Chapter 81 – Franko’s Inspection (middle part)
The gaze coming from Franko, was awfully stern.
Nevertheless, Eiji wouldn’t step back.
As if I could lose to this sort of man! – He thought.
Were Eiji to be outlasted by Franko, his position would reversely turn for the worse.
Why are you trying to stop me? – The situation would change into such.
And then, as a result of being doubted, the spear heads would be discovered and Eiji’s happiness for tomorrow would most likely disappear.
If that happens, perhaps they could’ve just lived peacefully without considering any rebellion.
Imagining their lost future, Eiji felt the urge to shiver with his body.
However, he looked straight at Franko while suppressing his movements.
Eiji suffered a bitter experience during his last year’s negotiation.
Being utterly cornered by Franko, he was close to feeling that he wasn’t up to negotiations.
No, Eiji most likely understood that Franko was hard to deal with….
―― A bitter experience, it was.
But, within this single year, Eiji gained lots experience.
That’s right, after all, a year had passed.
He took the initiative and carried out a business negotiation during his trip for trading.
Eiji was able to lead Jean by the nose toward the development he desired at the time of their negotiation.
And he had also become resolute in protecting his growing family.
I can’t lose.
It was Eiji’s turn to win this year.
The moment for vindicating his honor arrived.
What’s more, this was a blacksmith’s workshop, his arena.
No matter what kind of negotiation it was, there was no way for him to lose as long he would do what he was best at.
Eiji fixed his eyes on Franko.
– ――I’m serious.
– Do you understand the meaning of your words? Refusing my request for inspection would be similar to expressing your intention of mutiny against us.
– Franko-san, I’d be troubled to have you misunderstand my intention that way.
– What….? If there’s a reason behind your conduct, please explain.
Franko wasn’t the sort of man who would simply get angry.
Even now, he would quickly work his head by trying to understand Eiji’s implication.
That was an obvious thing.
A shabby man, who was short-tempered, could be, by no means, a shrewd government official.
Eiji believed that Franko was a capable person.
This man wouldn’t pass down rash decisions.
Because of that, Franko couldn’t help but follow Eiji’s words.
That part of him would also become a winning chance for Eiji.
– I’m one of those obedient people who will fulfil their duties. It’s not like you’re completely forbidden from entering or anything, but I just want you to go through the proper procedure. First, please cleanse your body. Since there’s a river behind the workshop, please clean your feet and rinse your mouth. Once you’re done, you can go in. That’s the custom of this place.
– What’s that? Is there some sort of meaning in doing so?
– It’s purification. Anyway, if you want to enter, please follow that rule. Apart from my disciples, so far, nobody has entered into this place.
A silent atmosphere continued for a while, but Eiji wouldn’t change his mind.
What’s more, it was merely a request for abiding one’s rules rather than anything unreasonable.
There was no way for him to prohibit Franko from coming in.
Eiji had no reason to withdraw.
Their sights, which entwined with each other’s, were intense to the extent of giving off sparks.
Eiji wouldn’t avert his eyes as this was a do-or-die situation.
It can’t be helped – Franko probably yielded due to Eiji’s resolution which he felt.
– It shouldn’t matter how I wash myself, right?
– Since it must have been a long journey for you, please clean yourself thoroughly and make your toes look neat.
– Just what kind of meaning does it bear?
– That’s in order not to profane this sacred place, which is a blacksmith’s workshop.
Once he confirmed Franko moving to the back of the building, he checked, without rush but quickly, the inside of it.
There was no time.
With Franko washing his feet and rinsing his mouth―― how much time could he earn?
Eiji checked the place in which he stored the spear heads.
They were casually lined up in a clearly exposed way.
That was dangerous.
These items would probably be discovered, were they left just like this.
Well then, where should I hide them?
Damn, it’s cold – While Eiji was contemplating on that, a voice filled with abusive language was heard from the direction of a louver door.
– Oi, lend me a towel so that I can wipe my feet!
– Right away, I wonder, where did I put?
– Do it fast! My feet are freezing, so I don’t care!
Hearing the voice, Eiji first searched for a towel while being a bit rushed.
And at the same time, he grabbed the spear heads from the box for delivering goods.
Eiji ran his eyes around the room.
Where, where was it completely safe to hide the items?
A guarantee was needed.
– Please wait a bit. I’ll be there soon.
After he uttered some words, Eiji hid the items in a specific place quickly and carefully. Luckily, no sound of him doing so was heard.
Let’s go. – He thought.
Were Eiji to make Franko wait too long, the latter would start to hold a suspicion.
The river water was chilly.
That chill will probably correspond to fall once it deepens.
Franko wiped his feet carefully.
Since he would usually ride his horse, there was no considerable cloud of dust or mud on him.
Franko, who adjusted his appearance, looked at him in a gazing manner, which made Eiji tremble a little.
-……Is it okay now?
– Yes, that’s enough. Let me guide you in.
– This is what everyone is supposed to do, right?
– Even if they were guests, I wouldn’t make them stand by the gate, you see. In the case of my disciples, it’s been decided that they have to welcome the New Year when they enter the workplace for the first time during that year.
– New Year….that would be in the middle of winter. So you make them wash their feet despite their surroundings being covered in snow?
– Yes, that’s because there’s a god residing in this workshop, you see.
– I can’t believe it….
As if unable to comprehend, Franko shook his head from side to side.
In a world of polytheism, the god of a blacksmith’s workshop would be a common thing.
The presence of the god would most likely be felt when handling a quivering metal in high heat.
Or when noticing the sharpness of a tool changing with a slight difference in temperature and considering that mystery as a manifestation of the god.
– Fumu, indeed, the workplace is overflowing with things.
– It’s because I receive orders from many different places.
Right after coming in, Franko ran his sight through various places.
His gaze didn’t seem to rest on just rare items.
Eiji understood he was diligently carrying out his inspection while trying to grasp the nature of the so-called blacksmith’s workshop.
For a while, Eiji decided to have him sit in front of the furnace and face the fire.
– What are these things here?
– They are tools intended to supply Tal Village and are called a hoe and a spatula.
– Fumu, is there a need to craft that hoe with iron? As far as I’m concerned, they should be carrying bronze-made tools, still…
– Both tools have different strength. What’s more, I can make this hoe put less of a burden on its user just by hardening it with no need of reshaping.
– I see.
Having Franko’s consent, Eiji drew out a single box.
Arrowheads and a Nata sheathed in a scabbard were stored inside. The Nata, which stuck out, was leaning against the side of the box.
Taking it out, he passed the tool to Franko.
– This is one of the Natas, which I promised to supply you with together with the arrowheads. Go ahead and try it out.
– Fumu, so this is a Nata….? It’s quite heavy and balanced. I wonder how strong it is.
– To the extent of lightly cutting up lumber and copper.
– And even a thin iron plate. With this single thing, you can even take a beast as your opponent, lop off bushes, and make firewood. Well, it’s perfect for use in the mountains.
– I’ve heard from other people about how superior it is, but after learning about its actual purpose from you, it’s indeed tremendous….
Franko scrutinized and observed the Nata.
Was Eiji able to convince him? As soon as Franko sheathed the tool back into the scabbard, Eiji stored it into the box and placed it on the shelves.
– Can’t I bring these back with me right now?
– I still have to grind their blades, so please wait til when you come for tax collection.
– Is that so? I thought the citizens in Nazioni would be pleased with these, but I guess it can’t be helped.
– That’s because people’s evaluation of these products will decrease if I hand them half-baked items. And then, these are the newly developed tools, which I promised you last year.
Eiji introduced the things, which he had made during this whole year.
Starting from carpentry tools, he showed Franko a plane, a set of chisels, screws, a vise, and a sledgehammer.
Even if he presented the tools one by one, depending on their usage, they could be divided into several dozens of varieties, making that number enormous.
Obviously, explaining how each of them works in detail wasn’t possible.
As doing so required people engaging in a practical work; without which one would be unable to understand the secret in a tool’s shape and its weight.
– That’s a terrifying number indeed.
– Each of these tools has their own reason behind their shape. For the sake of making them convenient in use, it’s important to subdivide them.
As Eiji made a simple explanation, Franko nodded from time to time while listening attentively to him.
Passing their time like that, the explanation was close to reaching its end.
Good grief, so it came to this? – While he was thinking so, he noticed a stern gaze directed at him by Franko.
– There’s something I need to ask you.
– …….What could it be?
Unlike before, Franko’s attitude changed all of sudden.
Sensing a clear vigor coming from him, Eiji braced himself.
Just what kind of a bombshell statement will jump out?
Still, no matter what he was told, Eiji would, by no mean, lose his composure.
He was completely prepared.
– It appears you’re making spear heads, right?
Eiji’s heart turned rampant.