|Author: Sasaki Ichiro
|Original Source: Syosetu
|English Source: Re:Library
“The first rule is, that it must be a very hot day—that we may consider as settled: and you must be just a little sleepy—but not too sleepy to keep your eyes open, mind. Well, and you ought to feel a little—what one may call “fairyish “—the Scotch call it “eerie,” and perhaps that’s a prettier word; if you don’t know what it means, I’m afraid I can hardly explain it; you must wait till you meet a Fairy, and then you’ll know.
And the last rule is, that the crickets should not be chirping. I can’t stop to explain that: you must take it on trust for the present.”
— Sylvie and Bruno (Lewis Carrol, 1889) —1
The northern pioneer village is sustained by forestry.
It’s perched on a hill overlooking the Dormito river, one of the headwaters of the Teigla mainstream that eventually flows through the Conwallis Imperial Capital. This river is sourced from the majestic peaks of the sacred Seraph mountain range that pierce the distant clouds. At a glance, I can see around 50 to 60 wooden residences in this settlement, constituting the northern pioneer village.
This area was originally a major source of rare plants and high-quality timber, leading to the establishment of the northern pioneer village approximately 30 years ago, around the same time as the eastern pioneer village, which is much closer to the capital.
Perhaps that’s why the infrastructure of this village seems older and more expansive compared to other villages, giving it a relatively affluent feel. However, I’m uncertain if it’s the looming Seraph mountains or the relatively closed environment of the mountainous area that’s responsible, but there’s a stifling and tense atmosphere in the air.
Eventually, the carriage approached the largest residence in the area — a mansion with a gate so grand, one might mistake it for a nobleman’s villa. This seems to be the house of the village chief.
“…would you believe that someone who lives in such a magnificent house is lobbying for a tax abatement?” A sarcastic comment escaped my lips upon seeing the meticulously maintained garden that greeted us.
“The chief of this village is the head of their lumber business, after all. Unlike ours, I’ve heard he makes a fortune from his successful operations,” Eren remarked with a hint of snark.
Aha, so that’s how it is.
So, essentially, this is both the residence of the village chief and the headquarters for their business. Indeed, the walls are also made of wood, giving the house an old-fashioned, nostalgic ambiance.
As the first carriage pulled up in front of the grand entrance, ours stopped as well. At that moment, the doors opened, and a man in his mid-40s, looking rather imposing — or perhaps just obese — walked out briskly, accompanied by a muscular young man, around 20, with similar facial features.
“That’s Chief Demelio and his eldest son, Damian.”
As my well-informed friend Eren quickly briefed me, a man in his early 30s wearing a black tuxedo, bow tie, and silver cufflinks alighted from the carriage ahead of us. It is Curtiss, the butler.
“Sir Curtiss! Welcome. I am Demelio Barda, the chief of this village. We’ve met before at the residence of Lady Baroness. I’m truly grateful that you took the time to visit my humble abode.”
Both the father and son bowed deeply. Yet, Curtiss seemed indifferent. Instead, he walked to our carriage, instructed the coachman to prepare a step stool, and knocked on our door.
“—I beg your pardon. Milady, if you please.”
Alright, it’s showtime.
(This chapter is provided to you by Re:Library)
(Please visit Re:Library to show the translators your appreciation!)
I made a final check on my slightly dark rose-pink dress, black skirt adorned with floral motifs, and a mini hat with ribbon flowers in the same color as my dress. Afterward, I took Curtiss’ hand, mine enveloped in a pair of opera gloves.
Guided by Curtiss’ experienced escort, I stepped outside my carriage, only to be greeted by the village chief and his son, both visibly stunned by the profusion of frills and laces that adorned my outfit.
“Greetings, village chief Demelio. I am here today on behalf of my mother to deliver a letter in response to your petition. My name is Julia Fortuna Brandmüller. As inexperienced as I am, I look forward to working with you.”
I smiled and picked up the hem of my skirt with both hands in greeting.
“My deepest apologies. I’m the chief of this pioneer village, Demelio Barda…this is my son, Damian. We were told that the baroness would send a messenger today. I had no idea that it would be her esteemed daughter. Please forgive my inadequacy.”
The father and son duo began to sweat profusely.
“Please, don’t worry about it. I am only a representative of my mother, so you may regard me as a mere messenger.”
When they saw the cheerful smile on my face, both Bardas likely shouted “THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE!!” in their hearts.
Eren and Lana descended from the carriage, sly grins on their lips. Even the typically stoic Curtiss let a subtle, wicked smile slip. All at the expense of these two.
…That was the plan, wasn’t it? To catch them off-guard and maintain our upper hand.
“…is there any way to make the baroness agree? I must confess that the village’s business is in decline despite our best efforts.”
Once they regained their composure, the father-son duo ushered us into the parlor. After Chief Demelio read through Ms. Christy’s letter, he handed it to Damian with a pleading tone in his voice. Damian’s expression mirrored his father’s dismay as he read.
“Let’s clarify. According to our investigation, the current market prices for lumber and charcoal are stable. Moreover, the export volumes of primary and secondary products using wood from this village don’t appear to have changed significantly. Given these findings, could you please explain the reason behind the claim that ‘the business is in decline’?”
Curtiss inquired, standing behind me as I sat on the sofa. The Barda duo exchanged a glance, then sighed.
“I admit that our export quantity hasn’t decreased significantly, but the issue isn’t the quantity. It’s the quality of the timber.”
“…the quality, you say?”
I echoed his words, prompting the village chief to nod dramatically. Every gesture of his seemed overly exaggerated as if he felt compelled to be ostentatious.
“Regrettably, our village’s reputation for producing high-quality timber is now in the past. The mountains around here have been overlogged, resulting in low-value thickets.”
“Hah…? I apologize, but after 30 years, shouldn’t the reforestation cycle have allowed new generations of trees to begin growing?”
(This chapter is provided to you by Re:Library)
(If you are reading this from other sites, that means this content is stolen without consent. Please support us by visiting our site.)