“…What is it at this late in the night? What emergency is it?”
I came to meet the representative of Zakuroa, Julian Laichi. The Banjar Mercenaries are currently tasked with protecting the exhausted Zakuroa.
Jean is lurking in the eastern mountain range, and scouting the enemy movements. Loroka-sensei is currently doing the job of forming a defensive strategy together with the Diaros and the zakuroans. The idiot Gindo is putting his all into making a new bomb.
“…A comrade of mine…disappeared in duty.” (Solje)
“No, sorry, it doesn’t involve Zakuroa. Don’t worry.” (Solje)
“That…does ease my mind, but…that doesn’t apply to you.” (Julian)
“Yeah, a comrade went missing in the battlefield. That’s why I must go rescue them… The place is… Graces Kingdom.” (Solje)
“Graces? …A fortress city quite in the south. The kingdom of the dwarves.” (Julian)
“That’s right. The 6th division of the imperial army was approaching the national borders, so we were checking out their movements on the request of Queen Claris.” (Solje)
“I heard that Graces is mostly in an isolated state, but are they going to ally with the Ludo Kingdom?” (Julian)
“No, she did try tapping into it, but it is not as if we have heard a good response from them.” (Solje)
“I see. They are known for being stubborn after all… Sturdy ramparts and a steep mountain range, and the robust dwarf warriors.” (Julian)
“They are a brave bunch, but no matter how much bravery there is, they are going against numbers. The 6th division has as much as 40,000. Not even the dwarf warriors are going to be able to stop that.” (Solje)
“Even with that, they refuse an alliance?” (Julian)
Dwarves are indeed stubborn. The blacksmith dwarf from long ago was the same, wasn’t he? …Their policy is to not do what they don’t want to do. And for good or bad, they honor tradition.
If every generation is nationally isolated, they will choose national isolation even till the day they perish.
“That’s their way of living. But…Queen Claris thinks that there might be a chance we can join hands with them. She and the Ludo Kingdom are special after all. Demi-humans and humans are coexisting after all. That’s why we wanted to check the movements of the Empire even if it meant utilizing one of our mercenaries.” (Solje)
“Depending on the situation, Ludo would send reinforcements to Graces?” (Julian)
“It would have most likely been the case.” (Solje)
“Would the dwarves of Graces accept it?” (Julian)
“…I can’t read them. But it is better to prepare for it.” (Solje)
Also…if we can manage to emigrate at least the royalty…
You can create a resistance even if you are outside of the country after all.
In other words…there’s a high chance a mission to emigrate the king and their family alone by using Zephyr would come to me.
“…If it is to the point that Camilla has been exposed to a dangerous situation, there’s not much time before a war happens.” (Solje)
“Fumu, honestly, you leaving this place would feel like a huge loss of power though…” (Julian)
“We defeated the 5th division not that long ago. There’s no way we will get attacked that often… The Empire will be taking time to investigate the Diaros after all… You don’t need to pay our share either. I am sorry for making you uneasy here.” (Solje)
“…No, right people in the right place. It is not like Zakuroa is receiving an attack currently. You should go save your comrade.” (Julian)
“It puts me at ease that you say that.” (Solje)
“…I pray for your safe journey.” (Julian)
“It is not assured that it will become a fight though…” (Solje)
“…No, I am sure you will end up fighting.” (Julian)
“Do you evaluate me as such a violent man?” (Solje)
“Of course. You cannot abandon demi-humans that will be hurt.” (Julian)
“…Would you be able to?” (Solje)
I ask a question as if testing him. Julian made a serious expression.
“…I am a merchant, you know? I don’t judge a customer by their race.” (Julian)
“I see.” (Solje)
“It is not to your level, but…the prejudice of the zakuroans towards the demi-humans is low. This place has been influenced by the Garuna culture, too. Also, it is not like the saviours of our country were only made up of humans.” (Julian)
“…Will Zakuroa accept the demi-humans?” (Solje)
“Yeah! As much as possible!” (Julian)
“…Would I be able to bring dwarf refugees?” (Solje)
“Our death toll in the war wasn’t low. We are short on hands, so we would welcome them with open arms. Also, we would like to begin trades with the Diaros. There’s no way we would refuse good craftsmen.” (Julian)
As expected of a merchant city that matches the Ludo Kingdom. It seems he is planning on forming a new trade route, and it is not bad.
Loroka-sensei and her father Chieftain Gilliam are also passionate about creating a trading route with Zakuroa. They also understand that to get along with a city of merchants, they need to join the equation.
Right, instead of connecting hearts, by creating a bond with the desire that is gains, it would go faster. When Zakuroa gets their hands on the hides the Diaros get north, they will be able to gain lots of profits.
And the Diaros, by buying imported goods from Zakuroa, their culture will change. Their closed up feeling might disappear. That hard Diaros culture getting even a tiny bit milder will probably be necessary for the reconciliation of humanity as a whole.
“Thanks, Julian Laichi. Sorry for throwing you a question that sounded like I was testing you.” (Solje)
“Don’t mind it. I am a merchant, so I don’t hate being tested.” (Julian)
“For the sake of making better products?” (Solje)
“Right, and also…” (Julian)
“Merchants are dutiful… There’s cases where we get crushed by bad luck. That’s why we treasure debts of gratitude and bonds… That’s why we were able to maintain this small country independent for 300 years.” (Julian)
“I see. It is true that your way of living made me…and even the undead knights stand.” (Solje)
“Yeah, I believe that’s the case.” (Julian)
“…When the refugees come, I am counting on your support. Dwarves have a lot of requests when it comes to their dwelling environment. There will probably be craftsmen that will want to hammer metal in a colder land than the Ludo Kingdom after all.” (Solje)
“Of course, they are welcome. But…it would be best if their country doesn’t fall though.” (Julian)
“I truly hope so too from the bottom of my heart.” (Solje)
“Solje Strauss, I will spare nothing in my cooperation with you.” (Julian)
Julian Laichi takes off his usual calm merchant mask, and his face becomes that of a passionate man. The passion of Vashiri-jiisama must have infected him a bit when he stood by his side in the battlefield.
Life may be finite, but…there’s times when the soul is passed on.
The new guardian of Zakuroa is the merchant with a smart face and tidy beard around his mouth.
“We zakuroans won’t forget your backs. Please remember that.” (Julian)
“Our backs?” (Solje)
“A human, a dragon, a half-elf, an elf, a diaros, and a cait sith…those gallant figures of when you run towards that massive army for our sake…we zakuroans are not so foolish as to forget that.” (Julian)
“You are praising us way too much, we are mercenaries.” (Solje)
“But it is not because of your work…that you guys were able to charge towards that many enemies, right?” (Julian)
“It is in our nature. But if it is to protect you guys, we won’t hesitate to rush to our dying place. The wind blowing in this land is…similar to that of Ludo and Garuna.” (Solje)
Right, as long as this wind exists, I will risk my life as many times as needed. I believe that this wind has plenty enough worth to offer my life to.
Vashiri Nova and Mistral…the way of living of the people that walked ahead on the path of chivalry, and their dying moments…they were unbelievably cool.
“Looks like I have made a great merchant owe us a big one.” (Solje)
“…Yeah, a really big one. I am simply answering the debt. Trades always have to be for the benefit of both sides, after all.” (Julian)
“I see. Difficult words don’t register in my brain, but I can really feel your support. I owe you one, Julian Laichi… Later then.” (Solje)
“Yeah, Sir Strauss. Wish you luck in your journey. I won’t ask you not to push yourself. Pushing yourself is in your nature after all.” (Julian)
“See? You get it.” (Solje)
“Yeah, that’s why, I will tell you this. Please kill as many enemies as possible, and save just as many…by swinging that big and strong sword of yours.” (Julian)
So he says, Ares.
Let’s kill a whole lot next time too.
…But Julian Laichi is quite the merchant. Using words that make me smile. With his conversation skills alone. Maybe I am way too simple? …Oh well, that’s fine.
No matter the case, my heart is light for some reason. It is a severe situation, but the hope in my heart has increased compared to before.
Having someone that understands you is something to be really happy about. I feel like I am 300 grams lighter. I am sure I will be able to kill my enemies faster than before.
“…Aah, thanks, I will do the best I can.” (Solje)
“Please get the necessary equipment from the East Zakuroa Company. I will open the store for you. Whether it is medicine, food, or arrows…take whatever you need! I will give you a nice discount.” (Julian)
The fact that it isn’t completely free is really merchant-like.
Well, thankfully, defending Zakuroa pays good, so we have leeway in money…
Now then, yeah, we do need to buy some goods, and…I gotta go get my armor that’s in the middle of repairs.
Gotta use our time efficiently.
I will reduce the time we need to use for supplies. And then, I don’t know what’s the situation at all, but we will definitely save you, Camilla Breeze!!
I touch my eyepatch.
I activate the golden dragon eye Ares left me.
If I use this, I can converse with Zephyr even when far away, and share our vision. Quite the awesome thing, right?
(…Oi, Zephyr.) (Solje)
(What, Doje?) (Zephyr)
(How’s your side? Did Mia wake up?) (Solje)
(Yeah, Maje woke her up.) (Zephyr)
(I see. Can you tell Riel to buy food and medicinal plants?) (Solje)
(Got it, I will tell her.) (Zephyr)
(Yeah, I leave it to you. I am gonna go kick awake the armory store old man. The repairs of my armor should have been done, but…if he hasn’t, then I will have no choice but to buy a new one.) (Solje)
(It would take money.) (Zephyr)
…You can’t buy the life of a crew member.
(Listen here, Zephyr. The lives of enemies are worth less than a coin, but protecting the life of family has a heavier and more precious worth than taking away the life of all enemies.) (Solje)
(Etch that philosophy to your heart. We are family. We won’t spare any lives for the sake of each other.) (Solje)
(We are the world’s strongest!) (Zephyr)
(That’s right. That’s my Zephyr.) (Solje)
(Once you finish your shopping, fly to where I am. The street in front of the armory store is decently big, and it is late in the night, so there shouldn’t be anyone aside from drunkards. You should be able to land.) (Solje)
(Ah, right, don’t go breaking stuff aside from when you are in the battlefield. That’s the general rule.) (Solje)
(Understood. I won’t break.) (Zephyr)
(But destroy everything in the battlefield. The enemies’ bodies, hearts, and life. Okay? Promise Doje.) (Solje)
(Yes, understood! I will break everything!) (Zephyr)
(That’s right. That’s the only path that can be taken to become a great dragon. Work hard, okay? I want to see your cool figure as many times as possible.) (Solje)
- Chapter 135
“Oi! Wake up!! It is me!! Solje Strauss!!” (Solje)
I bang on the door of the armory store pretty late at night without holding back. I could hear rattling from inside, so it is for sure that he is up.
“Aah!! Geez, yeah yeah! I am opening already!!”
The voice of a middle aged man resonates, the sound of an unlocking door rings.
Please hurry. The life of my crew member is at stake here. I am in a bit of a hurry here, so please be careful with your attitude.
“I am entering!” (Solje)
“Eh, yeah, go ahead!”
I push the door open. The inside of the store…smells like flowers? The store is cleaner than the last time I came. What’s the matter owner, image change?
The old and musty atmosphere of before made me feel your ability though… Well, fine. More importantly, Camilla and my armor.
“Hehehe, Boss Strauss, what business do you have today?”
“My armor. The armor I brought here for repairs, the plan was to get it tomorrow in the morning, but I have an emergency. It is ready, right? Can you give it to me?” (Solje)
The owner falls silent.
We are still in the cold spring of Zakuroa, and yet, he has sweat coming out from his whole body. If it is cold sweat, just what in the world did he do to my armor?
“You don’t have it ready yet?” (Solje)
“I-I’m sorry! I was planning on waking up damn early tomorrow to finish it up! It is almost finished, but the small adjustments are not done yet!”
Damn it!! I wanted to begin plans in the best state possible though…
Looking at the scared middle aged man pains my heart…my face being scary is half by birth, the other half is because I can’t help worrying to death about Camilla.
“I got it…I am the one that came before the arranged time.” (Solje)
“T-Thank you for understanding!”
Just how atrocious of a customer do you think I am? I mostly act with respect towards workers though.
“Hehehe, over here, Boss.”
I walk in the now clean up store… Just recently, it had a more veteran stink to it, and there were tools and materials here and there. It was the kind of dirtiness that excited me, but…for some reason, tonight it looks like the store of an unreliable beginner.
“…Owner, are you going to change jobs?” (Solje)
“Heh? I-I don’t have plans to do that though?”
“I see, sorry. The store was so clean that I thought you were planning on selling it or something.” (Solje)
“No, it is not that.”
“Is that so.” (Solje)
“I am in a hurry here. If you want to tell me that much, make sure not to stop your arms and legs, okay?” (Solje)
“Yeah, of course… Uhm, first, this! Strauss-sama’s army!”
My armor was laying on the work room. The dragon scale armor. The armor of a dragon knight created by putting several materials together. It is a light and resilient mythril plate with small armor fragments that resemble scales. Armor that gives room for mobility.
It was adjusted in a way that accommodates the movements of my arm and spine; it is quite the great masterpiece. It seems like that armor is currently on top of the work table, and from the looks of it…
“Hmm…Looks like the dents are gone.” (Solje)
“Yeah, there was the need for rare materials, so it was hard, but the holes and dents are gone. I have also changed the ‘scales’ in this part. I have finished most of the adjustments in the whole armor.”
“Then, where’s the problem?” (Solje)
“This is a special product after all. I have to make the final adjustments while you are wearing it.”
“…Makes sense. Can you do it now? In 10 minutes?” (Solje)
“N-No, I need at least 40 minutes or it will be impossible.”
“Just do the minimum. I will test it out, so if there’s any point that bothers you, fix it please.” (Solje)
“U-Understood… Wait, are you telling me to hit it with a hammer while you have it on?”
“Yeah, as long as you don’t hit my bones, I will forgive you. It may be a problematic job, but a life is at risk here. Anyways, no need to ask for compromises here, I want to create the best situation possible. There’s no time, so let’s begin.” (Solje)
And so, I put on the dragon scale armor. I follow the instructions of the old man while helping him out.
Swing your fists three times; there’s the need to increase the space here; when you are swinging your sword, is it putting pressure in your muscles?
Narrow the neck area a bit; with this, when taking a spear, the blade will cut your artery.
My armor is being finished while being given out minute adjustment points.
He hammers my armor, armguards, and iron boots while speaking.
“Boss, you asked why the store was clean, right?”
“Yeah, I did. And you seemed to want to say something.” (Solje)
“Can I? Aah, of course, I won’t lower my work speed.”
An expert is someone that can do many things at the same time. That’s because their bodies have been trained in their crafts well enough their bodies can move on their own and it gives space for extra actions.
I trust this man can do the same.
“It is okay, speak. A craftsman with less stress moves their hands better, or so I have heard.” (Solje)
“Actually, I got married the night the war ended!”
“Really? …That’s great.” (Solje)
“Yeah! This is my second marriage though.”
“I see.” (Solje)
“And so, well, the partner is young and…it is a good woman that’s wasted on me.”
“That’s great.” (Solje)
…The blacksmith was talking about a story I truly have no interest in while hammering the armor that I have on.
“Boss, are you listening?”
“Of course I would listen to the words of the guy hammering me.” (Solje)
…Or kill them.
“Really, just as usual for newly weds…the reason why I opened the store late was because…ehehehe…”
The embarrassed face of a middle aged man, huh. It is one of the faces I care the least in the whole world.
But…the world really is unfair. Why do I have to listen to the love stories of this old man while I the hero of Zakuroa has to stand here being hammered?
I ain’t jealous though!
I have a beautiful elf and an intelligent bespectacled diaros. Blacksmith, I will remember this…I will one day make you burn in envy.
“…But, serious talk here, this is quite used.”
“…Yeah, my center of gravity doesn’t set well if it isn’t armor I am used to.” (Solje)
“I see. As expected of the dragon knight-sama… When there’s more time, I would like to talk to you more, and aim for something even better. Who was the one who made this?”
“It was made by tradition. The creation method was passed down to dragon knights each generation. This is the amalgamation of those years.” (Solje)
“So it is exclusive armor for dragon knight-sama?”
“That’s right.” (Solje)
“Fumu. It is certainly splendidly made, but…the metal isn’t gonna be able to take anymore, you know?”
“…Yeah. There’s no knowing when it will break.” (Solje)
“Won’t you be making a new one?”
“I do have the blueprints for it, but…can you recreate it perfectly?” (Solje)
After a while of silence, the blacksmith shakes his head.
“No, it is impossible for me… There’s a number of things I can’t do from this. Recreating these scales took me everything I had.”
“I see.” (Solje)
I was a bit expectant, but it really was not possible, huh.
“This is…the very embodiment of contradictions.”
“Fumu, what do you mean by that?” (Solje)
“…It looks hard, yet it is flexible. It is heavy, yet it is light. Things that are opposite of each other are coexisting. Moreover, all at a high level… It is impossible, it is contradicting. But…masters are the kind of people that make even contradictions possible, right?”
As expected of the one rumored to be the number one blacksmith of Zakuroa. He has interpreted what kind of existence this armor is in his own way.
He must have tried to steal the technique of the dragon scale armor. It is a desire to improve in a good way. A craftsman through and through.
But it ended up with him understanding his limit.
“…That’s right. I don’t have enough knowledge to talk to you about the structure of the armor. But I do understand the thought of a master being someone who can make contradictions a reality.” (Solje)
I am fast yet heavy. Strong yet flexible. Move a hella ton, yet have stamina. In order to conquer contradictions and make them coexist…that’s the ideal of the Garuna dragon knights.
“That’s dragon knight-sama for you. Even though you are young, you have clear views.”
“It is the result of obtaining knowledge forcefully by gaining experience. You should be able to tell since you learned about the number of wounds in my armor, right?” (Solje)
“Yeah, young yet cunning… I see, so there was an embodiment of contradictions here as well, huh.”
“…It is similar to your proficiency.” (Solje)
“No, I…still haven’t mastered it. With my skills and vision, I can’t create this armor that you can’t even tell if it is a scale armor or plate armor…yet.”
That he added the ‘yet’ must have been his pride as a craftsman. Right, there’s no knowing what the future will be.
He still has around 40 years of life, so who knows how high he will be able to rise in that time.
Maybe after 10 years, he will go ‘yeah, I can do it!’.
“…I still have a long way to go. Also, even if I recreate the armor, it would be hard to find someone who can manage to wear it.”
“It is easy to use for me though.” (Solje)
“This may be easy to move for you, Boss, but…a normal knight wouldn’t be able to move these scales so lightly. It would require quite the inhuman strength.”
“Yeah, if you move in the wrong way, the sound is annoying after all.” (Solje)
“That’s right. Even though it is equipment for battle, the fact that it aims to be soundless like a scouting soldier is being too greedy here, you know!”
Looks like my armor has made him think a whole lot. You really are a creator of sins, Mathew Carlos.
“…Aah, I want to talk to the craftsman that created this!”
“The person himself would have been happy if he heard that, but…he died a long time ago.” (Solje)
“…Is that so. From old age?”
“No, a plague. He was still 35 when he died.” (Solje)
“So young!! He managed to reach this level at such an age?”
“Right? He was the son of an acquaintance of our previous captain. He was apparently the son of a swordsmith, and he himself was one too, but he switched to being specialized in armor. He said he had awakened to the fun of armors.” (Solje)
“I get that!”
It seems he sympathizes a lot with the armor craftsman, he was quite happy. Well, maybe it is because the construction of armor is more complex than that of swords and spears?
It might be unbearably fun to study about minute things like the curved surface and the fitting of the body.
“Now then, something like this, I suppose.”
“No need to put it down. It is quite better now. I would say it is around 80% repaired.” (Solje)
“Kuuh! Next time I’ll aim for 90%!! …In 10 years, I might somehow be able to recreate it!!”
“Yeah, I will be looking forward to it.” (Solje)
“It has been a good learning experience. The price…let’s leave it at 20% off.”
“…No, as a celebration for your marriage, let’s go for the arranged price.” (Solje)
“…I expect a lot from you. I already want to change this armor too, you know.” (Solje)
Yeah, I would be fine with you too…but right now I am gonna be going to the kingdom of the dwarves. The land where there’s a whole lot of genius blacksmiths.
If I manage to meet a good craftsman…no, I have to search for Camilla first.
“Well then, later. Treasure your wife, okay?” (Solje)
“Yes! Boss as well, don’t go dying, okay?”
“Because you won’t be able to see the armor again?” (Solje)
“Hahaha! That too, but…I am Boss’s fan, you know!”
“Well, thanks.” (Solje)
My name is getting famous.
But…the gears of fate are bad. I wanted to challenge the search for Camilla in my best state, but…no, it can’t be helped. We of the Banjar Mercenaries don’t give up no matter the situation.
Ain’t that right, Garf Cortez?
Right…as if I will let you die. If it is that tenacious Camilla, there’s no doubt she is alive. If we go fast…we can surely save her. Just you wait, Camilla!!