Magi Craft Meister 630
18 King Klein’s Treatment Arc
19-17 Magi Engineer
The date was November 8th.
Five days had passed since Oliver, the merchant from Ismal, had made his promise.
Laozi went to Oliver’s shop with Ann, bringing a small package with them.
“Oh, it’s you, sir. Thank you for coming once again.”
Oliver was in the shop, and he welcomed Laozi.
“And who is your companion?”
Oliver asked as his attention was drawn to Ann.
“She’s an Automata who serves my Master, in the same way I am.”
Laozi answered in a way that can be interpreted in two ways.
Was she “serving his Master” in the same way he was, or was she “an Automata” in the same way he was? The answer was that both interpretations were actually true.
However, Oliver’s reaction was completely normal for a human being. In other words, he thought that Laozi was human.
“Oh!? Did you say that she is an Automata!?”
Even from an outsider’s perspective, Oliver’s surprised reaction seemed to be exaggerated.
But this could be the norm in this faraway frontier town.
“…I’ve finally laid my eyes on one for the first time… Automata are much like real human beings, no, they are actual human beings…”
As someone who saw Automata on a regular basis, Laozi didn’t add any unnecessary comments to Oliver’s remarks.
“Well, my Master is a first-class Magi Engineer, after all.”
He would leave it at that, since declaring that his Master was actually the Magi Craft Meister would be going into too many details.
“Oh, your… By the way, I never asked you for your name…Could you tell me if you don’t mind? My name is Oliver, as you may already know.”
“I’m very sorry. Please call me Laozi. And she is Ann.”
“So, Mr. Laozi, and Miss Ann, right? I look forward to continuing to do business with you from now on.”
Oliver bowed his head, and with that, they were finally ready to begin doing business.
“Well then, has the katsuobushi arrived like you said it would the other day?”
“Yes, of course. I was able to get five pieces this time.”
“Oh, I see, I see. In that case, this should come in handy.”
Laozi pointed to the small package that Ann had been carrying.
“What is that?”
“It is a necessary tool when preparing katsuobushi.”
Oliver was taken aback by those words.
“What? That’s very fortunate! Would you let me see it?”
“Of course. That’s why we brought it.”
“T-Then please, come into the kitchen!”
Just like the other day, Oliver allowed Laozi into the kitchen. Ann followed while still carrying the package.
Then, Laozi placed the package on the kitchen table and took something out of it.
“What is this?”
It was a rectangular box. Laozi silently took its lid off, and a small opening revealed a blade inside it.
“This is a katsuobushi shaving machine.”
“Yes. My Master thought that katsuobushi should be shaved with this kind of tool, so he made one in a hurry. Do you still have the katsuobushi you used the other day?”
Back on Hourai Island, Laojun had one of the Smiths create this tool based on Jin’s knowledge.
“Ah, yes. I do.”
Oliver then handed Laozi some katsuobushi for him to prepare.
“This is how you adjust the blade’s position.”
Laozi lifted the bladed plane section of the tool and held it up in front of Oliver so that he could see how the blade came out.
“When you want to bring out the blade, all you have to do is hit the head of the blade. A wooden mallet will do the trick.”
“I see, that way the blade itself doesn’t get damaged.”
“And when you want to retract the blade, hit this raised part.”
“Oh, I see!”
It was very similar to a typical Japanese plane tool, but it seemed that it was the first time Oliver had seen anything like it, so he couldn’t help being impressed by it.
“I’ve already adjusted the blade, so we can start shaving. …This way, the usual way to shave katsuobushi is with a pushing motion, but it can also be done by pulling.
Then, Laozi dampened a clean cloth with water and lightly wiped the surface of the katsuobushi.
“If you keep it slightly damp, the shavings will come off smoothly and without a powdery texture. But don’t get it too wet.”
After his explanation, Laozi shaved the katsuobushi and showed it to him.
The katsuobushi made a crispy sound as its shavings came off.
“You need to be careful not to scrape your hands as the katsuobushi gets smaller.”
After saying that, he stopped and opened a small compartment on the side of the box.
“Oh…! They were shaved perfectly!”
Inside that small compartment was a pile of shavings that were so thin that you could see through them.
“This is called ‘kezuribushi’. If you sell it in small portions, you can sell them for cheap.”
Oliver’s complexion changed with those words. He was probably wondering if Laozi was thinking of using the katsuobushi he bought from him to open his own business selling shavings.
However, hearing the words that followed, Oliver’s face was filled with joy.
“How much would you pay for this katsuobushi shaving machine?”
Oliver could understand the literal meaning of Laozi’s words, but he couldn’t help but be confused since he didn’t know what were the intentions behind them.
“We are not merchants. Even if we can make something like this, we have no connections to sell it. In that case, I don’t think it’s strange to think of doing that through someone promising, right?”
“I… I see.”
Intuitively realizing what this meant, Oliver took Laozi’s hand.
“Can you really sell me this tool?”
“Yes, I’m not lying.”
Oliver’s face became serious for a few seconds, as if calculations were going on in his head. Then, the merchant immediately smiled.
“How about 50,000 tolls?”
He had recently learned that the stock made from katsuobushi was very good for dishes with eggs and vegetables. He had even experienced that with his own sense of taste.
He knew that this tool would make it possible for him to sell the katsuobushi in a form that was easier for customers to purchase. It was an offer that Oliver couldn’t have hoped for.
However, there was a limit to how much he could pay. 50,000 tolls was as close as what Oliver could currently pay.
This meant that, should Laozi be dissatisfied with his initial offer, he could still add a little more to it. However, his thorough calculations proved to be meaningless.
“Yes, that’s fine.”
Laozi had immediately accepted the amount Oliver offered.
“T-Thank you very much. I-I’ll go prepare the money right now.”
Laozi called out to calm Oliver, who seemed to be a little flustered.
“Wait, I’d like to purchase two more pieces of katsuobushi, so please deduce them from this exchange.”
The katsuobushi at Oliver’s shop was selling at 400 tolls apiece. Therefore, Laozi said he’d instead have two pieces of katsuobushi as part of the payment for the shaving tool and then receive the remaining 49,200 tolls.
Still a bit taken aback, Oliver withdrew to the back of his shop before quickly returning with a bag of gold coins. A man who seemed to be some kind of guard had joined him.
“Thank you for waiting. He is my security guard. Since this is a big amount of money, I asked him to come with me just in case. I hope you won’t take offense…”
Laozi nodded with an easygoing demeanor.
“None taken, of course. There’s no guarantee that someone else could come in while we’re doing business.”
Oliver then counted four gold coins and ninety-two silver coins and presented them to Laozi. Once Laozi received them, he put it in a purse-like bag and handed it to Ann.
After that, Oliver handed him two pieces of katsuobushi, which were also passed onto Ann.
After the transaction was completed, Oliver started talking once again.
“Mr. Laozi, this may come across as rather impudent, but can I ask you something?”
As far as Laozi was concerned, the whole point of bringing the shaving tool on this occasion was so that he could deepen his connection with Oliver, so he entertained his question.
“Sure, what is it?”
“You know a Magi Engineer, correct? I’m sure you mentioned that your Master is a Magi Engineer.”
Then, Oliver stood up and bowed deeply,
“Please! I would be very grateful if you could introduce me to a Magi Engineer!”