Arc 2, Crescent Moon
On the third day, the discontent making the men simmer with gloom now erupted.
It was difficult to tell what had caused it; after carefully tracing through his memories, Ernst found that it was the accumulation of several small ripples which lead to the outbreak of rage. The women who had been chatting like friends for three days also joined in, shouting and swearing with the men.
“Wasn’t it Caralime’s fault for lowering the price of wool in the first place!”
“That’s right! You guys drove down the price for your own gain, so isn’t that why the price of ours dropped to rock bottom?!”
“The hell do you mean, ‘for our own gain’…! If you didn’t want to sell so low, then you should’ve used it to make some profit.”
“If you guys sold one of your bags for 10 aquia, there was no way we could sell ours for 50 aquia.”
“Yeah, who the hell’s gonna buy it, right? In the first place, Saiquani was in the wrong for buying it at that price.”
“The hell are you saying! If we can buy it cheap then of course we’ll do it!”
“What I’m saying is that even if you bought it cheap from Caralime, you didn’t have to sell it for cheap to other people.”
“Yeah, that’s right. Even if you bought it for a low price from Caralime, you could’ve just sold it normally. That would have made you guys money, wouldn’t it?”
“And if you did, then you could’ve just kept buying our wool as usual, and it’d all have been fine.”
“Hmph. I’m telling you, you guys know nothing about the world. Over in Lux Kingdom’s Caprix fief, they sell a bag of wool for 30 aquia, alright? We don’t have any choice but to sell for low, too.”
“If it’s one for 30 aquia, the quality of the wool has to be bad. Are you saying you can’t do anything against that?”
“Hah! For you guys to be saying that… you Arruca villagers. Weren’t you guys putting your low-quality wool on the market?”
“That’s right, Arruca’s wool was so short it couldn’t be woven so it had a bad reputation.”
“Our sheep have always been like that! It isn’t like it was short because we slacked off in caring for them… That’s why we went to beg Caralime to give us some of their sheep.”
“Exactly. I don’t know how many times we went over to Caralime to bow and scrape to them.”
“Hmph. Who the hell would give over such precious sheep to you lot?”
“…So because that low-quality wool went on the market, none of Meissen’s wool would sell anymore. You think you can still laugh? When you eventually weren’t even able to feed yourselves, you ate that oh-so-precious Caralime sheep of yours, didn’t you?”
“Yakiya Village… I bet you’re glad that you didn’t have to rely on sheep since you have such fertile lands in your hands.”
“Yeah, exactly. And since you guys have a merchant’s rank, you can even earn money by yourselves… But when you think about it, how were peasantfolk like you able to change your standing in the first place?”
“Because the quality of our brains is different from yours.”
“The hell did you say!!”
When the situation blew up too much and was on the verge of sparking a fistfight, Ernst called for Targes and Ganche.
Their piercing gazes and Ganche’s towering physique intimidated the room, quelling the explosive situation and making everyone stay seated in their chairs, only daring to exchange insults throughout.
On the fourth day, Targes and Ganche were present in the room.
Targes was left to attend as he was; for Ganche, Ernst had to instruct him repeatedly. No matter what words anyone said, he must absolutely never raise his hand to anyone. Furthermore, Ernst explained to him, he must not interrupt anyone.
All Ernst worried over was whether Ganche would be able to hold himself back when people condemned and criticized Ernst.
In truth, during the discussion on the third day, there were a number of times when someone looked to Ernst to mediate the situation, and several times, Ernst had seen someone attempt to make him lend his support to their site of the argument.
But no matter what, Ernst never joined the discussion. These situations repeated several times until gradually, they began treating Ernst as if he was just a doll, and they even started casually insulting him.
Yet even so, Ernst never protested or defended himself. Whenever they turned their attacks on him, Ernst only remained silent as he closed his eyes and waited for it to pass.
During those times, Ganche had not yet entered the room.
When Ganche encountered such a scene, would he be able to maintain his composure and cope with it? Thinking about it, Ernst felt anxious.
On this day, as well, everyone immediately started insulting each other.
The subject gradually turned from sheep over to bees.
“Our bees died because you guys cut down too many Kalia trees!”
“What are you saying? The only thing we can sell is Kalia wood. You knew about that when you told us how to change ranks to merchants.”
“But Maine Village had more trees than just the Kalias. So why did you choose to only cut down and sell the Kalia trees!?”
“Kalia wood sells for the highest price, and since it’s so light, it’s easy to transport. Our mountain was full of Kalia trees, so why should we have chosen to cut down and sell anything other than Kalia?!”
“Oh, sure. Maine Village’s Kalia trees sold for a high price… but, once you emptied them out in two years, you sure were in a great situation weren’t you? Huh? Just how much money do you still owe?”
“Shut up! Don’t you dare talk about our village!”
“Hummph. If we knew that we could change our status to merchants with money, then we could have changed our ranks, too.”
“Haa? Do you think people like you can gather that much money?”
“What are you looking so proud for? You didn’t have the money for it, right? You just loaned it from the merchants.”
“They choose the people they want to lend to. If you guys wanted to borrow from them, they’d know that you’d never be able to return it, so no one would ever want to lend to you.”
“Hahah. That’s rich coming from you, people of Maine Village!”
“Shouldn’t you try paying back your loan quickly?”
“Aah, exactly. Exactly right. The longer it takes you guys to pay back your loans, the worse our reputation gets. They’ll say that if you loan to a Meissen Village, you’ll never get it back.”
“How dare you!”
“I’ve had enough from all of you! The position of merchants belongs only to merchants! Even if you guys wanted to become merchants, you don’t know anything about commerce. You can’t even read – so don’t go talking as if you’re so great! Go ahead and speak after you learn how to calculate numbers in your head!”
“Who gives a shit about the merchant rank! For a dirt-poor village like yours, even if you turned into merchants, you wouldn’t have a single thing damn thing to sell, right!? More important is the Kalia trees! You have to bring back the Kalia trees right now!”
“If we could do that, we wouldn’t have had to suffer so much!”
“And the hell do you mean by ‘a dirt-poor village’!”
The meeting of the fourth day ended in a screaming match between the eleven villages and two towns.
Though Ganche had wanted to step in several times, Targes stopped him with a glance.
As he sat in the midst of this group of people who tore into each other with scathing words and insults, Ernst merely watched.