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Chapter 8: “Ochre Shrine” Modified Version
“As always, thank you very much . ”
“No need, I’m just following the teachings of the ‘Ochre Mother G.o.ddess of fertility and governance’ . ”
Smiling, Shion handed vegetable soup and hard bread to a man with a dirty appearance .
Even when the man brushed his dirty fingers on hers, or when she smelled the stench of concentrated sweat, Shion’s smile didn’t crumble .
It was usually always like this .
If you looked at the outer rim of Haschel, you could easily meet such people .
Those who gave their thanks were few, most just quietly received their meal .
Well, that was obvious, since these people were only interested in the meal .
‘The Ochre Mother G.o.ddess of fertility and governance’ was an incarnation of the earth, and had long been worshipped as a G.o.ddess of agriculture .
The priests of the ‘Ochre Shrine’ had the responsibility to spread knowledge and teachings of agriculture, but Shion had come to question those methods .
I believe it was heretical to question the temple and the G.o.ddess, but when one sees the hands battered by working the fields, one couldn’t help but feel uneasy .
Like my father who spent his entire life cultivating beetroot, and died with no value to his life, I wonder if I too would die without anyone looking back at my life .
Another dirty-looking man grabbed from the food pot, and Shion put on a smile once again .
A week after Tyria departed, the sound of hammering resounded across the Erakis household’s territory, as it did every day . New muscular men started moving about the workshop and the tower .
Some carrying wood, some carrying bricks and some acting as supervisors, they all hustled about .
They were building a j.a.panese Paper Manufacturing studio: a papermill .
“If it’s at this pace, it’ll be done in about two months . ”
“All that’s left then is gathering people who are ready to work, giving them technical instruction, and collecting the raw materials . ”
Counting what else there was left to do,
“Goldie, don’t die from overwork, okay?”
“Hahaha, this much doesn’t even count as work . ”
When Chrono said so, Goldie hit his chest signaling ‘leave it to me’ .
“But, was it a ‘line a.s.sembly’? I’ve never heard of dividing work into parts and sharing it between people . ”
“I thought it’d work better, having less to learn, though . ”
I suggested the line a.s.sembly since it would make training easier and production more efficient . However, when faced with a self-taught artisan like Goldie, I end up hesitating .
“No, the idea of a ‘line a.s.sembly’ is wonderful . It’s an unexplored idea, but if we give it a test before the workshop is completed, we can find the problems and resolve them as we go . ”
“When you say that, I feel relieved . ”
If you get on the right track- the investments are returned in a year and a half, however, when I thought of what’ll happen if things didn’t work out, my stomach started churning .
“That’s why I’m telling you to hand the paper over!”
Hearing the hysterical voice, Chrono and Goldie turned to the workshop .
Over there, Elena was shouting at a dwarf .
Perhaps noticing our gaze, Elena made a face as though she’d vomit, and this time confronted Goldie .
“The dwarf there, hand over the paper!”
“If you’re looking for paper, it’s there in the workshop, though?”
“I’m asking for it because there isn’t any!”
Growl! Elena shouted with a red face .
When Chrono gave her a light chop to her head, Elena screamed very unlike an ex-n.o.ble .
“Wh-what are you doing! If it’s right now, you have spare paper!”
“… Elena . ”
Quietly, Chrono pulled Elena’s collar .
“Wwait… Stop, I was in the wrong, so please don’t hit me . ”
“Besides this time, I haven’t hit you even once before . ”
Even though she could resist if she wanted, Elena put on a scared expression unlike ever before .
“Goldie, find some paper . ”
“Understood . ”
Leaving Goldie to search for paper, Chrono looked at Elena, still holding her collar .
“Using abusive language isn’t good . ”
“You’re standing up for a dwarf!”
I pulled her collar further .
“So-sorry, for being rude, sorry! So please, don’t hit me, don’t hit me, okay? Okay?”
It seemed her spirit had crumbled since the beginning itself, so Elena begged desperately .
“What’s your job?”
“Accounting, administration, and distribution of licenses for real estate and slave trading too . ”
Elena looked at Chrono with flirtatious eyes .
Up until now, Marquis Erakis had no restrictions on prost.i.tution and slave trading . But from the next month onwards, without Chrono’s permission as the new lord, they would be unable to deal in prost.i.tution or slave trade .
Real estate would only be traded by permitted dealers, and prost.i.tution was fundamentally prohibited .
Only slave traders who were legally permitted to trade would be allowed, and even then only with the permission of the slave himself or herself .
“I wonder if it’s also your job to prepare the paper?”
“Ye-yes, that’s exactly correct . ”
For some reason, Elena looked at Chrono with moist eyes, and rubbed her thighs together .
“From now on, don’t be abusive towards dwarves or other demi-humans . ”
When Chrono released her, Elena fell on her b.u.t.t right there and then .
Elana’s body was shaking when she fell on the pebbles .Advertis.e.m.e.nt
“Thank you . ”
Elena took the paper from Goldie, and returned to the n.o.ble’s mansion inside .
“Lord Chrono, what do you plan to do here on out?”
“I’ll go on an inspection of the city . ”
“Understood . ”
Changing to a regular tunic, Chrono headed out into the city .
The number of vagabonds was the same, but the number of street women seemed to have decreased .
“It might only seem so . ”
The weakness of a n.o.ble’s environment, or rather, the sense of responsibility of a lord spurs negative thoughts, always thinking there is a hidden side to things .
As always, Chrono chewed on the dry fruits he bought at a stand .
“I want to quickly open up the poor people’s home, but…”
He had lightly thought it would be an easy task to give the director and his staff some money, and have them finish the work, but it seemed the poor people’s home Chrono vaguely had in mind… Was different from the nursing homes that had been made .
According to Leila, meals were given once a day, and people slept by huddling together under dirty blankets . They were also made to perform manual labor with almost no compensation .
And it seemed the staff and director also used violence daily .
“I’ll have to get a new director, huh?”
What flashed across my mind was the smile of the priestess of the ‘Ochre Shrine’, Shion .
“I want to learn about beetroots, if they can read or write, I want to learn to teach my subordinates about studies too, I want to learn about the regional agriculture as well… Though I might faint from overwork first . ”
This was around where the stall used to be, Chrono looked around .
Fortunately, he found Shion soon enough .
Shion was sitting on a box the same way she had been a week ago .
“Ah, Lord Chrono . ”
Seeing Chrono, Shion hid the wet sleeves of her robes .
“Will you be buying beetroots today as well? No, you probably wouldn’t want livestock feed again today . ”
“Well, I don’t need it right now-” “YAHOOOO!”
Blown away, Chrono landed on the ground .
“Beet, sell it, sell it all!”
“We’ll buy it so! We’ll buy it! The three of us will buy it all!”
“Deneb, Arided, please calm down . ”
The ones who blew Chrono away seemed to have been Deneb and Arided .
Apparently, Leila was with them too .
“Eh, beet, about that… I was told a week ago not to sell livestock feed . ”
“Hah? We’re telling you we’ll buy it! We don’t mind buying the whole farm too! Are you selling? Are you not selling? If you’re not selling, I’ll kill you!”
Pressured by Deneb, Arided and Leila, Shion let out a small scream .
“If you don’t sell it, I can’t return home next holidays . ”
Leila added with an apologetic voice .
“Are you guys robbers?”
When Chrono, with blood trickling down his forehead, said so, Deneb, Arided and Leila’s eyes opened wide .
“Wh-who, such a thing!”
“I was blown away by you guys, though . ”
Deneb and Arided’s faces paled .
They normally acted really familiar, but they knew the implications of injuring a n.o.ble .
“Be careful next time . ”
Deneb and Arided grabbed Shion’s hand, and headed over towards Chrono .
“Come on, you’re a priest, so heal him with your holy arts!”
“Right, right, hurry!”
“A, umm, I-I…”
Shion seemed like she was about to cry .
“The two of you, I can’t have her use holy arts for an injury of this level, can I . ”
Everything said and done, there was a chance of getting crippled .
“Chrono, please kneel . ”
When Chrono bent over, Leila started licking the wound .
“Umm, Leila? Does elf saliva have healing properties?”
“I do not know . ”
Leila kept licking the wound for a while,
“With this, I think you’ll be fine . ”
“Th-thank you . ”
My cheeks flushed from embarra.s.sment, and Leila also looked away embarra.s.sed .
““They seem to be quite hot-headed, but they’re really cold to us, huh . ””
“… Umm, what about me?”
Deneb and Arided let go of Shion as though they lost interest .
““You can just go home if you’re not selling beetroots . ””
Watching the two uninterested in anything but beetroots, or rather, sugar, Chrono sighed .
“I have a question I need to ask Shion, so it’ll be problematic if you send her away . ”
““So he says . “”
“By the way, I’ll buy the beetroots . ”
Deneb and Arided exchanged a glance, and approached Chrono coquettishly .
“Hey, Lord Chrono? We also want beetroots, though . ”
“It’s fine even if we have to carry the beetroots back to the room . ”
“If you carry Shion’s luggage back to the mansion, I might think about it . ”
Pumping their fists, the two started packing up the luggage .
After packing it onto the cart, the two started pulling it .
Leila made a pestering gesture, so Chrono hugged her tightly .
“Then, shall we go?”
“Ah, yes . ”
Chrono walked while checking his surroundings to check if there was anything unusual .
His pace slowed naturally, and a distance was created between him and the cart .
However, after a bit of walking, he caught up with Deneb and Arided .
Because Deneb and Arided were looking at a bulletin board curiously .
“What’s written there?”
“It reads ‘Prost.i.tution and slave trading will now take place through licensing’ . ”
Leila’s reading was even faster than Shion’s .
Maybe he went to the toilet or to eat lunch, the herald wasn’t there to read the bulletin board .
“So, is that right?”
“Correct . ”
Chrono gently stroked the worried Leila’s head and ears .
Leila’s body trembled comfortably, before she lightly shook her head to regain her focus .
“What does this mean?”
“If you don’t have permission from Lord Chrono, you won’t be able to deal in prost.i.tution or slaves next month onwards . ”
Leila looked up at Chrono with an unconfident face .
“It’s written that prost.i.tution is so to prevent the spread of s.e.xually transmitted diseases, and slaves are to stop the trouble that occurs after the trade . ”
Apparently unable to understand the meaning of the announcement, Leila tilted her head .
“Lord Chrono, what could this mean?”
“It means exactly what it reads, young half-elven lady . ”
Looking in the direction of the voice, Miles was standing there with a wooden board in one hand .
“Lord Chrono has decreed that only prost.i.tutes who take regular health check ups will be allowed to engage in prost.i.tution, so that gentlemen can ‘use’ them without worries . Again, most of the slaves traded in this city are s.e.x slaves, so due to traders’ violent abuse, the slaves often die immediately after being bought . ”
Miles pauses for a moment .
“For the buyers, it’s quite undesirable for a slave they buy with so much money to die without lasting even a few days . To protect the interests of the buyers, Lord Chrono is only giving permission to traders who treat their slaves well . ”
By the way, the part Miles explained was the official stance Chrono had come up after a lot of desperate thinking . Well, it seemed like Miles saw right through it, though .
“Ah, did you get the license?”
“Since I was an acquaintance to Lord Chrono . ”
Miles made a bitter smile, and showed them the wooden permit with Chrono’s handwriting .
“Thanks to that I’ve become the first one to get a license . Well, with that…”
Saying so, Miles turned away .
““…Could it be, that you ‘ate’ together with him?”” 1
“That’s a secret . ”
There was a rumor that if you eat with someone, you’ll get along better with them .
With Miles getting licensed for prost.i.tution and slave trade at such a time, people would probably believe so .
Well, he also persuaded me to support the licensing system .
By the way, as a reward, Miles wanted it to be made easier for him to get the first license .
“Lord Chrono, is always thinking about some very difficult things . ”
“Not really . ”
When I turned my gaze, Shion had hung her head powerlessly .
Since it seemed there was no need to worry, Chrono walked on again .
When they arrived at the Erakis Household mansion, Deneb and Arided grabbed all the beetroots they could and ran off .
Apparently, they’re not planning on buying their own eggs and milk .
“It’d be great if they don’t get Okami angry . Isn’t Leila going too?”
“No, please let me stay by Lord Chrono’s side . ”
Chrono led Shion through the reception to the third floor, and sat down on a sofa .
Leila sat down elegantly next to Chrono, and grabbed his sleeves .
“Please take a seat, Shion . ”
“Y-yes . ”
Perhaps because she wasn’t used to it, Shion sat at the edge of the sofa, and looked at Chrono with upturned eyes .
“U-Umm, today, what did you call me here for?”
“Well, there’s a lot of things I want to ask, but do you know about the farming done around the Erakis territory?”
“Ye-yes, understood . Umm, Erakis territory follows a three season farming method . ”
“Three season farming method?”
When asked back, Shion stiffened up straight .
“Agriculture is divided into three seasons, first is the spring crop, next is the winter crop and finally we have the fallow crop to restore fertility and moisture to the land . The fourth and last season is used to rear livestock . ”
“One can restore fertility using fertilizers, and restore moisture using the irrigation ca.n.a.l, though . ”
“Yeah, I’m wondering if we can cultivate without having to let the land rest if we put in animal feces, waste leftovers and ashes to fertilize the land . ”
Scattering cow dung on the fields can fertilize it, we can use waste leftovers from neighboring households too and I feel like I read using ash helps in some manga .
“Th-that, where will we arrange for such a huge amount of waste?”
“We can collect them from around the city, or we can collect cow dung?”
“Transportation would be difficult, and no village has enough cattle to have enough cow dung for all of the fields . ”
Chrono sighed as he wondered whether he’d have to start by increasing the number of cows .
“Re-regarding the ca.n.a.ls, since it would take a huge amount of capital and time… Th-that’s, according to my late father, cultivating clover helps retain moisture and nourish the soil . n.o.body believed it, b-but I plowed the field with the help of cows and proved it so…”
Shion’s voice faded slowly into a whisper by the end .
“Then, let’s cultivate clover during the fallow season . ”
When Chrono readily made the decision, Shion made a stunned expression .
Suddenly, Chrono asked if it would be difficult to implement immediately .
“For now let’s cultivate clover in 10% of the land . With the idea of expanding the area slowly if the results are good . I’d like your technical a.s.sistance at that time, would that be fine?”
“I-if you’re fine with me . ”
“After that, Shion was also helping in rice distribution, correct?”
“Yes . ”
For some reason, Shion nodded with a teary face .
“To be honest, I want Shion to become the director for the poor people’s house . Of course, things will be changed from the current poor people’s house…”
Looking at the blueprints of the workshop under construction, Chrono told her his idea as it was .
“Unlike the poor people’s house right now, the people will get proper work, and get compensation they can improve their lifestyle with . Then, Shion san’s father, who cultivated beetroots probably knew how to make sugar . Thinking about the future, sugar too… Shion?”
Suddenly, Shion stood up .
Chrono wondered if he spoke too one sidedly .
“This, this is…”
Words leaked past her closed mouth, and tears dripped to the floor .
“This is, too much!”
Shion screamed as though she couldn’t take anymore, and started crying .
“D-dad and I worked so hard, even then, you… the things we couldn’t do, so easily!”
In front of Shion who continued to cry, Chrono could only stand puzzled .
Searching for a lifeline, looking around, his eyes met Leila’s .
“I feel Lord Chrono has no need to be concerned . ”
“Lord Chrono is very kind . However, that kindness can be a poison to those less blessed . ”
It might be so, Chrono accepted Leila’s words with a shock .
Chrono’s kindness was that of the blessed… It was something born out of the ease of growing up raised by a n.o.ble .
Chrono didn’t know Leila’s past .
He didn’t know how tough her past was, how despondent it was .
Chrono didn’t know of Shion’s hardships .
He didn’t know how many worries she suffered from .
“I-I… How rude of me . ”
“Leila, stop her!”
Shion suddenly headed towards the window in a fitful manner .
When Chrono shouted, Leila soundlessly moved to intercept Shion .
Zun~! Receiving Leila’s fist, she floated in the air for a moment .
Shion collapsed on the spot .
With a face messed up by tears and drool, she let out a serious coughing sound .
“I-I’m not unconscious, Leila!”
“You only got a shot to the diaphragm, after all . ”
Leila moved behind Shion and squeezed her neck, maybe, even her carotid artery .
Immediately, Shion was made unable to move .
After taking Shion to the bed in the guest bedroom, Deneb and Arided sat at the feet of the bed eating ice cream from the kitchen .
“Geez, talk about gluttonous . Oh, Lord Chrono?”
Chrono sat down on an empty seat, and let out a sigh deeper than any before .
“Aga~in, are you feeling depressed? Well, eat this and calm down . ”
“Thank you . ”
Chrono took the ice cream brought to him, and put a spoonful into his mouth .
“I used cream in place of milk, but, how is it?”
“It feels like ice-cream . ”
Was it the difference in ingredients, or the gap in skill .
The ice cream made by Okami was properly solid, unlike Chrono’s sherbet .
“What happened this time?”
“I ended up making Shion cry . ”
““What did you do, Lord Chrono?””
Placing their empty plates on the side, Deneb and Arided asked .
“I decided to improve agriculture and the poor people’s house, but I couldn’t really do so no matter how hard I tried . By Leila’s words, my kindness… can hurt people . ”
“Chrono is too kind, after all . ”
“That’s right, you’re too kind and end up having expectations of people . ”
Deneb and Arided crossed their hands and nodded several times .
“Since your kindness is also related to how easy your growth was . Commoners also have heavy burdens, after all . But, I like the kind you . ”
When Chrono looked at her, Okami turned her gaze to the sky, as though embarra.s.sed .
““Th-the two of you, just when…””
“About a week ago . Originally I just meant to console him, but things got heated . ”
Okami crossed her arms and said as she blushed .
“What I want to say is, if you fail, I’ll console you again . So stick to your kindness to the end!”
Slap! Chrono shot to his feet, as Okami slapped his back .
When I returned to the room, Leila was sitting on the stool, looking at Shion .
“You look quite tired . ”
“Is that so?”
Leila stood up from the stool, and Chrono sat down as though switching places with her .
“I’m sure things must have been difficult . ”
Looking at Shion’s hand, Chrono whispered .
The hand was so rough, he couldn’t think of it as a girl’s hand .
“Uh, hmm . ”
“Are you awake?”
Watching Shion faintly open her eyes, Chrono said as gently as possible .
“Ch-Lord Chrono! My sincerest apologies!”
“If I said I didn’t mind, I’d be lying . ”
Shion woke her body up, and clenched her fists to stop her tears .
“Do you have anything to say? I came here with the intention to hear it all, whether it be a hard story, or simply insults . ”
Shion peeked at Chrono’s face, and said in a frustrated manner .
“My father was a low ranked priest of the Ochre Shrine . He was finally a.s.signed to a shrine about three hours’ walk from the city of Haschel, and certainly Lord Chrono doesn’t know of it, right? It was a worn down shrine even thieves didn’t take a second look at . ”
“I’m sorry, but I don’t know of it . ”
Shion clenched her fists, and bit down on her teeth to bear with the psychological pain .
“My father was always busy improving the selective breeding of beetroots . If the breeding was successful, I would be able to enrich everyone’s lives . Saying so, for years, and years… But after we finally got results, they said it was just livestock feed . Even with clovers, father worked hard for everyone…”
Within Shion’s words were emotions that didn’t suit a priest, anger and hatred .
“I too, I too worked as hard as I could! While handing out rice, I worked hard for everyone, but even then, even then”
Shion reached out to Chrono’s forehead, where he had a wound from when Deneb and Arided sent him flying .
“ ‘Ochre Mother G.o.ddess of fertility and governance’, please a healing miracle . ”
There was no light, no sound, not even the healing miracle of the sacred arts .
“Could it be?”
“Fufufu, that’s right . ”
When Leila asked, Shion smiled in a broken fashion .
“Even though I tried my best, I even lost my sacred arts! Still, I kept handing out rice! Even so, nothing happened! We couldn’t do anything, but you… you! Just because you’re a lord, as though laughing at us!”
“Lord Chrono was…!”
Chrono held Leila back with his hand, who was about to jump in at any moment .
“Just, just let her hit me! Being pitied like that is… unnecessarily miserable . ”
Shion put her hands together as though praying, and let out a sob .
Chrono suppressed his trembling leg, ‘it became a heavy burden’ .
Had the results been good, being a priest would probably have been her pride .
However, without any results, her life as a priest became a heavy burden to her .
Life as a priest became insufferable, and with no one to throw those feelings at, she started hating it .
“If it’s that difficult, I’ll switch with you . ”
Shion glared at Chrono like an oni .
But Chrono didn’t miss the moment when Shion’s lips broke .
“I’ll take over promoting beetroots, and I’ll have the fallow land cultivate clover, so Shion can switch with me on coming up with agricultural reforms, and work as director of the poor people’s house . ”
“B-but that is…”
Chrono smiled, and took a distance from Shion .
When Shion poked the bed with her hand, it creaked in protest .
“I can, since I’m Erakis Household’s lord . ”
“But, if you do that…”
“I don’t intend to deny everything you’ve done so far, but you can’t do everything by yourself . ”
Tears dropped down from Shion’s eyes .Arocks141: So here, ‘ate’ is not in the sense of eating someone (unfortunately), it’s literally just eating something together .