Arc 27: The Reverse World
Chapter 279: The Capital Alen, and a Golem
Upon arriving in front of the castle town of the Holy Kingdom of Alentt, I end up in a bit of a situation. Apparently, some sort of identification papers or a fee is required in order to enter the town since there are people standing in line in front of the gate. That in itself isn’t really something unusual or anything to be surprised about, but I am guessing that my guild card won’t be of any use in this world. Needless to say, I also don’t have any of their currency.
I got lost in thought for a moment, but after a while, I started laughing at my own stupidity. I wonder if I can just pass by the gate as if it’s nothing. I won’t be seen due to “Invisible” magic anyway. I quickly pass by the gatekeeper’s side and step into the town. For the sake of argument, I could’ve just descended inside right from the start.
In a back alley away from the streets, I undo “Invisible” after confirming that there’s no one in the vicinity.
As soon as I step out once again to the streets with “Invisible” cancelled, I can feel the people’s bustle with my skin. It doesn’t look like the brickwork buildings or stone-paved streets are that much different from our world. There are also objects that look like street lights everywhere. The garments that the people are wearing are pretty much the same. If I have to absolutely say something, doesn’t it seem like there aren’t that many people who have the air of an adventurer around them?
No, wait a minute. Is that store’s sign made of neon? Its letters are furnished with long and narrow pipe-like tubes. It isn’t dark right now so it isn’t shining, but… it should probably do so with electricity. Or is it possibly powered by magic?
“Just as I’ve thought. The details are different…” (Touya)
As I walk around and look at things restlessly like a country bumpkin, a merchant-like man straddled on a noisy ostrich-looking machine crosses the intersection on the road in front of me. What the hell?
Accurately speaking, it looks like an ostrich from the neck downwards, but it has only the legs and lacks the upper torso. It’s something akin to a luggage carrier. This time, a spider-looking machine with eight wheels attached to its legs glides from the other side of the street. A seat similar to the ones used in carriages is attached on its back while a man and a woman, who appears to be a couple, are talking and laughing on it.
Seeing them off with just my glance alone, I feel a slight dizziness due to an overwhelming cultural shock. Thus I would like to enter some place — even a cafe would do — in order to quiet myself down for a bit, but I have no money.
I suppose I should start from that store.
Since I am able to read the letters, I enter a place that looks like a general store. Let’s make some money by selling anything salable.
The store facing the street is apparently a privately-owned store called “Clonz General Store”. It doesn’t have a spacious interior. Nevertheless, there are various general goods placed inside. These include things I can immediately recognize like needles and strings or scissors and sheets, there are also some glass-looking objects with some sort of liquid inside and ores which I don’t really understand.
“Are you looking from something?” (Shopkeeper)
The proprietor speaks to me who’s restlessly looking at the commodities. I wonder if I‘m being seen as a suspicious fellow.
A man in his thirties with a red moustache is sitting at the counter.
“Well, as a matter of fact, I very much need some money right now, so I wonder if I could ask you to purchase something from me…” (Touya)
“Purchase, you say? If you have Rukuuji thread or magic light stones then I will buy them for a high price.” (Shopkeeper)
I know neither of those things, but the magic light “stone” is likely an ore. If he buys ores, then I may be able to sell him golden or silver ones.
“May I ask if you buy golden or silver ones as well?” (Touya)
“Golden and Silver? Those are not good here. It will be difficult to assess them at our store, which will only end up in beating down the price. It’s the customer who will incur the loss, you know? You better head to a jewelry store.” (Shopkeeper)
He’s surely a kindhearted shopkeeper. Still, should I go sell at a jewelry store then? It may net me some money that way. Oops, that’s right. I should probably ask about Sancho-san’s store.
「There is supposed to be a trader with the name of “Pedro Sancho” in this city. Do you know him?」(Touya)
「What? So you are an acquaintance of Sir Sancho, huh? His store is located straight to the north of the street we are at. Listen, he should be able to buy stuff like gold or silver from you at reasonable prices in his place, “Sancho Company”.」(Owner)
Apparently, Sancho-san is quite well known in this city, which is unexpected (though it’s rude of me to say so). Expressing my gratitude and farewell to the shopkeeper, I then return to the street and begin to walk.
Meanwhile, I witness a robot that appears to be a mechanical armored knight following on foot behind someone who looks like an adventurer. As for the citizens, they aren’t fussing about the robot in particular even after seeing it. This spectacle seems to be an everyday occurance in this world for them. What’s mysterious in this world is that science and technology didn’t advance that far despite having robots and the like due to the presence of ordinary carriages still running around.
Somehow, I have an odd impression of this technological gap. That’s probably because this is a different world, right? As I walk along the street going to the north while thinking about this odd inconsistency in their technological advancement, a conspicuous signboard comes into view.
「Oh, so “Sancho Company” is here, huh?」(Touya)
The store looks three times bigger than the general store I’ve been to earlier. Next to this shop made of high grade brickwork is a space similar to a parking lot. That crab bus from before is parked there. There is no mistake. This place is most likely Sancho-san’s store.
After climbing three-step staircase, I open the stylish and ornamented door. The doorbell chirps and a woman in her late 20’s wearing an apron turns her eyes toward me from inside the store.
「Welcome. Ara? Ara-ara-ara! You are that person from before!」(Apron Woman)
This woman, with her chestnut-colored hair held up by a large hair clip, approaches me as soon as she sees my face. She then slightly bows to me.
「Thank you for your help on that occasion.」(Apron Woman)
「Ah, you probably don’t remember me since you only spoke with my husband. My name is Mona, I am Pedro’s wife. I was inside the golem carriage at that time, you know? 」(Mona)
「Look there. It’s the vehicle parked outside. That one.」(Mona)
Mona-san points at the space on the other side of the glass window where the crab bus is parked alongside the building. It looks like that area is being used as some sort of garage for the store. Say, is that thing, by chance, a “golem”? Or is it not?
「I will call the owner right now, okay?」(Mona)
「Ah, please do.」(Touya)
With light steps, Mona-san runs toward the stairs inside the store. As for me, I move to a place where I can see the garage while not being a hindrance for the other customers or the clerks. There are lots of various commodities being sold here. They look expensive, which makes this store feel different from the one I’ve been at a while ago despite both of them being “general stores”. While making sure not to touch the articles that much, I continue gazing for no special reason at the mechanical crab, the one they call a “golem”, on the other side of the glass window.
「There’s an area that looks like a cockpit, but there are no handles or levers. Does it operate automatically?」(Touya)
For the time being, I take a picture of it with my smartphone while considering the possibilities. There are probably stores here that sell stuff like this golem, right? Assuming that object is a vehicle. If they are, I am sure the professor will be delighted if I bring one. Though I feel its price will be quite expensive.
「Well-well, you’ve done well to come here, Touya-san! It’s a joyous moment to be able to meet an acquaintance again!」(Sancho)
「Aah, Sancho-san. Good day to you」(Touya)
I turn around after being greeted and see Sancho-san standing there while showing a friendly smile. Though I feel that even his body is that of Ebisu-sama. Grasping the hand he has presented, I convey my delight to our reunion and hurriedly talk about my reason for coming to his store.
「As a matter of fact, I am a bit troubled with money. Thus I would like to ask if you could purchase gold or silver from me?」(Touya)
「Purchase, you say? No problem. Then, may I take a look at the goods first?」(Sancho)
As soon as I take out a single golden ingot from my “Storage”, Sancho-san’s eyes goes round.
「Umm… is there something wrong?」(Touya)
「Well, I’ve already assessed that you are not an ordinary person, seeing your skill at defeating that magic beast, but… You sir look to be really well versed with magic… That surprised me.」(Sancho)
Mmm? So using magic isn’t that common in this world, huh?
「To use storage magic without using a card is…」(Sancho)
「This one. Don’t you know about them? It’s a “Storage Card”. I see you really have come here from somewhere quite far away」(Sancho)
Sancho-san takes out a card from his breast pocket and lightly places it on the counter. A few silver coins falls out from it soon afterwards. Ooh? Is this card enchanted with storage magic?
「It’s an essential item for us merchants. Those cards are separated into “common”, “uncommon”, “rare”, “legendary” types, with each having different storage capacity. This one here is an “uncommon type” card.」(Sancho)
「Hee… it’s the first time I’ve seen one.」(Touya)
I gaze at the card that Sancho-san is holding. I see. I may even be able to make one of those. It may come in handy in a lot of different ways. But after hearing about it in detail, it turns out that it’s only capable of storing things, this thing may not be able to stop the time inside it just like how my “Storage” does.
「I’m not that curious about this. Nevertheless… Who are you, Touya-san…?」(Sancho)
「Dear, you are being impolite toward your savior and benefactor.」(Mona)
「Oops, I am sorry. I ended up inquiring too much. Now then, let me take a look at those items for a bit.」(Sancho)
Sancho-san doubtfully looks at me but, he still inspects the ingot I have brought out after his wife chides him. Measuring its weight with scales, he places some sort of a cylinder-shaped object next and wrote down the numerical values on paper.
「Fumu…. So it’s pure gold. Would you like to sell it?」(Sancho)
「I see… How about ten platinum coins?」(Sancho)
「I am fine with it. Please go with that amount.」(Touya)
I still don’t know the value of gold on this side even if I say that I’m fine with the price. Still, a platinum coin, huh? The value of money here may not be that different from ours. That is unless a piece of bread costs one gold coin here. That doesn’t seem to be the case though, based on what the shopkeeper has told me.
「That reminds me, I saw a splendid machine before I came here. It was similar to that one…」(Touya)
Saying this, I point at the crab bus on the other side of the glass window.
「Have you seen a golem? We are in the royal capital, so it’s natural that there are different types of them in here, isn’t it? “Factory” transport types like ours are not the only ones present here. “Legacy” machines can be seen from time to time as well」(Sancho)
「Can those golems be bought even by someone like me?」(Touya)
「I think that you can buy them. However, you won’t be able to buy a very decent one with just ten platinum coins.」(Sancho)
It looks like those golems are quite expensive. Are they as expensive as the high class automobiles of my previous world?
They surely don’t appear to be something an ordinary person would readily be able to buy. Additionally, the price seems to depend on the usefulness of each type.
「It appears that you aren’t quite knowledgeable regarding golems, huh? Is that right, Touya-san? Shall I give an explanation if it’s okay with you?」(Sancho)
「I am sorry. I will be in your care then 」(Touya)
What comes afterwards is what I’ve heard from Sancho-san about golems.
There has been a war once. It’s said that the dispute between two ancient kingdoms developed into a great war which eventually involved the whole world. Then, the mechanical automations were born. They would obey people and fight in their stead.
Those mechanical dolls were, naturally, the golems of today in this world. A wide variety of these golems were created one by one and the war gradually escalated due to their power. It grew so much that even the ancient kingdoms that started this war were unable to stop these golems. As a result, this world was once ruined.
However, humankind rose once again from all of this and built up a new civilization. They excavated the ancient inheritance ~ which are the golems ~ of those two kingdoms, analyzed the machines called “Legacy” and then managed to construct and mass-produce downgraded versions of the original one. The most widespread model, which is currently being used, is called the “Factory” type model..
「So the things outside are also the mass-produced “Factory” models, right?」 (Touya)
「Yes, but “Legacy” golems are somewhat hard to come by, primarily because it’s rare for one to appear in the market. I suppose you may have no other choice but to excavate one from ancient historic ruins if that’s what you want.」(Sancho)
It seems those “Legacy” golems are quite rare. However, it’s not like that they cannot be obtained at all.
「Do the “Factory” and “Legacy” versions have a big gap in performance?」(Touya)
「There is that, but “Legacies” are also called as “Ability holders”, you see. There are many who have special abilities, like being able to fire thunder or manipulate ice. They may not really be necessary for Touya who can use magic」(Sancho)
I see. Those abilities make the ancient frames more valuable than the mass-produced frames. I suppose it’s expected for something being called as the inheritance of the ancient kingdoms. Our so-called artifacts of our world may be similar to the inheritance of this world in that area.
While giving such a reply, Sancho-san takes out ten platinum coins. The value of one platinum coin is huge, so I ask him to give me the nine platinum coins and convert the single platinum coin left into ten gold coins. With this, I’ve finally managed to obtain the funds I need. Should I inquire first about the information regarding this world? I will also probably understand more about the golems if I do so.
Should I inquire first about the information regarding this world
「Are there any bookstores around here?」(Touya)
「The third building from here is a bookstore, but it’s not very big.」(Sancho)
It is close, so I suppose I should begin my search from there?
I then express my thanks to both Sancho-san and Mona-san and immediately head outside. That reminds me, I have seen a bookstore sign on a building at the right side of this shop.
Different from Sancho-san’s store, the atmosphere inside the bookstore is similar to a real antiquarian store. The place that I have entered into through an old-looking door has a staircase that leads to the second floor. A lot of books are placed on that floor as well.
An oji-san with long white beard and hair, wearing round spectacles, is sitting at the counter on the first floor. He gives off an aura similar to a headmaster of a school of magic from some faraway place.
「Welcome. What might you be looking for?」(Oji-san)
「Ehm… Do you have any books related to history or culture?」(Touya)
「Related to history? The history of this country, or perhaps of the world history?」(Oji-san)
「They are on the shelf to the right on the second floor, second and third rows from the top. You are free to look at them, but make sure not to dirty them.」(Oji-san)
After bowing slightly to the oji-san, I ascend the aged wooden stairs, creaking with each step I take. At the second floor, I aim toward the bookshelves on the right.
「Hm, this one? Eeh~… “History of Alentt”, “Passage of the Holy Kingdom”, “Records of Western Origins”, “Chronicles of Madorack”…」(Touya)
There are quite a few of them. Each copy seems to cost one silver coin, so maybe I should buy a copy for each since choosing which to buy is troublesome. I pull out the books that randomly catches my attention from the shelf and pile them up on the floor.
「Oops, I should also buy books related to golems.」(Touya)
There are no technical books which are associated to golems, so I pile up the books about the ancient kingdoms. Aside from those, I have also stacked up books related to magic and technology, and a few love story books as souvenir for Linzie.
「I guess this should be enough.」(Touya)
More than a hundred books, which I’ve taken out from the shelf, descend onto the first floor via “Levitation”. The oji-san sitting at the counter looks startled while watching the mountain of books lightly floating in the air. Nevertheless, he eventually begins calculating the cost of all the books I have brought down. All of the books amounted to nine gold coins, so I hand a platinum coin to the oji-san. Instead of receiving a change from him, I’ve decided to buy every book on the first floor that have caught my attention with with the remaining half golden coin. I then place all of them, along with the other books that I have bought beforehand, inside “Storage”.
「Thank you for your patronage…」(Oji-san)
I go out on the street once again while giving the seemingly dumbfounded oji-san a sidelong glance.
「Well then, all that’s left is food. I’m so hungry, I should go eat something.」(Touya)
I stroll through the street, wondering if there’s any place where I can have something to eat. It would’ve been fine to return to Sancho-san’s store and ask him, but it’s more interesting to search for a store that appears inspiring. Going in blindly is one of the greatest pleasures in a trip. I eventually find an open cafe in one house and have a light meal on its terrace. Thanks to the translation magic I can read even the letters of the Holy Kingdom of Alentt. Regrettably, there are still some troubling matters despite that.
Although I can read the names on the menu like “Shinshin Sandwich” or “Grayfull juice”, I don’t know what “Shinshin” or “Grayfull” is. The order turns out to be quite thrilling, but the food look like chicken sandwich and grape purple juice when they have been brought out.
The flavor is appetizing. It’s delicious to some extent. As such, I make sure not think about what kind of meat or berry the dishes are made of. Those things doesn’t matter because it’s delicious. I slowly relax while eating and gazing at the street visible from the terrace.
The different kinds of golems occasionally passing through the street is an interesting sight to watch. Say, I have yet to see any demihumans, like elves or beastkins, in this city. I wonder if there’s just none of them here in this city or this country. It’s also quite possible that this world doesn’t have any demihumans at all. I hope they aren’t being persecuted by humans or antagonizing one another. As I drink the juice that has the color of grapes yet tastes like tomato, I continue watching the street.
「Someone~! Catch that guy! He stole my handbag~!」(???)
A voice resounds from the opposite side of the street. A young man with brown hair sprints through the terrace in front of me with all his might while holding onto a bag.
The bag snatcher suddenly falls down on the back of his head, hitting it strongly. He then faints in agony. A blond-haired man, who’s chasing after the youth, jumps toward the perpetrator and presses his back behind his back.
Given just how large the city is, the number of crimes must be high. I continue viewing the ongoing arrest happening in front of me while holding the juice in one hand. Soon, two knights in silver armor comes along, binds the bag snatcher and takes him with them, along with the golden haired man.
Seeing this outcome I pay the bill and leave the cafe.
After this, I go around, paying visits to various stores while buying souvenirs for everyone.
I’m really surprised to find a gun-looking weapon in a weapon store. However, it doesn’t use gunpowder. It’s called “Spellcaster” which shoots bullets using the magic power poured into the gun.
I knew it. This world looks like it doesn’t have a lot of “magicians”. Everyone here is aware of the existence of magic, but the amount of people capable of manipulating it as a craft is limited.
It’s probably the existence of golems that has obstructed the development of magic. It might not be the case in the old days during the time of the ancient kingdoms, but… I suppose the books that I’ve bought need to be examined to know for sure. Not by me though, but by the professor.
Still, this Reverse World (It’s troublesome to find a name for it so I called it like this) looks dangerous in many ways as well, primarily because of the presence of lawless gangs targeting people from the countryside who are sightseeing the city like what I am doing.
「Two… no, three of them, huh?」(Touya)
Some guys are stalking me since a while ago. I want to praise their high skill in stalking, but they still have a long way to go for them to effectively tail me. It’s probably fine to call them amateurs if I compare their level with our Tsubaki-san.
「I don’t really have a memory of being targeted though…」(Touya)
Did they mistake me for a rich greenhorn after seeing me buy stuff from a lot of different stores? I confirm the people tailing me from behind that are reflected in the glass by feigning to look at the commodities displayed in a window of some random store. They are wearing hoods so I can’t see their faces well, but they don’t look like anything but typical hoodlums.
Well, I suppose it will be fine for me to directly confront them.
Jogging lightly, I enter the back alley. I turn past the corner and confirm that there are no people around. I then immediately erase my figure with “Invisible” and begin waiting for my pursuers. As the three people step into the back alley and turn around the corner in a similar manner, I cut off their path of retreat. The trio look startled due to my sudden appearance behind them. They are wearing some sort of hooded-robes.
「Do you have some business with me?」(Touya)
Two of the panicking trio send glances at the remaining one. Looks like this one is their leader.
「If you don’t, then please stop following me from now on. Or won’t you understand what I’m saying unless you go through a painful experience? 」(Touya)
It would be troublesome if they continue to follow me around after this, so I give them a little threat. Though I don’t know how effective that threat is.
「Please wait. I apologize for following tailing you, but could you please listen to us for a bit?」(Leader)
The one who appears to be their leader unfastens her hood, and it turns out that underneath the hood is a red-haired woman. She is in her twenties or so. Her hazelnut-colored eyes are sharp, and the air around her is similar to a soldier or a martial artist. Her short and fixed hair only strengthens that impression further.
「You have used magic from the cafe terrace on a bag snatcher some time ago, haven’t you?」(Woman)
「… I have, but what about it?」(Touya)
Hee. She has understood my usage of magic nicely even with that short invocation and despite not even being the target of the said magic. Well, there are people with high detection capabilities even if they themselves couldn’t use magic. It’s what the general public call as “people who have the makings of a magician” in them.
「Are you capable of using other magic as well?」(Woman)
「Well. To some degree, yes」(Touya)
「… What about Curse Removal Magic?」(Woman)
「That depends on the curse in question. If the curse has already advanced too much, then removing the curse might have the opposite effect on the person in question.」(Touya)
Although I summarized the spells similar to a “curse” using that single word, there are a lot of different kinds of curses like “Sealing”, “Bewitching”, “Lethargy”, “Strength Absorption”, “Petrification”, “Confusion”, and “Charm”.
My “Recovery” is capable of cancelling them in general, but there are exceptions. For example. If a person has a body strengthened by a curse, then the body will be unable to bear the burden that might come from the recoil if the curse is just simply removed, and the person will end up dying. Moreover, there are also cases wherein “Recovery” fails to remove complex curses. The “Guilty Curse” that I have used on the underlings of the slave merchant from before belongs to the same kind.
The curse that I applied at that time will paralyze one part of a person’s body each time they commit a crime of hurting another person. It will eventually reach their heart, and the cursed person will die. When the cursed person is considered to be in a normal condition, using “Recovery” would have no effect because the paralysis effect is in a dormant state. The paralysis caused by committing some crime can still be cured with “Recovery”, but that doesn’t mean that the “Curse” will be removed. A paralysis can happen again if a crime will be committed again. This solution of curse removal through “Recovery” is, by no means, absolute. This is why knowing what kind of curse that has been used is important...
「Are you saying that your acquaintance is under the effects of a curse?」(Touya)
「Yes. Our guest touched a cursed artifact, and ended up in a comatose state. It has already been several weeks, but that person’s consciousness has not yet returned… 」(Woman)
Bad luck. So it’s lethargy curse then? I guess it can be cured unless it’s the type which breaks down one’s mind.
「We still haven’t returned the large debt we owe to that person. Please, would you somehow be generous enough to remove that girl’s curse? We will do anything as thanks.」(Woman)
Next to the bowing woman with a short haircut, the two people standing behind her also unfastens their hoods and bows. Their ponytail and long wavy hair sways a lot. Both of them are around my age or a year younger perhaps. The 16-year old girl has a light brown ponytail, and the 17-year old has a chestnut-colored hair.
Now then, what should I do? I don’t want to stand out a lot because it’s tiresome and brings me unnecessary troubles.
Still, abandoning them will leave a bad aftertaste in me. Whether it’s about an acquaintance or not, I’m interested in the curse in question.
Well, it’s fine, isn’t it? If it turns into something troublesome, I can just return to the “Surface World” after all.
「I don’t know whether I can cure that curse, but if that’s still okay with you…」(Touya)
「Thank you very much.」(Woman)
「We are grateful.」(Girl #2)
The trio bows to me once again. Well, I can’t promise anything unless I examine the curse.
「Well then, we’ll lead you to our lodgings. I ‘m sorry for the late introduction. My name is Est Fultier. I’m a sub-chief of the chivalrous thief group “Red Cat”.」(Est)
「I’m Mochizuki Touya. Right now, well, I’m a wanderer… wait a minute, did you just say “chivalrous group”? “Red Cat”?」(Touya)
Chivalrous thieves? Like those chivalrous thieves? Nezumi Kozo, Robin Hood, Ishikawa Goemon, or Arsene Lupin. Like those people?!
No-no, the way she said it is irrelevant. In other words, are they thieves?!
「Don’cha you know about the group “Red Cat”? You must have come from a quite rural place, ain’t you?」(Girl #1)
The ponytailed girl says so, but there’s no way for me, who came from a place far more distant from wherever in here, to know of them.
They must be a well-known group based on what she is saying, but that still doesn’t change the fact that they are criminals.
Seeing me frowning, the girl who called herself Est starts to talk.
「That’s how our reputation sounds, but the ones we steal from are those foolish nobles and corrupt merchants who torment regular folks. We can’t readily call ourselves chivalrous thieves unless we do that.」(Est)
Well, I’m not someone who can say that “all criminals are bad!” or something like that. Coming to a different world, I too have broken several laws. On that note, I will apologize right now for illegally entering this city because I haven’t paid the fee.
「…. Well, that’s fine. I’ll hear more about you after this. Nevertheless, I want you to hurry up if you plan to take me along. I have to leave the city tomorrow.」(Touya)
「I understand. This way then.」(Est)
Saying this, Est-san starts walking. I’ve been thinking that I don’t really want to get involved in troublesome matters here in the Reverse World.
In the end, this matter ends up being troublesome.
ED: Blackswordsman, Empress
Shameless Advertisement: Read about a teenage demon hunting high school student private detective. Trying saying that three times fast. Sword Detective Hayate