This world’s technology organisation is a big mess.
For instance, on Earth science and technology progresses with the steps “manpower → watermill/windmill → steam engine → internal combustion engine”. When you think “I want to fly free in the sky♪”, you have to understand the principle of dynamic lift and build a propulsion system to make an airplane, and you have to understand the theory why you need to burn things to make the propulsion system work. On Earth, new technology is always built on top of lower technologies.
However, this world has magic and magical beasts.
If you say “I want to fly free in the sky”, you get “here you go! Wyvern!”¹. Completely ignoring gunpowder and internal combustion engines, the people of this country fly in the sky. If they’re so inclined, they could even make fire or water or lightning appear with magic, and there’s a large gap between what they could and could not do.
¹ «TN: Referring to the opening song of the anime Doraemon, which goes: I want to fly free in the sky / Here you go! Bamboocopter!»
They have things similar to trucks, but without internal combustion engines, they’re pulled by large magical beasts.
They have steel battleships, but they’re pulled by huge sea dragons.
They don’t have electricity, but the country’s nights are bright. The country’s street lights are filled with luminous moss that store light during the day and illuminate the cities at night.
They don’t have gas, and they cook with firewood, hearths, and fire-attribute magic (or magic tools).
They don’t have water pipes, but water wells are installed throughout the cities, endowed with water-attribute magic circles to draw water from underground.
……. that’s how it goes.
There are lots of things this country does with the power of magic, even without science.
On the other hand, if you leave out the magic and magic beasts, the country have a low culture level. Speaking in terms of our world’s history, they’re probably at the eve of the early modern times and the deathbed of the middle ages. Feudal systems still remain, and the Industrial Revolution is still far away. Which is why there must be something that I, who came from a future five centuries after the Industrial Revolution, know that can be turned into money.
That was what I was thinking.
◇ ◇ ◇
“We’re going with the agricultural reforms but it can’t be done in a day. Which is why for the meantime I decided to increase import volume from abroad to deal with the food problem”
Soma, sitting opposite of me around a long, narrow table, said so and sank his teeth into his toast. On the table there was a basket of toast and scrambled eggs and chorizo² and salad on plates for two lined up. It’s breakfast time now.
²«TN: pork sausage»
“But you said since imports have transport costs they cause restrained buying”
“Yup. So for the time being the country buys them and sells them at the local price. There will be tariff deficits but since it’s urgent we’ll have to get over it. I’d like to earn through exports to make up for it but we have to find something to replace the biggest earner, cotton wool”
“Quite a jam, huh… Well, that aside…”
I mentioned the one thing I had been wanting to comment on since a while ago.
“Why the hell is the king having breakfast at this kind of place!?”
This is the castle mess hall. Moreover, it’s the common mess hall the live-in soldiers and chamberlains use, also, what Soma and I are eating right now is the Morning Set A. The king of a country is blending in with soldiers and eating soldier food. There should be a limit to being undignified.
“The soldiers’ and chamberlains’ curious gazes are painful…”
“Don’t mind them. I’m putting up cutbacks on the castle. We can’t waste money on food”
“Don’t you think scrimping is bad for the economy?”
“That’s if you hoard what you scrimp. If you use the saved money properly the economy will turn”
“But anyhow, you don’t have to eat out here”
“So you want to eat this breakfast at that gargantuan table? It feels empty there, no?”
“Well, you might be right, but…”
But I still have a problem with eating here where everyone can see.
Even if I’ve gotten used to it at the academy, for now Soma is my fiancé so this situation feels like we’re having a rendezvous in public.
How am I supposed to stay calm?
“Haah…… but if you’re cutting down on food expenses then you should tell father and mother. Those two were having a nice teatime with cake”
“Ah—, they’re fine. They’re all [gifts] from the townspeople”
So our people can afford something like that.
“Well, they’re from large store owners and shops owned by influential lords. The label of [Royal Purveyor] carries prestige in this country. They send them over quite frequently”
“Don’t say this country! You’re its king now!”
“As foods they’re sweet but they don’t store well. I don’t like sweets that much but food is food, so I gave them to the previous royal couple and the maids and had them write down their impressions and the highly rated ones get the label [Royal Purveyor]. They’re unexpectedly popular”
“So that’s why…”
Recently the maids have been fussing about “something’s wrong with the weight war front”.
There are also reports that maids have been joining the soldiers’ practice. We know why but we can’t stop, their womanly souls scream, probably. I have to be careful, too.
While I swore that in my heart, Soma showed a somewhat distant look.
“W, what’s wrong?”
“No, well… If our food expenses get any more dangerous it’s possible we’re going to have to eat the gift cakes for our three meals…. Hahaha… [if they don’t have bread then let them eat cake], I suppose”
“Without understanding the actual situations, the people are going to revolt…”
“Well well, the two of you look like you’re having fun”
The two of us turned our heads and we saw a young man wearing Royal Knight fluted armor (sans helmet) standing there. He was tall and had a rather solid build, together with his straight blonde hair they form a sweet mask that women would love.
“I say, if it isn’t Ludwin-dono”
“Long time no see, princess. No, perhaps I should rather say Queen now”
“Ah, um…. Right now I’m neither though”
Looking at our exchange, Soma made a face that says “who?”, so I formally introduced him.
Despite his age of not even 30 years, he distinguished himself enough to be entrusted with the leadership of the Elfrieden Royal Knights. The Captain of the Royal Knights is an important position that is in charge of the capital Parnam and Parnam Castle’s defense during peacetime but in emergencies, they are also entrusted to lead the armed force under direct control of the King, the [Royal Guard].
Incidentally, the [Three Dukes] are the three ducal houses in charge of this country’s Army, Navy, and Air Force.
The current Three Dukes are as follows.
General of the Elfrieden Royal Army, Duke Georg Carmine.
A lion-maned therianthrope. With command like raging fire, he strikes fear to his enemies.
Admiral of the Elfrieden Royal Navy, Duchess Ecksel Walter.
A mizuchi³ with pirates in her ancestry. A valiant lady who is adept at both naval warfare and politics.
³ «TN: Sea Dragon»
Marshal of the Elfrieden Royal Air Force, Duke Castor Vargas.
A Dragonewt (half-dragon half-human). The star of the Royal Armed Forces, a Dragon Knight who rules the skies.
Each of them, in exchange for their families’ oath of fealty to the kingdom, are given territory (duchies) in the kingdom and are allowed autonomy. In the days following the kingdom’s founding, this system was instituted in order to reduce friction the races in this country that was built of different races gathered together, but even now when all the races lived peacefully together the system remains. In exchange for territory they stake their entire families’ lives to protect their beloved country.
However, the current Three Dukes stayed their armies and remained in each of their territories. The Three Dukes who respected the previous king, i.e. Father, still haven’t recognized Soma, who looked to them as if having stolen the throne, as their Lord. This has become quite an annoyance for Soma. The Three Dukes’ territories taken together make one third of the country, and without their cooperation the reforms Soma is pursuing would prove difficult.
I also wrote letters again and again to Duke Carmine, my direct superior who cared for me like his own daughter, to meet and speak with Soma, but he only replied with the single line, “I still can’t trust him”. That man is flexible with tactics but has a hard head. I’m sure he’s waiting for Soma to go see him and bow his head asking for his cooperation. He wants things done properly like that. Duchess Walter and Duke Vargas are probably the same.
But that was probably too naïve.
Soma is losing his patience over the slowly proceeding reforms.
If the Three Dukes would turn their backs on him, he would think of turning his back on them.
Soma has the resolve to do just that. My stomach hurts thinking about it.
Without knowing what I was thinking, Soma shook hands with Ludwin.
“I’m Souma Kazuya. For now I’m the king”
“Well well, Hero-King. I’m the Captain of the Royal Knights Ludwin Arks. Your working ways have become quite a rumor among the officials”
“Then when you see them gossiping again, tell them to [get to work]”
“Hahaha, understood. Ah, may I have breakfast with you?”
“I don’t really mind. Also you can do without honorifics outside formal occasions”
Ludwin-dono took the tray with his breakfast and sat beside me.
“So, about your reforms. How’s it going?”
“Not well… Especially the problem of talented personnel”
Soma grumbled as he bit into his toast.
“I’m only taking over the previous King’s advisors right now. Which is to say, the people that allowed the country to fall this far. Everyone else besides Prime Minister Markus are useless”
This country is the absolute monarchy of the king. Its government strongly reflects the king’s will.
There is a national assembly where the citizens have the right to vote, but it was a place where they decide on bills and laws to suggest to the king, and whatever bills and policies decided there was proposed to the king through the prime minister’s mouth. Whether or not it will be adopted all depends on the king. Then again, while that may be true, if the king acted as without concern for the people, he will lose their hearts and be taken down by the hands of the Three Dukes holding the military.
Then, should the king wish to test out a political measure, he could call together independent councillors other than the prime minister. They are something like a [cabinet] in democratic states. The king would open a conference with his councillors and judge whether a political measure is useful or not. The choice of personnel is entirely the king’s prerogative. He could call up whoever and however many people. Of course if too many incompetent personnel gets appointed it will lead to endless arguments and he will lose the faith of the people.
Normally, before one ascends to the throne (in this country that would be as a prince), one should have assembled the people who will become councillors, but Soma who was so suddenly enthroned never did such a thing.
“Even Markus is already past his prime. I want the kind of retainer that will inspect what I want inspected and wrangle what I want wrangled”
“I know, right. It’s the fate of superiors to want excellent subordinates”
“You do too?”
“Yeah. Most military academy graduates wish to join the Three Ducal Armies. The Royal Guard is the capital city’s guards, after all. It’s not too popular, right, princess”
“Well…. that’s true. My classmates mostly went to the Three Ducal Armies as well”
I’m also a member of the army, but being Royalty, it can’t be helped that I joined the Royal Guard in charge of protecting royalty.
“So as it happens, the current Royal Guard is full of people who are left over or failed. There are even stray mad scientists from the weapons development division among them”
“Ooh, I’d like to meet them”
Seeing Soma interested, Ludwin smiled bitterly and said, “I’ll introduce you next time”.
We had idle chatter for a while, then we parted with Ludwin-dono. When I get to the room I’ll try sending another letter to Duke Carmine, I thought.
◇ ◇ ◇
Sure enough, personnel assembly is an urgent business.
It might have been because I abused my ability but my skill level increased and I was able to do one more person’s worth of work (essentially, four people’s worth of work) but that was in the end only one more me. I don’t know what I don’t know, and I don’t have the abilities I don’t have.⁴
What I need is people who know what I don’t know, and can do what I can’t.
I’d kill for talented personnel like that.
⁴ «TN: It does get confusing when “I” is plural…»
Which is why I decided to assemble personnel.
“I’m thinking of using the Royal Voice Broadcast”
“Well, I do think that’ll make things quick…”
The Royal Voice Broadcast is equipment for sending out the King’s voice throughout the country.
An orb two meters in diameter floats in the middle of a room inside the castle called the [Royal Voice Chamber]. This orb is an item loaded with the magic of wind spirits, sylphs, and water spirits, undines, sending out the king’s voice throughout the land. In towns where the receiving environment has been set up, it can even show his image.
Liecia didn’t object to using it but she was tilting her head in doubt.
“But then again it’s the first time anyone’s ever assembled personnel using the Royal Voice Broadcast”
“How do you normally do it?”
“Getting people using private connections, or using people who passed written tests”
“Isn’t that a bit biased? How good is literacy in this country?”
“Half the people can read. 3 out of 10 can write”
“Isn’t it useless then? Only 3 out of 10 people can take the test”
“That’s the average for the whole world, though…”
So this is what happens without compulsory education.
I should take care of this quickly as well….
“Anyone can read and write if they take lessons. You think I’m going to gather personnel judging on whether or not they have money for lessons? Seventy percent of the population! How many diamonds in the rough is this country going to let lie”
“…… I have no answer to that”
Liecia said, feeling ashamed. Well there’s no use telling just her.
This country definitely needs changing on a fundamental level.
“So? What conditions are you going to use?”
“I’ve already thought up what I’m going to say. Actually, I’m going to borrow the words of a hero I respect”
“Yeah, the unscrupulous hero of chaotic times⁵”
⁵ «TN: Cao Cao»
◇ ◇ ◇
[If you have talent I have use for you!]
In the capital, in the cities, in the towns, in the villages, Soma’s voice resounded, carried by the magic of the sylphs.
Also, in the capital, the cities, and large towns, Soma’s image is projected. This is thanks to the undine magic loaded onto the [Royal Voice Broadcast]. Fog is sprinkled to the air using equipment installed at each city and there the scene of the [Royal Voice Chamber] is reproduced using refraction. In modern terms, image data from the actual recording location is received and projected to a screen in the sky in real time, or something like that.
The image is rough but the people stirred seeing the new king for the first time.
Some people were at a loss seeing his youth, and some at his common appearance. Although it was also Soma’s fault for forgoing ceremonial dress, saying it’s a nuisance, and only wore a crown.
Only the sight of Liecia standing firm beside him gave them peace of mind.
They had heard that the former king wasn’t forcibly usurped, but they were still ill at ease until they saw him with their own eyes. Liecia’s gallant beauty is especially popular with the people.
Meanwhile, Soma continued his speech.
[Countrymen, this nation is on the verge of an unprecedented crisis! Serious food problems, the impending economic recession, the influx of refugees whose lands were stolen by the Demon King…. these are all grave illnesses that plague this country! And that is not all! The largest nation on the continent, the Grand Chaos Empire is increasing their influence, levying war support money on the countries, putting pressure on their economies. And not only the Empire, powerful countries are taking this chance to swallow up lesser countries, for a powerless country to survive they must sharpen their fangs]
[The previous king saw that his own power wasn’t up to the task and entrusted my humble self with the country’s affairs. To recognise what he could not do and entrust them to those who can, is he not a capable man to be able to understand this? The previous king is truly worthy to be called a wise ruler in times of peace]
Liecia momentarily gave him a cold look that says “you don’t really mean it, do you…?”, but not a single person noticed.
[But this is a time of upheaval, and times of upheaval takes not a saintly king, but a king smelling of mud, a tenacious survivor! Not a lord who’s better than average at everything, but one who won’t give up surviving, one who stands above all on this one point, because your families’ safety and your fortunes’ protection depends on his results! That is why the previous king entrusted this country to me! Tenacity. On this one point alone I far surpass the previous king!]
[Right now, I have many reforms under way! But for that there is an overwhelming lack of talented people! So therefore, right now, I am recruiting talented people!]
[I will say it once again! Countrymen, if you have talent I have use for you! This time of chaos needs not people who are better on average than others, but people who tower over the rest on a single point alone. I will not call what the talent is into question. Neither will I call anything else other than that talent into question. If you have the pride that “I will not lose to anyone on this”, then stand before me!]
[Your education, your age, your social status, your origins, your race, nor your gender matters! Not whether you can read or write, not whether you can do arithmetics, not the size of your assets, not whether or not you are in sound health, not the beauty or ugliness of your face or figure, nor whether you have a scar on your shin, none of it matters! On this one thing alone I far surpass others, on this one thing alone I won’t lose to anyone in the country. If any of you think so then show yourselves before me! Should I deem you useful for the country I shall shower you with gratitude and welcome you into my court!]
The new king’s fervent speech made the people’s eyes shine.
While listening to his fervent speech everyone is racking their brains over whether they have a talent that exceeds others. However, at the same time, they thought even if I can find something I can do better than other people, if it serves no purpose then it won’t be of use. That feeling, almost a resignedness, was the final breakwater to the excitement brought about by the fervent speech.
The King said he wanted people who can settle the country’s problems.
They didn’t think the talent they had could be of use to the kingdom.
[I’m sure some of you are hesitant over whether or not your talent will be of use!]
As if understanding the people’s hesitation, Soma said.
[But that is not for you to decide! Whether your talent is something the country needs or not is my, Soma Kazuya’s, decision to make! Even if your talent is something people call worthless, it doesn’t matter! I will pass judgement! So don’t hesitate! Come before me and show me what you’ve got!]
Then as if calming down, Soma took a breath.
[If you still have your hesitations, let’s do this. If that talent of yours proves to be unequaled in the kingdom, I will publish a “Mark of Peerlessness” under the name of the King of Elfrieden and you will receive a cash gift. … Are you excited now, people!]
Soma’s projected image made a fist pump.
That moment, cheers welled up from each and every town in the country.
It was the moment the breakwater in the people’s hearts burst.
The capital was no different.
[Oooh… I can hear the shouts from the castle town from here. Your enthusiasm is splendid]
Soma’s tone broke, and Liecia next to him was troubled but nobody noticed.
[Also, I don’t mind if you put yourself or other people forward. If you recommend other people the recommender will get three tenths of the rewards. Drag out the people who’d act recluse in this time of the country’s crisis. Also, for contested talents like “swordsmanship” or “singing”, I will have you compete with others beforehand and select a representative so be ready for that. All right… now I have said what I wanted to say.]
Then Soma, in the Royal Voice Broadcast ended with these words.
[Then to all of you talented people, I’ll be in the capital Parnam to shake hands with you]
◇ ◇ ◇
“What’s with that last line?”
After the broadcast ended, Liecia glared at me to which I smiled and said, “Just going with the flow.”
Well now, how are the people going to react. Will the personnel I wanted come.
“It’ll be great if lots of people come”