14-2. At the Labyrinth City
Satou's here. When I saw the unusually realistic animal toys sold with food on a convenience store, I remember secretly wanting to collect them all. It's the same thing with gacha in recent the social games.
"Your Royal Highness Shistina, it is truly an honor to be graced with your presence."
Marquis Ashinen said such words to us who visited the viceroy mansion.
The people present here aren't only the Marquis couple, the nobles of the labyrinth city with peerage are also lined up in the entrance.
Usually it's the maids and the butlers who would meet the guest, but as expected of a princess, moreover, since she's the little sister of next king from the same mother, the treatment is different.
After princess Shistina greeted them like a royalty would, Sera and I also greeted them and then we were guided to the usual salon.
The salon that usually felt too large now feels a bit cramped due to the amount of guests.
Coming here bringing a lot of sweets as the souvenir is good decision.
"Sir Pendragon, this is a present to celebrate for you climbing the peerage rank and your inauguration to be the Tourist Ministry vice minister. This is not just from me, but all 17 noble houses in the Labyrinth City."
Marquis Ashinen is giving me a small box that has careful craftsmanship.
Following after him, the other nobles also congratulated me.
"May I open it?"
Opening a present like this immediately after receiving it is the proper manner in Shiga Kingdom, but I inadvertently asked due to my Japanese nature.
--Geh, are you serious?
My surprise surpassed the Poker Face skill as I stared the content of that small box.
"It was worth it getting that by exerting all means, seeing you be that surprised."
"...T-thank you very much."
I take out the [Chant Orb] from the small box and smile at the Marquis and the others.
According to the AR beside the orb, it seems to be something from Saga Empire's [Bloodsucking Labyrinth].
There's a [Light Magic Orb] beside it.
The Chant Orb must be an extra.
They should be quite rare, but getting abundant of drops right when you don't need them happens in games and another world.
It was quite unusual for me to show a worldly desire, so it seems they asked the merchants to look for them as a surprise present.
I'm very grateful. It's not like the thought, "just what was all of my hardships for", didn't flash on my mind, but grumbling after they have gone through a lot of trouble for my sake would make me get hit with a divine retribution.
I feel bad for only receiving things, so I signal the marquis house butler and make him take out the souvenir I've passed on to him earlier.
"These are the tiara and the emerald I saw back then! So you remember."
"Yes, they're articles befitting of Marchioness after all."
I'm indebted to the Marchioness for helping me making the personal connections in the Royal Capital, so I got her the [Tiara] and the [Egg-sized Emerald] that she wanted.
I've sucked up a lot of money from the Royal Capital's nobles, so buying these were no problem at all.
"My! What a beautiful glass-work."
"Satou-sama, is this handicraft the work of a Royal Capital's workshop?"
"Behold! This small handicraft looks as if it's alive."
In addition to that, I presented other things like ancestor king glass statue and small-sized animal glass statues for the servants.
The former was well received as planned, but it seems the marchioness and the noble wives like the latter too.
These were easily made with my original magic [Glass Art], a spell created from [Mud Art] and [Sand to Glass].
At first I made this magic since I wanted a bowl for the shaved ice, but it looks like I can use this for many other things.
"Marquis, I've left the new work to the butler, please enjoy it."
"....B-by new work you mean a work of art?"
It'd cause discord if I only gave the present to the Marchioness, so I haven't forgotten the Marquis's share too.
His present is not my own work, but a [Nude Statue of Man] I got from the Duchy Capital using Unit Arrangement. The Marquis once said, "My friend obtained the new work in the Duchy Capital."
I gave an Echigoya Firm-made set of [Vitality Medicine], [Gloss Skin Medicine], [Hair Growth Formula] to each head of the noble houses. It seems they're hard to get in the labyrinth city, so they were exaggeratedly pleased.
After we had finished exchanging souvenirs, it was the pleasant chat time like usual.
The one that was different was that they wanted me to talk about the gist of the sakuramochi demon attack on the Royal Capital, and Hero Nanashi and the Golden Knights.
It has already been half a month since the incident, so the details should have circulated in the labyrinth city too, but they probably want to hear the raw story from people who were there.
"--The the Royal Capital reconstruction is going well isn't it."
"Yes, it is the result of Hero Nanashi's effort."
The princess replied to the Marchioness with a clear smile.
Please stop glancing at me when you were saying Hero Nanashi.
After that serious talk was over, this time it moved to love story.
"I want to hear the beginning of love of the princess and Satou-dono."
"We met by accident--"
One of the countesses from the Marchioness's circle asked about the topic.
The princess then talked about how she met me with Arisa and Mia as the intermediary, and how I saved her when a monster attacked like it was some sort of heroic story.
Of course she had shrewdly cut the matter about Hisui and my senseless action.
"I want to hear about the start of romance of 『Oracle Miko』 Sera-sama. You're an entourage of the vice minister, but in actuality, you're the candidate for the second wife right?"
The viscountess asked about Sera's real objectives.
"Yes, you may take it as so. I have acquired the permission from grandfather and father after all--"
After saying so, Sera turned toward me while smiling.
....It's the first I've heard of that though?
"Sera-sama, I think it's better if you talk about that once it's official."
"Yes, that's right."
I warned Sera since it'd be troublesome if some strange rumor circulated.
She obediently assented, and closed the uncertain talk.
Whenever Sera fixes her sitting, she gets closer to me, I wonder if it's just my imagination....
I feel like she's burying the outer moat bit by bit.
Still, I'm glad that I've left Lady Karina in the mansion.
I have a feeling that it'd have been more troublesome if she were here.
After finishing the tea party, we went to the Labyrinth Army garrison.
"""Young Master! Welcome back!"""
Those greetings came from some unfamiliar townspeople and explorers when we passed through the food stall for explorers and the street in front of the Explorer Guild.
For now, I wave my hands through the window.
"You're quite popular."
The princess looked lightly surprised to my popularity.
"They probably remember my face from the 『Floormaster』 subjugation parade."
"Satou-san, you don't have to be so modest. Satou-san's achievement is famous even in the Royal Capital."
Replying Sera with a wry smile, I turn around to see some little cheering outside the window.
Outside the carriage window, I saw little girls and children running after the carriage.
--Are they children of the orphanage?
I stealthily supported a child who tripped her feet with [Magic Hand].
The traffic decreased before long, and the carriage arrived at the destination.
Having arrived at the labyrinth army garrison, we greeted General Eltar and visited the soldiers.
I only brought some famed liquor and smoked sakura salmon of the royal capital as the general and the soldier's souvenir, there's nothing special to mention.
There were these conversations at most.
"You should have been offered a seat of the Shiga Eight Swords, why did you decline?"
"That is too much of a burden for me. Being one of the Shiga Eight Swords requires one's individual strength after all."
General Eltar nodded to my answer while brushing his beard.
In the labyrinth city, it looks like I'm known more as the proprietor who has established explorer training and an orphanage, and also a politician who aligned himself with the marchioness faction rather than an explorer after all.
"So, as you're going to go around the world as the vice minister of the Tourism Ministry, what are your retainers going to do?"
"Liza and the others are going to continue to explore the labyrinth."
Perhaps, he's going to invite Liza and the others to the labyrinth army?
Or so I thought, but General Eltar said some unexpected things next.
"--If you're going to establish a private knight order in the labyrinth city, you can consult me."
I won't make something like private knight order.
It's not like I'll participate in a war anyway, I don't need a private knight order right?
Or rather, if I did make one, that could be an excuse to start a war.
So I thought, but since he said it out of kindness, I replied like a Japanese who could read the mood.
"I haven't thought about it for the time being, but I'll be pleased if I can consult with you when that time comes."
"Umu, you can freely come here."
General Eltar nodded like he was satisfied with my reply.
If I do need to consult with him, I'll bring not a bottle of the dragon spring liquor, but a whole barrel.
"""Young Master! Let's have a feast!"""
When I went to the western Explorer Guild to visit the guildmaster, the drunk staff members and explorers greeted me unanimously.
Looks like they've opened the liquor barrel I sent to the guildmaster and the staff members, and have started a drinking bout already.
The sun is still high, they put the dwarves to shame....
"Ou! Satou, this is some good liquor! It'll disappear if you don't come soon!"
The guildmaster shouted out with a smile from center of the drinking bout.
I'd like to participate if I was alone, but since I'm with the princess and Sera, that'd be bad.
"Satou-sama, let me take part together with you."
"Eh? Y-your highness?"
It seems the princess is a regular drinker, she pulls my hands and walks toward the guildmaster.
"Oh? Are you already kept on a short leash? First time I meet ya I guess, your highness princess?"
"No, I once took a lecture by the fire magician during a ball in the Royal Capital."
"Ah! That little princess huh! I thought you were a strange princess, but you sure have good eyes for men!"
Looks like the guildmaster is acquainted with the princess.
The princess drink the liquor that the guildmaster poured. She's quite a good drinker.
The movement of the throat swallowing the liquor looks captivating.
While I was being captivated by the princess, Sera who was sitting beside me pinched my lap.
Sera drank the liquor cup given by Staff Member A with a prickly expression.
"Satou-san! Satou-san is--"
Having drunk the liquor, Sera vigorously said as much and then she suddenly leaned on my shoulder as if her battery was cut.
Apparently, Sera who's been raised in the temple is weak to liquor.
On the other hand, the princess is drinking equally with the guildmaster.
"That was some good drink."
"I drank a lot in the evening parties to excuse myself out, so I became strong at it before I knew it."
I see, it's very like the princess.
"Satou is a bottomless pit too, you two will be a good couple."
Without minding the guildmaster who called her with [You (anta)], the princess's red cheeks from the liquor reddened even more and she thanked her.
Looking at her, the men said out loud, "Riajuu explode!" with deep resentment.
The one spreading "riajuu" word must be Arisa.
During the drinking bout, I talk with the elf Ms. Sebelkea and the guild manager about their works.
The subject is about the guild administration as asked by Earl Seryuu.
Ms. Sebelkea asked shortly like an elf would.
"Please look at this."
"Hou? They'll give the priority for the commerce of the wyvern material and steady supply of the dragon white stones huh..."
I hand over the documents from Earl Seryuu to the manager.
Ms Selbera showed the shadow of a veteran suitable for her age on her young girl-like visage.
The dragon white stone which is the material for making the all-purpose antidote and the light yet highly defensive wyvern material are something that advanced explorers desire regardless of expense.
The all-purpose antidote especially, nobles who have a lot of enemies constantly seek for it, so the demand for it is unending.
At first there were also some medicinal herbs needed for stamina recovery medicine, but now that they can produce beria magic medicine locally the demand had abated, I canceled the plan.
"Looks like Earl Seryuu has quite an excellent adviser."
"Some benefactors and acquaintances of mine are in the Earldom after all."
I eluded Ms. Sebelkea's teasing without a fuss.
"Very well. I'll have the guildmaster sign it later."
I was finally able to get her consent.
"Can we use temporary employees from the explorer school to teach the management course?"
"Yes, I'll bring them tomorrow to visit here."
"Understood. Aside from that, Satou."
Finishing the work talk, Ms. Sebelkea who loosened her firm expression, changing back to party mode, talked too me.
"Our High-elves-sama frequently inquired about you, do you have any idea?"
"No, I don't."
If they have some business with me, they can always call me through Aze-san, and the elf forest that was in danger of the Space Kaiju was of a different clan from Ms. Sebelkea's, so I really don't have the slightest idea.
"Just in case, Satou is a human right?"
"Yes, of course."
Even though I immediately replied to the puzzling question, I was puzzled myself in my mind.
There were many cases where that confidence was lost recently, but my race is still written as human on the status screen.
Ms. Sebelkea nodded to my answer like she was satisfied, and drank the fairy wine on her hand.
There's going to be a banquet in the viceroy mansion tonight, so I excused ourselves from the drinking bout before the princess got downed.
It seemed the princess was envious of Sera who was carried by me with a princess carry, she leaned her head on my shoulder while behaving like a spoiled child during the short time the carriage was returning, and let out a happy sigh.
There were still some times before the dinner, so I went alone to the mansion where people from Earl Seryuu were staying in the labyrinth city.
It seemed the earl had told them about me, they easily received me.
"--training for management?"
"Yes, the guildmaster has kindly agreed to it. Of course, the advisor, Ms. Sebelkea, and the manager have pleasantly replied too."
The civil official opened her eyes wide when she heard about the management thing.
There were also some people who said, "Just how", or "Did he use the Marchioness's connections?", in low voices.
I plan to introduce the civil officials to Ms. Sebelkea tomorrow morning.
"And for the on-site unit, the Mithril Explorer party, 『Blue Flame Axe』 is going to teach them."
The captain of the on-site unit, Knight Henz, stood up and kicked the chair down due to his surprise.
The soldiers also began to rustle.
The [Blue Flame Axe] that I mentioned is one of the parties that subjugated the floormaster together with Jeril and his party.
I tried negotiating with all prominent parties during my stay in the Royal Capital, but the Blue Flame Axe was the only one who willingly consented.
Their reward is an introduction to Echigoya Firm.
Using the letter of introduction I got from the first prince Soltrick back then, it seemed the members of Blue Flame Axe party ordered magic weapons and wands they wanted.
I only intermediated them and loaned them money for their fund shortage.
On top of securing personnels, I got them to experiment--er, comment on the new weapons, there's no loss for me.
"Yes, let's have a formal introduction tomorrow morning."
After telling so, I explain the route for the exploration with a map and the program to the Knight Henz.
Recovery potion made from beria has been popularized, so there should be no problem even if we choose a slightly dangerous route.
They have strong entourages too.
"Viscount-sama, we're lacking one magic soldier in this plan?"
Captain Riro who's checking the documents beside Knight Henz asked about Zena-san who wasn't included in the program.
If I'm not mistaken, he's the direct superior of Zena-san.
"She's transferred over to the Tourism Ministry to act as a guard and also a secretary. Earl Seryuu and Marientail-san have consented to this, so please don't worry about it."
Even though I told him so, captain Riro's face still looked gloomy.
Right then, Zena-san appeared along with the members of Zena Squad.
The girls had horse transports so they went back through the land route, looks like they got to the labyrinth city at a good timing.
"Zena Squad's vice head, Iona and three members, have returned to the labyrinth city!"
Ms. Iona reported not to Knight Henz but Captain Riro.
I wonder if it's because he's their direct superior.
After thanking them, Captain Riro confirmed Zena-san who's in military uniform about the thing earlier.
"Y-yes. There is no mistake. I was in the place when Earl-sama approved it."
Captain Riro is finally convinced after Zena-san assured it.
Some noisy voices sounded behind him.
"Is Zena-san alright alone?"
"Do you want to go too?"
"You did it, Zena-cchi! Now the mistress seat is certain for you!"
Every member of Zena Squad called out to Zena-san.
"Amazing, Viscount-sama is as great as Viscount Belton isn't he?"
Responding to Lilio, a soldier girl called Gayana made a fuss.
"It's marrying to a rich man!"
"Treat me something next time okay!"
The other female soldiers also cheered on Zena-san.
On the other hand, gloomy mood of grudge and depression came flowing from the male soldiers.
So there were really a lot of hidden fans of the plain cute Zena-san after all.
Four of us including Lady Karina went to the banquet and relished on the elegant dishes made by the viceroy mansion's chef.
When I left my seat during the chat for the nature's call, the Marchioness informant contacted me, wearing maid clothes.
"So it seems you're engaged with the princess. I'm jealous--"
"Leaving that aside, do you have any new information?"
I stopped the informant's lip service and urged her to cut to the chase.
Some bad rumor would float around if I looked too close to a maid in the viceroy mansion after all.
"Have you heard that three kingdoms neighboring Holy Kingdom Parion united and attacked it two days ago?"
"No, first time I've heard of it."
As usual she got information from the western countries fast.
"It was a large army totaling at 60.000 troops."
--Past tense huh.
"According to the information that just came in, that large army was trampled down by the 10.000-strong Holy Kingdom Parion so-called 『Army of God』, and they were repelled back to their own kingdoms."
Good grief, please stop using such dangerous words like [Army of God].
I'm afraid that it'd really end up setting up a flag for a fight against the God's Apostles.
--However, there's something I want to know first.
"By the way, do you know the reason why the three kingdoms united?"
"It's an absurd story--"
The informant is hesitating to answer my question.
After hesitating with suggestive behaviors, she opens her mouth.
"They claim that the pope of Holy Kingdom Parion, Zazaris, is a demon lord."
....Apparently, my sightseeing tour won't start for a while.