New milestone: 300 chapters done!
Chapter 0300 Kingdom of Sufouh
“…The mission’s journey to the West was horror-packed with challenges. The earth opened up and swallowed people, flames rained down and burned the surroundings, or they were even devoured by a horde of dragons…. One by one, the mission thinned out. By the time they arrived at the last of the corridor countries, the ‘Kingdom of Sufouh’, their number had dwindled to ten…”
“Yeah, that’s some eerie story…”
“The bit about the dragon, I can’t even imagine us surviving just one, let alone a horde…”
“I want to be strong enough to be one of the last ten.”
Ryo came up with a story, Niels chimed in, Etho divulged his fear of dragons, and Amon set his aim for higher goals.
The three members of ‘Room 11’ listening in the background looked at each other with indescribable expressions on their faces.
The rear of the Kingdom delegation was usually like that.
Ryo added some fictional narrative, but the fact remained that ever since the ruined city of ‘Baudelin’, they had passed through the extremely difficult and dangerous areas of the Lanci Gorge and the Hunsun Mountains.
It was also true, however, that Ryo’s water-attribute magic helped in no small part in overcoming those difficulties….
“The ‘Kingdom of Sufouh’ is a five-day walk across the Hunsun Mountains, so it looks like we’ll be able to make it today after crossing these hills.”
Priest Etho said, looking at the ‘Travel Guide’.
Seeing that, Ryo realized something.
“Etho, the details of the destroyed country, Baudelin, was also written in that ‘Travel Guide’, right?”
“Yes, it is. It says ‘it’s the smallest of the corridor countries, but the city is well maintained’.”
“In other words, Baudelin became like that fairly recently…”
Ryo uttered while nodding repeatedly in response to Etho’s answer.
“I guess so. I don’t think there were any corpses or anything other than those of the smaller countries’ delegation…. It’s all very strange.”
Etho replied, remembering what he had seen in Baudelin.
That’s when it happened.
Harold of ‘Room 11’ pointed ahead.
Ryo followed suit and looked in that direction….
“Oh, it’s finally come into view!”
Harold pointed to the walls of the ‘Kingdom of Sufouh’, the last of the Corridor countries.
As they approached the Kingdom of Sufouh, they witnessed a scene unlike anything they had seen so far.
“There’s a crowd of people in front of the city gates…”
“It’s the Imperial delegation and the Union delegation. Grand Master said that the three countries would go in at the same time. As usual, you weren’t paying attention, were you, Ryo…”
Niels said dumbstruck at Ryo’s muttering.
“What do you mean by as usual! How rude! I was busy trying to grasp the truth of the universe. So you can’t really blame me!”
“Yeah right, truth of the universe…. You were just too busy eating your little rindo fruit in the middle of it all.”
Ryo was unable to refute Niels’ accurate retort.
He then turned to Etho for help, but…
“Ryo…just give it up.”
Ryo gave up his rebuttal when Etho also chuckled and declared his loss.
In life, sometimes, it’s good to know when to give up….
The group consisting of the Empire, the Union, and the Kingdom passed through the gates in that order and proceeded down the main street.
At both ends of the street were flags of the Kingdom of Sufouh, and many of its citizens were out waving to the group.
It was an amazing reception.
“The whole country seems to be welcoming us.”
“Well, there’s certainly a world of difference compared to the three countries we’ve been to…”
Niels nodded his head in agreement with Ryo’s impression.
In the first country, ‘Ayteke-Bo’, the arrogant king ordered them to investigate the forest as a condition to seal the deal.
In the second country, ‘Schulz’, they got caught in a raid by the equestrian tribes.
In the third country, ‘Baudelin’, the country itself had ceased to exist….
Compared to those, the difference was understandably astonishing.
“Now, we just have to hope that the King is not just another oddball.”
Niels looked at Ryo with a very affronted expression on his face upon hearing that.
Etho and Amon chuckled.
And Harold, Zeke, and Gowan nodded vehemently in agreement.
However, since these seven did not appear before the King, they didn’t get to learn of his character directly.
In the audience chamber, the leader of the Imperial delegation, former Emperor Rupert, the leader of the Union delegation, former King Roberto Pirlo, and the leader of the Kingdom delegation, Hugh McGrath, were standing side by side as they received an audience with the King of Sufouh, King Bullard IX.
“Welcome, honorable Missions of the Central Nations, we are very delighted to have you. It’s exactly as the angel foretold. We have prepared an inn where you can rest your weary bodies, so you may relax at your leisure.”
“Thank you for your kindness and generosity.”
Former emperor Rupert answered Bullard IX on behalf of the missions.
But it did not end there, as one would expect from a former emperor who had led a major power in the Central Nations.
“Your Majesty, forgive me for asking. Earlier, you said, ‘exactly as the angel foretold’, what does that mean?”
“Oh, right. An angel appeared to me in my dream. He said, ‘Welcome the missions that will arrive in five days’. And today is the fifth day. Truly a mission under the protection of an angel! How glorious.”
Bullard IX said with a thrilled expression on his face.
(An ‘angel’ informed him…? Is the distance between the people here and angels different from the Central Nations?)
Such thoughts were going through Hugh’s mind.
Of course, there are revelations from God and angels in the Central Nations, but it’s not something that happens regularly.
About once every few decades, and only to saints and saintesses.
Hence, it is common knowledge in the Central Nations that people rarely speak directly with God or angels.
But that didn’t seem to be the case here….
That evening, the missions received a warm reception.
That was especially evident in the refreshments.
The three countries combined numbered close to a thousand, but the food was surprisingly luxurious and bountiful.
That may have been because the country was the largest among the corridor countries and conducted trade with the Western Countries, making it more affluent.
The members of the missions, both civilian officials and guards, ate their fill.
And drank to a stupor.
After filling their stomachs, the missions fell asleep.
In the midst of all this, a magician wandered outside.
The members of ‘Room 10’ saw him, but did not call out to him.
They knew what Ryo was going to do having traveled together.
As for Ryo, it was like moving to a deserted place to answer a call…sort of.
Not like anyone could eavesdrop on the conversation, to begin with.
((Abel, can you hear me~, can you hear me~, can you hear me?))
((Loud and clear, geez. I’m the one who made the connection in the first place…))
Ryo would never squander the King’s precious time for his convenience.
He sometimes forgets, but as the premier duke, he performs his duty of supporting the king properly.
Incidentally, Ryo was preparing coffee while at it.
If they were going to talk anyway, might as well have a cup of coffee on the side.
And coffee after a meal is especially satisfying.
((Oh yeah, Abel, you were about to say something earlier.))
((Right. You know how this mission to the Western Countries was proposed by the Empire right…well, a new intel has come to light that may lead to part of the reason why.))
((What a tawdry way of putting it. You mean you don’t know for sure, but you can take a guess, right?))
Ryo shook his head, but then thought that even such information was better than nothing.
((There’s nothing we can do about it. Even Marquis Heinlein’s information network doesn’t have a clear grasp of it.)
((In that case, I believe you. If it was just you, Abel, it could have been a simple error, but with Marquis Heinlein in the picture, I guess not.))
((…I’ll make sure you eat those words when you get back.))
Abel snorted as he said that.
Ryo, too, took him up on it.
And not even a shadow of that dutiful heart that supports the king as the premier duke can be seen….
((Baron Hagen Venda has not been sighted in the Imperial army since the departure of the Imperial delegation.))
((W-What is it?))
((You don’t remember who Baron Hagen Venda is, do you?))
He was right on the mark.
He remembered hearing about him.
And felt like his name came up in a lot of subjects.
((H-Hey, it’s not that I don’t remember, it’s just that it may or may not possibly take me a little while…))
When Ryo spat out a bunch of nonsense that didn’t make sense, Abel let out a sigh. And began to explain.
((Baron Hagen Venda is the man who manipulates ‘space-time magic’ and always works with the Imperial army as an Imperial attaché.))
((Oh, I remember now! That guy who can use <Teleportation> and <Infinite Storage>. The same guy who teleported the Emperor and his soldiers to the battlefield at the end of the Kingdom Liberation War…))
Ryo finally remembered.
((Yeah, that guy. It is hardly conceivable for Baron Venda, who plays a vital role in the logistics of the Imperial Army’s operations, to be missing from the Imperial Army. But the fact that he hasn’t been sighted since the mission left…))
((Means he’s probably mixed in with the Imperial delegation. Like me.))
((It’s very likely. We still don’t know why, though.))
It was a very interesting piece of information.
Baron Hagen Venda’s <Teleportation> allows him to move instantly to a place he has been to once… not just himself, but up to tens of thousands of people at the same time.
But he can’t <Teleport> to a place he’s never been to.
If he really was among the members of this mission… there was a possibility… that in the future he will be able to move instantly from the Imperial territory to the Western Countries.
And the reason why it’s still a possibility is that the Kingdom doesn’t have information regarding the distance he can actually <Teleport>.
Even in a straight line, the distance between the Imperial territory and the Western Countries is about 4,000 kilometers.
Whether or not it’s possible to <Teleport> over that distance….
So many fascinating things to keep track of.
((Well, just thought you should know. I’m not saying you should do anything about it, but keep it in mind.))
As Ryo said this, he sensed the presence of someone approaching.
And braced himself a little.
“Sorry about that. The rich aroma of coffee was wafting through the air and couldn’t help myself…”
An elderly man in his mid-seventies appeared.
However, his eyes were especially sharp and his back, straight.
He walked in the manner of the so-called upper class….
It wasn’t surprising.
Since the old man was someone even Ryo was familiar with.
Only his face and name, of course….
“Your Majesty Roberto Pirlo?”
It was the leader of the Union delegation, former King Roberto Pirlo.