The troupe departed from Siena, however, there was a problem that troubled Eiji.
The problem was the path leading to Nazioni, which wasn’t quite maintained.
Was it due to it being regularly used for work purposes? The path was, by itself, treaded down. Nevertheless, since there was no pavement at all, it wasn’t much different from an animal trail.
Bumps and stones that would hinder one’s travel were left as they are.
It wasn’t half bad if you were walking, but, it would cause a major problem for those people who would pull carts.
They would need help in overcoming bumps or liberating wheels that have gotten stuck between stones. In the first place, they would have to stop at once and take a detour.
Even though it was okay during fine weather, travelling would most likely be further obstructed once the path became muddy from a big rain.
Since the path was intended for payment of taxes every time, Eiji thought it would be nice were it maintained a little bit. However, considering the current life in his village, Eiji couldn’t force an unreasonable request on its people.
To begin with, it was natural to start from maintaining daily life in one’s surrounding.
Once its management is stable enough, paving paths will also become a compulsory issue.
– When I think about this path stretching continuously, this trip feels indeed tedious.
– No, this level of quality shouldn’t be around for more than half a day’s worth of the trip from Siena to Nazioni.
Eiji made a genuine complaint without realizing it.
Nevertheless, Dante denied Eiji, who was feeling depressed.
– What do you mean?
– As we go like this, confluencing paths leading to other villages will appear. Every time we get closer to them, our path will become more decent, little by little.
– Oh, since I can only use people from my village, I wonder if we can catch up with others in maintaining paths.
– For now, we are lucky, as the path will get better and better, so you don’t have to worry.
Indeed, just like Dante said, the path after the junction running from Tal Village began to have less largish stones.
Eiji could still hardly call it a road, but, the oscillation passing through his bottom turned somewhat gentle.
A human is a being that will get tired from walking.
That applies even more for a person that pulls a cart as he will need to take a break more frequently.
Judging from Eiji’s experience, such a person would have to rest for about 10 minutes per each hour.
And then, it looked like Eiji and the rest would have nearly an hour of break after every 3 hours.
Despite saying so, there was no way for one to mark off each break using time measurements as a resting place needed to be set up in both an appropriate area and in a reasonable amount of time.
Such as a place in which one could carve and lay wooden chairs, or a place straying from the path, which was wide and free from stones.
During a noon break, people would have to find a spacious location with no growing trees in order to make it easy enough to dig a hole, gather stones, and light fire.
Once a troupe arrived at those spots, they could start taking rest.
Eiji and the rest were having a break before their evening meal.
Since they wouldn’t resume their trip after that, it was decided that everyone would start with the preparations for making camp.
Eiji stood up quickly soon after it began.
He wanted to make up the time he had been sitting idly on the oxcart with some labor.
Immediately after jumping off the cart, Eiji surveyed the camp site and rushed with the construction of a kiln.
He built a pile of arranged stones and gathered dried leaves and branches from a forest.
Despite there being a forest, the outside of the path was covered with trees in every direction.
The search for necessary materials took just a while.
Even those villagers who had been forced to go on foot felt gratified upon watching Eiji’s striving appearance.
Perhaps it was due to their status difference that such thing occurred. However, it wouldn’t be strange for them to feel displeased at that unfair treatment.
Because those people who were from the same village would get on with him in the future, Eiji thought he had to be more sensible in his actions.
Despite that, Dante remained in his seat, unconcerned, which made everyone cast a critical eye at him.
It would be different if Dante was someone completely foreign, like Franko, but, in the end, one would probably think of him as Eiji’s disciple.
Was it due to the adverse effect of him being brought up in an environment where people would constantly bow towards him?
It seemed that Dante wasn’t good at being mindful about his surroundings.
Had he tagged along with Eiji as his disciples, Eiji would’ve been able to give Dante some emphasis. Nonetheless, because of Franko, they were considered a troupe.
I thought it was best to entrust Dante with the matter of self-discipline, but perhaps it should’ve been better to give him some advice. – Such were Eiji’s thoughts.
– Eiji-san, if you’ve other things to do, then leave the rest to us.
– Is that so? Then, I’ll count on you.
Bernardo, who was one of the villagers that had followed, was in the middle of throwing raw food into a pot.
Once Eiji left his seat, he took a chisel, koyasuke, and a gennou hammer(1) used by stonemasons and proceeded back to his kiln.
A koyasuke is a tool used for splitting stones with a blade that’s around 4-5 cm in length. Its cutting notch on a stone surface is similar to that of a line, and its final impact resembles a tool dividing a stone with a whack.
A chisel, on the other hand, is used by stonemasons for adjusting stones. However, besides just stones, a chisel has range of applications, which makes it difficult to classify it.
– What do you plan to do with those tools?
– No, you might as well consider what I’m doing as adding some adjustments to the kiln. I’m thinking about making it easier for use from now on, you see.
Picking a single stone up in his hand, Eiji inserted it between his legs and hit with the chisel.
Originally, the nicely sharpened chisel was supposed to be used for goods delivery, but, because there were spares left, it wouldn’t be a problem to use them instead.
Swinging lightly with the gennou, Eiji continued to carve the surface of the stone.
When forging iron, it’s necessary to use a chisel.
That’s why, even if he had to use it on a stone, for Eiji, the control of the chisel felt the same as using his hand.
There were some spots that felt different when using it on the stone, but Eiji could get used to them as long he did his work prudently.
He proceeded with smoothening the uneven surface of the stone.
As the systematic rhythm went on, the stone continued to form 1,2,3 sides.
The rough stone continued to take a brick-like shape that could be more easily applied to construction.
*exhale* – Before Eiji noticed, there were people gathering around him with their eyes focusing on his hands.
An astonished, or rather, dumbfounded-like expression appeared on Franko’s face.
– You’re truly versatile, aren’t you?
– Franko-san….. this is similar to iron sharpening, which I do every day inside my workshop.
– Still, it feels to me you can make anything.
– Certainly not! I’m fully aware there are lots of things I can’t do.
Had there been more people to help with masonry, Eiji would have probably been able to do his job far quicker and more accurate.
Accidentally, there were none that accompanied him.
What’s more, because the people in his village were all busy, they most likely had no opportunity to watch and study other people working.
Rather than saying Eiji was incredible, it was the feeling of curiosity that made people gather their attention at him.
Had I know this would happen, I’d have crafted more chisels – is what he thought.
As they continued to advance for 2, 3 days, Eiji came to realize that the path had been indeed well maintained.
In the last stage, the path was paved with small pebbles, which made the oscillation quite comfortable.
For the past several days, Eiji was forced to gently brush his sore bottom.
The number of people who helped with maintaining the path continued to increase as they progressed on their journey.
This would most likely make Eiji’s return trip a little bit more pleasant than coming to Nazioni.
In Japan, even countrysides and alleys are neatly paved with asphalt. They are paved thoroughly, to the extent of making Eiji feel discontent about their lack of naturality. Nevertheless, he understood it would be very inconvenient without them.
– Eiji, Dante, we will be arriving soon.
– Well now, I shall confirm my hometown by myself.
– So this is…. the city of Nazioni?
A river was flowing from the north-east into the west direction while drawing a circle, in the middle of which there was apparently the city of Nazioni.
There seemed to be just one bridge spanning from the west side. Such a construction was probably done so with regard to the city’s defense.
Eiji and the rest linked with the path leading to the west side of the island and crossed over the bridge.
There was no clear demarcation of the city, however, the moment they passed through this point, there shouldn’t have been any problem in saying they entered Nazioni.
With the flow of the river gently spreading in its width, Eiji understood they were close to the source of the stream.
The river was abundant with fishes, and there were birds resting their wings next to fishermen who were casting with nets.
Despite this place being a city, an idyllic view unfolded before him.
Eiji further saw the city’s interior as the troupe continued to progress.
As one would expect, there were cultivated lands lining up on its outskirts.
The scenery wasn’t distinct from that of a normal village; it seemed that even the status of Nazioni, which could be described as the capital of this island, wouldn’t make the difference.
Despite that, basic facilities were present inside the city, as well as a fence for warding off wild beast. In comparison with Siena, Nazioni looked to be 1, 2 steps ahead in advancement.
In addition to that, there were also roads and a river embankment.
The surface beneath their feet was covered with fine gravel, which was surprising for Eiji, as their oxcarts began to progress with stability.
And it didn’t look like their legs would be caught in mud during rainy days.
The embankment was neatly piled up with stones, preventing from any possible flood.
Still, what surprised Eiji the most was that all the ostensible citizens of Nazioni whom he had run into wore lively expressions on their faces.
Maybe, people here considers their ruler as an outstanding statesman. – is what he thought.
Or perhaps, from the aspect of work, it was the result of Nazioni gathering their workforce from the outside.
When many people dedicate their effort to a group of people, one cannot feel inclined to share their approval on that idea.
However, Eiji was still completely unfamiliar with this island’s politics.
There was no profit in being hasty, therefore, he decided to observe the situation carefully.
Following his entry to the city, a high chimney entered Eiji’s view. What naturally grabbed his attention was an unusually big building extending at the chimney’s bottom.
This structure wouldn’t stand out, were it not for its chimney and its building that reminded him of a blacksmith’s workshop.
Was it the rumored blacksmith workshop used for processing bronze?
The full picture of Nazioni continued to stretch out in front of Eiji’s eyes.
Notes and References:
(1): It’s an odd hammer that is only found in Japan. Here’s a site if you want more info: http://www.toolsfromjapan.com/store/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=344_369_436