14-28. Water Peach Kingdom (1)
Satou's here. It's a common story in earth for a king to be bestowed his throne by the god. I'm intrigued to see how it is in a world with gods in reality.
"It's another potato-san nanodesu."
The ears of Pochi and Tama who peeked at the stall dropped down in dejection.
We're in one of the food areas in the Royal Capital of Rumooku Kingdom.
The touring airship is scheduled to arrive tomorrow, but since I found out that there was a festival here, we went ahead to treat ourselves with some sightseeing.
We're going incognito this time so so we've separated into three teams consisting of three to five people each. It'd be too conspicuous if we were all together.
I'll be going with a different team every two hours.
The members of the first team are the beastkin girls, Lady Karin and Zena-san.
"You guys from another country? Rumooku has a lot of dishes made with Diet Potato you see."
An apekin stall shopkeeper showed us some white-colored potatoes.
He presented some sliced unpeeled potatoes to us.
"If you think I'm lying, try eating these sliced Diet Potatoes."
"Lying is bad nodesuyo?"
Pochi and Tama who were lured by the sliced potatoes sniffed the smell.
Being hesitant in biting a raw vegetable whole is something that happens a lot in TV programs about diet.
"Sliced and diced~?"
"Pochi thinks potatoes are tastier boiled or baked than raw nodesu."
Tama and Pochi who took the sliced potatoes nibbled them.
"It's a potato."
"It's unexpectedly tasty desuwa."
"--It is, isn't it."
After the two, Liza and Lady Karina tried them, and Zena-san who lost to the peer pressure also took it.
"What about you young master?"
"I might as well, please."
Losing to the apekin old man's glance, I also tried it after everyone.
The texture feels like a carrot, the taste is mild, like a warmed potato.
It's hard to say it's bad, but it's not bad enough to make you grimace.
"Is Diet Potato a specialty around here?"
"Yeah, seems that it's only grown in this country--"
I asked the shopkeeper about it since I never saw the potato in Shiga Kingdom's Royal Capital that had plenty of foodstuff in circulation, turned out it's a prohibited commodity to export.
"Yeah, in the past the Hero King Yamato-sama told the king that 'it's [Calirozeo] so don't', you see."
--I guess he means calorie zero? I'll ask Hikaru herself later.
"If you only ever eat Diet Potatoe you'll lose weight and die, something like that?"
"Oh what, you already knew huh. That's right, it's fine if you eat it with other food, but mysteriously it seems you'll die if you only eat Diet Potato. I don't feel sick even though I've eaten it for 40 years, some strange story that one's."
As expected, looks like it's a low calorie foodstuff like konjac.
I'd like to sell these in powdered form for the nobles as way to do diet.
I'd feel bad if we only sampled his food, so I bought the Diet Potatoes and Wrapped Berries for several people.
I put the portions for other teams into my storage while pretending I was putting them into my bag.
Tama's ears are twitching.
"There's smell of grilled meat from over there nodesu! It must be wolf or bear meat nodesu!"
Pochi who's swinging her tail so hard like it'd get torn off catches my sleeve and jumps around.
"Master, I will be going to check them."
"Pochi also wants to check nodesu!"
Apparently, Tama, Pochi and even Liza are tired with the potatoes already.
After declaring so with sharp faces, they took the initiative to move ahead and scout where the meat were.
"Pochi, Tama, wait!"
Lady Karina pursued the beastkin girls impatiently.
"Then let's go too."
Zena-san smiled when I exchanged look with her, we walked toward the crowd where the four disappeared into.
It'd be bad if I lost sight of Zena-san in this congested crowd so I joined hands with her.
"--The second prince didn't agree with it right?"
"Yeah, he curtly refused saying that the weasels can't be trusted."
Attentive Ears skill caught that conversation from beyond the crowd.
I might have become a bit more sensitive to the word 'weasel'.
"Even without you guys there's no way the royalty of this country would agree to allow anyone search for treasures in the Fallen Castle."
"Why is that? It'll possible to better the finance of this poor country you know. The prince himself could use it to raise his succession precedence right?"
Looking at the map, it seems the ones talking are a weaselkin merchant and a high level adventurer from Saga Empire.
The female adventurer is level 39, quite something.
"Only you guys who calculate things like that. There's a legend that said the ancestors of this kingdom's royalty were living in the Fallen Castle--the Floating Castle of Shadow Princess. The few who survived when it crashed in this country built this kingdom.... Putting your hands on that castle is not that different from raiding their ancestor grave site."
"Fumu, it appears I've forgotten that humans are creatures who put their priority in irrational things."
According to the Tour Book, the Fallen Castle the adventurer mentioned is an ancient ruin located in the forest to the northeast of this kingdom.
Judging from the map, the center of the northeastern forest is a different map, that's probably it.
"We could build a sky mother ship that could surpass the Great Monstrous Fish if only we got our hands on the core part of the Fallen Castle...."
"That is if you can get it right? That place is a maze where even Shiga Kingdom's Hero King Yamato who challenged the place 600 years ago ran away from. It'll be a different story if you're only ravaging the entrance vicinity, but challenging the inner part is pretty much a suicide. I know since I've seen the absurdity of heroes by Hayato."
I'm intrigued with the core part of the Fallen Castle.... but I don't want to raid a tomb.
Looks like Hikaru had entered the place once, I'll ask her about it later.
"--Then, how about the job of carrying this magic tool into the Fallen Castle?"
"Huh? What's this egg?"
"A magic creature for investigation will appear if you recite the Command Word. I'll pay you 100 gold coins if you can carry this inside."
"It's hard to use your country's money. I'll do it for 150 gold coins of Shiga Kingdom or 75 gold coins of Saga Empire."
"Very well, I'll pay with Shiga Kingdom gold coins. 30 gold coins in advance, 120 after."
"Got it, so--"
A reserved voice broke my concentration in the middle of the sinister talk.
"Satou-san, is there anything wrong?"
"No, there was just someone who looked like an acquaintance of mine, but it seems I was mistaken."
I made some fuzzy excuse since Zena-san looked worried.
Looks like the two from earlier have gone into the inn to talk in private.
It smells of trouble so I'll put markers on them for now.
As I walked on the street while exchanging some harmless conversation with Zena-san, we saw the head of a giant monster beyond the crowd.
"That seems to be the source of the smell."
"I-is that a monster?"
"Yes, apparently it's a monster called Fortress Tiger."
I saw its stuffed animal in the Duchy Capital museum back then.
It appears a Fortress Tiger that has been defeated by the soldiers is displayed as one of the main attractions of the festival.
A temporary stove has been put right beside the hind leg of the Fortress Tiger, and it seems people can eat it for free.
Maybe due to the beastly smell, the nearby people aren't approaching it, only people with poor clothes and men who seemed to be manual laborers are getting the meat skewers and stew dish.
When I was watching it, the beastkin girls came back with skewers in their hands.
"It's like wyvern meat nanodesu."
"It does have toughness and chewiness doesn't it."
The beastkin girls are chewing the meat.
"Master, we have secured everyone's share."
"I'm, um, full so--"
"Understood, I will take full responsibility of Zena-sama's meat skewer."
I take the meat skewer Liza hands out.
....How do I say this, on top of the shoe sole-like texture, beast smell oozes out with every bite.
Frankly, it's bad.
Pochi ate the leftover, but I don't think I'll ever eat another of the meat.
Of course I thought of that in my mind, I didn't say it loud.
That's because there are people who are frantically eating that hard and unpleasant meat around.
Lady Karina gave up and Tama disposed her leftover.
"Soft! Even I can eat this."
"You're amazing young lady. Even grandma who doesn't have any tooth remaining can eat it!"
When I looked at the direction people were smiling happily at, I saw Lulu cooking beside the Fortress Tiger with a kitchen knife in one hand.
Looks like she was unable to only watch the troubled people and went to help.
Arisa, Mia, and the Princess are behind Lulu.
Arisa who noticed me made a 'look at the watch' gesture.
Looks like it's about time.
"Hee, a scheme between adventurers and weaselkins huh."
I stealthily told the thing about the two earlier to Arisa.
I can't exactly say that it's a scheme, but I'm slightly bothered by it.
Mia, Lulu and the princess are enjoying malt starch syrup together.
The princess who saw her first starch syrup is full of curiosity.
"You knead two sticks like this round and round and it'll be tasty."
Lulu is teaching the princess the way to eat starch syrup, perhaps because the princess who's acting like a child looks cute.
Mia chants water magic [Slap Knead] to knead the starch syrup instantly while nodding.
This magic is an original spell I made by Mia's request when we were staying in the labyrinth city.
I'm wasting the skill I have if I do say so myself.
While walking around the stalls and eating the starch syrup, we heard cheers and xylophone-like sound from the main street forward.
"I wonder what is it? Let's go and see it!"
Arisa and Mia pull my hands and begin to run.
"Tina-sama, let us go too."
Lulu who's pulling the princess's hand also follow behind us in quick steps.
We're separated a bit far, but Lulu should be fine.
I heard some screams from hoodlums behind but it must have been my imagination.
With the strength of Arisa and Mia who are level 60 even though they're small, we push ourselves into a place where we can see the main street.
The role of apologizing to people who are glaring at us in annoyance inevitably falls to me.
"It looks somewhat like a float."
"Yes, the thing that looks like a portable shrine with wheels like that, I guess?"
I didn't remember the accurate classification, so I explained to Mia hazily.
Arisa makes a visor with her hands on her head and gazes at the float coming here.
It looks hard to see for them so I lift both of them to make it easier.
"Uoooou.... Thank you."
I smile back at Arisa who was surprised for suddenly being lifted and Mia, and watch the float together with Lulu and the princess who've met up with us.
The floats are, from the the first one; [The Pitch Silhouette of the Castle], [A Pink-haired Princess and a Black-haired Prince who are Sitting on Balcony-like Place in a Castle], and [The Noble Daughters wearing Attendant Clothes] floats.
The soldiers walking beside the floats are wearing pitch black cloth on their whole body, they look like dolls made of shadow.
There's no doubt that they're festival floats to worship the ancestors of Rumooku Kingdom and the Fallen Castle that came out in the talk between the female adventurer and the weaselkin earlier.
According to AR reading, the pink-haired princess seems to be the sixth princess of Rumooku Kingdom.
Looking like Princess Menea, she's a seven-year-old pretty little girl who looks calm and quiet.
"Today Rumia-sama looks graceful doesn't she."
"That's cause she's acting as the Shadow Princess in this festival."
"She usually rode a horse with her brother princes, so it's hard to imagine her like this."
Judging from the surrounding people's talk, the sixth princess is originally a lively girl--no.
According to the AR reading, the sixth princess's name is Rimia. According to their talk, that's the the twin sister of the fifth princess Rumia.
Princess Rimia probably has little exposures to the citizens.
The black-haired boy who's sitting beside her seems to be the real twelve-year-old fourth prince.
Since the royalty seems to be all pink-haired, he's probably wearing a black wig.
After watching the floats,
"Kyaa, I'm sorry."
"Please excuse me too. Are you alright?"
"Un, I'm okay."
I saw pink hair under the apologizing girl's hood.
She's probably the rumored fifth princess, Rumia whom the citizens talked about during the parade earlier.
Looks like the lively princess is enjoying the festival in secret.
Some soldiers and maids who seem to be her escorts are coming from the other side of the crowd.
Princess Rumia glanced back and then she ran to a narrow alley in a hurry.
--That place is bad.
My Attentive Ears skill heard a small scream and the sound of something being put into a sack.
Guess it's unavoidable.
I put off joining with Hikaru and the others and went to the narrow alley.
"The hell you want"
"Oy oy stop with your sudden threatening attitude. Look at that, the rich kid is trembling."
Two hoodlums are glaring at me while tying a sack.
The empty-headed senior-looking guy took out a hatchet and licked it to show me.
It's a situation that appears often in a story, but I wonder if his tongue is cut?
"What're ya smiling about! Are you mocking us!"
Maybe because I was thinking whatever like that the hoodlum swung down his hatchet to my shoulder.
I lightly evaded, circled behind him, and kicked his big butt, sending him flying to some rubble on the ground.
"How dare you--"
When the other hoodlum released his hand from the sack and drew a dagger, I sent him flying with my hand.
With a whomp, the senior hoodlum's scream resounded in the back alley.
I didn't particularly aim for it, but it seems I hit the ball squarely.
As the two who were entangled tried to get up, I reaped their consciousness with a stunner made with Lightning Stone.
Before I release the princess from the sack I use light magic to hide my countenance.
There's no need to raise a flag with a little girl.
"Are you injured anywhere?"
"U-un. I'm fine--Farsa!"
The dumbfounded princess called her acquaintance on the street with a loud voice.
The escort knights who followed from behind and noticed the disturbance in the back alley drew their swords and stood to protect the princess.
"Are you Your Highness's escorts?"
"That's right, who are you."
"I'm not worthy enough to give my name. I only saved the princess since I saw the two people over there trying to kidnap her, I'll leave the rest to you."
I ignored the knight calling me and kicked the alley's roof to move to the roof, then I canceled the light magic and warped to the place near Hikaru and the others.
"Floating Castle made by God, the beautiful maiden with pink hair will be the bride of God--"
After meeting with Hikaru and the others, coaxed by Sera, we went to watch a show that was performing in an open space nearby.
The program seems to be about this country's founding.
The actors aren't that good, but the scenario is quite something.
Furthermore, the woman who's playing as the beautiful maiden is quite attractive and glamorous.
"Has Mito ever gone inside the Fallen Castle?"
"Un, I entered by the request of the king at that time, but the sentry shadows that were protecting the innermost room were too strong so I escaped."
"Un, each one of them wasn't as strong as a greater demon, but they kept reappearing every time I defeated one--"
Nana turns her face to us who are chatting.
"You should be quiet when you're watching the play so I warn."
It's the proper thing to do, so I watch the play in silent afterward.
During the climax of the play, a group of people riding horses ran past the main street and then the kingdom knights went noisily with the sound of their metal armor clashing, clank clank.
"Bad manners so I criticize."
Nana is in bad mood since the tactless sound disturbed the climax of the play.
On the stage, the scene of the dog-headed evil god fighting against the white main god continues on.
The god splendidly slew the evil god but the evil god used a magic before it died and the floating castle crashed.
Pink-haired prince and princess appeared from the fallen castle, and were told that their mother who was the wife of the god had died.
"It appears that gods and humans are not meant to be together.... My beloved children, I bestow tis' blood and blessing unto you. Build a good country."
"At your will, father--no, Great God-sama."
The last scene seems to be a divine blessing that are common among royalty.
Before joining with others I opened the map since I was bothered a bit, but it seems the horse-riding earlier isn't related to the female adventurer and the weaselkin who were talking about something shady earlier. The latter seems to be in the Royal Capital right now.
And then, after we met up, we were able to secure a private room in the best restaurant in the city according to the prime minister's Tour Book.
Normally there should not be any free room during a festival, but since someone who made a reservation canceled the room due to an urgent business, we slipped in during that chance.
The menu is a mountain of small pies made from the Diet Potatoe we ate in the noon.
Diet Potato and mushroom pies, Diet Potato and blueberry pies, Diet Potatoe and deer kidney pies, boiled unfamiliar plants for the salad, and peeled sliced Diet Potato and mashed potato are piled up.
As usual the menu mainly consisted of Diet Potato, but the main dish, the whole roast of a giant Blue Horn Deer that the contracted hunters of the restaurant got appeared.
The meal began with Arisa's lead "Itadakimasu" like usual.
"There's meat in this pie nodesu."
"Master, please enjoy this deer tendon meat stew. The cartilage that's been cooked together with it is crispy and tasty."
I put the dishes recommended by the beastkin girls into my mouth in turns.
The grilled venison that Tama recommended was fatty with light flavor, quite delicious.
The kidney pie I tried to eat in a British restaurant in the past was quite smelly I couldn't eat it, but the kidney pie here was quite delicious, I didn't know whether it was because the chef was good or the kidney was fresh. There was a little of unique smell but it was hidden well by the herb, it was quite satisfactory enough.
The thick stew Liza recommended was warm and felt good in the stomach.
I can't get tired of green-peas-like beans mixed inside. It makes me wanting for some wine.
"Mwuu, mushroom pie."
"Wait a minute, don't put that many to the plate."
I stopped Mia who pushed her recommendation and dealt with it after cleaning up the plate first.
As we eat the tasty dishes in relish, I'm hearing some disturbing conversation from outside the private room.
The wall here seems to be thin.
"--looks like the Shadow Princess festival site was assaulted."
"The site did?"
"Who the accursed did."
"Are the prince and the princess in the site alright?"
It's probably about the young prince and princess that were in the noon parade.
"That's.... It seems Rumia-sama was kidnapped."
"How about the prince and the soldiers guarding them?"
"The prince is safe. The soldiers were, with paralyzing poisoned liquor--."
Looks like some trouble has sprung forth.