Chapter 3: The Two of Us in the Sunset
Lutz and Claudia were walking slowly along the street as the sun was setting. They were the only two people out of place among the people who were closing up store and preparing for dinner.
“Why did you help me, Lutz-kun?”
Claudia, who had been silent for a long time, asked in a strained voice.
“I understand that you want to help your friends and acquaintances because they are in trouble. It is a beautiful thing to do. But, you know, there is a limit to what you can do. Am I worth throwing away a sword worth a hundred gold coins?”
“It’s not a sword. It’s a Katana.”
“Now, is it something you have to be particular about ……”
I didn’t even try to hide the impression on my face that she was a pain in the ass.
“Of course, I am grateful for the help. But I’m still not convinced, and it’s a little hazy when I don’t understand.”
“I don’t know why, either.”
“Hey, come on, I’m asking in all seriousness.”
Lutz scratched his head, looking a little annoyed. He was not joking around, but seemed to be at a loss for words to explain what was really going on.
“My friend was in trouble, so it’s true that I thought I should help her. I thought that there was no way to have it because there was no way to sell it though it was said to be worth one hundred gold coins. Without Claudia, the work would be hindered, and I did not like the domineering manner of the Knights. In other words……”
Subconsciously, he reached for his left hip, but there was nothing there anymore. Lutz chuckled to himself.
“There are any number of reasons, but none of them are conclusive.It’s like a number of those things came together and then some action was taken.”
“I wonder if such a thing exists.”
“Humans, not everyone is driven by firm convictions.”
“I see. So that’s the kind of man you are. I could sum up your principles in a few words.”
“Let me hear it.”
“Lutz-kun likes me.”
“No, wait, what?”
Turning around, Claudia gripped his face firmly with both hands. She is a woman with a bewitching smile. There was a strange face of a woman I knew.
They were pulled closer to each other and their lips touched each other. After five or six seconds, they pulled apart, pulling strings. There was no predator in sight, and Claudia was there with an expression on her face like a shy little girl.
“I’ll definitely pay back what I owe. Consider this, well, as a kind of earnest money.”
I don’t know. I don’t know about this Claudia woman.
I don’t really understand why I decided to help this woman.
Lutz could only give a dumb reply.
Then they both start walking again. Being silent was uncomfortable, so I suddenly remembered a question.
“I heard that the merchants were arrested because they were aiding the bandits, but what is the real story?”
“Oi oi Lutz-kun, I don’t think you would have believed those words in your sleep.”
“No matter how you look at it, it doesn’t add up. That’s why I’m curious.”
“I’m glad you understand. If you had believed it, I would have had to beat you and cry right on the spot.”
Then Claudia let out a big sigh. She is tired. And it is not something that can be cured with a little rest.
“The people who hate acts of theft and robbery the most in this world are the merchants.”
“Taking the ax you gave me as an example, if one ax was stolen, I would have to sell ten axes to make up the difference.”
“If the price per unit is low, the number of products we have to sell will be even higher. Making a profit in business is as hard as it sounds.”
Claudia’s neat face distorted with hatred.
“The thieves would take it by force, and then spend it on booze, women, and gambling. If I could, I would have killed them myself.”
Claudia raised her voice and looked up at the sky, knowing that she could not find any answer, she slumped her shoulders and started walking.
“…..It’s pathetic, but we give money to people we hate as much as we hate them. It is a toll. It’s better than losing our cargo and our lives.”
“Will they be satisfied with just the toll?”
“If the thieves kill every time, no one will go down that path. They are the ones who suffer. They seem to be grateful to have a steady income.”
“The bandits seek a steady income? That’s ridiculous.”
“Not at all. I’m saying they should get real jobs.”
The two looked at each other and laughed. It was a dry laugh and not a laugh from the bottom of the stomach, but it was still a relief to see that she was feeling a little better.
“We were paying a toll for security, but the Knights interpreted it as support for bandits. They wanted the ransom.”
“Wouldn’t that provoke a backlash from the merchants?”
“They haven’t interfered with wealthy merchants who are connected to nobles. The only stores targeted were small ones that would not be affected by the noise. If they make a fuss, they will be caught again for disturbing the peace. It’s a double win for them.”
Claudia quietly shook her head.
“I understand that this world is not built on justice and good intentions, but there are days when I feel like crying because of my misery…”
Lutz couldn’t say anything. The unreasonableness of the world, and the feeling of helplessness against it, was something Lutz always felt. He, he thought, was a feeling that most people in this world had.
“I don’t know what to say to someone who helped me, but…but I think it’s not all bad that you let go of the sword.”
“……What do you mean?”
“Your work has been released to the world. There is no way that those idiots won’t show off that sword as beautiful and mysterious as it is.”
“Well, I suppose you’re right.”
“Then the superior officer hears about it and asks for it. I don’t have veto power because I didn’t get it through proper means. And then it is offered further up. Like the lord of this place, Count Sama. And further and further up, and maybe to His Majesty the King.”
“What a dream story. I don’t have one.”
“Don’t be so pessimistic. Dedication, offering, gifts. In the process, there will be a lot of talk. Who made this sword? That’s when the master craftsman Lutz will come forward to the world.”
It was a dream come true. Lutz was not conceited about being the best swordsmith in the world, but at the same time, he had high hopes for that sword.
I would like to think that the future is bright, but for some reason, I feel an uneasiness that clings to my heart. I am not sure what it is.
I feel like I’m forgetting something important…
Lutz suddenly screams. Claudia rolls her eyes.
“What’s the matter with you all of a sudden!?”
“I didn’t put my signature on it!”
When a swordsmith is satisfied with the workmanship of a sword, he engraves his signature, the name of the sword, and in some cases the date of manufacture on the handle, called a stem nakago.
The sword is of unknown maker and unmarked.
“That’s, um, troubling. ……”
Claudia couldn’t find words of comfort either. This makes it difficult for him to come forward as the author.
There will be those who will claim to have made it themselves. If they are asked to make the same thing, they can make a good excuse by saying that a god came down while they were making it and that they don’t remember how to make it. Art is always accompanied by a sense of live performance, and it is a common story that even the creator can never create the same thing twice.
It’s a disappointment. It’s as if you put your hand on the door of glory and it was locked.
Claudia was safe. My life is the same. That’s fine.
I was conscious of being timid about change, but I was also relieved. Having just peeked into the viciousness of aristocratic society, I don’t have much confidence in my ability to make it in that world.
If society revolves around liars deceiving fools, then the rest is left to the people to do as they please.
“…… Hey, wasn’t Claudia’s house over there?”
A lot was going on. I thought I had taken a wrong turn because I was walking while thinking, but I got a surprising answer.
“My house is gone. The house, the furniture, the carriage, the horses have all been repossessed, though the house was rented.”
“So please let me stay at your house for a while.”
I forgot to say it was just a matter of course, I was told so easily.
“Wait, wait, I can’t do that much either. What can I say, it’s troubling.”
“Hmm, so you want me to stay in the field. Even inside the castle walls, there are a lot of bad guys. Do you want to see a beautiful, naked, strangled corpse in the morning sun?”
“Okay, okay. Don’t talk in bad taste.”
“Fufu, that’s good. Being honest is a virtue, Lutz-kun.”
Thus, the two of them started walking in the same direction, with completely opposite expressions on their faces.