Having returned from Rusworth to Lorphys, we borrowed an empty house in a small village.
It was a small, countryside village-ish place, but with the recent switch of rule from Selva to Lorphys, it had faced just a bit of a panic.
The reason we were taking a stay in such a village, was to deal with Galleria and Rusworth.
Porter was parked next to the hut-like house, and Monica and the Valkyries were carrying out repairs.
More than that…
“What a terrible construction! If I let the chicken dickhead sleep here, he’ll catch a cold and be bedridden!”
She held an unfamiliar tool in her hands, as she stripped one wall after the next.
Valkyrie Unit One accepted the nails and boards from her, neatly lining them up.
“It’s no good. We don’t have enough boards and nails to make something anew. Can someone go to buy the materials? Oy, mass produced units, on your feet.”
Unit One with the same gold twin tails as Monica, stuck out her non-existent chest, as she issued an order to the Valkyrie units walking nearby.
But the Valkyries smiled and tilted their head. They stuck the thumbs of their right hands towards the ground. Including in a gesture as if to cut across their necks. One of them spoke.
“Wench, you do not have authority over us. Do not misunderstand that, you money eating worm of a prototype.”
With those words, they returned to their own jobs. I was curious as to why they got along so poorly, but at their base, they were automatons like Monica, produced by the ancients. We were using their cores, so perhaps that influence was coming out.
Unit One clicked her tongue.
“Che, should I show them the difference in our specs?”
Focussed on dismantling the roof, Monica was going at it with enough momentum to take the entire thing appart.
Seeing that, I.
“No, I don’t really mind sleeping out in Porter, but… we’re losing the point of having borrowed this place.”
There used to be towns on the border to mingle with Galleria and Rusworth, but due to the hazard of such locations, Lorphys had opted not to make use of them.
Almost all the feudal lords of Selva had been executed, and many had faced deportation as well. Because of that, there were problems coming out in rule.
Among the documents Adele-san had processed back at the mansion in Beim, papers detailing such circumstance had slipped in.
Looking around, I saw villagers sending frightened and annoyed looks at us.
Seeing that scenery, I…
“I wonder why it is. Lorphys lowered the tax, and I do feel they’re doing quite well here.”
The tax was much lower than it had been under Selva’s rule. Partly because it had been too high to begin with, but their livelihoods should have become much easier now. And this was an important villge on the route to Galleria and Rusworth. Road maintenance was done periodically.
The Fourth answered my question.
『That’s an easy one. It’s because people hate having their circumstances change. To go to the extremes, if the past feudal lord was only just a little bit bad, the people would never accept Lorphys’ rule. There’s no guarantee it will make them any happier. It isn’t just tax. War, custom, and everything else, there will be plenty of trouble. From their point of view, Lyle, you’re the perpetrator who brought unnecessary change to their lives.』
I thought they would be happy if their lives became more plentiful, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
I decided to walk through town a bit.
It was a small village, but walking across was still somewhat a distance. The sun was beginning to set, and the villagers I passed had sweat flowing down their brows as they worked. When I approached, they warily looked my way.
It’s true I helped in the invasion of Selva.
Thinking there was no helping if they didn’t like me, I looked around, and walked on.
There, the Third observed the village.
『It’s that. They’re relatively blessed by the land. Even when they were wrung out by taxes up to now, they didn’t have any problems when it came to getting by. I’m not sure what the feudal lord was thinking, but perhaps he was maintaining it at this scale.』
“Maintaining? Wouldn’t developing it yield more of a profit?”
Confirming there was no one around, I asked the Third.
He let out a sigh.
『Hah, you don’t get it. Even within the same country, you can be invaded from around and plundered. What’s more, this point is close to both Galleria and Rusworth. If they increase their scale, don’t you think they’ll be the first to get targeted? On top of that, a larger settlement demands just that much more work. If it were me, I’d grow it to a considerable scale, but it’s possible the previous lord purposely didn’t let it develop. If it’s small, its movements are light, and there are times when it’s much more convenient.』
The Fifth spoke to me.
『With the road maintenance as well, when it comes down to it, the enemies will use those roads for a smooth and swift invasion. If the maintenance progresses, anxiety will come out. What’s more, the ones up top are people of Lorphys, who may understand their circumstances, or may not. Of course the villagers will be anxious.』
So just making it bigger; simply developing it would have some protest come out.
As I mused over that way of thought, Shannon unsteadily ran up to me. Her running was one where it felt like walking would be faster.
Milleia-san looked at Shannon.
『For her running to be slower than your walk… how unreliable. But does that not look a little cute?』
The Seventh gave a verbal slip as always.
『She’s at least cuter than aunty… right?』
From the Jewel, I heard a sound like that of a gun firing. A bang. And then silence. After a while, the Fifth.
『… Lyle, go and meet up with Shannon.』
I went up to Shannon, to find her out of breath. Perhaps someone had told her to hurry.
But Miranda, Aria, and Clara had returned to Beim for the time being. The completion of our request included the guard of the convoy all the way to Beim, and the large Porter had been stuffed with goods purchased in Galleria and Rusworth.
It wasn’t possible for all of us to slip out.
(Did Novem tell her?)
After waiting for her to get her breath together, I asked. She looked at me, as she wiped away her sweat.
“… S-she wants to buy the tools we’re lacking. But since you’re the only one who can use Porter, call Lyle back at once, she said.”
Hearing of insufficient tools, I tilted my head. Shannon handed over a memo. On it, foodstuffs, lumber, nails, and the relevant tools to use them were listed.
“Don’t we have enough food? I’m sure we brought along quite a bit.”
Even if May eats a lot, it’s not like we hadn’t taken that into consideration. So we had taken along masses of food.
“While you’re at it, gather some information too, or something like that.”
Or something like that? I’d really like that part to be clear. Perhaps Milleia-san felt the same, as she sighed.
『Oh, Miranda is too soft. As I thought, this won’t work out unless I train her.』
It seems the Fifth was observing her expression. And he also sighed.
『The fact you look so delighted when you say it is contrarily scary.』
『What are you talking about, father. I’m merely looking forward to playing around with my great-granddaughter. See, I’m…』
The Seventh hadn’t learned.
『You are a great grandmother, after all.』
After Milleia-san let out a laugh, I heard a gunshot once more.
Shannon looked at such a lively Jewel.
“Hey, it’s been glowing with quite some vigor for a while now…”
I put my left hand to my face.
“Don’t mind it. Let’s get back, and prepare to shop.”
… Beim, the Guild’s East Branch.
Since Lyle wasn’t there, Miranda dropped by the Guild. She had to inform them the party wouldn’t be able to take on requests for a while as well, so she planned to report that alongside the request’s completion.
Aria, who seemed quite likely to hop on board the Guild’s sweet-talking, was sent to the mansion to explain the situation to Adele and co.
The one who confronted her in a private room was Tanya.
“It’s always divided first floor and third, but the only face I ever see on both sides is yours.”
When Miranda said that, Tanya smiled.
“That’s just how it is. We’re a little short on hands with receptionists. I’d really like it if they considered that fact a bit more when they evaluate my salary. Now then, splendid work in completing the requests. What shall you do about the next one?”
Miranda folded her legs above the chair, and put her elbow on the table.
“Ah, that won’t be happening for a while. We’re accepting a personal request in Lorphys.”
“In Lorphys? Well, I pushed him to take on that request, so it’s fine and all, but… what is the period?”
“Depends on Lyle, I guess.”
When she said that, Tanya made a troubled expression.
“No clear request period, you say? Do you plan on doing something again? Seducing Lorphys’ princess or something?”
Miranda recalled Lyle’s actions. Even if she denied it, she thought he didn’t really have any credibility in that field.
“We won’t be laying a hand on the princess. Apparently she doesn’t fit in with the Walt House’s precepts.”
Tanya pondered it a bit, but having finished her report, Miranda stood.
“If something happens, just send a message to the mansion.”
Saying that, she left the room…
In the past, what was once a trade point between Galleria, Rusworth, and Selva, was swept in a tempest.
“Find him yet!?”
“Damn, that bastard’s screwing around!”
“Kill him on sight!”
The folks who said such dangerous things were holding weapons in their hands. What was once a flourishing town had now lost its energy.
Its location had become dubious, And as an exchange point, its placement had become troublesome.
In such a town, men were running about with weapons in hand.
Eva, who stopped by it alongside me, watched the scene with a stiff face.
“What the hell is this. There’s no way I could sing in a situation like this. What’s more, there aren’t any of my brethren here!”
The town that’s energy had declined didn’t have any entertainers come through.
I began to doubt if I could buy the ingredients and materials on the memo, but I went to the market regardless.
To make sure Shannon didn’t get lost, Me and Eva kept an eye on her as we walked.
We walked, and spied a shop. In that shop without the best quality of merchandise, I bought the food ingredients, and denied the change to strike up a conversation with the shopkeeper.
“The town seems quite noisy.”
With a tired face, the shopkeeper began to talk, bit by bit.
“A wanted paper was delivered from Rusworth. There was an adventurer who had been using this town for a while on it, and it seems he’d been frequenting between Galleria and Lorphys. He had submitted false reports to the Guild, and there was something about him being a man of Galleria, or something. Saying it was a problem of trust, or something, the Guild’s adventurers are running around.”
It seems there was a small Guild in the town. One of the adventurers registered to it was involved with both countries.
“Could I see the wanted paper?”
“They’re posted around the place.”
I said my thanks, went outside, and searched out a form. Tearing off one of them, I used the Skills… Map, Search, Field… to look into the movements of the town’s people.
Shannon looked at me.
“Hey, what are you trying to do? Let’s go back quickly.”
I let those words slide, and identified a response moving suspiciously. It was evading the violently moving dots, and attempting an escape from the town.
Memorizing that response, I spoke to Eva.
“I leave Shannon to you. I’ve a bit of business here.”
If I came in contact with one who frequented both countries, it’s possible I could get some sort of lead. With that in mind, I ran off, and chased the point running around.
An adventurer with a bow set his aim on the individual running on the roofs, and while he hurried to conceal himself, an arrow pierced into his leg. The individual falling from the roof hit the ground, but continued to flee while dragging his leg.
I managed to catch up. There, my opponent pulled his sword without a word.
From the Jewel, the Third.
『Does he have something on him he wants to hide so badly? This may be some material you can use to take advantage of both countries!』
I didn’t like it that my opinion aligned with his care-free words, but for now, if I was going to intrude on those countries, and perhaps make use of them, I needed information.
“Sorry, but you’re coming with me.”
I pulled a Katana, and sent its hilt right into his solar plexus. Hoisting up the man, I used the blind spots of the gathering adventurers to run away.
Returning to the village we were taking a stay in, we were surrounding the captured man.
Novem had treated the wound on his leg, and he kept his mouth shut, without attempting to say a word. So we had him bite a gag. We had finished a body inspection while he was unconscious.
Inside Porter, we looked through his belongings.
Monica was inspecting his baggage, but she just looked with her eyes, without even trying to dig through the contents.
“He isn’t carrying anything particularly strange. He’s hiding some sort of letter, so could that be it?
What she pulled out from inside was a canteen. I took it from Monica, and shook it.
It was full of liquid.
“What part of this is… ah, I see.”
It was full of liquid, but probing around the bottom of it, there was a hidden space. When I took a letter from it, the gagged man began to flail around. A rope had been wrapped around and around his body, but he frantically moved his body, jumping around inside of Porter.
Monica looked at him.
“Oh my, he’s showing quite a reaction. It seems we hit the mark. But why did you take such a person back with you? I think the risk is quite high.”
I confirmed the contents of the letter as I spoke.
“Right now, I want as much information as possible on Galleria and Rusworth. And he’s an adventurer who’s been moving around both lands. It’s possible he had some sort of info. On top of all that, he’s making a considerable profit in whatever he’s doing.”
Looking at the man, the clothes and equipment he wore were mostly ones that would cost a relatively high amount. His wallet contained a number of gold coins, and there were no signs he was troubled with finances.
But when I finished reading, the man powerlessly slumped onto the floor.
“… So that’s how it is.”
Novem looked at me.
“What seems to be the matter, Lyle-sama?”
I handed the letter for her. Monica looked a little vexed when I did.
“Kuh, if you had handed it to this Monica first, I’d have even jumped for joy!”
I ignored her. As Novem confirmed the contents of the letter, her eyes widened a little.
“… Um, those two countries were seriously going to war, weren’t they?”
I nodded. May also agreed.
“Even if you told me they weren’t serious, I would say it was a lie. You can find them from time to time, those sorts of abnormal people.”
Both me and May had seen Galleria and Rusworth’s war. The intense clash of both sides had eventually turned to a one on one, and ended in a draw.
But it seems that wasn’t the case.The Fifth sounded amazed.
『For reals… those two were conspiring for that?』
The Third also drew back.
『No way. And wait, this letter was a greater harvest than imaginable, but if it’s true, then using military might to contain them will prove a little difficult.』
The letter was something sent from the Queen of Rusworth, Elza-san, to Gracia-san.
“Good job with that last war. And I truly must apologize. Since we had less casualties than expected, the men are raising cries for a rematch. I think we’ll be invading within the next few months, but what time sounds good for you? And that dry skin cream you gave me before really did wonders.”
… Along with that, the expected invasion route was drawn up.
What scale they would attack in, and what actions they would take, so please make the appropriate countermeasure, she wrote.
The Seventh’s voice sounded as if he was holding his head.
『Is this supposed to be a rule book? Anyways, we’re attacking, so yeah, please do something about it is all she wrote. This is why those abnormal sorts are…』
Milleia-san also sounded troubled.
『It’s not as if you can’t win if you move Zayin and Lorphys, but in that case, you’ll exhaust both sides, losing the point. Now then, what will you do?』
I couldn’t hide my surprise at the fact the adventurer I’d apprehended had information beyond my wildest imaginations.
“What’s the meaning of this.”
As I muttered that, the recovered man had brazenly laid himself out, as if he had come to the enlightenment that things would happen regardless.
As I thought over how to make use of this information, the Fourth alone sounded amused.
『My, my, this might be my turn to shine. There are some problems that can’t just be resolved with fighting, after all. Yes, yes, I’m quite a fan of these sorts of things.』
All on board, he spoke to me.
『Lyle, bring all the Valkyries you can. And a letter of introduction from Zayin and Lorphys. From Beim… Meh, Fidel-kun will work. Just have him write up some proof that you worked hard in that defensive war.』
And when I have those letters of invitation, just what do you expect me to do with them?
『Let’s march right in on Galleria and Rusworth’s governments! If it’s no good from the outside, just attack them from within!』
… Isn’t that an overly hopeless course of action?
Fourth Generation Head (-@∀@): “Alright, it’s finally my time to shine! As long as you can get inside, it’s all our game! We even have material to abuse. From here on, it’s the Walt House’s turn (lolol).”
LYLE|-`).。oO(… Um, have I possibly been forgotten? )