- Translator: amenym
- Editor: Anonymous_Neko
- Proofreader: Rinkage
Chapter 68 Rock Salt Smells of the Himalayas
I met up with Diana and told her about the situation.
Based on what happened just now, the transaction would have gone through even if I didn’t bring Diana along, but would it have made more impact if I had brought Diana along just in case? No. He has already agreed to the negotiations. There was no need to throw out more of my cards.
Diana will be on standby this time.
Thus, I went to the rock salt shop a little away.
“Good morning~” [Jirou]
“Oh! The guy with the Elf. You’ve finished your salt?” [Salt shop owner]
I walk around with Diana a lot and have recently been recognised as the guy with the Elf (or rather following the Elf) by Erishe citizens.
Everybody seemed to like Elves.
“No. I’m here for something else today. Do you still have that thing I received from you a little while ago?” [Jirou]
The rock salt shop is as its name suggests, a shop selling salt and rock salt.
In this country, where salt is as good as free, it’s a little iffy to treat it as a commodity. However, rock salt is different from the regular salt that you can simply scoop out from the salt lakes. You can’t get it without mining for it, so there’s a premium on it. Well, a piece the size of your fist is around 3 Els or 5 Els, the price of your pocket money…
Now then, if we’re talking about what this rock salt shop sells, … Well it sells rock salt, but they deal mainly with salt for uses other than consumption.
Of course, they sell salt for consumption, but other than that ―
Rock salt slabs. Adorable red or pink rock salt slabs. Beautifully cut into rectangles, it can be used like bricks as a building material, or as interior decoration.
Rock salt candles. Hollow out the centre of the rock salt, stand a candle in the hollow and lighting it gives a pale light.
Rock salt bath salt. Pouring candy-sized rock salt into the bath and taking a bath reduces sensitivity to the cold, smoothens the skin, and refreshes the body using minus ion effects.
Rock salt tiles. By using rock salt cut into equal sizes as tiles, you can create a fashionable space.
Rock salt saucers. Saucers and plates made of rock salt. The salt will naturally dissolve, and you can have roasted meat without needing to season it.
Rock salt sauna construction. Using rock salt slabs and tiles to build Saunas. Perfect for refreshing the body and soul through far infrared effect. But. It’s expensive. I want to make a mansion with it one day.
And then, regular rock salt for horses and rock salt graters. These are the stuff that this salt specialty shop sells. It’s a proper street-level store and by contrast, is quite prosperous.
I also buy rock salt for the horses, my mansion, and my actual home from this rock salt shop.
In Japan, I’d be paying a good price for natural salt that I can almost get for free, so buying it regularly makes me feel silly.
What I’m aiming for is the item I was shown the last time I was here.
In this shop, table rock salt is only white. The coloured ones are for horses, decoration, bath et cetera.
However, there is a thing that cannot be used for any of the purposes mentioned before. The shop owner was troubled about what to do with it and showed it to me previously.
At that time, he said he didn’t need it, so I asked for a little bit to try using at my mansion, but…
“That one? You’re weird to want even that kind of stuff.” [Salt shop owner]
When I declared that I wanted a large amount of it, the shop owner’s eyes bulged in its sockets. At any rate, it was worthless and just accumulating at the back of the shop.
The rock salt shop owner is a gorilla-macho man who mines the rock salt with his disciples and carries the heap back. He’s a man of steel, who even if he encounters a demon beast, will use his pick axe to turn it into just meat and make a grilled rock salt meat platter out of it on the spot.
So, his products are a luxury, and he’s not so poor that he needs to purposely sell that weird stuff.
The item in question is also plentifully in stock, more than enough for my purposes today, so we proceeded with the transaction.
“So, you don’t mind if I use this as I see fit, do you?” [Jirou]
“I don’t know what you’re going to use this stuff for but go ahead. Instead, I’m not taking responsibility if someone eats it and something happens to them, okay? None, I tell you.” [Salt shop owner]
“Not a problem. Thank you.” [Jirou]
“Oh my. I’m sorry for making you wait.” [Jirou]
I had split the item that I received from the rock salt shop into 100 and wrapped them carefully in the hemp pouch that I bought from another shop.
I decided not to bring Diana along.
Diana is my trump card. I’ve got to pick the best moment to use it. There’s also no need to show her weird stuff.
Ah, when I say weird stuff, I mean this double fraud. And this bogus business.
“Oh. You’re late. The Elf… Is she not around?” [Shop owner]
“Eh, I’m also looking for her, but I guess she decided to set off before it got dark. I couldn’t find her anywhere… Anyway, I’ve brought the goods. If you don’t trust me, I’ll just have to give up for today…” [Jirou]
“Let me see the goods.” [Shop owner]
“Sure. Here it is. It just arrived from the village. It’s the best.” [Jirou]
I unraveled the string of the hemp pouch and took the goods out reverently.
“Hn. What’s this!? Black… Rock salt?” [Shop owner]
“Yes. This is black rock salt mined from the Elf’s sacred land, the ‘Himalayan Mountains’.” [Jirou]
Yes. It’s a non-auspicious colour, so it can’t be sold, and discarded behind the rock salt shop… Black has a bad image, that’s something similar in both worlds, I see.
By the way, the origin of this ‘Himalayan Mountains’ is of course, our Earth’s Himalayan Mountains.
It came to mind when I saw the black rock salt at the salt shop. It was similar to the ‘Himalayan Black Salt’ that my sister bought through mail order long ago… Rather, it was the same thing. It was actually the same when consumed… Rather, I couldn’t tell the difference between salt flavours.
“I’ve never seen salt of this colour… If we’re talking about salt, it’s white or a slightly reddish, and the market rate is set.” [Shop owner]
“Yes. I was also shocked when I first saw it.” [Jirou]
“… This precious salt is mined from Elves’ village, I see…” [Shop owner]
“I don’t know it this is compatible to the Elf-woven lace you have here, but I am confident that my product is not any lower in terms of value. Now then, I’ve brought exactly 100. What will you do?” [Jirou]
“Yes, but…” [Shop owner]
It’s not ‘Yes, but…’. This bogus businessman is showing me how he was worrying over everything even though the negotiation itself was, essentially, already established. Well, I wasn’t planning to back off. If he had not accepted the trade, I would just call on Diana and the military police to publicly execute him.
“Fine. I’ll do it. Let’s trade!” [Shop owner]
It wasn’t ‘you’ll do it’.
“Thank you. With this, I’ll trade with this… So, just in case, but I am the exclusive retailer for this product in Erishe, so please don’t sell this in Erishe, ok?” [Jirou]
“Ok. Got it. I’ve got it.” [Shop owner]
Thus, the negotiation was established.
The bogus businessman quickly packed up, and left Erishe while chuckling to himself. He was quite a decisive man of action.
With his face grinning disgustingly, he mumbled, “Shall I go to Marishera …? No. Would it be better to return to the imperial capital once and trade with the aristocrats… Hehehe. To have ended up having to come to this rural town, I thought that I wasn’t as shrewd as I used to be, but… I’m in luck…” I could hear his muttering in full, though.
To the man himself, it was probably as if a joke had become a reality. He had probably thought that he had been a fraud until now, but by using this pipeline, he could earn a lot by selling the ‘real thing’ after a long time.
As for me, I got a huge amount of lace without a hitch and returned to the shop quickly to check the goods.
The workmanship was not very fine, but since they didn’t have machines that could weave lace, obviously, they had to hand weave it. They were all white or beige (although that might just be because they’ve been UV burnt by the sun), made with hemp.
I had only encountered lace on curtains, so I couldn’t really tell if it was good or bad… In the first place, the lace on a polyester curtain was probably not lace, was it… since it wasn’t made out of hemp, but polyester…
Well, I could just sell the remaining through net auction at 1 yen.
It’ll end up at a suitable price. Probably. Anyway, I got them free of charge, so it didn’t matter either way.
“Huh? It’s that lace? What’s up? Why are there so many?” [Rebecca]
Rebecca-san came over to play in the afternoon and peeked in at the inspection with deep interest.
Rebecca-san usually drops by when she needs to come to Erishe. After that, she’ll stay until the shop closes, and goes back with us. That’s our regular pattern.
Today, too, she dropped by after doing her shopping as usual.
She seemed very interested in the lace I obtained. Maybe it was actually really good stuff…?
“I just so happened to obtain some. Would you like one, Rebecca-san? If you want to, you can take as many as you’d like.” [Jirou]
“Hn? You’re giving them to me? I see … Well, I’ll have 1 handkerchief then.” [Rebecca]
Handkerchief, huh? If it’s handkerchiefs, she could just take as many as she wanted.
Speaking of which, in Europe, a sniffing nose is the worse manner faux pas. But pocket tissue is not common, so everyone clears their nose in a handkerchief it seems. And then, that handkerchief which they’ve blown their nose in is of course kept in the pocket after use and reused multiple times…
Wah, the heavens forbid, by Japanese standards, that was one of the most unacceptable practices!
“Well, I have quite a lot, so take which ever ones you like. All of them have subtly different designs, but the workmanship is lacking. It feels as if it’ll just fall apart if you’ve use it a few times.” [Jirou]
“Uhn. If Jirou’s the one picking for me, any one’s fine.” [Rebecca]
“Then, this one. How’s it? The design is practical and not too stiff.” [Jirou]
I handed her a simple handkerchief with lightly decorated edges.
“Yes. I’ll take it. Fufu. Thanks.” [Rebecca]
Rebecca-san received the handkerchief with glee and hugged it to her chest.
I could give her as many as she wanted if something like this would make her happy. After all, Rebecca-san has always been looking out for me.
… It was a bit iffy to give her something I got from the bogus businessman, though. But you can hate the monk, but you shouldn’t hate the robe he wears. The item itself has committed no crime.
“But it’s quite amazing that you found lace now. There aren’t many aristocrats in Erishe, so it’s rare,” [Rebecca]
Rare…? I guess that’s probably true. I don’t remember having seen lace much even though I’ve pretty much gone around all the markets, be it flea market or the market.
“So, it actually has quite some value…?” [Jirou]
But… If that’s the case, that bogus businessman didn’t have to play such an exaggerated game as marketing it as Elves’ village goods, did he…
Could it be that it’s rare, but it’s worthless…? It is becoming some sort of mystery.
“Rather than it has value, it’s more like it had value. It seems that there was a time when it was popular as a luxury item amongst the aristocrats in the Imperial capital. It went out of fashion when I was a child, though. See, there’s decorative lace like this, right? At that time, it was fashionable to attach them to the sleeves or collar. Though, if you do it now, you’ll be laughed at.” [Rebecca]
“Ah. This is…” [Jirou]
A once popular item that was now disposed of cheaply.
So, lace is such an item I see.
That guy probably brought them to Erishe on purpose, targeting those who did not know about the fashion trends in the Imperial capital for easy sales. But he was still uneasy about it and tagged on an added value of it being from the Elves’ village… That sort of thing, I guess?
“It seems that once the trend ended, the aristocrats gave them to their maids or servants, or threw them away. For the peasants, it’s become a symbol of the luxury of an aristocrat, isn’t it? That’s why, they didn’t give them to the peasants and just threw them away.” [Rebecca]
Well, that was not a problem, since once that bogus businessman started selling them, the price was just a conjecture.
It’s a mystery why Marina wanted it, but she’s probably considering something in her own way.
“So, there’s not really a value to this? Well, I didn’t have any plans to sell them here anyway, so that’s not a problem.” [Jirou]
“Uhn… I wonder. There’s nothing that is worthless, is there?” [Rebecca]
“Is that so?” [Jirou]
“Wearing lace as fashion may be outdated, but that doesn’t mean that lace itself ceases to exist. It can be sold simple as a decorative item, can’t it? Even now, if I look at the handkerchief, it’s still cute. It looks good for wrapping things up too.” [Rebecca]
I thought about it while passing Rebecca-san some items that seemed perfect for wrapping things up.
When lace was in fashion amongst the Imperial capital aristocrats, the artisans probably sold them at exorbitant prices. And, the aristocrats enjoyed wearing these expensive artisan-made lace.
But as wearable lace became out-dated, so did regular lace.
This way, out-dated = tacky. Like on Earth, the aristocrats get rid of the lace.
Rebecca-san said that the lace was given to the maids or servants, so they, in turn, either used it themselves or sold it for more living expenses. However, if even the peasants were not interested in the lace, the price would fall gradually, and it would end up in clearance sales.
That bogus businessman assembled all these laces, went to towns which are far off from the Imperial capital or unfamiliar with what’s fashionable, and sold them.
But fashion revives… Even if that’s not the case, lace is a regular item that shouldn’t be affected by the changes in fashion. This is something that I (as a modern man) know very well.
…In that case, should I go to the Imperial capital and purchase them in bulk…? The lace here are not that great in terms of quality, but there are some which must have taken more effort amongst them. Since it is now not fashionable, I should be able to purchase them cheaply…
“Rebecca-san, how long will it take to get to the Imperial capital from here?” [Jirou]
“Eh? The Imperial capital is really far, you know? By horse carriage, it’ll take around 2 to 3 weeks. You’re going?” [Rebecca]
“That far? I guess that’s not possible at this point of time. That’s far.” [Jirou]
A round trip will take 4 to 6 weeks… By the way, 1 week here is 6 days, so a return trip will take 24 to 36 days. That’s not a small distance.
It’s so much more tough than just ‘It’s not at the level of “I’m just stepping out for a bit’. It’s equivalent to a sizeable overseas trip. Rather than going to such a far place for just a little profit, it’s more meaningful to go to Diana’s home.
…But they have meticulously hand-woven lace that’ll probably stimulate the temptation to buy…
“If you go, I’ll show you there. I’m being tied down by the ‘Hitotsuzuki’ currently, so it’s not possible now, but if it’s after, I can bring you anytime.” [Rebecca]
Rebecca-san cheerfully suggested going together.
Rebecca-san once said that she knows an aristocrat in the Imperial capital, so if she comes along, it’ll be very helpful. More than that, I can’t imagine taking a half a month journey on horse carriage by myself.
Just imagine it… You’re suddenly given a horse carriage and told ‘Go cross-country over the Americas! All the best!’ and sent off… Reality is probably more or less that. In addition, this is a world where demon beast, monsters, mountain bandits, and robbers can simply appear. If there were a guide book, it wouldn’t be odd if ‘*Warning: Death’ were written in it. Johannesburg’s was also really blue.
[TN: Johannesburg is apparently the most dangerous city in the world. Their guidebook probably comes with this warning too.]
Well, it’s not like I’ve actually gone there, so I can only imagine what the journey is like. There’s also the possibility that it’s not as dangerous. That bogus businessman is a travelling salesman, and he travels alone too.
“Thank you. I’ll tell you when I decide to.” [Jirou]
“Yes. I’ll take up on your offer then.” [Rebecca]
Rebecca said and smiled while holding her hands to her chest. The garnet ring I gave her sparkled on Rebecca-san’s chest.
On that note, we also said that we’d go to Heripa Lake together. The shop is also quite stable now, thanks to Etowa. Once the Hitotsuzuki has ended, why not just go on a trip with everyone?
Ah. I forgot to go to the temple… Well, next time, I guess.
I stopped by the guild on the way back from work and called on Mr. Toby.
“Hello, it’s been a while. I found a terrible swindler just today. Can he be punished by the guild or something? He’s already left Erishe, but he’s gone to another city and doing the same thing, I think.” [Jirou]
“Yes. The Commerce and Industry Guild punishes such persons. Could you please tell me more?” [Toby]
“Of course. This is the item. He’s taking this black rock salt and selling it as a product of the Elves’ village for 1 silver coin. When I went with Diana the Elf, to expose it as a fraud, he escaped. At this rate, he’ll do the same in the other towns. Diana confirmed that they were fake, so there’s no mistaking it. Right? Diana?” [Jirou]
“That’s riiight.” [Diana]
“My. Black rock salt. Would anyone buy such salt? I can’t imagine anyone falling for such a bluff.” [Toby]
“I asked the salt shop and he said that it’s usually disposed of since the colour is inauspicious. Because of that, people don’t ever see it, and people who don’t know about it may think that it’s something of rarity. Anyway, I’ve taken the stock available at the salt shop into custody just in case.” [Jirou]
“Heh… There was such a horrible swindler in this town… No. Were they targeting the religious…? Do you know how many of them there are?” [Toby]
“Ehh, there were… 3 of them. They escaped in different directions. I don’t know where they met up, but they were probably only cooperating in Erishe, and then going their separate ways and continuing their swindling.” [Jirou]
“3 of them, I see… In that case, there’s a possibility that they’re part of a large swindling group. Great. I’ll send out a notice of caution to the guild in the surrounding towns. Is it alright if I hold on to this rock salt as evidence?” [Toby]
“Please do. In that case, I’ll leave it to you. ” [Jirou]
“Ah. Thank you for your cooperation.” [Toby]
―― After that, I heard that a man was arrested in a neighbouring town, trying to sell that rock salt as a product of the Elves’ village.
The man defended himself by saying that he was innocent and had been cheated, but it was the truth that he was selling normal rock salt as a product of the Elves’ village, so he was sentenced to slave labour. It was his first offence, so he was marked as a slave for a one-year contract.
Just in case, they searched for the swindler who passed the rock salt to the man but didn’t succeed in the end. It was thought that the swindler sold off all his remaining rock salt and moved on to the commodity… Or so the story goes.
They say this was what the man last said:
“… In other words, I’ve been ruined by someone who was doing the same thing I was… It was dangerous to carry on using rock salt for his swindles since a warrant was issued, so he cheated me and sold it all off to me. Hehehe. I’m not as shrewd as I thought I was… By the way, Police sir, that guy should be swindling using lace. I won’t go in peace if you don’t, at least, catch him. Please.”
But they couldn’t find anyone selling lace as Elves’ village products.
Perpetrators who became labour slaves after arrest do not become labour slaves for life. By labouring for a fixed period, they earn the right to redeem themselves from the slave status. It’s a type of punishment. For slaves like Marina, who are tied to a master, so long as the master says no, they are slaves for life. For labour slaves however, they became slaves to pay for their crimes, so after they have done a specific work at a specific place for a specific period, they are free again.
Well, crimes and evil are harshly punished in this world.
At the very least, they don’t have such thing as suspension of sentence.
Well, I had this setting in my head, but I couldn’t properly explain it anywhere, so here it is anyway.
For me though, I think that since it’s a primitive world, it should be fine to lose an arm or lose your life if you do something bad.