Here’s the next chapter! We have quite a talented set of people, huh~
ED: xtostos, eristol
We went with Gilbert to the upstream of Varnalis River at night.
Trading the horse-drawn carriage with a small boat en route, we boarded a flat-bottomed ship heading upstream at a harbor on the outskirts of the town.
Loaded on this flat-bottomed ship were various everyday commodities to be delivered to the village upstream.
Pulled by a horse in the towpath made on the shore, it traced a gentle flow upstream.
Gilbert sipped a glass of mulled wine that the crew had shared and exhaled deeply, breathing out white vapor.
Harold and I who are still children were given a heated spice apple juice.
The cinnamon and ginger warmed our body to the core.
“On the evening of the day I arrived at Knot Reed, I went up the river like this.
It’s only been seven days since then, huh……thanks to Botchan and you guys, it’s been days that were rich in experience.”
“But, Aniki, if you were going up the river by yourself, wouldn’t it have been better to use the land route?”
Harold put a damper on Gilbert who was looking at the riverside in nostalgia.
“There was a package that I wanted to carry in, so I had to use a ship.
From the results of my many years of research, I knew that the local whetstones were ideal for porcelain materials.
Since they were as cheap as dirt, I bought up all the whetstones in the market.”
“Heeh, a whetstone, huh……hm, huh? Buy up?”
『Speaking of which, you told us that the market price of whetstone is rising.』
“Aniki, so that was your doing, huh……?”
Harold glared at Gilbert with accusing eyes.
He did say that he was repairing a rotating whetstone of the confectionery store.
Perhaps, other bad effects of whetstones shortage may have come out.
“Eh, what? Why are you angry?”
“Nothing— It’s just that your actions resulted in a lot of troubles this week—”
“Now, now, I don’t know what happened, but it’s fine, right?
Because of my foresight, I made use of them in the production of porcelain with painted cobalt oxide.”
At Gilbert’s words, Harold became silent begrudgingly.
There is no doubt that he was saved by it, so he couldn’t say anything.
“Well, rather than foresight, it’s mostly due to my excessive obsession, really.
We can sell the white porcelains to eastern business partners, where they are still popular.
Even though I know that fact with my head, since my heart wouldn’t be on board I wouldn’t be able to give my all towards making those.”
『But thanks to your extra insistence, the material was not wasted, and everything has gone well.』
“Right, right, mister. You say some good things.”
Gilbert’s mood got better thanks to Tirnanog’s words.
Harold’s staring seemed to show that he was still dissatisfied.
“Tsk, things are going just fine for Aniki, huh……but, is it possible to sell it that conveniently in the East?”
“It was the opinion of my partner at the time I was in the South.
That guy didn’t agree with my hobby, but he had a considerable aesthetic sense.
He is quite favorable as a partner, well, I think it’s fine to trust his judgement.”
The East has an elegant and sophisticated culture, yet they prefer simple things.
A pure white porcelain might be better suited to the taste of the eastern people than a porcelain with flashy and gorgeous paintings on it.
“Is that partner of yours possibly a mage of Hafan?”
“Aa, I was in charge of alchemy, that guy was in charge of magic and he was studying to combine Eastern and Western techniques.
Although I got separated from that guy due to that event, but the scroll entrusted to me by him is still my partner even now.”
Gilbert said so, his nose sniffling either due to the cold or sentiment, and looked up to the dusk sky.
I raised my face to follow his line of sight.
In the dark sky without the moon, the stars were shining brightly.
At that time, I could see the first magnitude stars of Lupus and Canis Minor in that direction.
Then, below them were the red stars that made up Cancer.
Gradually lowering my line of sight from the three constellations, I noticed that a huge shadow was towering.
It was a tall tower that looked as if it was touching the sky.
There seemed to be windows around the tower and several small orange lights were lit.
“The tower has come into view at last. Boatman, please drop us off this shore.”
As the ship stopped, we got off to the riverside.
It was around 8 o’clock in the evening, but because there was no moon, the field of vision was much darker.
Each of us lit a lamp or lantern.
“It’s a splendid castle. Is it the residence of a nobleman around here?”
“Nn~ well, that kind of stuff……Botchan will be able to tell you more about it, right?”
“Oh my, Harold will?”
“No, rather than explain better……ah— that’s my place.”
Harold averted his eyes while scratching his cheek.
No, it isn’t in the level of ‘my place’, right?
“That castle of ours is called the〈Castle of Light〉.
It’s an old castle built on the rocky side of the bank of Varnalis River, characterized by a very tall tower.”
“The one who built that tower was the Turm family who migrated here.
If you think about it, Turm and Nibelheim are often connected to each other.”
“Aniki, if you say that, practically all noble families and companies in Knot Reed are connected to each other.”
“Hahaha, that’s true.”
Harold and Gilbert laughed with each other after saying so.
Indeed, it seems that the whole Knot Reed has a friendly atmosphere like some kind of family or relatives.
“There is nothing special, it’s just an ordinary rural castle.
When the weather clears up, we can see the unbroken view of the town, so it’s not bad.”
“Aa, that’s right. When this matter settles down, shall we meet together and hold a feast?
Since there is no budget, we will be eating a little food and having fun, it will just be a modest thing.”
A celebratory feast while watching the night view of Knot Reed might be a good proposal.
Although it is said one shouldn’t count one’s chickens before they hatch, as long as I keep my nerves tightly bound up, even if I relax a little, there shouldn’t be any repercussions.
“I think it’s quite a tasteful plan.”
“That’s nice. I will go wherever there is alcohol.”
『Umu, not bad.』
“Alright, then it’s decided.”
When all of us showed our agreement, Harold’s teeth could be seen as he laughed.
“Well, that’s that. Let’s put the matter about the Castle of Light as something to look forward to, first off, let’s go to my secret base.
It’s just a little further, be patient and we will arrive in no time.”
Even though he said ‘a little farther’, we arrived at Gilbert’s hideout in just about five minutes from where we disembarked.
There was an old cabin on the open space where only the foundations of some buildings remained.
According to Gilbert, it seems that it was formerly a work cabin for quarrying.
It was borrowed from his second older brother and has been refurbished for porcelain production.
The window of the cabin was shut down, and the door was replaced by a newer and heavier one.
As we approached, I could hear heavy footsteps from inside.
I had a feeling that there was someone, or rather, something inside.
(These are not human footsteps, that means……)
I thought that it was unnatural for Gilbert to leave his workshop even though he is making porcelain.
At first I thought that there were collaborators, but he didn’t seem to have contacted anyone until he brought us here.
But if the collaborators are not human beings, and instead golems, for example, then it makes sense.
“Now then, welcome to the secret workshop of Gilbert Turm, ladies and gentlemen.”
Gilbert opened the door of the workshop with a rumbling sound.
From inside the room, air colder than the outside air of autumn night came out.
Even though the golems were sucking the surrounding heat for their activity, it was a bit too cold.
In Gilbert’s workshop, as expected, many golems as large as children were running.
Just like his drawing during the magic lecture, the golems were short and stout and headless.
Even only counting the ones within my line of sight, there appeared to be more than 10 golems.
While this is an individual workshop, it is rare to have this many golems running.
Each golem, when I looked closely, was slightly different in appearance and movement.
All of them probably incorporated special syntax to handle specialized work process.
Some golems were pulverizing white ore containing light brown stripes into powder.
There were other golems who were adding water to the white powder and kneading it, while other golems were molding it by turning the pottery wheel.
They were working on various processes.
However, the characteristic of this workshop was not just the golems that were working in divisions.
There were a number of magic circles with complex composition spread throughout the room.
The work was being done not only with alchemy but also magic.
“The magic circles set up around here are for drying and cooling.
Special adjustment was given so that the porcelain doesn’t break even in a hurried work.
The furnace in the back room, of course, is a custom-made one that incorporates magic.”
“Awesome, Aniki! Did you make a workshop like this alone?”
“Gilbert-san, you can use Hafan’s magic, huh?”
“Good grief, I’m glad that you are finally surprised.
It’s the result of me dabbling in magic for a little while.
Well, the one who actually built the magic was not me, but my partner.”
Gilbert took the lead and went smoothly between the moving golems.
While being careful not to disturb the working golems, we followed Gilbert.
At the back of the workshop, four simple wooden tables were lined up.
About 20 white unglazed platters were placed on those tables, waiting for their next journey.
A golem was slowly making a round trip between the tables and the magic circle for drying.
Gilbert picked up the dish which was just placed by the golem and stared at it critically.
“I also came here once in the afternoon.
I started the magic from the scroll built by my partner and made the production faster.
Hm……it seems that we can proceed with the painting phase without problem.”
Gilbert said so and showed us the dish, it was a large dish of about 50 cm in diameter.
If one paints cobalt oxide on this dish, it will shine brighter.
“E-eehh!? You mean you can already produce a prototype, Aniki!?”
“Aa, the magic of the furnace has to be refilled, so we’ll have to wait for my magic to recover, but it will be completed after firing it two more times.
Perhaps I will be able to show it off on about the day after tomorrow.
Anyways, I’m thinking about trying out the designs around here on the first few dishes.”
Gilbert handed the incomplete dish to Harold and took out a thick envelope from the shelf.
He picked out several sheets of paper and spread them out on the table.
With a delicate drawing, a pattern with atmosphere similar to the one decorating the Turm Wand Store was drawn.
Perhaps it is a copy of an ancient porcelain pattern.
Harold stared alternatingly between the dish and the design and gulped.
“Say, Aniki, I wonder if I can help, too?”
“Ou. Naturally, Botchan’s help is included in my calculation.
I meant to ask you myself if you didn’t ask me.
Botchan, you can paint a bit too, right?”
“Aa, I learn diligently after all. Because things like that are necessary for making wands.”
“Yosh, yosh, there is no problem then. It’s a big help.
It’s impossible for my golems to do delicate works like painting after all.
As expected it will be truly difficult to paint these many dishes all by myself.”
Gilbert smiled a little and put the design in front of Harold.
It looked like a luxurious pattern painted with not only blue but also a variety of colors.
To me who is not so devoted to art, the designs did not seem to be of a level where I could be of help.
Harold stared at the design and nodded with confidence.
“I can do it……I, I will do it. This dish, I will make it the best possible dish.”
“Alright, that’s the spirit.”
Gilbert hit Harold’s back as if sealing the deal.
While watching the state of the two of them, Tirnanog laughed a little from inside of his face armor.
『Apparently, it seems we are unable to help with anything.』
“Oops, sorry, both of you. Even though I have brought you guys to a faraway place like this.”
“No, I could see valuable things and it was a good learning experience.”
『Our roles will be to look at the finished product in surprise, it’s important for you guys after all.』
“Hahaha, your expectation is that high, we cannot make a bad one even if it’s just a prototype.
Well, it’s fine. Please look forward to it.
Botchan, I’m going to arrange a carriage from a nearby village, so start without me.”
Gilbert said so, leaving the workshop.
Harold put on an apron and changed into clothes he could work in.
Harold, after having decided on what to do, seemed to be quite excited.
“Harold, many things happened today, but I’m glad that there’s a chance to turn things around.”
“Aa, thank you for keeping me company this whole time, really, thank you.”
“Don’t mind it. Because we’re partners, aren’t we?”
Hearing my words, Harold smiled with a teary looking face.
It looked like he was about to cry, but he looked much firmer than before.
If he looks like this, he will be fine.
By the time Harold finished preparing for work, the carriage called by Gilbert had arrived.
Then, Tirnanog and I entered the carriage and left the workshop.