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4-2: Let’s Get Started (Part 3)

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Author: Natsuni Kotatsu Original Source: Syosetu
Translator: Mui English Source: Re:Library
Editor(s): Robinxen

I had a hunch… but to think it was actually true.

“It happened soon after she parted with you. She said, ‘I will become like big sister!’ and this is the result.”

I was pretty shocked to find out that I came off that high-handedly, but I felt even more unbearable at the thought that I was a bad influence on her.

Her speech when angry turned back to her natural speech. When we traveled together she used to be selfish but still an innocent child.

Anyway, there was just one thing that I wished for.

I hope that this won’t become a dark history for that child.

A few days later.

In the center of the public square with fully exposed stone paving where flame crystals were arranged evenly, there was a group of people surrounding those crystals to the point that the square was filled to the brim.

The tax office enshrined in front of the square was ostracized by all the citizens, but this time no one was directing hostility to it, perhaps partly because there was a stage established before its front door.

In the center of that stage was a metal pole with a wind crystal attached to it—a microphone, in short. And there, seated at the table that was placed diagonally to make that and the square visible, were the lord Ector, the branch representative, vice-branch master Denis, the appraiser representative Amabelle, and Euripides from the Industrial Guild as the representative of the sculpture craftsmen.

Cathy got on the stage and bowed, and the square became silent.

“From now on, we will open the snow festival fair of Luneville.”

She read out the contents fluently, bowed, and got offstage where our branch staff was while looking satisfied from the cheers she could hear.

Cathy was acting all cherry, but Ria seemed weakened by the cold and was sticking to a fire crystal near me. Maybe cuz she’s a cat?

“Now then, let me explain the rules first.”

Elize, who took Cathy’s place, started reading out the relay messages.

“Once you check the snow sculptures throughout the town, we want you to fill in the number of the sculptures you would rate the highest on the voting papers that we will distribute now.”

As we distributed the papers, one of the men looked at it and asked.

“There are three blanks on it, though.”
“Of course, it is so you select three of them. If we were limited to one, everyone would only submit their own, right?”

Fair point, the square burst into laughter. The Art of Conversation that didn’t leave any discomfort was Elize’s skill.

“The evaluation criteria is left to your individual judgment. Beautiful, gallant, daring… anything counts. Oh, but please don’t write the branch’s sculpture with the daring evaluation. That is not part of the evaluation targets.”

Another laughter followed.

She was talking about the sculpture that Elize, Cynthia, and others made before the branch. It was based on Haku.

It was anything but daring, but it was starting to be made into a mascot both in name and reality.

“Please keep in mind that you have to fill in all three blanks or it won’t count. Oh, and you can’t go destroying your own work for the reason that you got embarrassed after seeing other people’s works. Illya tampered with them so you’ll get hurt.”
“Let the sleeping dogs lie, as they say, huh?”

The man’s word was followed by a few… or rather, most other people nodding.

What was that supposed to mean, huh?

You want me to identify and remove the fixing? Only one house missing the sculpture would make you feel awkward, right?

…I guess if I actually did that they’ll say I cursed them or something. S̲h̲i̲t̲.

“The time limit is until noon. The branch’s new dishes will be served at noon when the results are to be tallied, but the vote papers will be exchanged for them so please bring them over yourselves, okay?”

Hooray, the crowd burst into the loudest cheer so far.

No comment.

“Well then, Mr. Ector. Please declare the start of the judging!”

Elize stepped back and Ector stepped to the microphone.

“Today is a good day… Or I suppose we don’t need such a formal greeting today. I want to praise your efforts and wish you a fun time. Now… I declare the judging has started!”

The audience scattered around with the cheery mood still present.

I headed to the stage in place of Elize and faced the four at the table.

“Each of the first-place winners that you chose will be eligible for a special prize. There is a chance that the top three winners will overlap, but the overlaps will be awarded as is, so please judge as you see fit.”

Three of them nodded readily. But the remaining one snorted with a contemplating look.

“That sounds pretty optimistic. How would you know if someone does something unfair where you can’t see?”
“For example?”
“It would be easy to mass-produce a simple voting paper like this. And there’s even the possibility that people will make others write their own numbers through threats. Rather, they wouldn’t even need to threaten them, just pay money.”

The vice-branch master rambled on and on.

He must be aware of the stares, but he didn’t seem to care one bit.

As I was wondering what to do, Amabelle was the one to speak up.

“The papers are of the same material as the ones used for commissions, so forgery is impossible. As for whether they were written by someone else, we can easily find that out by confirming if there is duplicate handwriting.”

Though she called it easy, that’s only possible for people who have a high-level Appraisal skill, you know, Amabelle?

I smiled wryly in my mind, and before the vice-branch master could interrupt, Lashelle followed up on her words.

“Whether they were threatened or not is discernible if you’re a receptionist. And the fact that we only offer food when they bring their own papers is for that reason too, right, Illya?”

I nodded at her question.

Of course, this was also to stop people from going for a free meal after getting wind of the rumor. But well, it wasn’t like we were taking participation fees, so it wouldn’t matter.

“As for the money, I believe there is no need to stop them. Considering the number of people and the sculptures, aiming for first place and turning a profit would need you to pay each person less than 500 Gil, and I believe no one would go along with that. And even if they got first place, there is only a monetary prize. If they wish to brag about their sculpting skills, it would be better to go to the Industrial Guild instead.”

And even without that, there were many people holding loans in Luneville now.

This was a prize that was significant because you could get it with no capital and expenses, so it would lose the point if you spent money to get it.

“Was that explanation sufficient?”

The vice-branch master snorted and left the stage, and with it I saw everyone’s expressions loosening.

Looks like everyone’s mood improved after he lost an argument, so that’s good! Yup! Let’s end it at that!

“Alright then, let’s get started.”

We switched our thoughts with the usual exchange and started preparing for tallying and lunch.


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