After leaving the mansion of the Lord of District 29, Ma'ru let out a sigh of relief.
'Ahh~. It's been a long time since I've been this nervous.''
Ma'ru said with a radiant yet somewhat resentful face.
You're the one who wanted this in the first place.
As I strolled through the garden of the mansion, I had a conversation with Ma'ru.
We're just killing time until Ginette and the others finish cleaning up.
'I guess you have to pay a price to get what you want, don't you?
'Deserved? I feel like I paid too much.'
'You're right. How many times do you think we've been running around?
'But we got a lot in return, didn't we?
Currently, the lords are discussing the future of this and that in that conference room. The final decision will likely be made a little later, but Estella is sure to come up with a good deal.
When I told them that I would come back to visit them if they screwed up, they all looked disgusted.
As soon as we're done with Jeannette and the others, we're going to head back to District 42.
It's only a short walk through the new passageway. Estella won't cry if we leave her behind.
Let's go home first and wait for the lucrative tidbits Estella is sure to bring.
I'm sure there will be all sorts of lucrative deals, big and small, rolling in.
One of the most obvious advantages is beans.
The cultivation of beans in the outer periphery will certainly come to be practiced.
There will be no punitive taxation on it. After all, there will be a shortage of beans in the future. Besides, if there is a shortage, we can grow other beans.
Coffee beans and cocoa are fundamentally different plants from soybeans and peas.
You don't have to worry about repeated crop failures. ...... As far as this city is concerned, you can abuse the fields 24/7 and the plants will grow just fine. Are you invincible, the soil of this world?
'Still, you've had more advantages than me, haven't you?
What Merle always wanted. It's done.
Ma'ul had been scheming to get what he wanted and to get what he couldn't.
He got a place to consume the large amount of beans he had on hand, he got the strange new waiter he had always wanted, and he got a piece of the lord's power that he would never get again.
He could have taken all of the power from Gerasie if he had wanted to. He didn't do it because he thought it was his idea.
He doesn't care about being a lord anymore.
He thinks he doesn't need it.
No, there's something he wants more, and it's harder and harder to get when you're a lord.
So he refused to accept the authority that would have hindered him and took only the best part of the lord.
It's like biting into the best part of a watermelon. Extravagant.
'But you've made something really nice. Just having that makes me feel good about my efforts.'
What Mahr wanted most of all.
'With this, I can always go to District Forty-two to play.'
--A direct path to District 42.
After all, this is what he wanted you to build.
Maybe he knew about the existence of the Hamkko Cave.
'How much did you know about it?
'Oh, what do you mean?
'Oh, what do you mean?
There's no need to pretend you don't know now. I'm not angry, I'm just curious.
'The existence of that cave, the fact that it was the Hammies who created it, and the fact that if there was anyone who could convince them and the Lord to move at the same time, it would probably be me. ...... That's the situation.
Mahrul offered his help to the 42nd district to have a passage built.
In anticipation of what Theron had told him about the 'hero-sama'.
'You used Theron to reach out to me, and you managed to get us on the route you wanted us to take.
In the event that you're not sure what you're looking for, you'll be able to find out more about it by visiting our website.
I'm not sure what to make of that.
If we had met the opportunistic lords of District 26 or the short-term profit-hungry lords of District 28, we probably would have been able to defeat them individually and bring them to our side.
It would have been even easier than getting Donnis on our side.
But you didn't let that happen.
If he had met with the lords of the 23rd district before the meeting, he would have made plans to come to an agreement on distribution in earnest.
In that case, he might have tried to find a route to District 30 without the wetlands.
But they didn't let that happen.
'Tracy and Donis were genuinely on our side. They were the perfect ...... partners, capable of building a relationship of trust beyond money, rather than the calculating interest of profit sharing.
'Hmmm. If DD heard that, she'd probably freak out. 'Sweetie'?'
'No, he'd be more upset if you called him 'DD'.
'Well, shall I call you 'Donipipi'?'
'Stop it, ......, you're giving me sub warts.
I have goosebumps all over.
Donipipi should be sealed off for good.
'If it wasn't for those two, they might have been able to manipulate the majority vote and get the sanctions withdrawn. ...... Well, that's just a possibility, so you can say what you want. I'm sure you've been through a lot of trouble because of it.
It's unlikely that he knew about soybean paste before, so it's probably just a coincidence that he introduced Donis to us because of the koji factory.
Even without the koji factory, there are plenty of reasons to introduce Donis as the biggest bean profiteer in BU.
'The amount of beans produced and the amount of tolls due to unbalanced distribution channels, both large and small, ...... were well done in informing us of BU's shortcomings so that we couldn't turn away.
'Mm-hmm. I think you're buying too much. I don't know if I'm that good at manipulating people's minds, me.
There's no need to manipulate. If it's not good enough, it's good enough for another time, you know.
The position was absolutely different from the 42nd district, where you had to win at all costs.
All you had to do was watch vigilantly for the chance that would come.
You just have to watch vigilantly for an opportunity to come along, and this time it worked out unexpectedly.
We would've won the majority vote if we'd destroyed each of the 25-28 districts.
But that wouldn't have been enough to bring about the reforms that Ma'ru wanted.
It would only make the BU weaker and poorer, with its unity broken and reduced to a skeleton.
'So I tried to appeal to their emotions. 'So I tried to appeal to their sympathies, to the new and naive lord, known as the Lord of Smiles.
'That's not true.
Mahrul gave a clear denial, saying that he was not using Estella.
His eyes were serious.
'I was hoping. I hoped for the best. I was hoping for a new type of lord, one that had never existed before. ......
There has never been a lord as sweet as Estella.
If you're so naive, the people will eat you alive and you'll lose control.
I'm sure it's a relationship made possible by the fact that the people of District 42 are all idiots and sycophants.
'You're the reason she's been able to stay kind. You're the reason she's been so kind to me, and I know that now.
In a calm but confident voice, Ma'ru says.
'It was your fault,' he said. ...... It's a false accusation.
'Yashippi. Let me say it again.'
He stops, turns his body toward me, and slowly bends at the waist.
Mahrul bows to me.
'Thank you for saving the BU.
I didn't mean to. ...... Well, it's more profitable if you stay alive. I'm going to suck it up as much as I can. I'm a parasite, apparently.
'And you know what?
Mahrul says indulgently with his long, thin, slightly wrinkled fingers.
'If you know a good carpenter, could you introduce me to him?
'A carpenter?Don't tell me you're planning to build a villa in the 42nd district?
'Well, that's a lovely suggestion. It's ......, but it's not.
For a moment, I was afraid that another dense guy was going to move into the New Town area, but it seems that this is not the case.
'From my house, the 42nd district is just around the corner. Besides, if you move, you won't be able to pass through that nice cave, will you?That would be a shame.
The cave is a new passage connecting the 42nd and 29th wards.
At the end of the Hamkko Cave is a dungeon surrounded by earth and rocks in all directions. It's a cave of sorts. The distance is short, though.
'We call it a tunnel, though.
'Oh, I know about tunnels. Mmm-hmm.'
No, the rail didn't get through.
I'm a little worried about what you know and what you don't know, these days.
'That's not what I mean. That tunnel exit is on my property, right?'
I built an exit on Mahr's land to avoid the worst of it.
I thought the public road was too dangerous.
'That's why I'd like to shift my building a bit.'
'Because those tunnels are going to be used by a lot of people. We need to build appropriate buildings at the entrances and exits and manage them properly. ...... Besides...''
Then, at the last minute, the old lady spoke up with the most honest selfishness.
'I don't want a lot of strangers going in and out of my garden.
That's why he wants to move the house to the east.
The west side of the house is the river.
'Then I'll introduce you to a good man.
'I'm looking forward to it.
The fox who had been complaining about the tunnel construction would be in a better mood now.
Becko will continue to work on the tunnels with Hamko Cave to make the passage more comfortable.
Umaro and the rest of the Trubec contractors will be in charge of Mael's Hall.
As for Norma, I guess she'll be fixing the gears of Todokeiru No. 1 for now.
We may not need it anymore, though.
Well, if it's a small package, it's faster to exchange it with Todoke-Ru-1 without going through the passage.
What am I going to do? ......
While I was thinking about the cleanup, Jeannette and the others came out of the mansion.
The cart carrying the food was folded compactly and loaded onto a large cart along with the remaining ingredients.
Magda, Delia, and Norma can carry a cart that big, so I'm starting to think that this city doesn't need civilization at all.
'Sorry to keep you waiting. We're ready for you.'
'Oh. Okay, .......'
'Let's go home,' Mahr said to Jeannette and the others before I could say anything.
'Thank you very much for today, everyone. All the dishes were very nice and delicious.
Mahrul's words made Jeannette giggle with genuine joy, and Paula and Nepheli looked at each other and giggled.
But Magda and Loretta were ......
'When you say you know ...... Yashiro, it's hard to judge for a moment.
'I think it might mean that the food (a variety of boob sizes) looked very nice and tasty.
'Hey, come on, guys.'
'Well, I can't help it. You can't help it.
'Delia ......, you're strangling yourself with that statement.'
Mahr's words don't contain any obscene connotations.
Not at all. ......
'How did Magda and Loretta ...... grow up to be such girls ......?
I'm not sure if you're aware of it or not.There's a root of all evil ...... close at hand.'
'Norma. That's enough badmouthing of Umaro, who's not here.
'He's more positive than you think, isn't he, Yashiro?
He poked me in the forehead with a cigarette.
I haven't seen him smoking much lately, but he must be carrying it around.
The smell of the pipe is a concern in the cafeteria, but ...... Norma puffing on the smoke from the pipe looks s*xy and nice.
I'd like to see her smoking in her sleep.
'Mmmm. You guys are really fun people, the Forty-second Ward. I envy you so much.
'Then, please come visit us anytime. We're already neighbors.'
The twenty-ninth ward, which had been both near and far, blocked by cliffs, was now just a short walk away.
The world will change drastically with the creation of a single, trivial, yet reformative pathway that will involve many districts.
At Ginette's casual comment, Ma'ru crumpled his face and let out a happy voice.
'That's true. Then I'll be coming back often.
'Yes, sir. I'll be waiting for you.
You've become quite a good salesman.
You'll be a good customer if Ma'ru keeps coming.
I'm sure he'll eat a lot of kaiseki from the sunny side up. ............ No, I'm sure Ma-ru prefers 'unusual' and 'strange' food rather than price and prestige.
He might be interested in loco moco, nasi goreng, or even nekomanma.
Hey, Yashippi. From now on, shall we hold the meeting between the 29th and 42nd wards at the Sunshine Pavilion?
'Do it somewhere else.
I can't have a meeting with a lot of classified information in a place like that.
It's too awkward.
'You're more than welcome to come with me. Please come with Estella.'
'Yes. I'll do that.
...... He's really going to come, this one.
'Well then, shall we go now?
Mahr and Ginette nodded at each other.
Then, they turned to me and smiled--the usual sunny smile.
'Come on, everyone. Let's go home. To District 42.
Ma'ru and Cindy. I walk alongside them to Ma'ru's mansion.
Leaving the lord's mansion in the center of the 29th district, we walked side by side through the maze of streets and came to the southern end of the district, Ma'ru's mansion.
Beyond the beautiful and neatly arranged flower garden, there is a large river flowing, and beyond that, a cliff with a drop of 30 meters is waiting.
'If we don't build a fence, a few people a month are going to fall off.
'That's bad luck, big brother!
'But it might be dangerous, indeed.
'...... The manager has a point. Loretta's risk management skills are too low.
'I feel like I'm the only one who doesn't feel threatened!
This kind of place is dangerous because people who aren't used to it can slip, and kids who are curious can peek underneath.
'If it's a fence, it's Norma's turn.
'Why me, Delia?
'Because you. You built the fence at the river. It's not safe for children to fall into the river.'
'Oh. You're very kind, Norma. ......, isn't it?
Hearing Delia's story, Mahrul praises Norma.
Norma is a smart woman who pays attention to details.
'Norma is very kind to children, animals, and plants.
'No, that's not true. ...... It's normal.
'Well, can you say that in front of Loretta?
'What do you mean, Mr. Paula?I'm not normal!
'Norma's overprotective, you know, like an idiot parent.
'...... even though he doesn't have any children of his own.
'Shut up, Magda!
'...... Correction. '............ I don't even have a partner.
'It's even louder than that!
'...... when you don't even have a partner.
'I'll push you down!
'Oh, come on, Norma. You're too old for this.'
'You're too loud, Delia!Delia's the loudest!You're all enemies!
Norma is being played down.
Norma is being tossed around a bit, but she doesn't stand out at all, Loretta. You're often treated like that.
'You're kind, you're witty, you're beautiful, you're stylish, you're ...... you, Norma. You must be popular, right?
'That's not the case at all!
'Why do you have to answer, Loretta?
'Norma-san is a perfect cook and housekeeper.
'Only the manager is on your side. ......'
'Well, yes. I'm sure there are many people who would love to have her as a wife.
'...... Unfortunately, ...... there's no one ............ to bring tears to your eyes.'
'You're annoying too, Magda!
'Oh, I see. ...... Well, I guess it's a personality thing, then. ......'
'I'll shut up, Merle!
'Norma!You can't do that!
I'm not sure what to do, but I'm going to try.
Norma's fast-paced lunge caused Nephrite and Paula to froth.
No, that was the point of the joke. Just give her a big shove.
Look at you. He's got a happy face, Ma'uld.
Hey. Let's just go home.'
And Delia who doesn't bend or even pretend to bend in front of the nobles.
Delia's too ballsy. No, she's too sedentary. I can see you sitting on your ass, liver. Or maybe she's just laying down.
'Cause I'll see you soon anyway. Are you coming to the party?
'What is it, Yashiro? Didn't you invite him?'
'It's Estella's job to invite nobles from other districts.'
You're going to write a stiffly worded letter, one of these days.
'Oh, by the way. You said you were going to hold a 'banquet' in the 42nd district too. When we talked about it before, you invited me.
'It was an oral agreement.
'That's good enough for me. I'm just a nobleman.
So a mere nobleman has demoralized the seven lords who run the BU?
It's a scary world, the world of the nobility.
'Then, I'll be waiting for you.
'Yes. I'll definitely join you.
'And you, Cindy.
'Thank you very much. You're a lovely young lady. ...... Just like when I was young. ......''
'''Stop it, Yashiro, Magda, Loretta!
Cindy was trying to tell me a big lie.
She's too brazen for that.
Those tits are not made to shrink with age!...... I hope you're right!
'Well, Loretta. Get her in the back of the truck.
'What?I'm totally fine with it--'
Loretta's muscles ached all over.
I poked her lightly on the back, and she let out an exaggerated scream and fell down on the ground.
That's a lot of muscle pain.
'...... Wow, okay. I'll give you a ride, so please don't poke me. ......'
And so, with Loretta on the back of the truck, we said our goodbyes to Mahr and Cindy, and we went into the newly built tunnel.
The entrance was unpretentious, with a door to prevent rainwater from entering.
The entrance was still simple, but it would soon be replaced by a grand one.
If only Imelda, Becco, and Umaro were here.
'I can't wait to see how things will change from here.
Ginette looks excitedly at the unfinished doorway.
It's fun to watch the process of change.
'Then you should come and see it from time to time. You're in the neighborhood.
'Mm-hmm. I guess so.'
'...... on the way to deliver your lunch.'
'Good idea!I'm sure the construction workers will be bribed by the sunny pavilion.
I wonder what's with that bad custom.
I'd like to know why the sunken pavilion has to cut its own expenses. ......1Rb I'll bill Estella without losing a dime.
For Delia to pull the cart, the door must be propped wide open.
When the door opens, a faint, soft light leaks from inside.
The light is coming from the bricks embedded at even intervals high up on the wall.
'Theron, how did you get here in time?
These are the 'light-collecting bricks' that Wendy has been studying for a while now.
In order not to make the ground too brittle, the entrance is a tunnel. If the door is closed, no light can enter.
The 42nd district side is wide open, so there is plenty of oxygen flowing in, but we decided that it was dangerous to light ...... candles or lanterns.
The lack of oxygen may be noticed before it is too late.
Light-collecting bricks are good for this.
They collect the faint light that exists in the darkness and emit a faint light.
'There aren't enough of them,' Wendy said, 'and they're still burning. That's what Wendy said.
Paula said she met Wendy before she came here.
She left a message for me to say 'hi'.
......, it's a 'please say hello' kind of thing, not many people really say 'hello! There are not many people who would really say 'hello!
'It's still a little dark, so you can use this.
Ginette held out the familiar luminescent bricks that had been installed in front of the Sunlit Pavilion.
She must have been letting it soak up the sunlight. They are shining brightly.
The light from these phosphorescent bricks fills the dark tunnel with light.
Then, on the other side of the darkness that had been dispelled, ......
'Oh, it's so dark and stuffy. ...... I'm going to be a hermit. ......'
--Regina was there.
'...... You're a demon now, aren't you?
'......Jimena, the reclusive demon.'
'What's wrong with you, you've just met me, you're so rude.
'What are you doing here, all alone?
'I'm always alone.'
I'm not sure what to do, but I'm sure you'll be able to do it.
'What the hell?
'...... It went well, you know.'
'Oh, yeah. Well, congratulations.'
Regina makes a jolly joke.
When he acts like this, it's ......
So don't worry about it anymore.
...... when he's about to regret his actions.
He's in trouble because of something he helped with. I thought that's what he was thinking.
He's not that simple.
When I took another step back and looked at Regina from a bird's eye view, a hypothesis came to my mind.
Regina was a pharmacist who mixed medicines.
And she did what she always did - she made things that people liked, as she had always done. With his clear mind and never-ending inquisitiveness.
It caught the attention of a nobleman and trouble ensued.
Trouble with the nobility doesn't always end well.
They're dark-skinned, persistent, rotten-hearted people with deep pockets.
They're prideful and jealous, and they're always looking for someone to rot.
If such people were in Regina's hometown, ......
Regina created a wonderful medicine in her hometown, which saved many people, and was appreciated and praised by many more people, and was noticed by the ...... nobility.
If the attack was on Regina herself, she would have survived it as long as she could.
But if it was directed at someone close to him, someone other than himself,......
He would probably try to protect that person even if he had to throw away his position, honor, and praise.
This is how he's so anxious that he's waiting for us here in this place without a care in the world.
'I'm going to shoot off some more fireworks, can I trust you to mix them?
'What, are we doing this again?Is someone going to get married?I don't think it's Norma Han .......'
'Shut up, Sayo!
She forces herself to smile and laugh.
She takes off Regina's hat.
'Hey ......, what are you doing? Do you want to smell my hat?You still have the same obscene s*xual proclivities. ......'
'What you've made has the power to make people happy.'
'It's intense, it's vivid, it's probably because you do things that no one else can do. ...... Some idiots are jealous of you and obsessed with you.
I'm not sure what to say, but I'll try. You're a strange man, as usual.
'But I'm here. We're here.
She stroked her thin, soft hair as if rubbing it.
'This city has the capacity to accept your full power. So don't be afraid.
'...... I'm so unfair.'
A thin finger gently strokes the eye hidden by the bangs.
These are the fingers that have created many medicines and saved many people.
They are incredibly white, delicate, and beautiful.
'I'm responsible for what I let you do, you know. If someone complains, turn them away, saying, 'You're out of line.
'......, huh? That's what I'm going to do from now on.
Wiping her eyes with the back of her hand, Regina looked up.
Regina looks up with a smirk on her face. Her facial muscles are twitching because she is straining.
'Okay, fireworks, let's do it again.
'Yes!Let's have a lot of them and make them a staple in this town.
'Then I can make money.'
'That's the idea.
'I'm really no match for .......'
With a thump, he pushes me in the chest and takes my hat off.
Then he put the hat on, hiding his face, and ......
I've never walked up a hill in a long time, so my legs hurt. I think I'm going to get a cold sore tonight. I'll ask for a ride too...'
Without saying a word to anyone, she said loudly and climbed into the back of the truck next to Loretta, who was crouched in a corner suffering from muscle pain.
Everyone who saw her do this said nothing, and everyone smiled.
It was rare for Regina to show weakness.
But no one said anything about it.
That must be uncomfortable for Regina. For an overly cynical bozo who's convinced she's unacceptable.
There's a lot of people who think you're one of them.
It's time for him to understand that better.
Regardless of your past, you are now a resident of District 42.
Ginette, the source of the relaxed atmosphere in District 42, calls out to Regina, who is curled up in the back of the truck.
It's not pushy, but just the right distance.
'We're going to have a party in the 42nd district soon. We'll be preparing a lot of delicious food.
'Oh, well, it's going to be lively again, isn't it?
'Yes. So, Regina-san. If you don't mind.
Regina said as she turned over on the cart, her back to us.
'Okay, I'll pull over.'
She looked embarrassed.
It wasn't 'I'm not good in crowded places' or 'I'll think about it'.
It was a small thing that represented a small change in Regina, but it was still more than enough to bring a big smile to Ginette's face.
'Yes!By all means.'
The wheels of the cart rattled as we made our way down the new, still unfinished tunnel.
This passage, which will be used by many people in the future, is now reserved for us.
No one is talking, and each person is thinking about something in his or her mind. Only such air flows.
It's a peaceful, comfortable time.
After passing through the tunnel, we came out into a huge cave with plenty of sunshine.
You go down a spiral staircase that goes around the walls of the huge cave. The atrium hall could be turned into a theme park if some kind of play were added to it.
If a souvenir shop were set up, even the most trivial items might sell like hotcakes.
The cave was filled with the air of the 42nd district, though it was probably just a misunderstanding. It smelled like old times.
Ah, I'm back.
Ahhhh, ......, I'm tired.
'It was hard this time, wasn't it?
I couldn't help but complain.
Ginette, walking next to me, shook her shoulder.
'Then I'll prepare something to cheer you up.
That's what she says to me.
'So, tits .......'
'Oh, manager. Give me your tits, too. ......'
'Please do your penance.
I'll be cut down mercilessly.
I mean, can you please stop treating me and Regina like we're the same?
When you exit the cave, you're in New Town.
The sunken pavilion is only a stone's throw away.
There'll be more customers at the Sunny Pavilion once this place is fully operational.
The stalls left out here and there looked as if they were waiting for the festival to resume.
That's right. That's the deal.
Let Umaro and his friends build the playground equipment, show off the new dishes, and ......
'Shall we have a big party in the forty-second district?
'I'll do it!
'I'll make the hexenbiest fruity sausage frankfurters!
'I'm looking forward to all the dishes.
'''''Sister, when did you come here?
I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to do this, but I'm going to try.
You're still a little naive, aren't you?
If you talk about food here,......, of course they'll come.
We were a large group, and we set out for the sunlit pavilion.
It was really troublesome, and we had to run all over the place.
Now that it's over, we should have a big party and include Estella and the others in the "Party in District 42". Let's drink and make a lot of noise and have a lot of fun.
But before we do that, I think it would be a good idea to at least give a little recognition to the members who participated in this special mission.