“Well then, take care Waka-sama.”
“Take care Raidou-se–no, Raidou-dono.”
Kaleneon’s national border.
A winter morning covered in thick mist.
At the bridge hanging at a cliff, a group was lined up with their heads lowered at the three that were departing.
The back figure of the three were already thinly hidden by the mist and had turned into shadows.
Not only is it a cold early morning, in this day where even mist came out, the cold felt even stronger. But the people that saw them off didn’t shiver one bit and acted firm.
But the state was slightly strange.
From within their group, there were many shadows that didn’t belong to hyumans.
“Now then, by the time they return, I need to have another report ready.”
From the two that were at the front of the group that saw them off, one of them opened its mouth. The voice that came from the slightly small body was the voice of a woman.
But the figure of the girl was not that of a hyuman.
“T-They are really going to meet the demon race. As always, what an unpredictable person.”
Another one also opens its mouth.
This one is also a woman. A hyuman this time.
“Eva, we are returning. Is that okay? Having crops that can be grown in winter, you did tell me that proudly, so we will be continuing with that.”
“Ema-san, I did say I had some in mind, but what’s important is that there’s not enough arable land for planting. First we should cultivate new land and keep an eye on the progress of—” (Eva)
“I have already confirmed it. Slow. Honestly speaking, the actions of you girls are just slow. In the future, I won’t be accepting excuses blaming the winter. Ah also, I will be checking the tax rate again.” (Ema)
“Uuuh, about the tax rate, because we are beginning at a point where we have practically no national treasury, I think that currently, this is the time where we have to save as much of the country’s money as possible. Of course, I did put the livelihood of the residents first and placed a tax rate that is on the level of the large countries. I did it with the belief that this was the most conventional method of tax rate.” (Eva)
A conversation between Eva and Ema.
Even if their names are similar, their standings seem to be quite different.
Most of all, it was a conversation of a hyuman and a race that’s not hyuman, so it is quite rare for the hyuman to be the one at the lower standing.
“What’s conventional about a 7:3 government. Waka-sama has gone through the trouble of arranging the residents and entrusted their lives to us, no matter the race, I won’t accept starvation and dying from cold.” (Ema)
“*The land-tax system from the Edo period* would work better in this situation. Seriously, something as important as getting a country, and the concerned party in charge of the ruling only has this level of intelligence. I can only call it stupid. In this country where there’s a mixture of hyumans and demi-humans, there’s no way we can use the common sense of hyuman’s country creation.” (Ema)
“… Sorry.” (Eva)
In this scolding that could be taken as unreasonable, Eva honestly apologizes.
Because in the while that she has been acquainted with the woman called Ema, she has more or less understood her skills and personality.
Eva didn’t understand the meaning of the words 7:3 government or the land-tax system of the Edo period, but Ema must have judged that the tax system she was about to set was not the most appropriate one.
(I thought that the Orc race, even if their names and figures were different, they were all simple-minded people who were driven by instinct. Highland Orcs, those girls, I don’t know where this race inhabits, but they have knowledge on the level of scholars. Though imperfect, I was a librarian at the Academy, and yet, I can’t hold a candle to these people. Raidou-sensei, the people supporting you from the back, there’s really not a single normal one.) (Eva)
Eva was introduced to Ema by Makoto the moment they arrived at Kaleneon.
‘She is a kind and dependable person.’ Is what he said as he made her face an Orc.
Eva who had pledged in her heart to throw away her common sense and stop thinking that things are abnormal, had her determination crushed in an instant.
To think that there would be a scene in her life where she would have a conversation with an Orc, Eva wouldn’t be able to imagine it even in her wildest dreams, so it couldn’t be helped.
Having her native country destroyed, losing her territory, and condemned by her relatives; in that severe standing, Eva who was half-controlled by madness, met Raidou- Makoto – at Rotsgard, and that madness of hers was blown away.
With these consecutive events outside the boundaries of common sense, maybe she is getting her sanity back, or it is just that a new type of madness is dyeing her now; she probably doesn’t know clearly yet.
“What about the other situations?”
Ema turned to her back.
There stood a blue scaled Lizardman, an orc that has a bigger build than Ema, a white winged winged-kin, and a dwarf who has around the same height as Ema.
“…Right. Leaving aside Eva’s words, isn’t there any place that can be reclaimed currently? If it’s new land for cultivation, we have quite a lot though. Also, if we just pointlessly reclaim leveled ground, in the current state where we can’t deal with the mamonos, it would be meaningless.”
The first one to respond was the Lizardman.
“Deal with, are you referring to that level of demonic beast? Within the populace that has come to Kaleneon, there’s adventurers and former adventurers. In terms of experience in battle, there should be a reasonable amount though?” (Ema)
Ema’s face turns serious at the report of the Lizardman.
“There are many that still haven’t adapted to the environment in this country. Also, we are lacking people with genuine talent. After the invasion of the demon race, the amount of hyumans that are used to doing work in a snowy environment are most likely low. In the first place, if there were survivors of people that lived around this area, the situation would have been slightly different.”
“There aren’t?” (Ema)
“There are only a few. Experienced in battle, there are zero. These probably has already reached your ears as well Ema-dono, but the bunch here are people that had been living by relying on the blessing of the Goddess. It is questionable how much knowledge they have about living in independence.”
“…Even if we have new land, security will be necessary. But there are few who would be able to properly guard against the mamonos, is what you are trying to say?” (Ema)
“That’s how it is. There’s a few adventurers, on a degree that we can barely use properly. It would be more realistic to bring more from the outside with requests, or having us assigned to it. According to the result of the investigation, the demonic beasts that inhabit this country are more active in winter. From the report of Eva saying that if we are to do training it should be at a time other than winter, the results of that investigation are most likely not far from the truth.”
“Understood. Cooperation with the outside. Regarding the topic about bringing adventurers in, I will leave it as a suggestion for now. It would be pointless if we are the ones doing everything after all.” (Ema)
“Got it. But is it okay to continue the training and guarding for now?”
“Of course. I will be counting on you.” (Ema)
At this occasion, Eva barely spoke anything.
But there was no displeasure in her face.
It is not that she is hiding it.
In the time that she has been in contact with the mamonos and demi-humans that Raidou has introduced her to, she had decided in her heart to learn their common sense.
The lines they are demanding are absurd, but in the first place, the very point of obtaining a country is also in the crazy and reckless class.
Raidou and the Kuzunoha Company that were able to accomplish that very feat in a land that was completely in control of the demon race, there’s no need to say that it is nothing but abnormal.
But she was the one who relied on them, and the whole current situation is that she has no one else to rely on in Kaleneon aside from them.
In that case, she resolves herself to move in the same standards as them.
That’s why she is in the middle of learning.
Ema and the other people are definitely not looking down on Eva.
They are not taking her lightly either.
They are only taking the action of training her as a proper representative of a country.
Eva was in a spot where even if she were to break, they wouldn’t let her.
After the Lizardman stepped back, Ema looks at the Orc.
But the Orc who was looked at, shook his head to the sides.
“There’s nothing to report on my side. We continue to collect information about the demonic beasts while securing food. Regarding the hunting, there’s the point that it is centered in the adventurers, and its progress is reasonable. From Ema’s perspective, it would probably be around 80% in terms of numbers.”
“… So the other 20% is not catching up huh. Do you think we can still increase the number of people in charge?” (Ema)
“… There would be no problem, but if we want to certainly avoid unforeseen events, I would suggest we leave a few. Increasing the numbers is not always good. For us the guardians, and also for the people that do their best in hunting.”
“Understood. I will be arranging it, so for now, I will leave it to three.” (Ema)
After the short talk between Orcs, next is the Winged-kin that took a step forward.
Within the people here, it is the one who has the closest appearance to a hyuman, but the wings at its back negate that possibility. There’s also several special traits that are different from a hyuman. Eva was greatly surprised when she learned that they are an heretic existence even among demi-humans.
“There’s no problem in the security of the national border. There were sightings of people that seemed to be demons, but they haven’t invaded. There have been cases where some have ignored our warnings, turning into a fight. But we were able to crush them. There was no damage from our side.”
“Good work. Then, is the number of personnel for the security and other tasks appropriate at the moment?” (Ema)
“No need. The people that are put in charge of security are beginning to have free time in their hands. Because they are getting accustomed, the area they can be in charge of increases. This is thanks to Tomoe-sama’s training in the techniques to search enemies. There won’t be any problems in placing some in other tasks.”
“I see. That’s a great thing to hear. Then can you put out some candidates later?” (Ema)
Kaleneon is a special country that has a cliff as their national border.
Its security has been tasked to the Winged-kin who possess the ability of flight, and they haven’t permitted any to invade.
To enter the current Kaleneon, it is completely necessary to have the permission of Kuzunoha Company.
And the last to step forward is the dwarf.
Before saying anything, he already had a troubled face.
“Now then, what should I begin with?”
“Is the deployment of tools being delayed as expected?” (Ema)
“That’s because in the current Kaleneon, no matter how many craftsmen like us are, it would never be enough. If there were more residents here specialized in the earth element, the situation might be a little different though. But the lack of personnel has reached a helpless level. Even so, we are in a situation where we can’t bring out more personnel from our ranks. I have suggested this before but, is it not possible to call other dwarfs to be residents? There’s a number of volcanoes at Kaleneon, and I have checked it out; it seems to be a relatively good environment for dwarfs to live in.”
“About that matter, we are waiting for the decision of Waka-sama. But it seems he is hesitating since they would probably have to recruit from Lorel Union.” (Ema)
“I feel bad for troubling Waka-sama. But I don’t think the dwarfs of Lorel have any attachment to the Union. Because no matter where we are from, we are craftsmen at heart. Even if we exclude the ones who went to the Spirit religion, it wouldn’t be a problem if the dwarfs themselves approve of it. Can’t you tell him this?”
“I will try and see. Just that, Waka-sama is in that state probably because it might turn into a situation where we are chipping off the national power of Lorel Union, so I am not sure if it will help in having him make a decision though.” (Ema)
“It is true that we would be taking potential away from their country if we were to bring them in. He even thinks about such difficult things. Anyways, we are lacking people on our side. Whether it is hyuman or demihuman, if there’s anyone interested in being a blacksmith, I would like you to tell me immediately. Armors, farming tools, constructions; there’s a mountain of things to do.”
“I am sorry for having you go through so much work. I will try to take into consideration any candidates by today.” (Ema)
“I am counting on you. We will gather up the information of the dwarf community’s special traits in Lorel and anything that might prove useful for Waka-sama into documents. I will send them to you when we are done.”
“That would be a great help. Well then Eva, I think you already know but, we will be sleeping at the same time as always. Let’s return.” (Ema)
Eva who was lending an ear to their conversation with interest, stiffened her face at the sudden words of Ema.
Every other side has already turned to town and beginning their return.
“As always? Uhm… I feel like in these three days, I haven’t slept properly at all though. Is that what you are referring to as ‘sleeping at the same time as always’?” (Eva)
“You are properly sleeping for 1 hour already. I have given you aiding medicine so that you don’t have any problems in health though? Are you telling me you haven’t been taking them?” (Eva)
“I am! It is because I am taking them that my heart is weary but my body is strangely energetic! How long will this kind of situation continue for?!” (Eva)
Eva, who was doing her best a few days ago, unable to see the end of this nightmare, she objects at the statement that was as if telling her this is how it will normally be.
“How long? Obviously, it will be until you have grown enough that you don’t need our assistance. You are already an adult and still unable to give proper responses after all. Do give it your best.” (Ema)
“Proper responses?! I was suggested such an absurd plan just like that! On top of that, Raidou-sensei didn’t seem to have much knowledge in politics and management!!” (Eva)
“What are you trying to do by placing Waka-sama as a comparison. It is pointless. Lady, can you nonchalantly split earth?” (Ema)
“How stupid. Now, straighten your back and walk proudly.” (Ema)
Ema rejects the cry of Eva and quickly walks forward.
Chasing after her, Eva desperately tried to straighten her back that felt as if it would bend at any moment.
“Eva, becoming a representative of a country is not something simple. Knowledge, wisdom, power. In this situation where we are living without getting involved with foreign countries, we can still look for stability. In the future when diplomacy begins, it will not be in this proportion. If you don’t grow at a pace faster than what Ema-dono is setting, the future of Kaleneon will be dark.”
“Seriously. You yourself don’t have that overwhelming appeal that brings others together after all. The residents here are people that didn’t live here originally, so bringing people together is a harsh talk though. Knowledge and wisdom. And the easiest to obtain is knowledge. Desperately learn.”
“Things like nobles and royalty; because you are hung by such things that are determined by heritage, you act spoiled when in a position of having land. If you want to stand on top of others, you will have to be able to show them something worthy of it.”
“It may be a dream that came from being half-crazed, but since it has been granted, you will have to undertake the responsibility. Give it up, you can’t escape.”
Catching up with the Lizardman, Orc, Winged-kin, and Dwarf; Eva received grateful words from them.
A wry smile was plastered onto her face.
“It might be more comfortable if I just end up crazy like in my time at Rotsgard.” (Eva)
“Madness huh. That might be good too. It would certainly give you more resolve and power than what your current self has.”
“What’s important is for you to have power befitting that of a ruler and are able to make decisions. There’s no need to be sane for that. Isn’t that fine?”
“Your results could disappoint Waka-sama. Even if you have to go crazy, you will have to show good results.”
“No matter how you end up, you will fall into the same situation, so isn’t sanity playing a big part in your happiness?”
Merciless words came flying.
“Everyone, please don’t spoil Eva-san. This girl will be carrying Kaleneon and lifting it up after all. She is a person that has exchanged such a contract with Waka-sama. To get it easier by going crazy is just—” (Ema)
‘There’s no way I would permit it.’
The last words that came from Ema were all reflected in the eyes of the others which were directed at Eva.
Eva hangs her head.
The revival of a ruined country.
That’s a miracle.
And yet, it has been granted.
Then, the price of it, its compensation; no matter what it is, she has to pay it.
It has turned into something unbelievable.
Thinking that, Eva walks while looking forward.
If she were to meet her past self, she felt like telling herself to look properly at reality.
She held that small sentiment in her.
A thick mist is still covering the surroundings.
Already knowing that this is not a strange occurrence around these parts, the girl was thinking that it would have been better if mist hadn’t come out today of all days.
Crossing her arms, she waits for the guests.
At her side there’s a giant with four arms, and just like her, he was silently standing there.
At their back, there were elite demon soldiers lined up completely armed.
The giant opened his closed eyes and looked at the front.
“They are here?”
“Seems so. There are three.”
“It would have been better if we had a clearer view, today of all days.”
“Right. We are going to welcome that, and yet, having our vision this bad makes me feel uncomfortable.”
“Calling him Devil would be rude, right? It seems that time it wasn’t his true intentions. I think it would be proper to call him Raidou.”
“Right. Io, let me tell you just in case. Don’t go creating any trouble until we reach the capital, okay?”
“I return those words right back at you, Rona. After being dealt with so easily, there’s no way I would have hostility or anything like that. I only feel dread.” (Io)
“It is to the level that our Demon General ace has voiced out his dread. Moreover, for some reason, we are meeting them right at the center of our territory.” (Rona)
Rona let’s out a sigh.
She who is specialized in gathering information, was letting out her weakness at the guests that she couldn’t grasp.
She didn’t show this to the person in question through force of personality. Even she was showing slight weakness in a stage where they haven’t made contact yet.
“It is around a few tens of kilometers from the place that Reft had disappeared in huh. He doesn’t remember what happened at that place, and the reconnaissance of Kaleneon is also…” (Io)
“No results. At most, we only know that there’s a cliff where in the past there wasn’t. It is also unknown if there’s a bridge placed on it or not though.” (Rona)
“There have been casualties in our forces, right?” (Io)
“The ones that went too deep were wiped out. The whole unit is gone, so we don’t know what happened at all. It is hard to think that they are the ones involved in this, but the timing is just too fitting.” (Rona)
“In the end, the best choice would be to wait for Reft’s memories to recover huh. As long as there’s no more real harm, Kaleneon is not a place with important value for us. There’s no need to increase the damage by poking it.” (Io)
“It is mortifying but that’s how it is. Right now we have no choice but to leave it.” (Rona)
(… I will be interfering a little from outside the army though.) (Rona)
Rona adds this inside her mind.
“But if they are involved with the abnormality of Kaleneon as you say, and on top of that, they are having us meet them at a place close to it…” (Io)
“The Kuzunoha Company, and also Raidou; they would be a sly bunch. That man didn’t seem like the scheming type though.” (Io)
“…Yeah. It seems like he has made his appearance.” (Rona)
Io and Rona correct their posture.
From the mist, three shadows appear and their figures were soon visible.
“Did we make you wait much?”
The man at the very center looked at Io and Rona, and said this apologetically.
“No. In terms of time, I would say you are early. Welcome, Raidou-dono. And also your companions. Because of security reasons, we couldn’t provide you a teleportation service. I thank you for your understanding in that. From here there’s still quite the distance, but we will take responsibility in guiding you. Sorry for the late introduction, I am Io. I serve under the Demon Lord as a Demon General.” (Io)
“You know already but let me do it again, I am Rona. Just like Io, I am one of the Demon Generals. It has been a while, Raidou. We have been waiting anxiously for your meeting with our Lord. I thank you for accepting this unreasonable request of ours.” (Rona)
In contrast to Io’s words, Rona gives a frank greeting.
Her expression was also serious and straight-laced, and her smile was gentle.
“Kuzunoha Company’s representative, name’s Raidou. Pleased to make your acquaintance. These are the friends I mentioned before, Mio and Shiki.” (Makoto)
“Mio-desu. Pleased to meet you.” (Mio)
“Shiki. I will be in your care.” (Shiki)
After Raidou made his introduction, the other two at his side make a light introduction as well.
The black haired girl wearing a black kimono introduced herself as Mio and seemed somewhat cold.
The red haired man wearing a white robe was gloom and composed. He introduced himself as Shiki with a smile. His introduction also had a notable attitude.
“Well then, it will be a journey of several days. Let’s depart.” (Io)
With the words of Io as a signal, the demon troops arrange their formation.
In this territory where hyumans have not stepped into for several decades, and the untrodden territory further beyond that hyumans have not arrived to; the Kuzunoha Company representative, Raidou, makes one step into it.