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Unformatted text preview: Table of Contents Cover Color Illustrations Character Profiles Map of the World Chapter I: The Roadmarian Rhapsody Chapter II: Errands of a Grand Duke Interlude I: Of Gods and Men Chapter III: The Golden Gourd Chapter IV: The Magic Kingdom, Felsen Interlude II: The Daughters of Babylon Afterword About J-Novel Club Copyright Chapter I: The Roadmarian Rhapsody “Amazing...! Moonbear liver can cure Permid’s Disease? A-And dried galara root is that potent of a salve?! Amazing!” “Is it to your liking, then?” “So much more than that! I can save so many lives with this knowledge! Thank you, Grand Duke!” Raul, Belfast’s royal physician, was looking over the medical journals I’d given him with stars in his eyes. I’d transcribed several important books from the Library into the common language, and decided to give them to relevant experts. And so, I’d brought several medical journals from the ancient civilization to Raul. It seemed like they had a lot of techniques and remedies that had been lost to history. I personally saw it as nothing more than gibberish, but it looked like Raul was seriously impressed. “Where did you find such incredible writing...?” “Ah, well. You know those dungeons I opened up in Brunhild? I found it in a treasure chest. Then I used magic to translate it, that’s all.” I kept my mouth shut about the truth, naturally. Couldn’t risk anyone finding out about the Library. I took a box of medicine out of [Storage] and passed it over to Raul. There was a lot of potent stuff inside, all made by Flora in the Alchemy Lab. “Oh, take this too. It’s made by Brunhild’s medical staff. The effects are on this note, too.” “Ah, thank you so much...” “Don’t worry about it, I’d be upset if Prince Yamato ended up sick.” This world had plenty of recovery magic, but infant mortality was still a real threat. That was because recovery magic cured injuries, rather than diseases. Doctors were needed for that. In the past I’d tried giving Raul a few items enchanted with [Recovery], but it didn’t do much for sickness. I tried curing Linze’s cold, but nothing happened. It didn’t help her menstrual cramps or motion sickness either. Plus, it didn’t seem to help people who were already passed out. I wondered about its effects on being hungover, but I hadn’t had a chance to test that. “Touya, thanks for waiting...” Yumina opened the door and came in. I’d taken her with me to Belfast Castle because she wanted to check on her little brother. We made a habit of stopping by once a week. I used the time to drop off some supplies with Raul. Didn’t need to waste any time, after all. “Don’t you want to see Yamato, Touya?” “Ah... I’m fine for today. Maybe next time.” I said I was fine, but in truth I just didn’t want to get caught by the King of Belfast. He’d talk to me for ages, and I’d end up having to sit around Prince Yamato for hours as well. In all honesty, he was a little bit of a reckless parent. After all, he allowed Yumina to be with me just like that. I wondered if that old coot would be a good father to a little baby like Yamato... That reminded me that I couldn’t remember the King’s precise age, anyway. I thought he was around forty, but I couldn’t remember so well. Still, I didn’t want to be caught by the King. Before I spent any more time pondering, I opened up a [Gate] back home to Brunhild. When I entered the castle, I was greeted by a flutter of wings. Kougyoku flew through the window. “Hm, Kougyoku? Something up?” She immediately perched on my shoulder. I wondered if something had happened. “Indeed. There appears to be a red Frame Gear on the western plains.” “Wait, what?” That could’ve only meant one thing. Ende’s Dragoon. Still, I had no idea why he’d be here. I checked on my map and immediately opened up a [Gate]. Just as I’d expected, the Dragon Knight stood there in the field. Ende was there perched on its shoulder. “Ende!” “Yo, Touya. Been a while, huh? I figured you’d eventually get here if I showed up.” Ende jumped down from the Dragoon’s shoulder, his scarf fluttering gently in the wind as he moved. That guy always was light on his feet... Kind of like a cat, actually. “What brings you here?” “Ah well, the Dragon Knight stopped working all of a sudden. I was wondering if you might have something to help with that, Touya.” Stopped working...? Oh, the Ether Liquid must’ve run dry. It does burn out pretty fast if you use it a lot, after all. Even if it’s not being used, it tends to wear out after about a month. It’s like a soda. Eventually it’s gonna lose carbonation regardless of whether or not you drink it. Still, he’s had it for way more than a month... Maybe he’s been storing it in that weird slide system of his. If it works anything like my [Storage], then time wouldn’t pass for anything inside. “Yeah, I can actually take this chance to remodel your Frame Gear if you’d like. That way it won’t have to run on Ether Liquid anymore. I’m sure you don’t wanna have to drop by Brunhild every time you need a top up on fuel, after all.” “I’d appreciate that, then.” “It’ll take about three days, is that fine?” “Works for me. I’ll take a look around your little duchy in the meantime.” Hmm... It’d be bad if he sticks around for too long. He’s a good ally, and he’s been invaluable in killing the Phrase, but... I don’t want him anywhere near the dungeon. He’ll just blast through and clear the whole thing! That’d result in a net loss for my country’s business. “Anyways, three days sounds good to me. I’m relieved, since fighting an Upper Construct with just my fleshy body would be a real pain...” “......Say what?” Excuse me? Upper Construct? There’s one incoming?! “Hey, what do you mean...?” “I just happened to come across a spatial distortion, that’s all. Given its state, I estimate it’ll open up between seven to ten days from now. It won’t be as many as that time in Yulong, though.” No, damn it! I’m not asking how many there’ll be! You said there’s an Upper Construct! Those things can wipe out cities in a single attack! “W-Wait a sec...! Just where is this distortion?” “Hm? Uh... east of here, I think? You got a map handy?” I fired up my map and displayed it in the air. Ende pointed out the location. “Right here. That might not be the exact location, but it’s the general area. If you’ve got any friends there, I’d advise that they get out while they can.” I looked at the place Ende pointed. Fortunately, I had no friends in that particular part of the world. “The Roadmare Union, huh...?” It was an allied state of seven city-states that existed east of Regulus. The area Ende had pointed at was just a little bit away from the capital city. That was bad news... Even if it wasn’t directly on the capital, the Upper Construct would be about as strong as the crocodile I’d fought in Yulong. If it decided to do a charged blast attack, we’d be completely screwed. This was bad. Really bad. It’d absolutely cause widespread destruction. I wanted to destroy it as quickly and efficiently as possible, but that’d involve getting myself in another nation’s business. I considered giving them an advanced warning, but there was also the chance they wouldn’t take me seriously. Then again, after what happened in Yulong I felt like they’d probably at least be able to hear me out about it. “...It’s definitely coming?” “Definitely.” He was pretty confident. The things Ende said had a habit of coming true eventually, so I had no reason to doubt him. For now I’ll go talk to the King of Roadmare... Oh, wait. Actually, I think they have a doge? Either way, I’ll go speak to him. I decided to ask the Emperor of Regulus to send a message... But then I remembered that Regulus and Roadmare weren’t on the best of terms. And so, I ended up finalizing on turning to the King of Lestia, or guildmaster Relisha. Both of them were quite well-connected. Relisha seemed like the optimal first choice out of the two. There was a guild in Roadmare, after all. With any luck, we’d be able to get an evacuation before things turned sour like in Yulong. If I told Relisha to spread the news, we’d at least be able to save local adventurers. Either way, there was no time to lose. I opened up a [Gate], sent the Dragoon to the Workshop, and then headed for the guild. As soon as I informed Relisha of what was going on, she set to work. She contacted the guildmaster in Roadmare, and from there attempted to arrange a meeting with their state doge. Apparently he was a guy called Volk Ragil. Thankfully, he agreed to meet us right away. The response was probably so fast since I was the head of a country, even if that country was small. I took the King of Belfast and the Emperor of Regulus with me in order to represent the east-west alliance. Everything seemed fine, but... “You’re not gonna evacuate?! But you saw what happened in Yulong, didn’t you?!” “Well, it’s not quite so simple. We’ll take refuge, of course. But it’s best to wait for the situation to arise and judge it there and then.” The man sat in front of me on a comfortable-looking chair. He had curled, chestnut hair. His face bore an expression that looked serious enough. His full beard helped accentuate his tone. He wore an expensive looking coat. It matched the gaudy nature of the rest of his outfit. This was Volk Ragil. He was the man that governed the central province of Roadmare, and acted as the doge of Roadmare on a whole. Even though I told him about the impending Phrase threat, he didn’t seem to budge an inch. He reeked of self-confidence. I understood that he’d been elected as the sole ruler from seven candidates, but he had no idea what he was dealing with here. “Let’s start with the basics... From where did this information come?” “I can’t tell you the details exactly, but uh... A guy... I know, an associate.” “An... associate? Is he trustworthy? I don’t wish to be rude, but a story like this is a tad difficult to simply swallow.” Ende was definitely a shady guy. But the fact remained that he was an enemy of the Phrase. I wasn’t sure if it was a situation where I could say “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” but I didn’t think he had any reason to be hostile toward us... “I’ll be honest. The other members of my council have mixed opinions. Some say evacuation is the smartest choice, whilst others say there’s simply no need. I’ve even had it suggested that we deal with the threat ourselves by force. We can’t simply make a unanimous decision right away.” Typical politicians. They’d deliberate and squabble until death showed up right at their door. The lives of their people were at stake and they were only concerned with agreements. Just as my irritation began to well up, the Emperor of Regulus spoke up. “You were saying you’d deal with the threat... but are you aware of how powerful the Phrase are?” “The crystal creatures you call the Phrase have appeared within our territory before, yes. We’ve managed to exterminate them here and there. We can defeat them if push comes to shove, I’m sure of it.” I had heard rumors of Phrase sightings in Roadmare, but never followed up on it. If it was really true that they’d developed some effective countermeasure to the Phrase, then that’d be okay. I just had no idea what it could be. “In fact... Let’s show you exactly how we’ve managed thus far. Right this way, please.” The doge smiled gently and guided us outside. Roadmare’s architecture was somewhat baroque, similar to the buildings in Russia’s St. Petersburg back in my old world. Roadmare’s culture seemed to be a combination of various smaller cultures, somewhat similar to the European culture that Peter the Great had established. The doge, along with his guards, escorted us to a plaza behind the palace. Then I saw what was standing there. I was taken by surprise, for sure. After all, I’d seen it before in another place. “A Wood Golem...” Twice as big as a Frame Gear, a Golem born of bark and shrubbery. It was far larger than an ordinary Golem. It looked almost identical to the ones employed by the Rivet Tribe back in the Sea of Trees. Though there was one notable difference. This Golem had sheets of metal fitted all over its body. It was like a giant armored warrior. “What is a Wood Golem doing here?! Is that not dangerous?!” “Fret not. This Golem is under our control. It won’t listen to anyone but us, I assure you. There’s no possible way this thing could run amok.” Knight Commander Gaspar cried out in astonishment, but the doge reassured him and slapped his hand against the Golem’s trunk. The King of Belfast looked up at the Golem with a troubled expression on his face. “Even so, this size... A standard Wood Golem shouldn’t even reach ten meters. What in the world caused this?” “It’s a process that makes it into a Behemoth. It’s thanks to selective breeding and special toxins. A tribe in the Sea of Trees perfected this method, I’ve seen it before.” “Oh my... Just as one would expect from the worldly grand duke of Brunhild... I see nothing gets past you, hm?” As I explained the situation to the King, someone called out to me. I turned around and found myself face to face with a small, fat man. He looked about forty. His glasses almost slipped off his face, prompting him to nervously adjust them. He had a receding hairline and honestly didn’t look very good at all. A stark contrast to the sheer confidence on his face. “...Doge, who is this man?” “Ah, this is Roadmare’s foremost expert on magical engineering, Doctor Edgar Bowman. Despite his young age, he’s quite the prodigy. He created the Golem you see here today.” ...Young age? He doesn’t look it. “Sorry, I don’t mean to sound rude, but... how old are you, exactly?” “Me? I’ll be turning twenty four this year. Is that important?” Twenty four?! You’ve gotta be kidding me! I looked to the King and Emperor near me, and they looked completely caught off-guard by the doctor’s proclamation. That was the natural response! “If we’re talking about this fellow’s base, you’re right. He’s a similar type to the Wood Golems developed by that tribe. I acquired their methods through black market connections, then I built on them using my own techniques. We’ve outfitted them with enchanted mithril sheets. What enchantments, you might ask? Fire resistance! To top it all off, we fitted the saplings with subordination collars, ensuring that obedience is quite literally grown into them! The core is typically a weak spot, but fret not! We’ve carefully nurtured these to have extra defensive layers, as well. Even better, they can regenerate! And they’re so low-maintenance that mass production is a trivial matter. There are dozens of Golems being outfitted with armor as we speak. If those Phrase things happen to land in Roadmare, then they’ll be swiftly taken care of, I can assure you. Any questions?” This Bowman guy is pissing me off... What’s with that smug attitude? You should’ve shut up minutes ago! I had a major problem with people who kept going on and on about stuff, regardless of whether or not they had a reason to be proud. Still, my suspicions were confirmed, they were the same Golems used by the Rivet tribe. I didn’t know how they fell into this guy’s hands exactly, but it seemed like I’d left behind something troubling. With great power came great stupidity, it seemed. Even if this thing had been modified, I questioned whether it’d actually be able to hold up against a Phrase in combat. It might have made a decent match for a Lesser Construct, but anything higher than that? No way. A Wood Golem wouldn’t be able to avoid the beam attacks used by stronger constructs like the Manta Phrase. “You mentioned magical engineering... Does that mean you work with artifacts?” “I do, I do! I’ve based most of my work on the legacy of ancient Partheno. I’m actually blessed to have a book by a famous inventor named Deborah Elks. I’ve learned much from her writing. It’s what made these Golems possible as well.” “Deborah Elks, huh...” She was the craftswoman who had created the dragon-controlling needle used by that Dragon King guy. If I recalled properly, Doctor Babylon said her work was mediocre. But I couldn’t ignore that this Bowman guy had been creating stuff based on her writings. “I’ve actually been wondering if these giant warriors of yours are Professor Elks’ creation as well. After all, she was a true genius. Rarely does such a grand creation come about without prodigal intervention.” “Nope, not her. My Frame Gears are based on the work of Doctor Regina Babylon.” “Doctor... Babylon? I’ve never heard that name before. Is she recorded in any books?” “Ah... W-Well, I’ll just keep that to myself for now.” Bowman looked at me with a small frown. I almost let too much slip. It seemed like he was an avid fan of the shoddy professor. “Well, Doge... Are these Golems truly capable of defending against a Phrase invasion? I witnessed the Yulong massacre with my own eyes. I would not want hubris to lead to Roadmare’s collapse.” The Emperor raised a concern, to which the doge of Roadmare grunted in annoyance. However, the one to speak up in indignation ended up being Bowman. “How very dare you? Emperor, these Golems are the fruits of my labor. Who are you to suggest they cannot stand against the Phrase hordes? Forgive me if this is rude, but it seems to me you’re simply incapable of understanding just how mighty they are. They exceed even the power of Brunhild’s giant warriors, I’ll have you know...” “You little...!” Gaspar instinctively brought his hand to his scabbard, but the Emperor shot him a look that caused him to calm down. The doge was quick to step in and diffuse the tension. “Mister Bowman, please hold your tongue in esteemed company. My apologies. His tone was inexcusable, Emperor. However, I would like to raise my own matter of concern. Is there something wrong with these Golems?” His tone was kind, but his eyes seemed like they had a goading manner to them. That reminded me, Roadmare and Regulus historically held bad blood between them. It was said that Roadmare was established when multiple territories declared independence from Regulus. That happened around twohundred years before I arrived in this world. They probably held some animosity toward one another as a result. “How shall I put this, dear doge... I wonder if your wooden puppets will truly be up to scratch when it comes to protecting your people. They’re not being piloted by anyone, after all. They lack the human touch.” “Aha... Then you mean to say Brunhild’s giant warriors are superior to my Golems?” Huh? W-Wait a minute... Don’t you get hostile too, Emperor! I can understand where you’re coming from, but still... The Bowman guy seemed to be impossibly smug when it came to his Golems. He didn’t seem to have much social sense, either. He was glaring right at the Emperor of Regulus. He had to be stupid. Nobody in their right mind would look at a monarch like that. Gaspar was staring at him with intensity in his eyes. Naturally he wouldn’t forgive him for speaking to his leader that way. The Roadmare guardsmen were silently staring at the Regulus guardsmen. The atmosphere had suddenly gotten a whole lot more tense. It was all that Golem freak’s fault! He couldn’t read the atmosphere at all. He probably had his ego massaged every day by the people of Roadmare, which meant he had an inflated sense of importance. In all honesty, this guy was far from a genius. He’d just taken the Golems from the Rivet Tribe and the collars from Sandora, then mixed in a few other things. You could barely call it his own work, since he just cobbled together a bunch of other ideas. “Touya, my lad. Here’s a thought... Why don’t we show them the power of the Frame Gears?” “...You think that’s a good idea?” The King of Belfast muttered toward me, keeping a keen eye on the two sets of tense guards. I replied in turn. “Can’t really be worse than what’s happening now. It’d be better to fix their naive understanding of the Phrase, no?”...
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