15-5. An Ordinary Town (2)
Satou's here. When someone is insisting that they're extremely normal, it makes me doubt that they're hiding something abnormal. Even though I know that I'm only jumping at shadows, I still end up looking for it.
"Wonder what's that? It looks like a capybara."
In a room we found in the middle of the way as we chased the officials who went to the basement, we saw babies of capybara-like animals with plasters and people in white robes.
I think they're beastkin but since they're wearing big masks and visor-like sunglasses, I'm not really sure.
When I look closer, I see that there are red crystals which look similar to fragments of magic cores on the plasters.
The capybaras that have been plastered are sent to the next room through a slippery slope.
"Looks like it's a bit different."
I carry Tama under my arm and peek at the next room.
There's a bath tub filled with entrails and pieces of meat in the room, and the plastered capybara-like animals from earlier are greedily munching on them.
Are they some kind of lab animals?
Men wearing the same clothes as the men from the next room are sprinkling white powder using ladles on the entrails.
They're doing it roughly, yet the capybara-like animals are not minding it as they're busy with the entrails.
"Tch, ran out of powder."
"We're out of stock too, make more of them."
"What a bother."
A man carrying a ladle goes to one part of the room while cursing.
The pill the man took out from a bottle are shown as [Reborn Seeds] on the AR.
It's the same medicine which transformed the creatures in Shiga Kingdom's Royal Capital's sewer into red-rope monsters.
Perhaps, this is the secret factory which produces the red-rope monsters?
"Master, here too~?"
Tama who had slipped out of my binding before I knew it is beckoning me in front of a room next to this.
"Those peculiar vines, are they Hopping Potatoes?"
Those are monsters that are hunted by rookie explorers and baggage carriers in the Labyrinth City Selbira to raise money.
They're one of the pillars supporting the low earners' food bill in the Labyrinth City.
Perhaps this place is....
Supporting my guess, the next room have [<<Walking Beans>>] and [Dancing Corns] being raised.
The true nature of the cheap military provisions I saw in the village--or rather, these must be the raw materials.
That means the capybara-like animals earlier are the origin of the dried meat huh....
"Welcome back, civil official Hokku."
"We've returned. Head Researcher-dono."
We almost forgot about our purpose, but we arrived at the place right on time using Ground Shrink.
The official from before gave the emperor statue and the litmus paper thing to a weaselkin wearing showy clothes in the innermost room.
There are also several other male and female researchers here.
"The miasma is less than ideal but the magic power is slightly over capacity is it...."
"With this we don't need additional supply of magic power from the city even if the Consul complains."
By city magic power, he must mean the magic power from the Source that can be gotten through the City Core.
"Didn't you say that the you were low on miasma before?"
"Not anymore, thanks to the rookie from Hokku-dono division."
"The one from the imperial university?"
The official frowns, not understanding the researchers' explanation.
"He seems to be upset for getting demoted from the imperial university to here, he's been spewing venom in many places."
"Entrusting that kind of guy to distribute food, I pity the slum people."
"The miasma collected in the emperor statue installed in the slum is three times the last month's amount."
The researchers told the reason while laughing unpleasantly.
When the official told them, "Correct the rookie's attitude", they laughed again.
"We originally take care of them by giving them food so they won't die of starvation in order to collect the miasma from their fatigue and envy anyway, isn't it fine."
"Tha-that's true but...."
They're probably using the miasma to produce the pill and raise the monsters.
Still, even if it's efficient, it's terrible for the slum people who have to endure getting abused unilaterally. I can't help but sympathize.
"It's not like there's a rebellion or rise in crime rate, so it should be fine as is."
"The production amount is increasing and the knights-sama who have come from the central in an official trip are also leveling up smoothly, all is good."
Don't tell me they're power leveling by defeating the monsters they're cultivating themselves?
I don't have the right to fault them since I'm doing the same thing in the labyrinth's underground, but unless this city is a special case, the whole Weasel Empire must be raising high level people systematically as such.
No wonder that they're able to rear more than 100 level 50-class Temple Knights.
"Here we go, Knight-sama."
"Umu, I'll be trying my new sword."
A cage in the inner part of the room is opened, and then five Log Rats as big as wild boars jump out of it.
A weaselkin knight produces magic edge on the great sword he's holding, waiting in the center of the room.
Even though the magic power is leaking, the magic edge itself is stable, he's excellent for a level 30 knight.
However, it's clearly too excessive against level 7 rats, he cuts three rats in one swing of the great sword.
The remaining two rats were going to escape from the room, but the knight rushed at blinking speed and skewered them.
"Fumu, thanks to the magic edge device, there's not even a nick on the blade even after cutting the fat bones of the Log Rats."
Hohouo, so that great sword is a magic sword equipped with a device to generate magic edge huh.
I think there are more efficient magic circuits if you're going to put that magic device into it, but I'm not going to criticize someone else's plan.
"Then, should we take out the next rats?"
"Umu, let them come!"
We've seen enough, so I leave that place with Tama.
There should be nothing else to be seen here.
Tama muttered while pointing at a vent.
According to the map there's another floor below and the vent is connected to there.
--There's a prison below huh.
According to the map, there are numerous isolation cells with people with serious crime inside, there are also a lot of people with mental disorder and zero HP and stamina.
I have a bad feeling about this somehow.
I'd like to return without seeing it if possible, but I'd hate it if I felt hazy once I did that.
"Private Tama, go back to the surface first and secure the route."
Tama followed my order with a shupin pose, and so I went to the cellar alone.
"Help me help me help me help me help me--"
"Don't eat me, no don't! Stop it stop stop it--"
Among the scratching and grinding sounds, screams and shouts like they're from madmen are reverberating in the cellar.
It seems this dungeon has been sound proofed with magic.
--Rather than prison, I guess this is more like a torture chamber?
I go to the room in the back where some people who seem to be the guards are.
A man suspended in the air hanging from the ceiling and two jailers are there, there's a transparent wall between the two parties.
There's the usual emperor statue put inside the room where the man is.
"--St-stop it already."
"Of course I won't rite'? Did you stop when the 29 women you killed asked you to stop? You didn't rite'?"
The jailer who cut off the criminal's appeal lowers a lever on the wall.
The man who's suspended in the air hanging from the ceiling gets lowered and then the capybara-like animals below start munching on his feet.
Screams are echoing in the dungeon, the other criminals locked in their isolation cells begin to voice their resentments.
Apparently, they're using this place to carry out punishments and collect miasma.
"Geez, this is disgusting."
"Don't say that, the emperor decreed to instill 『Don't want to go into prison ever again』 and 『Not worth the crimes』 into the prisoners rite'?"
"Even if it's a national law, disgusting thing is disgusting."
I totally agree.
"Wish my transfer request gets accepted quickly."
"Thatsso? Executing justice on the bad guys, this is the best workplace for me though~"
Unlike the man who looks like he's going to get sick from the stress, the jailer who's been rhythmically operating the lever looks cheerful without a hint of stress.
It feels like I'll get mentally ill if I remain here any longer, so I teleport back to the top of the spire where Tama is waiting.
"The way they're doing things is similar to Master if we exclude the science and humanity parts isn't it."
Once we got back to the solitary island palace, I told everyone the things we saw in the Weasel Empire's city, and then Arisa said that.
"Arisa, what do you think you're doing likening the weasels to Master! We're talking about weasels here, they must be plotting something."
Liza who hates weasels openly shows her discontent.
"However, their rationality is very like the weasels. You'd normally hesitate to do many things even if you knew they were efficient."
Hikaru seemed like she agreed with several things about the weasels even though she sounded disgusted with them.
As a former king, perhaps she thinks that the way they're preventing the people from starvation is acceptable.
"Creating monsters by their own hands.... Such an immoral act as if they've sided with the Demon God."
"Maybe there's a demon lord lurking in the shadow of Weasel Empire?"
Sera and Zena find the fact that they're creating monsters deplorable.
"Satou, perhaps that emperor statue can be used to control monster outbreak if we put it in a monster dominion?"
"Master, I support the princess's suggestion, so I inform."
Nana and Mia agreed with the princess.
It's certainly possible.
The problems are the way to replace the emperor statue and to purify the accumulated miasma.
I'll investigate the manufacturing process of the emperor statue when I visit the imperial capital.
Also, Tama and Pochi who had been quiet were embarking in the journey to the dreamland with Lady Karina in the sunny living room.
"Fast nodesu! Truly really torebiaan nanodesu."
Behind Lady Karina and Pochi who are sticking their faces on the Smoke Car's window, Tama is nodding while looking slightly triumphant.
The next day after the meeting, we're enjoying the train trip from Magyuba City to Mogeiba City.
Hikaru and the princess are staying in the solitary island palace to accompany Sera who has expressed her non-participation since she was feeling hurt from to the persecution of the temples and the matter with monster creation.
Zena-san was also going to stay but Pochi and Tama pulled her hands, and she ended up coming.
I'm planning to enjoy things later with the three who stayed.
Further, since Liza didn't like the weasel costume, everyone is wearing ratkin character costumes.
"""Kyupopo, kyupopo, kyupopo"", nanodesu!"
"""Ensha, ensha, fast~"""
Matching the [March of Smoke Car] music which Mia made impromptu, the youth troupe and the children riding on the Smoke Car are singing in a chorus happily.
It seems the children like it since the song only has simple lyric that's easy to remember and match with the rhythm along with the repeating simple melody.
They'd be told off, "Shut up" if this were in Japan, but since there are minstrels going around asking money in every train here, there's no problem.
"It's a small station nanodesu."
The Smoke Car lowers its speed and then stops at a small station in a village along the way.
"Something smells good."
"It smells like a stew perhaps?"
Lulu reacted to Liza's remark, Mia pointed at the vendors rushing from the crowd.
Looks like they're selling boxed lunch.
"It's tasty and cheap, a set of provisional soup and stick roll, only for five swe~n."
"How 'bout a bento of boar meat and roasted pork? Only for 20 swen!"
"Would you like fatty bear stew~ It's 30 swen!"
They're quite expensive if we consider the ticket's price, but it seems the people riding on the Smoke Car are relatively well off, they're selling like hot cakes.
The stick roll in the provisional bento is a dish similar to the stick roll I ate in Kansai.
It's a dish where thin okonomiyaki made from corn instead of wheat is wrapped on a stick.
"Liza, purchase slightly more than for our shares."
"Understood. Tama, Pochi, let's go."
Liza who consented with a sharp face goes to the bento sellers followed by Tama and Pochi.
The bento sellers who lose to Liza's intensity look slightly timid.
"Hard to leave the fatty bear meat behind too nodesu."
"You two, there's no time to be indecisive. Just like the stations we came across before, we should be only stopping for a short while here."
Looks like the beastkin girls have quickly gotten used to the Smoke Car trip.
We enjoyed the Smoke Car trip as such and arrived at Mogeiba City.
Further, since the lunch boxes besides the cheap provisional bento were all delicious, I'm thinking of recreating them with Lulu once we get back to the solitary island palace.
"It's strangely crowded isn't it."
"Master, it's like the marketplace in the Duchy Capital downtown."
Arisa and Lulu are surprised with the crowd in the station building.
It's understandable. The crowd is at least three times bigger than the one in Magyuba City when we departed.
"It's somehow like Haneda aand Kansai airports before a superstar arrive isn't it."
Arisa expressed her impression.
Shouldn't it be Narita for international airlines?
The part where the crowd paid attention to the noble car and showed disappointment as they checked the last person who got off is also similar.
"It's not this Smoke Car huh...."
"Like I said. The one Temple Knight-sama is riding on should be coming from the direction of the Imperial Capital Tegaeba."
Judging from the conversation I heard from the crowd, it appears some Temple Knights will be coming from the Imperial Capital.
"They exterminated a Hydra when they came before, I wonder what are they hunting this time?"
"There's no news about strong monster recently, maybe the mayor invited them to make a triumphal return to their homeland?"
For the time being, all is good as long as they're not coming to fight us.
"Satou-san, looks like we should get off soon."
"Thank you, Zena-san."
Since they've announced the permission to disembark, we also get down along with the other passengers.
"Here it comes! It's the Smoke Car from Tegaeba city!"
The crowd who heard the whistle sound shook off the station attendants and rushed to the platform.
Since it's dangerous, we wait a bit until the panic settles down a bit.
After a while, a Smoke Car joined with a luxurious noble car arrived at the next platform.
"""WELCOME BACK! STAR OF MOGEIBA!"""
"""LONG LIVE LIEDILL-SAMA"""
The crowd are cheering while waving.
They somehow look similar to the people from the first half of Showa era.
"Thank you for welcoming us!"
A weaselkin knight carrying a great sword shouted so at the crowd and stepped aside.
"I am not really fond of such a welcome...."
"Liedill-sama, please understand that this is also a job for the Temple Knights."
I heard such conversations with Attentive Ears skill.
The one who appeared was not a weaselkin.
It's a young longear (Booch) kin woman with emerald eyes and straight blond hair befitting of the expression "white peach".
She's a level 57 knight, and possesses Flickering Movement, Dual Wielding and similar skills, she also has Wind Magic skill.
"....She's like someone's imitation huh."
Arisa muttered alone. Just like me, it seems she reminds Arisa of a heroine of a famous fantasy work where the setting is on a cursed island.
It's probably due to the long ears peculiar to the longear (Booch)kin she has and her straight blond hair.
The guards who entered the station creates a passage in the crowd, and then Lady Liedill walks in it with a sharp face while leading the weasel knights escort and echoing the clink-clank sounds of her armor.
"She might be more suited to fantasy than the forest girl."
I drop a fist on Arisa who naturally dissed the female knight and wait the line to pass with the girls.
Just as the she passed on the passage in front of us, her equipment showed up on my AR reading.
As I was reading it, my eyes met Lady Liedill's.
Lady Liedill walks toward here with her line of sight fixed at here.
She's not minding her escort knights' bewilderment.
"--You, you're not an ordinary person right?"
Contrary to her cool voice, Lady Liedill's eyes are lit with dangerous light.