15-20. The Empire's Subjects
Satou's here. Why do we become unconditionally friendly with people from the same country when we met them abroad? Is it because you feel a sense of security when you converse using the same language?
"It's a really lively city."
"Yes, I can't get tired of seeing the attires of the people walking on the street."
Just as Zena-san and Liza-san have said, there's a lot of people walking on the Weasel Empire's capital street wearing showy clothes.
Of course, the working class people are wearing plain clothes, but their health doesn't seem bad.
"We've arrived, you'll be staying in this mansion while waiting for the audience with His Majesty."
Lady Liedill guided us to the Weasel Empire's guest house.
According to the map, it's close to the dormitory where the reincarnated and transported people are living, this is just right.
When our carriage entered the entrance, the gatekeepers who noticed us shouted at our arrival.
Apparently, Lady Liedill didn't tell them in advance.
A weaselkin wearing officer clothing came out behind the servants who had lined up in a hurry.
"Liedill-sama, are the people over there the emissaries of Shiga Kingdom?"
"--Why is an official of domestic bureau like you here?"
Lady Liedill is openly taking a hostile attitude at the mild-mannered weaselkin.
According to AR reading, he also has a position in the internal inspection department besides the domestic bureau.
That explains why his level is high at 39 with scout-type skills despite being an official.
"I will be attending them from here on. I've been entrusted with the message from Leader-dono to Liedill-sama, 『Come to the Temple Knights ASAP』."
Lady Liedill's face turns pale hearing that.
Don't tell me, did she come to Dejima Island on an airship without an order from above?
"It cannot be helped. I will entrust the matter here to you. Kuro-sama, please tell me about Sir Pendragon as you promised later. Don't forget it okay!"
Lady Liedill ran off while leaving those words behind.
I should have told her enough about Satou's history in our journey already, did she have more to ask?
Zena-san looks like she wants to say something, but asking that here would be bad so I'll leave it for later.
"Nice to meet you, Emissary-dono. My name is Dolg of the Weasel Empire's domestic bureau."
"I'm Kuro, an emissary of Shiga Kingdom. I want to hear the schedule for our audience with the emperor."
I asked the official while consciously acting as Kuro.
"The audience will be held in three days. Until then, please relax in this guesthouse and freely spend your time strolling the capital. We will provide you with a bodyguard who knows the capital well, so please ask him if you need a guide."
Fumu, bodyguard huh--looking at the search result on the map, the capable people who are as skilled as the official before us are concealing themselves, so I think the bodyguards are merely decoys.
"Thank you for your kindness."
After saying that, we entered the provided room.
It seems the bodyguard will come later to greet us.
I set up a barrier for counterespionage once it's just us.
"Alright, now the people outside won't be able to hear us--"
I turn toward Zena-san after saying that.
"Didn't you want to talk about something earlier?"
Zena-san's face became bright red after I asked her that.
It wasn't because she felt something suspicious with Lady Liedill?
"I'll get some tea."
Liza who perceived the mood stood up and went to a teapot in the corner of the room.
That teapot appears to be a kind of magic tool.
"Um, er... I was jealous."
"I thought maybe Liedill-san loves Satou-san."
"That shouldn't be the case. Since Liedill-san is a martial artist. There is no mistake that she was gathering intelligence for a rematch."
"T-that's right isn't it!"
Thanks to the effort of the deception skill which I hadn't used for a long time, I successfully dispelled Zena-san's doubt.
Even though I said rematch, thinking again, I've never even fought once with Lady Liedill.
That girl must be a battle maniac who would want to fight with anyone strong.
There is no chance of me meeting her again as Satou though, so it doesn't matter.
"Kuro-sama, I am Zakuga Norouyn, I will be acting as your bodyguard."
"Norouyn, that means--"
"Yes, I wish to express my gratitude for saving my esteemed cousin-dono."
The male weaselkin who appeared as the bodyguard seemed to be the cousin of the weaselkin merchant who facilitated this meeting with the emperor.
According to the AR reading, the weaselkin merchant's uncle who's in the senate appears to be his father.
"As a token of our appreciation, my father wishes to invite you to a banquet--"
Come to think of it, one of the special scientific vehicle captains said that his relative was a member of the senate.
I have to talk to them about the matter of prisoner exchange, but the mysterious dragon knight Outis has no diplomatic channel.
Let's push the matter to the crown prince on Dejima Island.
That able man must be able to handle it well.
The hyahhaa mercenaries who were hunting civilians have found employment first, perpetually at a Shiga Kingdom's coal pit.
I've no doubt that they will work hard for the sake of people from now on--compulsorily though.
I was late to reply since I thought of unnecessary things.
"Then I will take your offer."
Thus it's decided that I will visit the head family of Norouyn in the first-class estate, bringing Liza and Zena-san who have dressed up.
By the way, Liza is wearing red chic dress and Zena-san is wearing cute azure dress.
Both look like normal dress outwardly, but their defensive power is equal to the early days golden armor.
"Uwaah, it's dazzling."
"What vulgar lighting befitting of weasels."
Zena-san is excited to see the luxurious mansion.
In contrast to her, Liza who hates weasels frowns.
The bodyguard who came with us had run inside to inform his father, the host of this party.
"Ah! It's Alex."
When I turned at the impudent voice, the two women I saw in the station were standing behind a reception desk-like table.
They're wearing bold clothes with open chest valleys unlike the other receptionists, so they're probably guests.
The black haired girl is pointing at me, while the purple haired girl is stiffened with a pale face.
"--Wait a minute, I can't see his."
"I can see him though?"
The purple haired girl muttered in panicked voice and caught the arm of the black haired girl who was going to rush out of the booth.
"Let me handle this."
I hold Liza back who's going to come forward with my hand.
I could hear Zena-san starting defensive magic chant in low voice.
The thing that prevents her magic power from leaking out during the invocation is my handmade.
"N-not that! I'm saying that his status is invisible!"
"Eh? Wasn't Miko-cchi said that there's nothing your appraisal can't see 'cause it's through God."
"That's why I'm surprised! Call the guards!"
"Mou, you'll have to treat me giga serving of the station's parfait next time 'kay."
Urged by the purple haired girl, the black haired girl reluctantly moved.
The difference between the temperamental purple haired girl and the 'my pace' black haired girl is extreme.
When I made a step forward, the purple haired girl's body got wrapped in purple light.
I don't know the details since she has Hide Skill on, but it's probably an activation of some kind of Unique Skill.
It's probably a kind of Unique Skill that will protect her together with the black haired girl.
"Do not be frightened--"
I walk toward the purple haired girl while taking off the [Thief God Harness] on my arm.
This [Thief God Harness] is like my [Mana Camouflage] as it can even prevent the divine gift [Status Check] reincarnated people have.
"--I'll let you see it, Tomiko."
"Don't call me Tomikooooooooo!"
I said the girl's name as shown by the AR reading to ease her tension, yet she denied it out loud.
Looks like she has a complex about her name, I should have called her [Kunelia] like the black haired girl did earlier.
"Stop at once! My automatic counterattack <<Tit for Tat>> will retaliate any attack by twofold back at the opponent."
Tomiko who looked nervous explained her own ability like some mob character in a manga.
It's probably a diversion to prevent me from going at them.
"You shouldn't talk about your own Unique Skill to your opponent--"
I release [Lesser Spark] from my finger.
It's Tama and Pochi's favorite [crackle crackle] magic.
The lesser spark increased by twofold came back to me from the screaming Tomiko, but it vanished before me.
Looks like I was protected by the wind magic Zena-san invoked.
On the other hand, it seems Tomiko who bounced the attack got some damage, her beautiful hair looks bad due to the spark.
"--Since I'd be forced to deal with you like this then."
After saying that, I tell her, "I've made it so you can appraise me now, just look."
Tomiko appraises me while being cautious like a cat.
『Ah, I can see--huh? It's not Alex, Kuro? Reincarnated person--no, there's no Unique Skill.』
Speaking her thought out loud to herself in Japanese seems to be her habit.
『Are you a new transported person called by the emperor like Asuka?』
『I have no relation with the emperor. I come from outside the empire.』
I replied back the question in Japanese.
Tomiko's attitude immediately softened.
『--Outside? Like Nezu-san?』
『I'm sorry but I don't know anyone called Nezu.』
『I see--that's right isn't it. He was a reincarnated person, a ratkin from the north.』
The ratkin demon lord's face flashed in my mind, but it must be unrelated.
Some armed male guards rushed in.
They're brawny lionkin and tigerkin men.
"Kunelia-sama, is the white hair over there the suspicious person?"
"N-no. It was a misunderstanding!"
The lionkin who seems to be the captain conversed with Tomiko.
『Miko-cchi! I called the guards!』
Seeing the black haired girl behind the men, the purple hair muttered awkwardly.
Then, our bodyguard came back.
"What is happening here?"
"Y-young master.... There was a slight misinformation, this person is--"
"Anything wrong with this gentleman? He's the guest of honor today called by father do you know?"
Tomiko and the guards' face became pale after hearing the bodyguard.
Apparently, offending a member of senate in this country is quite a dangerous thing to do.
"It was nothing. Forget about that, let's go now if you're done with the things there."
Nothing good would come leaving things in this situation so I urged the bodyguard to guide us to the host.
"So you're the emissary of Shiga Kigndom. Since you're an emissary, is it correct to assume that you're an earl or a duke?"
"Neither. I am an ordinary citizen."
Wonder if that shouldn't have been the case for an emissary?
While thinking that, I'm with a member of the weasel senate in a uselessly gaudy room.
Since it's only Kuro who's allowed to meet him, Liza and Zena-san are standing by in the waiting room.
"--Ordinary citizen? Yet you wish to meet His Majesty the emperor?"
"I am a follower of Hero Nanashi-sama. Shiga King and the crown prince have given me their recognitions, have you not heard it?"
"His Highness Crown Prince...."
This man calls the crown prince with [Highness] instead of [Majesty].
He's probably in the emperor's faction.
I tried to probe various things out of the senate member, but he shrewdly dodged all of it.
During this chance, I also tried to ask about the emperor and the tactician Touya.
"--His Majesty is a great person. He has turned this once small country that had no choice but getting oppressed left and right by major powers into an empire in a single generation. An impossible task for ordinary men."
I wanted to ask about his personality, not achievements, but I couldn't get anything useful from him who adored the emperor.
On the other hand, as for the tactician Touya--.
"I do not fancy that bald tactician, but he is a capable man. His involvement in realizing the emperor's 『Rich Country Strong Army』 plan is big. I thought he was planning a rebellion when he established 『Brains』 and started to meddle with science, but that bald tactician's loyalty is genuine."
Wonder what he did to make this man think it's genuine?
An unexpected answer came out when I asked about it.
"He was the one who held back the rebellion of the foolish reincarnated person, Kazura's rebellion who was accompanied by the demon lord. He sacrificed his own body to protect His Majesty. After that, that guy has only an arm and an eye."
The name sounds familiar. The weasel demon lord's name should be Kazura.
I didn't call him by name even once so I might be mistaken, I should check it.
It'd be annoying if there were still other demon lord out there.
"Are you talking about the rat demon lord and the weasel demon lord at Dejima Island?"
"--Weasel demon lord? The only demon lord that appeared should only be the rat demon lord from the north. The reincarnated weaselkin certainly did many barbaric experiments and research befitting to be called demon lord however...."
It seems the weasel demon lord had been evil ever since he was an ordinary person.
"Then, Hero Hayato has already dealt with them both at Dejima Island."
"Is that so.... Reincarnated person Kazura's death is deserved, but his ability will be missed. The science products from Jipan were highly prized among the empire's high class society, and he was also the driving force behind the empire's scientific progress...."
Despite all that, his behaviors were so bad they forced him into Dejima Island's labyrinth.
Recalling my conversations with the weasel demon lord, I understood what happened somehow.
"Father, please excuse my rudeness while you're in the middle of a talk--"
I wanted to talk a bit more, but since the banquet was about to start we went to the hall.
Zena-san was surprised when she saw the large hall for the banquet.
Very long tables are lined up in the banquet hall, and great variety of dishes, so many they look like they'll spill out, are placed on top of the tables.
At first I thought they were trying to show off the Weasel Empire's prosperity, but judging from the guests' reaction, such festivities seem to be an everyday happening.
Many of the dishes make use of oil and butter, reflecting the chandelier's light off them.
They truly look heavy on the stomach.
There are grapes and fruits placed on tall bowls between the dishes, they're probably the palate cleanser.
Lots of flower decoration too, but no one even bats an eyelid at them.
We're guided to the seats near the host while exposing ourselves to the inquisitive gazes of the guests.
"Somehow, everyone is looking at us."
"Gazes from weasel worth less than garbage."
Liza replied the anxious Zena-san by looking down at other people which was unusual for her.
Both of them are talking in Shiga Languange, so no one around us should be able to catch it.
And the party began after the host's greeting.
"It's delicious isn't it."
"Yes, the dishes have no sin. Let us get tasting."
Oily meat dishes seem to be nothing for the young Zena-san and Liza.
I only took a mouthful of each for future references and enjoyed the rare liquor offered by a rabbitkin waiter.
Chasing after Zena-san's line of sight, I saw a weaselkin vomiting over the decorative plants.
It seemed he was used to vomiting, he came back to his seat and resumed to eat as if it was natural after he wiped his mouth with a cloth given by a servant.
Apparently, it's common here to eat for the sake of eating and then continue to eat the dishes after vomiting the content of one's stomach.
How do I say this, it's like the period of the ancient roman empire at its peak.
"How very like the gutless weaselkin. Throwing away the life of other creatures they received just like that."
Liza shakes her head as if saying there's no cure for them.
Come to think of it, Liza and Zena-san's stomaches aren't bulging even though they've been eating an amazing amount of food for a while.
"I'm glad that I've learned the Art of Eating in the solitary island palace."
"Yes, you can eat to your heart's content if you compress the food in your stomach."
--Art of Eating?
Come to think of it, I did feel that everyone had been eating a lot lately.
I thought that their metabolism were just raised due to the increased STR and VIT from the level up for sure.
However, I feel that Tama and Pochi are still often downed with bulged stomach even with this Art of Eating thing.
Don't tell me, they ate until their stomaches became round on top of compressing the content inside?
"Ooh! Is she going to challenge the 『Whole Roast Dragon』! That Shiga Kingdom's Lizardkin is a monster!"
"Nay nay. She probably simply doesn't know that once one challenged the 『Whole Roast Dragon』, one has to finish it alone."
Voices of surprise reached my ears.
Looks like Liza had begun eating the whole roast lizard on the center table.
It seems the strange unwritten law is the reason why no one put their hand on it.
"This is tasty."
Liza continues enjoying the whole roast without minding the noises around her.
Liza's meal scenery is really elegant thanks to the open manner lecture held in the solitary island palace.
"Damn it! It'd be a disgrace to the empire if we only look while doing nothing! Show them that Weasel Empire never gives up!"
The weaselkins swoop down on the whole roast on other tables with some strange sense of rivalry.
They said some cool lines, but it's ultimately a mere gluttony.
And surely they're no match against Liza eating meat--.
"S-she ate it all...."
"F-first time I saw it happened."
Shocked eyes and voices are directed at Liza.
However, Liza who's wiping her mouth with a handkerchief doesn't seem to notice it.
"Fuuh, I'm full."
"Zena-san, you're really a light eater."
"Here you go."
"Thank you, Sa-Kuro-sama."
While wryly smiling at Liza's words, I offered a fruit water to Zena-san.
"Eating the same dishes over and over again is getting tiring. Let's have some chicken next."
After muttering that, Liza asked a waiter for the whole roast bird.
Several Mr. and Mrs. who were eating greedily fainted after they saw that.
Lots of dishes are available after all, Zena-san and I are looking over Liza-san eating happily with warm eyes.
The courtyard is opened after the banquet for people to amuse themselves with dances and games.
Liza is surrounded by the food fighters, being praised somehow or other.
Judging from what can be heard, it seems a lot of Liza fans were born after they saw her eating the whole roast earlier.
I asked Zena-san to be the stopper to prevent Liza from losing her temper from dealing with the weaselkins.
As for me--.
"I see, so Nezu-san was exterminated."
"He was a kind person when he wasn't a demon lord."
--I'm gathering intelligence while drinking together with the reincarnated person Tomiko and the transported person, the black haired girl.
According to them, the rat demon lord was bound by the emperor's [Geass] and got imprisoned in the experimental institution.
It seems the rat demon lord regained his sanity after they extracted the miasma out of him, he was called [Nezu] and they befriended him.
"Scumzura got what he deserved though."
"He demanded our body for the latest issue of the journal and pushed down Neka-chan into the warehouse."
The weasel demon lord was also a villain here too huh.
I got enough information about the two demon lords, so I changed the topic to the emperor and the tactician Touya.
"Ah, sorry. I can't talk about the emperor."
"Same with me."
"Could I hear the reason?"
"Sorry, that's not possible too."
Judging from their attitudes, the information is probably banned by the weasel emperor's [Geass] skill.
"What about tactician Touya?"
"That one's fine. I know he's level 55, but skills and other things are hidden like me so I don't know."
"We don't know his race or age either right?"
"Un, various numbers and terms I don't know floated if I tried to appraise him. Maybe he used an artifact from 『Brains』 they said."
"He's bald but handsome you see."
"If only he doesn't talk like an old man~"
I don't think they're lying, but I don't understand the point of hiding his age and race.
He's probably hiding the fact that he's long lived, but I don't think that's an important enough information to hide....
The ground shook while I was lost in thought.
"Guess it's about magnitude 2?"
"It's quite long isn't it."
"Sure there's a lot of them lately."
"It's strange you know, quakes should be few around here."
The two former Japanese are fine with the quake, but the people in the hall seem to be frightened by it, both the guests and the waiters are hiding under the tables.
"There's also rumors about monsters appearing in the slum and the underpasses, maybe it's some kind of omen?"
"As I thought, banishing people related to temples is--"
"Don't say stupid things. The temple people volunteered to go to the parishes in order to build God's gardens."
Hearing rumors about monsters, I tried searching the map thinking it might be something similar with the matter that happened in Shiga Capital, but there's no monster besides the food monsters like the one back then.
Some of the food monsters probably escaped and caused some uproars.
The edible monsters might be a secret to everyone but the people involved.
"Hey hey, why don't we slip out here and go to Miko-cchi's mansion?"
"Eh, my home?"
"I mean, mine's a dormitory--the wall's thin you see."
The black haired girl wrapped her arms around mine and said that suddenly.
It's not just my imagination, I can feel her amorous glance.
Thanks to Kuro's foreign actor's handsome face, looks like she wants a one-night stand.
I don't intend to have one with her, but this is quite a fresh experience.
"Miko-cchi's house is a mansion y'know! There's about 10 maids and sheep!" <TLN: Shitsuji=butler. Hitsuji=sheep.>
"That's common around here. Look at the top people of 『Brains』, they're living in huge mansions with servants numbering more than one digit right."
"Ahaha, Harem Section Chief and Seraglio Deputy Director are like that innit."
Those are some amazing nicknames.
They're probably surrounded by many women.
"Sorry but I have something to discuss with the senate member after this."
"Then come visit 『Brains』."
Fumu, not a bad invitation.
"I'll be coming if you're alright tomorrow."
"It's a promise!"
I exchanged pinky promise with the forceful black haired girl, and added the visit to the [Brains] in my schedule.