Question: How much food do three hundred thousand people require in a year?
Answer: It depends on the food.
Rikuson was mad beyond words when he was supplied that joke of an answer.
In the want for a concrete answer, he had tried asking a number of officials. All of them were well versed in supply logistics, so he thought they would give him a more sensible reply.
“I can’t give you a definite answer. The vegetation around the western capital is different from those of Kaou Province. Unlike the capital, rice is a high-class commodity here.”
Rikuson understood when he was told the reason. Despite his understanding, he asked many times.
If rice does not work, then wheat. If wheat does not work, then buckwheat. Putting together food supply that can be alternated—he wanted to get a calculation of how much of each he can secure.
However, none of the officials in the western capital would honestly do this much for Rikuson. Were they brushing Rikuson aside for being nothing more than a stranger, stopped by the higher-ups, or so busy they couldn’t take on the task?
“So this is what the Prince of the Moon feels all the time, huh,” he let slip amid a sigh.
As young as he was, that nobleman, who had to deal with Rakan’s obstruction all the time, worked hard. However, he wasn’t valued for hard work alone. The imperial clan isn’t treated as right if they don’t get the highest of evaluations.
Rikuson heard footsteps, and the sound of the door being knocked.
“This is a letter from Kaou Province.”
Rikuson accepted the box. Honestly, it was hard to call it a letter. The box was bound with a thread that was tied up like an accessory. He often received this kind of letter in the capital. There is a standard way to tie the cord. When unravelled, it can’t be tied back to how it was before.
Although there is a trick to untying the string, Rikuson was honestly out of energy. Using a small knife, he cut the cord and opened the box.
The letter in the top of the stack had “目糸隹”. It was a secret code, a play on the character “羅”(Ra) broken down into components. Rahan enjoyed using this mainly when he corresponded with Rikuson.
Rahan, due to his relation as Rakan’s nephew, frequently worked with Rikuson. To Rikuson, the other man was more a friend than a colleague, but he reflected that, in the end, they only talk about work.
“As expected of him.”
Rahan, who was proficient with numbers, had given Rikuson the precise data he wanted.
In the case of rice, one koku (一石, 150kg*) that is harvested from one tan (一反, 1000m2), can be considered the amount one person consumes. Of course, the proportion of rice changes when you include other foodstuffs. Rahan had written in detail about how much the quantity changes when it is replaced by wheat, bean, or sweet potato. On top of that, he had even included the pros and cons of storage, the ease of distribution, and the current market value.
(T/N: This is the measurement the author gave.)
“I thought he was going to advocate for sweet potato, but was I wrong?”
Rahan’s biological father cultivated sweet potatoes, but compared to rice and wheat, it is difficult to store and doesn’t keep for long.
Of course, Rahan had probably investigated it extensively.
Rikuson got dizzy from the detailed row of numbers. Rahan probably wrote it with proper organisation, but the ability to grasp things from looking at numbers is rare. Rikuson can now do it when the situation calls, but generally, he could only understand nothing more than numbers at storefronts when shopping.
With glazed eyes, he read the smooth text of data. At long last, on the final page, appeared an article that wasn’t an explanation of the numbers.
He had heard that the Prince of the Moon and Rakan will be coming to the western capital. If the schedule was favourable, would it be in another ten days?
Being a ship boarded by the imperial clan, apparently, three sailing vessels had been prepared. And it was said that there will be more ships later on.
They will be stopping at major ports along the way. More ships will be joining the expedition at every stop.
Pirates may appear on the sea route to the western capital. A ship boarded by the imperial clan will be no different from a battleship. The boats that followed the ships were probably being used to ward off pirates.
Of course, the boats won’t be able to follow without obtaining some permission. There should be conditions attached to the permission. Naturally, they won’t give permission to suspicious merchant vessels.
He understood the reason they purposely took the sea route.
“Was it someone’s suggestion?” Rikuson smiled and returned the letter into its box. Then he picked up the thread he cut moments ago.
Although it was his own doing, he regretted cutting it. He searched through his drawer for a new piece of string, then took out a piece of hemp cord to twine around the box.
He stored the box in the trunk under the shelf and gave a wide stretch.
“Should I take a short stroll?”
Indeed, he has been talking to himself more often.
Let’s leave the office and take a round through the courtyard. Gyoku’ou wasn’t at the gazebo today. Rikuson was relieved since he will have to pay attention to the man if he were, but instead, he found it noisy outside.
Changing course, he headed towards the sound. There were brawny men shouting.
Are they fighting? Rikuson thought. There were two men grappling in the middle of a crowd of men. No, that’s not right. They were wrestling.
The men creating a racket were laughing merrily. Rikuson remembered all of them to be military officials. The scarves around their heads were all the same colour—blue.
Rikuson was drawn in; he almost stuck his face out. When the grappling was over, he recognised the winner. It was Gyoku’ou.
The sight of him laughing with his subordinates, covered in sweat, didn’t look like the individual who controlled the western capital at all. The people around him probably saw him as a good-humoured lord who thought about the people below him.
He couldn’t believe that Gyoku’ou would be wrestling with lower officials to earn points. Moreover, the person himself was probably having fun as well.
It would be troubling if Gyoku’ou were to discover him. If he were told to wrestle with the other man, his body wouldn’t be able to take it.
Rikuson decided to return to his office. It seems it would be better to devote himself to work than to have a change of pace. Rikuson came to the western capital to assist in the areas Gyoku’ou lacked in.
Rikuson’s responsibility was large, but even he felt that it didn’t mean for him to not work. The hustle and bustle from the revelry today as well, seemed to be effective in catching people’s hearts.
He sighed again.
“That person is needed in the western capital, huh.”
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