Grimgal Of Ashes And Illusion / Grimgal of Ashes and Illusion Vol 4 Chapter 3
“Hey Mister! Another bowl of sorruz!” Ranta exclaimed, raising an index finger as soup and noodles dribbled from his full mouth.
The only place to get sorruz noodles around here was from a small food stand in Altana’s southern district in the food court area for common laborers. Sorruz was a soupy, salty dish made from thinly cut, yellowish wheat noodles with stewed meat added in. Not everyone thought it was totally delicious, and there was a clear divide between people who liked it and people who didn’t. At least on the first bite.
The problem was, the more you ate, the more it would grow on you and after a period of not having any, you would start craving it. After a while, it would become an addiction. You’d want to have a bowl once every ten—no, five… wait, three—days.
A huge pile of empty sorruz bowls was stacked next to Ranta’s face on the counter. Seven, to be precise, and Ranta was fervently working on conquering the eighth. He had ordered the ninth just now and it would be arriving momentarily. Freshly made sorruz was scalding hot. He wasn’t exaggerating when he said that it was fucking scalding hot. But he didn’t have time to blow on the noodles to cool them.
He had probably burned several layers of skin off in the insides of his mouth already and to be honest, he could no longer even taste the flavor. His stomach was also at the point of rebellion. It was so full and swollen, he looked like he was pregnant or something. Continuing to eat was torture, but Ranta didn’t stop. One more mouthful and the eighth bowl was finished.
“Eight down!” Ranta exclaimed as the ninth was put before him.
His eyes teared up from the steam rising off the fresh bowl. The delicious smell from a perfect combination of onions, carrots, chicken bone broth, and fatty pork would’ve been enough to make anyone’s mouth water, but the only thing Ranta felt was the agony of heartburn.
“You okay, kid?” the cook and owner of the stand peeked out from over the counter to regard Ranta.
Ranta nodded, wiping his brow with the back of his hand. His face was dripping with sweat, snot from a runny nose, and soup that missed his mouth. It was gross by anyone’s account, but Ranta didn’t care.
“Here I go!” Ranta dug into bowl number nine, slurping the noodles down even as he felt like they were going to come back up.
He hurriedly pressed both hands to his mouth, refusing to throw up. He would never, ever throw up. He couldn’t let himself. He was going to eat, eat, and eat the shit out of these noodles.
“Let’s do it. Start a shop.” His friend; his companion, Mogzo’s face appeared in his mind’s eye, exactly like it was that time. He had never seen Mogzo’s expression light up like that before. “But I don’t want it to be sorruz, I want to make it a ramen shop. While we save up money, we can keep experimenting with the flavor. And once we’ve got it right, let’s do it. Let’s open a shop.”
“Yeah, let’s do it,” Ranta muttered, knowing that Mogzo couldn’t hear him.
So all he could do now was eat. Eat, eat, and eat some more. Keep eating the sorruz that Mogzo had liked so much. Eat until he couldn’t eat more, then eat more. Eat until he was fuller than full, until he didn’t want to eat any more, then eat more. Eat, eat, eat.
“Ughhhhh…” Ranta groaned. But he had to keep eating because… because… “Because you won’t be able to eat ever again.”
Right, partner? No matter how much Mogzo wanted to eat now, he couldn’t anymore. So Lord Ranta’s gonna eat instead. What was the point of doing something like this anyways? Fuck if he knew and he didn’t give a shit either. It just felt like the right thing to do. He couldn’t help feeling that way and he couldn’t stop himself from doing it.
“Mister! Another bowl!”
“Look, kid…” the shop owner started to protest.
“It’s fine!” Ranta cut him off. “Just hurry up and bring another!”
“Bowl number nine!” Ranta declared.
Determined to finish this one in a single go, he started to eat faster. Or wanted to, but no matter how fast he thought he was eating, the amount of noodles in the bowl didn’t seem to decrease. He stopped, his stomach in full rebel mode. He couldn’t breathe. He was going to suffocate to death.
Then, he noticed; it’d gotten awfully noisy all of a sudden. When he looked up, he saw a mass of workmen and Crimson Moon reservists crowded around him. What the hell? Why were they all staring at him?
“Whoa… he’s going onto his tenth bowl,” someone murmured. Then another, “Holy shit…” And a third, “No way… is that even possible?” To which someone else replied, “He’ll throw up before then. No way he can hold down ten bowls…”
Ranta scoffed loudly and suddenly felt an entire noodle shoot into his nose. He made to pull it out and throw it away, but then thought better of it. Mogzo wouldn’t do any such thing. So he extracted the noodle from his nostrils, put it back into his mouth, and swallowed.
“You idiots just watch,” Ranta said. “Ten bowls ain’t NOTHING! I can eat double that no problem!”
Here goes! Ranta tackled the remainder of bowl number nine with renewed vigor, polishing it off in one gulp. The tenth arrived. He started to feel dizzy and sick but whatever. He got to his feet with a battle shout, brought the steaming hot bowl to his lips, and started downing the scalding contents. Noodles, meat, vegetables, whatever. They all went down his throat at once.
Those around him started to get excited, cheering and shouting encouragement. Fueled by the crowd, Ranta finished the tenth bowl in less than a minute, soup included.
“Take that!” Ranta shouted. “Mister! Bring on another!”
“Coming right up!”
“Whoaaaa!” someone exclaimed.
“He did it!” said somebody else.
“Keep going! Go, go, go!!” another encouraged.
“Fuck you all!” Ranta flipped his middle finger at everyone around him. “The name’s Ranta! Everyone say it!”
“RANTA! RANTA! RANTA!” they chanted thunderously.
“Mister, hurry it up!” Ranta yelled at the shop owner.
“Here you go!”
“Hahaha! Bowl number eleven!” Ranta laughed as he took the bowl into his hands and for a passing moment, wondered why he was doing this.
Whatever. He didn’t give a shit. Eat, eat, eat. I hope you’re watching, partner. Because it was the only thing he could do for Mogzo now.
“Urk—!!” he suddenly choked and noodles came flying out of his nose. The crowd erupted into laughter. Rather than getting angry, Ranta laughed too, louder than anyone else. He’d show them. He’d eat until he exploded.