Someone softly opens the door to my room.
'Yashiro, I'm ...... coming in. ......'
He walked in slowly and called out to me in a slightly hoarse voice.
The door slammed ...... shut quietly.
I emerge from the bed and look at her face through my still-open eyelids.
Her bright red hair swayed in the darkness.
'...... Night crawling?'
'It's time to get up!
Ha-ha-ha. What nonsense. It's still dark outside.
This is indeed a high-class inn in the 24th district. Glass windows are used so that you can see the outside clearly even from inside the room.
The color of the sky peeking through the curtains was completely that of night. It was not even white.
'You said you were going to get up early to meet the koji maker, didn't you?Isn't that why you got up so early?'
That's true, but ......
Apparently, the koji maker is an early riser than Jeannette.
If you're not careful, it's time to go to bed, like this.
'I wonder what kind of old lady ...... would wake up this early ......'.
It's hard on the young, waking up so early.
'Get a grip. I'm up earlier than you.'
'Natalia woke you up anyway, didn't she?
'Hmm. That's sweet. I'm a very self-disciplined person. I wake up when I'm supposed to.
In a world where there are no alarm clocks, how do these people stay awake?
There's not even a wake-up bell.
'You didn't wake up just to see me sleep, did you?
'Baa, are you stupid?Who would want to see your sleeping face? ......'
While we were talking, my body kept complaining of fatigue, and I couldn't get up.
I keep laying around in the quilt.
'Are you a cat?
'What's with the 'cute and cuddly' thing in the morning? You're giving me too much credit.'
'...... Your brain seems to be structured in a way I don't understand.'
There are few things cuter than a cat lounging on a futon.
Then my translation should not be too far off.
'If you don't wake up soon, I'll rip off the covers.
'I'll take off all your clothes before you do that.
'Wait!Don't do anything stupid!Don't do anything stupid!
That sounds like pretend.
The Japanese are the kind of people who, when told not to do something, feel the urge to do it.
When I'm naked, Estella can't take off the covers.
It's just like 'Let me cut your flesh, but cut off your bones~ Operation Warm Futon Death Guard~'.
Without making a sound, Natalia appeared behind Estella.
She didn't even hear the door open.
'Did Natalia come too?
'Yes. She's waiting for her turn to crawl.
'I'm not here to crawl in the night!
'Well, if you'll excuse me...'
'I won't let you!
The two of them fought near the entrance. ............ Oh, shut up.
'Hey, you guys. Be quiet. You can't sleep.'
'We're here to wake you up!
He stumbles closer and stretches his arms across the futon.
Oh, no!I have to get naked!
'Wait, Estella!I'll take it off now!
'I'm not taking it off!
And the quilt is mercilessly ripped off. ...... cold.
God, this guy. Has he already forgotten that Magda hated him for doing this before?
He'll never grow up.
'He'll never grow up.
'Can you please not be rude while looking at my chest?
'Yes, Master Yashiro.'
Unusually, Natalia defends Estella in this way.
'Estella-sama is growing up properly.
Estella gazes admiringly at Natalia's back as she stands to protect herself.
Her red eyes are a little puffy.
'Today ...... Estella-sama woke up before I woke her up because she wanted to see the sleeping face of the opposite s*x, sneaked out of her room without me noticing, and exploded her biased s*xuality to the fullest without my knowledge!
'Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey!
'You've become an adult, Estella-sama!
'It's not like you're bad at listening to people, Natalia!
'I'm interested in the sleeping face of the opposite s*x!
'I feel bad about that word "opposite s*x"!
At any rate, I know that Natalia has no intention of defending Estella in a situation like this.
'Natalia. Don't be so aggressive.
Mornings are meant to be spent quietly.
'So, don't get so angry either, adolescent girl.
'You're making me crazy!......, you're killing me!
Estella's cheeks puffed up after being teased so much by me and Natalia.
Whether from anger or embarrassment, her face is flushed red.
'I've been meaning to tell you this for a while. Estella has red hair, so when she blushes she looks like an octopus. ............ It's beautiful, like a crimson rose, Estella.
A white blade glinting in the dark of night.
Estella's starting to flick her knife around. It's dangerous to agitate her any further.
...... I mean, why is there a knife glinting in a dark room? Are you psychic?
It's a good idea to take a look at the website and see if you can find anything that might help you.
I'm not going to let you sleep.
It's a good idea to take a look at your own personal life.
She was forcibly woken up and wiped her face with a wet towel.
There was a tub of water and a towel in the room. This was provided by the inn for use in washing your face.
...... The towel is for wiping your wet face. ...... What are you doing with it?
'Now, get dressed and meet us in front of the inn. Assunto will be picking us up soon, so let's meet up with him and go see the koji maker.
Estella rattled off her plans for the rest of the day and left the room.
I guess that means I should change my clothes. ............
'...... So, will you leave, Natalia?
'No, don't worry about it.'
'Estella!You forgot something!
Estella comes back at a very fast pace, takes Natalia away, and locks the door. ...... So, how did Estella get the door unlocked?
I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that I'm not the only one.
I've been told that it's rude to wear wrinkled clothes when meeting a koji maker, and that I should change into my nightgown.
I put the loungewear I brought into my bag and put on my usual clothes. ...... cold.
When I was a student, the landlady would put my clothes in the kotatsu to keep them warm before I woke up. ......
I remembered these nostalgic moments and prepared myself.
'Good morning, sir. It's a brisk morning.
'...... if only I didn't have to see your face.'
Assunto smiled at me with a hot smile as the cold wind blew through the city at night.
When we left the inn, Assunto was already waiting for us. ...... He's got a lot of energy, too.
'Now we are going to go to the koji maker's room, but since you don't like noisy places, I'm sorry, but please walk.
The sound of the carriage seemed to bother him, so we decided to walk to the room.
If we slowed down, it wouldn't be so loud. ...... Well, it's early in the morning, so what can we do?
I'll show you around.
Assunto led us through the still dark streets.
The factory that makes koji seems to be built on the east side of the city, with a lot of land.
The koji factory also has facilities for processing and development.
Only the koji maker and a limited number of other people are allowed to enter the "room" in the factory.
The room where koji is made must be perfectly controlled in terms of temperature and humidity, as well as germs brought in from outside, so you can't go in and out without permission.
'So, will they let us in?
'No way. We'll have to meet in another building near the room.
The room, which is also a treasure trove of trade secrets, seems to be on high alert.
Well, there doesn't seem to be anything interesting in there, so I don't mind.
'I hope they won't force beans on me again as soon as I get to the room.
In fact, I had already been pushed a bunch of beans at the inn. This time it was coffee beans.
I don't want any more baggage.
The least we can do is that Mahrul gave us a certificate of tax exemption along with the letter. Now our beans will be treated as a gift to Mahrul, a nobleman of the 29th district, and no tax will be charged.
...... This is the kind of injustice that goes on in BU.
It's a structure where bribery is rampant.
You don't have to worry about that.
Assunto turns his face toward us and says as he walks.
'You don't have to worry about being forced to eat beans at the koji maker's place.
Oh, you're talking about that. I thought you were talking about bribes. ......
'The koji maker is the most important person in the city who generates the city's assets, so he's exempt from bean-related obligations.
'That's a structure that seems to be rife with bribes.
If you have power, you're exempt from obligations.
It seems that there will be many people who want to escape their troublesome obligations by joining the ranks of the powerful at any cost.
'Hmmm... ...... systems are designed for the convenience of those in power. It's a great way to raise money,......, and it's not something you want to talk about in front of Estella.
'I'm sorry to hear that, Assunto. You make it sound as if I'm a corrupt aristocrat who's tinkering with the system for money.
'Of course, our beloved Lord of the Forty-Two districts is an exception. He's not like those money-grubbing people.
'...... doesn't sound very heartfelt.
In the past, Assunto, the head of the branch in charge of the lowest three districts of the peddler's guild, was preying on the 42nd district for his own advancement, and Estella, the lord of the 42nd district, was being preyed on. Although I was acting for them at the time.
These two are walking shoulder to shoulder, exchanging sarcastic remarks. For the sake of new business. To benefit from each other.
People change when they change, don't they?
'Is something the matter, Master Yashiro? Is something wrong with those two?'
'No. It's kind of strange to see two people who've been through so much walking side by side, .......'
'Wait a minute, Yashiro.'
'I don't want to hear this.
Estella and Assunto turn around at the same time, and approach me at the same speed.
'I'm the one who got burned.
'I don't mind declaring in front of the spirit gods that I've never had an opponent as troublesome as you.
What's wrong with that? Both of them have a reluctant look on their faces.
We're the ones who got in trouble.
If it weren't for you guys, I'd be living happily ever after with the money from selling spices.
Yes, I might have used the money to live a life of luxury in another district.
'On second thought, I haven't made a lot of money in this city yet.
'I'm sure you've made more than enough profit. Isn't the Sunlit Pavilion always busy?
'That's Jeannette's profit. I'm only getting paid for one person.
It's like a special allowance, an extra income, something that makes you feel like you've made money the moment you get it. I don't have the kind of income that makes me feel like 'I made money!
'Even though I've contributed so much, I don't live in a mansion and I don't have a beautiful woman at my side. ...... It's unreasonable.
'Hmm?I'm sure there's always a crowd of beautiful girls around Yashiro-san.
'Assunto ......, you don't seem to understand the meaning of the word correctly.
You're so busy counting your money that you're weak in the humanities. He didn't even understand how to enjoy a play. I guess he's not sensitive enough. Shabby guy.
You see?'Samurai' means that you can touch her tits whenever you want!
'No, it's not. Not at all.
'Yashiro-sama, you might want to relearn the language.'
I got a fierce rebuke.
Isn't it always the case that those in power can squeeze as much as they want?That's the way it is, isn't it?
'Then, let's make this business deal work and make a profit together. I'm sure you'll agree.
I'm sure you'll be pleased to hear that I've managed to get the story straight.
That's why I want to make a lot of money on my own.
What do you mean, 'all of you'? ...... You can only feel superior if you keep the profits to yourself.
'May I give you my objective impression?
Natalia says in an indifferent voice as she moves away from the three of us.
''I feel very sorry for the Koji craftsmen who have to negotiate with the top three crooks in the 42nd district.
'''Who are the top three crooks!
''Isn't it the three of you who are good at putting the other party through with your head and mouth?
Mu ...... said, I can't deny it, but ............
I'm not happy to be lumped in with these guys.
'I'll give it right back to you.
'No, no, no. I'm the one.
Sparks fly between us.
...... How dare these people put themselves on the shelf and shamelessly go on and on.
'Estella is the most black-hearted of them all!
'It's you, Yashiro.
'It's probably you, Yashiro.
'G....... But Assunto is the one who is the dirtiest with money, isn't it?
'It's ......n~............ you and Assunto, draw!
'No, no, no. I'm not as well-liked as Mr. Yashiro.'
'I'm the most popular person in the world, right?
'I'm a lord, remember?
'I'm a merchant, and I have trustworthy relationships with many people.
You've got a nice personality, really.
Natalia, who had been looking at us from a third-party position, pulled out a piece of high-grade paper from her pocket and thrust it at us.
'I'm the most popular one here,' she said.
The paper was the latest issue of the information paper published by BU.
......I know you're popular at BU, so ......
I skimmed through it and saw that it had a section on 'the hottest girls in fashion'.
'...... This is Natalia, right?
'Yes, it does look a lot like ...... Natalia herself, doesn't it?
As Estella and Assunto said, it was Natalia, no matter how you looked at it.
She was not the 'Natalia-esque woman' she had been before, but Natalia herself, with her hair, her eyes, and the way she stood.
I'm sure you'll be able to find a lot more information on this at .......
Natalia's nostrils are flaring.
I'm not sure what to make of that.
'What do you think ...... is a coincidence, do you think?
The last time a Natalia-esque girl was drawn in a newspaper and a girl who looked exactly like her appeared, it became a hot topic. As a result, the equation "hot girl = Natalia" was established, and Natalia's standing figure was published.
Or perhaps the guy who drew this illustration met Natalia somewhere along the way.
...... Natalia fever. I thought it was going to die down eventually, but I didn't expect it to get an upgrade. ...... It's not named, but it's almost like a name.
I'm not sure if you've heard of it, but I'm sure you've heard of it.
And then, with a big smile on her face, she says these words.
'I'd be happy to sign it for you, if you'd like.
'No, thank you!
Somebody pull him down from his feet!He's getting carried away.
'...... When did you buy this?
'Last night at dinner. I've been keeping it in my pocket to show you when the time is right.
'You should have kept it in your pocket all along. ......'
It's a great way to get the most out of your time and money.
I don't know what it is,......, but I'm not jealous by any means,............, and I want to be on it to shut this guy up!I'm not sure what to do.
I'm not sure what to say.
With grace, elegance, and class, Natalia stood in front of us and led the way.
...... She's a master at getting carried away, isn't she?
''Follow me, you three mouth-breathers.
'''Alright, let's duel, motherf*cker!
With that one word, the three of us mouth-breathers solidified our unity. I'm sure you'll agree.
...... Who are the three mouth-breathers?
'Hey, Estella. You need to appeal to the BU people more and get Natalia off that throne!
'What?I can't do it!
'Don't worry, you're beautiful!
'This is no time to be making funny noises, Estella!If we go back to the 42nd district, we can gather beautiful girls with Yashiro-san's help, but we have to silence that mouth as soon as possible, right now!We don't have much time!
''But,......, do you think I can do it,......?Yashiro.
'The face, with makeup, is enough to communicate!............ just'
''Yeah, ...... just.''
''My breasts are ......''
''Are you guys going to get there in the end!
''No, Estella, you're not!This is just a general statement, representing the opinions of the majority of men in the world, and I am not particular about the size of my breasts!
'My wife has poor breasts.
'You've never seen them, but you're talking out of your ass, Yashiro!Please correct it!
'...... I can't argue with that, but ............'
'Oh my god!This is not the time to be arguing.We have to unite to overthrow Natalia!
'Yes, we do.'
''We, the three mouth-breathers!'''......''' ''Who are the three mouth-breathers?
''............, you all are very close.''
Natalia has a smug smile on her face. ......!
If Magda was here right now, ...... she would be able to make the most of her cuteness and appeal to the whole BU district with her strength. ......... I'm not sure what to make of that, but I'm sure it's a good idea. ......... Oh, Magda's getting pretty good at Magda, too. ............ Then there's Jeannette... In the event that you have any questions regarding where and how to use the internet, you can call us at the web site.Then again, Magda is ............ No, wait, wait!
If we bring her along, her innocent cuteness and hard-working personality will make her popular in no time!
Plus, she won't get carried away, and we'll be mentally stress-free!
But she's not a pushover. ...... She won't go for it on her own, so if she doesn't get the bite, it'll be hard to turn the current boom around. ......... ...!
'Oh, I wonder if all BU residents will become severe pedophiles!
'What kind of curse is that?
'That's right!Let's hold a lecture in each ward with Javier as the lecturer!
'If we infect the residents with a serious disease, an all-out war between the BU and the outer districts will break out!
That pedophile lumberjack is useless at a critical moment!
'Javier's a jerk!
'You've got a lot to say to the other wards' heavyweights, don't you?
You're just an old man who's the guild leader of a big guild with a little influence in the whole district. What do you need to be reserved about?
''......It seems that it will be difficult to upset the current situation unless we are also fully prepared. ......''
Assunto says as he plays the abacus.
...... What were you calculating, on this topic?
'Gentlemen, it is not advisable to waste time on trivial matters. Let's get on with it.''
'''Whose fault is it?
Natalia is still proud of her victory.
...... I'm going to make you howl now!
'''Who's to blame?
............ Don't underestimate the three mouth-breathers!
Who are the three mouth-breathers?
...... d*mn, I kind of like that phrase.
In the event that you have any questions regarding where and how to use the site, you can call us at our own web site.
As the sky began to faintly whiten, we could finally recognize each other's faces.
As the sky turns blue in the early morning, people's faces look more mature and calm than usual.
Estella, who exhaled a thin white breath, looked more beautiful than usual in the tranquil blue.
I'm not sure what to say. ...... In the case of Natalia, it would be more appropriate to say that she is 'a beauty that I wish would just shut up.
'I see it. That's the koji factory.
Assunto points to a large structure.
Behind the high walls that surround the site, there are many buildings lined up.
The scene reminds me of the production plants of Japanese companies.
I remember that the production plants of cars and electronic devices were like a town within their premises.
Some of them had stores, ATMs, hospitals, playgrounds, and other facilities.
'It's as magnificent as a lumberjack guild.
'It's in the Forty-Twoth District.'
Estella let out a gasp at the grandeur of the place.
As expected, the headquarters of the Woodcutter's Guild with Javier was much bigger than this. We're dealing with huge trees, dozens of meters tall.
But it's a good match for the Lumberjack Guild's branch in District 42, which is run by Imelda.
It's big anyway.
'...... is going to be hard to break into.
'If you enter through any gate other than the main gate, you will be punished severely, no questions asked.
Are they on Secom?
And then, looking around the building, which is said to be fully secured,......, I noticed something.
'That means no suspicious people can enter this building, right?
'Yes, of course. There's a lot of secrets in here. Not only that, but we deal with very sensitive malted rice, so the amount of damage that could be caused by sabotage would be unbelievable.
The amount of damage would be so enormous that the 24th district itself would be tilted.
'...... So, if I see people like that, should I call out to them?
The other three all look in the direction I'm pointing.
Far ahead of us.
A few dozen meters from what looks like the main gate.
There was a figure hiding behind a building, trying to peek inside the koji factory.
'It's a suspicious person .......'
They all agreed on one thing.
In the early morning, when the sun was not even up, a figure was peeping into the premises, as if it was afraid to be seen.
They are nothing more than suspicious people.
He seems to be hiding himself from the main gate, but it is too careless that he is clearly visible from this side. ......
'What should we do?
'...... Let's approach ............ for now.'
I asked, and Estella made the decision to do so.
There was only one opponent.
We have Natalia and Estella.
Even if things get rough, we're not behind. If it comes to it, we can use Assunto as a shield.
'...... Mr. Yashiro. Your thoughts are all over my face. ...... Please don't do that, okay?'
Assunto slightly distances himself from me.
...... He's a sharp guy.
So we keep a moderate distance and approach the suspicious figure under our breath.
It could be an industrial spy trying to steal trade secrets,......, or it could be a saboteur,.............
The distance closes and the outline of the figure becomes clearer.
20 meters: ......15 meters: ......10 meters: ............
Fortunately, there is no sign of the other side noticing us.
They are staring at the main gate as if they are devouring it.
Finally, when the figure was almost there, ......
Estella let out.
Hearing that small voice, the figure in front of her looked back at her with a panicked look.
The figure, which showed an expression of astonishment and impatience, was a ...... child, no matter how you looked at it.
It's a little boy with thin lines, unreliable, smart, but weak.
'A ............ child?
We had imagined an industrial spy, but we were stunned, staring at the trembling boy.
And we were stunned once again when we heard the words that came from the boy shortly after.
'What is it with you people?You're a suspicious person?
...... No, you are!
This malted rice factory ...... seems to have a lot of things going for it.