Arc 26: What can be done for tomorrow
Chapter 268: The Circumstances of the Island, and a Critical Situation
「So, have you found anything about the people in that island?」(Elzie)
「I guess so. Their cultural environment is not that different from ours. However, the area where the people are currently living is terrifyingly narrow. It can be said that this situation is natural due to the presence of behemoths around them. Therefore, the town doesn’t expand anywhere outside the barrier it’s confined in. There are a few settlements scattered around it though.」(Touya)
I answer Elzie’s question while eating ramen in the dining room which was prepared by Clair-san. She managed to splendidly reproduce it once I had checked the details of a recipe in the net and had taught it to her, alongside with showing her its ingredients and photographs. I feel like the broth is a bit thin, but the taste delicious enough. I was amazed that she reproduced even the narutomaki.
Should I challenge her with gyoza next time? Well, it probably won’t be the ones that can be made in chain stores.
The only people in the dining room are me, the sisters Elzie and Linzie, and Yae. Yumina is with her younger brother. Hilda has gone to meet with her older brother in the Knight Kingdom of Restia, and Suu didn’t come here today. Luu is making an after meal almond jelly as Clair-san’s assistant. Sakura is helping her mother Fiana at school, and Rin is sleeping even if it’s already afternoon. It looks like she had been reading something at the [Library] until late at night.
「That barrier, seems to be usable, since people are living, on that island… 」
Linzie is also eating while blowing it to cool it down. She’s not proficient with chopsticks, so she’s using a fork.
「It appears that this large-scale barrier isn’t being used on anything but the whole island, the four directional capitals, and the central temple. It’s my guess, but I wonder if that temple itself is a heritage of the “Sage of Time” or not」(Touya)
In other words, it’s an artifact. It then means that the application of the barrier won’t be possible in the future. It’s a serious matter that the safety zones where living is possible are limited in space. Well, the people in there shouldn’t be attacked by behemoths as soon as they go outside just because they simply left the barrier.
The bellies of those monsters won’t be full even if they eat someone like a human, considering the size of their bodies. They will probably be aiming at other large magic beasts, which appear to be more useful to fill up their stomachs.
Those behemoths will destroy the towns, even if people decide to build them outside the barrier, just by passing them by. The most they can probably do is to just construct several houses which that resemble a settlement.
「Won’t the people there exterminate the behemoths? They will win if they fight with a certain resolve that some would become victims, won’t they?」(Elzie)
「Well, It does look like they’re fighting those beasts and that they have large movable catapults inside the capitals for that exact purpose. They seem to take those catapult out outside the barrier and drive away the behemoths when those beasts draw near their town」(Touya)
Anyway, they probably wouldn’t be able to survive for more than 5000 years unless they could manage to defend themselves. Different from us in the continent, haven’t they been able to advance their own way of dealing with the behemoths? Nevertheless, they might still be reliant on the defensive protection of the barrier.
「Speaking of their tribe, humans are the most likely sole inhabitants in that island, right?」(Yae)
Different from Linzie, Yae is slurping the ramen while skillfully using the chopsticks — she’s proficient with them since there are things like Soba and Udon in Ishen as well. By the way, this is already her third bowl.
She isn’t getting fat despite how much she eats, making it a real mystery. Well, it’s certainly thanks to the fact that she’s moving around just as much as she’s eating.
「No. There are certainly a lot of humans there, but demihumans and demonkin are subtly mixed among them. Or so it seems. Unlike here, it seems there are no prejudices against those demihumans and demonkins, so they’re living all together in the capitals」(Touya)
I really want our side to follow their principle. Nevertheless, prejudices might not be existent there mainly because they can’t help but get along, given how narrow their living space is — they have to cooperate with each other to live through such severe circumstances.
「And there are surprisingly few people in proportion to the land, but that might be due to the environment in which doing agriculture and fishery is very difficult」(Touya)
Even if they acquire their hard-earned spacious lands, their fields will be destroyed as soon as they grow crops in, so they might’ve decided to restrict the size of the said fields. The folks there will surely grief if their produce, which they’ve been working on and raising for a whole year, gets utterly destroyed right before they can even harvest it.
It looks like they think that it’s better to place the fields and grow crops inside the barrier. Since the houses are built on the circumference of the barrier, they intend to escape to the fields inside the barrier in the advent of a behemoth attack.
The houses might get destroyed, but the provisions will remain. I think it’s very likely that they will survive as a species if they do it this way, but…
「Nevertheless, the island of behemoths, huh?… I wonder why the magic beasts have undergone such evolution」(Elzie)
「There’s a theory stating that their evolution may be related to the density of magic elements. Well, that’s according to the professor though 」(Touya)
「Density of magic elements?」(Yae)
Elzie and Yae tilt their heads due to the words they rarely hear.
It’s said that there are a considerable amount of types of magic beasts who have evolved after taking up magic elements from the atmosphere while still being ordinary animals. It’s for that reason that many of them also have abilities which are similar to magic, like the Thunder Bear who shoots thunder.
There is a theory that behemoths may show up from those types of animals if they continue to take up magic elements that are especially high in density.
Speaking of magic elements, it’s usually being scattered, so it doesn’t reach that high-density threshold normally. However, there are a few places which are said to be the so-called “magic element pools”. These include but aren’t limited to: sacred mountains, deep seas, interiors of large forests, and places which are defended by nature.
As such, one of the questions raised by that theory is the concern that those “magic element pools” are the primary cause why behemoths are being produced.
When I asked why those “magic element pools” can produce behemoths, the professor simply replied that the number of species, who can absorb magic elements, is exceedingly low, even if the species involved aren’t limited to animals but to humans as well. Also, preventing water currents or air currents probably won’t have any effect on the density of magic elements.
Therefore, the problem lies with the [Island of no return] itself — it’s wholly surrounded by a barrier. In other words, there’s no way for the magic elements inside that island to spread outside. The dispersion of magic elements means nothing even if the barrier is dispersing those magic elements since they can only travel as far as the island itself. After all, dispersion doesn’t equate to exhaustion.
As a result, the island easily became something that resembles a magic element pool. I wonder if the island itself is the one that produces those magic beasts.
「Still, this [magic element pool], doesn’t it affect humans?」(Elzie)
「Humans don’t take in more magic elements than what their own magic power capacity allows, so it’s okay, Onee-chan. Though I think they’ll become sick if they continue to absorb those magic elements」(Linzie)
Linzie answers her elder sister’s question. In case of magical beasts, it’s not like they will abruptly become a behemoth once they start living in those pools of magic elements. They’ll soon probably give birth to a behemoth as a mutated species after repeating the cycle of giving birth for multiple years,
Though it’s natural, a behemoth should die out within a single generation since they won’t be able to find a mate aside from the fact that they are mutated species. That may be the case though, but the lifespan of mutated magic beasts is considerably longer compared to other normal animals.
I suppose the problem is due to those mutations popping out here and there without reserve…
It may be possible for those magic beasts to give birth to a second generation if some of them find a mate from species closely related to them. If that happens, the next generation won’t just be another mutation, but it’ll likely be a new species.
It looks like the behemoths in that island fight between themselves, making the name “monster island” quite accurate. I wonder if a silver-colored warrior from space won’t come down. It will likely be useless if he can only fight for three minutes.
「Does that mean that the possibility of behemoths being born will be lowered after the [magic element pool] disappears due to the removal of the barrier?」(Yae)
「Well, it will result in something like that. I wonder if the one who maintains the barrier knows about that fact or not… It’s a difficult matter though 」(Touya)
We might not be able to cancel it by ourselves otherwise though. When I think about it, the people in that island might be imprisoned in there.
「Either way, I’ve thought about getting in contact with the people there, but I have to give an explanation to the neighboring countries. It looks like Elfrau and Hanock will attend the meeting, but we haven’t yet received a reply from Paluf yet. It would be nice if the King of Rynie could cleverly persuade them for us, but I won’t be able to explain the circumstances of the island at this point in time…」(Touya)
We will be advancing without Paluf in the worst case though. If we manage to establish trade with that island, I think we’ll be able to cheaply obtain raw materials from behemoths. However, the island has their own peculiar currency, so it seems a barter will surely happen. They apparently have gold, silver, and copper coins, so I think they have the value of metals used in them.
「It will likely take a bit more to get in contact with them, I suppose… Well, it’s not an urgent matter, but as I’ve expected…」(Touya)
The door of the dining room loudly opens, and the chief maid Lapis-san jumps in. Uwaa, that surprised me! Linzie even choked — something has probably entered her trachea.
「Some time ago, a letter has come through the gate mirror from Pam-sama in the Great Forest Sea. It looks like the tribes of the Great Forest Sea are being attacked by the order of magic beast warriors of Sandora!」(Lapis)
「What did you say?」(Touya)
Is she saying that Sandora has invaded the Great Forest Sea? What for…? Shouldn’t the tribes of the Great Forest Sea and Sandora have a mutual non–aggression pact, albeit an implicit one…?
「The attacking army of Sandora captured the tribes folk one by one and sent them back to royal capital Kyurei. It seems like Sandora attacked the villages in order to make the people there into slaves. The [Tribe of the Tree King], which Pam-sama belongs to, is holding back the other tribes in this situation against trying to go to Sandora to take back their captured brethren, but it’s difficult… 」(Lapis)
So they’ve invaded in order to get slaves, huh? Oi-oi, it would’ve been better if the offenders were thieves, but this situation means that Sandora is taking an aggressive stance against the tribes of the Great Forest Sea, seeing as it’s the forces of Sandora who are on the move, doesn’t it? Although the forest consists of various tribes, one might say that they’re making up a community which can be called a single country. It will definitely turn into war once Sandora tries to brawl with them seriously…
「As I feared, the rumor that Sandora succeeded in mass producing even more [Subordination Collars] was true, wasn’t it?」
I’ve tried sending those three girls to Sandora to ascertain whether that rumor is true or not though.
If the number of [Subordination Collars] increases, they’ll be able to increase the strength of their order of magic beast soldiers proportionally. However, no matter how courageous the tribes of the Great Forest Sea may be, it will probably be tough for them to compete against the army of magical beasts.
So are they trying to invade Great Forest Sea with the help of this army?
It may also be related to the annihilation of the city of Astal…
「First of all, it’s bad for the tribes of the Great Forest Sea to invade Sandora — it will lead to a total war once that happens」(Touya)
「What do you plan on doing?」(Elzie)
Elzie asks me while frowning.
「Thankfully, Brunhild holds friendly relations with the Lauri tribe, which is [Tribe of the Tree King]. We’ll stand in between the tribes of the Great Forest Sea and Sandora and demand that the latter return the captured tribesmen」(Touya)
「Will they really return the captives?」(Linzie)
「After they do, once they pay the reparations for the various damage they’ve caused, somehow… The relations will likely be the worst they’ve had. Still, we may be able to avoid war. There’s also the possibility of people from one tribe running wildly, raising havok」(Touya)
I don’t think there will be massive killings since their goal is obtaining slaves. Should they kill the captives… there may already be no way to withdraw.
Among the citizens of the forest sea, there are many warriors who put their brethren and their pride above anything else. They’ll likely not forgive Sandora for wounding those two things.
「That’s right… It may be a good chance to get to know Sandora, in certain sense. Contact Pam and send an official message of Brunhild to Sandora. We’ll have the king or his chief retainers speak their intentions this way, won’t we?」(Touya)
「I’m guessing that’s because a messenger will be sent. But whom? There’s no way we can send the knight commander, right? Should we send the vice-commander Nicola-san? Or Tsubaki-san? 」(Linzie)
I broadly grin toward what Linzie said.
「It shouldn’t be a problem if I change my appearance. I’ll go under the pretense of a messenger of Brunhild, carrying a written protest from the tribes of the Great Forest Sea」(Touya)
Moreover, how can I send the valuable talents of our household into a dangerous country such as that? It’s a country which only has bad rumors going around about it — to the point of being even called as the [Country of Abductions].
We can also send my older sisters or cousins as messengers, seeing as they won’t likely die, but I suppose all of them are unfit for negotiations… At least there’s Kousuke-oji-san, right?
Well, my real objective is to sound out the real intentions of Sandora this time, so it should be fine for me to go.
I’ve also been told that the aforementioned [Secret Weapon] I requested the professor and Tika from the [Laboratory] and the magic I discovered in the [Library] has been completed, so I should be able to cope with anything that may come my way.
Sandora Kingdom might never be called the [Slave Kingdom] in case they return the worst reply after I bring them the protest.
Even I’m resentful at Sandora for making a pass to the new adventurers who came for the dungeons of our household. That time, the slave trader did it independently, but I’m certain that the ringleader was Sandora itself who buys slaves.
Moreover, it seems that information on our household was expressly given to them. They might have thought that it was skillful of them to obtain slaves without dirtying their own hands.
I’ve ascertained it with the other rulers as well, but it seems that the groups of thieves who attacked the villages and collected humans and demihumans to make them into slaves are also being guided by the slave traders employed by Sandora.
In other words, the slave companies of that country are employed by the country itself. They, along with the whole nation, kidnap people from other countries. If I’m to describe their country, wouldn’t that make it a nation of criminals?
The question is whether the king himself knows about the slave trading business in his country and engages with it himself, or if he’s just being manipulated and doesn’t know about the slavery in his country. … Either way, I’m feeling the worst vibes for that country.
Let’s confirm that part myself. Depending on the results of my infiltration, I might not forgive them.
ED: Blackswordsman, Empress