Isekai Izakaya Nobu - BestLightNovel.com
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The new year began, and with it, goods flowed back into Aitheria as carriages began to arrive in the city.
The carriages mostly carried food.
The people of Aitheria had stocked up on food for the winter, but their bas.e.m.e.nts could only store so much, and there were bound to have been miscalculations. In the first place, most people had not stocked enough to last them the whole winter.
Antic.i.p.ating this, it had become a yearly custom for wheat merchants to build small warehouses around the city to store wheat and other goods for the new year. A small handful of companies that were backed by distant cities could also join in, but that was rare.
However, it would be a big deal if such companies succeeded. If they were able to acquire enough liquid capital before spring started, their business would be able to thrive for the year. On the other hand, if they failed, then their springtime stock would be limited, and they would be unable to acquire more goods.
The Eisen Schmidt Company should have been one of the rare examples of success this year.
「What are we going to do about this?」
Ignaz wasn't sure whether to cry or get angry as he questioned Camil, his brother-in-law.
He was referring to the many bags of rice still in his company's warehouse.
「We have to do something about this.」
Camil sighed as he looked at his copy of a contract.
The rice that had arrived from the Clauvadia Company of the Holy Kingdom was three times more than they had expected. All of that was piled up before their eyes. They had paid the correct amount. The problem was the amount they got in return.
「I heard that there had been a huge harvest of rice in the Holy Kingdom, but…」
「Who would have thought that the price would drop to a third of what it was previously?」
According to reports from the local area, the harvest in the Holy Kingdom had been so large that even the granaries were overflowing. It was to the point that even the rats eating the rice were said to have become as fat as cats. That might have been an exaggeration, but there was probably some truth to it, considering they had received three times more rice than expected.
「Do you think we can even sell this much?」
「There is no choice but to sell it all. We have to empty this warehouse by spring.」
Eating rice was an uncommon practice in Aitheria.
Eel bentos had become popular for a while, but nothing of the sort had happened recently.
Camil was confident they could sell one-third of what they had due to the food shortage caused by the winter, but he didn't think they could sell everything. They would profit greatly if they could sell everything, but he couldn't think of a way to do so. As a merchant, he didn't intend to just throw away the goods, but no matter how hard he racked his brains, he couldn't think of a solution.
「What’s the matter, both of you? The year has just started, and you’re both making such long faces.」
Gernot, the tax collector, came into the warehouse. He was a member of Aitheria's City Council. Due to how strictly he collected taxes, he wasn't well liked. Ignaz and Camil had heard rumours that he had become slightly more amicable, but they couldn't believe it. n.o.body could change in such a short amount of time.
「Ah, Gernot-san. I'm happy to see that you’re already working hard, even though the year has just started. However, please don't come in here without permission, as that is a bit problematic.」
Although it didn't actually bother him, Ignaz chided him lightly. The tax collector took a handkerchief from his breast pocket and started wiping his monocle.
「If you are bothered about people entering without permission, then you should a.s.sign someone to stand outside. I stood beside the entrance and called out three times, but no one came. It would be quite a problem if someone had collapsed inside. I got worried, so I came in to check on you.」
It was his sarcastic way of speaking that made people dislike Gernot.
Tax collectors were responsible for collecting taxes for the City Council. Many of them were corrupt, extorting extra money to line their own pockets, and Gernot was their leader.
Gernot's response sparked an exchange of barbs. Camil stood protectively in front of Ignaz as Ignaz responded belligerently.
「How very thoughtful of you. As you can see, we are both safe, so please leave. I’ll discuss matters concerning taxes at a later date.」
「I’m fine talking about tax matters at a later date. In the first place, it’s not like I expect you to be able to pay if I asked you to do so right now. I’m just making my rounds to wish you all a Happy New Year, so please don’t be too tense.」
「You have no reason to make your greetings here. Don’t people say the poor have no time to spare? Well, now that you know both of us are fine, you should leave already. The door is over there.」
However, Gernot wasn't looking at the door that Ignaz had pointed at. Instead, he was appraising the mountain of rice bags.
「Why are you still here…?」
「Is this rice from the Holy Kingdom? Also known as sa.s.sarica rice. You stocked up on something unusual again.」
The bags had, understandably, caught his eyes. There were identical-looking piles of bags stacked on top of each other, from one wall to the other. How could anyone miss them?
Ignaz wondered whether the bags would contribute to their taxes. It would be a big loss if they were taxed for the rice that they couldn't even make a profit from.
「So you know about rice?」
「My hometown is in the southern part of the Empire that borders the Holy Kingdom. When I was a child, I used to eat pasta and rice. Risotto and the like were delicious.」
If that was true, then could Gernot possibly know of any delicious recipes?
Ignaz's hope was a short-lived one. What was he thinking? Gernot was a tax collector with a heart of stone. A tax collector wouldn't help him without getting anything from it.
「My goodness, that sounds nostalgic. How about it? Shall I gift you a bag?」
Ignaz said it in jest, but Gernot’s expression darkened.
「Ignaz-san, I hope you know that I’m a tax collector. I am proud of my job. People who don’t know the situation would see this as accepting a bribe in order to accommodate the people subjected to tax collection. Your courtesy is enough. But…」
「Will you be able to sell this much rice in Aitheria?」
Gernot had hit a sore spot. As a tax collector, he had a variety of experiences from dealing with all sorts of people, so he might have had some knowledge about the product.
「Why are you concerned about that?」
Camil covered Ignaz’s mouth from behind. Even though he was called the “Coward” Camil, the nickname was being used less often recently.
「It’s for the purposes of tax collection, of course. If the product doesn’t get sold, there will be many difficulties. I would be troubled if I couldn’t collect taxes from the Eisen Schmidt company, which is my responsibility.」
It was about taxes after all. Ignaz wanted to spit at him, but he endured it silently. There was no point arguing here. Figuring out what to do with the rice came first.
「Oh, I do have an idea.」
「Oh my, the tax collector providing a plan to the people he is collecting from. Could he be trying to trick us into becoming an accessory to a crime?」
Ignaz had intended to pay him back for the sarcasm, but Gernot paid no heed to it.
「There is a shop called Izakaya n.o.bu. You should ask them for help.」
「We know about that shop, but…」
In the first place, Ignaz and Camil had decided to purchase the rice because they had eaten the kaisen don from that shop. Naturally, he wanted to sell some of the bags to the shop, but they had way too much rice. Izakaya n.o.bu couldn't possibly use it all.
(TL note: kaisen don =sas.h.i.+mi rice bowl)
「The regulars of that shop may be big eaters, but I don’t think even they could eat this much, Gernot-san.」
Ignaz responded while believing it would be foolish to put any hope in Gernot's idea.
「The eel bento that became such a craze also came from that store. If you could start a fad, then you might be able to manage, somehow.」
Gernot's monocle gave off a suspicious glint.