Chapter 88 – The Meeting with the Ruler (first part)
It was a spacious audition room.
Inside, there was a rug laid out in the middle and bronze-made ornaments placed closed to the room’s walls that radiated dazzlingly with a golden color.
On both sides of its entrance, there were 2 men standing at attention while holding weapons.
And then, there was a splendid throne set inside the room.
So this is the ruler of Nazioni……?!
The ruler’s appearance was seriously huge.
His hair was abundant just like a lion’s mane and his eyes’ pupils were similar to that of a bird of prey.
Wearing a deep crimson mantle on him, the man was as tall as Philip when compared together.
The word ‘majestic’ would describe this giant the best.
Eiji was well aware he was Dante’s father.
If one was to give Dante an appropriate age, change his easy-going attitude, and add more graveness to it, he would most likely become the second Nazioni.
Nazioni observed Eiji with pleasant eyes.
It was as though a slight chill passed through right after their eyes met.
Eiji could sense a heavy pressure, which made him want to step back unintentionally.
It seemed that Nazioni being regarded as a hero wasn’t just for show.
They both had yet to exchange words with each other.
Am I supposed to take him on as my opponent, refuse his request, and make him consent to my explanation…….?
Thinking so, Eiji felt like he was losing his strength.
Don’t be stupid. Are you going to accept his conditions just like that?
There’s no way for you to submit. – Eiji reconsidered once again.
Following Dante, who had guided him til here, Eiji stood in front of the throne.
He was neither told to sit nor kneel, however, Eiji casted down his eyes so as not to be rude.
– Raise your head.
The one to give him the command was Franko, who stood next Nazioni.
Franko was a man who would usually give off a strong impression; nevertheless, even his presence felt somehow overshadowed when standing next to this ruler.
Nazioni made a broad grin.
His big canine teeth, which showed through, resembled that of a wild animal.
– So you’re the blacksmith from Siena named Eiji, right? You have done a great effort by coming all this way. Dante, that’s enough, you can now withdraw.
– No, I’ve already gone through this much trouble, so I’m going to watch.
It was a heavy bass sound which reverberated in one’s stomach just like a rattle.
There was quite lots of charm in his voice.
At Dante’s response, Nazioni laughed with an enjoyable face as if witnessing something unusual.
– For you to take part in government affairs, just what kind of change have you gone through?
This guy is indeed amusing.
– Even I have grown up a bit.
– *Sfx for snorting* Well, fine by me. Just stay close to the wall and don’t interrupt us.
As soon as Dante did so, Nazioni shifted his eyes again at Eiji.
It looked like Nazioni had not the slightest interest in his son.
One could sense disdain and cold-heartedness from his voice and look.
It couldn’t be helped for his attitude to go off the rails that much.
Or perhaps, he had already given up on Dante due to his bad behavior?
– Speaking of which, you have been looking after that foolish, useless son of mine, right? It must have been troublesome for you.
– No, I do not think he was that much of a bother. Recently, he has been growing up and working more diligently each day.
– I wonder how much of that is true…. Well, nevermind. I shall hear more on that once we conclude our business. Franko, explain to him the detail of our discussion.
Franko gazed at Eiji as he stood in front of him.
As always, his expression was difficult to be read out.
Just how much had Eiji gone through because of that man?
Eiji needed to pay attention so as not to reveal his feeling of loath he felt towards Franko.
There was no way for him to incur their displeasure.
– Eiji, I would like to express my deepest thanks for your hard work during this time’s tax collection. That being the case, we shall put the offered tools into practice and have you explain their usage. Since it’s much easier to explain in words, this time we have called up each engineer for that.
At Franko’s words, men who had been waiting on standby somewhere else entered the room.
Again, there were tools that had been brought and lined up by soldiers. Carpentry tools were accompanied by wood, whereas, masonry tools – stone. They were all set and ready to be dealt with.
Tidying them up will be quite bothersome, won’t it? – Eiji stood in front of the tools while having such worthless thoughts.
– Here we have a saw, a plane, and a set of chisels. Since carpenters here seem to be more familiar with chisels, I will first demonstrate how the saw and the plane work.
– Where, where? Make a space so that I can see.
– Nazioni-sama, if you say so, there won’t be any meaning in calling those workmen.
– It should be fine as long I have them line up around me.
It appeared that Nazioni was deeply interested in the new tools.
With Nazioni wanting to be in the front row, Franko and the soldiers tagged close to him while maintaining the order.
He was standing and looking at Eiji, whereas, the workmen were observing and studying on their knees.
Good grief, I guess people must feel burdened whenever their superior says something on a whim. – he thought.
– According to what I have heard, you usually use hatchets for shaving wood, right? With this saw here you can keep a straight cross-section when dividing the wood. Thanks to this tool, it is possible to make rectangular pillars with ease.
Placing his foot on a wooden material, Eiji attached the saw’s blade to it.
A saw won’t simply change its route.
At first, Eiji sawed gently and carefully, and then, he continued to add more strength into once the saw’s cutting became rhythmical.
The blade of the saw wasn’t actually horizontal. It was much more thick and similar to a wedge in shape.
Were it to be even, the saw would get stuck in wood immediately after it began to cut, and as a result, become unable to move.
*sfx for saw cutting x2* – Each time the noisy sound of the saw cutting was produced, Eiji understood that the woodworkers and carpenters present there were getting excited.
As the wood chips whirled up in the air, the saw kept on cutting into the wood while generating sound.
*sfx for dropping* – a single edge of the wood fell.
– Like this, you can cut off the wood without futility. I shall introduce you the plane as next.
Eiji was fond of demonstrating how the plane works to foreign people.
Back in Japan, his workshop wouldn’t receive many foreigners for an observational study, but, it was popular for the peculiar kanna.
Eiji set the plane evenly on the wood.
With his right hand, he held the plane so that its blade wrapped up from the top, and using his left hand, Eiji kept down the butt of the wood in order to support it.
As he pulled the plane before him while matching the rhythm of his body, wood shavings began to come out smoothly just like Katsuobushi.
– Ohhh, what’s this?
– The wood is being shaved with a terrific slenderness.
– Just how on earth is he doing it……? Hey, try to do the same. Just what’s the deal with this transparent-like thinness? What’s more, look at this shaved wood. Isn’t it radiating with light?
– How about you? Can you make it….?
– Don’t be stupid. I wouldn’t be able to, even if I were to have a pile of gold.
Shock and amazement could be noticed from workmen’s voices and expressions.
With a timid attitude, one of them drew close to the wood shavings and checked them in his hands while staring at them fixedly.
And then, passing them to his colleagues, the latter slowly examined the shavings.
Nazioni talked to Eiji.
– Can I check it?
– Go ahead. Please make sure of the touch on the wood.
– Certainly, it’s slippery. This is the first time for me to witness such a smooth wood.
The plane is said to be handed down from China.
In China and Korea planing wood used to center around hard pine trees. However, unlike them, in Japan, planes were mostly applied to cedars and Japanese cypress.
For that reason, a Japanese version of the plane had been specially developed.
Again, instead of just processing and lacquering wood, like in foreign countries, the advancement of planes in Japan is said to have been pushed up thanks to its people’s love of plain wood.
– Fumu….This is indeed a splendid tool! Excellent, keep on explaining the rest of the tools!
Being in a good mood, Nazioni requested further explanation.
Thus, Eiji began to explain the rest of the chisels with self-confidence.
The clarification of the tools had finally concluded.
The workmen tidied up all the things and withdrew from the audition room.
Only Nazioni, Franko, Dante, and the soldiers were left together with Eiji.
I guess things have been progressing quite smoothly. – He thought.
And judging from Nazioni’s reactions, Eiji felt even more confident.
Without any problem, Nazioni took an interest towards Eiji and his skills.
Obviously, because of that, it was possible his actions would draw unwanted trouble. Nevertheless, by showing how useful he is, Eiji would most likely be able to increase his right to speak.
For the sake of their future negotiations, Eiji had to give Nazioni the impressions of being somebody rare.
Eiji was glad to see that its minimum condition was fulfilled.
The remaining problem would be to prepare for the topic about Katharina, but, surprisingly, Eiji didn’t have to wait for it that long.
It appeared that Franko had something to say.
– Well then, Eiji. For now, you have done a splendid work. There is no doubt that your skills as a blacksmith are real, and we are convinced they will play an indispensable role in the development of this island.
– I’m honored by your praise.
– That being the case, we would like to give you a reward.
– A… reward?
So it had finally arrived. By saying ‘a reward’, didn’t he mean Eiji would be forced to face that reality?
Indeed, this is an unexpected turn of events – Eiji made an expression indicating that.
Good grief. Have I too become able to read other people’s gestures?
Just one, two years, it was something unthinkable for him to do.
– Eiji, you know that your background is little known to us. Despite that, Nazioni-sama was generous enough to consider admitting you into his clan. I believe you already know about this person as your pupil, but, think of it as courtesy from Nazioni-sama and marry his adopted daughter, Katharina. Once it is done, you shall be officially recognized as a member of the clan.
– It’s a great pleasure for me to receive your offer, and I wouldn’t even dream of gaining such a high opinion from you, however—– I refuse.
Franko opened his eyes widely from disbelief at this unexpected response.
On the other hand, Nazioni smiled to his heart’s desire as if saying ‘Things have got pretty interesting’.
Well, it’s now or never and no failure will be accepted.
Bring it on.
Translator and reference notes: