The Dishonoured Kabayaki (Part 1)
A customer started to open the sliding door of Izakaya Nobu, but they closed it immediately.
There wasn’t even enough time for the waitress, Shinobu, to say her usual greetings.
This had already been the fifth customer to do so. Lorentz glanced at the table in the back, which was the cause of all of this, and then shook his head.
There were three people sitting around the table while glaring at each other: a tough-looking bald man, a handsome and indifferent-looking man, and a beautiful,bored-looking woman with polished nails.
If any one of them had been sitting alone, anyone from the Old Capital would get up from their spot and run away.
These three people held tremendous power and influence in the city council; each of them was a Master of one of the Water Transportation Guilds in the Old Capital.
“Lorentz-san, why are you staring at those customers…”
Shinobu, who had been wiping the counter for a while now, turned around to reprove Lorentz, who was looking in that direction.
“Sorry, Shinobu-chan. My bad.”
“It’s troubling if you bow like that, you know.”
Even though Shinobu said that, her words stung a little.
Ever since Lorentz had brought those three people over, Izakaya Nobu had not had any business. No customers would enter.
Even though the regular, Lorentz (Han’s father), was there, that was it.
There were guests who stepped in carelessly and ordered a glass of ale and appetizers without noticing, but when they noticed who was there, they ended up finishing quickly and leaving.
Taisho was immersed in making salads for his meal, while the dishwasher, Eva, was busy practising her reading and writing. Since Shinobu was free, she picked a fight with Lorentz.
“In the first place, why do they need to hold the meeting of the Water Transportation Guilds here? There should be plenty of more suitable stores.”
“I also tried searching for other places, but they refused to go anywhere else.”
“They refused, huh?”
“Yes, they refused.”
In truth, ‘other places’ only meant stores that could serve the Water Transportation Guild Masters.
Lorentz wouldn’t recommend a place unless he had personally tried it. Since he had been here once before and it was recommended by Gernot, who was known to be the greatest gourmand in the city, he had brought those three here.
Those three people were very troublesome.
“That is why, no matter how many times I have said it, even though I know it’s useless, I can only apologise to you.”
The tough-looking baldy, Godhardt, brought his face closer to the handsome man, Reinhold, trying to intimidate him. They were close enough that their lips could touch.
It looked like a ruffian gang leader trying to blackmail a noble, and it even felt similar.
There were countless water transports travelling in every direction in the canals of the Old Capital, but they were all controlled by one of the three people gathered here right now.
“It is as I said, Godhardt-san. The things that need to be transferred will be transferred at the designated place. Why won’t you just accept the conditions of the deal that are already laid out in front of you already?”
“Reinhold-san, I have no intention of stirring up any trouble here as well. However, the conditions for the handover are too poor.”
Lorentz, who was the Glass Smith Guild’s Master, was asked to arbitrate this exchange as an outsider, but from the looks of it, it would be impossible to actually barge in and break up their argument.
It would have been better if Eleonora, the other Water Transportation Guild Master, mediated in the exchange. However, due to certain circumstances, she was not allowed to do so.
There was nothing but shouts coming from those two people and an indifferent onlooker watching on, even though alcohol and dishes were set on the table.
The atmosphere inside the store was so overwhelming that it made the three employees by the counter feel restless. Even if they wanted to say something, they held back.
“Lorentz-san, what are those two people arguing about?”
“A subordinate of Reinhold-san was working in Godhardt’s territory. It’s been like that for quite some time.”
“Ah, so that’s why Godhardt-san is so angry.”
Lorentz nodded while biting into the grilled bacon that was now being served to him.
Since the bacon from this store was as thick as a shoe sole, Lorentz loved eating it, even though he needed to bite harder to chew it.
When the juices from the fatty bacon and the mustard overflowed in his mouth, he drank his ale without stopping.
“Reinhold’s guild is the oldest Water Transportation Guild in the Old Capital, and when the former Master suddenly passed away, Reinhold took over the guild’s management like a hungry demon. It’s been over a year now.”
“So, it was due to a lack of experience, heh? Didn’t the people around him assist him?”
“If that had happened, there wouldn’t have been any troubles… Eleonora, that woman over there.
Her mother won over a lot of their executives from the inside, using her charms as a woman.”
“Uwa, that’s scary.”
“Due to various other reasons, Reinhold’s subordinates had been suffering from misfortune. They reached a point where they had to search for other jobs elsewhere.”
While asking for his seventh refill of ale, Lorentz quietly peeped at the table at the back.
The argument was still going on like before, and there were no signs of any party giving in.
“So, if Reinhold-san apologised to Godhardt-san, wouldn’t that solve the problem?”
“If it were that easy, it would have already ended. Reinhold has nothing to compensate with, apart from his apology.”
There was a loud crashing sound, and when they turned back, they saw that a mug of ale had fallen onto the floor. Godhardt seemed to have hit the table with his fist.
“So, everyone has needs to have fishing rights, is that what you’re trying to say?”
“However, Godhardt-san, only my Guild has paid the imperial charter to acquire the fishing rights, correct?
“I don’t give a damn about you and your imperial sanction! No one wants to pay the fishing rights for funa, catfish, or eel, Reinhold-san.”
(TL: Funa = Crucian carp)
“If the two of you don’t need it, shall I take it?
“Can Eleonora-san be quiet for a moment?”
Godhardt gave warned Eleonora, who had tried to enter from the side.
Even though the largest Water Transportation Guild in the Old Capital was Godhardt’s, the one that had the most wealth and authority was Eleonora’s.
Godhardt and Reinhold both did not want to let Eleonora profit any further.
That was why she had been called here.
“Now that you mention it, eel was being sold in the markets of the Old Capital.”
Taisho thought about Shinobu’s words.
“Yes, I saw it before. And it even looked so delicious.”
“Does eel taste good?”
Lorentz, who was surprised hearing the exchange between those two, almost spilled his ale.
“Isn’t eel delicious?”
“Which part of that imitation of a snake is good? You can only chop it into pieces and boil it, or make jellies out of it, if there’s no other choice.”
“I have not heard of it being eaten that way.”
There were plenty of eels in the canals of the Old Capital, but it wasn’t a popular food.
Not only did it have a slippery body, but its blood was poisonous to humans.
Lorentz, who had traveled to various places during his pilgrimage as a glass smith,
believed that the only ones who had ever eaten eel were the ones who had done it purely out of curiosity.
“Well, in any case, this argument isn’t going anywhere.”
“So, so, do you think eels are delicious or not?”
“Not this argument. I’m talking about Reinhold’s apology. I don’t think Guild Master Godhardt would like to be given fishing rights to catch unpalatable eels.”
“Eels are tasty!”
When she saw Shinobu pouting her cheeks in dissatisfaction, Eva shuddered a little and came forward to talk.
“I have not eaten delicious eel either.”
“Even if you say that, we did not stock up on eel because they’re expensive recently.”
When Taisho said that, Shinobu’s face suddenly lit up.
“Then, today’s meals will be themed on eel!”
“There might not be anymore left in our markets at this point in time, you know.”
Shinobu smiled widely and confidently headed towards the hesitant Taisho.
“It’ll be fine. There should still be some in this market.”
Those three people in the back, from left to right, are Eleonora, Reinhold and Godhardt.