Episode 59. Territorial Development (2)

‘Let’s make a public bathroom.”

For example… a bathroom.

“A public toilet? What’s so important about that?”

“The environment needs to be clean to avoid the spread of diseases, but Rheinperle is too dirty at the moment. On top of that, the residents don’t wash enough. It’s the perfect breeding ground for disease.”

Seon-Hyeok’s face fell when he heard Julian question him with a sullen voice. He almost felt ashamed of himself. After all that thinking, the best idea he had come up with was a bathroom.

However, if he was able to establish proper bathrooms, they would not only be able to improve the sanitary conditions of the village, but also secure a constant supply of fertilizer for farming. This was the full scope of the breakthrough he had envisioned.

“It’s my first time hearing such a thing.”

“It was common knowledge where I lived. Once you gather enough excrement, you can cover it up with something like straw to allow it to ferment and later use it as compost to help with farming.”

He wasn’t an expert on farming, but he could clearly tell that agriculture in this world was rudimentary. Even as he looked around, he could see too much land idling and not being put to good use.

“Harvest yields decrease if you exhaust the earth energy contained within the ground. The land will suffer irreparable damage if it’s not allowed to rest at the appropriate intervals.”

“I’m saying the compost will rejuvenate the earth energy.”

Julian didn’t look convinced, but nonetheless went along with what Seon-hyeok said. It was times like these that made the burdensome position of being a lord so convenient. By virtue of being a lord, Seon-Hyeok was able to come out ahead in discussions, even when his knowledge on topics was lacking.

“If possible, make as many as you can. If there aren’t enough bathrooms, people will end up taking care of business elsewhere instead of waiting.”

Even though he called it a public bathroom, in reality, it simply denoted a hole dug in the ground with a tent set up around it. Since it didn’t cost much to make, the bathrooms would not be difficult to implement even under relatively tight financial conditions.

“When shall we begin?”

“As soon as possible.”

“In that case, I’ll get the right people and have the project started tomorrow.”

Julian looked as though she couldn’t understand why a lord would even care about how his people went to the bathroom.

“Do you have any additional instructions?”

“Yes. There’s this object called a watermill…”

Julian stared blankly at him as he tried to explain.

“So a watermill looks like this…”

Seon-Hyeok tried his best to explain, but she couldn’t understand what he was talking about. This very problem kept him from implementing a number of his suggestions. Because he, as the inventor, had shallow knowledge about the concepts behind his proposed inventions, he was unable to properly convey his ideas. In this situation, even his authority as a lord proved useless, and he just stamped his feet in frustration.

He found help from an unexpected source.

“Oho. You’re talking about a water wheel.”

Unable to understand his words, Julian called for the royal examiner. Surprisingly, the official not only knew about the invention he tried to explain, but he also had a deep understanding of the underlying concepts.

“What is a water wheel?”

Hearing Julian’s question, Seon-Hyeok left the answering to the examiner, and he did not disappoint in his response.

“It’s a wheel that spins as a result of falling or running water. By connecting different contraptions to the water wheel, it can act as a substitute for horses and oxen. However, water wheels aren’t used much because of inherent restrictions. Namely, they need to be built near water, and unlike horses, they can’t be moved.”

The official wasn’t a particularly talented mage, but he was fundamentally sound. In this world, mages also held the roles of inventors and scientists. Seon-Hyeok was enamored by the mage’s extensive knowledge and stared at him.

“How long did you say you were going to be here?”

“I’ll remain until the mine is properly developed and operational. Only then can I report on its output to the royal family.”

Hearing this, Seon-Hyeok stared at the examiner even more intently.

“You won’t have much to do until then. Won’t you be bored?”

“Isn’t that what all developing villages are like? I’m accustomed to dealing with boredom.”

This was the answer he had been waiting for. Seon-Hyeok’s eyes lit up as the examiner took the bait.

“Royal examiner. No, rather, Sir Jeneger.”

“Viscount Drachen?”

Seeing the lord call on him with a serious expression, Einst Jeneger responded equally seriously.

“Would you like to relieve some of that boredom with me?”

Seon-Hyeok revealed all of his knowledge of the other world to Einst Jeneger. Most of the ideas he had were impossible to implement because of deficiencies in fundamental skills or background knowledge, but occasionally, his suggestions proved promising.

“Using a water wheel to take water at lower elevations and deliver it where it is needed? How interesting. It is definitely worth experimenting with.”

Perhaps because he was a mediocre mage with little hope for personal growth, Einst Jeneger showed considerable interest in his knowledge of the other world.

“This won’t be a short-term project.”

Einst even sent a letter to the royal family asking for permission to remain in Rheinperle after fulfilling his official duties there. It seemed he was excited about the prospect of acquiring further knowledge and ideas.

The royal family readily granted his request. Their only condition was that he continue to carry out his responsibilities as a royal examiner during his stay.

“Ugh. It feels like I’m becoming indebted to the royal family again. I’m sure I’ll need to repay them later.”

Seon-Hyeok worried about falling into debt once again, but Einst reassured him.

“You may not have noticed because you were stationed at the frontier, but the foreigners at the capital have already been a source of new information. It was amazing to see how the royal capital changed day by day before I left.”

When Seon-Hyeok thought about it, this wasn’t too unexpected. Upon first arriving in this world, foreigners needed to focus on surviving and proving their worth, and thus were unable to worry about other matters. However, after some time, they were able to find their place in this world. At that point in time, they could afford to spread the culture and product ideas of their home world.

“The royal family has a very favorable view of products from the foreigners’ civilizations. You don’t have to be concerned about receiving special treatment in that regard – they have gone so far as to instruct the royal mages to fully collaborate on related matters.”

It was in line with the rational attitude the royal family had shown him until this point. Einst showed his approval for the foreigners’ advanced technology, revealing that he had been working on developing a printing technology and a cheaper paper to replace expensive parchment before leaving the capital.

“Ah…”

Bathrooms, fertilizer, and water wheels had been the extent of his imagination, and Seon-Hyeok felt these ideas didn’t hold a candle to the others’ suggestions. Even so, he had no reason to lament his situation or be disappointed. After all, it was simply the result of all the foreigners having unique backgrounds when they first arrived in this world.

Right now, he only stood to benefit by implementing any usable technologies within his land.

“There are some products you might be able to use yourself, but I can’t think of many that would help with the territory’s development.”

Unfortunately, none of the technologies already introduced from the other world were candidates for immediate use in his territory. Each and every one had been for the nobles’ entertainment or related to their dignity.

“Is there really nothing?”

“Yes. If you would like, I can request a list of technologies from the capital, but I assure you there is nothing there that would interest you.”

Einst Jeneger sounded confident. To Seon-Hyeok, this reality seemed strange.

How was it that every last proposal had to do with the nobles’ entertainment or quality of life? Shouldn’t there have been at least something there to enrich the lives of ordinary people?

“Well, I guess they’re looking out for their own wants first.”

Seon-Hyeok quickly reached the answer. The majority of foreigners assigned to the capital were either already part of the nobility or had a similarly respectable status. They had no reason to share inventions designed for commoners - people they would likely never meet.

Seon-Hyeok got goosebumps as he pondered the situation. It occurred to him that the royal family could be keeping a strict watch on everything with this in mind.

“Maybe…”

He was lost in his thoughts.

‘All men are people.’

‘No person is above another.’

The world where the foreigners came from was based on democracy. It fundamentally rejected the way this new world operated. They had been educated on the importance of equality from a young age, and in a way, foreigners could be considered a tremendous risk factor for the monarchy.

There was no way the royal family was unaware of this threat, as the foreigners had complained from the moment they were first sent to the training camp. Despite this, the royal family was generous with their support and ultimately embraced most of them.

At that time, Seon-Hyeok thought it was because of the value they provided, but after becoming a lord, he realized how simplistic that mindset had been.

The royal family induced change within the foreigners. The foreigners were made accustomed to special treatment and privileges, and as a result, had a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. This process extinguished their potentially threatening ideals and values, and the end result was that they were no longer risk factors, but rather newly elevated aristocrats who just so happened to be foreigners.

And indeed, the only products and technologies they propagated in the capital were those necessary to make the lives of nobles and royals more enjoyable and prosperous. It was almost as though they had made a secret agreement.

When he thought about it, the king was a truly great, yet terrifying being.

It was amazing how the royal family perfectly managed to embrace what was necessary while excluding anything that made them uneasy.

“Viscount Drachen?”

“Huh? Yes, please speak.”

Lost in thought, Seon-Hyeok finally came to his senses upon hearing Einst Jeneger’s voice.

“If you’ll allow me, I will take a carpenter from the territory and try to make that water wheel. Though I’m familiar with the underlying theory, I’ve never actually made one before. I believe I will get a better understanding by physically experimenting with it.”

“Please do so. I’ll let Julian know, so feel free to tell her if you need anything else.”

Seon-Hyeok wrapped up the conversation and rose from his seat. As if he had been secretly waiting for him to leave, Einst Jeneger took out his pen and parchment and immediately got to work.

“Please let me know when you have a final product.”

All Seon-Hyeok heard was the motion of a pen, and not a reply, as he left Einst’s residence.

***

“Aigoo! Pretty thing! I’m so proud!”

Seon-Hyeok praised Goldrake when he saw his drake munching on something. The monster had cowered out of fear of being smacked on the head, but belatedly relaxed and straightened his neck. He must have sensed he was being praised.

“How is it? It’s not just rocks, right?”

Because he had been busy planning and developing the water wheel, Einst Jeneger had a sullen expression as he was summoned by the lord.

“Oh! It’s iron this time. There are a lot of impurities mixed in, but it’s most certainly iron ore.”

His disapproving look did not last, considering this was already the second ore vein discovered in this barren land.

“Hell yeah! I’m rich!”

“Viscount! Please remain dignified!”

Julian interjected out of disapproval, but Seon-Hyeok didn’t pay her any mind. There was no reason for him to be on edge around Einst, considering he had already revealed his true nature in his research collaborations with the examiner.

He rejoiced at the discovery of the second mineral vein. However, there was a saying that fortune and misfortune are like twisted strands of a rope. A letter soon arrived bearing bad news.

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