The building materials are gathered, and the drawing of the plans is done. In addition, the deconstruction and cleanup are completed as well. Where 『Hog’s Cry』used to stand is now an empty lot. I thought that the construction can begin immediately, but it seems that another important event is needed before that.
「Groundbreaking Ceremony? 」1
「Yes. It’s to deliver offerings to the earth spirits and pray for the success of the construction and the blessing of the building. 」
「Hou……. That is certainly an important step. 」
「It came as a set with the 『Builders’ Rite』, it seems to come from a culture
in the east a long time ago. 」
It seems that this Groundbreaking Ceremony must be done before any civil engineering work or construction. I thought I had seen a lot of things in this world already, but I had no idea about construction work. Everything felt fresh to me.
It seems that Catlie is familiar with it, so under her instructions, everyone started preparing for the ceremony. Under Catlie’s orders, Ravi, Loy, Nicky, and I went to purchase the other items required. Meanwhile, Eihab went to the church to make an appointment with the priest.
He had experience building an inn, so it doesn’t seem he would have any difficulties there. Catlie gathered us and made sure we hadn’t missed anything. The preparation had been going well.
Then, finally the day of the ceremony arrived.
「At long last, the day has come. 」
In front of the vacant lot, Eihab spoke movingly.
「Catlie-chan, it’s all thanks to you. Thank you. 」
「No, don’t mind it! 」
「Catlie, why are you in a corner there? Aren’t you the main character today? 」
When Catlie was about to say something, a horse carriage pulled up to the scene.
「Daddy, that uncle is……? 」
「It’s the priest from the shrine. 」
Exactly like what Ravi said, the one who came was an elderly man. Both his hair and moustache are white, wearing a white robe with a cane in his hands. Two younger men were at his sides. He took steady steps and stood in front of the lot of land that will become 『Hog’s Cry』.
「First, we will have to put up a barrier here. 」
Then the elderly man chanted the skill for barrier. The barrier expanded as if covering the entire site.
(A demon repelling barrier huh……)
I understood it from the chanting instantly. It was a kind of barrier to block out any kind of evil spirits and the sorts. Of course, humans and beings with no ill intentions can go through just fine.
In the solemn atmosphere, everyone looked over the ceremony silently. After the construction of the barrier, the helpers sprinkled salt on the four corners of the ground. Then, they prepared an altar right in the middle of the land. Fruits, fish, liquor, and grains are presented on the altar, and the preparation progressed steadily.
Ravi who has a strong curiosity asked from the side in a soft voice.
「Why arrange the food there? 」
「It’s to offer them to the spirits. As a thanks for the spirits for lending their power, we offer them food. 」
「Spirits can also eat. I wonder what they like……」
I smiled at the child-like thoughts. After the preparation is completed, the ceremony started.
「The owner and those who are related with the construction, please step inside the barrier. 」
Receiving instructions from the helpers, Eihab was the first to enter the barrier. His wife and daughter, Diana waited for him without moving.
「Wife-san. You don’t have to go? 」
「Yes. They told us the last time we did it……」
「The ones that can enter the barrier is only males. 」
One of the helpers added on. When I heard that, I frowned. Again huh……. It’s the same with the matter in the craftsman guild.
Looking at Catlie, it seems that she has known about it from the start. While looking from the side, she didn’t even try to enter the barrier.
「Douglas-san, please participate together with Eihab-san. I will be waiting from the side with Ravi-chan. 」
Catlie who smiled slightly offered her hands towards Ravi. As if confused, Ravi asked after looking alternatively between me and Catlie.
「Daddy. I will wait here. ……But why can’t Diana-chan go in……? 」
「Diana-chan, she was looking forward to the ceremony. But, if it’s like this……」
At Ravi’s question, I couldn’t just say「That’s right. 」. I mean, it’s strange right. Why is the situation now like this?
「Priest-dono. Please tell me. Why is it that females cannot enter the barrier? 」
「Sorry. It’s such a tradition. 」
The helper answered. I wasn’t convinced.
「Why is there such a tradition? 」
With a gaze like looking at an ignorant person, the helper said sternly.
「Women are filthy, they are not allowed to take part in a sacred ritual. 」
I finally ran out of patience.
「Who said that women are filthy? Why are they called filthy? What makes them different from men? Why do you say such strange things? 」
Faced with consecutive questions, the helper wasn’t able to answer them promptly. The surprised faces of Eihab’s wife and Catlie were reflected in the corner of my vision.
「Eihab, sorry for ruining such an important day, but I’m not convinced by that reasoning……」
Eihab made a surprised face, before nodding his approval.
「No, it’s fine. I wasn’t convinced either. But, I just thought that it might be the case after being told so. 」
「Yeah. It was the same for me too before, if it wasn’t for the incident in the craftsman guild, I might be thinking the same right now……」
I muttered. I didn’t even realize that women are being discriminated against in so many occasions until now. That was pretty pathetic of me.
「Helper-san, it’s the ritual that the owner takes part in right? Then, what happens when a single woman builds her house? 」
「There hasn’t ever been an occasion where a woman built a house. 」
「It might happen in the future. There’s no way it’s impossible right? 」
A single woman can never build a house. Such a selfish decision, it can’t be true.
「My child is a girl. She’s the most important person to me. I must protect this child from such unreasonable discrimination like this. 」
I looked over at Ravi.
「When she wants to build a house of her own in the future, I’m sure she will do her best to save enough money for it. But even if she could build one, she can’t complete such a ritual? Do you mean that if a woman builds her own house, she cannot get the blessing of the spirits? 」
「T-That’s not the case……」
「You’re contradicting yourself now. 」
I talked towards the helper.
「Take a moment to reflect. Women are filthy beings, you kept saying lowly things as if it’s natural, and weren’t even bothered by it. Can you say that you’re still right now? Your wife, girlfriend, mother, daughter, whoever is fine. If someone dear to you is being discriminated just because 『She’s a woman』, do you not feel anything? 」
It seems that the helper wasn’t able to say anything back. Then, Eihab came near me while holding his crutches.
「I have the same thoughts as this guy. It’s wrong that my precious family who will live here together with me and the carpenter who will build it can’t take part. If they can’t take part in this, then we might as well not do this Groundbreaking Ceremony. 」
Eihab said the decisive words, and patted my back.
「Douglas-san, thank you. 」
It was Eihab’s wife who said that.
「We had given up. Since we took it as natural and thought that we can’t do anything to change it. But……」
「You were the first man to say such things.……」
The elderly priest opened his mouth for the first time.
「Fine. Wouldn’t it be good if the women take part in it as well? 」
「W-Will it be alright? 」
「The spirits aren’t so narrow hearted. They will surely give their blessings to everyone. 」
The elderly priest said so while nodding. Convinced, now all of us are properly inside the barrier together.
「To be able to take part in Groundbreaking Ceremony, it’s my first time. 」
Catlie said so happily while looking at me.
「Thank you, Douglas-san. With the power of the spirits, I will definitely do a good job! 」
We ended up starting a little after the scheduled time, but since everyone was now on the same page, the ceremony started in earnest. The words of prayer the priest sang reverberated in the sunny summer sky. Disregarding gender, we prayed for the safety of construction and the prosperity of 「Hog’s Cry」.