Arc 2, Crescent Moon
The fourteenth day.
After making sure that everyone had taken a seat, Ernst opened his mouth and spoke.
“I believe that you all have discussed well with each other. Though it may not have been enough, compared to when you all first arrived here, I believe that you now understand much more about each other.”
Ernst had always sat there like a doll, not reacting even the slightest bit – so when they heard him now speak, everyone looked at him with baffled expressions.
“During the winter, I traveled around to view the villages and towns. All of you did your best to help one another, sharing your wisdom amongst each other and living with indomitable wills which refused to be overcome by anything. I began thinking. Every single person in Meissen put forth their utmost effort in order to live. Yet, despite all of this, why did Meissen continue to be so poor?”
Everyone’s faces warped. He felt as if he could hear a scoffing voice saying, And just what would a high-and-mighty noble know?
“And then, I discovered something quite strange. Everyone knew of the other villages and towns which also made up the land of Meissen. Yet, it could not be said that anyone had ever tried to forge a deep understanding between the villages or towns.”
Ernst placed his hand on the large table which he and the twenty-six other people sat around. He drummed his fingers on its surface.
“For example, this table. It was Eitt Village that created this table. Because of the influence of the Grude Continent on the forest near Eitt Village, the trees grow enormous in size. This table was made out of a single tree.”
A stir erupted from the other villages as they imagined just how colossal the tree must have originally been if even the table was this size.
“Furthermore, that carpet.”
Ernst pointed a finger at the carpet laid out in front of the fireplace.
“That there was made with wool contributed by Caralime Village, dyed by Iben Village, and woven by Arruca Village.”
The people from Caralime and Iben stood from their chairs and went over to take a look.
The people of Caralime Village who only sold wool couldn’t tell, of course, but as people who worked with dyes, the representatives of Iben Village were somewhat able to recognize the colors.
“The bordering on the carpet was made with Arruca Village’s wool. Although the wool from Arruca Village is certainly short, it has a magnificent luster to it. It glitters with the same glossiness as silk… Now then. How much would you be willing to buy this carpet for?”
Ernst directed this question to the merchants of Saiquani and Folea who sat on either side of him. The four merchants stood from their chairs, touching the carpet with their hands to thoroughly evaluate its weight, its reverse side, and the tint of its colors.
“This would be about 150 aquia, I suppose…”
“For us, we’d give 170 aquias for this.”
When they heard the amount of money the merchants cited, the heads of the people of Arruca Village snapped up like broken strings.
“The amount of wool used was two bags of Caralime wool. The original cost is 20 aquia. Even when you add the cost of coloring by Iben Village and the price of Arruca Village’s wool and weaving, the total amount isn’t more than 50 aquia.”
Ernst stood from his seat, then walked toward the fireplace.
He passed by the side of the people of Caralime and Iben, who had dumbfounded expressions on their faces as they touched the carpet. Ernst took in his hand a piece of firewood which was piled up separately from the firewood currently burning in the hearth.
“This is the Kalia wood which came from Maine Village. It is very light and easy to carry. And…”
Ernst threw the piece of wood into the fireplace.
“It has a wonderful scent.”
A gentle fragrance wafted through the room. Everyone closed their eyes in a daze.
After confirming everyone’s appearances, Ernst took the piece of candle wax that had been set above the fireplace, stuck it into a candlestand, then lit the candle using the flame of the fireplace.
“This is beeswax made by Yakiya village… This, too, emits a pleasant scent.”
Ernst quietly set the candlestand down on the large table which everyone sat around. A fragrance similar to that of the Kalia wood drifted from the candle. Although its scent was faint, it made one’s heart feel at ease.
“The meals everyone ate every day were made with food purchased from the villages of Latelle, Kata, Sounica, Hrike, and Dada.”
Ernst quietly sat in his seat.
“Unlike our Kingdom of Rintz, the Kingdom of Lux has a strong national power, and its economic activity is also vigorous. I have heard that the merchants of that Kingdom are fearless veterans of business who have experienced countless battles in their trade. In order to be able to compete with such merchants, quick-wittedness and skill in the art of conversation are indispensable.”
Ernst turned to his right, toward the merchants of Saiquani town.
“I understand that against such merchants, the people of Saiquani Town have competed to their fullest extent. Although the products representative of Meissen such as its wool and honey have already disappeared from the market, when it comes to wheat, potatoes, and other crops, as well as firewood and the like, we can see that the prices of these products have remained unchanged for 100 years. The reason why Meissen’s products were not crushed to low prices was because of the merchants of Saiquani Town, who did not allow anyone to take advantage of Meissen for being a poor territory.”
Ernst turned his gaze to his left.
“Everyone knows the way to get to Linz fief. One must cross that sheer cliff and pass through that forest where wolves dwell. No one knows better than the people who live in Meissen just how difficult it is to cross that cliff, clinging to its surface and making your way across one by one, all the while carrying heavy luggage on your back. The firewood made in Meissen is also sold in Linz fief. Only the merchants of Folea Town are capable of carrying such heavy firewood on their backs as they cross that cliff. That skill is something which the merchants of other towns do not possess.”
In this spacious room that had fallen completely silent, only the crackles of the burning firewood sounded.
The gentle fragrance of the Kalia wood filled the room, calming the hearts of the twenty-six people.
In the middle of the large desk, the soft light of the beeswax candle’s flame wavered.
“Just as people of the same village aid each other, could you not think of Meissen as one, and aid each other as people who live together in the same lands?”
Ernst addressed them quietly.
An unknown amount of time passed.
When the single piece of firewood burned out, the head of Caralime Village came to a decision. He opened his mouth as if it were heavy and spoke.
“Our village is full of Kleber’s disease. Our bodies can’t handle intensive farmwork. But… we are able to care for sheep. No matter how many sheep we tend to, we won’t let any of them starve, and we’re able to harvest a great amount of wool.”
The head of Caralime nervously met the eyes of the heads of Iben and Arruca.
“Would you be able to turn our wool into rugs like that one…? When it’s worked, its price becomes much higher. We had only thought about packing it into bags and selling it. Once we finished harvesting the wool, we stopped working. But if we can sell it for higher once someone has worked on it… then I want to try it.”
The two village heads he proposed this to looked at each other, then both nodded at the same time. The head of Iben Village laughed as she spoke.
“You know, I was also hoping for that. Somehow, we’re not so good at raising our sheep. But, you know, we sure do have some nice hot springs. It’s absolutely perfect for working with dyes. Besides, up ‘til now, we weren’t able to sell anything if it weren’t dyed. Actually, even when it was dyed, we still weren’t able to sell for a nice price. If we can team up with Caralime Village and Arruca Village to make those kinds of carpets and sell for a high price, then we’ll work with you for however long you want.”
“On our side, we’re also agreed. We also have many people with Kleber’s disease. But the fellows who have that disease always have thin fingers, and as a plus their eyes always stay good no matter how old they get, so their fingers move the most skillfully. Our village has also been weaving since long ago, so we have various techniques. Rather than trying to continue herding even though we’re not familiar with it or trying to cultivate our poor fields, wouldn’t it be good if we could earn money by weaving textiles?”
Seeing how readily the two other villages agreed, the head of Caralime Village showed a bright and cheerful smile.
“In that case, Caralime will also look after the care of Arruca’s sheep. The sheen of their wool is certainly splendid.”
The people of the three villages stood from their seats, then gathered around the rug and sat on the floor to speak with each other.
The merchants of Folea Town excitedly joined in, quickly confirming the completion date for the carpets and beginning negotiations for the price.
Back to the regularly scheduled weekly releases.