57-Episode 52 Trouble and New Possibilities

It's amazing!It's as if you're the spitting image of Yashiro-san!

The reason why Jeannette is so excited is because of that thing I brought back.

'This is wax, isn't it? It's a candle shaped like Yashiro-san.
'I'm sure it'll be pretty grotesque when it melts off your head, Ginette-chan ......'.

In contrast to the delighted Ginette, Estella was a little taken aback.

'...... interior'.
'That's good!I'm sure that if you display it in your store, customers will come in droves!

Hey, come on, Magda and Loretta. You'll lose customers if you hang this in your store.
It's not a wax museum.

It's not a wax museum. ...... These wax statues look really similar.

This is a life-size wax statue of me that had been illegally erected in the central square.
At first I thought it was carved out of wood, but upon closer inspection, I realized that it was made of wax.
It had a slightly yellowish tint and was smooth to the touch.

'd*mn it!Who the hell made this thing and left it there?

This wax statue. It weighed a fair amount, but it wasn't fixed in any particular way, so it was obvious that someone had left it there without permission. I asked Estella about it and she said that she had never given permission for such a statue to be placed, so it was obvious that someone had made it and placed it without permission.

If I find the culprit, I'll shake and shake and shake until my brain melts so that I'll never be able to commit such a crazy act again!

'The liberation hero' ...... is going to leave a mark in history, Yashiro.
I'm not sure what to say.

The most ugly thing about this wax statue is that it has the shameful phrase "liberation hero" carved in large letters on its base.
...... Who's the hero?

'Just now, my sister came back to refill the popcorn and said it was a "hero statue.
'Stop it. It's not a statue of a hero. It's a wax statue.

But it's well made.
The face is just like him. Even the wrinkles in his clothes and the vibrancy of his hair look like they were scanned and printed on a 3D printer.
...... You don't have a 3D printer, do you?

'It seems that the artists of this city are focusing all their energy on trivial things.

Estella nodded her head at my sarcastic comment.

'No, it must be a sculptor or something, to be able to make something like this.

Aside from the motifs, ......
In terms of technique alone, the quality is such that I honestly want to show it to a crappy wax museum in a desolate spa town and say, 'You guys should at least try this hard.
If the motifs were decent, I would be convinced that they could be displayed in the British Museum.

'Why don't you carve something more decent?
'It may be a sculptor who made this, but it's not an artist by any means.
'Hmm?Why not?
'Yashiro ......, don't you know anything about art?

What's with this condescending look on his face?
I know what art is!I've been exposed to masterpieces, sculptures and ceramics!It's just that they look so much alike that you can't tell them apart. ............ Oh, no. It's nothing. Forget this.
Anyway, I have a good eye for art.
I know Van Gogh's brush strokes and Michelangelo's chisel work perfectly. I'm confident that I can spot an elaborate fake.

That's what I'm saying.
The man who carved this wax statue is an artist of great skill.
I'm willing to admit that he's good enough to compete with me.

'That's right, Mr. Yashiro. It's weird that you look so much alike.
'Don't be creepy!
'No, it's not the model!This statue looks too much like .......'
'That's why it's so great. It's realistic and delicate. It's quite something.
'Hmm~...... what should I say?

A strange atmosphere spreads through the cafeteria.
What is it?Am I saying something weird?

When I looked at Jeannette, she waved her hands in a panicked manner.

'Oh, well, I don't know much about art, so I don't want to be asked to explain.

Well, there's not a single painting in this cafeteria.

'...... Art is something more incomprehensible.

Magda looks up at me with a crisp expression.
His ears perked up and he burst into a Magda-style smug expression. ...... Well, it's half-lidded and expressionless, but...

'Well, there are some art forms that are incomprehensible. ......'

Cubism, for example.

I don't disagree with the idea that 'not knowing is art'.
But there is also 'art that is easy to understand'.

'I can't help it. Yashiro, why don't you come to my house now?I'll show you what real art is.'

Such words of invitation from Estella.
What do you mean, 'real art'?

'No, I'm not .......'
'No, I'm not. ...... (I need to talk to you about the sewage.)'

When I was about to decline the invitation, Estella came up to me and whispered something like that in my ear.
...... If that's your intention, say so from the start.

'All right. It would be good for your future education to be exposed to art. Shall we go see it?
'You should come.'

Estella smiled contentedly and began to prepare to leave.
She takes the cloak she left with Ginette and puts it on her shoulders.

I came here in April, and there was a lot of rainy season related confusion in May and June.
That period coincided with the rainy season in Japan, and I thought that summer would come after the rainy season, but summer never came to this city.
But summer has not come to this city. We are now in September. But the weather is like spring. A little cloudy weather makes me feel chilly. It's the kind of weather that makes you want another jacket, like when you wear light clothes during the cherry blossom viewing season.
This city seems to be an everlasting spring.
It is easy to be comfortable, but ...... still, I wanted to feel a little too hot summer sun. I think it's important to have a good balance.

Apparently, the climate does not change like the four seasons in Japan. There are sometimes rainy and dry seasons, and sometimes hot and cold.
Perhaps because of this, ...... there are few events in this city.

Summer!The sea!--Or...
Autumn!Baked potatoes!--Or...
There's no such thing as seasonal fun.
And I, of course, feel inadequate.

Maybe I should organize some kind of event.
During the time of the event, food related to the event sells like hotcakes.
Christmas cakes, Valentine's Day chocolates, Halloween pumpkins, and so on.

'Here you go. Let's go.'

Estella returns, wearing a short, brightly colored cloak.
It's cloudy and a little chilly today.
...... On a day like this, corn soup or something like that might sell well. ......

'You're thinking about money again, aren't you?'
'Because that's what I live for.'
'Then I'd like to ask you to lend me some of your wisdom. ...... We're in a lot of financial trouble, trying to raise money for the sewage works.'
'Cut back on eating out.
'I refuse to do that. I think I've told you this before, but the food we get at home isn't very good.
'Then why don't you hire Jeannette?'
'That's a tempting proposition.'

Estella looked at me with a twinkle in her eye, as if it was a good idea, but she immediately shook her head with a sad smile.

'But it's probably impossible. Jeannette-chan won't leave the Sunlit Pavilion.''
'Well, I suppose you're right.

Ginette is sticking to the Sunlit pavilion.
She'll probably continue to run the diner here from now on. That's the meaning of life for him.

'Well, I'll be back in a bit.
'Okay. Have a safe trip.

Ginette, who was organizing the checkroom, came running towards me and saw me off.
Magda, Loretta, and Umaro are still looking at my wax statue and talking about this and that.
...... Hey, Umaro. Don't hit me on the head. The resemblance is so striking that it's a little annoying.

Let's melt that wax statue down and turn it into a candle.
We won't have to worry about light for a while.

Deciding to make the best of a bad situation, I headed for Estella's house, the lord's mansion.

A huge painting hanging on the wall depicted a struggling beech mushroom that had eaten a fallen bean sprout and suffered a stomach ache.

'...... What the hell is this?'
'It's a painting titled "Statue of a Standing Goddess".
'Is the goddess of this world a shimeji mushroom that picks up and eats bean sprouts?
'Don't be too rude, you'll really be punished someday, won't you?

If that's the case, the artist should have been punished long ago for representing the goddess in such a strange way.

It's still worse than the malicious deformations of a street corner sketch artist. I want my money back.

This is neither abstract painting nor cubism.
If I had to name him, I would call him "Kansei-ha". This is a work that seems to have been drawn up on the spur of the moment according to one's sensibilities. You can feel the momentum of the work, but ...... it's kind of rough. It has the freedom of a child's doodle.

'I don't understand it at all.
'Well, it may be difficult for Yashiro, but this is art.

He took the thing not realistically, but impressionistically, and spat it out, leaving it to his senses. That's what it looks like.
If this kind of thing has become popular as art, then it is no wonder that I received a huge backlash when I made a rabbit apple and tried to eat it.
It's an abstract shape that was created in the image of a rabbit. For them, such a deformed figure is more appealing than a rabbit-like figure.

...... What would they do if you made a very realistic rabbit apple? ............?

'Oh, it's a rabbit. It's amazing, it looks just like it. Then, let's eat it.Shhhhhhhhhh!

I'm picturing Jeannette biting into a lifelike rabbit apple from the top of her head.
I don't think so. Such a scene would be too surreal.

Well, if this is considered supreme, then that realistic wax statue will not be taken seriously. The direction is the exact opposite.

'Well, so much for art appreciation, let's get down to business.

I'm currently in the drawing room of the lord's mansion.
This is the slightly smaller room I was sent to before. I've heard that there are larger reception rooms than this one, but 'I don't want to take you anywhere too conspicuous. ...... and ......... ...because of all the problems,' Estella said.
...... Am I the kind of guy who would get in trouble for hanging around a lord's mansion?

Well, I'm more comfortable in a small room.

Natalia makes us some tea and Estella and I begin our discussion.
Just the two of us, across from each other. What are we discussing?

'Actually, we're about to run out of sawdust.
'Sawdust?Are you talking about sewage filtration?
'Yes, that's right. We're getting it from Torbeck Engineering, but that can't last forever.

Since the rainy season, there has been a rush of construction in District Forty-two, including a branch of Torbek's construction company and new houses for Ham's children. As a result, a large amount of sawdust has been generated.
We've been asking for some of it, but it's not infinite. The construction rush is about to end.
We'll need to get sawdust through other channels.

'There are forests, you know, behind the sunny pavilion, in the neighborhood of Yap Rock, in the slum ......, or is it called New Town now?And around there.

The area where Loretta and her friends live, which used to be called "Slum", has developed greatly after welcoming the branch of Torbeck Engineering, and has been reborn as the new "New Town", a futuristic (although the word "futuristic" is prefixed with the word "in this city") town with housing complexes.
No one calls it a 'slum' anymore.

The New Town is surrounded by a forest. There are many trees growing there.

'It's not right for amateurs to cut down old-growth forests without permission. It leads to environmental destruction.

Well, if amateurs start cutting down trees randomly, the forest will disappear in no time.
There are people who collect nuts in the forest. ...... Destruction of nature is not good.

'Then let's go out and get them.

There must be a deep forest on the other side of the outer wall of District 42.
If we cut down a few trees there, it wouldn't bother us.

'There's an exorbitant tax to bring trees into the city. If we bring in enough to cover the sewage treatment, we'll go bankrupt.
'That much?
'There's a very heavy tax at the gates outside the forty wards.
''Other than the forty districts?

Because of the proximity to the sea, the city gates of the 35th district have a heavy tax on fish. I can understand if you say that. Because it benefits the lord. Even with the tax, it is more profitable to use the gates if you consider the transportation and labor costs, so you don't have to worry about losing users to other gates.
But if it's expensive outside the forty districts, won't everyone just bring it in from the forty districts?
The lords of the forty wards will be very happy, but I don't understand why the lords of the other wards would do so. If they can't collect taxes, their income will decrease. I think it would be more profitable to collect the tax even if the price is reduced a little. ......

'The forty districts are the home of the Lumberjack Guild.
'The Lumberjack Guild?

I've never heard that name before.
Well, in a city where firewood is essential to life, lumberjacks must be an indispensable occupation. There are many wooden houses.

'The Lumberjacks Guild has great authority over the trees outside the city. They don't say, 'Don't cut down trees without permission! But they don't tell you not to. There are unforeseen circumstances.

In the course of forest activities, there will be times when trees are cut down out of necessity.
If you have to ask for permission every time, you cannot work in the forest. In the worst case, it could be life-threatening. We should not make a rule that makes it impossible to respond flexibly.

'However, in the case of mass felling of trees, the Lumberjack Guild has been given the right to denounce it. This is a very strong and enforceable right from the perspective of protecting the natural environment.

If a lord cuts down a large number of trees outside the outer wall and brings them into his territory to save money on firewood, the lumberjack guild can denounce him and impose very severe sanctions on him. ...... That's quite a privilege, isn't it?

'It's a tree monopoly, isn't it?
'Well, yes. But they are proud craftsmen, so there is not much worry about them abusing their authority. Just ......'
''As I said before, the entry tax outside of the forty districts where the Lumberjack Guild is based is too high. There's also a reason for that, environmental protection, but ...... to be honest, there are some complaints.''
'Well, it's no wonder they think they're using their power to monopolize the profits.

Estella added that it was a measure to restrict non-lumberjacks from cutting down trees unnecessarily. The balance of the forest needs to be viewed from a macroscopic perspective, and if any part of the forest is ruined, the ecosystem will be ruined.
This is probably because of the negative effects of the destruction of the forest, such as ......, where the beasts that have lost their homes move to other places and drive away the ones that were there before.

'However, if a person from the Lumberjack Guild is present, taxes are infinitely lower no matter which gate is passed through. The lord of the district would also like to be on good terms with the Lumberjack Guild.
'It's cold at night.
'You can't cook or build a house without wood.

The strongest theory of lumberjacks has emerged.

'So we'll just have to call a lumberjack to cut down the trees for us.
'I'd like to do that. ......'

Estella's expression was sullen.
She looked resigned, as if she had already considered such a thing.

'Is it expensive?
'It's a technical job. Besides, most of them are beholden to the Woodcutter's Guild and only use the city gates of District 40. That would cost a lot of money to transport.''
''What do you mean, 'justified'? ......'
'If the lords of the forty districts are enriched thanks to the Lumberjack Guild, the lords will favor the Lumberjack Guild, right?

Is that why the guild members only use the city gates of District 40?
In the event that you've got a lot more than one of these, you'll be able to get a lot more.
What's with the good mood ......

In addition, it seems that they want to show off their skills and achievements.
'You mean to the big man of the guild?
'The big guy......, you could say that.'
'It's not?'
'The guild leader has a very beautiful only daughter. She's eighteen this year, I think.''

So you're making a strong appeal to those self-proclaimed groom candidates?
...... It's just like the princess of Otaser.

'She seems to like beautiful things. ...... Perhaps that's why the wood on the market these days is all beautiful, with few blemishes and almost no warping.
'You're asking her to marry you because of the beauty of a log?You're out of your mind.
'Of course, that's not the only reason.

'Well, it's a beautiful log!Marry me! And... ...... If there was such a woman, I'd wish her away.

But you know, not all of them are like that, right?
'Of course, there are lumberjacks who prioritize efficiency and enter through other gates. Mainly those with wives and children and old-fashioned craftsmen.'

So the young ones are crazy about the princesses of lumberjack country.

'Well, let's try to get old men to work for us.
'But the higher taxes and transportation costs compared to the forty wards will hurt us a lot. Hiring an old veteran lumberjack is also going to be expensive. ......'
'How about processing them outside?We could cut down the trees in the forest and turn them into sawdust on the spot. Wouldn't that be less taxing than bringing in logs?'
'Sawdust outside: ............ No, we can't.'
'Why not?
'Who's going to make sawdust in a forest full of monsters like that? It would take a long time to cut up a log.
'You should get the guys from the hunting guild to escort you. ......'
'It'll be more expensive.
'It's .............'

It's getting really tedious.
As long as you live in this city, introductory taxes and transportation costs will be involved in everything you buy.
It's no exaggeration to say that they account for about half of the price of things.

Isn't it possible to somehow save the entry tax and transportation costs? .................. Oh, right.

There's an easy solution. There's a simple solution.
'What?What's that?

Estella leans forward with a giggle. Her eyes are glittering. She must have been puzzling over it a lot. Otherwise, she wouldn't have consulted me.
Then let me give you a revelation.

'You should build a city gate in the 42nd district.

How can we save on the entrance tax and transportation costs? If we build a city gate here, it's a one-stop solution.

The entry tax can be decided by the authority of the lord, and if we use the gates of the forty-two districts, we don't need to pay for transportation.
This will solve the problem at once.

It's impossible.

The reply was rather quick, yet firm.

'How much do you think it costs to build a city gate?Besides, building a gate is not the end of the story, you know.There's also the cost of maintenance and the manpower needed to guard it. If a hexenbiest were to invade the city, how much compensation would we have to pay? ...... The Forty-two Wards would cease to exist!
'You see, you ...... have to work hard to earn money. ......'
'How will I earn money?

Bang!I slammed the table hard and Estella leaned forward.
She brings her upper body close to mine, and approaches me rapidly with an angry face.
I try to move my body backward, but the back of the sofa prevents me from moving back any further.
I turned my upper body as far as I could, but that was as far as I could go. ............ Soon, we were so close that our lips almost touched.

I'm not sure what to say.

She regains her composure for a moment, reflects on the current situation, and her face instantly boils.

'Oh, dear!Sorry, sorry, sorry!

It's a good idea to have a good idea of what's going on in your life.
This is a great way to get the most out of your time and money.

'............I'm a little distracted. ............Forget that. ...... please ............'

Forget it, I'm told. ............

When I looked at the entrance, I saw Natalia standing there with a cool look on her face, having helped me out of a critical situation.
Whatever the case, good job, Natalia!

With that in mind, she gave Natalia a thumbs up and pointed a knife from her ............ pocket at her. The sharp blade glinted eerily.
...... Hey, it's not my fault, right?

'Anyway, I can't afford the city gate because I don't have the money.'

Estella curled up on the couch, her face buried in her hands, her voice muffled.
Look at me properly.
This isn't a discussion situation, you know.

'Think of something else to do.

Wow, that's a lot to throw around.

'Build a city gate and set the tax on lumber as low as possible. We'll use it as bait to get the lumberjacks from the lumberjack guild.'
'So, that's ......'.

I look up at Estella and tell her in no uncertain terms.

'Other than that, there's no other way to maintain the sewage system in the 42nd district.

Although dressed like a cat who has just woken up from sleep, Estella has a serious expression on her face.
'.................. You're the Sphinx, aren't you?

'............Then I can't do this anymore. ......'

Estella melted.
She slumped down on the sofa.

'Are you not forgetting that you are the Lord's representative and a young maiden?

'In short, all you need is money, right?'
'I wish I had some, but there's no ...... more ...... anywhere.'
'If you don't have it, you can make it.
'Don't tell me you want to ...... tax the people heavily and take it from them?
'If I could do that, it would be quicker.'

I thought so.
I thought it would be 'rejected', but I didn't expect it to be a quick decision. ...... You're a good lord.

'Fortunately, I've just gotten some wonderfully useful information. It's worth a fortune. My sense of smell tells me so.'
'...... information?'

I sit up and Estella gives me a serious look.
'Oh come on, that's what you said, right?

''I heard that there is a woodcutter guild in the 40th district, and that they have a lot of power over the lord.
'It's not like we have a relationship that puts pressure on them. The lord of District 40 is a man of understanding, but he's not a weakling. He's very understanding. He's not afraid to take on a challenge if he thinks it's beneficial to do so.
'Do you know him?
'He's a friend of my father's.'
'You're a tit friend, .......'
'It's not 'tits', it's 'father'!

Hmm, that's convenient.
It'll be easier to get through to them if they know each other.

'So the lord is a man of understanding and foresight?
'I'm sure he is. The Woodcutter's Guild was able to grow to that level because of the collaboration with the lord of District 40. Trubec Engineering is also doing what they want, isn't it?

I see. I remember Umaro saying that Trubec Engineering is based in the Forty District.
Indeed, I have the impression that they work quite freely. That's why the name of Torbek's construction company is known all over the place.

'Then you've already won.
'What do you think you're doing?
'What do you think the Lumberjack Guild values the most?
'The .................. natural environment, right?
'No, my daughter, probably.'

She must be a really beautiful girl, since many of the members are passionate about her.
A father would not fail to cherish such a daughter.

'I'm going to take her in.
'How ............ are you going to be a candidate for groom?
'Who's going to run for office, that's who!
'...... Good.'

You don't have to do that.
Look, remember, Estella. Remember what you said to yourself about that only daughter, that young lady.

'That young lady likes beautiful things, doesn't she?
'So I've heard.
'Then let's make the Forty-second Ward 'beautiful'.
''Make the forty wards 'beautiful' .................. Oh, you mean that!

Estella seemed to have noticed, and her expression brightened.

'Don't you think this is a great way to market the sewers?
'...... Indeed. Sewage will clean up the city and, more importantly, eliminate the stench.
'Plus, if you're in a house as rich as the Lumberjack Guild or the Lords, you can build one, right?
'........................ Oh, a flush toilet!

The most beautiful thing in this city right now. It's none other than the flush toilet installed in the sunny pavilion.

No matter where you live, no matter how rich you are, you must feel shabby when you use the toilet. If you're using one of those ...... holes with a board over it.

'I'd certainly like to have a ...... flush toilet in my house. It's a dream come true to be able to install it indoors. ......'
'In addition, they are much cleaner than traditional toilets.
'...... This could be ..................... ...'
'It could be hugely profitable, you know?'

The vitality returns to Estella's face.
The corners of her mouth are twitching.
I suppose so. The rights to the sewage works are all with the lord. If we get the contract, we'll make a fortune.
And as the sewage system spreads to other districts, the demand will increase.

'...... If the Lumberjack Guild likes it, it'll be a powerful boost.
'Well, let's keep that as a bargaining chip, and start by getting the lord to listen to us. If you have any foresight, you'll realize the usefulness of the sewage.
'Natalia!Get your father to write a letter of introduction right away!He wants to discuss an important matter with the lord of the forty districts!
'Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

Natalia leaves the room and Estella stands up on the sofa. ...... You're not behaving well.

'Okay!Let's hit the forty districts!

We're not going to war.

'Yashiro's coming too, isn't he?

He looked at me expectantly.
Well, it's probably best if I'm here to explain the details.

'Of course. I'll make sure I get the order.

And build a city gate in the 42nd district.
Absolutely, we can't fail.
Because ......

This city gate will be very important to me.