We continue our story at the ranch.
The naked sheep are grazing peacefully, walking wherever they want, and eating as much as they want.
It’s a very pastoral scene, but…
“If we don’t have wool, we can’t get yarn, and if we can’t get yarn, we can’t make sweaters or bellybands!”
“Yes, but what is this yarn you keep mentioning?”
Even Batemy, a professional tailor, doesn’t know about the existence of yarn itself, so the concept might be alien to the people of this world.
I don’t blame them, what with their sheep looking like this…
Sheepskin is the raw material for paper.
In a world where this value is dominant, the sheep must’ve evolved to not have any wool due to the growing desire for parchment.
Because if people were to process their skin, the wool that grows from it would just be a hindrance.
I imagine it’d also be uncomfortable to write on wooly parchment.
Maybe people in the parchment industry made an effort to keep the wool off the sheep in order to improve work efficiency.
Even if they don’t know anything about selective breeding, they might have crossbred with empirically suitable breeds.
After hundreds of years of such repetition, wool-less sheep became the norm.
“What to do…”
I sigh as I look at the grazing naked sheep.
I knew woolen sweaters and bottoms would be just the thing to meet Batemy’s needs.
But there’s nothing we can do about it if the source doesn’t produce the material we want.
But now I also feel like spending this winter in a cozy sweater… Seriously, what to do?
“Should I check the dungeons and see if there’s a monster that has wool or something similar?”
Sounds like a hassle.
As I ponder, heart despondent…
I see something other than the sheep moving around the vast meadow.
“…Is that a human?”
No, this is the Demon Kingdom, so maybe it’s a demon.
But they’re dressed in shabby clothes and have a straw hat that gives them the impression of a farmer.
I guess demons are no different from humans, after all.
“Um, excuse me…”
I couldn’t help but call out to him.
An elderly who seems to work here notices me and comes over.
“It’s not every day we have visitors in this remote place. Is there anything my ranch can help you with?”
Rather than a random worker, he’s the actual rancher.
I maintain my courtesy and continue talking.
“Oh, we just thought how lovely your sheep looked.”
It’s not that I called out to him with a clear purpose in mind.
While making small talk, I wondered if I might be able to get a clue about any wooly animal.
“…I suppose there are some people who like to observe even the most mundane things. Well, you’re free to look around as much as you want.”
“Thank you very much.”
“I’ll be closing this ranch soon, anyway. You can stay here and watch while there’s still time.”
I was surprised to be told something so unexpected.
“Closing? You mean you’re quitting the ranch and not taking some temporary break?”
“Yes, we’re going to close it in earnest. It’s not profitable to raise sheep any longer,” says the rancher with a bitter smile.
“Oh no… But what about the sheep?”
“Those with good bloodlines will be taken to other ranches. The rest will be abandoned. Old sheep smell and are not edible, you see…”
Well, that was an unexpected bomb…
I know it’s a tough business, but still…
“Uh, isn’t that odd?” interrupts Batemy. “This is supposed to be a ranch owned by the Demon King’s Army. All the sheep here are used to process parchment and send it to them. There’s no way they’ll be abandoned! Office work will always need papers!”
She has a point.
Imagining my old workplace without paper is impossible.
“I get you, lass. But I’ve been told by the army that they no longer need our paper.”
“I heard they found a replacement, one that’s much neater and more durable than the paper we make.”
When was such high-quality paper being produced in the Demon Kingdom?
“I heard that the Pandemonium Trading Company produces that fine paper. All the government offices in the capital started to use theirs. Even the paper-making guilds in the city are affected…”
I agree with Batemy’s muttering.
Even if technological progress is indispensable, no one deserves to be threatened by its friction.
We should also take care of those who will be affected by the paradigm shift.
It just so happens I’m acquainted with Mr. Shax, the president of the Pandemonium Trading Company.
Maybe I should say something to him? Wait…
“Lord Saint… Is this perhaps…?!”
Batemy seems to have noticed it, too, from the look on her face.
Our farm also makes paper.
The trees we grow in the dungeon orchard are cut down to make lumber, and the orc and goblin teams make the paper.
I thought it’d be nice to have notebooks, but they didn’t have as many uses as I thought, so I decided to stop their production.
But when Mr. Shax saw it, his eyes glimmered, and said, “Please don’t! If you have no use for it, you can sell it to us! We’ll pay you as much as you want!!!”
I had no reason to refuse, so I sold it to his firm.
“But we don’t know what to do with the money we get, either…” I tell myself.
After that, our farm continued to make paper for Mr. Shax.
Our students do use them to write down notes lately…
“Batemy… This new contender in the market… You don’t think it’s…?”
“There’s a nine or ten chance out of ten that it’s made by us…”
That’s practically 100%!
So, it was us who brought this man’s ranch to close?!
God, and we have the nerve to show up here under the guise of observing!
“Well, Lord Zedan guaranteed us insurance, so it’s not like we’re left without means of sustenance. I’m going to gradually reduce the ranches’ size and simultaneously look for another job. Though, at my age, it’s hard to get a completely different one, so I’m thinking of raising some other kind of livestock…”
“I’ve only raised sheep, but that turned out to be my downfall. They’re not like cows or goats, so it’s hard to find buyers. But if I don’t do it, I’ll be losing my means of livelihood.”
I can only let out a dry laugh.
We! We are the root of the catastrophe that has befallen this man!
A sense of urgency compels me to do something about this situation.
I’m not so impudent that I can just turn a blind eye to the problems I’m responsible for!
“I-I know! Mr. Rancher, do you mind if I pet your sheep?”
“Pet? I don’t mind… But you’re a strange visitor.”
The rancher is more and more suspicious of my peculiar behavior.
However, I guess he’s more worried about his bleak future that he readily agreed to my strange request.
Soon after, he catches one of the sheep wandering around the grassland and grabs it by the scruff of its neck.
As expected from a professional livestock breeder, he doesn’t hesitate in handling the animal.
Up close, I could see how smooth its skin was.
Once again, seeing a furless mammal gives me weird vibes.
“Go ahead, touch it all you want.”
“Thank you very much! …Aw, what a good boy! Guwah!”
It headbutted me out of nowhere!
What a rambunctious sheep!
“I-It’s okay, just stay still. This will be over in a jiffy… Guwah!”
Despite the pain of the second hit, I managed to touch the sheep with both my hands.
It’s your time to shine, Hand of Supremacy.
My hands contain a gift from a god that allows me to bring out the full potential of anything I touch.
If I use it on this wool-less sheep breed…
The fluffy wool I know all too well covers the sheep.