※3rd Arc start.
I look up at the sky while being shaken by the carriage.
The clear blue is somewhat dazzling to my eyes, but it is not displeasing.
After getting through the forest and through Taizu, we were now advancing through the Gahne territory where plains spread far and wide.
I thought there would be some sort of procedure at the time when we were crossing the border, but there was nothing to a shocking extent. We bowed to the sentries and passed.
Our objective is to gather information on Gahne which is the place where the Scarlet Demon Lord was said to have appeared in and is suspected to be related to Raheight, but there’s no such clue found yet.
If I had to mention anything, it would be that the ruling of the new king of Gahne is progressing at a revolutionary speed which is unique within history.
And thus, we are going to be heading to Gahne to inspect this as well with my title as Counselor Candidate of Taizu.
The members that are coming to this journey are as follows.
First is Ilias who continues being my bodyguard. There’s no need to say anything about her.
Next is Wolfe. There was the choice of leaving her, but we couldn’t leave her all alone at home.
In other words, we ended up bringing Rakura.
She is the top of the people that would have been fine not to bring. We could have left her with the excuse of taking care of Wolfe, but the need for her has unfortunately surfaced.
It is in order to maintain the spirit possession spell that is helping me now even as of present, translating automatically for me.
Maya-san created it, and she was supplying me with the mana to maintain the possession spell, but the person herself is the archbishop of Taizu, and we couldn’t bring her to Gahne.
I was thinking about being supplied mana that would last for a month, but if mana surpasses a certain limit in my body with no mana, there’s apparently a high chance it will be dangerous.
I tried to have Ilias learn it, but it is apparently a method that’s hard to hold back in, and the only one who managed to learn it before departure was Rakura.
Ilias managed to learn it until the point of supplying mana, but she is a gorilla that doesn’t know how to hold back, so there’s the chance that I might pop like a balloon.
Wolfe reached pretty close, but she unfortunately didn’t reach the point where she could get a passing mark.
And so, we ended up having to bring Ilias and Rakura, and since I felt apprehensive about leaving Wolfe alone, we brought her too.
In the end, we are going to be heading to Gahne with the usual 4 of the Ilias house.
However, there’s one more companion in this journey.
“Now, we are soon arriving at Gahne’s capital! Can you hear me, Mister Friend?!”
The one shouting in a stupidly loud voice despite being at close distance is a woman who looks good with her short hair, name’s Mix Taizu.
That’s right, the little sister of the king of Taizu and former princess.
She is a talented individual who doesn’t lose in culture and military prowess to Marito, to the point that when the late king was about to choose Marito as his successor, there were many from the Mix side that protested.
However, Mix has outstanding respect and affection towards Marito, and immediately threw away her position in order to shut up the Mix faction.
Despite her being the second after Marito, she immediately left the country soon after Marito was crowned the king. She became an outstanding adventurer later.
Due to this, Marito’s inauguration as a king had become firm.
Mix had a habit of wandering around, making her whereabouts unknown, but she was captured recently, and is currently traveling with us as the second bodyguard.
By the way, the person herself agreed instantly when she heard it was a request from Marito. She said ‘If it is the one and only friend of Ani-sama, I will protect him even at the expense of my life!’.
“We can hear you, Mix. Your voice is actually so loud it is hard to pick up.”
“Come on now~!” (Mix)
Mix smacked my back in amusement. It hurts.
This is my first time interacting with a character that’s always high spirited like her, but…it is honestly tiring.
By the way, Mix is a wanderer. She treats everyone the same without caring about their standing.
Rakura was downed a long time ago from being continuously pestered on the way.
She is a good match with Wolfe, but for Ilias, she is the former princess.
She can’t raise her head at her and ends up getting swallowed by her high spirited conversations.
Thanks to that, there’s 2 completely exhausted people…no, 3 counting me. I am watching the sky wondering if we are at Gahne already.
“Mister Friend, you can’t handle carriages? Lady Ratzel and Rakura-dono as well, here’s some medicine for dizziness!” (Mix)
“We are dizzy from you. Please let us rest in peace.”
“Oh, wow! You are good at hitting on women already, Mister Friend!” (Mix)
She smacked me with a shy face. It hurts.
It is not on the level of the inhuman gorilla strength of Ilias, but it seems like it isn’t a lie that she has made a name for herself.
I think her strength is higher than that of Gozu.
If I take into account her noisiness, I would say she is a positive chimpanzee.
There were members with pretty dense characters already, so I didn’t expect someone with even denser character to show up.
At any rate, with this being an open field, we could see the capital of Gahne even from a pretty decent distance.
To put it in one word, it is big.
The capital of Taizu is surrounded by big walls, but there’s no such thing in Gahne.
There’s splendid walls around the castle of Gahne at the center, but aside from that, there seems to be large scale fences serving as partitions spaced out at fixed distances.
Why aren’t they building defensive walls for the sake of protecting the capital against foreign enemies? It is because the capital of Gahne that exists in this vast plains is still expanding its territory.
I would say it is 5 times bigger than the capital of Taizu.
From corner to corner of my vision, I see houses, fields, houses with no limits.
There’s also a huge river at the middle of it, and I can see a giant bridge and boats traversing on it.
That said, the scenery I see close to me is that of the residents toiling on public works.
“This is impressive. They seem to be expanding their territory gradually, but this country has several layers, huh.”
“There’s 7 layers excluding the castle’s walls. There were 5 layers at the time of the late king, so they have expanded 2 layers since then.” (Mix)
So they have achieved close to 40% of what the expansion they have done in history in just a few years. That’s indeed impressive.
We advanced straight on the path and arrived at a simple wooden station. We then finished the procedures to enter the country.
Normally, anyone can come and go freely from the 1st until the 4th layer.
Even this zone alone has most facilities, and travelers would come and stay around here.
The 5th layer is the commercial layer that requires a permit. It is a special ward where large-scale trades with credence are allowed.
There’s also a lot of industrial facilities tightly packed up and it is the area that serves as the pivot for the industrial sector of Gahne.
The 6th layer is where the military facilities like the weapon warehouses and horse sheds are located.
The 7th layer is the layer where the wealthy are located and the castle.
I thought there would be a qualitative disparity between layers, but a pretty similar cityscape spreads all the way until the 4th layer.
If I had to point out anything, it would be that there’s a lot of buildings with peculiar taste in the 3rd layer and beyond. Sights of construction works and repairs enter my vision often.
There’s many waterways drawing the river at the center, supplying water to most of the areas.
It is not on the level of the infrastructures of the modern era, but the scale can be called splendid.
In situations where the development of civilization is unripe, there’s no doubt securing a source of water is an important factor in the flourishing of civilization.
We finish the procedures and advance to the 5th layer. Passing through here really hits home that Taizu is in the countryside.
There’s a lot of outstanding buildings like the firm of Ban-san lined up in the droves, and well dressed merchants were fussily walking around.
If they were in business suits, I would have even thought I have returned to modern society.
This sight has also stolen the eyes of the people accompanying me.
“Don’t business disputes happen with these many big companies lined up?”
“Of course they happen. Gahne works under skill supremacy. A country where only the ones who can do business more skillfully are the ones who survive. In the case of Taizu, they secure each other’s territory, but here they eat each other’s business spheres.” (Mix)
Hmm, the atmosphere is similar to that of modern society.
The feeling that they are an era ahead is really strong.
It gives me the impression like they are sprinting way too ahead and keeping it at just the right spot where it doesn’t tangle their legs.
But as long as they manage to keep it afloat, Gahne will most likely maintain their standing as one of the most prominent mercantile nations in the world.
We then went through even stricter procedures as we entered the 6th layer.
“This is…quite the highlight.”
There’s a territory for each knight division around the Taizu Castle too, where many knights would do their training.
But what’s here is an army in the true sense of the word.
Orderly files of troops and echoing commands.
Large number of soldiers are polishing their techniques and coordination.
“What must not be forgotten here is that the ones who are training here are the young ones that have reached the age and were conscripted. The soldiers we have seen on each layer until now were soldiers that have all finished the training here!” (Mix)
“In emergencies, all citizens of Gahne will take arms, and can face their enemies with a certain degree of coordination and skill, huh. How scary.”
It is true that, in terms of individual strength, I can tell that the knights are superior even with my untrained eye.
I might even be able to win one on one.
But you must not forget that when a modern person says ‘might win’, it normally means the other side is superior. You shouldn’t get ahead of yourself.
When watching a boxing match on TV, the people that complain ‘even a newbie would be able to avoid a punch like that!’ should watch those punches in the flesh at least once.
If you include a spar in that, you would be able to tell with your very body just how shallow that statement of yours is.
But an average knight wouldn’t be able to show their strength properly against these numbers, and would be swallowed by the power in numbers.
“I probably could take on around 1,000?” (Ilias)
The gorilla by my side who muttered this doesn’t count.
I am sure Ilias would be able to fight as if she were a general in a musou game.
That doesn’t count as the power of an individual anymore -she is a natural disaster.
I watch how they are cleanly divided in training by swords, spears, and bows as we finally arrive at our destination: the 7th layer.
We stop the carriage and Mix gives the letter to the sentry.
They told us to wait for a moment, so we were made to get down from the carriage and stand there for a good while.
The gate connecting to the 7th layer eventually opened, and a woman riding a horse appeared from there.
A woman that gives the impression of a somewhat strict cool beauty got down from the horse and greeted us.
“It is a great honor to see you have come all the way from Taizu. Welcome to Gahne. I am a cabinet minister of Gahne, Ludfein. I will be the one in charge of guiding you all on this occasion.” (Ludfein)
“I may be inexperienced, but I will be counting on you, Ludfein-san.”
I answer her handshake as I greet her myself.
I heard someone from a decently high standing would be coming to meet us, but I didn’t expect a cabinet minister to show up.
A cabinet minister is a top that moves a whole branch of the politics in the country.
“I would like to guide you to your lodging today and confirm your schedule for future days. Now then, please follow me.” (Ludfein)
And so, we ran parallel to Ludfein-san in our carriage.
The 7th layer is the world of nobles where palatial residences are lined up.
The buildings, bridges, and roads have all become worthy of the words extravagant and gorgeous.
Such palatial residences should normally be found in each sector, but to think they would be this packed at the surroundings of the Gahne Castle.
The nobles of Gahne are suddenly beginning to look like countryside nobles and I am getting light culture shock here.
“Ludfein-san, in what manner have the people living in this high class layer managed to live in this sector?”
“The ones living in this area are the merchants who own prominent companies even in Gahne, nobles that have ownership of land in other layers, and military officials who have obtained outstanding achievements; people who have made great contributions in the development of this nation. With nobles, there’s distinguished families that have climbed up after several generations, but with merchants and military officials, there’s some who got up here in one generation.” (Ludfein)
In the case of nobles, the image I had was that of them being divided by their territories, but it seems like they are managing their own respective land for each layer in this country.
It is like managing an apartment complex.
“Are the cabinet ministers like you the ones doing the selection for those standards?”
“No, in order to earn the right to live in the 7th layer, it is indispensable that you obtain the recognition of the king of Gahne. Turning that around, it also means that there are distinguished families that have their rights taken away by the judgment of the king.” (Ludfein)
The ones who make contributions that the king finds satisfactory are allowed to live in this area. On the other hand, if you get complacent and laze about, your place can be stolen.
This is a nation that really likes competition thorough and thorough.
But it is the hungry mentality of wanting to make it big, or maintain your position, that makes a nation flourish.
Even the lifestyle of the people in the lowest layer isn’t that bad.
It is pretty high compared to the villages in the surroundings.
After advancing for a while, we finally arrived in front of the ramparts of the Gahne Castle that were in sight from very far away.
With the country being this vast, traversal is also a lot of work.
“Your lodging is a residence for guest use right by the side of the castle gate. Please use it freely as if it were your own home.” (Ludfein)
The residence we were guided to was fancy as expected. We crossed the gate, passed by the garden, and finally arrived in front of the residence.
My eyes are going to get tired from the interior that’s like straight out from a noble estate.
It is impossible for me to think of this as my own home.
But Ilias and Mix are acting normally. Right, one’s a noble and the other is a princess.
In contrast to that, Wolfe was flustered by the overwhelming size of it.
I sympathized with her and patted her head.
It doesn’t seem like she understands why I did that, but her tail waved around.
Our luggage was carried to our respective rooms by the servants in the residence, and we were guided to the guest room.
The schedule of our stay is pretty much the same as the one previously discussed.
We will be inspecting the 1st layer to the 6th layer for a few days, and after that we will be speaking to government officials at each layer.
The 7th layer is where the high class live in, so it has been omitted from the inspection.
We can check freely until the 4th layer. It would be nice if we could investigate a variety of things while doing the inspection.
What I am curious about would naturally be the new king that rules over a country this big.
“Is it possible to get an audience with His Majesty?”
“My apologies, but His Majesty is a busy one. There’s other reasons besides that, but the only ones who can meet him are a few people from limited posts in the country.” (Ludfein)
Looks like their security is extremely high unlike Marito.
No, Marito has security in a realm I can’t really understand, so I can’t tell which one’s better.
The most unique part of Gahne that I was informed beforehand is that no one knows the appearance of the Gahne king.
Even though the previous king showed himself in public, there’s not a single person from other countries that has had an audience with the current king of Gahne.
He won’t show himself even for ceremonies or festivals. An immobile king that stays in the Gahne Castle the whole time.
That’s indeed unique.
“The king of Taizu wanted me to give him his thanks for accepting his request.”
“Don’t worry. I will definitely relay your words to His Majesty.” (Ludfein)
Looks like a cabinet minister like Ludfein-san can meet him.
Well, if a cabinet minister can’t meet him, who can? He is not Queen Himiko who only met with her little brother.
“Now then, you must be tired from your long journey. Please take this day to rest your body. If there’s anything you need from me, you can tell the servants and I will come at once.” (Ludfein)
We finished our talk and Ludfein-san left the residence.
I am actually decently tired from the long journey to Gahne -especially because of Mix.
Let’s take a nice rest. Tomorrow we will be searching for something we don’t even know if we will find.
“Alright, let’s rest.”
Rakura wasn’t there when I looked back.
Now that I think about it, I don’t remember seeing her since we arrived at the manor.
“Rakura said she would go to her room to sleep before the meeting.” (Ilias)
“…Well, it is fine as long as she doesn’t cause any problems.”
Just when I was relieved by this, the servants seemed strangely agitated.
Let’s listen in.
“The food storage has been ransacked and a number of alcoholic beverages have been stolen?!”
…Alright, let’s hurry and kick that woman out.
After that, we caught Rakura who was enjoying drinks alone with the alcohol she had taken without permission, threw her in front of the servants, and had her apologize.
According to the person herself ‘we were told we could use it freely, so there should be no problems!’ as she appealed her innocence, but that claim was dismissed.
The Anbus were not the only assassins sent from Mejis. This woman called Rakura is dropping the reputation of Taizu without hesitation.
After bidding farewell to the group, Ludfein headed to the throne room that’s located at the deepest part of the castle.
“The inspection group of Taizu has arrived today. They are currently resting at the manor for guests.” (Ludfein)
“I see, and who were their members?”
The king of Gahne sitting at the throne asked with an amused tone.
His appearance can’t be seen due to the curtain, but it is easy to imagine he is making a joyful expression.
“…The members? One of them is that Ilias Ratzel. A female knight that’s said to be one of the top 5 even in Taizu.” (Ludfein)
“Ooh, I have heard rumors about that person. And so, was she beautiful?”
“Y-Yeah, she was a really gallant and beautiful person.” (Ludfein)
“Umu umu, that’s good! And so, what about the others?”
Ludfein explains the information about the inspection group’s appearances one after the other.
The Yugura Church’s cleric and Great Devil purificator, Rakura Salf.
The former princess and current wandering adventurer, Mix Taizu.
A white haired wolf demi-human, Wolfe.
“What a diverse group. The white wolf demi-human is especially rare.”
“Then there’s the Counselor Candidate man that was at the end of the introduction. He had a name I hadn’t heard of before, so I shook hands with him just in case, and looked at his power, but he seems to just be a civilian. However, he seemed to have been possessed by a Spirit, probably to resist magic of some sort.” (Ludfein)
“With such a fancy group, having an ordinary person mixed in would harmonize instead.”
“Right. However, the black hair and black eyes of that man stood out.” (Ludfein)
The silhouette of the Gahne King sprung up.
“Y-Your Majesty, is something the matter?” (Ludfein)
“No, no, could it be? But it could be a coincidence. Muuh, what to do?”
The Gahne King went in circles around his throne and mumbled.
But he seemed to have thought of something and pointed at Ludfein.
“Nfufufufu, ya said he will be inspecting the capital tomorrow, right? In that case, try telling him these words afterwards.”
The Gahne King slowly opened his mouth and pronounced each word meticulously.
“Y-Yes. Is that a code or something?” (Ludfein)
“Umu, cursed words that warm the soul. Put yer heart into it when ya tell him, okay? Nfufufufu!”
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