This chapter is the edited version of another translation. You can find the original chapter post here.
Please notice that this chapter has NOT been re-translated but only edited in order to improve the readability.
Please be sure to thank the translator in the link provided above, if you wish to express your gratitude.
This chapter was merely moved to this blog as the original blog has been inactive for quite a while.
By no rights Infinite Novel Translations claims ownership of the translation.
“Amazing! The first real city I’ve seen in such a long time!” (Wendelin)
I’m standing atop a hill overlooking the city of Breitburg, the largest center of commerce in the southern part of the kingdom and the seat of the Breithilde Margraviate.
I’ve been told that Breitburg has a population of about 200 thousand.
It can’t compare to the cities of modern Japan, but after living for the past few years in a territory where the largest thing we have is a few poor villages, it feels humongous.
Because I had to cross the vast mountain range that forms the western border of the Baumeister Knight Territory, the trip to Breitburg took an entire week. Of course, it takes a full month for the caravan that brings goods from the Margraviate to our territory, so I thought a week was actually pretty good.
While I had originally believed that the caravan came to do business with us in order to turn a profit, Erich had dispelled that misconception by explaining that it was more of a public service. As it turns out, because the Baumeister Knight Territory doesn’t produce any marketable specialty products and is generally too poor to pay for goods at a price that would offset the expenses incurred by the caravan when crossing the mountains, the caravan is probably either in the red or barely breaking even.
However, Margrave Breithilde, who governs over all of the southern nobles, actively subsidizes the costs of the caravan in an effort to ensure that the Baumeister Knight Territory doesn’t go without necessities (many of which couldn’t otherwise be obtained).
The Margrave provides this vital service to the Baumeister House in order to offset the considerable damage to the local economy and population as a result of his father’s unreasonable demand for troops to subjugate the Demon Forest.
Although Father’s greed might have gotten the better of him, a vassal can’t decline a request from his patron, so, ultimately, the fault lies with the former Margrave. Before the disaster at the Demon Forest, the caravan would only come twice a year, but it has since started to come three times a year. The current Margrave eats the extra expense in an attempt to assuage his house’s guilt, or as a form of tacit apology.
The passage of these caravans is the only reason that the mountain pass connecting the Margraviate to our territory hasn’t been reclaimed by nature.
When traveling through the mountains, I strengthened my body and used detection magic to scan for people. The mountains are treated as monster territory, but in reality monsters rarely appear along the road. That doesn’t mean the road is completely safe. The area is known to house plenty of predators, such as bears and wolves, so an abundance of caution is prudent.
I have opted against using Flight, as I’m worried that people from the Baumeister Knight Territory might spot me. Besides, it’s probably good for my health and physical fitness to get a little extra exercise.
Each evening I returned home with Teleportation to sleep at my family’s home. After breakfast each morning I teleported back to where I had left off and continued to build upon the prior day’s progress.
Although it sounds like a pain, this method still proved to be more time efficient than a normal person crossing through the mountains.
“What’s your business here, boy?” (Gatekeeper)
“I’m going into town on an errand for my family.” (Wendelin)
Once my excitement subsided, I walked down the hill and followed the road north to the main gate leading into Breitburg.
The city is surrounded by a great forest that is considered to be monster territory. Adventurers explore the relatively secluded forest to collect valuable goods and monster parts.
Further, the city is encircled by a three meter wall, which is supposedly a defense against monster attacks. Of course, monsters haven’t ever actually invaded the city, so maybe the wall is actually there to protect the townspeople from threats of the human variety.
The Helmut Kingdom hasn’t been involved in a war for hundreds of years, but that doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t ever happen again. Furthermore, skirmishes between nobles often start as a result of disputes over borders, resources, or water rights. These can happen as often as every few years and usually occur between nobles whose territories share a common border.
In fact, the Margrave is known to have a strained relationship with some of the proximate noble houses bordering the Breithilde Margraviate.
Of course, because it’s physically isolated by the mountains, the Baumeister House is never involved in these sorts of disputes.
“Do you have an identification card, boy?” (Gatekeeper)
“I don’t, but I’ll apply for a guild membership card while I’m in town.” (Wendelin)
“Okay. Can you pay the entrance tax? It’s a copper.” (Gatekeeper)
“Yes, I can.” (Wendelin)
I actually have an identification card, but it’d be a serious problem if anyone knew that the eight year old eighth son of the Baumeister House was in Breitburg.
So I entered town under the guise of a farm boy from a nearby village. Almost everyone that lives in a large town or city has an identification card, but farm villages are a different story. That’s because farm villages don’t have government offices with the authority to issue identification cards, and residents would have to travel to a large city such as Breitburg to get one.
Then what can someone from the country do if they have to enter the town to shop? Join a guild, of course.
The adventurers guild is the most prestigious guild that a person can join, but applicants must be at least 15 years old. In theory I could try to lie about my age. It’s not like there’s a way to check a poor farm boy’s actual age against a family register or anything. But to claim I’m 15 when I am still only eight would be beyond useless.
So that leaves one of the craft guilds or the merchants guild.
There are many kids my age that become apprentices to renowned artisans and merchants. And in many cases they come to Breitburg to run an errand for their masters.
“I see. So you want to sell those rabbits?” (Gatekeeper)
The gate guard gestured to the several freshly hunted rabbits hanging from my waist. I had collected them along the road during my journey.
“Yes, I plan to sell them. I’ve heard that a prospective applicant to the merchants guild must trade a certain amount in aggregate value to be eligible to receive a membership card.” (Wendelin)
Residents of Breitburg are issued an identification card by virtue of their residence, but a guild membership card can serve as a substitute and is treated with the same legal force.
In order to minimize fraud and the sale of stolen goods, every person must present either an identification card or a guild membership card when entering into a transaction involving the trade or sale of goods. It’s surprisingly strict, but I’ve heard that there are shops in the slums that do business without identification cards. Guild membership cards were originally devised as a way to incentivize outsiders to establish businesses in town.
As a result, I can get a membership card with relative ease.
So, having paid one copper coin as entrance tax, I move past the gate on my first foray into the city of Breitburg. Although there is an entrance tax, one copper isn’t actually all that much.
The entire Lingaia continent uses a single, unified monetary system. The design on the face of coinage varies depending on whether it was minted by the kingdom or the empire, but the weight of each coin and the conversion metrics between the various coins are consistent. As such, there would be no issue using a coin minted in the kingdom to pay for goods inside the empire, or vice versa.
The base value of currency is cents. Up to this point, my only interaction with the monetary system of this world has come in the form of the caravan that visits our territory once every few months. Other than that, I usually barter with villagers for the goods I need, as the people of the Baumeister Knight Territory rarely use actual coinage.
However, I have learned that one copper coin is worth one cent. 10 copper coins, or one copper plate, is worth 10 cents. 10 copper plates, or one silver coin, is worth 100 cents. 10 silver coins, or one silver plate, is worth 1,000 cents. 10 silver plates, or one gold coin, is worth 10,000 cents. 10 gold coins, or one gold plate, is worth 100,000 cents. 10 gold plates, or one platinum coin, is worth one million cents. And 10 platinum coins, or one platinum plate, is worth 10 million cents.
In terms of purchasing power, one copper coin is roughly equivalent to 100 Japanese yen. (Ed. one copper coin is about one US dollar.)
So, the entrance tax is roughly equivalent to the cost of a single apple.
“Welcome to the merchants guild. Requesting a membership card? Please fill out this form.” (Clerk)
I entered the merchants guild, which makes its home in a fairly large building near the commercial district. The guild headquarters was crowded, and based on dress alone I could tell that some of the people weren’t from around here.
When I talk to the young lady standing behind the membership card counter (which is identified by a sign), she asks me to fill out some paperwork in a polite tone. The application form is brief and only really asks for some basic information, such as my name, address, and age.
I wrote my current age into the age column, put a poor village on the outskirts of the city as my address, and put my first name as Wendelin, but gave no last name. (Ed. in this world, it is normal for commoners to not have a family name, and instead to be identified only by their first name.)
It is a fairly common practice to lie on these application forms, so my deception won’t become a problem down the road.
“First time issuances of membership cards are free. However, if your card is lost, stolen, or destroyed, there will be a fee of one silver to receive a replacement. Please be sure to pay the guild 10 percent of your total profit from each sale made in town. Payment can be remitted to the various guild staff stationed throughout the commercial district. Please be aware that failure to pay the requisite guild dues will result in harsh penalties.”
I receive my card from the receptionist and make my way to the main market street in the commercial district. I arrive to a cacophony of sights and sounds. Various vendors, old and young, have laid out their wares on mats along the roadside. Each of them loudly peddles their respective goods while decrying the goods of their neighbors in an attempt to grab the attention of the passersby that make their way along the boulevard.
I can see a number of kids around my age among the peddlers. That explains why the receptionist wasn’t surprised when I requested a merchants guild membership card.
“Are you helping your father, boy?” (Guild Staff)
A middle aged man stops me as I move further into the street. He seems to be a member of the guild’s staff that oversees this part of the market. He greets me warmly. I guess it’s natural that he believes that I’m a dutiful son that came to sell prey that my father hunted, even if it’s off the mark this time.
“Actually, I caught them with my own traps.” (Wendelin)
I figure it’s best if I don’t let on that I can use magic, so I decide to tell anyone that asks that I capture the rabbits with traps that I set up near my home village. Looking around, I can see at least one other kid selling a rabbit that was presumably caught with a trap, so my explanation sounds plausible.
“You must be quite skilled for a kid. You can sell it in the vacant space over there.” (Guild Staff)
The man gestures to an empty spot where a mat would fit between two other vendors selling wild game.
“Your catch should sell quickly. There is always high demand for rabbit fur and meat, and the supply is lacking. The current market price for each rabbit should be around five copper plates.” (Guild Staff)
So, around five thousand yen. (Ed. 50 USD.)
As I walk over to my assigned spot, I make sure to take note of any other vendors selling rabbits. There are a few such vendors, and each of them has affixed a price tag to a piece of string wrapped around the ankle of the rabbit. Looking closer, most of them have set the price of a rabbit at five copper plates, so I guess the guild staff member was on the mark.
I don’t want to spend all day waiting for a buyer, so I figure it doesn’t make sense to set my prices above market. I write out a few price tags for five copper plates and tie them around the ankles of my four rabbits before arranging them on my mat.
Almost immediately a man calls out to me. He is probably about 40 years old and, based on his clothes, I would guess that he is a merchant.
“Are you helping your father?” (Merchant)
“No, I caught them with my own traps.” (Wendelin)
“Oh, You’re quite skilled for a youngster. You’ve done a good job tanning the fur. And the meat is still fresh.” (Merchant)
As soon as a hunter catches some game, he must drain the blood from the meat, dismantle the catch and tan the skin. Otherwise the catch will spoil. Of course, in my case I just use magic. The end product is inferior to top quality goods prepared by professional hunters, but that’s to be expected. I’m just glad to hear that my product is of decent quality.
After all, it was quite an ordeal to learn the magic required to prepare my catch, and another ordeal to learn how to dismantle it. It had been especially hard for me because, as an empath, I felt really bad for the poor bunnies.
After all, on the inside I’m a modern man. My entire previous life I had lived on meat that I bought from supermarkets, which was little more than a product that had been neatly bundled into a plastic package. As such, I found it difficult to chop up a rabbit corpse, drain the blood, and remove the internal organs.
“I’ll take everything. I’d be happy to buy your stock if you come again.” (Merchant)
“Thank you for your business.” (Wendelin)
Thus, the rabbits sold for a total of two silver coins. Of course, I paid the guild its two coppers plates. The last thing I need is to piss off the guild.
“Where are you off to now?” (Guild Staff)
“My father asked me to bring home some rice.” (Wendelin)
“I guess it’s about five copper plates for 10 kilos. Though it really depends on where the rice is produced and which variety you’re buying.” (Guild Staff)
I thank him for the advice and make my way down the market street until I see a rice shop. Unlike the people selling wares on mats along the street, this was a proper shop in a narrow building along the boulevard. I pay five copper plates for 10 kilos as the man suggested. I make my way into an alley away from prying eyes before returning home with Teleportation.
I think it goes without saying that my first task upon getting home is to cook the rice I just bought.