e if it works out.4

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“Your charcoal doesn’t produce smoke at all.
The shape is also uniform, so it’s perfect.
The charcoal I have smokes a lot when burned and is misshapen.”

 

(That’s because it’s in an incomplete combustion state, isn’t it…)

 

You can’t make good charcoal by just throwing dried wood into the fire.

Even if it looks pitch black, it’s only because of oxidation, not carbonization.

The two have similar appearances, but the inside is different.

The charcoal Kimyoumaru used may be just burned wood reused as charcoal, or a crude product where corners were cut during the charcoal making process.

 

“Yeah, go ahead.”

 

Shizoku gave her acknowledgement.
She still has some charcoal surplus, so she thought it would be alright to sell Kimyoumaru some.

 

—————————————————–

 

A little later in April, Shizuko climbed the mountain to harvest a certain something.

 

“Well well, today we’re going to harvest the spring shiitake mushroom…no one else is here though.”

 

It was the spring shiitake mushroom.
In fact, shiitake mushrooms can be harvested in spring and autumn, and are called haruko(spring child).

Since there are very few mushrooms that sprout in the beginning of spring, haruko was enjoyed as the taste of spring.

“Oh, it’s growing nicely.
Well, after I was scolded by Aya-chan I quickly expanded the field… so I think this is passable.”

Shizuko initially intended to cultivate it for her personal consumption only, so the cultivation ground was rather sloppy.

The sunlight exposure wasn’t optimal and there was no fence around it so wild boars ate part of them.
Therefore, although there was a large amount of logs, only a hundred and a few dozen could be harvested.

Only after a lot of explanation from Aya, added with an order to “increase shiitake mushroom production” from Nobunaga, did Shizuko finally understand that shiitake mushrooms were a luxury item.

Things went hectic after that.
She received a large amount of logs, then built the place to line them up, cutting the surrounding trees to adjust the sunlight, and installed fences so wild boar can’t come in.

Thinking that it wouldn’t be good to pack them too densely together, she decided to divide it into several blocks.

 

Putting the people of Kinoko village aside, Shizuko had three blocks of shiitake cultivation.

One was a bit farther, but since the mushrooms were packed densely there, wild boars would often come and try to eat them.

Most of the time fences were enough to deter them, but it would be troublesome if they broke the fence by forcing their way through, so she put some logs outside the fences as decoys.

 

“This one is no good… this one is still too small, this one is ok.”

 

Not all shiitake mushrooms had grown nicely.
Some went bad, some were too small to be picked yet.

She plucked all the ill mushrooms and buried them.
As for the harvestable ones, she put them into a shoulder bag made from deer skin.

 

Although dear skins kept accumulating from the deer she hunted, they were unusable without tanning them first.

There are various tanning methods with the modern mainstream method being chrome tanning.
However, this method needs a wide variety of chemicals, so the only realistic choices were white tanning using rapeseed oil or vegetable tanning using tannin won from plants.
As rapeseed oil also had other uses, Shizuko went for using vegetable tanning here.

To tan the hides and turn them into leather, they would have to be put in a tank containing vegetable tanning solution for over half a year.

During that time, the concentration of tannin needs to be gradually increased during that time.

But, although vegetable tanning takes a lot more effort than chrome tanning, the produced leather is more robust and plastic (deformable), making it suitable for molding it into shapes.

As such, it’s suited to make things like bags out of it, like Shizuko had done with her shoulder bag and rucksack.

The major advantage of a bag is that it leaves your hands free.

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While irregularly shaped objects can be wrapped just as well with Furoshiki, you always need at least one hand to carry the item.

Therefore, a rucksack which leaves your hands free is much more convenient when climbing a mountain than a Furoshiki.

 

As she was harvesting mushrooms, she heard the rustling of leaves behind her.

When she turned around, she saw Kaiser, Wittmann and König.

Having found her, the three got close to her and started rubbing their bodies against her while requesting her to pet them.

At the same time however, they were overly on guard about the surroundings.

 

(…? Ah, maybe someone or something invaded their territory…?)

 

After coming to that realization, Shizuko looked around.
Of course, she couldn’t see anyone.

Yet from the wolves’ reaction it was obvious that someone must have entered the mountain.

So they must have come here to drive them out and found Shizuko while doing that.

 

Shizuko pulled a wooden slip from her shoulder bag and wrote a message for Aya on it with charcoal.

Its content was “Signs of an intruder on the mountain.
Send soldiers as precaution.” She tied it to König and then gave him an order using hand signs.

The command seems to have been understood as König nodded once before turning back on the way they had come.

 

With Kaiser and Wittman in tow, Shizuko headed for another Shiitake field.

Wild vegetables could be found on other mountains as well, and it is unnecessary to go this deep into the mountain just for them.
As such, Shizuko reasoned that the Shiitake fields as the unique fields of this mountain were the goal of the intruder.

Dried Shiitake mushrooms were a major export from Ming.
Bringing back even a single basket would allow you to obtain a sizable amount of money.

 

Arriving at the second Shiitake field, Shizuko first checked the surroundings.

However, there was no trace of anyone invading the field with lots of full grown and still immature Shiitake mushrooms growing on the logs.

 

(The second field is fine.
Which means, the third field a little further away from here…?)

 

Shizuko headed to the third Shiitake field.
Its environment was best suited to grow Shiitake, but a little bit too far from the village.

Stealthily following her were Kaiser and Wittmann.

When they were almost at the third field, Kaiser let out a low grumble.

Understanding that there really was someone here, Shizuko snuck closer.

 

Then they reached the gate in the anti-boar fence.

The gate was supposed to be tied close rudimentary with vines, but those were cut cleanly by a sharp blade.

Shizuko collected some plants in the vicinity, tying the door close with it, jamming in a stick to block it.

After closing the only entrance and exit, Shizuko went along the outer circumference of the fence and observed the situation, hoping that her tempering with the gate would serve to buy her some time.

 

(If you play with fire, you get burned.
I’ll just observe from afar)

 

Muffling the sound of her footsteps, Shizuko observed the interior of the Shiitake field.
Doing so, she spotted something moving in the back of the field

Perhaps letting down his guard, that individual was talking to himself.

 

“….what a strange place.
Why are felled trees arranged like this? And these are…”

 

Sunken in deep thought, the owner of this voice didn’t notice the low growls of Wittmann and Kaiser at all.

After ordering them to be quiet, Shizuko once again looked around.

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She noticed something on the fence close to her.
An Omiyari, a spear with a very long blade.

To let go of his weapon, that person must either be confident in their skill, or a total idiot.

Thinking so, Shizuko let her eyes search the area.
Luckily, there is no sign of anyone but the singular intruder.

Seeing as Kaiser and Wittmann showed no further reaction, it was safe to say that he was alone.

 

(It’s about 5 to 6 meters long… huh?)

 

Looking closer at the spear, she saw something engraved in the blade’s fuller (the groove in the center of the blade)

And just as she felt that she had seen that pattern before, loud voices sounded from far behind her.

 

“Shizuko-dono——!!! Are you safe——!”

 

It was Niwa’s voice.
At the same time, the sounds of dozens of feet as well as the faint rustling of armor could be heard.

He had probably brought quite a few soldiers with him after hearing of an intruder.

Of course, since Shizuko could hear it, so could the intruder too.

 

“Hm!”

 

Reacting to the voice, the bent over intruder snapped upwards.

There was no agitation visible in the person as he turned around to pick up his spear.

In that instant, Wittmann let out a loud howl.

 

“WHA-EH-HUH!”

 

Rather than barking like a dog, the howl was a resolute roar delivering an ultimatum.

In contrast to dogs, wolves rarely howl.

This is due to the fact that they instinctively understand that howling more than necessary will make them stand out and expose them to danger.

Other than warning their pack, or if they have a habit of doing so like the Japanese Wolf, wolves basically stay silent.

Therefore, the reason for the gray wolf Wittmann to howl is to declare to their opponent that “I’m your opponent and will hunt you down”, as well as to signal their pack to start the fight.

Seeing this, Shizuko stepped in front of Wittmann.

While Shizuko was the leader of the wolf pack, her desire to protect Wittmann and Kaiser was stronger than that.

So, even though she understood that it was reckless, she stepped forward.

On the other hand, surprised by the sudden wolf howl from his side, the intruder took up a stance reflexively and stopped.

And what he found in front of himself was a trembling Shizuko with her hands spread out as well as two giant wolves with bared teeth.

It seems like this scene was too unexpect for the intruder, causing him to panic.

 

“Wha, Wha, Wha! What are–!”

 

The intruder didn’t get out any more words but that.

With a thump, several arrows embedded themselves at his feet.

“Don’t move.”

Having finally arrived, the Oda soldiers including Niwa had completely surrounded the fence.

 

Arocks: To be honest, if I was Shizuko, I’d go for the American system over the Asian ones.
After all, it’s easier to just divide the villages in a grid pattern and name it like it’s a coordinate.  manshiro: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xuanming_calendar Arocks: Just how high were the fking literacy rates for Bulletin Boards to work?!  Arocks141: And there’s the agro knowledge I was missing from this series.

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