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Chapter 58 – The Demon King’s Familiar
I was in a Dwarven workshop. Located on the eastern outskirts of the city walls of Casemaian, it used to be a blacksmith’s workshop that dealt in hardware for the residents. It had been rebuilt from a completely abandoned building, but since there were still only a few inhabitants, it had been redone quite extensively.
I helped procure the supplies and equipment necessary for the construction and subsequent operation. It was a lot of money, but I didn’t mind at all. It was an essential investment. With old man Heimann’s skills, I would like him to handle all firearms and machinery from now on.
At the moment, the old men are lifting the Kurokuma-go on a homemade platform and disassembling the underside. Myrril is in command. Everyone’s eyes sparkled as they looked around at the technology and parts composition, which they had never seen before.
Myrril-san, the way you fold the hem of your boiler outfit is cute, yeah.
The broken shock absorber was compared with a fully working one to determine the direction of repair, and the materials were selected. The driveshaft was disassembled, but the difference between the Japanese industrial level and the Dwarven metal processing technology was up for debate, and there seemed to be a difference of opinion as to whether to rebuild it or build a new one.
To be honest, I can’t make a decision, so I’ll just leave it to them.
In the worst-case scenario, I could order the parts, but Simon is not a car dealer, so he would probably ask me to buy a new car rather than order parts for such an antique. In fact, it would probably be cheaper.
Myrril’s sister, Misnel, was hired to handle the accounting and administration. She’s always been good with numbers and paperwork and is said to be an excellent clerk.
Since it was a good opportunity, I decided to ask Misnel about it.
“How many Beastman, Elves, and Dwarves have taken refuge in the tribal union?”
After thinking for a while, Misnel answered.
“…Ah, yes. I was not born at the time of the fall, and neither was my sister, so I don’t know how or where they escaped to, but at its peak, the population of Casemaian must have been around 10,000. After that, there must have been many who died in battles, accidents, attacks by humans, and discrimination and mistreatment after they escaped, so I’d say there were at most 4,000.”
Old man Heimann, who was listening beside me, nodded quietly. Based on the memories of the old man who knew the situation back then, the estimate was probably correct.
Neither of them asked me what I was going to do. The answer was obvious.
“You’re going to rescue them, aren’t you? Do you need help?”
“No, this time it’s…”
“Yoshua, I will go with you!”
Myrril smiled at me as if she had made her decision. Even though she was working, she seemed to have heard the conversation. Misnel tilted her head and looked at me as if she was troubled.
“Don’t worry. I’ll protect Myrril. I’ll make sure she doesn’t get out of control, and we won’t do anything crazy… as much as possible. I will also take all the necessary safety measures and preparations in advance.”
“Yes. Although she is a dangerous sister, please take care of her.”
“Oh, I’m not dangerous!”
I don’t know which one of them is the older sister, but Misnel bowed to me, and I returned the bow.
“The whereabouts, births, and deaths of each person can only be ascertained by going to the chiefs of each tribe, but each community shares a certain amount of information about subhumans, so I think it is possible to find out by asking around.”
“I heard that Misnel was in a town in the eastern part of the union territory.”
“Yes. It’s called Tarantallen, and it’s the only town on the border of the tribal union that can be accessed from the outside.”
There are about seven thousand human inhabitants, and the tribal chief is a human with the blood of a kingdom nobleman. There was a community of fifty Beastman and about fifteen Dwarves and Elves each, and Misnel was also a low-ranking official who managed and counseled the residents.
“Was it the chief’s order to sell Misnel and the others to the kingdom’s army?”
“I don’t know. There is an organization called the Union Territorial Army that protects the union territory, and the people who captured us were wearing their uniforms. There was nothing unique about them other than they were human, so I don’t know where they came from.”
In the case of the tribal union, the autonomy of each tribe is limited to politics and economics, and the soldiers are only privately owned guards as a police force. For external deployment, the entire coalition is said to bring together its budget and manpower, make decisions through a council system, and share the work. If this is the case, the responsibility becomes unclear.
It’s not important, but it’s hard to create strong soldiers and armies in that format. Extracting soldiers from different parts of the country and having them work together in a council system would be a hindrance to quick and unified action. Morale and skill level would probably be low.
“One more question, does the name Tasahak, the chief of some kind of mage alliance in the north sound familiar to you? He has a scarred face and looks more like a swordsman than a mage.”
Misnel looked up quickly.
From the grimace on her face, it seemed that he was a man of some reputation.
“I don’t know about this alliance, but Tasahak was the former leader of the Tarantallen mage corps. Tasahak, the Flame Blade. He was working on a plan to make mages the strongest soldiers by giving them swords.”
“Really? Did he succeed in his plan?”
“No. He was discharged after a dispute with the higher-ups of the union because the budget was the size of a corps, but their fighting ability was at most the level of a platoon. I thought he returned to his hometown after that.”
That’s right. The mage swordsmen, or whatever they are called, were just a bunch of private armies, both in appearance and attitude.
Even if he had changed his religion, I don’t know why he came up with the idea of welcoming the Demon King again.
“Yoshua, the maintenance of the vehicle that you asked for is already done. Now you can go whenever you want.”
Thank you, Myrril.”
“But are you sure you can handle it with just the two of you? …No, I think Jou-chan and Yoshua will be fine.”
“Yes. In return, I’ll leave it to you and the Elves to take care of things while I’m gone. If there is anything you need in advance, just let me know.”
“Nothing in particular. Ammunition, tools, industrial grease, and oil have been procured. We’ve got more than enough food and supplies from the kingdom’s army.”
Old man Heimann’s comments were the same as those of the Elves, who had confirmed it beforehand. I don’t know how long it will take, but it looks like there won’t be any shortage of defense or living space while I’m gone.
“This is an amazing piece of technology.”
Merel-san, who had come to observe the workshop, looked at the work of the Dwarves with great interest.
“Do you understand it?”
“Of course, I don’t know the details of their functions and uses, but I have never seen anything so beautifully put together in my entire life. It is certainly at a level far beyond that of an empire or kingdom.”
I don’t think it’s been translated very well, but I guess it’s referring to industrial standards.
There is a difference between the straight lines of hand-crafted products, which are produced by seeing with the eyes and tapping with the hands, and those of industrial products. It’s like the difference between a handwritten line and a line drawn with a ruler.
“This is a little different from the ride we had, isn’t it?”
“It’s a vehicle from my world, called a microbus. It’s like a medium-sized horse-drawn carriage here. The two you saw before had diesel engines, but this one runs on a slightly different kind of power, gasoline, which is made by burning refined oil.”
“Diesel and gasoline…”
“I’m sorry for the confusing explanation. I’m not a specialist in such machines myself.”
In the corner of the workshop, there was a row of small-displacement motorcycles that I had purchased to practice engine maintenance. I chose to buy a motorcycle made in Japan because of its precision, durability, and ease of maintenance. The bikes were Honda models that I had probably never seen in Japan, but I was able to find several of the same models.
Some of them were disassembled and stopped in the middle of repair, maintenance, and research, so at first glance, it was hard to tell what kind of machine they were…
“Is this… another vehicle?”
Merel-san looked at the Honda and the Kurokuma-go in turn and tilted his head.
“It’s called a motorcycle. It’s powered by a gasoline engine. It’s a two-seater, kind of like a horse.”
“Is it as fast as a horse?”
“No, it’s twice as fast as a horse. We drove it, and we almost sent it flying.”
“…Twice as fast as a horse? Such a small thing?”
Merel-san’s eyes were black and white at old Heimann’s explanation.
It was an old motorcycle that was purchased for a lot of money, even though it was made in Japan, and it was for off-road use, so it was not very fast. A high-performance motorcycle or car can go four to five times faster than a horse (around 40 km/h), but… there are no roads in this world that are well maintained enough to go that fast, and I have no plans to buy such a high-performance vehicle.
It will only complicate things, so I’ll keep my mouth shut.
“It’s an amazing thing. Is it possible for me to drive it?”
“You can try, but it’s quite dangerous, you know.”
When I said that, Merel-san was understandably frightened as if he was not very confident in his physical abilities.
Having disassembled several air-cooled single-cylinder engines of the same model and grasped their basic structure, the Dwarves’ knowledge and experience had increased dramatically. Even if they cannot yet service the huge diesel engines of the Humvee and the school bus, they will soon be able to service and repair at least the water-cooled four-cylinder gasoline engine of the Kurokuma-go.
In addition to diesel fuel, I also got a sealed carrying can filled with gasoline.
Except for a few for additional refueling, they are stored in a storage area in the church basement because they are dangerous. I may need a larger refueling facility in the future, but for now, I’ve decided to stock up on 20 liters at a time.
The number of types of fuel and ammunition is increasing… It’s probably not a good idea to think about management and procurement, but it’s not something that is consumed regularly or supplied regularly, and I don’t think it’s a good idea to ignore convenience and standardization.
This is an issue for the future (or postponement of the issue).
“But I didn’t expect you to be a merchant, Yoshua-san.”
“Actually, I don’t have the skills or experience to call myself a merchant, but…”
“No, that’s not true. With your skills and popularity, you led the people of Casemaian and defeated an army of 30,000, so there is no comparison with me, who was just a small businessman in another country. That’s what I’m talking about…”
“I’m not a Demon King.”
“Of course, I understand that.”
You definitely do not understand. It’s not the fact that I’m not a Demon King that this person is aware of; it’s the fact that I’m being kept in the dark about being a Demon King.
“By the way, Yoshua-san. Have you heard about the rapid decline in the kingdom’s economy?”
“No, I haven’t. No. But isn’t it natural since the country is in a state of civil war?”
“Yes, but the situation seems to be a bit more serious. It is rumored that even if the civil war ends, the economy will not recover, or even if it does not end, the kingdom itself may die.”
I wondered how Merel-san, who came to Casemaian from the empire, knew about the kingdom’s financial situation. In response to my question, he emits a faint magical light from his fingertips. I heard that merchants have their own information networks using magic power. I couldn’t fully understand the explanation, but it seems to be something like a social network. The information is anonymous, so it is your responsibility to judge its authenticity. There is also a lot of false information that is intended to manipulate the market, and it is a place filled with malice and jealousy, so there is a high probability that you will be disadvantaged if you spread the information badly.
It seems that it is impossible for him to ask for the whereabouts of the subhuman refugees who need help. It’s a shame.
“So, the kingdom will be destroyed not by war or civil war, but by economic collapse? Why again?”
“There are two main reasons. One is the outflow of money. For some reason, a rather large amount of gold coins have disappeared from the kingdom’s market. The amount of silver coins is not enough to supplement the gold coins, and now even the silver coins are being depleted.”
Gold and silver outflow. Yes, it happened. I read in a book that it was also a problem during the period of national isolation in Japan. I didn’t know much about it, so I just skimmed it.
But I guess the gold coins I flushed into the black market had a lot to do with it. The kingdom seems to be on the gold standard. I gave Simon about 60 to 80 liters of gold in total. I don’t know how much or how well it affects the kingdom since it’s in volume terms, but I don’t care.
I don’t know how the kingdom’s economy can be affected by something like that. I thought they were the strongest and largest country in this world?
…Oh no. I just remembered.
That’s about the amount of gold I flushed down to Simon, but not the amount of gold I got. I have several times that amount of gold coins left in storage, still unsorted. There are several more silver coins. I’ve also robbed the royal palace of everything from precious metals to crowns.
“Yoshua-san, What’s wrong?”
“…..I-it’s fine, thank you.”
But would an army really come to defeat the savages with so much gold and silver coins that it could ruin the country’s economy?
It’s hard to imagine that the king is just an idiot. Did he have some other purpose?
“Yoshua, Merel-dono said there were two reasons, didn’t he? The economic decline was not only caused by the outflow of money. Rather, it is only a secondary problem.”
“So I have nothing to do with it?”
“That can’t be true, is what I’m saying. You’re the one who’s responsible, of course.”
Myrril laughed at me as I tilted my head.
“Sometimes, I’m not sure whether you’re a wise man or a fool.”
I looked over and saw that the old Dwarves were also taking a break, and the Kurokuma-go had been dismantled and was about to be covered with cloth.
“Eh? What do you mean? …Or rather, did you read my thoughts again?”
“Your thoughts are all over your face, you know. How do you manage to be a merchant?”
“No, that’s not the point. If you have something to tell me, I’d like to hear the rest.”
“30,000 soldiers of the kingdom army have never returned, have they?”
Merel-san’s gaze suddenly turned to Myrril.
His face is smiling quietly, but his eyes are those of a tricky merchant. Myrril’s explanation seemed to clear up the question of my involvement in the decline of the kingdom’s economy and the questions that arose from it. That was something he couldn’t miss.
I don’t know about this, but I wasn’t sure if I should shut Myrril up, and it seemed to be showing on my face.
“It’s okay. Merel-dono already has the answer. All this man wants is to match the answers.”
“Yes. I hadn’t been able to confirm it, but now that I’m here in Casemaian, I’m convinced.”
What the hell! I don’t get it at all! I feel like I’m the only one who’s been left out of this!
“The economy and the war casualties… Ah!”
“See, you should have figured it out by now. Perhaps you didn’t think of it because you didn’t want to think about it?”
Maybe so. Or maybe I just didn’t want to think about it on purpose.
I forced myself to put my consciousness aside and said, “What do I care?”
“If 30,000 soldiers disappear, their families, relatives, and friends will all lose their food and workers. The people, businesses, industries, and local economies that were supported by them will collapse.”
“That’s right. Fortunately or unfortunately, the area in question was the royal capital this time. Even though it was ruled by a dark and foolish king, it was the political and commercial capital of a country. That’s a bit of a tilt. Perhaps the number of those who have gone astray is three to five times the number of the dead.”
“By the way, do they give them any benefits?”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s money the government pays to the families of soldiers who lose their lives in the line of duty.”
“Sympathy money. It’s not a lot, but only a few gold coins. With the way things are going, they won’t even get that. If they had to pay enough to feed the families of 30,000 soldiers, even the greatest nation would go bankrupt.”
Well, it’s my fault, though.
I don’t know if it was a civilian… I don’t know their faces, I don’t have a grudge against them, but I’ve ruined the lives of 90,000 to 150,000 people. Of course, so did the soldiers’ lives, which means nearly 200,000 of them. Or even more.
“What’s the population of the kingdom?”
“Not sure. It’s probably not more than 800,000.”
Oh, I’ve ruined the life of one out of four kingdom citizens.
I don’t feel it at all.
…Wait, didn’t they say before that the kingdom has a total army of 200,000?
It may include conscripted farmers during wartime, but one out of every four people is a soldier; that’s a pretty distorted society.
Maybe this world isn’t as civilized as I thought…?
“In addition, I don’t know if you were aware of this, but not all of the 800 transportation wagons are owned by the military. They were collected from the outskirts of the royal capital. More than half of them were either taken or destroyed in Casemaian. If that many wagons disappear, distribution will also stop. In the capital, which is far from the production area and only consumed by a large number of people, it won’t take long for it to dry up.”
“Do you finally understand? No, you will understand now, will you? We didn’t just take their lives, money, and goods. We took everything from them.”
A heavy feeling spreads in the pit of my stomach.
Myrril’s gaze on me was gentle, but I didn’t want to cling to it. I can’t do that.
It’s the result of my own decision.
“…Hmph, they got what they deserved. Anyone who messes with my people deserves what they get.”
“Geez, you can’t even include yourself in the list of people you’re supposed to protect, you idiot.”
Merel-san smiled, both impressed and satisfied.
“As expected, the daughter of the Blacksmith King Kazineile has a wise eye.”
“It’s nice of you to praise me, but would you mind not mentioning my father’s name?”
“Don’t misunderstand it, Yoshua. Casemaian is not and never has been a monarchy. The title Blacksmith King” is like a title for a respectable blacksmith. My father was a blacksmith and tried to support his country and save his people. …He’s just a stubborn craftsman.”
It is true that Myrril is the daughter of a great man, but the direction was a little different from what I had imagined. I thought she was a noblewoman or a royal. But then again, it’s not like there are any such people in Casemaian.
“According to what I heard in the empire, after the great defeat in Casemaian, the king of Saliant announced that the cause of the loss of a large number of troops, supplies, and money was “a disaster caused by the Demon King’s descent.”
“…Oh? That’s quite a feat for such a foolish king. Or perhaps it’s the truth out of a lie.”
Stop it, Myrril-san, it’s not praiseworthy at all, and it’s usually not true either.
But it might be better than “annihilated by the remnants of the subhuman race.” …Isn’t that wrong? On the other hand, it may cause pessimism or even panic.
“But it’s suicide for the foolish king, isn’t it?”
“Yes. He may have thought that it would be more acceptable to the people and the nobility and that it would encourage unity against foreign enemies, but in the end, it completely backfired.”
Perhaps the royal family… or perhaps they were overconfident in the influence of the hero and his friends.
The hero has died, though. With the civil war and the march of the empire, I wonder what happened to the sage and the saint…
“According to the information I heard while I was detained by the Imperial Army, the kingdom is now divided into three forces and regions. The “Royalists” who are mainly the king and queen, the sage, and the saint who survived the fall of the capital, the “Duke Lumor faction” who are the rebels who led the civil war, and the “Imperialists” who are trying to survive by joining forces with foreign powers, especially the empire.”
“The tribal union is… Oh, I see.”
“They want to use the Demon King to expand their sphere of influence. Or maybe they are really planning to become the Demon King’s subordinates.”
Don’t look at me, both of you. I don’t know. No, seriously, please don’t start it, please.
All I want to do is make a little money, retire early, and live quietly with my cute little nojaloli.
“It’s finally your turn. Let’s go to the tribal union territory now and make a name for yourself that the supremacy of the Demon King has begun!”