241 – Art Gallery– Or Rather, A Folk Museum?
Editor: Thor’s Stone
After leaving the archeological museum, we headed for the art gallery next. The means of transportation is, of course, the bus driven by Mr. Hiishi.
“You know, it was the same with the archeological museum earlier, but don’t you think this place feels more like a folk museum rather than an art gallery……?”
“A folk museum?”
“Uh, cuz it somehow has this rustic feel to it.”
Mimi tilted her head in confusion. Maybe she just couldn’t relate to my words.
Basically, all of the elven-style buildings we’ve seen until now kinda resembled Japanese-style buildings for some reason. Most of them were single-story, and the biggest we’ve seen just went up to two stories. Their roofs were made out of black tiles, and the rest were basically made out of wood. The facilities were certainly well-made, but I just couldn’t help feeling that they resembled those folk museums found in the rural countryside back in Japan a little bit too much.
“C’mon Boss. Don’t just stand there and hurry up already.”
“Ok, ok, I know already, so stop pulling me! You’re gonna tear my arm off!”
Tina pulled me by the arm toward the art gallery. Man. Just where was Tina getting all this power from anyway? She’s so small and yet so strong. Well, it wasn’t just Tina. Whisker was the same as well. The strongest member of our crew was undoubtedly Mei, but the ones following after her should be Tina and Whisker. Oh, and by the way, despite the two’s small size, they actually weigh…… Oh boy. I’m suddenly feeling intense bloodlust from both the front and back. I ain’t thinking anything rude, ladies. Nope. No siree.
“Wow… These sure are pretty.”
“Hou, lacquerware huh?”
The first thing that caught our eyes after entering the gallery was an exhibit of lustrous, black boxes resembling lacquerware decorated with golden patterns. They resembled Japanese multi-tiered food boxes, with their gleaming black exteriors rife with golden plant motifs.
“They’re made by repeatedly brushing layers of resin on a wooden base, sprinkling metal powder to create decorations on the surface, then leaving it to dry. I’m not sure if these are produced the same way, but they sure look similar.”
After reading the exhibit description, I confirmed that they really were similar to wooden lacquerware. It seems they’re made by applying the sap of a tree native to Refill IV to a wooden box lots of times, and then sprinkling powdered gold in order to form the decorations on the surface.
“It’s just like how you described, Boss.”
“These boxes are really pretty…… I think I’ve never seen such a deep black color before.”
“Fumu. They do give off a unique elegance, I guess.”
Anyway, they certainly might be pretty to look at, but I’m not sure if they were that practical. The ladies might want to use them as cosmetics or accessory cases, but a boorish guy like me probably won’t find much use for them. I’d rather give them out as gifts. I might be able to use something like a lacquerware comb…… but plastic brushes are more than enough for me anyway. It just doesn’t suit me, but it might suit Mei and her lustrous black hair. I guess I’ll take a peek at the souvenir shop later and buy one after all.
Afterward, we proceeded deeper into the art gallery and found a variety of other items in addition to lacquerware. There were excellent-looking silk fabric rolls that were apparently made by weaving silk-like threads spewed out by silk moth larvae the size of a large-breed dog, as well as local outfits made from the said fabric. Among them was a Chinese-style dress similar to what Lilium was wearing. As for the description, it seems these were traditional dresses worn by Rose clansmen for generations.
“Oh, hey, Boss, I think that’s a spirit silver hunting blade over there.”
“Hou…… It kinda looks like a hatchet sword huh.”
It looked like a fairly large single-edged knife. As the name suggested, it boasts a blade made out of spirit silver. Regular silver was basically a metal that wasn’t fit for making blades, but it looks like that wasn’t the case for spirit silver. Does that mean it was stronger and tougher than the silver I was familiar with? It had ‘silver’ in its name, but perhaps it was a metal with very different physical properties.
“Isn’t it dangerous to go up against ferocious creatures with such a short blade?”
“Un. Well, as far as I’ve heard, some of the animals they hunt seem quite dangerous if provoked, so maybe they finish them off from a distance by using bows and arrows instead of this? They might only be using blades like this as a backup weapon or something to that effect.”
“Or maybe they use them as sub-weapons for instances when their prey manages to close in on them.”
“They might also be using them simply for delivering a coup de grace or dissecting their prey.”
“Ah, sis, there’s an unsheathed spirit silver blade we can pick up and try over here.”
Whisker, who was walking a bit ahead of us, suddenly called out. As I and Tina headed to where Whisker was, I glanced back and saw Mimi, Mei, and Elma talking in front of the exhibit displaying the various elven folk costumes. It looks like the former two were asking Elma about something.
“Oh, Boss, this thing is a lot lighter than it looks.”
“Hou? Let me see.”
The spirit silver’s hilt was actually fixed to a stand by a sturdy wire. It was probably an anti-theft measure. The blade was quite thick. Its length was probably about 30 centimeters or so. It was fairly large for a knife. It was a straight single-edged blade that looked quite sharp. This thing would probably run a human through quite easily even if you pulled your punches a bit. It actually kinda resembled a Japanese katana, or rather, a tantou.
“It really is light…… It’s so light that it feels like I’m holding a toy instead of a dangerous weapon.”
“It’s really light compared to iron. I think it’s as light as aluminum.”
“If it’s strong enough to be used to make blades, that’d make it plenty useful.”
“But PAM metals aren’t that heat-resistant though.”
“Their structural integrity will be instantly compromised the moment a laser hits them, so they aren’t suitable as materials for making starships. They also aren’t that great for making monoswords either. That’s because they would be practically useless the moment you block laser fire with them.”
While listening to the two’s explanations, I noticed something weird was happening to the hunting blade I was inspecting. Isn’t this thing vibrating like crazy?
“Hey, is this hunting blade actually equipped with a hyper-vibration mechanism or something? It’s trembling like heck.”
“I wonder? It won’t be strange for somethin’ like that to be tacked onto it to improve the sharpness of the blade, but it’s weird that even the hilt’s vibratin’. Ain’t that kinda useless?”
“If even the hilt’s vibrating, then it’s basically considered a defective product after all. I think it’s better to put that away, big brother. It looks dangerous.”
But what’s up with installing such a mechanism to a blade that’s meant for display? Well, it was scary alright, so I tried to put the thing back to its stand. And then–
The moment I placed the blade back on top of the exhibit stand, it shattered to pieces. It didn’t just snap in two. It literally crumbled to pieces. It was as if it got destroyed because it couldn’t withstand, uh, something.
“……Was that my fault?”
“I dunno…… But it’s true that you were the last one who touched it, Boss.”
“You didn’t do anything weird to it earlier, did you……?”
I don’t think it was my fault the blade broke, but it wasn’t good to keep quiet about it either. It can’t be helped, so I decided to call Lilium over to explain the situation.
“Eh……? This is–?”
Lilium looked pretty confused as she checked out the shattered blade of the hunting knife. Yeah, of course, she’d be confused. It would be a bit more normal if it was just split in two, but it’s actually crumbled to pieces after all. It was definitely weird.
“I’m not really sure what happened, but it broke even though we didn’t do anything weird in particular.”
“Neither us nor Boss actually touched the blade directly.”
“Yeah. I just held it by the hilt and checked it out for a short while. Honest.”
“Well, you’re the one who checked it out last though, Boss.”
“What a sudden betrayal.”
“Facts are facts, Boss. Ya gotta be honest in times like these.”
“Yeah, but still…”
As we bantered like that, a museum staff member came running to check the situation out and was also surprised to see the shattered blade. It looks like no one had any idea how it broke the way it did and why.
“Did you fire the laser gun on your hip at the blade……?”
“No, no, of course not. I really didn’t. And besides, there’s no reason for me to do that, is there?”
“Can spirit silver really be shattered like that if you fire a laser gun at it with the lowest output?”
“It’s possible, but we didn’t really do anything like that. Both Boss and us don’t have any reason to pull something like that off anyway.”
I don’t think I was the one who broke it, but it really was suspicious that I was the last person to touch it before the thing broke. That’s why I decided to just pay for the damages. They refused to accept the money though.
“The cause of the incident is currently unknown after all, and it doesn’t look like you intentionally broke it, sir.”
When we checked the security cameras for theft prevention, I was absolved of all suspicion since they didn’t manage to witness any odd behavior from the captured footage. It seems the shattered blade was going to be sent to a research facility to investigate the cause of its destruction.
“You really do cause all sorts of weird and troublesome stuff huh……”
“It’s not my fault……”
After all was said and done, I was glared at by Elma in exasperation while Mimi laughed bitterly on the side. Fine. I admit that I’m a trouble magnet, okay. But it’s not like I could have predicted that earlier incident anyway. I mean, how would I know a tough-looking hunting blade like that would actually crumble for no rhyme or reason?
“Um, this is probably a good time, so how about we return to the inn already, everyone? You can rest up a bit, and then we’ll have your welcome dinner.”
“Right, shall we, guys?”
Elma agreed with Lilium’s suggestion, and everyone else agreed as well. I was kinda worn out after that hunting blade incident, so I also agreed with taking a break. Let’s just hope and pray that no more troublesome stuff will occur during the welcome dinner.
 TL Notes: Tantou – a Japanese shortsword used in martial arts that were worn by samurai in addition to their tachi (the precedent of the katana).