One step further.
——A certain day.
The Kingdom of Heim, Residence of Archduke Augusto.
“Chichiue. Who will travel to Ishtalika......?”
“Krone, Alfredo, and I will. Ah, and some of the old-serving servants too.”
It’s been a few days since an approval notice was received from Ishtalika. Together with his son, Harley, Archduke Augusto was working a plan to travel to Ishtalika.
“Then, as planned, I will-? ”
“Yeah. On the day I leave the capital, I will make you the head of the Augusto house, Harley. I will speak with His Majesty by then, so from there on, the power of the Archduke house will be shouldered by you.”
Archduke Augusto had decided to leave his position to his son, Harley. This was also one of the things he needed to prepare before going over to Ishtalika.
“Well then, Chichiue, you will leave the Royal Capital with the excuse of improving your health, and go to the Trade City. Afterward, Krone will arrive at the Trade City following her important grandfather. And you’ll bring Alfredo and other servants to take care of you.”
“That’s correct. There might be a problem if I go recuperate in Euro and Heim might make a move, but that shouldn’t be an issue if it’s the Trade City.”
“I suppose. There are many luxurious hotels built by large merchants in the Trade City......So, in terms of comfort and service, I don’t think you’ll have any problem.”
The Trade City of Birdland was a city where many merchants held its sovereignty. The lavish facilities they built were quite comfortable. Rich people and nobles from Euro and Rockdam loved this place due to its unparalleled comfort and quality of service all across the continent, and nobility from Heim was no different.
That’s why Archduke Augusto decided to use it. To heal the fatigue his body suffered due to age, he decided to yield his house seat to his son and retire.
Normally, an announcement such as this, where the Archduke would retire so suddenly would be welcomed by distrustful gazes by the other nobles, but since he was now old and had been saying to various nobles that in the not so distant future he wanted to retire, that wouldn’t be an issue.
“What did Elena say?”
Elena was Krone’s mother, and for Archduke Augusto’s, she was his daughter-in-law. She was a hard-working person whose job was at the castle. Due to this trait of her, there were many days a month when she did not return to the Archduke Augusto’s residence.
“She was as calm and straightforward as always. She said she respected what her daughter had decided, and only to secure her safety as it was an adult’s responsibility.”
“Truly a competent wife. I think she might be wasted in someone like you, Harley.”
“Please don’t say that. Certainly, my wife is excellent, but......”
His daughter-in-law, Elena, worked in the finances at the castle. Gossips said she could’ve been a minister if she were a man, and she was rumored to work harder than the current Minister of Finances.
She was a noble from a low-ranking Baron family, but she was a very capable woman who had climbed up to this point by ability alone. It was Harley’s true intention that Krone would inherit her mother’s personality.
After Archduke Augusto saw her hardworking personality, he introduced his son Harley to her, and since Elena also liked Harley, they soon got married.
“Then, as soon as the goods are ready, we will head to Euro.”
“You will stay for a while on Ishtalika’s ship, right Chichiue? ”
“Indeed. That ship seems to be quite the thing too. There seems to be a room made especially for the nobility of Ishtalika when they ride, and apparently, we’ll be able to stay there thanks to Olivia-sama’s considerations.”
“Well, when you arrive, please convey my gratitude to her.”
“Yes, I’ll do so.”
At first, when they were contacted and told they would stay on the ship, he was prepared to live a cramped life for a while.
He could endure for Krone, yet he was a little worried about whether Krone could put up with it.
Due to that, he was thankful for Olivia’s considerations.
“......I think it would it be better if I consider a life-long parting. ”
“The possibility of that is not zero. The purpose of me bringing a lot of money and jewelry is that I can be prepared so that Krone can live there without any inconvenience. Depending on how the situation goes, I too am thinking along those lines......”
After crossing to Isthar, it would be difficult to come back to the continent with individual power alone. That’s the reason for Harley’s and the Archduke’s determination.
“Picture Book of Ishtalika’s Races......? ”
Ain was doing some research in the Castle’s library. He tried collecting some material to find out more about the mysterious magic stone he purchased.
“This one looks good.”
Saying so, Ain picked up a book that summarized the races that existed in Ishtalika. It was a large, thick book, and still quite heavy that Ain had some trouble picking it up.
“Whoaa, so heavy ・・・”
“Let me help you.”
Saying that, Chris helped pick up the picture book. This made Ain feel a bit frustrated.
“......I hate Chris-san.”
Ignoring the distressed Chris, he went to the desk and opened the book.
“Ahh, that’s right. Let’s look up the Dryads first.”
Looking at the page of contents, he found the page about the dryads and opened it.
That page was easily found.
“It’s quite detailed.”
Filled in there was information on the dryads’ nature and skills, such as taking root. Their biological information was also listed in quite a detail.
“Dryads can enrich the soil, and by that, many crops can grow. I see.”
Dryads had the power to nurture the soil.
Therefore, the areas where dryads lived were blessed with abundant harvests.
“The reason why there are so few dryads now......? ”
Ain found a page that interested him, and this was what was written:
The number of dryads has been greatly reduced. It involves one of their characteristics, taking root.
Taking advantage of the nature of taking roots, many dryads have been hunted.
The dryads, a race that can be said to not have high combat capabilities, has coexisted with calm races.
However, in their search for power to enrich the soil, the dryads began to be hunted.
What was exploited at that time was their rooting.
When the assailants forced themselves on the dryads, those who had yet to take root were made to take root on the assailants.
As such, many dryads were forced to go with their attackers on the threats of them committing suicide and therefore killing the dryads too.
Many dryads alternatively chose to take their own lives when this happened.
“This is making me feel a bit depressed, let’s stop.”
Ain decided to take a break after reading it.
“A-Ain-sama...... What’s wrong? Ohh, I see, did you read about the dryads......?”
The revived Chris called out to Ain. She seemed to have guessed what he had found.
“This is one of the reasons why I didn’t want to let Olivia-sama meet with Logas-dono, and refused to acknowledge it. I haven’t heard about incidents like these happening to dryads these days, but it seems they were quite common in the past.”
“It leaves a sour taste.”
“There were a lot of similar cases. But we now protect them so that it doesn’t happen again.”
“Yes, thank you very much for that. In the case something like that were to happen to Okaa-sama, I don’t think I could forgive you all.”
“I’m aware. ......Shall we go visit Laralua-sama and ask her about the dagger she spoke of before? And how about we train together afterward? ”
Chris was concerned. She knew that finding out that information about the dryads had affected him a lot, making his chest ache.
But she also knew that training would lighten his mood. And she wanted to give Ain more confidence in that he was now stronger.
“I guess you’re right. I have to become stronger too. Shall we go for the dagger?”
Thus, they left the library.
But then, they bumped into Lloyd, who happened to pass by.
“Huh? Oh my, were you researching, Ain-sama? ”
“Well, sort of. I stopped for now.”
“Did something happen? ”
Looking at Ain, whose answer was several times less excited than usual, the worried Lloyd asked.
“I was searching about dryads, but I’m not feeling too well, so I’m now on my way to get the dagger from Obaa-sama.”
“Is that so? Then, I have some good news for you, Ain-sama. I already received permission from the Princess and Their Majesties.”
“Good news? ”
This piqued Ain’s interest.
He thought he needed to obtain Olivia’s and Silvird’s permission first, so Lloyd’s words made him quite happy.
“I thought that you could soon experience a monster subjugation, so I consulted with His Majesty. If you have a dagger, we can go to a nearby forest today. And worry not, there are only weak monsters in there.”
“For real!? Yay! Then I’ll go get the dagger sooner, Lloyd-san! ”
For Ain, who wanted to become strong and had wanted to defeat monsters for a while now, there couldn’t be greater news. Since the Ripplemodokis used in Katima’s experiments were half fruits, they weren’t counted as monsters by Ain.
After hearing Lloyd’s words, Ain was so happy that he dashed to the room where the Queen, Laralua, was at.
“Ahh......Ain-sama, please wait! ”
“Chris-dono. What did Ain-sama find that made him become like that? ”
“The past events about the dryads.”
When Ain was a slight distance away from them, Lloyd asked Chris.
And after hearing her answer, Lloyd’s face turned bitter.
“That was probably quite painful for Ain-sama, so the decision to go for the dagger might’ve been for the best. It’d be great if we can change Ain-sama’s mood with this.”
“I guess you’re right. If you say so, it then brings me some peace of mind. Then, please look after him when he gets the dagger.”
Saying that, Chris followed after Ain.
Thinking about his own family, Ain hated those past events. So, when he thought like that, Lloyd decided to do his best to work with him.
“But I guess the number one reason why Ain-sama would work hard is for the Princess’ sake.”
Accompanied by Laralua, they entered the treasury.
It seemed there were many treasuries, and the one they entered this time was one where mainly weapons were stored.
There were four people, Laralua, Olivia, Ain, and Chris.
“Hmm, I wonder where it was?”
“Ain. It’s dangerous, so don’t go around touching things, okay? Chris, if you please.”
“Alright. I’ll wait until it’s found.”
Laralua went to search for the dagger she was looking for. The treasury was covered with many weapons. From huge scythes and spears, to what appeared to be holy swords and something that looked like a sealed evil sword.
While the others looked around, it seemed like Laralua had found what she was looking for.
“Chris. Can you get me that dagger over there? ”
“Yes. ......My Queen, I beg your pardon, but are you sure it’s that one? ”
“It is. Isn’t that perfect for Ain-kun? ”
“Yes, indeed, just like Okaa-sama says, I also think it looks cool.”
Apparently, both parent and daughter recommended the dagger, so Chris went to grab it.
The dagger Chris picked up was wholly black with a dull shine and a red gem embedded in the handle. The craftsmanship was beautiful, so it wasn’t something that could be called ominous.
“This is......something like a dagger for a Dark Knight, right?”
“Then, from now on it’s yours, Ain-kun.”
“Yeah, it looks good on you, Ain. How nice.”
He then grabbed the dagger handed to him. For the time being he decided to put it on the leather belt he was wearing, equipping it like one would a dagger.
“It looks expensive, are you sure I can take it? ”
“It’s alright. My husband has given permission, and above all, this dagger has been doing nothing but gathering dust inside this treasury.”
“Why? Even though it’s so beautiful.”
The dagger Ain received was quite beautiful and even if one were to use it, they wouldn’t feel ashamed. That’s why he thought it was strange it wasn’t put to use.
“The name of this castle is the White Knight, right? For this very reason, all the Kings and Knights...... they’ve only wanted to use treasured or holy swords that were white or silver in color. That’s why there hasn’t been anyone to use it.”
With that explanation from Laralua, Ain was convinced.
He understood their desire to be closer to the Founding King.
“Well then, thank you very much.”
“Ain. You’ll be going to the nearby forest, right? Will you be alright? ”
“It’s okay. It seems the monsters aren’t strong, and Chris-san and Lloyd-san will be there.”
“I guess so...... with those two there I don’t think something will happen, or rather, it will be difficult for something wrong to happen. Still, be careful.”
Convinced, Olivia willingly agreed to let Ain leave.
With two of Ishtalika’s most prided and strong knights, it was probably more difficult to run into something that could turn that into an emergency.
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