51-Episode 49 Old Birds

There's not a soul on the main street.
No, not no, but it's very sparse.

'Hey, bro. There's no one here.
'That's right.

It seems that this is not just because there are few people wandering around here at noon ......, as most of the residents are engaged in the restoration work of their own homes or workplaces.

I walked along the sparsely populated main street with a cart in tow.
The construction work is done just beyond the main street. The main street is lined with restaurants and various other stores. In order to treat the wastewater produced by these stores, the sewage system on this street will be built more solidly than others. It would be a big problem if the sewage were to clog or back up here.

But ......

Normally, when there is a big construction project nearby, restaurants would benefit from it and become very busy, but ...... they are deserted.
It's strange that none of us go out to the neighboring restaurants, no matter how many bribes we bring.
I'm sure they'd like to eat something different once in a while, or drink something different.
People in this world don't have the idea that 'it's wrong to drink in the middle of the day while working! In this world, people don't have the idea that 'it's wrong to drink alcohol in the middle of the day while working'. ...... After all, alcohol is like a substitute for water.
When it comes to drinking, drink. It's the safest thing to drink. Even young children drink diluted wine. But they don't gulp it down because they get drunk easily.

And yet, there is no one.
It's deserted, after deserted ......

And then I saw "Cantalucica" ahead.
It's a bar with dog-eared waiters. I didn't know the name of the bar until now, because there was no sign of it anywhere on the bar, but one of the carpenters at Torbek's construction company was a regular customer of the bar. He told me that the name of the store was "Cantalucica".
Signs are necessary, aren't they?
For example, if someone says, 'Cantalucica's sake is delicious! It would be a waste of time to say, 'Where is it? It would be a waste of time if it became 'Where is that?
We advertise the name of 'Sunlit Pavilion' very persistently.

Oh, yes. I forgot to mention.
My sisters are currently wearing the uniforms I made for the stalls.
They have matching dresses, matching aprons, and matching hats.
On the apron's chest is written in large letters, "Sunlit Pavilion.
The hat looks like a baggy, loose-fitting triangular hood, a cute modification of the school lunch apron hat. Because cuteness and cleanliness of appearance are important.
And the hat has a hole to show the ham ears.
They're not hidden. They'll never sneak up on me again.

Once, when I heard a little girl mutter 'cute' when she saw her sisters' uniforms, I wanted to do a gut-punch. That's why it's worth staying up all night to make them.
I've been working hard all night to ...... make cute uniforms for my sisters.

More than anything, I was happy to see that my sisters were overjoyed.
We all took it in turns to wear the sleeves. Now it's a kind of status to be able to wear this uniform. The vendors are rotated, though.
When we have time to make the clothes, we'll be able to provide one uniform for each person. ......
But that's a long way off.

'Hey, big brother!Someone's down!

My sister, who was walking next to me, said while pointing ahead.
A girl is crouched in front of a bar called "Cantalcica". Her back is rounded and she is crouched down, her ears like those of a golden retriever hanging from her head.


I called out, and the crouched girl slowly raised her head.
It was Paula, after all.

A hard worker with a lot of energy. She's the girl behind Cantartica, a high-class bar on the main street (in the 42nd district, that is). Her brown skin and her canine teeth that peek out when she smiles are her main charms.

However, the current Paula does not give off such a lively impression.
Her cheeks are puffy and dark circles have formed under her eyes.
She has her eyes open, but it is doubtful whether she is conscious or not.

What the hell happened to her?

She looked so lively when she knocked Loretta out.

'................... That's my brother.

Paula muttered in a thin voice that seemed to be drowned out even by the gentle breeze.
Oh no, no, no!I feel as if I'm about to disappear at any moment.

'Hey, hey, what's going on?

The last time I saw this guy, he was yelling at Loretta with full of energy.
What's going on with her after only half a month?

'...... Oh, yeah. ...... okay.'
'You're not fine at all, by the looks of it.'

Paula's face twisted into a crumpled mess.
Her voice, shaken by tears, was filled with frustration.

'The customers aren't coming to ........................'

Are you mentally challenged...... is that really all?

'Are you eating?


'You haven't eaten, have you .

'What do you do when the barman is hungry? If the clerk at the clothing store was naked, you wouldn't shop there, would you?'
'............I wouldn't shop at any store where the clerk was naked.'

...... Well, I guess that's true. That was a bad analogy.

'What if the barber is bald?
'...... You can't help it there.'

What's wrong?What's wrong with that?
I don't know why I can't come up with a good analogy.

I'm not sure.
If the lady at the restaurant at night had poor breasts,............, it would be different too.

Anyway, people in restaurants have to eat their fill to look good, right?
'It's ............... ......!

Paula grabbed her ears with both hands and pulled them down with a jerk.

'............I can't buy any food,............!

Food is in short supply because of the heavy rains.
Is there such a shortage of food in the forty-two districts that the stores on the main streets can't get it? ............
.................. No, that's crazy.

I'm sure you've heard of it.

Then what the hell is the Peddler's Guild for?

'Are they saying that there's no food, the peddlers guild?
'............ says it's due to a disaster.

Didn't you say ............ 'something' about the effects of the disaster?
So, for example, it could be 'I'm sick of working because of the disaster, so I'm going to take a cut of the profits.

'Hey. Your store ...... is called "Cantalcica", right?...... Who do you buy your food from?'
'Various, but ......'.

Are you being forced to negotiate with multiple merchants here as well as at the Sunlit Pavilion?

'Do you know who the representative is?I'm sure you'll be able to figure it out.
'If it's ...... a representative, then it's ............ Assunto, isn't it?


He's the pig-faced, disgusting merchant I beat back when he tried to buy vegetables from Moormat.
He's the epitome of a money-grubbing, smooth-talking, self-serving man.

'Assunto is the representative of the peddler's guild branch in this area.

So he's the chapter leader.
............ That's a nasty chapter.

'By this area, you mean the forty-second and forty-first districts, right?
'Yes. I think it's up to the 40th district, isn't it?

So, I guess I'm a low man in the peddler's guild.
After all, he's the branch in charge of the lowest three districts.

'He's an ambitious man. He's trying to make a profit and appeal to the headquarters to become the head of the higher district.

So he doesn't hesitate to put profits first.

'But we don't want to follow all the arguments of the peddlers' guild.
'Why not?Just tell them off. Don't be silly.'
'That's not true!...... Then the food won't come in, and the store will go out of business.

What kind of ...... is it called the "company animal spirit" or the "slave spirit"? ............
If you have been oppressed for a long time, it will become normal and you won't complain about the blatant brutality.

They must think that 'they are just being conscientious in passing food around'.
Does a wolf with its fangs removed become more obedient than a dog?

'I don't have any food,...... and I don't have any alcohol,...... and I don't really want to,......... I don't really want to ...... ...... ... I was forced to raise the price ...... .............'

It took him a long time to say the word "price hike", as if he had a great deal of resistance to it.
The frustration was exuding from his distorted mouth.

'But I don't want to burden the customers as much as possible!

As if desperately pleading with me, Paula sat down and shouted at me.
But she quickly toned it down again and looked down.

'Reduce the amount of food we eat, ...... reduce it, ...... send it all to the store, ......... ...We're just barely making ends meet. ............ We're not getting any customers. ......... ...The only customer who came yesterday said, "It's too expensive," as soon as he saw the menu. ............ He clicked his tongue and left ...... He left ..................'.

Hugging her knees and burying her face between them, Paula let out a long, shaky breath.

'..................What do you want me to do? ......'

Curled up in a little ball, Paula stopped moving.
Maybe she's crying.

I looked over Paula's head and saw the manager standing silently at the counter.
He must have heard our conversation. But he said nothing. ...... No, he said nothing. ...... He just stared at the empty store.
A wooden plaque propped up on the counter read "800Rb Wine". Next to 800Rb, the number 300Rb was crossed out with an X.
...... A little less than three times the price increase, huh?

Is there nothing we can do about it? ......
I'm not sure what to make of this, but I'm sure it's a good idea.

............ We have to do something.

.................. Oh, no. No, no.
It's not that I'm feeling righteous or sympathetic to Paula, it's just for me.

A con artist is someone who cheats people out of their money.
In other words, if the people around you dry up, there is no money left to be made, and the swindler is out of business.
You can only get money from those who have it.

...... There are some scammers who target the poorest of the poor.
I don't approve of that. They're third-rate. No more than an apprentice.
Those who can only scam the weak should be ashamed of their low ability and dive from a skyscraper right now. Quit your job, you have no talent.
It's that simple.
Which is easier, more reliable, and yields more water (profit): making a hole in the bottom of a bath tub filled with water, or turning over an empty paper cup?
The former, without even thinking about it.
Scammers who lose sight of such a simple thing and crowd around a paper cup with no water in it are as unnecessary as the loyalty card of a private store you happen to enter on a trip. ...... No, I'm never going back.

Anyway, I have a loyalty card that can be used at all stores in the national chain. ...... I don't know why I compared it to a loyalty card. ...... It's confusing.

I mean!

If the people in this town don't make a reasonable amount of money, I'm in trouble!
Specifically, ......

It's not as if the girl in the high-class bar on the main street is crying in front of the bar.

'Hey, big brother!

Suddenly, Paula looked up and leaned in close to me.

'Will you buy me?

What's she talking about?

'I'm a raw girl!I think her face is pretty cute too, what do you think?Don't you like her?
'No, what are you talking about all of a sudden?
'She has reasonably large breasts!

I already checked that a long time ago.

'How about it?Don't you think it's worth it?
'Wait, wait, wait!I understand that you're too hungry and confused, so calm down for a moment.
'I'm serious!I'll ...... do anything for the store!I don't care what they do to me!
'Even if you're okay with it, I'm not okay with it!Look, there's a bulldog behind the counter with glistening eyes and fangs!

Paula's father is threatening me from behind the counter, emitting a monstrous aura.
...... Don't talk to me, talk to your daughter!

'Dad, shut up!
'...... Kuh~n.'
'No, it's not 'kuhn'!You're too weak, father!

By the way, when you fired Loretta, you did it on Paula's authority.
Isn't that why the business is getting tough?

'Please!I'll be fine if you're my brother!
'I'm not all right!In my hometown, it's against the law to buy and sell s*x!
'If you have a large amount of money, you can buy food from the peddler's guild!So, please, .............'

I press my forefinger down on Paula's mouth as she sobs.
When the finger touched her lips, Paula's face turned bright red.
...... You're embarrassed by this, but don't be cocky about buying it.

It's more than that.

'Can you tell me more about it?
'...... What?What do you mean?

You can get the ingredients if you pay for them. ...... means that they are still stocked.
They're probably reluctant to pay for it and are driving up the price. Dirty people.
I hate people who spare the "8" in a 7-way tie.
It's a good strategy to pass around in a millionaire's game. I do it all the time. Is that bad?

What I'm trying to say is that ...... I don't think I'm going to like the peddlers guild after all.

I'm sure you'll be able to figure out how much your store normally charges for food and how much it has increased in price. And let me know if you've added anything to your terms in the future. ...... Tell me more about that.
'No, I can't tell you that!I can't tell you what I've been told ...... that would expose my hand!

'You give us the information, we'll give you all the tacos you can eat.
'...... Gurgle.'

The sound of spitting rang out loudly, and Paula's stomach began to chorus in time with it.

'There's also warm tomato-based vegetable soup.'
'.................. sizzling.'
'And while you're at it, some sweet honey-flavored popcorn. ......'
'All right!I give up!I give up!

Paula, down.

'Hey, big brother.
'We have to go.
'All those construction workers.
'I'm going to be so skinny!

My sisters pointed out that I had been waiting for them for a long time, and I remembered that I was on my way to deliver the bribery food.
d*mn ......, just when I might be able to get some information ......, I can't help it!

'Sister!Get me three tacos and a bowl of soup ASAP!
'Yes, yes!
I'll be ready in 40 seconds!

Oh, I'm sure Magda taught you that, didn't she?

'It's ready!

Carrying a tray of tacos and soup, I entered the empty bar. I put the tray on the counter and negotiate with the bulldog-eared manager.

'Here, you can borrow Paula for the day. Of course I'm not going to do anything crazy. Just help me serve some food to the construction workers.'

The owner looked stern and slowly raised his arm.
He held up his forefinger and stuck it out at me.

'...... Taco, you want another one?'

...... You're a nasty old man.

So the deal was done, and I took Paula to the construction site.
On the way and at the site, I got some information from Paula.

I'm not going to go into the details, but roughly speaking, they told me that they had been buying at 1000Rb and now they wanted me to pay 7000Rb.
When he refused, he was threatened with the phrase "food production is declining due to the disaster," which is not a judgment of the spirits. ...... It is true that food production is falling due to the disaster. There may or may not be enough stock to meet demand. ......
So, Assunto has set another trap.
If you buy food at 20,000Rb this time, you can buy at 3,000Rb instead of 7,000Rb in the future.

...... At first glance, it sounds like a good deal to pay a large sum of money at the beginning, but in the end, the purchase price was still raised.

When I pointed this out, Paula said, 'Oh, really?It's true! Paula's eyes widened in surprise.
...... Are there only pure-hearted people living in this town?

In any case, that's why I told Paula not to do anything that would earn her a large sum of money. Don't lower your value by doing so.

After I said such a preachy thing, I reflected that I was a bit old-fashioned. ......

'......Yes, I don't do that anymore.

It's a good thing that Paula said that honestly.

'Your brother is a good man, isn't he?

Since I came to this town, I've often been misunderstood.
If I were a good person, the Secret Society of Evil would be treated as a charitable non-profit organization.

'Hey, can I ask your name?
'Yashiro. Obayashiro.'
'...... Yashiro....... Yeah, I got it.'

The smile on his face was quite cute, and he looked his age.
I'm sure he's in a good mood now that his stomach is full.

............ Well...

You will find a lot of things that you can do to make your life easier.
After distributing the bribes, I needed to walk around the city a bit.
In the meantime, I'm going to go to Mormat's place and any other place where I can ask Delia to ...... help me.

Thanks to the work of Paula and her sisters, the distribution of bribes and the sale of food to the general public has been completed.
Today's work is done.

The second store that we met on the way back also seemed to have sold out successfully.
Delia and Nepheli seemed to have worked together, though they were still a little awkward. My sisters testified to this.

'Yashiro. If you have any problems, you can always tell me!I'm a responsible person and I'll take care of it.
'Yashiro. If you have any problems, please consult me immediately. I'm reliable and I'll help you with anything.''
'Big brother. I'll always be there to help you too.''
''Who are you?

Delia and Nephrite rolled their eyes at Paula, took a stance, and were a little intimidated.

The next thing I knew, we were in front of the sunlit pavilion.

Paula was on the main street and Nepheli was on the street beyond. I don't remember .......

'Well, I'm going home too.

Delia raised her hand and walked away at a leisurely pace.
If you only look at her back, she looks like someone who is 'going to meet a strong guy'.

'...... Well,' she said.

If you're asking if it's something I should do or not, it's probably not something I'd do.
But I'm trying to act in my own interest.
I am convinced that it is in my best interest to do so, and that it will eventually bring me great benefits.

Still, I'm a little confused because of the ...... dangers involved, I guess.
And it's not just for me, but the people closest to me that are in the most danger. ......

In the worst case, you might be expelled from the ward.
If that happens, I'll be in trouble with the store, won't I?

I guess I should talk to the manager. ......

'Jeannette. Do you have a minute?'

She takes me in with her usual smile and her usual soft voice.
I don't want you to be in any danger, though. ......

I left the store to Magda and Loretta and came to my room with Ginette.
Ginette sat on the couch and I on the bed. We sit face to face and I start talking.
I start talking about what I've learned today and what I think about it. The actions I'm going to take to back it up, and the risks involved. Then he tells me all about his ultimate goal.

Sitting opposite me, Ginette listened to me in silence the whole time.

'............,' she said.

After the long conversation, I quenched my thirst with the lemon water from the sunny pavilion.
As I gulped down the glass of water, Jeannette slowly looked up and smiled gently at me.

'I want to support you in what you think is right, Yashiro-san,' she said.
'You might get yourself into trouble.'
'I'm fine. Even if I end up getting in a lot of trouble, I'll be ......'.

The soft smile on his face turns into a gorgeous color here.

'Yashiro is here, so I'm sure he'll take care of the trouble.

It's a great way to make sure you're getting the most out of your vacation.
...... Oh dear.
I don't know how much this guy understands.

Well, I've got your permission.
Then I'll let you do whatever you want.

I'll shut up anyone who gets in my way.

And while we're at it.
It might make life a little easier for the residents of District 42, but that's none of my business.