This came from a random prompt generator which gave me Erina/Soma royalty/peasant. I'm trying a different writing style.

I should get back to work...

Disclaimer: I do not own Shokugeki no Soma.

Her captors are stupid enough to leave her unattended.

When she wakes up, she finds herself in an unfamiliar place with her hands and feet bound. As her eyes adjust to the dim lighting, she makes out a table in the far corner accompanied by two small chairs. She doesn't dare to sit upright and look around, although she does note that there is a roof above. There is also a piece of cloth over her, probably a blanket. She figures they must have brought her to an abandoned warehouse or something.

Thankfully, this sort of thing has been foreseen and she has been made to take a number of precautions, one of which is an anklet around her left foot. It is a relief to know that the kidnappers haven't deprived her of her jewellery, at least not yet. She calms herself down first and forces herself not to move too much in fear of alerting her captors that she is now conscious, and she waits. There is no noise for the first few moments when she is awake.

Just as she is about to move, one of the doors bang open and she flinches. Hopefully whoever is walking in didn't see her move. She hears the person's footsteps draw closer and she shuts her eyes, focusing on keeping her breathing regular. She hears a male voice mutter almost next to her ear, 'still out of it' before the presence leaves, the echoes of his steps the only sound in the area.

She hears the door open and shut. It is only after a few minutes pass does she dare exhale through her mouth. Presumably, she has a few minutes to escape. Someone will probably be back to check on her afterwards.

The blanket slips off her as she sits up and she shivers; she is dressed in only a sleeveless nightgown and a pair of slippers. The kidnappers had caught her when she was retiring for the night. Cold, she fumbles for the catch on her anklet. When she hears the click, she can't help but let a small smirk adorn her features. Carefully, she begins to saw the rope binding her, wrists slowly moving the rope over the small hidden blade. Once the binding snaps, she unclasps the anklet and cuts the rope around her feet.

She wraps the fabric around herself and quietly walks to the door. She presses her ear against it and hears at least two people outside conversing. Their voices are too muffled for her to hear their exact words. Gritting her teeth, she looks around the warehouse and thinks that maybe she can crawl out the window if she climbs on the table.

This certainly has been the most unpleasant experience she has ever had in her entire life.

She puts the blanket on one of the chairs and pushes the table as carefully as she can. The scraping of the legs against the floor is loud to her ears and she quickly stops, listening anxiously for any signs of her kidnappers coming back into the warehouse. When nobody enters, she resumes painstakingly moving the piece of furniture towards to window, pausing every so often to listen for people. After what feels like an hour, she manages to position the table beneath the window. She grabs the blanket and climbs on top of the table. She can't see anyone when she looks out.

The window creaks when she pushes it open, but she is past the point of caring too much. These people must be deaf if they didn't hear the table moving.

She throws the blanket on the ground and takes a deep breath before throwing herself out the window. She hits the ground and forces herself not to let out any noise. While creaking and thudding may be noises that can occur at a warehouse in the middle of nowhere, pained noises made by a human certainly are not.

She hears shouts from inside the warehouse and she quickly picks herself off the ground. They must have discovered she's missing. Grabbing the blanket, she runs off into the woods.

She has absolutely no idea where she is or where she is heading, but that is of little concern. She needs to escape. She has heard all too many stories of ransom and what the criminals can do to the hostages. She runs until she doesn't hear the voices anymore.

Soon enough she finds herself utterly lost. As she wanders around the dense shrubbery, an important thought comes to her. Aren't there bears out here?

She forces herself to calm down. Taking deep breaths, she observes her surroundings. Noticing the smoke rising above the trees, she decides she might as well head in that direction. Hopefully that isn't the same direction she came from.

To her relief, it appears to be a town. She wanders through the empty streets and searches for a place where she might be able to view the castle. If this is a nearby village, she should be able to see the castle.

As she stares at the ring of stones with some sort of wooden frame over it in the centre of the town, another thought occurs to her.

How will she even get back to the castle?

It isn't as if Hisako, her other attendants, or the guards know where she is. And even if she can see the castle, she doesn't know how to get there. Could she just go in the direction of the castle? She can see the castle in the distance, but it looks too far for her to make it on foot, and it isn't like she wants to walk all that way anyway.

Deciding to temporarily forget about the horrible predicament she is in, she walks over to the monument and looks at the frame. She has never seen anything like it before. She frowns in puzzlement at the rope that hangs over the wood frame and then coils down into the circle of rocks.

"What are you doing? It's dangerous to be out this late, especially for girls," a voice calls out from behind her.

She abruptly whirls around to see a young man holding a bucket. As he walks towards her, the light from the moon better reflect his features. His amber eyes are regarding her with a mix of suspicion and concern. She must look strange wrapped in a blanket while standing in the middle of town.

Before she can answer, he speaks again. "You're not from around here."

Well obviously not. However, she hesitates to tell a stranger her circumstances. He may very well attempt to hold her hostage as well. The only thing her brain supplies to her is, "I'm lost," and she winces at the lame excuse. Under other circumstances, she would be able to come up with something better.

He doesn't seem too concerned that she is lying, that or he honestly believes her, which is sad; who walks around town in a nightgown of all things? He waltzes over and pulls up the rope. At the end is a bucket full of water. "Where are you trying to go?"

She watches curiously as he pours the water into his own bigger bucket, and he repeats the process until it is full. "Somewhere near the castle." She decides it is better to be vague.

"You're not travelling by foot, are you? That'll take weeks." He raises an eyebrow at her.

Damn, it is worse than she initially thought. She does not want to trudge through forest and dirt roads to get back home. Biting her lip, she looks down at the bucket, thinking about what she should do next. She has no money and does not know anyone. No ideas come to mind and all of a sudden she is filled with fear.

"Hey, are you okay?" the male asks. He probably sees her trembling and she tries to stop the movement, but it only gets worse.

She clutches the blanket closet to her and steels herself. "I'm fine. What are you doing out then?" She directs the question back at him in an attempt to steer the conversation away from herself for the time being.

Thankfully he takes the hint and replies, "Getting some water so I can sharpen my knives." Seemingly out of nowhere, he pulls out a knife and brandishes it in front of her. "I'm in the middle of coming up with a new dish!" He sounds incredibly excited as he spins the utensil in his fingers. The movement is almost hypnotising.

"You're a... chef?" she asks, curious. His idle talk is calming and she doesn't feel so worried anymore.

He laughs. "Never hear anyone use that fancy word, but yeah, I'm a cook, a pretty good one if I do say so myself."

She wonders what plebian dishes he cooks and scoffs. There is no way he can match up to the chefs in the palace.

"What, you don't believe me?"

She waves her hand dismissively. "You don't look like a chef, let alone a decent one."

Instead of getting angry at her insult, he grins at her. "Why don't you try it for yourself? You're probably hungry if you're wandering around at three in the morning."

Her eyes widen slightly. Has that much time really passed? Just how far away is she? She considers declining his offer, but she has nothing better to do, and it isn't exactly safe out by herself. She has no idea what to do next, so perhaps this will be a temporary respite, even if the food is lackluster. "Fine."

So she follows him through the empty streets. As she is walking, she feels the fatigue sink in; the adrenaline rush is over and it is like everything hits her at once. She had been kidnapped, managed to escape, and is now following a stranger to his house. Suddenly, this seems like a very bad idea.

"Wait, no." She stops in her tracks.

The guy turns around and tilts his head to one side. "What is it?"

She shakes her head. "Never mind. I think I'll go now."

"Why?" He looks rather confused.

She pauses for a moment, trying to find a more diplomatic way to say what she wants, but then decides to screw diplomacy because it's been one hell of a night. "I don't even know you!"

"Oh, is that all? I'm Soma," he replies easily, still not offended at her behaviour.

What is wrong with this guy? His name means nothing! He can easily give her a fake name! She frowns at him and crosses her arms.

Before she can say as such, he asks, "What's your name?"

She hesitates, but figures her first name won't give away her position, and most of the commoners don't know what she looks like; they only know her grandfather's face. "Erina." A fake name doesn't come to her head quickly enough for a reply to sound like the truth, so she sticks with the truth.

"Ahh, so you're named after the princess. I hear she's supposed to be beautiful. You're aptly named." He says this all with a straight face and she can't help but blush at the sincerity of that compliment. "Well, Erina, it's only a couple of houses down."

She holds back her retort at the familiarity in which he addresses her and instead decides to follow him without a word. It is a cold night and right now she would like to be somewhere warm. The blanket is thin and not large enough to cover her anyway.

When she enters his small dwelling, the warmth hits her and she lets out a sigh of relief. A small fire is burning in the corner. He leads her to a small kitchen and shows her to a small wooden stool that has seen better days. She seats herself and spins it to face the counter in order to observe Soma cook.

When she was younger, she would wander down to the kitchens and watch the chefs prepare food. It was a hobby for her, back in the days where she wasn't loaded with administrative work. The chefs used to cook her a little something whenever she was there. The palace kitchen had some of her most fond memories and some of the worst.

She shivers slightly, pushing the unpleasant thoughts from her mind and instead thinks about everyone's reactions to her disappearance in a few hours. How many people will be dispatched in order to search for her?

A pleasant fragrance reaches her nose and she returns her attention to the kitchen in front of her. Soma has some rice boiling on the stove and is cutting up something yellow on a board. She doesn't have a good view of what it is, but the smell is tantalising; she attributes it to the hour of the morning and the fact she is hungry, or plebian food wouldn't smell good. "What are you making?" she asks for the sake of conversation, not because she is curious or anything.

"It's a surprise," he replies cheekily as he takes the rice off the stove.

She lets out an almost inaudible sigh. It is probably best she doesn't push for an answer. For some reason, she gets the feeling it will be tiring to talk to him for extended periods of time, and her intuition is never wrong.

A minute later, a bowl of plain rice and a bowl of yellow cubes are presented to her and she eyes it warily. It smells of chicken and eggs, although she has doubts since it is nothing like she has seen before.

"Put the cubes on the rice," he suggests ever so unhelpfully.

She prevents herself from saying something rude since that much was already evident, and does as he says. When the cubes hit the rice, they melt and release an even stronger scent of chicken. She takes a bite and is hit by the concentrated taste of the jellied chicken broth. The saltiness of the broth complements the sweetness of the minced eggs, and she finds herself unintentionally savouring the taste.

When her eyes open, she sees him grinning at her in the most obnoxious manner she has ever seen, even more so than the stupid nobles that surround her in court, and she is annoyed.

"Well, how is it?"

She furrows her eyebrows at the almost arrogant tone in his voice. "It's... It's disgusting!"

The look on his face is comical and it makes her feel a bit better. Not so confident now, is he?

"Seriously?!" He is wide-eyed and flabbergasted.

No, it isn't disgusting, but the way he interacts with her annoys her to no end, and it irritates her to admit that some commoner dish tasted, well, good. Her pride prevents her from admitting as such. She pushes the bowl away from her. "Disgusting," she reaffirms.

He appears crestfallen at her comments and she feels a small amount of guilt at the harshness of her words. Though almost immediately after, a determined look appears on his face. "Just you wait. I'll make you something that you'll say is good." He seems excited by the challenge.

She is confused by his behaviour, but says, "The day I say that will be the day pigs fly." The likelihood of her meeting him again after this is slim to none, so it doesn't really bother her if he wants to make such a ludicrous declaration. While that was interesting, to say the least, it is probably time she tries to figure out what to do. "I should get going." She pauses before saying, "Thank you for your hospitality." Even if she isn't too fond of him, he was nice enough to let her into his home and make her something in the dead of the night.

"What? No, you can't leave. It's dangerous out there and where will you go? You can stay here for the night. It's a bit small, but I can't just leave you out on the road."

She bites her lip and considers his offer. It is true she would probably end up wandering around on the streets, and his home, while small, is warm and cosy. "Very well, I appreciate it."

"Great!" He rushes off to set up somewhere for her to sleep and she thinks on her predicament. Perhaps she can talk to one of the traders or something for a lift to the castle. She can reward the person who does so anyway. Soon enough, Soma shows her to a place to sleep and she drifts off for the night.

When she wakes, he is already in the kitchen cooking up something else.

"Good morning!" He closes the lid on something and waves at her.

"…Morning," she responds less enthusiastically. "Do you know any traders that are heading in the direction of the castle?"

He thinks about her question for a moment. "Traders? No, none are, but Shinomiya is passing through this village to return to the castle. He's at the inn near the butcher, though I don't think he'll give anyone a lift..."

"Do you mind showing me to where he is staying?" She can't believe her luck. Kojirou Shinomiya is a regular chef at the castle kitchens and has been away for a few months in order to refine his cooking. He also knows who she is, so it will make things a lot easier.

"You sure?" he asks. "He's not the most pleasant of people, and he probably won't help you out."

She rolls her eyes. "Yes, I'm sure."

"Well, if you say so. Breakfast needs to sit for half an hour anyway." He beckons her to follow him and the two of them make their way into town.

She ignores the stares from commoners. It is not her fault that the only thing she has on her is a nightgown and a pair of slippers. Soma doesn't seem too concerned as he chats to her about the town, telling her about the people and their livelihoods. She merely nods or inserts an 'I see' during his pauses. She has never had someone speak to her in such a carefree manner and so openly that she doesn't know how to contribute to the conversation. Thankfully, he just keeps talking and she doesn't have to do much.

They soon reach the inn that Soma was talking about and she makes her way to the counter. The woman eyes her with confusion and disdain and asks, "How can I help you?"

She bites back a rude retort, though she narrows her eyes. "Which room is Shinomiya in?"

"Oh, darling, he doesn't have time for you," the brunette responds condescendingly. "I suggest you find someone else to sink your claws into."

She is stunned for a moment. Who does this woman think she is to be talking to her, let alone anyone else like that? Before she can open her mouth to verbally berate the bitch, the person of discussion enters the room. She tilts her head to look at the chef and sees his eyes widen. "Shinomiya, just the person I was looking for."

"Y-Your Highness, what are you doing here?"

Of course he's confused. She would never even be in the village if it wasn't for those stupid kidnappers. "I was kidnapped. I need a ride to the castle."

He bows politely. "Of course, Your Highness, I will see you to the castle immediately."

From the corner of her eye, she sees the hostess pale considerably and she smirks. She turns to the unfortunate brunette and can't help but ask, "What were you saying before, darling?"

The woman squeaks and splutters out apologies. "I am so sorry, Your Highness, I didn't know it was you! Please forgive me!"

"Get me your manager," she demands. The woman runs off. She then turns to look at her two companions. "How soon can you depart?"

"Within the hour," the older man replies. "I will make preparations at once." He bows and hurries off.

She watches him depart and is relieved that she will be back at the castle within a week. She then turns her attention to her other companion only to see surprise reflected in those amber eyes.

He blinks at her and grins. "So you're the princess."

She inclines her head in response. "Your assistance was much appreciated."

"No problem." He crosses his arms. "I did wonder why you talked so fancy, but I guess that explains everything."

Before she can reply, a middle-aged man, presumably the inn's manager, rushes over with the hostess in tow and asks, "Your Highness wished to see me?" He bows deeply, the woman following his lead.

"Fire her," she says in her most authoritative tone. Unfortunately, her attire makes the demand a lot less intimidating.

"U-Understood, Your Highness." The manager speaks to the woman in hushed tones before both of them retreat to the employee section.

"Isn't that kinda harsh?"

She looks over at him. "Not at all. If she doesn't have the courtesy to be polite to a potential customer, then there is no need for her to continue working here."

He shrugs and decides to change the subject. Smart man. "I guess you're not sticking around for breakfast then?"

"No, I need to get back to the castle." Deciding to be a little more open, she gives him a small smile, because without him she wouldn't have found a way back to the castle.

He blinks at her, a bit stunned. "You're a lot prettier when you smile," he comments nonchalantly, and she blushes at the compliment. "So even the princess gets embarrassed."

"Of course!" she retorts in irritation. It is rare for someone to genuinely compliment her.

He laughs. "Well, I'll just have to become a cook at the palace so I can make you something you like."

She crosses her arms. "We'll see about that. I doubt you can make it through the qualification rounds. We have plenty of talented chefs already."

"Just you wait, Erina, I'll get there and make you say 'it's good' with that mouth of yours, even if I have to exhaust my cooking to its limits!"

The corners of her lips twitch upwards at his enthusiasm and optimism.

Kojirou has perfect timing as he enters soon after Soma's challenge to her. "The carriage is ready, Your Highness. We can depart now."

"Good." She nods at the older male before turning her attention back to the red-head. "I'll be waiting." She raises her hand in farewell and follows Kojirou out.

"See you, Erina!"

She can't help but look forward to his appearance at the palace.

"So, how is it?"

"It's… It's good..."

"I don't see any flying pigs."

"Shut up."