
This is what I do everyday. It was ordinary and it's no different than what a normal Ramen shop's owner would do.
On the other hand, the shop's customers were extremely normal humans.
I enjoy looking at them conversing about their everyday family life in my shop. They talk about what happens in your average, everyday household and other than that, I also love to hear them lament to me about the troubling things in their life.
Such a simple and pure life let me forget all my troubles and even my identity as a Food Soul.
However, there are often some ignorant people who would disrupt all this peace.
A noisy sound rang in the shop and seemingly frightened all the quiet customers who were chowing down. I raised my head and looked at those few youngsters sitting at the corner of the shop.
"Lady boss! Look at this ramen! There's a big bug in here! Are you able to bear the responsibility if we get poisoned for eating this!"
The regulars in the shop looked at the rowdy youngsters and some even shake their head helplessly.
With traces of sympathy in the eyes, an elderly folk looked at them and gave a sincere warning.
"Young men, you should leave before it's too late."
My hand, which was taking out a cutting knife, froze.
--Oh...Perhaps I must have frightened the customers when i was clearing out some "pests.
The shop fell into silence, almost as if it were waiting for my next action. Only those youngsters failed to notice this.
I awkwardly looked at the sky and tried to project out a warm smile on my face as much as possible while I looked at those delinquents.
"There's no way there would be a bug in my shop. Did you guys see wrongly?"
"What nonsense are you babbling out birch! Are you taking us as blind people when there is such a big bug!!!"
"Tskk--why is stomach so pain--"
"That's right! See, our boss's stomach is hurting!"
So it seems I can't opt for the gentle method to solve this problem.
With an apologetic smile, I apologised to the affected customers. Meanwhile, my employees skilfully shifted the tables to the side.
II. Lady Boss
I tossed those youngsters out of my shop. Seeing them still try, despite humiliation, to preserve their dignity, kicking and screaming, all the customers in the shop and I couldn't help but laugh.
"You're as amazing as ever lady boss!"
"Big sister is amazing!"
"Alright, alright. You guys should stop taunting me and quickly eat up. Today, everyone will receive a free Ibsen egg as compensation."
"Okay!! You're fantastic, Lady boss! As expected of you!!"
Seeing those jokers among the regulars, my lips unknowingly curled into a smile.
Those bunch of delinquents didn't stop because of this and instead cling onto me due to that challenge.
In that short time, their challenge seems to have become a great show for the regulars to watch ad they eat.
A feeling of helplessness reared up in my heart as I looked at their swollen face and bruised nose. I extended my hand and poke the wounds of the leader of those delinquents.
"Hey, how many times did you guys came here? Y'all can't beat me you know."
That boy, who looks somewhere below 20 years old, was shocked due to the pain.
"How can a man admit defeat because of this! There is no principle to speak of!"
The nearby regulars made a snickering sound separately, causing the boy's face to be flushed. I pat his back.
"Principles isn't something simple for someone who declares himself as the king of the street to own. Your brothers believe you but given everything you have committed, don't you think you've let them down? Go home and think about it."
After a while, that boy never came back. Even the regulars themselves were also upset knowing that there's no more exciting show for them to enjoy.
The next time I saw him, he suddenly rushed up to me and kneeled down. His forehead pressing hard against the floor.
"Please take me in, Lady boss!!! "
I moved half a step backwards in shock when I see him repeatedly press his head against the floor. His forehead is probably in pain.
"Get up first!"
"No! I wouldn't stand up if you don't take me in!!! I want to learn some principles from you!"
"...This is a ramen store,where on earth can you find principles?"
"I don't care!! Take me in!"
"So, there's more and more people working in your ramen shop?"
Unadon gulped down some wine and tried his hardest to tighten the corners of his mouth. However, the smile on his face clearly indicate some sense of schadenfreude.
Annoyed, I snatched the wine cup in his hands and kicked him out of the door.
"Have you finished fixing the rooftop? Instead, you're drinking wine here!"
"One more sip--let me finish it!!"
"No dinner for you today if you're not done fixing the rooftop!"
III. Menial Work
Getting to know Unadon is something that occurred a long time ago.
When I see him again, no matter what, I could not believe that he would become like this.
Food soul do not need to eat, but sufficient rest is required for us to recover soul energy.
His weak and troubled looks is something I've never seen before on the battlefield.
He was akin to a drenched stray puppy, hungry and cold. Despite looking pitiful, he still want to look solemn.
But even so, he still stubbornly shielded me by standing in front of me, and also chased away those gangsters who were here to receive their "protection money".
"Do you still consider yourself as men for doing this?!"
Those gangsters used that same 'ol method and fled with tears after leaving behind a harmless warning.
"Ah! If I knew it was you, I wouldn't have to fight! What a waste of my Soul power!"
Finally recognising me, Unadon let out a sigh. Suddenly, His brows tightened and he gently sniffed with his nose. He looked behind and stared at me with a serious look.
"What's that smell!"
"It so fragrant! Give me a bowl!"
He wolfed down a big bowl of Ramen, leaving behind a spotless bowl. He burped in satisfaction and draw out his wallet. But after doing so, He gave an awkward expression.
"Are you still hiring people! I don't need any salary, just a place to stay and fill my stomach!"
At that time, the way he looked at me indicate that he's expecting something. However, before I gave an answer, he immediately stood up and with a shining smile, he handed his wallet over to me.
"Ah...Just kidding! I'm going off!"
"There's no money in it anyway, so I'm giving it to you."
"...Unadon! ...Do you want to stay?"
He turned around and looked at me with a surprised look.
"Are you really willing to let me stay?"
"I coincidentally need someone to do menial jobs. If you want to, then stay. "
"Your identity? That doesn't concern me. Moreover, I'm also short of a sparring partner. When I beat you, you better not cry."
Thereafter, Unadon became an employee in my shop like the other service worker.
Originally, I was the only one in the Ramen shop. But unknowingly, my shop became a home for more and more people.
IV. Drinking under the Moon
Unadon arrival has certainly made things easier for me.
Even before those delinquents, who always came to challenge me, entered the shop, they would flee in fear once they see him. Likewise, I've never caught a glimpse of individuals that once committed dine and dash ever again.
It was only after some time that I finally discovered that that guy has been secretly clearing up those "worrying elements" behind my back.
After sending out the final customer out of my shop, that guy peered out the window. Following the gentle breeze, some flowers from the blooming Night Sakura tree drifted down and landed on the cup of wine. This led to layers of ripples to be formed on the surface.
I sat next to him and poured a cup for myself. I too, peered out of the window and looked at the Sakura dancing in the wind. That faint pink hue in the thick night sky is similar to adding layers of light in the sky.
Everything now was similar to that year under the moon.
He and I sat beneath it. The same cool breeze blew by, the same season where the fallen Sakuras danced in the sky. It's just that, the visage of a clear and glimmering moon no longer appeared in the wine cup.
"Tonkotsu Ramen, back then, didn't you bear a hatred for the sleeves of a kimono? You always hated that stuffy feeling."
Unadon murmured as he looked at my shoulder. I knew what he looked at wasn't my clothes, but rather, he was curious about the colourful slab of tattoos covering my arm, hidden underneath the large kimono.
I pulled my kimono down to expose the beautifully-coloured and wildly conspicuous tattoos on my arm.
"Looking for this?"
Unadon eyes gently lit up. He looked at the large patch of tattoo on my arm and exclaimed in a way one would when something beautiful can be seen.
"No matter how many times I looked at it...I just feel that they look gorgeous. Huh...what are the 4 fierce beasts on top of here?"
"Look. Aren't they shaking in front of you everyday?"
I pout my lips and to signal to him the 4 round companion floof inside of a small nest prepared to them. It was located in a corner of the shop.
Mouth agape, Unadon looked at the 4 pigs in shock. Under the dimmed candlelight, their skin appears to be silky smooth.
It's clear from his expression that he couldn't accept that the 4 beasts, creatures that could formerly cause anyone to run away in fear on the battlefield, actually turned into 4 little and innocuous piggies.
Unable to contain my laughter, I picked one up from the nest and pinched it with my hands. That glossy, soft and elastic feeling made me reluctant to take my hands away.
"Now, they will no longer be stained with fresh blood. This is great, isn't it?"
V. Tonkotsu Ramen
In Sakurajima, children will often receive a warning from their parents when they're young.
"If you misbehave, 4 beasts will snatch you away with it's mouth and feed you to the demoness!"
Turns out, all this so-called legend is actually based on reality.
Hearing this rumour, Unadon hugged his twin knife and laughed beneath the Sakura Tree, to the point he almost could not breathe.
Meanwhile, Tsukimi Dango who was next to him awkwardly laugh and grabbed Tonkotsu Ramen's hand. Not even this could make her let go of the rope, that was tied to the companion beas, in her hands.
The moon, snuggled beneath the layers of cloud, gradually exposed itself. Sakuras that slowly descend into the cup and generated ripples.
It was such a beautiful and calm night. But, it's just that, there weren't as many beautiful sceneries in that blood-stained memory.
In Tonkotsu Ramen's memory, the war between humans often cause people to scratch their heads.
Fortune, power or even trivial matters is sufficient to be treated as a price for the countless blood shed by one's companions, stepping on the corpse and skull of their own kind to climb up.
Tonkotsu Ramen wiped off some fresh blood that is stained on her face. Stunt, she looked at a fallen brothers.
At first...it's to protect…
At first...it's to hope for an improvement…
Why...did it turned out...to be like this…
"Lady boss, is it ok for you to have Ramen tonight?"
"Lady boss! That guy likes someone!"
"Lady boss! I...I...I...I admire you!"
Tonkotsu Ramen looked at her companions fall down one by one. She suddenly began to doubt the importance of this battle.
"Lady boss...you must...take good care of yourself…"
Once her final companion collapsed in a pool of blood, the last strand of perseverance in her dissipated.
She returned her companion beast back into her strikingly gorgeous and colourful tattoos. Under the cover of night, Tsukimi Dango sent her off the military camp.
At least on the battlefield, there is now one less killing God and her 4 beasts.
Somewhere in a village in Sakurajima, there's a new normal lady boss who runs a Ramen store and owns 4 little pigs.