«TN: I changed the title because this one translates the raw title better»
“Anyway, that’s how I easily made the underground sewers, but the settlement tanks…”
Liecia and I sat down under the shadow of the trees in the park and had a chat. Meanwhile, Aisha found the conversation tedious so she plopped herself down by a tree and was now dozing off, leaning on the tree trunk. Well, a warrior of Aisha’s caliber would surely be alert to their surroundings even if they were asleep so it wouldn’t be a problem. So I continued talking.
“If I just dumped the sewage into the river as it is then the river would get polluted, right? Household sewage contains pathogens and parasites and industrial waste often contains toxins, you see. To avoid that we need a place where we can let the water settle for a while and filter it through sand and pebbles. That’s the settlement tanks”
Well, there’s no need to be that anal-retentive right now. This country still had no idea what pollution is, and with the current level of its livelihood and engineering there would be little effect of dumping the waste into the river. There’s no custom of scattering cremated ashes into the river, either. However, as the country expands from now pollution will inevitably be a problem. It’s better to handle that sooner rather than later. The people of Japan took their lessons from experiencing Minamata Disease, cadmium poisoning, and Yokkaichi Asthma, but there is no reason to deliberately let that happen to this country’s people.
“So? How did you make the tanks?”
“Ah, I made the Royal Guard dig holes for that…”
“What did you make Ludwin-dono do?”
“Well, it’ll cost more to ask contractors to do it. It trains their ‘combat engineering skill’ at the same time. too”
Digging holes, filling, and reinforcing. This is perfect for training them in digging trenches. This world’s warfare still mainly consists of facing the enemy in an open field, By having a troop that can do World War I style trench warfare we’d be getting a lead on everyone else, but enough of that.
“When they dug out the settlement tanks, they found lots of dragon and demonic creature bones”
“Yep, bones. Dragon bones or Giant’s bones, lots of them”
It was like a demon graveyard, said a soldier who was there at the time. Dragon, Giant, or Gargoyle, lots of bones that were clearly not human at a glance. What’s more, they were scattered about at random, and according to a scholar specializing in those things, the stratum they were on were thousands of years old.
“Was there a dungeon there once?”
Liecia tilted her head, but I shook mine.
“Like I said, it’s a stratum. Which means that thousands of years ago it was on ‘the surface'”
“Surface… but that’s impossible. Demons do sometimes come out of dungeons, but not in large numbers like that. So long as it’s not Demon King territory there’s no way demons come out to the surface in those numbers … *gasp* !”
“Which means that the demons that appeared some tens of years ago were already here on the surface thousands of years ago. If you think about it, there are dungeons in lots of places all over the country, and demons live inside them. Thousands of years ago the demons living in this land died out for some reason, but some of them hid in places like dungeons and survived, or so the scholars think”
It’s as if dinosaurs that should’ve gone extinct survived in some remote regions somewhere, or viruses that should’ve been eradicated bided their time and re-appeared.
“So what are you getting at? Are you saying the demons and demon race in the Demon King territory didn’t ‘appear’ but ‘returned’?”
“I don’t know for sure. We have to gather information from many places and use Tomoe-chan’s power and make our judgement. It’s too dangerous to decide with just the information we have now”
What are we fighting? What are our enemies? These questions have no easy answers.
“Also, there’s one other thing that’s bugging me…”
“Leaving the matter of the bones aside, we needed to build the settlement tanks. Which is why I had the scholars make excavation records and dig them out, but one of the biggest and most well-preserved complete set of dragon bones went missing. It was supposed to be put for exhibition and was given to the custody of the Parnam Royal Museum, but …”
“Was it stolen?”
“It would be good if that were the case… well, not good good, but an almost twenty meter set of dragon bones put on exhibition would be a pain to carry and there are no traces of anything like that being transported outside Parnam’s walls. The bones are now listed as missing. It’s almost as if it went off on its own and flew away”
“…..! Could it be a Skull Dragon!?”
“The scholars suspected as much”
Skull Dragon. Such a demon seemed to exist in this world. A dragon, who could annihilate an entire country if it flew into a rage, has enormous quantities of magic power within it. This power remains in its corpse after its death. Normally that power would leak away but in cases where the dragon died with a grudge (or rather, where the corpse was left alone for a long time), it would react to the remaining magic power and turn into an all-bone [Skull Dragon].
Such a Skull Dragon was marked an A-rank hazardous creature by the country. A Dragon is ‘merely’ unmanageable once it goes into rage, but a Skull Dragon is belligerent to boot. Ones with wings attached could fly despite there being no membrane on those wings, and it would let out miasma that would kill living things just by being there. It could use the [Breath] a Dragon uses while alive, too, so it was a living (dead?) calamity that a country would bring out its entire army to beat. However, this time that’s probably not the case.
“If that were the case, Parnam would’ve already been bogged down in miasma. In order to prevent that, the scholars had already done magic scanning. That fossil should have no more magic power left.
“Phew … thank goodness”
“Which is why it’s even more incomprehensible. Where did the dragon bones go?”
Almost a month had passed since the Dragon bones disappeared, but it still was nowhere to be found. I’m pretty sure it was somehow transported outside the castle town. But in that case, what were their motives? The magic power had all but completely leaked out and the bones themselves have been petrified, there are almost no use for it now. It already has no value as a catalyst. At most what they could do was put it up for exhibition and attract tourists like we were going to do.
I don’t get it. Which is exactly why I’m feeling gloomy. I laid myself down on the spot. Liecia looked at me blankly but I didn’t mind her.
“Your clothes, they’ll get dirty you know?’
“They can be washed. With my position as it is they’ll be washed even if they were left alone”
“A King isn’t someone who should get dirty”
“Well … dignity is important, too”
Especially in high society. If a politician in modern Japan were to make daily visits to an expensive restaurant he will get criticised, on the contrary, he can appeal to the public by visiting a commoner’s gyudon shop. However, in a society with a caste system like this country, if the king were to do something like that his retainers are going to think “I can overthrow this king”. A king who is taken lightly by his retainers will be abandoned by the people. In a vertically structured society the people don’t look at the king directly, but catch glimpses of his existence through his retainers. If the retainers consider the king insignificant, the people will think the same way, too.
“……. what a pain”
“I shouldn’t be saying this as one of the ones pushing the job to you, but give it up”
“Yeah yeah. Ah, having a day off sure is great~”
I made a big stretch. It turned out having one mind off from work feels great. Which reminds me, I’ve been working non-stop since I came to this world. There are mountains of things to do, things I have to do, and things I can’t not do, I had always been racking my head on them. Times like these where I don’t have to think about anything is superb.
“Ah~ …. I feel like melting and returning to the earth~”
Liecia looked at me saying such things, she seemed like she thought of something and said with a modest voice.
“You …. want a lap pillow?”
◇ ◇ ◇
I prepared my lap by sitting with my legs bent backwards¹ and placed Soma’s head on it. There are lap pillows where the other party lays straight from where you’re looking² and ones where they lay sideways³, I’m doing the straight one. If I take a peek at Soma’s face he’ll be upside down. The back of Soma’s head lays between my thighs, it feels a little ticklish. That’s because he directly touches the parts where my skirt doesn’t reach.
¹ «TN: onnanokozuwari»
² «TN: like so …»
³ «TN: and so …»
“T, this is … strangely embarrassing”
“Soma’s face turned red. …. most likely mine, too.
“I wonder whether ‘the one giving’ or ‘the one receiving’ would be more embarrassed?”
“Well, that would be ‘the one looking at them’, no?”
“Ahaha. Could be”
I wonder what the look on Aisha’s face will be if she weren’t asleep. Would she turn red seeing an engaged couple scene, or will she make a way-off-the-mark retort like “You can’t make the Princess do something like that! If you want a pillow I’ll do it!”. …. somehow I feel like the latter is more likely.
“Do we look like an engaged couple now?”
“Just in name only, though”
Again? Soma would always say “The engagement is only a temporary one. I’m only holding on to the throne for a little while” to people immediately near him. He really intends to hand over the throne to me and leave government service once the country has been stabilized. The reason he would explain his reforms to me in detail was likely because of this ‘handover’. I feel like I understand the human being called Soma a little now that I could guess what he’s thinking.
It’s not like I don’t understand how he feels. I don’t want wealth or glory. All I wanted is a life of peace and quiet. To Soma, the work of a [King], bound with [Noblesse Oblige⁴], is the exact opposite of what he wanted. Even though it was Father who inconsiderately did it, I feel ashamed to have pushed such a troublesome job on him.
⁴ «TN: Noble’s obligation. The responsibility of a noble to lead in exchange of his rights and privileges»
But right now, this country is changing with Soma at the center of it. This unchanging, never progressing country, who our neighbors call [A moldy old-fashioned kingdom]. It was Soma’s ability that gathered talented people and solved the food problem before it became serious. Both Hakuya Kwonmin and Poncho-san also came to government service because of Soma. I’m not sure I’ll be able to secure them had I been the one to inherit the throne.
Most of all, I personally want Soma to be the king, which is why,
“Soma, do you hate being my fiance?”
Those words suddenly came out of my mouth. Soma opened his eyes wide, blushed, and looked away.
“……. that’s not fair, the way you’re putting it”
“Then how about you Liecia? Are you alright with being my fiancée?”
“I don’t mind”
That strangely came out loud and clear, surprising even myself. Just that I feel a little embarrassed after the words came out.
“You see, Soma is better than me at being king”
“Just because I’m better at being king, you don’t mind being the fiancée of someone you don’t like?”
“Isn’t that how royals are?”
“I’m not a royal. Also … well I prefer a marriage of love”
“Then do you hate me Soma? You’re saying that you’ll never come to love me?”
“Ngh… like I said, that’s unfair how you’re putting it. Males, you know, if you act like you’re interested in them even just a little bit, they’ll say [she’s definitely fallen for me!]. They know it’s an illusion, but nevertheless they’ll rack their brains out weighing between 99% clear vision and 1% hope⁵. If a beautiful girl like Liecia says something like that, there’s no way it wouldn’t be getting in my head.
⁵ «AN: this is personal opinion»
Soma spoke fast as if trying to cover something up. When he’s doing official business, he’d be astonishingly pragmatic and calm, and yet he’d get all nervous when it comes to things like these, he looks kind of amusing.
“Fufu. Even though you can move the country, you can’t handle something like this at all, can you?”
“…… I do not have enough experience. In several ways”
“I’m also always studying and training and not too experienced either, though?”
“Don’t lump boys and girls together. Their basic specs are as different as a zelring compared to a dragon⁶”
“Um, excuse me ….”
⁶ «AN: depending on the person»
While we were having that conversation, a timid voice came from behind. When I turned my head there was Aisha who had waken up sometime ago and was smiling bitterly, looking at us with a triple-concentrated look.
“When can I stop pretending to be asleep?”
” ………. “
Needless to say, the two of us jumped to our feet.