Chapter 315 Part 1

A small valley in the northwestern part of the capital, surrounded by mountains.
I parked the Old lady at the entrance of the village while watching the sunset slowly slanting toward the western horizon.
My job for today was to exterminate the magic beasts on the highway. They were small and not that strong, but there were many of them, and it took me until almost nightfall to finish the job.

「Thank you very much. Although we apologize for the sudden request.」

As I climbed down the rope ladder from Old Lady’s cockpit, who was sitting on one knee, I was approached by the village chief who had come to greet me.
Today is the summer festival of this village. However, a small magic beast appeared on the road, and the traveling flower shop had been stopped in front of the village.
Incidentally, the 『Flower Shop』 is a brothel, and it is the main attraction of the festival.

「No, it’s fine, I’m glad I made it in time. It’s a festival after all. People will be disappointed if the flowers didn’t make it.」

An old man with a somewhat protruding belly bows his head in response to my reply. Behind him passes a cart carrying a number of corpses of small, dog-like magic beasts.
The fur of the beast is said to be of good quality, so I guess he intends to strip it of its fur.

(It’s a very easy task for a Knight to face no matter how many they are, but it would be tough for a regular human.)

The slightly big dog with gold and silver, heterochromia eyes that I fought today. I compared them to the villagers who helped collect the corpses.
Even if they were to fight them as a group using spears, they would probably only be able to take down one or two of them.

(Well, I think they’re going to be okay for a while.)

I searched thoroughly not only the highways but also the surrounding mountains. So it should be safe to go out into the fields, as well as the forests, as long as they don’t go too deep.

「The bath is ready. After you finish washing off your sweat, please go and see the summer festival!」

I nodded with a smile. Today, after visiting the festival, I’m going to stay overnight at the village chief’s house.
This is the reason why I did my best not to go back too early.

「Okay then, without further ado.」

I was shown around and borrowed a bath. After that, I rest until the sun has set. The sound of drums announcing the beginning of the festival woke me up, and I headed to the village square with the village chief.

「The men and women are divided huh.」

I said with genuine interest while looking at the venue.
A number of bonfires are arranged to divide the center of the plaza. The male villagers were gathered on the right and the women on the left.
In the center of each area, a small tower and a wooden frame had been erected, and drums were being played there.

「Dancing around the tower are the flowers from the flower shop.」

At the village chief’s words, I turned my gaze toward the towers.
There are about eight women in the men’s area and eight men in the women’s area, each dancing like obon dance.

(As expected of pros. What a splendid dance.)

The gestures, which show great attention to detail down to the fingertips’ movement, are unbelievably impressive. This is probably the result of their daily practice.
The flowers travel around events in golem carriages to various locations, where they are said to bring spring while performing songs and dances.

「My wife will be in charge of the other side. Tauro-sama, please come with me.」

The village chief urges me to approach the women dancing in a circle.
It is only because I am a pilot that I am addressed by the head of the village using 『-sama』. It feels a bit embarrassing, but I guess it can’t be helped.
I accept the drink served to me and sip it while watching the dance.

(They took off their clothes little by little, huh.)

While dancing, the dancers gradually have lighter clothing as they loosen their costumes and let them fall to the ground.
Each time they do this, the people around them cheer and demand that they show more of their skin.

「Oh!」

I screamed out as they pulled the last piece off both legs and threw it behind me.
The curled up underwear flew through the air. The men in the village jumped on it as if fighting to get the wedding bouquet.

(Ah, that must be how they decide the order.)

Clumps of cloth, as many as there were dancers, flew through the air, and the men who held them in their hands embraced and thrust them behind their backs with the same momentum.
At one point, two men grabbed the same cloth at the same time, and the two young men were both pulling it together to the point it almost tore apart.

「Please excuse me for a moment.」

The village chief who came forward gave his ruling and declared the winner. The one he chooses raises his right fist.

「It is said that the first one is more fortunate than the latter. That’s why everyone takes it so seriously.」

As I listen to the explanation of the old man with a big belly who came back and stood next to me, I think of something else.

(It’s hard solid ground below them so it’s impossible to do it laying down huh.)

Everyone grabs the women’s hips from behind and shakes them vigorously while standing as is. Some of the dancers are enduring being held up by the pillars of the tower, but none of them have their knees on the ground.
There is sand and pebbles, too, on the hard ground. It would have to be grass at least or it would be impossible to do it on the ground.

(In this way, the dancers’ lower bodies are trained, which leads to an improvement in the quality of their dancing and play on the bed.)

What a virtuous cycle. I feel I’m getting smarter as I learned something new.
It seemed some of my thoughts leaked out of my mouth, and the village chief commented.

「Actually, we have prepared a place to lie down over there.」

I looked along his outstretched hand to the opposite side of the row of bonfires and there it was, a pile of straw.
A few had already started doing it there.

(Still, there are 16 dancers alone? If you add the staff, there are about 20 people.)

That’s a lot of people. It will surely cost a lot of money.

(Even for something that is held only once a year, isn’t it quite a burden for the village?)

When I asked him about it, he waved his hand from side to side in front of his face.

「It is actually not that expensive.」

The village chief explained the business model in a low voice to my unconvinced face. And the content of the explanation was enough to surprise me.

(To think it was information gathering…)

The real business behind the traveling flower shop is gathering information on the places they visit. They see things with their own eyes and listen to what the locals have to say in pillow talk.
They then provide this information to single or multiple sponsors behind the business.

「Due to the village’s financial situation, it is not possible to have a satisfactory number of flowers. However, because of this reason, we are able to enjoy it every year at a lower price.」

I think they get more money from the people behind them than what we pay them ourselves. So concludes the village chief while smiling gently.

(Hmm…. but…)

I can see where they’re coming from. But at the same time, I feel like, 『Is it okay to do such a thing?』.
When I asked again about this part, the village chief shrugged his shoulders and turned both palms upward.

「There is no information in this village that could be vital to the fate of the country. And I don’t think the other side expects anything like that either.」

Apparently, they collect information such as people’s lifestyles and current trends. Or how the year’s crops turned out.

『The Kingdom, feudal lords, and other countries. Various authorities are trying to grasp the current state of affairs.』

Or so the village chief thinks.
It’s probably like a marketing campaign or a census. If we think of it that way, we can see the importance of steady information-gathering activities.

「Crops and trends, huh? Maybe the merchant guild is doing it too.」

My superior, a small old man who resembles a goblin and the white-bearded Santa Claus. The two of them popped up in my mind.
They would probably do it, no, they would definitely do it.

「The world sure is a very well-made place, isn’t it?」

The village chief quietly agreed with the words I said with a sigh.
After that, the old man with a big belly smiled meaningfully. When I wondered what was going on, he said that the merchant guild’s Knight pilot especially will be targeted as a source of information.

「I’m sure the best among the aces of the dancers will come to get you. ……See?」

When prompted by his eyes, I turn my gaze to see a woman in her late twenties getting off the tower and walking toward me. The reason why the village chief knows her is because he is the most important person in the village.
Incidentally, it seems that the village chief has been giving out convenient information just to the extent it won’t be a lie.

「I’m sure the other party has that much factored in.」

The village chief with a big belly laughs while shrugging his shoulders.

(To think there is an information war going on even in a village deep in the mountains like this.)

I’m not good at difficult stuff. I’m really glad that I’m just one pilot fighting a magic beast.
Then I shift my thoughts and turn my attention to her.

(I don’t care about information or the ace. I just do what I want to do.)

The ace asked me to join her, so I bowed to the village chief and walked with her.
Our destination is the mountain of straw. Since I came all the way here anyway, I want to experience the feeling of something other than a mat.

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