CH152: Winter is coming
In December, when the sun is out for much shorter hours than in the summer, I was waiting for someone in a private room of a restaurant, looking through the window at the first snow that had just begun to fall, and I realized once again that winter had arrived.
Orn was faster. Sorry to keep you waiting.
I was killing time while thinking about my recent development of a new magic formula and the expansion of my own abilities when Selma-san walked into the private room.
“No, I just got here, so I’m not waiting for you… Hey, isn’t Sophie with you?”
I thought she was coming with Sophie, but I looked around Selma’s place and didn’t see her.
“Oh. I can’t take her to a meeting with her sponsors. Besides, the girl said she had some places she wanted to visit, so we decided to split up when we got to King’s Landing.”
Selma’s right. We’re in the capital of the kingdom of Nochtant.
<Around the end of the year, the clan executives visit the sponsors who have supported the clan in particular during the year, and hold a meeting to thank them for their support.
The reason we’ve come to King’s Landing is because Selma and I are in charge of greeting the major sponsors of the Silver Rabbit of the Night Sky here.
“… They’re on their way here now. I just need a little bit longer. I’m sorry.”
Selma told me about Sophie’s situation.
Perhaps he talked to Sophie through the mind meld.
That’s a really good use for that ability.
“No need to apologize. Sophie’s the star of the show today.
Why did Sophie even come to King’s Landing to congratulate her sponsor?
She turns fifteen this month.
In this country, you become an adult at the age of fifteen.
There is no culture to celebrate the month of birth in this country, but many places celebrate the month of the fifteenth birthday, when people become adults.
The celebration is usually a family affair.
It’s not really appropriate for me to be there, but thankfully Sophie invited us, so it’s just me and Selma.
“I’m glad you said that. Oh, I’d like to ask you a few questions before Sophia gets here, did you find out anything about the Central Army?”
Selma asks with a serious expression on her face.
The Earl of Bowell, with whom I had my meeting today, was a man with ties to the Central Command.
I’m sure Mr. Selma would like to be the first to know what I find out in the meeting.
By the way, the Central Army is the army under the direct control of the royal family.
The army of the lord is separate from the private army of the lord.
“I think I’ve confirmed some of the information you wanted to know. I’ll tell you the details when I get back, but as expected the Central Military is pretty tense.”
The news of the invasion of the Kingdom of Nochtant by the Sauber Empire that had occurred about two months ago spread throughout the continent in the blink of an eye.
However, some of the neighboring countries and distant countries seem to recognize that “it was not a big conflict but a skirmish being propagated by the Kingdom of Nohitanto”, and it seems that they do not take this incident too seriously.
It’s true that the battle itself only lasted a day or so and the area of the war was limited to the vicinity of a single city.
I don’t blame the rest of the world for thinking so, but that <hero> was there for the invasion the other day.
A hero who can easily destroy a whole division by himself.
The only reason I was able to beat Felix the Hero was sheer luck.
It’s just that my abilities happen to be compatible with his.
Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been an obstacle to Felix.
I was outmatched by Felix until I realized I was actually manipulating gravity.
You may think I’m getting carried away when I say this, but if I hadn’t been there or had lost the battle with Felix… it’s quite possible that the Imperial invasion would still be going on right now.
For that reason, I personally think that this incident is not something that should be taken lightly.
And it looks like the story’s true.
I’m referring to the upcoming meeting between the Kingdom and the Empire… where the heads of each side will be present.
The meeting will take place in the Imperial capital.
So the king himself will go to the heart of a hypothetical enemy country.
It’s obvious to anyone who sees it that it’s dangerous.
But despite his ministers’ attempts to persuade him otherwise, the king has not changed his mind.
This is a private room in a high-class restaurant frequented by aristocrats, so it’s well soundproofed.
I’m sure there would be no problem if I were to give specifics since there is no sign of anyone around, but I dare not reveal the details because of the nature of the contents.
I’m sure Selma got the gist of what I was trying to say, though, and her eyes widen in surprise.
“… It’s a headache. But I suppose that’s why His Majesty is taking this so seriously.
“Yes. If the information Count Eddington obtained is correct then it makes sense for the Empire to have invaded this kingdom which has the Great Southern Labyrinth because of the shortage of magic stones. If we can get that information, we’ll be in a better position to make a deal, but I don’t know if we’ll be able to have a serious talk with someone who’s been trying to strong-arm us from the very beginning. I agree that it’s dangerous.
His Majesty the King may have his own plans but we can only imagine what they are. I’ll leave politics to the lords and ladies. Speaking of which, what about the matter you were concerned about?”
“You’re telling me I might be taken in by the military?”
When I confirmed that my understanding of Selma’s question was correct, she shook her head.
“They’ve said something similar, but I’ve said no. I’m more suited to being an explorer than a soldier.”
“Okay. We understand how Orn feels. If you try to interfere against Orn’s wishes, even if it’s the King’s army, the Clan won’t stand idly by.
“… Thank you, Selma.”
I’m protecting the people I care about. You don’t have to thank me for that.
While I was talking with Selma, my hearing caught the sound of Sophie’s footsteps approaching.
As soon as she finished, the door to the private room opened and Sophie came in.
Sorry I’m late. Sorry to keep you waiting…!
Good evening, Sophie. It’s not time yet. I’m not waiting for you.
Orn is right. I’m sorry I couldn’t be with you today.
“You’re working. I don’t have a choice.”
Sophie takes a seat next to her, telling Miss Selma she doesn’t mind.
“… Did you enjoy King’s Landing?”
“Yeah!!! I was shopping at Downing’s just now! They had some really cute magic tools and stuff, it was a lot of fun! I’ll show you what I bought later.
The Downing Chamber of Commerce is a trading company with its head office in the Duchy of Hitia, which is located in the center of the continent and is known as a magical powerhouse.
And the continent’s leading trading company with branches all over the continent, mainly selling magic tools for daily life.
Originally, the Flockhart Trading Company and other domestic merchant associations had a large presence here, but since the incident six months ago when the Flockhart Trading Company was taken over by the Downing Trading Company, they have expanded their business sphere in this country as well.
I’ve heard nothing black about Downing Trading Company, and I’ve heard that many of their products are of the highest quality.
Although I have my own feelings about the loss of Flockhart, as a customer I am glad that Downing & Co. is becoming more and more popular in Japan.
Sophie is smiling and looking really happy as she tells Selma about her day.
Selma, who was listening to me, looked very happy, and it was a very heartwarming scene.
When everyone was present, the food was brought out and the celebration of Sophie’s coming of age began.
We enjoyed our conversation as we tucked into a course meal at a fancy restaurant.
The food that was brought to us was naturally delicious, but it was nothing unusual for me since I had many opportunities to eat food prepared for the nobility during my time in the heroes’ party.
I think Selma was similar, but to Sophie who had a not so good childhood, everything seemed to be unusual to her, and she had various reactions whenever a new dish was served.
I’m glad Sophie is enjoying it.
I’m not sure if she feels the same way as I do, but the expression on Selma’s face as she shows Sophie is even gentler than usual.
“It seems like you’ve been doing well in the Grand Labyrinth recently.”
“Yes! I think I reported that I beat the floor boss of the 50th level the other day, and now I’ve reached the 53rd level! My immediate goal is to reach the lower level within the next month!”
<I’ve been getting all the information about the Twilight Moonbow, so I know that they’ve reached the fifty-third level.
I’ve only made it to the fiftieth level in the teaching search that took place around spring this year.
But now that we’ve reached a deeper level by ourselves, it’s very impressive.
That’s still a pretty fast pace.
<Dusk Moonbow> went to investigate the labyrinth that appeared in Rugau as soon as he reached the 30th level.
Then we came back to Tutrail early last month.
This means that we have descended from the 30th layer to the 53rd layer in about a month.
I already think my apprentices are as good as A-ranked explorers and Luna’s with them.
The fact that Luna hasn’t stopped them even at this high a pace suggests that the middle level is already a place that <Twilight’s Moonbow> can break through without any difficulty.
Carol’s mental state, which had been the biggest concern, seems to be stable so far.
Luna has told me that he’s been able to keep his concentration as usual during the labyrinthine search, though he sometimes seems to be in a daze.
“That’s great. But it’s when things are going well that they can catch up to you. Always remember that the labyrinth is a dangerous place.”
“Yes, I know! Mr. Orn… you seem to be very busy these days.
Sophie understands my warning, and she calls out to me in a probing manner.
“… I’m sorry. I haven’t been able to do much teaching lately.”
Yeah. I haven’t spent much time with the boys since I got back to Tutrail.
The main reason for this is the change in circumstances following the invasion of the Empire.
Currently, <Silver Rabbit of the Night Sky> has made it a priority to reach the ninety-fourth level of the Grand Labyrinth.
This is also why I was assigned a sponsor in King’s Landing, relatively close to Tutrail, to meet with Selma and me.
The first team used to search the labyrinth every other day, but recently the rotation has been changed to two days searching the labyrinth and one day free.
I have many priorities on my free days, so I have not been able to spend much time for teaching.
I know that lack of time is just an excuse, but I’ve been thinking more and more that there are more hours in the day and I wish there were more corks…
“No! I didn’t mean it like that. I know that you’re busy, and we’re already official explorers of the Silver Rabbit of the Night Sky. And now that we’ve come of age, we can’t just take it easy on you, can we?”
“Sophia has really gotten stronger.”
Selma-san looks happy when she hears Sophie’s comment about her budding independence.
“Heh heh, I’m an adult from this month. Of course!”
“Well, we can’t lose this one, Orn.”
“… You’re right. We have to get to the ninety-third level as soon as possible.”
“Sophie, was the food good?”
After we’ve finished eating all the food that’s been brought in, I ask Sophie.
“Yes!!! It was so delicious! Thank you, Mr. Orn, sister, for bringing me to such a wonderful place!”
“You’re welcome. If Sophia’s happy, it was worth it. Congratulations on your coming of age.
As Selma and I congratulated her, Sophie gave me a big smile despite her shyness.
“So, I got Sophie a coming-of-age present. I’d like you to have it.
“Oh, thank you… A letter? May I look inside?”
“Of course. I hope you’re pleased.”
Sophie looks excited as she opens the envelope and takes out the paper inside.
“… Is this the procedure?
Sophie looks over what was written on the paper inside and asks.
“Correct. I thought I’d give you an original magic since I thought it might be too similar to Selma’s if I gave you an object. The name of the spell is Amplify Chain Raise Repeat. Sophie can probably handle it better than me. I’ve modified the formula for Sophie.”
“Um, [Amplify Chain Raise Repeat] is Orn-san’s original magic, right?”
“Ah yes. It’s a spell that reads the formula of any offensive spell that passes through the place where it’s placed and automatically activates the same spell with amplified power.”
“Is it really okay if I take such a great thing?”
“Yeah. I want you to take it. I know Sophie can do this magic.
This sorcery is different from normal sorcery.
That’s because it’s a formula designed to be used in conjunction with other abilities.
But I’ve already confirmed that Sophie’s telekinesis can reproduce it, and I’m sure she’ll be able to activate it without any problems.
I’m hoping this magic will help him develop his abilities further.
“… Thank you very much. I will use this magic to meet your expectations, Orun-san!”
“Yeah, I’m looking forward to it.”
Thus ended the meeting with the sponsors and the celebration of Sophie’s coming of age.
We’ve got a lot to do when we get back to Tutrail.
Besides, the attack on the ninety-third layer is about to begin.
If you’re in the first squad then you should be able to conquer them, but don’t let your guard down.