I arrive at the firm of Landos who is the head of the Holstear Company.
The climate in Torin is hotter compared to other countries, but the inside of the firm is in a pretty comfortable temperature.
“What do we have here, Ritial-sama.”
“So it is you, Landos. I don’t mind if the head of the company doesn’t come meet me though.” (Ritial)
“I may be busy, but I have been helped out by you when I was young, Ritial-sama.” (Landos)
Landos is one of the merchants I favored in my adventurer times. It was in part because I wanted to make him feel indebted as someone who can see the talents of others though.
But being able to use his place as one of the bases in this manner really does make me feel the importance of connections.
“Has there been any changes?” (Ritial)
“There was an inspection from the Torin army not that long ago. There have been a good amount of transactions with Leitis after all. I think there were investigations regarding that.” (Landos)
The organization that is most suitable for us to use without letting them know about our circumstances and still act is the religious group of Leitis.
Their influence is far lower than that of the Yugura Church, but it is extremely useful in finding people who don’t agree with the teachings of the Yugura Church.
Our connection with Leitis was discovered with the matter of Kuama, and there was a thorough investigation by the Torin army in the sacred grounds of Leitis which are in Torin.
But the sacred grounds are simply a base to do the religious activities, so there’s no way they would find proof of our connection.
“There’s no issues if it is that much. You are all simply helpers that don’t know the circumstances. I don’t mind you obediently allowing Torin to investigate.” (Ritial)
“I don’t want to bring you trouble. I would like to keep the people who know the situation to a bare minimum. I understand the reason why, but I wouldn’t mind if you were to rely on us more.” (Landos)
“It is just enough that you are still cooperating despite not knowing the circumstances. Those kinds of connections are extremely important. Is Soraid doing well?” (Ritial)
Landos seemed to change his attitude a bit at the mention of Soraid.
We have left Soraid in charge of the activities in Torin.
Judging from this reaction, they really must not be doing well in their relationship.
“You could say he is doing well, but…he is not really doing any noteworthy work, so it would be hard to report about his recent state.” (Landos)
“Figures. Well, I will talk with him. You can do what you have been doing.” (Ritial)
Soraid is at a room deep in the firm, at a room to welcome guests. I can tell the air was steadily being covered in a sweet scent as I head to that room.
“The smell of incense, huh. It isn’t bad when it is faint, but…not even prostitutes would burn this much.” (Ritial)
An even sweeter and denser scent of incense numbed my nose once I opened the door of the room.
The inside of the room was filled with the smoke of burning incense, and Soraid was sitting at the chair in the center and groaning.
“…Ritial, huh. What’s the matter? It has been a while since you have shown up.” (Soraid)
Soraid is wearing big clothes that don’t match his size, and the empty eyes peeking through his long hair, which he most likely hasn’t cut in more than a decade, were looking at me.
Several of my senses would get numb if I were to stay for long inside the scent of incense.
It even makes me feel as if it is affecting my thoughts.
“I was thinking about showing my face every once in a while.” (Ritial)
“Doesn’t look like that to me… Aah, something must have happened, right?” (Soraid)
“It is great that you are still as perceptive as usual. Well, let’s begin by explaining the circumstances.” (Ritial)
I tell Soraid what has happened until now, and he continues listening with his eyes closed, in a posture that looks as if he has fallen asleep.
“Ritial, you going out of your way to show yourself all the way from Serende means that this resident of Yugura’s planet is quite skilled, right?” (Soraid)
“He is still young, but you can think of him as being as skilled as me. That said, if you and me were to work together, it would be enough to—” (Ritial)
“I will do this alone. You can just give me the bare minimum information.” (Soraid)
So it really came to that.
Soraid is utterly uncooperative.
It is not that he has grown conceited because of his strength, it is just that he really hates working with others.
He isn’t opposed to ordering people of lower rank, but there’s almost no doubt he wouldn’t work together with someone of the same rank.
I bring out a stack of parchment I prepared beforehand.
“I knew you would be saying that. I have already prepared the necessary information here.” (Ritial)
“Yup yup, you get it, Ritial. Every single person complains ‘it would be more efficient to cooperate’ or ‘have more sense of comradery’. What’s more important is whether you can move comfortably. It is about whether you can move things in a fun manner.” (Soraid)
“But I am someone who has been left with the protection of Nektohal. I will be staying in Torin for a while, and I plan on interfering if I judge that it is out of hand for you. I will have you endure that.” (Ritial)
“I am not trusted.” (Soraid)
“It is the price of not trusting. You can still move freely despite that because there’s people who evaluate your abilities highly. I would like you to keep that fact in a corner of your mind.” (Ritial)
I will be leaving everything to Soraid on paper.
I will be taking backstage work and will prepare for the movements of the resident of Yugura’s planet.
I don’t mind if Soraid manages to defeat him.
I just have to progress the preparations to grasp victory in that time.
“You know, the worth of power lowers when you don’t wield it when you have to. But the person themselves have to see when that time is. I don’t want to match the time that others want me to. But this resident of Yugura’s planet…if he is really as troublesome as you have said…it might not be bad to enjoy it.” (Soraid)
Soraid shows no concern for anything aside from the things he has taken an interest to -even to Nektohal’s objective.
But once he has decided to move, his proactiveness is not your average one.
“I have one request: Landos is an important person who doesn’t hold back in helping out despite not knowing the circumstances. Try to not cause him problems as much as possible.” (Ritial)
“As much as possible. Got it, got it.” (Soraid)
I can’t expect much effect from this warning, but it should be possible to direct the actions of this man to a certain degree with this.
That said, in the worst case scenario, I will have to prepare the means for Landos to escape to Serende.
I confirm the prepared goods.
It is a lineup of curios that you can’t find in the market. Blue has done a truly good job.
“Is something like this good enough?” (Blue)
“It is great. There will barely be any competition with this, and it would be easy to fall in the eyes of Holstear.”
“Of course you would. There’s not many people with such peculiar hobbies of collecting plants and minerals of the Nether.” (Blue)
The goods we will handle are goods that come from the Nether.
It is not that rare for there to be goods of Kuama in Torin since they are neighboring countries. But the things that are in the Kuama Nether which is in contact with Kuama are not that easy to obtain.
The ones who go to the Nether are either adventurers, knights, or clerics who are combat oriented.
“But Comrade, wouldn’t we stand out too much if we were to sell Nether goods? It sounds like something Ritial would notice…” (Ekdoik)
“If we were the only ones selling them, that is. These goods are all obtained through Gestaf via Kuama. It should be about time for the Kuama market to have goods like this circulating. A somewhat skilled merchant would jump at this opportunity to do business.”
And it won’t be long before the goods of the Nether circulate here.
But the reality is that these goods are being gathered by the subordinates of Blue.
In other words, we have the right to manipulate the total amount and the price.
“The only one who has the reclamation right of the Kuama Nether is Gestaf-dono after all. It would be pretty hard for the other ones to get ahead of us and I feel like the funds of Gestaf-dono would get steepened with this at the same time.” (Mix)
“You could say that. Even if they wanted to stealthily gather them, they would need to employ adventurers and miners, as well as barriers in order to protect themselves.”
The Kuama Nether has become a comparatively safe zone with Blue having accepted the peace treaty with Kuama.
But it doesn’t change the fact that there’s monsters, and the mana of the Nether is poison for humans.
You would need to incur quite the cost in order to prepare a stable supply line. Compared to that, we have the handy plan of just ordering the monsters of Blue.
“So we are merchants who can get goods from Gestaf who is reclaiming the Kuama Nether.” (Blue)
“The criteria would be to sell them at a slightly lower price from the appropriate. I would like to get the goods of the Mejis Nether as well if we have the leeway, but…well, we can’t avoid consultations with Pope Euparo, so let’s do that some other time.”
We can move freely in the Gahne Nether with the agreement of Gold, but we can’t restrict the actions of the monsters in the Gahne Nether. We most likely wouldn’t be able to profit as long as we don’t find quite the precious goods.
“But Counselor-sama, leaving aside the minerals, effects like medicinal plants are not known widely, right?” (Rakura)
“Yeah, the adventurers would pick those stuff up while subjugating monsters which would be collected by the rich. There will be the need for some degree of inspection and experiments.”
“I feel like that will take quite a good amount of time though…” (Rakura)
“I have had Nora investigate this at Taizu beforehand to a certain degree. I have finished the remaining arrangements of the request.”
“The master of Nora, the Great Sage Barastos. She is apparently living in the forest close to the borders between Kuama and Torin. I plan on going to meet her and do negotiations.”
I have sent her a letter at least and have received responses, but I should negotiate with her directly.
I have been helped out a lot by Nora, so this would also be as thanks for that.
“Great Sage Barastos, huh. I have heard she is extremely proficient in researching magic…” (Ekdoik)
“The ones who want to come with me can do so freely. But the main objective is to appraise the goods of the Nether.”
What has begun to circulate in the market are all simple and easy to understand stuff that Nora has already finished checking.
But the market will get even bigger if we were to find other useful things.
“I myself am interested, but…is it okay for a demon to show his face there?” (Ekdoik)
“You can just run away if there’s signs of her wanting to dissect you.”
I have heard about Barastos to a certain degree from Nora, but she apparently has a few screws loose as a remarkable person.
There would sometimes be responses in the letter updates Nora receives from her that had written: ‘Please send me a number of monsters. I would like to use them for experiments’.
I am sure she would try to happily tinker with a demon if one were to show up at her doorstep.
“I as a Demon Lord would feel apprehensive as well if you say that. You can do as you please, Ekdoik.” (Blue)
“I see. I have to act as the bodyguard of Comrade anyways, so I will go with him.” (Ekdoik)
“Me and Haakudoku-dono will be there as bodyguards though.” (Mix)
“That’s right! I will go too! A Great Sage sounds cool! I would like to meet her once!” (Haaku)
“It is not like I don’t trust you, but I would be useful in distant travels, right?” (Ekdoik)
By the way, Haakudoku is currently in the adjacent room.
Blue and Haakudoku can’t be in the same room, so a rule has been set where the one who comes later has to move to the neighboring room.
Haakudoku said ‘I can be the one always moving to a different room though?’, but Blue proposed this.
Haakudoku was moved to tears by this consideration, but that doesn’t matter.
“I will be staying back if Haakudoku is going… That way of saying it sounds terrible though.” (Blue)
“Don’t worry. Even I can tell that you are just being considerate.” (Haaku)
“Witnessing a conversation through walls is surreal.”
I muttered this and Melia raised her hand hesitantly.
“E-Excuse me, Comrade-san, is it okay for me to go as well?” (Melia)
“I don’t mind. We shouldn’t have any issues with transportation if we have Ekdoik and Kutou with us even if a few more join in.”
“Thank you very much!” (Melia)
“…Maybe I really should also…no, it is nothing.” (Blue)
Blue would be able to come if Haakudoku were to move separately though.
Inviting her too much would be questionable, so let’s not say this.
The group heading to the forest Barastos is living in is: Ekdoik, Haakudoku, Rakura, and Melia.
We would take a good deal of days if we were to use horses, but we will be traveling in the sky with Ekdoik and Kutou, so we can shorten the time greatly.
Ekdoik is carrying Melia and Haakudoku; Kutou is carrying me and Rakura as we arrive in the forest.
“It seems like special magic has been used on the forest itself. You can’t arrive at the house where Barastos lives if you don’t move with the correct procedure, so we will be going by foot from here on. Make sure not to stray from the group.”
There’s mist covering the forest to the point that you could miss the others if you were to move a bit away from them.
Ekdoik has wrapped chains around the arms of everyone, so there shouldn’t be much of an issue though.
I would have definitely gotten lost if I had come alone.
“It seems like magic that messes with your sense of direction has been used. This will serve as reference.” (Ekdoik)
“Next is…that tree.”
We need to move ahead in the forest while following the code carved on the trees.
The code changes regularly, so she apparently also changes the way to decode it every half a year to a year.
The disciples of Barastos have been taught the cycle of the code changes, so they can advance without much issues.
But the invited guests are given a letter with just the steps for a one time visit.
“Comrade-san, this is something I thought of just now, but what would happen if that letter is stolen? Would that mean bandits would be able to invade?” (Melia)
“The letter itself is a normal one. But it seems like there’s surveillance on the way, so the code will change in the middle of it if bandits appear. In other words, uninvited guests will get lost while in the grasps of the forest.”
“T-That’s scary…” (Melia)
“But it seems like the story is true, Brother. We have been hit with something similar to detection magic countless times for a while now, you know?” (Haaku)
The security seems tight, but I feel like accidents happen often here. If someone like Haakudoku were to read the letter wrong, it wouldn’t be strange for him to be lost completely.
We advance through the forest for 2 hours.
Just when I was thinking it was about time to take a break, I noticed that the mist was cleared up quite a bit.
And then, we see a single house deep in the forest.
“Looks like we have arrived.”
“We will finally be able to meet the Great Sage, right, Counselor-sama?!” (Rakura)
“…But before that…is this some kind of prank?”
“Prank? Did something happen?” (Rakura)
Rakura tilted her head.
It seems like the others have not noticed, but this is clearly weird.
“Haakudoku doesn’t feel any hostility, so this is most likely the doing of Barastos though. Who are you? I want you to give the real Rakura back.”
Ekdoik and the others reacted to my words and surround the one who has taken the form of Rakura.
That person doesn’t seem to be agitated by this and smiled as if finding this amusing.
“W-What’s the meaning of this, Brother?! You are saying Rakura is not Rakura…?” (Haaku)
“Haakudoku doesn’t notice either, so that means even the mana is being imitated beautifully, huh. That’s impressive.”
“—How did you notice?”
“You look exactly the same, but you walk and breathe differently. Also, there’s a slight difference in the distance between you and me compared to usual. It feels as if you were appraising us.”
“…That’s a bit of a shocking amount of information to decide. Even though I switched the connection to the chains smoothly, I can’t do anything if that’s how you discover me.”
The person in the form of Rakura snapped her fingers and changes completely in an instant.
A woman with an outfit that screams mage in a fantasy world.
But I feel like the size of her clothes are small for her.
“…Are you Barastos?”
“That’s right. The Great Sage Barastos. You seem to have taken care of my cute disciple, mister resident of Yugura’s planet.” (Barastos)