52-Episode 50 Main Street Theater

One fine morning.
I met an old face on a deserted street.

'Hey, it's been a while.

He was walking alone on the main street, and when he saw my face, his expression clouded for a moment.
However, he immediately smiled a sales smile and gave me a light bow.
A pig-faced man in neat clothes.

His name is...

It's been a while.

Assunto smiles, but I can tell he's wary of me.
He doesn't open his heart to me.
Psychologically, it is not comfortable to show your chest or stomach to someone you recognize as an enemy. Therefore, when you go in front of someone you don't like, you cross your arms or fold your hands in front of your stomach. The same psychology is at work when you pull your upper body back a little.

Although he has a smile on his face, Assunto keeps his hands folded in front of his chest. You can say that this is a merchant-like gesture,......, but I guess he's being cautious because I approached him.

I'm not sure what you want from me.I'm sure you don't have anything special to say to the sunny pavilion that you don't do business with. ......'

The best way to deal with people who are full of sarcasm is to ignore them at all costs. It's best not to pay attention to them.

'No, I've just overheard something. I heard that you're in charge of organizing this neighborhood for the peddlers' guild.
'Yes. Although it's presumptuous of me, I'm the head of this branch. ......, what about it?

I guess it translates to 'Hey, that's none of your business! Or something like that.

'No, what. If you're a big man with the title of branch manager, I thought I'd make friends with you. I'm just here to make small talk.'
'No, no. I'm not much of a branch manager. It's a useless role that requires me to do chores and be hated.'
'It's not like you to be modest, is it?
'Oh, no. Did I seem like an arrogant person to you?If so, I'm a little disappointed. It's hurtful.''

Assunto shrugged his shoulders and looked at me with streaming eyes.
He seems to be regaining his composure little by little.
He looks at me as if he's trying to figure out what I'm thinking.

'Speaking of small talk, did something interesting happen to you?
'As a matter of fact, I've started a food stall. With my lord's permission, of course.''

Assunto's eyes changed color.
Had he decided how to deal with me?He seemed to have 'turned on' somehow.

'Yes. I've heard about you.
'You've got a quick ear. Or did you know someone who came to see you?A man who looks like a praying mantis? ......'
'If that's the case, there's nothing I can tell you. Excuse me.'

Neither confirm nor deny, huh? A wise decision.
But the look in your eyes when you said mantis was a definite affirmation. That there's a connection between you two.

But that's not the point.
It's over now and the lord has personally warned me. It won't happen again.
More importantly, it was probably just payback for the blow I dealt to Assunto. It was a way for him to vent his anger over the loss he had suffered from the Garbage Collection Guild.
It was a threat to him that if he got carried away, he would be afraid of what would happen next.

'Rather than that, I'd like to ask you to do something for me.
'Me, sir?

If you want to ask Assunto for a favor, it means that you will be asked for some kind of exchange condition ...... that will be quite disadvantageous to you.
You are well aware of that, aren't you? The question seemed to say.
Assunto rolled his eyes and gave a surprised look.

'Do you know a tavern called Cantalcica?

It's a tavern near here run by the father of Paula, the dog-eared shopkeeper.

'Yes. That's the store I'm doing business with.
'Oh, I see. Then we can talk quickly.

Actually, I knew about it because Paula had told me about it beforehand.
But the direction is also important in this kind of thing.

'Cantalcica is currently unable to even open its doors due to the high cost of purchasing.
'Disasters are always cruel, aren't they?
'Can't we somehow provide them with food?
'I can't give you a special ...... for Cantartica. The situation is very urgent everywhere.
'Hey, hey. What's the matter? That's really not like you.

Gently scrutinize his eyes, stare at Assunto, and say.
Lower your voice, slowly, and with a lot of sarcasm.

''Equal for all,'' he said. ...... You're not such a pacifist, are you?
'......You seem to be mistaken.'
'Are you a pacifist?
'I do believe in harmony. It's a business that depends on its customers.
'Do you want to get along?
'To the extent possible, yes.

As expected of Assunto. He avoided making any dangerous comments that could be traced back to the Judgment of the Spirits.

'If it's not like you, isn't it like you?

This time Assunto set me on it.

'It seems to me that bowing down for the sake of others is something that you would most likely avoid.
'What are you talking about? I'm a man who always does his best for the people he cares about.

Of course, that 'special someone' is me. Obayashi. The only one.
Do you avoid bowing down for the sake of others?Of course not!Why do I have to carry someone else's burden?
But I'll keep my words to myself here.

'Hmm ......, it seems I'm not very good at you after all. I have no idea what to say to you.
'Heh, that's 'kindred spirits', isn't it?
'............ Hmmm, you're a funny guy.
'Don't you think we'd get along?
'No, not at all.

It's rare to be rejected so decisively.
Maybe the only one in this town.
The only one in this town who would say something like this to my face.

'But you get along with your clients, don't you?
'That's a given. Mutual trust is the key to a better business relationship. I believe that trust is the most important thing.
'Oh, ............ trusting relationship or ......'
'Yes, it is. But unfortunately, I don't think I can build one with you. ......'
'Conversation records.'

When I called up the Conversation Record, Assunto's eyes widened and the smile on his face disappeared.

'...... What do you intend to do?
'Hmm?No, not really. ......'

Listening to Assunto's question lightly, I scrolled through the translucent panel that appeared in front of me.
Oh, this is being written in real time? That's new to me.

Now, at .........

'(self-imposed restriction)!

I shouted obscene words that I couldn't say to anyone, and Assunto blew up in front of me. He's so dirty.

'What are you doing ...... so suddenly?

Assunto raises his crazy voice.
On the other side of the room, you can see a few residents peeking over to see what's going on.
If there's someone shouting banned words in the morning, they'll come and take a look. They might be dangerous.

'No, I was wondering what would be written in the Conversation Record when someone said a banned word. ............ Oh, look, there are obscene words in there. It's not like it's a "self-imposed restriction" or anything.
'That's true,......, but this is just a record. If there were such a thing as obscenities, the use of obscene words would become very popular, and the Conversation Record would lose its meaning.

I see.
Using cloak-and-dagger to make a deal. That's no good. That would negate the whole system of the Conversation Record.

Okay, so.

I scroll down the semi-transparent panel and stop my finger at a certain point.
On it are the following words.

"If I scream an obscenity, the mission begins.

'Hey, you, wait up!
'What?What the hell are you doing, man?

In the middle of the main street, a girl with droopy canine ears like a golden retriever and a well-built man with a face like a crocodile suddenly started arguing. ............ in a very unnatural baritone voice.

'Oh, you're sparing us the vegetables, so our tavern is in a bit of a mess!
'Our livelihood depends on it, too. Our livelihood depends on it, and we can't stand it if you buy them at too low a price!
'But don't sell it to me at an exorbitant price!
'If you undercut us any further, our guild will be destroyed!So, uh, you guys can, uh, .............'

The crocodile man, who was at a loss for words, secretly glanced at the translucent panel that he kept in his pocket. Then he muttered, 'Oh, it's rather ......' and turned his gaze to the dog-eared girl again.

'Rather, you people who are ripping off the profits should buy vegetables at a higher price!
'What?Just let her say it!

The girl with the dog ears and the man with the crocodile begin to fight with each other on the signal of the girl with the dog ears.
...... although for some reason the crocodile seems to be very reserved and is only being beaten up by the crocodile. ......

It's a good idea to have a good idea of what you're doing.

Then, a beautiful girl with ridiculously large breasts appears.

This is what was written on the clothes of the beautiful girl with big breasts.

"Hidamari-tei Honten
Cheap!Delicious!So cute!
Stir-fried vegetables 20Rb~!
Now open for business in District 42!
Open all year round!
You have to come here!Bring your friends and family!You have to come here!

Well, to put it simply, Paula and Mormat were struggling with each other, and Ginette, wearing an advertising shirt, intervened.
However, she held a translucent panel in both hands and read aloud falteringly while looking into it.

'Mr. Mo-Mat, that's a bit unpleasant to hear...'

A ponderous voice with no inflection or pause drifted down the line. And he never looked up, never even looked at the other person.
It seems that this guy doesn't even want to memorize his lines.

Yes, the lines.

'...... What kind of event is this?

Assunto asks me with a twitchy expression.
But I can't answer that. I can't.
I just keep my mouth shut and look at Ginette as she reads aloud.

'We restaurants are cutting costs to the limit and trying to keep prices from rising. We can't go any further. The producers are exploiting us.
'Wait a minute!

Then the chicken-faced Nepheli, the only daughter of a poultry farmer, gallantly appeared on the scene.

'What you just said is unacceptable!We, the producers, are the ones who are working tirelessly to keep prices from rising!Hey, isn't that right, Delia?
'Oh, you're absolutely right...'

Delia responds to Nepheli's enthusiastic question with an ultra-verbose reading.
It seems that Nepheli was interested in this kind of thing, and his acting was very good. The only problem is that the people around her are not at the level of terrible, so she stands out from the crowd and stands out in a bad way.

'We producers make efforts every day, talk with the earth, communicate with plants and animals, and produce delicious food!The deliciousness of our food is the pride of our producers and the cry of our souls!
What?What?............ huh?'

Nephrite improvised.
Thanks to him, Ginette started to cringe.

This script was actually written by me, and I read it out loud in front of the people here.
So these guys can check the script by referring to their Conversation Records.
They can check the script by referring to their Conversation Record, which contains every line of the script that I read out loud.

'Try the eggs!Isn't it good?That's what I'm screaming!

No, no, that would be scary.
If I hear you screaming from the egg, I won't hesitate to smash the egg on the floor.

'Oh, what ...... scene are you talking about right now, ......?

After this, the confrontation between the producer and the store owner is depicted, and they talk about each other's hardships. ...... Well, that's enough.
The audience is growing at a good pace.

When I looked around, I saw that a lot of people had heard the commotion and formed a crowd.

I'm going to have to cut out the middle part of the scene I've just created. ......

It's not right!

I uttered the line that signaled the climax.
It's a great performance by a Japanese-trained actor.
I'm so proud of myself.

'What the hell is this imitation?

You can hear a hint of annoyance in Assunto's voice.
I'm being shown a play that I don't understand, and it's difficult to leave the scene because of the crowd.
It was quite frustrating to be put in a situation like this without understanding the meaning.

But I don't care!Here's the important part.
Now, if you're not in a hurry, take a look!
Obayashi, the performance of a lifetime!

'It's funny how prices are going up while the money paid to producers is going down.

He looks like a child, but he's an adult, and he's a great detective.
As a con artist, acting is an essential skill.

'...... Your acting is even worse again.'

What the hell, Assunto?I'm not sure what's worse about my acting.

I'm sure you'll agree.

It's a great way to make sure you're getting the most out of your vacation.

Letting out a big sigh, Assunto tried to leave the place.
But the crowd successfully blocked his way. ............, or rather, the crowd is lined with familiar faces.
In addition to the Hammies, the Yaploks, Omero and the rest of the river fishing guild, there are rice farmers, Homeros, other producers working in the 42nd district, and shopkeepers running their stores.

'...... you guys'.

Assunto's expression tightened slightly, as if he had noticed the faces.
Their business partner had just appeared in this fishy trifecta. That must have made him nervous.
I'm sure Assunto is thinking this right now.

"I've been set up.

Beyond the collaborators I'd gathered, there were outsiders who'd heard the commotion.
No, they're not outsiders in a sense. So take a good look and listen carefully.

'I talked to a certain crocodile-faced farmer I know. ......'
'You're Mr. Mo-Mat, aren't you?
'No, well, he wants to remain anonymous.'
'You're Mo-Matt, aren't you?
'Don't pry.'

Assunto gives up on saying anything to me and turns his gaze to Mo'Mat.
I'm not sure if you've seen this before, but I'm sure you've. ...... He'll never be an actor, that's for sure.

'I heard you told them to drop the price of vegetables.
'Yes. ...... Well, yes, I did.'

Assunto slowly turns to me, as if he has made up his mind.
The eyes that stared at me were in full battle mode.

'The quality will probably drop for a while due to the effects of the disaster. We can't expect to get the same price as before.

I've heard about this in detail from Mormat beforehand.
He had been offered a deal with the same conditions as Paula had mentioned.
That is, 'The vegetables that we have been taking at 100Rb will be 20Rb from now on. However, if you give us your current stock at 5Rb, we will be willing to trade at 40Rb in the future'. Although the prices are moving in opposite directions, the method is the same.
If you lose now, you will lose less in the future (but you will lose either way, right?).
Well, perhaps Assunto has made a manual and is making his branch staff do the same thing. There were too many people who were offered the same deal. More than a majority.

'Also, I asked a certain dog-eared clerk who works at a tavern down the street here: ......'
'You must be Paula.'
'I wish to remain anonymous.'
'...... So, what is it?'

Assunto finally understood.
It is good manners not to disclose the identity of the informant in such cases.
When interviewing criminals on TV, the viewer's will of 'No, arrest him! is ignored and the identity of the informant is thoroughly concealed.
That's the way it is.

'Didn't you say that wholesale prices for restaurants will be higher because food supplies have decreased due to the disaster?
'In a broader sense, there is a shortage.

'If you look at the city as a whole, there would certainly be less food.

'Farmers are having a hard time trading vegetables. ...... No, not just the farmers, but the producers as well.

When the blame was pointed at Assunto, all the producers looked away and fell silent.
But there's no need to look away. You can't sell your products at a price where you can clearly see that they are being sold at a discount. It's the same in every world. There is no need to be ashamed.

'Prices will go up if there are no goods coming in. There is nothing we can do about it. ......'

...... didn't say 'we can't'. He faded out. Then he made a gesture of shaking his head.
It is a method that successfully exploits the flaw in the "Judgment of the Spirits," ...... which cannot judge a lie unless it is told.

'It is true that prices will rise if goods do not come in. But, you know, ......'.

Because the Judgment of the Spirits is flawed, I have to struggle in these areas.
If I could see the spirit gods, I'd have plenty to complain about.

But right now, I think we should focus on the enemy in front of us.

'Prices will go up even if we don't dare to let things come in, right?

Is that mute affirmation?
In short, the value of a thing goes up when it is taken off the market.
That's a given.

'I've always wondered about the ...... Peddler's Guild, which is a guild that can do business 'across the wards', right?There are many chapters.

Assunto stares at me, never averts his gaze.
He knows what he's doing.
If you look away from me now, it's like confessing that you have a guilty conscience.
Even if it's hard, you can't take your eyes off me.

'Why aren't the other branches sending us food?

The Peddler's Guild has a network in every district.
If there's a shortage in one of the districts, it's normal for them to share the surplus.
But these guys don't do that.

Why not?

''Because I'm just a lowly ...... person in charge of the lowest section of the peddlers' guild. I don't have a clue what to say to the top management.

I can't stand that kind of organization.
A system in which all opinions from the frontline are silenced would be bankrupt.

There's only one reason why there's no food in the 42nd district.

So these guys can make money.

But you've given us your opinion. I might as well take advantage of it.

'I see. In the 42nd district, prices have risen to the point where restaurants can't open, and food is so scarce that the residents are starving, but the peddlers' guild doesn't have the ears to listen to such trivial matters,......, is that it?
'No, sir.'
'Well, then, let's hear your side of the story.
'Once you distribute food products from other districts, they will continue to come in as well. They all want to increase their sales. I'm sure they'll take advantage of what I've done and try to negotiate against me. I'm too lowly to compete with them.

As if to elicit sympathy, Assunto shrugged his shoulders and looked like he was about to cry.
Of course, there was no way he was going to cry.

'If that happens, the price in the 42nd district will collapse. The producers will be forced to face even greater hardship. After all, better goods are coming in cheaper from higher guilds than here. ......'

Then he pauses a moment and looks at them all with a licking gaze.

'......If you're okay with that, I'm not ............'.
'I guess it's the same now.

The residents of the forty-second district had shrunk under Assunto's disapproving gaze.
It must have worked so far. He made them understand that they would be disadvantaged even more than they already were, and asked them with a fearless smile, 'What do you want to do? What do you want to do?
Those who are in a weaker position are forced to accept the conditions, and the fact that they have made the decision of their own volition makes it impossible for them to argue or protest.

But ......

'Hey, Mo-Mat. How much money do you have in your bank account right now?
'Reserves?There's no way I have that!Even if I did, it would only be a few sparrow tears.

Mormat's answer was met with approval from those around him.
I guess it's the same everywhere.

'Then I'll ask all the residents of the forty-two districts here!

I open my hands and raise my voice.
I ask all those present.

'Is there anyone who is not currently in a tight spot?Are there any of you who are comfortable and satisfied with your present lives?

No reply at ...................

'Do you understand, Assunto?

In the watery silence, I speak out only for one person - Assunto.
There's only one target. Yes, you, Assunto.
I'm gonna ask you a question. Listen to me. And think.

'Isn't the 42nd district in a state of price collapse right now?
'............ No, it's ......'.

Assunto was at a loss for words.
Assunto, who had made his decision without hesitation even when choosing to be mute, was at a loss for words.

'The producers of the Forty-second District are no longer viable. No matter what happens, they won't last long. Just a few days ago, a man quit the family business, abandoned his family, and tried to become an adventurer. ...... Well, I did my best to stop him, but that doesn't mean he was extreme in any way.

Becoming an adventurer is like becoming a treasure hunter looking for the Tokugawa gold reserves, so to speak.
The producers here are in such dire straits that they have to bet on such a small possibility.

There is no way their business can last in such a situation.
If they lose heart, they will be out of business in no time.

'The producers of the 42nd district can't do it anymore. Let's abandon them.
'Hey, hey, Yashiro ......!

Mo-Mat tried to bite back at my harsh words. But it was silently stopped by Estella, who was in the right place at the right time.
Estella is not going to make much of an appearance this time. She will be supporting me in the background.
Mo'amat understood the situation and stepped back silently.
Yeah, that's good. Keep quiet and watch.

'That's a tough call.

Assunto is also a little upset.
He probably didn't expect to be told to abandon them.

'Then why don't you at least buy food from other districts and save the restaurants and markets?
'Is that because you're related to the cafeteria?You're asking me to cut off others to save yourself. ......'
'Oh, right!I'm sorry, I forgot!

Assunto's words were interrupted by a sudden shout as he was about to express his own opinion.
Your turn is still ahead of you. I'll let you talk more later, so listen to me a little more.

'It costs a lot to transport things from other districts, right?Moreover, based on what Assunto just said, I'm sure they'll take advantage of us and charge us an exorbitant price!......, no?'
'Hey, Assunto. What do you think?'
'......Well, I suppose they will.'

Assunto gropes for a future outcome that is probably going to happen.
I get it. You're confused right now, aren't you?Your eyes are swimming.

'That's what I mean. You should be prepared to pay three to four times the traditional purchase price,...... but then you won't be able to make a profit,...... and eventually you'll go out of business.
I'm not sure what to say.I'm sorry.Well,......, yes. ............ Yeah. Even if you manage to make ends meet, it is inevitable that you will have to raise your prices, and if you raise your prices, your customers will go away. ............ I think it won't take long for you to go out of business.
'In addition, the producers are unemployed and have no money. There will inevitably be fewer customers.'
'That would be ...... fatal.'

Paula's shoulders slumped in a vision of a gray future.

'Huh-uh?But wait!

I raise my voice, and Assunto looks at me with a disgusted expression.
I continue without regard.

'Hey, Paula. Isn't it the same situation as now, when you triple the traditional purchase price?
'Yeah, ............, that's true.

It's the same situation with the heavy rains and the overall poverty of the population.

'If this current situation continues for another month,......, what will happen to your store?'
'It will go under. Definitely. It won't last a month.'
'Ohhhh ...... Oh my god ............'

I exaggeratedly clutched my head and let out a huge sigh.

'Does that mean that no matter which way it goes, the producers and stores will all be out of business in a month?
'No, that's a bit of a leap, isn't it?

Assunto couldn't resist interrupting.
I guess he wants to put a stop to this.
But that doesn't move the hearts of the crowd who are listening to me.
There are no words that resonate more than my words in this situation.

'If we run out of food, all the residents here will have to go to District 41 to buy it. But if we do that, there will be a shortage of food in the 41st district, and prices will rise as well, and the economy will die. Then you'll have to go to the forty districts to buy food this time. ......'
'Enough of this!I'm sure you're trying to incite hostility against me by pranking me with your insecurities,......'
'What are you talking about?'

I'm going to look you straight in the eye and make it clear to Assunto.

'You're the enemy, aren't you?

The air freezes.

'............ I see. I see what you mean.

A disturbing air drifts from Assunto.
The pig's expressionless face looked eerily like that of a demon messenger.

'Are you trying to push us into a corner by pitting us, the peddlers' guild, against the producers and business owners? And you want to extract concessions from me?I'm not sure what to do, but I'm sure you'll do fine.

Assunto's body swayed.
Assunto glares at Mormat and the others with movements that lack the warmth of life, as if he were a mechanical creation.
Ginette and the others surrendered to his gaze and froze in one place with Delia at the center.

I'm sure you'll find a lot of people who'd like to help you out.I'm sure you'll be pleased to hear that.

Assunto muttered to himself, convincing himself.
His voice has quieted down, but he seems to be quite pissed off.
A vein as thick as a hexagonal pencil appears on his forehead.

'I don't care. You can stop doing business with us, the people you hate. If you think you're being disadvantaged, that's fine!So be it. We don't mind. If our contract with you is broken, we'll make a new one with someone else!There are plenty of alternatives!More!I don't know if there is any organization that can replace the Peddlers Guild for you.

This is probably Assunto's winning pattern.
He preaches his superiority and drags the opponent into his field.
That's enough to make any of us cry.
It's the same strategy as when scary older men bring their disputants into their offices. They put pressure on them to make them think that they want to be released as soon as possible, so that they cannot think properly.

The only way to break it is to cut off the 'flow' that he has in mind.

'Trust is the most important thing,' ......, right?

Assunto turns to me with an unconcealed grimace at being interrupted from the side.

'Trust is something you can't build with a liar, right?
'...... Are you calling me a liar?'
'There are two main types of lies. Do you know them?The first is 'saying something that is not true', and the second is ............ 'hiding the truth'.'
'What do you think I'm hiding?
'What did you think of the play?
'Well, I practiced. Didn't it move you in some way?'
'It doesn't matter now, he's such a lousy .......'
'It doesn't matter if you're bad at it or not!Didn't ...... anything come to your mind?'

They stared at each other for a moment.
Assunto was the first to break.

'...... Nothing, sir. Nothing.'

He averted his gaze and let out a sniffle.
...... So, you didn't get the message.

'There are two things that the play was about. I'm not sure if anyone else who was watching noticed.

I turn to the crowd around us.
The next thing I knew, the main street was overflowing with people. It was so packed that I couldn't see the end of the street.
It seemed as if the residents of all forty-two districts were gathered here.

'What a bunch of ...... people who don't have the heart to enjoy a play. Well, I can't help it. Then I'll tell you!

I puffed out my chest and began to explain, adding gestures.

'In the play, the producer claims that the food is being bought at the lowest possible price, and the restaurant claims that it is being sold at an exorbitant price. This is a theatrical performance based on facts that I have heard directly from those who are engaged in the work.

The MoMats nodded their heads in agreement, as if to say that I was right.
The audience seems to have understood this, and whispered voices begin to be heard here and there. This lends credibility to the play.

'The foodstuff bought cheaply is being sold at an exorbitant price. ............ So where did the huge profits go?'

There was a murmur from the crowd.
There is someone who buys foodstuffs at a lower price than before and sells them at a higher price. Someone has bought food cheaper than ever and sold it at a higher price.
Who is it?

'Hey, Peddler's Guild. Where do you think ...... disappeared to?'
'It's hard for me to say, sir.

That was a poor response.
Assunto's words were met with open displeasure by the crowd.
Of course they were. The people here are also the exploited.
Anyone would be angry if they knew that the current food shortage was caused by the peddlers' guild cutting out the middleman.
And then, when they come to the point where they don't even have an excuse, it's like pouring gasoline on a bonfire.

'You're just making things up!
'Are you sure about that?
'If you don't trust me that much, fine!I don't care if you don't want to do any business with any of those people!A few people can gather together and take out their frustrations on the other party ...... and isolate themselves like that!

Quietly, Delia took a step forward.
But when I raised my right hand, she stopped me in my tracks.
You can't solve this by force, you know. Well, I'll leave it to you.

'There's another thing the play was trying to tell you. This is the one I wanted you to notice. ...... Too bad.'
'That's enough. I have nothing more to say, so I'll leave. There's a lot of formalities that need to be done. We have to sign contracts with other producers and find stores to distribute our products!

There are some people in the 42nd district who live self-sufficient lives. There are also those who are about to open a new store.
It may be a threat to attract such people to open new shops, but ......

'That's not going to work anymore.
'............ what?

He stared at me with a very scary face.
So, I dare to give him a generous smile.

'The main theme of this play is 'Good friends are beautiful'.

'I don't care about the play anymore!That's enough!
'Beauty is also strength. People feel a kind of awe towards beautiful things.
'I can't deal with this. Excuse me!

As Assunto turned and was about to leave, several men stepped forward to block his path.


Assunto changes direction and tries to walk away again, but this time his path is blocked by another group of men.

'......What the hell is that?

These are the producers and sole proprietors who live in the 42nd district. In addition to foodstuffs, there are those who produce cotton, linen, dyes and perfumes.
In addition to food, there are those who do business with the materials produced in the 42nd district.

This is an important matter for them as well.
As we went door to door and talked earnestly with them, they lifted their spirits.
I had asked them to gather here today, on this day, at this place, and it seems they have come.

People who want to shape the future with their own hands.

'Assunto. You really didn't see it coming. You really didn't realize the true meaning of this play. No, the ...... warning!
'A ...... warning?

Yes, a warning.
This was a warning from the residents of District 42 to you peddlers' guild.

'If you look closely, it looks like there are a few merchants from the Peddler's Guild in the crowd.

There was a familiar face in the crowd. That's the merchant I saw at Nepheli's chicken farm, and that's the rice farmer who cut off Homer's rice without hesitation.

'Just in time, all of you listen carefully with your ears closed!

I don't know if the word 'kappoji' is properly translated, but ......

'We're hand in hand. ...... The 'prey' you've been preying on are no longer alone. They're not individuals. They're not just weak, exploited beings with no fangs to fight back!

The air trembled at the sound of his voice.
Like ripples in water, the vibrations in the air conveyed a strong feeling.

Not silence, but stillness.
This silence is waiting.
My words.
The gospel of guidance.
Then I'll tell it!The words you've been asking for!

'Hear me!All of you who live in the 42nd district!Do not continue to be weak!Do not continue to be exploited!Raise your fists!

The crowd around us became tense and deadly.
The frustration and suffering that have been suppressed up until now are transformed into energy and directed outward.
'We must change! I don't know how to lift it up.

'If you don't know how to raise your head, I'll teach you!Let out the frustration that's clearly in your head right now, as loud as you can!What's wrong?Do it!
''''' oooooohhhh! ''''

An earth-shaking roar shook the main street.
A dizzyingly dense swirl of emotions arises in that place.

I've got the crowd's heart, Assunto!

'We are one!We won't succumb to individual pressure like we have in the past!There are no more weak people here who are afraid of isolation!

Assunto, who had been listening to me with a frown on his face, suddenly burst into laughter.

'Ha-ha-ha-ha!So what are you going to do?Flocking together won't change anything!This time, the crowd will only be isolated!

Looking into the faces of each of the surrounding crowd, Assunto began to speak.

'It's not as if we don't know what will happen if this district is isolated, is it?We can't be completely self-sufficient, can we?What about firewood?Is there a lumberjack in District 42?What about meat?From the looks of it, there's no one from the hunting guild here, is there?What about fish?There's no one from the Sea Fishing Guild either!That's not all. There's a lot of things that make your life possible!It's outrageous that you can exaggerate a few grievances, make a fool of yourself without reason, and destroy the trust that has been built up over the years!Let me be clear!You don't have a choice!You people!For the rest of your lives!No matter what!You must continue to cooperate with us and live your lives in this city!If you can't do that,............, then you're abandoning your life as a human being.

The momentum that had been building up was quickly subsiding.

Assunto looked at me triumphantly and smiled disgustedly.

'I pity all of you who have been inspired by that newcomer. They go around talking about things they can't do, as if they can, and mislead people's minds with words that are pleasant to the ear. As a result, what awaits you is a painful, poor, beastly life of 'it wasn't supposed to be like this'. ...... Come on, wake up. Now, let's take today with a grain of salt. We've all made mistakes.

The crowd doesn't respond.
They just remain silent and downcast.

...... at all.

'You really are an idiot, aren't you?

I was too dumbfounded to say anything, but I managed to formulate a few words.

'...... What?
'You can't even see where you're at.
'Oh, ......, that's an interesting point.'

Assunto smiled that repugnant smile of someone who is sure of victory.
I'll get rid of that smirk in a minute.

'It's you who's misleading the minds with your palatable words, Assunto.
'It's an accusation.'
'Then I'll give you a special, easy-to-understand translation of what you just said.
'Oh, let's hear it.
'The point is this, right?'Don't get any wiser, and keep on being exploited.
'No, sir.'
'No, it's not. You've just been changing the subject and covering up your own guilt.
'You're a bad listener, .......'
'If you destroy what you've built up, you won't be able to make a living, will you?'
'...... You're probably right.'
'If that's the case, then why is the Sunlit Pavilion still in business?'
'That's because you created a strange guild ......'
'That's right!I created it, a new possibility!In my country, we have a word for that. 'Innovation'.

Without innovation, defensive companies will decline and disappear in the not-too-distant future.
It's the same for cities and countries.

'Innovation opens up the future. Magda!Loretta!'
'...... We've been waiting for you.'
'Come on, everyone!You have to try this!Once you try it, you'll be addicted to it, it's a candy from dreamland!

With my call, Magda and Loretta handed out honey popcorn to the crowd, vendor style.
The expression "sweets from dreamland" seems to fit them perfectly.

'It's made from what the peddlers' guild once branded as 'worthless trash'.

While I'm explaining, people are shouting 'delicious' all over the place.

'And look at this!

Nepheli shouted at the perfect time.
What Nepheli was showing us was a large pile of eggs. There are nearly fifty of them.

'These are all the eggs that were picked this morning!The chickens that laid them are birds that used to be 'trash' because they couldn't lay eggs anymore.

The crowd rolls its eyes and stares at the mass of eggs.

'He saved us!He saved lives that should have been disposed of as garbage!

Nephrite has guts, and he's good with words.
Maybe she's good at this kind of thing. Maybe one day she'll be a great actress.

'To borrow Assunto's words, these are the forms of "the future that wasn't meant to be" brought about as a result of being seduced by the palatable words of a newcomer. Should they have been disposed of as 'garbage'?

Assunto won't say anything.
Then I'll fold.

'We have 'potential'. We're not guaranteed success. Nothing is. There are no absolutes in this world. There are no absolutes in this world. ...... But we all have the equal right and freedom to walk towards the future we want.

Everyone closes their mouths and opens their eyelids to see what happens.
This is the turning point of the 42nd district.

'You've created a system that makes it impossible for the hard-working residents of this city to live properly. ............ Hey, Assunto.

I'm going to throw out the words that will 'work' best for the people of this city.

'Do you think the spirit gods will forgive you for what you've done?

A murmur goes up.
The Goddess of Spirits is worshipped by most of the humans here.
No one believes that she would leave her suffering people to die.
That's why everyone here must be thinking, 'The Spirit God would never allow such an atrocity.

'Those of us here have a choice.

This was the exact opposite of what Assunto had said earlier.

'You can continue to do business with the peddlers guild and become nothing more than livestock, or you can sign up with the ............ garbage collection guild and feel the innovation firsthand. ......'

This is it!I spread my arms wide and look up to the heavens, asking in a high voice.

'What do you guys want to do?
'''' ohhhhhhhhhhh!

A beastly yell rises.
It's not an answer, but it's enough.

The expression was completely gone from Assunto's face.
Assunto must have known which way the crowd's mind was turning.

'So. What do you say, Assunto?Do you want to accept our terms and continue trading or do you want to ...... reduce your sales in the 42nd district to zero?

A bead of sweat trickled down Assunto's cheek.

No matter how strong he tried to be, he would never be able to reduce the sales to zero.
There was no way Assunto, who was in charge of the lowest branch, could report to the top that there was no profit.
That's him. He must be thinking of making a profit to get ahead and get into the center.
He can't afford to have his career damaged by this.

'............ I understand.

Finally, Assunto broke down.

'Let's keep the deal at the same price as before.
'You still don't get it, do you?

What?' He made a blank face.
The existing amount is already an unequal contract for exploitation.

'You are not in a position to 'continue the deal'. You are in a position to accept all of our conditions and 'manage to keep the deal'.

Assunto has been evading the core of the matter, but I'm not so naive as to let him get away with it.
Here and now, in front of the crowd, I'll make it clear.

From now on, you must trade at a 'fair price'. And change the current system of having a different merchant for each item and reduce the fees. Lastly, and this is the main one, ...... will continue to disclose the percentage of margins earned by the merchant guilds for years to come.
'If you swear to accept the above conditions, I'll let you continue your business.
'All of this is absurd!In particular, it is outrageous to expose ...... trade secrets to the public, such as disclosing the margin ratio!
'Otherwise, you'll be exploiting us again.'

What does it mean to disclose the margin ratio?
To put it simply, 'I bought the food for XXRb and sold it for □□Rb. It means to disclose the details of the profit.
This will prevent unjustified buying and reluctance to sell, and will guarantee the original value of the foodstuff.
If any injustice is discovered, we can use the suspension of trade with the peddlers' guild as a weapon to negotiate.

'............ Don't get carried away.'

Assunto's voice has changed.
The catcalls of the past have faded into the shadows, and a muffled voice leaks out, like lees stirring in the darkness.

'I'll show you what happens when newcomers anger ...... me!

In the event that you've got a lot of time, you'll be able to take a look at the web site and find out more about it.
It's a 'Judgment of the Spirits' stance.

'I'm sorry. I'm not lying to you.'
'......, so what?There are many ways to do this. For example, .......'

With that, Assunto pointed the finger he'd been pointing at me at Jeannette.

'How about that careless young lady?

It's possible that she's made some gaffe that I'm not aware of.
I can't be too tough here. ............

............ and you think I'm going to think that, don't you?

'Go ahead and do it.
'............ Are you sure?'
'Yeah. But .......'

Now I extend my arm and point my index finger at Assunto.

'...... if you can, that is.'
'Hmmm ......, that's not a threat.'

Assunto says with a triumphant look on his face.

'Unlike you, I'm careful about every word I say. I will never turn into a frog. I'm absolutely sure. If you think I'm lying, try me.'

He is fully armed and ready to catch his opponent off guard.
I suppose that's Assunto's way of fighting. It is a simple, cowardly, but effective and formidable strategy.
But, ...... after all I've just taught you, ......

There are no absolutes in this world.

In the event you're not sure of what you're looking for, there are a few things you can do.


I'm sure you're confused, but Assunto took a step back.

However, the finger pointing at Assunto is also aiming at me from behind.

I removed my finger from Assunto and spoke to him head-on.

'You're certainly smart. I know you've been choosing your words carefully so as not to fall foul of the Judgment of Spirits. And perhaps your plan is working. But ......'.

Assunto is good at playing to his opponent's strengths.
He's good at bringing out the worst in people.
That said, he has one serious flaw.

'Is it consistent?
'Se, igyo, seisei ......?'

The conversation I had in front of Mormat to avoid telling a lie, and the conversation I had in front of Paula to avoid telling a lie. Is there any contradiction between the two?
One on one, you may not be able to turn Assunto into a frog.
But if there is a clear contradiction in Assunto's statement, ............ how will the spirit gods judge it?

'You've cast a stupid spell that can only be used for evil. You should give the spirit gods a death-defying hardship once in a while, right?
'Well, no way. ......'
''From now on, all of us here will cast the 'Spirit Judgment' on you at once. After the pale light that envelops that whole body disappears,......, will you really be able to look the same as you do now?

Assunto's whole body began to tremble visibly, and a large amount of sweat began to wipe from his forehead.

'What's the matter with you?You're absolutely sure of yourself, right?If so, why don't you take the 'Judgment of the Spirits' with an open mind and a straight face?

As if to push Assunto further into a corner, he unleashes his words.

The more good you are, the more hesitant or guilty you are, the less likely you are to use it even if you are in a position to.
Just as you can't pull the trigger on a gun unless you have a lot of determination.
Then it's up to me to make you pull the trigger.

'Come on, guys!Let's go!Let's go to ......!
'Wait, wait!No, wait, please!I'm right here!

Assunto got down on his knees.
His limbs are shaking so badly that I think he's gone mad. He probably won't even be able to stand up for a while.

'All right!I'll do everything you say!I'll accept all your conditions!So please don't do that!

Assunto conceded defeat.
We've won.

I raised my right arm high in the air and the crowd cheered. from the crowd.

A sing-songy hubbub swept through the streets.
The world, which had been at a standstill, began to move all at once, becoming dizzyingly vivid with color.


Ginette jumps at me.
It's a great way to make sure you're getting the most out of your vacation.
...... paiots, kaidee.

I'm not sure what to do, but I'm sure it's a good idea.

I'm not sure what to say.

With my voice, the boisterous voices ceased.

'Yes, .......'
'Also, I have something to say to all the residents of District 42.

Everyone in the room looks at me.
This is what we have to do here and now.
If you neglect this, you risk starting a chain of resentment in the future.

There will always be repercussions for breaking the thread of tension that has held us together for so long.
I have to take responsibility for preventing the worst of them.

'One last thing, I want us all to sign a contract. To prevent a chain of resentment from starting. To make the future life positive and bright.'

With that, I announced the contents of the contract.

'Assunto. You and your peddler's guild are not to use the Judgment of the Spirits on any of us who are based in District 42.
'...... huh?
'In exchange, the residents of District Forty-two who are here now will not use the Judgment of Spirits on Assunto.'

There was a murmur.
They must be anxious, as if their only and most powerful weapon had been taken away. Even if it takes a great deal of determination to use it, there is no substitute for the peace of mind that comes with it.
However, if they don't do this, there will be a battle of "Judgment of the Spirits" in the 42nd district.
Once you become a frog, your life is over at that moment.
I don't want such a tragic situation to happen because of this quarrel.

'Of course, if you lie to me because you can't use the Judgment of the Spirits, I'll have you thrown out of court.

Suppressing the Judgment of Spirits on both sides isn't for new sparks.
It's for the sake of peace.

'Swear to me, will you?
'.................. I've thought it over, and it doesn't seem to be a contract where either side is at a disadvantage.'

'Of course . Trust is the most important aspect of doing business, right?'
'Hmmm ...... I may have misunderstood you ...... although I would hate you if I saw you as someone who interferes with my interests. If you look at it this way, with an impartial eye, ............ you may be a very good person.'
'Stop it. It's not my style.'
'...... Sure. Hmmm. ............'

Assunto tried to stand up, but his knees didn't seem to be strong enough and he only turned his face towards us.

'I'm sorry to be dressed like this, but ............ I'll accept that contract.'
'Thank you.'

He shook hands with Assunto.
Then he turned his head and asked the crowd around us.

'Are you guys okay with that?
'''' ohhhhhhh!

Now the deal is made.
There will be no frog fights of hatred.

Thus, the battle between the peddler's guild and the residents of the 42nd district, which had been waged on the main street, came to an end in peace.
The peddlers' guild will start trading at a fair price, and the residents' lives will be improved.
Perhaps the Garbage Collection Guild will not be needed anymore.
Maybe the surplus of vegetables will no longer be a problem for Momat and his family.


The sun is going down and it's getting dark.
We returned to the sunlit pavilion and had a big party.
Each of us brought our own ingredients, and Ginette cooked them.
They also brought in alcohol, and the party developed into a riot.

Estella came to me while I was sitting outside in the breeze.
Her cheeks were a little red. Her cheeks were a little red, perhaps she had had a few drinks.

'Well done. Nothing to say about that.'
'Are you drunk?It's unusual for you to praise me so honestly.
'You've worked so hard. You should praise her once in a while.'

Estella pats me on the head.
She seems to be a little drunk after all.

'Now the gap between the rich and the poor in the Forty-two districts will be considerably reduced. You've done a great job of cutting into something that no one has been able to touch for decades.
'It's in my best interest to do so.
'Hmm ......, I'll take that as a yes.'

Flapping her hands over her flushed face, Estella turned her chin upward.
She squinted her eyes, seemingly comfortable in the blowing wind.

'Oh, by the way...'

There was something I had been meaning to ask you.
So, I'll ask it now.

'It's been almost three months since I came here.
'It's already been that long. Every day has been so lively that it has flown by.
'If you live in the 42nd district for three months, they'll register you as a resident, right?
'Yes, that's right. Leave the formalities to me. I'll prepare the documents myself. Oh, but the signature at the end must be in your own handwriting, so please take care of that.
'I see. Okay.
'Well, in a few days, you'll finally be a resident of the forty-two wards of ..................... ...Aah!

As if she noticed something, Estella jumped up and looked into my face.

'Conversation Record!

And then she hurriedly began to look something up.
............ Hmm...

'Aaah!I knew it!'

Raising her eyebrows, Estella showed me a translucent panel and thrust it at me.
The following words were written on it.

In exchange, the residents of District 42 who are present now will not subject Assunto to the Judgment of the Spirits.

That's what I said.
Taking advantage of these words, the people present made a contract.

'You're not in this category because you're not a resident of District 42 yet!

You guessed it!
That's right, Estella!

The residents of the 42nd district who are in this place right now can't apply the Spiritual Judgment to Assunto.
But that doesn't apply to those who weren't there at the time, or to those who weren't there at the time.
And since the contract clearly states that "the residents of the 42nd district who are present in this place now", even if those who were not present in that place become residents later on, they will not be bound by this contract!

What's more!
The contract that Assunto made him swear to is that 'your peddler's guild will not use the 'Judgment of Spirits' on anyone based in the 42nd district in the future', so Assunto can't use the 'Judgment of Spirits' on me.
I can cast the Judgment of Spirits on Assunto, though!

'............ you are.'

Estella looks at me with a grim expression.

Well, don't worry about it.
It's insurance, insurance.

If Assunto goes crazy and decides to bring in someone else to destroy the 42nd District, we'd better have someone on our side who can use weapons, right?
That's why I dared, I dared.

The breeze was nice, the voices in the cafeteria were happy, and I felt good.
It had been a really good day, I thought as I closed the day.