Chapter 28: Good Timing is the Key to Good Opportunities
Later on in the night there were some people moving suspiciously, hiding themselves in the shadows around the shop, but in the end nothing happened.
Were they scouts or were they being cautious?
Anyway there were only a few of them, and even when the late-watch bell rang there was still no movement.
Hm? Is the place the bell is ringing from a church? I wonder…
I’ve roughly gathered that the bells ring 3 times in the night, one clear ring each time, and I vaguely remember hearing them throughout the day … I should have paid more attention, I suppose. These are definitely how everyone tells what time it is … what a blunder, me.
Before turning in for bed, I’d had the time to check out that [Mana Forger] Trait, as well as that (Barrier Series) skill.
It seems I had just learned too many Barrier skills that were just different barriers. Barrier, Reflective Barrier, Sound Barrier, and Barrier Armor are the ones that it lists if I touch (Barrier Series). … Am I going to become a Barrier specialist? I don’t even know when I got some of these.
As for [Mana Forger]:
[PASSIVE: (Fire Sensitivity) (Fire Resistance) (Steady Hand)]
[SKILLS: (Metal Reinforcement) (Keen Edge) (Mana Imprint) (Craftsman’s Trance)]
The Passives are pretty self-explanatory, but I need a bit of help with the Skills. Even with the system explanations(tentative), I’m still having a hard time understanding how I use them. Metal Reinforcement is reinforcing metal …? Thank you. What the heck does THAT mean, exactly?
Keen Edge – aids in making edge-holding metal and balanced edges.
Mana Imprint – mana circulates in both materials and equipment to aid in crafting.
Craftsman’s Trance – a state of mind that transcends the senses for crafting.
USELESS! System Explanation-san (maybe), you are useless!
… Well, I used them somehow, so I should be okay if I don’t think too much about it tomorrow.
Anyway, that’s how I spent most of the night until after the Late Watch bell. Then I slept for a few hours in small room I was provided with before waking at what they call the Farmer’s bell, which sounded with 3 rings at dawn. Even the girls were beginning to turn in when I went to bed.
Resilient Body is amazing. I’m averaging 3-4 hours of sleep, and I feel perfectly fine.
After about half an hour of morning self-training with my makeshift spear (I really miss sword training), no one else in the pleasure district is awake yet so I wander out towards the central part of town.
I’m half being drawn by the scent of food.
As I draw closer to the food stall area Pietra had taken me to yesterday, I hear a fuss going on.
As I approach I see several older women, some younger women, and some kids milling around a large object on the ground. They seem at their wits end.
Ah, now that I’m closer, it’s a large pull-cart? The wheel … oh, the wheel’s broken. Of all the emergencies I’ve stumbled upon so far, this one is comparably easy.
“Hi, what’s going on?”
As I approach and greet them, a girl separates herself from the group and runs my way, eyes full of tears. That’s Lyla isn’t it?
“Lyla – ooph!”
She hurtles herself into my solar plexus. That’s dangerous.
“It broke, and we don’t know what to do!”
The older women had begun lifting objects out of the cart to carry them up the slope. The square with the food stalls is on a flat spot midway between the first and second levels of the city, like a mezzanine, so although they don’t have to go all the way to the second level, they still have to climb. The housewife-aged women laugh, though a bit tiredly.
“Ah, don’t mind, don’t mind. It’s just a little extra work out in the morning, that’s all.”
“Well, might as well get to it. The early risers won’t wait for us forever for breakfast.”
With some groans and half-hearted laughter, the oba-sans and onee-sans lifted as many parcels as they could carry … It will still take them a while, huh?
As the kids also try to mill around and pick up the parcels they can handle, I stop them.
“You guys get the front, I’ll get this.”
I lift the side of the cart with the broken wheel. Or like, I’m just going to replace the wheel. It will be awkward, but that’s a lot of trips up and down the slope for these people. There’s heavy stuff like hot plates, large pots and pans, and you can’t ignore the weight of such large bags of grains and the other ingredients. I bet it will take all the oba-sans and onee-sans to lift some of the bags.
Lyla gives a yell of joy and darts to the pull-handle, followed by several others of the kids. The rest stand and gape, wide-eyed.
I laugh and challenge them.
“Look, such young girls are going to pull this. Can you call yourself men after that? If you can’t get in front, push from behind.”
When I say that, several of the boys flush and charge among Lyla and the other young girls, throwing all their might into pulling the cart. The ones who can’t find a spot on the handle gather around behind to push. Though they strain the cart moves steadily, but slowly, up the slope.
That I’m doing most of the pushing from behind is a secret, ok?
Halfway up, since it would be too suspicious if we went quickly, the oba-sans and onee-sans are coming back towards us. Throwing aside their shock, they have some of the younger girls go to push from behind while they take their spots.
A working woman’s strength should not be underestimated.
Though it’s still somewhat slow-going, since I don’t want to damage the remaining wheel, we all make it to the top in great success.
The children cheer and celebrate until some of the oba-sans lightly tap them on the head and tell them to go set up.
“My my, thank you so much, young one.”
“Yes, it would have taken us ages to get everything up. We’d probably have to give up on making money during the morning rush!”
“You’re very strong, aren’t you? That’s good, women have to be strong!”
One of the onee-sans pumps her fist into the air and mimics flexing her biceps before they all laugh, happily chatting as they set up their stalls.
The women aren’t fools. They know that I’m the one who got the cart up the slope.
“It’s ‘cause Jun-nee’s super strong! She saved us, you know?”
Lyla has puffed her slim chest out proudly.
Haha, iyaa… I scratch the back of my head awkwardly.
Because of the group of men, most of them laborers looks like, that have now gathered waiting for breakfast, the women are kept busy for a while. Where were you guys when the ladies needed help?
… Well, the women probably try to get here and set up before these guys show up, so I guess it can’t be helped.
While they’re doing that I go gather the remains of the cart below. It’s just the wheel, really, but it’s still not good to leave it behind in the middle of the path.
Mm, the smell of food is very appetizing … too bad I had decided to go without breakfast today.
The waiting men had noticed the broken cart and helped to pull it off to the side while I went down and came back up. They were quick. It’s still quite heavy, with all the stuff in it.
“Nima, I’ll send one of my guys to repair that cart for you once we finish opening shop.”
“Hey, this the Jou-chan who helped you? Good job, Jou-chan!”
The rough, middle-aged men laughed and chatted with the middle-aged women, teased and joked with the young women, and played with the young children. It was a boisterous, heart-warming scene this early in the morning.
The men who aren’t good with mornings are seated in a corner, just watching, though they don’t seem irritated with the noise.
“Jun-chan, won’t you get breakfast?”
“Come on over, try these flat cakes!”
“Nono, these sausages are much better for people who use their muscles!”
The onee-sans good-naturedly compete with their food.
“Why don’t you wrap a sausage in a flat cake?”
I suggest that to tease them, but they laugh and reply,
“Ahaha, Jun-chan thinks like these old men!”
“Oi, who you calling old men! That’s just the easiest way to eat breakfast quickly!”
I now notice that the guys don’t stay very long. This is definitely breakfast on the go for them, huh?
I give in and buy a thick wafer for 25 ecrue. It’s not too much; I’ll just eat lightly at lunch.
While chatting with the men and women, I learn that the bells are rung from the stone tower carved in the mountain in the Guild Hall. The bells are rung three rings each at the Farmer’s Watch at dawn, the Morning Watch 3 hours later, the Mid-day Watch at noon, the Afternoon Watch 3 hours later, and the Returning Watch at dusk. After that the bells are rung 1 ring each at the Dimming Watch 3 hours later, the Mid-night Watch at midnight, then the Late Night Watch 3 hours after that.
Looks like they’re rung at 00:00, 03:00, 06:00, 09:00 … in intervals of every 3 hours. That’s pretty convenient to know.
So when people kept telling me to meet in the morning, they meant at the Morning Watch bell huh … whoops. At least I now know I have a few hours before I have to show up at the forge.
When I finally leave, I have an arm full of food the ladies insisted on giving me. Even after stowing a portion for lunch, it’s too much for myself and I don’t know if it will be any good if left too long in my inventory, so let’s give it to Maryiste and the girls.
I leave a cup of hot tea in Inventory to see what will happen to it for future reference. Unlike the herbal tea from last night, this tea is made from tea leaves. What a nostalgic taste …
When I return to The Queen Mary’s, I’m not too sure how long I’ve been out, but Maryiste and Solyana are up already. Maryiste is in the backroom today, calculating the night’s profits.
“Ah, I got this from the food stalls, so if you’d like …”
I unload the sausages, savory hotcake-like flat cakes, salted boiled eggs, and thick wafers in front of them onto the table. It’s quite a bounty, more than enough for Maryiste, Solyana, and the 8 other girls. I suspect some of these are leftovers they couldn’t sell yesterday, but I won’t complain since I got them for free.
Maryiste laughs and Solyana’s eyes get as big as saucers.
“You needn’t worry about us, Jun.”
Solyana protests, but after I tell her that they were freebies I couldn’t refuse she lets herself pick up a boiled egg, cutting it into quarters with a fruit knife.
Eggs are apparently more on the expensive side, though they’re not impossible for commoners to buy on a more or less regular basis. For the prostitute girls, though, it’s a bit rarer. Mm… a pity I was only given three of the eggs, but Solyana continues on and quarters the other two as well.
I see, this way everyone can get a bite.
While Solyana prepares a soup to go with the rest of the food, I’m interested in something else …
“Um, Maryiste? I was wondering … how should I go about learning how to read?”
Maryiste smiles, like she was expecting that question. I feel like this woman can completely see through me. From the beginning I’d thought she had the air of a sage or wise man.
“Hm… it’s not impossible to get through life without knowing how to read here, you know?”
It sits really badly with me, though! I really hate not knowing how to read, it feels like an entire side of the world is being hidden from you.
“Hm… I can teach you a little here and there. Otherwise you’ll have to pay a lot for a tutor. And, well, it’s quite the sum.”
If it’s really that expensive to hire a tutor, then isn’t reading super advantageous?
“Is that ok, Maryiste? Is it really something you give for free?”
“Fufufu, I was unaware Jun thought that repayment was necessary.”
Huh? Of course repaying people is necessary. When I say that, Maryiste and Solyana exchange glances.
Maryiste sighs and moves the conversation along.
“Well, to tell the truth, it’s not too much trouble for me to teach you the basics. Since you seem like you already know how to read in your language, I’d imagine it’s not too hard to transfer it over, though I think learning our vocabulary will be the biggest hurdle for you.”
That’s right, I don’t know their language. Being able to communicate with the locals here is all thanks to Translate-sama.
While I’m thinking about it, Maryiste sends Solyana to get some paper.
By the way there’s paper here, and it’s not terribly expensive. Even for the food stalls, some of the carry-outs are wrapped in a flimsy, though not very smooth, paper. The reason Maryiste does all her calculations on a wax tablet first is because there aren’t any pencils and erasers here.
Maryiste fills her pen then writes a series of 11 symbols on a sheet of paper.
“This is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, null, and the ecrue symbol. You should start there. Then here …” Now she’s writing a series of 30 symbols. It’s their alphabet-like thing.
Nothing like kanji appears. That’s seriously a relief. One set of something like kanji is enough in my head.
I have her repeat the pronunciations for everything, writing them in kana next to each symbol. It’s a mix of alphabet and kana for the pronunciations for their alphabet-like system.
Maryiste is interested in the kana and alphabet I’m writing.
“It’s a lot like elven script here … but here is more like the eastern countries’ script.”
“Ah, this is the script of my country, and this one is of a neighboring country.”
Well, America is closer to being a neighbor to Japan than any country from around here could be. I’m sorry, our world’s geography, but let’s just leave it at that.
Maryiste is greatly impressed that I know two languages, and that both languages are required in our schools. Sorry, though we ‘learn’ English, it’s debatable whether the majority of our students ‘know’ English.
But I’m more interested that the kana looks like elven script. By the way, the script the Unaffiliated use is more alphabet-like than our world’s Asian scripts.
When we’re done, I look over the sheet.
“Hm… I’ll have to memorize these first. Especially the numbers…”
“Don’t forget to try to learn some words just by speaking with everyone-“
As Maryiste says that, the Morning Watch bells ring. Oops!
“Oh no, I’m late!”