KENS Chapter 62

Chapter 62 Merdiore (1)

After crossing over the gently sloping hill, far away, but clearly, we saw a huge group of buildings—-it was a city surrounded by tall walls, and behind it was the sea. It was slightly smaller than the capital but its population was more. It was the Commercial City, Merdiore.

At the same time, the blue sky, and the vast blue sea that spread till the horizon, the barren mountain nearby, and the grass plains spread around the city, all came into our view. The most attractive of them all was definitely the blue sea. I think, if we head forward a bit more, the beach should also come into view. While I was looking at the scenery while matching it with my memory as well, Mururu, who was riding with me on the right side of the carriage today, slightly pulled on my mantle.

“Hm?”(renji)

“It’s the sea!”

“Yeah, that’s right. I think soon we’ll start seeing the sea birds as well.”

“……..yeah!”

Had she not seen such a scene very much, as Mururu was simply staring at the sea without being cautious of her surroundings like she usually is. She really must like it. I thought that beastmen didn’t really like the seas and the oceans though. Or maybe she’s really been moved by the scenery?

I hope it’s the latter. While thinking that, I glanced inside the carriage. Solnea’s expression, while looking at this scenery, was the same as always, emotionless. But at least, she’s still looking that way. Ms Francesca beside her was talking about something. Probably explaining her what a sea is.

It should come as  obvious but this world also has seas and oceans. Being called as the mother/origin of life, this world’s water bodies hold far more creatures living inside than ours I believe.

The most striking among those are of course, the monsters. Instead of pirates that can be usually found in the seas in normal fantasy stories, almost all of the seas are ruled by the monsters. From small monsters like Sahagins, Kelpies, and low level spirit Nereus, there also giant monsters that could destroy a ship alone like Hydras, Krakens, and Aspidochelones.  Instead of normal sea birds, there are Harpies, Sirens, and Echidnas, monsters tha5t show up quite a lot in fantasy stories. Well, Harpies normally live on top of mountains so they don’t usually come down towards the seas/ocean.

It is far more dangerous than being on land and not just the monsters, even the weather is an enemy. If you get caught up in a storm, there is no way to run and since ships in this world are still made mostly of wood, they can break very easily. To the people of Merdiore, such knowledge was common sense and they are quite used to it in fact. But to the people who have always lived away from the sea, it is a terribly fearsome place.

Of course, it’s not easy to swim in it either. If attacked underwater, no matter how strong of an adventurer you are, it won’t matter. It’s already tough just staying afloat, there’s no way you could swing a sword inside water due to the resistance. It is the same for magic as well. You can’t swim and concentrate enough to use magic either.

Were you expecting swimsuits? Such illusions don’t apply to this fantasy world.

Now you’d wonder if the seas are that dangerous, how does a proper sea route to Elfreim continent exists.

I’m not too knowledgeable in the topic but from what I’ve heard from Utano-san, places exists where two different types of water connect with each other. In our world as well, there are areas where fresh river water joins with sea/ocean water. Now what difference it makes, I’m not too sure of that but apparently the concentration of salt and oxygen changes in such areas.

And in this small borderline, monsters don’t attack……or rather, attack lesser than normal. I really have no idea but the sailors are experienced with it. Rather than calling it a professional job, it sounds more like a sage’s job to deal with such things.

By the way, the sea birds I talked about with Mururu just now were the normal ones that also existed in our world. They also end up as prey for the Harpies and Sirens though. Forget the illusion about monster girls as well. After all, these are meat eating beasts. Literally. There are no dreams or hopes here.

“Now that I think about it, Mururu came to Imnesia on a ship right?”(renji)

“Yes.”

“How was your trip?”

“I don’t know. I was inside all the time.”

“…………”

Oh right, she was a stowaway on a ship. Recalling that, I glanced towards the carriage. Looks like since Melentia-san had closed the window, they didn’t hear that.

Phew, I sighed in relief.

[This beast girl really is a carrier of lots of troubles, isn’t she.]

“It’s fine. I’m still less than Renji.”(mururu)

“So you agree that you bring trouble? Also, I have not yet caused any such big of a trouble/problem.”

“Eh?”

[…..Haah.]

When I said that, Mururu looked at me truly amazed and Ermenhilde gave a heavy sigh. Those reactions are as if implying that I do create problems.

“No, I really haven’t, you know?”(renji)

“So the person himself really doesn’t realize it, I see.”(mururu)

“No, really, are you one to talk? You too have brought quite a lot of problems Mururu.”

“Sure.”

No, don’t just agree at that. Or rather, I should really stop this. Feeling sad as I gently caressed my horse, it gave a small neigh. Feeling slightly healed from just that, I began to trot further down the highway.

Since yesterday, we have been passing by quite a lot of people on the highway as well. Although most of them were merchants as we are close to the Commercial city after all. Most of the adventurers also stuck close to the carriages they were escorting and there were almost no adventurers actively fighting against the monsters on the plains. Even though goblins and kobolds do appear here as well, in the end, the world of monsters also works on the principle of survival of the fittest. All these low level monsters end up as prey for the Harpies. Though Goblins can use swords and spears, they aren’t skilled enough to use bows as well, so to Harpies, Goblins are an easier prey than humans.

Thus, even though goblins appear in huge numbers near every city, they rarely come out here. And when they do, they are easily dealt with.

Instead, the bigger problem was the tall bare mountain that was visible even from here. It was tall enough to even pierce the clouds in the sky. And that whole mountain was infested with Harpies, so much that you could see them if you went a little bit closer. They have the lower body of a bird and the upper body similar to that of a human. But it’s only resembles a human, and they can’t even talk or communicate with us. And they don’t think of humans as more than prey either so we can also only treat them as monsters.

[‘You too’, you said. I’m not sure what to think of that.]

“………..”

At just those words, I felt my eye flinch. Could it be that I unconsciously accept the fact that I bring problems?

“Renji-san!”

Just when I was thinking of that, Aya called towards me in a panicked voice so I turned look at my surroundings. Beyond the gentle slope was a vast open grasslands. I would clearly see monsters approaching even if I didn’t want to. Confirming that there weren’t any, I turned to look at the sky. But, there were no monsters there  either.

“What happened, Aya?”

“In front, the mountain……..”

Being told that, I looked towards that mountain. With my eyesight, I couldn’t see harpies yet but——narrowing my eyes, I noticed a big dark spot.

Huge. Harpies are the size of middle school children normally, but this was just too big. I can’t exactly tell how much bigger this was but it was probably more than just a few meters.

“………A griffin.”

“You can tell, Mururu?”(renji)

“Un.”

Hearing her muttering, I turned towards her to see that she was also looking that way. And her narrowed eyes could also tell the true identity of that figure.

A griffin. They have the body of a lion, and the head of an eagle. With big wings on their back, it can fly with the power of the wind spirits——It was a demonic beast.

It was a mid size demonic beast that normally doesn’t live on Imnesia and only appear in Elfreim and Abenelm.

“Are you sure it’s a griffin?”(renji)

“You can confirm with Aya as well.”(mururu)

When I asked again, Mururu pouted in displeasure. No I didn’t mean to offend you, I just found it hard to accept that truth.

While thinking of apologising to her later, I kicked at my horse and moved towards the other side of the carriage–with Aya and Feirona.

“Aya, Feirona, can you see it?”(renji)

“Yes, but………”(aya)

“This is the first time I’m seeing one but aren’t griffins supposed to not be on Imnesia?”(elf)

“Yeah.”

Agreeing to Feirona’s question, I looked towards the mountain again. But that black spot wasn’t visible anymore. It must have flown to the other side of the mountain. Griffins usually create a nest on top of such tall mountains. That’s also one of the reasons Griffins don’t usually live on Imnesia. There are very few tall mountains like this in all of Imnesia. They aren’t nonexistent, of course, but that would limit the places where Griffins could live heavily. So they simply don’t live here.

Well, it’s not like we’re biologists or anything either though. As long as we know how to take down and subjugate a Griffin, that knowledge is more than enough.

“Ah, not more trouble again……..”(renji)

[fufu, looks like I don’t have to be so bored again.]

“Oh please spare me.”(renji)

I’m the one whose life is on the line you know? Hearin her voice resound in my head, I literally scratched my head in worry.

Griffins don’t exist in Imnesia. So that also means that people of Imnesia don’t know how to fight against griffins as well. Even its ecology and habits are only vaguely known. Just like what I saw and experienced was different from what I had read in the books. I don’t know since when did that griffin start residing here but the fact remains that nobody has been able to subjugate it yet. Even though a beast like that making a nest so close to major city would make it an instant target for subjugation.

Glancing towards Aya, it looks like she was also looking towards me as our gazes connected. She looked like she was excited, probably because a griffin wasn’t really a match for her. Even though it’d be a desperate fight for me.

“This is why I didn’t want to accept Her (astraera) request.”(renji)

I’m sure I’ll be facing all sorts of troubles in the future as well. Am I just that unfortunate, or does Astraera push this trouble on me knowingly? I feel like it can be the latter but sometimes the former seems pretty plausible as well.

While I was worrying about such stuff, the carriage’s window opened and Ms Francesca peeked out.

“Is something the matter, Renji-sama?”(fran)

“nah, it’s nothing. That aside, is Solnea okay?”

“Eh? Ah, yes. She seems to be enjoying the scenery.”

That’s okay, then.

Looking up at the sky, it was as clear as it could be. If I had wings, I would just fly away forever. I tried to escape reality like that.

And Solnea, as usual, dazedly looked at me.

.

.

.

The sea breeze caressed my cheeks as I smelled the sea. Merdiore. Surrounded by 10m tall walls, and with sea to the west and north of it, the city was a bustling place.

After one of the knights showed the pass to the guards, we entered the city. The first thing that came into view was, simply, a lot of people. Not just humans, but even demihumans and beastmen as well. In between, I could even see a few fairies, like Anastasia, Hobbits, and bearded Dwarves as well. There were even Elves like Feirona and beastmen of all kinds of tails and ears.

A lot of people, from a lot of different races. It was city filled with those. That said, compared to the capital, the city was only a third as wide. Due to that, the congested crowd stood out even more. Now whether you see that as a lively place or simply an overcrowded place, depends on perspective. There are a lot of people in the capital as well but this city felt like it had more energy.

[As usual, there are so many people.”]

“But it’s fine though.”

I hate crowds but being in sucha  lively place makes me feel energetic as well. Well, I wouldn’t ever think of settling here though. After all, there just too many people here. I’ll start feeling fatigued in just a few days I’m sure. Since the salty sea breeze would damage wood, most buildings were made of stone. And since Merdiore wasn’t very big in terms of area, most buildings also had two-three storeys as well. Though I know how rare earthquakes are here, it still looks really dangerous. Every building in the main street had a signboard in front of it; bars, weapon shops, item shops, etc were lined up. To attract customers, the shopkeepers were shouting loudly about the best bargains they were giving.

“Well then, let us proceed, shall we?”

The carriage window opened and Melentia-san urged us to move ahead. Lightly kicking the horse, we proceeded ahead. Even though it was so crowded, the fact that the path for carriages and horses was not obstructed is because the rules of this city were set and were being properly upheld by the citizens. Even though there’s no special law or fine to implement it, the fact that those rules were still being followed was proof that the public order of this city was very stable. Also, and even though so many horses and carriages were passing, the people weren’t really looking towards us either and were continuing with their own business……….Basically, this was a common sight for them.

It was a year ago, the last time I came here but compared to that time, the faces of the people are smiling even more. And Mururu, who was beside me, was looking around curiously at her surroundings.

“Is it your first time seeing something like this?”(renji)

“un.”

Even her reaction was given slightly absent-mindedly. I guess she’s really been captivated by this  scene. I guess it’s appropriate for her age, but still it felt amusing so I ended up laughing but she didn’t even notice that. Normally, she’d glare at me, scold me or pout whenever I treat her like a child though.

“But wait, this shouldn’t be your first time in Merdiore right?”(renji)

“…….At that time, I was only thinking of getting to the capital as fast as possible.”

“Hmmm.”

Now that I recall, she really was pretty unsociable when we first met. A request from Zwenelia……..in this case, it should be an oracle, I guess? That duty was top priority in her head.

Saying that she was ‘dutiful’ might sound nice but I really doubt that it’s okay for you to think only about that at all times. You’ll miss out on seeing such a beautiful world.

“Later, maybe we should go together and hit some stalls in the area?”(renji)

“‘Hit’?”(mururu)

“Meaning that we can go together and visit and check out the various shops and stalls here. I’ll treat you to one skewered roasted meat as well.”

“……Really?”

She looked really lovely as she asked that while tilting her head, questioning me.

“Yeah.”(renji)

Honestly, I’d love to get a drink to go with the meat as well but as expected, I can’t take Mururu with me, she’s still too young. I do want to let her taste alcohol one day though.

I replied that but she averted her eyes. But her lips clearly revealed that she was happy. If I can get to see such an expression, I don’t mind treating her once or even twice.

Next time, maybe I should take Astraera as well. I was thinking of that when the carriage turned from the main street to a smaller road.

“Oh right, have you heard anything about Ms Francesca’s home?”(renji)

“Nope. She said that we’ll understand when we see it.”

“I see.”

I felt that it might be quite rude to not know anything about it before going to someone’s home so I thought of asking Mururu about it. Her family must be a family of merchants for generations.  I wonder what kind of position/status they have in Merdiore.

Since they said they’ll prepare a ship for us, maybe they are in trading business? Or are they just rich enough to own a personal ship?

If I recall correctly, in Merdiore, except for the City Head, there were many nobles who run various businesses. To say simply, there are nobles who manage and control the circulation of arms, items, manage the port, and the coming and going of people as well. All these jobs were under different nobles. And above that, they are also working together and cooperate to earn as much profit as possible.

Thinking of that, I think Ms Francesca’s family must be in charge of managing the port. Though I have no recollection of ever hearing the name of Barton family, they might be powerful nobles. Her, by power, I mean in terms of assets. After continuing through the off-street for a while, we got out into an open area.  It’s the residential area where mostly nobles reside. We were in the higher class districts, basically. Climbing up the slightly slanting road, buildings clearly much luxurious than the ones on the main street came into view. Since the area was at a point even higher than the walls, you could see the scenery outside the walls till the horizon at the sea from here. Truly, it’s place only rich people would have. That said, you could see this scene from the port as well though.

“So many houses.”(mururu)

“I know.”

Since here not even the sea breeze could reach, there were even quite a few buildings made of wood as well. And in quite a lot of colours as well. Is this perhaps trending in the whole world or was it just the hobby of nobles, I wonder.

Travelling through the wide road where even 2 carriages could run side by side, we went past the district. In an even upper class district, there was the house. In terms of size, it was even bigger than the colourful one we just saw. It’s painting was also very orthodox, and in my opinion this looked better. But, it did feel slightly empty maybe because we just saw such coloured houses.

In front of the gate of that house, was man wearing butler clothes with another young man standing behind him. And along with them, a lot of maids were waiting for us……or rather, for Ms francesca and Melentia-san. Coming close to them, I climbed down the horse and handed over the reins of my horse.

“Thank you for accompanying us through the long journey. If it pleases you, why not give us the privilege of servicing you at our house?”(mel)

“Thank you very much for your consideration. But, there is something I need to see to so I’ll be heading to the guild first.”(renji)

“I see.”

“I apologise. Even though you were kind enough to invite me…….”

“No, please don’t mind it.”

I know it was rude to refuse her like this but I’m really worried about that griffin. Judging from the people in the streets, there isn’t any commotion about it yet but it’ll be too late once anything happens.

Before there are victims, before they multiply, I must deal with it.

[fufu, you seem quite eager today.]

“Is that so.”

For someone like me who hates such trouble, really, even I wonder what am I doing. Now the serious one or the trouble hating one, which is the real me?

While thinking of something I had no answer to, I bid farewell to Melentia-san, Ms Francesca and the rest of the adventurers I had travelled with.

Mururu looked a bit lonely but we’re still in the same city. They can meet whenever they want to. And since we have to get a ship from them, we’ll have to go and meet them sooner or later anyway.

That’s why, even though ms Francesca also seemed lonely, she didn’t seem too sad. Since we told her the name of the inn we’ll stay in, she can come and meet us anytime. By the way, the inn we’re staying in is the same inn we had rented all those years ago when we first came here. It’s a bit expensive but, I figured it’ll be nice to pick the same one this time as well. Indulging yourself is also one of the pleasure of a journey, in my opinion.

“Well then, Ms Francesca, see you later.”(renji)

“Yes.”

That’s all the words I need to say. As long as I’m alive, we can meet again. With new encounters also come farewells. And thus, reunions also exist. That’s what travelling is all about. Along with Aya pulling along the reluctant Mururu, we left the Barton mansion.

And , I’m sure they’d contact us soon enough. Since we travelled together, I’m sure they’d want to treat this connection more preciously. And about Ms Francesca as well, this wasn’t a proper farewell anyway. Mururu’s so attached to her after all.

“So, what are we doing next?”(elf)

“We’re heading to the guild. I need to ask about that Griffin and learn what’s going on around here.”(renji)

“That’s right.”(aya)

Aya also agreed to my suggestion. It looks like she’s a bit worried about seeing a griffin on this continent as well.

The distance from the district to the guild was quite a lot so in the way, I bought and treated Mururu to a roasted meat as promised, which made Aya jealous so I bought her one as well and now I couldn’t let Solnea to be the only one without it, so I bought her one as well.

Feirona paid for himself but still, I had to pay for 4, including me. What is this feeling of exhaustion I’m getting?

But since Mururu seemed happy, I guess its fine. If I don’t think of it that way, I’d start feeling sad.

“is it tasty?”(renji)

“Un.”

“that’s great, then.”

While eating the meat together, we walked down the pathway. So that they don’t get lost, Mururu and Solnea were holding on to my mantle. I totally feel like a father.

Both Aya and Feirona were smiling looking at me like that but I pretended to not notice and continued eating. Or rather, isn’t Solnea too old to look like a child? She looks like a beauty in her twenties after all. She’s even taller than Aya. Well, her mind isn’t even a year old though.

“So, is it tasty?”(renji)

I asked the same thing to Solnea as well.

Solnea tilted her head for a while, and then,

“Un.”

Imitating Mururu, she gave a small nod as well.

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