15-3. An Ordinary Village
Satou's here. There was a time when the words [Assault Reconnaissance] became popular due to some anime or manga when I was a child. Going to an unknown nearby city with a train, and prowling the streets like a spy was also a good memory of mine. I mistook the meaning of the words cause I was a child though.
"Master, found a village ahead. Advising to scout ahead with an artificial spirit."
Nana and Mia who are wearing weasel costume are in unusually high tension.
Sorry, but there's no need to do that.
"It's alright. It seems they're all just your friendly villagers."
I pull the hands of Nana and Mia who look slightly disappointed to go toward the village.
Even if the villagers point their blades at us, they can't possibly damage these costumes anyway.
"Heya, villager. We've come to sightsee the construction of the smoke car, is it close by?"
I talk to an old weaselkin man who's speaking slowly at the entrance of the village.
The reason why I choose this village is because, as I've said earlier, this place is the closest to the railroad construction site.
There are more ratkin and rabbitkin people than weaselkin in this village.
The surprising thing is the fact that there's no noble or slave not only in the parishes but also in the Weasel Empire territory.
However, it appears the citizens are divided into three classes. Whether the third class citizens are actually treated like slaves, we will see it ourselves as we tour the country.
I've infiltrated this area dressing as a typical liquor peddler to see the situation.
"That the souund you can heaaard? That one's over that hiiill."
"Thank you, villager. This is what I'm selling, have a cup."
"Aww, thank yaa."
I pour sake into a bisque cup and offer it to the kind old man.
"Kaah, this stuff's goood."
"Lemme taste too."
I sold the sake to the two other villagers not for free, but for blue copper coins that's generally used in the Weasel Empire.
While selling the sake, I gather information by pretending to chat with the elderly.
I let Nana and Mia to take care of the selling along the way.
"Sake seller, want to taste this?"
"Ah, thank you."
I take the dried meat the old man recommended while matching his tone.
It's a salted dried meat just like the one I saw in the [Parish].
"Did the village make this?"
"--Hm? Which village ya came from?"
"From beyond that mountain."
The elderly looked like they were in doubt when I replied.
Oops, it seems I said something wrong. I invoke the [Foolish Field] usually used for interrogation to befuddle them.
"Can't be helped theen."
"Ya can't buy cheap provisions from the military if there's no smoke car."
According to the elderly, it seems the stinky fermented calorie bar from back then will become tasty if you make it into a rice gruel and put some herbs to delete the scent.
"It be niiice since the construction done and the smoke car came."
"Riight. The growing children can now eat their belly full cause we can sell the crops and buy the military provisions."
"Gracious Emperor ee."
Unlike in the parish, it seems the Emperor is well liked in these remote agricultural villages.
Further, it seems merchants who come riding the smoke car are buying their crops.
"What're you doing, what's with the liquor smell in the middle of the day even though the young ones are working away in the construction site of the smoke car road."
"Aah, village elder. Have a drink."
"Hou, sake huh.... How much?"
The village elder shouted, "Cheap!" when I told him the price, and then he bought all the sake jugs I brought with me.
That's fine and all, but for some reason the villagers gather and it's become a feast.
I was a bit surprised to see them spending that much even though it wasn't the time for harvest.
The people enjoying the sake are wearing rural-like clothes with a lot of patches, but every one of them is smiling and looking healthy.
"This village sure is prosperous."
I returned to my usual tone but there wasn't already any villager who minded it.
"Yeah, since the current emperor took the reign, the tax changed from 7:3 to 4:6 you see. So even such a remote village like this can be relatively prosperous."
From the government taking 70% and villagers 30% to them taking 40% and villagers 60% huh?
I thought the tax would be high since this was a military nation that developed the high-cost low-return scientific weapons.... Apparently, that's not the case.
"Long live the Emperor!"
"""Long live the Emperor!"""
With one leading, the villagers held a cup in one hand and shout together, then they laughed 'Gahaha'.
Mia who was free after selling all the sake plopped down on my lap as I was sitting on the ground and then she abruptly played her lute.
It's a fun melody with "I hate drunkards" tones sometimes mixed in.
Next to Mia, there's Nana carrying some children who have come to pick up the dishes.
"Master, secured the young organisms so I report."
The children carried under Nana's arms don't look like they dislike it as they're absorbed in gnawing rice crackers.
"You've a beautiful wife and a cute daughter."
"Nn, happy marriage."
"I see, the daughter must be happy too."
Mia looks satisfied hearing the old weaselkin.
She must have thought that she is the wife, but unfortunately I think she's mistaken.
However, there's no need to point that out and displease Mia.
While patting Mia's head as the lute's tone changed to [Fun Feast], I mix in with the villagers' chat.
"So I've come here to sell my sake, but is it alright for you to take a break from the field work?"
"Yea it's fine. Emperor-sama has distributed pesticides you see."
"Thanks to that, we got rid of the troublesome pest."
Mumumu, pesticides huh... I'm a bit worried as to whether they get the dose right.
"We also got the mowing rabbits."
Mia who heard rabbit mentioned moved her line of sight at us.
She must be interested in it.
"What kind of rabbits are they?"
"It's a kind of rabbit that only eats weed without caring the crops."
One of the elderly points at the field.
It's a small rat-sized rabbit.
"If ya don't put them in the hut during the planting and budding seasons, they'll eat them all with the weed like what happened at Gozan's place ya see."
"I've failed as rep of the village."
I see, it has a habit of eating the plants that have just grown huh.
"Thanks to them, farmwork's easier now."
"During the free time, the young 'uns often went outside the village to make more fields."
"Ain't it fiine, something or otheer, the new fields will be theirs, young 'uns must pull themselves together."
Are they developing new private fields in long term?
Hearing that, Nana tilted her head and entered the conversation while still carrying the children.
"Monsters outside the village are dangerous so I warn."
"It's alright. The empire force comes and defeats monsters and bandits y'see."
"Not bandits, they're tigerkin liberation army right?"
"People who're brandishing weapons and steal food from villages are bandits enough."
I tried searching the map around here and just as the villagers said, there was no monster around here, even on the mountain foot, there were only weak monsters whose levels are in single digit.
"The knights come patrolling here once a month even now."
"They went sword hunting and took the village's swords and spears away, the peeps were maad, but--"
"We got farming tools instead."
"After getting something this good, we'll get punished if we complain ya see."
An old man carrying a sturdy looking farming tool made from iron is showing it off.
"They also made the well with clickety-click."
"Not clickety-click, it's water pump!"
"Oh ain't it fine. Yer' the only one who calls it water pump to look smart."
Apparently, they even have a hand water pump.
The government here seems to be doing quite good.
I might have come to respect the emperor unconditionally if I hadn't saw the parish.
"What'd you say!"
"Try saying that again!"
The two old weaselkins who have been quarrellings since earlier catch each other's collar and glare un-befitting of their ages.
"Good grief, weasels are easy to pick a fight."
"Don't say that, our blood boil fast since the time of ancestor-sama."
The old weaselkin that I met first covered for his race hearing an old rabbitkin's grumble.
As it looks like it's going to devolve into a fist fight, the village elder finally stands up, unable to remain indifferent.
"You fools! If ya want to fight, do it in front of His Majesty the Emperor!"
The village elder shouted while carrying a sake bottle in one hand.
He looks like he's ready to enter the fight.
I feel that there was a lot of intellectual and rational ones among the weaselkins I met outside the Weasel Empire, but looking at the villagers here, I end up thinking those people must have been an exception.
No way there's a teleport gate in such a remote village, is it some kind of term?
My doubt quickly clears up.
"Here I go, Gozan!"
The old weaselkin men who have taken off their coats are exchanging blows with magnificent telephone punches.
As the two made a clean hit at each other, they staggered and fell backward.
Old Gozan stood up while wobbling, but old Banga seems to have gotten a cerebral concussion, he's not getting up.
"What's wrong, Banga!"
"Stand up, Banga!"
"His Majesty the Emperor is laughing at ya!"
"That's right that's right! Look sharp before the Emperor!"
The surrounding villagers are cheering, or rather, jeering at old Bangan.
The 'Emperor' that they're referring to is a statue of weaselkin made from obsidian-like thing put in the center of the village's square.
Its left eye is a red stone, its right eyes is a blue stone, suspicious light coming from the statue gets stronger every time the villagers roar.
....It's a statue of evil god no matter how you look at it.
In fact, there's a magic square embedded in the square though the villagers don't seem to notice it, every time the villagers enthusiastically shout out, their magic power and stamina get drained.
We resisted the drain aimed at us, but the magic power leaking from our equipment couldn't seem to, thus quite a lot of magic power got absorbed into the emperor statue.
I don't know if that's the reason, but I feel that the statue has begun to emit red aura-like light.
Old Banga was able to stand up somehow while shouting, old Gozan replied back with a shout too.
The telephone punch earlier was bad enough, but now the two are swinging their arms around to exchange baby punches.
It must be some kind of weaselkin sense of beauty that I do not understand.
The two's fists sunk onto each other's cheeks, and then they fainted, a double knock out.
Geez, it's not a fight between elderly.
"They've been fighting for idiotic reasons since they were kids."
"Unlike that time, now we have His Majesty the Emperor's statue, ain't it fine."
"Yer' right, that times one of the sides would die after several matches in a fight like this."
"Weasels can't hit the brake once they see blood, it's scary."
Perhaps the emperor statue is for the sake of the villagers so they won't die needlessly from a fight by exhausting their strength?
Nevertheless, preparing such expensive magic tools that can drain magic power in many villages should have cost them enormously.
The rational and selfish weaselkins I know can't be that generous out of only goodwill.
"Village eldeer, the emperor's statue is shining reeed."
"Fumu, the impurity gathered fast this time. Usually it takes a year.... Well fine. Let the young ones going to the smoke car site tomorrow carry a letter to the city."
"Would be niice if the official-sama that bring the replacement statue is Moton-sama. That persoon would be willing to repair the bank with earth magic."
"Oy oy, ya shouldn't think of first-class citizen-sama as a substitute of oxes and horses."
Fumu, judging from their conversation, it seems that even though the first-class citizens are treated like their superiors, they don't seem to be a privileged class like noble.
We bid our farewell to the village elder and went toward the smoke car construction site.
"Master, it's full of muscle men so I tell."
"Mwu, clank clank."
Mia quickly gave up from the noise in the construction site, Nana lost her interest since there were no children in the site, so the members changed.
The backup are Arisa and Hikaru.
"The smoke car is a train alright."
"Yeah.... The smoke car road also looks like railway track complete with railroad ties."
It seems the smoke car's carrying power also plays a big role in laying the new rail track.
The construction site not only has beastkin and scalekin men, there's also manned normal golems and ones that look like bulldozers and excavators.
The latter are not using internal combustion engines, they seem to be types of golem.
Looks like the science is not that all-encompassing.
"I've seen it earlier, I think the emperor statue is suspicious after all."
"Right right, it's not often there's an item that much suspicious."
Arisa, Hikaru and I are of the same opinion in this matter.
"Then, next we should follow where the emperor statue is getting transported to."
Speaking of chasing, it's ninja.
I should ask Tama to track the transport route of the emperor statue from the village earlier.
Now then, will an ogre or a snake come out of it....
<TLN: Idiom meaning you never know what will happen.>
Ideally, I'd love it if it was [The mountains have brought forth a mouse]. <TLN: Much ado about nothing.>
I think world peace is the best after all.