I looked in on the composting.
The day after I planted the potatoes I began the composting process.
I had made preliminary preparations and used the fertilizer tank I had previously crafted.
In our village the waste would be tossed outside the village once a day.
I had simply crafted a receptacle for that waste to be stored in.
The fertilizer tank was quite well received because the village was no longer plagued by the smell of open sewage thanks to the fact that the tank was deep and had a lid.
The tank was a much more sanitary option. Once you discarded feces and urine inside it and allowed it to ferment the temperature would increase to around 70 degrees. It would kill the disease causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Furthermore it would make it usable as fertilizer.
Without the fermentation process feces would cause nitrogen starvation if used directly as fertilizer. It would cause things to rot and the plants would fall ill. Furthermore it was common for plants to be damaged by the methane and heat released by feces decomposition.
「Well it’s not like I want to use nightsoil unless I have to.」
I removed the lid of the huge tank that I had left for a week. We had tossed in some maple leaves and threshed wheat husks that had been collected by female villagers.
I made sure to use the wind to blow away the smell that could kill as I uncovered it. If I only used feces then the fertilizer would lack nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potassium so we supplemented it with maple leaves and wheat husks. Bad compost balance is basically poisonous to plants so I needed to be careful when I mixed it.
「Good it looks like the fermentation is going pretty well.」
I was able to see some white mold growing on the surfaces. That let me know that things were progressing properly. Fermentation wasn’t finished since people were still throwing crap inside it daily. So I added something that will be nutritious and help the fermenting process proceed more rapidly.
「Now I just need to add oxygen and mix it every 10 days to activate the bacteria. It should be usable within a month.」
It’d be best to add the fertilizer to the potatoes in about a month. I would aim to replenish the soil as its nutrients run low. I should barely be in time for that.
I was stirring the waste around to introduce oxygen and removing the smell by blowing it away with wind. Even so I had to desperately endure the horrid smell that couldn’t be completely eliminated.
Once the compost was complete it would change colors to blackish brown and it would smell like the soil instead of crap. I thought of the end result as I continued mixing.
「Cyril, I mean, Chief! There are Empire soldiers on their way! They’ll arrive in 30 minutes!」
The young elf Roleau was one of our watchmen. He ran up while holding his nose to avoid the smell. I didn’t expect the Empire to be so slow. It had already been ten days since the supply base raid.
「I see. Let’s prepare our welcoming party. How many people can use crossbows now?」
「We have 30.」
「Call them all.」
「Understood. Where will we be meeting them?」
「I’d say we should do it in the center of the village. It makes it easier to aim.」
「Do you think we will need to use our crossbows?」
「I have no doubt of that. Could you inform them all to prepare themselves for it? Many of them are amateurs so they need to steel themselves.」
「Roger that. I’ll see you in a bit.」
Roleau said and set off running. He was in a hurry for sure, but I don’t doubt that the smell here was a factor in his haste. If this batch of compost succeeds then I’ll create a detailed instruction manual to teach everyone else. I think I’ll shove this job onto him. After deciding that I headed back to the village.
「Well my oh my, you have truly graced our humble homes gentlemen of the Empire. What can we help you with today?」
A total of ten Imperial Soldiers had arrived on two carriages. They were all fully armed and completely alert.
They didn’t believe that our village had perpetrated the attack on their supply base, but just the other week a team of soldiers had come to collect taxes and elves but did not return. This should be the basis of their caution.
「I am Joseph. I have come to collect the taxes. Call out the Chief Nietzsche.」
The most important looking person there took off his helmet and announced their purpose.
His eyes showed complete disregard for us and I could simply feel his poor attitude leaking out.
From his armor and the crest on it, I could tell that he was most likely from a noble family.
「Nietzsche has left the village. My name is Cyril and I have been given the responsibility as new chief.」
I used a modest attitude to hide our true intentions.
「Aren’t you just a little brat? Quit joking around.」
「No, in an elf village anyone over the age of fourteen is considered an adult. I am treated as a full fledged adult in this village and was voted into office by everyone in the village.」
He didn’t seem completely convinced, but he could see I wasn’t lying from the reactions of the elves around us.
「Fine then. You’ll do. Hand over the wheat written on this paper and 3 of your villagers.」
He ignored everything else and got straight to the point. I could see that there was no flexibility in either his words or actions.
Was he in a hurry?
「Our tax should have already been paid. Why is there an additional tax at this time?」
I had the perfect chance to probe their intentions.
「Our base was attacked by thieves and we don’t have enough to send back to our country…….forget I said anything! Hurry and bring the items!」
I see, this wasn’t revenge for killing the soldiers from before but instead an irregularity caused by my theft.
In that case it hasn’t been exposed that I was the one to attack their base.
「I will have to decline.」
「What did you say!?」
「I said, I will have to decline. We have already paid our taxes and an extra deposit of wheat. If we hand over any more we won’t make it through the winter. In fact we’d like to ask you to return our wheat deposit sooner rather than later.」
Deposited wheat is just like it sounds. It was wheat we had leant the Empire.
In order to prevent revolts the Empire takes all but the bare necessities. If you were to rebel against the Empire you would not receive your wheat back and you would starve. So in addition to normal taxes you would have everything else taken as well.
「Deposited wheat? Wouldn’t know anything about that. I don’t think we received it this year.」
The soldiers’ representative Joseph carelessly ignored it.
The Empire looked down on us. Even if we obeyed their rules they would simply ignore their agreements as soon as it became inconvenient.