Satou's here. When we're talking about city, the stereotype would be concrete jungle, but recently I feel that there has been more greening in city center than the rural area. There are spots of gray and navy blue in half-baked rural areas.
"Tenion Holy Emblem huh, very well, go on in."
"May the blessing of God be upon you, gatekeeper-sama."
The unmotivated gray-clothed gatekeeper made some prayer gestures and allowed us to pass the city gate.
He's still one of the better gatekeepers, the other ones are playing with dices.
"They were quite insincere guards weren't they."
"You're right--Liza, you don't have to be that tense."
While answering Sera, I warned Liza who was looking around with coercive sharp glances.
The three of us are wearing disguises masks, so no one can see through the disguises unless they have original Yamato Stone or Arisa's level of appraisal skill.
There's only a few people in the city, everyone is wearing gray clothes and walking with hunched back.
There are some stores here and there but not many items on the shelves so the customers are also sparse. Judging from the transactions between the shopkeepers and the customers, it seems this city also uses notes as payment.
Looking briefly at the map, there are seven huge temples worshiping the god pantheon except the Demon God and the Dragon God. When I checked them with Clairvoyance magic, they were all under construction.
"I wonder if those are altars?"
"That's right Liza. It seems the seven altars are carved with each holy emblem of the Gods."
I moved my line of sight at the seven altars that Sera and Liza mentioned.
There's a small altar on every intersection like a Jizo statue. Instead of statues, there are holy stones carved with holy emblems on the altars.
The order of the altars seem to be fixed, it starts from God Heraruon whom I'm not too familiar with and ends with God Parion.
According to the documents I read in the Duchy Capital's Parion Temple--.
God Heraruon the [Top Seat of the Pantheon].
God Garleon of [Strife and Victory].
God Urion of [Trial and Judgment].
God Karion of [Wisdom].
God Zaikuon of [Passion and Change].
God Tenion of [Solace and Love].
God Parion of [Infant and Righteousness].
--Such were written.
Though it's not that the gods declared themselves, "I am god of~", but it came about from records of the circumstances of things in the era each god governed.
Now then, leaving that aside, we heard some troubling voices coming from a small temple when we were in the middle of the way to the big temples in the city's center--.
"I beg of you, Priest-sama! Please give your mercy on the 『Healing Garden』!"
"Didn't I tell you before. We can only pray to the gods. We have no mean to heal epidemic."
Such conversations happen often in Shiga Kingdom, but looking at the map, it seems the situation is a bit different here.
The priests in this city are low leveled in contrast to their number. Everyone is lower than level 10 except the the few in the central temple.
Thus they probably can't use the mid class holy magic [Remove Disease] and advanced class holy magic [Purification Virus].
"Please wait a moment."
I stop Sera who were suggesting to help them, and check the situation on the map once again.
It seems infectious disease has spread inside the city but the statesmen appear to know the importance of isolating the carriers, most of the patients beside very few minority are gathered in a plot of land.
After investigating the book about diseases in my storage, the disease name written on the map is a lethal one, but since the incubation period is short, it should be hard for it to become a pandemic.
"I've confirmed it. It's a kind of epidemic that can be healed by Sera-san's holy magic."
After telling that, I put [Astro Suit] magic on my companions to prevent infection.
"Well then, shall we go?"
We went to the small temple with Sera in the lead.
"Priestess-sama has come!"
The [Healing Garden] that the man who was making the appeal earlier took us to seemed to be a sanitary building.
"Priestess-sama, please change to purification clothes in this changing room. We've prepared new clothing to prevent the epidemic, so please don't worry."
A staff member handed surgical robe-like clothes and new masks and guided us to the changing room.
When I nod at Sera and Liza who looked doubtful, the two head to the changing room with relived looks. Unlike me, the two must have not understood the concept of sanitary clothing.
The man earlier was waiting when I came out of the changing room, so I chatted with him until Sera and Liza are done.
It seems he's the director of this facility, he's previously worked in the hospital in the capital of the empire.
"I couldn't use magic so I worked as a nurse instead of doctor. If only this place had the medicines and equipment of the central hospitals, I wouldn't stand idly while the patients were dying...."
There's an organization under the direct control of the emperor called [Brains] in the empire's central, apparently medical institutions in the imperial capital have been rapidly progressing thanks to the knowledges brought from that organization.
"What kind of equipment are they?"
"Umm--Huh? I'm sorry, I couldn't recall the term. It's hard as you get older isn't it."
He beats his head while smiling wryly.
"Coming from such a convenient capital, there was a time when I was depressed to be dispatched to an antiquated parish, but in the end I couldn't leave the suffering patients alone."
He couldn't abide the emperor's [Renunciation] policy, so he was sent to this [Parish].
"I was told to 『Abandon the irrational god and revere the emperor who has bestowed prosperity and well-being upon his subjects』.... But I couldn't abandon my faith to Tenion-sama."
Does the emperor want to become a god?
Or perhaps he wants to weaken the gods who flourish from [People's Faith]?
Either way, I think he's picking a fight with the gods.
This, paired with the scientific weapons and the rumored train, it's strange how the Divine Punishment hasn't befallen them yet.
I'm intrigued at just how does the Weasel Empire's emperor manage to evade gods' wrath.
I really want to hear it once I meet him in person with the weasel merchant's mediation.
"Over here, priestess-sama."
We enter the isolation ward as guided by the director.
Looks like they've put dual layer doors properly here.
There seem to be some ventilation and air cleaning magic used in the sickroom, the air isn't muddy.
The staff here are good, I sure want to head-hunt them to Shiga Kingdom.
Or maybe I can send some Echigoya personnels to train here.
"Let's heal the patients who can't move first. Please gather them as close as possible, since I'll be using ranged magic."
"Eeh, expanding the range of 『Remove Disease』 magic which consumes a lot of magic power is too reckless!"
A priest who belongs to the hospital ward expressed his surprise hearing Sera.
"Don't worry about it. Liza, help me carry the patients along with their beds."
I can't rely on [Magic Hand] magic here, so I carry the beds together with Liza.
We haven't done physical labors in a while, but since I and Liza each have enough strength to carry the whole ward, it's easy.
And then, Sera begins her chant with a long wand.
The accessories for magic boost that Sera wears are glittering, bringing about sublime atmosphere on her.
The enormous magic power that she's gathering begin to sway people's clothes and hair.
I stand behind Sera, secretly fully opening the Spirit Light to make it easier for Sera to gather magic power.
".... ■■■■■■■ Purification Virus."
The moment the chant is completed, pure warm light that overflow from Sera wrap the patients.
I pick forest magic [Stamina Charge] and water magic [Calorie Charge] from the Magic Column the moment Sera invoked her magic and invoke them to ease the patients.
"Aah, what a comfortable light."
"Feels like my body is filled with power."
"Our gratitude to Tenion-sama who has led priestess-sama to us."
The patients who have been healed are muttering incoherently while shedding tears.
At first we planned to cure the patients who weren't in immediate danger after this was done, but since it was troublesome, I secretly used water magic [Cure Disease] at the same time Sera healed the patients who were seriously ill.
Right now they probably think of it as Sera's, or rather, a [Miracle caused by Goddess Tenion's servant-sama.]
"Satou-san, I'm sorry for poking my nose into unnecessary things."
"No, don't worry about it. I would have gone myself if Sera-san didn't."
After the treatment, the patients almost made Sera into a saintess and the ward's priest almost became Sera's apprentice, but we were able to somehow escape from the [Healing Garden].
"Next, shall we see how to use the ration coupons?"
"It's the notes we got as thanks from earlier right."
Sera took the coupons and looked at it curiously.
We originally got a bundle of coupons for the ration as thanks, but since we wouldn't have no use of it, we only took three pieces.
I thought it was the normal currency at first, but apparently it can only be used inside the parish.
There are two kinds of ration coupons; food coupons and necessity coupons, you can exchange them with the goods at the distribution center which gets the items transported from outside the parish.
It seems there's also service coupon which you can exchange for luxury and medicines.
Liza unusually puts her face close to my ears and whispers.
"--It's a flock of flying magic beasts. Please look to the east."
I looked up as urged by Liza and saw around eight Rocs flying toward the city.
The city's alarm bell resounds.
"It's the imperial mail!"
"The rationed goods are coming!"
"It's our chance to get the service coupon, hurry up!"
The men pull the carts and trolleys left in an open space toward the city's gate.
Apparently, it's not an attack but an air transport.
"Let's go see it."
I called the two and went to see the situation.
"--T-that was a rough unloading wasn't it."
"Yes, I wonder if the goods inside aren't broken?"
Sera's and Liza's surprises aren't surprising.
The Roc birds dropped the baggage without even landing in an open space slightly farther away from the city's gate.
There are screw-shaped magic devices on the Roc birds' heads, similar to the one on the Black Panther's from yesterday.
"Carry them to the central warehouse!"
A female weaselkin who looks to be high-ranked appeared riding a horse from the gate and ordered the men pulling carts.
"Matriarch-sama! There are 40 food goods and two daily necessities. There's a list of goods in the daily necessity bundles."
"Give it to me--no luxury goods huh. Only the reported medicines and nutritional supplements.... So the Emperor wants us to die from epidemic disease."
Apparently, the news about Sera curing the epidemic hasn't reached her ears.
"There's a lot of cloths. They're not dyed as expected. We don't have any choice but to collaborate with the black market guys to get the dye used in the ritual."
"Can't be helped. I resent working with a bunch who don't even a fragment of faith, but we can't disregard the color written in the holy book for the ritual magic."
I thought of getting in contact with the top people of the city with some dye as a present, but I decided not to for now since we were still gathering information.
"It seems the staple food here is boiled sweet potato and beans that are crushed and hardened into bamboo shaped. It smells bad but it doesn't taste awful enough to not be edible. The bundle beside it is a lump of dried meat made for long preservation. It's moderately hard."
I receive the food bundle from the distribution center while Liza is explaining.
The calorie is questionable and the smell of fermented plants assails my nose, it makes me hesitate to try it. It's salty on top of getting praised by Liza for being too hard, so normal people probably eat it by chipping the meat with a knife or dip it into water.
Judging from the surrounding people, it seems they get one bundle for a day.
Since we didn't dare to eat bad things, we re-wrapped the food, and then we went to the mentioned black market after seeing the big temples that were under construction.
Due to the shops and people gathering in the narrow back lane, the crowded black market looks like the one I saw in a movie about Pacific War.
The people walking at quick pace in the hustle bustle look contrasting with the languid people walking in the main street.
"They're open in daytime even though it's called black market."
"The black part doesn't mean dark at night but something that isn't formally recognized, you see."
I answer Sera who's watching the surrounding restlessly.
"There doesn't seem to be anything unusual. Master, please look over there."
There's a yakitori stall at the place Liza's eyes are glistening at.
"Fumu, we need to investigate it."
"Yes, then I shall scout ahead."
I told Liza to be careful in order for me to not laugh at Liza who was devoted to her appetite, she ran toward the stall with a smile.
Making use of Flickering Movement, Liza moves between the crowds while leaving afterimages.
....You don't have to be serious at a place like this okay?
"--10 ration coupons for one yakitori skewer? Isn't that too excessive?"
"Go somewhere else if you don't like it. That's the market price here."
The shopkeeper blew Liza's complaint.
Other customers who bought a yakitori skewer for 10 ration coupons were the proof that he wasn't ripping her off.
It's not like we have to buy it, but thanks to the smell of the burning fat of the bird meat, my mouth has turned into yakitori mode.
I'll negotiate with the shopkeeper in Liza's place.
"How much is it with normal money?"
"Money from central are just junk here."
I was going to pay with the weasel money I got at Silga Kingdom but he refused.
Then let's barter.
"How about this kitchen knife?"
It's an item that I acquired from a local noble from one of the various small kingdoms we visited.
It's just made from normal iron, but it's a relatively good knife.
"Hmph, how many yakitori do you want for this kind of high quality good?"
"Just give us 10. Kitchen knife should be used by a cook after all."
The shopkeeper timidly receives the knife.
I genuinely think that it's better for someone who can use it to have it rather than leaving it to become a fertilizer of my Storage.
I give the bundle of yakitori I got from the shopkeeper to Liza, and then have one for me and Sera each.
It seems to be of chicken skin and thigh sprinkled with salt.
The flavor from the charcoal fire tastes good. I'd like a bit more flavor from the thigh, but I won't ask for the impossible.
"Pal, you've just arrived at this parish right. Do you have any liquor?"
A man with stubbly beard talked to me when I was wiping the fat on my hand with a handkerchief.
"It can be distilled liquor or ale. I'll give you this gem for one bottle."
"Isn't that spinel? You can buy a barrel of high-quality liquor with that kind of gem you know?"
He rolled a beautiful red gem that can be mistaken with a ruby the 'Pigeon Blood' on his palm, and then he let the sunlight shine through it.
"That's if you're in Central right? We rarely get liquor here."
Is it prohibited by law?
Looking at the map, I see that liquor is really rare.
They're being made locally at the wayside villages, but there's barely any inside the city.
I take out a small bottle of distilled liquor from my cuff and press it on the man.
It's just something cheap sold at the Duchy Capital, but I think this goes well with the salty dried meat as a side dish.
"Ooh, haven't smelt this fragrance for a long time."
The man pushed the gem on me and disappeared into the back alley as if running.
I was intending to give it for free, but I guess it's fine. It's a bare gem after all, he probably didn't steal it from his wife's jewel box or something.
"D-do you have liquor? T-trade with this holy emblem."
"You sinner! Don't deal with that sinner. Trade with the gold coin I have."
"You fools, step back--"
The magical power of liquor is amazing. The heavy drinkers in the black market gathered in an instant and it became an uproar.
"Oy, you guys! What is this uproar!"
Since some men riding horses who looked like the guards came, I teleported back to the Solitary Island Palacen with the two.
Looks like I can get quite a few collaborators here if I offer them liquor.
"Welcome back, nanodesu!"
"Welcome back, how was the parish?"
While changing clothes, I went to the living room with the children who welcomed me.
After sipping the tea Lulu served, I spoke about the situation of the city.
"Hm~m, rationed food, what's more, supply from outside the city huh...."
"It sounds like an open prison."
"Rather than prison, it's more like a monastery for nobles who have committed a crime."
Hikaru gave her opinion to Arisa's mutter, and then Sera told her impression.
"Still, what does the Weasel Empire's Emperor intend to achieve by making such a troublesome place."
Lastly, it seems Princess Shistina has the same question as me.
I wrote a report about Weasel Empire's [Parish] with Kuro's handwriting, gave it to Echigoya Firm's Manager, and asked her to give it to the king.
"Master! The costumes for undercover operation are ready so I tell."
When I returned to the Solitary Island Palace, Nana and Mia were waiting in sexy spy-like costumes.
Arisa must have implanted the wrong idea of spy into them.
Those flashy clothes are bad if we're investigating the territory outside the parish.
"I've prepared the costumes here for you. Change into them."
"Master, don't you think they don't have enough charm value, so is my humble opinion."
"Mwu, character costumes?"
The two people frown at the weasel costumes.
"It's alright Nana. You'll be popular with the children with this costume."
"That's! Wonderful, so I praise Master."
Hearing my words, Nana took the costume in high spirit, but Mia dragged hers to the changing room.
Now then, while waiting for Nana and Mia, I'll gather prior information using [Clairvoyance] on the map I got.
Using advanced space magic spell [Teleport], I moved to the eastern end of the sixth parish of the Weasel Empire.