When I previously talked about how this country’s technology is weird, I mentioned that [they have steel battleships but they were pulled by gigantic sea dragons], I wonder if you remembered. The thing that greeted Liecia and I when we reached the planned new town construction site was such a steel battleship.
She was the sole war vessel of the Royal Guard, named after the previous King¹, and was the flagship of the Royal Navy. In appearance, she resembled the flagship of the Combined Fleet during the battle of Tsushima², the [Mikasa]. She had one of her main batteries each on the front and back for a total of four cannons, and secondary batteries along her sides. The differences are the fact that because she doesn’t have internal combustion engines there were no smokestacks on her and the main and secondary batteries were not fixed guns but were simply cannons loaded on board. Normal vessels were pulled by one sea dragon (they look like plesiosaurs but with short and stout necks and goat-like horns on their heads) but this one was pulled by two.
¹ «TN: um, yeah, ships named after men do still get referred to as “she”»
² «TN: aka. 日本海海戦 — the battle of the Sea of Japan»
This is a good chance, so let me explain this country’s technological unbalancedness.
Overall, it was at the technological level of the middle ages prior to the Industrial Revolution so it might be strange for a modern-era-ish battleship like this to be here. However, because of the power of magic in this world and the existence of strange creatures, what had been impossible was possible.
Even metal ships could float on water if they’re shaped to take the buoyancy force into account, and it should have been possible on Earth in the Middle Ages, too. The reason none were made until after the Industrial Revolution was that the mechanism with which to move them did not exist. In an age where the only means for propelling ships were sails to catch wind or oars to row with, there was no point to building metal ships that were more expensive than wooden ones and can’t navigate deep ocean waters.
However, in this world there are Sea Dragons powerful enough to pull metal ships. By training them and attaching them ocean navigation became possible. Therefore they made metal ships.
The cannons loaded on the warship were the same.
Gunpowder already exists in this world. This in itself was not particularly strange. Even in the history of Earth there were traces of evidence of gunpowder before black powder made its entry as one of the Three Great Inventions of China³. There was an account that during the era of the Annals of the Three Kingdoms in the second century AD that the defenders of the fort of Chenchang⁴ assaulted Zhuge Liang’s troops with gunpowder weapons (probably firecracker-like weapons).
³ «TN: it’s supposed to be four great inventions IIRC: gunpowder, paper, printing, compass»
⁴ «TN: I think I might have to start learning Chinese… »
However, matchlocks didn’t exist in this world. Guns were not developed because they had long distance attack methods by simply launching magic. Where guns would shoot out a single bullet, earth-type magicians could fire multiple stones like a shotgun, fire-type magicians could rain down an attack not unlike a napalm bomb strike, wind-type magicians can launch cutting winds from an incredible range, and water-type magicians can, despite being short-ranged, use hydraulic pressure to tear down obstacles. In fact, bows and arrows are more effective because they can be shot at a high angle to counter earth magicians making protective walls out of earth, and can be enchanted with magical attributes.
However, cannons exist, but their use is limited to the navy. They were developed as a long-range attack method because magic other than water-type is severely limited on the water.
They say that the magic in this world causes all sorts of phenomena by adding unique waves fired by people to the mana existing in the atmosphere. This mana (darkness excepted) also has five attributes, and the content of each in the atmosphere vary greatly depending on terrain. Put simply, deserts contain a lot of fire mana making water magic difficult to use. On the other hand, when water mana is abundant fire magic is weakened.
Because of that, during naval battles fire magicians would be weakened because of a lack of fire mana, earth magicians would have no earth to manipulate, wind magicians can’t damage steel ships with their cutting wind, and water magicians don’t have the range. Well, since they can do things like using water currents to run ships, water magicians are assigned to navies. For that reason cannons were developed as a means of attack. In the end, technology develops because there is a need for it.
Let us return to the topic, to the battleship Alberto. The Alberto is the sole flagship belonging to the Royal Guard, so ….
“Like I said, what do you mean to do with just a single flagship…”
It is because of destroyer or cruiser escorts that battleships and carriers can show their power. Just a single battleship is a paper tiger, a scarecrow.
“Well, you see, the assumption is that she will be mobilized together with the Navy”
“Then you should’ve just left her to the Navy, you can reduce costs that way…”
“Well … we need to keep face”
Liecia’s reply seemed sad. No matter how you look at it she’s a white elephant.
“B, but you can use her to transport materials, right”
“I suppose …”
We were using this uselessly big ship to carry materials for the building of the bay town. She had a considerable carrying capacity once you take her weaponry out. We were thus able to transport the materials several times faster compared to carrying them overland when no transport routes had been established.
“But in that case, it would’ve been more efficient if you made her a transport ship to begin with”
“Sheesh! Don’t be so negative!”
“I’ve been fighting with budgets until now, you see. It just came to mind when I see costs”
It would’ve been good if she were more easy to use, but I guess this is it…. Then, Aisha came along from the other side accompanied by Ludwin.
“Your Highness, I’ve summoned Ludwin-dono”
“Your Highness, and Milady Princess, too. Welcome to the new town construction site”
The good-looking Royal Knights Captain Ludwin Arcus said thus and saluted with a smile. He used to always wear silver-colored armor in the royal castle, but he was in relatively rougher garb here. He was wearing a white shirt and a leather vest, giving him the air of a good looking pirate sailor.
I threw the Royal Guard into the town construction. Of course, I did employ lots of workers from the engineering and construction guilds, but given the scope of the work that isn’t enough. Which is why I thought to throw in the Royal Guard and clear things up in one go using a human wave attack. In actuality, because of the [Royal Guard Combat Engineering Program] they were able to do some public works themselves. Although, the Royal Guard that was stationed here was only two tenths of their total number, with the remaining eight tenths establishing transport networks to every city.
“So then, how is the project progressing?”
“We’ve already marked the area off. The work is proceeding … or it should be, but…”
“Did something happen?”
Since he said it evasively, I asked, and Ludwin smiled bitterly.
“There’s this troublesome old man …”
◇ ◇ ◇
[That’s why I told you to stop building!]
[Listen up here gramps. This town’s being built on orders of the king!]
[I’m telling this for the good of the king! You can’t build a town here!]
[You don’t understand, do you gramps. We’re not telling you to leave the place]
[You’re the one who’s not getting it!]
The sound of a quarrel was heard from the new town construction office tent.
Well, rather than quarrel, it was more of an old man one sidedly yelling his lungs off.
I asked Ludwin.
“So there’s this old man who’s been living here who’s violently opposed to the new town construction?”
“Yes. A local fisherman by the name of Urup”
“… Even though I said to not force people out of their land?”
“Of course. We recruit from citizens to begin with, so the locals can live here as they were, we don’t even charge rent. We also plan to rebuild homes when we had to rearrange things”
“Sounds like there’s nothing to complain about”
Like Aisha said, there’s nothing to complain about. As far as I can see there’s nothing here but poor fishing villages. It should be difficult to live in a remote place like this. If the town was built, the difficulty will go down along with the influx of a large number of people. To not be chased out of such a prospective location and even have homes built for them, I wonder what he’s complaining about.
“Then what part is that man rejecting”
“That is …”
[I told you, you shouldn’t provoke the Sea God’s wrath!]
Another angry roar came out from the tent. Sea God?
“Well, he’s angry because he says we’re building homes on the Sea God’s domain”
“Sea God? So there’s a Sea God here in this world?”
I asked Liecia and the others, but they all shook their heads.
“Never heard of him”
“I don’t know either”
“Probably just an old man’s tale, I think”
None of them knew anything of a Sea God.
[Never heard of a Sea God before. Stop obstructing construction just because of a weird religion]
[Not a religion! The Sea God really exists! If you build on the Sea God’s domain you will provoke his wrath and be destroyed! Actually, the Sea God rages once every hundred years!]
[When I was a lad the Sea God raged once. That time, the people who built homes on the Sea God’s domain were all swallowed by the sea]
That is ….
I entered the tent.
Inside there was a young Royal Guard Soldier and a sun-tanned old man wearing a headband.
“Hey old man. Can I hear that story in more detail?”
“The hell are you? I’m talking to him”
“A, ah, Your Highness”
The soldier quickly did a standing salute while the old man went into a panic.
“Howdy. I’m Elfrieden’s temporary King Soma Kazuya”
“…. I’m … Urup”
I asked for a handshake and Urup tensely responded.
With the handshake concluded, I immediately went for the main issue.
“So, old man. What’s that story about just now?”
“!? T, that’s right! Your Highness, I beg of you. Please stop building homes on the Sea God’s holy ground”
“To even spout such drivel to the King …”
“No, let’s hear it”
I motioned the soldier to stop with my hand.
“Tell me that story in more detail”
“O, of course”
I then received the folklore of this land from the old man.
It seems this land originally belonged to the Sea God, but he was defeated by the God of the Land and it was lost. However, the Sea God still seems to consider this land his own, and whenever someone comes and build homes here, they would all be destroyed without a trace. Which is why the surrounding fishing villages decided not to build homes here.
Hearing the old man’s story Liecia and Aisha…
“Too obscure, I don’t get it”
“It’s useless just hearing about it, huh”
They were appalled, but that’s not the case with me. I had Ludwin prepare me a map along the way, and thoroughly questioned the man just which parts are the Sea God’s domain. Then I squeezed down the ‘Sea God’s holy ground’ to some extent and while looking at the map, I told Ludwin.
“We’re making big changes to the city plan”
◇ ◇ ◇
“Wait a minute Soma. What are you saying all of a sudden!?”
“Your Highness can’t seriously be believing what that old man said?”
“If we change the plans now it’ll cost us quite a lot of time, you know?”
Liecia, Aisha, and Ludwin each said so.
I understand. I don’t want to do something this troublesome, either.
But I have to do this for the sake of the new town’s peace.
“Soma, you can’t really believe that the Sea God exists?”
“Nah, he probably doesn’t”
“Then why …”
“Liecia, folklores are people’s memory”
I said, pressing my temples.
“Folklore is something handed down over generations. So why is it handed down? The reason is that the preceding generation judged that it was necessary to. Something without value won’t be retold to the next generation. If it is handed down then it must contain some [moral] or [life wisdom] in it”
“You’re saying this curse of the Sea God is the same?”
“Yeah. The [moral] of this story is to ‘not build homes at a specified location’, and ‘if you build a house there the people of the house will be destroyed without a trace” …”
I then looked straight at the old man Urup.
“… with a tidal wave, right?”
Old man Urup opened his eyes wide. He suddenly trembled all over.
“T, that’s right! It was a tidal wave! The people who built houses over there were all washed away in their homes!”
“And was there a big earthquake right before the tidal wave?”
“H, how did you know!?”
Old man Urup said, looking like he just remembered it now. It might have been because the fact that the people and the houses were washed away was too shocking that it was sealed in his memory. Which is why he could only abstractly say that the houses were destroyed by the wrath of the Sea God. A Japanese who had experienced the eastern Japan quakes and saw the scenes of tsunami on the news countless times knew painfully well how he feels.
“The true nature of the wrath of the Sea God is a [giant tidal wave caused by a submarine earthquake]”
◇ ◇ ◇
Even on Earth, it was only recently that the mechanism behind earthquakes was explained to some extent.
Even that had to wait until the twentieth century when the Earth’s internals were explained. Until then, even if one were to personally experience the phenomenon called an earthquake, one would say that the cause of it was [because of volcanic activity] or [because an underground cavity caused by evaporation in waterways had collapsed] or such. Even being able to come to that conclusion was good, when religion comes into the mix, it became stories like [the squirming of the evil ones beneath the earth], though in Japan, it was just a large catfish.
For that reason, it was a phenomenon that this world, estranged from science as it is, was unable to explain.
Having to explain it is a huge pain in the rear.
“Like I said, in this world there are places where [the continents are being formed] and where [the continents are being submerged⁵], and the place where they are submerged is where a continent gets piled on top of another, and one of the submerging continents would roll down and the other would be bent and strained. In order to ease the strain on the bending continent it needs to slide over or snap and the tremor it causes is called an [earthquake], but …”
⁵ «TN: The actual term is subduction»
I explained with both my hands in a pose like a news programme’s earthquake report and a drawing of [a plate slipping beneath another plate] I saw all too much, but everyone’s eyes were all over the place.
“……. doesn’t look like you’re getting it, huh”
“Continent? Tremor? Are you talking about magic Your Highness?”
“I completely don’t get it, either. You need to study at the Royal Academy for something that advanced or …”
Not a single person understood. The times hasn’t reached up to that point so it’s not too much.
“Fine, so never mind about the mechanism. Anyway, when those earthquakes happen under the sea they often cause tidal waves. In other words the [Wrath of the Sea God] old man Urup was talking about was not something that happened because someone built houses on the holy ground, but was something that happens periodically”
“What … so it happens even if nobody built houses?”
Old man Urup widened his eyes.
I traced the country’s coastline on the map and showed.
“Incidentally, this country’s coastline bends like the letter く and this place goes where the letter bends. This kind of place receives more tidal wave damage than others. The reason would be … too hard for you to understand even if I told you so just think of it like that”
“O, okay …”
Preferably I’d have made a miniature of the coastline and poured water towards it, then showed what happens when the wave subsided. This will probably get them to understand, but it’s a lot of work. Let’s do that later.
“But if it’s that dangerous a place then isn’t it too dangerous to build a town on?”
Being pointed out by Liecia, I groaned.
“Hmmm—— …… The bay towns that are not so bad as this place are all similar, and this place is definitely the one nearest to the country’s center. As far as I’ve heard the occurrence happens on a long cycle, once every hundred years, so I think we’ll be fine if the town was built with the assumption that it was going to be hit by a tidal wave”
Then while looking at Ludwin and the map I continued with the plans from now.
“First we make embankments and raise the overall ground level”
“Now? It’s going to take a lot of manpower and time, though”
“Rotate the Royal Guards with preference on those with earth magic. If it interferes with the other projects then it can’t be helped”
“Understood. Which reminds me, I heard in Walter Duchy’s capital [Lagoon City] there’s something called seawalls, should we build them here?”
“Seawalls, huh … it’s going to hurt the scenery, isn’t it. I wanted to build this as a trade town we can use as a tourist attraction. It’s also not going to be able to withstand a huge tidal wave, anyway”
“So we won’t build it?”
“…… I guess so. I actually wanted to build a town without having to rely on seawalls. There should be flood control specialists with the construction and engineering guilds, go invite them and ask what they think”
“Understood. Now about the concrete city planning …”
“Thanks to old man Urup we know the extent of the tidal wave. Put residential, commercial, and industrial areas avoiding those. And of course the important facilities like the parliament”
“The areas within the extents aren’t going to be developed?”
“The port and fishing harbors can’t be helped, can it? Make the remaining locations into beachfront parks”
“I see. We’re going to establish them with the premise that they’re going to be submerged.
“Yeah. Also, old man Urup”
“Hyhesh? What is it?”
“I’m making you official state storyteller so pass on that [Legend of the Sea God] earlier. Your treatment will be that of a government official with the qualifications waived, so you will hand down stories and train the next generation until the day you die”
“M, me as a government official!?”
“Yes. In addition to [don’t build houses where the tidal wave will reach], add [if there’s an earthquake expect a tidal wave to come] and [if a tidal wave comes reach for high ground]. Nevermind the stuff about the wrath of the Sea God so gather it and make it something easy to transmit”
“…….. Understood! I will devote the remaining days of my life!”
“Very well. Anyway, about the walls surrounding the town …”
The three men merrily discussed the plans for the town.
Left behind by the men in such spirits, Liecia and Aisha made strained smiles as they looked at them.
“His Highness … looks like he’s having fun”
“He must be, compared to when he was working to raise the budget”
“I guess he would. I feel like I’ve seen a bit of His Highness’s youth”
“(Youth, huh. So we’re pushing the country on that ‘youth’, aren’t we …)”
“? What’s wrong princess?”
“Nah. It’s nothing. … by the way Aisha”
“What is it?”
“Aisha, do you … like Soma?”
“Yes! He has my respect and affection!”
“…. I see. Let’s both support him in our own ways so Soma can keep youthfully smiling, okay”
“……. Yes! Of course!”
The fact that that conversation happened went unnoticed by me.
◇ ◇ ◇
Thirty years from that moment, an earthquake and an unprecedentedly big tidal wave attacked the land.
Though the land was covered in a muddy flow and lots of boats were washed away, there were surprisingly few human casualties. Everyone living in this land had been raised listening to stories about the [Legend of the Sea God], and when an earthquake happened they took immediate action and were able to find refuge. Then time passed, every time this land was assaulted by a tidal wave, the name of the first generation storyteller, venerable old man Urup, would raise even more.
Over a hundred years later, the [Statue of the King and the Old Man] would be constructed on the beachfront park. It depicts the scene at the verge of the new town’s construction, when an old man would risk his life to talk directly to the king about preparations for the tidal waves, and the wise king who listened to the old man’s proposal. If the two of them were to hear of it they would probably smile wryly and said [that’s exaggerating too much]. In particular, what kind of face Urup who should have been the storyteller would make from underneath the blades of grass upon becoming an “old man of legend” and having his story told by future generations.