The Secret of “Toriaezu Nama” (Part 2)
The next morning, Shinobu posted a large notice stating “Eel bento is unavailable today” on the glass door.
Even though the weather had cleared up, as though yesterday’s storm had been a lie, Shinobu’s mind had not.
In the end, Eva, Helmina, and even Berthold had stayed behind. Everyone’s eyes were swollen from the lack of sleep
When he had run into Bachschouf while on the way to ‘Nobu’, he had learned that the lager, a prohibited item, had been discovered.
「I had heard stories of the previous Emperor discovering a new technique in his younger days. Since it was extraordinarily delicious, it seems that the Imperial Family decided to restrict the circulation of the product in order to limit the number of people who could drink it.」
If an unlicensed person tried to sell it, it would be a serious crime, and that person could be fined. In the worst case scenario, they could even be sentenced to death.
Shinobu and Nobuyuki were troubled that it was considered a serious offence, and could not think of a good solution.
Well, there was a way.
Simply put, Izakaya Nobu had to close down.
The front door, which was connected to the Old Capital of a different world, would be closed, and they would just live in Japan.
The conversion of the Old Capital’s currency could be done through a shady antiquity dealer. With their savings, they had enough to pay the deposit to open a pub or a small restaurant.
However, they did not want to do that.
It had already been six months since the store had opened during the wold winter. They were also very friendly with the regulars who had frequented the store until now. It would be hard to break off those friendly relationships.
There was also Eva’s issue. Eva’s family was now in a stable situation, thanks to her income from working at Nobu, but if the store were to close down, the family would return to their previous life.
Was there no method other than evacuating from the Old Capital?
「But, to think that that skinny old man Bachschouf even tried to lay his hands on Helmina…unforgivable.」
「That’s because Helmina-san is cute.」
Eva comforted Berthold, who had slammed his fist into his palm.
Helmina, who had been told those things yesterday, was still in shock, and she was wrapped in a thin blanket.
「At any rate, we need to come up with countermeasures.」
「But Taisho, people who are familiar with that sort of thing would be…」
Even though there was a variety of people among the regulars, only a limited number of them were well informed in such matters.
「Nicolas-san? Gernot-san? Deacon Edwin…?」
「Ah, did I hear my name being called?」
Deacon Edwin pulled the glass door open.
He looked the same as always, but it was unusual for him to make an appearance at Nobu at this time.
「What’s the matter, Deacon? You’re here so early in the morning.」
「No, I had a feeling that something had happened…but it seems that I was mistaken.」
Edwin pointed his chin in Berthold’s and Helmina’s direction, who were cuddling with each other.
「Yesterday night, Bachschouf’s secretary weathered the storm to come over to the church, bringing some unusual documents. It was a request to investigate the validity of Berthold and Helmina’s marriage, which bothered me.」
「What’d you say?!」
Nobuyuki and Eva calmed the enraged Berthold down. Helmina buried her face into the blanket, and seemed like she would break into tears at any moment.
「Is that skinny old man trying to make fun of me… let’s raid him. Hans and Nikolaus, no, the whole company will go to that Bachschouf’s residence and reduce it to ashes!」
(TL: Nicholas -> Nikolaus)
「Deacon Edwin, what is the result of the investigation?」
Deacon Edwin stroked Eva’s head, who was looking up at him anxiously, with a gloomy expression.
「Normally, there wouldn’t be a problem. An inquiry would be sent to the church in the Northern Port, and it would end. But, not this time.」
「Are there any problems, Deacon?」
「Even though I shouldn’t tell such a story to a child like Eva, there was a vacancy for the position of cardinal.」
The Archbishop, the head of the parish in the Old Capital, was using lots of gold to bribe influential people, in order to become a Cardinal.
Deacon Edwin feared that, if Bachschouf had connections with the Archbishop, the request for an investigation would most likely be accepted.
A gloomy atmosphere engulfed the store.
It was during such times that one had to be firm.
Shinobu stood up and walked behind the counter.
「Well, everyone. Let’s have breakfast.」
Since so many people were present, the menu consisted of dishes that could be eaten easily. There were rice balls with miso soup, tamagoyaki, and fried wieners.
Eva and Shinobu were in charge of making the rice balls.
「The salt makes it more delicious.」
Edwin spoke with false cheeriness after biting into the rice ball.
Even though Berthold’s expression was stiff, he shared half of his rice ball with Helmina. He flinched slightly upon seeing the octopus wieners, but once Nobuyuki explained that it wasn’t squid, it seemed that he took a liking to it.
Nobuyuki explained yesterday’s circumstances to Edwin while slurping his miso soup.
Edwin listened silently from the beginning to end, and let out a groan when it ended.
「Is it that bad?」
Edwin nodded gravely at Nobuyuki, who was leaning forwards while on his knees.
「The previous Emperor, His Majesty, was a very wise person. Rather than calling it a ban, it was more of a restriction on the circulation of lager. They set it at 30 years as a preparatory phase to put them out on the market as a special product from the Imperial Capital.」
Since the Empire had been struggling with economic difficulties for a long time, they were seeking a product that had a high return rate, and it seemed that lager had been their pick.
Certainly, even Shinobu understood that if their beer, which required an original manufacturing method, were to circulate, profits would rise. It was similar to the eel bento from Izakaya Nobu. If it couldn’t be bought from somewhere else, then one could profit as much as they liked.
「However, I think that the production output did not rise as intended. The imperial writ is still in place, but its influence is slowly fading.」
「Is there no way to revoke it?」
「How? The previous Emperor, the grandfather of the current Emperor, is held in high esteem by His Majesty, so it would be difficult to revoke. Thereafter, there are rumors that they successfully mass-produced the lager.」
「Is that so…」
Edwin put his hands on Nobuyuki’s shoulder, who was feeling dejected.
「There is no choice but to hope that the restriction on the circulation of lager is withdrawn by the previous emperor, His Majesty himself.」
Was the previous Emperor still alive? Shinobu opened her mouth, but stopped, thinking that it was dangerous. It would be extremely disrespectful to not know whether he was still alive or not. It would turn ugly if she asked an excessive number of strange questions.
「Even if you say so, it is unlikely to happen this time. One day won’t be enough to directly appeal to the previous Emperor, His Majesty. Bachschouf’s side will move quickly.」
Eva fell onto her butt with a thud.
Shinobu tried to think of solutions, but could not come up with a good idea. In the first place, it was doubtful whether one existed.
Return to Japan? That idea had crossed her mind many times.
At this moment, Nobuyuki let out a groan, as if he had decided to do something.
「Anyway, let’s continue tonight’s business as usual.」
The first customer was the Guild Master of the Blacksmith Guild, Holger.
Since Eva and Helmina had went back, only Shinobu and Nobuyuki were in the store.
He took his usual spot in the middle by the counter, and the first thing that came out of his mouth was something unexpected.
「During today’s city council meeting, the topic of Izakaya Nobu came up.」
「Eh? What does that mean?」
Holger grimaced at Shinobu, who had leaned forward.
「It’s not good news. Rather, please be prepared if the situation turns bad.」
「Is it about…the lager?」
「Ah, so you knew?」
As always, it was the City Council’s job to settle any unresolved problems peacefully, but it seemed that Bachschouf had brought that topic up when the remaining item on the agenda concerned matters between the three territories in the North and the Old Capital.
「The members of the council were taken by surprise too. Even though everyone knew that the ale from this store was good, they did not think it could possibly be lager. No, since I have not drunk another lager, there was understandably nothing to compare it with.」
「So, what happened next?」
「I don’t know whether you are acquainted with him, but Godhardt-shi, from the Water Transportation Guild, defended you fiercely. He had an amazingly terrifying look.」
It must have been related to eel. Shinobu understood that intuitively.
If something like a punishment was handed down to Izakaya Nobu, the fishing rights he had gotten from the Old Capital would have been in vain. If you thought about it, it was probably a form of support.
「In the first place, since the topic about the bar was brought up by President Bachschouf, who was known for his suspicious activities, we couldn’t help but speak up. Even that foolish glass smith, Lorentz, had the same opinion as me.」
「That’s because that fellow’s family, both parent and son, are regulars at this store. If this store disappears, they would be troubled. It was also interesting to see that the three major Water Transportation Guilds, who are known to be on bad terms with each other, came together and defended Nobu.」
When you thought about it, a variety of people came to this store to eat and drink. Even though it was a bad time to notice such a strange feeling, a warm feeling filled Shinobu’s heart.
「However, Bachschouf was one step ahead. He seems to have laid the groundwork beforehand. This store has became the target of investigation for the city council.」
「Is that so…」
「The investigator-in-charge is the tax collector, Gernot. He’s the kind of man who enjoys sinking his fangs into you and will suck your bones dry, given the chance. You should be careful.」
Gernot was a regular customer.
After eating Shinobu’s Napolitan, he sometimes dropped by the store to have a meal. In particular, the eel was his favourite. He would definitely buy three boxes of eel bento without fail.
If it was Gernot, then he might spare some consideration on this matter.
However, that faint hope was mercilessly crushed by Holger.
「Gernot was really fired up. There was rarely any work for him in the City Council. If he obtains some achievements, his future will be secured. There were times when he would visit the store a few times so as to not overlook anything. That is how skillful he is at being a tax collector.」
When he finished speaking, he placed money on the counter for the cup of ale and a serving of appetizer he had consumed earlier, and then got up from his seat.
「I like this store, and I believe that the suspicions are unfounded. However, the opponent this time is that Gernot. If you have somewhere to hide yourself, you should start preparing.」
It seemed that he had come just to give advice.
It was understood that it would be dangerous for a city council member to be in contact with Izakaya Nobu. If one were unlucky, they could easily be accused of destroying evidence.
Still, he had come to this store. They couldn’t help but feel grateful for his thoughtfulness.
「Taisho, what do we do?」
「What do we do, huh?」
「We should make preparations to escape like Holger-san said, but…」
It was possible to escape.
It wouldn’t be impossible to open the store somewhere else.
However, Nobuyuki didn’t hesitate at all.
「As long as the store remains here, I’ll remain here.」
「But, we might be arrested? Even if we’re not arrested, customers might stop coming once we have gained a suspicious reputation.」
Nobuyuki averted his eyes and gave a fleeting glance in another direction. Shinobu was tempted into following his line of sight.
The household shrine was there. Today’s offering was Gomoku fried beancurd with sesame seeds.
「We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. This is an izakaya. Whenever there are customers, it will remain open. Let’s think about what to do when the time comes, rather than feeling helpless.」
Shinobu nodded to those words with her best smile.
「Now then, let’s work hard again today.」
The case spread throughout the Old Capital in no time, due to its gossip-loving residents.
Shinobu and Nobuyuki were expecting fewer customers, but the amount of customers clearly increased after that day.
In addition to the regulars, there were first time customers showing up out of goodwill, to the extent that Shinobu and Nobuyuki did not even have time to rest.
However, only Gernot had not appeared at the store.
Then, the fated day arrived.