Intermission: Young Merchant and Orphanage Children
When I went to an orphanage on an errand of my employer, I saw little children playing cards. Those cards are exactly like the learning cards that I've made. However, the designs are slightly different.
"Hey, you guys, where did you get those cards?"
"Tsui-niichan made it."
"You're wrong, it was Yuni-ane who got it from her boyfriend."
"Etai-niichan drew the pictures."
"Tsui-niichan shaved the tree you know?"
"Yuni-ane taught us how to play."
The children answered my question in hoots. If you say it like that, I won't be able to hear it. Since the children began to quarrel, I arbitrated them in a hurry.
After asking for many times, I understand that, "They got the cards from the lover of the child called Yuni", "The child called Tsui supplied raw materials like wood blocks, ink, and brushes.", and "The child called Etai drew the pictures."
Since the learning card, including the prototype were bought by that merchant boy, he's probably the lover of that Yuni. The intelligent looking girl who was with her is probably Yuni.
I guess the children that he wanted to teach are this orphanage's kids huh.
That reminds me, the children said something that piqued me.
"What is the way to play?"
There's nothing like way to play for the cards I've made. You read the letter, and check the back of the card to see if you're correct, that's what the item only is.
"You line them up."
"You guess the letter right~"
"It becomes yours."
The children speaks of in rapid succession. The "I want to tell"-thought overflow. I patiently listen to the children's words, and arrange them in my head.
You put 100 cards with the letter sides on top on the [Field], and if you can read the letter correctly to match the picture on the back, it become yours. The missed cards are sent to the [Graveyard], and if there are no more cards on the [Field], the cards on the [Graveyard] are put back on the [Field], and the play resumes. When the cards are all gone from the [Field], and the [Graveyard], the one who holds the most cards becomes [Scholar]--the winner.
"Amazing, to think of such play."
"That's right, Yuni-ane is amazing~"
"Didn't she say the amazing one was Aisa?"
"You're wrong, it's Tarisa."
"Wasn't it Maisa?"
I want to meet this child called Yuni. I ask if I can meet Yuni or the other two children.
"Yuni-ane is working."
"Tsui-niichan is also training right?"
"What about Etai-niichan?"
"In his room?"
"No, the elder said he was going to work in the field today."
"No, he said mustard spinach."
"Then, he's at the red roof place."
"Uncle, I'll guide you there!"
U, uncle. Even though I'm still 20 years old.
While feeling hurt by the children's words, I follow them by hand.
The children lead me to the place where 20 boys who are about 10 years older than the one who've lead me here are working in the fields.
The eldest-looking muscular boy looks suspiciously at me who've been guided by the children.
"Hey, nice to meet you, I'm a merchant called Neisen."
"What business does Merchant-sama want? Since the crops are the lord-sama's properties, we wont's sell it without permission y'know?"
I notice slightly sarcastic accent from his [Merchant], and [Sama]. I didn't come here to pick a fight with a child.
"It's not like that. I wanted to meet Etai-kun, and these children guided me."
"Etai is under that tree, fainting. Since he's useless, you can take him if you have some business. You kids, come here."
I thank the boy and go toward Etai-kun.
The children are caught by the boy, and got themselves to help weed the grass. While slightly waving to the children, I talk to Etai-kun.
"Etai-kun, can I talk with you for a bit?"
"...Who? Are you?"
"Nice to meet you, I'm a merchant called Neisen."
"Haa, merchant-san, what are you...."
Looks like Etai-kun isn't good with conversations.
"Actually, it's about the picture you've drawn on the learning cards."
"Those are interesting right!"
"Yup, the child who thought that play is amazing."
"Everyone plays it all night."
"Did no one quarrel?"
"Anyone who does will be made to have the last turn."
"I see, that's a good decision. However, it's hard to wait your turns with just two learning cards sets right."
"No, we have four sets now."
I wasn't able to hide my surprise. It's only been eight days since the [Learning Cards] have been sold. To only take four days to make one set!
Even though the painter whom I asked to produce the commercial cards took half a month to create one set...
"Did you draw it yourself?"
I breath a slight sigh of relief with that words. The reason was because it took several people to shorten the time. However, that thought is negated with the next words.
"I made the first two sets myself, but the other set was made with the help of other kids who were good at drawing. Thanks to that, we made one in a day."
"Theo, Shual, Olio. This person has something to talk about."
Etai-kun leads me to a hut with three boys and girls. I promptly do self-introduction and get down to business.
"Can you guys draw pictures as good as Etai-kun?"
"Not as good as Etai-ani."
"Etai-niichan taught me~"
After each of them draws a picture, I start the talk.
"I want to employ you guys."
"I haven't properly learned the letters you know?"
"Is it my b, body?!"
"My breasts are still small, do you want to make me your mistress?"
I deny the children's off--the-mark replies, and I explain in detail.
I'm the original maker of this learning cards, and I want to spread it all over Shiga kingdom, not only in Seryuu city, so in order to make a lot of the learning cards, I'm going to employ them.
"How much will you give? Will you give one penny for one set?"
"You, that's too greedy."
"That's right, that'll become several copper coins in one month."
"How many will it become?"
The children's wages depend on their works, but the market price is around 1-2 copper coins in a month. In case of living-in, they normally don't get wages.
I tell the children who have begun to count with their fingers the answer.
"If you can make 30 sets in one month, then that'll be 30 pennies, or six coins in copper coins."
"Four of us can make 40 sets."
"Then that'll be eight copper coins. Each person gets two copper coins."
"Amazing, that's about the same as Yuni-neechan."
"It's true, amazing."
"However, do we have that much materials?"
"I wonder if we can ask Tsui-niichan~?"
The children are fast to become excited, and depressed.
I don't intend to make them work that cheap, but since I don't have the fund for the start up, I'll compensate them later for the margin.
"I will prepare the materials of course."
"Then, I'll make many."
"Un, I'll work hard~"
Among the children who are in high spirit, Etai-kun alone looks gloomy.
"But, is it fine to do it without permissions from Yuni and Tsui-niichan?"
"Oh right, they're the children who have brought the card, taught the play, and suggested the cards' production aren't they."
"Do you know where they work at? I'll go and ask them. If I can't meet them, I'll go back at midnight."
I go out of the orphanage after hearing the workplaces of Yuni-chan and Tsui-kun. Since I've acquired informal consents from Etai-kun and the other children, I'll talk about it with the remaining two children. I must respect the fellowship of the children.
First, I go to the Gate Inn where Yuni-chan is working. I have to persuade the girl as she's the one who created the idea of the play. If I just put a separate manual for that play, it'll surely sell.
I got permission from the inn's girl to talk to Yuni during her work, and the she readily replied it. The girl is different than my expectation. She's not that intelligent-looking beautiful girl, but an extremely common girl.
"The one who thought that play isn't me. It's by my friend called Arisa."
"Where should I go to meet her?"
"She's gone to the labyrinth city."
"I see, this is troubling."
"It's alright, that Arisa would say strange things like [There is no border for play] and would give you the permission."
That girl called Arisa seems like she has a hearty personality.
Since that girl has promised to send Yuni-chan a letter when she's arrived at the labyrinth city, I ask her to write this matter for the permission in the reply letter. It's going to be an approval after the fact, but let's work hard as to prevent it becoming a dispute.
Of course I won't be breaking any law even if I use it on my own accord, but to just use other's people idea like that, it's something frowned upon among merchants. Normally, the merchant guild becomes the mediator.
When I tell Yuni-chan that I will send the reply together with her letter, she accept while looking wholeheartedly happy.
Lastly, I go toward the wood processing plant where Tsui-kun is working. It's directly after the gate on the east street since it's related to woods transport.
I talked to him who's just taken a break, and he answered readily like Yuni-chan.
He replies while playing with the thin shaved wood wastes on his feet.
"It was originally things that Yuni brought anyway, I only got the woods since I wanted one for myself. I'd hate it if you're selling the the cards that are in the orphanage, but if you're selling newly made ones, I don't have any problem. Moreover, you're going to take Etai who's having problem getting works under your care right? It's impossible for that guy to become a soldier or a transporter after all."
He's unexpectedly quite responsible.
"I won't do anything bad to that boy Etai."
"Un, that guy is good at drawing pictures, but if you leave him alone, he'll draw until he collapses."
Tsui-kun nods that he wants me to tell him to be careful.
I should make an upper limit for the number of sets made in a month. If I don't put a limit, those children look like they'll work until they collapse.
When I see the plane and the thin shaved woods that Tsui-kun is holding, I remember certain words.
『What kind of idea are you going to make next? The demands seem to be there, it's the price afterward. Search for cheap materials, or way for cheap mass-production, the various trial-and-errors are fun right.』
I ruminate those words while staring at the wood chips.
"That's right, this is it."
I involuntarily stand up and shouts, the foremen on this place gather their eyes on me.
However, the excited me with the newly found idea doesn't mind those stares, and go negotiate with the boss-san. The thing that I've thought at this time takes form after half a year.
At this time, I thought of using the plywood made from wood chips and glue as the material for the cards, that wouldn't have happened without the great efforts and experiences of boss-san, and tsui-kun.
Learning cards that are made with latticed wood chips glued to become plywoods are worth 2 silver coins, it becomes souvenirs for people who visit this city for the labyrinth, and becomes well-known.
However, that's a story for later.
Until that, the days of making normal learning cards with wood blocks and barely scrap by to return the cost of the material continue for a while.
At this day, the best I can imagine is the figures of Etai and the others who are flustered for seeing a small bag full of copper coins at the end of the month.