214-Later, at the 42 Woodman Guild,

'Oh, no, ...... I think I've caught a cold. I've got the chills.'

I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that I'm not the only one who has a problem with this. ...... I'm sorry. You're so cute, but I...

I'm not sure what to do, but I'm sure it's a good idea.
If that's the case, can you please stop talking in that freaky way?My cold is getting worse and I'm getting an incurable disease.
'Incurable disease: ............ baldness?
'I'm fine!I'm not Ambrose!
'Ha-ha-ha, Stuart. I'm here, so be careful what you say.

Demily smiles like a demon and closes in on Javier.

'Hey, Javier. Don't be too harsh with him.
'You're the one who started it, Oba-kun~. I'm going to impose economic sanctions on you.
'Demilly, do you hate ...... Estella that much?
'It's you!

A mature, old man stomping his feet. Stop it, you'll get dust in the air.

Yashiro-san. Why don't you get to the point?
'No, Javier will say something awful if we don't.'
'...... Were you playing it down just now, Yashiro?I'm not sure if you've seen this before, but I'm sure you've.

I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that I'm not the only one. ...... I guess it's only a matter of time before he gets demoted.

I'm at the woodcutter's guild in the 40th district with Imelda.
I came here for Javier, but for some reason Demilly was there too, so I thought I'd talk to him while I was at it.

'Actually, Javier. I need to borrow your horse.
'Horse, huh?
'Oh, don't you know?It's a long-necked creature that goes boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.
'Yes, I know!So, what's the big deal?There's more to it, like the horse's qualities and characteristics!

That's a great horse owner. You seem to have an obsession with horses.

The horses Javier raises are the best of the best, and are highly regarded by the nobility.
I heard that they are not only powerful but also beautiful in appearance.

I would like to use it in the parade. He came to me for advice.

'Even if I lend it to you, ......, how much do you need?
'Five two-horse carriages, that's ...... twelve horses.
'That's a lot!

Demilly tilted his head next to Javier's astonished face.

'If there are five two-horse cars, isn't that ten horses?
'We'll have one horse in front and one in back, unattached to the carriage. Ride as normal.

The first horse leads. The horses in the back are bodyguards in case something goes wrong, or to fill in for a broken horse.

'Well, that's quite a grand parade, isn't it?

Of course, Demilly, the lord of the forty districts, had heard about the parade.
However, he didn't seem to know the scale of the parade.

'Twelve cows,............, if you take out all the ones we have now, it won't be enough,......... ...'

I've been told by Imelda that there are only about fifteen horses that Javier is currently raising that are grown and trained well enough to pull a carriage. In other words, he's asking me to lend him as much as I can.
Naturally, no matter what the parade would be like, Javier would have to keep the horses for his own carriage. It's really an absurd request to release everything.

'That's a bit difficult,' he said.
'It's the beginning of their marriage, you know?Don't you want to make it gorgeous?
'I'm not close enough to them to put that much of a burden on them, me and them.

Well, I guess you could say that.
At any rate, Javier's horse could be a bargaining chip that would allow him to compete on equal terms with the nobility.
If he were to do something wrong and get hurt, he would lose a lot of money.
He would be cautious.

Nevertheless, Javier is a man with deep pockets.
He would not hesitate to congratulate someone he knows, even if it is a stranger, and he would lend his support generously "if there is a chance".

So, I came to ...... to create that 'opportunity', or rather, to lure them.

'So, Javier!Would you like to play with me?
'Oh, ...... a match.'

Javier's mouth twisted into a grin.
Apparently, he was intrigued.

'I got beat up in the gluttony contest, so ...... this is a good opportunity for me to get some revenge.

'...... again, such a long time ago.'
'Shut up!I can't tell you how many times I've wet my pillow since that day. ......
'Is that drool?
'It's snot.'
'It's tears of frustration!

Lie to me.
Right after you lost, you looked refreshed, saying, 'I've been fed a lot of food.
...... Well, at that time, I was in a situation where I couldn't talk for a long time.

I'm sure you'll be happy with the results. All right, I'll take it!

There's an old man in front of me with a big smile on his face, his muscles more excited than usual. ...... scary scary.

'So, what's the game, Oba-kun?

Demilly, too, was intrigued and leaned forward.
I exchange glances with Imelda, who knows what's going on, and begin to negotiate with the two males.

'You know Imelda's got some great wood that's said to be once in a hundred years, right?'
'U....... I'm sure Austin and Xenobios are very excited about it,......, but they're so desperate when it comes to Imelda,......, and I can't believe how much I've looked out for them. ...... mumble'.

Apparently, they're frustrated that the branch office took that wonderful wood instead of the headquarters.
I guess he's trying to tell me that I should get the best wood from the headquarters before transferring.

'The city gates of District Forty-two have only just been built. There's a high possibility that there are still treasures lying in the forest outside.
'Oh, that's right. That's what I'm thinking too, and I'm actively sending woodcutters from headquarters to the gates of District 42.
'Thanks to that, the introductory tax of the forty districts has been reduced. ......'
''What are you talking about, Demiry? Instead, I heard that the overall tax revenue has doubled with the opening of the street and the enhancement of the food court.''
'Ha-ha-ha!That's Oba-kun. You've got quick ears. No~, actually, you're absolutely right!

d*mn you, old raccoon.

The city gate in District 42 is currently a bit of a hot topic.
There are many people who come to try out the gate to see if they can use it for work, and the forty and forty-one wards that are transit points are also benefiting.
The 41st district, which has become an inn town, is enjoying a booming business. I'll let Ricardo buy me dinner next time.


Back to the story.

'Go through the gate in the 42nd district and go to the forest outside. I need some wood for the wagon, and you can get it for me. Of course, the winner is the one who can get the better quality wood.

I'm glad Demilly's here.
If we had to carry the lumberjacks' guild to a contest, the finances of the forty districts would be affected in no small way.
What's more, the city gate of District Forty-two would be used this time.
For the forty wards that have city gates, this is not something that we can welcome with open arms.

When I glanced at Demilly, he gave me a gentle smile and nodded.
I guess that means there is no problem.
In fact, he even looked like he wanted to take a part in it.

Javier was different.
The smile on his face was ............ like a powerful demon.
It was a professional look, with the sharp eyes of a warrior on the verge of battle.

'Oh, ......, you want to compete with me for the job of lumberjack?

Guild leader of the Lumberjack Guild. He was called a legendary monster and the number one lumberjack, recognized by both himself and others as being on par with Medora.
He challenges Javier to a game of lumberjack.
It would be beyond reckless, it would even be rude.

That's why you can find a way out of it.

'Of course, I'll take the handicap.

You can't win 100% of the time with a straightforward strategy.
So we'll use a subterfuge.

'In advance, I've obtained the full cooperation of the 42nd district branch of the Lumberjack Guild.
'Oh, ...... Imelda's going to join you?
'Yes. There will be no mercy, father.
'Ha-ha-ha!That was a funny joke, Imelda!

He laughed off Imelda's provocative glare.
As for Javier, even if he were to go easy on her, his victory would be unassailable. That's how confident he is.

'Of course, I'll use Austin and Xenobios. ...... What do you think, Javier?'
'I've been lambasted. ............ Those two little bastards are no match for me, even if they came at me together!

Still active.
That is, the strongest.

The man in front of me is the strongest lumberjack ever, despite his devastatingly unfortunate personality and s*xual proclivities.
Javier's aura of confidence is no mean feat.

'This one will take the entire 42nd district branch, but ...... what about you?
'I'll be fine on my own!I'll take some waiters with me, though. But I'll take some waiters with me, because I can't work if the food is bad.

Javier versus the Woodcutter's Guild, District 42.
I don't know who's got the better handicap. The odds are going to be rough.

If this were Medora vs. the 42nd district branch of the hunting guild, ...... Medora would end up winning hands down.
The man who is Medora's equal, Javier,......

'So, the date is tomorrow at sundown. The rules are that you must go through the city gates of the 42nd district to the outer forest. And you must prepare wood to make the carriage. The winner is the one with the higher quality wood.
'Interesting!I'll take that challenge!'

Javier stands up, spreads his thick, bear-like arms, closes them cross-legged, and slams them into his chest.
The walls of the room vibrate with a loud crash that sounds like something you'd hear at a scrap factory.
If I get caught between that arm and his chest, my spine will shatter, for sure.

'If you win, I'll lend you my horse for as long as you want!

Okay. Got a deal.

'In exchange, if I win ............'.

Javier's eyes glittered like a ferocious beast.

'Let my sister rub it!
'The moment you do, I'll cut you off.'

Imelda stared into the eyes of the ferocious beast with a blizzard-blasted gaze of extreme cold.
The beast 'cooed ......' and grew smaller and rounder. ...... That's what animals do when they're exposed to a blizzard.

'Then,......, then,......, I want my sisters to say, "Uncle Javier is cool. ......"'

So, hey, old man,......, does it really have to be my sisters?

'You'll just have to settle for Loretta.
'No!I'm not going to do it.

I'm not sure what to do.
He just can't seem to tolerate double digits in age.

'All right. I'll talk to my sisters!
'Yes!You said it!I heard you!If you ever go back on your promise, I'll turn you into a frog even if you make enemies with all forty-two districts!
'Haha ......, that might make me an enemy too, Stuart.'

'I'm going to win this game, no matter what!Even if I have to tear Yashiro to pieces!No matter what cowardly tricks I have to use!I'm going to win this one for sure!Imelda!You may have a new mother, so be prepared for that!
Oh, no. There's a strange man talking loudly.

You've been cut off, Javier!
You've been a little overexcited, haven't you?

'............ something'.

It's not cute at all.

It's not cute.Well, well. ......

Javier glanced at me.
In short, you want to secretly decide on a reward when Imelda is not around.
...... He's not going to give up his sisters' praise.

Well, I'm going to do my best if Javier will bite.
Of course, as long as it doesn't overwhelm my sisters.

If you rub it in, I'll tell Imelda and every woman in the 42nd precinct.
Then you'll look like a mess in less than three days.
I'm afraid of my women.

Oh, no, no.
'Cause they're reliable.

Anyway, I'll take that chance!If I should lose, I'll let you use my horse as much as you want!

After saying that, he said, 'In return, right?You know what I mean?Do you?Oh, you don't have to say it out loud. You know what I mean?You understand, right?' I'm sure you'll understand.
Stop ....... I don't want any winks from old men.

'Hmmm ...... Oba, you thought of that.'

Demilly leans in towards me with a knowing look on his face.
Then he gently puts his face close to my ear.

'...... You want to take advantage of this game to get some wood for your carriage, don't you?I know. It's an 'incidental' game. There's no way I can beat Stuart at lumberjacking. Oh, it's okay. I'm not blaming you. It's just, you know, I've gotten a little smarter since I've been seeing you. I'm smart enough to know what you're thinking.

'Demily ......'

'To Demily, who spoke at length in my ear, I have but one word to say.

'...... glare.'
'You're not that reflective, are you!Not to the point of being uncomfortable!

I've been listening to you whisper for a long time. You'll have to tolerate this level of counterattack.

I'll take the wood for the wagon as a bonus.
A prize for bravery or something.

But Demilly's idea is a different order.
What Demilly is saying is that I offered him a contest ...... to get the wood for free. He said the game was 'incidental'.
But it's the wood that's 'incidental'.
My main goal is to win the game.

To be honest, I don't really care about the wood, as long as Umaro says, "Wow!That's nice wood! To be honest, wood is only as good as the surprise of Umaro. The average customer has no idea how good or bad the processed wood is.

But horses are different.
The horses raised by Javier are different from the others in every way, from their hair to their muscles to their faces.
Even the dignity they wear is different.

A beautiful horse pulling a carriage carrying a bride and groom.
That's what makes a picture.

That's what this game is about.

I'll beat Javier and borrow his horse.
This is an unshakeable decision. There can be no change.

I have a secret plan for that.
And Javier himself has given me permission to use it.

'Javier. I understand your power all too well. So feel free to use the power of the 42nd Precinct. It's not fair in your eyes.'

I'm not going to ruin my relationship with Javier.
This game is just a show to tickle Javier's fancy.
So I don't want to give the impression that I'm going to cheat, set him up, and deceive him to win.

...... Well, we deceive, we set up, we deceive, and we win.

I'm sure you'll agree.You're very auspicious, Yasilo. Are you really that stupid and honest?

As long as you laugh at me like this, you will laugh at me even if I do something cowardly.
That's why you can ...... do all the cowardly things you want.

I don't care what cowardly move you make!If you can beat me, go ahead and beat me!
'Okay. Okay, Imelda. Please.'

I pushed Imelda's back and pushed her in front of Javier.
Imelda's face crisped up and she said in an unhurried voice.

'If you get serious, I'll hate you.
'That's not fair, is it, Yashiro?

Javier's killer exploded.
Being hated by Imelda is what Javier fears the most.

'But, but!Imelda. If you were a member of the Woodcutter's Guild, you would understand.Anyone who doesn't show their true colors in front of the forest is not a lumberjack!I don't care what Imelda says, I can't bend that!I don't care what Imelda says, I can't bend it! If you bend it, I'll quit being a lumberjack!
'Father, ............'

Imelda's heart clenched at Javier's unhesitating words.

'...... Father, you're right. I don't want to see my father cutting corners in the woods, either.

My pride as a lumberjack outweighed my victory.
Oh, this is no good.
It's impossible to talk these two out of this.

They won't give up their pride as lumberjacks no matter what.

Well, I knew that was coming.
This is just a jab.
The real story is somewhere else.

That's it, Yashiro. I'm serious!
'Oh. ............ me too.'

Then I'll show you, Javier. ......

I'll show you how serious a con man can be.

'So, this is the game. I, Ambrose Demilly, will be your matchmaker. I hope you both fight fair and square.
'Ah!I'll leave it to you!

Demilly says, Javier agrees.
And I'm like ......

'Hmmm ...... fair and square ............ I'm not so sure about that ......'.

I gave him a hard time.
No, because,......, right?
What is fair and square, huh?

'Oba-kun, ...... even if you're lying about that, ...... you know?I'm not going to make you a frog for that. ......'

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