“Young master is a really, err, peculiar child.”
That peddler, with a grown beard, sighed without it being definite whether it was because he was surprised or shocked.
“It’s the surroundings of a remote region. I tell you, children everywhere are crazy about toys.”
In addition to peddling to the countryside so as to sell medicines and convenient general living-ware, he is also carrying things like spinning tops and wooden dolls. Given that those are light without being bulky, they will become a profit in itself, if he can sell them. For the most part it isn’t simple to sell these at the poor villages, but in every village there is around one or two families who possess a small sum of money.
The young boy, who doesn’t even take notice of the toys in front of him, is a person of such family possessing a small amount of money. Is he around 5 or 6 years? With a charming look having blue eyes and black hair, the neat clothes he dons aren’t a local product of this village. It stands to reason as he is the son of the village headman here.
The name of this village, laying at a valley with a huge mountain range concealing the sky in the north, is Kikomura. (T/N: Kiko village as mura = village)
It is a settlement located in the north-east frontier area of Asuria Kingdom which governs the eastern part of the continent. The number of households is approximately 70? It is a fief at the tip of the territory of Earl Helrevi (T/N: >> Herurevi <<). Mekong wheat and Sierra wheat … the so-called valuable and crude wheat of dry field farming, it is a common aspect of the unprocessed work in this profession. While having a small scale of lying fallow for other livestock, they are managing the meadow which is the source of the small sum of money, I guess?‘ The peddler is estimating. The horses of this region have a high demand as warhorses.
“That’s right, this is a popular merchandise. Look! Three horses will stand in a line if you join this together…” (Peddler)
The peddler tried to resume the explanation but he heard the small sigh escaping the boy’s mouth. With his polished experience at serving customers, he realised the young boy’s boredom and disgust. Both are a taboo in business.
“Uh… well… Though I have the thing young master has talked about as well.” (Peddler)
Notwithstanding his confusion due to it being different from his usual knowledge in all ways the peddler took out a single parchment from within his luggage. It is a hazel-colored tube having a red string tied to it as fixation. It is an article, producing steady profits for the peddler by no more than delivering it to his regular customers with its contents of “Intended for the countryside” including the most recent major events.
“I know that I can’t buy it. If you let me read it at this place, it won’t be any problem.” (Boy)
“No, look, there is a seal here, right? This is the publishers original and unique way of tying the knot…” (Peddler)
The young boy laughs through the nose with a sharp “Pfft!” This also had an impact. The peddler was overcome with surprise and couldn’t do anything but looking at him due to young boy floating a cynical smile on his angel-like face.
“It isn’t your first errand… Isn’t it your forte to fix the knot?” (Boy)
Without waiting for an answer, he takes the parchment. In an experienced manner of using his hands he ended up removing the string. Was he worried about the direction of the sunlight? Moving as if lining up with the peddler, he sits down cross-legged and begins to read the newspaper poking his nose into it. The peddler was at a loss for words because this style was too much that of an expert.
He appears to be reading carefully while murmuring some unspecified things and grumbling about such things as 「Good heavens! What absurdity with the pregnancy of the princess.」「Such fat bishop has a successful career? The bishop gown is custom made, right?」 He makes somebody believe that he is one of those men grumbling over their wine cups in a bar of some city. This also feels extremely out of place since he is a child that still has quite a bit to go until his voice changes.
“Thank you very much. Please treat me well again another time.” (Boy)
Having finished reading, the young boy gives a well-mannered bow and goes away at a brisk pace. In the end the peddler saw him off without being even able to leak a single word towards this spectacle. At the time of leaving he passed the parchment and the string alongside one nickel coin to the peddler. This is a reasonable price for browsing the newspaper in the provinces. As it was a fact that he paid this without having been even told about it, this matter was haunting the peddler.
After returning to reality, he chased after the young boy in a hurry. It’s not like he had some premonition. It also isn’t curiosity. It’s not due to detecting a business opportunity either. It was simple fascination.
That young boy was prominent in his surroundings in many respects.
The village’s children are gathering thoroughwort while walking, however only only single person is whistling and skilfully avoiding the mud of the narrow paths as he is within the noisy and clumsy group. Surrounded by bare-footedness and plain attires, which are handmade at each household, only he wears city-tailored clothes and leather shoes. Looking with a sidelong glance at the dust-covered, unkempt, ruffled hair of the other children, his own black hair, cut and evened up at the top of the shoulders, is swaying with a rustling.
The clamouring and bustling group arrived at the bottom of a big camphor tree. Even as the spring sun, increasing its warmth day by day, shines, the shadow of the meagre foliage is jolting in the tree’s circumference. Gathering at the roots of the group of big trees with a “Hurry!”, they began to split the division of labour for the luggage they had accumulated. Small wooden chairs, a black-painted wooden board, blackboard chalk and an old rag.
“Okay, I think we can get started, but…”
The wooden board, passably painted in black, was also leaned against the trunk of the camphor tree. It is dirty as if it became overcast with it all around. The purpose is obvious. This is a classroom. It takes place to educate some certain person.
They might realise this, however, they might not understand it, the peddler judges. Nowadays the stench of war has become thin in this world, but if thieves appear, refugees will wander around. There is still some way to go before many people become diligent in their everyday’s life. Even in the royal capital something like education for the poor people can’t be seen being brought up.
“For some reason there is an unnecessary visitor.” (Boy)
Although you say this, are you carrying out education here, in such place you can very well call the sticks… ? Furthermore, the one teaching them is the young boy standing close to the youngest. The youngest has such a small build that you can’t even see their figure if you don’t figure out a way of positioning them without overlapping the front and rear by teaching each of them in a fan form.
“Whoa… somehow it’s slightly uncomfortable.” (Peddler)
Possibly this might be the fairy world as it is depicted in illustrated stories. Although it is too expensive for treating it as merchandise, I have read such book in a rental library. The bearded peddler has gotten to know the sweetness as well as the sourness of life, but here he was dreaming of his childhood. If you look at it from that point of view…
“The study time is precious. I will suitably punish anyone who obstructs it.” (Boy)
Look at me! … Aren’t the fairies, peeking over here, getting slowly closer? The smiling peddler showed his spread arms. Some warm presentiment was arising in his body which has been toughened up by being exposed to the northern winds.
It was a misunderstanding.
The peddler had his beard cruelly poked and plugged in an encirclement of goblins. Even though they apologized he had to pay a fee for studying by observation. That fee was one nickel coin.
The peddler, listening to the teaching, believed it to be a suitable fee, no even cheap. Cheap. Although the lot of children is most likely taking the lessons for free, learning the teaching contents would even lead to prosperity in the city, even if they had to pay a nickel coin each time for example. Those contents are reading, writing and calculation, but the presented examples and problem are really wordly-minded. It’s quite novel.
For example concerning the reading and writing: The general education institutions are largely influenced by the church. Principally the students are repeatedly practising by copying the contents of the scriptures which is something simply disturbing. The scriptures are the sorts of myths and tales. However it is different here.
“Please, go on reading. 『You can do it if you try. It’s impossible if you don’t try. At least try it.』” (Boy)
“”You can do it if you try. It’s impossible if you don’t try. At least try it.”” (Children)
“『If it isn’t possible today, try tomorrow once again.』” (Boy)
“”If it isn’t possible today, try tomorrow once again.”” (Children)
Wordly-minded things are the best. Don’t you understand it. The peddler is striking his knees.
“Let’s write it down. 『If you want siblings, go to sleep early.』” (Boy) (T/N: Lol)
“Sensei~, why is it good to go sleep early?” (Child)
“That’s because your parents have their own circumstances as well. The magic of children is a secret of romance.” (Boy)
The young boy is teaching them outrageous things with a refreshing smile. If the things they hear during the night contain screams and moans, they should report it to him. He is adding one thing to another of which all of them are close to a crime of conscience. What vulgarity for his social standing as you can say that there won’t be anything appearing from his groin for several more years, while thinking that, the peddler, however, was also eager to listen to the gathered reports.
The exercises for calculation were unusual for the current education while being a frequently seen subject for business transactions. How many goods can be obtained with the funds being 10 sacks of Mekong wheat? … This was the story of a single villager going to the shopping district of the city and repeatedly having fierce fights with money as their weapon.
“Uu… I have decided! Since I will sell Mekong wheat to the Moon company, I will buy clothes at the Flower shop and fish at the River shop!” (Child)
“I will divide the Mekong wheat and sell it to the Star company and the Sun company. I will buy shells at the Grass shop and clothes at the River shop!” (Child)
“Okay, once you have decided the method, please calculate all of the transactions on top of the goods and the remaining money and hand in the board through the enclosed square. Those of you, who are empty-handed, study by observing how I grade them.” (Boy)
As person in the same trade I can’t help but smack my lips towards the subject. The children, each establishing virtual shops, are rebating and pricing the detailed transaction while considering everything such as freebies. They repeat the calculations over and over again to reap the best profits. It should be noticed that a part of the children are even using multiplication alongside addition and subtraction. Possibly there might even be a child using division mixed in amongst them. It is a frightening matter … it’s not like they are merchant apprentices either.
No no! Above all else the young boy, seemingly training those children, is certainly the most terrifying by far.
Even during the time each of the children scattered as the lesson finished, the peddler didn’t move from the spot due to his restlessness. The young boy is still surrounded by several children at the root of the camphor tree. He is talking very politely as he also deals with questions after the lesson. The peddler continues to wait until everyone has left.
“Although I won’t complain about the payment part… it’s free, for you as well.” (Boy)
He snorts without seeming to be interested either. The young boy tries to take his leave to also go somewhere else. While the peddler himself thinks that he had a fantastic time from an objective point of view, he walked in line with the young boy as he rubbed his hands together.
“No, it was a wonderful lesson. Has this village some relation to a merchant?” (Peddler)
“If only around one peddler like you comes per season, it’s a happy occasion. It’s the sticks here.” (Boy)
“That is, well…, it’s true… So, why are you teaching arithmetic to such a degree then… ?” (Peddler)
“It will become difficult to cheat them if they are able to calculate. It’s the wisdom of surviving by being economical.” (Boy)
There is no person without any kind of pretension. On the contrary, it is sarcasm if you relate it to a merchant. It is common sense for the peddler to force an expensive sale and beat down the prices so it becomes cheap to buy things from unknowing countrymen.
“Well, then has your father been a merchant before?” (Peddler)
“He is a genuine farmer. Mother seems to be the same. There haven’t even passed 30 years since we started the pioneering around here, but many of the villagers have lived for a little longer time at their home villages close to the territory’s metropolis. You get the meaning, right?” (Boy)
“That is… they have been put through trouble to leave there, yes?” (Peddler)
As the Asuria Kingdom is preserving against the rivalling Empire Eberia in the west in authority and territory, it has resulted in the rapid restoration here in the last few years. It is a story after the so-called “Sacred Flame Festival.” Before that it has been 50 years filled with wars with no end in sight.
30 years ago Asuria was pressed for time as the invasion of Eberia advanced. Asuria Kingdom was at disadvantage as its south had barely any resisting forces remaining and its central and northern part began to be dyed in Eberia’s color. The occupation in war time was sometimes accompanied by pillaging the previous rulers. For the sake of avoiding this, they had no chance but to flee to the south or scatter in the remote regions. The village here might be one amongst those villages had been formed by people who chose the latter.
Deeply considering the village’s past, the peddler suddenly became aware of it. He’s different. It’s not like he could have confirmed these matters by himself. He quickly closed the slightly opened distance to the young boy and asked,
“I want to ask you a little something, but young master, tell me, until how far can you use arithmetic?” (Peddler)
“Around the level that I would be able to work as clerk in a store.” (Boy)
The young boy floats cruel smile as if handling a subordinate and turns his look to the peddler, who raised his voice in astonishment, for the first time.
“You are a merchant if you live shrewdly. The condition of restoring the domestical affairs will still continue for a while longer. The wonderful aspect is that success or failure depends on their own ability. Above all, such things as wiping the idiot’s buttocks and dealing with the simpleton’s wilfulness won’t kill them either.” (Boy)
He should be 5 or 6 years old. He should be a child of a farmers village in a remote region. In the blue eyes of the young boy, the peddler saw unknown depth and a frightening glim that ought to cause dread. Due to the nature of his job he had met many people, but he can’t recall to be exposed to such a strong intensity.
No… there was only one person coming close to this, he remembers. However, he was a person who didn’t change his mind due to the ordinary. There are numerous anecdotes related to him based on unreliable information. The evaluation passed by the majority of society makes the peddler uncomfortable.
In history it is mentioned that he was a man, a hero blessed by the church and in love with the princess, that hatched plans and deceived others leading him to an atrocious death. In his blood thirst, he was a lunatic who found joy in murder, be it friend or foe. He was an devilish person attempting to harm human society using the chaos of the war to his advantage.
In the days when his beard was still shaved neatly, the peddler met Salomon at the camp of the Asuria Kingdom’s volunteer army. It was at the time of delivering supplies. The soldier, in charge of the supplies, didn’t want to pay the full amount. Saying that it was emulated by the war, he was threatened by swords and spears. In that situation Salomon appeared and judged the responsible soldier with the words 「That’s embezzlement」. After that he joined the business negotiation with 「Won’t you give us a discount since you are buying other people’s goods as well?」 It was a good transaction, he is recalling.
Salomon. Hadn’t he already passed the age of 30 in these days? That guy wielded a single sword in the front and rear with an overwhelming presence… That is the closest he is able to remember. Though he is a young boy who shouldn’t even be able to hold a sword.
“Young master… what’s your name?” (Peddler)
If he were to call himself Salomon, I might agree.
“It’s Marko.” (Marko)
It is a different name. But that’s only natural. However, that name etched an impression into the mind of the peddler that wouldn’t disappear. And this gave birth to a faint premonition in which he didn’t err what was unusual for him. Namely.
(I got to know Marko. The world still doesn’t know about Marko. Isn’t this disparity godsend? Even though my hands can’t reach the dragons soaring in the sky, if it’s a very young dragon still crawling on the ground… In case I can grasp even one single of its scales, it might become possible to view a celestial scenery even for an ordinary person like me.) (Peddler)
In later years, at the time when Marko takes heart to lead an army on this continent which had grown tense, a man with the name of Lauri (T/N: >> Rauri) will rise to be his sole trusted friend. He is a man wandering the remote regions as peddler after running away as he didn’t approve of taking part in the noble’s injustice being a sales clerk of a prominent shop.
Marko and Lauri.
In this spring and this remote region the pair’s relationship can also be seen as similar to an intelligent child and his imbecile father. The lord and retainer, widely-known in the world for their art of war, couldn’t be discerned in this appearance of bygone days at all.