Arc 2 – Ninth Year of Eiroku Era, Owari Province Agricultural Reform

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Early October, 1566

The well excavator used by Shizuko was a simplistic tool for geological surveying called hand auger.1 The original use of this tool is to press the helically shaped drill called auger into the earth and rotate it by hand, cutting a hole into the ground from which one can then extract samples or survey the ground.
It is suited to survey and extract samples from the top few meters of either soft dirt, medium-hard damp earth, or sandy earth.
When using only human power, the efficiency of this tool steeply declines when one tries to dig deeper than three meters, but despite this, this tool is still being used in modern times when individuals want to survey the ground for a well.

“There has to be an underground water vein here.”

A wolf’s nose and ears are incomparably better than those of a human.
According to a certain piece of research, wolves are able to hear sounds up to distances of 6 miles (roughly 9 ½ km) in a forest, and in an open environment even up to 10 miles (roughly 16 km).
It is said that they can hear frequencies above 25 kHz, with some researchers claiming this to reach up to 80 kHz.
But before all else, the most distinctive feature of wolves is their superior sense of smell.
They can discern a wide variety of smells, are able to gain information about their companions’ activities from the smell clinging to them, and can pick up the smell of far away prey.

(Maybe he noticed the smell of water and told me to dig here because of it.)

Shizuko thought that Kaiser might have picked up the smell of water.
But she wouldn’t know whether her conjunction really was on spot unless they started digging, so it could still just be a wrong guess on her part.
Since there wasn’t enough time to look for another place after they started, digging at the place Kaiser indicated was something of a gamble.

“Heave-ho…..oh?”

After digging around three meters deep, the feeling of using the hand auger suddenly changed.
Instead of the sensation of digging through hard earth, it felt like digging through the sandy earth of a riverbed.
Suppressing her hopeful feelings while taking out the contents from the auger’s sampling area, Shizuko now held a water-soaked clump of sand she had expected in her hands.

“This might just work…?”

She eyeballed the distance from this hole to the village.
It was a little bit removed from the village, but not too far away.
The area around wasn’t as open as she would have liked, but there was nothing dangerous, such as a cliff, around.
There was enough space to build a hut over the well, so they could prevent rainwater from falling into the well.

(Is the spot where I drilled where rainwater flows downwards after permeating into the ground …?)

She had steeled herself to have to dig 4 or 5 meters, but seeing how water-soaked earth suddenly appeared after just around 3 meters, the chances of this water vein running along the slope of the mountain were high.
Shizuko didn’t know whether this water came from a stream running underground or whether it was filtered rainwater running down the mountain, but either way, with this the first stage was cleared.

“Heave-ho… I think we can get water from this soon…”

“I think we will still need a bit more….
Ah, I have got some, Village chief!”

After digging a little more than meter further down, at last, the water they had looked for was in the hand auger.
The next stage they needed to clear was “checking if the water was potable.” Even if it was a water vein they dug up with much effort, it would be useless if it was contaminated by something.

Kinzou let the water inside the hand auger flow inside a small wooden bucket.
The water looked like beautiful freshwater with neither any strange smell nor dirt in it.
But if it was contaminated with mineral substances, there were cases where judging by appearance alone was not enough.

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“Kaiser, is this water drinkable?”

As Shizuko couldn’t test the water with machines or chemicals, she bet on Kaiser’s lupine sense of smell.
If Kaiser refuses, there is a high probability that the water is contaminated in some way.
Kaiser stuck his head inside the bucket and sniffed the water.
Shizuko watched this with bated breath.

After Kaiser had eventually finished smelling the water, he started drinking it from the wooden bucket as usual.

From the fact that Kaiser drank the water, Shizuko judged that the water vein could be used as drinking water.
With this, they had reached the point where they could start digging the well in earnest.

“Now then, let’s start digging here.
But only a few are enough for this, so the other people can bring the tools here.”

The well Shizuko was going to build wouldn’t be a made dug well, but rather a drilled well made by boring.

With dug wells, people need to dig at the bottom of the well, so one needs to be aware of dangers such as suffocation from heavy or toxic gases, or being buried alive.
Since the amount of soil that needs to be dug up is large as well, there need to be workers besides the diggers who dispose of the dug-up soil.
Since it requires a lot of workers, a dug well is too dangerous in a mountainous area like this where secure footholds can be hard to find.

In contrast, a drilled well is made by piercing through an aquitard layer (a layer of ground through which water can’t permeate) and sticking a bamboo pipe into the underlying aquifer (the underground water vein), through which water can be pumped up.
This design uses little space, can be set up by a single person, and the amount of soil that is displaced is small.
But, depending on the location, the amount of groundwater might be too small, so it still is a method with its own advantages and disadvantages and not an unconditionally superior design.

After around twenty minutes, Tagosaku and the others came back carrying the tools.
This place was not too far from the village, so making round trips to the well wouldn’t be too much of a problem.
After having assembled all the necessary tools, Shizuko let only Kinzou and Tagosaku remain while sending Nisaku and Daiichi back to the village.

It was obvious that Nisaku was pushing himself too far.
But as he held pride in being responsible, straight up telling him to rest would only result in him continuing out of stubbornness.
So she gave him the task to “go back to the village and check on the filtering bucket with Daiichi”.
While he was visibly frowning, neither Kinzou nor Tagosaku nor Shizuko missed the small sigh of relief(?) that escaped his lips.

After seeing the duo off, Shizuko started the work necessary to set up the well.
But the actual drilling would be done by Kinzou himself, while Tagosaku would hand him the tools as ordered by Shizuko, while she herself would only instruct Kinzou on how to build the well.
When several people need to work in close quarters, conversely, the efficiency gets worse.
In addition, Shizuko thought that it would be better if other villagers besides her would also be able to do this work.

“I did everything as you told me to, Village chief.”

Kinzou has spent quite a while adjusting the bamboo pipe, but after around an hour, the well was finally set up.
Now they only needed to put together the parts they had prepared beforehand, but as Kinzou had done this himself several times in the past, he was able to do this safely without Shizuko’s instructions.

20 minutes later, the drilled well was finally complete.

 

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Shizuko primed the pump with water and moved the handle up and down.2 The value of this well would be decided how safely water could be pumped up.
If tricks were needed to operate it, the number of people that could use it would be limited.

“Ohh!”

But those turned out to be needless worries on Shizuko’s part as water gushed forth just by moving the handle up and down.
With joyous expressions leaving his mouth, Kinzou filled up the wooden bucket.
After it had filled up a bit, Shizuko stopped pumping and looked inside the bucket with Kinzou and Tagosaku.

“It looks clean, doesn’t it”

“Doesn’t look like there’s any dirt in it either.”

“It might take a while before water comes out, but if it’s this clean it should be fine, right?”

Seeing the clear water before them, the trio uttered their optimistic observations.
The last thing left to do was to make a path between the village and the well, but Shizuko didn’t need to supervise that herself.
It would be fine for Nisaku’s village to build it as they saw fit.
There was no need to give them detailed instructions on it, and doing it might be seen as patronizing.

“Now then, let’s pack up the tools and return back to Nisaku-san’s place.”

“That’s right.
The sun is about to set too, so we should get going back.”

“Yeah–… Wait, where are Kaiser and the others?”

Looking around, Shizuko noticed that Kaiser, König, and Wittmann were missing.
Wondering where they had gone, Shizuko looked a bit deeper into the forest.
There, she found the trio playing with a branch that was hanging down to the ground.

“Hey, we’re going home!”

Hearing Shizuko’s call, they gave a small bark before running towards her.
When they reached her, they all rubbed themselves against her legs in a bid to be fawned on.

“Yes, you’re all good boys–”

After petting their heads several times, Shizuko headed back to Nisaku’s village.
Ten minutes later they arrived at Nisaku’s village and Shizuko handed the tools over to Tagosaku whom she asked to return to their village first.

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“The others might get worried, so could I ask you to inform them?”

“Understood.
Is “everything is fine” good enough?”

“It’s all right.
The changes will take some time to show results.
But since we managed to set up the well, the lack of water should be solved.”

“That’s right.
Until later then, Village chief.
I’ll go back together with Daiichi-san.”

Tagosaku said with a slight laugh as he seemed to have also thought that Daiichi was pushing himself too much like Nisaku.
Since it was a sensitive subject, Shizuko just put on a bitter smile and glossed over it.

 

 

After confirming the effectiveness of the filtration device and teaching the villagers how to build it, Shizuko descended the mountain together with Kinzou.
Upon their departure, Shizuko was thanked again by the villagers which felt strange to her.
Since her self perception was that she had only given them some advice.

A few days after Shizuko had taken care of the problems of Nisaku’s village, Mori Yoshinari came to her.
But it wasn’t only him this time as a certain person was accompanying him.

“… A handmaid…?”

“Indeed.
In addition, I would like you to think of her as a liaison to me as well.” 

Sitting in a formal posture, Shizuko looked at the person behind Mori Yoshinari.
It was a girl around nine years of age.
From her outward appearance alone, Shizuko had the impression that she was a quiet girl.

“My name is Aya.
Please use me as you see fit.”

Having noticed Shizuko’s attention, the girl prostrated herself deep enough that her head was touching the ground.
Thinking that she herself was being rude, Shizuko straightened up and bowed the same as Aya had done.

“P-Please treat me well.”

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While Shizuko was intending to properly return the greeting, Mori Yoshinari and Aya only looked at her with a strange expression on their faces.
Thinking that she had made a mistake, Shizuko thought about what to say next while her eyes wandered about.
However, the more Shizuko became flustered, the darker their faces turned.

“…having someone bow to a handmaid is a first for me.”

“For me too.”

Hearing this, Shizuko remembered what kind of role a handmaid had.
Handmaids are women who serve a lady of high social standing and does chores for her.
In general, it was a purely female profession with basically no room for men.

Conversely, there were the pages which was a purely male profession.
The name originated from the term of serving a person of high standing, and as a general rule only young men from warrior families could serve this role.
Their main task was to serve their sworn liege and do chores for him as would a modern-day secretary.
As part of their duties, they needed to attend a variety of meetings together with their lord, so they needed to have extensive knowledge and impeccable manners.

On the other hand, they would also serve as the last line of defense protecting their lord on the battlefield, so they needed to be proficient in combat as well, making it a glamorous profession for gifted young men.
And more importantly, if one left a favorable impression on the lord, one’s successful career would be guaranteed, often leading to becoming close aides later on.

“It is fine.
That too is part of Shizuko-dono’s charm after all.”

“Thank you! Y-Your words are too kind.”

“So, from now on, pass on any issues you have to me using Aya.
The Lord is a busy man so wasting his time should be prevented.”

“U-Understood.
I will do as you say.”

Mori Yoshinari smiled happily at Shizuko’s words before turning to Aya.

“From this day on, devote yourself to serving Shizuko-dono.”

“Allow me to show that even if the life I hold was forfeit, I shall be a worthy handmaid to Shizuko-sama.”

(So, so cool!)

Shizuko thought that Aya’s declaration, which resembled a warrior swearing to protect their lord, was really cool.

“Yes, I will count on you,” said Mori Yoshinari with a brilliant smile on his face

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