249-Episode 161 Reunion

When I returned to the Sunken Pavilion with Estella and Delia, I was greeted by an unexpected person in front of the store.

'I've been waiting for your return, I'm the Lord of District 42 and my friend Yashiro.

Gilberta, the head waiter of the 35th district lord's mansion, was standing in front of the store, looking as dignified as ever.

'Gilberta!Why are you here?'

Estella shouted in surprise.
It seems that their visit was not planned.

These guys: ......
Yes. If Gilberta's here, then of course he's here.

'Lucia is coming too?
'Affirmative, I am. Lucia is waiting in the store for you two.'

I have a bad feeling about this.
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However, Lucia had come all the way to see me.

In the middle of this mess caused by the water shortage.
On the same day that I received a letter that could be considered a declaration of war from the BUs, including the 29th District.

'Anyway, let's meet and hear what they have to say.
'I don't want to hear it...'

Estella's face is tense.
I must have a very tense face too.

'Hey, can I talk to you too?

Delia asks with an unusually serious expression.
She seems to have sensed something too.
Her expression shows that she is worried about the river.

'Maybe it's difficult, maybe I don't know, maybe I'll get in trouble, but I'm ......'.
'It's okay, Delia.

You can't stand still.
It's the river that's important.
Lucia's story is probably related to this water shortage.

Delia looks a little uneasy.
But she doesn't seem to want to back down.

As expected of a guild leader.

'If there's anything you don't understand, I'll explain it to you in detail. So listen carefully.'
'Yeah, thanks for the ......, Yashiro.

Delia is growing up little by little.
I think her instincts are starting to tell her that she can't go on like this.
Even if it's slow going, he's making progress.

He might make a good guild leader.
Maybe even a guild leader who can compete with the lumberjacks' and hunters' guilds.

'Come on in anyway. There's not much time for slowing down. The urgency of the situation. That's what I'm aware of, Lady Lucia. Of course, so do I.

Gilberta's expression, with its few ups and downs, grew grim.
She puts her hand on the door and opens it as if to invite us in.

I looked at Estella once, nodded lightly at each other, and stepped into the sunlit pavilion.

'Ah, Yashiro-san, welcome back. Oh, Estella was also with you, wasn't she?

Ginette came running up to us when she saw our faces.
With a slight whispered nuance, she told us, 'Lady Lucia was waiting for you.

Lucia was sitting in a seat near the center of the floor.
She was staring at me with a dignified aura of a lord that she didn't hide, and with a posture that left no room for error.

'I've been waiting for you.

He said quickly, and stood up so quietly that not even a candle flickered.
His gaze is as sharp as ever, and he walks up to me without blinking.

Her back is straight, her stride is wide, her face never wavers in height, and her expression is unreadable and brave as she comes closer and closer.

'...... glad to see you'.

That's why I couldn't believe my ears for a second when she whispered: ......

'Bear-eared beauty!
'Don't walk right past me!
'So cute!So cute!
'Ya, Yashiro!What am I supposed to do with this?

Just hit him. I'll allow it.

He's Lucia under all circumstances, isn't he?

'I know you have something to tell me. I want to hear it.'
'If you want to hear what I have to say, bring Wen and Milly!
'You don't have much time, do you!Talk quickly!I'll take Gilberta, you bastard!
'I think that's a good idea, I do.

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'You're declaring war, anchovy!
'Get on with it,......, we've got a lot of problems of our own.'

I ignore the idiot and quickly take a seat.
Estella sits down next to me. Yeah. Apparently she's going to ignore Lucia's odd behavior too.

'Hmm. You're still being disrespectful, anchovy.'
'Shut up. Sit down so I can listen to you.'

Pointing with her chin to the seat opposite her, Lucia returned with a graceful gait and sat down.
As soon as she sits down, she raises one hand and calls out for Ginette.

'Ginette, let's have some fresh tea. Get some for these two.'
'Yes, sir. Please wait a moment.'

Ginette bows and heads back to the kitchen.

'...... Who's Jinepu. Don't give me a funny nickname.'
I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that I'm not the only one who has a problem with that.

What do you approve of, Ginette? ......

'I like her best among the humans.
'...... You're a big-breasted man.
'Are you a pervert who can only evaluate a woman by the size of her breasts?
'Who's a pervert?
'What's most important to a woman is whether she'll let you hug her, or whether she'll let you puff on her various parts!
'You're much more perverted than I am!
'Shut up, you two perverts. Can you please shut up for a minute until the tea comes?

Estella is no longer taking it easy on Lucia in pervert mode.
I'm having a hard time deciding if this is progress or a regression as a lord.

'...... Yashiro'.

Magda appeared from behind me without a sound.

'...... Magda and the others wish to be present.'
'Hmm, no, but what about work?'
'...... There are no guests, so Magda and Loretta have taken care of everything.'
'There are no customers ......?'

I looked around the store when I was told, ...... indeed there were no customers.

'We've rented the place out, and while Lucia is here, we'll be taking over.

Gilberta appears noiselessly next to Magda.
'Are you burglars?

'I don't want to be overheard, what Lady Lucia is trying to do. I don't want it to be a rumor. It'll be a problem, even if the word gets out that Lucia-sama is here.'

The only thing that would be that serious would be that.

'It's something to do with BU, isn't it?
'As I thought, a letter from BU came to us too?
'Yes, sir. Would you like to see it?
'Are you sure, Estella?

It's not usual to show a letter addressed to a lord to another lord.
Well, I'm not a lord or anything, but I'm sure there's a problem when I'm looking at it. ......

It's fine. It's not that different from the one that came to Lucia's place anyway.
'Hmm. Then let's take a look.

Lucia unfolded the letter and glanced at the contents.
Within a few minutes, she raised her gaze and lifted the corners of her mouth meaningfully.

'It's all pretty much the same, isn't it?

Our hunch was right.
The league of lords called BU argued that the joint wedding of the Forty-second and Thirty-fifth districts was responsible for the current drought,
They are trying to claim compensation from both the 42nd and 35th districts for the damage.

'Sorry to keep you waiting.

Ginette brings eight cups of tea.
'For all of ......?

'Delia, you can sit at the same table as us.

Following Ginette, Loretta comes out of the kitchen with a tray.
The tray is lined with fruit tarts.

'Loretta, Loretta!What's that cake?Can you give it to me?

Loretta replies to Delia's biting question as if it were a matter of course.

'Yes, sir. It's on the house. I'll listen to a difficult story while we eat, together!
'Okay!I think I can understand any difficult talk if there's cake!

No, I don't think so.
No matter how much sugar is the brain's nourishment,.............

'...... Loretta. You've come a long way, haven't you? Hmm?'
'Hahahaha!I'm sure you're not the only one who's had it.It's true!I didn't do it by myself!

I'm not sure what to do, but I'm sure it's a good idea. ...... Do you think you can cover it up with a face like that, this guy.

I'll take it. I'll buy you a drink. You can eat to your heart's content.

I was about to say something to Jeannette, but Lucia interrupted me.
It's bold of you to buy yourself a drink.

'All right, I'll go to ...... for the sunlit pavilion kaiseki.'
'I don't want your share. The girls can eat and drink as they please.

...... He's still the same.

'Then I'll take care of Yashiro's portion.

...... You're on a roll.

The tea and cake are distributed to everyone, and they take their seats.

Magda, Loretta and Delia are seated to the left of us.
Gilberta sits behind Lucia.

'Gilberta, you are welcome to join us. It's delicious.'
'At work, I am. We decided a long time ago to keep our private and public lives separate.'
'...... agreed, I am.'
'So, why don't you sit with me?
'I do, I do.'

I bowed to Lucia, stepped back, and sat down with Ginette at the table to our right.

'Now, that's a rather unpleasant story. Let's talk about it over a meal.

With a look of utter disgust, Lucia unfolds a sheet of paper.
Avoiding the dishes, she makes room on the table.

'This is .......'
'It's a map of Allbloom.

Lucia was right, it was a general map of Allbloom.
It was a smaller version of the map we had seen in the thirtieth district when we first came to this city.
The lines were neatly drawn and each district was assigned a number.

'You must be from outside, anchovy.
'You are now a respectable resident of District 42.

Ginette replied to Lucia's words with a biting tone.
Lucia, too, seemed surprised to hear the words come from an unexpected source.
However, after a slight coughing fit, she smiled softly and turned her words to Ginette.

'Of course you're right. But you may not be as familiar with the geography of this city as we are. That's why I'm checking. Don't be offended.
'No, no!I didn't mean to. ............ I'm sorry.

He shrugged his shoulders and looked down.
I think that was an unusually emotional statement for Jeannette.

It seems that Jeannette herself is embarrassed by her uncharacteristic behavior. Her face turned red.

'Well, sure. I can only vaguely remember the details of the layout.

I have a rough idea, but it's easier to understand if you show it to me like this.
Let's take a bird's eye view of All Bloom.

There is one district in the center, the so-called central district.
Around it, other wards spread out in a radial pattern.
Rather than radiating, we might say that the wards continue in a spiral pattern.

Wards 2 to 5 surround the central ward in a circle.
Five more wards, from six to ten, surround it.

The territory of these wards 1 to 10 is much smaller than that of the other wards.
Compared to the forty-two wards, they are about one-fifth to one-sixth the size.

'As you may know, the central district and the districts from 2 to 5 are the domain of the royal family. The second class of nobles live around there.'
'Second class?

Lucia's words contained another unfamiliar word.
It's probably a status system that's been used in this city since ancient times, like subhumans and subspecies.

'The people living in the central district are the Shouou family, who rule this country. And living in the four neighboring wards are the nobles who are the bloodline of the Shogunate. We call such people 'royalty'.

Lucia is using honorifics. To a guy who doesn't even exist here.
So that's the kind of family you're talking about, royalty. I could lose my head with a single word. Let's just listen quietly this time.

'Even though the word "royalty" is used in a nutshell, there is still a clear distinction between the legitimate bloodline and the royalty, and we call the royalty other than the regular royal family "first class nobility."'
'I see. That means that the second class of nobles are not royalty, but are the next highest.
'Hmm. Mainly, those involved in administration ...... include ministers and viziers.''

Lucia explains after Estella.

With the king at the top, his bloodline is first, and the royal caretakers are second.

'So I'd say there are three grades of nobles who have strong ties to the royal family but don't hold important positions.
'You have a good idea, anchovy. Royal dressmakers, artisans, and employees of the royal family are called the third class nobles.
'The nobles are called the great merchants and the wealthy.

Estella added more to her own words.

'The guild leader of the peddlers' guild is also included in this third class of nobles.
'Heh, ......, that must be a very domineering status.'
'That's it. A fifth-grade noble like me would have no problem with that.

Estella is a fifth class?
Lucia is smiling slightly at what she just said. A slight self-mockery, but a pleasant smile. I wonder if Lucia is also a 5th class noble.
From the atmosphere, she seems to be of a higher rank than Estella, Ricardo, Demilly and the others.

'Oh, could it be?

I looked at the map of All Bloom and got an idea.
In the center of the city is the Shogunate.
The first class nobles are in the 2nd to 5th districts around it.
Around it, from the 6th to the 10th wards, are the 2nd class nobles.
And the third class nobles live in the twelve wards from the eleventh to the twenty-second, which have a slightly larger territory than the above ten wards.

'You mean that the grade is higher inside the circle centered on the central district?
'That's right.

The wards of this city are connected to the outer wards in a circle that surrounds the middle ward.
The further out in the circle you go, the lower your status and grade as a nobleman becomes.

Therefore, the nobles in the outermost districts, the 30 to 42 districts called the outer districts, are the lowest grade of nobility, the 5th grade.
If you divide them that way, Lucia is definitely a fifth-grade noble.

'There's a big difference between the thirty outer districts and the twenty-nine inner districts.
'The status, you know.'

Lucia says with an implied tone.

'And this time...'

Estella taps her index finger on the map and tells me.

'The BU that claimed us is the one that includes the 29th district.

As he says this, he traces with his finger the area from the 23rd to the 29th district, where the 4th class nobles live.
The territory there is long and narrow compared to the inner districts 11 to 22, not to mention the outer districts. The seven wards that exist on the second perimeter from the outside are like a belt, narrow and circling All Bloom.

It's not the BU of the belt ............, is it? I'm sure the "U" stands for "United".

'So you're in a messy situation where a higher-ranking nobleman has a problem with you.
'If that's your style.

You're right about that.
...... A person of high status shouldn't be bothered by every little thing a person of low status does.
In addition, the argument is nothing more than a quarrel ............ with those with small intestines.
This is why the nobles ............ can't say that in front of Estella and Lucia, who are nobles ......

'Not at all. This is why nobles are so troublesome. Hey, Estella.'
'Eh?Ah, haha. It's hard for me to say because of my position, but ............ you're right.

The two aristocrats said something that I didn't expect, and Ginette and I were more shocked than they were.
Estella rarely acts like an aristocrat, so it's understandable. ...... Still, it must have been difficult to say in front of Lucia.

'Hahahaha. You have a funny face, anchovy. I'll gouge your eyes out.'
'Don't say scary things with a smile!

Especially when you have a fork or something in your hand!

'I, of course, don't get along with the nobles. I'm more comfortable talking with guild leaders.
'There's a lot of beastmen here.
'Ma-tan is the best.

It was just a perverted remark, but ...... now I felt something like kindness.

'This is why people say that the outer districts are barbaric and full of freaks.
'The Forty-second District has been called all sorts of things, even by the same Fifth Grade nobles.

That's just a complaint.
The aristocrats are not afraid to speak out their frank complaints, which they would never let others - even ordinary people like Jeannette and me - hear.
Are you guys okay with that?

'That's why we let you rent the place out, today. We decided that it was impossible to talk about this without this kind of atmosphere.

From the next table, Gilberta sends such a supplement.
While carrying a small, small tart in her mouth.

'The BU guys are a pain in the ass.

A frank and honest comment comes straight at me.
Sticking her fork in my eye, Lucia gives me a fierce smile.

'Look at that bizarre territory. Do you notice anything?'
'The territory is so small.'
'Not only that, it's long and narrow.

Long and narrow territories are difficult to utilize.
It is easier to live in a wide rectangle than in a narrow narrow house.

'Each district is long and narrow, and is adjacent to two or three other districts.

Lucia is right, each of the wards in BU is adjacent to two or three other wards on one side only.

The longer it is, the more neighboring districts there are.

'They are taking advantage of such territories to charge 'toll tax'.

You have to pay to pass through your district. ...... This is what the 41 districts were trying to do before.
If these wards form a coalition called BU and collect tolls as a whole, many people from outside will drop money to BU.
Because those who come from outside to do business would want to do business in Chuo City, no matter what.
It's the most elegant and prosperous city in all of Broome.

And in order to get from the outer districts to the central districts, you must pass through the BU.
It's a shameful business.

...... Huh?

I went through the BU once and they didn't take any money from me.
'They don't tax people. Only on goods.'
'Is that so?
'Because if we don't, we'll have to take money from the royals, too.
'Why don't you just take it?
'Hmm. Anchovy. You look like a representative of obscene creatures, but your heart is rather pure.
'Who is the representative of obscene creatures?

Lucia smiles teasingly at me.
'What do you mean, pure?

'That some noblemen like to play with fire with women of different status.

Estella whispers in my ear.
Obviously, in a tone of voice with consideration for Jeannette and the others.

'...... Ah. So that's what it means.

In short, the royal family and the higher nobility secretly hook up with low-class women at night to play adult games, and return to the mansion before dawn.
In such a case, if they had to charge money for each way to and from the house, they might be noticed by the royal family or higher nobles who wanted to act secretly.
So they keep the tax on products that don't require such travel.

I'm sure you'll be able to find a lot more information on this subject in the future. ...... Just because I didn't come up with such a silly idea doesn't mean I'm pure or anything.
Beastmaniac!You're a moral turncoat!


'Anyway, we have no choice but to go talk to them. But I don't like the idea of just going there and having them say whatever they want.
It is very likely that you will be asked a lot of difficult questions.

It seems that Lucia and Estella's intentions were aligned.
In other words--

'Let's form a joint front, shall we?
'Yes. That's what I want.

Once again, the lords of the forty-second and thirty-fifth districts shook hands firmly.

'So now we can use those anchovies again, huh?
'Yes. If you can control them.''

We both look at each other.
You've got a nasty smile on your face.

'...... will cost you a fortune.'

It's the fireworks I suggested that they claim are the cause.
You can't escape some responsibility.

Then at least let me have a good time.

Well, anyway.
I've been wanting to give the BU guys a run for their money, so I'll take it this time.

I look at the map again.
The BU's are circling All Bloom, dividing the outer wards where we live from the inner wards where the royalty and higher nobility live.
It's as if it's saying, 'You can't come in here.

I'll go as you wish. I'm going to devour your insides.