252-Episode 164 Walking in District 29

'It's too small!

Leave the carriage at the stables owned by the lord and walk through the 29th district.
The road is too narrow!

'This road is not meant for carriages.
'Only a few main streets are open to carriages.
'It's a measure to impose a tariff. Most merchants use horse-drawn carriages to transport large quantities of goods.
'Do you understand, my friend Yashiro?
'Don't explain them in order, you fool.'

I glared at them all, who were making smug faces at each other in turn.
I can almost understand that.

We arrived at the mansion of the lord of the 29th district in the early hours of the morning, and were greeted as we had imagined - specifically, 'You must have no common sense to come so early,' 'The nobles outside may have a different concept of time than we do,' and 'You are a country bumpkin. I had nothing to write about it, it was just something that pissed me off, so I decided to ignore it. And then, as originally planned, he went to inspect the city.

Although the lord's heart is dirty, the streets are small but beautiful.

In the twenty-ninth district, the main street leading from the thirtieth district was the largest, and there were several other streets where horse-drawn carriages could pass.
However, the rest of the streets are extremely narrow, making it difficult for carriages or even wagons to pass through.
It may be intentional, but there are many steps and ups and downs. ...... It's a pain in the ass to walk.

Even though it's near the center of the city, just one turn off the main street and the whole area becomes a complicated street full of "back alley" feeling.
Walls that exceed the height of your head, buildings that are close to each other, walls of buildings that are densely packed as if to drown out the bustle of the main street - even the sunlight is blocked by them, and the sense of oppression is tremendous.
It is like a huge maze on a city scale.

The residential and commercial areas are generally structured like this. If you go a little further, you can go into the agricultural area and the road will become wider.

Lucia pointed to the east and gave us this explanation.
In short, if the main street is surrounded by such a road, wagons and carts can only pass through the main street. Most of the outside merchants travel by carriage, so they can't evade customs by taking the back roads.

But even the people who live here use carts. That's why the further you go into the city, the wider the streets are, and the more carts can be used.

In other words, there are two sides to the city of the 29th district, one as seen by the visitors from the outside and the other as seen by the residents living there.
The stage and the backstage. So these two worlds exist side by side in this city.

'But I guess I can carry my stuff on my back and go through.

There are no walls between the districts, so it would be possible to pass through without being seen.

'Any place where you can pass through will be monitored.
'You're serious!
'Of course. You're in a city where most of the income comes from tolls.What if we don't focus on that?''
'Lure them in and net them. ...... That's a nasty way to go about it.

If you're new to the city, you'll probably fall for it without even knowing it.
No, the dupes are the small-time crooks who take the regular route at first, but use their wits to see if there's a loophole somewhere.

I'm right on target.

A strange chill runs down my spine.
But then again, I wasn't carrying a lot of baggage, so it's not like I was being watched. Yeah, it's okay, it's okay.

'By the way, if you pay the tax here, you can get a permit, but if you want to do business inside this area, you need that permit.

Suddenly, Estella begins to speak disturbingly.

'Because merchants from the outside will definitely pass through the BU, so they should definitely have a permit, right?If not, you must be a member of the city's guild or have received an edict from the lord. ...... Anyway, doing business inside the BU is quite restrictive. In the event that you're not sure what to do, you'll be able to ask for help.

...... Speaking of which, I think I've been asked to show proof of guild membership and permission from my lord.

'There are many merchants who pretend to buy and sell and report lawbreakers because they can get a reward for turning them in to the lord. Well, the end of a wrongdoer is never good, is it?

Estella winked at me, and I could only laugh dryly.
She knows what she's talking about, she's a jerk.

'If you don't care much about the outer perimeter, does that mean that those who go from the inside to the outside through the BU to do business are free to evade taxes?Isn't that unfair?

I'm going to make such a complaint to make up for it. .......

'Of course it's unfair. Isn't it?'
'Well, ...... that's true, isn't it?

The people who go from the inside to the outside are nobles of higher rank than the BU nobles, or their relations. I'm sure you'll find plenty of favoritism.
That's why the aristocrats are all ......

'So-called "aristocratic sugar" is made inside the BU, right?
'Yes, that's right. As for the refining, it seems that they are giving it to the outer districts to show off their power.

Is it an honor to get a job from a great nobleman?I don't think so. I feel bad.

'The inside of this place will be a stifling place for you, anchovy. How's that?Are you breathing properly?'
'The air gives me heartburn every time I breathe it in.

I feel like I'm being ripped off, even for the oxygen. I hope they won't charge me later.

'Everyone, please watch your step.

Natalia, the leader of the group, says without looking back at me.
We begin to climb the long, narrow staircase that joins the wall of the huge building.

The stairs, made of bricks, level off about two meters from the ground and turn into a narrow bridge.

There was a narrow channel under the bridge, and clear water was flowing through it.

'There's water, isn't there?
'Yes, it does. At this rate, there won't be a shortage of water in the agricultural area ahead.

Looking down on the waterway from the bridge, Estella and I had almost the same impression.
I knew it, but it's unlikely that the sluice gates were closed in the 29th district because of the water shortage.

'What should we do, sir?Do you want to go to the Agricultural District?Or would you like to take a break at the café just around the corner?
'A cafe!

Estella answered immediately.
...... You.

'Because we've been walking on a road with many ups and downs.You'll get thirsty, of course.
'Well, you're right.

I'm sweating, too.
Because it was after the rain, the air was stagnant in this tightly sealed alleyway, and it was filled with terrible humidity.
My throat is parched from the sweat.

If there's a café, I'd like to get some cold tea.

'But then again, I can't expect anything but ...... drinks.'

Estella's cheeks twitch.
I hear the food here is pretty bad. From the look on Estella's face, I'd say it's pretty bad.
I wouldn't get my hopes up either.

'By the way, anchovy. What are you going to drink?'

Lucia asks me as we walk.
Why should I tell you such a thing when we haven't even reached the store yet? I'd say we'll decide when we get there. ......

'Well, maybe an iced tea.

I'm thirsty and it's a little humid.

'Yashiro......, they don't serve iced tea outside of the sunny pavilion.'
'Oh ...... I see.'

There is no ice in this world.
Some places do have it, but it's a very expensive item.

At the Sunlit Pavilion, bottles of brewed tea are kept in a well to cool them down.
The idea of iced tea is unfamiliar to people in this town. It is treated as "cold tea.
It is said that tea is generally served hot.

'Well, I'll have a fruit-based soft drink.
'I think I'll do the same.
'I'll have black tea.
'I'll have the same as Natalia, me too.
'Hmm, ...... will be fine.'

Hearing all of their answers, Lucia gave a small nod.
What, is there a rule against alcoholic beverages or something like that?

'What are you going to have, Lucia-san?
'I'll have an apple ale.

Is alcohol allowed?
It's not a café, is it?

If they serve alcohol, it's probably a place like Cantalucia.

'The fact that I made you answer all the way like this, is it perhaps a prelude to the fact that the lord will treat us?Hmm?

When I made a casual and smart request, Lucia stopped walking and turned around with a very troublesome look on her face.

'Can't you give me a more decent request, anchovy? You'll lose the will to buy me a drink if you talk like that.
'Do you want me to beg more s*xily, with my breath?Like this?
'Stop it, I'll ...... puke.'

Lucia turns pale and presses her temples.
If you feel like throwing up, you should hold your mouth. ...... Does something leak from your temples when you feel sick?I'm not sure what that is.

I'm not sure what to say, but I'm sure you'll understand.

Lucia smirked at me and gave me a coercive look.
She lifted the corner of her mouth and said, 'What's wrong?I'm not going to be able to do it.

You're not going to ...... get away with this.

With my right foot on the axis, I made three beautiful turns at high speed that would make a genius ballerina blush, and shouted loudly into the waterway.

'Lucia is so beautiful!
'...... Don't you have any pride, ......?
'I didn't feel any hesitation, my friend Yashiro's actions were ...... graceful.'

Lucia and Gilberta looked at each other in confusion.

'Lucia, ...... you underestimate me.

I'm not going to let you get away with it.That's who I am!
'Is that what you want from him, Estella?
'I don't know if you're asking me this, but that's the kind of person Yashiro is.

And it's true that Lucia is beautiful, so it can't be a lie.
If I had said something that might be traced to the Judgment of the Spirits, I would have refused the drink even if I had to kick it, but if it's true, it's a small price to pay for a compliment.

'On the other hand, I would never have said anything that would have disparaged Lucia's appearance.


Lucia's eyes open .
Hmm... She must have realized now that she made a tactical error.
But it's too late now. The treat is fixed!You can't turn it around!

'...... to you. ......'

He glared at me and let out a strangled voice through his clenched teeth.

'I'm not going to be hurt ...... by you calling me ugly or ugly!

'Hmph! Lucia turns away and walks away.
She left us alone and went on her way.

I don't know if it was my imagination,......, but my ears seemed to be a little red,......?

'Yashiro............ are you trying to powder Lucia-san too?'
'Wait, wait, wait!I'm not a fan.

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'This is a serious situation. ......'

Natalia said in a quiet voice.

'I didn't know that Yashiro-sama's strike zone had dropped to B cups. ......'
'I haven't lowered it!
'Why wouldn't it be lowered!I don't think it's a good idea to draw a line like that because it creates discrimination!
'Why are you so angry?
'I'm not angry at all!
'In any case, Estella-sama is out of range, so there's no need to worry about it.
'Shut up, Natalia!

Whether they are close or not, Estella and Natalia are bickering in perfect harmony.
I'm not trying to seduce Lucia!It's just a misunderstanding on his part!

'I'm sorry, I am'.

As if to interrupt the noise of Estella and the others, Gilberta quickly raises her hand.

'I want you to pay attention to me. I want you to hurry up and chase after her, Lucia-sama. I've been watching you, Lucia, from a little way over there.

...... bad. It was good manners to chase after her as soon as she walked away.
I'm sorry I can't read the air. So don't get so puffed up. You'll burst your cheeks.

'Wait, Lucia~!

After saying those words, I pretend to chase after Lucia.
Is this kind of thing called entertainment?

I wandered down the narrow street, caught up with Lucia, and left the alleyway with a slightly unhappy Lucia.
There was a café near by, facing a big street, and we walked into it.

Inside, it was more like a cafe than a bar, with a somewhat fairy-tale interior.
The interior was decorated with furniture and furnishings that looked like they could have been used by a ravenous clock rabbit.

As Natalia had said, this place was like a café.

'One ale, two fruit juices, and two teas, please, I'll have'.

Gilberta placed the order in bulk.
I didn't even look at the menu because it was already decided.
So I opened the menu with a sense of duty as a person who has been in the restaurant business for more than a year to check out the products of another restaurant.


I couldn't help but exclaim at the first words that jumped out at me when I opened the menu.

'Order, wait a minute!I want to change it!

I stopped the waiter who was about to leave, and pointed to the menu.
Where my finger was pointing, the word 'coffee' was written on it.

'Change one fruit juice to coffee, please.

I hadn't expected to find coffee in any other store.
I never thought I'd see it here.
I remember Ginette telling me once that some stores carry it. She said she heard it from Assunto.
Oh, so this is the store that sells it.
Maybe they have a custom of drinking coffee here.

When I asked for a change in the order, the clerk smiled happily and bowed cutely, saying, 'Yes, sir.
I wondered if he had confidence in his coffee. He looked very happy.

Meanwhile, ......

'What kind of face is that, Lucia?

Lucia's expression became visibly cloudy, distorted, and stern.
It's not that expensive, is it?...... and looked at the menu, 'hot coffee, 20Rb per cup'. Seeing that ale was 50Rb, it was not that outrageous. I don't know what he's so reluctant about.

'Anchovies, don't leave ...... behind, okay?

A look of contempt, even disappointment, was directed at me.
What's with the exaggeration over a cup of coffee?
I'm not leaving it. It's not like it comes in a pitcher,............, or is it so bad that you can't even finish a cup?

'Sorry to keep you waiting.

The waitress said with a smiling salesman.

The first thing to arrive was the ale that Lucia had ordered.
The ale was accompanied by a small plate of peanuts, perhaps as a service.

'Do you want some?

Suddenly, Lucia held out a small plate with peanuts on it.

'Oh, what's wrong?That's very generous of you, beautiful Lucia.
'Stop it, I'll throw it!

Lucia grabs the peanut and shakes it.
I'm not a demon!I'm not a demon!I'm not a demon! ...... It's not peanuts I'd throw at a demon.

I'm not going to be able to do that.
Yes, it's good. It's just peanuts.
Not long after that, Estella's fruit juice arrived.
By her side, peanuts.

...... hmm?

A little later, tea is brought to Natalia and Gilberta. Along with a small plate of peanuts.


The air at the table is dead.
A few minutes pass without anyone saying anything, and finally my coffee arrives.
With peanuts, of course.

'Peanuts, that's a lot!

How much are you pushing it, peanuts!

'Are peanuts a specialty of this district?
'No, the most popular crop in this district is the sole bean.
'Then promote soramame!
'What? Are you in the soramame camp?'
'I don't remember joining any such faction!

What? Is there a bean war going on?What's with the sycamores?

If it's a beer companion, I can understand.
So I could understand why they would be a good accompaniment to ale.
But peanuts in fruit juice, tea, or coffee is strange.

And if it's not a local product, it's probably just a service. ...... Think about the compatibility.

In the event you're not sure what you're looking for, there are a number of things you can do.
...... It's not something you want to eat in such large quantities, though, is it, peanuts?

'By the way, Yashiro.

While cracking the shells of peanuts, Estella directs only her voice at me.
Her eyes are fixed on the peanuts. Rather than seriously cracking ...... the shells, she seems to be too tired to move ......

'You will be fined if you leave any food behind.

I'm sure you'll agree that it's a great idea.

'...... You can't say that after pushing me like this!

Oh, my God. ......
It's forbidden to eat leftovers, but they keep coming back with their own food. That's an excellent rip-off. Isn't it too vicious to put on a lot of food you didn't ask for and say 'don't leave any behind'?

'I doubt your decency, at all.
'If you say so, it must be pretty bad.

Lucia says, crunching her peanuts.
Lucia's face also has a hint of disgust on it. Somehow, Lucia doesn't seem to like being forced to follow the rules set by others.

I left the peanuts, which I had already eaten four times and was beginning to get tired of, and sipped my coffee.


The coffee in my mouth tasted bad, with a lot of miscellaneous flavors and an unusually thick taste that gave me a migraine.
The way the beans were ground, the hot water brewed, the extraction method, and the straining method were all messy, and it was easy to imagine that the taste was a failure.

It's ...... hell if I have to eat peanuts with this bad coffee in my hand.

I was fed up and wanted to leave the store.

You'll be able to get a lot more than just a cup of coffee.
There's a lot of powder in the bottom of the ...... cup. What is this drip coffee?

After overcoming the hardships, I placed the empty cup on the saucer.

At that moment--

'I'll pour you a refill.

Before I knew it, the waitress standing behind me poured another cup of coffee into my cup with a smiling salesman. I'm sure you'll agree.

It's ...... wanko soba.

I'm not sure what to make of it.

Lucia, with a hard expression, explained plainly.

'Only the coffee is free for refills. ...... No, it's not 'free', it's ...... mandatory.'
'What's with that annoying system?

And the coffee tastes bad.
Furthermore, leftovers are fined ......

'Hey. Let's shut this place down.'
'Hmm, too bad, anchovy. ...... Most of the stores in this district are like this.'

What a surprise. ......

The whole city is being ripped off: ......
This city is rotten!

'That's why I checked ahead of time. What are you going to order here?'

I see.
If I had said 'coffee,' you would have stopped me at that point.
Somehow, it seems that only coffee is free refillable ...... or compulsory.

In Japan, there are many stores that offer free refills on coffee, so it might be like that. ...... Although it seems to be the style of this town to completely ignore the opinions and intentions of the customers.

'When you have finished your drink, turn it over and put it back in the saucer. When you finish eating peanuts, you should turn the plate upside down.
'I'm sure it's going to get really dirty, but the table...'
It doesn't matter. It was the restaurant that made that rule. I'll be responsible for cleaning it up.

With that, he flattened all the peanuts in his hand and quickly turned the small plate upside down.
Peanut shells and flakes littered the table.
Lucia didn't seem to care, however, and poured the peanuts into her mouth with ale.

'If you don't do this, they'll bring you endless refills. The fines for leftovers are high.You'd better be good at it.'

Apparently, the fine will be on your own account.
...... I'll stop them at all costs.

I gulped down a cup of coffee that tasted so bad it almost gave me a migraine again, ate all the peanuts, and quickly turned the cup and small plate upside down.

It's a great way to get the most out of your day.
............ What's with the rules? No one benefits from this.

'Hey Yashiro,......, do you like peanuts?'

Estella says this as she holds out six peanuts to me.
I understand why Estella's expression was cloudy when we were talking about food in the 29th district on the way to the carriage.

I guess it's like this everywhere in this district.
Are they increasing their sales with such a 'small' business?Or is there some other reason? ............

Whatever the reason, we should be very careful about eating and drinking in this district.

'You owe me.

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...... The water in your mouth is being taken away rapidly.

At the same time, Estella turns the small plate upside down.
Natalia and Gilberta followed suit, turning over their plates.
There were no refills of juice or tea.

Now we can finally relax.

............ I mean, me. I haven't been able to relax at all.

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...... 29th Ward, it's a pain in the ass.