Kokugensou Volume 1 Chapter 2

Translator:
Yuushin

Editor / Proofreader:
Cyn
[HnM]Pete
Sarah
Milanin
rei_hunter

Chapter 2 – Sawatari Company

Est’s town square was crowded with refugees carrying little but the clothes on their backs.

So that was why the place was in an uproar. It looked like a disaster or something similar happened nearby.

When I entered the Sawatari company shop, sour-faced Louise came to greet me along with Suzanne and Claudia, the apprentice soldiers.

It was rare for our company’s combat team to not go out to exterminating monsters on any given day.

“What happened?”

“Ona village has been attacked by a swarm of monsters. We fought back together with the town’s garrison and other adventurers but there was too many of them and we were pushed back.”

Ona village was located not far from Est in the northeastern direction. It was a place of expansive, peaceful pastures, home to more than two hundred people.

So, the monsters that spawned far away in the direction of the royal capital had finally made their way over to the area around Est, huh.

“And? Louise and others didn’t suffer any injuries, I hope?”

“Aaah, we’re fine. We received a bunch of potions, you see. It’s just that, even though we were there, we only barely managed to evacuate the villagers.”

Though their injuries had been healed with potions, just looking at their tattered leather armor was enough to give me an idea of how fierce a fight it had been.

Still, Louise was dejected, unlike her usual self.

Ona village was a place we passed through while peddling. It was also a prosperous settlement focused on breeding cattle, so we had been procuring soil to make saltpeter from there.

Villagers I recognized were in front of the shop, setting up camp and sitting while leaning on each other, so I decided to go and check to see if anyone was injured.

“Louise, is it fine to use the recovery potions on injured people?”

“Why are you asking me something this trivial? They are Takeru’s, you are free to use them as you like.”

I had figured Louise would say that. She sounded indifferent, but I guessed Louise’s group had also used all of their potions on the injured people.

On a village was within the boundaries of the county of Est, so the healers of the town’s church also helped but there were too many injured people making the relief effort short on hands.

I was sure the town was all out of potions by now and if I offered mine they would re-sell at a much higher price, but I fought off that wicked idea and decided to distribute them to the injured people for free.

“Thank you! Thank you!”

“Think nothing of it, please, we gotta help each other in the times of trouble.”

I decided to be a nice person and help as much as I could.

The young villagers showering me with gratitude right now were probably thinking ‘what a good guy’.

Right now, I was ‘losing a fly to catch a trout’. Those people were residents of a neighboring village, so if I was helpful in this situation and earned favors here and there, I would be able to reap bigger profits later on.

Also…… since I went and founded a company in this town of Est, I had no intentions of staying idle and watching the monsters wreak havoc like this.

It looked like the power of the gun, not the sword, had finally become necessary, so I silently resolved myself to act.

“Did I hear you right? You’re going to retake Ona village from the monsters for us?”

“Yes, and if possible, after achieving that, I will even eradicate the nearby monster packs.”

I declared in a grand manner in the castle of Count Donovan.

As expected, he looked at me with doubtful eyes, thinking I was full of empty bravado.

“Of course, if you can do that, then that would really help me but……”

“I will be using new kind of weapons, victory is not impossible.”

There had been a message from Nattal in Losgow village that the gun and cannon prototype models had been completed. I had Lyle-sensei go and fetch them with the wagon, and he was on the way right now.

In the meantime, I was having Louise’s group go and investigate the monsters’ positions and numbers.

Est’s standing army was small in the first place.

When the monster outbreak’s epicenter was near the royal capital, the knights of the royal capital’s knight order and the crown army would only protect the lands and highways under the direct control of the kingdom. They wouldn’t come to help the hinterland of Est county.

“Is that so, Takeru-dono has got mysterious new weapons, huh? Very well, I will issue a special extermination request. If you can save Ona village then… how does ten platinum coins sound?”

“Oooh, so this is a platinum coin. I’ve heard rumors, but this is the first time I’ve seen one.”

A platinum coin was a special unit of currency made with a rare platinum ore. One coin was the equivalent of ten gold pieces. In other words, ten platinum coins equaled one hundred gold ones.

They rarely appeared on the market and they were only used in transactions involving nobles or wealthy merchants. They could be compared to the 100k yen gold coins. As I looked at the glittering platinum disks on the red table, I unconsciously reached with my hand only to be stopped by the count.

“I’m not giving them to you yet. They will be yours only after you’ve exterminated the monsters attacked the village.”

“I understand, sir.”

I wondered if it wouldn’t be fine for the count to increase the size of the standing army or just hire some mercenaries if he had this much money.

But well, since the county of Est was far away from the contested borderlands he probably couldn’t hire anyone even if he wanted to due to an emergency. For someone like me who wanted to sell their fighting power, this was a godsend.

“Furthermore, if you can clean up all the monsters in the vicinity and return peace to the land, I’ll reward you with three… no, five hundred gold pieces!

“Sir, we have a deal.”

I emptied the coffee cup and left the count’s castle. Free Ona village, get ten platinum coins, another five hundred gold pieces upon the extermination of remaining monsters, huh.

Those were rather lavish rewards, a daring promise even for Count Donovan. He was probably thinking it was impossible for me.

Well, even I wasn’t actually certain of success, so I guess him thinking that couldn’t be helped.

Anyhow, it was a chance to test the guns and the cannon. I wanted to take advantage of this good opportunity to maximize profit.

Once Lyle-sensei brought the guns and the cannon to us, I held a strategy meeting in the Sawatari Company building.

According to Louise’s group reconnaissance, the monsters that had attacked, and were currently staying in, Ona village were mainly armed Orcs numbering a hundred and another hundred or so Ogres and Goblins, giving a total of two hundred enemies.

A familiar face from fantasy tales with its pig head on a humanoid torso, the Orc was a well-equipped (not only with a weapon but armor as well) monster possessing higher intelligence than Ogre or Goblin.

By the way, even though Orcs had that pig head of theirs, they were unexpectedly sociable and could unite with other humanoid monsters to form a large group. The only species they seemed to be on bad terms with was the werewolves, with whom they would fight to the death whenever they met.

I really wished we could arrange this to happen here, but there were no werewolf packs nearby. It was a pity. Human livestock was the favorite food for Orcs. That was probably the reason why Ona village, with its thriving cattle herds, was attacked.

Now, compared to a monster horde of about two hundred, our war potential was just me, magic using Lyle-sensei, Louise, and the thirteen little slave girls.

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Twenty of the combat-capable young refugees would join us for the attempt to retake Ona village, bringing our numbers to a total of thirty-six people. But even so, against two hundred enemies, that was painfully low.

Assuming it would be a typical battle, of course. But we had modern weapons after all. The guns I had the blacksmiths in Losgow village manufacture were the matchlock muskets. They looked a lot like the matchlocks from the Sengoku era that were used as hunting guns.

The ones I had designed had proper stocks and were larger making them more suitable for military use.

As for ammunition, I decided to go with paper cartridges. That made reloading much easier than was the case with the old-fashioned matchlocks. When I test-fired outside of the town, the sound startled the villagers and made them fall onto their butts.

“I want us to fight using this.”

Well, I figured I could only let them get used to this.

Since the musket even made our allies surprised it would be just the right weapon to make our enemies panic. Aside from me, well used to dealing with gunpowder and aware of the gun’s mechanism and functionality, Sharon was the one who mastered it the fastest from all the nervously practicing slave girls and villagers.

“The recoil isn’t that strong, is it? Don’t let your aim sway when you pull the trigger.”

“Like this?”

With a large ‘bang’, the bullet fired by Sharon flew straight into the target. She was good. Maybe even better than me. The other slave girls, once they got used to it, too were shooting standing upright and facing forward.

The volunteering villagers were all youngsters as well, so it only took them half a day to stop getting startled and ending up on their butts. As expected, young people were able to absorb the new technology faster.

“I understand its effectiveness, but I think I still prefer a bow in the end.”

“True, it may be better if Louise fights with a weapon you’re used to.”

Louise, an excellent warrior, made a sour face as she test-fired the gun. Of course, by now she became decent at handling the musket too.

It was just that Louise, considering her skill at throwing knives and small bow, probably didn’t see the gun as a very practical weapon.

But a firearm had an unarguable advantage compared to the bow, even an ordinary person could start using it almost immediately with decent proficiency.

After some practice, we moved to a hill that overlooked Ona village, which was currently occupied by the Orcs, both to execute a surprise attack and test the cannon.

“Everyone, when we are firing the cannon, remember to cover your ears.”

While the cannon’s structure was big, the principle behind it wasn’t any different from the musket. The gunpowder used was of the potent, black variety, though, so the sound of its explosion would be very intense.

Accompanied by a fierce, thunderous sound, that pummelled my eardrums like a hammer blow, the large iron ball flew over its intended targets and disappeared beyond the horizon. The ground shook and the stone pedestal used to keep the barrel fixed in place got forced into the soil.

That was just a test shot, so for it to even fly straight ahead was already a success. But the explosion was stronger than predicted and the pedestals wouldn’t hold like this, so I figured I should reduce the amount of gunpowder a bit for the next attempt.

“It’d be nice if that was a hit, the power is good but……”

As I mumbled so, I looked down from the hilltop and saw the monsters occupying Ona village had fallen into a state of panic. This puzzled me since I totally missed.

I decided to try firing once more.

“Lower the angle on the cannon a little, then slightly turn to the left”

While Laure was cleaning the hot barrel with a mop, Sharon’s group, all wearing leather gloves, frantically worked to adjust the cannon according to my order.

“Good, that should do it. Load it, we’re firing the second round.”

“Ready~”

Using a ramrod, Laure loaded the gunpowder and the cannonball into the barrel in that order, then she moved away from the muzzle. After I made sure she was at a safe distance I lit the fuse and fired the second shot. The iron ball launched with another earth-shattering explosion.

“Ooooh, this time it hit.”

“We did it~”

Surprised by the sound of our first shot, the Orcs were swarming out of the village’s buildings. The iron ball hit right in the middle of the pack.

But even though the cannonball hit, there was less confusion than before. Maybe the monsters were too dumbfounded and forgot to run.

And it didn’t even look like that they noticed it was us shooting at them from the top of the hill.

They were not familiar with the concept of cannons, so, from their point of view, this might look like something roared suddenly and then crushed their allies in an instant.

“Good, keep firing towards the village with this angle.”

Aye aye, sir~”

Laure, who dealt with gunpowder every day, was fearlessly stuffing the cannon and we fired continuously until the stone pedestal cracked and the barrel warped from heat.

And the results…… showered by the cannonballs of death coming from an angle that they couldn’t see, the panicked surviving Orcs all ran for their lives, away from the village.

“It seems that all the hardships of practicing with muskets were pointless, don’t you think?”

Lyle-sensei remarked with an amazed expression. We might have overdone it a little after all.

Searching through the large amount of Orc corpses left in the village would yield us weapons and armor. We would also receive ten platinum coins for the completion of the special extermination request.

We were going to make a killing on retaking this village.

Louise too was pleased saying things like “there’s no way we can eat so much intestine”.

The villagers that returned to their homes were offered intestine soup, but it looked like it wasn’t very well received, even though the Orc meat was delicious.

I felt guilty for earning too much, so while we were collecting the cannonballs, we helped with restoring the village ravaged by our bombardment.

We also helped to fix the fences surrounding the village’s pasture and gathering the cattle that ran away together with the monsters.

Finally, borrowing the youths trained in using the musket, we exterminated the scattered Orcs that were still lurking nearby.

With this, we could safely say that the public order in the village has been restored. But still, the source of the troubles was still far from being dealt with.

“Further to the north of Ona, there is a bandit stronghold. That group of thieves called themselves the Golden Eagle Band but they got destroyed by the monsters. Having them gone is good and all but the monsters are now using their stronghold as a base to raid the county of Est.”

That was the situation according to Louise’s scouting.

‘Then it should be fine to just crush that bandit’s stronghold with the cannon’, I suggested. There were no objections so we decided to go ahead with the expedition.

Even though I expected us to be fine with just the cannon, the twenty volunteers from the village still took the guns and went along with us.

Again, using the information obtained by Louise’s team beforehand, we took up position on the hill in the range of the bandit stronghold ( which, despite its creators being thieves, was a three-storey imposing stone fortification on a small mountain away from the highway ).

“Since it’s just a bandit’s stronghold I guess nobody will mind even if we destroy it completely. Well then, let’s aim the cannon at the stronghold and set the angle as you see fit for now”

“Please wait a bit. Let’s perform calculations and decide on the angle from the start.”

Lyle-sensei took out a stack of paper.

It seems that ever since the first test shot at Ona village, Lyle-sensei had been recording the shooting angle and distance.

“The outcome varies depending on the weight of the cannonball and the amount of gunpowder used but I think I can estimate it somewhat.”

Lyle-sensei, just by observing my bombardment, immediately realized that one could estimate the point of impact from the angle of the cannon. What a cheat!

I knew the theory but I didn’t know how would it work out in practice. While being doubtful, I tried shooting using the angle Lyle-sensei calculated. It turned out we hit the stronghold right in the middle with the first shot.

“Mathematics is the strongest weapon, indeed.”

Excited, we kept shooting at that angle. The stone stronghold began to gradually collapse.

Since the Orcs started to squirm out from inside the stronghold, I decided to aim the cannon at the entrance and bury them alive.

Bombarding from long range was really overwhelming. I had to say, I had made a fearsome weapon for myself.

“So powerful, you probably can use these to siege castles as well……”

I hoped Lyle-sensei wasn’t thinking of any bad things. I didn’t really want to use the cannon on fellow humans.

“……No, it’s merely a tool to defend oneself.”

Even so, I knew it would still probably be used on humans. Anyway, Lyle-sensei was still the Silesie kingdom’s secretary, so I could not let my guard down.

Well, even though I said that I was a secretary’s assistant myself. The monster extermination was going well, too well actually, to the point it was scaring me. Those were my feelings as the hunt for the Orcs and Goblins near the stronghold came to an end and we proceeded to collect the bullets, monster meat, and skin.

Since this was originally a bandit stronghold, inside the ruins there was orphaned equipment and even money, so we gained some extra profit.

Inviting us to eat while we were at it, Louise happily took out the cauldron. Somehow it’s was really calming.

The Orc intestine white stew, with village beef we had been gifted mixed in, made by Louise was very unpopular with the citizens of Ona but since it tasted of proper pork it went well even with my palate.

The villagers’ faces went blue as they watched Louise dress the Orc meat but I could only think of this as handling food while I was helping to wash the intestines.

Maybe from being together with Louise for quite a while now I had gotten used to this, or maybe I was gradually becoming mentally strong like her.

This was survival of the fittest, if one refused to eat edible things that could be procured locally, one wouldn’t be able to fight.

“We should return to Est…”

When we discussed whether we should extend the expedition or not, Louise objected. She had been warning us for a while now that it was dangerous to get close to the Portal of Evil Essence.

It was true that due having guns and cannons we had been gaining confidence but still, there was no way we could casually go to the place where only heroes would tread, home to legendary monsters like a dragon.

Furthermore, we had already crossed the boundary between crown territory and the county of Est, so even if we managed more exterminations we still wouldn’t get any more money.

Therefore I decided to return. By the way, we had received a pack horse from Ona village, so now the horsepower we commanded doubled.

We put the cannon inside the covered wagon and stacked the heaps of meat and skin on top yet somehow the wheels still managed to turn.

Louise’s group would make another trip to pick up all the equipment, goods and money that wouldn’t fit this time.

When we returned to count Donovan’s castle in Est and made a report about the expedition result, he was overjoyed.

He said we were fine to keep all the money and goods salvaged from the bandit’s stronghold. Then, as a cherry on top, he awarded us another five hundred gold coins as a reward plus the usual coffee.

Rather than celebratory alcohol, we had celebratory coffee and it was delicious. But as expected, being paid generously made my mood good.

I could guess the general intentions behind the count’s attempt at putting me in a positive frame of mind. He was a sharp and capable governor. Without a doubt, he wanted the muskets, or even more likely, the cannon.

“There’s something I want to discuss.”

And there it was.

“I wish to appoint Takeru-dono as a chevalier of my house, House Almark, are you willing to accept?”

“Eh?”

I lost my composure due to his unexpected offer. I didn’t know if the count saw the changes on my face but he flashed a flattering smile at me.

“Of course, Takeru-dono’s achievements are enough to not only become a chevalier but even a baron, sadly I lack the authority to grant the latter.”

“Haaa, no that’s…”

“But even though you’ll become just a chevalier, I would like you to protect and govern the Ona village area as a magistrate with full powers of a village chief. This would make you effectively own the territory like a baron would. How about it?”

“Haaaa……”

Even if he said chevalier, I didn’t know what to do. Being totally thrown off track, I turned to Lyle-sensei in a fluster.

“How about accepting it? I think this a more sincere proposal than being told ‘give me the new weapons’.”

Now that sensei pointed this out, I finally understood. Here was what the count wanted to say.

In exchange for the freedom to do whatever I want within the Ona village area, he asked me to protect the rest of the county by stopping the monsters from the Portal of Evil Essence from getting further south.

Since that land had just been attacked by monsters, and restoring the ruined Ona village would take time and labor he would incur no loss by giving it to me. One could say that this was a fair deal.

“Count Donovan, I accept your offer.”

“Oooh, so you will do it!”

Like this, I finally got to take part in the sword-touch-shoulders ceremony that I had seen frequently in fantasy anime and officially became a chevalier of House Almark.

“Good, from now on it’s fine for Takeru-dono to use the name Takeru Ona Sawatari.”

“I’m sorry, that’s a bit…”

Putting Ona in the middle somehow didn’t feel right, so I declined.

The Ona village, which thrived on breeding cattle, was allocated new land so the production efficiency was improving remarkably.

The saltpeter production base also remained the same location we had been using before. But since the ranch had been destroyed, we could have the freshly jobless villagers work for the company.

The soil suitable for saltpeter production was everywhere around and could be gathered freely. And I could make saltpeter huts all over the village too.

But, at the same time, I continue to produce and sell soap in Est while using the money earned to order guns and cannons from Losgow mine.

I could repel the normal monsters coming from the north but I needed lots of cannons just in case something like a greater demon or a dragon showed up.

Incidentally, the wagons to transport the cannons could be procured from Ona village as well.

And of course, with them being the countermeasure against monsters, I didn’t feel like spreading any information about them.

Especially since I had a feeling that while count Donovan was good at commerce, he was not very good at military matters.

I didn’t know why I, someone who should have been a trader, now had to think about defending a territory but I guessed it couldn’t be helped after I took up the chevalier title.

“There are not enough hands to do the work…… ”

“Let’s hire more slave girls in that case?”

Right after I grumbled to myself Lyle-sensei whispered a devilish suggestion into my ear. I had, of course, thought about hiring more people and even considered slaves.

But I had no idea why did sensei limit the choice to little girl slaves only. The company’s work was more than just making soap or saltpeter.

There were tasks like those performed by Louise’s group too, ones requiring taking up weapons to fight. And I didn’t think I had heard about anyone using little girl slave soldiers before.

“Sensei, even if they were to be slaves, letting children use guns and operate cannons feels very awkward.”

“It’s still a better fate than going to the mine and being certain of death, isn’t it? When it comes to guns, even children can handle them easily and, as we saw, they can learn how to use them immediately too. And finally, in comparison to adult slaves, the little girls can be bought dirt cheap, so we can obtain the necessary number immediately.”

“Hmmmm, I see. Almost like a charitable enterprise, isn’t it.”

Sensei, like me, was a wicked person.

“Haha, it certainly is a splendid charitable enterprise. And since we control the route between the capital and Losgow, the slave traders will come flocking if you decide to employ more.”

“Won’t doing that trouble the mining operation?”

If my memory served well, the child slaves were supposed to be a perishable tool to excavate inside narrow mining tunnels. And the mines were valued customers purchasing my blasting bombs.

Especially the Losgow mine that I was asking to make guns and cannons for me.

“You don’t have to worry. The mines will work the adult slaves to death instead.”

“……Right. In that case, I’ll be counting on you, sensei.”

If there would be no child slaves to die, then the adult slaves would perish in their stead. It was not an easy truth to hear but this was an aspect of this world nothing could be done about.

I hoped that if the work efficiency went up thanks to the blasting bombs, the number of workers worked to death would go down, but that was probably just wishful thinking.

The heartlessness of this world’s social mechanisms was not something an individual’s power could change.

“……With that said, the number of new comrades will increase gradually.”

“That it will.”

Later I informed Sharon, who has grown enough to nearly match my height, about the decision to employ new little girl slaves from this point onwards. She had become a leader looking after the other girls and today, as usual, she was both tending to and managing the store.

That was why whenever there was anything new to discuss, I always talked to her first but now, for some reason, she was looking unsatisfied. And rather than her face, her ears were……

Sharon’s tail was hidden under the skirt so it couldn’t be seen, but usually, when she was in a good mood, her ears stood up straight making it easy to notice.

Her mood was usually good, so her ears were nearly always standing up but today, when she heard what I said, her ears totally dropped down. She was clearly anxious about something and I wondered what that was.

“You don’t have to worry about living space. We have enough funds and I’ll add one more building to cope with the increase of personnel.”

“Yes.”

Huh, this isn’t it either, Sharon?

“If there’s a shortage of anything or any trouble with day-to-day life, I want you to tell me now.”

“No, no. Everything is alright and the money we’re being paid is plenty enough.”

“I see… If you wish for freedom, you can buy yourself out with your wages and become a full-fledged citizen again, you know.”

“Everyone is satisfied with their current lifestyle. Actually, if others heard about being freed, they’d think they’re being abandoned and would start to cry.”

Well now, even if they returned to being a normal citizen, we wouldn’t kick them out of the town or anything. I wanted to keep employing the children able do their jobs.

After all this, I still couldn’t figure out what was the problem here. So I decided to give up and ask her straight.

“Sharon, is there, perhaps, something you’re personally dissatisfied with?”

“Just one thing…… If you’re getting new kids then you will have to give them a bath again, right?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

Since they would probably be dirty when bought, getting them clean would come first.

After all, Sharon and the rest of the slaves were heating up water in the back of the store to wash themselves regularly too, weren’t they.

They were fine to do that as they pleased, of course, however, maybe because they were still children, they disliked getting into the bath.

Especially Laure, who hated bathing. Which would be a problem if left unaddressed, as she was the one mixing saltpeter.

“……Aah, of course.”

Everything should be fine if I made a big bath when adding the extra building.

And since asking Lyle-sensei to use water magic for each and every little thing wasn’t a good habit I should also dig a well and install a hand-pump. My newly established connections with the iron mines resolved the material problem I had before.

Which reminded me, when I came to this world, I had thought about making money by recreating the hand-pump. If one had the required materials, the principle behind it was extremely simple, so now I could try making that idea work.

I also wanted to soak in a bathtub from time to time, as going to the Losgow hot spring every single time was a pain.

“Erm, master?”

“Aah sorry, I was lost in thought. I was thinking about making a new bath, you see.”

“That’s not what I worry about. Will you tell me why I am the only one that you won’t bathe anymore?”

“Well, that’s because you’re……”

Since I bought the girls, she alone had grown big and I thought it was fine to stop washing her. Or rather, I wanted her to help with washing the other kids. But still, for some reason, here she was staring at me with her amber eyes and an unsatisfied face. At that moment I had a flash of insight.

She had beastman blood in her veins so her body matured fast but, on the inside, she was still a kid.

Just because she was from a merchant house, could read, knew how to write, immediately learned how to do the double-entry booking, and so on, I came to think of her as a very smart adult.

With only her being treated differently, she must have been worried about discrimination. She probably didn’t know that I was bad at dealing with adult women and that she hadn’t done anything wrong.

“……Is it because it’s me?”

“No, I’m sorry, it’s my bad. Next time I will wash you too, same as the rest.”

There was no need for her to make a face as if she was about to cry now, was there. Her animal ears popped out from her soft orange hair again as I started to rub her head.

“Alright……”

Well, her body was a little big, so it was a bit… or rather, it’s felt quite wrong but I figured it would be fine as long as I thought of her as a big kid.

Thinking about it, she was still at the age where kids wanted to be spoiled by adults the most, huh.

“That’s right,if it’s Lyle-sensei then there would be no problem at all. I guess it will be fine to leave bathing Sharon to Lyle-sensei.” Straight after I said that both Lyle-sensei and Sharon got into a bad mood. I was half-joking but nevertheless, the bath was a taboo word for Lyle-sensei, huh

……

Lyle-sensei went and bought a batch of new little slave girls to match the newly expanded company building.”>Although we didn’t decide on a specific number somehow it ended up to be thirteen again.

Looking at their age, they were all around twelve years old. I guessed that since sensei had a choice, he probably aimed for the oldest kids because they were cheapest to get.

Not long ago, I jokingly said ours was a charity enterprise but with deals like this one, it had become a profit-making operation now. Though it was also true that we needed them old enough to be capable of working for us.

Also, if we just increased the number thoughtlessly, it would be hard to prepare suitable living quarters and education. Therefore, this was the perfect number but still, thirteen, huh…

It looked like in this country they did not consider thirteen to be unlucky.

Maybe Lyle-sensei picked this amount so that they could make newbie-veteran pairs to learn the ropes.

These days, sensei would handle matters on his own without me having to ask, so I figured I could leave it to him.

The new annex had doubled our company building in size but most of that space was used for the big bath on the first floor. I tried to recreate a ceramic tile bathroom causing the construction cost to skyrocket and hit a grand total of six thousand gold but I did not regret it.

Being able to take a bath at any time was priceless. The water was supplied from the well via a hand-pump and heated externally with the help of firewood.

Of course, I also installed a proper drainage system so there would be no problem with disposing of dirty water.

Right now Laure was drawing water and tending the fire diligently by herself even though I had told her it was fine to leave it to me.

She had to manage the fire when making the saltpeter, now she was managing the fire at the bath too. Just how much did she like fire?

I had a feeling that all the Dwarves were workaholics.

And so it seemed that she liked to heat the bath but did not like to get into one, which was a problem for me.

Initially, I thought that might have been the case because Dwarves as a species disliked water. But from asking Lyle-sensei about it I learned that this wasn’t the case. It was just Laure herself.

Oh well, since I liked to dunk kids that disliked it into the bath, I would wash her plenty later.

“Well then, we will start with washing you guys.”

“……”

The girl slaves were all, without exception, meekly following orders with lifeless eyes. Since I knew that they were going to be like this, I didn’t mind them not showing any reactions.

The ones in charge of bathing them were me, Lyle-sensei, Louise, and Sharon.

“Sharon is doing the washing too, huh.”

“Master wanted me to help washing the kids, didn’t master say so?”

I really wanted her to stop making a curious face like that. I had only said it would help if she was to be on the washing side. Hadn’t she wanted to be treated the same as the other kids?

Oh well, it was probably best to let both her and Laure do the things they wanted if that was their wish.

The slave girls were all like Cinderellas or princesses of ash. Their hair and skin were so gray that it made you doubt they had ever taken a bath since they were born.

And it wasn’t a pure gray, it was more like what you got from mixing a lot of different paint colors. Nevertheless, once we washed them clean with the soap their hair and skin returned to the hues they were born with.

There was red, blond, black… and even green hair with some blue mixed in, making for a little fantasy-ish display.

Their skin, as expected, was covered with cuts, scrapes, and bruises. This didn’t mean the slave traders were particularly sadistic and intentionally inflicted wounds on them or anything.

The damage may have been caused by the incident which turned them into slaves or rough treatment in captivity. We washed the wounds and treated them with medicine decocted from the herbs found by Viola.

I found it sad that they all just sat there like dolls and let themselves be treated without saying “it’s painful” or “feels good” or anything else like that.

Thinking about it, Laure’s attitude of hating baths was very human-like in contrast to this.

Nevertheless, I was still going to dunk her into the bath later and wash her without mercy. I’d like it if everyone also came to hate bathing as fast as they could.

After we washed the new kids, the old kids, with the exception of Sharon, also helped to wipe their bodies with towels.

Since I would be pairing one new kid with one old kid, it would help me greatly if the apprentices found the masters to learn the ropes from on their own.

“Right, after you wipe yourselves, put on your clothes properly. Once you verify that you are fully clothed, you are free to eat and rest in your own room for the rest of the day.”

Even when given such simple instructions, the slave girls still wouldn’t act independently.

They did not understand what to do even when put in front of the underwear, apron dresses, socks and shoes after being told it was theirs. They have been deprived of the concept of owning things.

We will have to tell them to sit at the table, tell them to eat, and tell them these are their beds they are to sleep in.

It was going to take a lot of hard work to bring back the human in them.

After we put the new kids to sleep, it was the old kids’ turn to bathe.

“Hey, where did Laure go?”

“Eh, she was here just a moment ago…”

Since I couldn’t see Laure anywhere, I asked Colette, the baker’s daughter, who was close with her and got paired up with her often for work. It seemed that she had disappeared suddenly.

She had run away, huh?

It was very like her to do the job of taking care of the new kids perfectly and then vanish immediately before it was her turn to take a bath.

Oh well, I would definitely dunk her later.

“Well, by now you all should be able to bathe by yours… Hey! Why are you undressing so fast?!”

Sharon was already undressed and waiting.

Uwaaa, looking at her naked body I could see that it had fully matured.

Even though it had only been three months of her eating properly, the effects of malnutrition, including stunted growth, had clearly vanished. She was still the age of a primary school kid, though.

Right, I shouldn’t be getting embarrassed by a kid here.

“Fine, I’ll start by washing Sharon but you should learn to wash yourself soon, okay?”

I didn’t say that because I hated washing her in particular or anything. It would simply take a load off my shoulders when I happened to have a lot of other things to deal with.

I couldn’t fail to notice that the numerous wounds she had carried when we had first met were now gone without a trace. Her skin has become beautiful and it was truly a blessing.

Body-wise she was probably more than qualified to even work in a brothel now but it would be morally wrong since her mind was still that of a kid.

“Master, since I was the only one not to get washed the second time, please wash me enough to make up for that.”

“I got it, I got it……”

I silently pleaded that she stopped showing me her front. It was totally bad to try to describe any visible detail now. I resolved myself to kill my heart and scrub my mind clean.

That swaying little tail above her butt was adorable, a perfect thing to distract myself with. There was also some orange fur growing on her back and wrists.

Her chest had an overabundance of soft meat so I preferred to avoid commenting. The moderate amount of orange hair concealing her groin area also saved me.

“Okay, done, you’re clean now.”

“Eeeeh?!”

Well, she was clean now, right? I had lathered her whole body with soap and washed it a bit already. I thought I had tried my best. And frankly, doing anything more would make me lose it.

“Well, it’s done and you can finish on your own, right?”

“……”

Even though her discontent face was glaring at me intensely, I was too embarrassed to look back.

Since she was still a primary school age kid inside and a demi-human, I shouldn’t have any sexual interest in her.

Or rather, if that happened, it would be my loss. But I was also a man, it was impossible to have no reaction if I tried to do more.

I had endured a lot… I was so mentally exhausted I could vomit blood. After Sharon, I would wash the other kids and I would be able to reconfirm that I was not a lolicon. Yep, handling a kid was more comfortable.

Since Lyle-sensei and Louise also helped, we finished bathing the other kids almost immediately.

“Okay everyone, after you’ve rinsed your body, try taking a soak in the bath. I think that if you can get used to it, it will start feeling really good.”

For now, I tried to let them use the bath too. The humans in this country didn’t have the custom of soaking in a bath. So while I wouldn’t force them to do so all the time, they should at least try it once.

Soaking in the bath improved metabolism so it was good for the body. If they were to get used to it while they were still kids they might come to like it.

As expected, letting all twenty-six of them into the bath at once made the bath water murky. I drained it and heated up a new portion to let Lyle-sensei and Louise take a slow soak too.

I was fine with being last.

Of course, I thought of asking Lyle-sensei about entering together but he shot down the idea before I could even finish the question.

This was hopeless, I faced the same pattern of refusal again. Anyway, it was time for Laure. I would definitely find her and dunk her into the bath.

Entering the dining room I saw Colette.

Since she just got out of the bath, her still damp, brown hair was glossy. This girl too had the looks to be a poster girl of a bar if one prettied her up.

A promising stock.

Maybe because she was a daughter of a baker, she took up cooking and serving food as her job. Usually, she would be the last to eat after she made sure everyone else was served.

If Colette was eating then Laure must have come by for food already.

“Did Laure eat yet?”

“Ah, master. It seems she hasn’t. But she’s so late that I went and had my meal already, I’m sorry.”

“Don’t worry, that’s ok. Do you know where she went?”

“She may be heating up the bath again.”

That was likely.

There was a chance that she had aimed for the moment when I went away to pump new water to go add more firewood and stayed to watch the bath temperature even now.

She was a workaholic, she was unable to ditch work.

“Right, Colette you wait here and give Laure a special dish when she comes back.”

“Eh, special dish?”

“Prepare Orc meat with plenty of salt and spices to make it smell good. Give her alcohol too, the good kind, and tell her it’s all because she worked hard today.”

“Understood, master.”

Laure worked twice as hard as other but she also ate twice as much.

Also, as a Dwarf, she was no exception from the type and even though she was still a kid she already loved alcohol.

In the Dwarven society, they called strong alcohol “water of life”. They were saying that without strong spirits life was pointless.

It seemed the common sense idea, that letting a kid drink was bad, was nonexistent in this world, so I would let her drink as much as she liked.

Since she really loved food with a strong taste, she would definitely come for this very aromatic dish. And once given good alcohol, she would definitely stay.

“As expected, you’ve come.”

“Au, master.”

Au my ass.

It took me a lot of effort to catch her but, as I predicted, she finally came back to the dining room.

“And you just finished eating too, perfect. Lyle-sensei and Louise should be all done with their bath, we will be the last.”

“Ah, I still haven’t drunk enough.”

Yes, yes, I will allow you to drink all you wanted later but now it is time for the bath~

But still, despite drinking that much whiskey she was still pretty sober. Nevertheless, she must have been somewhat drunk, since she got caught after escaping here and there for all this time.

Amongst all the older slave girls, Laure was the biggest earner, so I didn’t mind using a lot of salt and expensive spices for her meat dish or giving her plenty of alcohol. I also usually put up with her selfishness to the best of my ability.

But avoiding bathing was the only thing I wouldn’t allow. One had to simply consider how much saltpeter had she made and how many saltpeter huts had she built just yesterday for example.

And while the smell was one thing, making saltpeter was a job involving lots of dirt and animal excrements. I understand the hardships of that work the most, so she was the only one I could not neglect washing.

“Ok, take off your clothes, I’m going to ask for them to be cleaned too.”

“Ah, master.”

After I had quickly taken her totally dirty apron dress off and stripped her bare, she put her hands together as if asking for a boon.

“What is it?”

“Please be gentle with me.”

“Who did you learn that phrase from?!”

Since I was the last one, I thought I might as well get in the bath too and I took all my clothes off.

I didn’t know her real age but Laure appeared to be the smallest of all the slave girls, so I didn’t think much about seeing her naked or being seen naked around her.

Maybe that was why I found her the easiest to get along with.

“I will, gently, wash every nook and cranny of your body, so you better prepare yourself.”

“Hiyaaa!”

I used the brand new soap, lathered up plenty of bubbles and proceeded to wash her with all my might, starting from the head.

Even though she was a Dwarf of red copper hair and dark brown skin, I would prove that with enough polishing, even she could become beautiful.

In truth, her pointed ears, face, and figure were adorable. In this Real Fantasy, Elves were known as the white Faerie, and Dwarves as the black Faerie.

This meant, Dwarves were a member of the Faerie clan too. In other words, Laure has the potential to take the position of a Dark Elf.

“Laure, I will spruce you up into an idol.”

“Uwaawawa.”

I laughed in my mind, seeing her struggle was fun. Maybe I really was a sadist.

If she was to press me to wash her like Sharon did, then I would draw back. But since she tended to react like “no, I don’t want to be washed” then, of course, I wanted to do it all the more. It couldn’t be helped.

As a result of my efforts, her red copper hair regained its gloss and her dark brown skin too became beautiful. This wasn’t bad.

“Alright, you’re completely clean now. You can even call yourself a dark Elf now.”

“Master, I hate Elves.”

So in this world Elves and Dwarves didn’t get along either. In that case, it was fine to call her a beautiful Dwarf girl.

As I was gazing at the loveliness that was the cleaned up Laure and basking in self-satisfaction, I heard a bitter, familiar voice.

“Master is unfair……”

“Uwaaaaa!”

I screamed at the surprise attack from behind.

This bath house had a pretty high ceiling but I still installed clear mirrors of the type only nobles used on the walls because I wanted them regardless of the cost.

Clear mirror in this world was a kind of processed silver sheet. The mirrors installed in this bath house were bought for a total of two platinum coins. They were legitimate high-class items as normal people usually used metal mirror made from copper or tin.

Before I knew those mirrors reflected a head of orange hair. It felt like a horror movie.

“Uwaaaa!”

As soon as my voice faded Laure screamed too. Maybe she was simply startled by my scream.

Her miserable scream echoed inside the bath house. I probably sounded like this too.

I looked over my shoulder and, as expected, saw Sharon standing there naked. I wondered briefly why was she there and mentally scolded her for sneaking up on me from behind and scaring me witless.

“Master washed me so sloppily, yet here you are diligently scrubbing Laure.”

What a pain……

“Come on Laure, try soaking in the water.”

“Uwaa!”

I held Laure up in my arms and dipped her into the water.

“How is it, feels good?”

“Hot~”

“You can’t stand soaking in the water even though you heated up the bath, huh. Hahaha!”

“Wait, master, are you listening?”

Uwa, she was unusually angry. I pleaded silently for her to let this go. Somehow, I suddenly felt so tired and decided to get in the bath too.

Haaa, as expected, soaking in the hot water felt good. I could enjoy myself at last.

“Laure, you can get out after you’ve counted to 100”

“2, 3, 5, 7, 11……”

I was surprised that she knew prime numbers. She might have learned from somebody but honestly…… the only answer was me. I must have been talking to one of the other slave girls and she overheard it.

In the meantime, Sharon came over to the middle of the bath. This kid was really persistent today.

“Master……”

“Sheesh, I got it.”

I prayed for her to stop pressing her breasts onto my back since I surrendered already. That soft sensation was really bad.

I felt like I might lose my self-control, because of the tiredness.

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“89, 97, 101. Mastaaa!”

“I got it, you can get out now.”

Laure finished counting prime numbers to a hundred so I let her go. She immediately got up and headed out of the bath. I marveled again at just how much did she hate it.

“Ah, Laure, wait. I’ve prepared new clothes for you.”

Sharon chased after Laure out of the bath and into the changing room. So that was why she was here, she came to bring Laure her change of clothes.

(Hmph, somehow, she looks busy…… )

Somehow, Sharon was the person that worked the most recently. She has to arrange the job tasks while thinking about cleaning up after everyone at the same time.

She was an indispensable human resource, a really good find. I lowered myself into the hot water while thanking for my good fate.

“Master……”

“Uwaaaaa!”

I complained to myself that the event should have ended already. Now that I thought about it I really should have gotten out together with the two of them just now.

“I haven’t finished talking.”

“Uwaa……”

Sharon returned to the bath. Anywhere else would be fine but the bath was really bad.

“Why did you only give Laure the special treatment and why am I the only one neglected?”

“I got it. I will wash you with all I’ve got to make up for the time I neglected you.”

“That’s a promise!”

Now, if she could only stop nuzzling her body against mine. I could see that Sharon’s ears stood up straight and her tail was wagging even in the middle of the bath.

And really her tail was the only thing I could look at, or rather, it would be bad if I looked anywhere else.

“Aah, but there’s one condition. Get out of the bath, sit over there and close your eyes until I say it’s okay to open them.”

“Understood, I will do exactly as master says!”

Sharon sat on the washstand and closes her eyes as she was told. That was good, with that I dodged the worst situation.

I scooped some hot water with the bucket and steeled my resolve again. I began to wash her body once again, diligently, starting from her hair.

“Hyaa~ kyan!”

“Don’t make weird sounds.”

“I’m sorry, it’s because master’s hands are so gentle.”

I really hoped she wasn’t saying that on purpose. I swore under my breath as dealing with an adult’s body with the mind of a child was a torture.

“I can’t focus on washing you when you do that, so do your best to not make any sound.”

“Yes! I will absolutely not make any sound, master…… hau~”

“Moan-like sighs are unnecessary and bad too, stop that.”

“I will hold my breath, master…….”

“Geez, this is hopeless……”

This was all too much and my heart started to ache, so I figured I had to become serious and wash her. And there was no helping any normal phenomena along the way.

As I was thinking of abandoning my self-restraint, my conscious became hazy. Maybe it was divine punishment for thinking wicked things or maybe I was feeling dizzy because I stayed in the bath for too long. Having lost the fine control of my hands, I slid them up and down Sharon’s skin many times. All the blood rushed to my head but thanks to that I was no longer swollen down there. I decided now was the time to finish the job.

“Aan~ master, even there……”

“Where the hell is ‘there’?!”

In the end, I washed her from head to toe. I was even asked to wipe her body with the bath towel properly.

The only saving grace was that she obeyed the command to keep her eyes closed to the end. Still, that meant I had to help her put on her clothes and even underwear, though.

“Thank you very much, master, I will be counting on you again.”

“Aaah, some other time……..”

Honestly, I didn’t even know who was the master anymore.

She was sincere and didn’t have any malicious intent but thanks to that, I couldn’t sleep much that night due to the anguish and kept cursing my bad fate.

Ever since the humanoid monsters poured out of the Portal of Evil Essence, the Ona village located in the northeastern part of the county of Est had become the frontier in the fight against them.

I felt the need to prepare so I reinforced the village’s stockade and I also built a small stone tower equipped with a cannon.

The village’s militia consisted of the twenty youths that could also handle guns now, so it was sufficient for defense even without borrowed help from the adventurer guild or the town garrison.

Louise, who was inspired by the power of modern weapon during our last outing, added two more people to the combat unit and as usual kept leaving on scouting missions all the time.

Louise for some reason didn’t take to firearms, so she still used a short bow, but her underlings Suzanne and Claudia both started to use guns. They could handle a gun on horseback too, so they formed a small invincible dragoon unit.

I wasn’t sure if they would be alright with horse riding since they were all little girls but it seemed that it was better for the rider to have a small stature and they could pretty much ride immediately. I was surprised by that.

Well, it was likely that only Louise could fight from the horseback for real but since, basically, they were just scouts, it was fine if they used just long range attacks.

As expected, children were much more adaptable.

By the way, since I was appointed as a knight, I had tried practicing horse-riding a little bit but I gave up already.

Using the wagon was easier, so it was fine to just stick to that for transportation.

Today too, Lyle-sensei and I were riding on the covered wagon together. We came to collect the soap and gunpowder that were being made in Ona village.

The cattle breeding was discontinued after the monster attack but, with the guidance from our company, the villagers were helping us with making new products. Thus, the place became even more lively than before.

We were just using them for our profit but it sure felt great to see the village you were managing prosper.

“Feudal lord, enemy attack!”

“I’m not a feudal… wait, haven’t Louise’s group gone to deal with them?”

One of the village youths ran over to us panicked with a gun in his hand.

I had tried explaining to the villagers that I was a magistrate, not a feudal lord but they did not seem to get the difference.

Being called a feudal lord by an older person felt pretty weird.

But still, an enemy attack? Didn’t Louise’s group go out to verify the sightings of Orcs on the village outskirts? They still came here to attack?

I looked towards the direction the villager was pointing at and I could see a cloud of dust raised by a large force approaching from the other side of the meadow.

They enemy was still far away, so I couldn’t see them clearly, but it was probably Orcs again and a pretty big number of them.

“It’s likely that the ones appearing on outskirts of the village were just a diversion while this is the main force.”

Lyle-sensei still spoke with a refreshing smile even though the village was about to be attacked. I had known him for some time now so I understand him somewhat, but still, he was really enjoying himself now.

Even though sensei was a civil officer, he was unexpectedly fond of things that reeked of blood……

“Are Orcs that smart?”

“An Orc that has lived for a long time can grow into an Orc Lord but those are rare. Once they do, they can be a bit of a tough enemy, though.”

While Lyle-sensei started unleashing magic to stop the Orc horde, the vigilante corps, leading few other people, climbed the small tower that housed the cannon.

Sensei had a pleased face as he took out the notebook he had been using to calculate the cannon angle every time it had been fired. Seeing him be so imprudent, even though the village was under attack, made me feel a bit grossed out.

Well, I could still only follow his strategy.

“Anyway, let’s group up and fight!”

“Ooooh!”

The vigilante corps members, equipped with muskets, gathered around me gradually. Without a moment of delay, I started distributing the paper cartridges from the covered wagon.

The accuracy of a musket wasn’t high, so if a squad didn’t gather and shoot in salvos, it wouldn’t be effective against a horde of enemies.

That was a barrage. If you were a man, you would want to try saying the quote “the barrage is weak” at least once, right? And while vigilante corps did practice group fighting too, it was not on the level of our slave girls.

Waiting for the Orcs that had already crossed the stockade and were approaching us we formed a line across their path of advance.

Since it was a pretty big horde, we should, honestly, feel threatened but I didn’t feel like we would lose at all. Suddenly, the front row of the enemy fell down into pitfall traps with a thud.

Those traps were created by Lyle-sensei’s Earth Trap spell. It was just elementary grade earth magic but it could create holes over a big area. In a battle against a large number of opponents things like simple fences and basic pitfall traps could be way more effective than any sort of offense magic.

Even though they had plenty of momentum behind them, the Orc horde was stopped dead in their track by the pitfalls.

“Good, fire!”

Everyone shot at once.

Panicked by the rain of lead, and most of all, the explosion sounds, the Orcs turned to flee. But they weren’t even allowed that.

“GUuuuGAGAGAaaaGOGOGOoooOOOOO!”

A hard to describe series of cries coming from behind them kept them from breaking.

An Orc twice the size of a normal specimen, a giant Orc Lord, was coming forward through the middle of the horde.

It was even wearing a helmet with a big horn and a red cloak, a stone hammer dwarfing its body held in its hands.

So that was an Orc Lord.

A majestic appearance that was glaring over here, a gigantic avatar of violence itself.

With just one shout, it instilled primal fear into its subordinates and the horde’s turmoil was suppressed.

At first, I thought that the only thing on its mind would be violence but looking at its angry, muddled eyes, one could see that they were filled to the brim with the gleam of malevolent intelligence.

It was a monster that could leave one shaken just from eye contact.

Not an opponent one would want to fight directly against, or rather, one to absolutely not engage in that fashion.

Expecting it to come any moment now, I blocked my ears and ducked my head.

In that instant, intense shock wave washed over me together with a ball of iron. The silhouette of the Orc Lord, that brought terror to both enemies and allies alike, disappeared in a cloud of dust.

The sound of the explosion, enough to shake the air, followed right behind.

We knew that the ground vibration and the shockwave would come, so we were prepared mentally but I still struggled to withstand the quaking and the blast of wind.

“Phew, even though it’s on our side, it’s still scary…… Everyone! Reload and shoot!”

“Yes!”

When the dust settled, all that was left where the Orc Lord had been standing was a crater.

Its rare meat and skin were probably blown away somewhere and it would make Louise very sad if she were to hear about this.

No matter how strong the Orc Lord had been, there could be no other outcome if it just charged straight in front of the cannon with its gigantic body. In the end, its intelligence was just on the level of an alpha of a monkey troop.

A cannon’s explosion at point-blank range.

The shock and the blast of air were so awful that even the allies that knew it was coming would still receive mental damage. So it was no wonder that when their commanding officer had been lost, the remaining Orcs just scattered away chaotically.

We chased them down, trying to reduce their number as much as we could.

We suffered no deaths and the injured too were cured with medicine and potions.

The equipment, meat, and skin of the killed monsters would become resources each time we fought, so the more that happened, the wealthier would the village become.

“As expected of Lyle-sensei.”

I offered words of gratitude to sensei who climbed down from the small tower who had commanded the cannon and shot just once.

And with just that one shot, he had hit the enemy’s commanding officer and assured our victory.

“Well, it’s essentially the same as using long range magic, so it’s nothing great really.”

“I see, so that’s how it is.”

Controlling long-range magic was the same as calculating ballistic trajectories, huh. If that was the case, it wasn’t strange that Lyle-sensei could adapt right away.

The truly great thing about sensei was not that he could handle the cannon skillfully by himself but that he had been successfully teaching the villagers and had them operate it as well. That was something that even I, who possessed the modern knowledge, couldn’t win against. Sensei was something like a cheat-teacher.

I sometimes wondered whether to this world Lyle-sensei wasn’t more of a threat than something like an Orc Lord.

Well, he was reliable as an ally though.

The business was doing very well.

I had completed laying out the trade network throughout the Est county, I had also arranged things so that from production, to sales, to distribution, everything could be done with just the slave girls and I didn’t need to be involved with anything personally anymore.

In other words, I had become somewhat free.

The main reason why things were going this well was Sharon, who based herself in the company store to manage the whole business, and her skills.

“Sharon, I will tend to the store in your place for a bit, so go out and play.”

“Really? Then I will go shopping.”

Sharon made a face which was rare for her. Even though it was mostly just me trying to kill time, I still wanted her to relax sometimes too.

Even I didn’t peddle all the time myself, preferring instead to stand in front of the store sometimes to enjoy the liveliness.

But even though I said that, the goods our company was dealing in were just soap, detergent, and fireworks.

I even had time to place some herbs and wildflowers that Viola picked for the store decoration so we clearly weren’t all that busy.

While tending to the shop I was chatting with the housewives and the Est castle maids who walked past the shop, explaining to them the benefits of soap and detergent to convince them to buy.

That reminded me of the time when I had still been a uni student in the modern world and we had done things like a refreshment booth during the school festival. I recalled those dear days fondly.

I hadn’t gone out of my way to join a club or anything, that had been an acquaintance pressuring me into helping him but, still, making and selling food in the company of strangers had been fun.

Even though it had only been about half a year since I had come to this world, those days had already seemed like a distant past.

Now that I thought about it, it had been awhile since I had last reminisced about the previous world. Maybe it was because I had been struggling to live here. I tried to recall the time when I had been transferred to this world but it was all hazy.

Oh well, it wasn’t a thing I could just force. If it was important, I would probably recall before long.

“Somehow, it has been a while since things last were this peaceful……..”

……The customers weren’t coming.

Even though I had intended to make the firecrackers and poppers as toys, they were still totally used for battle. And even though I recommended that citizens buy them as toys, nobody wanted to purchase them at all.

As expected, I needed to increase the variety of our goods. Simply mixing metal dust into the black powder to create colored flame would be probably enough.

But if I were to go ahead with that, then I might as well make rocket fireworks to use as something like a signal flare too…….

“Aaah! There you are!”

“Welcome…….”

A young woman wearing a white robe with blue accents suddenly barged into the store and interrupted my train of thought.

She pointed a finger at me in a sharp motion but…….I had no idea what was up with this person. She was not someone I knew.

“Pleased to meet you, I am sister Stelliana from the Church of Asama.”

“This is not some kind of scam like ‘I’m affiliated with the church so buy this’, right……?”

Blue on white was the heraldry of the Church of Asama.

Even I knew that much and I didn’t think there would be scoundrels borrowing the name of that tremendously powerful organization.

It was just that I originally didn’t like religionists very much. I just blurted that out having learned I was speaking to an ordained person.

“No, it’s not, I am a genuine ordained nun. I am not a sibling-type sister either. I am a real church sister, Stelliana!”

“Haa, why yes, thank you…….”

The sister, wearing a hood covering her eyes, smiled while sticking out the sparkling silver ankh resting on her excessively large bust.

She took my joke surprisingly seriously.

“No matter how many times I have visited the shop, I couldn’t meet the ‘rumored’ Sawatari-sama, so I was really troubled. But to be able to finally meet you here, I was surely guided by fate, you can even say I was guided by the Goddess of Creation herself. Aaah! Asama, thank you!”

She prayed while holding up the ankh that looked like a cross, just a bit broad at the top.

It was a bit troubling for me to have her praying in front of the store, though…….

By the way, the Church of Asama was a main religion of the world with a big church even in this country.

I had borrowed the codex about this world’s creation myth once from Lyle-sensei and had skimmed through it for the sake of research.

It seems that this world had been created from the primordial chaos 8000 years ago by a goddess called Asama. Because of her gender, man and woman were equal in this world. On top of that, she prohibited racism and demanded that all living creatures be loved, making her’s a very appreciated religion.

But even though it was the main religion of this world and it preached such a wonderful creed, the slavery existed and was legal, the weak and poor were oppressed, Nymphs suffered from public persecution and so on. I found all this very ironic.

No matter the world in question, the public stance of those in power was bound to differ from real life.

Still, I figured that a powerless, pacifist religion was way better than a bunch of fanatic heresy cults.

By the way, the Asama adherents were responsible for spreading the holy letters that I was able to use.

Since I was a person from another world, I obviously didn’t know the creation goddess, not to mention holy magic. Therefore, I had never gone to a church here but I guess I should be thankful nevertheless.

I stopped myself recalling that she had said: “rumored”. I decided to try asking what type of rumor it was.

“It’s that rumor saying that appeared out of nowhere and created a big company in Est, saved Ona village from vicious monsters, got rewarded with knighthood and position of a magistrate by the count. The rumor about the hero, Sawatari Takeru-sama…….”

“Well now, that’s a bit…”

“I also heard that saved child slaves that were on the verge of death, gave them jobs as a charitable enterprise. You have a very good reputation in this neighborhood, you know”

“Weeell…….”

Being praised that much, I got embarrassed.

“It’s a pity that even though you’re such a strong and kind person you lack belief in the goddess Asama!”

“Haaa……”

I thought she was here to praise me but the conversation suddenly turned into a pain in the ass.

“Furthermore, since you are none other than the hero, Sawatari-sama, I, sister Stelliana, won’t bother you with trifles anymore. You can start donating to the church as soon as today to work on your piety slowly from here on.”

“Donation, eh?”

Since I, having no magic at all, probably couldn’t use recovery magic anyway, so I had no plans whatsoever to increase my faith or anything like that.

“Not that it matters to you but we are receiving a lot of donations from other companies in the town. All the town people are devout so it helps a lot. ”

“Aah, I see, so that’s how it is.”

With this I understood. Even in this world, the church had power rivaling that of the king. When you wanted to run a shop in the city, it was natural to pay a tax to the crown called shop space fee. It was also natural for a resident to treat the church coming with a request for donation as an another form of tax and obey. In return, if a tragedy struck, like when the town of Est was attacked, the priests would immediately go out to help the affected.

“So, how much should I donate?”

“It’s fine to donate as much as you like.”

For now, I tried to give one gold coin.

Aaand, she wasn’t taking it.

“You can donate as much as you like!”

That being the case, I added one more gold coin.

“You can donate as much as you liiiiike!”

That apparently still wasn’t enough. I tried adding five more gold coins.

The jingling coins I put on the table were immediately sucked into a sleeve of the sister’s robe.

“Thank you for the generous donation! I’m sure the benevolent Asama too is pleased with Sawatari-sama’s devotion that is higher than any mountain and deeper than any sea”

“Why yes, thank you.”

It was fine to see this donation as a necessary expense but I couldn’t deal with the high tension that came with the process.

I hoped she would leave already now that this was done.

“Please, if you have time, you must come to the church once. This sister Stelliana will whole-heartedly give you an attentive reception.”

“Is that so…….”

“Aah, erm…….with such deep affection, please call me in a casual manner – Lia. All people who are close to me call me that. I will also call you Takeru, so, I insist.”

“Haah…… is that so?”

I had no idea why did she suddenly discard the honorifics. This sister’s sense of distance was pretty weird.

She approached the shop counter and leaned over.

In my mind, I strictly rebuked her for laying her boobs on the counter.

After all, even a service like that would not make me increase the donation. She was getting rather full or herself but I had to admit those things were a bit big though.

I suddenly wondered if she was deliberately using the thick nun robe to emphasize her large chest.

I got an urgent feeling that this sister was dangerous and it would be better to not get involved too much with her…….

If only I weren’t suffering from communication difficulties due to being bad at talking to newly-met women, I would have driven her away with some excuses already.

“Are you having any troubles? Helping every child of the goddess is this Lia’s job.”

Yes, I was having a problem, like, right NOW……. She was obstructing my business and I wished she would just leave.

“Erm, sister-sama, I don’t particularly have any troubles, so, I bid you a good day.”

“Oh my, even though I don’t mind being called Lia, Takeru is so reserved. What a modest man!”

“……”

Why was she acting like we were close friends even though we had just met.

We weren’t close at all, her sense of distance was weird.

But since I was the person lacking the common sense of this world, I couldn’t just simply retort even if she was acting weird.

Maybe the Asama creed was this friendly because it was fantasy.

But it might also be true that flaunting sex appeal made it easier to get a donation.

But to me, who was bad at talking with newly-met women, this was more like a torture……..

“Ah that’s right, let me remove the hood. Normally I have to hide my face because the faithful lose their mind seeing it but I will do this service for Takeru.”

“Erm…….”

Suddenly, she pulled down the hood that had been covering her eyes from the start. Then she looked at me with eyes sparkling and asked ‘how is it?’.

Well, it was normal…….

Well, saying that, her blond hair certainly looked soft and ethereal and her blue eyes were pretty too. She sure had her looks sorted out down to a tee, including her porcelain white skin. But I figured that was probably normal in this western fantasy.

But no matter how much of a beauty she was, doing this much of a lead-up and then showing with a request for comment was a pain, to be honest.

“Erm, maybe it will be better if I take off the robe too? If that’s what you want, then there’s no helping it I guess.”

“Wait wait wait, wait a minute, sister!”

Could she please not casually undress like that!

Lia immediately started to remove the robe starting from her chest as if it was a cursed item.

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Did she even consider the feelings of a man who didn’t want to but was still forced see her cleavage!?

I was willing to bet she would later be saying something like ‘he looked at my chest gyahaha’ and laughing to herself.

Looking back on all her actions thus far, I understood that the thing she had done did not come from the teachings of her religion, it was just her personality.

After all, there was no way a religion with followers that were wrong in the head enough to be undressing suddenly could become the dominant one in the world.

At best it would end up as just a cult.

“Takeru’s reaction was weak so…….. I thought that I have to undress too.”

While having her robe still loose at the chest area, Lia was sending side glances at me.

Was that a threat or something?

Did she want to be praised? I guessed it couldn’t be helped.

“Let’s see……. Lia sure is a super beauty. I unconsciously thought that you are an Elf!”

“Pfff, geez Takeru, you, you’re exaggerating. Something like Elf…… but still, it’s a pity that my ears aren’t pointy, right? ”

It looked like praising her was the right choice. Lia smiled radiantly, flicking her blond hair proudly and tilting her head to show off those non-pointy ears.

I couldn’t help to notice her nape was beautiful too. But then again, it was a little annoying nonetheless. I was not going to praise her again even if she kept appealing.

I was not very interested regardless if this sister I met for the first time was calling herself an Elf or whatever.

I just wished that she would stop stripping in front of my store.

“Also, Takeru, one word of advice for you. Lia made a vow of chastity, so don’t fall for me.”

I was not going to! There had been nothing in our conversation that would make me fall for her. What was wrong with this woman…….

That reminded me I had to praise Sharon later. Tending to the customers must be tough. If a customer this weird were to appear I probably wouldn’t know how to deal with that person.

“Sister-sama, I’ve already got to see your beautiful face, so let’s end it here”

“You’re right. While I’m at it, let’s give Takeru one more big service from the Church of Asama. I can make you some holy water right on the spot.”

That really was enough already, please just leave!

I did not need holy water or whatnot, that’s why I had never been to the church……. But now that I thought about it, I didn’t even know what it was good for.

I should at least get a sample.

“Erm……And holy water is…?”

“Ooooh, Takeru is also interested, huh. Like, super interested eh. If the devout follower is that interested then it can’t be helped. I need an empty potion bottle or something like that, please fetch me some water too. And make it quick!”

I was not super interested! What an absurd sister she was, a real slave driver. But still, I was interested in the new item, so I went and brought her ten empty potion bottles filled with water.

“Is this okay?”

“Ten bottles….? Oh well, fine. Let’s treat it as a special favor because it’s the first service ever.”

What an easy-going sister.

“Goddess of creation, Asama, your loyal believer Stelliana offer you her prayer. To show a part of your brilliant sacred order, please grant me your benevolent blessing!”

As Stelliana prayed, she waved the ankh over a bottle and the water inside gently shined silver.

“Oooh, now this is amazing.”

“Well, the prayer isn’t really needed, so I skipped the rest.”

Then she shouldn’t be saying it! I wanted my praise back.

She just said the long prayer once and, after that, the silver ankh was enough to give the bubbling potions their silver shine.

It was too quick. Looks like that ankh hanging on her neck was the catalyst item required to create the holy water.

“Erm, I’ve made nine holy waters and one miracle water.”

“That’s amazing.”

Since I couldn’t use magic, I considered that ability to be really amazing. Her personality was a different story though. Actually, no, her personality was amazing in a sense too.

“Eheh, holy alchemy is my forte after all. You can praise me more now. By the way, if you spray the holy water on an item, you can remove a curse. Applying it beforehand can prevent curses too. You can also attack the undead by spraying them with holy water.”

Lia pointed at the silvery water bottle while giving a friendly explanation.

I would be happy if she had just given this kind of service from the start.

“Let’s try it shall we? Is there anything you have, an item that you usually use?”

“Erm, how about this?”

I placed the magic item that was convenient for me to use, the “fireball staff”, on the table.

Lia took a bottle of holy water and poured it over the staff.

“With this, it has become a ‘holy fireball staff’. With the protection of the goddess, the consumption should be reduced a bit, it’s now also resistant to curses.”

“I see…….”

Then she continued with the explanation while pointing at the strongly shining water bottle.

“This is miracle water, just drinking it on its own gives the effect of a nourishment tonic and will cure you of an abnormal status. The popular way to use it is mixing it with a recovery potion.”

“Hm, I see, that was informative.”

It was true that there was an elixir that had the effect of a recovery potion but I did not know before that was how it was made.

As I had thought before, recovery effects had to be tied to holy magic.

“This time is really a special case, so don’t go telling other sisters to make the holy water too, okay? Usually, you have to go to the church and exchange them for a donation.”

“Why yes, thank you very much.”

I had had this thought before but this person was more like a merchant than a nun.

I could kind of understand though.

If you think of a missionary nun, you think of a person going from door to door to spread the word. And that was very much like a door-to-door salesman.

The way she had asked for a donation earlier was also extremely merchant-like.

“Also, it’s better to keep the fact that you saw my face a secret. It will be troublesome if my fans learn of this, they are bound to resent and throw curses at you.”

“Is that so…”

“But if you are cursed, you can use holy water to cure it, though.”

“…….”

That only worked with genuine curses! I would still be cursed verbally!

“That’s why I don’t mind guiding you to the church right now. It’s inevitable, you know.”

“I have to watch the store right now, so I’m sorry but I can’t.”

I was thankful for the holy water but if she could just please quit it and leave…

“As I thought, it’s better if I take off the whole robe, not just the hood, huh.”

“No, as I said, that’s enough already.”

“Takeru is a boy so, you prefer that kind of service, right?”

“No, really, it’s enough already…….”

I was really desperate for her to leave.

But in the end, Stelliana stayed with that attitude until Sharon came back and chased her away while I couldn’t make any sales in the meantime.

It was supposedly just a simple task of “tending to the store” but it was actually a tough job. I got to experience a whole day of what Sharon did usually and realized her greatness.

One day, Lyle-sensei said he had something serious to discuss with me and called me to his room.

Even though the company was something that I built, this was the first time I would be in Lyle-sensei’s room so I was a little excited.

The small room had a bookshelf filled with books, a table drowning in stacks of documents and no space to sit down so we both ended up sitting on the bed.

But still, it was sensei’s room.

And there was this tempting sweet smell (pheromone) peculiar to women coming from Lyle-sensei which made me puzzled.

Now when I looked at him from the side, even though he had kept his brown hair short and had always been wearing officer clothing, I could only see the face of a mature woman.

“What is this about? It sure is rare for sensei to consult me about anything.”

It usually had been the other way around, so this really was rare…… Hah!

Could it be that… the moment was here? That the affection meter had gone up without me noticing and it was time for the event where he revealed the secret of his gender!?

“That’s true, but the matter relates to something I can’t do selfishly, so I need to talk with you a bit.”

“Yes!”

It looked like I had triggered sensei’s flag and unknowingly entered sensei’s route. It was fine though, when it came to sensei, no matter whether he was a girl or a trap, I was okay with both!

I made up my mind to accept whatever was coming and I was so excited, I couldn’t wait any longer.

“The guns and cannons that Takeru-dono created, why not try selling them to the country? If you want, then I, as a state secretary, can attempt to submit a purchase and delivery plan together with my records of things that happened up until now as well.”

“Eh, that’s……”

Eh, it was not about the gender reveal?

“Dealing in weapons offers big profits, you know.”

“Uuuum…”

Since money was one of my goals, I had thought about this too. But, being worried that making firearms into merchandise was a bad idea, I had been hesitating until now.

“I truly understand Takeru-dono’s worry. You’re afraid they will be used in a war against other humans, aren’t you?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

As expected of Lyle-sensei, it was like he could see through whatever I was thinking.

“That is just a potential future development, though, while right now the kingdom is being ravaged by the monsters spawning from the Portal of Evil Essence. The army can just barely protect the areas around the capital and along the highway. In the meantime, the towns and villages in the west of the country are being annihilated despite the valiant struggle of the knights and soldiers.”

“That’s…….”

“Please listen to the end. If the people who can’t use magic had guns and cannons to defend themselves, things would never come this far.”

“I understand what sensei is trying to say.”

No, Takeru-dono, you do not“. The huge number of child and adult slaves being sent to the mines is a direct consequence of the river of refugees flowing into the capital.”

So that was the situation. I didn’t think that far.

“Takeru-dono is nice even to the slaves. When the people of Ona lost the means to carry on with their life, you gave them jobs and a way to defend themselves. That was a wonderful thing and I am proud to have been able to help too.”

“Well, it’s not that much, though.”

Employing the slaves and villagers was, in the end, done just for my gain. Humanitarian impulses were never my motivation, so it was embarrassing to be praised like this.

“That is what the country should have been doing in the first place, though. Also, I fear that even if I don’t submit a proposal, as soon as the capital hears about the restoration of Ona village, they will start asking questions immediately, learn about the new weapons and attempt to acquire them anyway.”

So sensei even thought that far, huh. That was probably why he had so zealously been researching the gun and cannon I made.

Lyle-sensei had assertively proposed and carried out tests, not just with the iron cannons that could only be used as fixed battery but also with bronze field guns that could be transported with wagons and ammunition made of various types of materials.

Until now I had been wondering why had he tried that hard to save just one village.

“But sensei, there hasn’t been anyone tied to the government coming to ask about buying the guns and cannons, right?”

“That’s right. That’s why I want to propose that myself with your permission.”

With sensei, who I owed a lot to, lowering his head to ask me, it was really hard for me to refuse.

Seeing I was hesitating, sensei followed up with more persuasion.

“If the root of the problem behind the refugee streams isn’t removed, the number of people falling to slavery won’t decrease. I can’t guarantee that your weapons won’t be used against fellow humans in the future but won’t you, nevertheless, give the Kingdom of Silesie a chance to overcome the crisis….?”

“Aaaah, I get it, please proceed as you wish, Lyle-sensei.”

“Thank you, I am indebted to you for life.”

Lyle-sensei put soft palms of his delicate hands on top of mine. But still, giving firearms to a country that was still using bows and swords might be a really bad decision.

In the end, though, if it wasn’t for sensei’s help, I might have been dead already. I grab back his warm hands while thinking I should be the one with a life debt.

Even though I knew the history of modern war, I had no idea how the gun would be used in this outrageous world abundant with wildlands, where Portals of Evil Essence spawned monsters attacking people.

Maybe they would end up being used for self-defense or maybe I’ve just made an irreversible decision that would elevate the war to a new level in the process.

It was something that I couldn’t help but think about even if all that fretting was of little use. I could only choose the path that would let me and the people around me continue living.

Since all my thoughts lately were of the heavy variety, my feet naturally brought me to the dining room.

“Ah, it’s master! Should I make something?”

In there I found Colette, the brown-haired and brown-eyed baker’s daughter. She was deeply interested in food so preparing meals somehow became her duty.

Aside from preparing food, she was also in charge of supplying ingredients. And while she was at it, she went to the dairy farms in villages around Est to negotiate for the soil suitable for saltpeter production in Laure’s stead, as the dwarf girl was a poor talker.

This girl was a workaholic too, even if not to the same degree as Laure.

“No, I am thinking of making something by myself today…….”

“Then let me help you.”

She put on her apron as if it was the most natural thing, lit the fire in the stove, brought me the cooking utensils and then stood to the side waiting for further instructions.

“Alright, I will have you help me then.”

“I am deeply interested in the dishes master makes, so please let me learn too.”

I had become rather free lately so I had embarked on the quest for reproducing modern food.

I wanted to eat normally and if in the process Laure could make rare food easily, maybe it could become a product for the store too.

“Whip me up some fresh cream.”

“Yes…… the thing we made the other day is fine, right?”

Fresh cream and butter were made from the butterfat layer skimmed from the top of the animal milk.

Since we had a refrigerator (which ran on ice made with Lyle-sensei’s magic) in our dining room, I would use the fat that had been left in there for a day.

“Yes, I will be making some crepés.”

I mixed milk, egg, sugar into wheat flour to make the crepé batter.

“It’s a galette-like dish that uses wheat flour, right?”

The galette dish that Colette described was a dish of the common people in this country made from a thinly baked buckwheat flour.

It had a simple taste and I personally liked it but it was not something that could be eaten in the same way as sweets.

If I wasn’t mistaken, crepé was originally a French dish, so if it existed in this world, it would probably be made somewhere in this country.

But it was unknown in Est and sandwiching fresh cream with crepé was a Japanese’s idea, so it should not be something this world had ever seen.

I sandwiched the fresh cream with a freshly baked crepé and tried eating it.

“It’s good, but the sweetness isn’t there yet.”

The taste was nostalgic.

Colette stared at me as if saying she wanted one too, so I quickly made another.

Thinking it should be sweeter, I threw sugar pickled peaches I had lying around into the fresh cream.

I gave the resulting peach stuffed crepé to Colette. After she took a bite, her brown eyes shined. What a smile.

“Issh goof…”

“I see.”

Honestly, watching kids’ reactions as they eat delicious food felt good. I was an only child, but if I had a little sister I guessed it would feel something like this.

Somehow, just watching her eat was enough to make me smile.

“Master, this is too delicious. This is the first time I’ve eaten anything like this. If you put it on the store I think it will definitely sell!”

“That’s nice. Let’s make a bunch and let Laure and everyone eat too, shall we?”

I put nuts into some, sprinkled cinnamon on others, I even made Mille Crepe and other things so they could enjoy eating many different textures. I brought them out after dinner and everyone really liked them.

It was still difficult to make fresh cream in a large amount but it wasn’t like you had to put nothing but fresh cream into a crepé.

We could use meringue made from egg whites too. And as for sweetness, while it was a little bit expensive, sugar pickled fruits were an option.

We could also put ham and cheese in them like in a sandwich to make a salty crepé, after all, there was that way of eating too.

Which reminded me, it looked like this country had no concept of a sandwich either. I could try making a hamburger sometimes too.

Some of our kids had said they wanted to run a stall for the company. If I gradually taught them about dishes that could be eaten while walking and had them start selling in the town, maybe a culture of street stalls would be born in Est town as a result.

While this type of merchandise was not going to give much profit, it would be a source of encouragement for humans to live on. I expected this, rather than guns cannons, to be a worthwhile influence on this world.

Some time later, Lyle-sensei entered my room holding a letter with a beautiful seal of the kingdom.

“Excuse me!”

“Ah, sensei, is there anything wrong?”

The usually polite sensei entering my room without knocking was a very rare thing.

His usually pure-white skin unmarred by sunburn was today actually deathly pale.

I was sure that the letter wasn’t good news.

“It’s from the capital. The proposal regarding deployment of guns and cannons was rejected…….”

“Ah, so it’s no use, huh?”

I feel bad for sensei whose face was showing regret but, at the same time, I was a little relieved to hear the news.

It was scary to prod the world into changes that were too big to be controlled.

“On a different note, the letter carries summons for me and Takeru-dono from the royal castle. Come with me to the capital please, preferably right now!”

Why was I getting called to the capital even though the proposal for guns and cannons was rejected? Such a sudden summoning caused me to have a bad premonition.

It’d be fine if it was just me, though…….

Since it was an official summons from the faraway capital of the Silesie kingdom, I imagined things like walking on a red carpet having and having an audience with the king.

But when we arrived at the royal castle, we were led to a small room to hold a meeting with two old men calling themselves the prime minister and royal guard captain.

It became clear that there was no way someone of my social status could speak directly to the king.

To be honest I already knew that but those expectations from earlier made this feel disappointing.

Maybe it was counterproductive to still consider myself to be the hero from another world.

“I am the prime minister of the Kingdom of Silesie, Rogue Solitaire.”

A man with a white beard wearing an extravagant, purple silk ceremonial clothing with golden embroidery greeted us in an exaggerated manner.

When he finished I nervously glanced at the black-haired uncle with a stern face next to him, who was wearing an iron full plate mail with a black mantle.

“Captain of the royal guards, commander of the Portal of Evil Essence’s extermination force, general Gail Datt Záus at your service.”

Even though he was sitting, the man was still a giant and he skillfully showed his chest to appear important.

The prime minister and a general, I wondered which one of them was more important?

Normally it would be the minister, right? But mister Rogue only had two names like a commoner, while general Gail had three which made him a noble. And then I remembered the count saying that government officials and nobles held the same rank.

“The reason we had called you today is that we have a special subject to discuss with Sawatari Takeru-dono, knight of the Almark house…….”

While I was looking back and forth between them, the minister started the meeting.

He was the one to initiate the talk so he was probably the more important of the two. Misidentifying the person one had to butter up to tended to result in a troublesome situation.

When dealing with people from old-fashioned organizations, knowing their position in the hierarchy was very important.

“You probably know already that the kingdom is having trouble dealing with the Portal of Evil Essence. According to reports from secretary Laertius, you were the commander of the militia that exterminated the monsters threatening the county of Est, protected it thereafter and so on.”

He addressed me in a quiet voice.

That solemn tone of his made me unwittingly focus on what he was saying, as expected of an actual minister of a country.

“The kingdom wishes to borrow that strength of yours. Right now, general Gail is commanding an army aiming to push towards the Portal from the east side of the capital. We would like assistance from knight Takeru-dono’s army to drive the monster further away to the east too”

Right after that, minister Rogue sent a glance towards general Gail. The general smirked as if he was enjoying something, but then carried on with the explanation.

“Knight Takeru, I heard that you took down the former stronghold of the Golden Eagle bandits that was occupied by monsters, right? It was a location that even the knightly orders protecting the highways couldn’t take successfully and we were having some trouble with it.”

Did he hear that from the count?

I didn’t know whether he was the commander of a knight order, a general or what but he certainly had a grip on the situation on the front lines.

“I heard that you are using weaklings like slaves and villagers in your militia but we are extremely short on troops here, so we can’t be picky. As long as you help us, it will be enough.”

Why was he already assuming that I would help? I was not going to do that just because he asked.

This general Gail guy was acting overly important and, somehow, I couldn’t get myself to like him. We destroyed a stronghold they couldn’t conquer themselves and yet he still went on to call us small fries basing only on hearsay. Wasn’t he just rude?

Even the gentle me would get angry at something like that.

“Please wait, prime minister!”

Lyle-sensei who was staying silent thus far next to me raised his voice.

“My report contains all the details of that event. Takeru-dono was able to overwhelm the monsters thanks to the guns and cannons. Please reconsider the adoption of those new weapons.”

“That proposal is rejected.”

Prime Minister Rogue answered curtly.

“But if you’d just use them then the state of the conflict will…….”

“Insolence! I am not asking for your opinion right now. A mere secretary daring to second-guess a minister’s decision? Such gall!”

Uwaa, this person was also quite high-handed. A prime minister was a pretty high position, though.

So it was not ‘trying to seem important’, he was important.

“This decision involves the matter of the Portal of Evil Essence, does it not? Even if it is insolence, this petty official will keep saying that the cannons are a useful weapon to control the Portal and protect the people!”

But Lyle-sensei didn’t pull back and refuted.

Apparently, even though he looked gentle, when he needed to say something, he would not hesitate. That was our sensei.

“Even though you’re just a kid hanging on your parents’ coattails, you dare to talk back to a prime minister?! Just how conceited do you intend to be!?”

Grrrr…….. Sensei looked angry but stayed silent after that. I spotted regret on his face.

I understood that very well. It was tough when a discussion started to be about one’s parents.

At this moment, general Gail butted in with that unpleasant smile of his.

“Secretary Laertius, I’ve also read that report once. Enlighten me please, what differentiates those guns and cannons, that you keep talking about on and on, from bows and large scale magic?”

“General, I think you will understand their effectiveness once you use them in the field.”

Lyle-sensei, who was bad at giving up, even clung to the hope of convincing general Gail but…….

“We have considered it but the weak points are just too glaring. The weapons can’t shoot if the fuse gets wet from the rain. The gunpowder becomes unusable once flooded.”

“That can be dealt with. And Silesie is a country with little rain in the first place, it’s unlikely that would obstruct the usage of guns and cannons.”

The general laughed scornfully at Lyle-sensei’s argument.

“Fuhahaha, this is why the civil officials who don’t know war are naive. Guns, cannons, and whatnot… Even when in formation you’re finished if you get doused with advanced water magic, aren’t you?”

“But the opponent this time are monsters, where would the advanced magic be coming from?”

Sensei asked with a sharp gaze but the general answered with a daring smile.

“You can’t know what will happen on the battlefield. Aren’t there monsters that can use water magic? There’s no need to bother with weapons that carry such a fatal flaw. And that’s the final conclusion.”

“General, at least try using them once or twice, please!”

Sensei persisted. I understood the feeling but the general was probably just playing around. It was no use trying to convince him.

“Mister secretary, do think a little before you talk. There’s no way our proud knights will use such a weapon in the first place.”

“Then obtain them for the foot soldiers and militia.”

“Battles are commanded by the knights. Exploding powder……. It seems the engineers in the mines are happily using it, true. But do you think there are any soldiers in this country willing to risk their lives on the battlefield to use something of such a suspicious design?”

“Ugh……”

“You actually understand it too, right? It’s impossible to ask the knights of Silesie to use these toys. If you want to adopt them so much, achieve success and become a general. But I guess that’s too much to ask for from the failure of the Laertius house. Fuhahahahaha!”

General Gail laughed loudly and scornfully at Lyle-sensei again. What an unpleasant meeting this was turning out to be.

Minister Rogue followed up with a reprimand ‘if you say pointless things again then I will have you leave’ silencing Lyle-sensei for good.

Why had they called us here? To make fun of sensei? I no longer cared whether those guys were important people, I would not stay silent anymore.

“Prime Minister Rogue, may I speak?”

“Of course, we are asking for your cooperation, feel free to ask your questions.”

“Let’s say I manage to successfully seal the Portal of Evil Essence using guns and cannons, what then?”

General Gail burst into laughter.

“Fuhahaha, if you can do that, you will become a hero of the kingdom!”

The giant general held his stomach laughing so hard he almost fell off the chair but the prime minister never lost his composure and rebuked Gail.

“General, we are trying to have a serious discussion here.”

“I am sorry, prime minister, sir. This guy suddenly told such a hilarious joke that I couldn’t hold my mirth back.”

Minister Rogue glared at the flippant general, then cleared his throat and continued.

“Sealing the Portal, huh? We’re definitely hoping for that possibility. Knight Takeru, if that is your aim, please ask the Church of Asama for cooperation, its clergy has enough power to seal the Portal. Know that even if you fail, we will still reward you according to your effort, so that at least you don’t have to worry about.”

The minister seemed simply to be stubborn but capable of understanding if engaged in conversation properly. I decided to have him make a promise.

“If we can show the effectiveness of guns and cannons in this battle by achieving this, then all I want is an apology for secretary Lyle.”

“I think, as this country’s prime minister, that my decision is correct. But if you can seal the Portal of Evil Essence and save the kingdom then……. this old man’s head will touch the ground, or be chopped off as you want. I will not mind”

The minister declared so much and did it with a composed face. Hou, he was pretty resolved. But he was probably thinking that I can’t do it anyway.

I didn’t know how important the general and the prime minister were in this country but I wanted to make them atone for embarrassing my important sensei.

Well, even I didn’t really expect that we could do it. But I’ve decided to take part in the extermination nevertheless.

“Ah, knight Takeru, wait, wait.”

“…….What is it, general?”

Just when I thought that the boring discussion was finally over, I was stopped by general Gail.

I kind of didn’t want to talk to this general guy, though. Unfortunately, he was pretty important, so I couldn’t ignore him.

“Is Louise still doing fine?”

“Why do you know of Louise, general Gail?”

Had he really researched us that much? What a creepy guy.

“Guhahaha, I know everything about that Louise, you know. She has fallen so low that she’s an adventurer now but Louise Carlson was my destined rival, we used to fight for the position of knight captain, you know.”

“Eeeh, is that so? But wait, does this mean Louise used to be a knight?”

“What, you don’t even know that? ……Actually, it’s not strange for some country bumpkin to be unaware. The Carlson family is a notable lineage of Silesie’s warriors that has been producing great soldiers for generations, you know. That pedigree is the only thing that gave her advantage over me. Despite her young age, she mastered a lot of weapons and skills; there was that direct charging style of hers. The name ‘Billion blades Louise’ used to be known throughout the capital and she was the ideal for knights.”

“Really, to that extent, huh.”

I tried imaging Louise in a steel plate mail riding on horseback and she looked very cool in that picture.

At the same time, a sneer appeared on general Gail’s face.

“But, buuuut, she was exiled from the chivalric order as a punishment for her failure.”

“……What happened?”

He looked at me and stroked his mustache in an over-exaggerated manner while grinning. Really, what an unpleasant guy.

“Fuhahaha, that Louise! She has been hiding the fact that she had become the shame of her family even from her comrade, huh. Then I will tell you everything about that without holding back.”

“Will you now.”

This black-bearded guy had quite the personality. I was feeling a little bad for Louise but I decided to listen out of curiosity.

“That stupid woman used her high popularity coupled with a good family pedigree to climb to the knight order’s councilor position but made a magnificent blunder and ended up not only disowned from the Carlson house but even thrown out of the knight order.”

“And what was that blunder, pray tell?”

He was becoming really annoying. He was spending way too much time on build-up, he should hurry up and get to the point already. Did he think he was some sort of quiz show host?

“Don’t be in such a rush. Kuku……. Fine, I will tell you. It involved nothing else than the Portal of Evil Essence. She failed to seal it. The troop of knights she commanded was annihilated by a failure of a stupid woman.”

“Was that Louise’s fault?”

When I asked that, the black-bearded uncle laughed again.

“Of course it was, it should not be possible to fail in the first place since the knights she commanded were the most elite of royal guards. I and the rest of the order are still struggling to clean up after that fiasco. She alone survived shamelessly even though she was a knight, maybe because she can’t feel any shame as she’s a woman.”

“Hmmm…….”

I didn’t know the details but her inglorious defeat was a fact. That must have been the painful experience Louise had behind her warning not to get close to the Portal of Evil Essence.

Now I understood the reason why she stubbornly refused to come to the capital too. She probably didn’t want to meet this detestable guy called Gail.

“Knight Takeru, you look like a weak civil officer, so it was probably Louise who commanded the battle. I guess it’s fine to praise her for not giving up even though she had been banished from the order.”

“Well, if you say so.”

It was vexing to be described as looking weak but I figured truth hurts. Louise was undeniably on another level when it came to combat power.

“Hmph, to me, a knight captain and a general of the extermination force, that woman, who fell to become an adventurer, is just like a worm crawling at my feet. Tell her that she is welcome to uselessly struggle in the countryside. And that she can come to the capital if she doesn’t mind the shame of being laughed at by her old comrades. Fuhahahahaha!”

To go around saying whatever the hell he wanted and laugh as he was leaving. Really, that was some nasty personality that guy had.

A typical villain. That type can just get stabbed in the back and die.

As one might expect from the capital city, the castle and rampart were splendid. But once you left the main roads into side streets, there were beggars and refugees everywhere painting a very miserable scene.

Crime was rampant, I also saw many victims of assault collapsed and dying on the street.

There was probably not enough city guards to keep the public order because so many of them were assigned to fight monsters.

Maybe they’ve exhausted all their strength and nobody could even be bothered to clean up the corpses lying all over the place anymore. Where the hell is this, underlinedLand of Ashura?

I wanted to hurry up and return to the peaceful county of Est.

I had already lost interest in going to the stylish café catering to the nobles that I heard about from the count. If there was any nobleman carefreely visiting those places after looking at the city in this condition, he must have had a bunch of screws loose.

Now I understand Louise’s feelings of not wanting to come to a city like this.

I sold a full wagon of soap at the highest price possible. I didn’t expect to come to Silesie city for commerce again, so I didn’t care about reasonable pricing.

This was the capital and there should be a wide variety of goods here, so I brought a lot of gold with me. This was a critical time, and exactly because of that I needed to buy up antidote, recovery potions and many types of valuable medicine in advance.

I could do whatever I wanted since I didn’t care about the future of this place. It was likely that all the other merchants coming here thought similarly which would explain why the market prices were so messed up.

This town’s public order and morals were both in ruins.

“Takeru-dono, I’m sorry. To have things turn out like that…….”

Lyle-sensei suddenly apologized to me while we were buying things in the famous, hidden, oldest shop in the capital he introduced me to. Even though I was trying to avoid that subject.

I wished he didn’t make that sorrowful face.

“Sensei didn’t do anything wrong. Now come on, there are even a bunch of magic items here. And how about we buy a lot of magic stones to prepare for the coming battle?”

“No, it’s alright. Rather than that, how about buying an armor for yourself, Takeru-dono? Our firepower is sufficient already, I think that we should increase our defense now.”

“What do you recommend, sensei?”

“It’s pretty pricey but how about this ‘mithril vest’?”

The price was one hundred…… Silesie platinum. I unconsciously double-checked the price tag. Uwa, it really wasn’t gold, but platinum, and a hundred coins at that!

It was a price that made one unconsciously think ‘that’s a joke right?’. Wasn’t that, like, about ten million yen in Japanese currency? The products with platinum on their price tags were probably exclusive merchandise aimed at nobles and wealthy merchants only.

When I asked the shop owner to let me try it on, he was hesitant about taking it out of the glass case. The armor felt supple, like silk, and even though I knew the metal was not heavy, it was still lighter than I expected.

This was so cool, as expected of magic metal (mithril).

“Amazing, right? So is the price, though, but the effects are worth it, you know. Since it’s rare metal of legend imbued with magic, it is said that it can even withstand dragon’s breath and teeth. There’s nothing better than this in the capital.”

“Since we will be tackling the evil portal, I guess this much preparation is necessary.”

Lyle-sensei nodded with a somewhat lonely face. Oh well, I decided to buy it.

With this purchase I had blown away what I earned through the store’s sales until now but, so far, Lyle-sensei’s opinion had never been wrong.

If it’s strong armor then it won’t be good only for me, I can have Louise use it too.

The shop owner was looking at us youngsters with eyes full of doubt, not convinced we could really buy it. And, as he expected, I didn’t have enough platinum coins on me, only gold coins of equivalent value. Once I put that heavy bag of money on the counter with a thud, the shop owner’s face stiffened and he blinked in disbelief.

As the saying went, luxury shopping reduced stress, right?

“Thank you very much!”

After we got out of the shop being sent off by the shop owner who was suddenly on his best manners, it was immediately temporarily closed for business causing Lyle-sensei and me to look at each other and laugh out loud.

They must have instantly gone to put that in the bank or somewhere. I kinda understood that feeling.

We finished up buying various things and left the miserable royal capital behind us, departing at a quick pace. Once we purchased what we wanted, there was nothing else for us in that miserable city.

In any case, I had officially accepted a request from Silesie kingdom. Finally, the attack on the ‘Portal of Evil Essence’ would start.

“Can I survive this battle!?”

I tried to say something a narrator would say about a character during a cliffhanger ending of a soap drama but, somehow, I became anxious for real now.


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( ̄^ ̄)ゞ

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