“Uwaaa … nii-sama, there are a lot of little shops”
Tomoe pranced around seeing the stalls lined up in the plaza. The place Juna took us for lunch was the plaza where the Royal Broadcast receiver was installed. It was nothing but a field just a month ago, but it was now crowded with stalls peddling food and goods. We could hear the peddlers calling for customers and the customers haggling even though we haven’t yet set foot in the plaza.
There were also all kinds of people passing by. Housewives shopping for dinner, flocks of merchants having lunch, and off-duty Elfriedenian soldiers looking for something to eat 1. We could see travellers and adventurers, and also the figures of a lot of people from non-human races. It was bustling with men and women of all ages without regard to race, occupation, or nationality.
“… How did it turn into this?”
“Even though the food shortage in Vannes had been dealt with somewhat, there are still very few shop owners who have food to sell. However, people who thought they could at least open a stall have been gathering, so we’re having Vannes’ first market now”
I asked and Juna explained.
“This far out of the way? Shouldn’t they rather do it on the main streets or something?”
“That would be because the Royal Broadcast receiver is here”
Ah, I see. It’s not that people gathered because the shops are here, but the shops gathered here aiming for the people who gathered to see the Royal Broadcast. We had been broadcasting Chris Tachyon’s news programme, which doubled as a test, during the day and the music programme at night almost every day since the music programme. So everyone must be coming here to see that. It’s like a post-war black market here, or rather, it’s like Ameyoko 2.
Incidentally, the Lorelei Juna only appeared in the music programme in weekends, whereas on other days, we have [Singing Contests] to gather aspiring applicants. It was a heavy burden since they’re all broadcasted live. The candidates that passed the [Singing Contests] became [Singers] like Margarita, or if they also had a good appearance, they became [Lorelei] or [Orpheus 3].
The Broadcasts were simulcasted to both Elfrieden and Amidonia, so anyone can see them anywhere there’s a broadcast receiver. Not to mention Amidonia, but every town in Elfrieden should have turned like this by now. I suppose I should calculate the effect on the economy later. I was grinning with that in mind when Tomoe pulled on my travel coat 4.
“Nii-sama, I’m hungry”
“Oh, right. We should go buy something at a stall I suppose”
The three of us then browsed the stalls around the plaza. All in all, four out of every ten shops sell food, two handle accessories, two deal in equipment, and the rest sell other things. Most of the ones who sell food sell skewered grills. Since Vannes was far from the sea all they could get were river fish; grains and vegetables were low in stock. So on that point, the meat would be slaughtered wild animals. They must be grilling game they caught outside the walls. For that reason, none of the stalls could say what meat they were selling. Rather than putting a sheep’s head on dog meat 5, the were putting a mystery head on mystery meat.
“I think getting grilled meat’s going to be a gamble …”
Wild rabbit meat is fine, but great rat or great lizard meat … would whittle down on my SAN points. Also, if they were hunting whatever they could find nearby, they wouldn’t know what poisons or pathogens or parasites it had, right. This world didn’t have food hygiene laws and they didn’t need licenses to be cooks … I suppose I should put some in place when we have surplus food.
“It will be alright”
Juna said with a ‘really nice’ smile.
“I had the escort marines go ahead and do poison-tasting. I will show you to the safe stalls”
“Poison-tasting!? You don’t mean sampling do you!?”
“If anything happened to you it would be a big problem for the country, so of course the street food would at least be poison-tested. Your body doesn’t only belong to you anymore, right?”
What am I, a pregnant lady? or so I would like to retort, but I get what she’s trying to say. If I collapsed from food poisoning, I couldn’t be sure I could still use Living Poltergeist. If I couldn’t then nine me’s worth of work would stop being done … yep poison-tasting is necessary for the sake of the nation. Let’s leave it at that.
“… and the results are?”
“One person fell to stomach ache”
“Send a messenger to the palace! Put out a notice saying that all sellers of meat and fish are to be required to indicate their raw materials! If anyone put on misleading signage their business is to be suspended. Draw up the notice and publish it!”
Juna called a guard marine over and sent him to the palace with the message. It was the run that began Elfrieden’s Food Hygiene Law. I plan to extend the ingredients indication later, but for now I have to forestall people trying to camouflage meat. There are lives at stake when it comes to poisons and pathogens.
“Guardian marine. Your death would not be in vain”
“Um, he didn’t die. Just food poisoning”
Juna retorted in amazement. No no no, even food poisoning could kill, you know? My grandpa ate a raw egg past it’s best before date, caught salmonella and had to be hospitalized for days once. Thankfully it didn’t turn out too bad, but it cost him several thousands in hospital fees just because he didn’t want to waste a ten-yen-a-box egg. Grandma teased him about it for a long while afterwards. Well, that aside, we bought grilled skewers at a stall Juna recommended and some mixed juice at a fruit stall. We sat down on a bench and ate.
“Hmm nom nom … mm, it’s tasty, nii-sama”
“Yeah. This meat goes down easy”
“The juice is good too, Kazuya-san”
The meat was nice and juicy. It didn’t taste much different to a beef skewer you get in a festival, so I asked and it turned out to be made from Bigbull, a buffalo-like animal, meat. The mix juice was room temperature, but since it was autumn, it wasn’t too warm. It was a little sour but it went well with the oily aftertaste of the skewered meat.
With our stomachs full, we took a breather and got into a slow mood. Tomoe began to nod off next to me so I supposed it was nap time for her. With my lap as a pillow, Tomoe curled her body into a ball and began snoring. I pat her head, it was fluffy, just like a dog’s fur. It felt good in my hand.
“Fufu, she’s cute isn’t she”
Said Juna who was sitting next to me, watching Tomoe’s face as she slept. She then leaned on to me until our shoulders touched and sadly muttered.
“If only these peaceful days could go on …”
“… but that won’t happen, would it?”
I asked and Juna gulped.
“Yes. The imperial army are already here. They number about fifty thousand”
“Fifty thousand? That’s much fewer than I expected”
The number of Elfriedenian soldiers stationed in Vannes now was 45 thousand, so we’re about even. Of course, we’re at a disadvantage if we took into account the number of Amidonian soldiers, but I thought they would at least take three times our numbers. The empire that was already fighting the Demon King Army would have a two front war in their hands if hostilities broke, so I didn’t think they would attack, but the threat posed by bringing enough troops to capture Vannes would have been significant. Juna, however, shook her head.
“I think it was likely that Amidonia held them back. They must be afraid that by bringing a large army they could take over the whole country, just like that”
“The Empire backing the Humanity Declaration won’t do that, right?”
If the Empire, who said there would be no changes to national borders, began an agressive war, the Humanity Declaration would be as good as dead. They would lose the faith of the signatory nations and their strategy of uniting all of humanity against the Demon King Army would collapse.
“Amidonia had already acted against the Humanity Declaration. They would be nervous that while they were deceiving the Empire, the Empire decided to deceive them”
“… seriously, what a hopeless country”
After ignoring the Empire’s intentions, they clung to their power once they got into trouble. To top it off, they didn’t trust the partner they were hanging on to, that’s hopeless, not just as a country, but as people. Nobody would respect opportunists and turncoats, no country would ever trust them.
“Well, it’s good that it’s to our advantage though”
“It sure is. Looking at Lord Julius, we were glad from the bottom of our hearts that our King was Soma. We can’t entrust our lives to an untrustworthy person, after all”
“… I wish you didn’t put so much of your hopes on me, though”
“My, but aren’t you Kazuya-san now?”
She talked back full of playfulness. Must be revenge for my teasing her earlier. That’s Juna for you, when you thought you scored a point against her she’d get one back right away. The two of us looked at each other and smiled.
[Good afternoon everyone. It’s time for News Elfrieden]
Right that moment, Chris Tachyon’s voice suddenly came. Looks like the afternoon news programme had begun. We looked up and saw Chris’ figure reading the news in the mist being sprayed into the air. Ah, so this was how the broadcast looked to the people in town. This was the first time for me seeing it with the receiver installed at the water fountain, but it was about the size of a movie theater screen and had quite the impact. I want to see the music programme from here if I could.
[First, for current affairs. The new harbor town “Veneti Nova” recently under construction in the eastern region of Elfrieden is now nearing its completion. The construction of Veneti Nova is expected to make land and sea transports more efficient and would …]
Incidentally, the news itself were gathered from all over Elfrieden, including Vannes, using the Kui —a homing-pigeon-like bird with homing instincts whose ability to sense the waves emanated by their owners to know where they are is used to make contact with individuals and places — that Aisha used a while back to receive messages from the God-Protected Forest. Their strong point was that they could deliver news even from remote valleys where the broadcast didn’t reach but on the other hand, unlike the Royal Broadcast that delivered news in real time, the information they delivered would be two to three days late.
For instance, if something occured in Lagoon City at the easternmost point of the Kingdom, the news wouldn’t go to Vannes directly, but they had to wait for a Kui that goes to various cities carrying news. The Kui would then carry the news to another city where it would be transferred over to yet another Kui to yet another city like a grade school information network 6. That was a measure to prevent the Kui from having to do long distance hauls and being attacked by wild animals along the way, thus severing the contact (emergency news, however, doesn’t get delivered by Kui but would be transported by wyvern knights). For that reason, what happened one day wouldn’t be delivered within that day.
[The next news is about the uproar happening early morning in Vannes …]
After that, Chris went on reporting the events and incidents happening all across the Kingdom, then continued with useful information for daily life, like how to cook lily dumplings. It would’ve been useful to include a weather forecast along in the news programme, but the implementation was harder. This world had lore of weather, or people who were able to predict the weather by reading the movements of the clouds through long years of experience, but since there was no method of fast communication like I mentioned earlier, that information could not be relayed in real-time. There were things that concern lives like typhoons, so I wonder if I could do something about it …
While I was thinking,
“I never thought the royal broadcast could be used this way …”
I suddenly heard a voice. Looking ahead, I saw a young girl in adventurer clothes standing with her back towards us. Her long, straight, golden ponytailed hair swayed on her back. I thought that was Liscia for a moment, but her ponytail was tied high, and Liscia was short-haired nowadays to begin with. The girl turned her face ninety degrees to the side and turned her gaze to us.
“So much that I would like to introduce this system to our country by all means possible. I’ll propose it when I get back home. Still, I wonder how they got an idea as advanced as this?”
Asked the beautiful-profiled girl. What’s this all of a sudden? I thought, but then Juna immediately got up and stood between me and the girl.
“Please be careful”
Said Juna while she stood up to cover me. Her surprise was clear from her voice.
“… is she dangerous?”
“She’s quite skillful. It’s vexing that Aisha weren’t here. I wonder if I could hold her back in a draw …”
“That bad …”
The ponytailed girl saw the vigilant Juna and chuckled.
“There’s no need to worry, I don’t mean you any hostility. Miss Lorelei, Juna”
“How did you …!”
“Of course, I made contact with you knowing who you are. We do have spies, too, you know”
Which means she knew who I am, too. So she came to make contact with me knowing that I was going to come here undercover. It was my fault for delaying the establishment of an intelligence department due to fear of personnel, but she said she didn’t mean us any harm, so …
“Are you from the Empire”
“Indeed I am. It is nice to meet you for the first time, Lord Soma”
The young girl put her fist on her chest as she said that and bowed her head.
“My name is Jeanne Euphoria, younger sister to the Grand Chaos Empress Maria Euphoria, put in charge of all matters military in my elder sister’s stead”
- The Army and Air Force members camped outside were allowed to enter the city walls when it’s their day off ↩
- TN: Ameya-Yokochō is an open-air market in the Taito Ward of Tokyo, Japan, located next to Ueno Station. Wikipedia ↩
- Male idols. The name originated from a famous lyre player 7 in Earth Mythology. ↩
- TN: One of these ↩
- TN: i.e. falsely advertising inferior goods. Like that rat meat bakso that was all the outrage a while back … ↩
- TN: i.e. that thing where you pass a folded piece of paper with a message to the person at the desk next to you telling them to pass it on to someone else. ↩
- TN: Calling Orpheus a ‘lyre player’ is a massive understatement. ↩