056. Ingrasia Kingdom
The journey to Ingrasia Kingdom proceeded without incident.
I summoned Ranga, and had him assume a smaller form. He also has fur armor equipped, so there shouldn’t be any problems if humans see him.
That is, he currently looks like a slightly bigger black wolf.
Though the road we traveled by was unpaved, it was still considered a highway, so we did see some mounted soldiers.
Few monsters spawn around here, and there’s little magic in the air.
We didn’t see any powerful monsters. However, the roads were infested, in some sense.
Robbers and highwaymen, those petty types were all over them.
But we didn’t even run into them.
Well, I guess that’s to be expected. What kind of being could catch up with Ranga’s pace?
And it’s not like we’re running at neck-break pace; we’re proceeding leisurely, but still at least 60 km per hour.
Far faster than any horse carriage.
Thus, the journey proceeded smoothly, and we arrived to Ingrasia Royal City in merely two days.
The scale of the city was surprising.
Sure, it’s plenty wide, but there’s also a large wall surrounding the city.
Two gates lead into it, and there’s no way in except for the two gates. It’s baffling to think just how much money and time was needed to construct this.
We entered the city and marveled at the sight.
Many tall structures filled the city, but that much we expected; however, the scale of the buildings was incomparable those in Brumund.
Most were at least five stories high.
The city was full of brick and wood buildings.
But more than anything, it was the strict city planning and the white castle in the middle of the city that made me wonder.
A large lake occupied the center of the city, and a castle was built in the middle of it.
Four bridges extend from the castle and connect to the city’s main roads.
This solemn piece of architecture properly conveyed the country’s military strength.
In short, all I thought was: amazing!
From the perspective of defense, every important junction has knights monitoring public order.
You’d have to be pretty desperate to even attempt a criminal act.
As expected of a city planned ahead of time by the Council.
I mean, just think of the consequences if some foreign prince ran into trouble here. To prevent such occurrences, the city has perfected its defense.
Thanks to the guild card I was able to quickly pass through one of the gates; normally, one has to undergo three different identity checks to be permitted access.
At the first step, they check your identification documents. If you successfully pass this check, you have to go through a thorough body search.
Then, line up in another line.
Each point is heavily protected, and the lines are far longer than the one in the Dwarf Kingdom.
In other words, I’m truly happy that I had the guild ID.
By the way, even if there are any problems during your second check, you could go on to the third, but you’d be treated as a criminal from then on.
You’d basically be treated in a way that will discourage you from trying to enter.
But still, there are many people trying to gain entrance. And so, extremely long lines stretch in front of the inspectors.
This all proves just how beguiling this city is to foreigners.
I proceed onward impressed.
As for Ranga, he’s entered my shadow from the moment we reached the royal capital.
What? You thought I would just bring him here in the open?
Of course not. Wolves don’t belong in cities. Even I have that much common sense. Don’t worry.
And so, after having hidden Ranga in my shadow and spent half a day in line, we finally entered the city.
What’s amazing is more than its appearance.
I was able to see a wonderful display of their advanced culture.
I saw many large gymnasium styled buildings that are used for concerts.
Busy squares are home to performers and theaters. There’s also lots of advertisements for performances.
I don’t know if paper is just that cheap here, but you see flyers thrown away on the streets.
Truly a metropolis.
I was finally able to smell the air of busy capital after such a long time.
No way! I thought in surprise, looking at glass buildings.
Behind the glass you could see products being sold, like the store windows of our world.
Actually, I guess that’s exactly what they are.
The only difference would be that the main products on display are armors and weapons.
The stores that specialized in dresses and such were located closer to the castle—in the high class district.
But those are not stores intended for the masses.
You’d have to be pretty rich just to live inside the city walls, but housing near the castle is certainly limited only to the nobles.
And that’s a sign of wealth disparity.
Well, that’s just how it is. Isn’t it natural to treat those that contribute more to taxes better?
Thus, after wandering around the city for a bit, I started looking for an inn.
The city is separated into four large districts.
The merchant’s district, the sightseeing district, the production district, and the residential district.
Separated by the castle in the center, a circular city.
And easy to understand.
So, I proceeded to the sightseeing district.
As I thought, I quickly found a section dedicated to inns. There was also a bar in the back.
That got me excited. However, that was not my goal today.
Unfortunately, I abstained from festivities, and reserved a room in the inn.
The sightseeing district is near the walls, with various attractions lined up in the streets. There’s also quite a few street vendors.
Closer to the center is a large building intended for diplomats and conferences. There’s also a school inside, it seems.
Of the four sections of this district, it is the most heavily guarded.
And close to this section stands the Freedom Association’s main headquarters.
I didn’t know where it was at first, so I had asked a knight for directions.
「Which one do you have business in? The closest one is straight that way.」
He said, pointing.
In that direction stood a large gaudy building.
Next to it, was a building affiliated with the Western Saint’s Church. A Saint Cross symbol stood proudly on the top.
「Next to that church?」
「Right, the gaudy one. Even a little girl like you wouldn’t get lost getting to it.」
That’s how I learned the way. The Freedom Association seems to have another building, but I’ll head to the nearest one first.
It’s a pretty large building, that can be seen from far away.
Thus, after securing a place at the inn, I had come to the Freedom Association’s Headquarters.
Right now I have no business with the church. Actually, as an atheist, I’d prefer to stay away from the church my whole life.
Moreover, the church considers monsters its natural enemy. So I’d rather not appear before it.
But who would have expected it to stand so close to the Freedom Association.
Well, as long as I don’t reveal any of my aura they shouldn’t recognize me for who I am.
Not that there’s any use worrying about it. If they find out, we’ll figure out the next step then.
The entryway to the Association is covered in glass. Must have cost a lot.
Frankly, I hadn’t expected to see glass doors in this world. Just what you’d expect from “World Travelers”.
They seemed to have achieved the impossible through pure will. I guess my own efforts have been lacking thus far.
What you permit happens, and what you don’t permit doesn’t happen.
Rather than saying what you can or can’t do, simply doing it is important.
Let’s remember that.
And, when I had thought to enter, I felt a presence staring at me.
The doors opened by themselves.
Seriously! A sensor detects human presence and opens the door. What a useless example of intricate technology.
I’m surprised they went this far. Considering that the church next door is opened by hand.
“Why is it different. It’s next door!” I couldn’t fathom the reason for the difference.
When I entered I felt a gaze fall upon me.
A lady by the door said,
「Welcome! For what purpose have you visited us today?」
Just like in a hotel. The headquarters are too influenced by them.
「Ah, I wish to meet with the Grand Master. I have an introductory letter.」
I said, and handed her the document.
「Allow me to verify it. Please wait in this room.」
She guided me to a waiting room.
The Headquarters are really impressive. The moment I sat on the sofa another attendant brought me tea.
They really leave nothing to be desired.
I suddenly got curious, so I asked,
「Hey, security seems pretty lax around here; can just anyone waltz in like this?」
「Oh, this must be your first time to the headquarters.
Only adventurers of B rank and above can enter it.
The entrance scans your guild card, so people without a proper identification cannot enter.
Those below B rank, C+ and below have to use the building near the entrance to the city.」
So she explained.
I see, so the sensor also had that purpose.
And the other building the knight had mentioned must be that one, huh.
So outsiders don’t know about the necessary rank requirements.
I probably would have been sent here after presenting the letter, but I’m glad I stopped by here first.
Ranking up to B was also the correct decision.
While I was thinking this, I heard a knock on the door.
A door opened and in stepped a man.
Black hair and black eyes, the appearance of a youth.
A rather good face, blessed with a truly youthful appearance.
He could easily introduce himself as a high school student.
「Pleased to meet you, I am Kagurazaka Yuuki,
The Grand Master of the Freedom Association.
I’m looking forward to our conversation, Rimuru-san. I’ll listen intently!」
He said, flashing bright smile.
An easy to befriend young lad. That’s how I met Kagurazaka Yuuki.
＊ ＊ ＊
The door flew open, and Milim entered.
That was the norm, so Frey didn’t react much.
In the first place, the large mass of energy that was rapidly approaching her could only be Milim.
When Milim entered, she happily exclaimed with a wide smile,
「Yahoo, Frey! What wonderful weather we have today!」
She was combing her beautiful blond hair with her hand. Her hands adorned with an unfamiliar item.
Not a ring. Something enveloping four of her fingers, with dragon images as decorations.
It fit naturally around her small hands.
「Hmm…. did I come too early?」
She said, fanning her face.
Since when is she bothered with the heat…?
「Ara, Milim. It’s been a while. You seem in a good mood today.
Did something good happen?」
「Nnn, does it show on my face? Look at this!」
She said, showing the dragon knuckles on her hands.
Proudly laughing “Fufun!”
Frey could only sigh to herself.
「Ara, my! They suit you quite well. Where’d you get them?」
After deciding to praise her, Frey asked that question.
While fidgeting in embarrassment, Milim said,
「Want to know? Should I tell you… should I…
Hmm… what should I do…」
And similar pointless lines.
How annoying. Frey, who had known Milim for a while now, could only think that.
「Ara, aren’t “we” friends? You can tell me, can’t you?」
Upon hearing these words, Milim’s eyes opened wide.
「Right! We are friends!
Alright. I’ll tell you. The thing is…!」
And thus Frey heard from Milim about the monsters’ city.
Constantly bragging and showing off the clothing she got.
Frey could not hide her surprise at the sight of such a merry Milim.
Once Milim finished telling the story once,
「Right, right. Milim, as “friends”, I have a present I want to give you.
Will you accept it?」
Frey said, and beckoned her attendant.
The attendant brought it in. Lying on a purple cloth, a beautiful jewel.
And this beautiful jewel was embedded inside a stunning pendant.
Any person who saw it would recognize its astounding value.
「Hmm? This is the present?
Is it okay for me to accept it? Even if I do, I won’t be giving you the dragon knuckles!」
Milim said, with a wry smile.
「Don’t worry, Milim. It’s proof of our friendship. A “friend’s” gift, as I said.
Will you wear it for me?」
Frey said with a soft smile.
“I will!” Milim exclaimed with a brilliant smile.
〈Incantation: Preparing Demon Marionette… success.〉
At that moment, Milim’s smiling face went rigid.
Something flashed in her eyes, but her consciousness was already gone.
The dragon knuckles slid right off her hands.
Seeing this reaction, Frey sighed in relief.
「It’s done, Clayman. Is this fine?」
She said to a dark, empty corner of the room.
From where you’d think no one could be a single man emerged.
Demon Lord Clayman. One called the Marionette Master.
「Kukuku. Well done, Frey. I have now acquired the strongest doll!
You’ve looked down on me as a young demon lord, but to have fallen for such a petty trick… how pitiful, Milim!」
With a sinister smile, Clayman struck Milim across the face.
Her plump cheeks turned red and her lip split.
Milim, who was normally clothed in many defense barriers, did not have much defense right now.
A normal girl, no, even lower than a human; it’s natural for her to be hurt by a demon lord’s attack.
Kuahahahaha! While loudly laughing, Clayman continued his onslaught.
「Shouldn’t you stop now?」
「Hmph, it’s not a spell that would disappear with a little damage!
Considering her arrogant attitude, surely you’ve got a grudge or two against her?
Isn’t that why you agreed to this plan? No?
If so, then don’t hold back. She can’t resist anymore.
Well, she is pointlessly sturdy, and we can just keep healing her when she breaks!」
His eyes bloodshot, Clayman kicked Milim into the air.
Contrary to Clayman, Frey was calmly observing.
「Hey, Clayman. You don’t know, but Milim has an automatic defense mode, you see?
We call it “Rampage” where she uses abilities beyond her body’s limit.
So if you want to die, be my guest, but don’t involve me in your side. Got it?」
Clayman regained his composure upon hearing these words.
「Tch. What a joke of a demon lord. What’s with the oldest demon lord. Looking down on us.
Whatever. If I use her, I can improve my standing among the demon lords.
Frey, you’re my accomplice. So don’t go thinking you can betray me now!」
「Ara? Weren’t we supposed to be equals?」
「Fool! I’m the one who came up with the plan! You’ve already become one of my pieces.
You don’t want to die by Milim’s hands right now, do you?
Kuhahaha! Now that I obtained Milim, you can’t reject me any longer!」
Frey made an unpleasant face upon hearing his words.
You are the Sky Queen, the ruler of the skies, no? You wish for Milim to disappear and I can make it happen!
She agreed to the plan because of those words.
As she somehow learned that Milim is weak to the word “friend”,
「Good. Just don’t try to betray me.
What, you aren’t like Milim–I won’t order you around. Just ask a few favors here and there!」
While continuing his laughter, Clayman said.
Now, he has assembled three demon lords beneath him. A power that their council can no longer ignore.
At the very least, he’s far surpassed the other young demon lords.
Milim and Frey. By controlling these two, he could perhaps even force the others to follow.
Then, even the old generation would come to fear him.
He’ll rule them all!
After all, he’s the marionette master! He’ll lead them all under that name.
The next one on the list is Demon Lord Karion. After that, the next would be…
Clayman was busy planning.
Frey coldly observed this.
On the floor, Milim’s dragon knuckles emitted a faint light.
But there was no light in Milim’s eyes.
The dragon knuckles glowed in vain.
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