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Chapter 109 – Industrial Development and the Necromancer
With its administrative organization fully established, Grants was about to undergo major development.
With the heads of each department have been decided, many of which also came from Romaria, the organization was bound for a smooth start.
While listening to George’s report, Ares signed the documents he needs to read.
[We are continuing to recruit domestic officers from the capital. Both fortunately and saddening, there are still many who were treated unfairly by the aristocrats. Should we really hire them?]
George flipped through the materials as he said so.
[There must not be any mistake when developing each district.]
George planned the development while taking into account the very nature of Grants itself.
In central Grants, he turned Heinz and the surrounding suburbs into a large commercial city.
To the west, the 『former』 Land of Demons was turned into a vast agricultural district due to its fertile ground.
To the east was where the mining district is.
Northward, he used the vast meadow as the pasture to raise horses, cows and other livestock such as goats and sheep.
And lastly, the south was used as the industrial area because the land was less fertile. The still vacant areas were utilized as a ranch to raise buffalo magic beasts and to tend to the 『Dragon Steeds』 they brought from Romaria… in other words, it became a breeding ground for dragons.
[I have received reports on progress and plans from each secretary.]
George then started to read the report.
First was agriculture. When Ares first arrived here, Grants was still adopting the empire’s old and outdated farming practices. In addition to that, their farming tools were poor in quality, which in turn caused an increase in the time needed to maintain the field.
The first thing George did was to renew it all. He changed the farming method to the latest one, and the latest farming tools were rented free of charge. He wanted to lay the groundwork for later improvements first.
He also encouraged developing the Land of Demons. Not only did he attracted or recruited people from inside but also outside the territory to start new settlements.
The policy remained the same once Rodman took the seat of Agriculture Secretary and proceeded with field development according to George’s plan. In addition to that, given the local climate, Rodman encouraged crop rotation while also putting efforts in improving irrigation and equipment to stabilize the farmland.
[Next year, we’ll be able to harvest the crops we are currently working on. Looking forward to it.]
[In addition to that, we need a new plant in order to utilize the undeveloped wasteland… such as the wax tree which produces raw material for wax. We can even make it our land’s specialty product]
George continued on.
[Heinz will continue to develop as is. The speed is so much faster with the introduction of golems to the workforce. One may say that the first stage has been completed. The next stage is to expand the city to the suburbs.]
The current Heinz is completely different before Ares arrived. It is now a city with good culture and hygiene, as well as a beautiful cityscape.
[We can start receiving immigrants on a larger scale now. But let’s continue to develop further]
George then changed the topic toward industry.
[Fran is currently focusing on industry. First of all, regarding the production of the 『distilled spirits』that Milord showed us the other day. There is also an urgent need to start developing tools and machines powered by magic stones We will invite craftsmen and artisans from the royal capital to help develop the human resources.]
[Anything that needs to be addressed?]
In response to Ares’ question:
[When recruiting people from the capital… we found out that a lot of craftsmen had gathered to the call. What I’m saying is… I feel that there are still many talented people hiding in the capital.]
[It’s a good time to develop our human resources. Let them learn from the craftsmen we hired from the capital. That way we can nurture a lot of talents at once.]
Ares smiled in response to George’s words, then proceeded to sign the document.
[A walking skeleton?]
Ares was intrigued upon hearing Elan’s report.
Elan was travelling around Grants in his duty as the state counsellor. Meanwhile, Ramires is assigned to Heinz, mainly to handle paperwork. Elan task was to see how things have been going, then reports it both George as the state secretary, and Ares as the lord.
This was George’s arrangement. Originally, Ramires was more suitable for the task since he’s more familiar with Grants than Elan. However, both George and Shion wished to hone Elan’s talent by letting him experience various things. In turn, Elan also met their expectations.
This time, he had brought a lot of new information to report to Ares all at once.
[Yes. Apparently many witnesses saw it inside the dungeon.]
Elan turned over the materials he had bundled together.
[Moreover, it’s not only walking skeletons but also zombies?
Both skeletons and zombies were monsters that often appear inside a dungeon. Many who died on the battlefield and became undead would go there, attracted by the miasma. Many adventurers may have died inside the dungeon as well.
Zombies would continue to wander around with its rotten body which was incapable of complex thought. While skeletons are pretty much the same except what were left of them are just their bones.
They were a low level adversary individually, but can become a genuine threat in large numbers. They had barely any intelligence and would attack any nearby living being. They felt no pain so they could go on endlessly regardless of wounds. To kill them, you’ll have to cleanse them with Sacred Art, burning them to ashes with fire… or separate their head from their body… those are the only ways.
The worst case would be the aftermath of a war. Intense war would result in many corpses strewn around the battlefield. If neglected, these corpses might turn into undead. With that many undead rising, some would eventually attack and destroy nearby villages.
For exactly this reason, the church would dispatch priests after every battle to bury and purify the corpses.
Dungeons were the second hottest spot other than battlefields. Inside a dungeon, a corpse would also eventually turned to undead. If other adventurers found a corpse inside a dungeon they would immediately take it outside and bury it properly or to wipe the entire corpse without leaving a trace with gunpowder or magic. It’s a tragic story, but necessary to reduce the number of undead.
[Skeletons and zombies aren’t exactly rare, aren’t they?]
[No, what’s strange here is that they move in a large group.]
Elan looked over the materials again then continued.
[And in addition to that, their movement was splendidly organized. Normally skeletons do not move in an organized manner. So maybe they’re…]
[Products of necromancy?]
Ares beat Elan to it. Elan could only nod in agreement.
[Yes. Apparently there was someone who controlled all those undead… that’s my assumption.]
[….well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves… although it’s indeed possible. Necromancy, huh… It’s quite worrying.]
Necromancy is a form of ancient magic. The main feature of this magic is to produce undead and control it. It is said that in the past, an excellent necromancer could easily control liches and death knights. Some are even capable of summoning the legendary undead spartoi.
But from an ethical point of view, the magic is like desecrating death, which caused it to be deemed as evil. It was soon pushed to the brink of extinction with the church. Now it’s just a magic often depicted in fairy tales and stories that people nowadays can only dream of using it.
[I suppose it’s worth it to investigate this matter?]
Elan gave a look at the person before him who is both his lord and best friend.
Ares had a bright smile on his face; one that was very unlikely to appear when he’s busy doing paperwork. Elan knew full well that his friend tends to succumb to his own curiosity.
[…since it’s partially because of my report… I’ll accompany you, Ares-sama.]
Hearing Elan’s affirmation, Ares’ smile only grew wider.
It’s a dungeon southwest of Heinz.
Ares was in the 12th underground floor.
With him were two other people. The first one was obviously Elan, while the other one was Sigurd, who insisted on coming along.
At first George was reluctant to let Ares go, but once he saw the group…
[Well, since the participants are already equivalent to an army division, then I suppose it’ll be alright… but please come back soon as your work will pile up even more the longer you are absent]
then he simply sent the three off.
[Now then… I thought we’ll come across our target if we go this deep… but I guess this fellow is harder to find that I expected.]
The trio had already spent half a day scouring the dungeon, but found nothing. They occasionally came across some adventurers, but none had seen anything odd. Not even an undead visible. On the contrary,
[The strange thing is… we haven’t encountered any monster or undead in this dungeon.]
Right. It was just as Sigurd said. They hadn’t encountered any undead or monster along the way.
[And I haven’t seen any adventurer’s corpse yet. This is really strange.]
Ares nodded in agreement to Elan’s words.
[Un… I guess we need to search even deeper…]
When Ares muttered that, they heard a loud sound coming from behind.
A sound of a monster’s roar followed by noise of fighting.
Ares gave a look at the other two, then headed to the source of that noise.
The path led to a fairly wide open space. What Ares and the others saw inside that room were skeletons marching towards a large monster. A little bit behind was a man in a cloak, most likely the one who controls the undead.
[That’s… an Earth Dragon?]
The first one to respond to Sigurd was Ares.
[Indeed it is one. Although small, it’s still a dragon…If left alone, it’ll pose a huge threat to the adventurers. That aside… that’s some number of skeletons there.]
The skeletons that kept coming and hampered the dragon’s movement despite the latter shaking them away eventually began to overwhelm the larger foe. The moment the dragon was weakened enough, the cloaked man who had been staying at the back slowly approached the dragon and swung the sword that was previously hanging on his waist.
Ares reflexively muttered a compliment, while Sigurd and Elan still couldn’t believe their eyes.
After a short silence, the dragon’s head shifted, and fell to the floor with a loud thud.
After confirming the kill, the cloaked man took out a large magic stone, which immediately sucked all the skeletons in to be stored inside.
The man then turned toward the trio.
[It seems that you’ve been watching for a while now… do you need something from me?]
He was obviously expecting hostility. Noticing this, Ares raised his hand and said that he meant no harm.
[Unbelievable… the lord of this land himself… this is surprising.]
[Oh? So you know me?]
[Nothing much… but you are a celebrity in Arcadia right now. Everybody is talking about you, Grants’ Lord of Frontier]
[…probably just rumours, right?]
[A hero who conquered 4 countries in a single month. Highly praised by the emperor and is now spreading his own wings. He’s also a womanizer with sizable amount of women in his harem.]
[….aha, of course there is such rumour…]
After briefly introducing one’s selves, Ares was engaged in a conversation with the cloaked man.
The man introduced himself as『Shadow』 .
[I’d appreciate it if you don’t delve deeper.]
Shadow said nothing more afterward.
He was a gruff looking, tall but thin man. From the black turban on his head, strands of black hair visibly stuck out. He wore equally black armor and cloak. A black long sword hanging on his waist and from the fight just now, it can be surmised that he’s quite skilled in swordsmanship.
Apparently he wasn’t registered as an adventurer probably because he looks quite suspicious. So he earned his living by working as a mercenary.
Only later on the trio found out that he’s actually quite a well known mercenary mostly known as the [Black Knight].
The conversation continued after a change of topic. Probably because it’s been a while since the last time he got to talk with anyone else, Shadow actually talked more than he might want to admit. Perhaps he was lonely.
It seemed that he only arrived in this territory recently. The reason being:
[There are a lot of dungeons here, and therefore, a lot of undead. It’s a great way to obtain more skeletons.]
and that’s it.
He has his own collection of 『Stray Skeletons』 that he can summon with his magic, which was probably the root behind the report of the increasing sight of skeletons.
[I could also control zombies as my minions. But I don’t like them because they smell bad. So I usually burn the corpse until only their skeleton remains. Later on, if it didn’t turn into skeleton, I would submit it to any adventurer that passed my way, but whatever item the corpse had on their body will belong to me.]
So in other words… he would indirectly bury the corpse if it didn’t turn into skeleton.
[I’m still a human after all. I don’t want to live while carrying too much grudges.]
[How many undead do you currently have?]
In response to Ares’ question, Shadow took out his magic stone and release all the skeletons inside. Crowds of skeletons suddenly popped behind him.
[One magic stone can hold 100 skeletons. I have 13 of these magic stones.]
[That means… 1300 skeletons…]
[And that’s not all.]
From behind his cloak, he extracted a magic stone that was different from the previous one.
Undead appeared one after another from that magic stone.
This time it’s skeleton warriors and even high skeletons.
[And these fellows are my elites.]
He took out three more magic stones. From each stone, a skeleton wearing black armor appeared. One of them in particular, was brimming with magic power. And the sword hanging on its waist can be considered as a magic sword as well.
[Death Knight… and Death Knight Master… those are legendary class undead.]
[No… they are indeed death knights… but definitely not a death knight master. That one is still beyond my capability…]
Shadow chuckled in humility.
[If this fellow is truly a death knight master, then he should be able to talk. But he couldn’t. I don’t have the power to summon a death knight master just yet… just pretty much this, its shadow.]
Ares didn’t ask much more… instead, he approached the death knight master… then took its hand and observed it.
[What are you doing?]
Shadow became suspicious. But Ares ignored him and took his right hand…then said.
[It’s because you two haven’t synchronized perfectly. There is a slight error in the contract. It should talk once I fix it]
Ares the kept mentioning things that surprised Shadow.
[You underestimated your own capabilities…. This undead is definitely a death knight master. I know because I’ve encountered one before. 『Death Knight Captain』….its magic power certainly does not betray its name. To be able to summon it means that you are an excellent necromancer.]
[For now, let’s have a look at this contract. Once it’s done, do you think you’re up for some negotiation?]
[This one is finally able to talk, O Master.]
The Death Knight Master opened its mouth.
[This one’s name is Hades. Sincerely.]
The skeleton Hades knelt before Shadow. Apparently, the contract had really been fixed.
After that, Shadow promptly stored all of his skeletons, including Hades, back to magic stones, before turning to Ares.
[I don’t know how to thank you… But how did you know?]
Shadow asked in suspicion. Necromancy can be considered a lost magic already. To be able to see a slight error just from a glance is impossible in his mind.
Ares simply rolled up his sleeves. Shadow was stunned upon seeing the many contract crest etched on Ares’ arms.
[I’m also capable of using lost magic… in my case, it’s『Non-elemental Magic』. That’s why I’m quite familiar with other ancient magic as well. And… as you can see… I’ve forged contracts with quite a lot of people… like this one, it’s the contract with『that one』undead spartoi.]
[What! Is it true!? But the art to summon that undead has long disappeared!!]
[Well… let’s just say I『accidentally found it』…]
After saying so, Ares put his sleeves down, then switch to a more serious tone.
[Now, let’s go to the main topic. You are a mercenary, aren’t you… then how about I hire you?]
What was inside Ares’ mind when Shadow showed his collection of undead was; is it possible to turn the undead into a workforce to aid the city building effort?
The labor shortage continued even now. With immigrants kept coming, more housings and facilities are needed.
Skeletons can keep working as long as they’re supplied with magic. Doesn’t this mean they’re perfect for simple jobs?
And above all, this man who called himself Shadow. Although it’s still a small dragon, he’s capable of slaying it in a single stroke. He also could lead and give proper instructions for the skeletons. It would be regrettable to let this kind of person leave.
Shadow replied to Ares’ offer.
[If I work for you, wouldn’t that make the church to turn on you? Moreover, wouldn’t it bring unnecessary difficulty for the government??]
[The church is too far from here, I doubt that they’re paying any attention to us.]
[If skeletons roam around the city, wouldn’t that cause bad rumours?]
[Bad rumours are already floating around.]
Shadow couldn’t say anything back. It’s been a month since he arrived in Grants. And the experience itself was surprising for him. The city was well maintained and the sanitary was top notch.
Demihumans live in harmony with other races, and if one had a look at the development area, they could see golems working day and night… A place where even demonkins’ and magic beasts’ life actually matters. That’s the place Grants had become.
And above all, this man standing before him. He said that he wanted to turn the skeletons into a workforce. Has there been anyone else with such thought before?
[How many skeletons do you want to hire?]
Hearing that, Ares smiled in satisfaction. And so did Shadow.
Starting from that day, a large number of skeletons joined the effort of Grants development. The skeleton was handy for simple jobs as they cannot be exhausted, improving the speed of development even further. George was overjoyed with this.
The recruitment of these skeletons caused a major impact on Grants development.
Later on, history books recorded that the rapid development of Grants was a miracle accomplished by the combined effort of various races, golems, and skeletons.
And now, it’s time to take it to the next step.
One of the「Arestia Twelve Generals」. It is said that people feared the sight of him leading his undead corps personally as he waded through the battlefield
Because of his silent and unfriendly demeanor, his appearance often caused misunderstanding. He’s actually a calm man who enjoys spending his leisure time surrounded by his skeletons.
Renting skeletons, which started as a way for him to earn money, turned out to be a great success and later became a major industry.
It somehow became a long chapter.
Perhaps because I kinda dropped an important person out of nowhere…